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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Camping Desserts – Cinnamon Apple

sugar free cinnamon apple

I love the variety of neat camping recipes there are. Especially ones that you can do over the fire that are yummy, sweet and delicious. Usually done over hot coals and in tin foil it makes for even less dishes and a delicious treat or meal.

Our family camping trips always involved TFD’s, or Tin Foil Dinners, which my father usually requested that we have at least twice. But I often enjoyed the dessert options, like s’mores, banana boats and cinnamon apples. Cinnamon apples have always been my favorite, as the brown sugar would melt and make a nice sticky syrup over the apples and raisins, so much that I would often lick the tin foil to make sure I did not miss one drop! Until recently, these camping desserts were something that I had to forgo – until I figured out how to do it sugar and dairy free.

Matthew enjoying his Cinnamon Apple

Matthew enjoying his Cinnamon Apple

As with any recipe I am ‘transforming’, my goal is to figure out how to make so that it is the same as the original, or only a slight difference in taste. My Mum was actually the one who figured this one out. A couple of summers ago she bought coconut sugar and tried it out with the cinnamon apple. It worked perfectly! (Coconut sugar is an excellent natural substitute for brown sugar. It melts just like brown sugar and gives you the syrupy juice.)

I have also figured out how to do banana boats sugar free, also very good, but have yet to try it out on the campfire. (Will post it once I do! )I believe though that it will turn out just as yummy.

Cinnamon apples are easy to make sugar free without compromising the taste! Worth a try on your next camping trip this summer.

Sugar Free Cinnamon Apple

1 apple

cinnamon

coconut sugar

raisins

spoon of Earth Balance vegan buttery spread

heavy duty tin foil

Tear off a large square of heavy duty tin foil. With the shiny side up do the following:

Using Earth Balance, butter middle of tin foil, spreading evenly around. A spoonful is good but if you like you can use more. Slice and core apple, put apple on top of buttered area spreading out slices so they are not on top of each other. Best to slice apples thinly as opposed to in chunks as they soften and cook more quickly. Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste, add raisins. Sprinkle a couple of spoonfuls of coconut sugar over apple mixture. The more coconut sugar you use the more juice you will create. You may add a few dollops of Earth Balance on top also to create more juices.IMG_3357

Close foil by matching the edges and folding it down until it is tight.IMG_3361

Then fold over and close each side.IMG_3362

Place foil packet on top of hot coals. Important – ensure that there is no flame amongst your coals otherwise it will burn. Let cook for 5 minutes, then flip over using tongs. You’ll hear the apple sizzling. Check after a few more minutes. Apple should be soft and coconut sugar and butter melted. If it’s not ready wrap it back up and put it back onto the coals and cook for a few more minutes.Bed-Of-Hot-Coals

Once ready unwrap and enjoy! Caution Cinnamon Apple will be very hot. If giving it to small children unwrap and let it cool some before they enjoy.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

IMG_2805Yesterday many of us celebrated Pancake Tuesday. A tradition that began in the Middle Ages this day has grown and enjoyed by people around the world.

Enjoying pancakes for supper is one of my favorite things (in fact I love anything breakfast for supper, there are so many fabulous breakfast foods out there) but on Pancake Tuesday I like to spice it up a little and make a recipe that is more than just your regular plain pancake – though those are just as delicious!

There are so many kinds of pancakes to choose from. Some of our favorites are pumpkin and oatmeal banana. There are gluten free options, dairy free, coconut and fruit options. You name it, you can basically find it and make it.

Yesterday I decided to try out an apple cinnamon pancake recipe (at the suggestion of my mother who was here on the weekend). I didn’t have one so I quickly googled it and found a number of apple cinnamon recipes to choose from. My favorite was on dairygoodness.ca, where they suggested using maple syrup as the sweetener as well as a mix of flours.

Of course I had to make a couple of other quick substitutions to make it dairy free (as that is part of our diet as well) and went to work mixing up the dough. The most time consuming part was shredding the apples but otherwise is a quick and easy recipe to make.

