Category Archives: Snacks

Raw Caramel

DSC_0708 I feel like raw caramel is a bit of a trendy thing to do these days (I’ve seen about ten million recipes for it… I feel like even Lauren Conrad has one…). BUT I DON’T CARE BECAUSE IT TASTES LIKE SUMMER AND ALL THINGS GOOD. I love caramel. Specifically I love caramel apples. When my sister lived in Vancouver I would always demand to buy a caramel apple from Granville Island… I even forced her to fly one home on a few occasions… All that to say caramel has a special place in my heart.

The best part about this caramel is that there’s no boiling of cups and cups of white sugar! Or maybe the best part is that it tastes awesome… regardless, it’s super easy and made for a wonderful afternoon snack with some cut up apple. The main reason this is considered “raw” is because I used raw almond butter. Of course you can use any nut butter you want, and it can be roasted or salted if that’s what you have (I imagine this to be good with cashew butter).

As you can see in the picture, I had this caramel with apple slices (an organic Pink Lady apple, if you were curious). I imagine it’d be awesome with any other fruit, with chocolate, on toast with jam, in oatmeal or chia pudding in the morning. As I mentioned, it’s refined sugar free… therefore it’s the best kind of snack for any moment in the day.

RAW CARAMEL: (Makes 1/2 cup)

  • 1/3 cups dates, pitted and soaked for 4 hours in water (reserve the soaking water*)
  • 2 heaping tablespoons raw nut butter of choice** (I used almond)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt

Method:

In food processor, or a high speed blender (I used my handy little magic bullet), blend the soaked and pitted dates, nut butter, lemon juice, vanilla, salt, and 2 tablespoons of the dates’ soaking water. If it’s too thick, add more of the soaking water.

Notes:*Instead of using the soaking water from the dates, you could alternatively use almond milk. **I’ve seen many recipes that use nut butter AND coconut oil. I imagine that’d be awesome and make it SUPER creamy… as always: feel free to play around!

 

Much love and peace in these stressful days of end-of-semester-madness.

Simple Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Balls

DSC_0684WHERE DOES TIME GO? I don’t know. But I think it’s better that I don’t…

School really pushed its limits (and my limits) this past month. I’m now on spring break so I’m beyond thankful for that. So to kick it off I made some cute little cookie things. They are the perfect size to just… shove in my mouth while I’m adventuring. They are adapted from Minimalist Baker’s 5 ingredient cookies, but I wasn’t in the mood for chocolate (I know… that’s not something you hear often out of my mouth), so I opted for raisins. Big surprise. One could easily add in any kind of mix in: berries, nuts, seeds, chocolate chunks, other dried fruit… anything really.

They are chewy and naturally sweet! The cool thing is that they;re actually really healthy (no refined sugars and only oats and almond meal!) so they could serve as a pre-workout power boost or as breakfast.

Oh, just a side note: I don’t have a food processor, just a handy lil’ magic bullet. This being said, I didn’t process the oats as the Minimalist Baker recipe recommends, therefore the oats were whole in my cookie. I really liked having the whole oats, but it’s a matter of preference (and what tools you have available!). ALSO, if you don’t want then to be balls, just squish them on the cookie sheet before baking to make them more like cookies.

SIMPLE OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIE BALLS: (yields 20)

  • 1 cup medjool dates, pitted and soaked for at least 2 hours
  • 1 medium ripe banana
  • 2 tablespoons nut butter of choice
  • 3/4 cup almond meal (ground almonds)
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup raisins (or mix-in of choice)

Method:

Process the dates, banana, and nut butter until smooth.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, almond meal, and salt. Add the date puree to the oats and almond meal and mix until combined. If the mixture is too sticky, add more almond meal or oats one tablespoon at a time.

Add your mix-in of choice and stir until it’s well distributed in the mixture. Cover the bowl and let chill in the fridge for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350F and grease two cookie sheets (I used coconut oil, but one could also use Earth Balance or grapeseed oil).

Once chilled, spoon out 1 tablespoon balls on to the cookie sheets with about 1 inch in between each ball. Bake for 15-18 minutes until lightly golden and slightly firm (Because there’s no eggs in these babies, they can be as under cooked as you want).

Let cool for a few minutes before transferring to an airtight container for storage… if any are left over after the feast.

