Chocolate Coconut Almond Meal Cookies

23 12 2012

Well it’s here and gone, the winter solstice and we all survived the Mayan’s end of the world prediction. Phew ;-). I hope this post finds you well and settled in for a break during the holidays. The winter solstice, being the shortest day of the year, is a turning point, the first official day of winter and now the days slowly gain more light. It is a time of reflection and as a dear friend said to me recently I hope you “are able to step back, rest and reconnect with the deeper voices of life this solstice season.”

This time of year is a cookie occasion. Filling tins and gift bags with baking to share with family and friends. I didn’t imagine myself to be a cookie maker, but alas here I am, blocking my calendar for a ‘bake day’ in early December. This included cracking open wine in the afternoon, maybe unique to me, no? I bet that’s why there are ‘bake days’ ;-). I started the day off early making Walnut Kifli with grandma Anne. These cookies get lots of hits on my blog this time of year, so I know there are other Hungarians out there enjoying this traditional recipe, that’s fantastic.

photo 3

Once the kifli were done, it was home to the test kitchen. I wanted to make a ‘not so bad for you cookie’ and use up a bunch of almond meal from the Almond Milk I make weekly. I found a recipe on Naked Chef, but was not convinced by it. Once I got the cookie dough made, it was quite wet, a bit bland and I had to bake them longer to set. I tried two kinds, regular and chocolate. The regular didn’t turn out but the chocolate were okay. I added coconut to the chocolate ones and dipped them in ganache with a sprinkle of sea salt, much better.  I wasn’t convinced at first, but B liked them and then mom liked them. So here they are. I will definitely make them again, and experiment with flavours.

To make vegan: grind up 2 tbsp flax seeds and add to 1/3 cup water. Mix together and let sit while you prep the rest. This is an excellent egg substitute and is really good for you.

Flax meal

To make gluten-free: experiment with your wheat free flour. I think this recipe could be gluten-free, but haven’t tried. Let me know if you do.

Chocolate Coconut Almond Meal Cookies (adapted from The Naked Chef)

  • 2 tbsp Ground Flax Seed soaked in 1/3 cup Water
  • 2 cups raw Almond Meal (remember you can keep almond meal in the freezer to use later)
  • 2 1/4 cups Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Sea Salt + a few grains for garnish
  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil, melted
  • 3/4 cup Honey
  • 1 tbsp Coconut Sugar
  • 1 tbsp Vanilla
  • 1/2 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 cup grated and unsweetened Shredded Coconut

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix the almond meal, flour, baking soda, salt, coconut sugar, cocoa powder and shredded coconut together. Add the ground flax mixture, coconut oil, honey and vanilla, mix together. Roll into balls using about 2 tbsp of dough. They do puff up a bit so they should be kept on the small side. Bigger and they stay raw inside (as per my experience). Bake 15-25 min. Test one batch in your oven to make sure they are cooked in the middle. I had to bake for 23 min,  depends on the size of the cookie balls you roll. Let cool.

I melted 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips in a double boiler and added a few tablespoons of almond milk, stir well. Dip the cooled cookies in the chocolate and sprinkle with a few grains of sea salt. They save well in the fridge or freezer. The recipe is supposed to make 36 cookies, but by the time I got this all figured out I didn’t have a lot to offer folks…oh well, next time.

Chocolate Coconut Almond cookies

Enjoy the holidays and happy solstice!

Eat well, Be well, Nat





Lunch at Work v.4 – Coconut Lentil Soup

12 03 2011

Lunch at work got you down? I started a new contract a few weeks ago, and phew, it has been busy. I wasn’t off that long, but throw Christmas and January in there you really do fall into a sleepy state in the dark of winter. Getting back into the swing of things took a few weeks. I think the biggest challenge is that we have been in a cold snap here in Calgary. You know, I’m okay with it, I didn’t think it was that bad until March came. Then I was like, ‘ok, I’m done with this weather’. We have holidays coming up and the weather is sunny and above zero here today so things are looking up!

