Posts Tagged ‘snack’

This passed week has been an internal fight with myself in regards to studying or not studying.  And for some reason the latter has yet to be beat as I have been quite tactful at designing excuses in my strung-out-anxious head.  Whether it’s “I am too tired from working all day,” or “This may be the last sunny day for awhile,” or “I need to go to yoga to clear my head and get my sweat on,” or “I need to eat,” or “I need to eat but there’s no food in the house so I have to go grocery shopping,” or “I need to eat but I have to make something to eat and it has to be delicious and perfect,” or…Okay, I could go on.

Well this weekend when the excuse of “I need to eat but I have to make something to eat and it has to be delicious and perfect” popped up I turned to Adam for some insight and thought triggering.

Me: “What do YOU think I should make this afternoon?”

Adam: “All I can think of right now are things unhealthy…”

Me: “That’s okay; I am going to try to healthify it!”

Adam: “What about banana bread? Or ooh butter tarts? I love butter tarts.”

He left me alone shortly after and I scoured my head and cupboards for ingredients that screamed out butter tarts.  As I started sorting through different methods for healthifying butter tarts I slowly became discouraged as I pictured myself trying to make a “flaky, buttery” tart shell…I came to the conclusion that today was not the day.

(Events like these also contribute to the time I waste and list of excuses I create for not being able to study.)

Twenty minutes come and gone and I found myself still staring into the cupboard deciding on what the heck I was going to make and with what.  The only thing staring back at me was a can of tomatoes and a can of chickpeas.  Now there are not a lot of fantastic baked tomato pies out there, nor are there many chickpea strudels…But if you have spent any time in the blogging world recently you KNOW there has been a fare share of baked bean brownies.

Now I know it sounds a little strange, but most incredible food items are.

I had my first experience with a black bean brownie a couple of years ago when my sister decided to Saran Wrap a straight-from-the-oven black bean brownie in order to throw in her carry-on just before catching a plane across Canada to visit me.

Needless to say, it was a little smooshed.

But I was over joyed and could care less that it slightly resembled Little Bear’s fecal matter.  The black bean brownie was on the dryer side but I blame that entirely on the high altitude and had it been eaten in one time-zone it would have stood up to any fudge-tastic square because the flavours were there! I was going to give this poor black bean brownie a second chance…Two years later.

With chickpeas instead of black beans…Because that’s what I had.

For inspiration and moral support, I followed many of the same ingredients and measurements as Katie because she seemed to be able to fool all of her loved ones with a gooey chickpea blondie — Chocolate chips are blinding.

Now before you go crazy and think you’ve found your new go-to recipes for the best brownies ever, be warned that these DEFINITELY taste different and are more for people that get excited about biting their teeth into an almond-stuffed date and calling it an “oreo.”  But if that’s you then you’ll adore these; they’re gooey, chewy, doughy and just slightly sweet so you can eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner and in between because I did…And nearly ate the entire pan at 10 o clock at night because I could…

Gooey Chickpea “Brownies”
** slightly adapted from Chocolate Covered Katie’s Chocolate Chip Blondies

Ingredients

1 can chickpeas, 540 mL
1/3 cup plus 3 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup crunchy peanut butter, or another nut butter
1 tbsp cacoa powder
1 tbsp unrefined sugar
1 tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup rolled oats
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tbsp chocolate chips for sprinkling on top, optional

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a square pan with parchment paper. In a food processor begin processing the chickpeas. Slowly pour in the apple sauce to ease processing and fully incorporate it into the mixture.

2. Add in the remaining ingredients and process until fully combined.

3. Pour into the prepared pan and smooth until its flat and even. Sprinkle on the chocolate chips and bake for 25 minutes, or until the brownie has firmed up and has a crackle top. Hey? Crackle top? They’re definitely brownies then!

4. Let cool completely and then dig in.

I let mine cooling while I went to a yoga class. I spent shavasana “with my breath”…For 30 seconds. But my mind kept bouncing back to the brownies cooling on my counter.

When I got home I screamed with joy “DID YOU SEE WHAT I MADE?!”

Adam: “Ya! You made brownies!”

Me: “You can tell what they are?”

