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I can hardly believe it’s been over two years since my last post!! It would be an understatement to say that a lot has happened in my life in that time. But one thing has remained – I LOVE TO COOK AND BAKE! And, I love to share my favourite recipes with my friends. So, without further ado, here are two super yummy recipes for Bundt cake I recently discovered and have already made several times just this past week. You’ll want to make these for your family and friends this weekend!

Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake

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This is adapted from the Williams-Sonoma recipe, “Orange-Spice Pumpkin Bread”, which you can find on their website. It is my favourite of the two recipes I am posting today. The first time I made it I baked it in a glass loaf dish, but the centre didn’t / couldn’t bake fully. The next day I made it again but used my Bundt pan instead – it turned out perfectly!

Also, instead of using the 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice, and 1 tsp cinnamon as is listed in the Williams-Sonoma version, I used 2 tsp SURAJ brand “garam masala” (an Indian spice blend consisting of various other spices in addition to the four above-mentioned spices). It is definitely worth purchasing (I got mine from No Frills) and using in this recipe. And I promise to post more recipes that call for this incredible spice blend in the very near future!

Finally, the original recipe calls for 10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks of butter), which I did use the first time around but substituted with 150 ml of oil thereafter (I have used canola, olive oil, and walnut oil on separate occasions and they all turned out beautifully).

Dry Ingredients
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
2 – 4 tsp garam masala (the amount depends on how “spicy” you want the cake to be)

Wet Ingredients
150 ml oil (canola, olive, or walnut)
1/2 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granular sugar (this is reduced from the Williams-Sonoma’s 1 cup)
2 tsp finely grated orange zest
3 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Combine dry ingredients. Whisk all wet ingredients for 2 – 3 minutes on medium-high. Blend in dry ingredients on low speed, scraping bowl. Pour batter into greased and floured Bundt pan. Bake for 40 – 45 minutes. Using a wooden toothpick, check for doneness. Let cool in Bundt pan for at least 15 minutes before gently prying out of pan. Carefully use a knife and spatula to loosen cake around the edges, then invert onto cooling rack. Let stand for at least 15 additional minutes before cutting. Then watch as the cake disappears before you can count to ten!

Orange Carrot Bundt Cake

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Here is another Bundt cake recipe with orange zest (in fact, it is only the orange zest and not the carrots that you see after this cake is baked!). After listening to my husband explain to me that my usual carrot cake is not really a carrot cake because it’s too healthy, I decided to search for a less healthy carrot cake – voila. This recipe comes from my Canadian Living “Sunday Suppers” Special Issue Winter 2014/2015 on page 86. I made only two changes, which are noted below in the Ingredients listing. When my children first tried this cake, their response was, “Make this ALL THE TIME!” (as in, don’t bother making that other carrot cake – which, by the way, I still LOVE!)

Ingredients
3/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tbsp grated orange zest
2 tsp vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour (of course, I used half white, half whole wheat!)
1 1/2 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup sour cream (I only had Greek Yogurt on hand, which I prefer over yogurt, so used that instead)
1 cup grated peeled carrots (next time I make this cake I am going to try adding 1 cup finely grated zucchini in addition to the carrots)

Directions
Preheat oven to 325 Fahrenheit. Beat butter with sugar until fluffy; beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in orange zest and vanilla.
In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir into butter mixture, alternating with sour cream (or Greek yogurt), making 3 additions of dry ingredients and 2 of sour cream. Fold in carrots. (The batter will be very thick.) Scrape into greased and floured 10-inch Bundt pan, smoothing top.
Bake in centre of oven until wooden toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour. Let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Transfer directly to rack to cool completely. Compared to the Pumpkin Spice Bundt Cake from above, this cake looks like it will be dry. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that this is not at all the case after you take your first bite!

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Both these recipes come with directions for making a special glaze. I have omitted these in order to comply with my blog’s purpose of eating healthier!! And to be honest, both these cakes taste DELICIOUS without the extra sugar!

It’s good to be back! Let me know which of these you like best. Or share YOUR favourite Bundt cake recipe!

Mango-Lime Frozen Yogurt

June 28, 2012

One of my favourite ways to “beat the heat” is by enjoying some frozen yogurt. By far my favourite is this Mango-Lime Frozen Yogurt, which I have been making for several years, and always impresses guests despite it being very simple to prepare.

Amazingly, there are only four ingredients, and since I use agave nectar to sweeten it, this delicious treat is also sugar-free (please read a recent post to find out why this is so important)! Although I use an ice cream maker, you can just as easily make this using a blender.

What’s you’re favourite way to “beat the heat”?!

