Pumpkin-Mango Granola Pucks #thereciperedux

With only a week to go until Rise Up And Shine II, I’ve been turning my attention towards making some healthy, hearty, “power foods” for both the volunteers and the participants. Of course, Nature’s Path has made things a lot easier for everyone to stay “on their path” by giving me an awesome selection of their cereals (the same ones you’ll get if you win my giveaway!). Granola bars are definitely one of the most obvious “healthy” snacks out there, but they’re usually made with raw oats, not to mention a boatload of sugar and fats. That’s the way the original recipe I chose to tweak was too – and while the sweetness factor is still on the “high” side, by weight my version still has less sugar, calories, sodium and fat than a storebought bar and is full of extra nutrition from the pumpkin, rice bran, natural peanut butter and (of course) the star of the show – a full box of Nature’s Path Chia Plus Coconut Chia Granola! To play off the “Thai” vibe I was getting from the coconut, peanut butter and pumpkin, I tossed in the leftover dried mango from my “Tablespoon” Trail Mix too. The more the merrier!
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Pumpkin-Mango Granola Pucks

The “puck” shape of these treats makes them the ultimate portable breakfast, although it does take a little finessing to transform the moist, sticky batter from “gluey” to “chewy”. Being thicker than your standard “bar” means that in order to keep the texture consistent, it takes a “two part” baking system: first in the muffin tin until set, but still soft, then free-standing on a sheet tray until the bottoms and sides crisp up a little bit. You’ll never get “crunchy” granola bars, obviously – the lack of added oil and the abundance of pumpkin in these will see to that – but they have a toothsome quality and a definite ability to fill you up before or after a workout without giving you a major sugar hangover! I knew I had hit the jackpot when the photo I posted to Instagram got a like and a recipe request from the @naturespathorganic team – not to mention the craving from my coworkers! 


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Pumpkin-Mango Granola Pucks
Makes 12
½ cup pure pumpkin puree (I roasted my own)
½ cup natural style creamy peanut butter (just peanuts and salt)
¼ cup Muscovado sugar
¼ cup golden syrup or honey
¼ cup maple syrup
½ tsp liquid stevia
¼ cup unflavoured pea protein powder
1 tbsp vanilla
1 box (about 4 cups) Nature’s Path Chia Plus Coconut Chia Granola
½ cup large-flake rolled oats
1⁄3 cup stabilized rice bran
½ cup diced dried mango

  1. Heat the oven to 325°F and line a muffin tin with paper liners
  2. In a bowl, beat together the pumpkin, peanut butter, sugar, syrups, stevia, protein powder and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Add the granola, oats, bran and mango, stirring until everything is well coated.
  4. Pack ¼ cupfuls into the liners, pressing in as well as you can with the back of a spoon or disher.
  5. Bake for 40 minutes.
  6. Remove from the oven and press the tops of the pucks down firmly to compact.
  7. Cool 10 minutes in the tin, then move the pucks to a baking sheet.
  8. Bake 15 minutes.
  9. Let cool completely before eating or storing in the fridge (up to 1 week) or freezer (up to 2 months).

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 278.3
Total Fat: 10.6 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 75.8 mg
Total Carbs: 39.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 4.5 g
Protein: 7.8 g

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"Tablespoon" Trail Mix (and a @naturespathorganic #OnMyPath Giveaway!)

It’s horrible how long it’s taken me to get back to writing – I don’t have much of an excuse other than laziness and a sprained wrist, but rest assured I’ve been blog-hopping as I doze my evenings away after work!

I’ve never been a “great” breakfast eater, even now that I start my days at 5:30AM. I don’t really get hungry until close to noon, but will enjoy a handful of dry, cold cereal on my way to work, especially if it’s chunky, crunchy and just barely sweet. “Cereal with milk” was never a part of my growing up, and I truly can’t get my head around the texture no matter what my friends and family say. While the “standard” cold cereals remain drowned in dairy around here, I think I may have found a brand to convert the die-hards: Nature’s Path.

