Tag Archives: dates

What’s Been Cookin’ (And A Tasty Protein Shake)

It’s about time I shared with you the main reason for me being so inconsistent and sporadic with my posts these days (by the way, A BIG thank you to many of you who have written asking me ‘what’s up?’).

Well, I am thrilled to announce that I have gone back to school! 🙂 CSNN study booksNot as a teacher, as some of you would suspect (I work as an occasional school teacher in my small town). I am back to school as a student and loving every minute of it. It really feels good to hit the books once again. Most importantly, it feels good to finally work on completing something I started nearly 15 years ago.  By the end of 2015, I hope to have earned my certificate in Holistic Nutrition from The Canadian School of Natural Nutrition. Yay!!

Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway. ~ Earl Nightingale

I do realize that earning my Holistic Nutrition Certificate may involve some blood, sweat and tears, but I’m up for the challenge. At 45 years of age, it’s been some time since I’ve had to take tests and write reports. Thankfully, my busy family is on board and they are giving me all the love and support I need to fulfill my goals.

I have many interests and hobbies and one of them is this food blog. While I study, I will continue to post all the delicious gluten-free and plant-based dishes that are palate-approved by my family and friends. However, for the next little while my posts will be a little “here and there”. If time goes by between posts, as it so easily does, please know that I will be back!

If you haven’t already done so, I would love for you to like my Facebook page. I tend to use Facebook to share tidbits of interesting health and nutrition info, as well as recipes so worth trying. Lately, I’ve been inspired by the many vegan athletes fulfilling their dreams. You’ll see a few of those stories on my fb page, too.

Now…back to the books, but first I’ll whip up a shake.

PINEAPPLE PROTEIN SHAKE (from Ani’s 15-Day Fat Blast)

  • 1 1/2 cups frozen pineapple
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal
  • 1 cup filtered water (I used coconut water)
  • 2 pitted dates
  • 1 teaspoon spirulina*

Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Ani Phyo, an award-winning chef and raw food guru,  says it will keep in your fridge for two days. I seem to drink it within minutes! 😉

* Spirulina is a microscopic blue-green algae. But don’t let that turn you away!  This superfood contains high amounts of protein, essential amino acids, essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. You can find it in many natural health food stores. I have seen it in powder form or in pressed tablets. I like to purchase it as a powder, so that I can add it to a variety of recipes. On its own, it tastes like seaweed.  If this is not your choice flavour, rest assure – you will not taste it in fruit smoothies like this one!!

Cheers!! 🙂

Pineapple Protein Shake

 

Put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up

“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”

I read this quote not too long ago and I can’t agree with it more.

Last month, we were fortunate enough to abandon our not-so-nice Spring weather and drive nearly 3,000 kilometers to the sunny state of Florida.  I have an aunt that lives in a heavenly nook on the ocean in the Florida Keys.  Knowing we are avid travelers, my aunt has asked us several times to visit her – all the while enticing us with tales of iguanas, alligators, dolphins and some fabulous kayaking.  My husband and I finally decided earlier this Spring that June was the right time to pack up the family and pay my aunt a visit.

One of the first things we noticed when we finally pulled up to my aunt’s home was that she was surrounded by a splendid crop of palms and they were all lush with coconuts – beautiful, green coconuts!

Fresh, young, green coconuts are a true gem.  If you were to crack one open, you would find a nearly clear liquid that is mildly sweet, refreshing and fat-free.  This liquid is called coconut water.  Chock-full of electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants, coconut water is known in the tropics as a “natural sports drink” due to its ability to combat dehydration and heat stroke.  According to Bruce Fife, N.D., in his book Coconut Water for Health and Healing, coconut water has also gained popularity for its amazing “anti-cancer” and “anti-aging” properties.

With temperatures reaching the high 30s (Celsius),  you can imagine our excitement at having so many green coconuts right there within arms’ reach.

With some fruit smoothies and a kayak through the mangroves in mind, my husband, Dan, set out to harvest some coconuts.  This became a ritual each morning we were in the Keys.

