Grain Free Granola

Well it has been far too long since my last post.

The past 6 months have been a bit of a blur, but in the best of ways. Life is constantly in motion and if you allow it to do its thing, it can take you to some amazing places and leave you in some very awesome situations. However, if you fight it, or don’t take the time to appreciate it, you can end up feeling lost, overwhelmed and out of control. Take a step back, take a deep breath and appreciate where you’re at, no matter where that may be. There is no other way to live! (Seriously, you’ll go crazy otherwise!)

Since my last post, I have enrolled in a program at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition and will be certified to practice holistic nutrition in a year’s time! (and have some letters after my name, not that it matters, but kind of stoked on that) The program is absolutely fantastic and even though I am just a month in, the knowledge I have gained is huge! Loving everything about it and can’t wait to apply it to some of my new recipes.

Alright, now that we have the appreciate-your-life moment and a life update out of the way, let’s get back to the recipes. That’s why you're here anyways!


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Vegan Fruit and Nut Bars

I am one of those suckers that loves to glance over all of the packages as I meander through the checkout line. Like a kid, I like to give everything a once-over and every so often I feel compelled to pick up a bar or chocolate just to turn over the package and read the ingredients. The child-like wonder disappears almost instantly when I check over what's in most of the "health food" fruit and nut bars and protein bars in most grocery and health food stores! Tapioca starch, syrups, unpronounceable fillers and GMOs. I just can't justify throwing that in my cart, no matter how convenient it may be!

These fruit and nut bars are easy to make, sweetened naturally and easy to transport. You can make these vegan treats in bar form, muffin cups, or even roll them into balls. Just don't eat them all in one go!​

Vegan Fruit and Nut Bars

Makes 16 muffin cups, or 1 8x8 tray

  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 3/4 cup flaked coconut
  • 1/3 cup  unsulphured green raisins
  • 1/3 cup mulberries(or more raisins!)
  • 3 dates, pitted and chopped
  • 4 turkish figs, stems trimmed and chopped
  • 1/4 cup seeds of choice (I used flax and chia)
  • 2 1/2 tbs virgin coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup (honey if not vegan)
  • 1 tsp himalayan salt
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • pinch chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla (optional)

​Method

Preheat oven to 350 f

Place all dry ingredients a food processor and pulse 3-4 times, until the walnuts are broken up.

In a small saucepan, heat ​coconut oil and honey until it begins to bubble, do not let boil. Remove from heat.

Pour hot liquid into the bowl of the food processor. Pulse with dry ingredients until thoroughly combined and the mixture is the desired consistency. Too chunky and it won't stick together, too fine and you will have more of an energy bar on your hands.

Place mixture in a lined tray, or press into lightly greased muffin cups and bake fro 5-8 minutes. Remove from oven before the edges begin to crisp.

Keep in the fridge for best consistency, although they do hold at room temperature. ​

Gluten Free Date Squares

​Ever find yourself stuck on repeat? 

Wake up, work, eat, sleep and then do it all over again. We've all been there.

A few days I threw caution to the wind and changed my schedule around. I woke up late on a Thursday, went to the gym, cleaned and then had a friend over for coffee and an afternoon of recipe testing.

While we assembled these date squares and drank coffee, we ended up having one of those epic conversations that comes about for no reason, but leaves you feeling awesome. You know the ones. The ones where you laugh, cry, debate life and most importantly, feel open to share those thoughts about life and existence you usually keep for your talks with yourself in your car. ( I can't be alone on that one!)

The afternoon left me refreshed, recharged and with an amazing tray of date squares!

I can't guarantee this recipe will bring you the same level of conversation, but I can promise you they make a great reason to call a friend over to share them with! Enjoy them warm if you can't wait for them to cool down like me, or let them cool down so they set nicely. 

Gluten Free Date Squares

  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 2 cups gluten free rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup grass-fed butter
  • pinch himalayan salt
  • pinch cinnamon
  • 2 1/2 - 3 cups medjool dates
  •  1 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • pinch himalayan salt
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed orange juice
  • tbs orange zest

Method

Makes 16 bars​

Preheat Oven to 350 f​

For the Dough​

*without a food processor*

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients except butter. Mix until well combined.

Cut cold butter into chunks and mix in with your fingers, taking care to not melt it. Once the dough starts to crumble together, you've mixed enough.

​*With a food processor*

Combine all ingredients except butter and pulse until well incorporated.

Add in cold butter in small chunks and pulse until barely combined.

​Filling

In a medium to large sauce pan cook pitted dates over medium heat with water, orange juice and salt. Stir occasionally to break up the mixture and help smooth it out. Once the filling is smooth, remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Assembly​

Line an 9x9 pan with parchment.

Place 2/3 of dough mixture on the bottom, pressing down to set it in place.

Add filling, pressing down to flatten it.

Crumble remaining dough on top and pat it down. Try to cover the filling completely.

Bake for 25-35 minutes, until the top is golden. Allow to cool down and cut into squares.

Keeps for 1 week in an airtight container​

Rich Dairy Free Hot Chocolate

I wish I could tell you a tale of how the weather is getting colder and snow is beginning to fall in my part of the world. I would talk of how the nights were getting longer, the air is crisper and the snow is starting to blanket my sidewalk. I picture myself in winter boots with mittens and a scarf, coming in from the cold. Hot chocolate and marshmallows would make the perfect drink to warm up from a lazy afternoon walk, especially since it's been rather chilly lately!

