Happy National Coffee Day!

Like we need a special day to celebrate this blessed beverage! Val and I have what you call OCD. Obsessive Coffee Disorder!


Coffee, in our culture, is not only a beverage, but a destination – “Want to meet for coffee?” It is a reason for gathering and a reason for talking.  Coffee brings us together. Coffee wakes us up.  Often, it is the first thing we think of in the morning.  I know after the shower, the coffee is on in our house.  Val and I do a lot of brain storming and recipe planning over coffee too and you can’t deny that coffee and chocolate are a pair like no other.

It took me while to catch onto this nectar, but after a couple of kids, it was inevitable that I was going to need something to keep up.  Typically, I drink a cup or two in the morning, and that is it for me.  I am more of a tea drinker in the afternoon if I need a little lift.  The mornings though just wouldn’t be the same without it.

So as we celebrate the National Coffee Day, we would like to give props to a couple of our local coffee shops.

I am in Hamilton, but it isn’t unusual for Val to be in the area for work, so one of our faves is My Dog Joe, in Westdale Village.

After celebrating their 10th year open, it still remains one of the best in the city of Hamilton.  Fair trade, organic coffee is freshly brewed and is delicious.  Home made muffins, cookies, soups, sandwiches, and cupcakes make it hard to pick a goodie to go along with your coffee or tea.  The staff is friendly and it makes you feel at home.  My Dog Joe is in the heart of Westdale village, which is just down the street from McMaster University.  The clientele at My Dog Joe is a great mix of students and families that live in the area.  As part of the community, they showcase local artists on a monthly basis as well as local musicians.

Their treats are all good and some cater to gluten free and vegan options.


My Dog Joe has a couple of cousins worth mentioning as well that are finding their special place in our city as well.  Democracy Coffee House is in the west end of Hamilton, on the trendy Locke Street South area.  Democracy offers a wider variety of vegan options that are delicious.  The same treats and goodies can be found here as at My Dog Joe.  A welcoming atmosphere, this coffee shop’s walls are covered in chalk board encouraging their patrons to express themselves.  A family friendly place, you often see this as a weekend morning haunt for  young families.


Mulberry Coffee House is the other cousin that is in the heart of the city on James Street North’s active art neighbourhood.  Again, most of the menu remains the same with a few  things that are highlighted in this young and thriving neighbourhood.  This location is frequented by a vast array of customers, especially during the street’s monthly art crawl.  Mulberry has a side patio and on a warm summer day is the place to hang out by many artists and musicians.


So wherever you live, celebrate today, National Coffee Day with a cup of your favourite blend.  And if you are ever in Hamilton, Ontario, make sure you check these gems out when you are in need of a cup.





Pumpkin Season!

Pumpkin pie.  Pumpkin scones. Pumpkin muffins. Pumpkin spiced everything! Yes, it is pumpkin season and pumpkin flavoured everything is all around us.

Fall is now synonymous with pumpkin treats and although there may be an overload of pumpkin spice goodies, the pumpkin does give us some great health benefits.

Pumpkin is rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins such as vitamin A, C and E.  Pumpkin is also a good source of B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid.  It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.

Not only is the pumpkin full of amazing nutrients, but the seeds are as well.  They are a great source of protein, minerals, such as iron and zinc, as well as niacin.  They are also an excellent source of trytophan.

So if the taste of pumpkin doesn’t get you to eat it, the health benefits are definitely will.

I bought a few local pie pumpkins the other day not really knowing where I was going to go with them, but I came back to this sweet potato cookie I make pretty regularly and thought that the pumpkin may be a good alternative.  I hadn’t tried the recipe with pumpkin before so it was also a chance to experiment too!

First step is to steam the pumpkin.  The pie pumpkins are smaller than your pumpkin you would buy for Halloween.  I cut the top off and then cut them in half to expose the inside and the seeds.  Take the seeds out and put them in a bowl and set aside for later.  Remember the seeds are edible and can be used to make a delicious little snack when roasted.  Scrape the goop out of the pumpkin and then cut into quarters.  Get a pot boiling and use a steamer attachment over your boiling pot or you can use the microwave by cooking on high for about 7 minutes per pound.  You will need to turn them every few minutes in the microwave to ensure even cooking.  The steaming method takes about 10-13 minutes, until the pumpkin is tender.  Set aside and let it cool a bit because it will be very hot.

Once the pumpkin is cool to touch, scrape the ‘meat’ out and put into a bowl and mash.  This mashed pumpkin will be what you use in the cookies.  If you end up with too much mush, you can put into an air tight container and put in the fridge to use for muffins or other recipes.  It will keep for a few days in the fridge.