It was a huge hit! Everyone loved them. They had just the right amount of apple, not overwhelming and with a little bit of syrup…Yum! They were fabulous. My modified dairy and sugar free version is below.

Apple Cinnamon Pancakes

1 1/2 c. all purpose flourIMG_2808

1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. sea salt

3 eggs

2 1/2 c. almond milk

1/4 c. Earth Balance vegan spread, melted

2 tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 1/2 c. shredded apple

In a large bowl mix flours, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. In a separate bowl, mix eggs, almond milk, melted Earth Balance and maple syrup. Pour over dry ingredients and add apples. Stir gently until just combined – a few lumps may remain.

In a large non stick skillet, heat a small amount of butter. Scoop about 1/3 c. of batter per pancake into skillet. Cook approximately 2 minutes or until bubbles form in batter. Turn over and cook 1 to 2 minutes more until golden and fluffy. Repeat with remaining pancake batter.

 

Pancakes for Supper

Pancakes 1I love that one night a year I can make pancakes for dinner! Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins in the Christian faith.

Beginning in the middle ages, it was the last day for celebration and feasting before the period of fasting required during the lenten season. Food items like meat, milk, eggs and fats were restricted during this time; so to keep these foods from being wasted people would have big feasts on Shrove Tuesday in order to consume these items and prevent them from being wasted (as they would not keep over the next 40 days).

mardi-gras-2The English were the first to make pancakes on this Tuesday as it was an easy way to use these ingredients before Ash Wednesday began. In France, consumption of these fats or fatty foods on this day coined the phrase “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras.

I always find these things fascinating and share them with my kids. My oldest often asks why we have Pancake Tuesday and though I know the traditional reason I had no idea of it’s origin.

And though we may not always observe all the traditions of the Christian faith we certainly enjoy and don’t mind observing this one! Usually I make the traditional plain pancakes and add some fruit on top, but with all our dietary changes and my hunt for new recipes, I have added to my repertoire of ‘kinds’ of pancakes.

So today if you are on the hunt for a little variety in your pancakes, give one of these recipes a try (and if you are not making pancakes for dinner then try them some other time, they are all delicious!) You’ll love ‘em and so will your kids. They are all sugar and dairy free and the last one is gluten free as well.

Pumpkin Pancakes from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen

1 1/2 c. flour (I used half whole wheat and half white)

1/4 c. date sugar

pic3R054P

Pumpkin Pancakes

3/4 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. ground allspice

4 eggs, separated

3/4 c. canned unsweetened pumpkin

1 1/2 c. rice milk (I use a brand called Ryza as it has the least amount of additives and no sugar or you can make your own) or almond milk

4 tbsp. Earth Balance, melted

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Maple syrup for serving

In a large bowl whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and allspice. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat the egg whites until medium peaks form. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, pumpkin puree, rice milk, Earth Balance and vanilla until well combined. Whisk the pumpkin mixture into the flour mixture just until the batter is smooth and no lumps of flour remain. Fold in egg whites in 2 additions.

Heat griddle over medium heat until a few drops of water flicked onto the surface skitter across it. Lightly grease the griddle.

Pour 1/4 c. pancake batter onto griddle. Cook until bubbles form on top and the batter is set, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the pancakes over. Cook until golden brown on the other side, about 3 minutes more. Keep warm until all pancakes are cooked.

Oatmeal Peanut Butter Banana Pancakes from purecanadamaple.com

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1/3 cup all purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

2 cups rice milk or almond milk

2/3 cup old fashioned oats, not instant

2 overripe bananas, mashed with a fork to a fine pulp

2 egg whites, whipped to stiff peaks

2 teaspoons canola oil or non-stick pan spray

Gobs of crunchy or creamy peanut butter

Pure maple syrup

In a mixing bowl, combine both flours, baking soda and salt. Set aside. In a non-reactive mixing bowl, combine milk, oats and bananas. Fold in dry ingredients. Fold in egg whites and mix until just combined.

