Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

A couple of weeks ago, I realized that I had a massive can of pumpkin puree, an hour of free time, and a craving for a warm, squash-y baked treat.

Yes – I know it’s the middle of summer and August is on the horizon, but it’s never too late (or early?) for some pumpkin quick bread! Especially when chocolate chips are involved.

Yum! This recipe uses spelt flour, but you can easily substitute any of your favourite flours (AP, whole wheat, or a combination). I loved the addition of oats in here, and find it amazing that this recipe goes easy on the oil.

It’s worth buying some super high-quality chocolate chips for this one – you won’t regret it!

Also, I put mine in the freezer and they are as good as fresh after you microwave ’em.

Healthy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/3 cups flour (I used spelt)
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • scant 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cups unsweetened pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and salt. Set aside.
  3. In a large, separate bowl, beat together the eggs, honey, and oil on medium speed until combined. Add the milk and pumpkin and beat again until evenly combined. Add the dry ingredients, then gently stir them in by hand, just until combined. Do not over mix. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Smooth the top, then sprinkle with oats and chocolate chips. Bake the loaf for 45 to 50 minutes. Place the pan on a cooling rack, then let the bread cool in the pan. Gently turn the loaf out onto the rack to cool completely.
  5. Store leftover pumpkin bread in an airtight container lined with paper towels for up to 4 days at room temperature or 7 days in the refrigerator. It can be frozen, wrapped tightly and placed in a ziptop bag, for up to 3 months.

 

Also, check out how cute and funny my mom is…

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I love making shopping lists.

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This meal was nice – roasted broccoli, baked salmon, couscous.

 

At aerials I learned how to do a meat hook!

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And that’s it for today. Only 10 days until I am back home in BC!

Double Chocolate Beet Brownies

No pictures because I was too busy shoving these decadent chocolate squares into my mouth. Sorry – but enjoy!

Just make them. Trust me. 😉

Double Chocolate Beet Brownies {Grain Free, Gluten Free}

Ingredients:

  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup avocado oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I omitted since I ran out)
  • 2/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups beet puree (I used 4-5 large beets)
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven 350 F.

2. Combine first 6 ingredients in the order listed.

3. In a separate bowl combine dry ingredients.

4. Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix well.

5. Grease an 8 X 8 pan and pour batter into the pan.

6. Bake for 45 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

Baking for the Smell of It: Brownie Recipe!

Brownies! Yesterday was my last day of classes. With final exams on the horizon, what better way to spend my morning than go grocery shopping and baking? Baking is definitely the best way to procrastinate.

Is there anyone on the planet who doesn’t like brownies?

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Sweet, fudgy, chocolatey, rich, with a perfect crackled top, these brownies are definitely some of the best I’ve ever had.

Even better? They are incredibly easy to make and only require one bowl and less than 15 minutes of prep time. You probably have all the ingredients in your pantry already.

If you like cakey brownies, add an extra egg. For even fudgier brownies, bake for 25 minutes instead of 30. You could even add crushed candy canes on top for a festive holiday treat!

Super Easy Brownies
Serves: 16
Ingredients
  • 150 mL melted coconut oil, butter, OR a combination – COOLED
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1.25 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • sprinkle cinnamon (optional)
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Grease a nonstick 8×8 baking pan.
  2. Melt butter or coconut oil. Allow to cool.
  3. Add eggs when cool. Whisk. Add vanilla, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon. Whisk very well.
  4. Stir in the flour. When there are some streaks of flour left, add chocolate chips. Stir until there are no more streaks of flour.
  5. Pour batter into the pan. Spread batter, then swirl with knife if desired.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a knife comes out almost clean.
  7. Cool in the pan for 1-2 hours, until completely cool.
  8. Transfer brownies to a cutting board.
  9. Use a very sharp chef’s knife to cut the brownies into 16 squares, using quick, strong motions to prevent the top from crackling and breaking.
  10. Enjoy!

