Gingerbread Delights

IMG_4387You know I love flavors and that I tend to go a little crazy when I find one I love! Making everything possible out of it. Like pumpkin, I love pumpkin (and actually this fall inherited a lot of pumpkin) so was making muffins, pies, ice cream, etc. Experimenting with all different kinds of recipes.

My recent obsession is gingerbread. Always fabulous this time of year and something I really enjoy. I love ginger in general and am often making fresh ginger tea and drinking it daily. (Ginger also has a lot of health benefits, like aiding with colds and flu, as well as prevent and eliminating nausea).

IMG_4334But I had never really thought you could do much more with gingerbread than cookies. I had tunnel vision and could not see out of the box. Cookies are the only thing right? Then last month I discovered a recipe for gingerbread waffles. Of course I knew right away that we had to try it. They were fabulous! and everyone gobbled them up. Which got me to thinking there must be other variations of gingerbread something out there. So I started looking – I had so far, cookies, waffles… what about muffins? Gingerbread muffins would surely be delicious.

IMG_0750I did a quick Google search and a number of recipes popped up. I looked at a few, picked the one I liked the best and whipped them up yesterday! Ok I tried to whip them up, I had a bit of a baking travesty. I checked on my ingredients and thought I had everything I needed but as I went along I first discovered I was almost out of barley malt, then ginger, both I had just enough. Phew! Nope, didn’t have enough Earth Balance – shoot! So I mixed it all together and set it aside until after I could run to the store.

Once I had my final ingredient, I finished mixing them up and put them in the oven to bake. I was curious and of course so were the kids (they always want muffins!) They poofed up beautifully and smelled delicious. That lovely gingerbread smell wafting through the house afterschool…Yum!

They were finally done, and after waiting a few minutes for them to cool, we dove in. They were delicious, super moist with just a subtle gingerbread taste, not too overpowering. Now I prefer a little more of a gingerbread flavoring kick, so I am going to play with the spices in this recipe a little to amp up the flavor. Once I do that, I’ll report back to you 🙂 But since I have 36 muffins at the moment to enjoy I won’t be experimenting with that one for a little bit.

You can easily half the recipe if you want to, 36 muffins is a lot, or you can bake them all and freeze them for later (if you remember they are in the freezer, personally I often forget that they are there and end up baking new ones anyway).

I also think these muffins would be fabulous with some kind of icing, which I am also going to experiment with and get back to you. For some reason I am thinking a nice cream cheese option would work…

Now that you are drooling, anticipating that warm moist gingerbread muffin in your mouth, here is the recipe. Completely sugar free and dairy free, it will be a hit at your house too!

Gingerbread Muffins

3 eggsIMG_4385

1 c. barley malt

1 c. coconut sugar

3 1/2 c. flour

1 tbsp. baking soda

1 tbsp. ground cloves

1 tbsp. ginger

1 c. Earth Balance vegan spread

1 c. hot water

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Lightly grease muffin tins with Earth Balance. Spoon batter into muffin tin about 2/3 full.  Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 36 muffinsIMG_4392

What is your favorite gingerbread recipe?


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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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 recipes

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!

 

Breakfast Foods Comfort and Ease! Sugar Free Waffles

I love breakfast. It is my favorite meal of the day. I don’t know if it’s because I also love mornings that I love breakfast or if it is because there are so many yummy breakfast foods to choose from! Pancakes, eggs, bacon, oatmeal, waffles, cereal and toast! Oh and crepes, crepes are delicious, with all the different yummy fillings you can put inside. Yummy!

It’s no wonder that sometimes I like making ‘breakfast’ for supper. Not only is it easy and fast but it is a nice treat. I usually add in some fruit of some kind or maybe a veg depending what I am actually making, but you can never go wrong. The kids always gobble it up and get very excited when they hear that we are having pancakes or waffles for dinner. In fact Luke and Chloe start clapping, jumping and screaming in delight. (I do too actually, on the inside).

As with other foods that are our favorites I have had to adjust these recipes to a dairy and sugar free version, which is quite easy to do. By now I have got the substitutions for things down pat and am able to take any recipe and make the appropriate adjustments.

Last night we had waffles for supper. Waffles have always been one of my favorites, maybe because of the funky shape they come out in, maybe because it is another ‘bread’ type food and that is definitely one of my comfort foods. I like waffles because you can put so many things on them. You can put on the traditional butter and maple syrup or top it with fruit and ice cream or whip cream. I always find it fun as well to fill each little square with something. Yesterday I watched Luke do just that as he took blueberries and put one in each square of his waffle.

I have substituted date sugar in these recipes but have also used coconut sugar, which I tried with the plain waffles for the first time last night. Though they turned out lovely and tasted great, for some reason I enjoy the ones with date sugar better. Depending on your taste preferences you may choose to use one over the other as well.

You do need a waffle iron to make waffles of course and my recommendation is to go with a non stick one. It is so easy to clean afterwards, you just wipe it down with hot soapy water. Sometimes I brush a little Earth Balance Vegan Spread over the plates before I make the first batch of waffles, but that’s it – after that they are stick free and easy clean up!

So whether you are having breakfast or supper, try out these waffle recipes and enjoy them guilt free!

Plain Waffles

1 ½ c. flour

1 3/4 tbsp. date sugar or 2 tbsp. coconut sugar, optional I have made this recipe not using any kind of sugar at all and they do not affect the taste or turnout of the waffle

1 tbsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

2 egg whites, room temperature

2 egg yolks

¼ c. Earth Balance vegan spread, melted

1 ½ c. rice or almond milk

Stir first 4 ingredients together in a bowl. Make a well. Beat egg whites until stiff. Using the same beaters, beat egg yolks in separate bowl. Add Earth Balance and milk, mix. Pour into well. Fold in beaten eggs whites. Cook in hot waffle iron until browned, using about 1/3 c. batter for each.

