Welcome to my crazy world of real food cooking ...

Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants. -- Michael Pollan

I wish I could take credit for that because I think it sums up how we should eat. Simply -- eat stuff that really is food, instead of stuff that is food like substance. The supermarket is almost entirely food-like-substances, and, my friends, you should probably never ever eat them.

Fortunately, there is a world of deliciousness out there, and it can all be had in a way that not only doesn't harm your health, but in a way that benefits you hugely.

I think it's important to eat stuff that satisfies you, that keeps your blood sugar stable, and that gives you stuff your body really needs to run optimally.

But baby, it's gotta taste good.

I really like getting experimental in the kitchen. I love cooking, I love layering flavours, and I love coming up with really super yummy food. I have very strong opinions about what constitutes food, and there are a lot of things I won't touch in the kitchen. Bottom line? Pretty much everything I make is ridiculously good for you even if it tastes decadent. Although there are occasional big fat cheats ... but even those stick to real food, my friends.

For food that is usual gluten free, usually free of cane sugar, usually super low on the glycemic index, full of protein, fiber, flavour, and excellent energy, join me and Alice down the rabbit hole.

Every recipe on this blog is my own original effort and idea, so please pass 'em on, giving credit where credit is due.

Many thanks, and come back often. I'm really glad you are here!


Friday, 25 February 2011

Knock your socks off Lemon Cakes -- Nut free, Dairy free, Cane Sugar free

I needed something that had no nuts in it, because sometimes people walk into my nut-filled world of cooking who are nut intolerant, sensitive, or allergic. I decided to harness the power of lemon for these little cakes. The tricky thing about lemon is to manage to layer the flavours, so that the bright notes of lemony and sweet balance each other, and are also supported by an infrastructure of flavours so that the over all taste isn't just one note, but is a fully rounded flavour that harmonizes with and celebrates the lemon, showing it off, bringing out the best in it, and making it fully structured enough to stand fully on its own. That is how my brain works when it comes to cooking. You probably wish I hadn't just given you that little insight.

Anyway, here is my recipe for intensely lemony Lemon Cakes.


3/4 cups freshly squeeze organic lemon juice
1 1/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/2 cup coconut nectar
2 organic eggs, xl
2 tbsp xylitol (optional)

1/2 tsp ground vanilla
1/2 tsp ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 1/2 cup kamut pastry flour

2 tbsp zest of organic lemons

extra zest and coconut sugar for sprinkling on top


preheat the oven to 345

1. zest your lemons
2. squeeze enough lemons to get approx 3/4 cup lemon juice
3. add enough hot water to the lemon juice to get 2 cups of liquid
4. add the coconut oil and let it melt
5. add the coconut nectar, coconut sugar, and xylitol
6. add the cinnamon, ginger, vanilla, and sea salt
7. add the baking soda
8. add the kamut flour
9. pour the batter into prepared muffin cups
10. top the cakes with a sprinkling of lemon zest and coconut sugar
11. bake at 345 for 30 minutes

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Herb, Poppy Seed, and Sesame Seed Crackers -- gluten free, sugar free, dairy free savoury snack

Spicy crackers, seaweed cracker, zesty, salty, savoury snacks. I decided it was time to go a little plain. Sometimes people just want something nibbly that isn't zesty, intense, or like a party in their mouth. So, here is a laid-back option: the herbed poppy seed and sesame seed cracker. Not too herbal, not too seedy. Just a nice, light, crisp bite. Just right with a little cheese, or perhaps a dollop of hummus.


1/4 cup coconut butter
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp boiling water
1 organic egg (xl)

1/4 cup flax meal
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp poppy seeds
1 tbsp oregano
black pepper
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups almond meal


preheat oven to 300

1. melt the coconut butter with the boiling water
2. mix in the vinegar
3. add the egg once it is not too hot
4. add the flax meal
5. add the sea salt, poppy seeds, sesame seeds, oregano, and black pepper
6. stir in the baking soda
7. finally, add the almond meal
8. roll out the dough in 2 parts between 2 pieces of parchment (or using a silicone mat as your base layer)
9. score the flattened dough into squares, and transfer the whole thing to a baking sheet
10. bake at 345 for 25 minutes (swapping the 2 trays halfway through)
11. turn off the oven, and allow the crackers to remain in the cooling oven for at least 30 minutes
12. once fully cooled, store the crackers in an airtight container

Gluten Free Pizza -- high protein, grain free, gluten free, and delicious

When I made those herbed, poppy seed biscuits with almond flour and coconut flour a while back, I had an inkling the dough would make a nice pizza crust. So, last night we decided to give it a try. 

