Autumnal Pumpkin Spice Muffins – Grain-Free, Dairy-Free

pumpkin spice muffins 1

As Mindy says on The Mindy Project: “Autumn is the time when the leaves go from green to orange, the lattes go from vanilla to pumpkin, and girls toss their razors out the window for there will be no bare legs seen until April.” Oh Mindy, so wise.

Personal grooming aside, as soon as the calendar passes the first of October, adding pumpkin to everything you bake isn’t a half bad idea. Pumpkin is rich in beta-carotene and fibre, and a pumpkin spice muffin is the quintessential autumn baked good (along with ginger molasses cookies, though one could probably argue that ginger molasses is really more winter than autumn. So, pumpkin spice it is).pumpkin spice muffins

These muffins are a direct take from Against All Grain, a wonderful cookbook (and blog!) if you’re looking to find grain-free options that are simple, straightforward, and based on traditional recipes that might be among your favourites, like banana bread or oatmeal raisin cookies (sans oatmeal, of course).

Baking grain-free is not the cheapest excursion, I know. But, if you follow a paleo diet, or find that eating grain-free is something you prefer or need to do to keep you system vibrant and humming, then consider these muffins a worthwhile investment.

These pumpkin spice muffins baked up beautifully, tasted pumpkin spice-y, and were sweet but not overly sweet. And they were very filling. Pour yourself a glass of almond milk and set a few of these on a plate, and then open up those windows for the cool, crisp breeze and let it wash over you. #autumnmakeseverythingbetterpumpkin spice muffins

Autumnal Pumpkin Spice Muffins – grain-free, dairy-free

  • Author: Against All Grain cookbook (I just tinkered with the spices and upped the chocolate chips – modifications included below).
  • Recipe Notes: grain-free, dairy-free
  • Yield: 10 regular-size muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt/Himalayan pink salt (finely ground)
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 pastured/free-range/organic eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup or honey (if honey, should be warmed until liquid)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil (melted)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 cup dark dairy-free chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (optional)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 325F.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  • In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, whisk together pumpkin, eggs, coconut oil, maple syrup/honey, and vanilla.
  • Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until almost combined
  • Stir in chocolate chips and mix until well combined.
  • Scoop into an oiled muffin tin and top with pumpkin seeds, if using.
  • Bake for 22-26 minutes, or until lightly browned, spring back with pressed, and an cake tester inserted into the muffin comes out clean.
  • Store at room temperature for a few days, or pop into the freezer once cool.

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


No-Bake Muesli Energy Bars with Almond Butter

no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds

It’s a gorgeous day here – blue skies, breezy, warm but not hot, and no humidity. I’ve gone for a bike ride, bought strawberries at the farmers market, picked up my books from the library, walked about, and now I’m blogging and eating maca chocolate. In other words, utter perfection. Let all summer days be like this, says I!

I’m almost finished my program at the Canadian School for Natural Nutrition, and admittedly that’s why you haven’t seen many blog posts in recent months. But this beautiful day just sang to me and said, Emily, steal away a few moments and write something on the blog. So here I am.no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds 3

This part of July is where summer really kicks into a higher gear. The farmers’ market is starting to show its colours – spring rhubarb is still available, but the strawberries are there, and soon I’ll see peaches, tomatoes, corn, and zucchinis overflowing on the tables. My own little farm here (I use the term ‘farm’ extremely loosely) has thus far produced 2 blueberries, 4 raspberries, and some purple podded peas. A tiny harvest, but a satisfying one. I can see the raspberries slowly turning from that light pinkish colour to the deeper red, so soon I’ll return to that glorious time when there are raspberries to eat every day when I come home from work.

It’s a nice time to be alive, isn’t it?

no bake granola bars with pumpkin seeds 2

To keep your energy up through the biking, walking, jam-making, hammock-reading, blueberry-picking, running, mowing, weeding, harvesting, swimming, kombucha-drinking, or whatever you have on the go this summer, whip up some of these energy bars (finally, I’m getting to the recipe!). They’re simple, offer protein, fibre, and healthy fat, and you can make them either as energy balls/bites or just press them into the pan and make granola bars. They’re best right from the fridge (structural integrity relies on the coldness of the coconut oil), but if you don’t mind eating them more as a melted crumble, tote them to the beach! Why not?