Vegan Pumpkin Cookies


2 Cups Flour

** I made two batches.  One with wheat flour and the other gluten free.  The gluten free batch was made with 2 cups of brown rice flour and 2 teaspoons of Xantham gum.  I find this combination really works well for cookies.

1 teaspoon Baking Powder

1 teaspoon Baking Soda

1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon Salt

½ cup of grapeseed oil or you can use melted coconut oil or melted vegan butter.

1 Cup Pumpkin mash

1/2 Cup Sugar – I used some brown sugar, but coconut sugar could be substituted as well. If you want a sweeter cookie, add a couple of tablespoons more.

2 tablespoons Maple Syrup

1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract


Preheat your oven to 350ºF (175ºC).

In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand up mixer, put in the pumpkin mash, maple syrup, vanilla, oil and sugar.  Mix until well combined.

In a separate bowl, mix in the flour, baking powder, baking soda and the cinnamon and nutmeg.

In increments, mix the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture.  Mix in between adding to make sure all the flour gets mixed in evenly.  The dough will be sticky so don’t panic!

The best thing to do if you have the time is to put the mixed dough into the fridge for half to one hour.  It will just make handling the dough a little easier when you have to roll them into balls.

Line a baking sheet with parchment.

I roll my into balls and flatten with a fork.  Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon sugar on them and put them into your preheated oven for 10-12 minutes.


The cookie is a soft cookie and is so good as a snack.  I have to admit to having a couple for breakfast.  They are not overly sweet if you use the 1/2 cup of sugar, so if they seem like they need some more sweetness, there is always the option of adding a little maple drizzle on them too.

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The lovely seeds are not to go to waste either!  After you set them aside when you take them from the pumpkin, wash off with cold water and drain.  I let them sit on some paper towel to get excess water off of them.  Put them into a bowl (I had about 2 cups of seeds from two pie pumpkins) and I added 2 tablespoons of maple syrup and 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon.  Mix thoroughly.  Spread out onto a parchment lined baking sheet and pop into the oven at 400 F.  Bake for 8-10 minutes and stir half way through.  The seed should be golden brown and dry to touch.

Take out and cool and enjoy!  There may be some that stick together but it almost makes it like a brittle that isn’t so sweet.  I was eating them like candy this weekend.  The seeds were so good.  Notice I said ‘were’


Hope you enjoy the pumpkin cookie and seed recipes today.  It is really starting to feel like fall now and we hope to bring you more delicious recipes over this season to share with you.

Happy Monday!


My New Roots – 10 Spice Chocolate Chili

The sunny, warm weather is still with us but Fall is officially here. Just like we change over our clothes for the impending cooler weather, we also tend to eat differently in the Fall and Winter months.  With the cooler, crisper weather at our doorstep, Val stepped into the Experimental kitchen and opened up one of her favourite cookbooks, My New Roots by Sarah Britton, which we have posted a review on previously. (click here to go to it!)

Val’s pick from My New Roots today is 10 Spice Chocolate Chili.  Chili is a cold weather staple in our home and we seem to make it slightly different every time depending on what is in the cupboard and fridge, but the basics remain the same.  Sarah Britton’s Chocolate Chili recipe is sure to warm you on a cold day.

Now, you’re probably wondering…did she just say Chocolate Chili?  Yes!  The inspiration for this rich warm chili was based on the classic ‘Mole’ sauce from Mexico.  The word, ‘Mole’ was the ancient word for mix.  A classic ‘Mole’ sauce can be an elaborate mixture of up to 30 ingredients, including, cocoa, chilies, nuts, seeds and spices.

The ingredients are roasted and ground into a fine powder or paste which is then mixed with water or broth, simmered in a heavy clay pot and stirred almost constantly to prevent burning. This sauce is usually poured over other roasted dishes and not served alone.

In this short cut version, Sarah fills it with antioxidants and delicious ingredients.  Using cocoa in a savory dish may be new and strange to you as it was for us when we first started using it, however,  in its natural state, cacao is not sweet at all and is the perfect superfood for this recipe.