BreakkieThis isn’t the first time I’ve written about my love for this organic, largely gluten free cereal brand, and for good reason. Ever since Nature’s Path cereal and granola entered my shopping cart a few years ago, I was hooked on the hearty whole grains, fruit and nuts in products like Flax Plus Pumpkin Raisin Crunch, Crunchy Vanilla Sunrise, and Summer Berries Granola. On the more decadent side, almost the whole Love Crunch® line soon fell into rotation as a topping for applesauce and yogurt at breakfast, “fake baked” (AKA microwaved) apple halves as a mid-afternoon snack or ice cream for dessert. Recently, my oatmeal-loving self has discovered their Gluten Free, Organic Homestyle Instant Oatmeal, which comes in a handy (if somewhat hefty, at 40g vs 28g) pre-portioned pack and  (unlike many other brands) doesn’t cause my skin to flare up like a bad sunburn after eating it. Finally, the kid in my still loves the sweet, cinnamon-toast crunch of Envirokidz Cinnamon Jungle Munch® Cereal, especially when I mix it with the “grown up”, plain Whole O’s™ for my on-the-road “faux-fast”.

With the Rise Up And Shine II Plan Canada Dance Fitness Fundraiser coming up (featuring my new role as a “Kiddie Korner” supervisor!), I’ve been playing around with various ingredients in the pantry to come up with an easy, filling, kid-friendly snack mix to serve (and have the kids take home as a “loot bag”). Since I needed to keep nuts out of the equation, and wanted to keep remaining allergens to a minimum, using Nature’s Path cereal was an easy choice – as was swapping in roasted chickpeas and soybeans for the traditional nuts. A mix of delicious dried fruit added chewy contrast and just a touch of chocolate bumped up the kid-pleasing power. Best of all, the recipe for one serving (as written here) is so simple it easily scales as you need it, and since all you need is a tablespoon there are precious few things to dirty along the way!

Make sure to stay tuned – more delicious and decadent treats with Nature’s Path cereals and granola are coming down the pipeline!

“Tablespoon” Trail Mix
Makes 1 serving
1 tbsp dry-roasted, salted chickpeas
1 tbsp dry-roasted, salted soy nuts
1 tbsp diced dried mangoes
1 tbsp diced dried apples
1 tbsp raisins
1 tbsp dark chocolate covered raisins (I found these vegan ones at the health food store and used them)
1/4 cup (4 tbsp) dry cereal (I used a mix of Nature’s Path Whole O’s™ Cereal and Envirokidz Cinnamon Jungle Munch®)

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a plastic bag or bowl.
  2. Enjoy!

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 276.1
Total Fat: 5.4 g
Cholesterol: 1.3 mg
Sodium: 161.0 mg
Total Carbs: 52.8 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.3 g
Protein: 7.4 g

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Now for the real treat… not one, but two, Nature’s Path #OnMyPath Giveaways!

Now that I’ve waxed poetic on the subject of these cereals, it would be totally unfair to keep it all to myself. Luckily, the super-awesome team at Nature’s Path have furnished quite the prize package for readers of this blog:

One winner will receive^:

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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But wait, there’s more!

There’s also a grand prize for one lucky person out there*+:  

  • ORGANIC GRANOLA FOR A YEAR
  • A copy of DIY Vegan, by Nicole Axworthy & Lisa Pitman – a book I’m coveting that includes more than 100 ways to create an awesome plant-based pantry!
  • A copy of Un-Junk Your Diet by Desiree Nielsen, R.D. – how to shop, cook and eat to feel better forever (I have this and it’s a great read)
Does that sound awesome or what?

To enter the Grand Prize Draw:

Getting back on a healthy path? Running your first marathon? Trying a plant-based diet? We want to know!  

Tell us what’s on your path for 2016 by posting on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using both hashtags: #OnMyPath and #GranolaForAYear. 

^ Prize will ship on or after March 1, 2016
+ Grand prize contest closes February 28, 2016
*This prize is open to all blogs participating and their audiences. There will be one grand prize total.

Nature’s Path provided me with free product, but did not solicit any opinions or promotion of their giveaway. They’re just good people!

