Saturday, 28 June 2008

Our Canadian Anniversary

Today marks the 3rd anniversary of our coming to Canada!

We had a great day out at the BC Highland Games - H in his kilt and me in my kilted skirt in 30C weather, not the smartest! It was fun, M loved the dancing and now REALLY wants to learn highland dancing, they played at the water park too. All in all a fun day out, and very apt seeing was we came here from Scotland!

I made us some happy anniversary muffins for breakfast -
Canada Anniversary Muffins
Makes 12

2/3 C plain Soymilk
1 t Apple Cider Vinegar
2 C Oat Flour *
¼ C Cornstarch
½ C ground Pecans #
½ C ground Walnuts #
2 T ground Flax Seeds
2 ¼ t Baking Powder
1 t Baking Soda
½ t Salt
2 T Oil
2 T unsweetened Applesauce
¼ C Sugar
½ C Maple Syrup
1 t Maple Essence

12 Walnut or Pecan Halves for decoration

Preheat oven to 375F and prepare muffin tins.
In a small bowl combine the soymilk and ACV. Stand for 5 minutes to curdle.
In a large bowl whisk together the oat flour, cornstarch, pecans, walnuts, Baking Powder, Baking Soda and salt.
To the soymilk mixture add the oil, applesauce, sugar, maple syrup and essence. Whisk to combine.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix to just combine.
Spoon into the muffin tins, place a nut half on the top of each and bake for 18 – 22 minutes until tests done. Cool for 5 minutes in pan before transferring to cooling rack.

* Ground up an equal amount of quick cooking oats in a food processor if you don’t have oat flour.
# Pulse these in a food processor until ground into a fine meal.
Check out the texture of these babies!! This is a simple way of marking the day we came to Canada with a mix of where we came from and where we came to. Walnuts and Oats from the UK, Maple Syrup and Pecans from North America. Part of our families history.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Muffins for the teacher.

M's official last day of school was today, though they haven't done much all week to be honest. She didn't want it to end, doesn't want summer to come, and is a bit scared about Grade 1. Emotional times in our house.

While the kids are all finished the teachers are all working tomorrow, and apparently they have an end of school potluck breakfast to kick their last day off. When I heard about this I offered to bring mini muffins for them all to share. M's teacher has been so wonderful through everything this year and I wanted to do something nice for her, and the other teachers too.

I roped in my 2 "helpers" and we made -
Dundee Muffins
Makes 12

1 ¼ C Plain Flour
1 C WholeWheat Pastry Flour
¾ t Baking Soda
2 t Baking Powder
¾ C Sugar
½ C ground Almonds
1 C Rice Milk
¼ C Oil
¼ C Orange (or Orange / Lemon) Marmalade
2 T Whisky
2 T Lemon Juice
1 t Lemon Zest
¼ C candied Orange Peel (or mixed)
¼ C Currants
12 Blanched whole Almonds – decoration

Preheat oven to 375F and prepare your muffin tins.
In a large bowl whisk together the dry ingredients – flours through almonds.
In a separate bowl whisk together the milk, oil, marmalade, whisky, lemon juice and zest, until smooth with no lumps of marmalade.
Add wet mix to dry and stir to just combine. Fold in the peel and currants.
Spoon into prepared tins and place a whole blanched almond in the centre of each muffin.
Bake 22 – 25 minutes until tests done. Cool in tray for 2 minutes then transfer to rack.
A little background - Dundee, a small Scottish city, has traditionally been known as the city of the three J’s – journalism, jute and jam. The jam in this instance being Marmalade. Over time “Dundee” in the title of a recipe has come to indicate there’s marmalade in there somewhere! The muffins are lighter than the Dundee cake (a traditional Scottish fruit cake) they’re loosely based on, but still get the flavours shining through.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

End of Preschool.

Another year of preschool has come to an end. I can't really believe it! One more year of preschool and I'll be getting ready for R to go to Kindergarten!!

Anyhow, R's Summer Breakup Party was this morning, and we baked mini-muffins to share. R chose the flavours - Pinkalicious, and Chocolate Chocolate Chip!