EASY-PEASY! Much love as the days quickly transition from winter to spring (even though we got 30cm of snow overnight which covered the freshly uncovered brown grass…).

Coconut Surprise Muffins

 

 

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I did a thing.

School is exhausting. I dance all day and I come home and I’m dead. My brain won’t function well enough to create so I usually make a super simple meal and sit and watch an episode of House of Cards, read The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, write, or do some housework. Essentially, I’m saying that I unfortunately haven’t had the mental capacity to invent any new and crazy food things. HOWEVER, I’m simple reinventing the golden nuggets I already have (such as the artichoke salad that’s based on the lentil salad!). Also I’ll admit this was created from some stress baking… Moving on… remember the coconut loaf I made a lifetime ago? The one that is heavenly? Well. I turned them into muffins. And I added a surprise in the middle…

 

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For Valentines Day, my parents sent me this AWESOME salted almond dark chocolate bar. It’s so decadent and dynamic (not to mention fairtrade and organic!!). Sometimes things are so good you don’t want to taint them; this was not one of those things. I wanted to give this phenomenal chocolate bar a new lease on life – let it stretch it’s legs and do some good in the world. So I plopped a nice fatty chunk in the middle of coconut muffins. BAM.

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I was inspired by this recipe for coconut muffins, but I (of course) mostly based it off my coconut loaf. I didn’t add dates or maple syrup so the coconut dough part isn’t very sweet, but that’s what makes the chocolate stand out… ya’ know? Whoa, epiphany: coconut coffee muffins – using strong coffee or espresso instead of milk alternative. As for an alternative to the surprise in the middle… good dark chocolate just seems to be the best option! Maybe a couple of berries or nuts or dried fruit? of course you could always add chocolate chips. It’s just that chocolate fulfills all desires. 🙂

SURPRISE: check the very bottom for another surprise.

COCONUT SURPRISE MUFFINS: Makes 12 medium sized muffins (15 small)

  • 2 flax eggs (2 tablespoons ground flax + 6 tablespoons water)
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 small ripe bananas, mashed well
  • 1/2 cup full-fat coconut milk, from a can
  • 1/3 cup milk alternative (I used unsweetened almond-coconut)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cup spelt flour (or all purpose)
  • 1 1/2 cup unsweetened desiccated coconut
  • scant 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 good quality chocolate bar (I seriously mean GOOD quality)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350F and prep a muffin tin with coconut oil, or muffin liners (my muffin tin is oddly small so I also greased some small ramekins).

In a small bowl, mix ground flax and water to make the flax eggs, let sit for 10 mins.

In a large bowl, combine all the wet ingredients, including the thickened flax egg.

In another large bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients, including the coconut. Add the wet to the dry and mix until just combined. The batter will be quite thick.

Fill each hole in the muffin tin half way with batter. You’ll most likely have to use your fingers to squish it into the corners a bit. Place a chunk of chocolate in the middle of each muffin and cover with remaining batter. Squish the batter around the edges to make sure the chocolate is well contained (you don’t want it to pop out and burn!)

Cook for 20-25 minutes until the tops are slightly golden, and spring back when lightly pressed. Let cool for 10 minutes. BUT ONLY TEN MINUTES OTHERWISE THE CHOCOLATE WILL NO LONGER BE ALL MOLTEN OR SURPRISING.

Keep in a sealed container. To reheat, pop them in the oven at 200F for a few minutes (or pop into a microwave for a few seconds).

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HELLO AGAIN! Are you truly still reading after seeing the recipe? Cool! Anyway, to further convince you that I’m not creating much these days but simply reinventing, the above photo is of apple muffins. Remember my fruit explosion muffins?? Yep, I made them into apple muffins using 1 1/2 cup fresh apples and 1/2 cup dried apples. I then topped some with cinnamon, some with walnuts, and some with… you guessed it… raisins.

At this time of year, we’re all exhausted and pissed off and DONE WITH EVERYTHING. But remember that there is baking, and love, and coffee, and dreams, and passions. Being productive is difficult, but small steps still move you forward. If anything, let me inspire you to keep on moving. Even if it’s only a single breath.

Rum Balls

DSC_0193 - CopyWho doesn’t love a rum ball?!

