Friday, 20 March 2015

Gluten-Free/Vegan Coconut Chocolate No-Bake Macaroons

It’s the first day of Spring, and we have so much snow that we probably won’t see green until May at this rate!  But at least it’s sunny outside, and that means the snow is melting slowly but surly J

So while I’m stuck inside I choose to make myself useful by doing the dishes, cleaning, baking and cooking up a storm.  I love making things from scratch when I have the time.  It allows me to use more wholesome ingredients, as opposed to pre-packaged instant products which can have added preservatives and sugars.  Taking that extra time in the kitchen to prepare all of your food ahead of time, is worth the effort and peace of mind.  Of course there are some foods we don’t always have the time to get or prepare ahead, so it’s best to read the nutrition facts and make sure what you are putting in your body will benefit you on a cellular level.  In other words, foods that will work with the nutrition your body wants, rather than working against the natural flow your body needs to function on a healthy level.

So I wanted to make something that would be beneficial to your health without all of the added sugars, gluten's or animal bi-products which we can sometime consume to much of.  It will also curb your sugar and chocolate cravings, without making you feel guilty about eating something sweet at the same time.

I was skeptical at first when I found this recipe, I thought it was going to be too bitter and not taste good at all.  But I was pleasantly surprised as this recipe had exceeded my expectations.  It’s very simple and you can even make these with your kids as a fun activity or mid-afternoon treat/snack.

Even though there is Maple Syrup in this recipe, please know that it is a natural sugar but still a sugary ingredient, so probably not the best idea to eat the whole batch all at once LOL!  You can also substitute a cup of the coconut for rolled oats, nuts (for more of a sweet salty taste) or dried fruit if you want more of a chewy texture to your macaroons.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I did and share with your friends <3


Coconut Chocolate No-Bake Macaroons
Servings: yields about 40 macaroons
Preparation Time: 15 minutes

  • 3 cups unsweetened dried coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup almond flour*
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Mix all 4 dry ingredients together well with a wooden spoon.  Then add all 3 wet ingredients to the bowl of dry ingredients, mix well until fully incorporated.  Form into small balls using a spoon or cookie scoop, by placing on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Refrigerate until firm, you can also put in the freezer for an extra crunch.

*You can grind your own almond flour by placing whole almonds in a blender/food processor and blending until a fine meal. 
Note: You have to leave these in the fridge or the freezer to keep them firm, once left out for a few minutes they get too soft and messy.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

The Faux Martha's Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake

This year is the Relief Society’s 173rd birthday! 

So naturally we have an activity for our ward to celebrate this monumental event every year.  Because there is cake served and because I love the making and consuming of cake… I volunteered myself to make this year’s birthday cake.

I scoured the many baking blogs I love so much and found the cake that would impress.  I decided The Faux Martha had this really lovely Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake that I had not made yet, but it was on my list of cakes to try.  The buttercream filling, chocolate ganache and the moist chocolate cake looked so tasty that it was a cake made for celebrating.

The Sunday before I had to present the cake which was on a Tuesday, I get a message from the activities coordinator touching base with me to make sure I’m still making the cake.  She also informs me that I need to make sure to have enough for 30-40 people….and I then realize, I’m not going to have enough cake!  Not baking down from a challenge, I decide to make double the recipe for the cake as my pans are about 9-10 inches wide.  I decided I would need to stack them to give the illusion there would be enough cake and of course impress with presentation.  The butter cream and ganache wound up being enough for the cake even with double the surface space.

I must say the Salted Caramel Swiss Meringue Buttercream was the hardest part of the whole assembly of this cake.  I had to make the caramel by scratch like the rest of the cake, which I thought was not going to be so hard.  It took me 3 times to get it right, the first two times I over heated the caramel and I burnt it.  But when push came to shove, and it was the day of the event I was able to stack my cake 4 layers high, get all three components made, put together and presented in the best way possible. Yes I would have loved more time, but I was still pretty happy with the result, given the time and effort put into it. 

In the end, all of the ladies loved it, there was enough cake for everyone and I was glad to be able to put a smile on everyone’s face.  I felt accomplished and so blessed to have the opportunity to serve these ladies and share my backing talents with them.  

Happy 173rd Birthday Relief Society!

The recipe for the cake is found in the link below on The Faux Martha website J

Friday, 13 March 2015

A 10-Day Sugar Detox

For some of you sugar is consumed in small amounts, in others it comes in the form of chocolate but for most without even knowing it, sugar is consumed on a daily sometimes hourly basis!  That’s a lot of sugar!

I’m not just talking about the white grainy stuff; I’m talking about hidden sugar as well.  People don’t realize how much hidden sugar is consumed on a daily basis without even knowing it.  It’s in our energy drinks, “healthy cereals”, children’s snacks, smoothies, salads and much more.  You’re probably thinking “wear is all of this sugar coming from and how is it so easily consumed?”  Well it is in our sauces, juices, fibrous cereals, dairy product, non-dairy products, salad dressings and the list goes on and on.

