Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Good evening night guys! Exhausting day today – ran around the beach for two hours with 21 six year-olds, dissected (and cleaned up!) many herring, led an art activity and then did another 1.5 hour transit back home before making a quick frittata dinner. They are my new obsession! By the way, it was HOT today. I felt abnormally hot all day and can see more redness in my skin. I’ve also been chugging lots of tea (love my “new” discovery – Earl Grey in the morning) and water!

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Then, Seline and I had a 1 hour aerial silks lesson. I was so rusty after over a month of no practice – too busy having fun in the Sunshine Coast – and was tired during the practice. 😦

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After silks, I practiced French for an hour with a lovely family friend to practice for our Paris trip, which is coming up in just two 1.5 weeks 🙂

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I have lots of recipes and Recently posts to show you, but I’m going to give you a quick cookie recipe that Mom and I made for our party a couple weekends ago.

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Again I apologize for this super short post! I’d love to go into detail about everything but it’s already 10:30 and I need to be up before 6:00 again tomorrow. Still haven’t showered and prepared for tomorrow. 😦 Oh – and I’ll be driving tomorrow… remember how I failed my driver’s test? Darn.

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I feel so bad for the sporadic posting but please enjoy the cookies 🙂

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Just the right size for a snack or dessert!


Thick, Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Makes 24 cookies

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces, or 115 grams) butter, softened
2/3 cup (125 grams) light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup (95 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon table salt (I often use a half teaspoon, but I like more salt in my baked goods)
1 1/2 cups (120 grams) quick oats
3/4 cup (120 grams) raisins
1/2 cup walnuts (65 grams), chopped (optional)

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, egg and vanilla until smooth. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt together. Stir this into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in the oats, raisins and walnuts, if using them.

At this point you can either chill the dough for a bit in the fridge and then scoop it, or scoop the cookies onto a sheet and then chill the whole tray before baking them. You could also bake them right away, if you’re impatient, but I do find that they end up slighly less thick. Either way, heat oven to 350°F (175°C) before you scoop the cookies, so that it’s fully heated when you’re ready to put them in.

The cookies should be two inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake them for 10 to 12 minutes (your baking time will vary, depending on your oven and how cold the cookies were going in), taking them out when golden at the edges but still a little undercooked-looking on top. Let them sit on the hot baking sheet for five minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool.

Variation: Chocolate Drizzled Oatmeal Cookies: Prepare and bake cookies as directed above. Melt 1/2 cup real semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips and 1 tablespoon shortening. Drizzle mixture over cooled cookies.


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These were a hit, by the way! Sweet, but not overly sweet, filled with plump raisins and toasty nuts. The oats were softened just-right and they had a nice buttery flavour. I’m not a huge cookie person but enjoyed a couple bites of these.

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Hope you like these cookies as much as we did at our party. Scone recipe coming soon, too. 🙂 Bon nuit!

Red Velvet Beet Pancakes with Drizzles!

Hello everyone! I’m having a super busy week this week, leaving my house at 6:55 every morning to catch two skytrains and a bus to get to the Vancouver Aquarium, where I’m volunteering from 8:30-3:30. I usually get home at around 5:00, and that’s when I take a shower and start cooking dinner. 🙂

Last week, Mom and I bought a container of pre-roasted beets from Costco, and I put them to use in these red velvet pancakes a while ago. If you like chocolatey breakfasts that are still light, I know you will adore this recipe! Please don’t skip the drizzles, too. You will love the slightly-sweet cream cheese frosting and the decadent chocolate drizzle. Yum!

