Freshly-Baked Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Bread Photo

 

So I was on a pumpkin baking frenzy, trying to finish up the pumpkin puree I had stored.  Unfortunately I ran out of gluten-free flour, but had some whole wheat flour left from before I became gluten-free. Therefore, I decided to use it to make some pumpkin bread for my classmates from my cooking class and even had extra to share with a friend.

According to everyone, the pumpkin bread is very healthy, fresh and tastes “organic”.

Here’s the recipe to this high fibre and low sugar pumpkin bread that will go nicely with your cup of milk/tea/coffee in the morning! 🙂

 

Makes: 1 loaf

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

 

Special Note:

-To make it sugar-free, you can choose not to add in the honey.

 

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt

 

Wet Ingredients

2 large eggs

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 cup honey

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup unsweetened pumpkin puree

 

Optional:

If you have sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and raisins, mix them together and you can sprinkle a handful of them on top of the loaf.

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Make a hole in the centre and put in eggs, coconut oil, honey and vanilla; mix well.
  4. Fold in the pumpkin puree and mix.
  5. Pour batter into a well-greased large loaf pan.
  6. Sprinkle sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and raisins on top (if you have).
  7. Bake for about 30 minutes; check if it’s completely done by inserting a toothpick to see if it comes out clean.
  8. Let bread cool completely, or wait about 10-15 minutes to eat it freshly hot/warm. :)

 

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. 🙂

 

 

Quinoa for Breakfast!

Quinoa Breakfast

I first tasted quinoa when I was travelling throughout Peru in 2011 and learned that it was a staple to the Peruvian diet.  While I was in Peru, I really enjoyed quinoa in a variety of culinary ways, from hearty soups to delicious desserts.  In fact, my favourite memory of eating quinoa was having it as a scrumptious strawberry quinoa pudding for dessert after dinner on top of a mountain, as we settle in for the night, eagerly awaiting to see Machu Picchu at sunrise the next day. 🙂

Fast forward 2 years later, quinoa seems to be the new health buzz word in North America.  Everywhere I go, it is on restaurants’ menus and in grocery stores.  It is even included in all the health books and magazines I’m hungrily reading to learn more about healthy food and diet.

To sum it up: Quinoa is a seed (many people assume it is a grain, but it isn’t!!) that comes in white, red or black.  It is a superfood because it is a good source of protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorous, iron and vitamins B and E.  It is also gluten-free!  Therefore, it is perfect for vegetarians, vegans and people with gluten sensitivity or celiacs.

As I’m now gluten-free and also trying to cut down on my meat consumption, quinoa is another great alternative I can turn to for protein, and substitute for rice or pasta.  I am by no means an expert in cooking quinoa, and have been reading books and websites to learn how to cook it well, and getting some more recipe ideas.

Anyways, I got really excited when I was chatting with my vegetarian friend Mythili and she mentioned she eats quinoa for breakfast!  I thought what a wonderful way to start off the day with energy and happiness!!

I will now share with you a recipe Mythili passed on to me, and I tweaked it a bit with whatever I found in my kitchen, and as you know, I like to experiment with some of the ingredients in recipes.  After all, creativity in the kitchen is so much fun!! 😀

 

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Total TIme: about 25 minutes

 

Special notes:

-Turmeric- has health and beauty properties, mostly anti-inflammatory effects and helps increase blood circulation thus contributing to healthier and radiant looking skin!

Milk- you can replace the unsweetened almond milk with any other type of non-dairy milk you like!  For example, Mythili used rice milk for this recipe.

-Spice- instead of turmeric, you can replace it with cinnamon if you prefer a more flavourful tang, as turmeric is slightly bitter to taste

-Fruit toppings- you can put any fruits you like on top!  Mythili put blueberries in hers.

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa

1/2 cup unsweetend almond milk

1/2 cup filtered water

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 banana, sliced

handful of sliced strawberries

 

Instructions:

  1. Mix the quinoa, almond milk, water and ground turmeric into a pan at medium heat.
  2. Mix contents once in a while.
  3. Add sliced banana into the pan.  When the quinoa is cooked, take the pan off the stove.
  4. Plate the food and add a handful of strawberries.
  5. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Resources I used on learning about and how to cook quinoa:

The Power of Food: 100 Essential Recipes for Abundant Health and Happiness by Adam Hart, page 111

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-quinoa-63344

http://lowfatveganchef.com/how-to-cook-quinoa-perfectly-every-time/

http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101/kitchen_tips_techniques/how_to_cook_quinoa

http://www.queenofquinoa.me/get-to-know-quinoa/

Spicy & Sweet Purple Potato Fries

I have a confession to make, and I guess if you know me very well you know that, I’m obsessed with the colour PURPLE!!  As long as something is purple, I love it!  Therefore, it’s no surprise that even when it comes to food, I get excited about purple too. 😛  I’m totally in love with purple sweet potatoes!

