Tag Archives: raisins

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.

dsc_0272-2

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.

dsc_0275-2

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!

dsc_0249-2

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

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?

DSC_0106 (2)

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.

DSC_0109 (2)

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).

DSC_0134 (2)

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

What’s the story morning glory (muffins)?

15 Mar

“Well… need a little time to wake-up, wake-up” – Oasis

Morning glory muffins used to be a constant in my diet growing up. After curling practice, my usual snack was a glass of milk and a muffin.  While the curling club always had a few different muffin varieties at any given time, morning glory was my favourite.

DSC_0973 (2)

After stumbling across a morning glory muffin recipe in my Looneyspoons cookbook recently, I began to wonder: what’s in a name?

The original morning glory muffin recipe was created by chef Pam McKinstry in 1978. Some say the muffin was named after her restaurant on Nantucket Island, the Morning Glory Cafe, while others say her restaurant at the time was named the Sconset Cafe. Either way, her beloved recipe became famous when it was published in Gourmet magazine in 1981. Ten years later, it was named one of the magazine’s 25 favourite recipes.

Chef McKinstry’s original morning glory muffin recipe uses white flour, one cup of oil (for a mere 12 muffins!), and a whopping 1-1/4 cups of sugar. Sounds more like a cupcake than a muffin to me! The Looneyspoons version is a definite improvement, with some whole wheat flour, 1/4 cup of oil, and 1/2 cup of sugar, but still not my idea of a healthy muffin. Since the recipe seemed like it would be sweet enough from the pineapple, applesauce, and raisins, I decided to cut back on the sugar even further to 1/4 cup and used 100% whole wheat flour. I also opted for unsweetened coconut instead of the sweetened stuff used in both the original and Looneyspoons recipe.

DSC_1008 (2)

DSC_1010 (2)

Cora, my quality control technician, sleeping on the job

The final product ended up more than adequately sweet (I actually suggested to E that I use even less sugar next time, but he thought they were perfect as is), super moist, and very hearty! Half a muffin is very satisfying, so I ended up cutting each muffin in half for a quick, portable snack.

If you like carrot cake, you will love these muffins!

DSC_0990 (2)

Morning Glory Muffins
(adapted from The Looneyspoons Collection)

2 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp each nutmeg and salt
1 cup well-drained crushed pineapple
1 cup finely grated carrots
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsweetened medium coconut
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray or oil. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix well and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together pineapple, carrots, applesauce, brown sugar, oil, egg and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in coconut, raisins, and nuts.
  4. Divide batter among 12 muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in centre of muffin comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes 12 large muffins. Per muffin: 196 kcal, 11 g fat (3.7 g saturated), 23 g carbohydrate, 4.1 g fibre, 5.1 g protein, 310 mg sodium

Spiced Sweet Potato Salad with Pecans and Raisins

14 Sep

What happened to August?  It disappeared in the blink of an eye, leaving little time for blog posts (among other things).  Cora didn’t help the matter when she decided to chew not one, not two, but THREE power cords in the course of a week.  That left both myself and E without power to our trusty laptops, meaning no blog posts and certainly no after-hours work.  Probably part of her ploy to steal us away from our screens for more play-time.  Thankfully she’s lost most of her baby teeth so the biting seems to be winding down.  I think.

DSC_1259

Last month I had two dear friends over for a weeknight dinner before one moved out of the city to return to school in BC.  I needed something that could be prepared in advance since prep time is minimal after a day of work.  Overnight-marinated chicken that goes straight from fridge to oven? Yes.  A quick green salad made the day-of? Easy enough. But I was stumped on the starch. Quinoa salad was the first idea that popped into my mind except I had cooked my go-to recipe the last time these girls were over.  Too much of a good thing is not a great thing.  Then I remembered a wonderful sweet potato recipe given to me by a friend.  It’s both sweet and savory, and can be served hot or cold.

DSC_1097

The beauty in this dish is that it can be easily adjusted based on what you have in your pantry.  Each time I’ve omitted slightly different ingredients,  yet the final product comes out tasting similar to the original.  One exception to this rule is the sherry vinegar.  It has a unique taste so finding a substitute can be challenging. I caved by purchasing a bottle, but some sources say either cider vinegar or rice vinegar can be used if you’re in a bind.

Even though I served this dish in the summer, the ingredients scream AUTUMN: cinnamon, raisins, pecans, ginger, orange, and sweet potatoes.  Perfect for the cooler weather that’s just around the corner!

DSC_1101

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Pecans and Raisins
(Original source unknown)

You can double the dressing if you want stronger flavours.  This recipe can be served warm, at room temperature, or cold.

4 medium sweet potatoes (~500 g total), unpeeled and chopped into 2 cm cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tablespoons pecans, chopped
4 green onions, roughly chopped
¼ tsp dried chilli flakes
2 tablespoons raisins
2 tbsp roughly chopped cilantro (optional)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Dressing:
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon sherry vinegar
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Spread the chopped sweet potato out on a baking tray and drizzle with 1 tbsp olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, mix well with your hands, and roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until just tender. Gently turn them over halfway through cooking.
  2. Meanwhile, toast pecans in a skillet over medium heat until aromatic and lightly browned.
  3. Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Taste and add salt and pepper if necessary.
  4. When the potatoes are ready, transfer them to a large bowl while still hot. Add the green onion, cilantro (if using), chili flakes, pecans, and raisins. Pour the dressing over the potato mixture and toss gently to blend, then season to taste.  Can be served hot, at room temperature, or refrigerated overnight and served cold.

Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 170 kcal, 3 g fibre, 10 g fat.

A Hearty Moroccan Stew to Satisfy your New Year’s Resolutions

1 Jan

Happy 2013!  Do you have a resolution for the New Year?  The surplus of Weight Watchers commercials on TV yesterday served as a reminder that weight loss is one of the most common goals set by individuals at the start of a new year.  According to a recent study, 38% of resolutions are weight-related.  Unfortunately, only 8% of all people are successful in achieving their resolutions—and this number is not limited to those who strive for weight loss.

Soups and stews are the perfect vehicle for New Year’s resolutions that revolve around any of the following:  to lose weight, to eat more vegetables, to cook more often, and the list goes on.

The liquid in soups make them filling, meaning less room in your stomach for more calorie dense foods.  Research has shown that when individuals consume a low-energy soup before a meal (e.g. broth-based vegetable soup), they eat 20% fewer total calories at that sitting.  This can translate to weight loss of half a pound every two weeks if soup is eaten before a single meal each day.  Soups are also an easy way to meet your vegetable quota for the day: coarsely chop what you have in the fridge and throw into a pot. The more colourful, the better.  Canada’s Food Guide recommends that most adults eat a minimum of 7 servings of fruit and vegetables per day (preferably more vegetables than fruits).  One serving is ½ cup cooked vegetables. Finally, soups are easy. Even the least skilled home cook can ‘wing it’ and end up with a tasty meal. Bonus: no fancy knife skills needed.

Up until now, I didn’t plan on making a resolution.  But as I sit here and write, I’ve decided that my resolution will be to cook more soups and stews. Partly because I haven’t been cooking as often as I’d like to and partly because I find them warm and comforting, particularly as we enter the depths of the cold winter months.  Since any goal must be SMART to be successful, my goal will be to cook a large soup or stew with a variety of vegetables and at least one good source of protein once a week (ideally Sunday) for the next 6 weeks. As a bonus, this will provide me with ample inspiration for upcoming blog posts.

The recipe below is for a hearty, one-pot Moroccan stew that I made over the holidays for a ‘chili/stew cook-off’ between several families.  Chickpeas, sweet potato, peanut butter, and earthy spices (cumin, coriander, curry powder) are truly a match made in heaven!  I tend to use generous amounts of onion, pepper, and celery to boost the veggie content.  Next time I’d like to try substituting squash for the sweet potato.  Or adding several handfuls of spinach or kale.  The possibilities are endless…

Soup’s on!

Moroccan Stew sans cilantro thanks to my sister J

Moroccan Stew (sans cilantro, thanks to my sister J)

 

Rockin’ Moroccan Stew
(from The Looneyspoons Collection)

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup each diced celery and chopped green bell pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp grated ginger root
1 tsp each ground cumin, curry powder, ground coriander and chili powder
3 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth
3 cups peeled, cubed sweet potatoes
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
1 can (19 oz/540 mL) no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup raisins
2 Tbsp each light peanut butter and minced fresh cilantro

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, green pepper and garlic. Cook and stir until the vegetables begin to soften, about three minutes. Add ginger root, cumin, curry powder, coriander and chili powder. Cook for 30 more seconds.
  2. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the raisins, peanut butter and cilantro. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.
  3. Stir in raisins, peanut butter and cilantro. Mix well. Simmer for five more minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 6 servings.  Per serving: 253 calories, 5.3 g fat, (0.8 g saturated fat), 8 g protein, 44 g carbohydrate, 6.9 g fiber, 355 mg sodium.

Spinach Lentil Salad

2 May

This blog is not all about spinach, despite the name, and yet oddly enough my first post is a recipe that includes (drumroll please)… spinach.  Surprise!  Totally unintentional but I happened to have some on hand and it’s such a versatile (and healthy!) ingredient.

I don’t usually use canned lentils but I had some leftover from a lentil cookie recipe that I recently whipped up (more on that another day).  I’d imagine the recipe would work just as well with dried lentils cooked in boiling water.

Spinach Lentil Salad

Spinach Lentil Salad


Spinach Lentil Salad

1/3 cup light vinaigrette (recipe below)
1 can (19 oz) lentils, drained and rinsed well
1 green onion, minced  (approx 1/4 cup)
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
2-3 tbsp raisins
2 large handfuls of baby spinach, coarsely chopped

  1. Combine lentils, green onion, carrot, raisins, and spinach in a medium bowl.
  2. Toss with light vinaigrette and let sit in the fridge for a couple of hours before serving to allow flavours to meld.

Makes 4 servings.  Per serving: 180 kcal, 4.2 g fat, 9 g fibre, 85 mg sodium

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Light Vinaigrette (from “Power Eating”)

1/2 cup no-salt added chicken or vegetable stock (or 1/2 cup water + a few dashes each of onion powder and garlic powder)
3 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp salt

  1. In a jar, combine all ingredients.  Secure lid and shake to mix well.
  2. Store in fridge for up to 1 week.

Makes approx 3/4 cup.  Per 1 tbsp serving: 36 kcal, 4 g fat, 55 mg sodium