Pinkalicious Muffins are based on the cookie which was based on the book, where the girl ate pink cupcakes! These were M's favourite too.
The Choc Choc Chip ones are my Carob Carob Chip ones made with cocoa powder and chocolate chips as I was out of carob, and that's a trip to the HFS not the supermarket.
Both were full size muffin recipes baked in mini tins, just for 12 minutes instead of 20. I put a teensy bit of icing on each as it was a party after all!!

Saturday, 21 June 2008

The Winner, by a long margin...

Ginger Crunch Muffins.
There's the photos (again), there's the explanation, and here's the recipe....
Ginger Crunch Muffins
Makes 12

1 ¼ C Plain Flour
1 C Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
2 t Baking Powder
1 t Baking Soda
1 ½ t ground Ginger
½ t Salt
½ C Soymilk
¼ C Oil
¼ C Sugar
1 t Vanilla Extract
¼ C Agave
¼ C Maple Syrup
¼ C Soy Yogurt
1 recipe Cookie Pellets (see below)
Turbinado Sugar for tops

Preheat oven to 375F, and prepare your muffin tins.
In a large bowl sift together the flour through salt.
In a separate large bowl whisk together all the liquid ingredients (soymilk to yogurt).
Add liquid ingredients to dry and mix until just combined. Fold in the cookie pellets.
Spoon into muffin tins, then sprinkle the top of each with a little turbinado sugar.
Bake 20 – 25 minutes until tests done. After a few minutes transfer to cooling rack.

Cookie Pellets
2 T Magarine
2 T Sugar
¼ C + 2 T Plain Flour
1/8 t Baking Powder
Generous ¼ t ground Ginger
1 ½ T crystalised Ginger – finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking tray with parchment.
Cream marg and sugar until light and fluffy. Sift in the flour, baking powder and ginger. Mix well.
Add in the crytalised ginger and mix until stiff dough forms.
Roll dough into large cooked chickpea sized pellets (penny size) and place on parchment tray so they don’t touch. You’ll get about 50.
Bake for 7 – 9 minutes. Be careful as they can burn quite easily.
To cool, lift parchment from baking tray and transfer to cooling rack.
Variation - don't cook the cookies and put raw dough in the mix.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Sports Day

Today was M's School Sports Day. Her she is in her team colours!
They played such classic games as "Rubber Chicken Toss" "6 Legged Race" "Hit the Can" "Parachute Balls"- all were very entertaining! The Colours were divided into teams with children from different grades in each, and the older kids had to help the younger ones with the activities. They went around the activities with teams from other colours. She had a blast!! Especially enjoying the Popsicle break! Here she is with Daddy.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Healthy Buddy Muffins

Take a look at yesterday's post and vote for your favourite muffin in the poll on the right. I'll post the winning muffin recipe on the weekend.
First a little info about each muffin to help you decide.....
Ginger Crunch Muffins
Loosely based on a New Zealand traditional slice (bar cookie) by the same name which is a crunchy based topped with a gooey ginger caramel. My muffins have tiny cookie pellets baked into them and lots of ginger flavour.
Afghan Muffins
Nothing to do with Afghanistan and the Taliban. Also based on a New Zealand staple slice (or biscuit as it is made both ways) Afghan slice (and these muffins) contain cornflakes, and walnuts. I've made my muffins wheat free too.
New World Currant Square Muffins
New World because, unlike traditional Currant Squares I've put blueberries and cranberries (both "New World" fruit) in them. Currant Squares have pastry top and bottom and a really fruity filling (currants mainly) I've tried to replicate that in muffin form.
Banana Caramel Muffins
I call them caramel because they are quite sweet and have caramel essence in them, not because they are super gooey or have bits of toffee inside. These are a bit boring, but made better by being gluten free.
Go vote people.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Thank you Healthy Buddies.

