Monday, August 18, 2014

Fruit Salad Smoothie

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Lots of fruit along with a little plain yogurt and peach nectar makes this smoothie quick, easy and healthy. You can add whatever fruit you have on hand - fresh or frozen. At the cabin, soaking in some sun? Then maybe you want to kick it up a notch with the addition of a little tequila or vodka.

Makes one smoothie.

Ingredients

1 cup fruit - I used strawberry, orange & watermelon but any combo will do
1/2 cup peach nectar (or other juice or even water)
1/2 c plain yogurt
a handful of ice cubes if NOT using frozen fruit
1/2 tsp vanilla (optional but adds another level of flavor)

Instructions

Blend everything in blender or nutribullet until smooth. If too thick add more juice or water.

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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Pucker Up Lemon Loaf




The heat of summer requires the refreshing taste and smell of lemons! This lemon loaf fits the bill with three layers of luscious lemon.

Ever so slightly adapted from Epicurious


Ingredients


CAKE
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
8 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup grated lemon zest (from about 3-4 lemons)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 tsp vanilla powder (optional)
SYRUP
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar (berry or castor sugar is preferable)
GLAZE
2 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted, or more if needed
5 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

Serves 16 per loaf.

THE LOAVES

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Spray two 9x5x3-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla powder (if using) and salt together in a medium bowl.
  4. In another large bowl (or stand mixer) combine the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
  5. Very slowly, pour the butter in bowl with mixer on lowest setting until combined.
  6. Add the sour cream and vanilla mix until combined.
  7. Add the flour mixture, one third at a time, folding gently after each addition until just combined. Try to not over mix. It will be a bit weird looking at my produce a few lumps – that’s ok.
  8. Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F., and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, or until toothpicks inserted in the centre of the loaves come out clean.
  9. On wire rack, let cool in the pans for 15 minutes.
THE  SYRUP

  1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, mix the lemon juice and sugar. Once dissolved, cook for 3 additional minutes. Remove from the heat.
  2. Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and invert the loaves onto the pan. Use a toothpick to poke all over the loaves.
  3. With half of the syrup, brush the tops and sides of the loaves. Once soaked into the cake, brush it again with rest of syrup. 
  4. Cool the cakes cool completely.
THE GLAZE

  1. Whisk together the icing sugar and lemon juice. If the mixture is too thick (it should be pourable but thick), add up to another tablespoon lemon juice and mix again. 
  2. Pour the lemon glaze over the loaves. 
  3. The glaze will harden a bit.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blueberry Orange Smoothie

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We have an abundance of local blueberries in our freezer and a bag of almost too old oranges on the counter. So as an afternoon snack for the kids we made this smoothie. The ginger adds a little zing. Once peeled I throw the oranges in whole. In just a couple of minutes a healthy, sweet and delicious snack is ready!

Note: if your oranges aren't juicy enough, add 1/2 cup of water to help blend things up!

Ingredients

2 oranges, peeled
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 tsp grated ginger or 1 tsp ginger syrup
water (if needed)

Instructions

Place everything in blender or Nutribullet.
Blend for 1 minute.
Makes 2 smoothies.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Product Review - Nairn's Oat Crackers and Cookies


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Nairn's oat crackers with cream cheese and a variety of toppings:
cucumber, green olives and chives, smoked chili pepper jelly,
Kalamata olives and basil, cranberries.


When Nairn's offered me a chance to review a variety of their line of Scottish oat crackers and cookies I immediately signed up!

I received a big box of seven of Nairn's products:
  • Roughly milled oat crackers
  • Cheese oat crackers
  • Organic oat crackers
  • Sunflower seed oat crackers
  • Stem ginger oat cookies
  • Dark chocolate chip oat cookies
  • Mixed berries biscuits oat cookies

What's in a name?

Don't go in thinking these are North American crackers. If you do, you'll be disappointed as they aren't  as crispy and snappy as a typical cracker. They are really somewhere between a cracker and a biscuit. My son noticed that on their website the crackers are called oatcakes. Now that made more sense. I wonder why they changed the name for the North America market? I wish they had kept the original name as it describes the product better but I'm sure their focus groups didn't agree with me!

Oatcakes are usually associated with Scotland and since I'm part Scottish (my grandmother and great-grandmother came from Dumfries, Scotland) I just had to give them another shot.

Pile it on!

They taste like....wait for it...oats! My favorites are the rough milled and the sunflower seed varieties - love the texture of each. If you want to eat them out of the box then I would recommend the cheese variety as otherwise they may be rather plain tasting. But that also makes them perfect for savory toppings and because these are nice and thick they can handle layers - think strong cheese, tuna, olives, chives, peanut butter, apples, hummus, cream cheese, smoked salmon, pepper jellies etc.

Kids will love them!

Once school starts up again I will be using them in my kids' lunch boxes. They get so tired of sandwiches but love it when I give them separate containers of crackers, spreads, cheeses, veggies, fruit, etc. that they can put together on their own. Nairn's oatcakes will be a perfect and healthier substitute for regular crackers. I think they will fill the kids up a bit more and give them a bit more energy compared to regular saltines.

Don't forget the cookies!

I loved the cookies! Perfect for dunking in tea or coffee. The chocolate cookies were my favorite - the little bits of dark chocolate were perfect little bites to satisfy my sweet tooth without being too sweet. I'm saving the stem ginger ones  to make a crust for a pumpkin cheesecake - I think it will make a great substitute for the graham crackers I normally use.

Overall

Pros:
  • wheat free (NOT gluten free though)
  • easy to grab and go for lunches/snacks  as there are 4 packs of 6 crackers in each box
  • vegetarian friendly
  • low GI
  • stand up to heavier toppings and flavors
  • contain fibre
  • no artificial colors, preservatives or flavors

Cons:
  • wish the packs had only 4 per pack as sometimes 6 is a bit too

I will definitely be buying more of these when my stash runs out!

