the taste space

Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake

Posted in Breakfasts, Desserts by Janet M on April 12, 2014

Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake

Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake.

Because all things with rolled oats are actually meant for breakfast. Add coffee to it, some chocolate for good measures, then there is no question: this is all good breakfast things. A perfect way to start your day.

Because that coffee at night, may keep you awake. Or maybe it was the chocolate.

This was how I rationalized eating this for breakfast.

 

Eaten fresh, this is basically a self-saucing cake. A chunky dense cake doused in a mocha-chocolate sauce. It was really good, although a bit gummy from the oat flour.

I apologize for the unappealing photographs, but the leftovers were what I had to work with… The leftovers firmed up a lot after the overnight rest, sopping up the sauce, leaving this with a texture more comparable to leftover oatmeal. I hope you still get the idea that this is saucy, though.

Just so you know, I debated remaking this to get a better photo, but decided to share it anyways. My motto is to keep things stress-free and I wanted to share this sooner rather than later.

Chocolate pudding cake has always been associated with the Good Friday Cooking Disaster of 2009, wherein I made a meatless feast with a black bean and pumpkin soup, penne alla vodka and finished it off with a brownie pudding cake. Of course, all were new recipes that I was dying to try out. If I recall correctly, everyone was mostly satisfied with my first two dishes (I remember the penne alla vodka turning out well but I had to simmer off a lot of liquid) but all heck broke loose when I shared dessert. My family did not like it and they told me very bluntly. (Too sweet! I can cook better than you!) That last part is true.

However, I think everyone would love this pudding cake, for dessert or breakfast. Or both. Rob highly approved. For both.

Breakfast Chocolate Mocha Pudding Cake

In addition of its association with the upcoming Easter holiday, I also wanted to share this because I received some lovely ingredients to try courtesy of Carrington Farms, ground flax seeds and coconut oil, both of which I used here. Because this is a pudding cake filled with all good things. Check out stores near you celebrating Carrington Farm’s All Good April campaign by passing deals to you, too. In Houston, you can find that at HEB and Fiesta Mart. They also have additional coupons on their website.

Disclosure: I wrote this review as part of the #CarringtonAllGoodApril campaign with Carrington Farms, through FitFluential LLC. I received the products described at no cost in order to complete the review. However, opinions are honest and my own.

PS. This is my submission to We Should Cocoa, Love Cake, and Let’s Cook Sweet Treats for Easter. (more…)

Chocolate Puffed Quinoa Treats (aka Quinoa Choc-Crackle Slice) & Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts by Janet M on April 10, 2014

Chocolate Puffed Quinoa Treats

Another  bike ride and another treat!

Although this weekend was more about travelling to Austin for the Texas VegFest to meet the ever wonderful Tess Challis, instead of cycling. We had lofty plans for both, although the rainy weather foiled our plans.

We decided to play chicken with the weather. We wanted to cycle at least 100 km, if not more. Instead of going out for a long loop, we drove out to a more rural location and used it as our home base. I would have been very happy doing multiple laps along a straight and flat road but Rob thought that would be too boring. Instead, Rob drafted 30-35 km loops in a few directions. We pedalled through two loops before giving in to the wind and rain.

Us versus the weather? We lost. Our bikes? Super dirty. Our car won. It became clean.

The nice thing, though, was that I was able to take out these treats. I was really curious to try them out. Not only to see whether it would be better than my last puffed quinoa treat, but I was curious about using coconut sugar as a binder.

Chocolate Puffed Quinoa Treats

The good part? They tasted great. A chocolately goop to keep everything together. Not too sweet with a hint of almond. Since the quinoa was puffed and not crisp, they were easy to munch on. However, my intuition was correct about the coconut sugar: it did not hold up well as a binder. The only way I could keep these treats together was by chilling it in the freezer. Even then, perfectly cut squares were hard to craft. I resorted to breaking off nibbles when I wanted a treat. As such, these were not portable snacks but worked out well with our continuous looping back to the car. I wonder whether coconut nectar would work better as a binder, although I have never tried it.

The treats are from a fun new vegan cookbook called (wait for it) The Vegan Cookbook. It is a gorgeous cookbook with creative yet approachable recipes: breakfast tagine, kale & soba noodles with ginger-chilli sauce, curried chickpea patties with satay dipping sauce, chai-spiced banana muffins and chocolate banana wontons. Authored by Adele McConnell of Vegie Head, I must admit I had never heard of it before, but we have been enjoying many of her recipes, including the super fast chickpea curry and South African sweet potato stew (very similar to my previously shared recipe).  The rasam soup was a bit too tart for me, but at least it wasn’t mind-blowing spicy. In any case, with a wide range of international whole food recipes, I have many more dishes I look forward to making.

The Vegan Cookbook cover by Adele McConnell

Here’s to hoping the nice weather persists for this weekend. Not only for our cycling adventures but for all those partaking in the MS150 this weekend, too. :)

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living anywhere in the world (YAYAYA!). To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me about your favourite vegan meal. The winner will be selected at random on April 21, 2014. Good luck!

