“Fall-ing” Back into Routines & Avocado Vegan Milkshake Recipe

While I was away in South Korea, I didn’t have frequent access to the internet/computer so I didn’t really have a chance to announce the winner to my book giveaway. Congratulations to my reader Safu79 for winning the book! 🙂

Even though September has arrived and a new school year and season has begun, which is always a busy month for me as I adjust back to regular and new routines, trying to achieve work-life balance again, I plan to slowly catch up with what all my blogger friends have been up to, and will be posting some more summer adventures or discoveries in Vancouver and Korea whenever I have time. I have so many things to tell you about!!

Without further ado, I would love to tell you about this new drink I discovered and fell in love with…

When I returned from Vancouver, my friend Faith and I met up at her favourite Vietnamese restaurant. Every time she has a meal there, she also orders the avocado milkshake. I was curious as to how it tasted since I love avocados so I ordered one to try that night. To my delight, it had a very creamy rich taste and it wasn’t as sweet as I thought. Therefore, I felt it was healthier than most milkshakes.

Before I left for Korea, I recreated my own healthy version using almond milk and pure maple syrup as the natural sweetener. Today I followed the same recipe with only one more addition which was the banana, and it tastes absolutely divine! This milkshake is reserved for days when you feel like having something totally decadent but at the same time you want something healthy too. 🙂

Below you’ll find my Vietnamese-inspired dairy-free naturally sweetened Avocado Milkshake recipe. Enjoy and savour every single sip! 🙂

Happy Fall & September!

XO,

Violet

Avocado Milkshake

 

Makes: 1 milkshake

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Blending Time: 1-2 minutes

Total Time: about 8 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 ripe medium avocado

1 ripe banana, chopped

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 cup unsweetened cold almond milk (if you prefer a sweeter taste, go with original)

Optional: 1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs for topping

 

Instructions:

1. Put all ingredients (except the cacao nibs) into the blender and mix.

2. Sprinkle with cacao nibs on top, and enjoy drinking with a straw! 🙂

 

Special Note:

I also added 1 tablespoon of Macro Greens. It is a greens product that is abundant in antioxidants, enzymes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids and probiotic cultures.  It is also gluten-free, raw, organic and vegan. I have it almost every day. I find it boosts my energy level and helps with keeping my immune system stronger.

If you would like to learn more about it, this is the one I use: http://www.iherb.com/macrolife-naturals-macro-greens-nutrient-rich-super-food-10-oz-283-5-g/7385

 

 

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread (Gluten-Free & Dairy-Free)

One day I really missed having banana bread, so I looked into my kitchen to see if I had ingredients to quickly bake a fresh loaf of banana bread for my afternoon tea. Luckily I had one egg and one extremely ripe banana left, so I decided to experiment and see if it was possible to make a gluten-free and dairy-free banana bread with only one egg and one banana. I added chocolate chips because I’ve always loved the combination of banana and chocolate. To my delight, the result was one delicious, naturally sweet and dense loaf, perfect for my afternoon snack!

Since then, I have tried this recipe a few times more, and even had family members and friends taste it. After tasting this gluten-free and dairy-free version, some friends asked me for the recipe, so I have decided to put it here for all to enjoy. 🙂

Happy Baking my dear friends and readers!

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread: The perfect morning or afternoon sweet snack with a cup of tea or coffee! :)

Banana Chocolate Chip Bread: The perfect morning or afternoon sweet snack with a cup of tea or coffee! 🙂

Makes: 1 loaf

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: about 35 minutes

 

Ingredients:

Wet Ingredients

1 ripe and mashed banana

1 egg

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

4 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk/non-dairy milk

2 tablespoon coconut oil (melted)

 

Dry Ingredients

1 ½ cups gluten-free all purpose baking flour

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 heaped tablespoon cacao powder

