[Grab a few of these babies and while away the afternoon. . . . ]
Seriously, what more do you need than the word “bon bons” in a recipe title to know you want to make these asap?
Still need more? Okay, then, how about this:
COOKIE DOUGH-LIKE FILLING!
AMAZING COCONUT-CINNAMON COATING!!
I ATE SIX OF THEM IN LESS THAN 10 MINUTES!!!
(Oh, wait. Did I say that last one out loud?)
I got the inspiration for these little balls of bliss from the recent Raw Cake Pop event co-hosted by Lisa of Vegan Culinary Crusade and Nicole of A Dash of Compassion. I was late to the party and didn’t have a chance to enter the event, but just looking at all those innovative cake pops made me want to try my own hand at these confections. Even missing the necessary equipment (just imagine they’re beckoning from atop a lollypop stick), I forged ahead anyway. As soon as I saw Deanna’s raw cake pops, each irresistible orb in its own shiny white coat(ing), I knew I’d use that for my recipe, too. But what about the all-important interior?
[And also delicious as a snack without the coating.]
While I’ve made raw chocolate chip cookie dough before and absolutely loved it, this time I wanted to go for a less common flavor (but one I love equally well). One of my all-time favorite recipes in my sugar-fheavy, pre-ACD, pre-gluten-free, pre-HH days was called Triple Ginger Cookies from that 80s and 90s staple, the Silver Palate cookbook. It’s a mélange of molasses, three kinds of ginger and loads o’ brown sugar that bakes up into chewy, crackly, intensely ginger cookies that are extremely addictive.
Without the candied ginger (or most of the other ingredients), I decided to go for the same ginger intensity. To reproduce the distinctive bite of molasses, I chose yacon syrup, which has a slightly milder flavor and not quite the same mineral undertones, but worked well nonetheless. I also added more spice to the mix, with cinnamon and a touch of cloves to balance out the ginger. These are great eaten on their own without adornment, but if you have the time and inclination, the “white chocolate” coconut coating is a showstopper. It firms up completely after a few minutes in the freezer and remains firm at room temperature, so you can line these up on a plate and serve at the end of a dinner party or on a buffet table. Or, if you’re like me, you serve them for no particular occasion at all. . .mostly because you just like the word, “bon bons.”
[A mouth-watering bite of gingery cookie dough bliss.]
Raw Gingersnap Cookie Bon Bons
The variations are endless for these yummy bites–either press into a loaf pan and cut in squares, or roll into balls and coat in “white chocolate” coating for a mind-blowingly good treat (and an impressive gift). The balls are great without the coating, too, for a healthy snack, or frost the bars with icing before cutting–either way, they won’t last long.
2/3 cup (110 g) raw natural almonds
2/3 cup (110 g) raw or lightly toasted cashews
2/3 cup (65 g) old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant or quick cook)
2 tsp (10 ml) cinnamon
1/4 tsp (1 ml) ground cloves
2 tsp (10 ml) whole chia seeds, measured and then ground into a powder in a coffee grinder (or use 1 heaping Tbsp/20 ml chia meal)
pinch fine sea salt
1 Tbsp (15 ml) finely grated fresh ginger pulp
2 Tbsp (30 ml) yacon syrup
50-70 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste (about 1/2 tsp/2.5 ml)
up to 2 Tbsp (30 ml) almond or soy milk, as needed
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut sugar (for ACD Stage 1, use more stevia)
15-25 drops plain or vanilla liquid stevia, to your taste
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
extra cinnamon, if desired, for sprinkling
Make the dough: Place the almonds, cashews, oats, cinnamon, cloves, chia and salt in the bowl of a food processor and process until the mixture resembles a very fine meal (like a coarse cornmeal). Add the remaining ingredients and process until it begins to come together in a ball. It should look fairly dry but stick together when pinched between your thumb and fingers. Add milk only if absolutely necessary to make the dough stick together; it should not be wet.
Using a small scoop or a teaspoon, scoop the dough and form into balls. Place on a plate in the freezer to firm up and become very cold, 10-20 minutes. (Alternately, press the “dough” in the bottom of a loaf pan and refrigerate).
Prepare the coating: Place all ingredients in the container of a high-powered blender and blend until perfectly smooth and liquid, about 5 minutes, scraping down sides as necessary. Pour the mixture into a small, deep bowl. (If you don’t have a high-powered blended, you can first process the mixture in a food processor until it comes together and looks like coconut butter, up to 10 mintues. It should be loose. Transfer the coating to a regular blender and blend, in batches if necessary, until perfectly smooth and liquid. Transfer to a bowl).
Coat the bon bons: Line a large, flat plate with plastic wrap and set aside. Dip each ball in the coconut coating until it is completely covered. Scoop out carefully with a fork, and tap the fork handle on the edge of the bowl so that excess coating drips back into the bowl. Place on the plate and return to the freezer until coating is solid (about 5 minutes); then repeat the coating process once more. Sprinkle gently with cinnamon, if desired. Once the coating is hard, the bon bons may be kept in the refrigerator. Makes about 20 bon bons. Store, covered, in the refrigerator up to one week.
[Sometimes, you just want a dish that's "no fuss." I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly or else is so simple to make that no recipe is required. Here's today's "Flash in the Pan." (For other FitP recipes, see "Categories" at right).]
[THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!]
If you take a gander through this blog’s archives, you will notice that there are certain ingredients–while fairly common in North America and even beloved by many–that don’t often appear in my recipes. For instance, you won’t find much pomegranate, buttercup (aka kabocha) squash, persimmon or fresh fennel (though that last one is about to change since I recently discovered that I now I like it).
Mostly, the paucity of recipes is caused by my reluctance to use those foods mixed in with other ingredients. I love them so much that I want to experience their uniqueness without distraction or interference, sort of the way the HH listens to classical music (he is one of those rare individuals who actually sits still and listens to music. . . while doing nothing else at the same time).
For me, pineapple falls into this “I want you all to myself” category as well. Consequently, I was particularly excited to reach the second stage of the ACD because it meant re-introducing a few fruits–apples, pears, berries–plus pineapple, one of just two so-called “sweet” fruits (along with papaya) that are permitted because they contain digestive enzymes (bromelain in pineapple and papain in papaya). This means they don’t encourage a lot of fermentation, which can lead to more yeast.
