Things I’m Loving Lately

I sometimes tend to dwell on the negatives. I’ve been working on it, though. To hold myself accountable, I thought it might be fun to start a monthly series on things I’m loving! Here’s the October edition.

Pumpkin Spice Everything: 

I never really understood the buzz around pumpkin spice until relatively recently. Now, I just can’t get enough. I had a few coconut milk pumpkin spice lattes from a local cafe last fall, but found them to be overly sweet. I went to the internet found a few PSL recipes online, including this one from Oh She Glows. It’s outta this world delicious, and I often have a jar of the syrup on hand in the fridge throughout the fall for whenever the craving strikes.

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Lately, though, I’ve really been loving this cashew pumpkin spice latte from Ashley at Fit Mitten Kitchen. On weekday mornings, it’s enough to lure me out of bed at 6 a.m. I’ll make one of these and enjoy it in the window seat as the sun rises. It’s the perfect “first breakfast” to hold you over until mid-morning. I also made Ashley’s Whole Grain Greek Yogurt Pumpkin Bundt Cake for Thanksgiving the other week and it received rave reviews all around- so moist and subtly spiced with notes of cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and nutmeg.

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Breakfast

I fell into a bit of a breakfast rut for awhile, eating toast with peanut butter and banana for days weeks on end. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that. I just knew that my morning meal needed a shake-up. I’ve long admired Robyn (also known as The Real Life RD) for her healthy and hearty breakfasts which often include eggs, toast with avocado and/or nut butter, so I decided to try it. Game changing, if I do say so myself. I’ve never considered myself to be a savoury breakfast gal, but I have found the combination of eggs, toast, avocado, and some greens to be so satisfying and energizing. My new favourite by far! We usually buy this amazing organic sourdough bread from the farmers’ market, but I use Silver Hills sprouted grain bread and bagels in a pinch.

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I also made these amazing spelt and sweet potato cinnamon rolls from the Blissful Basil cookbook on the weekend. I highly recommend. Unlike your average cinnamon roll, these are made healthy with whole spelt flour, sweet potato, maple syrup, and coconut sugar. They still taste indulgent enough, though. I ended up using organic ghee instead of the coconut oil that is called for and it made them so rich and satisfying. Ghee is basically butter with the milk solids strained out of it- so it’s pure fat and liquid gold. Perfect for high-heat cooking, too, as it remains stable at high temperatures!

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Fall Running

All of the hot summer runs that I suffered through make fall running so worthwhile and rewarding. Distances that seemed so challenging just a couple of months ago now feel (almost) effortless. I did a 19 km run commute yesterday to end off my marathon training on a high note and took it nice and slow. I stopped to take a few photos along the way. Pure bliss! It started raining partway through but I didn’t care; running in the rain is my favourite. Plus the pathways are much quieter now without many cyclists, so you can really just get into the zone. It’s so peaceful out on the pathways and I am often overcome with a sense of enorphin-induced gratitude for this form of movement that I’ve been fortunate enough to have fallen in love with. IMG_0160.JPG

Well, that’s all for today, folks! Marathon weekend is coming up and I’m getting a little bit worried over my lack of nervousness. I guess it comes along with running the distance for the first time- I have no baseline to compare myself to. Qualifying for Boston isn’t really a goal of mine this time (although I’m not going to lie- running under 3:30 is my sky-is-the-limit goal that I’d be elated to achieve on my first attempt). I just want to enjoy every step and soak up the experience of covering 42.2 km on my own two feet! We have plans to eat all of the food and drink all of the beer afterwards, which I am looking forward to just as much as running the race. I’ll probably do a post about my marathon experience next week, so stay tuned for that.

Until then, have a wonderful week. Hopefully you are enjoying lots of yummy food and moving your body in ways that feel good to you!

 

 

 

Maple Cinnamon Sunflower Seed Butter

I love my nut and seed butters. They are a quick and easy source of energy and so versatile, too! Perfect on everything from toast to baked sweet potatoes, in dressings and sauces, and in baked goods, they are packed with healthy monounsaturated fats and minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc.

