Sunday, July 29, 2012

Coconut Sweet Potato Oatmeal Cookies

These cookies are very similar to yesterday's, but without the zing that ginger adds.  Instead, these are coconut-bliss.  Kind of tropical, in tune with the weather of late.  They come from the same source, and like yesterday's cookies are easy to whip up and come out somewhat like a granola bar, but bite-sized and easily portable on my walks with the ladies.  Got to love a quick Sunday afternoon treat!

Coconut Sweet Potato Oatmeal Cookies
Makes: about 2 dozen cookies

2 ripe bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup shredded coconut, unsweetened
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup cooked sweet potato (or pureed pumpkin)
1/4 - 1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

In a large mixing bowl mash 2 ripe bananas.  Add vanilla, coconut oil, maple syrup and mix well. 

In a separate bowl, combine oats, coconut, pecans, cinnamon, baking powder and sea salt.  Slowly stir the sweet potato into the oat mixture making sure to break up all of the clumps.   Stir this mixture into the wet mixture.

Using an ice cream scoop, scoop about 2 tablespoons of the batter onto the cookie sheet to form a cookie. Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven and allow them to cool for about 15 minutes.  

Source: slightly adapted from Sweet Potato Soul.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Oat Date Ginger Cookies

I had a great walk this morning with my walking group.  It's the first time I've been in the company of those three great ladies in quite a while, and I enjoyed every minute!  The weather was beautiful, the trail was a little different from our usual, and I got in 12 kilometers.  Who could ask for more?

I'm always on the lookout for great snacks.  I need something that  will help me push through the next workout, the next hour of my walks, or help tide me over until the next meal, if it happens to be later than I was expecting.  Thankfully there are tons of recipes out there! All I have to do is delve into my Clean Eating books, or do a search on the internet looking for snacks that will fit.  This latest recipe is one I found online.  It has lots of good, healthy things in there, and the finished cookie still comes out chewy and sweet.

Oat Date Ginger Cookies
Makes: about 24 cookies

2 very ripe bananas
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
2 Tbsp flax seeds (I used ground)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
3-4 chopped dates
1/4 cup raisins
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh, diced ginger
4-5 walnuts, crushed

Preheat oven to 350F and line a cookie sheet with parchment or silpat.

In a large mixing bowl mash bananas until liquified.

Add olive oil and maple syrup and stir to blend. Add oats, flax, and spices and mix, scraping down sides of the bowl.  Add remaining ingredients and mix.

Scoop out mixture into tablespoon-sized balls then place on cookie sheet. The cookies will not change in size, so don't worry about putting them too close together.

Bake for 12-15 minutes.  Let cool a few minutes on the sheet, before removing to a wire rack.

Source: Sweet Potato Soul.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Local Drought and Fire

For those of you not currently living in Eastern Ontario or the Ottawa Valley, you may not be aware of the drought conditions in the area.  Even for some of those who live here, I'm finding a lot of people are oblivious, worrying more about their lawn than the food supply.  Even Ottawa's greenbelt, our city's pride and joy, is suffering this summer with a fire that is still not completely out, ten days later.

Some people appear to have lost the basic connection that rain + sun = crops which feed us and the animals we consume to survive.  Maybe it's the fact that we can get strawberries in January, or import any exotic thing we want, whenever we want that is contributing to that disconnect, but either way, we need rain here.  By the time people see the difference in their grocery bill, it will be too late.

Ottawa's hottest + driest summer
Dry summer worries farmers
Drought conditions declared
Ontario crops wither
Greenbelt fire 

Want to help?  Support local farmers -- they need help this year to deal with increased cost of feeding their animals and keeping them alive in this heat and drought.  Buy local produce, encourage your local MPs and MPPs to support the farmers, and reduce your water consumption.

If you smoke, make sure to butt out properly -- it is believed that the Moodie drive fire in the Greenbelt, was started by a discarded cigarette butt.

If nothing else -- hope, wish, pray for rain.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Black Bean Brownies

Ever notice how convenience food is nearly always bad for you?  It's like the only way healthy food appeals to you when you're in a hurry or are really busy is when it's completely ready-to-eat; no hassles.  Even rinsing fruit might seem like work to busy-me when there's junk food within arm's reach.  So, what's the solution?  I've been trying out the idea of washing and chopping my vegetables as soon as I've gotten them home from the grocery store.  I'm strictly bringing my meals to work, instead of buying them.  And, I'm making healthy snacks.  Some have turned out better than others.

Rachel suggested the recipe I'm posting tonight.  It's sugar-free, grain-free, and depending on the chips you use, they can be other allergen free as well.  These took some experimenting to get the Stevia level right, and I've learned through making several batches that the chocolate chips really do need to be stirred in as well as being on top, otherwise the beany taste shines through.  Let the processor go at the beans for a while -- the smoother the better.  It keeps the beans as a "secret" ingredient, the smoother you make them.