As soon as I was “allowed,” I bought the largest, most fragrant green and gold pineapple I could find, toted it home, then trimmed and sliced it. I sat down at the table as if I were about to listen to my own classical concert, then slowly savored each and every chunk, happily slurping the sweet, tart pieces as the juices trailed down my chin and over my fingers. (The Girls were also pleased to share the fruuit’s core, with plenty of their own slurping going on as well). Pure, clean, and absolutely gratifying.
Then, last week while chatting about favorite juice combos on the DDD Facebook page, a reader mentioned pineapple as an ingredient she often used. I got to thinking that I really needed to expand my culinary horizons a little and take the leap to allow eating pineapple in some other way than merely on the tip of my fork.
What I came up with was a smoothie (okay, maybe not as great a leap as, say, eloping, or gender reassignment, or quitting my job to become a circus acrobat, but a leap nonetheless). The result was this heavenly breakfast concoction that combines all my favorite ingredients from a classic carrot cake.
While I kept this recipe fairly light on greens, on a typical morning I normally include double or more of what I mention here. But if you’re new to greens in smoothies, you might like to start with the lower end of the leafy spectrum.
The smoothie made a refreshing and satisfying breakfast, and is also a great way to use up leftover cooked carrots. And, of course, it’s a way for me to expand the number of recipes containing pineapple on the blog.
DDD In Your Kitchen this Month:
Wow, you folks have been cooking up a storm! I love when readers make my recipes and tell me about it. Here’s a list of the culinary creations you’ve made in the past few weeks based on DDD recipes.
If you’ve tried a recipe and I miss it here, please let me know about it in the comments and I’d be happy to add it next time.
As always, thanks to everyone for letting me know how you like the recipes! I love hearing from you.
And finally, A WEEKEND GIVEAWAY:
[THE GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!]
While shopping at my favorite health food store today, I came across a sale on my favorite chocolate bars. My immediate thought was, “Yay–chocolate!” (because that’s what I always think every time I see chocolate), immediately followed by, ”Oh, wait, I can’t eat these particular bars” (as they contain evaporated cane juice). But before I could shed a tear, it occurred to me: that doesn’t mean that some of YOU can’t enjoy these bars! So I scooped up four of them, and want to send one each to four of you! *
To enter, simply leave a comment here telling me which bar you’d like the most. On Sunday evening after midnight my time, I’ll choose four random winners. Please come back Monday to check if you’ve won! I’m sorry, but I cannot contact the winners. If I don’t hear from any of you by the following Friday, I’ll choose someone else.
* Disclaimer: I purchased the bars with my own money and will also cover mailing costs. Cocoa Camino did not ask me to provide this giveaway, nor did they ask me to say anything about their bars. I just happen to love them and want to share!
I know that pineapple isn’t a component of all carrot cake recipes, but the carrot cakes I liked the most were always those that included it. Similarly, you can omit the coconut if you’re not a fan. The walnuts add Omega-3s add more protein.
2-6 leaves mild-tasting lettuce (to your taste)
1 large carrot, steamed
1 Tbsp (15 ml) lemon juice
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
1 Tbsp (15 ml) unsweetened shredded coconut
2 Tbsp (30 ml) raw walnut pieces
1/2-inch (1 cm) piece fresh ginger, peeled
7-10 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
1 tsp (5 ml) cinnamon
1 scoop of your favorite plain or vanilla protein powder (I used SunWarrior vanilla)
1 cup (240 ml) unsweetened soy, almond, rice or hemp milk
Combine all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until perfectly smooth, scraping down sides a couple of times if necessary (for a cold smoothie, add 2-3 ice cubes). Pour into a large glass and garnish with a sprinkle more cinnamon, if desired. Makes 1 serving.
Seems we all focus on the “main event” meals during the holidays, poring over cookbooks or stressing about which dressing would be best with the tofurkey (okay, I know many of you don’t eat tofurkey–but it’s such a fun word to say, isn’t it?). But what about the meals after the big meals? What about breakfast or brunch? This week, Carrie will take care of all of that. First, she offers a fabulous recipe for. And she’s including a linky at the bottom of her post so that all of you can share your own breakfast and brunch favorites, too!
And by linking to Carrie’s post–or simply leaving a comment–you can enter to win one of these four fabulous cookbooks:
Years ago, I jumped at the chance to go on a date with a guy from England–his name even sounded dashing (something like “Darcy Bedford”). Well, it was clear from the start that Mister Bedford perceived me to be a Cretin for my want of proper etiquette or decorum (and the fact that I lacked a decent stereo, as he judged it). After all, back in the Queen’s homeland, everyone grows up saying “pleased to meet you,” and “by your leave,” and “cheerio”; they don’t speak with their mouths full; and they are all very proper in every circumstance, you understand.
In this particular case, my twenty-something self was overwhelmed (I didn’t realize I should have been insulted): first, that the guy even asked me out (not only was he British, but an actor; not only an actor, but a working actor; and, most important to me at the time, he was terribly good looking–what the heck did he want with me?); second, that we went to a very posh restaurant; and third, that the table was set with a plethora of silverware.
Like an erstwhile Pretty Woman (though I, of course, wasn’t as pretty, or as tall, and I had much less hair. . . oh–and, right, I wasn’t a hooker), I had no idea which fork to use, nor which knife to grip. I followed Mr. Brittania’s lead and the meal worked out fine . The remainder of the evening, sadly, wasn’t nearly as successful, what with the bloke leaving my place in a huff almost immediately upon arrival, clearly miffed that I was not, as it turned out, a real-life counterpart to the celluloid pretty woman.
Whenever I think of British society these days, I think of High Tea and the elaborate spreads of cucumber sandwiches, bread with the crust cut off, watercress, and miniature scones with clotted cream. Clotted cream! I’ve never had the stuff, but anything rich and creamy evokes the notion of gustatory satisfaction. But it’s the scones, of course, that take the spotlight.
My mother used to buy prepacked sweets that were labeled “Tea Biscuits” when I was a kid. Inside were hydrogenated shortening-heavy biscuits studded with brown raisins. I loved their heaviness and density and the occasional sweet surprise when I bit into a sultana. To me, those were “scones” until my late twenties, until my office mate at work baked up true scones, with butter and cream–and I was converted on the spot.
These days, there’s no butter and no cream, but I still love the morning sweet breads and try to bake them as often as I can. Since the ACD doesn’t advocate too many grains (even if they are gluten-free), I’ve made these grain free (since quinoa isn’t truly a grain). After several trials, I came up with a recipe that is at once light, tender, and flavorful. The fresh ginger adds a little kick while its dried counterpart confers a warming spice; together, the flavor mitigates the sometimes potent quinoa. And quinoa makes them high protein, too–perfect for a balanced breakfast.