M's school has a programme called "Healthy Buddies" where grade 7 students are paired up with kindergartners and they do "healthy" things, like exercise stations together in the gym, go on walks, learn about nutrition blah blah blah. They swap them half way through the year so the wee ones get to know more older ones and feel less intimidated in the playground etc. Its a good programme from what I can see.

Well, M has had some GREAT healthy buddies. They will say hi to her whenever she sees them, even if its at the mall, they'll include her in their play at recess or after school - they'll play hopscotch with her, and help her with catch games, and on the climbing frame. Even if they are just humouring her and inside they're all "Oh, no not the pest again" they've been ever so good natured about it and have given her a good self esteem boost.

As a thank you for being such good healthy buddies I (I mean we - ha) made some (mostly Healthy-ish) muffins to take and share with them as the programme has finished for the year. We have top and inside views of-
Ginger Crunch Muffins
Afghan Muffins
New World Currant Square Muffins
Banana Caramel Muffins

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Happy Father's Day

To all you Dad's out there. Have a wonderful day and I hope you got breakfast in bed at least!

H unfortunately had to run out the door at sparrow fart to go to work, but I was prepared! I made up a half batch of these babies last night so he could grab and run.
They are really very good, and have 2 of his favourite flavours in them so I was pretty much guaranteed a favourable reception!

Fathers Day Muffins
(Coconut Blueberry)
Makes 12

½ C shredded unsweetened coconut
1 C plain Soymilk
1 t Apple Cider Vinegar
¾ C + 2T Wholewheat Pastry Flour
¾ C + 2T Plain Flour
1 t Baking Soda
2 t Baking Powder
½ t Salt
¾ C Sugar
1/3 C unsweetened Applesauce
1 t Coconut Essence
½ C Coconut Chunks
½ C Frozen Blueberries (or fresh – try and get the little wild ones)

Preheat oven to 375F and prepare your muffin tins.
In a small pan, over medium heat, toast the coconut until a light golden colour – 5 minutes or so. Remove from the heat.
In a medium bowl mix together the soymilk and ACV. Stand 5 minutes.
In a large bowl whisk together the flours, baking soda and powder, salt, sugar and toasted coconut.
Whisk the applesauce and essence into the soymilk, then add the liquid ingredients to the dry. Mix until just combined.
Fold in the coconut pieces and blueberries. Spoon into muffin tins and bake for 20 – 22 minutes until tests done.
Cool 2 minutes in trays before turning onto rack.

I found the coconut chunks at my local Health Food Store and knew they'd be perfect for H's coconut love. They were unsweetened chunks about the size of corn kernels, and not all that expensive - about the same as the other dried fruit. See if your local store stocks them, if not add dried blueberries.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Book review.

I have been sent a copy of thisto review. Thank you to all the nice people responsible.

I really like Gillian McKeith, despite not having had a great deal of success with her recipes (see this post), even though she isn't vegan, her message about healthy eating is one I feel more people could take notice of. I can look past the fish, chicken and dairy. I wish she could too.

Anyhow, this book really is like a bible! Its a huge hardcover, lump of a book, an attractive lump it must be said, but still really big! and when you get to reading it, its almost like a book of two halves.

The first half is general information. A section about what is in foods, very similar to information that was in "You are what you eat" useful but nothing new. Then there is a section about nutritional requirements for all different stages of life, from pregnancy and babies to old age. This is a pretty good section and gives pointers for getting the best out of yourself, and also what your body needs at each stage.

The remainder of the book is dedicated to different conditions and how they can be influenced nutritionally, from Abscesses to Worms, and a whole bunch in between. Handy to be bale to look up for friends and family any ailments they may have.

I found the odd typo on the way through (misspelling, passage repeated) but not loads and I guess you'll always get some. and about the animal products, to be fair she always does suggest non animal alternatives. Its not vegan, but its a pretty useful book.

For more info, go to Gillian's website.

and if anyone else wants to send me free books to read and review, (or free vegan icecream to taste test) I'm more than happy to oblige!