Here are some healthy facts I found out about this beautiful and sweet vegetable that may entice you to love it as well! 🙂  They…

-are a good source of calcium, iron, manganese, copper, vitamins, fibre, antioxidants and complex carbohydrates (this is the kind of carbohydrates that are recommended for us to include a lot of to be healthy and have sustained energy throughout the day)

-have anti-aging properties; makes skin glowing and radiant!

-have anti-cancer properties; the purple pigment (anthocyanin) is an antioxidant that reduces the risk of cancer and actually the antioxidant level of a purple sweet potato is 150% more than blueberries!

-help protect against cardiovascular problems and inflammation-related health issues

-are diabetic friendly as they are low in sugar; help maintain and regulate stable blood sugar level

-are low in fat and sodium

 

Now that you know the nutritional benefits of eating purple sweet potatoes, why don’t you try making the following easy, quick and healthy recipe?

If you’re craving for something spicy and sweet at the same time, this recipe can satisfy both too. 🙂

These baked purple sweet potato fries are perfect for a snack or appetizer!  They are not burnt at all; the purple colour of the sweet potatoes makes the baked fries dark.

These baked purple sweet potato fries are perfect for a snack or appetizer! They are not burnt at all; the purple colour of the sweet potatoes makes the baked fries dark.

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Baking Time: 12-15 minutes

Total TIme: about 25 minutes

 

Special notes:

-Purple Sweet Potatoes- they have a natural sweetness already 🙂

-Nutritional Yeast- it is gluten-free and a great substitute for cheese (it tastes cheesy!); plus 3 tablespoons of it supply 9 grams of complete protein (has the 18 amino acids); because it is rich in B-complex vitamins, and along with the protein, it keeps the hair strong, shiny and healthy!

-Cinnamon- regulates blood sugar, improves colon health and protects against heart disease (see under “Resources” section for links if you want to know more health benefits)

-Sea Salt- helps with digestion, builds a strong immune system, prevents cardiovascular-related health problems, and helps maintain consistent sugar level (see below in “Resources” section to learn more)

-Olive Oil- builds a strong immune system, and fights against disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis etc.

 

Ingredients:

2 large purple sweet potatoes, peeled

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1.5 teaspoons sea salt

olive oil

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Slice sweet potatoes into thin pieces like french fries.

3. Mix nutritional yeast, cinnamon, black pepper and sea salt in a big bowl.

4. Add the sweet potatoes and mix using a spoon or spatula, until all the pieces are well coated, and place them on baking tray.

5. Drizzle fries with olive oil on baking tray.

6. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes or until sweet potatoes are cooked.

7. Enjoy! 😀

 

Resources on Purple Sweet Potatoes, Nutritional Yeast, Cinnamon, Sea Salt and Olive Oil:

http://cancer.vg/en/ipomoea-batatas-purple-sweet-potato

http://www.downtoearth.org/health/nutrition/okinawan-sweet-potato-purple-powerhouse-nutrition

http://www.livestrong.com/article/286212-purple-sweet-potato-nutrition/

http://herbalacup.blogspot.ca/2013/05/purple-sweet-potato-eating-can-increase.html

The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Beauty Foods that Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You by Kimberly Snyder, pages 117-118 on Nutritional Yeast

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-surprising-health-benefits-of-cinnamon.html?page=1

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=68

http://www.seasalthealth.com/2012/04/11/health-benefits-of-sea-salt/

http://readynutrition.com/resources/10-health-benefits-of-sea-salt_15092011/

http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-health-benefits

http://www.naturalnews.com/041521_olive_oil_heart_health_skin_and_hair.html

Super Bite-Sized Peanut Butter Balls

Suddenly I’m thinking about those very yummy sugary peanut butter balls I used to make with my cousins when we were younger, and since I had time on my hands this week, I decided to try it with a healthy twist.

