Saturday, June 30, 2012

Foodie Penpals, Cookie Dough Chocolate Pudding, and Peanut Butter Balls

This month I participated in Foodie Penpals, a fun food swap program created by Lindsay from The Lean Green Bean. I stumbled across her site a few months ago and thought it looked like so much fun I just had to join in.

In a nutshell, every month each participant is assigned a person to send a box of food goodies too ($15 worth). You contact them to get their address, discover likes/dislikes/allergies, and then get a package together and send it off. Everyone blogs about it at the end of the month. The person you send to is different from the person you receive from.

I received from a lovely gal named Christina (she doesn't have a blog). A cute gift bag arrived with goodies wrapped in pink tissue paper. She nailed my favourite colors from the start.

Here are the awesome things I found in the bag:

Chocolate Fix Quinoa Snack Crackers
Zico Coconut Water
Theobroma Chocolat bar in Coconut
Oskri Coconut Bar

She said she's on a coconut kick. Good thing coconut is one of my favourite foods too! I admit I have a hard time with any bottled coconut water. They taste funny to me - perhaps because I'm used to fresh coconut water.

The quinoa crackers are super crunchy and delish. I immediately ripped into them because it was the one item I'd never seen before. They're especially great slathered with nut butter.

Christine included a recipe for frozen fudge too! It uses carob and nut butter, dates, and coconut... Mmm I'll have to try it one of these days. Thanks again girl!

Now for a recipe... I made this recently when I was hit with a chocolate craving. Everyone's familiar with avocado chocolate pudding by this point. It just can't be beat. Creamy, rich, sweet, yet lighter than a nut based dessert. Toppings are essential for me. I like different textures. Chocolate chip cookie dough balls were just the thing since I already leftovers on hand.

Raw Chocolate Pudding

2 large avocados
1/2 - 3/4 cup water
1/2 cup pitted dates
1/2 tablespoon pure vanilla
1 tablespoon maple syrup
10 drops vanilla stevia
1/3 cup cacao powder

Blend all but the cacao powder in a blend until smooth, starting with 1/2 cup water. Use more as needed for blending and getting to desired thickness.
Add the powder and blend again. Eat immediately or chill first.

As I was saying, cookie dough was the perfect topping for the pudding. It makes a great snack too. I have two versions of chocolate chip cookie dough balls. Basically different ratios to produce slightly different result. #1 came out to be more of a smooth dough, while #2 came out a bit more textured. I like them both the same.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls #1

1 cup almonds
1/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup oats, oat groats, or gluten free oats
3/4 cup pitted, packed dates
Pinch of salt
1/2 - 1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs

Grind the almonds and oats into flour in a food processor.
Add the cashews. Grind again.
Add the dates, salt, and vanilla (starting with 1/2 tsp). Grind into a smooth dough.
Add the other 1/2 teaspoon vanilla IF it doesn't hold together when pressed in your hand.
Fold in the chocolate chips.
Use a mini ice cream scoop to make cookie balls OR roll into balls. Chill.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls #2
These are a great snacking cookie. They firm up nicely due to the coconut butter and coconut oil.

1 cup oats (regular or gluten free)
3/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup agave + 1 tablespoon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon himalayan salt
2 1/2 tablespoons melted coconut butter
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs

In a food processor grind the oats and cashews into flour.
Add agave, vanilla, and salt. Process again to incorporate.
Add the coconut butter and oil. Process.
Fold in the mini chocolate chips.
Roll into balls or use mini ice cream scoop. Chill.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls #3
These cookies are softer than version #2 but they're a great addition to ice cream! Freeze the balls, chop and add to ice cream after processing in an ice cream machine (will be soft serve consistency at that point).

1 cup oats
1/2 cup almonds (blanched if you want a more white dough)
1/4 cup cashews
1/3 cup agave or maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of salt
1 tablespoon melted coconut oil
1/4 cup mini dark chocolate chips or cacao nibs

In a food processor grind the oats, almonds, cashews and salt into crumbs.
Add the agave, vanilla, and salt. Process into a dough.
Add the coconut oil.
Transfer to a bowl. Stir in the chocolate chips. The dough will be sticky.
Chill in the fridge for 30- 60 minutes then roll into balls or use a mini ice cream scoop.
Chill until firm.

Who doesn't love chewy cookie dough balls with crunchy chocolate chips?!

Peanut butter balls are another tasty and delicious snack that's super easy to whip up. I mean hey, when the food processor is already being used, why not make another treat? I brought these over to a friend's place and they were a hit. They almost couldn't believe they were healthy - if it weren't for my health conscious reputation.

