Something to add to your Christmas Brunch Gingerbread Waffles

IMG_4336I don’t know about you but I get a lot of newsletters. I like to try new things, so if I come across something I try it out and before I know it I have been automatically signed up for their newsletter (though I realize the new anti-spam laws are meant to prevent this).

From time to time I go through and weed out the ones I don’t really read or pay attention to and unsubscribe. Others I scan periodically looking for those little gems and remember why I signed up for it in the first place; then keep it in my inbox. Those gems are what keep me hooked, keep me reading the newsletters and staying on.

The ones that keep me hooked the most are the ones with yummy recipes that I discover and want to try, something I may not have thought of or come across otherwise. These are my favorite discoveries, some delectable dish just waiting to grace my plate and win my approval.

IMG_4329I found one of those gems earlier this week, when scanning the most recent Sobeys flyer. Luke and Chloe were with me, sitting on my lap, when I discovered these gingerbread waffles. I love gingerbread and I love waffles, so I was sure gingerbread waffles would definitley be a fabulous combination and treat. I ooed and awed and quickly clicked on the link, spreading my excitement to Luke and Chloe, as we waited in anticipation to see what was on the ingredient list. Looked easy enough, so we planned to try them.

It was so cute this morning as we came downstairs to make them for breakfast. Luke and Chloe got their chairs and wanted to help make them. Luke kept chatting away about trying them and we’ll see if they turn out and it was ok if they didn’t. Quite interesting chatter for a 4 year old. They were definitely excited.

IMG_4330Making all the appropriate adjustments (dairy and sugar), these waffles turned out fabulously! Perfectly golden brown, fluffy, with a subtle (not overwhelming) taste of gingerbread, they are not only delicious but very filling! After only having 2 waffles I was quite full.

The kids loved them of course and were also quite happy with how they turned out. We even broke out the Christmas dishes to enjoy them! Now I have another fantastic waffle recipe to add to my repertoire of delectable waffles (plain, chocolate, orange) and new options for breakfasts and brunches, especially Christmas morning breakfast. Who wouldn’t love to have gingerbread for breakfast on Christmas?

I would like to try this recipe using coconut milk instead of almond milk (though really the almond milk version turned out very well), just to see what the difference is and if we like it even more. You never know til you try! So next time I make them we’ll give it a go.

In the meantime, enjoy these yummy dairy free, sugar free, gingerbread waffles, topped with pure maple syrup they are sure to be a hit this holiday season!

Gingerbread Waffles

1 1/4 c. whole wheat flourIMG_4334

1c. all purpose flour

2 tbsp. coconut sugar

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1 1/2 c. almond milk

3 eggs

1/4 c. barley malt

1/4 c. Earth Balance vegan spread, melted

In a medium bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (flour, coconut sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices).

In a small bowl, whisk together almond milk, eggs, barley malt and melted Earth Balance. Add barley malt mixture to dry ingredients and stir until well combined.

Fill a greased waffle iron with approx. 1/2 cup (125 mL) of batter per waffle. Cook until golden and cooked through, about 3 min. per waffle. Repeat until all batter is used. Serve with Pure Maple Syrup.

Makes approximately 12 waffles

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Tips and Ideas for a Sugar Free Easter

IMG_2914It has been 3 years since we have eliminated refined sugars from our diet. This was for the benefit of my son who was not only experiencing extreme mood and behavior but was having trouble sleeping as well.

Though it was challenging to do in our everyday lives, the real challenge came around the holidays, as in our culture there is a lot of focus around food and feasts, especially sweets. As you can imagine Halloween is the biggest, with the entire focus of trick or treating being on collecting candy, with Easter being a close second.

P4240615Over the years we have found many different tips and tricks to enjoy these holidays without the focus being on all the candy and chocolates. I have to admit our first sugar free Easter was a bit of a challenge. My son, who was only 7 at the time, was old enough to remember the basket and eggs full of chocolates and jelly beans, so when Easter morning he discovered a basket full of socks and books, he was a little disappointed and understandably so.

I did my best to compensate by making our usual Easter Brunch, complete with eggs and sausages, waffles and fruit, which he enjoyed immensely. He then got treated with a new pair of sneakers from Grandpa and a cactus for his room. He soon forgot about all the things he was missing and was enjoying what he had.