While the dough doesn't have the same yeasty taste as a traditional pizza dough, it is redolent with oregano, and tasty in its own right. 

Additionally, it's amazingly good for you, has tremendous blood sugar stabilizing abilities, and will fill you up nicely. My two boys gave it two thumbs up.


2 tbsp coconut oil
2 eggs
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 - 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp oregano (or other herbs you like would be fine)
black pepper 

1/4 cup ground flax seeds
1/4 cup ground chia seeds

1 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp coconut flour


preheat the oven to 345

1. melt the coconut oil in warmed water
2. add the vinegar, and making sure it's not hot anymore, add the egg and combine well
3. add the sea salt, pepper, and herb of your choice
4. add the flax and chia
5. add the almond flour and baking soda
6. add the coconut flour, and mix well
7. mix until the ingredients have formed a smooth dough
8. roll the dough into whatever size pizzas you want, and top with your favourite ingredients
9. bake at 345. The time will vary depending on the size and thickness you choose

We put tomato sauce and cheese on ours, and they baked in about 20 minutes. 25 might have been better ;).


Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Yellow Cookies -- Saffron and Lemon -- Gluten free, sugar free, dairy free

When I asked my son what kind of cookies we should make, he responded: "Yellow". My son really likes the colour yellow. Hot pick is also a big winner with him. I'm just glad he didn't ask for pink cookies, because I don't have anything that would have worked for pink.

I decided to make saffron and lemon cookies, using only coconut flour. I'm trying to extricate myself from my exclusive reliance on nut flours, because I do have some friends who are nut sensitive, intolerant, or allergic, and I'd like to have a couple of recipes in my arsenal that would work when they come to call.

These cookies were a big hit with my son, and with his 3 year old friend. I thought they needed more lemon juice personally, and a little more saffron.


1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup coconut nectar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water (heated to boiling)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp lemon juice
2 organic eggs

1/4 to 1/2 tsp saffron

1/4 cup finely ground chia seeds
3/8 to 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup coconut flour

optionally, add 2 tsp of lemon zest before the coconut flour


preheat the oven to 345

1. pour hot water over the coconut oil in a boil
2. add the saffron threads, and allow to soak for 10 minutes
3. add the lemon juice and coconut nectar, and (optionally) puree with a stick blender to make the saffron bits smaller
4. add the eggs when sufficiently cool
5. mix in the chia meal and sea salt
6. stir in the baking soda (and then the lemon zest)
7. lastly, add the coconut flour
8. roll the dough into balls, and flatten them onto a lined baking sheet
9. bake at 345 degrees for 20 or 25 minutes
10. store in the fridge in an airtight container, once cool
11. makes on baking sheet full of cookies

Seaweed Crackers -- a gluten free, dairy free, savoury treat

I do not have a raging sweet tooth most of the time, and when I want a nibble, I often want something in the savoury end of the spectrum. You may recall my obsession with sea weed. I just got 3 different kinds of seaweed in 'granulated' form, which really just mean little pieces. The smell is so divine that I was moved to immediately make some sea weed crackers. I used 'sea lettuce' this time, but I honestly think it would work well with whatever sea weed you have in granulated form.  My very nearly almost three-years-old son is crazy about them, and ate almost the entire batch just as soon as they were baked. My mother and brother dropped by, and polished off the rest. I like 'em too. My poor husband tried one and made his 'icky' face. Poor husband. I bet you're beginning to sense a theme ...

Hmm. I bet these would be fabulous with a couple of table spoons of roasted sesame seeds thrown in for fun ... Next time!