Adam: “Ya. I’m offended that you would think that I wouldn’t be able to tell…”

Me: “Well, they’re not exactly brownies…”

Later…

Me: “So did you try my brownies? Did you like them?”

Adam: “Umm not really.”

Me: “Well they were made with chickpeas.”

Adam: “Umm ya, I could definitely tell something wasn’t right. Now that you tell me that, ya they were good…But I could use a little sugar…”

 

So there you have it. I loved them. Adam could hold off. Oh well, more for me!

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It’s not cake.

That sweet potato had been staring at me for quite some time now…(Not as long as I have neglected my blog though, or it would have been a little unsightly and possibly lethal.)  And even though russet potatoes are more commonly known for having eyes, this sweet tater was competing with its starchy counterpart and growing one very cutting set of eyes.

Rather than relying on my quick 17-minute-dinner-fix of quinoa and veg, I decided to expand my dinner prep time to 25 minutes and boiled that potato until it was tender.

However, I am not one to settle for boiled potatoes for dinner, a Friday night dinner at that, so after a little brainstorming and perusing of the other dying produce in my fridge I decided on potato cakes.  I mean who can say no to cake? Especially cake for dinner…But that just brings me to one of my childhood resentments: improper wording in regards to food.

The amount of times I had to quickly dampen my excitement, or even hold back tears, is immeasureable as it happened daily, sometimes even twice. “T, do you want a fudgesicle?!” “WHAT! A FUDGESICLE?!” Throwing open the freezer door without a second between I quickly realized that no, they’re not fudgesicles; they’re never fudgesicles.  And no, I don’t want one of your all-natural frozen fruit popsicles. Or, “Hey T! We got chocolate bars!” “WHAT! Chocolate bars?!!!” Wait. No. Mom made apple sauce oat bars with carob, again.

So before we go further, and I become the biggest hypocrite on earth, next to Stalin, I’ll tell you, these “sweet potato cakes” are not actually cakes.  There’s no icing, and there aren’t  even any candles.  I guess I’ll refer to them as griddle cakes.  No, actually patties. Sweet potato patties.

Sweet Potato Pea Patties 

* Inspired by Candle 79 

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1. tsp cumin

Salt and pepper, to taste

olive oil, for sautéing

1/3 cup frozen peas

Method

1. With cubed taters already submerged in the water, bring to a boil and cover.  Boil for 20 – 25 minutes or until tender (or until a fork can easily be inserted.) Drain potatoes and rinse with cold water.  Set aside.

2. Saute onion and garlic in olive oil until translucent.  Add spices to taste. Combine the potatoes and onion mixture in original boiling pot and mash.  The idea is for more of a rustic finish opposed to a typical mashed potato.  Meanwhile add the peas to the pan for a pre-cook, and then stir into potato mixture.

3. Heat up a little more olive oil in a large pan and form potato mixture into patties.  Fry until golden brown (8-10 minutes on each side depending on how hot the pan is.)

Serve alongside any main dish, or even as a side at breakfast.

I had these alongside apple Dijon baked tofu, some sautéed kale, and a white wine infused avocado puree.  It was incredible, and the avocado puree acted as a great accompaniment to the potato patties.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

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The Cuffin Man

Like most kids, in grade school I had a tendency to take advantage of the fact that mom or dad prepared my lunch — complete with a snack and maybe even a nice little note. I would just throw it in my bag (usually upside down so that the lentil soup could saturate all of its contents by the time lunch came,) zip it up and run out the door. It was a meal that required little to no mental planning… Besides the order in which I planned to eat it.

Now, here I am in my final year of university and I am still struggling with the act of packing a lunch. It has never been a top priority of mine as the only time I think about it happens to be when my stomach starts growling around noon loud enough for everyone in my lecture to hear.

So after four years of draining my bank account at noon on dry sandwiches and cold soup, I made a vow on the first day of last semester to never buy a lunch again. Two days later I have successfully bought two lunches…Fail.

No.

I will not fail.

In fact I’ll even include snacks, maybe even notes (written by…me?) in these new lunch concoctions of mine!

To start this goal off on a yummy, yet healthy, note I decided to whip up a batch of cookie-like things this evening.

Now, I am not one to go too crazy with recipe inventing, but I will tell you that these were quite the creation and mix match of ingredients…. Nevertheless, I loved them. After first bite.