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I’m sure you will love these. 🙂

Let me know if you give this recipe (or any of my other recipes!) a try! I’d love to hear about how they turned out.

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Happy Tuesday, and good luck to fellow students who have upcoming final exams!

PB Mug Cakes, Yoga, and a Disappointing Cafe Experience

Happy new week, everyone!

I’m starting to fall in love with yoga the more and more I do it! I’ve been going to hot yoga every day since final exams ended and doing a teeny bit of practice by myself in the kitchen. Do you like yoga? What are some of your favourite poses? To you, is yoga more emotional, spiritual, or physical?

One afternoon I took a nice walk around Victoria Park in Kitchener. It’s been a while since I’ve seen rippling lakes and green grass!

Tea latte at Café 22, one of my favourite places in Uptown Waterloo. This was their small London Fog latte, which I highly recommend. So good. And I actually want one right now.

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We recently moved our dining table next to the window, so I get to look out the window and at my laptop while I eat. 🙂 Also, Arsalan (roomie’s BF) came home from Japan recently! He was so kind to give me two beautiful handmade ceramic teacups. Aren’t they pretty? Do you like handmade utensils or kitchenware?

I’ve also been volunteering at the Research Institute of Aging, where Professor Heather Keller, my nutrition professor, leads a team of students to create healthy recipes for seniors. Turns out a MASSIVE percentage of seniors in long-term care homes are malnourished, whether it’s because they don’t like the food, they don’t have an appetite, or they aren’t enjoying the mealtime experience.

Bloggers, I could use your help! Let’s brainstorm some ideas for recipes that are…

  1. Not labour-intensive: it needs to be easy for cooks to prepare
  2. Can be made in bulk
  3. Can be refrigerated or frozen
  4. Not expensive: we have nearly $8 PER DAY, PER PERSON, so that rules out coconut flour, quinoa, etc.
  5. “Traditional”: sorry, no hipster things like green juice, kombucha, kale, etc.
  6. Nut-free, because of allergies
  7. High in nutrients! For example, sweet potatoes instead of regular white potatoes
  8. Easy to chew and swallow: this rules out things like sticky date balls, crunchy nut clusters, etc.

Tricky, right? What are some of your ideas?

PS: our first idea was avocado pudding, but turns out one serving is 3 avocados, which is $9 in total. :O That idea had to be trashed, unfortunately.

Salmon fishcakes! They were simple: 2 eggs, 1 can salmon, and a bunch of spices.

When I didn’t have any baked goods for dessert, I just melted some chocolate and ate it with strawberries for a makeshift fondue.

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Vegan butternut squash pasta with a nutritional yeast sauce and spinach. I actually quite liked this, despite my LOVE for real, creamy cheese.

I bought some [expensive!] strawberries and they didn’t taste that good. 😦

More pasta, this time with brown butter and sage! Idea from a special commenter 🙂

Baked oatmeal…

… enjoyed two days in a row.

Went to My Thai, a restaurant in Uptown Waterloo, with the roomies one day! Arsalan enjoyed vegan pad thai.

Madhulika and I enjoyed the amazing emerald curry with coconut sticky rice.

We shared banana spring rolls for dessert with vanilla ice cream! What a great end to the meal.

Leftover curry sauce turned into a delicious vegetable stir-fry the next day.

And then there was STILL leftover curry sauce, which became vegetable noodles! I was uncomfortably full after this. It doesn’t look like much, but I was stuffed!

Yeah, yeah… more pasta.

I don’t even have the effort to explain how good this was. Please make this.

Best-Ever Peanut Butter Mug Cake

  • 2 tbsp. spelt flour (or all-purpose)
  • 2 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. almond milk
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • sprinkle cinnamon (optional)
Whisk together and microwave for 60 to 80 seconds.