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons chia seeds

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 cup bittersweet/non-dairy chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Line small-medium loaf tin with baking/parchment paper.
  3. Mix wet ingredients into a blender/food processor.
  4. Combine dry ingredients (without chocolate chips) in a large bowl.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
  6. Add chocolate chips slowly into the mixture.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until firm.
  8. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Special Note: I would love to try “egg free” for this recipe sometime soon. If you are trying this recipe with an egg substitute, please let me know how it turns out! Thank you. 🙂

Healthy Pumpkin Raisin Muffins

Life has been very crazy busy lately.  For example, within one week (last week), I witnessed 3 beautiful weddings, new beginnings for 3 amazing couples, and experienced the passing of a loved one.  Such is the circle of life, and the joys and sorrows that is all part of living.  The only thing we can do is enjoy and appreciate every moment, including the ups and downs of life, and just go with the flow; and cherish memories.

Today I finally have a chance to really sit back, and reflect upon what happened the past week, also take comfort and joy in baking on this rainy day. 🙂

Fortunately my father still has an appetite and a sweet tooth, despite his disease.  I know he secretly craves his Tim Hortons’ muffins but he is no longer allowed to eat “outside” or processed food, so homemade food is the way to go.

Using only natural ingredients such as pumpkins, bananas and raisins, I dedicate this Fall-inspired gluten-free and dairy-free muffin recipe to him.  He really liked eating these muffins that I made especially for him!

I hope you enjoy making and eating these yummy, light and moist muffins with your loved ones! 🙂

 

PumpkinRaisinMuffins

 

Makes: 24

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Bake Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 35 minutes

 

Special Notes:

-To make it sugar-free, you can choose not to add in the maple syrup.  I added it, because my father does have a sweet tooth, and I think maple syrup is a healthy natural sweetener.  See: health and nutritional benefits of eating maple syrup: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=115

 

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients

2 cups Gluten-Free Oat Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Oat Flour)

2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground clove

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

Wet Ingredients

1 1/2 cups unsweetened pumpkin

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup vegan buttery spread, melted

4-5 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 cup raisins

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Combine wet ingredients in another bowl.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
  5. Slowly add raisins into batter.
  6. Fill each baking cup evenly with the batter.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Let the muffins cool completely, or eat one while still warm. 🙂

 

 

Avo-Banana-Chocolate Mousse

It’s back to school and it means packing energizing healthy snacks for the day! 🙂

I’m determined to continue to eat natural whole foods and stay away from processed food, so usually I will bring some fruits and/or veggies for snacks.  However, sometimes I do crave for something sweeter than a fruit but not as heavy as a muffin.  I used to bring a bowl of yogurt with fruits and raw cacao nibs as my morning snack back in the days when I was still eating dairy.  As I’m now dairy-free, I’m trying to find new healthy snacks to satisfy my sometimes sweet tooth.

I was absolutely thrilled when I discovered this awesome website http://thenourishedself.ca (The Nourished Self) that is totally right up my alley: nourishing and nurturing one’s health and well-being through natural whole foods and yoga.

Anyways, I learned from this site how to make a “sensible snack”.  A sensible snack needs to have all 3 macro nutrients: good fat, clean protein and unrefined carbohydrates.  According to The Nourished Self, having these macro nutrients in a snack will help to:

  • maintain balanced blood sugar levels
  • absorb vitamins and nutrients
  • satisfy hunger
  • maintain weight
  • maintain energy levels

(taken from http://thenourishedself.ca/index.php?page=sensible-snacks)

 

Here’s a delicious and sensible snack that I’ve been bringing to school on days I feel I need some natural sweetness and chocolate; it definitely satisfies my sweet tooth and energizes me until lunch time!

