2014/07/27

Honey-Nut Banana Bread

Good Morning Everyone!!

The last couple of days have been riddled with intermittent rainfall and pretty chilly weather for the end of july. It has been a hot cup of cocoa kind of day. A curl up with a good movie hot cup of cocoa kind of day to be exact.

And what better to go with a hot cup of cocoa then a nice slice of Protein Honey-Nut Banana Bread (especially if you spent your morning on a chilly run that you completely under-dressed for).

If you like banana bread, be sure to check out my post with Banana Bread Biscuits... and home-made Banana Fro-yo...

This Recipe is an adaptation/variation of This Bad Boy from ProteinPow.com

Protein Honey-Nut Banana Bread 




It also works in a round pan:




Protein Honey-Nut Banana Bread
Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Ingredients

1. 1 cup almond milk
2. 1/2 cup vanilla whey
3. 3 ripe bananas
4. 1 cup liquid egg whites
5. 1/4 cup coconut flour 
6. 1/4 cup honey
7. 1 cup almonds
8. 1/2 tsp baking powder
9. 1/2 tsp cinnamon
 
Instructions

1. Pre-heat oven to 350F

2. Blend all of the ingredients and fill 4'x6' loaf pan (or 8' pie pan)

3. Bake for 60-75 minutes until knife comes out clean!

2014/07/23

Vegan Double Chocolate Cookies

Hello everybody I am BACK from the magic that was Trois Rivières... wow... going to Quebec... the city and the province... made me fall in love with it all over again. Really: between the vistas, the food, the music, the crowds of people and the joie de vivre, it is almost impossible to find something in Ontario that can compete with THIS:




... I want to live HERE!!!!!



I also forgot how much fun school is... Seriously, laugh all you want, but actively learning something is phenomenal. At heart, I am the eternal student... I would go to school for forever. Really. I know the life of a student isn't glamorous, and most students can't wait until they are back to the "real world"... but there are so many things you don't appreciate when you spend your days occupying your mind with different topics, ideas... knowledge...


Mixed with an awesome amount of procrastination....

I had such an incredible time in fact, that I have decided to go back to UofOttawa as a part time student after work. Am I crazy? Probably... Two degrees isn't enough? Nope! Aren't there better ways to spend the evening? Honestly, splitting my evenings between training and school sounds like complete paradise to me... so ... yep judge me all you want. But In undergrad, I never had a chance to take courses that were more essay based because I could not risk the potential damage to my GPA by introducing any kind of variable... which is the opposite of what I'm doing now. I am taking anthropology and philosophy, and in French! W00t! I am very excited. I don't even care that I will be one of those creepy mid-twenty-somethings mixing in with kids that have just for the first time started to live outside of home...

                                                 Me in september...

...But I don't care, I love education and knowledge. I believe that it can be used to resolve most of life's problems. There is a fantastic quotation in a new book I'm reading - Creativity Inc. A self-written biography by one of the founders of Pixar. There are many wonderful tidbits in the book... but the one that really stuck with me is the simplest...

If you are faced with a challenge you have trouble overcoming... just get smarter.

Easy as that eh? I'm sure there are many eyerolls and scoffs at the screen right now. But it's true! There is no limit to capacity or potential. This can mean anything - a new skill, new coping strategy, new outlook, or just new knowledge. If faced with a challenge... get smarter. I should get that on a T-shirt...

Ok if you made it this far in my rant... I salute you. If you just scrolled for the recipe... I made it worth it. This one is... Fantastic. I made a few things over the weekend that I will be posting in the next upcoming couple of weeks... but I wanted to start my return with something sinfully delicious.






Vegan Double Chocolate Cookies
Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Ingredients

1.      2 cups shredded almonds
2.      1/8 cup coconut flour - or 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
3.      1/3 cup melted coconut oil
4.      1/3 cup maple syrup
5.      100g 80% dark chocolate or 1/2 cup raw cocoa
6.      ½ cup dairy free chocolate chips
7.      ½ tsp baking soda

 
Instructions

1.      Preheat oven to 350F
2.      Process all the ingredients in a food processor to make dough. I like the almonds more crunchy and textured, but if you want smoother dough, process until the desired consistency is reached.
3.      Make silver-dollar sized cookies on a parchment shape. These do not really spread as they are baking, so make the shape close to the final. Also as there is no egg, the cookies are not as bound so if you make them too big they break easily
4.      Bake for 10 minutes, 15 if you want them crispy
5.      Let them cool and SET. They are too soft when they are hot, they will get more solid as they set... so resist the temptations to eat them right away!!!