And of course, they require no oven, so the only breeze and warmth you feel will be that of the summer sun, wafting through your open windows.

Happy July!

No-Bake Muesli Energy Bites with Almond Butter

Recipe Notes: option for gluten-free (use gluten-free oats), option for plant-based (maple syrup instead of honey), dairy-free, egg-free, wheat-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/2 cups muesli (basically oats with a bit of dried fruit added – plain rolled oats are fine too)
  • 1/2 shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 3 tablespoons raw honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or himalayan pink salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • optional: sprinkle of ground cinnamon

Instructions: 

  1. Whirl the muesli, coconut, seeds of choice, chocolate chips, and dried fruit of choice in your food processor until you’ve turned it into very small bits, or almost flour. The dried fruit will remain in larger pieces – this is totally fine. The chocolate might also stay in bigger chunks – also totally fine, and in fact, quite delicious.
  2. Dump this mix into a large bowl.
  3. In a small sauce pan and over very low heat, gently whisk together almond butter, raw honey, coconut oil, pink salt, and vanilla extract until smooth and a bit pourable.
  4. Pour over the dry mix and stir until all dry parts are well coated and mixture holds its shape when squeezed into a ball.
  5. Roll into balls or press into an 8×8 pan and store in an airtight container in the fridge. For best shape, eat right from the fridge or keep cool.

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Dark Chocolate and Coconut Oil – V, GF

chocolate-chip-shortbread with coconut oil

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day! This is a day to celebrate love, in all its forms. Love for your family, your friends, your pets, your lover, your garden, your home, and above all, yourself. Today is a good day to give yourself a little extra care. Maybe an epsom salt bath, maybe a special nourishing dinner, maybe an extra square of dark chocolate.

And you all know how I love my luxurious dark chocolate. The flavour of these cookies comes primarily from the chocolate, so please feel free to excite your palate with the 72%, 75%, 80% dark chocolate you’ve been eyeing for some time now but haven’t purchased for yourself. Now is the time.

chocolate-chip-shortbread with coconut oil

Because this shortbread uses coconut oil as the main fat, the cookies are more crunchy than crumbly. If you used Earth Balance or similar vegan butter, or a grass-fed dairy butter, I imagine you would get a feel more similar to classic shortbread. That being said, coconut oil is a wonderful, energizing, healthy fat, so I can sacrifice a little texture to get some more of that healthy fat in.

If you want a few other colours, feel free to add pistachios, dried cranberries, or maybe even some orange zest. Wow. That combo would be amazing (mental note for a future recipe).

chocolate-chip-shortbread-with coconut oil

If you’re looking for a nice meditation for the day, I used this solar plexus chakra meditation from Cauldrons and Cupcakes. The solar plexus chakra is your third chakra, and it’s where your will, self-esteem, and self-identity reside. It’s a great focus point for when you’re asking questions about what you need/want. And, this meditation particular is awesome for taking 10 minutes to ask yourself: what is best for me right now?

So happy love day! Feel all that positive energy floating around and let it boost you up.

Chocolate Chip Shortbread with Dark Chocolate and Coconut Oil – v, gf

  • Author: Recipe from Unconventional Baker, with full credit given to the recipe found here here. Tweaks (and the addition of chocolate) by Emily Joldersma, R.H.N.
  • Recipe Notes: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened (use refined coconut oil if you prefer cookies without a coconut taste)
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (room temperature)
  • 2 1/4 cups gluten-free flour blend (I used 1 3/4 cups white rice flour and 1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch)
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt/Himalayan pink salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate PLUS 1/2 cup dark chocolate (for melting and dipping).