The next year was better, as in the interim I had taken a class on how to make raw organic chocolates so was able to make chocolates we could enjoy, in addition to the new treats that the Easter Bunny brought for us.

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Easter Chick

For the twins, it has been a non issue as a sugar free Easter is the only kind of Easter they have known. I imagine as they get older they will learn what other children do for Easter and it may or may not matter to them, but I believe that because they will have known this way since birth that they will have a strong foundation and may feel very happy with our Easter regardless.

Now Easter is back to being another fun holiday that we all enjoy with our various traditions and ‘treats’. The kids baskets are full of non candy items, the eggs full of cash, sugar free (and good for you) chocolate and a wonderful mid morning feast of our favorite breakfast foods. Of course we add in other things from year to year, but those are the ‘basics’. No one feels denied or left out, nor focuses are what’s missing but appreciates and gets excited about what we have.

Ideas for a Sugar Free Easter (or sugar reduced)

If you are looking to reduce the sugar intake this Easter here are some tips on how to do so without the kids feeling disappointed:

  1. Fill Easter baskets with toys, socks, books, sunglasses, seeds, gardening gloves, bubbles, chalk, etc. I like to buy things that are inexpensive but not cheap, as well as things that they will enjoy and use. One year Matthew got a movie he wanted and a few smaller items. It can vary from year to year but I am not one to buy junkie trinkets just to fill the basket.
  2. Make your own chocolate with natural sweeteners. It is easy to make your own chocolates; you can get Easter molds (I have found some at the Dollar Store) and add anything you want to it. You could even get the kids to make them with you, ready for Easter morning.IMG_2904
  3. Plan an Easter Egg Hunt. We have lots of those plastic Easter eggs that I fill with coins or stickers. Usually I leave a little trail from their bedrooms down the stairs and hide them all over the main level. Sometimes they even get hidden outside. There are many ways you can set up the hunt and ideas for non candy items to put in the eggs.  They could just be clues that will lead the kids to a prize of some sort at the end.
  4. Make a yummy (sugar free) Easter brunch or breakfast. If the kids are looking forward to their favorite french toast or waffles, they will likely be distracted and awaiting that yummy feast.
  5. Do Easter crafts or activities. Most kids love crafts, even my 10 year old son will still sit down and do a craft, painting or art project.
  6. Decorate the house for Easter. If the kids get into decorating the house this takes the focus off the candies and onto other stuff. The twins have been ‘decorating’ for weeks, setting up army men around the Easter tree or hanging crafts they made at preschool in their room. Decorating also makes it more than just about the one day and makes it more of an event.
  7. Get others on board. Encourage other family members and friends to get non sugary treats for everyone; then the kids see that everyone is getting the same, so it must be ok.
  8. IMG_2903Color eggs. You can do this on Easter as an activity or prior to. Either way it is another way of removing the focus and putting it onto something else that is fun and enjoyable.
  9. Be grateful. Encourage the kids to be grateful for what they have. Create a gratitude jar or choose another gratitude activity to do do with them.
  10. No matter what you do have fun. Whether you are creating new traditions, foods, or making crafts enjoy the Easter holiday. Remember why we celebrate, and what is most important to you as a family this holiday.

A Few of my Favorite Muffins

8I have fond memories of muffins growing up. This may sound a little weird but I was a competitive swimmer for many years and that meant early morning practices before breakfast. My mother would often make muffins and after practice we’d have muffins and juice before being dropped off at school. As a result, my Mom tried all kinds of different muffin recipes, so that we could enjoy variety and not get bored with the same old banana muffins 3 times a week.

IMG_2690One of my favorite muffin recipes was one that was filled with jam. Though not quite as tasty as a jam filled donut, I loved these because of the ‘surprise in the middle’. I also found them to be quite tasty and very moist due to the yogurt that is in the recipe.

Of course when we moved to eating dairy free I had to forgo these muffins for a while. Until recently, when I discovered some of the non-dairy yogurts out there. Though most varieties are made from soy, you can find brands that are made using coconut or almond milk as well.

With this discovery, I was now able to recreate these delectable muffins! Of course I had to experiment a bit as I needed to substitute the sugar as well and although most natural sugars can be substituted one for one, I find that when you are also altering another ingredient sometimes the sweetness factor needs to be adjusted to.