I have been packing soup almost every day to lunch, and my pick the last three weeks (yes, a bit of a habitual eater) has been lentil soup. It is nourishing, rich in fibre and protein and easy to consume on the go with the right thermos. Throw some cut veggies and whole grain crackers on the side, hunger is gone, energy sustained.

I have tried a few versions of Lentil Coconut Soup this past month, but my favourite is the one below. It honestly takes all of 30 minutes to make. I don’t remember where I got the original recipe from. Unless it is in a book I have, I google recipes until I find a few I like, save them all, try them and tweak the recipes to my liking. That’s the fun of cooking and experimenting in the kitchen.

2 cups Red Lentils
3/4 inch Fresh Ginger (2 cm), peeled and chopped
1 small Onion, chopped
1 Garlic clove, chopped (or a touch of garlic powder, or omit altogether)
1 Tbsp Coconut Oil
1 tsp Turmeric
1 2/3 cup Veggie Stock (1 -2 cubes of low sodium variety in hot water)
1 can (398 ml) Crushed or Diced Tomatoes, with liquid
1  can (398 ml) Coconut Milk
2 cups filtered Water

  • Rinse and drain lentils (I have been finding red kidney beans in my Indian ones I have, too funny)
  • Heat the coconut oil in a pot and sauté ginger, onion and garlic until softened
  • Add turmeric, hot veggie stock, coconut milk, water, tomatoes and the lentils; bring to boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes
  • Take off the heat, puree the soup using a hand-held blender (or in a blender carefully, read the last post on this here)

Seems weird to blog about such trivial things as to what I ate at work. I hope that all my blog friends are paying close attention to what is happening in the Middle East. Our people, our human relatives are striving all over the world to voice their rights. Rights that we take for granted in our country and more importantly, don’t pay attention too. What is happening in Wisconsin is an extension of the struggle that goes on in Egypt, Tunisia etc. As well, today, we watch the unfolding disaster in Japan. The feats of our engineering have saved thousands of lives in comparison to what happened in Haiti last year, an earthquake of similar magnitude. High rises swayed instead of collapsing. Although, those same feats of engineering and science have us holding our breath as we monitor the breakdown of a nuclear power plant. If only we stopped fighting one another and embraced our human-ness. The trillions of dollars in debt we have from our previous poor decisions over the decades has put us in even greater risk as we figure out how to survive and support one another. Priorities.

Be well, Eat Well,

Nat





Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Goodness

26 02 2011

I am always looking, finding and noting recipes that are healthful. A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon a recipe in SwerveCalgary. I think I got a tweet from somewhere to something that led me to find these cookies by Julie Van Rosendaal, a well known chef/foodie, she’s hilarious. It was a no brainer. Hurry up banana’s ripen!

I made them and they are now my favourite oatmeal cookie. Here is the recipe with my notes on how I made them. Make them today, seriously, go, now.

If you need to make these peanut free, try other nut butters or a soy nut butter that is okay with schools. This recipe is sooooo good for kids lunches, but the peanut/nut free thing is so constraining for mom’s. I lived off peanut butter as a kid, today, this is not the case. Most kids can’t bring peanut or other nut things to school.

  • 2-3 very ripe bananas (I used frozen, thawed them, poured off most of the liquid, left about a tablespoon)
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, preferably all-natural (sugar free!!!)
  • 1/4 cup canola or mild olive oil (use the olive, canola, not so much)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups old-fashioned (large flake) or quick oats (not instant and to be gluten free you have to use gluten free certified oats)
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut (sugar free!)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 – 1 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips (I used a regular sized Green & Blacks organic dark 80% chocolate bar, chopped it up, about 1 cup. I could have used less, like 3/4, but they were good)

1) Preheat oven to 350˚F.
2) In a large bowl, mash the bananas with the peanut butter, oil and vanilla until smooth. (A fork worked perfectly). Add the oats, coconut, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir until combined, then stir in the chocolate.
3) Drop spoonfuls of dough onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or sprayed with non-stick spray (I pressed them down a bit). Bake 12-14 minutes, until just set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 24 cookies (I baked for 14 on convention, made about 20 cookies).