Store-bought versions are great in a pinch, but what if I told you that making your own will save you money, reduce packaging waste, and allow for greater flavour and nutritional value? Yes, it’s true, and the only thing separating you from seed butter bliss is a handful of ingredients, a heavy duty food processor, and about 20 minutes?

This maple cinnamon sunflower seed butter recipe is perfect for fall, and puts Canadian maple sugar to good use! If you have never had maple sugar, now is your chance! It infuses this butter with the dreamiest notes of sweetness and maple (just don’t use maple syrup, as liquid sweeteners can cause nut butters to seize and harden!).

This seed butter goes best on toast with raspberry chia seed jam, muffins, baked sweet potatoes, oatmeal bowls, and chia pudding, or eaten straight off of a spoon.

It makes a generously-sized batch that is sure to last you several days. I find myself making it over and over again (when I’m not making Oh She Glows vegan Nutella, that is 😉 ). Whatever you do, don’t allow another day to pass you by without homemade nut or seed butter in your life. ❤

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Maple Cinnamon Sunflower Seed Butter 

Makes 1 3/4 cups (425 mL)
Time: 12 minutes roasting + 15 minutes prep

Ingredients: 

3 cups raw sunflower seeds
1/3 cup maple sugar
2 tbsp cold-pressed sunflower seed oil (sub coconut oil in a pinch)
1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 F (160 C). Spread the seeds onto a large parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast for 12 minutes, or until seeds are golden and fragrant.
  2. Spoon the toasted seeds into a heavy-duty food processor and process for 5 minutes. Add the maple sugar, oil, salt, and cinnamon. Process for 10 more minutes, stopping the food processor to scrape the bowl as necessary, until the sunflower butter is silky and smooth. Err on the side of over-processing, as the extra time will result in the most luscious spread!
  3. Pour the seed butter into a 500 mL glass jar with an airtight lid and store in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.

 

No-Churn Chocolate Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream (Raw + Vegan)

I know what you’re probably thinking. I just posted a recipe celebrating fall flavours, and a few days later, I’m back with an ice cream recipe? In my defense, I created this recipe in August. And if my habits are like anybody else’s, colder temperatures outside don’t suddenly mark the end of ice cream season.

My parents used to own an ice cream machine. I have fond childhood memories of making a Canadian Living maple walnut praline ice cream recipe with my mom almost weekly throughout one particularly muggy Ottawa summer. Eventually, my parents downsized and the old 90s model Cuisinart ice cream machine didn’t make the cut. I cried when I had to say goodbye to that beloved ice cream maker, but I got over it pretty quickly when I moved to British Columbia and tasted my first Cold Comfort treat.

When I made the decision to stop eating cow’s dairy a few years ago, I filled the void with store-bought and artisinal vegan ice cream treats. Though delicious in their own right, I knew that a healthier, more economical way was possible in my own kitchen- sans ice cream maker (who the heck has space for one of those?).

A girl’s gotta do, gotta do, what a girl’s gotta do. -Jill Barber

Necessity is the mother of invention, folks. Sticky summer heat + intense cravings for chocolate and berries resulted in this lavish and divine dessert that just so happens to have a number of redeeming qualities. Think magnesium from cashews and raw cacao powder, potassium from bananas, and antioxidants from raspberries. Plus, this ice cream is so satisfying that it’s almost impossible to over-eat. I have found just one scoop to be sufficient (and that’s coming from a girl who needs at least two scoops of Coconut Bliss).

This ice cream is so easy to make, it’s almost ridiculous. The only special equipment that you need is a high speed blender, a food processor, and a loaf pan.

You start by soaking some cashews.

Next, you drain them and add them to your blender with some maple syrup, filtered water, vanilla extract, and sea salt.

Then, you process some frozen bananas, coconut oil, and raw cacao or cocoa powder.

Add the cashew mixture to the banana mixture and process until very smooth.

The final step is making a quick raspberry chia jam that you swirl into the ice cream right before freezing.

The hardest step is waiting 4 hours for your ice cream to firm up in the freezer.

And then, ding! Just like that, your ice cream (and hopefully, your day) is made.

Wawaweewa!

Dreams really do come true.

