Restaurant Redux: Fresh Macro Greens Bowl

Oh my gosh you guys, summer is totally happening right now. And you know what that means? Patios! Nights out! New 90s inspired crop tops! Aaaand so long rent cheque…

Seriously all these summer adventures add up and eating out can be the biggest culprit. So last night I did my best to recreate a dish from one of Toronto’s biggest vegetarian restaurant chains: Fresh.

Even if you don’t live in this city I’m sure you know of a place like Fresh. Its good but not amazing. Not expensive but not cheap either. Mainly it’s convenient and healthy enough to satisfy your midday kale craving.

The meal I decided to recreate was one of my regular orders: the Macro Greens bowl, which basically consists of a bunch of steamed greens, tomato and grilled sweet potato, topped in tofu and smothered in creamy dressing (and Cholula hotsauce if you’re like me). So yes it’s delicious but also stupid simple to make. Here was my take:

Macro Greens Bowl with Tahini Miso Dressing

Ingredients: 

For the bowl

  • 2 big handfuls of chopped kale
  • 1 cup chopped bok choy
  • 1/4 cup chopped asparagus
  • 1/4 cup chopped mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 large sweet potato
  • 1/4 block tofu
  • 1 tsp sesame oil

For the dressing

  • 1/4 cup light miso
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 inch piece of ginger
  • 1 clove of garlic

Directions:

  1. Prep potato in advance by baking in the oven or microwave and cutting into round slices.
  2. Make dressing by adding all ingredients to a blender or food processer and blending until smooth.
  3. Lightly steam veggies until the colours are bright and vibrant.
  4. Pan fry tofu cubes in sesame oil until lightly browned.
  5. Layer your bowl  with greens, potatoes, tofu and sauce.

Masala, Leek and Fennel Scramble

I don’t think you’re ready for the glory of this Sunday stay-at-home brunch recipe. Sweet, savoury and little exotic, it’s the perfect start to a hot sticky summery afternoon like the one we’re about to have in Southern Ontario.

Masala, Leek and Fennel Tofu Scramble


Lightly adapted from 101 cookbooks

  • heaping spoonful of coconut oil
  • couple pinches of salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala 
  • 1 large leek, halved and cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 medium bulb fennel, cut into very thin slices
  • 3 tbsp chopped raisins
  • 12 ounces extra firm orgnic tofu, crumbled
  • 2 heaping scoops nutritional yeast
  • 2 big handfuls chopped swiss chard, stems removed
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tbsp toasted sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp of tahini
  • splash of almond milk

Directions:

  1. Add the coconut oil to a large skillet over med-high heat. Stir in the garam masala, and then add leek and fennel.
  2. Stir in leeks and salt and cook until they turn lightly brown and fragrant.
  3. Stir in the chopped raisins, cook them for thirty seconds and then add the tofu and nutritional yeast. Stir to combine and sautee until tofu begins to lightly brown (3-4 minute).
  4. Add chopped chard leaves and sautee until just wilted and bright green in colour.
  5. Pour 2 tbsp of balsamic into the pan and scrape up the pieces on the bottom of the pan as it bubbles and deglazes (1-2 mins).
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in the sunflower seeds, drizzle on the tahini and stir together with a splash of almond milk.
  7. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Serves 4.

How are you brunching today?

“Yoga Freelancing”: A Guide to Self-Led Practice

I know I’ve been mentioning my heart-on for yoga lately so I thought it was about time I discussed exactly what that looks like for me. Much like my flexitarianism, my relationship to yoga is highly personalized and often awkward to explain. However I think I hit the nail on the head lately when I told a friend: I’m definitely not a yogi …more of a yoga freelancer.  

What I mean by that is that I love to practice yoga but I do so without a set studio, instructor or schedule. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the typical yoga studio experience but it just doesnt always suit my lifestyle, namely because it tends to be:

Costly.

No matter how you slice it, boutique yoga studios are expensive. And because yoga often supplements other forms of activity, the costs are typically above and beyond your already maxed out “fitness” budget.

Competitive.

I know many yoga studios now focus on a “non-competitive” atmosphere, but it’s still challenging not to compare yourself to others in the class. No matter how zen I get, there’s still a little Type-A voice in my brain telling me I should be going for that headstand…especially when that scrawny blonde over there is doing it and she could barely manage the proenza  bag she walked in with.

Inconvenient.

