Strawberry Rhubarb Bars (Gluten-Free)

Dessert, Desserts, Gluten-Free

Photo 2016-05-30

I still remember the first time (which was coincidentally the last time) that I tried rhubarb straight out of the garden.  Now, I don’t mean in a pie or jam, I mean straight out of the garden with nothing else.  Wow. My mouth hurts just thinking about it.  Not that it deterred me a single bit.  It remains one of my favourite nostalgic foods.

Photo 2016-05-25

It’s been a long time since I baked something gluten-free (mostly because our family doesn’t avoid it), so I figured I would embrace the challenge with the beautiful bunch of rhubarb that I had recently picked up at the market.  I pass the most adorable local fruit stand around the corner every day that happened to have piles of PERFECT strawberries (the kind that actually taste like strawberries and aren’t the size of my head), so off to work I went.

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As the weather warms up my head starts swirling with healthier summer dessert ideas.  Living in Okanagan means that we get some serious summer heat, which can make it a bit challenging for serving desserts that need to be kept chilled (i.e.: anything with ice cream).  These double wall dessert bowls are pure GENIUS!  I love the way they look, and beyond the fact that you can showcase your beautiful desserts from every angle, they are hand-blown and keep my desserts cold (they also keep hot things hot).  Summer dessert dilemma solved, thanks Zwilling!

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If you are baking this for someone with a true gluten intolerance, make sure that you pay attention to your ingredients and only purchase those that are labelled gluten-free, including your rolled oats and coconut (the unsweetened coconut is usually a good bet, just make sure you read the ingredients).

Photo 2016-05-28

Makes 24 bars

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. diced rhubarb
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 3 c. sliced fresh or frozen strawberries
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp. water
  • 1 c. sweetened shredded coconut*
  • 1 c. almonds, toasted & ground**
  • 1 1/2 c. large flake oats*
  • 1 c. oat flour*
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • 1/2 c. melted butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

*Make sure that you buy labelled gluten-free versions of these ingredients if you are baking for someone with a gluten intolerance

**I use a mini food processor to grind my almonds

 

Directions:

  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the rhubarb and 2 Tbsp. of water and simmer for approximately 5-10 minutes, until the rhubarb gets soft and starts to break down.  Add the strawberries and cook for another 5 minutes until the strawberries start to get soft and break down as well.
  2. Combine the corn starch with the remaining water and dissolve.  Pour the cornstarch mixture into the fruit and simmer for 1-2 minutes, until it is thickened and transparent.  Set aside to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350F and line a lightly greased 9×13″ baking pan with parchment paper (I use soft tub margarine for this step, it helps the parchment stick to the pan).
  4. Combine all of the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl and stir well to combine.  Press 2/3 of the oat mixture evenly into the bottom of the pan, and spread the cooled fruit mixture using a rubber spatula on top. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 oat mixture evenly on top of the bars and bake for approximately 35-40 minutes, until the bars are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and cool before serving.
  5. Once fully cooled, remove the bars from the pan (using the overhanging parchment to pull them out) and cut the bars with a good quality sharp knife.  Serve on their own or with a small scoop of ice cream.

 

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Spinach Quiche Lorraine

Baking, Breakfast, Main Dishes

Photo 2016-04-24

It’s safe to say that I’m a really healthy eater.  But there are times when I choose to indulge, and when I do, it has to be worth it.  For instance, if I want a piece of chocolate, I’m not going to eat that old half-eaten Easter bunny at the back of the cupboard.  I’m going to find the best piece of chocolate I can get my hands on, savour it, and not feel a bit guilty.

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This quiche falls into this category.  I lightened it up from a traditional quiche with using a lighter cream, and added spinach (traditional Quiche Lorraine doesn’t have spinach in it) but aside from that, it’s the real-deal in all of its rich glory.  It’s best eaten closer to room temperature, and makes an amazing lunch served with a salad or brunch for that special occasion.

The crust recipe makes a bit extra, so depending on the size of your quiche dish and how thick you like your crust you can refrigerate or freeze any extra dough (just wrap it in plastic wrap and put in a sealable bag).  I usually roll mine a bit on the thin side and simply refrigerate about 1/3-1/2 of the dough for another occasion.