These are great for anyone who wants a satisfying breakfast bread without piling on too many carbs. Jolly good!
Not too sweet, these scones are great slathered with fruit spread or a flavored nut butter. If you’re not a fan of ginger, you can certainly leave it out, or substitute another spice (such as cinnamon) instead.
3/4 cup (180 ml) unsweetened plain or vanilla soy, almond or rice milk
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground flax seeds
2 Tbsp (30 ml) sunflower or other light-tasting oil, preferably organic
1 Tbsp (15 ml) agave nectar (omit for Stage 1; use all stevia)
1 tsp (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
15-25 drops plain or vanilla stevia liquid, to your taste
2 tsp (10 ml) freshly grated ginger root
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (90 ml) light buckwheat flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) coconut flour
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) dried ginger
2 tsp (10 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
3/4 tsp (7.5 ml) xanthan gum
1/4 tsp (1 ml) fine sea salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) quinoa flakes
additional oil (about 2 tsp/10 ml)
Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In a small bowl, whisk together the milk, vinegar, flax, oil, agave, vanilla, stevia and fresh ginger root. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the buckwheat flour, coconut flour, dried ginger, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt.; whisk to blend. Add the quinoa flakes and stir them in.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry and mix just to blend. Using a large ice cream scoop or 1/3 cup (80 ml) measuring cup, place mounds of the mixture on the cookie sheets 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Flatten the biscuits slightly and brush with additional oil.
Bake 20-24 minutes, rotating the sheets about halfway through, until the scones are deep golden brown on the bottom and browned on top. Cool before servings. Makes 6 scones. May be frozen.
* Or, It’s a Privilege to Eat You (thanks, Whole Foods).
Happy “Celebrating Our Country’s Freedom Day” to both Canadians and Americans (and anyone else who’d like to take part in the party!).**
And before I forget (because I’m at that age when I do forget), let me also say “THANK YOU” to everyone for your amazing, supportive, generous and kind comments and emails while I’ve been away! Of course, I would have returned to the blog in any case just because I love it, but your encouragement may have hastened the process just a wee bit.
It does feel great to be back. And just what have I been doing for the past month, you may ask?
Well, most importantly, I’ve been assiduously following my ACD and have definitely made progress in terms of overall health (in fact, as my naturopath studied my live blood cells under a microscope the other day, he commented, ”The membranes look really healthy. They’re in great shape.” Alas, if only he’d been able to say that about my hips and thighs). Still, I’m sure my immune system was flattered.
While a couple of the most annoying symptoms do still persist, I’ve determined to continue with the regimen, which will likely mean a few more months of restrictions. So for those of you who are relatively new to my blog, you should know that I don’t normally consume gluten-free foods exclusively, but I will be doing so for a while longer. I’ll be eating more vegetable-based dishes and more raw foods as well. And some fruits are back on the menu, though (and let me tell you, even the serpent in Eden wasn’t this gleeful to see apples).
With the school year just completed, I thought I’d summarize my last month and save space by posting a report card instead of writing about it at length:
Student: Ricki Heller; Term: June 2009; Program: Get the Candida Out! Age: You’re kidding, right?
TOPICS AND GRADES:
Adherence to ACD: 100% (not an off-program crumb since March 7, 2009)
Current strictness of ACD Phase (II): 95% (allowed some fruit and oats now)
Current health status: 80% (only one really nagging symptom left)
Percentage of weight lost toward goal: 66% (lost 28 pounds–only 17 to go!! Regular updates on the Progress Tracker.)
Percentage of airtime devoted to Farrah as opposed to Michael: 2.5% (It should be a crime, really.)
“Good for you, Mum! But they forgot to mention that you share and play well with others (especially canines). And we agree–even though Michael seemed to be fond of animals, what about poor Farrah’s fifteen minutes?”
The most important thing I’ve discovered over the past month, however, is that I am a lousy multi-tasker. So rather than attempt to keep up with work, blog, cooking, promoting a cookbook, baking for said cookbook, Facebook, and any other “-book,” I’ve decided to slow the pace somewhat. I will still be blogging regularly, though perhaps not quite as often. And while I promise to keep reading all the blogs I love, please forgive me if I don’t comment as often as I used to–but know that I’m still there!
And now, on to the über-healthy (and ACD-friendly) recipe!
On weekends, the HH and I usually enjoy a leisurely brunch before starting our day in earnest (well, if a meal at 9:30 or 10:00 AM can properly be called “brunch.” You see, as in most areas, when it comes to mornings, the HH and I are polar opposites. When I lived on my own, my natural proclivity was to wake at 6:30 AM every day, weekends included. In contrast, the HH, left to his own devices, would have just fallen into bed around that time, then sleep until long past noon. Our compromise is a 10:30 brunch).
Our typical habit (once the meal is dispensed with) is to sit across from each other, sipping our respective hot beverages (He: Hazelnut Coffee with Full Cream and Sugar; She: Green tea, straight up) while we read the newspapers. In a positive spin on that scene from Citizen Kane, we read choice tidbits aloud to each other (too nerdy, I know). The HH invariably peruses the Real Estate section in The National Post. The other day, for instance, he pointed out that they were profiling the home of artist Ken Danby, at around $3 million. There was also a suburban mansion with a 2,000 square foot (610 metre) kitchen. A 2000 square foot kitchen!!! Do you think they’d let me live in the pantry? (No, seriously. I understand that bulk bags of rice can serve as very comfortable pillows.)
Running in the social circles I do (okay, more like “speed-walking in the social circles I do”), I can often forget that there are a lot of incredibly wealthy dudes in Toronto (even without Prince and the Torontonian wife he divorced who once lived on The Bridle Path ). A casual stroll along Bloor Street West in the tony Yorkville area will yield sightings of Chanel, Hermes, LaCoste, Tiffany & Co., Harry Rosen, Holt Renfrew, Dolce and Gabbana, and pretty much any other unattainable-to-the-average-shopper stores you can think of. As for me, I get a kick out of peeking through the smoked glass windowpanes, gawking at all those privileged folk who can buy $1500.00 thong sandals without batting a (false) eyelash.
Given the average net worth of shoppers in the area, it makes sense that Toronto’s first Whole Foods Market decided to set up in Yorkville. After all, they don’t call it ”Whole Paycheck” for nothing.