As far as timing goes, I’m never sure quite where yoga practice fits into my day. Evenings are already so busy and while early mornings would be ideal, there are virtually no studios near my apartment. **My neighborhood is still in those awkward early stages of gentrification where like, I know where to go for an almond milk latte but my bike’s still gonna get stolen while I’m ordering.

While these things could have put me off the mat completely, my new MO is to apply my DIY philosophy to my yoga practice which brings me to the main event here…

The Healthy Hipster’s Guide to Self-Led Yoga
(which you can practice at home, in the park or under a nearby waterfall…Im looking at you Portlanders…Portlandians?)


Note: It is important to attend guided yoga classes prior to practicing at home to ensure you understand how your body should be aligned in each posture. This will be important for avoiding injuries.

BASIC TIPS

1)      Set a time frame: How long do you realistically want to practice?

2)      Set specific physical goals: How do you want your body to feel at the end of your practice?
Eg. I want my core to feel stronger. I want my shoulders to feel more relaxed.

3)      Set an intention: How do you want to feel mentally at the end of your practice?
Eg. I want to feel

4)      Find a space where you feel comfortable completing your practice.

5)      Move through a basic routine, adding or adapting postures to meet the physical goal you’ve chosen for that day.

ROUTINE TEMPLATE
(Click to Print)

Adapted from here
For tips on additional poses or images of the ones I mention below Yoga Journal is a great resource. 

Warm up:

Seated deep breathing and move into cat/cow postures to stretch out your back.
Move through 5 rounds of sun salutations. On the last round remain on the ground.

1) Standing postures.
Choose 2-3 then repeat leading with your other leg.

Push up into downward facing dog, then step forward into a lunge. Raise arms above your head and hold this deep lunge for 5 breaths
Move into Warrior II, hold for 5 breaths. Move into reverse warrior hold for 5 breaths. Back to down dog.
Repeat on the opposite side.

2) Balance Posture:
Choose 1 and repeat on both legs.

Step forward and return to tree pose then move into a standing balance posture (opening your hips and resting your foot above or below the knee of the opposite leg, holding your foot then extending your leg out in front of you, etc.). Hold for 8-10 breaths.
Repeat on other leg.

3) Back Bends, Folds and Inversions
Choose 1-2 back bends followed by 1-2 folds and 1-2 inversion postures.

Use a sun salutation to bring you back to the floor, move into baby cobra and hold for 5 breaths releasing. Then full cobra and hold for 5 breaths.
Push into child’s pose for 3 breaths.
Transition from child pose to a seated forward bend. I like to hold for 5 breaths then release 3 times to really fall deeply into the stretch.
Extend and stretch your body along the floor then bring your legs up and over into plow pose (make sure you protect your neck and back by placing your arms on your lower back). Extend your legs up into the air if you feel comfortable doing so.
Add  wheel pose for serious strength and stretching.

4) Twists. 1-2, repeated on both sides.   

Laying on your back bring your knees down to one side, keeping your shoulders on the floor and gazing in the opposite direction. 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Come into seated and move into a seated twist (my favourite one is called half lord of the fishes….it also has the best name)

Cool down:

5 minutes of savasana or relaxation pose.

And that’s it!

What are  your thoughts on self-guided yoga? Too intimidating? Or worth a shot? 

Chocolate Protein Cookies

The last week of my life has been consumed by work and apartment hunting, leaving me with zero time for grocery shopping, laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc. And physical activity? Well let’s just say I’ve been relying heavily on Cardio LIFE lately (hoofin it all over the city from cruddy rental to cruddy rental, is no joke…believe me).

So while I wish I could be passing along a wholesome, comfort food dinner recipe my empty fridge is telling me that just isn’t in the cards. So in the meantime these grab-and-go protein cookies are my closest approximation. Wholesome? Yup. Comforting? Definitely. Oh, and did I mention chocolatey? That’s just bonus…

One of these cookies provides you with around 10+ grams of protein and a healthy dose of dietary fibre, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats. They can be made vegan or sugar free if that’s your scene and if you’re worried about the prep time, just double the recipe and pop half the cookies in the freezer for next time!

