Thursday, October 16

Peanut Butter Fudge Slice

We spent the last couple of weeks visiting Portugal, Porto and Lisbon to be exact, by way of Spain. One of the first things I noticed upon arrival was the thriving food culture; hip cafes, and artisanal markets on every corner. To be honest, Lisbon felt like a little slice of Brooklyn located all the way in the Iberian Peninsula. Organic cafes and grocery stores were easy to find and served up the most delicious array of goodies and new and exciting products (like the tastiest vegan yogurt ever). Once the evening came rolling along, Adam and I would hit up an all-day (and pretty much all night) food market to sample sandwiches, rices, stews, and burgers - and probably one of our favourite Portuguese dishes so far, a sandwich on carob flat bread. Yes, that love-it or hate-it, not-quite-chocolate, chocolate impersonator. But first things first, carob isn't chocolate and there's no pretending it is

So what is Carob, exactly?

The powdered carob that many of you will be familiar with comes from the seed pods of the evergreen Mediterranean tree know as carob, St. John's-beard, or locust bean (commonly found as a thickener or 'gum' in processed foods). Once the pods of the tree have been dried and roasted, they are ground into a 'flour' (that can be used to make delicious breads and buns) which is commonly known as carob powder. Although it may resemble cocoa in colour, carob powder has a unique earthy flavour, which is mildly sweet and caramel-like, and all-together its own. And guess what? It's good for you! Carob is packed with soluble fibre which helps clean out your digestive tract of waste (hello natural detox). Beyond that, carob is low in fat, free of caffeine, and high in iron and calcium, which are pretty much always welcome.  

While carob has historically gotten a bad wrap as just another hippie food, those claims often come from people who either mistook it for chocolate, or tried to use it to replace chocolate. But to be fair, that's like giving a carnivore tofu and saying it's steak. Tofu is tofu, and carob is carob. 

Now that I've expounded on all the wonders of carob for carob's sake, I'll have to admit that this recipe can be made with cocoa, as well (although I still hope you give carob a chance!). For this recipe I combined the carob with peanut butter, but any nut butter would do (hazelnut would be amazing!).

Peanut Butter Fudge Slice

Recipe: (Makes 8-12)

1 Cup Almonds
1/2 Cup Pitted Dates
2 Tbsp. Ground Flax
1 Tbsp. Water, or as needed
A Pinch of Sea Salt
1/4 tsp. Vanilla

6 Tbsp. Natural Peanut Butter, or nut butter of choice (If you want your bars to be raw, be sure to choose a raw nut butter)
1 Cup Pitted Dates
2 Tbsp. Coconut Oil, melted 

4 Tbsp. Coconut Oil, melted
4 Tbsp. Carob Powder (or Cacao Powder, if I didn't sway you towards carob) 
1 Tbsp. Liquid Sweetener or Choice
A Pinch of Sea Salt


1. Firstly, pulse the dates, almonds, flax, salt, and vanilla until the mixture is ground. Add a splash of water if needed to help the base hold together. Press evenly into a parchment lined loaf pan. Set aside.

2. For the filling, puree the dates with the peanut butter until smooth. Add the melted oil and combine. Spread this mixture over the base, making it as smooth as possible.

3. Finally, melt the oil with the carob powder, sweetener, and salt, and pour over the filling. Set the pan in the freezer to set. Once firm, sliced the bars with a hot, dry, knife. They can be enjoyed right away or transferred to a airtight container and kept in the freezer for several weeks. If you can, let the bars soften up for a few minutes before digging in. The flavours come out so much more when room temp!

xox Sophie

Friday, October 3

Pilgrim Stew

This time of year I usually forgo my regular eating habits and, how can I say this better....  get my soup on. As far as autumn food goes, there is nothing better than a big mug of comfy and cozy veggie soup. I might even go as far as to say it's the ultimate autumn food. It's inexpensive, easy to make, nutritious, and usually just what the doctor ordered. While the autumn I am currently experiencing is more reminiscent to a west coast summer, my little internal alarm clock is more in-tune with home and crying for fall! 

Spending the last couple of weeks roaming Spain, I have been exposed to so many incredible sites, including its amazing array of produce. Combining some of the wonderful vegetables I found in markets (such as winter squash, potatoes, tomatoes, and apple) I've whipped up this tasty little stew, with the essential Spanish spice of smoked paprika - a subtle yet profound addition to a simple dish.

Pilgrim Stew

Recipe: Serves 4-6

1 Cup Chopped Onion
1 Tbsp. Oil of Choice
2 Cloves Garlic, Chopped
1 tsp. Smoked Paprika
2 Medium Potatoes, Peeled and Cubed
2 Carrots, Chopped
2 Cups Chopped Pumpkin or Winter Squash (like Butternut)
4 Cups Veggie Stock
1 1/2 Cups Cooked Chickpeas (or 1 can)
1 1/2 Cups Cooked White Beans (or 1 can)
1 Pear or Apple, Peeled and Chopped
2 Tomatoes, Peeled and Chopped (approximately 1 1/2 c)
2 Cups Chopped Green Beans (or chopped kale)
1/2 tsp. Fresh Oregano
Pinch Black Pepper
Sea Salt to taste

1. Set a large pot to medium heat, add the oil and onion and cook for five minutes or until the onions begin to soften and become translucent. Add the garlic and paprika and cook only for a few more minutes (it will brown quickly).

