Browsing Tag:

healthy

Baking

Energy Balls with Chocolate and Peanut Butter

separate piles of ingredients for chocolate peanut butter energy balls

One of my favourite times of the day is when I sit down and have a cup of tea and a snack, flipping through a new food magazine with the sun shining through the windows. Just heaven to me. For me, a snack could be anything from fruit salad to a bowl of yogurt or a muffin or a cookie, as long as it’s healthy. I love a good cup of tea, but to me, it’s not the same without something to nibble on. That’s why I like these Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls so much. Made with nut butter, dried berries, coconut flakes and just enough chocolate chips to make you want more – they are very very good.

Energy Balls became popular a couple of years ago. They are jam-packed with dried fruit, nuts, raw honey or maple syrup and nut butters. They are easy to make partly because you don’t even have to turn the oven on. So, you can make them any day of the year and not worry about heating up your kitchen. They are excellent power foods. So easy to take on a long hike, a bike ride or even to the beach. And who doesn’t need a snack with any of those activities.

In this recipe, you can use smooth peanut butter or chunky peanut butter. I still add chopped peanuts even when I use chunky peanut butter. Or you could use natural peanut butter as well. You could also use almond butter with chopped almonds if you wanted to change it up a bit.

ingredients for chocolate peanut butter energy balls

Put all the chopped and measured ingredients into a big bowl and give it a stir. Make a wish too if you like, too.

ingredients for peanut butter energy balls in a bowl

Stir everything together with a big wooden spoon until everything is fully mixed together.

chocolate peanut butter energy balls on a wooden board

Then roll them into balls. Easy peasy. I store mine in the fridge, so the chocolate doesn’t melt on me. They keep for ages, but will undoubtedly get eaten up before you know it.

I love energy balls for all sorts of reasons: they’re portable, the combination of dried fruits and nuts is so divine, and because they’re small. You can have one or you can have two and you don’t feel like you’ve broken the bank of your daily calories.

I’m not going to pretend that they are are superfoods and will improve your health in anyway. Although I do believe that they are better than snacking on chips or a chocolate bar. They’re also quick to make, taste delicious and they hit the spot when I need an energy boost.

Can’t wait to put the kettle on, pull out my latest food magazine and have a snack.

Try making some today. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them. Let me know how they turn out.

Energy Balls with Chocolate and Peanut Butter

Print Recipe
Serves: 16 Cooking Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 1/2 cup chopped chocolate chips (milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate will do)
  • 1/2 cup dates (or mixed dried berries or chopped raisins).
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup

Instructions

1

Chop the peanuts and the dates or dried fruit. Energy balls form better when the individual ingredients are rather small.

2

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl.

3

Stir very well, so that everything is well incorporated.

4

Divide dough into 30 gram pieces. You should be able to make about 16 balls.

5

Roll each 30 gram piece into a nice round ball.

6

Place in a container.

7

Store in the fridge.

8

Enjoy!

Cooking

Beet Carrot and Feta Salad with Lime Honey Dressing

close-up of salad in a bowl

This Beet, Carrot and Feta Salad is fantastic to make anytime of the year – summer, winter, spring or fall, and is full of contrasting flavours and textures. Because the beets and carrots are roasted in the oven, this salad is great as a transitional salad between seasons. It has nice soft sweet roasted vegetables in the middle which contrast nicely with the bitter greens on the bottom and the salty creamy feta on top. This salad ticks off all the boxes of tasty, delicious, and beautiful to look at. Oh, and I haven’t told you about the dressing yet: tart heavenly lime juice and zest sweetened with honey and smoothed out with olive oil. Doesn’t that sound amazing?

My friend, Philippa gave me this recipe a few summers ago. The first night that I made this salad, my family went completely quiet, as we savoured it, enjoying all the different flavours. It has become a regular menu item ever since.

In the summer, salads are the mainstay of our dinner menus. I love salads because they are super nutritious and quick to put together for an evening meal. With a bed of fresh greens, chopped fresh veg, a source of protein from tofu, chicken, eggs or beef…the world is your oyster for choices. And homemade dressings are a snap to shake together: oil + vinegar, creamy herby dressings etc. So easy.

While it is super easy to create your own salad, some combinations are better than others. This Beet, Carrot and Feta Salad is most definitely one of those combinations. You definitely want to have this one on your menu roster.

Creating summer salads is fun in the summer months, when you don’t want to be doing much cooking. Here are some tips for creating a summer salad the whole family will love.

Tips for creating your own summer salads

  • use a mix of colours such as various leafy greens, radicchio, cherry tomatoes, yellow, red or purple peppers
  • try to incorporate a variety of textures such as soft avocado, leafy greens, crunchy fruits or vegetables,
  • make a contrasting dressing; consider dressings such as oil and vinegar vinaigrettes, creamy herby dressings or a spicy dressing with siracha, or pickled jalapeno peppers
  • To make a salad a full meal, consider adding some protein: sauteéd tofu, chicken, beef, edamame, legumes, canned fish

This Beet Carrot and Feta Salad works best if you can find really good feta cheese.