Chocolate Protein Cookies
Lightly adapted from this recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 3 heaping tbsp almond butter
  • 2 scoops protein powder (I used Chocolate Sun Warrior Blend)**
  • 1 large egg OR 1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup Sucanat OR 1/4 tsp powdered white stevia
  • 2 heaping tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp instant coffee (optional, but gives a nice flavour)
  • 1/2 cup mix-ins like chocolate chips, carob chips, walnuts, dried or frozen berries, etc.
**If you don’t use protein powder I think you could substitute with 1/4 cup of oat or whole wheat flour. They would still be higher protein than regular cookies because of the chickpeas. Let me know if you try this out!
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add all ingredients to your food processor except for mix-ins and blend until smooth.
  3. Scoop batter into a bowl and add mix-ins by hand. Form into balls, and place on baking sheet.
  4. Bake for about 15 minutes or until crackly on top – make sure not to overcook.

Enjoy these cookies as midday snack…Maybe paired with an Americano topped off with homemade almond milk (courtesy of MylkUncookies)? Nomm…..

I’ll be back to salads, scrambles, wraps, casseroles and stews soon but in the meantime I’ll stay a happy girl so long as I keep munching on snacks this good and coffee this delicious

Wish me luck as the hunt continues…and give these healthy little treats a try!

Rustic Chocolate Hazelnut Tartelettes

I had big plans for my Valentines Day recipe. I was going to make something rich, indulgent and totally unique. Then life came along and I found myself in the suburbs yesterday helping my grandparents grocery shop…only to return home to my own empty cupboards. And so went my best laid plans….

Still, I was committed to making something delicious for myself and the special people in my life to wake up to tomorrow. So I improvised. I used what I had on hand, in the quantities I had on hand. A few squares of dark chocolate, a bit of flour, a little coconut oil and some of this sweet, decadant hazelnut butter  made locally on Manitoulin Island. And low and behold, I ended up creating something that was a little bit…great.

The crust in this recipe is quite basic. But it’s dairy free, simple & has the taste and flaky texture of toasty pie crust edges if that makes sense to you. The hazelnut & chocolate layers are smooth and satisfying and taste like the love child of a ferrero rocher and a boston cream doughnut.

So even though the result wasn’t anything like I’d expected or planned, I made it work and happened upon something quite lovely and special. And since we’re on the sappy Valentine’s theme, wouldn’t you say this same principle applies to your very best relationships? I’ve loved some truly lovely, truly special people in my life and none of them were anything like I could have predicted but I’m all the better for knowing them.

Rustic Chocolate Hazelnut Tartelettes
(Vegan)

For the crust

  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup spelt flour (or white flour)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3 tbsp ice cold water
  • 1.5 tbsp sucanat
  • pinch of salt
Directions
  1. Mix flour with COLD coconut oil, using your fingers or a fork to mash until crumbly.
  2. Add in sugar, salt and ice water 1 tbsp at a time. Adjust water/flour combination if necessary until dough is dense but rolls easily.
  3. Separate dough into 4 parts. Use your hands to roll each section into a ball then use a rolling pin or saran wrap covered wine bottle to flatten out dough. I did this on a piece of parchment paper to prevent sticking.
  4. Transfer rolled out dough into well greased muffin cups, removing excess dough around the edges. If you want, go around the edges of each pastry cup with a fork to give the edges that “ribbed” look. Repeat with the other 3 tart shells.

For the filling

  • 1.5 tbsp hazelnut butter (peanut butter would be delicious substitution, I’m sure)
  • 1 tbsp honey, agave or maple syrup
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 2.5 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 squares dark chocolate (1/4 dark chocolate bar)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1 tbsp sucanat
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2tbsp water

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan bring 1 cup of almond milk to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.
  2. Stir in nut butter and honey and stir until melted.
  3. Combine cornstarch and water and add to milk mixture, stirring vigorously for about a minute until thick. Taste and adjust sweetener to taste (I used a sweetened nut butter so you may require a bit more).
  4. Pour into pastry cups, filling about 2/3 of the way.
  5. Back in the sauce pan, add another 1/2 cup almond milk and melt in dark chocolate and sucanat. Mix cornstarch and water then add to pot, stirring vigorously for about a minute or until thick.
  6. Top hazelnut filling with chocolate sauce, leaving at least 1 inch of room at the top of each pastry cup.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15-20 minutes or until pastry has browned and filling is set.

Yields 4 large tarts or 8 mini tarts. 

I’d love to hear some of your favourite unexpected success stories in love, life or baking!

