Crunchy Chocolate-Dipped Granola Bars

Hello, friends! Is anyone else in shock that it’s already July? I can’t believe it. June sort of flew by in a blur of midterms (I had TEN already, and one more to go before final exams start in the last week of July. I wish I were kidding). There was also plenty of great food consumed during the month of June – check out this great arugula salad with grilled halloumi, pesto pasta, and sautéed veggies.

One afternoon, I had a horrible headache and thought my head was going to explode! It was terrible; I’m normally not someone who gets headaches at all and feel so sorry for people who have regular migraines 😥

IMG_8711

One afternoon, I went to Aroma Cafe. I’ve been there a few times before, and their soup and sandwich combination is always such a treat. This time, their soup was creamy cauliflower, and was definitely one of the Top 5 soups I’ve ever enjoyed. Creamy, rich, mushroom-y, with a touch of sweetness, this perfectly velvet-textured soup was unforgettable. My sandwich was turkey and harvarti with roasted red peppers and avocado on homemade sourdough.

For dessert, the owner of the cafe, a lovely woman called Kiki, made taiyaki, a sweet fish-shaped waffle filled with red bean. It’s a traditional Korean street food. I’ve never been to Korea, but I think Kiki nailed this recipe! It was such an enjoyable dessert. Next time, I want to buy some to take home and enjoy with ice cream!

Speaking of desserts, say hello to my new favourite. I made this recipe twice in a week, and enjoyed every single square myself. As you can see, I am pretty selfish when it comes to good food, especially desserts 😉

These taste the best straight out of the fridge, with a scoop of yogurt or some fruit. They are chewy, just-sweet enough, with a touch of saltiness, and great crunch from the nuts and richness from the nut butter binder.

Make these as soon as possible. I promise you won’t regret it! Oh, and don’t leave out the chocolate dip.

Crunchy Chocolate-Dipped Granola Bars

Makes 1 8×8 pan

Ingredients

GRANOLA BARS

  • 1 cup (90 g) quick oats
  • 1/3 cup (30 g) pecans
  • 1/4 cup (28 g) flax
  • 2/3 cup (49 g) shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup (about 5) chopped prunes
  • 2 Tbsp (32 g) nut butter
  • 2 heaping Tbsp (45 g) melted coconut oil
  • 1/4 heaping cup (60 ml) maple syrup

FOR TOPPING

  • 1/2 heaping cup (60 g) chocolate chips
  • 1 heaping Tbsp (15 g) coconut oil

Instructions

1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and arrange oats and pecans on a bare baking sheet. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until slightly toasted. They shouldn’t be browned, just slightly toasted for more flavor. Reduce oven heat to 325 degrees F (162 C). The second time I made this recipe, I skipped this step, and it turned out fantastic as well.

2.In the meantime, add flaxseed, coconut, and salt to a large mixing bowl and stir. Set aside.

3.Once oats and pecans are toasted, add to the mixing bowl along with chopped prunes. Loosely stir to combine and set aside.

4.Add nut butter, coconut oil, and maple syrup to a small saucepan and bring to a low boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Then remove from heat and immediately add to the oats.

5.Mix thoroughly, ensuring that the prunes and the sunflower butter mixture are evenly dispersed and coating all of the dry ingredients.

6.Add the mixture to a parchment-lined 8×8-inch baking pan and spread into an even layer. Then top with another layer of parchment paper and press down with something flat – such as a measuring cup – to press into an even, uniform layer.

7.Bake at 325 degrees F (162 C) for 20-25 minutes or until the edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan. Transfer to the freezer to speed cooling time.

8.Once cooled, lift out of the pan and slice into desired number of bars. I cut them into 16 squares, but I ended up eating two squares each time anyways. Maybe try 8 or 9 instead?

9.Melt chocolate and coconut oil in a small mixing bowl over a double boiler on the stovetop. Dip squares in chocolate and set on parchment paper to harden. Place in freezer. Once bars have dried/cooled, store in the fridge.

I hope all my fellow Canadians had a wonderful long weekend!

The Cheapest Thing I’ve Ever Made

Good evening, friends! I’m not feeling the best right now. You know the post-dinner end-of-the-week slump where you just want to eat ten scoops of peanut butter and then lie down and sleep for 12 hours?

That’s me right now.

Pancakes one morning! Pics coming up.

Thick and Hearty Paleo Banana Pancakes

Serves 1: makes 2 pancakes

Ingredients
  • 1 small overripe banana, or half large
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch salt
  • 3 tbsp. almond flour
  • 1 tbsp. coconut flour
  • coconut oil for frying
  • desired toppings
Instructions
  1. Mash banana. Add egg, cinnamon, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Whisk well.
  2. Add almond flour and coconut flour, whisking until combined.
  3. Heat coconut oil over medium-low heat and fry two pancakes. When golden brown, flip and cook the other side. If the pancakes get too brown, lower the heat.
  4. Serve immediately with toppings, and enjoy!