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No-Churn Chocolate Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream 

Notes:

  1. You can make the raspberry chia seed jam ahead of time. You will have extra, which can be used on toast or oatmeal.
  2. You will need to soak the cashews in cold water for at least 4 hours, or in boiling water for 1 hour, before proceeding with the recipe.
  3. This ice cream is best when enjoyed the day that it is made. Because it is not churned, it hardens a lot when kept in the freezer for beyond 24 hours.

Ingredients: 

Raspberry Chia Seed Jam:

  • 2 1/2 cups raspberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 cup maple sugar or coconut sugar
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds

Ice Cream:

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked (see note, above)
  • 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 4 frozen bananas
  • 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup raw cacao powder or cocoa powder

Instructions: 

  1. Make the raspberry chia seed jam: In a medium saucepan, combine the raspberries and sugar over medium heat, stirring frequently. Bring to a simmer and turn down heat to low. Continue stirring until mixture has reduced slightly, about ten minutes. Stir in chia seeds and set aside to cool.
  2. Make the ice cream: Drain the cashews through a fine mesh sieve. Add the cashews to a high-speed blender, along with the water, maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Blend on high until very smooth, stopping to stir as needed. This may take 2-3 minutes, so be patient!
  3. Place the frozen bananas, coconut oil, and raw cacao or cocoa powder to a food processor. Process until the mixture achieves a ‘soft serve’ consistency.
  4. Pour the cashew mixture into the food processor and blend everything together until very smooth.
  5. Line a standard loaf pan with parchment paper.
  6. Pour the ice cream mixture into the prepared pan. Pour 1/2 cup of raspberry chia seed jam over top and swirl into the ice cream with a butter knife.
  7. Place on a flat surface in the freezer for 4 hours, until completely firm.
  8. Remove from the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving to allow ice cream to soften slightly.
  9. Leftover ice cream can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to one month; however, it will harden and crystallize considerably. I would recommend using it in a raw vegan milkshake: combine 1 cup of ice cream with enough non-dairy milk to achieve a creamy consistency in a blender and blend until smooth.

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Apple Muffins with Pecan Streusel

Fall is officially here! (Insert dancing emoji here.) Can you tell that I’m excited? Summer is such a stagnant time for me in terms of motivation and creativity. I can’t relate to people who feel free and happy when the weather is hot and sunny. I feel more like an Eeyore than my usual Tigger personality. With the change in season comes a renewed pep in my step and an increase in motivation. I also want to spend time in the kitchen again! Seriously, there were a few weeks in August when I lost motivation to train for my fall marathon, questioned whether or not I should even have a food blog if I don’t even want to cook, and had a bit of a not-quite-quarter century crisis. Thankfully, I have patient friends who brought me back down to earth. And then, just a few weeks later, the temperature started to drop, the leaves began their shift from bright green to deep red, and my whole being breathed a sigh of relief.

The cooler temperatures bring feelings of coziness and togetherness, as well as cravings for warming meals. The deep bowls of soup and stew that we shun all summer long finally appeal. Never-ending cups of chai tea while curled up with a good book sound like a good way to while away an afternoon.

I also feel as though cooler weather and pumpkin spice go hand in hand. Sure, the humble combination has been appropriated by commercial interests in recent years, but if we can look just beyond that and appreciate pumpkin spice for what it is at its essence, we can enjoy it in all manner of foods and beverages all season long. I’m kicking things off with a pumpkin spice apple muffin recipe that practically sings ‘fall.’

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These muffins are entirely vegan, easy to whip up, and use everyday pantry ingredients that you probably already have on hand. They also lend themselves well to substitutions. Not a fan of raisins? Feel free to use cranberries or dates. Allergic to nuts? Skip the topping, or top with chopped dark chocolate instead. No coconut sugar on hand? Use brown sugar. They are also ultra moist and bursting with flavour. They make the perfect breakfast component (try one with a smoothie for a complete meal) or on-the-go snack.

