Healthy Chocolate Cupcakes!

Good morning blog land! It’s been so long since my last post! I’ve been very busy with wedding things! It’s less than two months away and I’m so excited! On the weekend I finally had some time to bake a treat for myself and it was obviously something chocolate! I thought I would share it with all of you! This recipe has no refined sugar, is gluten-free and vegan. Enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes
Yield: 12

Cupcake:
1 cup sorghum flour
1/4 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup cocoa (I used ruddy cocoa)
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup palm sugar
2 tbsp grape seed oil
1/2 large ovocado
1 cup water
1 tbsp vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Icing:
1/2 large avocado
2 tbsp cocoa
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp coconut oil

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F, oil or line a 12 cup muffin tin
Add avocado to a blender with oil, water, vanilla, and vinegar. Blend well.
Mix all dry ingredients in a stand mixer or mixer bowl. Whisk.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until a batter forms.
Fill muffin cups 3/4 full.
Bake for 26-30 minutes.
For the icing, mix all ingredients together in a small blender or use elbow grease to mash all the avocado and then add the other ingredients. Let cupcakes cool completely before adding icing. Store in fridge.

Enjoy this sunny tuesday friends!
Now to finish my mango smoothie :)

-Angie
Chocolate Cupcakes

Half Marathon number 12!!!

Hey bloggers!!! I just wanted to write a quick post about my half marathon on the weekend. I was my 12th one, but it was my first half marathon as a plant-based, gluten free sugar free athlete! Well ladies and gentlemen, I cut 14 minutes off my time! I was so happy and the best part is I achieved my goal of completing a sub-two-hour half marathon! I’m already thinking about what race I want to do next :) I just so badly want to get a personal best again and race even faster! With the wedding in August I won’t have much time to train so I’m thinking of doing a half marathon in October. It was such a great feeling on Sunday! I truly encourage everyone to try a race one day. I know it can cost a lot to register but it’s for a good cause and the atmosphere and the feeling after is totally worth it!

Now to eat…an apple!

Angie

Fruit Pie and Half Marathons!

Good evening blogging bloggers! It’s that time again…the day before a race…when I get all excited and antsy! I’ve had a very relaxing day with lots of carbs and my fiancé is currently making a big rice pasta dinner! I also made a pie today that is really delicious and I was asked to share the recipe! The pie is sugar free, vegan and gluten free.

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Gluten Free, Vegan Pie Crust
This recipe makes two crusts, or a top and bottom. I almost always make a double batch and end up with four crusts, then I freeze them wrapped in cellophane and then in a freezer bag.

Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca flour
1 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
4 tablespoons cold vegan butter
1/2 cup almond milk

Process:
In your stand mixer, mix the flours, sugar, baking soda, xanthan gum, and salt. Add the shortening and butter. Then add milk mixing at medium speed. Clean the paddle and mix again. Place on a cutting board dusted with rice flour, and form into a ball with your hands. Divide it in half.

On a cutting board place the ball on a piece of wax paper, then flatten the dough on the paper. Cover with another wax paper piece and then roll until flattened. Remove top piece of paper, place upside down pie plate on the dough, then flip over your cutting board. Even out the crust.

For partially cooked crust, cook at 350F for 8-10 minutes, add filling and then finish baking.

For fully cooked crust, cook at 350F for 18-20 minutes, then add filling and let set.

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Filling:
So my favourite pies are fruit pies, specifically apples and berries. My fiancé agrees which works out well. This is my basic fruit pie recipe. I’ll give you the basics and then post some variations.

Ingredients:
5 cups of berries/apple pieces
1 cup of maple syrup
1 cup of water
3 tbsp tapioca starch or corn starch
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp vegan butter

Process:
Blend two cups of the fruit.
Whisk water, syrup and starch in a large sauce pan, add blended fruit and stir over medium heat for about 15 minutes until thickened.
Add lemon juice and butter, stir until melted.
Remove from heat and add remaining fruit.
Pour filling into fully baked and slightly cooled crust.
Let sit in the fridge for at least 4 hours…more is better…though extremely difficult.