2014/06/27

No-bake Coconut Bars

Good Morning Everyone!!

I am about to embark on a summer adventure for a few weeks, to explore Quebec! I am really truly excited, and before I go I will give you a delicious SUPER easy 5 minute no-bake no nothing coconut bar recipe.

Yes I am a coconut fiend
Yes I am the person who is HAPPY when they get the coconut chocolate in a box of chocolates.
Yes - if you hate coconut, I don't understand how.

In any case, less rambling, more food!! You will love these!! They are so mmmm good, and literally came into being because I wanted to go through some of my groceries before leaving.

You will not regret making these.... unless you hate coconut: 





No-Bake Coconut Bars
Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Ingredients

1. 1/2 cup coconut oil
2. 2 cups coconut shreds (unsweetened)
3. 1 100g 85% sugar-free dark chocolate bar (or baker's chocolate of your choice)
4. Optional (if you like sweeter things) - 2 tbsp honey


Instructions

1. Melt the coconut oil by nuking it for 30s

2. Pulse all the ingredients together except the chocolate in a blender/nutribullet, until it is an even paste-like consistency.

3. Line a 6x6' pyrex with foil and line the bottom with the mixture. Set in freezer for 5 minutes

4. While the bottom is setting, melt the chocolate according to instructions (I microwave on low for 3 minutes while stopping to stir every 30s). Depending on the chocolate you use. If it is too thick you can add 1 tbsp of coconut oil to it to make it easier to pour.

5. Pour chocolate over your mixture. Pop back in freezer for another 5 minutes

6. Ta-da!

2014/06/21

Protein Fudge Take 2

Good Morning everyone! Hope everyone is spending the summer drowning in whatever form of escapism suits you. Recently I have been guilty of book hoarding. I have drowned in multiple book series, and standalone books... I found this fantastic little book shop in downtown... and the majority of the books there have a couple-paragraph personal feedback from someone who read them... whether they liked it and why. And I must say, as soon as I figured out which "critics" have the same weird preferences as I do... it was an epic floodgate of new books.

And I've been pretty liberal with them.... fiction... non-fiction... history... horror....drama.... aimed at this group of people or that... if I make it past the first 5 pages... it's happening. My most recent (i.e. from yesterday) was Looking for Alaska. You might already know from some of my old posts that John Green is something of a personal hero of mine... because.... well things like this:



But there was a wonderful tidbit in the end of LFA which talked about the reader/writer contract/trust. The reader trusts the author to provide a good story, and the author trusts the reader with that story to bring it to life in his mind... and I walked around in a daze for a good 5 minutes thinking about that... and I'm still thinking about it ... which is why I'm sharing it in my rant before getting to the good stuff (ie the food).

But what kills me sometimes is when someone flat out tells me... "well I really hate to read"... why? how?why?what?who?why?

....but in actuality, if you're not a big reader... I strongly believe it's only because you haven't found a book that's right for you. Like with all addictions... you will need a gateway book... and then:

Okay.
Rant over.

Back to the food.

You might remember a little while ago I put up a protein fudge recipe...
Well this bad boy was so dangerous I did it a few more times and I'm putting up a slightly different way of making it which after about 6 tries of various fudges (yes they were all eaten), I believe worked out the best. Ironically enough it is also probably the eaaaasssiiiest way of doing it.

So I give you my "take 2" of the protein fudge. Easier... faster... and more dangerous to not eat in one sitting...



