To kick off November I am sharing a tasty snack recipe that I like making a variation of at least once a month. These date based energy bites are relatively quick to make and the spicy ginger and molasses flavours are fitting for the wintery season we’re edging in to.
Am going to keep the chatter on this post short but I do want to let you know that you should totally make these and bring them to your next pot-luck event or office as a surprise treat for your co-workers (those that I work with may be getting a taste of these soon... just sayin').
Gingerbread Energy Bites Recipe
250 g soaked dates (at least an hour or more if they are quite dry)
1 tsp freshly grated ginger root
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp each cloves, nutmeg & salt
1 tbsp molasses
⅓ C each sprouted raw pumpkin seeds, chopped cashews, buckwheat groats, and rolled oats
Blend all in food processor (scraping down the sides however many time you need to get this texture). Makes about 18 small rounds.
1 - It's delicious. Granted I will eat nearly anything. However, these little seeds are excellent vehicles of flavour since they themselves have no flavour so this allows for creative flavour combos... although, I usually lean towards the slightly sweet for the puddings.
2 - It's a portable and make-ahead friendly! A few tablespoons in a mason jar with some almond milk and any extra flavour add-ins and you are on your way to pudding goodness. I usually make a few jars on Sunday night and leave them in the fridge for quick morning breakfasts, a midday snack or a tasty dessert if any last until the end of the week.
3 - Nutrient dense super food! These little seeds have a lot packed in to their tiny packaging. High in protein, fiber, omega-3, iron, magnesium and plenty more. Top off with add-ins like fresh or dried fruits, nuts and seeds and you've got yourself a really great combination of energetic fuel!
4 - They make an excellent egg replacer for baking! Just combine 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water, let sit for 5-10 minutes and you now have an egg replacer for cakes, cookies, muffins, pancakes, or sweet breads! Sometimes I combine ground chia and flax seeds for an ultra nutrient dense egg replacer for baking too.
5 - They can be used to make a jams that do not require commercially produced pectin and the ridiculous amount of sugar needed to make the pectin work. Just berries of your choosing, a bit of sweetner (I like maple syrup or local honey) and chia seeds! Here's one of my favourite recipes from Oh She Glows :)
This is how I make my chia puddings:
Chocolate Chia Pudding
4 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp raw cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
1 tsp camu camu*
1 tsp non-gmo soy lecithin**
1/4 tsp vanilla powder (or vanilla extract)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch of Himalayan salt (or sea salt)
1/2 cup almond milk (or any milk you prefer)
1 tbsp maple syrup (honey or agave works too)
Toppings: sliced fruits, chopped nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, etc.
1 - Combine first six ingredients in a straight sided mason jar. Screw on lid and give it a good shake to mix all the dry ingredients together.
2 - Add milk and sweetener, replace lid and shake well.
3 - Remove lid and using a spoon or small spatula scrape down the sides of the jar to ensure everything is on the liquid.
4 - Replace lid again and let sit for 30 minutes or place in fridge and use within 5 days.
5 - When ready to eat just remove lid and place whatever toppings you'd like on top, mix and chow down. Or pour in to a bowl for added pretty presentation points ;)
*Camu camu is totally optional. I've recently been adding this to my chia puddings for additional vitamin C and antioxidants. Found it at The Light Cellar here in Calgary.
**Non-GMO soy lecithin is also totally optional. However, adding a lecithin add-in is something you may want to consider as a neurotransmitter it aids in memory retention (among many other benefits)! Another great find from The Light Cellar here in Calgary.
Do you include chia seeds in your daily/weekly diet routine? How about baking with it? If you haven't tried it before do you think you may give it a shot? Let me know in the comments or send me a direct message if you have any questions! Enjoy :)
I'm starting to get organized better with meal prep (and my life in general!) and figured I'd start with muffins. These little nuggets are just what the mid-morning hunger will need without sneaking in to my emergency chocolate supply.
This recipe was simple and quick to put together. They are really dense muffins and when you're mixing the batter don't be worried with how stiff it is... It will all work out.
Lemon-Blueberry Muffins with Buckwheat Groat Crunch
Makes 12 muffins
*Inspired by Chef Shane Kelly's version
4 tbsp melted butter or coconut oil
2 eggs or 2 flax-eggs (2 tbsp ground flax + 6 tbsp water => mixed and set aside to thicken)
1/3 cup honey
1/4 tsp vanilla powder (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 lemon zested
1 cup whole wheat flour or gluten-free flour blen
1.5 Almond meal
1/3 cup buckwheat groats
1 cup frozen blueberries (and a few extra to top the muffins with)
1 - Get all ingredients prepped and line a muffin tin with paper liners.
2 - Preheat oven to 325°F.
3 - Using a medium/large size bowl mix the first seven ingredients thoroughly with a whisk.
4 - Add next three ingredients and stir together with wooden spoon.
5 - Gently fold in blueberries with soup spoon. They will all not incorporate in to the batter because it will be quite stiff by now.
6 - Using a second soup spoon divide the batter between the muffin liners. Make sure to gently press the batter in to the form and that there aren't too many blueberries per muffin.