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Beat softened coconut oil until smooth.
  3. Add maple syrup, vanilla extract, and salt and beat until combined. Scrape down the bowl.
  4. Stir in the gluten-free flour, ground cinnamon, and chopped dark chocolate, and mix until fully combined (the dough should moist, so that when you press it together it holds in a ball shape).
  5. Pour dough out onto counter (sprinkled with gluten-free flour to prevent the dough from sticking) and place some wax paper over the dough.
  6. Roll out the dough until it is your preferred thickness. and cut out shapes with heart cookie cutter (or whatever cutter you have on hand and want to use).
  7. Place cookies on baking sheet and chill briefly in fridge or freezer, for about 5 minutes.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned on bottom of cookie.
  9. While cookies are cooling, prepare chocolate for dipping. In a double boiler, melt chocolate until liquid and smooth. Individually dip cookies and place on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or silicon.
  10. Chill in the fridge until firm. The cookies can be kept in the fridge or at room temperature, though note that the chocolate will be most crisp (because it wasn’t tempered when melting) if stored in the fridge.
  11. Enjoy and share the love!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


Plant-Based Paleo Granola with Figs and Honey

paleo granola with honey and figs

Posting a paleo recipe on what is generally a plant-based blog? That’s right folks! Gird your loins – we’re about to break free from some labels.

Seriously, though. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about Paleo eating and I think there is a lot about Paleo to admire and adopt. Based on my (albeit beginners) understanding, Paleo is all about real, whole foods, minimal/no sugar, no additives or processing, low-starch vegetables, no gluten – or for that matter – no grains or flours, and no dairy.

Putting aside your feelings about the consumption of animal products, which is most certainly part of a Paleo diet, you have to admit this way of eating removes most of the major allergens – dairy, gluten, and soy – and for some people, that could be just the ticket back to optimum health.

paleo-granola-2

Plus, one of the best things to adopt from Paleo, I think, is the emphasis on real foods – foods that come from nature, and are unrefined and unprocessed. These foods are generally highest in beneficial enzymes, nutrients, and antioxidants. Paleo encourages people to think creatively about where a whole food can be used instead of processed food.

Paleo also is really good about promoting the health benefits of nuts and seeds, while also acknowledging that these plant-based foods benefit from some tweaks to make them optimally digestible by the human body. Nuts and seeds contains phytates (so does soy, for that matter), and the concern is that these compounds might bind to essential nutrients and prevent their absorption, effectively rendering the iron/zinc/magnesium/etc. content of your nuts useless to you. Soaking is one of the methods that helps reduce phytate content. Roasting also helps. So does sprouting.

So, this granola is the double whammy – soaking then roasting. It’s a phytate buster. And it smells DIVINE while it’s in the oven.

paleo granola with honey and figs

Now, full disclosure: because the nuts are soaked first, I would say they are more chewy than crunchy. The coconut, on the other hand, is very crunchy. Nevertheless, if soaking isn’t at all your thing, you don’t believe in phytates, or you only like crunchy nuts in your granola, skip the soaking step.

This Paleo granola recipe is from a cookbook I picked up at the library called “The Part-Time Paleo Cookbook.” I’ve made a few changes to the original recipe – I reduced the amount of sweetener and oil, and doubled the coconut, for extra chew. and fibre. I also soaked the nuts, and of course, I couldn’t resist adding some cinnamon.

I invite you to dabble a little in the Paleo world with this granola! And remember: unabashedly pick and choose from any dietary plan, no matter the name, and figure out what works best for you. That’s more important than eating according to a label.

Plant-Based Paleo Granola with Figs & Honey

  • Author: The Part-Time Paleo Cookbook, with tweaks by Eat Well, Live Vibrantly
  • Recipe Notes: grain-free, soy-free, naturally-sweetened, high in protein, fibre, and healthy fats.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 3-4 dried figs, chopped
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey (or if you prefer, maple syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Soak almonds and cashews in filtered water for 4 hours or overnight.
  2. When ready to proceed with ready, preheat oven to 300F.
  3. Thoroughly drain water from nuts, and pulse in a food processor until finely chopped.
  4. In a large bowl, combine nuts with coconut, figs, orange juice, coconut oil, raw honey, vanilla, salt, and cinnamon.
  5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until fragrant and lightly browned.
  6. Remove from oven and stir in dried cranberries.
  7. Let cool and store in an airtight container. Serve over coconut yogurt or with some almond milk!