This was the case with these muffins as though the kids gobbled them up the first time I made them, both my older son and I felt they could be a little sweeter. So the next time I made them I experimented a little adding a little more coconut sugar then the recipe called for. As I result, I did eventually find the perfect combination.

nancys-cultured-soy-plain-58308The yogurt I use is Nancy’s Organic Cultured Soy, plain. Though they offer many different flavors as well. It is a little thicker than dairy yogurt but definitely works. (Also works fabulously in the Cheesy Greens Macaroni dish that I make, which is soooo good!) I have yet to try a coconut milk yogurt but imagine that this would work out the same.

So if you’re up for a yummy nutritious treat with a surprise in the middle, give these muffins a try. And if you do use the coconut milk yogurt come back and comment and let others know how it worked out.

Jam Filled Muffins

1 1/2 c. flour

1/4 c. + 1/8 c. coconut sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 c. non dairy yogurt

1/4 c. almond milk (or favorite non-dairy milk)

1 egg

1/2 tsp. vanilla

Favorite sugar free jam

In a medium bowl blend dry ingredients. In a small saucepan melt Earth Balance. Take saucepan off heat and stir in yogurt, almond milk. Beat in egg and vanilla. Add liquid mixture to dry ingredients and stir until moistened.

*Line cupcake pan with liners or grease well. Spoon in half the batter. Place about 1 tsp. of jam in each muffin, then top with remaining batter.

Bake at 375 F for 15-20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

*Note: I have found with these muffins if you have the cupcake liners that that is best due to the jam sometimes overflowing a bit.

Fantastic Easter Brunch Recipes

Breakfast is definitely one of my favorite meals as there are so many yummy options! Pancakes, eggs, omelettes, waffles, crepes, fruit… I like brunch even better and often enjoy those big brunch spreads that you can find where there is everything from crepes and omelettes made to order to carved roast beef and a chocolate fountain (my mouth is salivating at the thought). The selection is fabulous and there is something for everyone.

When I was growing up we did a big Easter dinner with the ham and scallop potatoes, but when I started my own family we moved to doing an Easter Brunch. This allowed the kids to get up and hunt for baskets and then to enjoy a nice meal later in the morning, leaving dinner to be a simple affair with no one stuck in the kitchen for the day or doing the big clean up in the evening!

I have found this to be a great shift, especially because brunch incorporates many of my favorite foods! Depending on how many people we have for brunch depends on how many different dishes I make, but traditional standard fare seems to be a quiche (which I love), waffles (which I also love but the kids do as well, they are not fans of quiche) and some fruit, usually consisting of cantalope, fresh strawberries and whatever else is in season.

The best quiche recipe I have found is a recipe I got from my Mum. Many people tend to avoid making quiche because of the crust, but this recipe for Impossible Quiche, is one where the crust ‘makes itself’. It’s true, by putting all the ingredients into the blender, the Bisquik sinks to the bottom while it bakes and creates a nice light crust. Simple, easy and takes no time at all. Of course I do enjoy quiche with a nice traditional crust as well but this recipe is quite satisfying and like I said easy to make!

Impossible Quiche

1 c. grated vegan cheese (mozza or swiss)easter brunch

1/3 c. finely chopped onion

sliced mushrooms

spinach

1/2 c. Bisquik

1/4 tsp. salt

1/8 tsp. pepper

4 eggs

2 c. rice or almond milk

Lightly grease 10″ pie plate or quiche dish. Sprinkle cheese, onion, mushrooms and spinach (or other desired toppings) evenly over the bottom of the plate. Place remaining ingredients in the blender and blend at high speed for 1 minute. Pour into dish.

Bake at 350 F for 50-55 minutes, or until golden brown and knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand.

As I said, waffles are often part of our brunch spread and I have found some great recipes for plain, chocolate and orange waffles. The chocolate ones are to die for! While the plain ones are fantastic with maple syrup or adding some fruit and a little ice cream (Rice Dream is a yummy dairy and sugar free alternative to dairy ice cream if you’re looking for dairy free).

I am already looking forward to our Easter Brunch! and all the possible choices. Whatever you choose this year whether it be Easter brunch or Easter dinner, I hope you have a wonderful feast that you can share with family and friends! Happy Easter!