Don't be discouraged if you don't get the sweetener ratio right on the first try.  It took me a few times to get it to suit my taste.  I'm glad I put in the time to do so -- this recipe makes a great portable snack wrapped up for work breaks.

Black Bean Brownies
Makes: 9 or 12 or 16 brownies (cut to your liking)

1 15 oz can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed (Eden Organics are BPA-free)
3 large eggs
1/3 cup melted coconut oil, plus some for the pan
1/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp mint extract (or pure vanilla extract)
1/3 cup powdered Stevia
1/2 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life brand are allergen free)

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease an 8-inch baking pan with coconut oil and set aside.

Place the black beans, eggs, coconut oil, cocoa powder, mint extract and Stevia in a food processor and process until smooth.  This may take several minutes, scraping down the sides occasionally.  Remove the blade and gently stir in the half the chocolate chips.  Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and drizzle with remaining chocolate chips.

Bake the brownies for 30-35 minutes, or until set in the centre.  Cool before cutting into squares.


Source: Rachel Hewitt, RHN.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Spicy Glazed Meatloaf

I <3 clean eating.  It's no secret.  I love that I can get delicious, healthy, filling meals without sacrificing taste, or doing the damage that eating preservatives and processed foods can do.  And (as you can tell) I'm a huge fan of Clean Eating Magazine.  With one notable exception: clean eating seems to have a minor hate on for beef.  I keep finding recipes that sound great, until the part where in place of ground beef, they use ground chicken or turkey "for a leaner alternative".  I get that they've got the science and the numbers to back that up.  I get that they can prove to me on paper that I shouldn't be eating beef all day every day.  I get it, really I do.  But turkey isn't beef-flavoured, and sometimes, what I really want, is beef!

All that to say I was super-duper excited to find this really beefy meatloaf recipe in the January / February 2012 issue of Clean Eating Magazine.  I've made it several times already, and really, really enjoyed it.  So much so that I've made the mistake of digging into it before I had a chance to take any good pictures... that's why it's taken so long to get around to posting it.  I found a really good beefy recipe with no turkey!

I made this one with the air conditioner cranked up, because it takes a lot of oven time... it's not really July-appropriate.  My kitchen was boiling and so was I after eating it, but hey, hot and happy is better than hot and not :)

Spicy Glazed Meatloaf
Makes: 8 slices

1/2 yellow onion, roughly chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped into 2-inch pieces
2 stalks celery, chopped into 2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 cup rolled oats
1 tsp chili powder
2 tsp fresh thyme (or 1/2 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 egg
2 1/2 lean ground sirloin (beef!!)
1 cup ketchup
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 375F.  Coat an 8-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse onion, carrots, celery and garlic until chopped, about 10 pulses.

In a medium bowl, mix together oats, chili powder, thyme, salt and pepper; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat egg then add the beef.  Mix together well (you may need to use your hands.)  Add oat mixture and onion mixture (again, you may need to use your hands) until well combined.  Press into loaf pan, smoothing with the back of a spoon (or your fingers.)  Place pan on a baking sheet and bake in oven for 1 hour.

Prepare the glaze by mixing the ketchup, cumin, and Worcestershire sauce in a small bowl.  Remove meatloaf from oven and pour glaze on top, distributing evenly.  Bake again for 30 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer reads 160F when inserted into centre. 

Let cool for 10 minutes.  Slice into 8 equal pieces and serve.

Source: Clean Eating Magazine, January / February 2012.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Loaded Quinoa Bowl

It's hot this week, and I've been really appreciating my cooled kitchen.  A lot of the recipes I have planned for this week take advantage of the cool air.  All things considered, my menu doesn't change much depending on the heat.  But what if it did?  I was thinking of how my menu would be based more on cool temperature, no-cook recipes, or on recipes that make the most of leftovers from already cooked meals.  Off in search of something new to try, I came upon this one.  It's perfect! It can easily incorporate leftover quinoa or asparagus if you have it, or, if you don't, it'll leave enough left over for somebody's lunch the next day.  Have you ever tried quinoa for breakfast?  It's a neat alternative to oatmeal, and is good warm or cool.

This recipe was great as one lunch and one supper, with the leftover asparagus, and chickpeas going toward other meals and snacks.  But, there is enough leftover food to get a double-batch, if you were so inclined.

Loaded Quinoa Bowl
Makes: 2 servings

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
8 thin spears asparagus, trimmed and chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, cilantro and/or parsley (or small amount dried)
1 Tbsp raw unsalted almonds
1 1/2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste


In a medium saucepan, bring 1 cup water and quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer until water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. During the last minute of cooking, add asparagus and cover. Remove from heat and set aside, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and let cool to room temperature, about 15 minutes.

Add bell pepper, chickpeas, lemon juice, herbs, almonds and oil. Toss to combine and season with salt and pepper.
 Source: Clean Eating magazine online.