1/4 cup coconut butter
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp water
1 organic egg (xl)

1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
1/4 cup flax meal
1/4 cup granulated sea weed (sea lettuce or another kind such as dulse or kelp -- or a mixture)
1/4 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 cups almond flour


preheat the oven to 300

1. melt the coconut butter by adding boiling water to it
2. stir in the apple cider vinegar
3. mix in the egg, making sure it's not too hot before hand
4. mix in the sea salt and flax meal
5. add the sea weed
6. add the baking soda
7. stir in the almond flour -- the last 1/2 cup may take a little elbow grease, but you can use your hands if you need to.
8. roll the dough out thin between 2 sheets of parchment paper into a large rectangle (best if you do it in 2 parts) (the bottom layer that you roll on can be a silicone baking mat)
9. transfer the parchment with the dough on it onto a baking sheet
9. score the rectangle into small, cracker-sized squares using a butter knife or other dull instrument
10. bake at 300 for 25 minutes, then turn off the oven and let the crackers stay in for another 30 minutes as the oven cools.  (switch the 2 pans positions halfway through the 25 minutes)
11. when completely cool, put the crackers into an air tight container


Adzuki Bean and Vegetable Stew -- The New Crockpot Adventures

The amazing thing about a crackpot -- er, crockpot -- is that if you have a few minutes to load it up, it will do all the work for you, regardless of how busy your schedule is. Now, hitherto, I have often pre-sauteed the more potent elements such as onion and garlic. This time however, not only was time quite pressing, but I also thought it was time to get over my fear, and allow the crockpot to do its thing. A benign and benevolent key makeup artist had wrapped me early from work one day, and I decided it was the perfect opportunity to get the crockpot going so there would be dinner for the next couple of nights when I would certainly be home very late in the evening.

I'd been keen to try out adzuki beans in the crockpot, because although they are larger than a lentil and are not a split pea, they are 'soaking optional'. I also thought it would be fun to throw in some barley -- however for those who are gluten sensitive or intolerant, please substitute your favourite short, whole grain rice for the barley.

My son and I both like this hearty concoction very much. My husband, who seems to have the tongue of a super-taster, is not so keen. It does have a bit of a stronger flavour. It's probably the cauliflower that is at fault. I personally can't taste the cauliflower, and certainly can't rule out the adzuki's, the barley, or the wild rice for the 'earthiness' of the flavour, Colin often turns up his nose at dishes that contain cauliflower even if  he doesn't know it's there. Sigh.

How cute are adzukis? Seriously. They are adorable! If you are not a fan of cauliflower, you can definitely substitute something sweeter. Perhaps a combination of chopped tomato and sweet potato? Mushrooms and eggplant? Beets? Kolrabi? Whatever tickles your fancy.


2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
2 tbsp finely minced garlic
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
125 g cauliflower, divided into florets (frozen organic works well) -- about 1 cup

1 1/2 tsp sea salt

3/4 cup adzuki beans
1/4 cup barley (or short, whole grain rice for gluten free option)
2 tbsp wild rice
2 tbsp small brown lentils

1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsp marjoram
1 tsp chili powder
black pepper

3 -3 1/2 cups water

125 g peas (frozen organic works well) -- about 3/4 or 1 cup

75 g spinach, chopped (frozen and defrosted works well)


turn on the crockpot to medium

layer the ingredients into your crockpot as follows:
1. coconut oil, garlic, and onion + 1/2 tsp sea salt sprinkled on top
2. cauliflower + 1/2 tsp sea salt sprinkled on top
3. carrots and celery + 1/2 tsp sea salt sprinkled on top
4. adzuki beans, barley, wild rice, and lentils, + 1 1/2 tsp sea salt, marjoram, chili powder, and black pepper
5. pour on 3 or 3 1/2 cups of water, careful not to disturb your layers
6. pour your peas on top of the water
7. cook for 6 hours on medium (I just turned mine on and went to bed. It turned itself off after cooking).
8. when finished cooking, stir in the chopped spinach.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Rainbow Chard and Zucchini Saute

We decided to try a 2-box trial from an organic produce delivery company. We received our second box and found in it as well there was a bunch of rainbow chard. So pretty. Sadly, I'm the only person in my house who will eat it. 