I hope that you enjoy the recipe! It’s good to be back. 🙂

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Pumpkin Spice Apple Muffins with Pecan Streusel Topping 

Servings: 12-14
Cuisine: Vegan
Time: 15 minutes prep + 30 minutes baking

Ingredients:

Wet:

  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (canned or fresh- if canned, ensure that can is BPA-free)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Dry:

  • 1 cup light spelt flour or whole spelt flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 3 tbsp coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 medium crisp, sweet apple (i.e. Gala or Honeycrisp), peeled and finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup dried fruit (raisins, chopped pitted dates, or cranberries all work well)

Topping:

  • 1/2 cup pecan halves
  • 1 tbsp coconut sugar

Instructions: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners, or grease with coconut oil.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients.
  3. In a separate bowl, sift together the dry ingredients.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until combined. Avoid over-mixing. The batter will be quite runny.
  5. Fold in the apple and the dried fruit.
  6. Add 1/3 cup of batter into each muffin cup. Top with a couple of pecan halves and a sprinkle of coconut sugar. If you have more batter than is needed for 12 muffins, you may pour it into a small ramekin or oven-proof glass container and make a mini cake for yourself. 🙂
  7. Bake until golden, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean, 27-35 minutes.

Mediterranean Broccoli and Chickpea Salad with Roasted Pepper and Feta

This Mediterranean-inspired broccoli salad is bursting with flavour, texture, and colour! Broccoli is steamed until just tender and combined with roasted bell peppers and almonds, salty goat feta, sweet currants, and chickpeas! Then, everything is tossed in a tangy lemon-Dijon vinaigrette. This dish is great as a side or as a main dish when paired with a roasted sweet potato or quinoa. 

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Hey, friends! I’m baaaaack with a summery Mediterranean vegetable salad that covers all of the nutritional bases, and is super delicious to boot. I apologize for the prolonged absence, but hopefully now that I can feel the season turning ever so slightly, I will get back onto a more regular posting schedule. Thanks for your patience as I figure out this whole blogging routine. 😉

I’ll confess that I haven’t really been enthused about cooking this summer- a bit worrisome for somebody whose passion is food, but normal, I suppose, in the context of the extreme heat and ecosystem devastation that the planet is experiencing. It’s enough for even the most diehard foodie to lose their appetite. From raging wildfires in California to a grieving killer whale mother carrying her dead calf through the ocean off the coast of British Columbia for what is going on weeks, it’s hard to be an aware human being at this point in time. At the risk of sounding overly political, I am going to come right out and say that I am keenly aware of the reality of global warming/climate change, and the trends are incredibly worrisome. My response to stressors of any kind has always been to turn inward, and while I feel guilty at times for not being a more vocal activist, it has never been my style. I have always felt more comfortable with leading by example. I have deep respect for anyone who is a vocal activist, don’t get me wrong. But it has never been my style and I wouldn’t be my authentic self if I pretended that it was. So I return to my kitchen, again and again, because it has always been my happy place and, increasingly, because it is through my food choices that I feel I am able to vote for a more just and sustainable future.

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Now, I am not saying that salad will save the world. What I am suggesting is that the more of us who prepare meals in our own kitchens, using locally and sustainably-sourced ingredients, the better off our world will be. And at a time when more and more of us feel powerless in the face of rising seas, droughts, wildfires, and unprecedented pollution levels, being connected to our food is a pretty necessary thing indeed.

Hopefully I don’t come off as preachy; that is never my intention. I just can’t pretend that everything is just fine when the world is a mess. Sure, it’s fun to scroll through Instagram and admire all the pretty food photos, but there are so many important and pressing issues that we all need to be devoting time and energy to. Hopefully I can use this platform as a force for good by providing ideas for how to restore our connection to the earth, starting with the food that we purchase and eat. And that brings me to this salad. I put seasonal, farmers’ market-fresh ingredients to good use here, with broccoli, roasted bell peppers, and red onion playing starring roles. I added some local goat feta for a salty contrast, but feel free to omit it if you are vegan or dairy-free. Roasted almonds or seeds provide some toothsome crunch, while dried fruit adds sweetness. The tangy lemon-Dijon dressing is light and coats the ingredients nicely without overpowering them. Overall, this salad is filling and hearty while remaining light enough to eat in the heat of summer. I enjoy serving it with a baked sweet potato to complete the meal!