Brown sugar and soy sauce salmon with a rice vinegar marinade. Turned out quite tasty over leftover fried rice.

This breakfast was SO filling! Oats topped with two chopped kiwis, a square of banana bread, yogurt, and granola. Whew.

DSC06318

PEANUT STEW! This was the cheapest thing EVER. Spinach, sweet potatoes, peanut butter, rice. Does it get any more inexpensive than that?! Also, it was freaking delicious. It was so good that I made two batches in a week, each batch serving three.

In other words, I ate this exact same peanut stew six times in seven days. The toasted peanuts on top are perfection.

Peanut Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach
SERVES: 3
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/4″ cubes
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth or chicken broth (I used chicken)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup smooth peanut butter
  • 3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • Brown Rice to serve
  • Peanuts, lightly toasted
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a pot. Add onions and saute for 4 to 6 minutes, or until onions are fragrant. Stir in garlic and ginger, continuing to cook for two more minutes.
  2. Stir in pepper, salt, cayenne, and cumin. Start on the low end of the cayenne pepper and add more only if you want it spicier. Cook for 1 to 2 more minutes until spices are fragrant.
  3. Next add in sweet potatoes, carrots, veggie broth, and honey. Bring mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer over low heat. Stir in peanut butter and let stew cook for 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes are soft, stir in spinach and continue to cook until spinach has wilted. Serve with over brown rice if desired and top with toasted peanuts.

Mac and cheese was devoured. This vegan mac and cheese (which I topped with real dairy cheddar… I know) was made with kabocha squash! Ahhhh-mazing.

Last week I shared some cinnamon bun muffins with you guys! Here is the recipe, copied and pasted from a paleo recipe site. Hence the links to all the ingredients below.

Cinnamon Bun Muffins
Serves: 9 muffins
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. To make the muffins, combine almond flour, coconut flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl
  2. In a large bowl blend together oil, agave, eggs, and vanilla
  3. Blend dry ingredients into wet and scoop a scant ¼ cup at a time into lined muffin cups
  4. To make cinnamon topping, combine agave, cinnamon, and oil in a small bowl
  5. Spoon topping onto muffins
  6. Bake muffins for 8-12 minutes at 350°.

Another day, another dessert…

Strawberry Banana Crumble

Serves 1

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • handful berries
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 110 mL quick oats (7.5 tbsp)
  • 3 tbsp almond meal
  • 1/4 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice bananas into a bowl. Toss with berries.
  3. Place fruit in baking dish. Drizzle with 1 tsp maple syrup. Bake for 10 minutes.
  4. Make crumble layer by mixing remaining ingredients (including remaining 2 tsp maple syrup), except coconut oil and cinnamon.
  5. Melt coconut oil in the microwave, then add cinnamon and pour into bowl. Mix all ingredients together.
  6. Once fruit has cooked for 10 minutes, remove baking dish from oven. Spread crumble layer on top. Return to oven and bake for 20 minutes, until top is golden brown.

And mac and cheese, of course.

Vegan squash sauce is irresistible, but you can take it up a notch with extra veggies, caramelized onions, and yup, broiled cheddar on top.

So good.

Quesadilla with avocado, egg, salsa, and cheddar. Classic and so delicious.

This sweet potato and ricotta tart filled with chopped spinach turned out okay.

It looked beautiful, but I think something was missing in terms of flavour. I might add goat cheese, scallions, and mushrooms next time.

Sometimes, messy food can be the most delicious. I probably had egg yolk on every single finger after devouring this tasty sandwich!

DSC06066

Pancakes were also enjoyed a second time. New recipe!

Oatmeal Ricotta Pancakes

Makes 3 pancakes

Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp cinnamon, to taste
  • 2 tsp ground flax
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tbsp. ricotta cheese
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients together. Cover, let batter rest overnight in the fridge to soften oats.
  2. Heat nonstick pan over medium-low heat and cook 3 pancakes. Flip when golden-brown and cook opposite side.
  3. Enjoy with Greek yogurt and other desired toppings. I like berries and maple syrup!

That’s it for today, everyone! Make sure you check out some of my brand-new PAGES: Acro Yoga, Aerial Silks, and Yoga Photo Journal. 🙂 I will update them regularly!

Have an awesome weekend.

PS: did you know that if you click furiously on the words under the TAG section, you can add as many tags as you want?! Now I have 239408 tags for this post…

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.