PS. Recipes from The Vegan Cookbook elsewhere:

Moroccan Quinoa Soup (with a giveaway, too)

 

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Chai Spiced Rice Pudding & The Blender Girl Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on April 8, 2014

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

Adult rice krispies and now adult rice pudding.

The difference is that I liked rice krispies as a kid but hated rice pudding. My brother loved it, but me, not so much.

However, spice it up with chai-infused flavours, sweeten it with apple, dried currants and a touch of maple syrup, bathe it in coconut milk and sprinkle it with pistachios along with leftover short-grain brown rice, and I am a happy camper.

This is no quick-fix rice pudding but it sure is delicious. My friend who tried it said it was the best rice pudding she had ever eaten.

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

This is my take on Tess Masters‘ version found in her gorgeous new cookbook The Blender Girl. Do not let the title mislead you too much. Yes, this is a cookbook where nearly every recipe uses a blender, but this does not mean only smoothies. The recipes are all gluten-free and vegan with only natural sweeteners. The recipes revolve around whole foods. Raw and cooked recipes are included. Tess has recipes for juices, smoothies, dips/spreads, soups, dressings, sauces and even desserts. She has entrees that use homemade sauces, including her penang curry and creamy mushroom stroganoff. Desserts include sugar-free no-pumpkin pie and chocolate-chile banana splits. Breakfast favourites including pancakes and crepes, with delicious toppings like ginger-apple-pear butter and instant raw raspberry jam. She even finds a way to use a blender for rice pudding.

She knows her stuff. It may dirty another container but I liked how a portion of the rice was pureed to thicken the rice pudding. It was rather ingenious.

The Blender Girl Cookbook cover

 

She is a girl smitten by her high-speed blender. I can tell. I have one, too, and I find it hard to remember what my kitchen was like without it. Do you need an expensive high speed blender for this cookbook? Certainly not. However, you definitely need something with a blending capacity, may that be a regular blender, an immersion blender or a food processor. If you don’t have a blender, you could still gain inspiration from her creations. Your textures may be different but it would be fun to see what else you could make.

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding
Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe and giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below telling me what you love to make with your blender (or blending instrument). The winner will be selected at random on April 20, 2014. Good luck!

Other recipes shared from The Blender Girl:

Creamy and Crunchy Spuds (with Raw Mayonnaise)
Watermelon Gazpacho is The Bomb
Fresh Spring Rolls with Orange-Almond Sauce
Creamy of Cauliflower Soup
Incredible Edible Edamame Dip
Penang Curry
Anti-Oxidant Avenger
Pineapple Salsa Smoothie
Chock-Full Chocolate Surprise Smoothie
Raw Chocolate-Orange Torte

PS. This is my submission for Alphabakes and Random Recipes.

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Sweet Sesame Rice Crispy Treats

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on April 3, 2014

Sweet Sesame Crisp Rice Treats

I feel kind of bad for all my buddies in Canada reading about my cycling adventures. Not much cycling is happening there, unless it is of the indoor variety. The weather here is glorious (not too humid yet and only a few mosquitoes have been spotted so far) but more importantly, we have to start cycling early. Our first cycling goal is less than a month away. 100 miles in early May. We need to get moving.

Last weekend, Rob and I finally started training together. My last few jaunts have been solo, so we weaned in carefully: 140 km over 2 days (split 90 km and 50 km). The advantage of splitting the distances is that you have a break for your legs but not your bum. ;)

The other reason we had to split our distance is because we had a late start on Saturday. With my recent string of flats, my 3-year-old tires were in need of replacement. We spent the first hour changing the tires only to realize that we also punctured one of the tubes. The fresh tires were a bit tight and I even managed to snap one of the plastic doodads trying to get the tire back on.  By this time, we were too frustrated to remove it and try again and wanted to call in the pros. However, it seemed like all bicycle stores open at 10 am so had to wait it out.

As we waited it out, I made these delicious snacks.

Sweet Sesame Crisp Rice Treats

Do you remember last year when I cycled 100 km and came home too tired to make my own smoothie? In retrospect, I wonder whether I had encountered the dreaded bonk. This year, I am ramping my snacks and calories. I am drinking my homemade sports drink. Even for these “short” beginner rides.

I really liked these treats. First of all, because they look like rice crispy treats but there are no marshmallows here at all. The goopy mess that keeps it all together is tahini and brown rice syrup with a touch of vanilla. I loved Gabby’s sesame overload with sesame seeds in addition to the tahini and the marvellous addition of  chewy raisins. This is a grown-up version of rice crispy treats if I ever tasted one, assuming that adults grow up. Perfect as a cycling snack, especially for long rides, since it is mostly carbs with some fats important for longevity… but most importantly: it tolerated the Houston heat perfectly.