Serves 8

 

Crust Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 c. cold butter, cut into 1/2” cubes
  • 1/4 c. ice water

 

Crust Directions:

  1. In a food processor, add all of the dry ingredients and pulse to mix.
  2. With the food processor off, sprinkle the butter and shortening on top of the dry ingredients and pulse just until the fat is incorporated and is the size of peas.
  3. Turn the machine off, and drizzle the half of the water over top. Pulse the dough until it starts to stick together in clumps (not one large dough ball). Add additional water, 1 Tbsp. at a time, to get it to the consistency you desire as per above.  You may need a bit more water, depending on your dough.
  4. Press the dough together, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before rolling it out.
  5. Once chilled, on a well-floured surface, roll out the crust using a floured rolling pin to fit your quiche dish approximately 1/8” thick with extra dough to drape over the sides. Using your hands, gently press the dough into the bottom and sides of the dish to fit and trim the extra from the sides.  You will have extra dough if you are only doing one quiche.

 

Filling Ingredients:

  • 8 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 c. half & half (10%) cream
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 package frozen spinach, thawed and well drained*
  • 5 thick slices good quality bacon, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 c. shredded Swiss cheese (Ementhal or Gruyere)
  • salt & pepper

*I often use a full package, but I love spinach!

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
  2. Combine the eggs, cream and salt and pepper (use at your discretion) in a large bowl with a whisk to combine.  Set aside.
  3. In a medium frying pan on medium heat, cook the bacon for about 4 minutes or until it starts to slightly brown.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, for approximately 8-10 minutes or until the onion is cooked and transparent and the bacon is golden but not too crispy.  Remove the bacon and onions from the frying pan and place on a plate lined with paper towel.
  4. Layer (in this order) the cheese, bacon and onion mixture and the spinach on the bottom of the prepared pie crust.  Pour the egg mixture on top.
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and the egg is set.
  6. Cool to room temperature (or close) before serving.

 

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Frozen Chocolate Almond Bananas

Desserts, Gluten-Free

Photo 2016-05-14-4

Bananas have to be one of the most amazing foods ever.  Fresh, cooked, baked or frozen, this fruit knows no limits.  I’ve been making banana ‘ice cream’ out of frozen blended bananas for awhile now, but I’ve never actually eaten a whole frozen banana before.

Turns out that they taste amazing frozen just on their own!  They are creamy and smooth and have the most incredible texture.  Of course, I couldn’t just stop there.  Dipped in melted dark chocolate and rolled in toasted chopped almonds (you could use any nut really, hazelnuts would be amazing too), these healthy treats have catapulted their way to the top of our family favourite list.

They store for 1-2 weeks in the freezer if you keep them in a re-sealable container.  That is, if you have any left.  I double dare you to keep them around for that long!

Makes 12

Ingredients:

  • 6 ripe bananas, peeled and cut in half crossways
  • 1 c. roughly chopped dark chocolate
  • 1/2 c. chopped toasted almonds*
  • 12 wooden popsicle sticks

* I used a small food processor and pulsed it until they were roughly chopped into small pieces

 

Directions:

  1. Take each banana half and insert a popsicle stick into the middle of the cut end of the banana until it is about half-way through.  Repeat with all of the banana halves.
  2. Once finished, place the bananas on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and freeze them until solid, an hour or two.
  3. Once frozen, bring a small pot of water to a simmer.  Place the chocolate in a medium sized heat-proof bowl (glass or stainless steel) and set on top of the simmering water (or use a double boiler if you have one).  Melt the chocolate, stirring constantly, over the water and remove from the heat immediately.  Alternately you can melt the chocolate in a microwave, stopping to stir the chocolate every 10-15 seconds until completely melted.  Place the melted chocolate in a narrow glass for dipping the bananas.
  4. Place the almonds in a small shallow bowl.
  5. Take each frozen banana half, and dip the end of each banana in the melted chocolate and immediately roll the chocolate end in the almonds.  Place back on the parchment paper and repeat until all of the bananas are dipped.
  6. Freeze the tray of bananas until ready to serve.
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Vanilla Pear Greek Yogurt Muffins

Baking, Breakfast

Photo 2016-05-14

Mornings.  In the ideal world, we all carve out time to sit down with our cup of tea or coffee, make a nice balanced breakfast, and relax to eat with our loved ones over casual conversation before taking on the day. Since that isn’t always the case (‘haha’, I hear some of you exclaim), it’s important to me to have something healthy that we can grab in a rush for those busy mornings.

Regardless of how much of a rush I’m in, I ALWAYS eat breakfast.  Beyond the obvious fact that I’m hungry (they don’t call it break-fast for nothing, I haven’t eaten in about 10 hours!), it is the best way to kick start your metabolism for the day and fuel your body, especially your brain.  Some people skip breakfast in hopes that it will help them lose weight.  Bad idea.