The recipe is inspired by The Nourished Self (original recipe is found here:  http://thenourishedself.ca/index.php?page=super-food-snacking-recipes) and I slightly adjusted it according to my own dietary needs and preference. 🙂

 

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Blending Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: about 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 avocado

1/2 banana

4 tablespoons natural maple syrup

1 teaspoon of cocoa powder

¼ cup water

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

pinch of sea salt (to taste)

a handful of (or 1-2 tablespoons) raw cacao nibs

Optional: use the remaining half of the banana (sliced) as topping, along with the raw cacao nibs

 

Instructions:

  1. Put avocado, banana, maple syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and sea salt in a blender.
  2. Add water slowly, one tablespoon of water at a time to achieve creamy consistency.
  3. Sprinkle a handful of raw cacao nibs (along with sliced bananas if you like) at the top.
  4. Enjoy immediately! 🙂

 

Storage: can be refrigerated up to 2 hours, then must be consumed.

 

This healthy and yummy mousse can also be a delightful dessert!  I have divided 1 serving (bowl) of this mousse into my 3 tiny dessert cups. :)

This healthy and yummy mousse can also be a delightful dessert! I have divided 1 serving (bowl) of this mousse into my 3 tiny dessert cups. 🙂

 

Healthy Banana, Date & Walnut Loaf

This Banana, Date & Walnut Loaf uses only bananas and dates as natural sweeteners.

This Banana, Date & Walnut Loaf uses only bananas and dates as natural sweeteners.

At the request of the guests of the weekend potluck party I attended, I created this loaf for dessert since I had extremely ripe bananas and I’ve been dying to use the medjool dates I bought a few weeks ago, to create a healthy, naturally sweet (minus artificial sugar) and moist Banana, Date & Walnut Loaf.  Actually, this loaf is inspired by fellow blogger Rhiarn’s recipe (see: http://rhicreations.wordpress.com/2013/06/11/banana-date-walnut-loaf/). I’ve been wanting to try her recipe since she shared it in June, and I finally had time to give it a go! (with some minor substitutions due to lack of some required ingredients)  Thanks so much for the inspiration, Rhiarn! 🙂

 

Makes: 8 slices

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 40 minutes

 

Special Notes:

-This is not a gluten-free recipe, since my guests are not gluten-free sensitive.  To make it gluten-free, you can replace it with any type of gluten-free flour.

-The riper the bananas, the sweeter they are.

-The medjool dates have a rich, almost honey or caramel-like taste, so they’re perfect as a natural sweetener.

 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 ripe and mashed bananas

8 medjool non-pitted chopped dates (you have to take the pit out and chop dates into little pieces; I really like this brand: Natural Delights http://www.naturaldelights.com/about-perfect/; dates are a source of fibre and these ones are 100% fat free!)

1 egg white

3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1/4 cup white flour

1/4 cup rolled oats

1 heaped tablespoon cacao powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons chia seeds

4-6 whole walnuts, semi-crushed

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix bananas, dates, egg white and almond milk into a blender/food processor. (wet ingredients)
  3. Combine wholewheat flour, white flour, rolled oats, cacao powder, baking powder and chia seeds in a large bowl. (dry ingredients)
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
  5. Line small-medium loaf tin with baking/parchment paper.
  6. Add mixture and sprinkle with semi-crushed walnuts on top.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes or until firm.
  8. Enjoy! 🙂

A Sweet Green Smoothie Combo!

Spring Mix + Banana + Papaya + Chia seeds = Sweetly Yummy

Spring Mix + Banana + Papaya + Chia seeds = Sweetly Yummy


As mentioned earlier in a post, I have now decided to challenge myself to drink one green smoothie a day!  I have started this for about a week now, and usually drink one for breakfast, but sometimes it’s for snack.  It is very fun to experiment with different combinations of dark leafy greens, vegetables and fruits, and I’m loving most of the green smoothies I made so far!!