13219843_1359986404027894_159038559_n

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.

DSC05520

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.

DSC05316

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?

13179060_1068978153148060_6659570526188519901_n

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! 😀

Lately: Favourite Ways to Add Protein

Hey friends! Good Thursday morning. I hope you’re all having a wonderful week so far. I’ve got a couple of cool new (to me) recipes to share with you while I devour this morning’s bowl of chocolate pear oatmeal.

I baked this almond raspberry cake yesterday, and I’m actually eating a big square of this right now crumbled over my oats. Unlike normal cakes made with dense white flour and refined white sugar, this recipe uses almond meal (ground almonds) and maple syrup/honey.

Can you believe that 1 cup of almond meal has 24 grams of protein? I just googled it and was pretty shocked. I used 1 egg + 1 flax egg because my carton was nearly empty, but if you do use 2 eggs, that pumps up the protein even more.

This cake is super delicious and reminds me of a sturdy, not-overwhelmingly-sweet almond croissant.

Gluten-Free Paleo Almond Cake with Raspberries
Serves: 4
INGREDIENTS
  • 1 cup almond meal, firmly packed into measuring cups
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp ground flax + 2.5 tbsp water
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Make flax egg by combining flax with water. Set aside for 5 minutes.
  2. In the same bowl, beat egg, maple, coconut oil, and vanilla extract.
  3. Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt. Whisk well.
  4. Finally, add almond meal. Mix until just combined. Decorate with raspberries if desired.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for 45-50 minutes.
  6. I like mine served with a scoop of yogurt. Store in the refrigerator.

Another snack I’ve been having is tea! I usually steep English breakfast tea or Earl Grey tea in boiling water and then add half a cup of milk. The milk adds creaminess, a little sweetness, and 4 grams of satisfying protein. This snack warms me up and fills my belly in the best possible way.

If you’re a tea addict, I highly recommend purchasing a milk frother! It’s a life changer.

Of all the ways to add protein to my diet, nuts would have to be my all-time favourite way. They are epitome of a healthy snack! I always sprinkle toasted walnuts and pecans on my yogurt and oatmeal. They add sweetness, crunch, and, um… nuttiness.

Doesn’t this brownie look amazing? It tasted pretty dang amazing too. Plus… it’s vegan! You would never guess that it’s free of butter and eggs. I encourage you to give this recipe a try, especially if you’re a little fearful of black bean brownies.

Vegan Brownies
Serves: 9 brownies
Ingredients
  • flax eggs (2 Tbsp (14 g) flaxseed meal + 5 Tbsp (75 ml) water)
  • 1/2 cup (112 g) melted vegan butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1/2 cup (96 g) coconut sugar (or organic cane sugar)
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) maple syrup (or agave nectar)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup 48 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup (120 g) spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup (27.5 g) almond meal
  • optional: 1/3 cup vegan chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and lightly grease an 8×8-inch (or similar size) baking dish with coconut oil, then line with parchment paper (the oil helps the parchment paper stick to the sides).
  2. Prepare flax eggs in a small mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. To a large mixing bowl add melted vegan butter or coconut oil, coconut sugar, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Whisk thoroughly to combine and start dissolving the coconut sugar.
  4. Add flax eggs and whisk once more until combined. Then add baking powder, sea salt, and cocoa powder and whisk.
  5. Add gluten free flour blend and almond meal and fold with a spatula until just mixed. Then add desired add-ins (optional), such as vegan chocolate chips or nuts.
  6. Add the batter to the prepared baking dish and spread into an even layer with a rubber spatula. Add a few additional toppings if desired, such as chocolate chips and nuts (optional).
  7. Bake for 22 minutes, or until the edges appear dry and slightly fluffy and the center is no longer wet or sticky.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, preferably 45 minutes – 1 hour (the longer they cool, the less tender they will be). Then gently lift out of pan and use a sharp knife to cut into desired number of squares (I went for 9).
  9. Store completely cooled leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature up to a few days. Will keep in the freezer up to 1 month.

Sometimes I like topping my yogurt with almond butter and crumbled cookie. 1/2 tbsp of almond butter not only tastes amazing but adds a bit more protein to the plate. Also, Greek yogurt is a protein God when it comes to vegetarian snacking. I always go for 2% plain Greek yogurt and sweeten it myself with a little maple syrup and cinnamon.

DSC04426

What is this odd concoction? I actually had this for breakfast, but it would totally work as a snack as well. I mixed 2 eggs with some applesauce and tried to make pancakes, but they turned into a scramble that I topped with 1/4 cup of Greek yogurt, hemp hearts, and way too much nut butter. This kept me full for HOURS.