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Muffins are a perfect solution; however, they typically don’t have much protein in them. Protein is important to help keep us feeling full, but we also need it for pretty much every bodily function including building muscle,  maintaining a healthy immune system, making hormones and providing the building blocks for our hair and nails (to name a few).  I figured it was time that I create a muffin that was also high in protein to solve my morning dilemma.

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To get enough protein in the muffins to accomplish my mission I used Greek yogurt, eggs, nuts and protein powder.  Now, let’s be honest here.   Protein powders, can be terribly confusing.  Vegetable or dairy? Casein, whey, soy or vegan?  Flavoured or unflavoured?  The answer is that it really depends on what you are trying to achieve along with your personal taste and lifestyle.  The reality is that, from a protein quality perspective, dairy protein is still superior.  To get technical for a moment, protein quality refers to how well the essential amino acid profile (the building blocks) of a protein matches the requirements of the body along with the digestibility of the protein and bioavailability of the amino acids. Dairy has received a lot of negative publicity, but in the science-based nutrition world, it is still considered a high quality protein.  That being said, there are other reasons why people choose alternate protein sources, including ethical or environmental reasons, which I absolutely respect and appreciate.

I personally use a few different protein powders for a couple of reasons.  First of all, they each taste different, and I love having the variety from both a taste and nutrition perspective.  I used the Genuine Health Fermented Greek Yogurt Proteins+ in this recipe as I wanted to compliment the Greek yogurt that I put in the recipe, it’s a high quality protein without unwanted fillers and additives (like all Genuine Health Products) and I love the flavour.  Milk protein (and inherently the protein in this product) is predominantly casein, which is a longer-acting protein while whey is the other type of protein found in dairy (milk is naturally 80% casein, 20% whey), which is a faster acting protein (referring to the speed of absorption).  Interestingly the protein present in yogurt tends to be more readily digested than the proteins present in milk. This is due to the pre-digestion of milk proteins that occurs through the action of the bacteria present in yogurt.  The fermentation also breaks down a lot of the lactose in the dairy, which makes it easier for a lot of people with lactose sensitivity to digest.

Science aside, these muffins taste delicious!   

Makes 18 muffins

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 c. grated ripe Bartlett pear (skin on)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil
  • ½ c. vanilla Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • ¼ c. honey
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp. nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • ¾ c. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ c. Genuine Health Fermented Greek Yogurt Proteins+ (Natural Vanilla)
  • ¾ c. chopped toasted pecans
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and line a large muffin tin with paper liners.
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the grated pear, eggs, vanilla, vegetable oil, yogurt, brown sugar and honey.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and whisk together. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together with a rubber spatula until well combined.
  4. Using a large ice cream scoop, portion out the muffin mix into the prepared liners.
  5. Bake for approximately 25 minutes or until just golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven to cool on a baking rack and serve (these freeze well).

This is a Genuine Health sponsored post.  I love their products and feel very fortunate to have them as a partner.  All views expressed are my own.

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Chickpea Feta Salad

Gluten-Free, Salads

Photo 2016-04-09-15

Chickpeas get a lot of love in our house. Then again, what is there not to love? This Mediterranean powerhouse is full of fibre, protein and a long list of vitamins and minerals. Chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans) have shown to help control blood sugar, maintain good bone and heart health, improve digestion and even help with weight loss. That’s a long list of credentials for a little bean. As an added bonus, 2016 happens to be the ‘Year of the Pulse’, not that we need an excuse to eat more beans and lentils.

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I picked up some organic canned chickpeas at Nature’s Fare along with the rest of these simple ingredients (their olive oil selection is amazing!).  I used two cans of the chickpeas (398ml, also known as Garbanzo beans).  The staff at Nature’s Fare is super knowledgeable and the products are already ‘curated’ to make sure that they are as healthy, ethical and environmentally friendly as possible.

Photo 2016-04-09-14

This salad can be made in advance, making it perfect for entertaining or taking along for a picnic. Incredibly simple and packed with Mediterranean flavors, it will quickly become a favorite!

Serves 4-6

 

Ingredients:

  • 3 c. canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 c. roughly chopped parsley (curly or flat leaf)
  • ¾ c. feta cheese, crumbled
  • ¼ c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • sea salt to taste

 

Directions:

Combine all ingredients together, season with the salt to taste and set aside. This salad can be made a few hours in advance.

 

 

 

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