For ukrainian christmas, my pop and I made these tasty vegan treats to serve with coffee. The traditional Ukrainian Christmas meal includes 12 dishes, all without meat or dairy. Essentially, it’s a feast full of mushrooms and beets and hearty grains.

This is the recipe we were inspired by. We added more melted chocolate, and rolled some in good quality cocoa powder (it made for a prettier plate). We also didn’t have a lot of dates so we made up for the difference with raisins (as a raisin fiend, I was very happy with this choice). The final touch, was that instead of the 4 tablespoons of rum, we did 3 tablespoons rum and 2 tablespoons cognac.

The one thing we were sad about was that as the hours passed, the alcohol either evaporated or was seriously absorbed by the fruit. Luckily these puppies didn’t wait too long to be consumed but it did pose an interesting problem.

HOWEVER, if you didn’t add the booze, these would be AWESOME energy bites/snacks. The dates provide the needed sugar for a good work out and the fat in the nuts would keep you satisfied and keep you going longer. Huh. From boozey party time to sweaty dancing time!

RUM BALLS: yields about 50 satisfying balls

  • 3 cups medjool dates (about 36 large dates)
  • 3 tablespoons rum
  • 2 tablespoons cognac
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup raw brazil nuts
  • 1/2 cup raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 3/4 cups dark chocolate, melted
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • cocoa powder to coat

Method:

In a food processor pulse the dates, rum, cognac, vanilla, brazil nuts, walnuts, and cashews until they are chunky but well mixed. Drizzle in the melted chocolate and run the food processor until everything is finely chopped and sticking together.

Spoon the mixture into a large bowl and using your hands (or a wooden spoon), mix in the coconut. Once everything is well combined use your hands to roll out the balls.

If desired, roll the ball in cocoa powder (and tap off the excess).

Store in an air-tight container.

These balls were a huge hit with my fam… and I’m sure they will be with your fam too. (Unless your fam is my fam because my fam are my only readers… hehe)

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Much love and warmth.

Brazil Nut Butter

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This was a very fun activity! We made our OWN nut butter! My family is addicted to brazil nuts. For good reason. They are high in selenium and vitamin E. They basically prevent cancer! Maybe that’s a bit over the top… but for more info, here’s a simple and informative resource. (I’d also like to thank my wonderful sister for letting us use her AMAZE-BALLS food processor)

We made 3 jars worth, one for my sister, one for my parents, and one for me to go home with (where ever “home” is…). Once it was all said and done, 5 cups of brazil nuts yielded approximately 850g of butter. 3 cups would nicely fill a 500g jar. I’m not sure if it’s possible to OVER process the nuts, but I wouldn’t recommend processing the nuts much longer after they’re turned creamy.

So let’s talk nut butters. They are the bomb, right?! Not only are they perfect on toast with jam or honey, a big spoonful on granola is also a good option. There’s also the option of using it in smoothies as thickener (and a protein boost!). Nut butters also work wonders in dressings for salads, or pasta dishes. Nut butters are also a key ingredient in many vegan baking recipes; they work as a great binder in muffins and loaves and granola bars. They’re also wondrous in dips, and savoury spreads. As we know, each nut has a very different and distinct flavour. Although the flavour is milder in butter form, they all vary. While something like peanut butter has a very potent taster, here the brazil nuts offer a very mild nutty flavour that lend themselves well to act as a base for other flavours. Another benefit, is that brazil nuts are the cheapest bulk, raw nut!

I’ve been lucky enough to indulge in peanut butter, almond butter, pumpkin seed butter, hemp seed butter, cashew butter, sunflower seed butter, walnut butter, hazelnut butter, and of course TAHINI (which is sesame seed butter). I’m not sure where I was going with this train of thought… basically any nut or seed can be turned into a butter to enjoy (and inhale by the spoonful).

To conclude, making your own nut butter is not only satisfying, but it’s also a cheaper alternative and it opens the doors to an infinity of possibilities. Imagine making a cashew-pecan nut butter. DROOL. Or walnut-almond. Or pistachio-cashew. Wow… I’m getting really excited over here… One final idea would be to add flavours such as cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, maple, sea salt, or cocoa. WAIT, what about adding herbs like dill or basil (they’d reduce the shelf life, but imagine cashew-dill butter on a cracker under some guacamole).