While I wish I could say this was a fairy tale ending, with Rob and I cycling away without any hiccups, as we peddled away together, I noticed I lost the clipping mechanism on my clippy pedal. I opted to ride this weekend with only one foot clipped in.. I suppose I am working my way in. When I completed my first 100 km ride of the year, I only had regular shoes. Hopefully next weekend, I will have both shoes clipped in. ;)

Sweet Sesame Crisp Rice Treats

This is my submission to this month’s Bookmarked Recipes and Dead Easy Desserts(more…)

Thrive’s Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Drinks by Janet M on March 20, 2014

Thrive's Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway

Rob disappears and I do a cold, windy and rainy bike 100 km ride. Cameo appearance by the dreaded flat tire again. Sound familiar?

It is hard to believe, but within the span of a few days of my last solo cycling adventure, I signed up for the Tour de Houston for the 60-mile/100-km ride. More impressive (or shocking), I also dedicated some overflow vacation days to visit my parents and cycle Rideau Lakes with my Dad in June. This will be my third time on the 360 km 2-day course, I am hoping it will keep my motivated to continue to cycle throughout the summer to have fun at Cycle Oregon.

In any case, cycling season has begun. This weekend simply solidified why I love cycling so much. IT IS FUN! Even with nearly 4 hours of on-and-off again rain and fierce winds, I had a blast. Granted, I was sad Rob was missing such a fun experience but it was liberating to tackle the course at my own pace (yes, I know, Rob is usually the one waiting for me, not the other way around). I don’t know how many people showed up in spite of the weather (see the video recap here), but over 5000 people registered for the event. It is infectious to be surrounded by other cyclists. I rarely see another cyclist on my commutes to work but now, I had to jostle and wind my way around so many others.

I picked this event because it is actually run by the City of Houston to promote cycling in the city. It was well marked (save one turn) and well staffed. The course changes every year to highlight different areas of Houston. This year, the course was fantastic. Nearly all intersections were staffed to give cyclists the right-of-way (most of the time, obviously they had to let cars go through as well). I also knew it would give me the courage to try out a 100 km course with lots of support. Turns out, I needed it. I found myself with a flat tire a bit after the half-way point. When I cycle with Rob, he always brings a tube, pump, and tools to fix tires but this time, I didn’t. Thankfully, I turned around and one of the sag trucks found me and my sorry wheel. They brought me back to my last rest stop where I was able to get my flat tire. In addition, they then drove me back to where I had my flat tire so I could continue my journey.

I was a bit bummed because I had lost a lot of time and I was even turned away at one of the rest stops. I had a flat tire, I am not that slow! I kept thinking to myself. However, with the continuous rain, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise: the cyclists had thinned out so it was less congested but the best part was that I was mostly passing everyone. Not just a morale boost, this was incredible practical: less mud in my face! No one has mud guards, so if you are within 10 feet of the person cycling in front of you, you would be greeted with mud galore. How do I know? Right before I had my flat tire, there was a muddy patch and it landed all over my face, my glasses, my clothes and my bike.

The course was well stocked with bananas, oranges and peanuts (and pretzels which I didn’t eat) but by the time I arrived at the finish line, most of the vendors had packed up for the day. I cycled home. And only then I remembered how long rides really deplete my motivation to cook. I had the most motivation to do laundry and have a bath, though. Talk about being dirty. But before that, I treated myself to a fun recovery smoothie courtesy of Brendan Brazier’s new cookbook Thrive Energy Cookbook.

Based off the recipes from one of my favourite restaurants, Thrive Juice Bar, this is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing: the recipes taste great. If they are true to the restaurant, you will want to make that pad thai stat. However, the curse: that pad thai? It tastes great, in part, because each component is perfected. The recipe may be on one page but it will redirect to 4 addition recipes – three sauces/vinaigrettes and a vegetable mix. All for a single serving.

The photos are gorgeous. The recipes are tantalizing with many classic vegan combinations.  I am salivating over the drinks: kale mojito (I have had that at the restaurant and it is great!), chocolate-truffle-caramel mocha, chocolate-peppermint matcha magic drink. The restaurant’s Big Green Energy Charger is in there, too, which I love with a hit of maca, but I don’t know how I will find my own freshly squeezed wheatgrass juice for my version to be authentic. The recipes focus on mostly whole foods, although Daiya cheese makes its appearance, numerous Vega products along with Wildwood Zesty Garlic Aioli which seems to be the base for all four aioli recipes. Some incredibly hard-to-find ingredients are included (lucuma, astralagus, ginseng, wheatgrass juice, reishi mushroom, maca) but not too many.. and most could easily be omitted. I look forward to trying out more recipes and thrilled I can share a cookbook with one of you, too.

For this smoothie recipe, nuts, chocolate and protein powder are combined to make a satisfying smoothie. I typically don’t like smoothies with ice, but this was well balanced, probably because there was a larger amount of nuts than my typical smoothies. Brendan calls this a recovery smoothie although for information on his rationale for his sports recipe (either before, during or after exercise), you are redirected to his previous books.