Protein-Rich Granola Bars & Other Small Changes to Keep February Fresh

When I was living in Holland a few years back I experienced a lot of culture shock. More bikes than people? Took some getting used to. Bland foodmash that passes for a national dish? Mildly offputting (though Dutch food eventually grew on me). The inability to wear high heels on cobblestone? Straight up rage-inducing. However, once the first day of February hit and I realized it was spring I was finally shocked…in a really really good way.
The air smelled sweet, the flower markets were packed with fresh blooms and the rain (at least temporarily) seemed to subside.
Fast forward to present day…February in Toronto, Canada…my cold Northern landscape is providing me with no such seasonal inspiration. But I’m still trying my best to find that sense of February rejuvenation by mixing things up and implementing some small changes in various aspects of my life to keep myself from succumbing to the winter doldrums.
Small Fitness Changes: 3 Ways To Mix Up Your Routine
1) Try out some incline/intensity during your regular cardio. Not a lot. Just add some incline or intensity for 1 minute after 4 minutes of your regular level of intensity, then return to normal. Repeat for the duration of your workout.
2) End your workout with squats. Either time how many you can do in a minute (or 2, or 3) OR try going to 100. This will add a  nice little end-of-workout burn without raising your heartrate too much. Plus it is satisfying because you can set small goals and then feel great when you achieve them!
3) Pushups. Give em a go. Go for girlyones (I’m appropriating the term, its cool) if you aren’t used to the upper body challenge or try to do them in full plank position. Just a few sets of 10 mixed into your routine is a great total body workout…Plus they make you feel all tough-like. 😉
Small Food Changes: Experiment with New Ingredients
Last week I bought Sunflower Seed Flour for the first time. It has great nutritional benefits and is very high in protein but it has a really distinct flavour so I wasn’t sure how well it would blend into regular baking. Nevertheless I made the change, I gave it a shot and ended up creating these deliciously energizing little snackbars.
DIY: Protein-Rich Granola Bars
 Vegan, Gluten-Free, Low-Sugar,
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup gluten free oat bran or oat flour
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seed flour (I’m sure you could sub for almond flour with great results)
  • 1.5 cups crunchy cereal (I suggest a high protein variety like Hi-Lo or Kashi but anything would work)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1 tbsp honey or agave
  • 1 cup almond milk (sub for rice milk if you want to make this recipe nut-free as well)
  • 4 tsp ground chia mixed with 4 tbsp boiling water 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • Optional Cinnamon
  • Optional 2 Packets of Stevia (to enhance the natural sweetness)

Directions
  1. Combine wet ingredients mashed banana, almond milk, vanilla, chia mix and tahini in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir flours, baking powder, salt, seeds and cereal together. Also add cinnamon and stevia if using.
  3. Mix dry and wet ingredients and knead a bit with your hands to make sure everything is combined.
  4. On a parchment lined baking sheet, shape dough into two rectangular blocks. You’ll be cutting each into 6 pieces and you want them to end up looking like standard granola bars so do the math. I made mine about 2 inches thick.
  5. Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes. They should end up golden brown and crispy at the edges.
  6. Slice into 12 bars and store in the fridge for an on-the-go snack that will last all week.
What small changes are you making to keep things fresh this February?

DIY: Lightened Up Almond Cheese

A quick note about Nut Cheese.

While the name itself might not sound very appetizing I am a big fan of these non-dairy cheeses. Unlike the processed vegan soy cheese you buy at the store, nut cheese is typically just ground up and sometimes fermented nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts, etc). It is very versatile and can be eaten as a savoury sandwich spread or a ridiculously indulgent dessert. However, much like dairy cheese, nut cheese is quite nutrient-dense and high in (healthy) fats so you don’t need much to reap all those tasty benefits. Choosing Raw has loads of quick and easy recipes for various raw vegan cheeses and I encourage you try them out!