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  • Pancakes are 244 calories with 8g fibre, 13g sugar, and 9g protein
  • Low in saturated fat, have no cholesterol (if using flax egg), and are high in finer
  • High in manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium
  • Chocolate drizzle is about 95 calories
  • Cheese drizzle is 60 calories

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HEALTHY RED VELVET BEET PANCAKES
Serves 1, makes 3 pancakes
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 egg or 1 small flax egg (1/2 tbsp ground flax + 1 tablespoon warm water)
  • 1/2 precooked beet
  • 50g spelt flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 heaping tsp to 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • Generous 1/4 cup almond milk, more if needed
  • Coconut oil for cooking
DIRECTIONS
  1. Prepare the flax egg, if using.
  2. Combine spelt flour, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder.
  3. Place the beet in the blender with almond milk and blend on high until you have a thick pink-red milk.
  4. Add honey, flax egg, and vanilla extract, and blend again.
  5. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and stir carefully until just combined. If the batter is too thick, add another splash of almond milk.
  6. Melt coconut oil in a pan and make 3 pancakes. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat per side. Flip and continue cooking.
  7. Serve with drizzles, hemp hearts, fruit (raspberries are awesome here), coconut, or chocolate chips!

The texture is excellent here! Sorry for the horrible drizzles. I am the worst drizzler! Back to the pancakes! They are not too sweet and very tender. My favourite kind!

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Chocolate Coconut Maple Syrup (serves 1)

  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined coconut oil, melted
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  1. Whisk together until fully combined.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Drizzle (serves 1)

  • 1 tbsp cream cheese or quark (I used quark and loved it)
  • 1/2 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp almond milk, more if needed
  • Scant 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Whisk together until fully combined.

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That’s it for today! I have some more great posts coming up that I can’t wait to show you guys 🙂 This is such a great summer so far, and I hope it’s the same for you all!

Recently: Summery Lunches and Dinners

Lentil-ancient grain toast topped with cranberry quark cheese, berries, and hemp hearts

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Kale chips, toast with avocado, mixed greens, fried egg and black pepper gouda

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Quinoa vegetable bowl (cucumbers, beets, sweet potatoes, etc.), chickpeas, feta cheese, avocado, hummus and tzatziki

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Lentil-ancient grains toast topped with mixed greens, mashed avocado, roasted red pepper hummus, beets and cucumbers, feta cheese

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One was topped with cashews, the other with chopped pecans. Sprinkled with black pepper, this was like my version of Matchstick’s white bean hummus toast!

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Fluffy souffle omelet with spinach, roasted red peppers, cheddar cheese // lentil-ancient grains toast with Earth Balance

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Souffle omelets are the best because they are so voluminous! I have a how-to post coming up 🙂

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Grilled smoked salmon, avocado, and hummus sandwich on lentil-ancient grains bread. Enjoyed this on the same day as our dinner party!

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Big lunch! Lemon-ginger-blueberry scone, fresh blackberries, gluten-free garlic and herb cheese balls, two scrambled eggs with sautéed zucchini, mushrooms, roasted red pepper, topped with shredded cheddar

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More scrambled eggs with vegetables and cheddar // same eggs for lunch another day with avocado toast

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Quinoa sautéed with scallions, corn, and spinach, topped with sliced avocado, chopped beets, cashews and pecans, crispy roasted chickpeas, cucumber, roasted red pepper, roasted red pepper hummus, and tzatziki drizzle

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Avocado + pecan + quinoa + tzatziki sauce and beets or peppers = my favourite bite 🙂

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Quinoa with spinach, cucumbers, chickpeas, roasted sweet potatoes, avocado, feta cheese, beets, tzatziki drizzle

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Mom dinner: includes leek scrambled eggs, sautéed cabbage with krill,

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Shrimp and broccoli, spicy ribs with carrots and noodles

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All together! My plate had a little of everything, minus the ribs in the stew.

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Leftover shrimp and broccoli made awesome toppers for egg + pea fried rice with mushrooms. Topped with sesame seeds and scallion oil.

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More quinoa salad – this time with caramelized onions, wilted spinach, corn, roasted sweet potatoes, feta cheese, and black pepper with lemon juice drizzle

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Pan-fried salmon on cauliflower and wilted spinach

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Quinoa kale salad with roasted sweet potatoes, feta cheese, and avocado

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Sole stuffed with garlic mashed potatoes, cheddar, and Dungeness crab, seafood béchamel sauce, sautéed garlic Chinese vegetables, quinoa

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Greek salmon quinoa salad!