Chocolate Vanilla Protein Fudge
Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Ingredients

1. 1 cup peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
2. 1/4 cup dark cocoa (omit if you bought chocolate peanut butter)
3. 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
4. 1/4 cup water

Optional base
1. 1 cup slivered almonds
2. 1/4 cup cocoa
3. 2 tbsp maple syrup
4. 1/2 cup coconut oil
 
Instructions

1. Line a 6x6 pyrex with foil. 
2. Melt the coconut oil (nuke for 20s) and mix base ingredients and line the bottom
3. Warm up the peanut butter by microwaving for 30s. Stirring, and microwaving for another 30s
4. Blend the fudge ingredients, stopping every 10s to mix with fork. It will get very thick and will start to cool and set fast.
5. Distribute the fudge over the base. Wet your spoon with a bit of water to make this easier as the fudge will be thick and will start to set very fast.
6. Let chill in the fridge for 30 minutes or in the freezer for 5-7. 
7. Enjoy!!

2014/06/17

Back to spaghetti squash awesomeness


Goood Day Everyone!
 
I won't lie I am out and about enjoying the sunshine! Except for the past week when I managed to scrounge up a cold in hot summer weather... I know temperature has nothing to do with colds... but somehow being sick when the weather is beautiful feels very odd...
 
But a cold = delicious comfort meals! To me, somehow, italian food always felt like it was comfort food. And if there is one thing that doesn't work with a gluten allergy... it's italian food. All those pastas and breads...not something I can partake in. So today I give you a double recipe - 2 different delicious pasta sauces... that you could combine into a Rose... to satisfy that craving for a pasta night!
 
P.S. I'm not gonna lie... I enjoyed this with a glass of red wine... take THAT immune system.
 
 

Pasta Night!!!



Red + White Pasta Sauce
Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Ingredients
 
For the pasta
- 1 beautiful spaghetti squash
 
For the White:
-  1 cup cauliflower florets
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- Salt + pepper
- Optional but yummy: 1/2 cup cottage cheese, 1/4 cup parm
 
For the Red
- 1 can tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/8 cup basil
- 1/8 cup oregano
- 1/4 cup roasted red pepper
- 1/2 cup onion
- 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
- Salt + pepper
 
Instructions
 
1. Cook your spaghetti squash as per instructions here.  
 
For the white sauce:
2. Steam the cauliflower florets and let cool
3. Sautee cauliflower with olive oil and garlic.
4. Blend all of the white sauce ingredients together. Add water depending on how thick you prefer it.
Note: the key for the white sauce is how well you blend it. I regret not using the nutribullet.
 
For the red sauce:
5. Sautee all ingredienets in olive oil.
6. Simmer on low heat for 10-15 minutes

Add some olive oil to the spaghetti squash before serving and top with a sauce of your choice! or both!

2014/06/07

The Easiest Naughtiest Fudge in the World

I've been holding back on a post because I wanted to bring up something interesting... some kind of workout philosophy... something exciting... but I am too lazy. Last weekend was another "work through the whole weekend... so you are "on" for two weeks scenario" so this week was a bit like this:


BUT in my laziness I did create a pretty amazing fudge recipe... if you like GuyLian Chocolates... do not make this recipe. I am not responsible for what will happen to you. You have been warned.

I won't lie to you... this one... is a naughty naughty one. It's got "friendlied up" healthy ingredients.... but is rich and delicious. The trick with it is to not eat the whole tray...

Don't say I didn't warn you:

Chocolate/Vanilla Fudge
Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Ingredients

1. 1/2 cup slivered almonds
2. 1 scoops vanilla whey 
3. 1/4 cup raw cocoa
4. 1 cup coconut oil
5. 1 cup peanut butter (I suppose almond would work too but be sure to mix it thoroughly) 

Forgive the poorly exposed photo. By the time I uploaded it, I had no more fudge to photograph... 
Instructions
1. Get a 6x8 baking dish and line it with foil
2. Combine 1/2 cup melted coconut oil with your almonds and raw cocoa. Mix thoroughly, pour the base and put in the freezer for 5 mins to set
3. While that's setting mix the 1/2 cup peanut butter with the remainder of the coconut oil and the vanilla whey. I used a nutribullet and it worked marvellously. Pour the second layer over the first.
4. Let it set in the freezer for 5 more minutes and move this baby to the fridge to set completely. It takes about 20 minutes but I guess "overnight" would be "ideal"
5. Exercise self-control. Good luck. 