Here’s one green smoothie combo that I would love to share with you since it’s simply and naturally so sweet and good! 🙂

 

Makes: 1 smoothie

Preparation Time: 8 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

2 cups  spring mix

1 chopped banana

1 cup chopped papaya

2 tablespoons chia seeds (makes the smoothie filling as it has protein, and provides 4.4 g of protein)

1 cup unsweetened cold almond milk (if you prefer a sweeter taste, go with original)

1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs

6-8 blueberries

 

Instructions:

1. Put all ingredients (except the cacao nibs and blueberries) into the blender and mix.

2. Sprinkle with cacao nibs and blueberries on top, and enjoy!

 

I hope you will enjoy drinking it as much as I do! 🙂

 

Love, Violet

A Gluten-free, Dairy-free & Sugar-free Surprise!

Gluten-free + Dairy-free + Sugar-free = Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins

Gluten-free + Dairy-free + Sugar-free = Banana Chocolate Chip Oat Muffins

About 6 months ago, I was chatting with my good friend Naomi, who also started on a gluten-free and dairy-free diet around the same time as me.  However, she went further by totally cutting out refined sugar.  I have to admit, sometimes I still “cheat” with the sugar-free part, such as eating a Kit Kat bar the other day during break at work.  I tell myself a little refined sugar indulgence is ok once in a while, and compensate it with exercise.  It’s all about balancing! 🙂  Anyways, Naomi went on this eating lifestyle change at the recommendation of her naturopathic doctor for health reasons.  I truly admire her self-control on eating gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free daily!

When I saw her for her birthday a few days ago, she looked absolutely stunning, glowing with health.  To begin with, she has always been beautiful; she looks like a classy, younger version of Ashley Judd with short dark hair.  Nonetheless, the demands of her hectic career affected her physical appearance and energy level in the past few years.  As a result, she gained some weight and had unhealthy pallor of skin.  Now that she has been on her gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free diet for about 6 months, I can really see the difference it has made on her physical appearance.  Her skin is more radiant, her eyes are brighter, and she has slimmed down.  She confides in me that her energy level is much better and she believes it’s all due to changing her eating habits.  As well, her increased energy level allows her to focus on balancing between work and family.  I’m absolutely thrilled for Naomi and through her, see how healthy eating and balanced living work hand in hand towards happiness!

Naomi inspired me to create the following gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free muffins.  A few years ago, Naomi decided to stop buying gifts for family and friends. Instead, she would hand make gifts for them.  I followed suit and surprised her with these yummy treats for her birthday. 🙂

I will now share with you the recipe that I made especially for my dearest friend Naomi.

VIOLET’S VERY HEALTHY BANANA CHOCOLATE CHIP OAT MUFFINS

Makes: 18 muffins

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 35 minutes

Special Notes: 

In my further exploration of gluten-free flour, I discovered quinoa flour.  It is high in protein, calcium and iron; it also gives a nutty and sweet taste to the baked goods.  It adds lightness to the baked goods, so I decided to combine it with the almond flour (which makes baked goods dense).  The result of the combination was perfect!

-The sugar from the ripe bananas and the lesser amount of sugar in the semisweet/bittersweet chocolate chips compared to other chocolate types, make the muffins sweet in a natural way!

Ingredients:

2 cups almond flour/meal

2 cups quinoa flour

1 1/2 cups rolled oats (wheat-free & dairy-free)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3 ripe and mashed bananas

3 eggs

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line muffin pans with large baking cups.
  2. Combine almond flour, quinoa flour, rolled oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a bowl.
  3. Combine bananas, eggs, almond milk and chocolate chips in another bowl.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix well.
  5. Fill each baking cup evenly with the batter.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes.
  7. Let the muffins cool completely.
  8.  Bon appétit!

*I asked Naomi to write a mini review on the muffins after she consumed all of them, and here it is:

“I’ve tried many Gluten-free Sugar-free muffins/recipes before and they all seem to end up with a very dense, heavy texture.  But not these muffins!  They are light and fluffy, with great taste.  They have a natural sweetness from the bananas.  Delicious for a healthy breakfast, snack or even dessert!”