1 large sweet onion, diced

2 medium red bell peppers, diced

2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed

2 ears of fresh corn, kernels sliced off the cob

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp coriander seeds

1 tsp sea salt

1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/4 tsp ground cloves

pinch nutmeg

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, or to taste

1 tbsp dried thyme or 7 large sprigs of fresh thyme leaves

1/2 tbsp dried oregano or handful fresh oregano leaves

4 bay leaves

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

28 ounce can whole tomatoes

2 cups mixed beans (kidney, black eyed peas, black beans)

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 1/2 cups water

freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 lime

fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish

1/3 cup pumpkin seeds, lightly toasted for garnish

1 lime, sliced into wedges, for garnish

Optional: fresh cubed avocado


  1. Chop the onions, bell peppers and sweet potatoes, keeping the onions separate. Shuck the corn and slice the kernels off the cobs; you will have about 2 cups of kernels. Mince the garlic.
  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large pot over medium heat. When it has melted, add the cumin and coriander seeds. Cook for a couple of minutes, until fragrant. Add the chopped onions and salt; cook for another 5 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
  1. Add the cinnamon, chili powder, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg, cayenne, bay leaves, thyme, oregano and cocoa powder, and cook for a minute or two. If the pot gets dtry, add some of the juice from the tomatoes.
  1. Add the corn, peppers, sweet potatoes, and beans, canned tomatoes with their juices, maple syrup and 1 1/2 cups of water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender, about 20-25 minutes. Stir in the lime juice and season to taste with more salt if desired.
  1. Serve hot, garnished with the cilantro, pumpkin seeds and lime wedges or diced avocado.

*Our recipe excluded the chipotle powder and exchanged it with chili powder and added a pinch of freshly ground nutmeg



Time for some Turmeric

Val has been busy in The Healing Kitchen! 

Val has been using Turmeric for many years and has written up some great health benefits along with some recipes for you to try at home.  Enjoy!

For many years, we have been fascinated with ways to approach healing with nature through the use of plants, herbs, and when necessary, supplements. We try to find way of treating burns, cuts, coughs, colds and sports related aches and pains in the kitchen with teas, tinctures and foods rich in protective antioxidants.

Today, I would like to share with you my love of using turmeric for healing wounds or cuts, pain relief, inflammation, indigestion, heart and joint issues, and giving the brain health benefits.  Seeing as we are coming into the beginning of fall, inevitably we are also faced with cold and flu season falling upon us as well.  Turmeric has anti- microbial benefits that will face your colds or flu head on and help your body fight them.

Turmeric is well known as the spice that gives mustard and curries its golden hue. The root has a brownish skin and bright orange/yellow flesh with a mild scent of orange and ginger. Turmeric ‘Curcuma Longa’ is a member of the ginger family. It has been used as a healing herb in India and to some extent China for thousands of years. Researchers have discovered that the pigment in turmeric known as curcumin has powerful antioxidant properties which fight cell damage. It is believed that one of the causes of disease and aging is related to cellular damage caused by free radicals produced in the body. Simply put, free radicals are molecules that are highly reactive and attack healthy cells in their path. Increasing antioxidant rich foods protects cells from these invaders. Turmeric is an excellent source of manganese, magnesium, iron and vitamin B-6 and a good source of copper and potassium.

Researchers have found that compounds in turmeric have powerful anti-inflammatory properties which are beneficial in easing arthritis, joint inflammation and carpal tunnel syndrome. Research has also shown benefit in fighting bacteria causing infectious diarrhea, gas, bloating and other mild gastrointestinal issues.  Turmeric also helps with the clotting process in the body. If you happen to cut yourself while working in the kitchen, sprinkle turmeric powder or apply the root of the turmeric to the wound and wrap tightly with a cloth to help with clotting.

Personally, I have used therapeutic concentrates of turmeric’s orange pigment, Curcumin, for more serious pain associated with a mountain bike injury and once with a flu virus causing severe pain in my hands. The pain was alleviated very quickly with a dose of 400 mg 2-3 x per day without any negative side effects. The formulation I used was standardized to contain 95 % curcumin in the form of a capsule. In order to obtain this quantity from the spice you would need to consume 100 grams or 3.5 ounces of turmeric powder to obtain an effective dose of curcumin. Once the pain was effectively treated, I stopped taking the supplement.

Possible side effects of taking more than the recommended doses include: stomach upset. Cautions for people with gallbladder problems,  pregnant or breastfeeding, have a blood clotting disorder, have history of stomach ulcers as high doses of curcumin may affect these conditions.

In test-tube studies (not performed on humans) curcumin may interfere in chemotherapy treatment for breast cancer.

There are no other drug or nutrient interactions associated with turmeric unlike many medications.

One of my favorite home remedies for the fall and winter months is a soothing and healing tea I like to call my Cold Comfort Tea with fresh turmeric & ginger, lemon and honey. At the first sign of a sore throat, I mix up a large quantity and begin sipping. We are so fortunate to have access to fresh turmeric here in Ontario, but you may use dried turmeric or order fresh online.

I use dried turmeric to flavor and color rice and quinoa dishes, eggless egg salad, salad dressings, roasted cauliflower dishes, and bean and lentil dishes. When using herbs and spices, less is more when learning the art of flavoring food. You can always add extra to taste as it is more difficult to take away if you over do it. Following recipes can provide some comfort in knowing that your recipe has been tested for maximum flavor enhancement.