Even my roommate who cringed after I made her swallow a spoonful of puréed dates loved them. Now will you try??

Powerhouse Lunch Cuffins

1/2 cup oat flour (I blended rolled oats in the food processor)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt

4 tbsp coconut oil, melted
3/4 cups puréed dates (see how to below)
3 tbsp crunchy natural peanut butter
1 1/2 tbsp agave nectar (more or less depending on desired sweetness)
4 tbsp unsweetened unflavored almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 cup carob chips and 1/4 cup gogi berries
1/4 cup bran
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Method

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl combine all of the dry ingredients and stir.

2. In a separate small bowl, whisk together all of the wet ingredients until a smooth butter-like consistency forms.

3. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and stir until its all combined. I don’t have an electric mixer so I got in there with my hands… Needless to say, it was necessary! Should you need more wetness, slowly add more almond milk mixing as you go.

4. Add in the add-ins and continue to blend, and/or manipulate with your hands until everything is combined.

5. Drop small ball sized dough onto pan (about 2 tbsp per ball) and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, or until the tops are slightly golden.

6. Remove from oven and let cool. Taste. Sample. Eat. And maybe eat again.

These really turned out incredible even though they contain no sugar and little to no fat. The texture is almost like a muffin and yet it still looks like a cookie… So cuffin it is.

At least I have one thing to pack in my lunch for tomorrow. Maybe I can trade it for a sandwich??

No. Sandwiches are not worthy of my cuffin.

Pureed Dates

1. In a small sauce pan with a lid, add the amount of dates you need for cooking.  Add cold water until the dates are fully covered.  Add about 1 teaspoon of vanilla should you desire.

2. Bring to a boil for a few minutes, and then cover and reduce to low. Simmer for about 35 to 40 minutes, or until most of the water has disappeared.

3. In a food process, puree the soaked dates until a butter-like texture forms.  About a minute.

4. Use in this recipe right away, or in replace of sweetener in any other recipe.  This puree should last a few weeks stored in the fridge.

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Full of Beans

It could be a good or a bad one, but every house has a distinct smell, a smell that can usually only be picked up on by an outsider.

I became quite aware of this in grade six, or the ripe age of 11.  A few weeks of school had gone by and I was nervously bringing home a new friend from class for the first time.  I repeat, nervously.  What were we going to talk about? What embarassing thing is my mom going to say? What are we going to eat for a snack?  Will she like my room? All of these questions were racing through my head and I could feel my heart beat speeding up as my mom drove us up the hill from the bus stop.  My dogs came charging down the driveway as we pulled in and I took one last deep breath.  Everything was going to be fine.

“Your house smells like beans.”  These were her first words.

Great.  The question of “what is she going to think my house smells like?” didn’t even cross my mind!  To me it didn’t smell of anything, or in this case reek of beans.

But looking back on it now, I realize at least one meal a day consisted of some sort of bean concoction.  And due to my dad’s prevailing usage of cumin and tumeric, they all smelled the same…As a result my house most definitely did not smell like lavender essential oils which I later found out hers did.

So rather than covering up the pungent odour with essential oils the other night, I decided to fully embrace it and made a bean dish.  A darn good one at that. 

Refried Beans with a Chip-Kick

Ingredients

1 can black beans (or about 2 cups of soaked and cooked beans if you have time)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 medium sized white onion, diced

1 small green pepper, diced

1 small tomato, diced

3 chipotle peppers, including a few adobo sauce from canned chipotle (more or less depending on spice preference)

salt and pepper, to taste

Method

1. Heat oil in a large frying pan on medium heat.  Add garlic, onion and pepper and saute for about 6 to 8 minutes.

2.  Meanwhile in a food processor, blend the can of beans with the chipotle pepper and sauce until smooth.  Add salt and pepper if desired. 

3.  When onion is translucent and the pepper is tender, add the bean mixture to the pan.  Fold in diced tomato.  Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed. 

These refried beans were not only VERY quick and easy to whip up, they were velvety with just the right amount of smokiness from the chipotle peppers.  They were delicious.  I wrapped the beans up in a whole wheat tortilla with brown rice, homemade guacamole, and mozza cheese, but you can do anything with them like as a healthy dip alternative to store bought ones. 