Makes 12 waffles

Chocolate Waffles (these are quite yummy! but the recipe is small. Definitely double it)

1 egg

3/4 c. rice or almond milkchocolate waffles

1 tbsp. cooking oil

1/2 tsp. vanilla

3/4 c. flour

1/4 c. cacao powder

3 tbsp. date sugar

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

Beat egg in bowl. Add milk, cooking oil and vanilla. Beat in. Add next 6 ingredients, mix. Cook in hot waffle iron until crisp, using 1/3 c. batter for each.

Makes 6 waffles

Orange Dessert Waffles

1 c. flour 

1/4 c. date sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. Earth Balance, melted

2 egg yolks

2 egg whites, room temperature

1 c. orange juice

Measure first 4 ingredients into bowl. Stir together. Add butter, egg yolks and orange juice. Mix lightly. Beat egg whites together in a small bowl until stiff. Fold into batter. Cook in hot waffle iron until browned using 1/3 c. batter for each. Arrange waffles on plates, sift icing sugar over top if using.

Makes 10 waffles

All original recipes are from Company’s Coming Breakfast and Brunches. These recipes have been modified to a dairy free and sugar free recipe.

Natural Sugar Substitutes

It’s been over a year now since we have completely eliminated sugar from our home. We did so because our oldest son, Matthew required it. We found that the effects of sugar on his body were too extreme, leaving him moody, angry and disruptive and it was also affecting his sleep at night. He would go to bed at a reasonable time, and I know it was reasonable because I checked around with other parents and experts, and it would take him almost an hour or more to fall asleep at night. Now as an adult I find it very frustrating when I go to bed and it takes me a while to fall asleep. I can only imagine my son’s frustrations around this.

It was a huge learning curve discovering what I could use instead of sugar and products that did not contain it. Because as we began our journey we discovered very quickly that sugar is in almost everything.

The biggest challenge was finding yummy alternatives for Matthew that equated to what the other kids were having, and all the foods that he enjoyed and was used to, such as chocolate, cake, pies and muffins. With diligence I rolled up my sleeves and have been able to find replacements for all these things, as you have seen with some of the recipes on my blog in previous posts. It was just a matter of learning what the natural sugar substitutes were that he could have and how to easily substitute them in a recipe. Once I started looking I found that there were many to choose from and I had a lot of them already in my home.

Here is what I have learned/ discovered to be great substitutes for sugar in recipes. What you choose as the substitute will depend on your recipe as well as personal preference. Many of these natural sweeteners also have great health benefits as well, such as being rich in vitamins and minerals or aiding in the prevention of certain ailments and diseases.

Honey

Honey -choose a honey that is local to you. It has been shown that local honey provides immunity for you against environmental illnesses because the bees are local to your area. Honey has many other health benefits as well such as being a natural energy booster and remedy for many ailments. I use honey as a sugar substitute in crumble and muffins as well as in my bread recipes.

Agave nectar – simply the nectar from the agave plant. Make sure you get a good quality brand as some agaves are more processed with more additives. Ojio agave by Ulitmate Superfoods is a good quality one. When substituting agave for sugar use 3/4 to 1/2 the amount as agave is 25% sweeter than sugar. You also reduce your liquids in your recipe because the agave is a liquid itself, by 1/4 cup. Agave is great in anything but I use it mostly in cakes, muffins and pies.

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup – use 100% pure. If you are using the processed kind then it is not a natural sweetener and you might as well use sugar. This is great in icing, marinades and glazes.

Stevia – is a strong leaf powder that is very sweet, also found in a liquid form. It is considerably sweeter than sugar so you use 1 tsp. stevia to 1 cup of sugar when substituting. It also has many health benefits such as reduced blood pressure and aids in digestion. Stevia is great in cakes and muffins, but also for your coffee, tea, or to sweeten other drinks.

Coconut sugar -comes from the nectar of the flowers of a coconut tree, and is available in a granulated or liquid form. Rich in vitamins such as potassium, zinc and iron. Coconut sugar is great because it melts like brown sugar, so I find that this works well in crumbles, on oatmeal or things like apple cinnamons when you want to create a syrupy texture.

Date Sugar

Date sugar -is made from dried dates and adds a rich sweetness to recipes. It does not melt or dissolve in liquids. When using date sugar substitute 2/3 cup to 1 cup of the sugar, as it is sweeter than sugar. I use date sugar in some bread recipes, muffins, pancakes or waffles.

Yacon syrup -sweetener extracted from the roots of the yacon plant. Some of yacon’s health qualities are strengthening the immune system and calcium absorption. Use 3/4 cup of yacon to 1 cup of sugar.

Barley Malt – is a wonderful replacement for molasses and is made from sprouted or malted barley. I use this in some cookie recipes, and my homemade baked beans. Yum!

Coconut Nectar

Coconut nectar – naturally sweet, nutrient rich “sap” from coconut tree blossoms. High in amino acids, minerals and vitamin C. It can be used just like agave or maple syrup in recipes instead of sugar. I have only used it so far in cookies and they have turned out delicious!

Fruit is also a great natural sweetener, using apples (applesauce, make sure there is not sugar added) or bananas can add the sweetness you desire.

The best thing to do is experiment with these sweeteners, determine which ones work best in your recipes and which flavors you prefer. It can be fun to experiment in the kitchen as long as you are prepared to ‘let it go’ if one doesn’t turn out so well 🙂 Personally I have had success with my substitutions and if you follow these guidelines you’ll have no trouble whatsoever and soon it will become second nature, just like it is for me!