Use caution when handling turmeric as its pigment is a powerful dye used to color fabric and skin alike. Wear gloves when handling fresh turmeric to avoid orange fingers and hands. If you happen to stain counters and skin, quickly was with soap and water immediately.

Store dried turmeric powder in a tightly sealed container in a dark, cool and dry place. Fresh turmeric can be stored in the fridge to extend shelf life if not using all of it right away. I also like to freeze extra in a jar and when needed grate it into recipes from its frozen state.

Enjoy this wonderful warming spice knowing you are adding health benefits while enjoying its delicious flavors.

Here are a few recipes I use throughout the year, but they are really nice once the cold weather hits.  Enjoy.


Cold Comfort Tea  with Turmeric, Ginger, & Honey

8 servings

8 slices of fresh ginger, sliced ¼ inch thick

8 cups filtered water

1 tsp dried turmeric

4 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tbsp raw honey

fresh lemon slices to garnish

In a large pot on high heat, bring ginger and water to boil. Reduce heat to minimum and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a large teapot and add turmeric and lemon juice. Let cool for 5 minutes before adding honey and mix well. Pour into a cup and add fresh lemon slice. Adjust sweetness according to your own taste. Enjoy!

Turmeric Tea Paste with Raw Honey

Yields 1 cup paste=48 servings

1 cup raw unpasteurized honey

8 tsp turmeric powder

*freshly ground pepper

fresh lemon juice

boiling water OR warm almond milk

½ tsp coconut oil, almond oil or coconut milk

*Pepper contains piperine a natural substance that enhances absorption of curcumin by an estimated 2000 %. Yes, you read that correctly!  Piperine is also known as a natural insecticide. Another name for piperine is bioperine which is found in high quality herbal supplements.

In a small clean mason jar, mix honey with dried turmeric to form a paste. This can be stored indefinitely in a cool dark cupboard.

Place a heaping teaspoon of the paste into a mug and pour hot almond milk or water (not boiling) and stir until paste is dissolved. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, pinch ground pepper, and a drizzle of coconut or almond oil.

Val made this soothing cup of love yesterday. I wish I was there to taste it!


Soothing Turmeric Almond Milk

4 servings

4 cups Almond Milk

½ tsp ground turmeric

1 tsp fresh ginger, minced

3 tsp raw honey

In a medium sauce pan on medium heat, combine almond milk, turmeric and ginger.

Warm, do not boil, then remove from heat, stir in honey and serve.

Gluten Free Pasta with Eggplant

The Eggplants are in full harvest here in Ontario, and they are looking awesome.  I was gifted a few and thought I would share a recipe I made last night.  It was simple, quick, and delicious.

Gluten Free Pasta with Eggplant


3 tablespoons of olive or grapeseed oil

1 or 2 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 eggplant, peeled and cut into about 1/2 inch pieces

1 large tomato cut into 1 inch chunks or you could use a handful of small cheery tomatoes, halved.

half a white onion, diced

1/2 cup of canned stewed tomato, pureed

1/4 cup of water

1/4 cup of vinegar

1 table spoon of sugar

1/4 cup of roasted pumpkin seeds

1 package of dried pasta.

salt and pepper


  • Heat up the oil in a large pan and put in the carrots and onion. Cook for a couple of minutes and then put in the eggplant and the tomato.
  • In a bowl, pour in the tomato puree, vinegar, water, salt to taste (1-2 teaspoons), pepper to taste, and sugar and mix together.  Then stir this into the eggplant mixture in the pan.
  • Cover the pan and reduce the heat to low.  Stir occasionally until the eggplant is cooked tender which usually takes about 15-20 minutes.
  • Get a large pot of boiling water and cook your pasta according to the package. We use gluten free pasta and it is very important to watch the clock with this as if you are using rice pasta it is very easy to over cook and end up with mush.  I find that rice pasta is good at about 8 minutes.
  • Drain and rinse your pasta and them combine the pasta and the eggplant mixture.



This dish is great hot or cold.  It is filling but doesn’t leave you feeling over loaded.  Hope you try it and enjoy!  Don’t be surprised if there are a few more eggplant posts this week as I try to use up the other three I have here!