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Parsnip Soup

19 01 2011

I recently went to NOtaBLE for lunch with a fellow Health Food Junkie and we had the most amazing parsnip soup (followed by a killer grilled cheese, not so healthy, but satisfying :)). The soup was very simple, parsnip, apple with a blue cheese creme fresh on top, yum. I hadn’t made parsnip soup before, so I looked around for recipes. I found this recipe on Food Network Canada and it looked great, developed by a holistic dietician. I made a few changes based on taste. With the research I did I can experiment with recreating the parsnip and apple soup now too.

There is so much to love about this soup recipe.

1. I love parsnips and could eat roasted parsnips every winter day. Mmmm, roasted with carrots and beets. Parsnips are full of vitamins, minerals and fibre. I got these fine organic parsnips from my favourite market, the Kingsland Farmers Market.

2. It calls for coconut oil. According to some health practitioners coconut oil is the most healthiest of oils. It is a saturated Medium-Chain Fatty Acid (MCFA) and is metabolized differently then saturated and unsaturated Long-Chain Fatty Acids which is what animal and vegetable fats are. Although saturated they do not negatively effect cholesterol. I won’t bore you with the science, but it is worth looking into for yourself and while you’re at it, look into why you shouldn’t be congesting margarine and oil like products. Some fats are good for you, investigate this, it is part of healthy digestion, metabolism and weight management.

3. It has white cannellini beans so it is a hearty soup, with a good source of protein and fibre.

4. It is so easy to make! You don’t even peel the carrots or parsnips. Buy organic and scrub them a little with a veggie scrub.

1 cup dried White Beans, Navy or Cannellini, soaked overnight, rinsed and drained
1 Yellow Onion, chopped (for sattvic, skip)
2 stalks Celery, chopped
1 Carrot, unpeeled, chopped
4 medium Parsnips, unpeeled, chopped
1 clove Garlic (or 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder, or skip for sattvic)
2 tbsp Organic Coconut Oil
1/2 tsp fresh or dry Thyme
1/2 tsp fresh or dry Sage
Sea Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
5-6 cups of Filtered Water

  • In a soup pot, add the coconut oil, carrots, celery and onion over medium-high heat. Stir frequently until the vegetables start to brown, about 5-10 min.
  • Add the beans, garlic, thyme, sage, salt and pepper, stir well. Cover with water, about 2-3 cups. Bring to boil and then turn down to simmer for 20 minutes.
  • Add parsnips to pot and cover with water plus two inches over the top of vegetables, about 2-3 cups. Bring to boil and then turn down to simmer for another 20 min or so, stirring occasionally. When both the parsnips and beans are tender remove from heat.
  • Using a hand blender, blend the soup until smooth (or let soup cool and use a blender). If the soup is thicker than you’d like (and it will thicken a bit more) add a 1/2 cup or more water. Adjust with salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  • Serve with homemade or sourdough bread. Yum.
  • If you want to make this same day, replace the dried beans for 2 cups of canned beans, do only one boil/simmer step, add the beans 10 min into simmering and then blend when the parsnips are done. That should work but dried soaked beans are always better – keep them in the fridge for a day or so if you run out of time to make the soup.
  • I doubled the recipe, made a nice big pot!

Eat Well, Be Well,

Nat





Quick Thai Curry

22 11 2010

The theme around here continues to be comfort foods, and being so cold and snowy right now, this is an easy sell. We love curry of any kind, and for us it is a comfort food. As a wedding gift we received green and red Thai Curry bases purchased at Williams and Sonoma. Although I can’t find it on the website, I think they still sell it in the store, but it’s been a long time since I was there to see. It is the best Thai curry base I have used (including ones bought in asian markets). It is made from whole ingredients and you can see the lemon grass and lime leaves crushed up in it. I prefer making Thai curries from scratch, but when you are in the mood and don’t have all the ingredients, these bases are a comfort food saver. As for Indian curry bases, I tend not to use them. Unlike Thai, Indian curry ingredients are easy to keep around the house, lemon grass and lime leaves, key ingredients in Thai, do not keep well (unless you know a secret and want to share it with me).