This was one of my favourite meals of the week: quinoa with sweet potato, carrots, zucchini, spinach, roasted red peppers, and avocado on top with cayenne pepper and lemon juice. It was surprisingly filling!

More baked oats. Attractive, I know.

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Thoughts on warm salads? I used the last of my goat cheese here. So yummy!

Coconut and pineapple Thai-style fried rice was devoured another day. Seared tofu makes it really satiating, while pineapple provides a punch of flavour.

Roasted and shredded salmon on top of baked broccoli and yukon gold potatoes. They were all tossed with couscous and served with avocado and goat cheese. YUM!

And a simple oatmeal topped with a makeshift “crumble”, which was almond and coconut flour with nut butter, maple syrup, and some coconut oil.

More of the same 🙂

Spicy coconut-peanut noodles with tofu and shredded carrots and zucchini, and seared tofu.

I usually make two servings of whatever I have, so that a) it’s easier to make b) I’ll have another meal the next day.

These are some recent Mom meals: banana muffins, shrimp and chicken pasta, and some Chinese dishes. She also went on a cookie-baking rampage the other day and whipped up a whole table’s worth of COOKIES! What are your favourite dishes cooked by Mom? You know, the ones that simply cannot be replicated?!

This morning I took the bus to Pure Kitchen and Juice Bar after volunteering at the Grand River Hospital. I do patient registration, which is fun until there are 20 people in line, with two “Pats”, a “Jon” and a “Ron” and a “Don”, and a “Kryzhchevish”. My job is to take everyone’s name, record some health information, and call them up when their appointments are ready.

Anyways!

Pure Kitchen is located in the heart of downtown Kitchener. I had REALLY been looking forward to it for a long time, and when I got there, I was even more excited!

For my lunch, I decided on the small grain bowl, which came with brown rice, oven-roasted chicken, roasted sweet potato, chickpeas, spinach, sprouts (literally THREE sprouts, not satisfied), raw seeds, roasted mushrooms, and a spiced cranberry vinaigrette. Am I the only person who doesn’t like cold chicken? How do you guys feel about it?

Disappointment #1: For around the same price, you can have all of the ingredients placed into a whole wheat wrap. I asked for that option, grilled, but they were out of wraps. Um, you are a sandwich + soup cafe. You serve wraps. It’s 12:00, noon – how can you be out of wraps?

Disappointment #2: I asked for the meal to be served in a bowl, but they told me that they only provide these wasteful cardboard-paper box things.

Disappointment #3: Three sprouts in here.

Disappointment #4: Why was this cold? In fact, it was almost freezing. If the menu states “roasted chicken” and “roasted mushrooms” as well as “roasted sweet potato”, customers would assume that they are hot, or at least warm, right?!

Disappointment #5: Four massive leaves of spinach. Massive.

On the bright side, the rice was really good.

These were on the table for samplers, and they weren’t terrible. The green juice was a little bitter, and the granola was sticky, too chewy, and topped with a brown pineapple sorbet thing that never melted. I wouldn’t buy any of these.

I also ordered the Feel Good smoothie, which was made with maca, cacao, banana, almond butter, and almond milk. Sounds amazing, right?

WRONG. The $8 smoothie tasted “burned”. I have no other way of describing it. I couldn’t detect a hint of banana, almond butter, creamy almond milk, or even chocolate. The only flavour I could describe was a BURNED flavour.

Disappointment #where are we… oh #6: The smoothie tasted like a scorched tree branch or piece of firewood that had been blended with a scoop of ice.

I asked for the smoothie to be re-made after having half of it, and the lady did re-make it for me, this time it was so icy and not fully blended.

Disappointment #7: Smoothie #2 was 90% unblended ice.

The best part of the meal was the almond croissant that I enjoyed for dessert. It was truly amazing and almost redeeming. Have you ever had a croissant for dessert? Slightly heated up?! Oh my goodness, it’s gold.

