Monday, August 18

Fruit and Nut Yogi Bars

When it comes to eating habits, I find that my friends fall into several different groups: the people who routinely eat only three meals a day, the mono-eater who eats one big meal once a day, the I-forgot-to-eat people who are too busy to notice when they're hungry, the always hungry who will eat whenever possible, and the snackers who continually graze. Without a doubt I fall into the last camp. Never able to finish a big meal, my body instead asks for small snack every couple of hours - an apple, some dates, a few crackers - I usually have something nibbley within arms reach to ease my rumbling tummy.

This being said, I often find myself in situations where snacking is frowned upon (school, work, yoga, the grocery store...). So in a need to find a quiet food which is both satisfying but not very filling (as that would make for one disastrous downward facing dog), I took a classic healthy bar from the Tessajara Cookbook and jazzed it up a bit. Moist and chewy, these bars are part cookie, part granola bar, and loaded with seeds, nuts, and fruit. They are quiet enough to eat during the middle of a lecture (unlike those deafening apples) or even on the bus. Best of all is that because these aren't heavy, you can snack on them before a run or yoga, or any of those times when you know you shouldn't eat, but are in dire need of a snack.  

Fruit and Nut Yogi Bars

Adapted from Tessajara Cookbook
Recipe: (Makes 15)

3 Cups Oats (Gluten free if needed)
1 Cup Flour (whole grain or gluten free)
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
1 tsp. Baking Soda
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 tsp. Ginger
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Black Pepper
1/8 tsp. Cardamom
Pinch Cloves
1/3 Cup Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1/2 Cup Coconut Sugar
2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil, melted
1 Cup Plant Based Milk
1 tsp. Vanilla
3/4 Cup Seeds or Nuts ( I used Pumpkin Seeds)
3/4 Cup Dried Fruit of Choice ( I used half Raisins and half Cranberries)

1. Combine the oats, flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, cardamom, and cloves in one bowl.
2. In another bowl combine the apple sauce, melted coconut oil, milk and vanilla. 
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix just until combined. Add the dried fruit and seeds/nuts.
4. Scoop 1/4 cup of mixture and form into a little bar shape (you can also form it into a round cookie). Bake at 175 C (350 F) for approximately 11 minutes or until the bottoms are golden. Store extra bars in the refrigerator or freezer for longer use.

***Natural wraps from Abeego
xox Sophie

Sunday, August 10

Chocolate Puddin' Pops and Three-Fruit Popsicles

Since I've been staying at my parents the last few days, I've had the luxury of spending a lot of quiet quality time with my mum. She wakes me up early in the morning and greets me with a steaming cup of coffee in my favourite childhood mug. We spend our days together picking wild berries, singing Bette Midler songs off key, and reminiscing about days gone by. She tells me stories about her childhood and the whole time I tell myself to remember every detail. Yet, with the more stories I hear, the more I realise how they echo my own childhood experiences. We talk about the iconic summer-time treats that her mother used to make her as a girl, and the more I listen, the more I learn that they happen to be the same treats my grandmother made me: raspberry drinking vinegar, strawberry sandwiches on thick white homemade bread, and her summer time specialty, a big scoop of Three-Fruit ice cream.

While grandma's signature ice cream was straight out of the 1950's (see recipe card in picture below), it has a flavour and quality that is both fresh and fitting for today's love of smoothies and banana ice cream. In skipping the whipped canned milk, some of the original flavour is lost, but the addition of coconut milk brings a totally new dimension and flavour that is more my own. Fresh orange and lemon juice make this Popsicle burst with clean and freshening flovours that are sure to beat the hot August days (or mornings!) 

Three-Fruit Popsicles

Recipe: (Makes 6 medium Popsicles)

1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk, chilled overnight
2 Medium Bananas, fresh or frozen
Juice of 1 Navel Orange
Juice of 1 Lemon (about 4 Tbsp)
4 tsp. Honey (or liquid sweetener of choice)

1. Combine the coconut milk, banana, orange and lemon juice in a blender and mix until smooth. 
2. Add honey or liquid sweetener of choice until desired level of sweetness is achieved. This will depend on the fruit you use and your own taste.
3. Freeze until firm.

Secondly, inspired by the reinvention of grandma's recipe, I thought I might give a swing at re-working a summertime treat my mum used to make my little sister and I. Although we referred to these as "milkshakes", they were simply frozen banana, milk, cocoa, and a little sweetener, all blitzed in the blender. Subbing the milk for coconut milk and adding some avocado for extra creaminess, my version of these puppies taste just as good as what I remember.  