For more info check out Nairn's sites:
Note: Nairn supplied me with product but all opinions are my own.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Mashed Purple Potato Salad

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My 8 year old loves being in the kitchen. Last weekend he decided he wanted potato salad. We went to a farmer's market and he picked out some purple and yellow potatoes for his "creation". I usually prefer a vinaigrette type dressing on my potato salad but he was adamant that he wanted a creamy dressing. He also insisted on mashing them up vs chopped. Can't say he doesn't know what he wants! He added celery and some green onions. The dressing was a combo of reduced calorie miracle whip (you could use mayo), mustard, relish and some extra vinegar for some "zip". I gotta be honest - I wasn't convinced I was going to like it - instead I LOVED it! Not only did it taste amazing, the purple potatoes added a fantastic blast of colour. I made some one eyed purple people eater comment but obviously that song is lost on the 8 yr old set!


You can peel the potatoes ahead of time if you want but I usually just peel them after they are cooked - it's easier as long as your fingers aren't too sensitive to the heat or you have patience to wait till they cool. About 2 lbs of potatoes in total is about what you need. Serves 4-6 as a side dish.

Ingredients

6 purple potatoes, large dice
4 yellow potatoes, large dice
1/2 c miracle whip
1/4 c honey dijon mustard
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 heaping tbsp green relish
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 stalks celery, diced
3 green onions, chopped
pepper and salt to taste

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, add potatoes (and salt if desired) and cover with cold water. 
  2. Bring to a boil and cook until tender - about 10-15 after reaching a boil.
  3. Drain potatoes, peel if not already done.
  4. Add to large bowl.
  5. Add onions and celery.
  6. In a small bowl, combine miracle whip, mustard, vinegar, relish, and garlic powder.
  7. Add to potatoes and mash together.
  8. You can mash as much or as little as you  want. We left some good size chunks for texture. 
  9. Cool in fridge.
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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Oh the Irony Smoothie

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My 8 year old has low iron so in addition to iron supplements, we've been trying to increase iron rich foods in his diet. He's not a big meat eater so it's not exactly an easy task!

I had to laugh last night when he bounded down the stairs to tell me that I just had to buy him Fruit Loops! Now he knows that type of cereal is usually only allowed on his birthday but he insisted I should buy a box to improve his iron levels! Turns out a serving of Fruit Loops contains 50% of a person's daily iron need....seriously.

I'm still not convinced that everything else in it outweighs it's iron profile...but I have to give props to my son for reading the labels at the store!

This smoothie not only offers a couple servings of fruit for him, it has extra iron. Did you know pumpkin seeds are a good source of iron? Neither did I until a friend told me so as she dropped off a jar of pumpkin seed butter on my desk! One 2 tbsp serving gives you 30% of your daily recommended iron intake (this varies depending on brand). Prune juice also has quite a bit of iron so this smoothie has a double hit. I added orange juice as Vitamin C increases the body's ability to absorb iron (btw calcium decreases it).

I would love to hear from any parents or bloggers in similar circumstances and what iron rich food recipes you're using!

Makes 1 large or 2 small smoothies

Ingredients

1/2 c prune juice
3/4 c orange juice
1/2 banana (preferably frozen)
1 tbsp honey
2/3 c frozen blueberries
1 heaping tbsp pumpkin seed butter

Instructions

Blend everything together for 1 minute.
If too thick add a bit more juice until desired consistency is reached.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Refrigerator Raisin Bran Muffins



Versions of this recipe have been around for decades. The great thing about it is you can keep the batter in your fridge and bake up a fresh batch in the mornings for breakfast or after school for snacks. I've read you can keep it for up to 6 weeks! 

While I haven't tested that, I doubt they'd last that long just because they are sooo delicious and moist! To be honest, I usually bake up the whole batch and throw them in the freezer so we can grab these muffins anytime we're running out the door. They don't take long to thaw and are much healthier than a store bought muffin or processed snack.

This recipe is also pretty forgiving in terms of ingredients...if you don't have bran flakes, use bran buds or fibre cereal. If you don't have whole wheat pastry flour you can substitute all purpose (though you'll lose some fibre content). The batter will also thicken as it stands so if you do keep it in the fridge expect it to go from almost liquid to very thick. Finally, sometimes I make these in mini muffin tins - they take about 12-15 minutes to bake. 

This recipe will make about 4 dozen muffins! If you use dark colored muffin tins you might want to reduce your oven temperature to 350 degrees or watch carefully as they may brown a bit faster than a normal tin.

Ingredients

2 c boiling water
2 c wheat bran
2 c raisins
3 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp cinnamon
3 tbsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1-1/2 c all purpose flour
1/2 c wheat germ
4 eggs
1-1/2 c brown sugar
1 c vegetable oil
1/4 c molasses
4 c buttermilk
4 c bran flakes

Instructions


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray muffins tins with baking spray.
  2. In medium bowl, add bran and raisins. Carefully add boiling water over them.
  3. In a very big bowl whisk the eggs.
  4. Whisk in the brown sugar.
  5. Add the oil, molasses, and buttermilk. Whisk until well combined.
  6. In another large bowl, whisk flours, wheat germ, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  7. Add the flour mixture to the buttermilk bowl. Gently whisk together. It will look lumpy but will come together. It will be very liquidy!
  8. Stir in the bran mixture.
  9. Add the bran flakes and combine. It will look very wet.
  10. Fill muffins tins 2/3 full.
  11. Bake for 20-25 minutes.