Heat one teaspoon of oil in a 12-inch non-stick skilled over medium high heat. Drop batter by the scant ¼ cup full into pan and cook, turning once until lightly browned. Hold pancakes warm on a platter until you’ve got them all cooked.

Spread a teaspoon or so of peanut butter on each pancake and then the Pièce de résistance of course…a generous drizzle of maple syrup.

Makes 15 pancakes.

Pancakes

This recipe is sugar free, dairy free, gluten free and is yummy! Courtesy of Ryza rice milk.

1 egg

1 cup Original or Vanilla Ryza

2 tbsp oil

1 3/4 cups brown rice flour

3 tbsp tapioca starch

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

Beat egg until frothy. Add Ryza and oil; beat until well blended. In another bowl mix brown rice flour and the remaining dry ingredients. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the liquids. Stir until well blended. Do not over stir. Batter will be slightly thin. Lightly grease a frying pan. Pour small circles and fry pancakes until golden. Serve with pure maple syrup.

You can also try apple cinnamon pancakes or if you prefer a simple plain pancake try this recipe.

What is your favorite pancake recipe? Share in the comments below.


Sour Cream Coffee Cake

IMG_2676Well I’ve finally decided to take the plunge! This is the year, the one where I go big or go home! For the last couple of years a number of people have been suggesting to me that I write a recipe book. There are lots of books out there on eating gluten free and some dairy free, but very few sugar free and often if they are dairy or gluten free there may still be sugar present.

For a number of reasons I delayed and delayed in doing this, even though I was confident that it would many people would be interested in it and likely be a success. For whatever reason I have decided it’s time and am diligently outlining and creating.

Part of the fun in creating is that I am taking my old tried and true family recipes and methodically, one by one, making the appropriate adjustments and trying it out. I am a big believer in making sure it works out before actually sharing it and publishing it for others. It only makes sense to me. Besides my family is enjoying being my guinea pigs and making sure that it tastes good 🙂

IMG_2674On the weekend I tried out my Mum’s coffee cake recipe, which I have always loved, making the appropriate adjustments. I was pleased that it turned out fabulously and to be honest if you had tasted the original and the sugar free one side by side you would not know the difference. I guess that is one advantage I have growing up with these recipes as I know what the originals taste like, so I can compare as to whether the new versions measure up.

Everyone gobbled it up and is now asking for more. But I am onto the next recipe to try…which I have not decided which one yet, but I am sure it’ll come to me soon enough. In the meantime if you are looking for a sugar and dairy free coffee cake, I would definitely give this one a try.

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Batter:

1/2 c. Earth Balance vegan spreadIMG_2672

3/4 c. coconut sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

3 eggs

1 c. vegan sour cream

2 c. flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

Topping:

1/2 c. coconut sugar

1/2 c. walnuts, finely chopped

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 tbsp. Earth Balance vegan spread

Mix Earth Balance, coconut sugar, vanilla and eggs. Add vegan sour cream. Mix separately flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients into sour cream mixture.

Spon half batter into well greased bundt pan. Sprinkle half topping over batter. Spoon in rest of batter. Pat firmly with remaining topping.

Bake at 350 F for 45-50 minutes.

Mushroom Turnovers

IMG_0799When I was in Junior High, a group of my girlfriends and I were into having dinner parties. We took turns hosting, dressed up and made a fancy meal complete with dessert for everyone. It was fun, each host making different meals, decorating the table, and trying new things.

On the evening that I hosted I, wanting to ensure everyone could enjoy what I was making, checked with the girls in regards to any allergies and/ or dislikes. Interestingly, they all came back with a resounding, “We don’t like mushrooms”. I clarified whether this was a dislike or an allergy and when they confirmed it was simply a dislike, I secretly smiled.

I had found this fabulous recipe for mushroom turnovers which I was dying to try and since they weren’t allergic to it… I made them and served them as the appetizer, saying nothing about what was in them. They LOVED them! No one noticing at all that it was mushrooms that they were eating. They thought it was ground beef.