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Quinoa sautéed with spinach and mushrooms, mixed with cucumbers, beets, chickpeas and topped with pan-fried salmon, tzatziki sauce, and sliced avocado with feta cheese // served on romaine lettuce

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Corn-spinach quinoa topped with pecans and tzatziki, sliced avocado

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Handmade Chinese “chive pockets” with eggs, ground pork, chives, vermicelli // sautéed garden kale with garlic. Not my favourite dinner 😦

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Dessert: crumbled banana spelt muffin over yogurt with raspberries and chia seeds

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Crumbled banana spelt muffin, pecans and cashews, blueberries, chia seeds on yogurt

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Saturday Coast Post: Battle of the Nanaimo Bars

Hi guys! Last post in my Sunshine Coast Series here. 😥 These were so much fun to write, and looking at the pictures, I can’t stop thinking about how amazing the weeklong getaway was. Travelling with family is truly a worthwhile adventure.

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Breakfast was enjoyed at Bread and Honey, a newly-opened restaurant in Parksville. The atmosphere was lovely even though I arrived at 8:00 sharp, when it opened. The server, Angela, was the friendliest waitress I’ve ever met. Her enthusiasm was contagious and I don’t think she ever stopped smiling. 🙂 Thanks to Angela and her husband (ze chef) for brightening my morning!

I was served a little water as I waited for the sandwiches (one for me, one for Dad).

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Spanish-style breakfast sandwich: egg, manchego cheese, caramelized onions

This was my sandwich, which was made with a super sunny egg, onions, a parmesan-like Spanish cheese, and a smear of mayonnaise. The fillings in this sandwich were so good, but I would prefer a biscuit or whole wheat toast instead of the chewy English muffin.

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Blueberry-lemon streusel muffin

The muffin, from Goats on the Roof bakery where we went last night, was just okay. It was a bit cake-like and had a bright lemon flavour. I wish there were more blueberries! I got a little carried away with nibbling the streusel. 😉

Bacon, egg, and cheese english muffin breakfast sandwich, hash browns

Seline’s sandwich came with hash browns and homemade ketchup. She loved the fried potatoes and found the English muffin a bit too hard.

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We dined at Le Cafe Francais after driving for an hour to Nanaimo. This was one of my favourite lunches. The interesting thing about this place? There was ONE chef and ONE waiter – a father and his son. They were both born in Paris and spoke perfect French and English. We loved conversing with them, as the restaurant was quite empty. Actually, we were the only customers! What a hidden gem 😉

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Garlic baguette with emmenthal cheese

We ordered these on a whim, because I knew Dad and Seline both have a major soft spot for hot pieces of crispy, garlicky bread. This didn’t disappoint! Dad and Seline each had two slices, and Mom stole a couple bites in between. I’m not a fan of plain breads based on white flour, so I passed on this one. But the smell was amazing!

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The service was rapid, considering we were literally the only customers here. We all decided to order crepes. For myself, I decided on a seafood crepe (their speciality!), while Dad had a garlic chicken crepe and Seline and Mom shared the daily special, with soup. All the dishes came with fries and a very simple salad (greens drizzled in olive oil). We also received garlic aioli and ketchup for the fries.

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Beef, pork, and vegetable crepe (daily special) with French onion broccoli soup and fries

Seline liked the crepe, but it wasn’t her favourite because of the “green bits” (broccoli and beans) inside. Mom enjoyed the savoury beef flavour and noted that there were some sausage chunks. Seline pointed out that the fries were slightly sweet.

