Tag Archives: flax

Super-Charge Me! Cookies

24 Dec

If your past few weeks have been anything like mine, your pants may be feeling a bit too tight due to copious amounts of treats and sweets at work and various holiday gatherings with family and friends. It’s hard to say no to gingerbread, chocolates, and shortbread everywhere you turn, but sometimes it’s possible to find healthier alternatives.

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While still a treat, these Super-Charge Me! oatmeal chocolate chip cookies use 100% whole grains, they’re free of butter and eggs for the vegans in your life, and rich in omega-3 fatty acids thanks to the inclusion of ground flax seed. Despite the absence of white flour, white sugar, and butter (the trifecta of most delicious cookie recipes), they still taste like cookies. Really good cookies. Believe me.

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Not only will your family and friends be surprised to learn that they’re a healthier cookie, Santa will thank you for helping him stay trim so he can continue to deliver presents year after year.

Merry Christmas to all!

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Super-Charge Me! Cookies
(from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan)

1 cup rolled oats or quick oats
2/3 cup spelt flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 to 1/3 cup raisins or chopped dried fruit
3 to 4 tbsp carob or chocolate chips (optional; or use more dried fruit, nuts, or seeds)
1 tsp baking powder
1/3 cup flax meal (aka ground flax seed, not whole flax seed)
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
3 tbsp almond butter (may use cashew, peanut, or hemp seed butter)
1-1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp organic neutral-flavored oil

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine oats, flour, salt, cinnamon, coconut, raisins (or other dried fruit), and carob or chocolate chips. Sift in baking powder, and stir until well combined.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flax meal, syrup, almond butter, and vanilla and stir until well combined. Stir in oil.
  4. Add wet mixture to dry, and stir until just well combined (do not overmix).  Spoon batter onto prepared baking sheet evenly spaced apart, and lightly flatten. Bake for 13 minutes (no longer, or they will dry out). Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 1 minute (no longer), then transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes 12 cookies. Per cookie: 185 kcal, 7.9 g fat (2.1 g saturated), 27 g carbohydrate, 3.5 g fibre, 3.6 g protein, 55 mg sodium

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Baked Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cups

28 Jun

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

We’ve all heard that line time and time again. From our parents, doctors, the media, and even nagging spouses (myself included). But is there any truth to it?

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During the overnight period, our body uses energy stores to support essential processes like breathing and to repair itself from damage. Eating breakfast helps replenish the energy stores that have been used up while we sleep and gives us much needed calories to help us function at our best in our morning activities.

If you feel like you’re already operating at full tilt without breakfast, perhaps its impact on weight will change your mind. Observational studies have found that adults who skip breakfast are more likely to be overweight or obese. In men in particular, there is evidence to suggest that eating breakfast may protect against weight gain.

If you’re still not convinced, regular breakfast consumption leads to diets of higher nutritional quality and those who eat breakfast tend to rate their health status better than those who do not.

So is breakfast, in fact, the most important meal of the day? Clearly it’s important, but whether breakfast is more important than lunch or dinner is debatable. Skipping any meal can affect glycemic control, lead to hunger pangs and subsequent overeating, and overall lower nutritional adequacy.

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Which brings us to today’s dish: individual baked oatmeal cups. I’ve had this recipe flagged for almost 4 years now (!!!) and finally got around to making it this weekend. While these little guys look just like muffins, they taste just like a bowl of oatmeal— in a convenient grab-and-go format. The ingredients are basic and the prep is equally simple. In a single bowl, mashed banana, applesauce, vanilla extract and egg gets mixed with oats, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. A generous portion of milk is then added which the oats will absorb during baking. Finally, your favourite oatmeal topping (raisins for me) gets mixed in. Bake in a muffin tin for 30 mins, let cool, then store individually wrapped in the fridge (or freezer) for an easy, portable breakfast. And if you’re not on the go, you can eat it warm with a bit of milk (or even yogurt), just like a bowl of oatmeal.

It’s the perfect breakfast for non-breakfast eaters everywhere (like E).