About a week before their grand opening (in an effort to curry favor with local residents), they published this recipe for their popular Kale and Seaweed Salad in the local paper (in fact, I do believe I read it aloud to the HH over brunch). I also remember thinking, “This is one of their most popular recipes? Are all those rich customers slightly touched as well?” Having never tasted sea veggies at the time, I couldn’t imagine the magical commingling of salty, mineral-rich arame with chewy bits of barely-cooked kale, peppery shards of fresh ginger and crunchy sesame seeds, all bathed in a smoky, nutty sesame oil dressing.
In order to sample it from the source, I (along with throngs of other curious shoppers) made the trek to Yorkville and purchased a small container of the stuff (price: about $6.47 for three miniscule forkfuls). I must admit, though, I was smitten; it is truly an inspired mix of ingredients, and one that I still, all these years later, love. But I couldn’t bring myself to buy it again for that price since I, unlike the local denizens, am not a magnate/ celebrity/ third-generation billionaire/ ostentatious nouveau-riche/couture designer/ plastic surgeon/ or other financially privileged resident.
Luckily, the salad is easy to make at home, and it’s become a regular feature in our summer menus. It’s also the perfect introduction to sea veggies for anyone who’s never tried them and may feel a little wary; arame is one of the mildest forms of seaweed, decidely not ”fishy.” The recipe is also fairly quick to prepare, despite the presoaking and then boiling of the arame. (While the seaweed soaks, simply cook your kale and prepare the dressing; then rinse the cooked seaweed with cold water and toss all together). And don’t forget that sea veggies offer an ample nutritional boost, helping to foil cancerous growths, keep your thyroid healthy (lots of iodine, there!), prevent cardiac disease and inflammation, and provide a full array of minerals and vitamins (particularly iodine and Vitamin K ).
As we munched on our portions of salad the other night, the HH remarked (and I quote verbatim), “I really love this salad.”
So go ahead, give kale and seaweed a try this summer. At the very least, you can feel as if you’ve been intermingling with the upper crust for a little while.
1-1/2 cups (about 0.5 oz/ 15 g) dry arame or other strands of dried seaweed (such as hijiki)
1 large bunch kale, washed, large vein removed
2-inch (5 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and cut into thin matchstick pieces
2 Tbsp (60 ml) roasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup (60 ml) Bragg’s liquid aminos, tamari, or soy sauce
1/4 cup (60 ml) reserved soaking water
2 Tbsp (30 ml) toasted sesame oil
In a medium bowl of cold water, soak the arame about 20 minutes, until softened. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the liquid. Place the drained arame in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to boil, then cover and turn off heat. Let sit 5 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water. Place the drained, cooled arame in a large salad bowl.
Meanwhile, steam the kale or cook in a minimal amount of water until just tender (about 5 minutes). Drain the kale and rinse with cold water; spin in a salad spinner to dry. Chop roughly or tear into bite-sized pieces. Add the kale to the salad bowl with the arame. Sprinkle with the ginger and sesame seeds.
In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the Bragg’s, reserved soaking water, and sesame oil. Pour over the salad and toss to mix well. Arrange on a serving platter or individual plates, discarding excess liquid (the dressing is quite thin, but I found you need all the water to offset the saltiness of the Bragg’s or soy sauce).
Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve cold. Makes 4 servings (but only 2-1/2 in our house). Will keep, refrigerated, for 2 days.
[Thanks to everyone who left such sweet comments and encouragement for the hellish week of marking! (And I know I still owe some of you emails. . . coming soon!) Some of you who are students noted that you'd be doing as much work on the other side of the red pen. Whether students, parents, teachers or the lucky few whose only connection to academia is reading about it in the newspapers--hope you all survived the past crunch week or so of midterms, study week, or finals. Now get ready, 'cause there's a lengthy return post ahead--on to the food!]
[Base of rice and buckwheat; sautéed rapini and chard with onions and garlic; tahini-miso sauce; sprinkled with hemp seeds.]
I’m sure we’ve all met her (or perhaps we are her?): that woman who’s incredibly competent at dispensing affection, comfort, nurturing or support–yet seems to ignore her own emotional needs and physical well-being.
Well, I admit it, I’m as guilty as the next gal. Ten days away from the DDD home base had me reflecting often on this whole notion of self-love. Actually, that was only one among a plethora of topics on which I mused during the hiatus, which included (but was not limited to) the following:
how much I miss blogging when I’m away. I was struck by a true sense of void during this time, and it astounded me. Honestly, who are “they” who post studies about the Internet and prophecies of doom regarding how it diminishes social skills or limits interactions with other people? Seriously. In some cases, I’m in contact with blog buddies more often than my “in-person” friends (some of whom live only five minutes away). Don’t let anyone tell you that the society of bloggers isn’t a bona fide community of lively, vibrant, and very much interactive people–all of you!
how to create a tasty, grain-free breakfast pancake. I wanted something that didn’t require refined, or even whole-grain, flour–and I found it! (more on that anon).
how this &%$!!?* winter refuses to retreat, even though it’s March already and why are you still hanging around, Mr. Jack Frost, can’t you tell you’re not welcome anymore and nobody wants you here, so just go away and don’t come back, ya big bully!
how, with the economy as bad as it is, I’m hoping the HH and I might still save for our dream home (okay, I’d be willing to cut some of the frills and just be happy with a daydream home). And while we’re both incredibly lucky to still be gainfully employed, on the topic of saving money and stretching a dollar, I’ve been mightily inspired by the frugal and fantastic Melody over at MeloMeals.
why, once again, I have been willing to risk my health, well-being and future for the evil (and truly, ephemeral) charms of that sepia seductress, chocolate.
[Oat groats and amaranth base; grilled eggplant and grilled marinated tofu; broccoli, avocado and green onion; orange-fig sauce.]
Yes, folks, it’s time to focus on the “diet” portion of this blog yet again.
When I first began to ponder how I’d spend my break from the college, I considered traveling to a new locale, attending a retreat, picking up old hobbies like sewing or knitting–but it never occurred to me I’d get sick instead. Then, at my annual checkup last week, I discovered that my old candida afflction has reared its yeasty head yet again, and this time, with a potency that could rival the combined superpowers of the X-Men.
