Sunday, February 26, 2012

Miss Piggie And Me

It's hard to believe that I've been in Costa Rica for 11 days already! The beaching, wave jumping, tropical fruit, yoga, and sunsets continue. J arrives tomorrow - I'm most excited for our week here together.

The other day I had a wonderful outing with some family friends who travel to Tamarindo every winter (thats how I knew it was a great spot). We walked alongside the ocean for three - yes 3 solid hours in the heat and sun before arriving at a gorgeous oasis - an outdoor restaurant called Lolas in the middle of nowhere with shaded wooden tables and chairs, hammocks, and of course a great beach with perfect jumping waves!

We enjoyed fresh mango papaya banana smoothies and the best meal I've eaten here so far: Seared Ahi tuna over a mixed veggie salad and lots of avocado.

The highlight was the PIG! Lola hangs out in her open pen most of the day eating the organic compost from the restaurant. In case you're wondering - NO they don't fatten piggie up to eat her. The last pig got skinny and died of old age and then they got this big gal. She's their mascot. The open gate allows her to come and go as she pleases and she doesn't hesitate! When she's ready to move, she saunters through the people down to the ocean and lies in the shallow water to cool down. People can get very close to her as you can see - I even touched her. Apparently the old Lola allowed kids to ride on her back haha.

A few monkeys reside at a a hotel down one end of the beach. A mom and her babies were rescued from an injury and are living here until they are fit to go back into the wild. They're incredibly tame and sooooo adorable!

This is my favourite picture of the sunset so far. I love how the seagulls are sprinkled in front of the sun.

How's that for beauty? 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Monkeys and Sunsets

I thought I'd share more Costa Rica pictures. The sunsets are absolutely stunning! I take a walk along the beach just before 6pm each evening to see the sun go down.

I highly recommend coming here! :)

Another really cool thing about Costa Rica is the howler monkeys. I've been hearing about them but it wasn't until today that I saw them for the first time, and better yet, was able to get them on camera. As I was caught up by the entertainment of all the monkeys in the trees above, I felt a little sprinkle... a monkey was peeing! Yucky!

Here are a bunch of them up in a tree. They had just climbed from one big tree to the roof, across, and up into this tree... then continued over several trees until they were completely out of sight. Amazing!

Here's one of the babies. Isn't it just the cutest? I could pick it up with my hand (I didn't - but wanted to give you an idea of their size).

The babies hop on their mommy's back and away they go!

I think this little guy is the cutest ever!

Here's where I lounge when I need a break from the sun. It's been sunny and at least 32C every day. Paradise.
Till next time...

Friday, February 17, 2012

Another Adventure Begins

Two days ago I took a long journey south to come to Tamarindo, Costa Rica where I'll be spending the next 3 weeks soaking up the sun, beach, tropical fruit, and various other activities like surfing, zip lining, hiking to waterfalls. The best part is that my sweetheart is joining me for the last week!

I rented a little apartment thats a three minute walk from the beach and in the hub of the town. Tamarindo is the cutest little place! The streets are lined with shops, restaurants, accommodations, a yoga studio, and a few juice bars. After flying into San Jose I took an extremely bumpy five hour bus ride which arrived at night.... and the next morning I woke up in paradise. My first stop was to the juice bar before a trip to the grocery store for a gorgeous large papaya, watermelon, and avocado.

(My apartment is the building to the left where the blue chairs are)

So far, my days consist of a trip to the juice bar in the morning for a young coconut with a straw in the top or a juice, a trip to the grocery store for a papaya which I eat on the beach for breaky, a stroll along the beach with multiple dips into the ocean to cool down because its sooo hot here, a yoga class, a restaurant for dinner, shopping along the main street, and anything I forgot about. Today I went to 2 yoga classes - hatha and a vinyasa flow. Both were fabulous and just what I needed.

Have you ever been to Costa Rica? I'm excited to try surfing!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Chocolate Valentine Love Recipes

Do you like to give or receive chocolate for Valentines? I sure do! But mostly I'm the one giving it. People are scared to give me chocolate, lol. But I love good quality choccies - its nice to sit back and enjoy someone else's creations. I've tasted a lot of raw vegan and vegan chocolate - some of it lovely and some I could have done without. What are your favourites? 