Peanut Butter Balls

1 1/2 cups peanuts
2/3 cup pitted, packed dates
1/4 cup raisins
Pinch of salt
Mini dark chocolate chips (optional)

In a food processor combine the peanuts, dates, raisins and salt. Grind into a dough. It will still be a little textured but make sure things are broken down.
Add the chocolate chips and pulse briefly to incorporate.
Roll into balls.

We're fortunate to have gorgeous weather here lately!  J and I spent last evening with our friends for a bbq and bon fire. Today was filled with a deck workout, lounging on the dock, a jet ski ride, and delicious food. I crave being outside. What nice things are you doing this weekend? Are you making anything tasty?

Love hanging out on the deck in the summer.

Happy Canada Day to my fellow Canadians!!
Part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesday and Potluck Party, Wellness Weekend

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sights of Summer and Sweet Spoonfuls

After another long rainy spell, the sunshine and heat are back! I just love summer, don't you? I feel much more vibrant, healthy, and alive when I can be outside taking in nature and sun.

In addition to a lovely light summery dessert, here are snapshots of some of my favourite parts about summer...

A wild rose starting to open. I'm always amazed at the colors mother nature provides.

Little purple wild flower that most people consider a weed.

Pretty little lady bug!

Fully open wild rose.

Wild flower called a lupin - they come in shades of purple, white, and pink.

Mushroom in the yard that I call the Fairy Mushroom :)

I made a table centerpiece with the lupins and wild rose petals (I also made rose water with them).

The lake at my parents place - one of my favorite places on earth. It's so peaceful.

Bon fires on the beach with friends.

Big bon fires!

Jet ski rides!


Beach days with the girls.

What do you enjoy best about summer?

Now onto a recipe. Remember the Mango Mousse Tarts with Coconut Cream that I made recently? I loved the mousse so much that I decided to make it with apricots and make a minor adjustment to enjoy it as pudding.

Creamy Apricot Peach Pudding
Nut Free

I lessened the amount of coconut oil to create a pudding more than a mousse. The peach essence really pops the flavor of this! If you don't have access to it I recommend trying half apricots and half peaches in the recipe to get a bit of a peachy flavor. Or try some orange zest! You know the deal, use the recipe as a guide and play around to get something you like.

2 cups diced apricots
1/2 cup irish moss gel (click on link)
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk*
10 drops stevia, or to taste
2 tablespoons agave 
2 tablespoons melted coconut oil

Blend all but the coconut oil until smooth and creamy.
Add the oil and blend again to incorporate.
Transfer to a bowl and chill until it thicks, firms slightly.
Spoon into the tart shells or layer in parfait glasses or spoon into bowls.

*Use canned or make fresh raw coconut milk by blending coconut water and pulp. Must be thick.

To get a thin strawberry syrup on top I used the juice of a few thawed strawberries. I allowed the pudding to sit in the glass for a little while to set before spooning the syrup over top (to keep it on the surface).

This recipe is part of Wellness Weekend and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Friday, June 22, 2012

Mini Banana Donuts

Have you made healthy donuts yet?! If not, you have to run out and get yourself a donut pan asap. They're just so much fun and perfect for sharing with friends.

I recently mentioned making some gluten free banana donuts around the same time as the vanilla cake donuts I last posted. I had a bunch of suuuper ripe bananas and decided they would be great as a main ingredients in mini donuts.

A quick search led me to a good looking recipe on the Udi's Gluten Free Foods site that had good reviews. Mash, sift, stir, bake and voila! J and I were in healthy banana donut heaven.

They're kind of like eating a delicious ring of healthy banana bread with frosting. Mmmm! Their recipe used a maple glaze which would be nice but I chose to top them with a lucuma glaze and sprinkled some with mini dark chocolate chips while the others got a dried coconut garnish. Chocolate frosting would be wonderful of them too I would imagine.

Gluten Free Banana Donuts 
By Udi's Gluten Free Foods

  • 2 over-ripe Bananas, mashed
  • 1 large Egg, beaten
  • 3 Tbsp Unsweetened, Plain Almond Milk (4 Tbsp if at a high altitude)
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 cup Organic, Unbleached Sugar
  • 3/4 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour - I used regular rice flour since it's what I had. 
  • 1/2 cup Cornstarch - I used potato starch instead
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (375 degrees for high altitude)
  2. Prepare donut pan using non-stick cooking spray
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the banana, egg, almond milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and oil.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and stir until smooth.
  5. Fill each donut round with 2 heaping Tbsp of batter. Dampen your fingers to smooth donuts evenly in the pan.
  6. Bake 7-9 minutes, then cool 5 minutes in the pan before transferring to a cooling rack.
  7. Cool completely before dipping in glaze .