So here are some variations!

Blueberry: Easy, just use 5 cups of blueberries.
Blaspberry: 3 cups blueberries and 2 cups raspberries.
Triple berry: 2 cups blueberries, 2 cups raspberries and 1 cup blackberries
Apple and Raspberry: 4 cups raspberries, 1 cup of chopped apple pieces, plus add 1/2 cup of apple sauce to the blended raspberries.

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Hope you all have an awesome rest of the weekend!

Now to eat my carb filled pasta dinner!

– Angie

Cinnamon Nut Protein Bars

 

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These cinnamon bars are packed with nuts, dates and lots of protein! I make these bars every time I am travelling as they are perfect for breakfast or for snacks when you are having a hard time finding gluten free and vegan food while being away from home.  Recipe comes from : http://whatsfordinner-momwhatsfordinner.blogspot.ca/2013/05/raw-vegan-cinnamon-roll-larabars.html

Once prepared, I wrap the bars in parchment paper and place in the freezer. Once defrosted they are safe to keep in your luggage or even your purse as they don’t crumble or change shape. This simple recipe takes about ten minutes to make and the results are delicious and nutritious!

Recipe

1 1/4 cup medjool dates, pitted

1/2 cup raisins

1 cup almonds

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup cashews

1/2 tsp of vanilla

1/2 TBSP Cinnamon

* 1/2 TBSP of maple syrup if using a date other than medjool

 

Step One: Add all ingredients into your food processor and pulse until fully incorporated.

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Step Two: Spread into a baking dish lined with parchment paper and freeze for 1 hour before cu

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* Makes about 6 large bars or 8-10 medium sized bars

Nova Scotia Date Squares!

My family comes from Nova Scotia and majority of my extended family still lives there including my grandparents. Each year, I (and sometimes my husband) make the trek out to visit everyone and I must admit, apart from seeing family, one of my favourite parts of visiting ‘home’ is indulging in the fantastic maritime food :)
My grandfather loves to bake and he is the king of making dessert squares, with his date squares being my absolute favourite, and now I have the recipe! I made one slight adjustment with the sugar, but other than that it is his same recipe :)
So I invite you to bake these Nova Scotian date squares, close your eyes and imagine yourself on Canada’s gorgeous east coast.

Ingredients:

1 cup of butter or butter alternative
1 cup of coconut palm sugar
1 1/3 cup of gluten free flour
1 1/3 cup of oats
1/4 cup of wheat germ (if making gluten free, you can substitute wheat germ for flaxseed, or ground sunflower seed)
3/4 tsp baking soda
Pinch of salt

Filling:
3 cups chopped dates

Mix dry ingredients and cut in butter. Use hands to create somewhat of a crumble.
Place chopped dates in sauce pan with 1 1/2 cups of water and stir over low heat until it thickens into a paste, about 15 minutes.
Press half the dry mix into a greased 8″ or 9″ pan. Spread date filling over the base. Sprinkle the remaining mix on top of the dates and press gently.
Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.

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Meal Prep Sunday!

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Those who know me, know that while I have made massive changes to my lifestyle and attitudes surrounding food over the past 5 months I still very much struggle with portion control. Like seriously struggle. I also still really struggle with the convenience of takeout food (sushi is my weakness!). So I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the past few weeks about people who have similar issues and what they have done to overcome them and this reading lead me into the wonderful world of ‘Meal Prep’! The concept behind meal preparation is a simple one; cook and prepare your weeks worth of meals and snacks on Sunday all the way down to prepping the portion sizes into individual containers. The idea is to prep 3 main meals (to be spread across lunch and dinners), your breakfasts and snacks so that each morning you simply need to open your fridge and grab your meals as you go. Yes, there are repeat meals (for example, you may eat one thing for lunch on Monday that you may also have for dinner on Wednesday), but the focus is ensuring healthy meals and correct portion sizes.  Today was my first time experimenting with weekday meal preparation.

***Note*** I made a ton of rookie meal prep mistakes, most of which were made after step 4. I’ll highlight these mistakes so hopefully others can learn from them!