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Creamy seafood crepe with broccoli, salad, French fries

My crepe was AWESOME. I’m so glad I ordered this one! The crepe itself was cooked with a practiced hand, and was perfectly thin with the right amount of crisp (on the corners) and delicate butteriness. The creamy sauce inside was like a seafood-based béchamel, though thinner, flavoured by shrimp and clams. I also had some zucchini and broccoli inside, which was a nice surprise! This was made with emmenthal cheese, like the garlic bread. Yum! I finished my crepe, tried the soup (a bit salty for my taste), and ate most of the salad. Gave the fries to the table to share.

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Gluten-free hazelnut cake with chocolate drizzle

We visited the bakery next door, and I was desperately hoping they’d have some almond croissants (I know I’m addicted!) or a chocolatey, creamy dessert. Maybe a danish? Some scones? Anything? Nope. They were all sold out, except for a couple tarts and this hazelnut cake. Since I do like hazelnuts quite a bit, we gave these a try.

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It was about 2:00 in the afternoon, and the bakery was practically empty. Most of the goodies in the counter were sold out. 😥

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The cake was good, but not great. I ate less than a quarter of it and was disappointed in the flavour. It seemed like something that had been in the fridge for a couple of days. Do you guys know that “fridge flavour” that I’m trying to describe? It was a little plasticky and didn’t taste fresh. What a disappointing dessert.

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Dinner, however, was certainly NOT disappointing!

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Astera’s Greek Taverna, in the heart of downtown Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter,

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Pita bread

I had a tiny sliver of pita bread, because I was saving my stomach for the entree (Greek entrees are MASSIVE, aren’t they?!). The pita was fluffy, yeasty, and not oily at all. The outside was not too firm and chewy like some pitas. This was very good dipped in tzatziki.

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LEFT: Chicken souvlaki with roasted vegetables, Greek salad, lemon potatoes, rice

RIGHT: Shrimp souvlaki with roasted vegetables, Greek salad, lemon potatoes, rice

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Both of the dishes here were excellent. Both were served with Greek salad, roasted zucchini and carrots, lemon-roasted Greek potatoes, Greek rice, and a blob of tzatziki. I think the highlight of the dinner was the feta they used on the Greek salad! It was so fresh, and they were very generous with the amounts. I believe it was a goat feta, rather than a cow’s milk feta, because it was less salty and more creamy. The cheese melted in my mouth, along with the super fresh vegetables. I also loved the roasted zucchini and carrots. They were flavoured just-right and were not too salty or oily. The rice was fluffy and cooked very nicely (although I would appreciate some little vegetable chunks and herbs).

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MacLean’s Specialty Foods Nanaimo Bar // Bocca Cafe Nanaimo Bar

This was battle of the Nanaimo bars! MacLean’s and Bocca are both famous for their Nanaimo bars, and since they were both on Fitzwilliams Street in the Old City Quarter, I had to try both! MacLean’s is on the left, and Bocca’s on the right. Bocca’s bar is slightly larger, as you can see.

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MacLean’s Specialty Foods Nanaimo Bar

  • $3
  • semi-frozen, prepackaged in saran wrap for customers to choose
  • slightly smaller
  • soft chocolate ganache, milk chocolate (sweeter)
  • custard filling was extremely (almost overwhelmingly) sweet, strong vanilla flavour
  • base was coconutty and made with WALNUTS, did not crumble
  • cut easily, was softer overall and stayed intact as we enjoyed it

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Bocca Cafe Nanaimo Bar

  • $4
  • in a plate behind the counter, handed to me by a server
  • slightly larger
  • chocolate layer on top was less of a ganache and more firm, difficult to cut into with a fork
  • chocolate was darker (not milk chocolate)
  • thin layer of custard, not as much flavour. Definitely less sweet, which I liked
  • base was very thick and made with larger chunks of coconut and ALMONDS (not walnuts)
  • the almonds in the crust were halved, so they were very large and made it difficult to cut
  • crust had a complex flavour, reminded me of espresso
  • this bar crumbled and broke as we ate it