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.
I dipped them a few times, letting it firm before dipping again to get a thick coat. 

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

Have a wonderful weekend! This recipe is part of Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Mini Donuts - Gluten free and Vegan!

In my last post I mentioned the mini donuts I made for Nicole's bachelorette party. They were a hit. Everyone thought they were too cute, as did I. Every time I use my min donut pan I get all excited!
Anyway, in addition to the vanilla cake donuts, I recently made mini banana donuts too!

Donuts are so fun. Bake em and dress em up any way you want! I like to experiment with frostings and toppings. The options are endless! Remember the mini donuts I made a while ago?

For ages I've been wanting to make the gluten free, vegan Vanilla Cake Donuts by Babycakes. I'd absolutely love to go to the shop in NYC. Have you ever been? If so I'd love to hear about it.

Here's their fabulous recipe, as seen on Bon Appetit. I topped them with a simple vanilla glaze - powdered sugar, almond milk, and vanilla. I recommend a lucuma coconut glaze or chocolate glaze instead which is what I normally do.

Plain Cake Donut
Gluten free and Vegan

1/3 cup melted refined coconut oil or canola oil, plus more for brushing the trays 
1 cup vegan sugar or ground coconut sugar
3/4 cup white or brown rice flour
1/3 cup garbanzo and fava bean flour (or use all brown rice flour)
1/2 cup potato starch
1/4 cup arrowroot
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. xanthan gum
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. baking soda
6 Tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Brush 2 six-mold donut trays with coconut oil and set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, both flours, potato starch, arrowroot, baking powder, xanthan gum, salt, and baking soda. Add the coconut oil, applesauce, vanilla, and hot water and continue mixing with a rubber spatula just to combine. Using a melon baller or tablespoon, drop 2 1/2 Tbsp. batter into each doughnut mold. Using a toothpick, spread the batter evenly around the molds. 

Bake for 8 minutes, rotate, and continue baking until the doughnuts are golden brown, about 7 minutes more. Let cool in the molds for 5 minutes if sprinkling with toppings such as cinnamon sugar, or 15 minutes if using glaze or icing. Run a knife around the doughnuts in the molds, lift them out and place them on a baking sheet. Coat them with your choice of topping.

This recipe is from Erin McKenna's BabyCakes Covers the Classics (Clarkson Potter, 2011).

Part of Wellness Weekend and Slightly Indulgent Tuesday

So how about a delicious donut?! Banana donuts coming up in the next post. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Wedding Bells

This weekend has been filled with the magic of wedding bliss. Who doesn't love the feeling of love and excitement that fills the air with such an event?! It was such an honor to be a bridesmaid for one of my best friends, Nicole. Last week was busy with making favors, decorating the venue, throwing her a bachelorette party, and rehearsing for the big day.

Since most of the bridesmaids were coming from out of town, we waited until the last minute to throw a  bachelorette party for Nicole. It was low key (no male strippers!), but full of fun and exactly her style. 

We started off going out for dinner and drinks.

Followed by an evening at my place for desserts, drinks, games, and gifts. Eryn and I picked wild flowers and made arrangements.

We all brought desserts. They hadn't all made it to the table yet when I took this pic but the table was packed with goodies!

I made mini gluten free vegan donuts. Will post the recipe in the next post along with a banana donut recipe. I also made chocolate covered peanut butter balls, and raw chocolate cream mini cakes.

We were all up bright and early Saturday morning to get ready for the big day! Hair, make up, breaky, and even a little yoga to de-stress the bride although she was extremely calm yet excited.

Tying up her gorgeous dress.

The girls all dressed up and ready to go!

It was a beautiful ceremony at Nicole and Dawson's church. Here's the happy married couple!

We prepared to hop onto a beautiful big boat to take the bridal party to the reception.

Us gals got to hang out in the cosy bottom (had to protect the hair!) with snacks and champagne. 

The guys hung out on boat deck outside.

Their reception was held in a huge log cabin on beautiful Osprey Island. The island is just down the lake from my parents house and over the years we boated by it time and time again yet never had the chance to go on the island so I was excited last summer when we went over to check it out as a possible venue to for event. 

Fortunately the weather was stellar all day and during all the outdoor photos... until about 5pm when it started to pour. UNfortunately some of the guests being brought across the lake got rained on but all was well soon enough and everyone had a great evening in the cabin.

We had a lovely dinner, entertainment, speeches, and lots of fun dancing. Me and my sweetie!

Eryn and I.

Of course there was the cake cutting! Such a beautiful couple inside and out. I'm so happy for them as they begin their lives together. They're currently on their way to Antigua for their honeymoon!

I can't wait to get all the pictures from the photographer... but you know how long that can take!