Notes: Originally I did it with all cocoa and no vanilla whey, but I highly recommend throwing in the whey. If you want more chocolate just sub 1:1 ratio of raw cocoa, more vanilla, switch out the cocoa.



2014/05/27

Red Velvet Mini-Muffins

Well... I've done it. I've decided to work on my flexibility and range of motion... and I am finally going to put up a post about it. I have the WORST habits for stretching and flexibility... I don't do stretching after I'm done a workout... and my "warm-up" tends to be about 10 seconds of waving my arms around in a little windmill no matter what I'm working on that day. My issue is that I feel like I can get away with it - my natural range of motion is pretty good and I've never had any problems doing any basic flexibility drills. This is not a good thing because my motivation to improve my flexibility is nonexistent.

BUT I have checkmated my brain and registered for Yoga. Yep... if I can't do stretching by myself, I will have it forced onto me in a group environment. Unfortunately if I am not held accountable... I don't stretch... and it is so SO important.

Why is flexibility important?


The best way I've heard it described was by my coach:

"Training with a bad range of motion is like driving with the parking brake on"


I have never heard it described more accurately. So let's talk a bit about flexibility... The official definition of flexibility is "the range of motion around a specific joint". A good range of motion is ususally considered one that is adequate for daily life or a specific sport.

Obviously some sports are different than others and some require hyperextension of the joint for optimum performance....



... To me, flexibility and good range of motion is essential for injury prevention. This makes sense - if you ever happen to acutely put your joint in an awkward position - the worse the range of motion... the more extensive the injury. For example: if you slip and fall into a hyperextended lunge or into a split... (ouch)... if you have a greater natural range of motion... you have a greater degree of safety buffer before you get injured.

And in terms of sports performance, it can be greatly affected depending on what the sport calls for. If you need a great range of motion to generate power, you NEED flexibility for creating an optimal movement. For example if you have really tight pecs or hips or calves... good luck doing this:


(incidentally this is Lydia Valentin kicking butt. Look her up, she is a beast)


So... how do we improve flexibility? And how do we work on range of motion? Well the answer is simple... and complicated... "you need to stretch". And here is where the "science" turns fuzzy and anecdotal. How you should stretch and when is a highly debated topic. Some advocate before training, some after, some both. I will review the principles that make sense to me although I know there are many groups that think differently:

Static stretching:

A static stretch is gently pulling the muscle into a state of slight discomfort and holding that position for usually a duration of 30-60s. This is what most people picture when they hear the word "stretch". I do NOT like to do static stretches before a workout. There are NO studies that conclusively show that doing stretches before a workout reduces risk of injury in that workout. HOWEVER, stretching when your muscles are "cold" CAN get you injured... so I don't chance it and save these for the end. When doing do not FORCE yourself into a position - no swinging swaying or using momentum to force your joint way past its tolerated range of motion.


Dynamic stretching:

These go hand in hand with a "warm-up" and these are the ones that should be done before starting your training. A dynamic stretch is one that mimics the motion of what you will be expecting the joint to do but in an exaggerated and controlled manner.


PNF - proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation


I've only had experience with this type of stretching in physio... and I found it to be EXTREMELY effective. This type of stretch usually needs a partner and hopefully one who knows what they're doing. The stretch is divided into a "push phase" where you engage the antagonist muscle, following by a relaxation phase where you go into the stretch. For example if you are stretching your hamstring - you are lying down and your partner is guiding your leg into your chest for the stretch - for 10s you engage the antagonists and fight them, preventing the motion, then for 10s you relax and allow them to stretch you. If it sounds confusing lots of examples available on ExRx.



For more info about specific stretches and flexibility - an excellent resource on ExRx. 

So how much should you stretch? 

My thinking is do whatever your activity calls for. There is some controversy with hyperextension and over-stretching because there are studies that show that joints that have hyper ranges of motion lose some of their inherent joint stability. I think, like with anything, moderation is key. Be flexible enough for your sport and to stay injury free. After training, most people know which muscles feel tight and which joints are the limiting factors for their performance. Look for the cues, if you know you have "tight hips" work on them, but if you are not a gymnast, working on complex flexibility drills will probably not benefit you.