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RAW BRAZIL NUT BUTTER: fills one 500 gram jar

  • 3 cups raw brazil nuts

Method:

In a food processor, pulse the nuts 20-40 times. Scrape down the sides with a spatula then let the food processor run for about 2 minutes until the desired consistency is achieved. (The nuts will go through several stages where the nuts turn into a powder then into a sticky crumble, then into a weird ball. Then the oils will come out and finally turn into a wonderfully smooth butter.)

*NOTE: Nut butters are best kept refrigerated up to about 4-6 months.

Pops getting really stoked on the nut butter

Pops getting really stoked on the nut butter

Not-So-Classic Guacamole (& Birthday Tacos)

DSC_0829As I mentioned in my last post, it was recently my birthday. So for the celebrations, my roommates and I had tacos and beer. It was awesome. We played Christmas tunes and lit festive candles and had a great evening (I was a party pooper and went to bed at midnight because I’m a tired baby and my body was exhausted). It was a nice little break from all the studying and school things we’ve been doing lately.

There are so many cool recipes out there for more exotic tacos (Like these or these), but I just wanted classic tacos. Actually, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a classic taco. But this is what tacos are in my mind. And it was my birthday so no one could contradict me… right? So, we bought a can of refried beans (Amy’s brand – delicious!), we bought some tortillas, chopped up some onion, tomato, and cilantro, and I made the guacamole. It was soul soothing in an odd way.

Today, I present you with the guacamole. This is from Grazings which is an awesome book full of snacks and dips and finger foods. It may be full of meat recipes but there are some gems (like this one – it also has some really cool meat dishes that have worked well with meat substitutes!) It’s not your average guacamole… actually it’s pretty fancy. But since the flavours used aren’t often paired together, it’s a wonderful surprise (actually your taste buds will go crazy with how good it is). The sweet fruit and the creamy avocado and the spicy pepper basically rock my world. If you’re not having the guacamole with tacos, it’s also fabulous with simple crackers or pitas or other veggies. It’s also good in a sandwich with slices of tofu, tomato, and lettuce… Just trust me.

GUACAMOLE: serves 4

  • 2 large avocados, very ripe
  • 3/4 cups pomegranate seeds
  • 1/2 cup green grapes, chopped
  • 1 small red pear (or your favorite variety of pear)
  • 1/4 cup white onion, chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, finely chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Mash everything together with a fork to make it as smooth or as chunky as you like. Season with a generous amount of salt and a touch of pepper.

Lentil Salad

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LENTILS! What vegan doesn’t love them? I used this recipe from 101cookbooks, but I added almonds, hemp hearts and had the lentils on a bed of spring greens (even though it is not even close to spring time…).

This recipe was fabulous. The french lentils held their shape nicely and the simple dressing of oregano, olive oil, salt and lemon juice was satisfying. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are best. (Don’t get me wrong, making an extravagant dish is rewarding, but so is the humble olive oil). I sliced up half an avocado to have on the side with a squeeze of lemon. The amount of lentils I made lasted me for 3 days and it kept amazingly. By the third day, the oregano was super fragrant and delicious.

One last note, this recipe was EASY. Cooked the lentils, and that was pretty much it. I even did an outline for an essay while the lentils were cooking! If you don’t have time to cook your own lentils, no biggie. Just use two cans of lentils and make a little bit more dressing. If you want to learn how to cook lentils, check the note at the bottom!

LENTIL SALAD: serves 2

  • 1 cup dried lentils (or about 2 cups cooked)*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4 handfuls of spring mix greenery (spinach, kale, chard or lettuce would also work)
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon hemp hearts
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped

Method:

Rinse the lentils and pick out any stones or weird things. In a large pot, cover the lentils with two cups of water and cook uncovered for 20-30 minutes. Add water as needed to make sure the lentils are just barely covered. (Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender and no longer crunchy.*)

Meanwhile, combine the oregano, olive oil, salt and lemon juice in a small bowl. Put two handfuls of greenery on each plate. Once the lentils are cooked, divide them onto each plate on top of the greenery.

Pour half of the dressing over each plate and garnish with almonds, hemp hearts and green onions. Add some extra salt, pepper or lemon juice (or avocado) as needed! Enjoy.

Much love and many easy meals as November… RUSHES INTO DECEMBER. OMG WHERE HAS THE YEAR GONE?

*Note: This is a great resource for how to cook lentils.