If you really want to know how much sugar is in the food you eat, just look at the back on the Nutrition Facts of each processed or packaged food item.  It will tell you how much fat and calories you are consuming per teaspoon, tablespoon, cup or even gram.  But what people don’t always look at is the sugar content and the ingredients. Yes, this unfortunately is being over looked and people actually need to pay more attention to this section, this is wear all of the hidden sugars and harmful ingredients can reside in our food.

So you ask “where is all of this sugar hoopla coming from?”  Well, about a year ago I decided to watch a documentary called “Fed Up”.  This documentary focuses on how sugar has become some of the leading cause in childhood obesity and leading health issues in adults.  After watching the documentary it became quite an eye opener for me, in how much sugar we consume as a society, how easily it is passed down through the generations and marketed to our children.  I decided to learn more and picked up a book written by Mark Hyman, MD who was one of the doctors who helped produce the documentary.  His book is called “The blood sugar solution, 10-Day Detox Diet”.

I read the whole book and fell in love with DR. Hyman’s work and decided I would try the detox diet.  My first attempt didn't go so well, I wound up getting sick the first day, but not due to the diet mind you.  So time went by and I got busy and kept thinking about picking it back up and I just kept giving myself excuses not to do it.  So toward the end of February I decided to take it on and make sure to follow the diet as best possible. 
For the whole 10 days I didn’t consume a gram of processed or un-natural sugar.  I didn’t cheat once as I was determined to make it through to the end.  The last 3 days were hard as I became quite tired, but that was due to my fault as I decided to do it during a very busy week.  While I was on the detox, I did notice the following changes:
1.     I slept more soundly.  No waking up in the middle of the night or tossing and turning.

2.     My cravings went away after a couple of days.  They resurfaced again half way through as I was not balancing out my diet enough.  This was due to my error in poor planning.

3.     Bladder control.  This may be too much information, but I found I didn’t need to run to the bathroom as much, and my IBS symptoms had been reduced dramatically.

4.     Vegetables are my friend.  I realized you can never eat too many vegetables, as they were one of my staples in my diet.

5.     My mind was clearer.  I found that I was better at problem solving, thinking better under pressure and I didn’t feel a fog of confusion or delay in thought.

6.     I felt lighter.  I felt less sluggish and I didn’t feel weighted down or fatigued.  I was tired yes, but it was not anything debilitating to the point before the diet, where I would need to take a nap right away.

7.     No bloating.  Suffering from IBS can be quite unpleasant at times, so this was a plus for me.  Even with the constant consumption of vegetables, this was never a problem the whole time I was on the detox.

As you can see, there were definitely some plus sides to the diet and I’m glad I did it.  This has helped me with many health issues and I am now more conscious of the products I take into my body.  If you have any questions about this detox or health related concerns, I would suggest talking with your family physician or local nutritionist first before starting the diet.  And of course do your research, this may not be the right detox for you right now, read up on the information given and find out for yourself J

The links to Dr. Mark Hyman’s website and the Fed Up website are below:

Friday, 6 March 2015

Chocolate chip cookies

For my first food post I decided a good place to start would be chocolate chip cookies!  Everyone loves cookies, and even better… chocolate chip ones are the best.  Melted pockets of chocolate, gooey centers, crunchy edges and a perfect marriage of butter and sugar…YUM!
I had to do some research of my own to figure out which recipe I wanted to share with all of you, and which one would be worth a blog post.  After perusing my many cook books new and old, I found one that was blog worthy. 

I have never made this recipe before, but as it’s in the “All-Time Best Recipes” from Cook’s Illustrated I figured I had a pretty good chance of producing an amazing cookie.
Now normally I am one to be creative in the kitchen and take a basic recipe and give it a twist of my own, like adding more vanilla or chocolate.  But this time I decided to follow the instructions word for word and not veer from the recipe. 

Well it’s a good thing I followed every step, these cookies turned out better than I had expected and I loved every bit and had trouble not eating the whole batch! 
I would definitely make these again if I needed a really tasty go to cookie recipe to impress. 

Enjoy J

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
Makes 16 cookies

*Avoid using a non-stick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the non-stick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is sufficiently browned.  Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry.

1 ¾  cups (8 ¾ ounces) all-purpose flour
1 ½  teaspoon baking soda
14   tablespoons unsalted butter
¾     cup packed (5 ¼ ounces) dark brown sugar
½     cup (3 ½ ounces) granulated sugar
1     teaspoon salt
2     teaspoons vanilla extract
1      large egg plus 1 large yolk
1 ¼  cups (7 ½ ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
¾     cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chipped (optional)

1.        Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2.      Melt 10 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly, until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes.  Transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl.  Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter and stir until completely melted.
3.       Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla to melted butter; whisk until fully incorporated.  Add egg and yolk; whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.  Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds.  Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.  Using rubber spatula, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using.  Give dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain and ingredients are evenly distributed.
4.      Working with 3 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll into balls and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
5.      Bake 1 sheet at a time until cookies are golden brown, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are soft, 10-14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.  Transfer baking sheet before serving.