Everyone has a favourite granola recipe. Personally, I have tried many recipes, and love to try new ones for variety. Adapted from The Stop‘s cookbook Good Food For All, I was drawn to Joshna Maharaj‘s healthy granola recipe because it was filled with my favourite fixins – almonds, coconut, cranberries and date with less oil. It also used a lot of wheat germ and All Bran buds.
A few years ago, I used to eat All Bran buds all the time with yogurt. It was a quick satisfying snack or dessert. I once chatted with a surgeon who was a strong proponent of All Bran buds and psyllium (the main fiber source on All Bran buds). He was a colorectal surgeon and saw people with constipation and colorectal cancer. He was adamant that we could add All-Bran buds to ANYTHING – even pizza! While I am willing to try many thing, I am not THAT adventurous. However, adding All Bran buds to granola just makes sense for a healthy, filling breakfast.
A note about this granola: it is not incredibly sweet. It does not clump well. But it is tasty and best combined with some fresh fruit and yogurt as a lovely breakfast parfait.
Pancakes are what I consider a splurge or luxury breakfast. Most of my breakfasts are quick to reheat in the morning, or don’t require that much attention on the stovetop allowing me to multitask in the kitchen.
Pancakes are easy to make, but who wants to slave over the frypan so early in the morning? Add another insult to the injury because most recipes make a ton of pancakes, and pancakes tend to be infinitely better when fresh.
But for those special occasions, break out this pancake recipe. Or when you feel like eating an all-day pancake special, because that is what I ended up doing.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen, who in turn adapted them from Good to the Grain, these pancakes are worthy of its high praise (308+ comments later!). Not your typical white, tasteless pancake, these are filled with oat flour (rolled oats that I ran through my food processor until fine) and oatmeal. White flour still makes an appearance though which is probably why they taste so great. They are moist, substantial pancakes and actually a bit sweet. The recipe calls for both sugar and honey and I would decrease the sugar next time, but otherwise these are perfect. A great way to increase your repertoire of whole grain-based recipes and will please even the pickiest eater.
This is my submission to this round of Blog Bites 9, holiday buffet, potluck-style!
I spent the summer training for a double imperial century bike ride and have since rejuvenated my cycling energy within the past couple of weeks. You see, I finally bought a road bike. This summer, I was using a flat-bar hybrid which is a great bike, but not ideal for cycling such long distances. With my upright seating position, I often felt like I was a parachute in the wind!
They say athletes get tired of the same snacks day after day. Flavour fatigue. Despite peddling over 4000-km on my bike this year, I guess I don’t exercise enough to get bored of the high energy snacks. Oats and dates have played prominent roles in many of the snacks, but I wanted to try something different.
Adapted from Runner’s World, these energy bars are similar to other bars based with dried fruit, but instead of dates, it uses figs as the main component. Dried cranberries and raisins add extra flavour with roasted hazelnuts adding healthy fat. There is only a minimal amount of honey so these are not overtly sweet. Technically, they travelled well and kept their shape during the summer heat.
I can only fight off fall so long. I have started to wear my cycling hat because it is so cold as I whisk down to work in the morning on my bike. Bestwin has butternut squash on sale for 17 cents/lb this week. Let’s ring in the fall produce!
This is another winning salad from Raising the Salad Bar by Catherine Walthers. It has so many unique salad ideas, I love flipping through it. My other favourite recipes from her book include the Wheat Berry Salad with Almonds and Spinach in a Citrus Dressing and the Wild Rice and Wheat Berry Salad with Apple, Cranberries and Almonds in a Citrus Dressing.
This salad features a crisp, sliced apple, with crunchy toasted almonds and juicy pomegranate seeds over a bed of arugula. I used baby arugula which wasn’t that peppery, but arugula would work well with the sweet apple-laced vinaigrette. Another option I might entertain next time is a pomegranate vinaigrette with pomegranate molasses, but I liked the focus on apple. Sadly, salads with dressed greens do not bode well for leftovers, so I halved the recipe to serve 2 and only dressed it before serving.
There are many recipes for broccoli salad. It usually includes chopped red onion, raisins, sunflowers seeds, crumbled bacon and a mayonnaise dressing laced with sugar and vinegar. It is delicious. I even asked for the recipe after I ate it a few summers ago. But I haven’t made it yet. I find I get turned off of recipes when I know exactly what goes inside. Bacon and mayo are delicious, but I just don’t cook with them that often.