I’ve decided that in order to rid myself of this recurring problem once and for all, I’ll need to return to the anti-candida diet (ACD). I’ll be facing a highly restrictive diet and a few detoxes or cleanses along the way (no wonder I’ve been avoiding it). But I’ve had it with the persistent cycle of diet, dessert and destruction (you thought I was going to say “dogs,” didn’t you? heh heh!). To paraphrase that seminal queen of weight loss, Susan Powter, “the insanity must stop!” (And what the heck ever happened to her, anyway?).
I’m going on an anti-candida diet so I can be healthy. So I can move more easily, and feel comfortable in my own body. So I can express a little more self-love and self-care through my diet and lifestyle. (Anyone familiar with Sally’s fabulous blog already knows what I mean by this: treating my body, mind and spirit with the kindness, reverence, and care it deserves.) So I can enjoy a social life without being fixated on food. Oh, and so I can lose 40 pounds by my highschool reunion this May. **
My last “true” candida cleanse occurred nine years ago, and in the interim, my eating habits have slowly reverted to those that got me in trouble in the first place (chocolate too often; sweets too often; wine too often). After reading the diet on this site (which is slightly less ascetic than the regimen I followed before), I think it’s doable (the only recommendation with which I disagree is to use aspartame or aseulfame, so I’ll just omit those).
To those of you who’ve been reading for a while, I understand if you’re skeptical, and I apologize. After all, I’ve tried more than a few times to cut chocolate and sugar from my life. Well, I’ve learned it’s never a great idea to publicly declare such a complete lifestyle overhaul on the blog, because later on, if you don’t meet your lofty goal, your initial vow is indelibly there for all the internet to see. With that in mind, I’ll restrict my candida commentary to the Progress Tracker page (may as well give it a new use, as I long ago stopped recording my weight over there).
And since I’ve already done a bit of baking over the past couple of weeks, I can intersperse the spartan dishes with more interesting fare. If I play my screens right, you folks will barely notice a difference.
[Rice and brown lentil base; spinach leaves and steamed sweet potato wedges with chopped green onions; topped with almond-curry sauce.]
The first step is to prepare the system with a week or two of clean, whole-foods eating that doesn’t worry about yeast or fermentation (yeast and fermented foods will be cleared out next). Rice or noodle bowls are a great place to start.
[Barley and amaranth base; grilled red pepper strips and onions; steamed broccoli; sprinkling of cashews and sunflower seeds; topped with tahini-miso sauce.]
Meals-in-a-bowl like these have become very popular at health-food restaurants and stores around North America. There’s a local haunt that serves an amazing bowl called, appropriately, “The Mish-Mash Bowl.” Every meal contains either brown rice or quinoa, topped with your choice of four toppings from three categories (protein, veggies, or good fats), then drizzled with your choice of one or two dressings.
My own variation on the Mish Mash is a quartet of at least one healthy grain plus a protein, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrate (ie, veggies). I was amazed at how satisfying–and how filling–a clean, healthy bowl can be. The marriage of fresh, colorful veggies with chewy grains and the crunch of nuts or seeds is entirely enchanting (almost as enchanting as that vixen, chocolate–though in a different way, of course).
In putting these together, what I discovered rather quickly is that “the sauce makes the bowl.” A grain bowl sans effective topping is sort of like a perfect outfit without the right shoes or accessories–it may be good quality, it may be tailored , it may even sport a designer label, but without the proper accoutrements, it’s just a length of beige, beige, beige.
With a winning sauce, however, these bowls are stellar; they’re delectable; they evoke impatient yearning; they’re Zagat-worthy. And, much like those lines of toddlers’ clothing that allow the kids to dress themselves by choosing one top and one pre-coordinated bottom, they’re fun to mix and match, just to see what comes up.
The combinations here are simply starting points to get you going; play around with different grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, veggies, and sauces. Use these sauces with any combination you please, or go with my mixes–either way, you’ll be treating yourself with love.
**I asked this question entirely tongue in cheek–so please, no need to send me emails detailing how unhealthy a 40-pound weight loss in 8 weeks would be! I have no intention of actually losing that much. Besides, at the rate I’ve been going this past year, a FOUR pound loss by May would be nothing short of miraculous.
Light and tangy, this sauce would also be perfect with raw veggies or in a sandwich.
2 tsp (10 ml) freshly grated ginger root
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tamari or soy sauce
2 tsp (10 ml) pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp (30 ml) tahini (sesame paste)
1 Tbsp 915 ml) light miso
2 Tbsp (30 ml) water
Combine all ingredients in a blender and whir until smooth. Makes enough for 3-4 bowls.
Almond and Curry Sauce
Slightly sweet, slightly spicy, this substantial sauce goes well with cooked root vegetables and adds a protein punch to your bowl. I used a food processor for this batch, which was chunky; I think I’d use a blender next time (or even use almond butter instead of fresh almonds).
6-10 dried dates, roughly chopped, to taste
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (90 ml) boiling water
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp (90 ml) natural almonds, with skin
1 tsp (5 ml) freshly grated ginger root
1/2 tsp (5 ml) mild curry powder
1 Tbsp (15 ml) tamari or soy sauce
1 small clove garlic, minced
pinch chili flakes
Place dates in a blender and cover with boiling water. Allow to sit for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients and blend until you have a smooth sauce. Makes enough for 3-4 bowls.
Orange Fig Sauce
Delicious over bowls when a higher protein content is provided by the ingredients in the bowl. This also works beautifully on a tofu omelet.
1/2 cup (120 ml) freshly squeezed orange juice
one 2″ (5 cm) piece of ginger, peeled and minced
1 tsp (5 ml) light miso
2 tsp (10 ml) tamari or soy sauce
1 tsp (5 ml) agave nectar
2 large dried figs, stems removed, chopped
Whir all ingredients in a blender until perfectly smooth. Drizzle over your bowl as desired. Makes enough for 3-4 bowls.
[There's just nothing like a homemade gift for the holidays. This year, with the purse strings a little tighter than usual, I'm determined to make at least a few in my kitchen--and thought I'd share my ideas in case you'd like to partake, too. ]
As I’m wont to do during the drive to work, I tuned in to the CBC this morning and overheard Jian Ghomeshi (isn’t he just the dreamiest??) talk about how excited we Canadians get any time we’re mentioned on American TV. Last evening, in fact, Jon Stewart satirized our impending governmental crisis (if only that were a dream!) on The Daily Show. As a food blogger, I must admit I felt the selfsame patriotic pride last month when Susur Lee (also dreamy) was fêted by Ruth Reichl et al in New York, for the opening of his newest resto, Shang. I mean, now that we’re all firmly entrenched in the Era of the Celebrity Chef courtesy of Food TV, isn’t it just as exciting for us Canadians to hear mention of a Canadian chef in the U.S. media?