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Baked Cinnamon Raisin Oatmeal Cups
(from www.sugarfreemom.com)

The original recipe uses stevia, a natural sugar-free sweetener with a bitter undertone, so I used a bit of maple syrup instead. 

2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 ripe banana, mashed (approximately ½ cup)
¼ cup maple syrup
5 cups large flake rolled oats
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 ¼ cups milk
2/3 cup raisins (can substitute for fresh or frozen berries, nuts, chocolate chips, etc!)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 12 capacity muffin tins.
  2. In a large bowl, combine eggs, vanilla, applesauce, banana and maple syrup.
  3. Add in oats, flax, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt. Mix well to combine.
  4. Stir in the milk, then add the raisins. Mix well.
  5. Using 1/3 cup measure, pour mixture evenly into muffin cups. The mixture won’t rise much, so you can fill each muffin cup to the brim. You should end up with 20 muffin cups.
  6. Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick in centre comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then carefully remove the oatmeal cups from the muffin tins and allow to fully cool.

Makes 20 oatmeal cups. Per oatmeal cup: 155 kcal, 2.7 g fat, 27 g carbohydrate, 3 g fibre, 5 g protein, 140 mg sodium

Pumped Up Cinnamon Buns

22 Nov

No matter how many lucky stars I may wish on, cinnamon buns will never be a “healthy” treat. But special occasions call for special treats, and everyone wins if you can make a make them a little bit healthier without compromising taste.

It was my dear friend Lucia’s birthday this weekend and we celebrated with a potluck brunch in her honour. My first instinct was to bring a fruit tray (classic dietitian move), but that seemed too boring for such a special friend. With cinnamon buns on my mind all week (and the luxury of a bit of extra time over the weekend), it became clear that my potluck contribution would be a freshly baked batch of sweet, yeasty buns.

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13 years of friendship… time flies!

The Looneyspoons Collection cookbook has a wonderful recipe for cinnamon buns that have more fibre + less fat and sugar than traditional buns.  Despite these healthy modifications, they taste just as good. Some of the white flour is replaced by whole wheat flour, and ground flaxseed adds a punch of fibre and omega-3 fatty acids. While most cinnamon bun recipes call for upwards of 2 cups of sugar and 1 cup of butter per batch, this one calls for a modest 1-1/2 cups of sugar (a small improvement) and 1/3 cup of butter.

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Before going into the oven

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Fresh out of the oven

Cinnamon buns, while intimidating in appearance, are actually relatively simple to make. The key ingredient is TIME as the dough needs to rise not once, but twice before baking. All in all, from start to finish it was a 2+ hour process. The end result was well worth the effort, especially for such a special occasion. Happy Birthday Lucia!

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“Rolls Royce” Cinnamon Rolls
(from The Looneyspoons Collection)

Dough
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 pkg (8 g) or 2-1/4 tsp quick-rising yeast
1 tsp salt
1 cup 1% milk
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg, lightly beaten

Filling
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp butter, at room temperature

Glaze
2 tbsp light cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tbsp butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup icing (confectioner’s) sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. To make dough, combine both flours, flaxseed, yeast, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix well and set aside.
  2. Add milk, sugar, butter and vanilla to a small pot. Heat over medium heat, stirring often, just until milk is warmed, butter is melted, and sugar is dissolved. Do not simmer or boil. (Lisa’s tip: use a thermometer to be safe, following the temperature recommendation on the yeast package). Remove from heat and carefully pour into a large mixing bowl. Add half the flour mixture and egg. Stir using a wooden spoon until well blended. Add remaining flour mixture and stir until a soft ball forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Add a bit more flour if dough is too sticky. Knead dough until smooth and elastic, about 1 minute. Place dough in a clean bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes or until double in size. (Lisa’s tip: pour boiling water in a shallow glass dish, place in the oven, and use this as your “warm place” to allow the dough to rise)
  3. Meanwhile, make filling. Mix brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  5. When dough has risen, turn out onto a lightly flour surface. Roll out dough to a 12 x 14-inch rectangle. Using a butter knife, spread 2 tbsp butter evenly over dough. Sprinkle with brown sugar-cinnamon mixture and spread evenly to edges. Roll up dough jelly-roll style. You should end up with a 12-inch long roll. Using a very sharp knife, slice roll into 12 equal pieces. Arrange rolls in a single layer in prepared pan. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
  6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake rolls for 25 minutes. They should be puffed up and light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool slightly while you prepare glaze. Using an electric mixer, beat together all glaze ingredients in a small bowel until smooth. Spread evenly over warm rolls. (Note: if you prefer to drizzle the glaze, add 1 tbsp milk to the glaze)