Once cut from the tree, Dan would carefully cut off the top of each coconut.

He would then puncture a hole at the top.

The coconut water was finally poured into a large glass. We received nearly 2 cups from every coconut.

You may want to consider adding coconut water to your water bottle before your next outdoor adventure or workout.  Compared to commercial sport drinks and fruit juices, coconut water has far less sugar and contains more electrolytes and nutrients.

However, like most food products,  when choosing a brand of coconut water, it is very important to read the label of the product carefully.  Some brands do contain added sugar, artificial flavourings, and preservatives which make it no better than a flavoured drink.  Look for a brand that is “not from concentrate”.  You should find one in your local health food store and in the natural foods section of your grocery store.  It may cost a little more, but so worth it!

Brendan Brazier, professional Ironman Triathlete and formulator of Vega products, uses coconut water as the base ingredient in many of his sport drinks recipes.  One of our personal favourites is Brazier’s Classic Lemon Lime Sport Drink (from his book, Thrive Fitness).  Along with a full water bottle, my daughter likes to take this drink with her to the ice rink for training.  It’s super easy to make – just blend all ingredients together in a blender.  If you enjoy a sweeter drink, try adding a tablespoon of maple syrup. 😉

  • 2 large Medjool dates
  • 2 cups coconut water
  • 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • juice from 1/4 lime
  • sea salt to taste

sportsdrink

“For the Road” Raw Balls

powerballs

This post is going to be short, but sweet.  I made these for a very long car trip that I will be taking tomorrow morning.   I thought these tasty fudge-like morsels would be a perfect pick-me-up for my long haul.

For the next 3 weeks, I will be away from my computer, so I will not be making any posts.  Instead,  I will be engaged in some kayaking, snorkeling and some all around good outdoor fun with a few very adventurous family members.  Reading is definitely in order.  I packed the newest addition to my library, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. 🙂

These raw balls were inspired by Alicia Silverstone’s Raw Balls. They are quick and easy to put together and are forgiving if you desire to get “creative” in the kitchen.  If you don’t like getting your hands messy, then ask the kids to do it!

For the Road Raw Balls

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates
  • a little less than 1/2 cup raw carob powder
  • a little less than 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup raw almond butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • some shredded unsweetened coconut on a plate for rolling

In a food processor, process almonds until coarsely ground. Add the dates and pulse a few times. Add the carob powder, maple syrup, almond butter, vanilla, and salt. Process until the mixture is thick and smooth. Add the cashews and sunflower seeds and pulse a few times. I like the cashews and seeds to remain in chunks.

Roll the mixture into approximately 12 balls with your hands. Roll the balls on a plate of shredded coconut. Place balls in a sealed container in the freezer until hardened.

These may be my breakfast. 😉 See you in 3 weeks!

Pear and Almond Smoothie

pearsmoothie

I have to share this smoothie!  We have made this smoothie every morning this week before school or work and I just made it again for myself this afternoon.  We are a little addicted.

The original recipe comes from  Wanigan Organic Fruits and Vegetables in Brampton, Ontario. Last weekend, I had my husband make a stop there for some fruits and veggies before his trek home.  This store has the best variety and the most gorgeous looking produce you will ever see!  On the back of his receipt, we found this smoothie recipe.  I made one little substitution and one wee addition.  I replaced the teaspoon of vanilla extract with a 1/2 scoop of Vanilla SunWarrior Protein Powder and added some grated nutmeg.  So, chai-like!