7 - Bake for 20-25 minutes.
8 - Once baked through these must cool completely!! Trying them too soon will only lead to disappointment and likely a mess of molten hot blueberry juice. Just saying.
9 - They keep best stored in containers in the fridge for a up to five days (if they last that long). All the more reason to make these on a Sunday night and you have delicious hearty snack muffins all work week!
Well there you go! Have you started any meal prep in your life? These muffins may be the gateway snack to a more organized life.
The term Fire Cider has been around since the 1980s thanks to Rosemary Gladstar (a renowned herbalist). However, the concept of this tonic has been around for ages. Many people have parents or grandparents who fed them homemade elixirs or teas of honey, garlic, ginger and/or horseradish for winter time coughs or springtime allergies. A few years later and there are plenty of us who are worse for wear (or watched numerous family and friends) having survived thus far through the standard Western medicine money-grabbing machine. It's time to learn and develop self-sufficient health positive skills, complimentary treatments and preventative tools to be used for overall health maintenance.
I was first introduced to this tonic last winter and after attending a local weekly Folk Herbalist Revival session where we discussed the power of herbal medicines I knew it was time to start new batch. So with the help of the local herbalists session and a Mountain Rose Blog recipe I put this together:
My not-so-precise Fire Cider recipe brewed on October 3, 2015:
*All organic ingredients*
Equal portions of red, white and yellow onion
About half of the portions of onions in equal portion: garlic, ginger and fresh turmeric root
3 different hot peppers (with seeds)
Zest & juice of a lemon
Heaping teaspoons of: multi-coloured peppercorns, cloves, allspice and star anise
All topped with raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar to cover.
(Sadly I couldn't find horseradish root at the time of making this batch... next time though!)
I placed the sealed bottle in a pantry cupboard and checked on it nearly daily. Shaking the bottle to mix the ingredients and watched the concoction change over the next few weeks from slightly murky to all the ingredients taking on the similar brownish colour (except the red hot peppers) and the smell reaching a spectacularly pungent kick.
After three weeks, I decided it was time to filter. The now mineral rich and powerful tonic had been infusing for 21 days was filtered from the contents and I added about 1/2 cup of raw unpasteurized honey. This last ingredient has two great benefits: firstly it sweetens the brew to reduce the harshness of the medicine and secondly, it brings the added benefits of wonderful raw unpasteurized honey to the mix!
After I posted the Fire Cider images above to my Instagram page I received a lot of great feedback looking for more details on the medicinal properties. Without making this the longest blog post ever and listing the seemingly endless details of each ingredient's property here are some key features that I like to focus on with this medicine:
- A potent flavonoid in onions called quercetin has been studied quite a bit for the antioxidant properties in preventing cancer. Also note that red onions have the highest levels of quercetin.
- Contains the compound allyl propyl disulphide and studies have shown that it seems to have a similar effect as insulin in balancing blood sugar levels.
- Fun Fact: Egyptians loved onions so much that they were regarded as objects of worship and images of the plant have been found inside some pyramids and tombs.
- Allicin is the compound of great attention here as it has profound antibiotic properties.
- The funny thing about allicin is that it is actually a defense mechanism created by two enzymes, allinase and alliin, and is produced after the plant have been injured. Therefore, chop or crush your garlic and get the most out of your food medicine folks!
- Also, there are blood pressure regulating properties in garlic when red blood cells produce hydrogen sulfide gas after absorbing the sulphuric compounds from the garlic consumed. This gas works by expanding blood vessels which in turn can lower/regulate blood pressure!
- The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger are complex. The most potent compound is called gingerol (aka -gingerol... there are a few different numbers of this compound) and a number of studies have shown significant effect with arthritis patients.
- Added bonus there are anti-oxidative (keeps you young!) and antimicrobial properties. All good for the stressed out and not-always-good-for-you microbe filled environments we live and play in!
- Known as one of the most potent natural anti-inflammatories on the planet and has been used in Aruvedic medicine for thousands of years.
- A component of great interest is curcumin as it has postitive effects on the body produced molecules that cause inflammation. Very important for alleviating arthritis.
- Yet another potent ingredient that does not disappoint with its many compounds and healing properties. The chief one for me being the antioxidant activities of the flavonoids (with phenolic acids) and capsaicinoids characteristics of hot peppers.
- Another amazing benefit, particularly because of my interest in fermenting anything I can find, is that there's been at least one study showing particularly positive evidence of the effects on heart health from consuming fermented red peppers. I will keep you posted as now I'm really looking forward to making my own fermented red pepper hot sauce!
- These little flavour spheres come in a variety of colours and contain an amazing compound called piperine that has been studied for its anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic effects.
- However, what I found really cool about piperine is the anti-angiogenic effects. This means that it stops the growth progression of tumours... There still needs to be more studies on this major alkaloid but it's looking good so far!
- Also, there's potential that piperine may be effective in treating macular degeneration too!