Sticky Toffee Date and Gingerbread Granola

In the crush of computer problems, visitors, lesson planning, traveling and various pet issues with multiple vet visits (a very long, cat / rat / dog story), one thing I never got around to this season was taking many photos! Often, my smartphone was standing in place of my gorgeous (albeit bulky) point-and-shoot, and those I did take with the P&S have yet to be uploaded / edited because there’s always something else in the making! That said, all horrible photos aside, the stuff that’s been coming out of the oven these days has been nothing short of delicious!

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Of course, all of this is just a cover for the fact that I totally forgot to take any photos of these two amazingly hearty, chunky, stick-to-your-ribs granolas I whipped up for my Christmas boxes this year. I was definitely inspired by a few of my favourite desserts this year (as if the “Date Square” Granola wasn’t enough of a hint) and quickly went about doing my “thing” with the mixes – which is to say throwing every grain and avenue of flavouring I had at them. As a result, my Sticky Toffee Date batch is definitely more on the decadent side of things, but it’s also significantly higher in protein thanks to the high-protein hot cereal mix I added to the oats, ancient grains, nuts and seeds. A good dollop of date paste, date molasses and a sprinkling of toffee bits don’t hurt matters in the flavour department either – and it’s not like you’re going to sit down to a giant bowl of this stuff every morning! Well, you might, but I’m not judging 🙂

If you’re on the dessert flavour train with me, but are looking for a little bit of a lighter option for your granola, the Gingerbread recipe is definitely one for you! It’s packed with apple butter and pumpkin puree and gets it’s sweetness from molasses and stevia – no refined sugar added! For more of a “cookie” aspect I tossed in a handful of graham cracker crumbs, which along with the instant oatmeal helped the clusters “clump” and make a truly chunky granola. A few pumpkin seeds added a little extra crunch for kicks too, and like the Sticky Toffee Date variety, I added some kinako for an extra protein and fibre boost.

So, apologies for the lack of photos, but please don’t let that dissuade you from whipping up a batch or two for yourself. Who knows, it could be the kickstarter for your New Years Resolution to eat better (or at the very least, breakfast!).

Sticky Toffee Date Granola
Makes 8 cups, 16 (½ cup) servings
1 cup date paste
¼ cup date molasses or honey
1 tbsp vanilla
1 tsp butter flavour
1 tbsp butterscotch schnapps (optional but yummy!)
½ cup water
2 tbsp canola oil
½ tbsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt
2 cups large flake rolled oats
2 cups high protein hot cereal (I used Dixie Diner’s Cinnamon & Spice Low Carb Instant Hot Cereal)
⅓ cup raw millet
2 tbsp amaranth
⅓ cup shredded coconut
½ cup kinako
½ cup chopped almonds
½ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup toffee bits
¼ cup raisins
5 dried figs, diced

  1. Combine all the “wet” ingredients and seasonings (date paste through salt), then add remaining “dry” ingredients except toffee bits, raisins and figs, stirring well.
  2. Bake on a lined baking sheet at 300F for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so until oats are golden. Turn off the oven and let stand inside for 15 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and immediately stir in Skor bits, raisins and figs. Cool on the sheet.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 320.3
Total Fat: 9.3 g
Cholesterol: 1.0 mg
Sodium: 321.7 mg
Total Carbs: 44.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 9.7 g
Protein: 17.6 g

 
Gingerbread Granola
Makes ~ 9 ½ cups, 19 (½-cup) servings
⅓ cup pumpkin puree
½ cup apple butter
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp molasses (not blackstrap)
¼ tsp liquid stevia
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ginger
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cloves
½ tbsp vanilla
1 ½ cups large flake rolled oats
½ cup instant oats
⅓ cup graham cracker crumbs (Mary’s Gone Crackers makes a refined-sugar free graham!)
½ cup kinako
3 tbsp millet
½ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

  1. Combine all the “wet” ingredients and seasonings (pumpkin puree through vanilla), then add remaining “dry” ingredients, stirring well.
  2. Bake on a lined baking sheet at 300F for 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so until oats are golden. Turn off the oven and let stand inside for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove from the oven and cool completely on the sheet

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 93.7
Total Fat: 2.8 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 46.7 mg
Total Carbs: 14.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.6 g
Protein: 3.1 g

"Date Square" Granola

Now that report cards are done and filed (two major computer glitches later!), I’ve been able to come back to the kitchen and blog and catch up on all my holiday must-do recipes! Like every year, the majority of my gift recipients will be getting boxes of assorted homemade goodies – from preserves and salsas to cookies, biscotti, chocolates and of course, granola!