This is why I perked up when I saw a mayo- and bacon-less broccoli salad on 101 Cookbooks. There are many different crunchy aspects to the salad; tender-crisp broccoli, crisp apple pieces and toasted almonds. The magic ingredient was probably the crispy onion. They were crunchy and added a unique flavour. I cheated and used store-bought crispy onions that I found in Kensington Market a while back but I included the directions to pan-fry your own shallots, if you choose to do so. The dressing was a bit on the thick side for me, which was probably due to my almond butter. It spread out more than I thought once it dressed the salad. It certainly is not a mayo-dressing, but a decent alternative.
Saveur’s note: I am delighted to have a guest post from Rob at Free Pants Online. He usually posts about his travel adventures although he has posted some recipes. He made the most delicious tempeh sandwiches recently and I really wanted to share the recipe. I love to share healthy, great tasting food – and these sandwiches were phenomenal. However, since I didn’t technically make it myself (although I was in the same room), I begged Rob to write a post about it to spread some tempeh love.
For the picnic, I brought the Spanish Chickpea Salad with Capers and Roasted Red Peppers, Rob brought these delicious sandwiches and it was finished with exquisitely moist and unique cupcakes from For The Love of Cake. Red Velvet cupcakes filled with a chocolate ganache were my favourite, but we also had Japanese Ginger cupcakes filled with a plum sake reduction and plum slice and topped with cream cheese frosting, Maple Bacon cupcakes filled with blueberries, and Tiramisu cupcakes with a mascarpone frosting. It was a glorious feast indeed.
A couple of weeks ago, I visited one of the health food shops in Kensington Market. I had a craving for tempeh. I hadn’t had it in a while. None of the shops in my neighbourhood (Yonge and Eglinton) seem to carry it. As such, I picked up a couple packages and brought them home.
I have randomly tried to prepare tempeh while traveling. I didn’t really know what I was doing and usually just fried it to enjoy its simple flavour: denser and meatier than tofu; maybe a little nuttier. I know I could do better once I was armed with my own kitchen. What was I to do? I asked Saveur for recommendations. She confessed that she’s never tried tempeh before. Oh my! She’s a clever one, though, and was still able to make some suggestions for me. This recipe for Maple Grilled Tempeh looked very intriguing to me. Since I don’t have any maple syrup (what kind of weak Canadian am I, anyways?) or rice vinegar, or a proper grill to cook these on, I decided to adapt the recipe and created the marinade listed below.
Oh wow! These were tasty! They were bursting with flavour!
The first time I had these, I had some parathas and steamed broccoli on the side, which is very typical for me. I didn’t choose the broccoli for its complementary qualities to my tempeh; but simply since I usually have some in the fridge and it’s my favourite vegetable anyways. Parathas are just delicious… period. I might have chosen rice as my starchy side, but I my rice cooker is currently out on loan.
These marinated and fried tempeh pieces were great when they were fresh. As leftovers, however, there was much to be desired. They had dried out and weren’t nearly so flavourful. Eat these fresh, or don’t eat them at all!
The following weekend, I planned on going to Olympic Island with Saveur and her friend to see Arcade Fire play a show. The concert was really great! This blog isn’t a music blog, though. It’s a food blog. You’re certainly not interested in any concerts.
I’ve read somewhere that tempeh is great as a meat substitute in sandwiches. Now that was my master plan!
We preceded the show with a picnic. The picnic was really great, too! I decided to take on the task of bringing sandwiches by combining the same marinated tempeh with alfalfa sprouts and cucumber on ciabatta bread. In my head, it sounded like a match made in heaven. It worked out just fine! This recipe is not one that I found anywhere. I just thought it would work…. it looks like it did!
I have never had this much time to plan a trip. My previous trips to Japan and Turkey afforded me barely a month to plan my itinerary and accommodations. This time, I booked this trip nearly 6 months in advance, when airfare was cheap to Casablanca.
But instead of planning where I will go other than Marrakech, I am studying the Moroccan ways by reading through Moroccan cookbooks. I collected Japanese and Turkish cookbooks after my trips, so I am being proactive here! It is important to know which foods to gravitate towards while travelling.
While browsing though Moroccan Food & Cooking by Ghillie Basan, I spotted these cute apricot parcels with a honey glaze. They were perfect because it is apricot season AND I had leftover scraps of phyllo dough after making baklava.
I loved this recipe because it was very easy to whip together. Apricots are slit in half and stuffed with an almond paste, akin to marzipan, and they are wrapped individually in a piece of phyllo dough. I had long scraps of phyllo dough, so I used 2 long pieces to wrap the apricot. No need for additional butter, just a drizzle of honey. Bake them in the oven to find yourself with a silky, baked apricot with an almond centre and a crisp phyllo coat. Summer simplicity at its best.