Thrive's Cookies and Cream Recovery Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway

Thankfully, the publisher allowed me to share the recipe (with my modifications, of course) AND giveaway the cookbook to a reader living in the United States. To be entered in the random draw for the cookbook, please leave a comment below. The winner will be selected at random on March 29, 2014. Good luck!

Recipes from Thrive Energy Cookbook shared elsewhere:

Cashew Berry French Toast

Chia Seed Blueberry Pudding

Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup

Coconut, Lemongrass and Lime Soup

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Red Lentil & Chickpea Burger Patties

Avocado, Black Bean & Chipotle Burger with Chipotle Lime Aïoli

Chocolate Chip French Vanilla Smoothie

Chocolate-Almond Decadence Smoothie

Acai Berry Pre-Workout Energizer

Super Chocolate Powder Mix

Almond Butter

Blood Orange and Ginger Citrus Tart

This is being submitted to Ricki’s Weekend Wellness.

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Raw Grasshopper Crepes (Chocolate Crepes filled with an Avocado-Mint Cream)

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on March 8, 2014

Raw Grasshopper Crepes (Carob Crepes filled with a Avocado-Mint Cream)

I may have been late to the Valentine’s Day dessert sharing by a week and truthfully, Pancake Tuesday was never on my radar.

Since there is a create-eat-blog lag, obviously, I need to be thinking about upcoming holidays months in advance. Red for Valentine’s Day? No. Green. Green is the new red, right? With what, St Patrick’s Day in March, right?

Raw Grasshopper Crepes (Carob Crepes filled with a Avocado-Mint Cream)

Joking aside, because I really don’t need an excuse to make a fun raw crepe inspired by one of my favourite childhood desserts: grasshopper crepes. My mom may chime whether this recipe is close to what she used to make: a marshmallow-cream filling spiked with creme de menthe is surrounded by a paper-thin chocolate crepe. YES! Of course, I haven’t had it in ages, but the classic flavours of chocolate and mint never fail.

Raw Grasshopper Crepes (Carob Crepes filled with a Avocado-Mint Cream)

I used an old favourite recipe for the chocolate banana crepes but switched up the filling by whipping together avocado, frozen banana and mint. I prefer the flavour from the mint extract instead of the mint leaves, but the mint leaves kind-of-sort-of made the filling green. I should have added a touch of spirulina to really make it sparkle!

Raw Grasshopper Crepes (Carob Crepes filled with a Avocado-Mint Cream)

This is my submission to this week’s Raw Food Thursdays, Dead Easy Desserts and Cooking with Herbs.

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Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on February 22, 2014

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Remember Valentine’s Day? I reneged on my promise to make dessert. Rob had no problem coming up with an alternative. In fact, he was happy when I said I didn’t have the time to make my dessert of choice. He had already planned the whole meal!

The week post-V-Day is always special for us because we celebrate Rob’s birthday and our anniversary, so I eventually made my planned dessert, too. Our stash of avocados were perfectly ripe and could I really ignore an excuse to try out a new coconut flour-based dessert?

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

I cobbled together a delicious dessert from a few places. The base is inspired by Emma’s Raw Brownies but I topped it with a chocolate avocado frosting, based on my chocolate avocado mousse. To get a firm frosting, I used juicy Medjool dates as the sweetener (with a dash of agave only because I ran out of dates) along with a touch of lemon juice to balance the flavours. Next time, I might try a spiced version with cinnamon and cardamom again (like in my mousse).

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

Because I smushed this into a springform pan, this is more like a brownie cake. The brownie was delicious and it was amazingly fudgy and moist for a raw/no-cook dessert. Unlike my walnut-based raw brownie, this was lighter in texture due to the coconut flour (but more fudgy than my raw chocolate zucchini muffin). Plus the frosting just sealed the deal: delicious decadence. I highly recommend this. Although make no mistake, this is a decadent and filling treat.

Raw Brownie Cake with a Chocolate Avocado Frosting

This is my submission to this month’s Four Seasons Food, Dead Easy Desserts and Tea Time Treats.

PS. Here’s a shout-out to my Mom who got me a small off-set spatula. Which I totally used to frost the brownies. :)

PPS. Have you entered my giveaway for No Meat Athlete yet?
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Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on February 8, 2014

Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts

One thing my friends and family have heckled me about recently (not my knees, thank goodness), is my purchase of 25 lbs of coconut flour last year.

What will you make with it? What’s your plan?

It may seem like I have a plan for most of my purchases, but not this one. Reading through a new cookbook with coconut flour recipes, I envisioned running through my coconut flour fairly quickly. And while I have been pretty good with making a few recipes with coconut flour, the recipes only use a small amount.

Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts

I did the math. I don’t think know I will not be able to finish all of my coconut flour before I leave Houston. That would be over a pound per week. No. Can. Do.

Instead, I am having a lot of fun experimenting. This dessert intrigued me as it asked for a lot of coconut flour compared to the nut flour. I wondered how it would bind together without dates or oil. I tried it out. And true enough, it did not stick together. It was dry as a bone. Natasha told me to have faith, it would clump if I pressed it really hard in my pie plate.

Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts

I pressed and pressed. And then gave up. Perhaps the secret was the refrigerator chilling. I opted to try remedy the recipe myself: I added more sweetener, some oil and lots of almond milk. Coconut flour is thirsty, give it some liquid! I added and added until I felt the batter come together. I pressed it into a 6″ springform pan (unpictured), topped it with the radacious raspberry puree and sprinkled more of the batter overtop.

With still some batter and puree leftover, I created these mini versions. Too cute not to photograph and share.

The larger pie pieces stayed together easily, but that could be because I left it in the fridge longer. These were inhaled within a few hours. Don’t wait too long to eat your dessert, though. The coconut flour will dry up (sucking it from your raspberries perhaps) and taste a bit chalky. However, with a crumbly base, it is akin to a linzertorte, the Austrian cake with a pastry base, a fruit jam topping and the classic lattice topping. Delicate lattices are for chumps when you can much easily make a delicious, delicate crumb topping. ;)

Do you have any recipes you love with coconut flour?

Vegan coconut flour recipes I love:

Raw Peppermint Patties

Nut-Free Raw Carrot Cupcakes

Nut-Free Raw Chocolate Zucchini Muffins

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

Maple Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Raw Austrian Linzer Tarts
This is my submission to Raw Food Thursdays.

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Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with an Almond-Coconut Crust

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on December 27, 2013

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with an Almond-Coconut Crust

Hope everyone had a nice holiday. Back at work for me, already.

Rob and I returned to Canada, in all of its ice storm, power-deficient stateprovince. Over half a million people lost power in the days leading up to Christmas and just before we scooted back to Houston, my brother lost his power, for the second time, on Boxing Day.

With a few short days in the GTA, we explored Toronto as tourists: fast and furious. We met up with many friends and family, reminding ourselves why we love Toronto so much. Despite the cold, the warmth comes from our social network. We cooked, we ate at both new and old (favourite) restaurants and relished in multiple Christmas feasts.

As I said, I didn’t have enough forethought to bring any treats with me from Houston. Nothing lost, as I was oftentimes filled to the brim with good food, and had no desire to cook. However, while in Woodstock, I spotted a few pantry staples that could easily be whipped into a shockingly simple dessert. I could not resist. I am shocked I am sharing another dessert with you all, but in case you are looking for a fun party dessert, this could be your treat.

I threw together almonds, coconut and dates for a simple raw pie crust. The salt and vanilla accentuate the sweet maple syrup and dates. You could replace the coconut with additional nuts, but I enjoyed the textural foil next to the rich smooth filling. The filling was super simple: a bag of melted chocolate chips mixed with canned coconut milk and lots of peanut butter. At first I thought the peanut butter was a bit odd, but when you consider that the majority of raw cheesecakes are made with an abundance of cashews whipped into a butter, the leguminous peanut butter made sense. Combined with chocolate, you have a winning treat. It is rich and filling without being cloyingly sweet. And I even used semi-sweet chocolate.

Are you back at work, too? This is my shortest Christmas holiday yet.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with an Almond-Coconut Crust

This is my submission to this month’s We Should Cocoa.

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Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

Posted in Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on December 21, 2013

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

As I prepare to return to Canada for the holidays, Houston tugs dearly at my heart. With glorious December weather, it has taken less then 6 months for me to not miss snow. At all. Certainly, it does not feel very much like winter, but each time I cycle to work in shorts, I am positively beaming. 

Life has been a terribly wonderful busy whirlwind lately, so I apologize for being behind on replying to comments and for my disappearance next week.

I have one fabulous treat to share before the end of the year, though. December is probably the only month I could get away with sharing so many treats.

This is dedicated to all those looking for the perfect homemade protein bar. In brownie form. Is there anything you can not improve by adding chocolate?

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

These brownies are so good for you, you wouldn’t even know it. Although I haven’t had time to make them for my Canadian excursion, I had a bit of forethought before flying to Mexico City. I was not certain of the vegan options, so I tried to cover myself with a protein-packed treat. I thought of making my chocolate mint protein bars again, but of course, I wanted to try something new.

Still based on cocoa and protein powder, this was a treat that wasn’t heavy on nuts and dates. Gooey and dense from zucchini, apple and a touch of oats and coconut flour with a heap of protein powder. Chocolate chips also added a great textural foil and bursts of sweetness. Rob decreed the chocolate chips essential to the recipe and confirmed you could not taste any hemp undertones.

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies
While they may not be the best brownies, compared to all other brownies, they are definitely wonderful and possibly my favourite protein snack, to date. (For those interested in their stats: 219 calories, 7g fat, 26g carbs and 16g protein). I successfully halved the original recipe into my small 6″ springform pan, and it made enough for a short weekend trip.

Make sure to flatten the brownies as best you can, because there is no settling of the batter… and thus they may not look the most appealing.