This year, I found myself with an unbelievable amount of dried dates after cleaning out my pantry, and was immediately inspired to make a granola with the flavours of one of my favourite desserts – the date square. My grandma used to make buttery, oaty, coconutty date crumble bars filled with a thick, squidgy layer of orange infused fruit paste at least once a year, and the smell of the paste baking in this mixture of gluten free grains, coconut and almonds brought me back to my 8 year old self. Not satisfied with simply using pureed dates, I added a glug of date “molassses” (also called silan) for a little extra caramelly oomph. Coconut and almonds added just the right amount of extra “yum” and crunch, making it perfect for breakfast or dessert.

I decided to go the gluten free route with quinoa flakes, buckwheat, millet, amaranth and teff so that I could give away assorted jars of granola to everyone on my list – not to mention using all those pseudograins added a good dose of fibre and protein to the mix as well!

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“Date Square” Granola
Makes ~7 cups, 28 (1/4 cup) servings
½ cup date paste
¼ cup date molasses (AKA silan), brown rice syrup or honey
zest of 1 orange
1 tbsp almond butter (I used Go Lo High Protein Almond Butter)
1 tbsp coconut oil
½ tbsp cinnamon
¼ tsp nutmeg
Pinch of salt
1 ¼ cups quinoa flakes
⅓ cup raw buckwheat groats
⅓ cup raw whole millet
2 tbsp whole teff
2 tbsp amaranth grain
2 tbsp psyllium husk fibre
⅓ cup long-shred coconut
¾ cup slivered almonds

  1. Heat the oven to 300F (or 275F convection, which I recommend) and line a large baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Combine all the “wet” ingredients and seasonings (date paste through salt) in a large pot and heat over medium-low, stirring, until coconut oil and almond butter are melted and mixture is smooth.
  3. Remove from heat and add the remaining, “dry” ingredients, stirring well.
  4. spread evenly onto the baking sheet and bake 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so, until browned and lightly crisp.
  5. Turn off the oven and cool inside for 30 minutes, then scrape into a clean bowl and cool completely.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 84.6
Total Fat: 2.9 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 3.3 mg
Total Carbs: 13.5 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.9 g
Protein: 2.0 g

Pumpkin – Flax Pancakes #TheRecipeRedux

I think the worst part about November is that it’s one of those drab, blah “in between” months of the year. The colours and aromas of October’s Autumn (with our Thanksgiving and Halloween nestled in cozily) are long gone, along with the bulk of any locally harvested produce. However, we’re not quite into the full throes of the “Winter Holiday” season with the sweet flavours of butter, sugar, eggnog and mulled wine, vibrant lights, silver and gold baubles and red, white and green pinstripes. No snow is on the ground (whew!), but there’s no colour out there either, and the days lately have either been so cold, rainy, windy or all three that being outside is not a joy for anyone.

Pumpkin-Flax Pancakes

Well, I decided that my Home Ec class would do it’s part to “warm up” the environment a little bit – visually, temperature-wise and taste-wise. Roasted, pureed pumpkin added a burst of golden colour (not to mention immune-boosting vitamins) to the hearty, oat flour and flaxseed batter, which (thanks to the use of flax milk) is also dairy free. For extra “pumpkin pie-ness” I tossed in a dash of homemade pumpkin pie spice, and topped the stacks off with a compote made of late-harvest apples, maple syrup, cinnamon and ginger. While I thought the kids would go nuts for the “sweetness” factor of the compote, they surprised me by devouring almost all of their cakes plain – and asking for leftovers to eat cold after school! Just goes to show you that healthier food isn’t always “adult-only” fare – just let the kids “steal” it from you (and make a second batch while they’re outside burning the first one off).