Dark Chocolate Vegan GF Donuts

Experimenting with vegan baking has been a lot of fun.  When you want to make these goodies gluten free, that adds a whole new level of challenge to your recipe.  Playing with different blends of flours is frustrating at times, but once you have a mix that works, I tend to stick with it…until one day it doesn’t work for some reason.  🙂

Lately, I have found that a mix of brown rice flour, gluten free oat flour and xantham gum has been a good combination to keep the consistency favourable and also keep the moisture of the baked treats there as well.  Gluten free goodies tend to fall apart easily and become crumbly, but so far (fingers crossed). the mix of equal parts of the brown rice flour, gluten free oat flour and xantham gum (depending on how much rice flour you use) allows for a batter that holds together but isn’t dried out.

The last weekend of the summer holidays, Val and I found it necessary to say good bye to summer with chocolate.  The first of our recipes is a vegan, gluten free baked chocolate donut.


1/2 cup of oat flour. **we make our own gluten free oat flour by using the gluten free oats and blending it until flour consistency in a food processor, but it is  available to purchase already done, if you like.**

1/4 cup of brown rice flour

1/2 teaspoon of xantham gum ***this is necessary for binding when using rice flour as it tends to be very fine and will not stick together without it.***

1/4 cup dark cocoa powder

1/3 cup granulated organic sugar

1/2 teaspoon of baking powder

1/4 teaspoon of baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 unsweetened apple sauce

1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons of almond milk (soy milk will work as well if there is a nut allergy) **you could also go a little crazy and use chocolate almond milk and cut back on the sugar as it is already sweetened**

3 tablespoons of grapeseed oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla


Put the oven on 350F.  Lightly spray or grease your donut pan.

  • In a fair size bowl, mix in all of the dry ingredients together, combining them all.
  • In another bowl, mix in all of the wet ingredients with a whisk.
  • Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir until combined.
  • Using a zip lock bag or piping bag, put the batter into the bag and pipe the batter into the donut pan, filling to about half way.
  • Pop them into the oven for 10-15 minutes.  Test to see if they are done by pushing on the donut and see if it will spring back.
  • Take out of oven when done and cool on rack for 10-15 minutes before taking them out of the pan.
  • Top with icing sugar or make an icing or ganache topping.  We made a dark chocolate ganache icing by heating up about a 1/4 cup of chocolate almond milk (vanilla will work too) and adding about 1/2 cup of dark chocolate vegan chips to the hot milk. The heat from the milk will melt the chocolate.  Adjust for the consistency you will like for your ganache.  Dip the donuts into the melted chocolate ganache and put back onto the plate to harden.  We sprinkled ours but you can easily add nuts, coconut, or coloured sugar to yours to decorate.

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We would love to see some pics from you if you try this recipe out.  Let us know how you topped your chocolate.  To us, chocolate goes with just about anything! Enjoy!

Val’s Excellent Adventure – to the Archtop Cafe, Port Credit

Sunday mornings, Val can be found touring around her neighbourhood near Port Credit, Ontario in search of new and funky places to go.  Today was no different.  On her quest to find new and unusual places to go, she came across the Archtop Cafe in Port Credit and it has now become one of her favourite places to go.

Archtop combines the owners, Ron and Kim’s love of music and their love of coffee.  With guitars hanging on the walls and vinyl records for sale, what could be better than to combine these with organic, fair trade coffee and home made delicacies.  Ron and Kim cater to gluten free, dairy free, and vegetarian options as well, with fresh goods baked daily.

I hope to make it out there this week as well and bring my camera so we can get some good pics for you, but if you’re in the area, stop in for a cup and browse their extensive vinyl and cd collections they have on hand.

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Grilled Seasonal Veggies

After an action packed Saturday, Sunday afternoon is met with the sound of the barbecue calling.  I feel like it has been too long since I have grilled some fresh veggies.


Picked up some fresh Ontario peppers, zucchini, mushrooms and hot peppers from our Hamilton Farmers’ Market. and can’t wait to get these grilled.

I cut up half of each pepper into about 1 inch squares, sliced 6 cremini mushrooms, half of each zucchinis into cubes, one of the hot peppers and about a half of a red onion into large chunks.

Into a bowl they go dressing them with 1/4 cup of olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, the juice of half a lemon, a shake of sea salt, and then about 1 tablespoons of chopped fresh lemon basil.  Thoroughly coating the veggies with this mixture and put into fridge.

Fire up the grill!  Heat it up to about 400F and put the metal grilling basket on the rack of the barbecue to heat up as well.  Once to temperature, pour in the veggies.

Mix thoroughly ever few minutes and cook on medium for about 20 minutes depending on the heat of your barbecue.


Eat as a side or all on its own. So delicious.  One of the many benefits of summer…barbecues and fresh local vegetables.  Yum!