Perhaps that is for the best. If you bring them to a holiday party, there will be more for you!! :)

Happy holidays everyone. :)

Chocolate Zucchini Protein Brownies

PS. The winner for Soup’s On was Move Eat Create.


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The Best Chocolate Truffles

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Favourites by Janet M on December 14, 2013

The Best Chocolate Truffle

I swear, I wasn’t planning on sharing yet another dessert. But once I made these (uber wonderfully, possibly, yes, confirmed, the best chocolate I have ever made) treats, I knew I had to share them. Chocolate in January usually doesn’t fly…. and I simply could not wait until Valentine’s Day to share this with you.

But, before I tell you about the chocolates, let me tell you where the recipe hails. While in Montreal last year, I explored a variety of vegan restos. I was initially wooed by Aux Vivres, a vegan resto with cooked foods, and quickly recreated their macro veggie and tempeh bowl and their raw vegan smoked salmon. I also stumbled upon Crudessence, a longstanding raw restaurant and really enjoyed my meal. I was *thisclose* to buying their cookbook. It had the recipes for many of the same dishes I had just eaten and loved at their restaurant: Kombu mojito, raw tiramisu and raw cinnamon buns. Many of their other highly praised dishes are included, such as their Om burger, pad thai, Caesar salad, Tibet fat-free dressing, maki rolls, eggplant bacon, raw parmesan (crumesan), chocolate banana pie, chocolate mouse, lime pie, banana split with chunks of raw brownies, blueberry un-”Cheese”cake and Hippocrates juice.

So why didn’t I buy the cookbook? It was in French only. I can read French but since it is not my first language, it would not be as easy to decipher all the cooking terms. So I put it back.

The Best Chocolate Truffle

Fast forward a year and their cookbook has been reprinted in English. Lucky for us, because this is a drop-dead gorgeous cookbook with delicious recipes.

The Best Chocolate Truffle

The first recipe I tried were these truffles. In the cookbook, they are called “dark nougat”. I am not entirely sure what nougat is supposed to taste like. I thought it might be kind of chewy and sweet (I am only familiar with the nougat that studs Toblerone bars), but this was nothing of the sort…. it was creamy, smooth and divine. Honestly, I had made the middle of creamy truffles. Akin to the middle of Lindt truffles.  YES!! And it was dead simple: whizz all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and then allow to set in the freezer.

The Best Chocolate Truffle

I tried to be a bit fancier by freezing them in silicone ice cube trays, but since they were still so creamy after setting, they stuck a bit to the molds. The light dusting of flaked coconut or matcha helped to make them less gooey for your fingers. I was rooting for the pretty matcha-dusted truffles, but they were still a bit bitter for my liking. The coconut-flaked ones were great and if I had enough coordination, the chocolate-and-hazelnut-coated truffles sound incredible. I think these are a bit too fragile to gift, unless you coat them in a hard chocolate shell.

There is one special ingredient for this recipe, I apologize. Lecithin. I plan on writing more about this ingredient in a later post, but I can definitely assure you that it makes the most creamy chocolate to date.

The Best Chocolate Truffle

PS. Other recipes shared from RawEssence:

Taboulleh Flower Salad

Madras Salad

Pesto Tagliatelle

BLT Sandwich with Eggplant Bacon and Caper Aioli

Meatless Meatballs

Island Lime Pie

Brazil Nut Goji Milk

PPS. The winners of the Simply Raw Kitchen giveaway was Jessica and 365 Vegan Smoothies was Phoebe. (more…)

Cardamom Cashew Pistachio Bars (Kaaju Pista Burfi) & Indian Cooking Unfolded Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Desserts by Janet M on December 12, 2013

Indian Cashew Pistachio Bars (Kaaju Pista Burfi)

Panela and I were first introduced in Colombia. An unrefined sugar, typically sold in block form, it is commonly used in South American desserts. I brought some back to Canada and was interrogated by the US immigration officer as we transferred in Miami. I told him I had bought panela (pa-nell -la), a type of sugar. He explained to me that I wrong. It was pronounced pa-ney-ya. The women in the market that sold it to me spoke Spanish, and I heard her loud and clear: it was panela. With an L. In any case, when he told me I could bring my sugar across the border, I scooted right on out.

I rarely see panela in Canada, but have seen it countless times in Houston. Oftentimes, it is labelled as piloncillo, the Mexican name as panela is also a type of Mexican cheese. A small cone can be found for 70 cents or so, at most supermarkets but it can also be found in large blocks and possibly ground.

In the spirit of holidays, candies and confectionaries, I broke it out for my latest treat: Indian Burfi. It sounds more dramatic, but really it is similar to my maple pecan shortbread cookies because it is simply nuts and sweetener with an Indian twist from cardamom and saffron. I used panela as my sweetener of choice, but you could substitute brown sugar (likely coconut sugar, and possibly maple syrup or agave, too) which imparted a delicious molasses undertone.