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Overall, Seline and Dad preferred MacLean’s because it was sweeter and easier to eat. Mom liked Bocca’s bar better. She’s a big fan of almonds and found MacLean’s too sweet. For me, I liked the chocolate ganache of MacLean’s, but not their custard layer. It was too sweet, and there was too much of it. For the custard, I’d prefer Bocca’s – and I wish we could “cross” the crusts to make the perfect crust. 😉


That’s it for today, everyone! I’m going to take a shower and then make a goat cheese vegetable frittata for dinner (leftovers for lunch tomorrow!). Have a wonderful day. 🙂

☼ Dinner Party ☼

Good evening! Quick post before I spend some time with my awesome family this Saturday night! 🙂 I’m going to share some photos of a recent party we had with past homestay students. It was a lot of fun to see them again; a couple of the girls, who lived with us during their teen years, are now married! One even has an adorable son. Where has the time gone?

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Appetizer pinwheel sandwiches: vegetable tortilla wrap, Laughing Cow cream cheese, smoked salmon, mixed greens // cucumbers, avocado, tomato, roasted red pepper hummus, cheddar cheese

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Cold seaweed salad // cloud ear fungus salad with cilantro // spicy cold cucumber salad

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Pesto pasta salad with shrimp, roasted red peppers, and broccoli, cheddar on top

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Devilled eggs made with organic canola mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, lemon juice, S+P, paprika

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Mixed green salad with feta cheese, strawberries and blueberries, pecans, poppyseed dressing

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Sautéed sausages // pineapple chunks and cherries (I’m not big on meat, especially processed meat, and was too full to enjoy the fruit here!)

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Thai-style pork fried rice with Thai basil, tomatoes, and fish sauce

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My plate featured some of everything, minus the spicy, garlicky cold salads and the fried sausages. 😛

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The pesto pasta salad was refreshing and had a great zing from the basil pesto. Broccoli and roasted peppers were a welcome addition, and I loved the grilled shrimp in there. Mom’s Thai fried rice was also a hit! Even though I prefer Thai-style rice with pineapple chunks and shrimp, this was a unique and tasty twist. A little too spicy for me, though!

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The salad was accidentally overdressed (oops!) but the toppings made up for that! Fresh berries on a summery salad are the perfect start to a meal. And you need to try pecans and feta together! I nibbled on the ends of the pinwheel wraps as I was making them. Both versions (smoked salmon and cheddar-vegetable) were delicious, as were the garden veggie wraps. I’d buy whole wheat tortillas next time, though – I thought the vegetable flavour here covered the bright flavours of the fresh veggies inside.

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For dessert, we enjoyed some buttery, crumbly blueberry sour cream scones…

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Flourless peanut butter chocolate chip blondies (made with chickpeas) – recipe HERE!

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And some chewy oatmeal-raisin pecan cookies.

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Oh! And these adorable red velvet beet cupcakes with pink beet frosting (cream cheese, maple syrup, vanilla, pureed beets). The recipe for this is coming!

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This was truly a healthy dessert lover’s dream. 🙂 And they were so much fun to bake, too! I’m going to share the recipes for the scones, cookies, and cupcakes in the near future, so stay  tuned if you’re interested. PS: you should be. These were good. Like, good good. All of our former students enjoyed these treats, and the scones and cookies were especially popular. The cupcakes cream cheese frosting was my favourite!

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I’m super excited for tomorrow – planning to have a goat cheese vegetable frittata for breakfast before an 8:45 spin class, then visit the farmer’s market for some quark cheese and maybe a scone. For lunch, my family is going to Kishimoto Sushi and I can’t wait to try their famous salmon oohs sushi. Woooo! Have a great evening, everyone 🙂

Flourless Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Chickpea Blondies

Hey everyone!

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Do you like blondies? If you don’t, you should. They’re a little chewy, sweet but not overly sweet, buttery (but this recipe is actually butter-less), rich in peanut butter flavour, and simply delicious. Come on, they contain chocolate! I’ve made blondies before, and you can see the recipe here – but I think these blow them out of the water. This recipe is probably 10x healthier and much easier to make. If you like one-step recipes, this is the one for you!