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Thanks for sticking with me through this post, and I hope that you enjoy this salad as much as I do! If you make it, let me know! Leave a comment below, and tag me on Instagram @holisticallie and #holisticallie. 🙂

Mediterranean Broccoli and Chickpea Salad with Roasted Peppers and Feta 

Servings: 4-6
Time: 30 minutes
Cuisine: Plant-based, Gluten-free, Vegetarian, Vegan

Ingredients: 

  • 5 cups broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 cup roasted red or orange pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup roasted almonds (I roasted organic raw almonds at 325 F for 10 minutes)
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup dried currants
  • 1/2 cup finely diced goat or sheep feta cheese (optional, omit for vegan option)

Lemon-Dijon Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp chickpea miso or mellow white miso (if you are unable to find this miso, substitute 1 tbsp tamari or 1/4 tsp fine sea salt, to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:

  1. Steam the broccoli until tender-crisp, about five minutes. Remove from heat and empty into a large bowl.
  2. Add remaining salad ingredients to the bowl with the broccoli.
  3. Make the dressing by adding all ingredients into a medium Mason jar. Screw on lid and shake to combine.
  4. Pour the dressing on top of the salad and toss until incorporated.
  5. Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to eat. This salad will keep in the fridge for a few days, although the broccoli will begin to lose its bright green hue!

 

Double Chocolate Protein Bars

Why buy protein bars when it takes ten minutes to whip up a batch in your own kitchen? These protein bars are packed with protein (obviously), healthy fat, complex carbs, and are lightly sweetened with pure maple syrup! The icing on the cake, so to speak, is the raw chocolate glaze. Made with just four ingredients (cacao butter, raw cacao, maple syrup, and almond milk), it propels these protein bars into “I can’t ever go back to store-bought” territory. 

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Well, we made it to Friday. If you have a Monday to Friday job, happy weekend! If, like me, you still find yourself working retail on weekends, I feel ya! Hopefully you can make the most of whatever time you have off over the next couple of days.

I don’t know anyone who actually craves store-bought protein bars. Sure, I will eat one in a pinch (and given that I work in a health food store, there is never any shortage of options for when one is feeling rather peckish). However, I have never been able to find one that suits my taste and quality preferences. Most of them contain at least a handful of ingredients that I am not keen on putting into my body, and I would rather keep things as healthy and natural as possible. Add to that the fact that I am trying to reduce my plastic footprint, and it’s easy to see why homemade is the way to go.

This protein bar recipe is the product of a desperate attempt to use up some protein powder that had almost reached its best before date. It’s entirely a first world problem, true, but I hate to waste food, and I couldn’t possibly stomach more protein smoothie bowls.

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These bars make the PERFECT afternoon snack when you’re low on energy and need a pick-me-up to get you through the afternoon. They are also phenomenal as a post-workout snack to kickstart muscle recovery. However and whenever you choose to enjoy them, I hope that they become your new favourite snack!

If you make this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment below, and tag me on Instagram with @holisticallie and #holisticallie!

Double Chocolate Protein Bars 

Servings: 10
Cuisine: Vegan
Time: 15 minutes + 30 minutes chill time

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chocolate protein powder of choice (I used Botanica brand)
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 cup nut or seed butter of choice (peanut, almond, cashew, sunflower, tahini all work)
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk

Raw Chocolate Topping

  • 1/4 cup cacao butter
  • 2.5 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp non-dairy milk

Instructions:

  1. Combine protein powder, oat flour, salt, maple syrup, and nut butter in a large mixing bowl. Stir until dough begins to form. Gradually add non-dairy milk until mixture reaches a cookie dough consistency.
  2. Line a 8×8 square baking pan with parchment paper. Press dough evenly into pan and flatten as much as possible. You want the dough to be packed as tightly as possible so that the bars do not fall apart.
  3. Prepare the raw chocolate. Place cacao butter in a heat-proof bowl over a pot of almost boiling water. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in remaining raw chocolate ingredients. Pour over protein bar dough.
  4. Place in the freezer for 30 minutes or until chocolate has hardened.
  5. Slice into 10 even rectangles and store in the refrigerator until ready to consume.