After we were done the appetizer I then revealed to them that they had actually eaten mushrooms and no ground beef was present whatsoever. They were surprised (and thankfully not mad), and we went on to enjoy the rest of our meal and evening (which I have no idea what the rest of the meal was).

Needless to say, this recipe became a family classic in my  house. My Mum and sisters using it over the years for many events and parties. My Mum often has 4 dozen or more in the freezer at Christmas, ready to pull out and heat up whenever we want snacks or guests pop by. I have adopted the same philosophy and you’ll easily find turnovers (and other goodies) in my freezer this time of year.

The original recipe does contain dairy, calling for cream cheese and sour cream, but I have been able to adapt the recipe. Using vegan cream cheese and vegan sour cream they are still just as fabulous! (which having had the original I can fairly compare)

Mushroom Turnovers

Pastry:wpid-CreamCheese31-318x348

9 oz. vegan cream cheese

1/2 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 1/2c. flour

In a medium bowl, cream vegan cream cheese and Earth Balance. Add the flour and work with fingers or a pastry blender until smooth. Chill well for at least 30 minutes.

Filling:

3 tbsp. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 large onion, finely choppedwpid-SourCream3-318x270

*1/2 lb. mushrooms, finely chopped

1/4 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. sea salt

pinch black pepper

2 tbsp. flour

1/4 c. vegan sour cream

In a skillet, melt the Earth Balance. Add onion and brown lightly. Then add mushrooms and cook, stirring often about 3 minutes.

Add the thyme, salt and pepper and sprinkle with flour. Stir in sour cream and cook until gently thickened.

Preheat the oven to 450F. Roll the pastry dough to 1/8″ thickness on a lightly floured surface. Using a biscuit cutter, cut into 3″ round circles.2585_enlarge

Place a teaspoon of mushroom filling on each circle and fold over so that the edges touch. Press the edges together using fingers and prick the tops to allow for steam to escape.

Place on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake until lightly browned, about 15 minutes.

*To finely chop mushrooms I use a food chopper from The Pampered Chef. This makes it quick and easy to get them to the right size.

Makes about 3 dozen

Butternut Squash Soup

IMG_2432A couple of weeks ago I was visiting my sister in Vancouver, having a little me time and also there to attend my friend Stuart’s 40th Surprise Birthday; she made this fabulous Butternut Squash soup. Now I have not been a huge fan of squash in the past but this soup was really yummy!

I had found that the texture of squash was not always to my liking, it felt kind of grainy on my teeth so I avoided squash in general. But lately I have been finding many recipes with squash that I and the kids have quite enjoyed. Like Spaghetti Squash with chicken and pears from Clean Eating Magazine, Acorn Squash with harvest rice stuffing and now this soup!

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash

It is a dairy free, sugar free and gluten free soup, of which I think I had 3 bowls for dinner that night and then another 2 for lunch the next day!

I found the flavors delicious with coconut milk and cinnamon. The original recipe calls for 2 butternut squash but that day my sister used acorn and butternut squash and it was very tasty.

I was so excited about this soup when I returned home I went straight to the store to buy what I needed. Unfortunately, as life would have it, I did not make it until the other day as I could not get all the ingredients I needed, and then of course there was time and real life to get back to – you know 3 kids, running a household…

I made it with the 2 different squashes which I think just adds lovely flavor and served it to the twins for lunch. Both of them gobbled it up, asking for a second bowl, while I scarfed, I mean enjoyed, my own soup.

It is super easy to make as well and easily frozen if you don’t wish to eat it constantly for a week.

Butternut Squash Soup

2 medium butternut squash, or 1 butternut and 1 acorn

1 pink lady or royal gala appleIMG_2458

1 medium onion

1/4 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

900 ml chicken broth

1 c. coconut milk

1/2 tsp. dried sage

generous pinches of cinnamon and salt

1 tbsp. maple syrup (optional)

Chop and peel squash; cut in half and seed, then chop into small pieces. Chop onion and apple.