Zucchini Caponata

Traditionally, Caponata is made with Eggplant.  On our harvesting mission yesterday, at the community garden, I checked out the white eggplants growing in the plot and thought they probably need  another week or two on the plant.  But my heart was already on cooking Eggplant Caponata, which is a Sicilian eggplant dish that includes a sweet and sour element using vinegar and sugar.

I had bought yellow and green zucchinis at the farmers’ market yesterday so I thought they may make a good eggplant stand in.  Changing up traditional recipes is really fun for me.  Because I have been cooking gluten free for over 20 years, changing a recipe is something that doesn’t scare me, in fact, I like altering traditional recipes to give my own spin to them.  Whether I am making them gluten free, vegan, or just more healthy overall, changing the recipes will give you freedom to be creative and develop flavours that you may never have considered.

So using my zucchinis, and some of my harvest from the community gardens, I put on my metaphorical lab coat and entered the Experimental Kitchen…I feel that there should be some ominous music playing now.


1 clove garlic minced

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 green zucchini, diced

1 yellow zucchini, diced

1 large carrot, diced

1/2 red onion, diced

1/2 cup lemon basil, chopped

1/4 raw almonds

7-10 cheery tomatoes or 2 medium size tomatoes, cut into small pieces

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoons brown sugar

2 cups chopped kale


In a large pan, heat up the olive oil, then put in the zucchini and carrots.  Cook for approximately 10 minutes over medium heat.  Set aside.

In a smaller pan, heat up olive oil and garlic, onions, tomatoes, basil and almonds.  Pour in the vinegar and brown sugar and cook for 10 minutes.  Add this mixture to the large pan of zucchini and carrots, then add the kale.  Cook for another 5 minutes.

I served this on top of some brown rice and it was delicious.  The freshness of the veggies really shines through.  I absolutely love the taste of the cider vinegar and the hint of sweetness from the brown sugar.  Served hot or cold, this recipe is one of my new seasonal favourites.

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Harvest at Community Garden

Val and I both live in fairly large cities.  Val had a thriving vegetable garden last summer and this summer has a lovely herb garden growing in her back yard.  I have attempted to grow various vegetables in my back yard.  I tried in the ground. I have tried in pots.  I have tried in a raised bed.  For some reason, vegetables don’t like my backyard.  In fact, sunflowers don’t like my backyard either.  As much as I love them, I have tried about 4 years in a row to grow them in my back yard only to come out a couple days later to nubs.  Nothing but nubs sticking out of the ground.

My lack of ability to grow produce in my backyard has been good for my local farmers’ market and also for the food co-op I belong to, but I have to say it has left me feeling slightly defeated.  So when my husband came home and told me about their community gardens they have at his work, I was very excited.  As part of the Sustainability program at Mohawk College, many departments were given plots to use to grow their own vegetables and herbs.  Not only does this give people the opportunity to grow their own veggies, it gives the College the opportunity to study sustainability.  Tom and his co-workers planted some kale, cucumbers, peas, summer squash, cherry tomatoes and some lemon basil.  Having this garden gave them a chance to get outside during the day to weed it out and go and water the plants as well.  After checking on the garden this week, Tom came home to let me know that there were some veggies ready to harvest.

We took a trip up to the community garden and the bounty was awesome.  I walked among all the plots of beautiful vegetables and had to take some photos.

IMG_8924  Cantelope

IMG_8928  Cherry Tomatoes

IMG_8932   Pumpkins

IMG_8941   Eggplant

IMG_8942   Hot Peppers

IMG_8933  Purple Cabbage

IMG_8926   Lemon Herb Basil

IMG_8937  Sunflower

IMG_8939  Community Garden

IMG_8972   Our haul.  Peppers, cucumbers, lemon basil, cherry tomatoes and beautiful Kale.

Banana Peach Walnut Muffins

What to do with over ripe bananas and extra juicy peaches?  Mix them together in a muffin batter.  The results were awesome.

Totally spur of the moment muffin batch tonight.  Of course, it was a little too warm of the oven to be on so early in the evening, but the muffins were worth it for dessert.


3 ripe bananas

1/2 cup of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of unsweetened apple sauce

1/3 cup of Earth Balance margarine melted.

I put all of these into a big mixing bowl and use a hand mixer or the stand up mixer.  Blend all together really well.

In a separate bowl, mix together, 1 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour, 1 teaspoon of baking powder, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda.  Mix the dry into the wet until completely combined.  I then added 1/2 cup of crushed walnuts, which is optional of course.

Spoon into muffin tin.  I had the best gift given to me and use them all the time for muffins; silicone muffin cups.  They are brilliant. Put the tin into a preheated oven at 400F.  I baked mine about 17 minutes but I would say the range would be 15-20 minutes depending on your oven.

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Holy Granola!