Indian Cashew Pistachio Bars (Kaaju Pista Burfi)

I called these Indian Cashew Pistachio Bars or Kaaju Pista Burfi, as this was what Raghavan Iyer called them in Indian Cooking Unfolded. I have told you about this lovely cookbook earlier, but it bears repeating because I really like it. Iyer has taken Indian cooking to its elemental components and teaches you how to cook Indian from the ground up. The recipes span meat, vegetarian and vegan options, with limited ingredients. He has capped himself at 10 ingredients, and many recipes are far more simple. While he may sacrifice in authenticity, he does not sacrifice in taste, coaxing the most from limited ingredients.

I bring up authenticity, but I lay no claim to being an expert in traditional Indian cuisine (although we make killer dal). Iyer openly admits burfi is typically much more sweet than this recipe and is actually an adaptation of a raw recipe from Jugalbandi who seemed to have sinced moved to Nitrivore, but it too, is an abandoned blog. Soma’s recent post makes me think these treats are closer to katli instead of burfi, which she describes as a sugar-nut treat. Truthfully, my fusion spin with panela, makes them even less authentic but no less delicious. As Iyer promised, these are not uber sweet. There is a subtle hint of cardamom among the molasses-infused treat. Rob thoguht it needed more saffron but I thought it was perfect. I can not really taste the saffron, so feel free to omit it.

While I typically shy away from Indian desserts, I am thrilled that I tried these. They were delicious. While Diwali has come and gone, this would be equally suited for something different on a holiday cookie spread. I blame it on the cardamom. Or the molasses. Or the nuts. They all taste like hugs. :)

Indian Cashew Pistachio Bars (Kaaju Pista Burfi)

I really want to share this cookbook with you and I am thrilled because the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to FOUR lucky readers living in the continental United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite Iyer recipe (he has also penned our favourite Indian cookbook, 660 Curries). If you haven’t made anything by Iyer yet, have a look through Indian Cooking Unfolded on amazon or google books (or my list below) and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 24, 2013. Good luck!

PS. Recipes from Indian Cooking Unfolded spotted elsewhere:

Smoky Yellow Split Peas (Tamatar Chana Dal)

Sweet Corn with Toasted Coconut (Thénga Makkaí)

Braised Beet Salad with Golden Raisin Vinaigrette

Ultimate Chicken Curry (Tamatar Murghi) 

Poppadums with Chile-Spiked Onion and Avocado Pomegranate Dip

Vegetarian Samosa Cakes with Tamarind Chutney

Cardamom Fennel Scallops

Spinach Phyllo Samosas

Curried Ginger Date Bok Choy with Soy Knots

This is my submission to this month’s Cooking with Herbs.

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Pumpkin Pecan Frosted Cinnamon Buns

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on December 7, 2013

Pumpkin Pecan Butter Frosting

I consider my blog to be a public food journal. And as I share my favourite recipes, I may unearth some trends.

Right now, I seem to be all about pecans.

(As evidenced by my maple pecan shortbread cookies, vegan cheesecake with a pecan shortbread crust, baked caramelized banana & pecan oatmeal and even a savoury brussels sprouts slaw with pecans and cranberries)

I say pee-cans, but recently, I can catch myself with a Southern drawl muttering pe-cahns, too.

Pecans are a taste of the Southern United States, and I am trying to relish in all good things here.

Pumpkin Pecan Butter Frosting

Take this pumpkin pecan butter frosting.

I originally made this as a way to tame our consumption of nut butters… and cookie butters. Did I mention how fast my parents devoured the cookie butter? Three days, three people, finito.

Rob declared this spread tasting like a hug. With the warming cinnamon with a pumpkin backdrop, I could see why. This was not as rich as our regular nut butters (obviously!), but it worked remarkably well as a frosting. Thanks to Gaby and Max, we used it to frost Sinfull Bakery’s monster vegan cinnamon bun for a fall-inspired treat.

Pumpkin Pecan Butter Frosting

Now it is your turn: How do you pronounce pecan?

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Maple Pecan Shortbread Cookies

Posted in Desserts by Janet M on December 5, 2013

Raw Pecan Shortbread Cookies

I need your help.

Before I came to America, I was really excited to exercise my couponing prowess. I had seen some television shows where people get tons of stuff at the grocery store for next to nothing, because they use sales, price matching and coupons. There was coupon matching, double coupon day, etc.

I have been here for almost 6 months and have yet to encounter such coupon chaos. Where is it??

It must be because I don’t routinely go to standard box stores. Instead, I scope out cheap, fresh produce at the food market and Trader Joe’s and order random ingredients online. There are a few different websites I like, depending on what I want to buy. Sadly, these food-friendly websites did not really succumb to the “Cyber Monday” craze. In my mind, it is all in the best interest of keeping a mostly minimalist pantry.

But, one site was different. Although, it wasn’t even a Cyber Monday Deal. The sale is still on now.

You could do it, too! We could be in this mess together!

Raw Pecan Shortbread Cookies

My friend let me know about a super deal on coconut flour. $29 for 25 lbs, after a coupon. Free shipping. Since coconut flour can sell for over $8/lb, this was a positive steal. But also A LOT of coconut flour.