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


Classic Raisin Molasses Bran Muffins – v, gf

classic molasses raisin bran-muffin vegan gluten free

I love bran muffins. It’s something that I easily forget when I’m busy stuffing chocolate chips into every recipe I make, but a trip to Virginia last weekend (Virginia has nothing to do with bran muffins, per se, except that I was there when I remembered how delicious bran muffins are) reminded me that the moist, plump raisin, molasses-y taste of a well-made bran muffin can’t be beat.

And I should emphasize the well-made part.

I used to work at a bakery that made an awesome raisin bran muffin, and while I can’t quite remember the recipe, I do remember the ingredients and what the batter looked like, so when trying to find a recipe template, I had some land marks to follow.

classic molasses raisin bran-muffin vegan gluten free

There are a few stages to making a bran muffin batter, but don’t be worried. You just need to have a few different bowls going, and then eventually you condense them, bowl by bowl, until you have a lovely muffin batter. Note that this batter keeps really well in the fridge, so if you wanted to double it and bake half later in the week, go for it. In fact, part of me almost thinks the batter is even nicer AFTER sitting in the fridge a bit, but I have no scientific evidence to back that up.

These muffins bake up really nicely with a beautiful round dome top (important for me in a muffin – what’s with those gluten-free muffins that sometimes look like they’ve been frightened and are jumping in different directions out of the muffin tin?). They are extra delicious with some coconut oil or vegan butter.

Bran muffin luxury!

classic molasses raisin bran-muffin vegan gluten free

Moist Raisin Molasses Oat Bran Muffins – v, gf

  • Author: Emily Joldersma R.H.N., inspired by Mom’s Bran Muffins original recipe at The Moveable Feasts blog
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup oat bran (not sure if you can’t find certified gluten-free, but that will be necessary to make these strictly gluten-free)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons ground chia seeds + an additional 4 tablespoons almond milk (your chia egg)
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup fancy molasses (or go hard with blackstrap, though I haven’t tested this – apparently fancy molasses is difficult to find organic and non-GMO)
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup gluten-free flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill; if you like, you could also substitute a nice kamut or spelt flour too)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon xantham gum, optional but recommended
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt/Himalayan pink salt
  • 1 1/4 cups raisins, plumped

Instructions:

  1. Plump raisins by putting them in a small bowl and covering them with warm/boiling water. Easy peezy. Before adding them to the batter, you’ll just drain off the water.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together almond milk and apple cider vinegar. Let stand for 5 minutes, then add the baking soda, chia, additional almond milk, and oat bran.
  4. In a large bowl, mix together the melted coconut oil, molasses, maple syrup, and vanilla.
  5. In a medium bowl, sift together gluten-free flour, baking powder, cinnamon, xantham gum, and salt.
  6. Now we start the combining:
    1. Add the milk/bran mix to the oil/molasses mix and whisk well.
    2. Add the flour mix to the liquid mix and stir until combined.
    3. Add raisins to the batter.
  7. Scoop batter into a prepared muffin tin (either lined with paper cups or lightly greased with oil).
  8. Bake for 18-24 minutes, or until tops spring back when gently pressed.
  9. Let cool and then try a few! They freeze really nicely and will keep on the counter for 2 to 3 days, I would think. But freezing is probably best.

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly

 


Tender Teff Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies

tender teff peanut butter cookies

Wow, that title is a mouthful.

But then again, so are these cookies.

In keeping with the theme of using gluten-free flours in recipes that make them shine, these simple cookies take teff flour and let it sing. And they are certainly easy to make, straightforward, and made with simple clean ingredients.