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Pumpkin – Flax Pancakes
Serves 8
1 cup flour

1 cup oat flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp ground flax seed
4 tsp baking powder
1 cup pumpkin puree (homemade or canned)

3 eggs, beaten

¼ cup canola oil
3 tbsp raw sugar
1 ¾ cups unsweetened flax or soy milk
  1. In a large bowl, stir together the flours, salt, flaxseed, pumpkin pie spice and baking powder.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, sugar and milk.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.
  4. Spoon onto a well-greased, hot griddle and cook until done.
  5. Serve with maple syrup or chunky applesauce.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 238.5
Total Fat: 11.6 g
Cholesterol: 69.8 mg
Sodium: 117.1 mg
Total Carbs: 27.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g
Protein: 6.7 g

Caramel Apple Granola – Back to School with #SundaySupper

Every year in the middle of August, I look at the calendar and immediately think “WHAT? School only just let out!”. The thing I’ve come to realize is that the vacation season progresses in direct proportion to the amount of enjoyment experienced, which this year means that my break is almost over before it starts! That said, I will count myself lucky that I’m not in the boat some people are, where school is already back in session. To me, that’s just so not right! August is one of the best months of the year, and perfect for enjoying outside – either in the markets, tending the garden, on the golf course or (like me) all three.

Caramel Apple Granola

Thinking ahead to the inevitable start of school, though, one thing always comes to mind – starting the day off right. Breakfast and snacks are beyond important for kids (and adults) during the busy day, and making sure they’re a wholesome, balanced blend of protein, complex carbs and good fats means that the vending machines and cafeteria food don’t beckon at 11AM. This granola, inspired by Flippin’ Delicious, is packed full of large flake oats, protein powder, flax seed, apple butter and home-dried apples and sweetened with homemade vegan caramel sauce (I made this one with unsweetened soy milk). Definitely more of a snack or “addition” than a stand alone cereal (as most granola is) it makes for killer parfaits, pancakes and fruit compote bowls – not to mention decadent fruit crumbles for dessert!
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This week, the #SundaySupper gang is sharing recipes for all things back to school – great lunches to pack, after-school snacks, quick and easy meals for busy school nights, sweet treats, and more. Our hosts this week are DB aka Foodie Stuntman of Crazy Foodie Stunts and Caroline at Caroline’s Cooking – thanks guys!

Getting Started On School Days

Ideas for the Lunchbox

After School Snacks

School Night Suppers

Sweets to End the Day

Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? Its easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.


Caramel Apple Granola
Makes 8 cups, 32 (1/4 cup) servings
4 cups large flake rolled oats
½ cup whole flax seed
3 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 tsp Kosher salt
⅔ cup caramel sauce (homemade or storebought)
⅓ cup unsweetened apple butter (I used this method, omitting sweetener)
1 scoop (36 grams) vanilla-flavoured whey protein powder (vegans use your favourite plant based powder)
¾ cup diced dried apple

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet with SilPat or parchment.
  2. In a large bowl mix together the oats, seeds and salt..
  3. Mix caramel sauce with protein powder until smooth, then pour over the dry ingredients and mix to coat.
  4. Spread the granola evenly on the pan.
  5. Bake for 12 minutes, rotate the pan, bake for another 12 minutes.
  6. Crack open the oven door for 1 minute, then turn off the oven, shut the door and let the granola cool in the oven for another 40 minutes.
  7. Let cool completely, then break the granola into large chunks and stir in the dried apple.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 91.4
Total Fat: 2.3 g
Cholesterol: 2.2 mg
Sodium: 75.6 mg
Total Carbs: 16.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.3 g
Protein: 3.3 g 

Banana Power Bars

With the recent heat wave, I’ve been finding it less and less appealing to have a hot, hearty breakfast before work. My normal oatmeal routine – which I’m pretty stuck on, even in most Summer situations – seems like just a bit too much these days, and since my schedule allows for a little more time at the gym (my third home, after work!) a heavier meal just doesn’t sit well.

That said, having a nutritious, balanced breakfast any time of the year or day of the week is important, and even more so if you’re on the go. I came up with these portable, decadent-tasting bars packed with protein and fibre so that I’d be able to eat after Zumba, on the way to work or simply when the thought of turning on the stove in the morning was anything but appealing. They’re also deceptively moist and tender (almost like a brownie) for being low fat, and the flavour is akin to banana bread! How can you go wrong?