Stern was one of the very first “celebrity” chefs in Canada, known across the country at a time when the only viral netorking was an actual virus that networked its way through your mucus membranes and into your sinuses. She ran a highly successful cooking school in Toronto, she owned a kitchenware store beside it, she published severalbest-sellingcookbooks, had her recipes published in a variety of newspapers, and even tried her hand at her own cooking show for a time.
Back in the 90s, at the apex of Stern word-of-mouth buzz, I attended one of her cooking classes; the topic was “Homemade Gifts for the Holidays.” I was thrilled to have secured a coveted space in the always-sold-out classes, even at the exhorbitant fee of $95 (back then!). I was primed to observe the doyenne of cooking in her element, absorb every word she uttered, and finally become privy to the professinal tips and tricks she’d reveal as she prepared the most delectable and irresistible tidbits I’d ever tasted on a holiday table.
Well, I have to tell you straight up that I was bitterly disappointed. Sitting against the back wall of an auditorium-sized classroom (seriously, I had closer seats for forty bucks at the Bruce Springsteen concert that year), all I could see was a tiny figure in the distance that resembled the barely distinguishable collection of phosphor dot people I squinted at regularly on my (then) 12-inch television screen at home–and it wasn’t even Stern herself; it was a poor substitute, a culinary surrogate! After whipping up a series of recipes in quick succession and without much instruction, the recipe demonstrator passed around trays of thimble-sized samples for each person to nibble upon, all fairly bland and unexciting.
One recipe, however, stood apart from the rest, and it alone was (almost) worth the price of admission: Honey Liqueur Fruit Butter. It was a quick, easy spread consisting of dried apricots, candied ginger, and orange liqueur. Although I’m not, as a rule, particularly enamored of jams or jellies, I fell in love with this spread. I swooned. I drooled. I surreptitiously tasted three thimbles full.
I returned home and promptly re-created the spread, not once, but several times over the following few months. I gave away little jars as hostess gifts; I bestowed a few jars on my sisters and close friends; I spread it on bagels, pancakes, muffins and bread. And then, I tucked the recipe away in a file folder and forgot about it for over a decade.
That very folder–older, grayer, fraying at the edges–has been packed up and upacked during seven separate house-moves since that time. This year, while pondering what I might cook up as holiday gifts from my kitchen, I finally remembered it. Like the memory of a first kiss, the thought of that recipe unearthed a wave of longing and a compelling desire to once again re-create that long-ago, captivating sensation. I dug out the file folder and cooked up a batch. And (perhaps unlike that first kiss with your childhood sweetheart) this spread was just as good 15 years later.
I’ve subbed agave for the honey and brandy for the liqueur, with spectacular results. This is a smooth, glossy spread that will keep for more than a month in the refrigerator, since the alcohol acts as a preservative. I love this slathered on breakfast food, but it would be a terrific filling for a danish or rugelach as well.
(“Mum, too bad we can’t have anything with alcohol in it. . . but we’d be happy with all those breakfast foods on their own, next time you’re slathering.”)
Brandied Apricot-Ginger Spread
My notes from the original class tell me you could also substitute dried pears for the apricots, or a combination of prunes and dried apples, adjusting the liqueur accordingly (poire William and armagnac come to mind, but any favorite will work nicely).
8 ounces (225 g.) dried apricots (I used unsulphured organic–fabulous in this!)
2 ounces (55 g.) dried candied ginger, chopped
1 tbsp. (15 ml.) each, grated lemon and orange zest
2 cups (480 ml.) water
1/2 cup (120 ml.) agave nectar, or more to taste
1/4 cup (60 ml.) brandy, orange flavored liqueur, or other liqueur that you like)
Place the apricots, ginger, citrus zest and water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until fruit is soft and almost all the water is absorbed, 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
Turn the mixture in to a food processor and process until smooth. Add the agave and liqueur and blend again until perfectly smooth.
Spoon into clean glass containers or jars; cover and refrigerate. Mixture will keep about a month in the refrigerator.
[I've decided to offer a mini-post every once in a while, for a dish that comes together incredibly quickly, or else is so easy to make that no recipe is required. Here's today's "Flash in the Pan."]
[Thanks to everyone who hazarded guesses about what type of peppers I've got flourishing in my backyard. . . I think we all agree they're not jalapenos, but as to what they actually are, we may never be sure. They're definitely spicy, yummy, and abundant--all I need to know, I guess!]
Another plant that grew beyond any sense of propriety in my back yard this past summer is mint. In my eternal quest to find as many uses as possible for the wayward herb, I began to drink this refreshing, ridiculously simple-to-prepare iced tea almost daily. I’d mix a huge batch of the beverage, pour it into a pitcher in the fridge, and just add ice whenever I felt parched, tired, or even a bit peckish. It always worked to perk up my spirits and leave me reinvigorated.
And no wonder: mint has long been used to help soothe digestive problems, and the oils may also aid in preventing bacterial or fungal infections (perfect for someone like me, who’s been rather slack with her ACD lately). Ginger is renowned as an anti-nausea remedy (which is why real ginger ale is so great for pregnant women). It’s also an effective anti-inflammatory and has been shown to help prevent various types of cancers while boosting the immune system.
With all these benefits in a delicious and easy drink, there’s just no reason not to sip some every day.
Fresh Ginger Mint Iced Tea
about 2 cups (480 ml.) unpacked fresh mint leaves
2 2-inch (2.5 cm) pieces of ginger, peeled and sliced into think disks
8 cups (2 liters) boiling water
agave nectar, to taste
splash of lemon juice, if desired
Either coarsely chop the mint, or place In the bottom of a large glass or other non-reactive bowl (big enough to hold 8 cups or 2 liters) and then muddle with the end of a wooden spoon or muddler (but really, who actually owns a muddler??). Add the ginger disks.
Pour boiling water into the bowl and stir gently to submerge all the leaves. Cover if possible while allowing to steep (I used the lid from my wok, which was large enough to cover the entire bowl). Allow to steep 5-10 minutes, or longer if you prefer a stronger brew. Add agave and lemon juice, if desired. The tea can be used immediately if poured over lots of ice (the ice will cool it sufficiently). Refrigerate any leftover tea and use as needed. Will keep up to a week in the fridge.