And now onto the food! I bring you Mini Muffins... or biscuits... or however you want to label these things. You can make full sized muffins if you but the batter in the tins properly... not like me. And I don't understand people's obsession with Reeeeed Veeeeelvet.... to be honest I never even really heard of it until we were going through wedding cake flavours... but the definition of red velvet according to wiki is:

"Red velvet cake is a cake with either a dark red, bright red or red-brown color. It is traditionally prepared as a layer cake topped with cream cheese. The reddish color is often enhanced by adding red food coloring. Before more alkaline cocoa was widely available, the red color would have been more pronounced."

So essentially the Cake is a Lie...


(hehe Portal... I am such a nerd)

So if the flavour is a gentle vanilla/cocoa how do we get a nice deep natural pinkish red? How about beets? And if you hate beets, don't worry, you cannot taste them in this recipe, they are just used as a base to deliver the colour ;)


Red Velvet Biscuits
Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Ingredients

1. 2 cups chopped beets
2. 1/4 cup egg whites
3. 1/4 cup applesauce
4. 1/2 cup coconut flour (or 1/4 cup coconut flour + 1 scoop protein whey)
5. 1/2 cup almond meal or rolled oats
6. 1 tbsp raw cocoa
7. 1 tsp baking powder
8. 1 tbsp vanilla + 1/8 cup stevia if you did not use protein powder
 
Instructions

1. Puree all the ingredients together
2. Cook in paper-lined muffin tins on 350F until pass toothpick test (approx 30 minutes)
3. Top with topping of choice!

Topping: cream cheese OR coconut cream if you are dairy free




2014/05/23

Easiest Egg Salad in the World

It FINALLY feels like summer! I've been obsessing over the warm weather. I want to be outside ALL the time, even though I am getting devoured by mosquitoes. I don't know why... they LOVE me, they find me. I read an article a while ago that said mosquitos are drawn to certain blood type factors. Hmmm my bloodtype is B+ (be positive... the irony of that considering how cynical I am is hilarious).

But I do love summer...



But summer means BBQs... (ours is already up and running!), steak, ribs, chicken, mmmm mmm good! I am working on some marinate recipes that I am going to conjure up over the weekend... but summer also seems to be a time for "salads". I don't know what it is about "suburbian utopia" and people bringing potato or egg salad to a BBQ - let's drown all of our sorrows in this mayo-swimming concoction that will go bad in this heat if we don't eat it within the hour!! And this isn't true for just North America. Russians LOVE "holiday salads", again very dense "meal-packed-into-a-bowl" varieties. I will try to make over some of those in the next few weeks as well... there are some truly amazing ones - olivie... neptune (super sea food)... "soft cloud" salad... but most of them have TONS of mayo as a binding agent. SO some experimentation awaits!  I also bought a NutriBullet... and wow.... my old blender's going to the garbage. So I will be posting some smoothie ideas as well... get everyone ready to go for the summer months!

For now let's start simple. As simple as possible - Basic Egg Salad. Now you know that I am a proponent of using avocado. I use it for brownies, with tuna, in smoothies... if you hate the taste of avocado, fear not, it gets forced out by other ingredients really easily. All it does is bring a nice creamy texture to your dish. So let's start simple: the easiest egg salad in the world. Ready for this? 2 ingredients. That's right. TWO. I feel like I don't have the right to call this a recipe. And let me tell you - it tastes amazing AS IS, but you can always experiment by throwing in other things! So I give you.... drumroll... Easiest Egg Salad in the World




TA-DA

Easiest Egg Salad In the World!
Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF
Ingredients

1. 4 boiled eggs ,
2. 1 large ripe avocado, 
3. Salt/pepper to taste
OPTIONAL: 1 tbsp mustard/dijon mustard OR 1/4 cup Tuna OR Half-cup chopped apple OR paprika/spice mix, Use your imagination!
 
Instructions

1. Mashy smashy.