In a large saucepan over medium heat, melt Earth Balance, add onion and apple and saute until onion is soft. Add broth, squash, and coconut milk. Bring to boil and simmer for 20-25 minutes.

For the last 5 minutes add sage, cinnamon and salt. Squash should be very tender when done.

Use immersion hand blender in pot to blend until smooth or ladle soup into blender and whip on high until pureed. Pour back into pot and reheat if necessary. Serve.

You may add optional garnishes such as maple syrup drizzled on top, vegan sour cream, slivers of apple or dried sage.

Soup will keep well refrigerated for 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Pumpkin Cheesecake – Absolutely to die for!

It’s coming… Thanksgiving and all things pumpkin! Big feasts, meals with friends and did I mention pumpkin? I love pumpkin and all things related to it, especially pumpkin pie. And Thanksgiving seems to be the only time of year that I make or get some.

Of course with any pie you can make any kind any time you want. But I seem to fall into the  times of the year when they are most prominent, as I imagine do many of us. So though I love pumpkin pie and it is my favorite, I do only get it once a year.

Every year at Thanksgiving I decide I am going to try a new pumpkin recipe, as my sister often makes things like pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin tarts and pumpkin cheesecake. And though I love to branch out and try new things I tend to fall back to my pie. What can I say? It seems just wrong to not have it.

This year I truly did branch out and I made a pumpkin cheesecake for the first time. Not specifically for Thanksgiving, because of course I will make pie, but around the right time 🙂 I found a recipe on Pinterest that looked really good and thought that I would try it.

Being dairy free I thought that I would just have to avoid cheesecake altogether. During the summer my friend decided to try a tofu chocolate cheesecake, which gave me hope. I thought that it would prove to be quite good. Not so much. Though not terrible we both agreed that we would not make it again. Then, I remembered that they make non dairy cream cheese and I had tried it before and liked it, so why not just substitute that into a regular cheesecake recipe? This got me very excited so I went to work.

After I got over just how much cream cheese this recipe called for; I went out got the ingredients and looked at what other substitutions I needed to make. The crust was a bit of a challenge as it called for graham wafers, but I came up with a solution using almond mash leftover from making almond milk, as I had done something similar making a pie before. I substituted coconut sugar for the sugar and then of course the non dairy cream cheese and sour cream (yes this recipe called for sour cream which was another reason why this particular cheesecake recipe intrigued me).

Now this recipe is not one that you can just whip up and have ready in an hour. In fact when I finally went to make it I looked at the recipe, and in reading it more closely almost aborted the whole idea. It was a lot of time, a number of steps and would not be fully ready until the next day (as when it was finished baking you had to let it sit in the fridge overnight).

Let me tell you it is totally worth it! This cheescake is absolutely fabulous, moist, creamy and flavourful. All the kids asked for a second piece and D’Wayne looked like he was in heaven. It was absolutely delicious! I think Matthew even licked his plate and then asked for a third piece of cheesecake (to which of course I said no).

So if you are a fan of cheesecake and even a remote fan of pumpkin this recipe is worth the time and effort put into it. And the nice thing is, dairy free, sugar free, gluten free all equals guilt free and will impress every one of your guests this Thanksgiving.

Or you could just go with plain old pie

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Crust:

12 tablespoons Earth Balance vegan spread

2 1/2 c. almond mash (leftover from making almond milk)

1/4 c. coconut sugar

dash of salt

Cheesecake:

4 – 8 oz. vegan cream cheese

1/4 c. vegan sour cream

2 1/2 c. coconut sugar

15 oz. canned pumpkin

6 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 tsp. sea salt

2 1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. cloves

Postion rack in center of oven. Preheat to 325 F.

Brush a 10 inch springform pan with 1 tbsp. of Earth Balance. In a bowl, stir the remaining Earth Balance in with almond mash, coconut sugar and a pinch of salt. Press mixture into bottom of pan and up the sides. Bake until golden brown about 15-20 minutes.

