Chocolate macaroons were one of the first recipes that I learned to make. Not the pillowy meringue kind from France but the humble, chocolate sticky kind that require little planning and only some patience while you wait for them to harden in the refrigerator. The kind where you scrap the pot with a wooden spoon to get that last bit of chocolatey sauce. The kind that if left in a warm spot, become a gooey mess and you’ll probably still eat them! Years ago, I started added Cadbury mini eggs (no other brand will suffice) to them at Easter and wham! They are an Easter classic at my house. The children love them and they also satisfy Easter cravings for those who are gluten-free.Read More
Earth Day has come and gone for the year. A week ago, Sunday, the children played in the dirt with their shovels and pails, digging up a chunk of my rhubarb plant in the process of making mud pies. It was quite a beautiful day here and we needed it. The cold weather has been hanging heavy on us for the last couple of weeks.
My interpretation of Earth Day is one of celebration of this beautiful place we share as well as inspiration to change. The need to change stems from the negative and sometimes careless impacts that humans have on this one, shared planet. On every level, it is virtually impossible to remain ignorant about the effect that we have on our oceans, land and wildlife. For many, the shift in weather and unpredictable storms has been a turning point to say “let’s do more.” For others, it may be the images of Great Pacific Garbage Patch, sea turtles choking on plastic bags or finding trash along the paths of a local conservation area. Still, for others it may be tied in with health and a desire to have a smaller footprint or connect with the earth through eating organic and locally grown foods.
There were many encouraging and hopeful sentiments expressed on social media. I’ve enjoyed reading them this past week and want to maintain this positive and hopeful energy. I feel that the most important statement of all is the recognition that every day is Earth Day. Let me repeat, Every Day is Earth Day! With this recognition comes the question “what can I do to help?" It is easy to feel overwhelmed but important to start somewhere. Start with a small habit change.Read More
The house is filled with the scent of baking granola. Warm cinnamon mixed with the buttery smell of roasting walnuts. Paired with thick yoghurt and fruit, it makes for a lovely morning and just radiates cosiness.
A healthy breakfast. Non-fussy mornings so that we can get out the door on time. It is quite the achievement when snowpants, boots, mittens, hats, scarves have to be found and then put on the body. I like to start the process with the kids at least 20 minutes before we have to leave the house. Inevitably, a mitt will have gone missing or someone will not feel like getting dressed today.
But, I do love winter. I love the extremes. The snowstorm that rages all day and night and leads to the school being closed. Then, the next day, greeted by sun and a foot or two of fluffy, white snowflakes. The cold weather that the kids and I play in only to come inside to a warm home filled with blankets, pillows and candles. The option to curl up with a book by the fireplace or skate on the ice rink down the street. During the cold months, I give myself permission to indulge in more reading and the arts. To have a burst of fresh air and then spend time indoors.
Given all the Oscar buzz around Lady Bird, my husband and I went to see the film. I had no idea what to expect and ended up loving it. It resonated on so many levels but most significantly, the mother-daughter relationship. The film depicted what it is like to be a secondary school student with brutal honesty. The casting was very thoughtful and I left the theatre a little nostalgic given the 2002 aesthetic.
Big gulp. What have you been doing for the month of January? Do you gravitate towards films or more wintery hobbies?
The Snow Man
What I like about this recipe:
Walnuts: known for their loads of health benefits, from reducing inflammation to improving moods. My favourite part is the buttery taste when they are perfectly toasted.
Pumpkin Pie Spice: allows me to skip the step of combining cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg together. There are some haters out there, but I think this dislike stems from the pumpkin spice latte phenomenon. The convenience and flavour combination works!
Rolled Oats: again, loaded with health benefits (prevents constipation, nutrient rich, assists with weight loss). More importantly, they are satisfying and help maintain that full feeling.
Less Sugar: The granola is not overly sweet as it is only sweetened with maple syrup.
Feel Good Walnut Granola
Makes: 6 cups of granola
Time: Prep time (15 minutes) + baking time (35 minutes)
½ cup (100 g) coconut oil
½ cup (160 g) maple syrup
4 cups (400 g) rolled oats
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp fine grained sea salt
2 cups (100 g) walnut pieces
½ cup (60 g) dried cranberries (unsweetened or sweetened with applejuice)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a large, rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a small saucepan, slowly melt the coconut oil. Stir in the maple syrup. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl mix together the oats, spice and sea salt. Pour the oil and maple mixture over top of the oat mixture and stir well. Spread the granola onto the prepared cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Take the pan out of the oven and mix in the walnut pieces. Return to the oven for 15 minutes (or 20 minutes if you like it a little toastier). Remove from oven, mix in the cranberries and allow to cool at room temperature. Store in a glass container for 1-2 weeks.
Serve with yoghurt, fresh or frozen blueberries or raspberries, hemp hearts and bee pollen.
Adapted from Make Your Own Rules Diet by Tara Stiles
Happy Halloween! I have yet to master the spooky and festive type posts without the element of cheese that typically accompanies them! So, following the seasonal bounty, this post is all about apples.