Friday, 13 June 2008

Perfect with chili.... I guess

Its not in my food heritage to eat cornbread. I'm from New Zealand of English parentage remember, and up until now the places I've lived haven't really eaten such things with any degree of frequency (Thailand, Australia and Scotland). However, cornbread is something I've had a few times since moving to North America, but not something that has created a passion inside me (so far). The first time I had cornbread muffins they were made by a friend as a thank you and I ate maybe 2 before giving up. I just didn't get it.

As is often said, and as I hope will be the case with my quinoa and not much else loving children, tastes change over time. (I do exaggerate about the children) Especially when you make it yourself. I really like these cornbread muffins that I made the other day t go with a baked sweet potato chili at dinner time. R helped make them (she's turning into a muffin princess), but when they were done she had a bite and spat it out. Please don't let that put you off! They are good. A little sweet, but plenty savoury with a tiny kick of spice, crunchy on top, yet really soft inside.

Oh, and they are low fat and gluten free (if you make them that way) to boot.
Savoury Corn Cornmeal Muffins
Makes 12

2/3 C plain Soymilk
1 t Apple Cider Vinegar
1 C Gluten Free Flour Mix *
1 C Yellow Corn Flour
¼ C Corn Starch
4 t Baking Powder
1 t Baking Soda
1 t Salt
¼ t Black Pepper
¼ t Garlic Powder
¼ t Onion Powder
1/8 t Paprika
1/8 t Mustard Powder
1 ½ C smooth style Creamed Corn #
¼ C Agave
½ C Corn Kernels (fresh if you can)

Preheat oven to 400F and prepare muffin tins.
In a medium sized bowl mix the soymilk with the ACV and leave to curdle.
In a large bowl whisk together the flours through mustard powder.
Add the agave and creamed corn to the soymilk and whisk until smooth.
Make a well in the dry ingredients, add the wet and mix until combined.
Fold in the corn kernels, spoon into muffins tins (they will be full) and them bake for 15 -18 minutes, or until tests done.
Cool in tray for 2 minutes before turning onto rack.

* I’m experimenting, if you don’t have this, then just use plain all purpose white wheat flour.
# If you can’t get the smooth stuff just blend the lumpy stuff in your Food Processor or Blender for a few pulses.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Quinoa in a (curry) hurry

I think I've mentioned this thing I like to do with quinoa before, but never before have I actually written down a recipe, as really, there was no recipe, it was just the same things in roughly the same proportions. Until I wrote it all down and made it formal. There is now a recipe (yay). If you have cooked quinoa, and chickpeas to hand its super quick and its tasty.

This serves 2 if it is the centre of the meal, and 4 if there are loads of sides.
Thai Quinoa
Serves 2 – 4

½ Onion – sliced
3 cloves Garlic – grated
½ - 1 t Thai Green Curry Paste *
2 C cooked Quinoa
1 C frozen Peas – thawed #
½ C cooked Chickpeas
2 Sprig Onions – finely chopped
¼ C Cilantro – roughly chopped

Saute the onion and garlic for about 10 minutes, until a little browned.
Add in the curry paste with a splash of water and stir to combine.
Continue to sauté and add the quinoa, peas and chickpeas and cook for about 5 minutes until everything is well combined and heated through.
Stir in the spring onion and cilantro, then serve. This is easy to mold and looks pretty when you do.

* you know how much heat you like, and you know how hot your curry paste is as it varies between brands. Add lass then more later is a good rule of thumb.
# to thaw them quickly, pour over boiling water, stand 5 minutes, drain and repeat. They’re pretty much cooked and ready to add.

Remember you control how spicy you make it so don't blame me!

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

My baker in the making!

The other night when I made the muffins for Andrea, R was ever so disappointed she didn't get one, and has been hounding me for us to make some muffins for her. She's 3 and cute so this is a little heart breaking. So today while M was in school and Baby M having her nap, we did.