Cool on a rack, then wrap outside of pan in tin foil and place in a roasting pan.

In a large mixing bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add coconut sugar and beat until just light. Add sour cream, then pumpkin, eggs, vanilla, 1 tsp. sea salt and spices and until just combined. Pour into cooled crust.

Gently place roasting pan into oven (do not pull the rack out). Pour boiling water into roaster until water is about half way up springform pan. Bake until the outside of cheesecake is set but the center is still loose, about 1 h 45 min. Turn off the oven and open the door briefly to let out some heat.

Close oven door and let cheesecake sit for 1 more hour. Carefully remove from roasting pan and let cool on rack. Run a knife around the edges, cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.

 

 

Tis the Season for Apples (and yummy Crumb Cake)

Fall is a great time of year. Not only with the warm sunny days and crisp fall mornings, but the fall harvest and abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits that are available.

We have an apple tree in our backyard so each Fall we have an abundance of apples. So many that I don’t always know what to do with them. And with each year the amount of apples increases as the tree grows. We usually end up with an apple crumble every other day, apple pie, as well as I make homemade applesauce and apple juice from them. The kids will also eat them right off the tree but there is no way that they can eat them fast enough.

This year I decided that I wanted to try some new things with our apples, as though pie and crumble are good, well you can only have so much (can’t you?). I have been trying various apple cake and apple muffin recipes; and though good were only using 2 apples at a time. Then I remembered, when I was growing up my Mum used to make this crumb cake which is originally a recipe from my Oma. I remembered that sometimes she put apples or plums in the cake, which made this delicious cake even better! Perfect I thought that this would use up some apples for sure! So I decided to pull out the recipe and make apple crumb cake.

Apple Cake Muffins

I was surprised at how much sugar was in it! I knew it took a lot for the crumbs, but I didn’t think there was that much in the cake. I knew though that I could make the adjustments. Deciding on coconut sugar as the substitute, I set out making the cake, in hopes that it would not only turn out but that I could use a good amount of apples in it as well.

Only 4 apples and a short time later, I had the cake in the oven. Matthew had taste tested the dough by licking a beater, and informed me that it was yummy. (I always find that if the dough tastes good that is a good indication that your cake/ cookies will be). Things were looking good.

As it started to bake and the smells were wafting through the house, Chloe wandered into the kitchen saying “Oh something smells good!” Another excellent indicator.

It looked good too, looking like I remembered when my Mom used to make it. Now it was just the taste test. The timer beeped indicating it was done, everyone’s mouths watering in anticipation. I let it sit for about 20 minutes to cool (and to have supper) before we cut into it.

Everyone devoured their cake and quickly asked for seconds. Luke’s mouth still full as he asked for more. I found that it tasted very close to the original and was pleased with how it turned out. The only change I would make would have been to add another layer of apples on the cake before putting the crumbs on top. I like to be able to taste the fruit and though you could, a few more apples would do the trick.

I think next time, I will try using honey in the actual cake, still using coconut sugar for the crumbs, just to see what the difference, if any would be. I am always curious and like to see which sugar substitute is the best. Though sometimes the one I choose is good, another choice is much better. Regardless I know that coconut sugar works and is a very good choice as the twins have been going on about apple cake. Matthew even said that he would be the envy of all his friends at school when he has some in his lunch today, because it is so delicious!

Though it did not use as many apples as I would have liked the cake was a hit and like my aunt said, “That’s 4 less apples than you had before” which is true. My quest for using up my apples continues, looking for unique and delicious ways to do so. (So if you have some good apple recipes to share please send them my way!) The baking frenzy continues…

I know I can slice and freeze the apples, the trouble is I tend to forget about them down there in the freezer…maybe I should get into dehydrating?