I decided to do a quick saute with zucchini and the chard, and it was quite pretty.


1 bunch rainbow chard, washed and cut width-wise into thin strips and ribbons
2 small zucchinis, quartered and sliced
3 organic unsulphured apricots, finely chopped
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp ginger finely minced
sea salt
black pepper
lime juice
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp hemp seeds, shelled


1. saute the zucchini in the coconut oil, and add the ginger, almond butter, a little sea salt, blackpepper, and a bit of lime juice.
2. add the chard, and toss well, cooking until hot through but not soggy. Be careful not to over cook the chard or it will be soggy and lose its colour.
3. take off the heat and toss with the hemp seeds

Vegetable Porridge -- Crockpot Adventures #1

That should read either 'Crackpot Adventures', or 'Crockpot Misadventures'.

The good news is that it tasted good, was good for you, and my almost-three-year-old son devoured it with great enjoyment. I devoured it with an addition of flax meal, and copious amounts of chipotle tabasco. I thought it was great, then again I love chipotle tabasco.

The good thing about this crockpot dish was that it was made in the crockpot which means easy, low energy consumption, and quick clean up. It was also full of healthy things like lentils, quinoa, and veggies.

The unfortunate thing about this dish is that either I cooked it too long or too hot in the crockpot, or I just chose an unfortunate combination of ingredients. The handful of split peas and the sweet potato both turned into 'porridge', and everything ended up sticking together, without enough distinct texture. Hence the title, Vegetable Porridge. I had intended, gentle reader, to make a vegetable stew.

Yes, this is a the very best a misadventure, and at the worst a failure. But we learn from our errors and we move on. Because the taste was good, I shall include the ingredients, in case you have children who adore porridge the way my son does. He is pretty crazy about it for breakfast, and often requests it for lunch and dinner. We make his breakfast concoction using spelt flakes, coconut oil, sea salt, cinnamon, almond butter, apple sauce, flax meal, chia seeds, and water. He really likes it.

If you choose to make this crockpot concoction, I would recommend cooking it either on a low heat, or for a short time. I did this on high for about 3 hours. And as it turned out, that was too long for lentils and quinoa with sweet potato and split pea.


2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp minced garlic
1/2 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup diced celery

1 cup diced sweet potato
1/2  broccoli stems, diced

3/4 cup dupuy lentils (French lentils)
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 split peas (optional)
2 tbsp wild rice

3 cups water
1/2 tbsp marjoram
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp sunshine harvest bouillion powder
black pepper and sea salt to taste
2 tbsp raisins
1/2 tsp cinamon
dash nutmeg

1/2 cup of frozen peas, defrosted
1/2 bunch of fresh spinach, chopped (about 100 g)


1. saute the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery in the coconut oil until the onion and garlic are well cooked
2. in the meanwhile, layer in the crockpot the dried lentils and grains, the sweet potato and broccoli, and finally the seasonings, and the water. You can add the sauteed veggies when they are ready.
3. cook on medium for up to 4 hours. Or on high for between 1 and 2 hours.
4. when done, turn off the heat, and stir in the peas and the spinach.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Gluten Free Brownies Again -- Agave Free this time.

The recipe I posted last week for gluten free brownies, while delicious and gluten free, contains some agave. Now, it does only contain a couple of table spoons, but some people are very sensitive to many sweeteners, including agave. For this reason, I've come up with a gluten-free brownie recipe that uses a little coconut nectar, a little coconut sugar, and some dates for sweetness. The texture of these brownies is soft and fluffy and fudgey all at the same time, and they taste rich and chocolatey. For me personally, although I can't eat much agave before I feel it, the quantity in the baked goods I make doesn't usually have any ill-effects on me. However, if you are someone who tends to hypo or hyper glycemia, or if you are just quite sensitive to fructose, this second version might sit better with you.

I've changed the recipe in a few ways, because the flavour would necessarily be different with a different sweetener. I've increased the pecan meal, because pecans and dates do something magical when they are used together in a recipe that, while not quite alchemy, is more than the sum of its parts.