Makes 12 rolls. Per roll: 270 kcal, 7 g fat (3.7 g saturated fat), 47 g carbohydrate, 3 g fibre, 6 g protein, 227 mg sodium.

The Salad that Keeps on Giving

22 Oct

Salad has never tasted so good.  After being away at a conference for five days, my body craved fibre and a plethora of colourful veggies when I arrived back home.  Conference food can be notorious for large quantities of nutrient-devoid food.  A typical day was as such: wake, eat breakfast, sit, snack, sit, eat lunch, sit, snack, sit, go out for dinner, bed.  The positive of having so much food provided is the considerable cost savings. The con?  Most snacks are carb-heavy, full of sugar, and hard to resist.  Cake at 10am? Sure! Danish for breakfast? Why not.

And now my saviour: the ultimate salad to “cure” me of a week of poor nutrition.  I first spotted this Asian Kale and Tofu Salad on Pinterest over a year ago.  Why it took me so long to finally make it remains a mystery but I sure won’t wait another year before making it again.  There are a few things you should know about this salad…

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  1. It yields more than one can possibly eat in a week.  And I can eat a lot of salad.  Share it with someone or halve the recipe if you’re solo.
  2. Kale salad can be an acquired taste.  It holds its shape even when dressed, but the crunch can be too much for some.  If you’re weary, use half the recommended amount of the kale and substitute the other half with spinach (add shortly before serving to prevent it from getting soggy).
  3. The ratio of kale to other vegetables was too high for my liking.  Feel free to add more bell pepper, carrot, cucumber, or all of the above.

Below is the original recipe from Clean Eating magazine.  Keep in mind that the recipe serves FAR more than 4 (even 8 servings would be an underestimate!) despite what is written.

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Asian Kale & Tofu Salad
(from Clean Eating magazine)

“Can’t find pressed tofu? Press it yourself with our easy three-step method! Simply wrap firm tofu in a clean dish towel and transfer to a plate. Place another plate over tofu and top with one or two heavy cans. Let sit for 1 to 8 hours.”

Olive oil cooking spray
14 oz firm pressed tofu, sliced into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup 100% orange juice
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or tamari
1 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
12-1/2 cups chopped kale (about 16 oz)
2 small field-grown cucumbers, diced
2 carrots, peeled and shredded
2 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 cups shredded red cabbage
1/2 cup shelled edamame, cooked
4 tsp sesame seeds

  1. Preheat oven to 500ºF. Mist a ceramic 9 x 13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add tofu and set aside.
  2. In a blender, blend garlic, vinegar, orange juice, lime juice, soy sauce, honey, ginger and sesame oil until smooth, about 1 minute. Remove ¼ cup mixture and pour over top of tofu. Toss to combine and spread evenly in dish. Bake, turning 3 to 4 times, until golden and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, to remaining mixture in blender, add flaxseed and process until smooth, about 10 seconds.
  4. In a large bowl, add kale and pour vinegar-flaxseed mixture over top. With your hands, massage kale to coat thoroughly until wilted, 3 to 4 minutes. Add cucumbers, carrots, scallions, bell pepper, cabbage and edamame and toss to combine. Add tofu and toss to combine. To serve, top with sesame seeds.

Serves “4” as per original recipe.  Per ENORMOUS serving: 341 calories, 10 g fat (1 g saturated), 46 g carbohydrate, 11 g fibre, 22 g protein, 374 mg sodium