Monday, July 22, 2019

Chocolate Protein Brownies

These Chocolate Protein Brownies are decadent and moist with only 97 calories a piece! The secret? Whey powder and adzuki beans for protein, fibre and a fudgy texture.

When I was on Weight Watchers in my teens, chocolate was one of my biggest cravings. Since I was a "very busy" highschooler at the time, I got to indulge my craving with low fat brownies from a mix. They were good, I have to say - chewy and fudgy, with a crinkled top like "normal" brownies.It's been years since those brownies were in my fridge, but since I have a few friends on the weight loss journey (and doing darn well!) who are also chocoholics, I thought it might be worth a shot to try my hand at a healthy, yet still decadent option.

Bean brownies are nothing new, but they have longevity for good reason! Instead of chickpeas (like the recipe I used as my jumping-off point) or black beans (like this equally good recipe), I turned my attention to a bean that is more traditionally used in Japanese desserts - adzuki. These small, dark red beans have an awesome sweet starchiness about them, which worked incredibly well mixed with the bitter cocoa and coffee. To up the protein a bit more, I used a generous helping of chocolate flavoured Optimum Nutrition Protein Energy, a protein powder I keep on hand for baking and adding to oatmeal (I still prefer Nuzest for drinking straight). Without eggs (or sugar), getting the coveted crackly top would be tough. However, a sprinkling of fine sugar over the batter worked wonders! Once the bars were sliced, it was clear that they embodied the rich fudginess I remembered from my youth. They also freeze exceptionally well, and wrapped individually make exceptional lunchbox treats for camp, school or work! By the way, if you are making these for kids, use hot chocolate or even milk for the coffee and use a plain protein powder to minimize the caffeine.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Ginger and Sesame Honey Cake

Ginger and Sesame Honey Cake is a perfect sweet for teatime, filled with a balance of nuttiness and floral notes.

Up until recently, I was fortunate to have a lovely co-worker who not only was an amazing artist (and art teacher) but had her own apiary on her property. Come Christmas and the end of the school year, she gave me pint jars of honey from her bees, which was delicious right out of the jar (and off the comb). However, that didn't stop me from stirring it into tea or drizzling on rice cakes, and when I had just the bottom of the jar left I whipped up this absolutely delicious, Asian-inspired cake with it.

This cake has the unmistakable flavour of honey (read: use a good, intense one) and it pairs beautifully with the nutty sesame seeds and sharp ginger. The yogurt, as well as the honey, will keep the cake impossibly moist. Although honey is about twice as sweet as sugar, it isn't cloying here thanks to it not being the only sweetener. Next time I make it I'd likely doll up the top with candied ginger curls for presentation's sake, but it really doesn't need it - this is the epitome of a snacking cake and is perfect with a cup of green tea in the afternoon, or if you're feeling really decadent, for breakfast! 

Friday, July 19, 2019

Wheat Hot Dog Buns

 Homemade hot dog buns are soft, fluffy and so easy to make, needing only one rise and no shaping!

Moving on from soup, I finally have a more or less seasonal post for you all! While I did not grow up
on homemade bread and buns, I do have fond memories of grilled hot dogs eaten sitting on our sailboat as a child, whether the hot dogs were in buns or chopped into Kraft Dinner was simply a matter of the heat outside. However, I felt then (and still do now) that a lot of the storebought buns are either malleable sponges (yes, I'm looking at you, Wonder Bread) or gritty, dry whole wheat logs posing as a healthier option. 

I set out to make a quick (1 1/2 hour) recipe for hot dog buns that is soft without being spongey and with enough whole wheat for flavour and texture without turning your mouth into the Sahara. After a few trial runs, I developed these buns (that are a perfect length for the "big franks" or sausages) that not only require just a single rise, but that need essentially no shaping either. The soy milk feeds the yeast and allows the bread to rise into magnificent buns, while the oil and agave (or honey) keeps them tender even after freezing them. Toasted, the richness of the whole wheat comes through and makes for a perfect accompaniment to your next grill out, or making sub sandwiches too! Unfortunately, you will need a scale to make this accurately, and if you're not feeding an army (or have limited freezer space amongst all that ice cream!) the recipe halves well as well.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Leeky Carrot and Rice Soup

Leek and Carrot Soup is full of spring flavour, and the abundance of veggies, lentils and whole grain rice makes it a healthy, not to mention delicious, lunch!

Yes, I know we are in the throes of Summer. However, as someone whose body temperature drops when she eats (don't ask, I don't get it either), soup is always a possibility when it comes to mealtimes. However, I also appreciate that heavy, hearty soups are really too much for July weather, so after a trip to the local farmer's market I (re)made this soup. I say re-made because I originally made (and photographed) this recipe last March, but never got around to posting it. Good thing too, because it allowed me to tweak it and the changes are reflected in the recipe below. The recipe is also easy to veganize, should you choose to do so, but for a more "cock a leekie" experience I suggest a rich chicken stock (I used homemade) and butter.

The simplicity of this soup really allows the vegetables and herbs to shine. In the height of Summer (if you have it in your garden) use fresh herbs with abandon (except oregano, which for some reason bitters the soup when fresh) and of course, the best veggies you can find. Since my garden hasn't quite exploded with produce yet, I used my farmer's market haul, and supplemented the mix with garlic scapes (from my fiance's garden) and my Egyptian Onion bulbs. Use what looks good and you'll be laughing!

P.S.: If you like your soup with a kick (like a certain blog writer... ahem), use chili oil (like my favourite) to saute and stir in a dash of Tabasco at the end!

Monday, July 15, 2019

Pineapple Drops

Pineapple juice makes this hard candy taste like honey, and with a tiny cube mold making lots is easy!

If you could believe it, I used to be deathly afraid of boiling sugar. Like my (still unresolved) fear of hot oil, I was burned by molten sugar syrup when I was younger, and avoidance seemed like the best tactic. Of course, now that I've been making and canning other splattery things like jam, I have developed more or less asbestos hands and while I can't say I've escaped unscathed I do know how to be a bit smarter about the substance! 

In possession of a can of pineapple juice (left over from stir fry night), I decided to see if I could somehow convert it into a candy. I had a feeling that gummies would be out due to their gelatin base, but I wondered if hard candy would work. Well, I can safely say it does - and while the finished candy tastes nothing like pineapple, it does taste like the most divine honey in solid form! It's a good thing I picked up a tiny silicone ice cube mould for this recipe, otherwise they would be taking up permanent residence around my waist!