Yum! Sliced apple with brie cheese. Brie is probably not the highest protein cheese, but it sure tastes good with gala apple slices. I wish I had some white cheddar for this – yum.

DSC04019

Last but not least for high-protein snacks – a tasty oatmeal pancake made with egg and topped with nut butter. This recipe was inspired by Kate! https://thedomestikatedlife.com

So for a couple more tips on nuts and stuff like that, check out Nuts.com. You can also take a look at this like to see some nutritious high-protein snacks. It was fun to look at those snack ideas and then put this post together because a) I eat and photograph nuts all the time anyways, and b) they shared this cool graphic with me!

Check it out:

nuts_post_workout_snacks_2x_v03 (1)

So, why all the hype about protein? You might already know it as the macronutrient that helps you build muscle, but what else? Here are some of my favourite reasons.

  1. Protein is satisfying and can help to reduce appetite.
  2. It is great for bones.
  3. It promotes heart health.
  4. Protein stabilizes blood sugar levels.
  5. It can also help to improve your mood!
  6. It reduces cravings and the temptation to engage in late-night snacking.
  7. It can boost metabolism and help burn fat.
  8. Protein can help your body repair itself after a tricky workout.
  9. You don’t need too much of it (definitely not as much as the media hypes it up to be)
  10. It can be found in most foods (some are nonintuitive – like peas!)

Now, onto something that is completely unrelated, my crow pose!

And a little flow that I like to do. One of my favourite yoga instructors suggested trying chaturangas on one foot!

It’s been rainy the past couple of days, so I’m really missing this sunny day when I could do yoga in the parking lot in the morning. Still working on that headstand, though. 😛

Check out this recipe for coconut flour banana bread. I made it a couple weeks ago and really like it! Coconut flour is loaded with fibre, and the almond butter adds extra protein (yup). Plus, who doesn’t like banana bread – especially with chocolate chips?

Coconut Flour Chocolate Chip Banana Squares (gluten-free, paleo)

INGREDIENTS
  • 3 medium ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 8×4 inch or 9×5 inch loaf pan with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine bananas, vanilla and almond butter; mix until well combined, smooth and creamy. Add in eggs, one at a time and mix on medium speed until combined. With the mixer on medium-low speed, add in coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and salt; mix again until just combined. Gently fold in chocolate chips.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth top. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool for 20 minutes, then carefully invert, remove bread from pan and place back on wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 12 slices.

Perfect on oatmeal! With peanut butter, of course.

Changing the topic again…

Yay for school being over!

BeFunky Collage

That means more time to go out to cafes and enjoy sandwiches,

more time for yummy dessert like this coconut cream puff,

and more time to cook veggie pasta with goat cheese, pesto, and parmesan.

It also means more time in the morning to bake… brownies for breakfast? For real.

Brownie Batter Breakfast Bake
Yields: 1 serving
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup quick oats
  • 2 Tbsp. almond meal
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ tsp. baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup milk or almond milk
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup, to taste
  • ½ tsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp mini chocolate chips, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F, and lightly coat an individual sized ramekin or oven-safe bowl with coconut oil.
  2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients (use 1 tsp chocolate chips). Fold in chocolate chips, reserving a few to sprinkle on the top.
  3. Transfer batter to your greased ramekin, topping with reserved 1 tsp chocolate chips. Bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on desired consistency.
  4. Remove from oven and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before adding any additional toppings and digging in!
  5. Serve with yogurt, crushed nuts, and nut butter. Enjoy hot or warm!

More time to decorate my oatmeal…

And maybe not if I’m feeling lazy.

It’s kind of ridiculous how many eggs I’ve devoured in the past week. Eggs + spinach + cheese and whole wheat pita/bread is my favourite quick and easy lunch of all time.

More oats with a side of Physics, taken before the exam. 😛

Quinoa topped with cheddar and a poached egg.

Granola oatmeal, because why not top oats with oats?

DSC04302

This was roasted sweet potato with quinoa and a delicious salmon in red curry with peas and spinach. Mmmmm dinner dreams.

DSC03977

I’m so boring with breakfast, I know.

Come to think of it, I’m pretty boring for all my meals.

DSC04325

Amen.

And again. Wow, I really don’t get sick of the same stuff!

Okay, finally something different! Mashed ripe banana in cocoa oatmeal with almond butter swirl.

Okay, back to boring.

One day I bought a couple desserts to split with the roomies! Our favourite was the vanilla bean cheesecake.

DSC04122

When you run out of toppings you can improvise with… chocolate.

DSC04311

C’est tout for today! Hope you all have a wonderful rest of the week.

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!

DSC02331

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.

DSC02314

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 😉

DSC02304

Happy Wednesday!