If agave is your sweetener of choice, then the first version is the one for you. But because different folks have different ingredients in their cupboards, and different likes, I'm leaving both recipes in. Enjoy!


14 pitted honey dates (1/2 cup packed)
6 pitted prunes (1/4 cup packed)
1 cup hot water

2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
2 tbsp coconut nectar
2 tbsp coconut sugar

2 xl organic eggs
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ceylon cinnamon
1 tsp ground vanilla bean, or 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp finely ground chia seeds

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp raw cacao powder

1/2 cup pecan meal
1/4 cup almond meal
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup coconut flour


preheat the oven to 345

1. pour the hot water over the prunes and dates in your mixing bowl and soak for 10 minutes
2. add the coconut oil, coconut nectar, and coconut sugar
3. puree with a stick blender until smooth
4. when cool enough, add the eggs and vinegar, and puree again
5. stir in the sea salt, cinnamon, and vanilla
6. add the chia seeds, and blend with the stick blender
7. mix in the raw cacao
8. mix in the pecan meal and almond meal
9. mix in the baking soda
10. mix in the coconut flour last
11. scoop the batter into 12 prepared muffin cups
12. sprinkle the tops with a little coconut sugar (optional)
13. bake at 345 for 30 minutes in the upper half of the oven
14. cool in the cups, and then remove to a cooling rack
15. store in an airtight container

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Chickpea 'Polenta' -- more chickpea variations

Chickpea Polenta!

In addition to the hummus we've been enjoying, it suddenly occurred to me that pureed chickpeas could have another application. A sort of baked chickpea polenta if you will.

I imagined the flavour of chickpeas goosed with plenty of cumin and well cooked tomato, onion, and garlic. When I make polenta with corn meal, I often start with well sauteed garlic, onion, and tomato, and add some herbs and seasonings. For some reason, when I think chickpeas, I want to use cumin. So I did. The result is very polenta like, with the benefit of being full of chickpeas.

We ate it with chinese broccoli sauteed in a little coconut oil, with a touch of sea salt, cumin, chili powder, and honey -- Gung Hey Fat Choi, y'all. May your rabbits be lucky and your year be sweet.


4 cups cooked chickpeas (or canned)
2 cups of sauteed garlic, onion, and tomato
1/2 cup flax meal
2 tbsp finely ground chia seed

1 1/2 tsp sea salt
black pepper to taste
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

2 xl organic eggs


preheat the oven to 345

1. puree the chickpeas in a food processor
2. mix in the flax meal, chia seed, sea salt, black pepper, cumin, chili powder, and apple cider vinegar
3. stir in the sauteed garlic, onion, and tomato
4. when the seasonings have been adjusted to taste, you can add the egg and mix thoroughly
5. pour the contents into a 2 quart pan (small rectangular)
6. bake in a preheated oven for 60 minutes at 345 degrees. If you are feeling fancy, you could decorate the top with very thin slices of tomato, or grape tomato quarters. I wasn't feeling fancy. ;)
7. allow to set for a while before attempting to cut and serve. This is important. I make this mistake with polenta all the time, and try to cut it too soon, and it just mushes and falls apart. You are better off making it ahead of time, cutting it into pieces, then brushing the pieces with a little oil and warming them back up in the oven to serve.

This makes a simple meal with sauteed greens, or salad greens, whatever strikes your fancy.

Before going into the oven ...
After cooking -- golden brown, and ready to eat


Sunday, 6 February 2011

Blueberry Vanilla Bean Ice Cream -- Sugar Free, Gluten Free, and sinfully decadent.

Saturn hard at work again ...
We have a local source of fresh cream and milk directly from a farmer, so we've been making ice cream with the exceptional products we get from him.

I do believe that ice cream can be part of a healthy diet, especially if the ingredients are all as clean as possible, and the sweetener used is as low on the glycemic index as possible. And of course, eaten in moderation.