Apple Crumb Cake (sugar free and dairy free)

Dough:

apple crumb cake

Crumb Cake

1 c. coconut sugar

3 1/2 c. flour

3 tbsp. baking powder

juice from half a lemon

1/2 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

4 eggs

2/3 c. rice milk

Crumbs:

1/2 c. Earth Balance Vegan spread

1 1/4 c. coconut sugar

1 3/4 c. flour

Dough: Cream Earth Balance, coconut sugar and eggs. Add flour and baking powder, mix well. Then add rice milk and lemon juice creating a soft dough. Press or roll dough into a cookie sheet sized pan.

Crumbs: Mix flour and coconut sugar in a medium sized bowl. Cut Earth Balance into sugar/ flour mixture. Form large crumbs and spread over dough.

Thinly slice apples and place on top of cake, slightly overlapping. Sprinkle cinnamon, coconut sugar and a little Earth Balance on top of fruit, then add crumbs on top. You can use other fruit such as plums for this cake. If choosing plums omit cinnamon.

Bake at 350 C for 1 hour.

Yummy Easy Vegan Treats (with chocolate!)

I love shopping at Community Natural Foods, a local organic and natural food store. Not only do they have a wide variety of products available and good prices, they often have someone there sampling yummy recipes. Not only do they provide the samples for you but they also have the recipe printed out and ready for you to take a copy!

Not only are the recipes delicious they are good for you, often a vegan recipe with natural sweeteners and usually a little pinch of some kind of superfood in there. This is where I have gotten the Cinnamon Salted Caramel Brownie recipe that I made and shared with all my friends in Kananaskis last January – which everyone loved and would never have known that it was no dairy, no sugar unless I had told them. So I was quite excited when I went in on Saturday and discovered 2 yummy recipes to try.

I was so excited I came right home and made them both, even having to run back out to the store to grab a missing ingredient. Fairly quick and easy they both turned out fabulously! I even shared a sample with a couple of my neighbors who quickly asked for the recipe.

I love it when I find good recipes like this as I think that a lot of people feel that eating healthy means more fruits and vegetables and that you have to give up a lot of the sweet treats, which just isn’t true. You can find many, if not even more delicious in some cases, treats that not only satisfy your ‘treat fix’ but provide many essential vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need. It’s great, have a sweet and it’s actually healthy and beneficial for you!

No Bake Chocolate Macaroons

1 banana

1/4 c. coconut oil

1/4 c. pure maple syrup

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

6 tbsp. cacao powder

1.5 c unsweetened coconut

1 tbsp. chia seeds

small pinch sea salt

In a medium size bowl mash banana well until there are no clumps. Stir in melted coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla. Sift cacao powder and stir into banana mixture. Stir in chia seeds, coconut and salt.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop a teaspoon at a time onto parchment paper. Put in freezer for 20 minutes or until firm. Store in freezer until ready to enjoy.

Makes approx 15 macaroons.

Almond Butter Rice Crispy Treats

1/2 c. chunky almond butter

1/2 c. brown rice syrup

1 tbsp. vanilla

1 tbsp. Earth Balance

1/2 tsp. sea salt

3.5 c Erewhon Brown Rice Crisp cereal

Chocolate Drizzle

1/4 c. homemade raw organic chocolate, left in liquid form

1 tbsp. almond butter

pinch salt

Shredded coconut for garnish

Line an 8×8 inch square pan with parchment paper.

In a large pot put in brown rice syrup, Earth Balance, almond butter and salt. Melt over medium low heat until well combined and heated through. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla; then stir in brown rice cereal.

Scoop and spread evenly into 8×8 pan. Press down with finger or roll with a pastry roller (just a note about the pastry roller – I had never thought of using this before and seriously it is the cat’s meow. Way easier then trying to press it into the pan with your fingers and makes it flatter and smoother). Place in freezer for 5 minutes while you make chocolate glaze.

Make raw organic chocolate according to recipe (cacao butter, vanilla, natural sweetener and cacao powder – for full recipe and directions go here). Stir in almond butter and salt.

Remove pan from freezer and drizzle with chocolate. Sprinkle with coconut and place in freezer until firm – about 15 minutes. Slice into squares.

Bars will hold their shape quite well at room temperature but may be stored in freezer or fridge.