Chocolate Puddin' Pops

Recipe: (Makes 6 medium popsicles)

1 Can Full Fat Coconut Milk, Chilled
2 Ripe Avocados
6 Tbsp. Cacao (or Cocoa) Powder
4 Tbsp. Liquid Sweetener of Choice (I used honey)
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract

Chocolate Drizzle

4 Tbsp. Cacao (or Cocoa) Powder
4 Tbsp. Coconut Oil
4 tsp. Liquid Sweetener (I used Honey)
Pinch of Sea Salt 

1. Combine the coconut milk, avocados, cacao, sweetener, and vanilla together in a blender and process until smooth. Taste and adjust sweetness if needed
2. Divide mixture among molds and freeze until firm.
3. Once set, melt the 'drizzle' ingredients over low heat and drizzle over the pops. It's difficult to make them look pretty, but it tastes so darn good. 

xox Sophie

Wednesday, August 6

Orange Poppy Seed Cake with Summer Berries

As of last Wednesday I am officially unemployed. It's a strange, slightly uncomfortable, position for me to be in. For the last ten years, I have either worked or gone to school, or for most of that time, awkwardly balanced a combination of the two. Yet, in expectation of our up coming adventure, the time has come for us to leave our jobs of five years, and in all honesty, it wasn't an easy task for me to do. I have always been one of those people who complained (a lot) about having to work: the time it takes away from my hobbies, the physical exhaustion, the 4:30 a.m. wake up call, and the one-in-one-hundred customers who were less than nice - it all gets to me, wearing me down day after day. So, when the time came to leave our jobs, Adam and I jumped with joy at the opportunity. But now, less than a week into freedom, I miss the routine. I miss my mornings spent sipping Americanos, gossiping with the bakers, and seeing the same beautiful faces of my favourite customers morning after morning (buying the same thing day after day). Never before have I had I the opportunity to work in a place where I felt so proud about the product. Where the ingredients used were as fair-trade, as local, and as top quality. Where the farmers who supplied us with grain, eggs, and produce were known on a first name basis. Where everyone was so deeply committed to put out nothing but the finest and most wholesome food they could each and every day. And where everyone just wanted to make a lasting and positive influence in the community. And for this, I salute them.

I will miss the quiet morning chats with my coworkers. I will miss the funny stories they shared about their kids, their boy troubles, their girl troubles, their life troubles. I will miss hearing their plans for the future. How they went out to a show the night before and only got two hours sleep before coming into work, and I will miss making them a cup of tea in the hopes that it will make them feel better and ease their hangover. I will miss seeing them grow, get married, have babies, and move on. I'll miss my friends, they are truly such amazing people. Five years is the longest I have ever worked in one spot, but a bit of me wishes I could work there forever.

In celebration (and condolence) of leaving work, I made a healthy (okay, maybe just healthier) vegan cake inspired by the tastes of local produce, lazy summer evening, and unadulterated holiday leisure. This cake is moist and lightly sweetened, with a fine crumb. As there are no eggs in the cake it can be a bit delicate, so one should take extra caution when cutting it horizontally. I sandwiched the layers of orange cake between blackberry jam, but for a take on a vegan berry short cake,  it would also be lovely to stack the two cakes between a layer of fresh coconut whipped cream as well as a generous serving on top. 


Orange Poppy Seed Cake With Summer Berries 

Recipe: (Makes two  8" cakes)

3 1/2 Cups Sifted or Light Spelt Flour
1 Cup Coconut or Sucanat Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Soda
2 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
3 Tbsp. Poppy Seeds
2 Cups Organic Apple Juice
3/4 Cup Light Oil1 tsp. Vanilla
Zest of 1 Orange

1/2 Cup Jam of Choice (I used Crofters Blackberry)
1 Cup Unsweetened Yogurt of Choice (coconut, almond, goat) drained for an hour or so
1 Tbsp. Liquid Sweetener
1 tsp. Vanilla

1 1/2 Cups Fresh Berries for Garnish

1. Begin by mixing the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds in a large bowl.
2. In another bowl, combine the apple juice, oil, vanilla, and zest. Mix well.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until just combined. 
4. Divide the batter amongst two 8 inch round greased and floured pans.
5. Bake in a 175 C (350 F) for 30-35 minutes or until the top springs back when lightly touched.
6. Let the cakes cook slightly before flipping out onto racks to cool completely. 
7. Slice each cake in half horizontally to make four cakes. On one cake, spread about two Tbsp. Jam. Top with another layer of cake. Spread the second cake with more jam, repeat until all the layers are used, but leave the top of the cake plain. 
8. Meanwhile, put the yogurt in a fine mesh sieve placed over a bowl. This is done simply to remove the extra water and help make a yogurt cheese. The coconut yogurt I used was thick enough that this step wasn't necessary, but this will depend on your yogurt. 
9. Combine the yogurt with the liquid sweetener and vanilla. 
10. Just before serving, top cake with the yogurt and fresh berries of choice.

xox Sophie