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As always, gather your ingredients first! You’ll need salt and some leavening agents (baking soda and baking powder), liquid sweetener, nut butter, an egg, chickpeas, vanilla extract, and chocolate chips. Notice how there’s no flour here, nor is there refined sugar, butter, or even coconut oil. Even better? Even the EGG is optional. These blondies work just as well, and in fact are more fudgy and soft, without the egg. Moving on!

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I used organic local cinnamon-honey, but you can also use maple syrup or agave nectar. Next time, I’m trying this with maple syrup! Pop everything into the food processor in any order you’d like. Then, watch the magic happen!

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Voila – chickpea blondie batter!

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Sprinkle in some chocolate chips. You could use white chocolate chips, nuts, raisins, coconut – anything you like in blondies. I saved some chocolate chips for topping.

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Pour the thick and creamy batter into a prepared baking dish, This is an 8×8 square baking pan. I find that spreading it out with a spatula works best!

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Sprinkle with the reserved chocolate chips – just for presentation. 🙂

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Before –> AFTER! Yum. This was baked for about 25 minutes (recipe below, don’t worry!).

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Doesn’t this look yummy?

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Let the blondies cool for about half an hour, or until cool-ish (we couldn’t wait and dove in while it was still warm) before cutting. We always put our baked goods by the window to let them cool faster.

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Ready to slice! Check out the crusty corners! Do you like corner pieces, edge pieces, or middle pieces?

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This made 16 medium-sized squares, but you could easily cut them into 9 or 36 squares. 🙂

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Dig in! Quick, while the chocolate is still soft and a little melty. 😉

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Oh my goodness. Just look at this! Could you believe this is flourless, and contains zero butter or refined sugar? Bonus – these blondies are gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan if you omit the egg. Plus, it’s high in several minerals (details coming in a bit!), fibre, and protein. Impressive!

Here are some additional stats for these healthy treats:

  • No flour, butter, or refined sugar
  • High in iron
  • High in magnesium
  • High in vitamin B6
  • Gluten free, dairy free, vegan
  • Each 45g square (cut into 16 pieces) only 112 calories
  • 2 grams of fibre in each square, only 3g sugar, and 5g protein
  • If egg is not used, they are cholesterol-free!

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After dinner, there were only 10 and a half pieces left! Uh oh.

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Another day, I enjoyed this for dessert with some creamy vanilla Greek yogurt, fresh raspberries and chia seeds. Delicious! This was too delicious actually, because I went back for seconds… and thirds.

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For a party the other weekend, I sliced the chickpea blondies into 36 little squares for bite-sized nibbles after dinner. These were insanely popular – and no one knew about the secret ingredient and how healthy these guys actually are. Win! 😉

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Flourless Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies {GF, V}

YIELD: Makes 16

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (15 oz.) can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup natural peanut butter, almond butter, or your favorite nut butter (we used peanut butter)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, honey or agave nectar (we used cinnamon creamed honey)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 egg (optional for peanut butter cake bar texture: omit if vegan)
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/3 heaping cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat an 8 × 8-inch pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a food processor, add all ingredients except chocolate chips. Process until batter is smooth. Fold in 1/3 cup chocolate chips, reserving a small handful for the top, and spread batter evenly in prepared pan with a buttered spatula. Sprinkle remaining chocolate chips on top to decorate.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and edges are very light brown. may look underdone, but do not over bake as that will dry out the dessert.

Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes before removing and slicing. Let cool completely on a wire rack. Cut into 16 squares.


We made these for a party, which I’ll share the photos of soon, and they were so popular. Nobody knew about the chickpeas, but everyone loved the texture and awesome peanut butter flavour.

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I really hope you give this recipe a try! Have a great night and I’ll see you in my next post 🙂