On a totally different note…

How do you guys feel about running? If you’re a runner, what motivates you (ie. what do you THINK about when running?) If you aren’t a runner, what are some of your favourite ways to squeeze in some cardio?

Also, do you have to race to be a runner?

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Alright, that’s it for today! It’s 9:17 PM and I feel like I just ate dinner. Which, I kind of did. I always feel a little guilty for eating dinner after 8:00 PM, but unfortunately, I have commitments, I have things to do, and sometimes, it just isn’t realistic to have a beautifully-made dinner fresh on the table at 6.

Today, it was a lasagna that went from freezer to microwave at 8:30 PM because I got stranded at Goodlife Fitness because it started pouring (and thunderstorm-ing). 😦

Do you feel guilty when you end up eating later? Is there a certain time that you don’t “allow” yourself to eat? Back at home in BC, my mom was ADAMANT that after 6:30, no food allowed. For 18 years of my life, as soon as the clock ticked 6:31, it was “too late to eat”. This mentality really stuck with me and caused eating problems in my life. Thoughts?

PS: I just found out that I can click on all the tags that I want to add to this – I just added about 999 tags to this post, haha! 😀

World’s Easiest Granola

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t like granola. Even my sister, a picky-picky eater who won’t touch oats or nut butter, or even SWEET POTATO (gasp) likes granola!

And for a good reason! Let’s look at why granola is so awesome in my book:

  • Crunchy, with great texture
  • A little sweet, with lots of flavour from cinnamon and other spices you like
  • Excellent warm vanilla flavour
  • Involves dried fruits and yummy nuts
  • Can be used to top anything from fruit bowls to yogurt to oatmeal (hot or cold – both work!)
  • You can even add coconut or chocolate chips
  • Can be customized any way you like
  • Is super easy to make
  • Keeps in an airtight container for a month
  • Can even be frozen!
  • Doesn’t cost $10 a bag like it does at the store!

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You’ll need the following ingredients, but feel free to mix and match. The only thing you really need is the base recipe: a sweet syrupy liquid of some kind (honey, agave, brown rice syrup, maple syrup, etc.), oats (obviously), and some melted liquid fat (coconut oil, olive oil, butter, etc.).

Note that rolled oats MUST be used, otherwise your granola will be small, shatter-y, and probably bake too quickly. I would also say that vanilla and salt are also a must, because salt gives the oats some much-needed flavour while vanilla adds warmth and deliciousness.

Nuts, dried fruit, coconut, chocolate chips… you can add anything you like or have! The recipe is coming at the bottom of this post, so don’t fret 🙂

After whisking the wet ingredients together, you will simply dump all the rolled oats in here and give it a good stir.

Then spread it out on a foil-lined and greased tray.

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Pop this tray into the oven for exactly 22 minutes at 350 degrees, and give it a good stir after 11 minutes. When it comes out of the oven, it will look “undone”, and it won’t be crunchy at all. This is normal. Because you are cooling it on the tray, it will look unfinished but will continue “baking” on the hot tray until it cools. I wouldn’t taste it until it is fully cooled down, or you might be a little disappointed!

So again, make sure you take it out after 22 minutes or risk burning it. 😦

Once it is COMPLETELY cool, pour it into jars! I would wait at least 3-5 hours before putting it into an airtight container. If it is still warm, your granola could end up soggy, which would be really sad and depressing.

Only one warning: this recipe makes three cups, which seems like a LOT, but I promise it will be gone in less than a week 🙂 I couldn’t stop eating straight up handfuls out of this jar! It’s addictive and so freaking delicious. I recommend doubling the recipe so you can have extra on hand, and it won’t go stale if it’s in an airtight container.

Without further ado (is that how you spell it?!), here’s the recipe!