Tender Teff Peanut Butter cookies require just six ingredients (or eight, if you add the raisins and chocolate chips and I definitely recommend that you do), and, while I haven’t tried them this way, I suspect they would be equally delicious with almond butter. Maybe even cashew butter or sunflower seed butter, if you are feeling particularly bold and wild.

tender teff peanut butter cookies

They’re tender, sweet but not too sweet, and just the right amount of crumbly. Gluten-free cookies are great like that. The whole goal of shortbread is to be free of gluten – it’s what gives shortbread that classic sandy texture. Gluten-free and shortbread are like two peas in a pod. And since lots of gluten-free baking turns out a bit crumbly/sandy anyways, why not say it was what you were aiming for in the first place?

Quite frankly, the first time I made these I ate too many of them. Plus, I put chocolate chips in them AND made those little cross hatching marks on them that make peanut butter cookies so much cuter. What’s a gal to do?

tender teff peanut butter cookiestender teff peanut butter cookies

But out of that snacking experience was born the freezer test. I usually bake things, eat a few from the oven, and freeze all the rest. It’s a system that works for me. These cookies freeze really nicely. Keep that in mind if you want to make a larger batch. The recipe is so simple it can be halved, doubled, etc.

So all hail teff flour! And nut butter. And whatever else you want to add. Hey-oh!

For more glorious teff options, try teff banana chocoate chip muffins.

Tender Teff Peanut Butter Shortbread Cookies

  • Author: Backyard Owl tweaks on this original recipe from Bob’s Red Mill
  • Recipe notes: vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups teff flour
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon himilayan pink salt or sea salt
  • optional: 1/2 cup chocolate chips and/or 1/2 cup raisins

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. In a small saucepan and over low heat, whisk together peanut butter, coconut oil, and maple syrup, just until combined.
  3. Stir in vanilla.
  4. Take off heat and let cool for a minute or two
  5. Stir in teff flour and salt and mix until combined.
  6. Stir in raisins and/or chocolate chips, if using.
  7. Scoop by the spoonful and round into balls, before placing on a baking sheet.
  8. Cross hatch and flatten the cookie dough using a fork – this is where we get that classic peanut butter cookie look.
  9. Bake for 13-15 minutes, depending on size, and let cool.
  10. Enjoy!

© Backyard Owl


Clean, 6 Ingredient, Melt-In-Your-Mouth Mint Smoothies

clean mint smoothiesMy first idea was to call this Clean Eating Peppermint Cocoa Butter Fudge. It’s a very accurate name but it doesn’t really trip off the tongue. Then I remembered at the market there is this chocolatier that sells these wonderful chocolate and mint confections called Mint Smoothies. Now me, I enjoy a good mint smoothie every now and again. They contain both chocolate and mint and once you tell me those two key pieces of information, you can stop talking. My decision is already made.

So I thought, I should call them Mint Smoothies instead. But as I’m terrible with short titles for things and always want to include more descriptive words and then even more descriptive words, the title came out to be long and convoluted anyways.

clean mint smoothies

I just reallllly wanted to make it clear that these mint bites of deliciousness are made with clean, healthy ingredients. No refined sugar, questionable hydrogenated fats, or mint flavouring that doesn’t even really contain mint but may or may not contain ethanol. You can make these chocolates with just a few basic ingredients: coconut oil, cocoa butter, coconut milk, raw honey, cocoa powder, and mint oil.

And, if have any cutesy little muffin tin or silicone cups, now is the time to use them. My sense is that silicone would best, because these mint smoothies are fudgey and they might stick to the lining of your muffin tin – unless you use paper liners, of course. The only problem with paper liners is that after you consume your mint smoothies, you have a whackload of paper liners to throw out and you might not feel good about that.

Point being, mold these chocolates in something that’s easy for you to clean. A big square pan might also do the trick. Then you could actually cut these into squares and make them even MORE like the mint smoothies purchasable from your chocolate store of choice.