I have said before that fat is not a four letter word as it were, and have believed for a number of years that our low fat follies of the 80's did far more harm than good. However, as I am personally sensitive to sugar, I find it prudent to be careful of what kind of sweetener I choose. In general, the less sweetener for me the better. By making ice cream with cream and whole milk, but reducing the sweetener, I believe it is a healthier, more body friendly treat than choosing a reduced fat ice cream, which generally will have significant additional sugar and/or high glucose fructose corn syrup to make up for the lack, as well as texturizers and thickeners that will only give your treat a bad taste that all the vanilla in the world can't quite mask ...

I have opted to use a clear agave in this ice cream, which has a couple of advantages. One, it has never been heated to boiling, thus the nutrients are more intact than in many cooked sweeteners. Additionally, it is quite exceptionally sweet, so much less is needed to achieve as much sweetness as your heart could desire. Finally, it doesn't have a strong aftertaste. While I like the coconut nectar a lot, it has a strong 'fruitiness' that can dominate the aftertaste of something as delicately flavoured as ice cream.

We keep our freezer stocked with a small supply of organic wild blueberries, because we like to eat them with breakfast, so I pirated our supply to make this blueberry vanilla bean ice cream. Blueberries and cream at their very best.

Seriously. Yummy.


1 cup cream
1 cup whole milk
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup clear agave
1/2 tbsp ground vanilla bean
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
(if the blueberries are particularly tart, you can add up to 2 tbsp of xylitol in addition to the agave)

1/2  cups frozen blueberries (or 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp)


1. combine the cream, milk, agave, vanilla, and sea salt
2. add the frozen blueberries and puree with an immersion blender (or in a jar blender)
3. freeze the mixture in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturers directions.

makes 1 quart

Chocolate Chip Cookies -- a gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan twist on a traditional favourite

Continuing in my vein of gluten-free treats, I decided to make chocolate chip cookies this morning after Elaine requested a gluten-free, sugar-free chocolate chip recipe. Of course, the chips are not sugar free, but let's not quibble over good quality chocolate, folks. We used the evil Callebaut morsels, however you can use whatever chocolate chips please you most.

The ground chia seed will help moderate the effects of the sugar anyway, as will the mix of almond flour and coconut flour. The rest of the sweetener is coconut nectar, and coconut sugar, which fortunately tend not to affect blood sugar, even in those who are sensitive.

Importantly, they taste good!

So, Elaine, this one's for you.


1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup coconut nectar
1/4 cup hot water

1 tsp egg replacer + 2 tbsp water, combined (or 1 organic egg, preferably extra large)

1 1/2 tsp ground vanilla bean (or 1 tbsp vanilla extract)
2 tsp cinnamon (I like ceylon cinnamon)
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup finely ground chia seeds

1 cup almond flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup coconut flour

1/4 cup chocolate morsels, chips, or what have you

a plate of coconut sugar for rolling the balls in


preheat the oven to 345

1. combine the coconut oil, coconut nectar, and hot water
2. mix in the egg replacer/water mixture or egg
3. add in the vanilla, cinnamon, sea salt, and finely ground chia seed
4. add the baking soda and almond flour
5. stir in the coconut flour last before the chocolate, and combine very well to make a dough
6. mix in the chocolate chips
7. roll the dough into balls, roll the balls in a dish of coconut sugar, and flatten the balls onto a lined baking sheet
8. bake the cookies at 345 for 20 minutes
9. store them in an airtight container when fully cool (and hide them from the cookie monster -- I shall name no names)

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Gluten-Free Brownies -- A fudgey, satisfying, dairy-free, sugar-free treat

The thing about brownies is that they are the sort of treat that some people love beyond reason. There have probably been fist-fights -- possibly even duels -- over the virtues of fudgey brownies vs cakey brownies, with nuts or without, frosted or unfrosted ... Needless to say, people are so passionate about their brownies, that it's not the sort of treat you're allowed to monkey with. People are not going to accept a pale imitation of a brownie. If you are going to remake it into a virtuous version of its former self, it had darn well better not taste like it.

In my interest in offering more gluten-free options when it comes to baked goods, I thought a gluten-free brownie was in order. I thought the humble chia seed would provide some of what we need in texture, as well as in blood-sugar stability. The high protein flours include almond, pecan, and coconut, and the sweeteners will not send your blood sugar through the roof, make your pancreas cry, or lead to any hypo-glycemic comas. I try to make my baked goods as high in fiber and protein as possible because that will further counteract the effects of sweeteners on the body. 