I like to be a little sneaky (though I'm no Jessica Seinfeld) and hide healthy stuff in baked goods, especially when they have been requested like this, in this instance I've (I mean R did) made them low (lower) fat and wheat free. If you don't do soy, then sub almond milk, and you've got a wheat free, soy free, low fat yummy treat. They're not gluten free mind - as you'll see when you read the recipe. and the taste test? R ate 2 (and these are pretty decent sized muffins) for her afternoon snack! H had one, and proclaimed them delicious. Isn't R such a good wee cook.
Lower fat Wheat free Banana and Currant Muffins
Makes 12

½ C Currants
1 C Boiling Water
2/3 C plain Soymilk
1 t Apple Cider Vinegar
1 C Oat Flour *
1 C Spelt Flour
½ C Yellow Corn Flour
¼ C Tapioca Starch Flour
4 t Baking Powder
1 t Baking Soda
1 t Salt
½ t Cardamom (or Cinnamon if you don’t have it)
2/3 C Sugar
2 C well mashed Banana (about 4 – make up to 2 C with applesauce if you’re just short)
1 t Vanilla Essence
1 t Banana Essence (or more Vanilla if you don’t have)

Preheat oven to 400F and prepare your muffin tins.
In a small bowl pour the boiling water over the currants and stand until required.
In a medium bowl mix the soymilk and ACV, stand for about 5 minutes.
Sift together the flours, baking powder and soda, salt, cardamom into a large bowl. Stir in the sugar.
Add the banana and essences to the soymilk and whisk until smooth.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and add your wet. Mix to just combine.
Drain the currants and add these, folding in.
Spoon your batter into your muffin tins – they will be full, then bake for 20 – 22 minutes until tests done.
Stand 5 minutes in tins before turning out to cool on a rack.

* if you don’t have Oat Flour process the same amount of Quick Cooking Rolled Oats in your food processor until of a flour texture.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

A work in progress.

So no recipe for this today, but I will share later in the month once I have made it again and adjusted a little. Still tasty as it is, just not right.
I'm calling them "Maple Tofu Skewers" and they are for Canada Day to BBQ - if the weather co-operates.
I usually make a big old cheesecake for Canada Day, but don't know if I want to this year.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Muffin tester

There was a new muffin available for testing over in the PPK test Kitchen - Bakery Style Berry Muffins - so I made some last night as a thank you to the mother of a friend of M's. As I have mentioned M has been going to Sparks this last year, and most times has been taken there and back by her friend's mum. So a nice sweet thank you last night - and one here too.

The muffins worked really well, rose up high, were sweet and light and easy to make.
Thank you Andrea!

Sunday, 8 June 2008


Something I'm sure everyone has done once in a while. Taken a premade (vegan) pizza base, added salsa mixed with tomato paste, caramelised onions, cilantro leaves, corn kernels, and in this instance broccoli, and called it dinner. Sometimes doing more is too much.
Lazy post day.

Saturday, 7 June 2008

As it seems to want to stay winter.....

I made a real winter soup for dinner last night.
What is with this weather. They had a humid 35C+ day in Southern Ontario and we are getting 12C and rain! Go figure. Please, please, weather gods, let Spring and Summer happen this year.

Anyway back to my soup. I had some Aduki Beans that I cooked up earlier in the week waiting to be used, and I roasted some garlic when I did my lunchtime baked potato, so combined the two with a selection of mushrooms. It made for a very substantial, hearty, woodsy, meal of a soup. One I will keep in the repertoire I think!

If you don't like mushrooms - look away now.
Mushroom, Aduki Bean and Roasted Garlic Soup
Serves 4 as a starter (2 as a dinner with bread)

½ C dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 C Boiling Water
1 Medium Onion – finely chopped
3 cloves Garlic – grated
1 head Roasted Garlic – squeezed out and chopped if required
1 Portobello – finely chopped (about 2 C)
3 large White Mushrooms – finely chopped (about 2 C)
1 C Shiitake Mushrooms – stems removed and finely chopped
2 C Cooked Aduki Beans
1 t dried Thyme
1 Bayleaf
1 T Soy Sauce
3 C Mushroom Stock (from cubes - or vegetable if you don’t have mushroom)

In a small bowl combine the porcini mushrooms and boiling water. Cover and stand 10 minutes. Drain reserving both liquid and mushrooms – finely chop mushrooms.
In a large soup pot over medium heat sauté the onion, garlic and roasted garlic for about 10 minutes.
Add in all the mushrooms (porcini, portobello, white and shiitake) and sauté 10 minutes.
Then add in all the remaining ingredients, including the reserved porcini liquid, and cook at a low boil for about 30 minutes.
Using either an immersion blender or standard food processor, blend half the soup to a creamy, smooth consistency, returning to the pot to combine with the remainder. Reheat as required. Season to taste.