Here are some of the edible goodies that I'm giving my loved ones are getting for Valentines Day. I've already given my sweetie strict orders not to read this blog post or he'll ruin his surprise. I'm making his card tonight (I'm not artistic so we'll see how it goes!).

Since J and my mom both love peanut butter and chocolate together, it was definitely on the list! These Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls are so good they should be illegal.

Chocolate Cashew Clusters

J also loves maca and puts it in his shakes every morning. We all know that maca is an aphrodisiac so what better than to put it in his Valentines choccie?! Hehe. I made Chewy Maca Blondie Balls, coated them in dark chocolate, and sprinkled them with maple flakes. Oh yum!

Maca + Chocolate = Love!

Chocolate Macaroons

And here's the box of assorted goodies for my darling. Choc peanut butter balls, jumbo peanut butter cup, maca blondie balls, macaroons, and cashew clusters. I hope he likes it.

Tomorrow I'm off to Toronto to see him and then travel down to Costa Rica for three weeks of sun, sand, ocean, heat, yoga, waterfalls, and delicious food!

Early Happy Valentines Day! xoxo

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Sweet and Savory

The chocolate Valentine saga continues! I'm happily marching on in the kitchie to produce choccie treats. I've had so many orders that I have to close the chocolate valentines special a few days early to get caught up on shipments and also get caramel pecan choccies and truffles delivered to the coffee shop. Hugest thanks too all of you who have ordered. I hope you're enjoying (and will enjoy for those still in transit) your goodies! More choccies will be available in the future.

Are you making any treats for your loved one for Valentines Day??


Now onto something savory, last week I made "raw meets paleo" sandwiches for my friend Nicole and I. It's a hearty and satisfying sammy and can be made strictly raw too.

Dehydrated onion veggie bread spread with egg salad (eggs mashed with a bit of plain yogurt, apple cider, salt and pepper), romaine, tomato, and avocado.

If you haven't yet made this delicious bread, you must! It freezes well too so make a big batch to have on hand when you want it in a pinch. I served them with a side of bbq chips with a chipotle yogurt dip, celery sticks, and homemade sauerkraut.

Have a happy week and dream of chocolate...

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Mini Donuts!

Have you ever made donuts? 

Baked donuts are quite the popular item now that we have access to donut pans and donut makers. I excitedly made them for the first time the other day. These aren't just any donuts though. They're gluten free, grain free, dairy free, refined sugar free, and nut free ones! How's that for a mouthful.

Lots of fun donuts are popping up on the blog sphere these days. I got a mini donut pan for Christmas from my dear friend Ulyana, and have been waiting to put it to good use. After drooling over Michelle and Lori's various gluten free donut recipes for a while I decided to start with their Vanilla Cardamom Donut. The recipe is simple, looks great, I like the use of coconut flour, and I had all the ingredients already. I never cared for regular donuts, nor do I care for cakey things in general (I prefer pudding, ice cream, chewy cookies, and chocolate) so I wasn't sure how I would like these. BUT there was something drawing me into the land of donuts. Besides my curiosity (I love a new kitchen project) the photos were mouth watering. I want to try the girls Pumpkin Donuts next!

I got to work cracking eggs, mixing, measuring, and piping the batter into my cute little donut pan. I got concerned after mixing though. The batter was a weird texture, probably from the coconut flour which is slightly textured. Oh well, I forged ahead and stuck em in the oven. I can't even remember how many minutes they baked for because I kept checking and leaving in a few minutes longer. Finally I felt they were done and they came effortlessly out of the pan. I was elated! They looked so cute!

Then I tasted one. I didn't really like it. The flavor was fine but I didn't like the texture. It wasn't a cakey/fluffy donut at all. I'm good at improvising though and my mind started going into the possibility of making cake pops out of the donuts by mixing them with some coconut whipped cream I had on hand.