Step #1: First, I had to decide what my husband and I would be eating this week. I wanted to ensure that I was setting us up for success so I chose meals that weren’t too ‘out of the box’ but also ensure that we wouldn’t become bored of the meals as well. I chose to make a Black Bean Salad, a Thai Quinoa Salad and a Savoury Potato Stir-Fry (all recipes are below). For breakfasts, I chose a Tropical Overnight Oats recipe, and snacks are frozen cherries with greek yogurt and granola, chopped veggies and dried apricots.

Step #2: Before starting my grocery list I did a full fridge inventory. I’ve started using an app called ‘My Inventory Lite’ that helps me to keep track of what is in my fridge as well as expiry dates to help with over-buying and reducing food waste. I then completed my grocery list based on what was already in my fridge and what I knew I would use this week.

Step #3: I then prepped my food containers. It is best to do this before you go grocery shopping so you will know ahead of time if you need to purchase some extra containers or food storage bags. It is important to note that while you may be cooking all your food on your meal prep day, you may not necessarily be combining all your ingredients on that day. For example, for my Thai Quinoa Salad, the sauce and quinoa will be added the day of to ensure freshness and will therefore be stored separately in the fridge. **Honesty note: I had to send my husband back to the store because I forgot to buy snack bags**

Step #4: Prepping your meals! Now, here is where the mistakes began. What I should have done was prep each meal individually and by meal type; instead I prepped only by meal type and tried to ‘save time’ by prepping all vegetables are once and making the bulk of my meals at the same time. BAD IDEA. I ended up confusing ingredients as a result of constantly flipping back and forth between recipes and the result was I accidentally created a new meal I refer to as ‘Mexican Coleslaw’. Also, as a result of confusing ingredients I had to send my husband back out to the store for additional items. So, I highly recommend preparing each meal individually, it will save you time in the long run.

Overall, Meal Prep Sunday was a huge success! It saved us from ordering out at least two times, and had us both eating correct portion sizes. It was also nice not to have to do a ton of dishes each night as the clean up was minimal. I’m not going to lie, it was a lot of work up front, but totally worth it in the long run. I’m spending today prepping for my second meal prep sunday!

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Almond Cookies and Coconut Almond Bites

I am really excited to share these two recipes. I have used the recipes below many times over the past year and they have become a usual staple in my home. Almond meal(flour) is one of my favourite flours to use. The taste is fantastic and I have found some excellent recipes that only require a few ingredients and have delicious results.

From our kitchen to yours, enjoy these delicious vegan almond cookies and raw coconut almond bites, I promise they won’t last long :)

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Original Recipe: http://www.everydaymaven.com/2013/vegan-almond-cookies/

Ingredients
  • 1 ½ cups blanched almond flour
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 Tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 15 sliced almonds

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. Combine almond flour, salt, baking soda and cinnamon in a bowl. Use a fork to mix and press out any clumps.

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  1. In a separate bowl, combine melted coconut oil, vanilla extract, almond extract and maple syrup. Mix well.

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  1. Pour wet ingredients into dry and use fork to mix until well combined. It may be a bit sticky but this is okay.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat and use a teaspoon to scoop batter.
  3. Use your fingers to flatten the cookies down a bit and top each cookie with a sliced almond.
  4. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool a couple minutes on baking sheet then remove to a wire cooling rack.

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*  Recipe yields about 15 cookies 

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Original Recipe: http://realfoodoutlaws.com/raw-coconut-almond-macaroons/

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut flake
  • 1/2 cup almond meal/flour
  • 2 TBSPs maple syrup or raw honey
  • 2 TBSPs coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.
  2. Mix thoroughly until a dough forms.
  3. Roll into balls or shape as desired. * Balls can be rolled in coconut or cocoa
  4. Store in the refrigerator or freezer in an airtight container.