2. Continue by adding the other chopped veggies including the potato, carrots, and pumpkin. Cook for a few more minutes to let them soak up all the paprika flavour.

3. Add the chopped tomato, beans,  and stock and bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to a simmer and cook with the lid on for about 20 minutes, or until the veggies are tender. 

4. Once the carrots and pumpkin are tender, add the chopped green beens and apple and cook for a brief 5 minutes (it's nice if they have a little crunch).

5. Season with the fresh oregano, salt, and ground pepper. 

xox Sophie

Tuesday, September 16

Hazelnut Apple Tart with Date Caramel

As I write this I am currently thirty-thousand feet above Newfoundland, or there abouts. I've been meticulously watching the screen with the little animated plane fly over towns and rivers unheard of by me for what seems like hours now.  Watching it crawl along the dotted line helps me relax and takes my mind off being so high above the earth and so far from home. This flight marks the end of the first leg of our adventure which had us spending the last couple of weeks in New York City. 

These weeks have been a complete whirl-wind, catching up with old friends, enjoying some cheesy tourist activities, trying to see just the tip of the museum iceberg, all the while taking the time to sit and enjoy the city's beautiful parks and cafes. Being the country kid that I am, New York has always stood out in my mind as being the place to be. Immortalized on screen and romanticized in my imagination, I was a bit fearful that she wouldn't live up to my ideals, but boy was I wrong. Spending the last little while here has only made me fall in love with the city more and made my desire to come back even stronger. As the long summer nights shorten into crisp autumn evenings, I can only imagine the beauty that the city must see come the changing leaves and cozy sweater weather. We'll just have to come back so I can see for myself I guess. 

To pay homage to The Big Apple herself, I whipped up the perfect dessert to get us into the autumn frame of mind -  Hazelnut Apple Tart with Date Caramel. While it might sound totally decedent, it's still clean and healthy enough to enjoy with an afternoon tea, or dare I say, breakfast. Simply made with gluten free flours, coconut oil, and no refined sugar, the tart is wholesome while remaining lightly sweet. I enjoyed mine with coconut ice-cream (one of my biggest weaknesses), but a nice dollop of coconut cream, or yogurt would also add a nice touch. 

Hazelnut Apple Tart with Date Caramel

Recipe: Serves 6-8

1 Cup Rolled Oats (gluten-free if possible)
1/2 Cup Hazelnut Flour (or almond flour)*
3 Tbsp. Liquid Sweetener of Choice (honey, maple syrup, or brown rice syrup)
1/4 Cup Coconut Oil, melted
1 tsp. vanilla (I used 1 vanilla bean, scraped)
1/2 tsp. Sea Salt
2 tbsp. Quinoa flour, or other gluten free flour

2 Cooking Apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thinly
3/4 Cup of Unsweetened Apple Sauce
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1 Tbsp. Coconut Oil, melted
1 Tbsp. Maple Syrup

1.Pulse the oats in a food processor until a coarse flour is made. Combine the ground oats with the hazelnut flour, 3 Tbsp Liquid Sweetener, 1/4 Cup Melted Coconut Oil, Vanilla, Salt, and the Quinoa Flour. Mix until combined and press into a rectangular shaped tart pan (the ones with the removable bottom are best).

2. Next, spread the apple sauce over the crust and sprinkle with the cinnamon.

3. Peel and slice the apples, then neatly arrange them over the apple sauce.

4. Meanwhile, combine the remaining Tbsp of Coconut Oil and Maple Syrup in a small dish and melt. Brush the mixture over top the sliced apples.

5. Cook the tart in a 175 C (350 F) oven for 30 minutes or until golden. Let the tart sit to cool before removing from the pan. 

6. Once cool, glaze the apples with half the Date Caramel mixture, reserving the other half for serving. Serve with coconut ice cream, yogurt, and the rest of the caramel.

* This can be made by grinding hazelnuts into a fine powder. Coffee grinders or high speed blenders work well.

Date Caramel

1 Cup Pitted Dates
Boiling Water
A Pinch Sea Salt

1. Place the dates in a bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for half an hour or so to soften.

2. Drain the dates, reserving the soaking liquid for later.

3. Combine the dates in a blender with the salt and 1/2 cup of the soaking water. Puree until smooth. You may need to add a touch more or less water.

4. For a super-smooth caramel, pass the mixture through a sieve. 

5. Store in the refrigerator. 

xox Sophie