I wasn’t even embarassed that my house smelled like beans after these.

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The Perfect Granola

“We’ve become one finger cooks.”

That is what I took from an interview I did last year with Christine Palumbo, a dietician in Chicago.  She said a number of good things, but that line truly stuck with me.

We have become so lazy in the kitchen that really the only appliance we need is a microwave.  Press the start button, and low and behold, dinner is ready in 45 seconds.

There is a time and a place for everything, and I try really hard not to judge those who rely on pre-made meals more often than not.  But whatever happened to patience and creativity? Chopping vegetables and seasoning?  Just try taking a step back from all the chaos one day and take the time to make something from scratch.  Even if the final product doesn’t look picture perfect, who cares! Just look back on the whole experience; cooking can really be relaxing if you let it be.

After buying one too many premade granolas and thinking to myself everytime “You know, I could make this,” I finally decided to try it out.  I’ve made granola once before and it was an absolute disaster.  I blame it entirely on my oven though…And maybe the fact that I decided to take a shower during the fragile baking time…Regardless, it was charred, and flavourless, and well…Quaker’s Harvest Crunch could make a far finer batch….

But that did not stop me.  Yesterday I stocked up on all the granola necessities, and today, after practising some serious deep breathing, I got to work.

And I’m really not trying to brag…But it is amazing…Before, during, and after baking.  I had to restrain myself from eating the whole batch before it cooled, and now I have it stowed on the highest shelf in my cupboard. 

Nutty, Crunchy, Addicting, Granola

* Inspired by Fresh restaurant’s recipe

Ingredients

3 3/4 cups quick oats

1/4 cup raw buckwheat

1/4 cup flax meal

1/4 cup black chia seeds

1/2 cup raw pepita seeds

1/2 cup chopped raw pecans

1/4 cup chopped raw cashews

1/4 cup chopped Brazil nuts

1/2 cup unsweetened, unflavoured soy milk

1/2 cup agave nectar

1/2 cup turbinado sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil, liquifyed

1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

sea salt, to taste

1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup flaked coconut, unsweetened

Method

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, combine oats, buckwheat, nuts, flax, and chia seeds.

3. In a small sauce pan on medium heat, combine milk, oil, sugar, agave, vanilla, and salt.  Stir until sugar has dissolved.  (Turbinado sugar is quite hard so it takes about 5 minutes to fully break down.)

4. Combine the wet ingredients with the dry and stir until everything is fully coated.

5. Spread out onto a large lined baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes.  

4. Remove from oven and turn the oven to 225 degrees.    Give the granola a flip and a stir; return to oven for another 10 minutes.

5. Remove from oven again and stir the granola.  Return to oven for another 10 minutes.

6. Remove from oven and turn it off.  Give the granola one more stir and return to turned off oven for one more hour.

7. Take the granola out one last time and mix in dried cranberries and coconut. 

8. Allow to cool down and then store in an airtight container.  Better done quicker than sooner as if you’re like me, it might all be gone.

This granola does take some time, but it is really easy if you make use of the timer on your stove…And do other little projects in the mean time…Just try not to shower…

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Got Crunch?

I will never forget this one boy in primary school.  No, not because I had a crush on him, or because he would stealthily pick his nose and eat it — EVERY ONE KNEW JOSHUA! — It was all because of what he would eat at snack time.  I remember staring at him in envy as he licked the salt from his fingers and made a loud crunching sound each time he bit down…His snack really looked like a lot of fun, and well, better than my walnuts and raisins….

But my parents refused to buy potato chips.  At the grocery store we would walk briskly by Aisle 3 as if it didn’t even exist…Well they would; I bloody well knew that aisle existed!

I tried everything to get them to purchase just one shiny bag of those crispy everytime-addicting-chips but they would always say “T, if you can find a bag without trans-fats or hydrogenated oil, they’re all yours!”  So I would stand in that aisle for hours (okay, maybe a few minutes) reading the ingredients on every bag…And every bag resulted in sheer disappointment.

It wasn’t until early in the millenium (2004?) when Canada banned trans fats that I could actually find a bag that warranted my parents requirements.