Stay minty!

clean mint smoothies

Clean, 6 Ingredient, Melt-in-your-Mouth Mint Smoothies

  • Author: Backyard Owl (but inspired very much by this recipe for Peppermint Fudge from Dr. Josh Axe)
  • Recipe notes: gluten-free, soy-free, naturally-sweetened, nut-free. Make this vegan by substituting maple syrup for the honey.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup cocoa butter (or your closest estimate)
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk or creamy unsweetened non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup raw honey
  • 2 teaspoons organic peppermint flavouring
  • 1/3 cup cocoa or raw cacao powder

Instructions:

  1. Over a double boiler (water simmering in a saucepan with a heat-proof bowl on top), melt the coconut oil, cocoa butter, and raw honey.
  2. Once melted, stir in the coconut or non-dairy milk and whisk well to incorporate.
  3. Once fully mixed, add the peppermint flavouring and the cocoa powder and again, whisk that mix up until it becomes fully blended, smooth, and shiny or glossy looking.
  4. Pour into your prepared muffin tins with liners or silicone pan or whavever you want to use and let cool.
  5. Once cool, transfer your smoothies (still in the pan) to the fridge or freezer. The smoothies are ready after about 1-2 hours.
  6. Store them in the freezer for firmer smoothies, or in the fridge for more fudgy ones.

© Eat Well, Live Vibrantly


Radiant Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric and Ginger Tea

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

“Yellow is the ‘lightest’ of all of the warm-spectrum colors and the color which most resembles the sun. It brings with it hope, and the feeling that everything will be all right. It has an air of radiance, brightness, cheerfulness, and gaiety. Yellow is open-minded and inspiring; it glows and illuminates, and at is most positive vibration it corresponds with knowledge and wisdom.”

~ excerpted from Color Your Life, by Howard & Dorothy Sun

So many of us want to find ways to reduce inflammation in our bodies, seeing as, you know, inflammation is possibly at the root of all disease. That’s a super scary idea, and it makes me want to leap into action. It makes me want to find some kind of superhero to help me fight back. And, the super hero that I have in mind just happens to be a ugly and sort of weird looking, but powerful nevertheless. My super hero wears a yellow cape and goes by the name Turmeric.

Turmeric is one of these superfoods we keep hearing about over and over and for good reason – it’s one powerful little root. And, it’s been proven to be anti-inflammatory, to be a powerful antioxidant (protecting the body from the regular ongoing damage that occurs as a result of breathing, exposure to toxins, aging, just existing, etc), and to have promising potential in treating arthritis and joint pain, preventing some cancers, and possibly even preventing and treating Alzheimers.

And ginger! Ginger is great for digestion and/or indigestion, for nausea, and it’s also known to be anti-inflammatory.

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

And can we talk about the colour of this tea? We don’t often pay attention to colour in our lives but I’m learning that colour has a tremendous influence on us in all sorts of physical, mental, and spiritual ways.

We know we’re supposed to eat the colours of the rainbow; here is a way to boost YELLOW. Colours mean antioxidants, which in turn means protection for your cells, radiant health, and high levels of nutrients. Turmeric is a lovely brilliant yellow when dried and when fresh, it kind of looks like a carrot – bright orange and juicy (under the peel, that is. When it has a peel on, it basically looks like ginger, to which it is related).

And as noted above, the colour yellow links to radiance, glow, illumination, cheerfulness, vitality, and all of the other elements of health that we want and that antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods can help us obtain. Coincidence? I think not.

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

Yellow is also the colour that represents the Solar Plexus Chakra, one of the seven energy centres of the body according to Ayurvedic traditions. In this school of thought, the Solar Plexus Chakra governs personal power, energy, and self-confidence. It’s all about purpose and your inner fire. The colour yellow supports and represents this chakra by encouraging radiance and stability and happiness and confidence.

Fire, pep, energy, radiance, yellow. Sound a lot like turmeric? I think so.

All that’s not bad for one little mug of tea.

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

And if you’re worried about this being too spicy, don’t be. I found it delightfully ‘awakening’ in my mouth but not at all burny or uncomfortable (read a description of turmeric’s taste here if you’re curious for more detail). It’s like a nice spicy chai: peppy and peppery, but not painful.