Ah, yes, life is sweet. Not so much in the “I’m a celebrity, I haven’t a care in the world, I’m revoltingly rich, beautiful and vacuous” kind of way; but more in the “every which way I turn I see or think ‘sweet,’ most recently the chocolate chip blondies I devoured last week” kind of way. Also in the “I’m finally finished marking for the semester and it feels so sweet to be able to breathe for a few days before it all starts up again next week” kind of way. But I wouldn’t want to forget the “blog readers are truly some of the sweetest people in the world and the principal reason I’m so thrilled to be back here and blogging again” kind of way, either.
I have to tell you, as a rule, I consider myself pretty lucky in the friends department. I mean, I’ve made some really great pals over the years (in fact, I’ve known a few of my friends even longer than I’ve known my younger sister!–take that, Oprah and Gayle).
But you know what? Ever since I started blogging last year, I’ve been repeatedly amazed at the level of support, compassion, and just basic goodwill that abounds among blog readers and writers, rivalling any of the best friendships out there. I can’t tell you all how much I appreciate that you keep coming back to read and comment (even when I disappear for a spell) and how much I enjoy my forays into reading all my favorite blogs out there as well. And so, without disintegrating into pure mush, please accept my heartfelt thanks, and a big virtual bear hug. Truly, sweet.
And now, on to our other “sweets” of the day. . .
First: My diet, temporarily an official “No-Sweets” Zone.
Forget the term, ”yo-yo dieter.” With me, it’s more like a “bungee-jump” dieter. Up, down, Up, down. Waaaaay up, waay down (and note how the “waay” down is smaller than the “waaaaay” up–in other words, a net gain). Seems the more I diet, the more my weight rebounds upward after a fall. Recently, it struck me that I am more or less at the same weight I was when I began this blog (at which point my goal was to lose 40 pounds!!). Still, like die-hard smokers who wish to quit, we overly zaftig people who wish to lose weight must persevere! I’m thankful that 90% of the food I put in my mouth is healthful and very nourishing. The other ten per cent, well. . . that explains the weight gain.
Several times on this blog, I’ve mentioned the anti-candida diet I endured a few years ago when my symptoms got truly out of hand. Well, I’ve decided it’s time to return to that diet as a way to rid myself of the sweets addiction once and for all (I think of it as the “Chunky Monkey on my back“). This time, the cleanse will be somewhat shorter than previously (which lasted 2 years!).
What does this mean for the blog? Not much, I’m hoping. Most of my eating habits already fall in line with this new regimen (about which I’ll blog anon–this post will be long enough without fitting it in today). The restrictions represent a new and–truth be told–somewhat exciting culinary challenge for me: can I concoct appealing, delicious dishes, even some alluring desserts, all within the bounds of the diet? And afterwards, can I learn to consume dessert as a regular part of my menu, yet in moderation and sans cravings? Only time will tell (and so will I, right here on this blog).
Second: Announcing Sweet Freedom!
As I mentioned last time, I’ve been working on this project for a while now (just about a year–even before I started this blog!). After I closed down my full-time baking business in 2006, I decided to begin working on a cookbook containing recipes for my most popular products; because I’d been running the business for a few years, I already had a full compliment of proven recipes at the ready. So in August 2007, I began mailing out cookbook proposals to various publishers (I eventually heard from two who expressed an interest in the project, only to decide against it after months of correspondence). And then, as I plowed my way through yet another set of student papers last week, I wondered: why not just publish this book myself? And so, I averred, I shall!
Now, before I go on, yes, I do recognize the irony of doing a dessert book when I’ve just sworn off desserts. But as I said above, my goal, ultimately, is to be capable of incorporating healthy desserts into my diet, in moderation–and these happen to be just that kind of dessert!
I also know that there are scads (not to mention oodles, a plethora, loads and a real glut) of bloggers’ cookbooks already out there right now. Who needs one more? But when I started receiving emails from people asking if I had a cookbook, and when my former customers asked if I’d consider printing up my recipes so they could bake their treats at home, and when I thought of all those existing recipes just lying idle in a filing cabinet. . . well, I just couldn’t leave them to such an ignominious fate.
Mine will be a dessert-only book, and everything in it is compatible with the NAG diet that I try to follow all the time. Many of these recipes are already familiar to my former customers here in Toronto, so when the book is published, they’ll be able to bake the same muffins, cookies, and cakes that they used to buy at local health food stores. And once I made the decision, I got really excited about sharing the recipes and “doing them up right”!
The book, called Sweet Freedom, will contain recipes for a wide variety of baked goods and other sweet treats, all in a style similar to those you find on this blog (in fact, a few of the DDD recipes will also find their way into the book). However, the majority of the cookbook’s 100+ recipes will be new, having not appeared anywhere else. All the recipes are made with without wheat, eggs, dairy, or refined sweeteners; many are gluten free, soy free, and corn free as well (I’ll tag each recipe according to the category into which it fits). In other words, these are sweets that even people with food sensitivities (like me) are free to enjoy! Eventually, I plan to post a full Table of Contents with the names of all the recipes, but for now, if you’d like a peek at some photos of goodies from the book, I’ve started a blog that’s devoted just to that. I’m aiming for a publication date late this year or early next year; I’ll keep you updated occasionally on this site, too.
In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you all about what you’d look for in a “good-for-you” baking book, or whether you’ve got specific items you’d like to see in it. And it you’ve ever tried any of the desserts from this site, I’d love your feedback on the recipes. Just leave any thoughts, ideas, or suggestions in the comments section, or send me at email at dietdessertdogs AT gmail DOT com.
And finally: A sweet (potato) ending to this post. . .
I couldn’t very well leave without posting a recipe, could I? I actually mentioned this dish way back in my second blog entry, but since there were only two readers that day (no, literally, two readers), I thought it was worth repeating. This is a salad from Everyday Food magazine, and it’s both simple and delicious. I like it so much that I’ve made an entire meal out of it, in fact. The trick to its appeal, I think, is that Martha advises us to bake the sweet potato rather than boil it–and that seems to make all the difference.
Sweet Potato and Ginger Salad
This salad is filling and satisfying, with a tangy ginger and dijon-based dressing to complement the yielding sweetness of the potatoes. I enjoy this most at room temperature, but it can be eaten cold or hot as well. Great for a picnic or party table.