PEAR AND ALMOND SMOOTHIE

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 chopped pear
  • 1 date, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter (I used a raw almond butter)
  • 1/2 scoop of Vanilla SunWarrior Protein Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • bit of grated nutmeg or dash of ground nutmeg

Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth.  I enjoyed my last glass with a couple of ice cubes on my deck. 🙂

Chocolate Chip Brownies

Gluten-free. Vegan. No refined sugar. Easy to make.  Absolutely delicious!!

brownies_edited-1

This recipe comes from Living Without – a “magazine for people with allergies and food sensitivities”.  I took the recipe and made it vegan-style using flax meal gel for the eggs, agave for the honey, and some dairy-free chocolate chips.  Warning: reserve a good piece for yourself – the pan seems to vanish within minutes after baking. 🙂

CHOCOLATE CHIP BROWNIES

  • 1/2 cup pitted dates soaked in water over night or for at least a few hours
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free All-Purpose flour*
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons flax meal
  • 6 tablespoons warm water
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup of dairy-free chocolate chips (I used Enjoy Life chips)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 8 x 8 or a 11 x 7 baking dish with parchment paper. Grease the top of the paper and bottom and sides of the pan with some coconut oil.

Prepare flax meal gel by placing flax meal in a bowl with warm water. Stir with a fork. Set aside.

Place flours, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt in a bowl.  Whisk to combine and set aside.

Drain liquid from soaked dates. Combine dates, coconut oil, flax meal gel, and vanilla in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade.  Mix until smooth. Add the dry ingredients and blend only enough to combine. Scrape batter into a bowl and fold in chocolate chips.

Spread batter into prepared pan and bake for 25- 30 minutes on middle rack.  Allow brownies to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before serving.

* You can make your own Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend – mix together 1/2 cup rice flour, 1/4 cup tapioca starch/flour, and 1/4 cup cornstarch or potato starch.  Keep in a closed container in your fridge to keep the blend fresh.

Sweet Potato Drop Biscuits and Apple-Date Butter

Sweetened only with maple syrup, these biscuits are a delicious and easy to make accompaniment to any soup, salad, or stew.  Last day, I reserved 1 cup of sweet potato puree (minus the butter, milk and seasonings)  from my Curried Coconut Sweet Potato Soup.  Making your own puree is simple and healthy,  but canned sweet potato puree works well for this recipe, too.

My family loves to smear butter or preserves on their warm biscuits.  Although a spread is certainly not needed, I decided to surprise my family with something different.  I had quite a few organic McIntosh apples in my fridge, so I chose to make apple butter!   This recipe uses a handful of pitted dates instead of sugar.  Dates work wonders in smoothies and baking, so I thought they would go nicely with the stewed apples.  I was right.  The outcome was outstanding!  And…it was made in my crock pot while I was out at the kids’ activities.

SWEET POTATO DROP BISCUITS

  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 cup gluten-free all purpose flour*
  • 1/2 tsp. xanthum gum*
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg (I use fresh, grated nutmeg)
  • 2-3 tbsp. water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.  Stir together mashed sweet potato, coconut oil, maple syrup, apple cider vinegar and sea salt in a large bowl.  Combine gluten-free all purpose flour, xanthum gum, baking powder, and ground nutmeg in a separate bowl.  Cut flour mixture into sweet potato mixture with a fork.  Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time,  to hold mixture together.  Drop golf size mix onto baking sheet and bake for approximately 15-17 minutes.  Serve warm with apple-date butter.

*Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Blend – This recipe comes from a copy of one of my many Living Without magazines.  I purchase the ingredients from a bulk store and make it up in a large container for future baking.  I usually double or triple the recipe to guarantee quick access to the flour when needed.  I suggest copying the recipe and attaching it to your flour container.  Store your flour in the fridge to preserve its freshness.

  • 1/2 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch/flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch

*Xanthum gum keeps your baking from crumbling! Some commercial flour blends contain xanthum or guar gum, so there is no need to add more.

APPLE-DATE BUTTER

  • 7 medium sized apples, cored and quartered (yes, I left the skins on!)
  • one handful of pitted dates
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • about 1/4 cup water

Place all of the above ingredients in a crock pot.  Cook on high for the first hour, then reduce temperature to low for 5 hours.  Puree mixture with a hand-held mixer or, once cooled,  in a food processor.  Serve with warm biscuits.  Leftover apple-date butter can be stored in a glass jar in the fridge.  I plan to use 3 tablespoons as an egg substitute in some future oatmeal and raisin cookies!