You can drink this straight as a steeped tea, or incorporate some non-dairy milk as I have done. The ground pepper and coconut oil are to enhance the absorption of the good stuff from the turmeric. I like making my tea into a latte because it mellows things into a more comforting mug and adds a nice smoothness. Plus, if you wanted to go crazy and add some coconut milk, you’re incorporating the healthy fats required to aid with turmeric absorption. Hey now!

Radiant Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric and Ginger Tea

  • Author: Backyard Owl (and everyone else on the internet who has ever made this kind of tea)
  • Recipe Notes: gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free or nut-free (depending on your milk), naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • fresh ginger root
  • fresh turmeric root
  • ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • (optional) stevia for sweetening

Instructions:

  1. Measure out 1 cup of filtered water and place in a saucepan on low heat.
  2. Grate about 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon of fresh turmeric and add to your water.
  3. Simmer for about 10 minutes (you should notice the water becoming, well, orange coloured).
  4. Pour the tea into your mug and strain out the spice pulp.
  5. Add a few shakes of ground black pepper and the coconut oil.
  6. Sir in 1/4 cup of your favourite non-dairy milk. If required, sweeten with stevia.
  7. Sip and enjoy!

Serves 1.

NOTE: Turmeric will stain anything it touches yellow. Just be warned. Your fingers, your counter, the knife you use to peel it, and so on. So I recommend paying attention while preparing this tea so that you don’t discover you’ve accidentally dyed your face, your clothes, or something else you would prefer NOT to become yellow.

© Backyard Owl


Raw Macaroon Brownies with Dark Chocolate Ganache

raw macaroon brownies with dark chocolate ganache It’s Valentine’s Day weekend! Or wait, is it wrong to refer to an entire weekend by the holiday that only takes up one of its days? Probably. But, bear with me. Commercial though it may now be, Valentine’s Day is also an opportunity to celebrate the people that you love. At my office, we did a “Secret Cupid” card exchange, so that everyone got a special surprise card. I also made heart-shaped sugar cookies.

Today, you could do something special for a loved one: a massage, a friendly note, a bar of chocolate, a favour or some act of service. If you have pets, perhaps an extra special walk, or, a little bit of additional quality time. Or, a heart shaped toy stuffed with catnip (I swear to you, my cat just managed to type that with his paws. He is clever like that).

raw macaroon brownies with dark chocolate ganache Or you could scrap all of that and just make raw brownies. I mean, yes, you could also make regular brownies. But aren’t raw brownies so much more interesting? So much healtihier? So much more du jour? Yes, of course they are. They are another example of the fun and actually kind of endless number of things you can make by grinding up nuts and dates and then squishing them into a pan. So fiendishly clever!

These brownies are a combination of pecans, almonds, dates, cocoa powder, shredded coconut, coconut oil (are you sensing a theme?), a little plant-based protein powder, and sea salt. Simple! And, they contain magnesium, and protein, and fibre, and medium chain triglycerides, and the whole healthy schmozzle (at least when compared to traditional brownies, which contain refined sugar, and bleached flour, and a bunch of other ack-worthy ingredients). The brownie base is then covered with a luxurious chocolate ganache, made with melted dark chocolate and rich coconut milk. It’s kind of my new favourite thing.

So, Happy Valentine’s Day to you all! I hope you feel loving and well-loved. Today is a wonderful day to celebrate love in all of its forms.

raw macaroon brownies with dark chocolate ganache

Raw Macaroon Brownies with Dark Chocolate Ganache

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, soy-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup ground almonds (or raw almond flour)
  • 1 cup medjool dates (about 10-12 large dates)
  • 1/3 cup cacao powder or unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 2 tablespoons of your favourite plant-based protein powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, soft or melted
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Optional: 2 teaspoons maca powder
GANACHE FROSTING
  • 1/2 cup full-fat organic coconut milk (from the can)
  • 2/3 cup (or so) dairy-free dark chocolate, chopped (it isn’t necessary that this be exact)