Rob was not pleased. I am not entirely sure where to store it.

It is such a unique ingredient that I love, so I will definitely be experimenting with it. My friend has suggested adding it to oatmeal, smoothies, crackers and even whipping it into a coconut butter-type spread.

My first dent into my coconut flour stash was small, but still worthwhile. These cookies were delicious and festive, to boot. While they have a texture of a crumbly shortbread, that is where the similarities end, because these are wholesome with so few ingredients: pecans, maple syrup, coconut flour and salt. You can bake them or dehydrate them. I opted for the latter and they were a sweet and delicious cookie.

Do you have any tricks for couponing? Did you join in the Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals? Any cool recipes for coconut flour?

Raw Pecan Shortbread Cookies

This is my submission to this month’s Dead Easy Desserts.

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Matcha Ginger Smoothie & Cookbook Giveaway!

Posted in Book Review, Desserts, Drinks by Janet M on December 3, 2013

Matcha Ginger Smoothie

It took me awhile, but I finally succumbed.

Caffeine: sometimes, I need a little extra oomph in the morning.

I made it through university, medical school and a 5-year residency before I contemplated caffeine. A few months into my fellowship, with its longer hours, I started with a bit of green tea.

I am not drinking coffee or black tea (I actually don’t like the taste), but Rob and I both knew something was up after we scoped out green tea for me to drink while in Mexico. Three days with a morning green tea latte.

Just the trickle of caffeine was able to fuel me throughout the day, though. Rob and I powered through multiple markets (food and general markets), biked around midtown, visited cathedrals, admired public murals, walked around Frida Kahlo’s home, cheered for Mexican wrestlers (ok, maybe we just watched) and our most anticipated event: walking up ancient pyramid ruins outside Mexico City.

We left Houston, and its cold weather, and thankfully, by the time we returned, it was back to its glorious warm self. I am back to cycling in shorts. I know, this may not be the most seasonal recipe for those in a winter climate, but I have been enjoying a multitude of smoothies since I received Kathy’s cookbook, 365 Vegan Smoothies.

Matcha Ginger Smoothie

Each weekend, after our standard cycle adventure, I would return home for a frosty drink. I’d leaf through and pick a new smoothie each week. I quickly learned that I had to plan my smoothie in advance. Sometimes, I had a hard time deciding which smoothie to make! So many options, so little time. However, once I made this Matcha Ginger Smoothie (the ever-creative Kathy named it Matcha Ginger An-Tea-Oxidant Shake), (Rob and) I knew it was the winner. The one I would photograph and share with you.

Creamy and sweet frozen bananas complement the bitter green tea matcha, but the best part was the ginger twist. Kathy suggested using a dash of ginger powder, but sharp flavour from fresh ginger is unbeatable in this smoothie. A high speed blender would have no problems whipping this into a delicious drink.

Matcha Ginger Smoothie

I was not sure whether a smoothie cookbook would be worthwhile, but I have had fun trying out different drinks. With 365 different recipes, you are bound to be inspired by a few new combinations: walnut-carrot cake, jazzy ginger grape, lemon-beet clarifying cooler, maple spice buckwheat shake, mango-cado kale kiss, a-peel-ing chai shake. Her crazy concoctions span smoothies with vegetables, fruit and nuts or non-dairy milk. Occasionally yogurt or fruit juice slips in, too. Thin and frosty, or thick and decadent. All vegan. I also appreciate that nutritional facts are included (all recipes serve 2 but the nutritional contents are for the entire recipe).

Beyond the recipes, Kathy is also a fabulous photographer. I find it hard to photograph drinks, but her cookbook is peppered with gorgeous photography. Bright, colourful and tantalizing, signatures of her blog, Happy Healthy Life. It is refreshing to see wholesome ingredients highlighted at their finest. Kathy also takes the time at the beginning to ground you in smoothie creation, with troubleshooting and myths debunked. She also highlights being creative and flexible in the kitchen. I don’t like ice in my smoothies (Kathy is a big fan) but just adjust as you see fit.

I really want to share this cookbook with you and thankfully the publisher is letting me give a cookbook to one reader living in the United States. To be entered, please leave a comment here, telling me about your favourite recipe by Kathy. If you haven’t made anything by Kathy yet, have a look through the table of contents of 365 Vegan Smoothies on google books (or my list above or below) or pick something from her blog and tell me what you want to cook the most. I will randomly select a winner on December 11, 2013. Good luck!

PS. Kathy’s recipes from 365 Vegan Smoothies shared elsewhere:

Sassy Green Kick Start Smoothie
Pink Kiss Smoothie
Watermelon Frosty

PPS. There is still time to enter my giveaway for The Simply Raw Kitchen.

This is my submission to this week’s Health Vegan Fridays and this week’s Raw Food Thursdays.

Note: I was given a copy of the cookbook from the publisher.  I was under no obligation to share a review. The opinions expressed are entirely my own.

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