But as you can see by my pictures, that is definitely not the case. Life on the Canadian west coast is rough. Rough enough to deserve a warm mug of guilt free hot chocolate, complete with homemade marshmallows! (psst, make the minty ones!)

This is a lighter hot chocolate, made with cocoa powder and cocoa butter. The secret to its frothiness is whipping it in your Magic bullet or Vitamix. I like the mixture of almond and coconut milk as it makes it just creamy enough.

I was lucky enough to receive some samples from Wild Foods and their cocoa butter makes this hot chocolate absolutely stellar. Topped off with some homemade minty marshmallows and you are set for success! 

**Note - I received free samples from Wild Foods but was not otherwise compensated. I was not obligated to write about them, but I felt like I had to share their products with you. Check them out, their motto and products are awesome!

Rich Dairy Free Hot Chocolate

Makes 2 cups

Healthy Homemade Marshmallows

There is something wonderfully childish about marshmallows. Whenever I see a bag of Jet Puffs I am instantly reminded of sticky fingers and summer campfires. Memories of marshmallows make me smile.  Even the popular boutique style ones, wrapped in pretty packaging and tied up with bows have the ability to make me happy. 

Boutique or straight from the bag, there is one thing that most marshmallows have in common; they're terrible for you. Most marshmallows are made out of syrups and powders that we can't even pronounce! There is a reason why you can grab last year's supply out of the back of your pantry and pack them in your camping gear again and again. Still smiling?

Fear not, for those of you who still need marshmallows in your hot chocolate or in your puffed rice bars, I've got you covered! This homemade healthy marshmallow recipe comes together in a snap and is actually a great source of collagen. Made from gelatin and organic honey, these healthy marshmallows are basically guilt free! *Tip - use the mildest honey you can find, otherwise you will have a very honey-forward taste

Homemade marshmallows are fun and quick to make. You can easily add different flavours or colourings to make them pretty, or leave them as is for a classic white marshmallow. ​Peppermint and chocolate make great additions if you're thinking of using them for hot chocolate!

Homemade Healthy Marshmallows

Makes 8x8 tray

  • 1 cup filtered water, divided
  • 1 cup mild organic honey
  • 3 tbs grass fed gelatin

Method

Prepare your stand mixer or bowl with 1/2 cup of water. Sprinkle gelatin overtop to soften. If you're adding the mint or chocolate (or both!) add them here. 

Line an 8x8 tray with parchment paper, leaving an overhang. Grease with a little bit of coconut oil for easy release. If you want to dust your marshmallows for an old school powdery finish (I like it better), sprinkle a little bit of arrowroot or cocoa powder on the parchment.​

In a medium saucepan, add honey, water, salt and vanilla bean. Cook over medium-high heat until the mixture reaches around 240 f on your candy thermometer, or if you don't have one, you can (as safely as you can!) check the sugar mixture by dipping a spoon in and dropping a little bit into a cup full of ice water. If you can roll it into a little ball, you're good to go. ​

Once the mixture has hit 240 f, turn on your mixer to low and slowly pour in the sugar mixture. Once combined, turn the mixture to high and allow it mix until it looks like good ole marshmallow cream. This takes less than 5 minutes. ​If you're using an electric hand mixer, this will take quite a bit longer. Be patient!

Transfer to 8x8 tin with a spatula. Try not to eat it all on the way!

Allow to set for 1-2 hours. Turn over onto a clean surface that you have dusted with arrowroot or cocoa and cut into 1-2 inch squares. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 week.​

Paleo Caramel Apples


When I was a kid summertime was always family time. In our house spending time with family usually meant a trip to the fair, be it in Vancouver or in Calgary to spend time with my aunt, uncle and cousins. Subsequently, every trip to the fair warranted a candy apple, no questions asked. Apples enrobed in a chewy caramel coating used to be one of my biggest weaknesses.  In recent years, spending time with my cousin Sam, who is practically my sister, meant that every time we passed a Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, we were getting caramel apples. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right?

As of late, my caramel sweet tooth has faded, but these paleo caramel apples are a healthier (and tastier, if I do say so myself) little blast from the past that makes for a fun fall afternoon with friends.

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Paleo Ice Cream Bars


Paleo - Gluten Free - Grain Free - Dairy Free

Summer is in full swing and there are few things that satisfy a summer sweet tooth than a chocolate dipped ice cream bar. Haagen Dazs bars ​are a personal favourite. You know the ones. With their perfectly dipped bars that crack delicately as you bite into them, to reveal a smooth vanilla ice cream speckled with flecks of vanilla bean. That's the good stuff. Nothing else compares to their top quality bars, until these guys came along! 

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Homemade Strawberry Vanilla Ice Cream

Homemade Strawberry Vanilla Ice Cream


Paleo - Gluten Free - Grain Free

 It has been incredibly sunny and warm in Vancouver for the past few months, which has been a blessing in itself. But to top that off, strawberry season came early thanks to all the sunshine!  We are genuinely spoiled.

I went to pick mine last week with my grandma. We picked 20 pounds of juicy and delicious berries. I froze most of them, since they were extremely ripe, but managed to turn some of them into a strawberry rhubarb crisp and ​a few more into some of the best strawberry ice cream I've had in a while.

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