Banana Power Bars

My “secret success” ingredients this go-around were my new favourite flour – kinako – ground tiger nuts and vital wheat gluten. Why can’t we have our snacks and eat them this bikini season too?

Banana Power Bars
Makes one 9″ pan, 12 pieces
2 large, overripe bananas
¼ cup melted coconut oil
⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce
¼ cup sugar
¼ cup Truvia Baking Blend
½ tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup  kinako (toasted soy flour*) or ground TVP
⅓ cup vital wheat gluten
¼ cup ground tiger nuts (or almonds)
¾ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Coat a 9” square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Mash the bananas, oil, applesauce, sugar, Truvia and vanilla in a large bowl until smooth.
  3. Add the oats, flours, tigernuts, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda. Stir until just combined.
  4. Spread in the pan and top with chocolate chips.
  5. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
  6. Cool completely before cutting into bars. 

*Say what? Look here for another treat with kinako

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 189.3
Total Fat: 7.2 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 30.7 mg
Total Carbs: 38.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 3.3 g
Protein: 7.6 g

Shannon’s Lemon-Cranberry Scones

I absolutely hate when favourite products of mine are discontinued, changed or simply no longer carried where I shop. This happens to me so often these days with food items, my mom and I have taken to buying stuff en masse and hoarding it in our pantry and freezer. Of course, a good reason for my dilemma is that I do require some “specialty” items (mostly vegan, allergy friendly and/or very low-fat), but even when it comes to run-of-the-mill food shopping for the whole family we’ve been forced to hit two or three stores in search of an item.

Understandably, what’s worse for my household (and most others’ I know of) is when a favourite restaurant changes their menu or (horrors) goes out of business. For instance, we were frequent visitors at a few local pubs (one of which was run by a friend of the family) when, out of the blue, they closed within months of each other. Gone were one’s decadent fish and chips doused with malt vinegar and their classic pickles, away went the other’s to-die-for pasta and British curry bowls. Sad days, friends… sad days. Our local bakery changed their homemade, super-buttery croissants and danishes formulae over to par-baked, frozen dough, neither of which lent the (more expensive) treats any real flavour besides sugar and salt.

Thankfully, when it comes to the restaurant dishes at least, I learned to cook and developed a sense of adventure in the kitchen. I love to experiment with recipes anyway, and as I became aware of what the elements in recipes did (especially in baking) I found more and more ways of making foods close to, or better than, the originals. More than that, I could do them from scratch, and cheaper! Last year one of my co-workers and friends was telling me about the “death” of Starbucks’ old formula for lemon scones – most notably the lack of glaze on top in lieu of a crunchy sugar sprinkle. Now, I have to admit, I go to the ‘Bucks for the coffee and espresso alone, so never thought to look at their display case. A little Googling later and I had a few lemony scone recipes at my fingertips, which I combined with a little extra ingredient know-how to come up with the ones I’m sharing today.

These wedges are the perfect balance of buttery, sweet, tangy, rich, tender and fluffy – the dried cranberries add just the right amount of texture and colour, while lemon comes around in the forms of zest, juice and extract. As the recipe makes a fair amount – and my coworker would likely only have one or two others willing to share the lemony bliss – I used a blend of shortening and butter and added a pinch of soy lecithin granules so that they wouldn’t go stale or dry after a day or two, nor would they suffer if frozen. In fact, I actually froze the dough pre-baking because I knew I wouldn’t get to it immediately, and when popped right into the oven from frozen the scones were the fluffiest and softest ones I’d ever made. Glazed with their tangy powdered sugar icing, they looked and (from what I hear) tasted better than their predecessors, and I’ve had requests for more!