Friday, 6 June 2008

R's Treat.

My cookie baker strikes again! Yesterday while M was at school R and I baked cookies. I wanted some I could eat without feeling (too) guilty, and could share with a clear conscience too. So I changed up my standard Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe and came up with this beauty. Use Chocolate Chips if you don't have (or don't like) Carob. Pictures are a bit blurry today, sorry.
Low (well lower) Fat Spelt Carob Chip Cookies
Makes 14

3 T Soymilk
¼ t Apple Cider Vinegar
3 T Unsweetened Applesauce
½ C Sugar
½ t Vanilla
¾ C + 2 T Spelt Flour
½ t Baking Powder
¼ t Baking Soda
1/8 t Salt
½ T Ground Flax Seeds
½ C Carob (or Chocolate) Chips

Preheat oven to 375F and line your baking sheet with parchment.
Combine the soymilk and ACV in a small bowl and stand for 5 minutes to curdle.
In a large bowl mix together the applesauce, sugar and vanilla. Add in the soymilk and mix well.
Sift in the dry ingredients (excepting chips) and mix to combine. Fold in the carob / chocolate.
Using a T size measure scoop onto your baking sheet, leaving a gap of 2” or so between cookies.
Bake for 10 minutes until lightly golden. Stand on tray for about 2 minutes before moving to rack.
Variation - If you want them to be Chocolate Chocolate Chip (or rather Carob Carob Chip if you are using Carob) then sub the extra 2 T of flour for Cocoa or Carob powder.

Oh, yeah, the girls, and everyone else who had one - loved them!!

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Leftovers for Breakfast

This one was made up from some stuff I had in the fridge and was super yum. It has gone back to being winter here again so hot breakfasts like this are actually perfect at the moment. When, oh when will spring (and then summer) finally arrive in Vancouver?
Sweet Potato Rice Breakfast
Serves 1

1/2 C cooked Brown Rice
1/2 cooked Sweet Potato (orange flesh type)
1 T Raisins
1/2 t Cinnamon
1 t Agave
2/3 C Rice Milk

Combine all ingredients into a small pot. Stir well. Simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes until thickens. Serve hot. Add a little more agave if necessary.

Artwork in the background courtesy of M! btw - My knee is feeling better so I hope to restart my running again soon. I'll be more careful this time.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Updating stuff

Before anyone says it - I'm going to say it - "Carla, it's now June so you have to update your sidebar and get new pictures up."

See, I know already. But not today. I will get to it soon I promise!

Monday, 2 June 2008

Cupcakes, taking over the school!

Well, not entirely but I tried.
M's school is having their Teacher Appreciation Lunch today and I volunteered to make some cupcakes for dessert. The theme this year was Mexican so I made two mexi-themed cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes take over the World - the Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes, which the girls taste tested and loved. Dirty Chocolate faces all round from this one. and the Mucho Margarita Cupcakes, which they didn't test, thanks to the tequila they contain. I tried them too, well, you really have to don't you, if you want your child to impress their future teachers! Both were ever so tasty!

Then I have this little concoction to share. Like I said, H is working a lot of nights at the moment so I am eating very plainly, healthily, but unfortunately for the purposes of blogging, boringly. Its good for me, but not so good for you! Anyhow, this is Millet, toasted then cooked with little pieces of cauliflower and sauteed onion and garlic, in vegetable stock, served with stir fried Bok Choi. Really good, though not in the same league as the cupcakes.