Tips on buying good feta

  • Make sure the feta is made from sheep’s milk, or at least a combination of sheep’s and goat’s milk. Feta made from cow’s milk will be too dry.
  • buy feta in a block and crumble it just before serving, so it’s not dry
  • store the remaining feta in the original container with the brine, including any extra crumbled feta.
  • if you would like to read more about feta cheese, click here
  • and if you love cooking with feta, here is another recipe for you to try

roasted beets and carrots on a tray

First, roast the beets and carrots. Roasted vegetables develop a nice caramelization which augments their complimentary flavours.

roasted beets

The beets looks exceptionally lovely after roasting: all deep purple with a lovely soft almost creamy texture.

Tips on Roasting Vegetables

  • cut the vegetables into medium bite-sized pieces
  • slightly coat them in olive oil before roasting
  • have all the vegetables in uniform sizes
  • give them a good stir around after about 20 minutes
beet, carrot and feta salad in a bowl

Bon Appetit!

Suzanne

Baking

Simple Rustic Banana Blueberry Muffins

three blueberry banana muffins stacked on cutting board

If you’re like me, muffins are a well-loved treat. My favourite thing about muffins is the wide variety of flavours one can incorporate into a batch. I have had many favourite flavours over the years: Orange Cranberry, Raisin Bran, Raspberry, but my all-time favourite has always been Banana Blueberry Muffins. I love the aroma of the bananas wafting in the air as they are baking. And I love the burst of sweetness that the blueberries bring.

When I was living in Toronto in the 1980’s muffins were all the rage. Muffin recipes were in every cookbook and food magazine (yes, even then I loved reading food magazines and cookbooks). A very popular cookbook was called Muffin Mania – which tells a lot. They were part of the health movement to get people healthier. Muffins were a great vessel for the latest power food: oat flour, bran, dried fruit, avocado oil: you name it, they would be found in muffins. Whatever the latest health craze (no cholesterol, low fat, low sugar, high fiber, etc.) you could bet that particular health idea would find its way into a muffin recipe.

blueberry banana muffins stacked on cutting board

While muffins never did make people healthier, they weren’t a flash food idea, either. Mmmmuffins, a very popular shop selling only muffins, opened up in Union Station in Toronto in the 1980’s and last count, they were still there…busy as ever. While the ingredients may keep revolving, muffins are here to stay. And I’m completely happy with that.

Most muffins in coffee shops, bakeries, and grocery stores are very high in calories with an obscene amount of sugar and fat. So don’t let all that deliciousness fool you into thinking you’re buying something nutritious. Starbuck’s Blueberry Muffins have a whopping 360 calories with 15 grams of fat and 33 grams of sugar. Their Chocolate Chunk Muffins have 440 calories with 21 grams of fat and 39 grams of sugar. That’s a lot. But, muffins can actually be a wholesome healthy snack, if they’re home made. So, if you want to snack on muffins and stay healthy: make your own.  

You can have a lot of fun really, making your own muffins. They really are the perfect item to fill with dried fruit, nuts or seeds and you don’t need a lot of fats or sweeteners to make them taste nice. You can also really bump up the fibre by incorporating wholewheat flour, or extra bran, like my recipe here. They also freeze well and travel well. I often bake muffins for snacks, lunch, road trips, vacations etc., And I’m super happy when I do. They’re also so much cheaper than store-bought.

This muffin recipe is not very sweet. Most of the sweetness comes from the blueberries and bananas. If you like a sweeter muffin, you can add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar. or drizzle on a bit of honey.

And if Blueberry Banana Muffins aren’t your thing, here are a few more to try:

On-the-Go Carrot, Apricot, Walnut Muffins

Healthy Blueberry Honey Muffins Recipe

And keep checking back, as I will have more muffin recipes in the future.

broken up blueberry banana muffins

Also, if you don’t have yogurt, you can also use buttermilk. Or make your own buttermilk by adding one tablespoon of lemon juice to a measuring cup and topping it up with milk until you have 1 cup. That works very well!

three blueberry banana muffins

These Blueberry Banana Muffins are so perfect. They’re not too sweet, and the banana and blueberries give them ample moisture so they’re not too dry. And you can whip them up in no time. The other great thing about muffins, is that they freeze up lovely. If you freeze them individually, you can just grab one out of the freezer and it’s ready to go.  So easy. Bananas and blueberries…what more do you need!

Enjoy!

Pantry Banana Blueberry Oat Muffins

Print Recipe
Serves: 18 Cooking Time: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup plain yogurt or buttermilk
  • 1 cup mashed bananas (about 2 very ripe bananas)
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1 cup oat bran
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 cup blueberries

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2

Fill muffin trays with paper liners.

3

Mash ripe bananas in a medium bowl.

4

Add buttermilk, egg, honey and oil. Mix together in mixing bowl with a whisk.

5

In another medium bowl, mix together dry ingredients.