Coconut-Maple Granola

Serves: 3 cups
INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 heaping tsp salt (I used fine-grain sea salt)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, or other spices that you like
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil, butter, or any oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, honey, or agave
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, or a little less of any other extract you like
  • Optional: 1/2 cup chocolate chips or coconut flakes, or 3/4 cup roasted nuts and/or seeds
  • As many dried fruits as you would like: cranberries, raisins, dried apricots, dried blueberries… the list goes on!
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
  2. Microwave the oil if it is not already liquid. Whisk in the maple syrup/honey and vanilla.
  3. Add vanilla, cinnamon, salt and whisk until combined.
  4. Pour in the oats.
  5. Mix well, until every oat and nut is lightly coated. Pour the granola onto your prepared pan and use a large spoon to spread it in an even layer.
  6. Bake until golden, about 22 minutes, stirring halfway at 11 minutes. If you would like to add unsweetened shredded coconut, stir it in here. It’s okay if it looks soft after 22 minutes – take it out of the oven and let it cool. The granola will further crisp up as it cools.
  7. Let the granola cool completely, undisturbed, before adding dried fruit (and chocolate chips, if using). Store the granola in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 to 2 weeks, or in a sealed freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3 months.

My favourite way to use granola is on top of my morning oatmeal. It adds a toasty bit of crunch to the soft, creamy oatmeal 🙂

Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Tell me:

  1. What do you like in your granola?
  2. Do you get addicted to granola and eat it straight out of the jar, by the handful, like I do?!
  3. What are some other places to enjoy granola, other than the standard yogurt bowl? I’ve seen granola on SALADS at cafes in Vancouver, but I don’t think I am brave enough for that 😉

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Happy Wednesday!

Healthified PureBread Chocolate Banana Bottom Recipe

This recipe was from a loooooonnnng time ago. Like, a year ago. And by that, I don’t mean December 2015… I’m talking February 2015.

But it’s better late than never, right?

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Especially if it involves bananas and chocolate.

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This recipe was inspired by a dessert that I enjoyed from PureBread Bakery in downtown Vancouver. After my first bite, I knew the dessert was delicious but could be made 10x better at home with more bananas, less sugar, and some sour cream for moistness. This is what I came up with, and I found it even better than their famous chocolate banana bottom!

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Healthified PureBread Chocolate Banana Bottom

INGREDIENTS
  • 160g coconut sugar, light brown sugar, or sweetened coconut chips
  • 115g melted coconut oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 115g sour cream
  • 2 medium overripe bananas
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 170g spelt flour, divided into 95g and 75g
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 35g semisweet chocolate chips for topping

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8×8 square baking pan.
  2. If you are using coconut chips, place them into the blender to grind into sugar. Add melted coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. Blend until thick and creamy.
  3. Mash bananas until slightly chunky (mostly smooth!) and stir into wet mixture.
  4. Add baking soda, cinnamon, and sea salt into wet ingredients.
  5. Pour half of the wet ingredients into a separate bowl. Now you have two bowls with equal amounts of the banana-sour cream mixture.
  6. Add 95g spelt flour into one bowl. Stir to just combine. Do not overmix.
  7. Add 75g spelt flour and 20g cocoa powder into the other bowl. Stir to just combine. Do not overmix.
  8. Pour chocolate batter into the bottom of the square pan. Spread, shake, and tap on the counter to allow the batter to cover the bottom. Pour the plain banana batter on top. Spread carefully. Do not mix the two layers!
  9. Sprinkle with chocolate chips.
  10. Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool the chocolate-banana bottom for 15 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 16 squares and serve!

9 servings (106 g each) = 332 calories, 18g fat, 23g sugar, 5g protein
16 servings (60 g each) = 187 calories, 10g fat, 13g sugar, 3g protein
20g serving = 62 calories, 3g fat, 4g sugar, 1g protein
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These babies are rich, moist, and fluffy all at the same time. I enjoyed slices with peanut butter, and others au naturel.
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Definitely on the fussier side for a recipe, but so worth it. 🙂 This is my mom’s favourite banana bread recipe!
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Let me know if you give this a try!