Muffins are a great item to prepare in advance. They freeze well and are very portable, perfect for a healthy, on-the-go snack or light meal. For this version I tried to keep them as nutritious as possible by starting with a base of sprouted spelt and sprouted buckwheat flours. This extra step in the processing creates a whole grain flour that is easy to digest, with more bioavailable nutrients.
From there, the muffins get some density and healthy fats from almond meal (ground almonds) and moistness from apple sauce, Greek yogurt and a bit of cultured butter. Natural sweetness comes from dates and maple syrup and vanilla and cinnamon add a bit of seasonal spice.
I used Honeycrisp apples to make the apple sauce and for the apple pieces in the muffins. They can be a harder variety to source but they most prevalent this time of the year, especially at farmers’ markets. They own up to their name with a deliciously sweet flavour and crisp, juicy texture. Any other sweet varieties like Gala also work well for apple sauce and baking.There are over seven thousand varieties of apples available around the world but across the board, apples are generally a good source of fiber, vitamin C and many powerful polyphenols, many of which act as antioxidants. Several of these nutrients are in or just under the skin so for maximum benefit keep the skin on and for the most ideal option go for organic. Fruits with thicker skins like avocados and oranges have been shown to have lower amounts of pesticides but fruit with thin skin like apples, and especially when those thin skins are eaten, often have a higher concentration.
1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract)
1½ cups unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup unsweetened vanilla cashew milk (or any preferred nut milk)
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup Medjool dates, pitted and finely chopped (around 16-18)
½ cup maple syrup
¼ cup salted butter, softened (cultured if possible; or coconut oil for a dairy-free option)
Preheat oven to 375°. Line 36 muffin tins with parchment paper liners.
Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir to combine.
Place all the wet ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour the wet mixture over the dry ingredients and stir well until they are fully mixed together. Fold in the apple and cranberries until evenly distributed throughout the mixture.
Scoop out the mixture evenly into the muffin tins, filling them around ⅔ to ¾ full. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Place pans on cooling racks for 5-10 minutes. Once the muffins are cooled enough to touch, take them out of the pans and leave them to cool completely, directly on the cooling racks (leaving them in the pans can make the bottoms soggy). Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a few days and in the freezer for up to a few months.
It’s the first day of fall, time to fill the kitchen with pumpkins and incorporate them into healthy, hearty culinary creations. Here I used some puréed pumpkin to make some nutrient-dense muffins. They are also based upon sprouted spelt flour and sprouted buckwheat flour. Spelt is an ancient grain that has been shown to be easier to digest than several newer varieties. Both spelt and buckwheat have a nutty flavour that works well for muffins and using sprouted options ensures maximum nutrient bioavailability. Continue Reading →
One of the most common ways to preserve the bounty of our summer berries is by turning them into jam. The process can be a bit intimidating because the right temperature, sugar content and pectin levels have to be spot on. Out of the nutrition world has come a simpler process that utilizes chia seeds as the thickener. Continue Reading →
Poaching fruit in some kind of other fruit juice makes for a succulent, flavourful treat. Pears have a texture that holds up well and is transformed perfectly by poaching. They become extra sweet and velvety, plus they are neutral enough to take on other flavours well. I like to use bartlett pears that are just starting to soften, they should press in slightly to touch with a bit of pressure, but any variety can be nice. Continue Reading →
Adding some grains and/or legumes like quinoa and lentils to our salads helps to make them more hearty, a timely adjustment as the seasons change and temperatures drop. Including some tomatoes, tomatillos, herbs and a creamy dressing keeps it fresh, light and flavourful. Continue Reading →
A cruciferous vegetable like cauliflower and a dense legume like chickpeas are both very healthy and hearty ingredients that come together to create a filling dish. Salads like this can be made the night before serving or can last for a couple days to provide portable lunches. Continue Reading →
Smoothies can be as light or as decadent as desired. They can be filled with a myriad of superfoods or made from a few simple ingredients. This version is more of a dessert combination, made from only four ingredients- fresh nectarines, vanilla bean, cashew ice cream and cashew milk. The nectarines give it a sweet, summery flavour while the cashew ice cream and milk give it a velvety smooth, rich texture and the vanilla increases the decadent factor. Continue Reading →
Sitting on the kitchen counter and sneaking bits of raw chocolate chip cookie dough as my mom baked them is one of my earliest and fondest childhood memories. While her classic recipe is still my favourite, I try to make more nutrient-dense variations like this from time to time. Continue Reading →
Meal prep, or ingredient prep, is a valuable tool in regularly eating well. If you don’t enjoy leftovers it doesn’t take too much effort to create whole new dishes out of leftover ingredients. Any cooked whole grains can be transformed into a summer salad that is nourishing and satiating without being too heavy for hot summer days. Crisp ingredients like green apples and kohlrabi keep it light and some herbs and greens keep it fresh. Continue Reading →
Homemade soft serve can be made without an ice cream maker and just a couple ingredients. Blending thick coconut cream with really sweet fruit then freezing them in ice cube trays and blending once again creates a healthy, simple frozen treat. The only necessary tool is a high powered blender that is strong enough to crush ice.Pineapple is one of the sweeter fruits out there, especially when it is fully ripened, but a tablespoon or two of maple or coconut syrup (or any preferred sweetener) can be added to for those with a stronger sweet tooth. Though this is easy to make it does require some prep work. Chilling the coconut cream enough to separate and then freezing the coconut pineapple mixture each takes around 8 hours.Coconut cream is made from blending the meat and water of a coconut. The easiest way to obtain it is from cans of coconut milk. Place the can in the fridge overnight and when you are ready to use it flip it over, open it up and use a spoon to skim the thick cream off the top. The cold from the fridge makes the cream separate from the water and settle on the bottom of the can. Skipping the refrigeration period makes it pretty impossible to separate the cream from the water as it all blends together to create a milk. For people looking to make more dairy-free treats it’s a good idea to always keep a can or two of coconut milk in the fridge. I was inspired by some lemon and coconut gelato I had in Italy that were served in hollowed out lemon and coconut halves. The mass of a pineapple does lend to a more North American serving size but there are some smaller golden pineapples often available, which I used here, that are a more reasonable size.
1 cup coconut cream (place a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, flip it over open it up and use a spoon to skim off the coconut cream concentrated at the top. Save the coconut water below for smoothies.)
4 cups pineapple, chopped
2 standard sized ice cube molds
Blend the coconut cream and pineapple until smooth. Pour into ice cube molds and freeze overnight, or for around 8 hours.
Place the frozen cubes into the blender and pulse until they are broken down and become a smooth, thick mixture.