That this version tastes wonderful, and feels like a fudgey, rich, decadent brownie in your mouth is essential. That it's actually good for you, and can be seen not as an empty calorie indulgence but as a wonderfully nutritious, whole foods indulgence is my reason for being. 

The North American food supply has decreased in nutrients so drastically that we truly don't have room for empty calories in our diet. (I have long believed this, and am now reading Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food -- electrifying.) Fortunately, that doesn't mean we can't have decadent treats along with our leafy greens and humble chickpeas. It just means we need to make careful choices when it comes to ingredients. Like these brownies.

I'm not a big chocolate eater, but I seem to have whetted my taste for cacao over the past month or so, and honestly these taste so good. So. Good.


12 pitted honey dates
6 pitted prunes
3/4 cup hot water
2 tbsp clear agave
1 tbsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil

1 egg xl organic egg
2 tbsp chia seeds, finely ground
1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

3/4 tsp ground vanilla (or 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract)
1/2 tsp ceylon cinnamon
1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp raw cacao powder

1/4 cup coconut flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup pecan meal
1/2 cup almond flour


preheat the oven to 345

1. pour the hot water over prunes and dates in a bowl, and let sit for about 10 minutes to soften
2. add the agave, coconut sugar, and coconut oil and puree everything with a stick blender
3. add in the apple cider vinegar and the ground chia seeds and combine
4. add in the vanilla, cinnamon, and sea salt, and mix well
5. add in the raw cacao and mix well
6. add in the coconut flour, and mix well
7. add the baking soda and mix well
8. add the pecan meal
9. add the almond flour, and stir well
10. scoop the mixture into 12 prepared muffin cups
11. sprinkle the tops with a little coconut sugar (optional)
12. bake at 345 for 30 minutes
13. allow to sit in the muffin cups to cool before removing

Hummus -- The Chickpea Variations

When life hands you lemons, make hummus. I'm afraid I took that adage seriously, and made a rather lemony hummus. See, I hate raw garlic. Loathe it. I'm not judging all you raw garlic lovers out there, and I'm not trying to convert you to my anti-raw garlic ways. I know there are many supposed and even demonstrated health benefits from raw garlic, however I would postulate that when it comes to raw onion and raw garlic, I seem to have a bit of a food sensitivity. So, you will find no raw garlic and no raw onion in my recipes. Now, I suppose I could have oven roasted some garlic whilst roasting my sesame seeds. However, I didn't.

What I did instead was use some less traditional flavour enhancers.  Your typical hummus calls for garlic, tahini, lemon, parsley, and salt. I kicked the lemon up a bright and sunshiny notch, added some  cumin, chili powder, sea salt, black pepper, and of course parsley. The result is a flavour that is bright and fresh. I think it's possible to reduce the amount of lemon without sacrificing the integrity of the hummus, but I have to admit I like it like this.

Toasting sesame seeds in a ceramic pan


food processor
coffee/seed grinder


2 cups cooked chickpeas (or canned -- rinse well)
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp sesame seeds -- toasted, then finey ground in your seed grinder
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder

4 tbsp fresh parsley , chopped, and more for garnish

1 cup water


1. puree the chickpeas with the water and lemon juice until smooth and pleasing
2. add the ground sesame seeds, sea salt, cumin, chili powder
3. smile and do a little dance
4. when fully mixed and adjusted for taste, pulse in the chopped parsley (you don't want the parsley to become completely homogenized. Unless you do, in which case whizz away, my friend.)
5. garnish with parsley

We used this as a dip for carrot medallions, put some on lettuce leaves and rolled them up, and spread it on crackers. It can be thinned down to use as a sauce for steamed broccoli etc. It can stay unrefrigerated during the day, so can be put into a small container and taken for lunch with carrots to dip in it. Some schools prohibit the use of sesame in addition to all nuts, so if this is the case, either substitute raw hearts or ground roasted pumpkin seeds for the sesame seeds, or skip it entirely. I'm going to be so screwed when my son starts school if his lunches can't include nuts of any kind!!