Here’s the easy no-bake recipe, that you can make in about 10 minutes.

 

Makes: 30

 

Special Notes:

-I call these balls “super” because many of the ingredients used are natural and considered “superfoods” (e.g. honey, goji berries, flaxseeds)

Flaxseeds- They are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids (good fats), lignans and fibre.  In fact, they have among the highest level of fibre in any food.  They help stabilize blood sugar, promoting cleansing.  Also, including them into your diet will help in having radiant and youthful skin.  However, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should avoid consuming them.

Goji Berries- They are high in fibre, Vitamins A and C, and has 15 times the amount of iron in spinach.  They apparently have the highest concentration of protein than any other fruits.  Also, they have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.  They can help boost the immune system as well.  However, they do not interact well with diabetes and blood pressure drugs.

Unsweetened Shredded Coconut- It is high in fibre and minerals, and has natural fruit sugar which can add natural sweetness to food.

Storage- Keep up to 3 days in airtight glass container in the fridge, and best consumed within 3 days.

Sweetness- You can control the degree of sweetness by reducing the amount of manuka honey and chocolate chips to your preference.

 

Ingredients:

PB_Ingredients

1 1/2 cups organic creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup manuka honey

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup rolled oats (wheat-free & dairy-free)

1/2 cup organic ground flaxseeds

1/2 cup organic goji berries

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

PB_mix

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.
  2. Use a tablespoon to scoop out mixture and roll into small balls.
  3. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1-3 hours, or you can eat immediately if you prefer them to be room temperature.
  4. Enjoy treats! 🙂

 

Having 3 of these high-protein & fibre-packed filling peanut butter balls as my afternoon snack are good enough to satisfy my sweet tooth and chocolate craving!  Plus, I don't feel guilty indulging, since I know they are made of mostly wholesome natural ingredients. :)

Having 3 of these high-protein & fibre-packed filling peanut butter balls as my afternoon snack are good enough to satisfy my sweet tooth and chocolate craving! Plus, I don’t feel guilty indulging, since I know they are made of mostly wholesome natural ingredients. 🙂

 

Resources I used for following ingredients & if you want to learn more:

 

Superfoods: http://foodmatters.tv/superfoods

 

Flaxseeds:    http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/alternative/flax-seed.htm

                         The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Beauty Foods that Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You by Kimberly Snyder, page 103

 

Goji Berries: http://www.webmd.com/balance/goji-berries-health-benefits-and-side-effects

http://thehealthyeatingsite.com/the-health-benefits-of-goji-berries/

 

Unsweetened Shredded Coconut: http://www.livestrong.com/article/487458-does-unsweetened-shredded-coconut-have-any-good-health-benefits/

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-eating-shredded-coconut-4027.html

Summertime Appetizer Salad

Spring Mix Salad

Here’s a delightful appetizer salad that’s great for any summertime occasion.  I brought it to a potluck party over the weekend and everyone loved it! 🙂

 

Serves: 8-10 people

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: about 1 minute

 

Ingredients:

1 package/box organic spring mix

2 cups blueberries

2 cups raspberries

1 large ripe papaya

2/3 cup raw apple cider vinegar

 

Special Note: You can also simply drizzle the salad with olive oil, instead of tossing it in raw apple cider vinegar.

 

Instructions:

  1. Wash, drain and dry spring mix, blueberries and raspberries.
  2. Chop papayas into cubes.
  3. Toss spring mix, blueberries, raspberries and papaya in a salad bowl with the apple cider vinegar.
  4. Enjoy!

Green Smoothie Made Easy!

Recently,  a few people were asking me how to make a good healthy green smoothie, and I honestly don’t have the “expert” answer, since I just began exploring, making and drinking green smoothies.

My friend Cindy from London, UK, just shared with me this awesome “how to customize your own green smoothie” poster which her friend pinned on Pinterest from another source (Eva Ramsey).  I got very excited upon seeing it and can’t wait to share with all of you right now!!  Here’s a guideline on how to make your own yummy green smoothie, and I know I will substitute the liquid part with almond milk (unsweetened) instead, as I love almond milk a lot!

I want to say thank you to Cindy, her friend Jen & Eva Ramsey for sharing and/or posting this cool green smoothie easy steps poster!

Happy Green Smoothie Making & Drinking! 🙂

Love, Violet 

Green Smoothie Menu