Making granola is always experimental.  I love to toss in whatever I have on hand and see what come out of the oven.  The other night, I took to experimenting and liked it so much that I recreated the recipe again tonight and thought I’d share it.

We eat a lot of bananas here at our house but occasionally, the window of ripeness is closed and they are just too ripe to eat on their own.  Normally, I would make a banana bread or muffins or use them in a smoothie.  Last week I thought I would try them in a batch of granola.  And what goes better with bananas than peanut butter. Well, lets be honest, everything goes better with peanut butter.


Heat the oven up to 350F

In a large bowl of a stand mixer or a large bowl and use a hand mixer, mix the following:

1 banana

1/2 cup of peanut butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon of vanilla

Mix these ingredients thoroughly.

In another bowl, add these dry ingredients together:

2 cups of gluten free oats

1/2 cup almonds

1/4 cup walnuts

1/4 cup almonds

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup pepitas

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Mix the dry ingredients all together.

Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and mix thoroughly together to coat the dry.

On a cookie sheet lined with parchment, spread the mixture evenly.  Cook for 22-25 minutes but mix every 5-7 minutes to make sure it cooks evenly and doesn’t burn on the edges.

Take out and let it cool completely.

Put the granola in a large bowl.  Mix in 1/4 cup of chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of dried cranberries or raisins and mix again.

Store in an air tight container.  Use the granola on its own, a top for yogurt, or a few tablespoons on your oatmeal.

The great thing about granola is that you can add or subtract a number of different ingredients.  Let us know what combinations you have come up with!

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We be jammin’…with peaches

Peach season in Southern Ontario is met with mixed emotions for me.  As a kid, it marked the month of August and the upcoming Winona Peach Festival, which was fun, but also meant the end of summer.  As an adult, although I know the summer won’t last here forever, I do enjoy the changing of the seasons and try to embrace the best out of each one.  Peaches are definitely high up on the list of favourites for the summer.

Ever since our summer at Pie Bird Farm Sanctuary, where we attended a jam making weekend, I have used the same recipe to make peach jam.

Although the process can seem a little intimidated at first, it is quite easy.  Make sure you have a block of time to dedicate to making your jam without interruption and you will end up with some beautiful, fresh peach jam that will last you the winter.

This recipe can be used for just about any type of fruit and can be found in the package of the Sugar free Pectin box.  There is no artificial sweetener in this Pectin.  You can use some something to sweeten your jam but we just used unsweetened apple juice.

Before getting the fruit cooking, I get my canning pot going because it takes a while to get all that water boiling.  Get out your jars and lids to ensure they are clean.  Put the lids and rings in a smaller pot of boiling water and leave on simmer.  I sterilize my jars by putting them lying down in a 150F oven for about 10-15 minutes.  In fact, I keep them in there while my peaches are cooking.  This will heat them up as well for when the hot peaches go into the jars.  Peel and dice your peaches as well.  This recipe makes about 4, 250ml jars of jam.


4 cups of peeled and diced peaches

1 cup of apple juice or white grape juice

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1 package of sugar free pectin

In a large pot, put the peaches in on medium heat.  Pour in the apple or white grape juice and lemon juice.  Cook until fruit is soft and able to mash.  Mash the peaches to the point that you like them.  Some people like a more chunkier jam.  Once mashed, pour in pectin and continue to cook until starts to thicken.

I have a handy-dandy funnel for my jam jars that is well worth the purchase at your local grocery store or hardware store.  They are not expensive and saves you a lot of aggravation.  Ladle the prepared peaches into the jars and fill to about 1/4″ or 0.5 cm from the top of the jar.  Make sure there isn’t any jam on the outside of the jar and put the lids and rings on them.  Hand tighten. Put the jars into the boiling water of the canning pot.  Making sure there is at least 1″ or 2.5 cm of water covering the jar lids.  Put the lid to the canning pot on and let them boil for 10-15 minutes.  Take out using jar tongs (also another good purchase) and let cool in an upright position for at least 24 hours.  Check the jar seals and make sure the centres are pressed down.  Label. Store and enjoy fresh jam for the fall and winter.  Personally, peach jam is one of our favourites and last year I tried a couple of mangos mixed in and that made a nice addition to the peach flavour.  Of course strawberry, raspberry, apricot, or blackberries all make great jams too.  With the abundance of fresh seasonal fruit here, the possibilities are endless.

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Saturday night movie snacks

Saturday movie night has us watching The Kingsmen.  Normally, I  am not into action type films, but hey this one has Colin Firth, so how can I resist.  I know many of us have the habit of having a snack while watching a movie, whether it be in a theatre or at home.  More often than not, this snack is not a very healthy one; bowl of chips, butter laden popcorn, or what could be easier than breaking open a box of Oreos?  My goal tonight was to make something yummy that was not filled with sugar but satisfied our taste for something sweet.