I decided to continue anyway and made a yummy glaze of my own - because darn it after that work and anticipation I wanted a mini donut! First, a lucuma glaze with coconut sprinkles.

In the middle of making the glaze, my mom popped by and I gave her one to try.
"This is the best thing ever!!!" She exclaimed.
"Mom, you're not allowed to say that about everything I make," I said. (I always say this to her).
"This is amazing!" She said again, "I love it!"

There you go. Everyone is different. She loved them!  I told her she could have them when I was finished glazing and photographing. Of course I proceeded to eat a lucuma, then a chocolate one.

Fast forward to the next day. I packaged most of them up for her and my dad. I decided to try one again. OMG! It was amazing! Texture was great! Moist and dense. Weird? How did it happen? Not sure, but I'm now I love these donuts too :)

Try them and see what you think. Sometimes you have to follow it through to see what happens. I like them best with the lucuma glaze. I had to dip them twice to get this nice thick glaze that sets hard when chilled.

Vanilla Cardamom Mini Donuts
By Lori and Michelle

Heathy's Note: Even though they're called vanilla donuts, there's no vanilla in the recipe so I added it. I really like the addition of cardamom. The girls get creative with spices in their recipes.
Note that these aren't a vegan recipe but you could try to use flax eggs in place of the eggs.

1/2 cup coconut flour
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup coconut sugar*
1/4- 1/2 teaspoon cardamom
2 eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted (or oil of choice)
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (Heathy's addition)

*You can use xylitol too the girls say. I powdered my coconut sugar in a coffee grinder first.

In a bowl whisk all ingredients together.
Next whisk coconut sugar, coconut oil, egg and whisk together in separate mixing bowl. Once that is mixed together add in dry ingredients. Begin to stir the donut batter.
End with adding the warm water to the batter and stir until smooth and combined.
If using a donut mater scoop donut batter into each mini donut ring once green light turns on. Can use a cookie scooper to help.
Once all rings are filled close the donut maker and let bake for 2-3 minutes. If they are cooked, remove carefully with a knife. Repeat process with donut batter.
Lightly coat each donut in coconut oil and toss in cinnamon cardamom sugar.

Cinnamon Cardamom Sugar

1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon cardamom

Mix all sugar and spices in a bowl. Toss donuts in the mix.

For a donut pan (which is what I used)
Spoon the batter into a piping bag with a large round tip. Pipe into each donut ring and bake at 325F for 10-13 minutes (check after 9 minutes).

Heathy's Lucuma Glaze

4 tablespoons melted coconut oil
Scant 3 tablespoons lucuma (more like 2 3/4)
4 teaspoons agave powder*

Sift dry ingredients into a small bowl.
Add oil and whisk ingredients together until smooth.
If too liquidy, allow the mixture to sit a few minutes and will begin to thicken.
Dip the donuts before it hardens too much. If it does, simply place the bowl in another bowl of hot water for a minute while whisking and it will thin again.

*Note - this is not sweet like agave... this is used more as a thickener. It only has a small hint of sweetness.

Heathy's Chocolate Glaze
I dipped the donuts three times in this glaze to get a thick coat. It firms up nicely when chilled in the fridge.

2 1/4 teaspoons cacao powder
2 teaspoons carob powder
2 teaspoons powdered coconut sugar*
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/2 - 1 teaspoon water

Sift dry ingredients into a small bowl. Add the oil and 1/2 teaspoon water.
Whisk together. Allow the glaze to sit a few minutes before dipping donuts to allow it to thicken.
Sprinkle with cacao nibs or crushed cacao beans for fine "sprinkles".

*Grind in coffee grinder

Do you have a favorite healthy donut recipe? 
Ideas on what I should try next??

Hurry and get your order in for Valentines Choccies! The special is coming to a close next week. Thanks to everyone who is ordering. Its been so much fun and I'm getting more orders than expected. Am so happy to be sharing my love and passion through my chocolates. I'm so excited that starting tomorrow, my choccies will be featured at a local coffee shop in time for Valentines Day.