After a few serious crunch sessions, I realized what I had been missing out on all along. 

But you know what I wasn’t missing out on?? The oil-laden fried potatoes and the long list of ingredients I couldn’t actually pronounce.

In the past few years, there have been a number of companies marketing “natural chips” or “all organic”…And while some of those bags are just really well branded, some of them actually have a nice looking list of ingredients.  The only thing stopping me is the price tag.

So this evening when I was just really feeling like something to crunch on, I turned to the nearly rotten beets in my fruit bowl.  Who says I can’t make chips out of beets…?

Beet Chips

Ingredients

2 large golden beets

2 tbsp. of olive oil

coarse sea salt, to taste

paprika, to taste

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. Peel and slice the beets very thin.  I just used a sharp knife, but if you are fortunate enought to have a mandolin, I highly recommend it!

3. Toss the thin slices in olive oil to make sure they’re coated on both sides and lay out onto the baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and paprika.

4. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops begin to brown.  Turn over and bake for another 10 minutes.  The baking time is very dependent on the thickness: the thicker the slice, the longer the time, obviously.

5. Remove from oven and cool. (This ensures that there is an actual crunch, but if you’re like me and can’t actually wait for them to cool the first few will just be really amazing roasted beets; the crunch will appear as you near the bottom of the bowl….)

I had these alongside a bowl of quinoa mixed with black beans, corn, kale, onion, red pepper, and Angela’s Lemon Tahini Dressing. 

It was delicious, and definitely hit the spot…A little more than those empty-carb potato chips.

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A-Bowl-Full-A

We have been quite lucky here in Toronto.  It’s coming on my fourth year living in the city, and not ONCE have I experienced a snowless November.  Halloween, a time when most are dressed in something comparable to their “birthday suit”, is usually paired with flurries and minus 10 weather… However, that’s not the case this year.  We bypassed October 31 and went right into mid November without a speckle of white dust.  In fact, some days have even reached a good 17 degrees; it’s essentially Hawaii over here.

Okay, let’s not go that far.

Yesterday was another story.  I woke up to the usual bright blue sky and shining sun…But as the day progressed the wind picked up, the sky went grey, and the sun quickly disappeared.  It was turning into a brisk one.

However, it never really hit me.

That was until I found myself huffing and puffing trying to bike up a slight incline on the way to the grocery store… That wind and crisp cool air had it in for me and if I didn’t act quickly, I could have very well ended up in Kansas.

I stocked up on the bare essentials (canned food??) and immediately returned home to curl up and feed my cold tummy.

Hearty Vegan Chili

** I followed Angela’s recipe almost precisely…However I used 3 cloves of garlic, about 2 tsp. of cayenne, 2 540 mL cans of a bean medly (garbanzo, red kidney, white kidney, romano, black-eyed peas, and lima beans)

This chili is absolutely amazing…And the chia seeds really are the cherry on top as they thicken it beautifully.

To go with my chili I made a vegan cornbread as I have been craving the stuff lately, and what better time to have it than with a big bowl of chili?!

Vegan Cornbread

** Slightly adapted from Post Punk Kitchen

2 cups cornmeal

1 cup whole kamut flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/3 cup olive oil

2 tbsp. agave nectar

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. oregano

1 tsp. paprika (optional)

1/2 tsp. sea salt

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment paper.  Combine the almond milk and vinegar and set aside.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt.

3. Add the agave and olive oil to the almond milk mixture, and whisk until a froth forms on top.

4. Combine the wet mixture with the dry mixture and stir in oregano.

5. Pour into the lined tray and sprinkle on paprika.

6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into centre comes out clean. Serve warm with chili…Or with butter…Or plain..Or with honey.

This cornbread is so dense and cake-like.  I am very pleased.

The sudden cold front was something of the past after this meal.

A bowl full of chili with a dollop of plain greek yogurt and warm cornbread

It’s not overly labour intensive, but it does require patience as the flavours need time to settle.  So if it happens to be that laid back type day, why not make a pot of chili?

And stay tuned for quite possibly the greatest batch of vegan kitchen sink cookies…

The perfect crunch, the perfect chew, the perfect softness, the perfect all around cookie.

What is your go-to meal on a cold winter day?

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