Hummus seems to have great appeal for toddlers, which is convenient for me, as this creamy combination of chickpeas and sesame seeds is high in protein, iron, calcium, fiber, etc. Not to mention high in deliciousness ....

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Green Split Pea Soup with Green Peas -- Definitely Pea Soup Weather -- Crock pot again

At breakfast yesterday we were reading Mother Goose nursery rhymes. We came to one about pease porridge -- you know, hot, cold, in the pot nine days old? This triggered a hankering for pea soup, so wouldn't you know it, I had to run out and buy green split peas to make some soup that very day. And that afternoon, I compounded this soup. And today, we ate it. My husband gave me skeptical, sidelong glances, doubtful that he would find pea soup to be anything other than gag worthy. I persevered, however, and we all enjoyed our pea soup today. I thought it would be fun to sprinkled some fresh parsley from our window box on it, and with tongue firmly planted in cheek I also added  a sprinkle of cubed veggie-ham. Didn't the authentic Quebecois version of this soup always include some ham or salt pork?

Well, there is nothing authentic about this version, but everything is delicious. It is bursting with a complex layering of tastes that produces a wonderfully balanced, mellow, satisfying flavour. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.


2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil
125 g frozen cauliflower (this will be cooked into oblivion, and will not be a distinct flavour on its own, please note all you cauliflower-phobes out there) -- approximately 1 cups
1 cup onion, finely chopped (I used red, but any would be fine)
2 tbsp garlic finely minced
1 cup carrots, finely diced
1 1/2 cups celery, finely diced

1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp sea salt
1/16 tsp ground chipotle
dash nutmeg

1 1/2 cups dry split green peas
5 cups boiling water
1/2 tbsp marjoram
1/2 tbsp herbe de provence
black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp sea salt

125 g frozen green peas, defrosted (I recommend using organic to avoid the evil Monsanto)


1. saute the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, and cauliflower in the coconut oil with the sea salt, cumin, turmeric, chili powder, chipotle, and nutmeg. Cook until everything is translucent and/ or very soft
2. put the dry split green peas, sea salt, pepper, marjoram, herbe de provence, and boiling water in the crockpot on high (crockpot cooking time was 4 hours) (do not add the frozen green peas here)
3. add the cooked veggies to the crockpot, and stir until well combined
4. Set your crockpot for 4 hours, checking occasionally if you like. When the peas kind of disintegrate, you will know the soup is ready. It will not be possible to over cook this.
5. Turn off the heat and stir in the defrosted green peas.
6. serve, as we did, with a sprinkle of parsley, a red leaf lettuce and avocado salad, very stale bread toasted -- parsley, salad, and bread optional.

We're all sick with colds -- but my son has the most beautiful grey eyes.

Red Leaf Lettuce and Avocado Salad -- just an excuse to trot out the lime juice

Our organic box included a red leaf lettuce, and it transformed itself into this refreshing and quick salad. It went perfectly with the pea soup, and tasted lovely.

Instead of tearing the leaves as we usually do for salad, I ended up cutting the leaves into ribbons. I'm not sure why. It was cute, though. And perhaps easier for a toddler to manage.

I really love the taste of lime, and think it goes delightfully with many things, such as avocado. I used to be a huge fan of the balsamic vinegar  and olive oil for salads, but my tastes seem to have changed.

I didn't make a proper dressing, just drizzeld a little lime juice, honey, a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper on the salad and tossed it well. It was perfect, the leaves nicely goosed with flavour without overwhelming them. And of course the taste of the avocado in all this was perfection.


red leaf lettuce leaves, washed and dried
avocado, nicely ripe

sea salt to taste
pepper to taste
lime juice to taste
honey to taste


1. cut the lettuce into ribbons and put it in a bowl
2. cut the avocado into small cubes and add them to the bowl
3. add a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper
4. add a few splashes of lime juice
5. add a drizzle of honey
6. toss all the ingredients together, and taste
7. if needed, add more sea salt, pepper, lime juice, or honey