“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 Holiday Baking Recipe #2: Mint Chocolate Chip Christmas Cookies (Gluten-Free)

When I went shopping for baking ingredients, I got inspired by the mint chocolate chips and Christmas-coloured chocolate chips (red, green and white) at the store.  Therefore, I couldn’t resist buying both to create these yummylicious and fun Christmas cookies!

As promised, here’s the second recipe to my healthy holiday baking.  These gluten-free and light cookies are perfect for anyone who is health conscious but loves chocolate, or the combination of mint and chocolate!  My sister-in-law, who is one of the fittest person I’ve ever known, came over last night and ate about ten of these.  Trust me, you eat about 6 of these, and you won’t feel bloated or guilty overindulging! 😉

XmasMintCookies

Makes: 24 cookies

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 13 minutes

Total Time: about 25 minutes

 

Ingredients:

Dry Ingredients

2 cups gluten-free all purpose baking flour (I used Robin Hood’s Nutri Flour Blend Gluten Free: http://www.robinhood.ca/Products/Nutri-Flour-Blend-Gluten-Free)

1 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

 

Wet Ingredients

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

3/4 cup organic coconut palm sugar

2 organic eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

 

Extra

1/2 cup mint chocolate chips

1/2 cup Christmas chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. In another bowl, mix olive oil and sugar until well combined.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
  5. Add vanilla.
  6. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
  7. Slowly add chocolate chips into batter, making sure both mint and Christmas chocolate chips are evenly distributed.
  8. With damp hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the batter into a ball, place it on the baking sheet and flatten it slightly.  Continue until batter is gone, spacing the flattened balls 2 inches apart.
  9. Bake the cookies for 13 minutes.
  10. Enjoy! :)

 

Special Notes:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil:  used in replacement of butter/margarine because it’s not only healthier (cuts back on cholesterol and saturated fat content) and dairy-free, it also makes the baked goods lighter and moister!

Here’s a good site for more information and it even has a butter/margarine to olive oil conversion chart for baking: http://thepassionateolive.com/wp/baking-with-olive-oil-instead-of-butter/

Organic Coconut Palm Sugar: I’m really loving this new natural sweetener I discovered recently for baking.  As mentioned in my previous post, this natural sugar has a low glycemic index; it also has a high nutrient profile (to name a few: iron, zinc, calcium, and potassium).  To learn more about it, read this very informative article about it: http://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-sugar/

-To reduce the sugar, you can decrease amount of sugar and chocolate chips to your liking.  Also, you can replace chocolate chips with same amount of dried cranberries, raisins and/or nuts.  Be creative! 🙂

-If you don’t have mint chocolate chips, you can replace it with crushed candy canes to give it a minty taste.

 

Wishing you all love, peace, joy, hope and light this wondrous holiday season with your family and friends! 😀

xoxo, Violet 

Healthy Holiday Baking Recipe #1: Candy Cane Breton Brittle

Dear readers,

I’m thrilled that my holidays has officially begun, despite the ice storm raging outside, and I can finally relax and enjoy this time with family and friends, and have some personal me time as well. 🙂  It’s been a crazy past two weeks trying to balance everything from Christmas shopping, personal appointments and commitments to work demands  etc.

During these past two intense weeks I also began my holiday baking.  In fact, I have been baking daily for about a week now.  I have decided that this year I just want to bake for family and friends as gifts. While it is time- consuming, it is also very pleasurable and rewarding!

I’m super excited to share with you two easy and quick yummy recipes that was a big hit with my family and friends, and these baked goods also look very festive as part of a dessert platter for any party this holiday season!

Here’s recipe #1: Candy  Cane Breton Brittle

*I got this Breton Brittle recipe from a classmate in my cooking class; I altered it slightly to make it gluten-free, dairy-free and “Christmas-y” too!

CandyCaneBretonBrittle

Makes: 1 pan

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Bake Time: 6 minutes

Total Time: about 20 minutes

 

Ingredients:

Gluten-Free Crackers (I used Glutino’s Gluten Free Crackers, see: http://www.glutino.com/products/crackers/)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/2 cup organic coconut palm sugar

1 cup vegan margarine

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used this one that is dairy-free and gluten-free: http://www.enjoylifefoods.com/chocolate-for-baking/mini-chips/)

1/2 cup crushed candy canes

 

Optional:

1/2 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts (instead of crushed candy canes)

 

Instructions:

  1. Line the bottom and sides of a cookie sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper.
  2. Arrange a layer of crackers on the foil/parchment paper.  Fill in spaces with broken crackers.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar and margarine.  Cook and stir over medium-high heat until the mixture comes to a boil and appears “frothy”.  Keep stirring and don’t let the mixture burn!
  4. Pour the mixture evenly over the crackers.
  5. Bake at 400°F for 6 minutes.
  6. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips.  When the chips become soft, spread evenly over the cracker mixtures.
  7. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes.
  8. Chill until chocolate is set.
  9. Break into pieces to serve.
  10. Enjoy!! 🙂

 

Special Notes:

-The longer you let the sugar/butter mixture “froth”, the harder the caramel will be.  If you like a softer caramel, pour it on the crackers right after it comes to a boil.