It’s that time of the year where I realize that my family and I have picked too many apples. We were a little too enthusiastic at the orchard and have been unable to eat them all before they have started to soften. I have yet to find a way to store apples in order to preserve their lifespan. For most varieties, the refrigerator doesn’t prevent softening and they tend to get bruised after being in the drawer too long. At least, this is what happens in my house.
Apples that have started to soften are excellent in baking. The comforting and heartwarming, apple crisp is a favourite in my home. But, I can’t always bake for my family. This is one of the cruxes of having a baking blog (read: too many baked goods in the house). Since I cannot stand to waste, I have set out to make baked goods that can be shared outside of the home.
These apple cheesecake bars are my answer to an office treat. They are decadent and delicious. They go far. I cut them into 24 squares so that people have the option of having one and then possibly going back for another one.
The lazy days of summer are unfortunately wrapping up. We just returned from a vacation at my family’s cottage along Lake Huron. This part of Ontario is a combination of farms, villages and cottages located along a sandy expanse of water. Recently installed windmills dot the horizon in a push for green energy. The soil in August is dry given that the winds tend to blow summer storms past the area. Tiger lilies and Queen Anne’s Lace flourish in the ditches along the road while cicadas buzz in the summer heat.
Arriving at the cottage I am instantly relaxed. I think it is the smell of the lake. The lake is the only constant in this ever-growing and changing area. It’s rhythmic and soothing sound encourages a slower pace of life.
Indeed, holiday mornings were slow and met with a hearty breakfast before heading down to the beach. The leisurely pace of summer life adopted. On calm days, we swam and took turns taking the paddle board out. The children, fearless on the board seem to have a natural balance. On rough water days, sandcastles were designed according to the kingdoms on Game of Thrones. Afternoons might be spent napping in the hammock, reading a book, holding the baby or decorating chocolate chip cookies with sprinkles.
No schedule was followed. The children stayed up past their bedtimes as roasting marshmallows over the fire took priority. Sleep came easily after spending the entire day outside.
Family members took turns preparing (and cleaning up) meals in a kind of ebb and flow that makes this task joyful rather than stressful. Of course, I opted for preparing breakfast being that it is my favourite meal.
Baked oatmeal (along with banana pancakes) is on constant rotation when we are at home . I’m always reworking the recipe to make it work with the ingredients available. This one is perfect for summer as it uses up those peaches that are at the bottom of the cardboard farmer’s market container in your refrigerator. I suggest making it the night before so that all you must do is pop it in the oven in the morning. While it bakes set the table, chop up some fruit, arrange the toppings. Brew the coffee and put the kettle on the hob.
My first exposure to lactation cookies was at the checkout counter of my neighbourhood baby store in Manhattan. Seizing every opportunity to indulge after having my second baby, I purchased 2 prepackaged cookies. At home, I broke open the package, took a bite and was disappointed. They seemed to be tasteless and have a soggy sort of texture. I didn’t eat the second one even though it was expensive.
Since that time, I had written them off (plus, I stopped nursing my second child at 18 months so there was really no need to pursue the cookie thing any further). It wasn’t until I was away at a girl’s weekend that the subject came up again. Two of my friends had just had babies and another one was expecting. Our conversation, which started off with the essentials of nursing became more animated when my friend revealed that she had tried a lactation cookie recipe that created “boobies that released milk like Niagara Falls!”
Milk supply is always an issue when babies are first born. It often takes several days for milk to come in and it can be a bit sporadic if there have been complications (illness, poor latch, etc.). It can also be an issue if the mother is exhausted (and who isn’t after having a baby) or losing weight too rapidly. Also, sometimes it is nice to have a little extra to pump or store for days that are especially hectic. Let’s move on and get to the nitty gritty…
First off, what are lactation cookies? Lactation cookies are a treat for nursing mamas to increase their milk supply. I urge you to consider them as a treat and to continue to eat a balanced diet and drink lots of water. The active ingredient in most lactation cookie recipes is brewer’s yeast which has a whole host of nutritional benefits including chromium, selenium and iron (debittered brewer’s yeast does not contain chromium). Brewer’s yeast is different from baker’s yeast or nutritional yeast. These other types of yeast should not be used as a substitute. The addition of oatmeal and flaxseed are also thought to increase milk supply.
Should I just eat brewer’s yeast instead? I would advise against this. It is very bitter. I have designed this recipe to take away the bitterness or rather, disguise it. In addition, I required the recipe to be delicious because, yes, it is a cookie!! The addition of flaxseed, oatmeal, nuts and cranberries also adds some additional nutritional benefits and fibre.
Side effects of brewer’s yeast? The initial reaction from my family when I told them I was making lactation cookies was to avoid my kitchen like the plague! The men were afraid of developing breasts but I can assure you that lactation cookies are safe to consume without this sort of side effect. Real side-effects for mother and baby may include diarrhea and colic-like symptoms for baby. Stop taking if this occurs to you and/or your baby.