Chocolate chip cookies are always a crowd favourite but they may be a little sweet for tonight.  I love to make granola and load it up with all kinds of goodies but loose granola isn’t the easiest to eat while you are trying to watch a movie.  So I took my granola recipe I have been using and made a few changes to it to bind it into a bar.  And I have to say, that they made the perfect movie snack tonight.

Here is how I did it:


Flax egg, which is one tablespoon of flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons of water

1/4 cup of coconut oil

3/4 cup coconut sugar

1 teaspoon of vanilla

2 tablespoons of peanut butter

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 1/2 cups of rolled oats.  For gluten free bars, use gluten free oats which are available at health food stores or I buy ours from the Bulk Barn, Only Oats brand.  Take half of the oats, 3/4 cup, and grind them into a flour.

1/2 cup almond flour

1/4 cup ground hemp hearts

1/4 cup chocolate chips.  If you are vegan, you can substitute vegan chips or carob or even cocoa nibs. This may not seem like a lot of chips but a little goes a long way here.

2 table spoons roasted sunflower seeds

How to make them:

  • Make the flax egg first and set it aside.
  • Grind the 3/4 cup of oats into flour
  • Grind the 1/4 cup of hemp hearts
  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Use an 8 inch pan and line it with parchment.
  • In a large mixing bowl, put the coconut oil and sugar in together and mix well.
  • Put in the flax egg and the vanilla extract and peanut butter.
  • Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix in well.
  • Add the chocolate chips and blend them in.
  • Put the dough into the prepared pan.  Stamp down.  I used the bottom of a measuring cup.
  • Bake 22-27 minutes.Wait until there is dryness around the edges.
  • Take out and let cool for at least 10-15 minutes.
  • Pull out with paper and let cool on rack for another 10 minutes.

Cut into squares and enjoy!

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These were so good.  Moist and crunchy with just enough chocolate.  The movie…entertaining…very Bond-ish, if you like that kind of movie, check it out; it will be better with the treats though!

Apricot Fruit Leather

Please note that no animals were harmed in the making of this leather…


Val’s apricot bounty continues and she harvested some more this past weekend.  We had talked about experimenting with fruit leathers and with her handy new dehydrator and  the plethora of apricots, this proved to be the perfect time to give them a try.

The funny thing is when trying out new recipes or methods, you never quite know how they are going to turn out.  This experiment proved to be very successful!  The fruit leathers were awesome!

Fruit leathers make such a convenient and portable snack, they are perfect for active lifestyles and if you want to curb that craving for sugary treats.  Use fruit in season and create your own combinations by mixing different types of fruit.  We are using the apricots this time, but hope to try out other types as well.

Val’s dehydrator is perfect for this use, but you can use a low oven, so we have given you both recipes.


4 cups ripe apricots, washed, blemishes removed and pitted (cut apricot in half and remove pit)

2 tbsp fresh lemon juice

4 tbsp ground chia seeds (use a coffee grinder to process)

optional: 2 tbsp maple syrup or more depending on how ripe the fruit is


Select ripe apricots that have reached their peak in flavour, colour and texture. The fruit leather will taste sweeter if the apricots are fully ripened.

Place all the ingredients into a high speed blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Taste the puree and adjust sweetness as needed. Do not use granulated sugar as it will dry out the fruit leather and crack. Wait 15 minutes to allow the mixture to thicken before spreading it onto your dehydrator trays.

Spread the puree onto your teflex sheets that come with your dehydrator and pour to a depth of 1/4 inch thick.

Dehydrate the fruit leather at 145 degrees (F) for one hour, then reduce heat to 105 degrees (F) and continue for about 16 hours. Check for dark spots on the leather, this is a sign that the leather is not completely dry. Press the fruit leather to ensure that it is not sticky.

Peel the leather from the dehydrator. If the leather peels away easily, it is ready.

Allow the leather to cool before storing as this will prevent moisture loving bacteria from forming.

Cut the leather into squares or triangles depending on your dehydrator configuration.

Roll them up and place them in an airtight container lined with parchment. Store in a cool dry place or ideally in the fridge. This leather will keep for at least 4 weeks or more. It will also keep in the freezer for up to 12 months.

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Oven Method:

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees F.

Pour the above apricot mixture onto a lightly oiled baking sheet and spread the puree evenly to a 1/4 inch thickness. Coconut oil is a good option here.

Bake overnight for approximately 8-12 hours. The leather is ready when it is no longer tacky on the surface and has no dark spots.