I, however, am not posting a recipe for a traditional nut cheese today but rather presenting you with my own little spin. Because while moderation is all well and good, I wanted to create a dairy-free cheesy spread that could be used more..well…liberally. I also wanted to create with a recipe that was quick, easy and didn’t involve a vitamix, elaborate straining, the use of cheesecloth or any kind of fermentation. And VOILA! I am already a little obsessed…

Lightened Up Curry-Style Almond Cheese
Based on this method

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup cooked winter squash or sweet potato (pumpkin would okay but I would add a little honey to make up for the lack of sweetness)
  • 2-3 dashes of hot pepper sauce

Directions

  1. Blanch almonds by boiling a couple inches of water in small saucepan, adding the almonds and cooking for 1 minute or so. Remove saucepan from heat and set aside for 3 minutes to cool. Optional: Remove almond skins by squeezing them between your thumb and forefinger. Pat dry.
  2. Place the almonds in a blender or food processor and process for 1-2 minutes to finely grind them. Scrape down the sides of the container. Add 1/2 cup water and process for 1 minute to combine. Add the remaining water, cornstarch, lemon juice, nutritional yeast flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt, and continue to process the mixture an additional 1-2 minutes or until very smooth and creamy.
  3. Transfer the mixture back to a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. Cook and whisk together for about 3-5 minutes, until it becomes very thick. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Pour cheese mixture into a 2-cup container, cover, and chill for several hours or until firm.
  5. Unmold the cheese and use slices on sandwiches or as a spread with crackers, breads, or fruit. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

Yields: One 2-cup container of non-dairy cheese or about 8 large servings.

I don’t usually calculate the nutritional info of my recipes but this time I was just interested…and boy was I impressed! Thank you nutritional yeast & almonds for being so high in all those healthy vitamins!

Obviously I went with a curry-style version but you’re welcome to experiment with loads of different flavours or mix-ins (olives, sundried tomatoes, hot peppers, cumin, etc.). I’d love to hear how different flavours turn out! 🙂

Hope you’re enjoying a relaxing Sunday afternoon!

Spicy Tuna Rice Rolls

I am not normally very ambitious when it comes to my midday meal. I graze all morning and then when lunchtime hits I just grab every vegetable I have in my fridge, pile it into a wrap, sandwich or salad bowl then top it leftovers from last nights dinner. So I’m not entirely sure what inspired my creativity and…dare I say it…vegetable restraint when I was whipping up my lunch today. Perhaps it was my lack of leftovers? Or the low sodium skipjack tuna I recently stockpiled after swearing off the unsustainable, high mercury stuff I get tempted by at the discount grocery store?

Whatever it was I decided today was the day to bust out those rice paper rolls that have been collecting dust in my pantry for about three months now. This is what became of them.

Spicy Tuna, Avocado & Collard Green Rice Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 4 small rice paper rolls or 2 large ones
  • 1 can of skipjack tuna (often labeled flaked light)
    **Vegans/Vegetarians could easily sub for tofu salad
  • 1 tsp sesame oil 
  • 1 tsp siracha
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3-4 large collard leaves, sliced thinly into strips
  • 1/2 an avocado, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted wasabi edamame OR wasabi peas (optional, but I liked the added crunch and spice)

Directions

  1. Soak your rice paper rolls according to package instructions. Make sure to pat off any excess liquid before assembling.
  2. Combine tuna, sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce and siracha in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Carefully lay out 1 rice paper roll and add your avocado, greens, tuna & wasabi fillings. Make sure not to overfill each one and leave at least a few inches of room at the top and bottom.
  4. Finish off by folding over the top and bottom of the roll first, followed by the sides. Slice in half with a sharp knife and serve with extra soy sauce, black bean sauce, etc.

Serves 1 as a meal or 2 as an appetizer or snack. 

Peanut Butter & Banana Brulee Brownies

Its pouring rain. I spent my whole weekend being ridiculously productive and working like a maniac. And it’s my best friend’s birthday. So simply put:  it is a baking day here in the Healthy Hipster kitchen.

After spending way more time than I’d like to admit trying to think of just the right recipe for her birthday treat (carrot cake? banana bread? classic chocolate chip cookies?) I was hit by a stroke of pure genius. Why not take her favourite peanut butter, chocolate & banana breakfast smoothie and turn it into a freakin’ BROWNIE?? YES YES YES. 

And no this is not the healthiest recipe I’ll ever post. But we’re talking dessert here. And it is still free of refined sugar, dairy and the eggs can easily be swapped for vegan replacer or flax eggs (1 tbsp ground flax: 3 tbsp water/egg). Y’all ready for this?