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* Recipe yields 12-14 bites

Sleep, Parenting and Health

We all know we feel so much better when we’ve had a good night’s sleep, and for most people a good night’s sleep is between 6 and 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Any less than 6 hours of sleep in a night and most people would agree that they feel groggy, irritable, and possibly lethargic the next day. A few nights of bad or little sleep and you may find you have headaches, trouble concentrating and are a little clumsy in addition to your already foggy, irritable demeanour. But what are the consequences of weeks or months of little sleep? Does sleep deprivation really hurt your overall health that much?

As a new parent (and a new parent to twins no less), I am all too familiar with the costly effects of sleep deprivation. For the first three months of Ginger Snap and Sweet Pea’s life, sleep was a fantasy, and good sleep was a joke. As all new parents know, in the first few months the baby rules all. During those first few months, with two babies and two random schedules, my husband and I found that for either of us to get any sleep at all and for my husband to be able to function at work each day, that taking turns sleeping at night worked best for us with my husband being allotted at least 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. At that point in time, my husband was getting home from work at roughly 8pm each night, so we would eat dinner and then I would sleep from 10pm till midnight. At midnight, we would switch and my husband would sleep from midnight till 4:30am and then I would sleep from 4:30am till 7am. And we did that for 3 MONTHS. Now, thanks to sleep deprivation I actually can’t comment on my state in those three months because I honestly cannot remember a single thing that occurred during that time. If I didn’t have pictures, I seriously would not have a single memory of that time period.

Lesson Learned #1: Chronic sleep deprivation dangerously impairs memory recall and working memory.

After three months, for better or for worse, we moved to sleeping at the same time and dividing the night’s tasks between the two of us. During this time we practiced co-sleeping by sharing our bedroom with the twins (something I highly recommend) and while the babies were still too young to be put on schedules they were at least feeding closer together than they had been the first three months. Regardless, my husband and I were now sleeping for a max 2 hours uninterrupted followed by being awake for an hour (to feed both babies and rock them back to sleep). We did this every night. For 5 months.
The lack of sleep at this point was causing not only memory problems, but speech problems as well. I had difficulty recalling simple words, communicating thoughts, and sometimes even slurred speech. Thank god I never drove much during this time period because I probably would have been mistaken for driving drunk or something. I was also randomly dropping and gaining weight, and encountering random periods of high anxiety and depression.

Lesson Learned #2: Chronic sleep deprivation causes prolonged confusion, challenges in communication, weight issues. Studies done on sleep deprivation and weight problems hypothesize that sleep deprivation could be disrupting hormones that regulate glucose metabolism and appetite (Van Cauter E, Spiegel K (1999)).

At seven and a half months old we were finally able to get Ginger Snap and Sweet Pea on the same strict schedule, and holy crap our world changed. We are now getting roughly six hours of sleep each night and often, most of that is uninterrupted. I have felt my memory slowly improving, my ability to string coherent sentences together is getting much better and I find I’m starting to have some real energy (I’m now measuring my day in cups of coffee rather than pots of coffee). However, what has been interesting is despite getting more sleep (I wouldn’t yet say we are getting good sleep), my husband and I have entered a new stage in experiencing the physical effects of sleep deprivation. Pain. Real and terrible physical pain, particularly at night. We’ve noticed that by late afternoon we both start to experience joint pain and muscle fatigue. And by joint pain, I mean all joints, all at the same time. Simultaneously, my wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, hips and neck start to scream in pain. Not joking, last night it was too painful to be awake. My body was literally screaming at me to sleep.

Lesson Learned #3: Chronic sleep deprivation causes real pain.

So as a new parent what can be learned from this?
Accept every single ounce of help that is offered to you. If someone offers to watch your child(ren) so that you can rest and sleep, ALWAYS SAY YES.
Ask for help often. There is a tendency as your baby gets older to turn down help or ask for help less, I have foolishly done it myself a few times. Until your baby is sleeping through the night regularly and is feeding less frequently, continue to ask for help.
Lack of sleep can affect you in ways you never imagined and you can continue to feel the effects of the lack of sleep long after sleep has returned to your life.
I’ve learned you can’t be a good parent if you aren’t taking care of yourself and getting as much sleep as you can is vital to leading a healthy and happy life :)

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