- Known by many cultures and for centuries for its oral health properties it has also been studied for more of its localized numbing effects. It's been called the "most penetrating spice plant" (which totally sounds dirty) and because of that feature more studies are being done.
- Cloves boost circulation while also being a pain desensitizer. The latter effect is caused by the compound eugenol.
- These little spheres of spice that taste like all the other spices combined has origins in Jamaica and has some similar properties as cloves.
- Fun fact: It was recorded that soldiers fighting with Napoleon in 1812 would crush and sprinkle allspice on their feet and in the boots to help keep them warm and ward off infection.
- By the time I reached this ingredient in my research I didn't think I could be more impressed by the powers of spices but Star Anise knocked it out of the park!
- The star compound (pun intended) where a lot of research has been focused is called shikimic acid and known as the "starter ingredient" for the widely used Tamiflu medication that was distributed worldwide during the swine flu scare a few years ago.
- Although amazing in its powers, to extract one pound of shikimic acid it requires 30 pounds of star anise. This created a significant price spike of this already not-so-cheap spice during the swine flu scare.
- These bright yellow fruits have been known for their health benefits for centuries especially in regards to its vitamin C properties.
- Vitamin C plays a vital role in a lot of functions but one that I did not know about until recently was that it works in the formation of collagen, which in turn is extremely beneficial for skin tone and overall healthy skin.
Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
- There are countless claims to the health benefits of apple cider vinegar on the internet. However, there is also plenty of legitimate scientific studies to back up many of these claims.
- The more important to me is its antioxidant properties due to the polyphenol compounds in ACV which reduces cancer risks.
- An ancient healing nectar that humans have been harvesting for thousands of years - there's even cave drawings in Spain from 8,000 years ago depicting a harvest!
- Among its many health benefits, the antimicrobial abilities of honey have been studied throughout the scientific community and whether you use raw or processed it is still very powerful. In any case, I always prefer raw honey and as local as possible.
By learning what is in and how to make our own medicines I believe a positive ripple of empowerment, health and positivity naturally expands through our connections, communities and throughout the world... one small but powerful individual step at a time.
Will you try making your own medicine? Will you share this knowledge with your family and friends and expand the ripple?
P.S. If you have read this far I'm really humbled and wanted to share one final tip... When you chop raw turmeric expect to get yellowed fingers, cutting boards, knives and pretty much anything it comes in to contact with. It's worth it though, only lasts a few days and is far better than using a rubber glove that will just end up in the garbage. Also, scrubbing with a bit of baking soda helps to remove the yellow staining from your kitchen tools!
*Reference for cloves, allspice and star anise: Healing Spices: How to Use 50 Everyday and Exotic Spices to Boost Health and Beat Disease. By: Aggarwal, Bharat B.
Going out for breakfast/brunch is really popular in Calgary and I'm definitely on board with the trend.
This past Sunday I ended up at Roni's Kitchen - a new Middle Eastern fusion breakfast/brunch pop-up that uses the Koi restaurant space solely on weekends between 9:00 am to 2:00 pm for filling patron's appetites with an all vegetarian/vegan menu that amazed our group of five friends.
I started off with a Cardamom Mud Coffee - which I was told was a traditional-style of coffee as it had murky coffee grounds which settled on the bottom of the small mason jar cup (making it "muddy") and it was flavoured with deliciously fragrant cardamom. It was a tad more bitter than I prefer so added a bit of sugar and really enjoyed it.
First from the menu - the Full-on Hummus appetizer we shared! When the dish arrived it definitely was not what I expected but something slightly different and totally delicious. With cucumber and pita to dip and scoop the hummus with we all got in to it pretty quickly and had to order more pita for the large amount of hummus served. The dip was unlike any that I'd had before where I've been use to a thicker paste consistency this was more soupy and had some whole chickpeas as well as mushrooms and small bunches of parsley as a topper that quickly was mixed in throughout. Nonetheless - it was amazing and I would certainly order it again.
For my main - I ordered the Burekas and chose the vegan option filling of almond-feta, eggplant, mint & za'tar. Also, chose the quinoa salad as the side. Un-fricken-believable. The presentation was beautiful (although my photos aren't the best at showing this... weird morning angle lighting and all) and the additional sides of house-made pickles, tahini and Schug (a Yemeni hot sauce! Whoa.) really sets this place apart from the rest of the great breakfast places this city has to offer.
Lastly, and of course, we had to have dessert... it was brunch after all and chose the feature popsicle (!) of the weekend - Apricot Nectarine. I didn't get a picture as they were again house-made and had no preservatives to slow the melting process on a warm late-Sunday morning. The only thing I would critique about these would be that the popsicle sticks be a bit longer or just not frozen in to the mixture so deeply leaving maybe an inch to hold on to while enjoying this treat which made it a bit awkward. That's the only thing I could possibly complain about... and I'd still order these again.
Seriously - if you like a variety of Middle Eastern food, going out for weekend brunch and trying something deliciously different get yourself and your friends to Roni's Kitchen as soon as you can. I suspect this may become a very popular place due to it's great menu, super friendly staff and excellent location. Can't wait to visit again and try more of the menu!