This can be served warm or cold, but I preferred these served warm. Leftovers needed to be perked up in the oven to recrisp the phyllo dough.
With a few long-distance cycling trips already under my belt this summer, I oftentimes feel like I am eating to bike. I routinely make my own sports drink and have made different portable snacks for my rides: peanutty energy bars, cocoa mint nibbles and almond chocolate larabars. Next up in my arsenal of snacks: homemade granola bars.
I have been making my own granola for some time, but had yet to venture into making granola bars. The thick and chewy granola bars posted by Smitten Kitchen (who, in turn, found and adapted it from King Arthur Flour) called out to me since she posted them in February. I bought oat flour immediately (back when I didn’t have a food processor) but it took me almost 6 months to finally buckle down and make them. What happened? Well, life (in a good way), and I was shunning desserts for a while. Thank goodness I bike now so I can enjoy these guilt-free.
These were subtly addictive. Chewy yet firm, oaty and wholesome, sweet from cranberries and with a strong peanut flavour. You munch on a chewy bar and think to yourself, ‘Is this what granola bars taste like?’ It is miles away from what you get in a store. Deb leaves the recipe completely flexible, with substitutions for the nuts, fruit and nut butter, and I have included my own interpretation below. I was surprised at the strong presence of the peanut butter flavour, so I may decrease it next time or switch it to almond butter which I think would work better with the cranberries. Otherwise, I went with my granola staples of dried cranberries, coconut and almonds. I found coconut chips at Bestwin which are like large coconut flakes. I liked the burst of coconut flavour but found they didn’t integrate with the bars as well; they left the bars more apt to crumble mid-bite. Next time, I’ll stick with my flaked coconut for the granola bars and use the coconut flakes for my crumbly granola.
So how many food bloggers find recipes in cookbooks and then google to see if someone has already typed up the recipe? Me me me! That’s one thing I love about old or popular cookbooks because you can usually already find the recipes online without typing them all out. Imagine my surprise when I was googling for “Peanutty Energy Bars” from Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook and I found them posted on Epicurious! With some great reviews, to boot!
Epicurious explains that these bars won a prize at the 2001 Plains Peanut Festival Recipe Contest and I must admit that part of the draw to these energy bars were the peanuts. I had a flop of a peanut butter granola last week, so I was looking for some peanut power redemption.
These were good, almost akin to a filling, complex rice krispie square with the puffed rice, oats, peanut butter and the added fixins like peanuts and dates. It is incredibly adaptable, switching the nuts, dried fruit and nut butters. They packed well with my on my cycling trip but I found the bars to be a bit big, so next time I will cut them into smaller pieces.
The bars were great to make in the summer as they are no bake, just a nuke in the microwave, but a bit tricky to mix together because you have to work fast before the warmed liquids cool. Quite a bit didn’t mix together for me (=leftover breakfast granola) but the stuff that stayed together was yummy. Other than working fast, it also helps to use a huge microwave safe bowl for your liquids. Adding the dry ingredients to the wet facilitates easier mixing.
Other energy bars on my hit-list to try:
Homemade Cliff Bars by Enlightened Cooking
Chocolate Brownie Power Bars by Enlightened Cooking
Easy Whole Grain, Fruit & Nut Energy Bars by Enlightened Cooking
Fruit, Seed and Nut Power Bars by Enlightened Cooking
Paley’s Energy Bars by Runner’s World
Banana Bread Larabars by Oh She Glows
PB&J Larabars by Teens Eat
Apricot-Oatmeal Bars by Eating Well
I normally don’t go to the trouble of a meal with lots of side dishes, as I prefer one-pot wonders. I like to have a complete meal in one dish. Rather, I like to cook this way as I find it easier. Perhaps I am lazy and don’t want to make many dishes that need to be timed to finish at the same time, or maybe because I really don’t like to clean dishes.
I am glad that I wasn’t intimated by the long list of ingredients, steps and components of this dish. Because it was phenomenal. I have been investigating unique ways of cooking rhubarb and this did not disappoint. Each component was outstanding on its own and together they were simply divine.
First, the rhubarb sauce is zesty: sweet, sour and pleasantly spicy all in one. Ginger, chili flakes, garlic, soy sauce and honey work really well together. Second, we have crisp firm tofu that has been marinated in a sweet and savoury sauce including allspice, ginger, and chili flakes. I have fallen for allspice recently and absolutely love it. This is served over a bed of rice that is combined with wilted kale, and as you use the same pan from the tofu, any brown bits (=flavour!) get included into the rice mixture as well. Topped with chopped cashews and green onions, this is a very tasty dish with many complex textures and flavours.