The “Carly” Brownie
(Aka. Peanut Butter Banana Brulee Brownies)
Inspired by this & this 

Ingredients

  • 2 large very ripe bananas
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil (or earth balance/butter)
  • 1 tbsp honey (or agave/brown sugar)
  • 1/3 cup earth balance or butter 
  • 1/3 cup crunchy natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp instant coffee or espresso
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
Directions:
For the Banana Brulee
  1. Slice bananas and toss together with 1 tbsp melted coconut oil or butter and 1 tbsp of honey or agave.
  2. Arrange coated banana slices along the bottom of an 8 x 8 inch pan. Note: You will flip the brownies at the end so the bananas will end up on top!
For the Brownies
  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine the earth balance, peanut butter, turbinado sugar, molasses, coffee powder, cocoa, almond milk and salt in a medium heatproof bowl and set the bowl over some simmering water so that everything melts and combines (you can also do this by heating ingredients in the microwave for 20-30 seconds, stirring, heating again, etc. until combined).
  3. Remove mixture from heat and stir in the vanilla and eggs, stirring vigorously. When the batter looks thick, shiny, and well blended add the flour and stir until you cannot see it any longer.
  4. Spread brownie mix evenly over bananas but don’t worry about making it too pretty, since you will flip them at the end anyways.
  5. Bake until a toothpick plunged into the center emerges slightly moist with batter, mine took about 40 minutes.
  6. Allow the brownies to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan and then FLIP them onto a rack or baking sheet to cool completely before cutting.
  7. Optional: After flipping, return brownies to a hot oven and BROIL for an additional 5 minutes or so until the topping starts to brown and they take on that caramel “brulee” colour.  
The end result is a very dense brownie (not at all cakey) that maintains a crisp chewy bottom because you’ve flipped it. The peanuts and bananas are subtle in flavour, with the dark rich chocolate taking centre stage…which…let’s be honest is pretty much the point of a brownie right? All in all I am very pleased with this experiment and look forward to many more baking adventures throughout the holiday season.
What’s your favourite birthday treat? Are you a birthday cake purist or do you opt for a little adventure?
P.S. How amazing is it that this recipe is coming immediately after my “I love salad” post? What was I just saying about how much I heart balance? Too good.

Lunch Trio with Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

Earlier this week I was visiting a friend, a busy mom with two young and ridiculously adorable children, and she was kind enough to offer me a bowl of the creamy roasted red pepper and tomato soup she was preparing for lunch.  As I ate my first spoonful of that rich and comforting bowl I was reminded of 2 things:

1) I used to eat these prepackaged soups all the time and I still freaking love them. Apparently even my healthy-food savvy taste buds aren’t immune to that familiar combination of sugar, salt and modified milk products. Mmm…mmm…good.

2) While there may have been a time in my life when a bowl of tomato soup would have been a perfectly lovely lunch, that is definitely not the case for me anymore. (See this post for more info on how I eat to fuel my active lifestyle) This fact became all too apparent to me when I got hungry for dinner at abut 2:15 that afternoon…

With both of those things in mind I decided that I must a) recreate this soup immediately and b) ensure that I enjoy it as a delicious addition to my typical lunch fare. Thus I got home and began cooking up this delicious dairy-free version. And it quickly turned my standard wrap/salad combo into a hearty, restaurant-style lunch trio.

Sauteed veggie and tuna wrap in a toasted brown rice tortilla, mixed green salad with carrots, apples, pumpkin seeds and flax oil/balsamic dressing and (of course)…

Creamy Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup (Dairy-Free)

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped roughly
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped roughly
  • 1 can of whole tomatoes
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 roasted red peppers, seeded and chopped (See instructions below)
  • 1/2 package silken tofu  
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast (optional, could sub Parmesan cheese for a dairy option)
  • pepper to taste
Roasted Bell Peppers: Easy as 1-2-3
  1. Place whole bell peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet and broil in the oven until the skins have blackened (peppers may start to look “deflated”). It usually takes around 15-20 minutes and typically I flip them about half way through. 
  2. Once the peppers are blackened place them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap. As they cool this will create a vaccuum seal that will make the skins very easy to peel off.  
  3. Use your fingers to tear the skins away from the flesh of the peppers and remove the tops and seeds. Voila!

Directions: 

  1. In a large pot, sautee onions, garlic and celery over medium heat until soft and fragrant.
  2. Add tomatoes, broth and peppers and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat and allow to simmer for around 15 minutes.
  4. Using a regular or infusion blender, puree mixture until smooth.
  5. Add silken tofu, nutritional yeast and a little pepper. Puree until tofu is completely combined (not grainy).
  6. Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more salt and pepper if desired.

Garnish with parsley, fresh pepper slices and a drizzle of your favourite milk.