2-1/2 pounds (about 1 kilo) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes (2-3 medium potatoes)
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. (45 ml.) fresh orange juice
1-1/2 Tbsp. (22.5 ml.) extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2 Tbsp. (22.5 ml.) grated fresh ginger
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
4 green onions, sliced
Preheat oven to 425F ( C). In a large bowl, toss the potatoes with the 3 Tbsp. olive oil; season with sea salt and pepper, to taste. Roast until just tender, about 35 minutes.
In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together the juice, 1-1/2 Tbsp. oil, and mustard. Add potatoes and green onions and toss to coat well. Serve warm, cold, or at room temperature. Makes 4-6 servings.
Necessity is the mother of many a new recipe in our house.
Because there are only the two of us (humans) living here (“Don’t forget about us, Mum!“), it’s usually fairly easy to decide what to have for dinner, or what to buy at the grocery store. My HH and I share many a similar taste, except for all that animal flesh he eats, and we even enjoy cooking together whenever we do cook (which seems to be less and less frequently these days, come to think of it).
One thing we have in common is an apathetic response to pears. I crave a fresh pear probably twice a year–no connection to any other event or season; it’s just something that happens, and then I eat a pear. When I do bite into it, I do appreciate all its lush juiciness, smooth, aromatic flesh and the little-known fibre boost it supplies.
Pears wouldn’t be a problem over here, except that we are also the happy recipients of a weekly organic fruit and vegetable box. When I’m not being lazy, or when I have extra time on my hands, I will contact the company ahead of time if there’s something I don’t want (such as cantaloupe, or extra mushrooms) and they will kindly exchange it for something else I do want (such as kale, or sweet potatoes). However, more often than not, I am forgetful this way, and we end up with two to four pears in the box.
If I’m indifferent to fresh pears, my HH is positively aloof. He won’t eat them; doesn’t like them; won’t even so much as glance in their direction. The result of this situation at home is the all-too-frequent overly ripe pears sitting in a bowl in our kitchen, looking ennervated and gloomy and feebly hanging on for dear life. What to do?
In the past, I’ve simply chucked them, with no fanfare and lots of guilt (well, at least I put them in the organic waste bin). Then I realized that I could quarter, core, and freeze them for later use in a morning smoothie, along with my frozen banana and berries. This worked well, and I enjoyed the added flavor imparted by the pears. Eventually, though, the number of ziplocs containing pears just grew too large.
A couple of weeks ago, I decided to whip up some of my favorite oatbran banana muffins, and grabbed a bag of frozen overripe bananas to defrost. To my dismay, I realized once it was too late to re-freeze them that the melted, leaky mass in the bowl wasn’t bananas at all, but a batch of my frozen pears. What to do?
The pear slices were too soggy and soft to use as they were (and certainly not suitable to cut into dice, as is so often the requirement for any baked goods made with fresh pears). I had a wonderful recipe for pear and ginger muffins that I’d made about a year ago, but it called for freshly diced pears, and this mass of oozing, juicy, soggy goo was just too amorphous for any such recipe.
Then it hit me that I could do with the pears what I had intended to do with the bananas: grab my trusty hand blender and whip them in to a puree. Then use the puree in a quickbread recipe.
I got to work and concocted what I thought would work. I even threw in some Salba, as I’d just bought my first bag (for the low, low price of $13.70!!!) and wanted to experiment. An hour later, I had four pear and ginger loaves–a little too flat, a little too dry, but on the right track. A few more test runs, and I was pleased enough to give the results to my HH to taste. I told him it was a “spice bread.”
Well, let’s just say, the days of the Pear Prohibition are over. My HH made quick work of 2 loaves in succession that very night, then asked for another for breakfast the next day. I’ve since told him they contain pear, and he’s even okay with it.
Here’s the recipe, so you can see what you think. Another reason I’m excited about it is that this will be my first contribution to the ARF/5-A-Day Tuesday round-up next week, hosted by Cate at Sweetnicks.
[NB. Those eagle-eyed among you (okay, technically "between you," since among is reserved for more than two) will notice that there is, indeed, a photo attached to this post, despite my earlier whining that I'd forgotten my camera up north. Luckily, I shot a few photos of my pear loaves last week, when I baked them. Wow, that free camera can snap nifty photos!]
Mini Pear and Ginger Loaves
1-1/3 cups (approx 325 ml) pear puree (can be fresh or previously frozen; use overripe pears)
2 tsp. (10 ml.) freshly grated ginger root
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) finely ground chia seeds (I’m guessing you can substitute ground flax seeds as well)
2/3 cup (160 ml) agave nectar (dark or light–your choice)
1/2 cup (120 ml) organic sunflower or other light-tasting oil
2 Tbsp. (30 ml.) good quality balsamic vinegar
1 tsp. ( 5 ml.) pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. (2.5 ml.) pure lemon extract
2/3 cup (75 g.) walnuts, broken into pieces
1-1/3 cups (175 g.) whole barley flour
2/3 cup (85 g.) whole oat flour
1-1/2 tsp. (7 ml) aluminum-free baking powder
1 tsp. (5 ml) baking soda
1/2 tsp. (2 ml.) sea salt
2 tsp. (10 ml.) ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. (1 ml.), scant, ground cloves
Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Lightly spray an 8-loaf mini loaf pan (or 8 individual mini loaf pans) with nonstick spray, or line with paper liners.
In a medium bowl, combine the pear puree, ginger, Salba, agave nectar, oil, vinegar, vanilla, and lemon extract. Mix well, then gently fold in the walnut pieces. Set aside while you measure the dry ingredients, or for at least 2 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift together the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves.
Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir to combine. Do not overmix (it’s okay if a few small dry lumps remain here and there). Using a large ice cream scoop or small measuring cup, pour the mixture into the loaf pans, filling about 3/4 full (these won’t rise a lot more once they’re in the oven).
Bake in preheated oven for about 30 minutes, rotating the pan once after 20 minutes to ensure even heating. Loaves are ready when a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean but moist.
Cool 5 minutes in pans, then remove to racks to cool. These freeze well. Makes 8 mini loaves. May also be baked as muffins.
Final note: the last time I whipped these up, I was probably daydreaming while stirring and forgot entirely to add the oil; it didn’t make a huge difference, and they were still delicious. So you can also bake these as fat-free Pear and Ginger Mini Loaves or Muffins, if you wish.
[This recipe will also appear in my upcoming cookbook, Sweet Freedom, along with more than 100 others, most of which are not featured on this blog. For more information, check the "Cookbook" button at right, or visit the cookbook blog.]