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, grind pecans into a fine meal (and almonds, if grinding whole almonds – otherwise, stir in ground almonds in step 3).
  2. Add dates, and process until the dates are small pieces and the whole mix looks moist.
  3. Scrape into a large mixing bowl and add in ground almonds (if not already done in step 1).
  4. Stir in cocoa powder, sea salt, maca powder (if using), protein powder, and shredded coconut.
  5. Pour in coconut oil and mix well. This is really best done with your hands – squishing the dough until it comes together in a moist ball.
  6. Press the dough into your preferred brownie pan or tray.
  7. FOR THE ICING: over a double boiler (heat-proof bowl sitting atop a saucepan with boiling water), melt chocolate. When fully melted, whisk in coconut milk and keep whisking until the resulting mix is smooth, glossy, and totally chocolatey
  8. Pour/smooth on your brownie base and store in the fridge until firm and ready to slice.

Enjoy!

© Backyard Owl 2016


Refresh and Relax Peppermint Body Butter

peppermint body butter

Peppermint:

“An extremely good kind of mint which takes the depressing and uber-confusing world you are living in, and transforms it into happy swirls of red and white goodness. You can’t be sad eating one unless you choke.” – Urban Dictionary

Wise words indeed.

Friends, the festive season has come and gone, but it’s still winter, and that means there is still time for apple cider, fireplaces, steaming cups of cocoa, snow, and, of course,  peppermint. Peppermint smells like winter and it smells like happiness. That’s all the convincing I need to work it into my life.

And what better way to enjoy peppermint than with a self-care gift that’s good for the body AND good for the senses: peppermint body butter! Peppermint essential oil is wonderfully stimulating – it’s crisp, familiar, sharpens the mind, brings clarity, and yet it’s also kind of soothing and calming. When you are getting a deep whiff of peppermint, there isn’t room for anything else except you and the delicious refreshing smell. Like the Urban Dictionary says – peppermint makes you happy. And there’s no arguing with the Urban Dictionary (well, sometimes there is).

peppermint body body

And there’s also no arguing with quality. This body butter is made with simple, straightforward ingredients that generally one might have at home (okay, you might have to order/purchase an item or two, but outside of that, the ingredients are straightforward from a healthy/quality perspective). Something we can all commit to, as a powerful act of self-love for 2016, is to choose beauty products that support our bodies and contribute to our health and well-being. Most commercial products contain questionable ingredients, are intended to last on the shelf for months and months, and are a source of toxins for your body (which is ordinarily trying to get all of the toxins OUT). If you can, supply your body with beauty care products that don’t compromise your overall health and vitality.

peppermint body body 3

So get yourself some luxurious quality fats and craft up some body butter for your hardworking feet, hands, and other parts – you’ll make them happy. Add peppermint essential oil and you’ll make yourself happy, too.

Refresh and Relax Peppermint Body Butter

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup cocoa butter
  • 1/2 cup shea butter (or, more cocoa butter)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup liquid oil (like grape seed, jojoba, sunflower, etc).
  • 20-30 drops peppermint essential oil

*organic is best for all of these ingredients; even better, organic and fair-trade (particularly for the cocoa butter and shea butter).

Instructions:

  1. Create a double boiler system. By this, I mean: heat water to boiling in a pot or saucepan, and then put another heat-proof bowl over top – the ingredients melt in the heat proof bowl from the heat of the boiling water, but without coming into contact WITH the water.
  2. Next, into the heat proof bowl add your cocoa butter, shea butter, and coconut oil and stir occasionally until all are melted and mixed together.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in the liquid oil.
  4. Put the whole mix in the fridge and set your timer for 30 minute intervals – you want it to firm up but not become a rock. The 30 minute marker allows you to gauge how far along it is. If it’s really cold, I suppose you could put it outside.
  5. Once firm, remove from fridge and grab your hand mixer/whatever mixer and start to whip it. Whip it good. Add your peppermint essential oil as you go. If you want to really fire up your nose, add more peppermint oil.
  6. Whip until you’ve reached your desired state of whippiness, then scoop into jars and voila! Body butter a la peppermint. Ooh la la.

© Backyard Owl 2016