Here’s a picture of how the caramel should look when it is frothy:

frothycaramel

-I used 1/2 cup of organic coconut palm sugar instead of an entire cup of brown sugar because I like the fact that the organic coconut palm sugar has a low glycemic index (this holiday treat is so sweet already so trying to look for a way to “lower” a bit of the sugar level and make it slightly “healthier”).  Plus, it has a richer caramel and/or butterscotch flavour than brown sugar.  I wish an entire cup of organic coconut palm sugar could have been used to make the caramel.  Unfortunately while experimenting with only a cup of coconut palm sugar, I discovered it wasn’t combining well with the margarine, so a little bit of brown sugar had to be added in order for the caramel to form.

 

Recipe #2 for healthy holiday baking is on its way soon so stay tuned! 🙂

Happy Baking!!

 

Cheers, Violet

 

BretonBrittleSanta

Raw Mango Chocado Mousse

A few days ago I went grocery shopping for some much needed greens and local produce.  As I passed by the front of the store, I couldn’t help but notice the mangoes from Brazil were on sale.  The reason they were on sale, in my opinion, was because they were quite ripe.  Usually I would stay away from overly ripe fruits unless I really want to eat them immediately.  From previous experiences, I also know that sometimes an overly ripe fruit may be more rotten than you think.  When you peel it off, perhaps you can only eat 10-20% of it!  However, I also learned a very handy trick from my mom on how to tell when a mango is ready to be eaten, so I decided to give it a test (for some reason that day the mangoes were calling out to me, and I couldn’t step away from it! lol).  Thanks to my mom’s wise trick, I brought home a few of these perfectly ripe sweet mangoes! 🙂

Anyways,  I was planning to eat one on its own today as an afternoon snack, but then I  saw the ripe avocado and I was suddenly craving for something chocolatey as well.  Therefore, I thought about mixing all of them together.  Below, you will find the recipe to my successful Raw Mango Chocado Mousse, a refreshing twist to my Avo-Banana-Chocolate Mousse! (see https://violetseverydayadventure.wordpress.com/2013/09/21/avo-banana-chocolate-mousse/)

Whether you have it for a snack or dessert, on your own or served to your loved ones and/or friends, I hope you will enjoy its flavours as much as I did! 🙂

A perfect blend of tangy and sweet healthiness using only 6 ingredients !

A perfect blend of tangy and sweet healthiness using only 7 raw ingredients!  Plus, the combination of avocado, mango and flaxseeds contributes to beautiful glowing skin! 🙂

 

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Blending Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: about 10 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1 small ripe avocado, peeled, seeded, diced

1 ripe mango, peeled, seeded, diced

2 tablespoons flaxseeds

1 tablespoon cacao powder

2-3 tablespoons natural maple syrup

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

¼ cup filtered water

Optional: use a few remaining mango cubes and a handful of raw cacao nibs as topping

 

Special Notes: 

Sweetness- You can control the degree of sweetness by reducing the amount of maple syrup to your preference.

Avocado- It is filled with fiber and healthy fats, lowers cholesterol,  and keeps skin smooth and youthful.  It helps protect the body from heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye and brain diseases. (info taken from my Avocado, Blueberry & Kale Salad Recipe: https://violetseverydayadventure.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/a-scrumptious-simple-satisfying-superfoods-salad/)

Mango- Eating this nutritionally rich fruit is good for you in so many ways!   To name a few health benefits from eating it: it is anti-cancer, alkalizing and has a low glycemic index (regulates blood sugar level).  Also, it aids in digestion and clears the skin!

Flaxseeds-  I love adding them into almost anything! 🙂  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. (info taken from my Super Bite-Sized Peanut Butter Balls Recipe: https://violetseverydayadventure.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/super-bite-sized-peanut-butter-balls/)

 

Instructions:

  1. Put avocado, mango, flaxseeds, cacao powder, maple syrup and vanilla extract 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 remaining mango if you like) at the top.
  4. Enjoy immediately! 🙂

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

 

*To find out more about nutritional and health benefits of mangoes, read:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-health-benefits-of-mangos.html

http://healthmeup.com/photogallery-healthy-living/mango-health-benefits-15-healthy-reasons-to-eat-mangoes/20986

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. 🙂