6

Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Stir briefly until all ingredients are fully incorporated. Don't over mix.

7

Fill paper liners just a little less than full. These muffins don't rise too much.

8

Fold blueberries in gently.

9

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes until lightly golden.

10

Cool in the muffin tray on a rack for five minutes.

11

Remove from tray and cool on a rack.

Baking

On-the-Go Carrot, Apricot, Walnut Muffins

carrot, apricot, walnut muffins

This is such a super busy, stressful time of year for most people. The festivities in November and December are overwhelming: Diwali, Hanukkah, Christmas all come within weeks of each other. And each of those festivities are accompanied by cooking, baking, shopping, office parties, school concerts, music concerts etc.

To help get through it all without getting sick, or super stressed, it’s super important to take care of yourself during these hectic months. Eat healthy, stick to a regular bedtime schedule and try and get some exercise, even if it’s a 30 minute walk in the sunshine during your lunch.

Whenever I go out to do errands, I always try to take a hot mug of tea, or a bottle of water and a small snack. These On the-Go Carrot, Apricot, Walnut Muffins are perfect for that. Besides carrots, apricots and walnuts, they also contain coconut and applesauce.  When I bring my own snack, I am less tempted to buy a high calorie snack and sugar laden coffee at the corner coffee shop. This saves me a ton of money and I know I’m eating something healthy.

carrot, apricot, walnut muffins

These muffins freeze really well. When you’re heading out, you can just pop a muffin in a container to take away with your favourite on-the-go drink. It will thaw out and be ready to eat within 30-40 minutes. Packing a snack is a good habit to get into even if you’re just going out for a couple of hours.

carrot, apricot, walnut muffins

I hope you enjoy them! And Happy December!

I really liked these stress relieving tips. My favourites from this list were walking, enjoying the sunshine and laughter.

If you find any of the tips helpful, please share!

On-the-Go Carrot, Apricot, Walnut Muffins

Print Recipe
Serves: 16 Cooking Time: 20

Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chopped apricots
  • 1/4 cup coconut

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2

Fill muffin tray with paper cup liners.

3

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

4

In a separate bowl, mix together the oil, applesauce and eggs.

5

In a third bowl, mix together the carrots, walnuts, apricots and coconut.

6

Add the carrot mixture to the dry ingredients.

7

Add in the oil/applesauce and egg mixture.

8

Stir briefly until everything is combined.

9

Fill muffin cups 2/3 full. You should be able to fill about 16 cups.

10

Place muffin tray in oven. Bake for 20 minutes. Muffins should rise nicely and be golden brown when done.

 

Baking

Honey Maple Whole Oat Granola Recipe

honey maple whole oat granola

 

This is a fantastic recipe for Honey Maple Whole Oat Granola. It is chock full of dried fruit, nuts and toasty oats.

When I was a teenager I went through a phase of making granola for practically every big gathering with my friends.  I made granola for potluck dinners, going away parties and camping trips. Whatever the event,  I would be there with a 3 pound bag of my latest granola invention.

Granola is super easy to make. You don’t really need a recipe to make granola, but it is good to have a basic one to know the proportions of wet to dry ingredients as well as the amount of fruit and nuts to use. Homemade granola is also much healthier as it is lower in sugar and salt than store bought. And just by changing the sweeteners and using an assortment of nuts, dried fruit, and grains you can make hundreds of different combinations.

You could increase the sweetness to go on top of an apple crumble or to sprinkle on ice cream for dessert. Use less sweetener for a breakfast granola, or extra nuts for energy snacks for hikes or bike rides. A handful of chocolate chips or chocolate nibs after baking adds a burst of sweetness for a fantastic boost in energy. Excellent sweeteners to use range from maple syrup in the spring when the sap is running or honey in the fall when farmer’s market stalls are bursting with pails of wild flower, clover or buckwheat honey.

My son and I really like this granola for breakfast or snack with yogurt. It’s not too sweet and the cinnamon and ginger adds a lovely hint of flavour.

granola and yogurt in glass with blue napkin

Honey Maple Whole Oat Granola with Vanilla and Cinnamon

Print Recipe
Serves: 12-16 Cooking Time: 30

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cup quick oats
  • 1 1/4 cup whole oats
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup whole almonds, chopped

Instructions

1

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.

3

Melt the honey, butter, vanilla and maple syrup in a small pot on the stove or in a bowl in the microwave.

4

Mix together the two oats and spices. Pour the liquid into the oat mixture and stir to combine.

5

Pour onto the baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Spread out the oat mixture a bit, but not too thin as the individual oats will cook too fast and dry out or burn.

6

Bake granola for 10-12 minutes, stirring after 5 minutes then add: the cranberries, raisins and chopped almonds.

7

Continue cooking for about 5 minutes more, until oats are starting to turn golden, then remove from oven.

8

Put the tray on a wire rack. Leave the granola on the tray until cool. Store in a cool, dark place.

frozen rosebud close-up

icy rosebud