Shannon’s Lemon-Cranberry Scones
Makes 12
1 ½ cups all purpose flour
1 ½ cups cake flour
¼ cup sugar
⅓ cup Truvia Baking Blend
1 tbsp soy lecithin granules (optional, helps maintain texture if freezing!)
1 tbsp baking powder
2 tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp salt
¼ cup chilled unsalted butter, diced
½ cup non-hydrogenated shortening, chilled and diced
½ tsp lemon extract
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
½ cup chilled half and half
½ cup dried sweetened cranberries

Lemon Glaze:
1 cup icing sugar
1 tsp lemon extract
1/4 cup lemon juice (more or less depending on consistency)

  1. In a medium bowl, combine flours, sugar, Truvia, lecithin, baking powder, lemon zest and salt.
  2. Cut in butter and shortening until mixture resembles fine crumbs.
  3. Add lemon extract, lemon juice and cream, stirring just until mixed. Gently mix in cranberries.
  4. Knead gently 6-8 times, just until it comes together.
  5. Cover and chill 1 hour.
  6. On a parchment lined baking sheet, pat dough into two circles about ½” thick.
  7. Using a sharp knife, score each circle into 6 wedges, being careful not to cut all the way through.
  8. Freeze 1 hour if baking the same day. For later baking, place the tray in the freezer until solid, then wrap scone discs and store in a zip-top bag.
  9. Position rack in top third of oven; preheat to 375°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until edges are lightly browned.
  11. Cool completely before glazing.

Glaze:

  1. In a small bowl, mix powdered sugar and lemon extract.
  2. Add just enough lemon juice until you reach a thick “icing/glaze” consistency.
  3. Drizzle over cooled scones and allow to harden.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 307.5
Total Fat: 13.7 g
Cholesterol: 14.4 mg
Sodium: 32.0 mg
Total Carbs: 44.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.2 g
Protein: 3.4 g

Sautéed Bananas on Pain Perdu

One of the things I love teaching my kids about in Home Ec is that you can have delicious, decadent and even exotic food at home for less money and time than a restaurant. While the majority of their parents cook at least some meals at home, a lot of the time the food is your standard “in a rush, feed the kids what they like” fare. I like to take my hour of time each week to challenge them, even in a small way, to think of food outside the supermarket “box”.

This week we made French toast – one of the simplest and cheapest things you can make for any meal of the day. It’s also one of the fastest and most variable dishes I know of, and one I learned very early on at my mother’s hop. Of course, over the years I’ve learned a few tricks and tips along the way to jazz up my version – thoroughly drying out the bread (to a “crouton” texture) so that it soaks up the maximum amount of custard possible is my standard practice now, because it makes even whole grain bread (like what I used today) a perfect base. By adding just a smidge of sugar along with vanilla and nutmeg to the eggs and whole milk, and whisking in my most recent “secret ingredient” – a scoop of custard powder – turns everything into a decadent, creamy sop for the bread and cooks to a crisp exterior while maintaining that “bread pudding” mouthfeel inside.

Finally, there’s the topping. While maple syrup is perfectly acceptable (and wholly supported by me, especially when the dark, grade B version is available), I opted to take my French toast to New Orleans and go a Bananas Foster route. A whack of butter, brown sugar and bananas caramelized slowly before finishing with more vanilla and a touch of lemon juice, making a perfect topping for the Pain Perdu as well as a crepe filling and crown for an open-face peanut butter and banana sandwich. The dregs of banana that were left after 3 days of cooking (the photo showed the batch I made for 30 kids, with 12 bananas!), I pureed into luxurious banana “butter” and baked into some of the richest banana bread I’ve ever made – Heaven!

If you ever wondered what caramelized bananas for 30 looked like...

Sautéed Bananas on Pain Perdu
Makes 8 slices, 4 (generous) adult servings

Bananas:
2 tbsp salted butter
1 ½ tbsp dark brown sugar
3 large, “firmly ripe” bananas, sliced cross-wise into ¼” slices
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
¾ tbsp lemon juice
*Adults – add a splash of bourbon or rum to the bananas when they finish cooking for extra decadence!

Pain Perdu:
3 eggs
¾ cup whole milk
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
2 tbsp vanilla custard powder or “cook & serve” vanilla pudding mix (note: eliminate the sugar if using pudding)
1 tbsp sugar
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cinnamon
Pinch salt
8 thick slices whole grain bread (I used this)
Non-stick cooking spray

Bananas:

  1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. When butter begins to bubble, sprinkle in the sugar and cook 2 minutes, without stirring.
  3. Add the bananas and cook, stirring gently to avoid burning, for 2-3 minutes – until tender and caramelized but still holding their shape.
  4. Set aside.