I went to a Turkish grocery store this weekend and was reminded how much I adore Turkish cuisine. I finally found red pepper paste, which I couldn’t find in Turkey outside Istanbul. I also picked up rose water and orange blossom water. I also know where to go when my Aleppo chili flakes run out. My 200g stash from Safranbolu cost me 2 YTL (~$1.30) and will hopefully last a while, though.
I travelled to Turkey for two weeks in April and while the first thing I did when I arrived back was gather Turkish cookbooks from the library, I have yet to cook something Turkish since my return. After my trip to Marche Istanbul, I was brought back to my feasts in Turkey. The food there was fabulous, often from very simple ingredients. I was adamant I would delve back to Turkey in my kitchen.
While I quickly associate pistachios with Turkey, Turkey is actually the world’s largest producer of hazelnuts. Hazelnuts, also known as filberts, have a rich delicious flavour and are commonly used in desserts – just think of the fabulous chocolate hazelnut spread, Nutella! In this dish, hazelnuts are used in a savoury salad. They are ground to a paste to form a creamy, lemony sauce.
While I didn’t try this dish while in Turkey, I spotted a baked zucchini and apple salad with a lemon hazelnut sauce (taratorlu kabak) in The Food and Cooking of Turkey by Ghillie Basan and adapted it slightly. The winner in this recipe is the lemon hazelnut sauce. It is deliciously creamy with the roasted hazelnuts ground to a thick paste with garlic, and then infused with fresh lemon juice and olive oil. It was added to baked zucchini and apples and then sprinkled with chopped hazelnuts. The sweet apples add a nice accent, and it is paramount to pick an apple that holds its shape after cooking (I used Golden Delicious). As Basan notes, the dressing pairs well with many fruits and vegetables (plums, eggplant, squash, bell pepper, etc). I baked the zucchini and think it was good but it would be even more succulent if the veggies were grilled (says the one without a barbecue).
Lastly, I wanted to thank everyone who voted for my Mexican Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing in the last round of No Croutons Required. I am honoured to have been picked as the May winner, especially as there were many tasty dishes on the menu. This is my submission to this month’s theme focusing on zucchini and to Preeti’s Green Gourmet Event at W’Rite’ Food as well as to Deb for this week’s Souper Sundays (which also includes salads).
Here is a lovely easy and simple carrot soup with a bit of pizazz from cumin to give you a Moroccan flavour. Since returning from a trip to Turkey, I have been craving Turkish food which melds Greek, Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine all into itself. As I investigate a few of the Turkish cookbooks out there, help yourself to a bowl of this delicious carrot soup. It was adapted from the original recipe in April 2010′s issue of Bon Appétit but also spotted here and here. Don’t skip the yogurt as it makes it nice and creamy. I didn’t roast the cumin, but I am sure it would add another dimension of flavour, as the carrots work well with the lemon and allspice.
Here is an interesting twist for breakfast: a bowlful of pearl (Israeli) couscous with coconut, almond and honey. I found it difficult to find Israeli couscous, but eventually found it at Loblaws in a Jewish neighbourhood. I am not really sure how it is related to the traditional, smaller couscous, but let me state this: it is NOT a grain. Many people erroneously believe couscous holds healthy properties, but it is merely pasta . Israeli couscous is a wheat-based pasta (with wholewheat/wholemeal varieties too), similar to orzo, and reminds me of tapioca pearls. They grow in to large plump balls of pasta-goodness.
Toasting Israeli couscous gives it a nice nutty taste, which is perfect when it is paired with coconut and almonds with a bit of sweetness from honey. I based the recipe from A Sweet Spoonful and while it doesn’t look like it feeds four, it does as it is quite heavy with the coconut milk. Like most breakfast dishes, it is best the day it is made.
It wasn’t long ago that I claimed I wasn’t a foodie hippie but still enjoyed granola. I never thought to make my own granola, though. I had been gawking/saving/hoarding granola recipes for a while, and I finally took the plunge as I ogled through Out to Brunch, the cookbook brought to us by Mildred’s Temple Kitchen (which also had the wonderful recipe for the blueberry buttermilk pancakes). Let me tell you, it is so much better than any granola I have ever had. It is ridiculously easy to make (stir and bake!) and more healthy than the stuff in the stores. A quick trip to a bulk store made it so simple. Mix and match with your favourite ingredients. My adapted recipe follows. (more…)