Saturday night the weather was a mere -20 degrees Celsius, and this has gone on for a week now, so what to make for dinner? A warm Thai Curry. Here is an easy recipe and how I use the same recipe for a shrimp version and then convert it to a veggie dish for left overs. Always thinking ahead to lunch for the week 🙂

Quick Thai Curry

  • 1 cup of Jasmine or Basmati Rice (cook it with a few tbsp of dried or fresh grated coconut, we had some fresh coconut in the fridge, it was a great addition to the rice)
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 Red Pepper, sliced
  • 3-4 Carrots, sliced on an angle
  • 3-4 Stalks Celery, sliced on an angle
  • 1 Large Zucchini, sliced in half rounds (I would use eggplant too, but couldn’t find any that night)
  • 1 can Coconut Milk
  • 2-3 tbsp Green or Red Curry Base, depending on level of spice
  • 12 large Shrimp, tail on
  • 1 package Snow Peas (hard to find organic, so I wash them really well, eh)
  • 1 can Chick Peas

Cut all of the vegetables so they are about the same thickness. While the rice is cooking, heat the oil on medium high heat in a wok or large pot. Add the carrots, celery and pepper, stir fry until the start to soften but are still firm, about 10 min. Add the zucchini, stir fry until the zucchini start to soften, 5-10 min, they might even caramelize a bit. Add the coconut milk and curry base, stir well. Add the shrimp and snow peas, continue cooking on medium heat until the shrimp are cooked and the coconut milk thickens, about 10 min. Shrimp are cooked when they are opaque and no longer pink. Serve over the rice, removing all of the shrimp. There should be plenty of veggies and some sauce left, add the chick peas to it, voila, lunch is served. Of course you can skip the shrimp completely and just add the chick peas, I do this with all sorts of veggies and curry through the winter.

Eat well, Be well (stay warm),

Nat





The 1st of March

2 03 2010

Ah, the 1st of March and so much to say. In Calgary it was sunny and 10C warm yesterday. I went for a walk at Glenmore Park, being outside is so refreshing. Bundled up, covered up and void of sunlight for months, when spring peeks it’s head out in Calgary smiles stretch across everyone you see. There were two men on park benches, elderly men, really elderly men, talking about their heart procedures and the technology that had extended their lives. They talked about in’s and out’s of how it went and how they felt. They have probably lived the same length of two generations of the previous centuries. Ponder that.

Food! Sunday’s in our house are usually saved for prepping food for the week, experimenting with recipes and menus not tried before or building a feast of favourites. This past Sunday was Wagamama Sunday. What’s Wagamama? For those of you that have been to Europe you might be familiar with this fresh and casual noodle eatery. When I was in London in 2002 we discovered it in Piccadilly Circus. It was just starting to take off in Europe. You sit at long shared picnic tables, the server writes your order on the paper in front of you and when the food comes it is fresh, sizzling and healthful. Mostly soups and stir-fries and the flavours are rich and have a lot of depth. When we went through Heathrow on our way home from Canary Islands last year I was over the moon to discover the Wagamama at the airport (well okay, I knew it was there, I of course looked it up before we left, nothing like planning a meal months in advance). I brought home their cook book and Sunday we made a few of the recipes and just in time to sit and take in the Olympic Closing Ceremonies. Edamame (classic and easy soybean dish), Yasai Itameru (veggie, tofu stir-fry on a bed of coconut ginger rice noodles) and for dessert Char-grilled Pineapple. This you have to try.

In a sauce pot mix 1 can of coconut milk, a few tablespoons of sugar (now choose this wisely, you can use any kind of sugar but try unprocessed sweeteners like Agave or Maple), juice of 1 lime and the zest of half a lime and  a 5 cm piece of lemongrass thinly sliced. Simmer 5 min and let cool. Char-grill slices of pineapple over high heat, 1-2 minutes a side, place in a serving dish or individual bowls. Strain the coconut sauce, warm gently on stove and pour over the pineapple. Tell me that isn’t great.

Welcoming in the 1st of March is always warming. What’s not warming is the ongoing natural disasters our world is facing. My opinion, we don’t have time to fight wars, we need to take care of each other and the planet.

Be well, eat well, Nat