Pain Perdu:

  1. Heat the oven to 275F.
  2. Place bread slices on a baking sheet and bake for 4 minutes per side, until dry but not coloured. Set aside.
  3. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, vanilla custard powder, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon and salt in a large casserole dish. Set aside.
  4. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium heat.
  5. Place 2 slices of bread in the egg mixture and let soak in the egg mixture for 30 seconds – 1 minute per side. The bread should feel heavy but not fall apart.
  6. Spray the skillet with cooking spray and add the soaked bread.
  7. Cook until the outside is golden brown and crisp and the inside is cooked through, about 4 to 5 minutes per side.
  8. When the French toast in the pan is almost done cooking, soak the next two slices in the egg mixture.
  9. Move the cooked slices to a plate, slice in half on the diagonal and top with the bananas.
  10. Repeat with remaining ingredients.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 486.8
Total Fat: 13.7 g
Cholesterol: 159.6 mg
Sodium: 525.9 mg
Total Carbs: 70.0 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.7 g
Protein: 16.3 g

Stovetop Fruit & Honey Granola #SundaySupper

I love granola. Not only is it one of the most versatile cereals to use – finding homes in cookies, cakes, crumbles and ice cream (amongst other things), but it’s one of the easiest to make and modify breakfast and snack foods around. I regularly whip up batches of granola in my oven – never the same flavour twice, but always slowly baked till crisp, chunky and decadently healthy. Generally, I keep the amount of added fat and sugar low, in contrast to most store-bought blends which can be swimming in white granules and oil in place of flavour-packed, whole food ingredients.

So, when the time came to introduce my grade 1-3 classes to the wonderful treat that is homemade granola, I kept the premise the same. Together, we concocted a hearty, healthy and crunchy breakfast cereal that was delicious enough to eat straight from the bowl with a spoon while being full of good-for-you ingredients, from thick rolled oats and oat bran to blood-sugar controlling cinnamon, calcium-rich tahini and sesame seed, B-vitamin stacked sunflower seeds and home-dried apple rings. Without an oven (or the time to slow-bake our mixture), I turned the recipe into a stovetop creation – making it not only a lickety split move from mixing bowl to cereal bowl, but one you can enjoy warm over ice cream (granted, it won’t be as crunchy right out of the pan). Leftovers (if there are any) last a good long while in the freezer too – and I won’t judge if they “fall into” a pint of vanilla fro-yo while they’re in there.

Stovetop Fruit & Honey Granola

For #SundaySupper this week, we’re compiling all the healthiest recipes we can concoct in celebration of Heart Health Month. From healthy cereals like this one to nutritious and hearty mains, and even a few sweet treats, there’s something for everyone!

Better for you breakfasts:

Jump start your health with these appetizers and snacks:

Soups that’ll win your heart:

Veggies, Sides, & Salads your heart will thank you for:

Healthy is the centre of attention in these main courses:

Staying healthy doesn’t mean giving up desserts!

We heart wine.


Sunday Supper Movement

Join the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board.

Stovetop Fruit & Honey Granola
Makes about 4 cups, 8 (1/2 cup) servings
3 tbsp tahini
1 ½ tbsp canola oil
¼ cup dark amber honey
3 cups thick-cut rolled oats
1 cup oat bran
1 tbsp cinnamon
¼ cup sunflower seeds
¼ cup sesame seeds
¼ cup diced dried fruit (I used home-dried apples)

  1. Combine the tahini, oil and honey in a deep skillet over medium heat.
  2. When the mixture starts to simmer, add the oats, oat bran, cinnamon, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds to the pot and cook, stirring often with a spatula, for 4 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the raisins or apples.
  4. Pour onto a large, greased cookie sheet and allow to cool.
  5. When cool, transfer to an airtight container and store at room temperature up to 2 weeks, or freeze up to 3 months.

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 288.7
Total Fat: 13.0 g
Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
Sodium: 143.5 mg
Total Carbs: 39.4 g
Dietary Fiber: 5.7 g
Protein: 8.2 g