Ingredients:

2 mangos, peeled and chopped

juice of 1 lime

1/4 – 1/2 cup agave nectar (or, you can use 3/4 cup granulated sugar)

1 and 1/2 cups Greek plain yogurt – my favourite is PC’s 0% Greek Plain Yogurt (or, you can use sour cream as per the original recipe, which can be found in “125 Best Ice Cream Recipes” by Marilyn Linton and Tanya Linton)

Directions (if using an ice cream maker):

1. In a food processor or blender, puree mango, lime juice and agave nectar (or sugar) until smooth.

2. Transfer to a bowl. Stir in yogurt (or sour cream). Cover and refrigerate until completely cold or overnight. (When I want to reduce the amount of time it takes to get the mixture “completely cold”, I put it in the freezer for a while, but make sure it doesn’t actually freeze!)

3. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Directions (if NOT using an ice cream maker):

1. Place chopped mangos in an airtight container and freeze.

2. Place frozen mango, lime juice, agave nectar (or sugar), and yogurt (or sour cream) in a blender and process until smooth. You can either enjoy the frozen yogurt immediately, or return the mixture to the airtight container from step 2 and place in freezer for a while until desired consistency is achieved.

I’m curious to know what you think if/when you try this recipe, so please leave me a comment when you get a chance!

Summer has arrived! Time to fire up the BBQ and enjoy a delicious meal outside on your deck or patio! One of my absolute favourite meals is Chicken Souvlaki with Tzatziki Sauce (see below for recipes). It’s very simple to make and is healthy and tastes so good. It’s currently my favourite meal to prepare for guests, and we enjoyed a wonderful evening out on our patio with our condo-dwelling friends last weekend. The weather was fantastic and we were able to have a late dinner (after the children had been put to bed!) out on our patio where we then played a game of Settlers of Catan by candlelight until almost mid-night. I cannot wait to do it again soon!

Because I wanted to be able to eat dinner with our guests after our children had gone to bed, I served Guacamole with some super healthy tasting “Haddad Bakery – High Protein Pita Bread” (which I purchased for the first time at No Frills and will likely purchase again soon) as soon as the children had finished eating their dinner. Then, once the little ones were in bed, we got the BBQ going and my husband grilled the chicken, which had been marinating for six hours. We also added some fresh asparagus (which had been included in that week’s CSA delivery), corn (which had been boiled while I made a quick dinner for the children) and red pepper halves (which had been roasted in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 15 minutes earlier that evening) to the grill. Meanwhile, I prepared the quinoa-filling for the red peppers. I did make some minor changes to the quinoa-filling compared to the recipe I posted earlier this month in order to make it a more “fitting” side for Chicken Souvlaki. Essentially, I omitted the chilli powder, cumin, and salsa and added chopped garlic scapes since these had been included in my weekly CSA delivery and I wanted to incorporate them into the meal. I had made the Tzatziki Sauce while the children ate their dinner. After serving the food, our friend Andrew insisted I take a picture of his plate for my blog and so that is why you are getting the details of our dinner that evening instead of just the recipe for the Chicken Souvlaki and Tzatziki Sauce!

After dinner we savoured a surprisingly not-very-sweet Tiramisu Cake, which I had made for the first time. The recipe is from my Williams Sonoma”Dessert” collection and I have wanted to make it for years, but had never gotten around to making it. Every recipe that I have ever made from that book has turned out AMAZING, so I wasn’t surprised when this cake left us wanting more. We did, however, manage to save some for the next day and I have to say it tasted even better the second day because the coffee and rum “syrup” and marscapone cream had more time to seep through the cake layers while it chilled in the fridge overnight. I will definitely be sharing the recipe in a future post, even though it is not “simple and healthy”, like the other recipes on my blog would indicate. But hey, we all deserve a little indulgence once in a while, right?!

Here is the recipe for the Chicken Souvlaki and Tzatziki Sauce!

Chicken Souvlaki – Ingredients (serves 6)

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white wine

2 tsp grated lemon rind

4 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp thyme

3 garlic cloves, pressed or minced

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast (or turkey breast or pork) – I generally use one breast per adult

Chicken Souvlaki – Directions

Combine all ingredients except the meat in a large bowl. Add meat (I prefer to leave the chicken breasts whole, though traditionally souvlaki is prepared by cutting the meat into 1-inch cubes and then skewered). Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours (preferably overnight). Grill on BBQ.

Tzatziki Sauce – Ingredients (serves 2 – 6, depending how much tzatziki you like with your souvlaki – I typically double the recipe!)

1 and 1/2 cups Greek yogurt (once again, my favourite one is PC’s 0% Greek Yogurt)

1/4 cucumber, peeled & seeded (I tend to use more)

2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp white wine vinegar

salt to taste

Tzatziki Sauce – Directions
Combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

What is your favourite summer BBQ meal?!

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy a cold, refreshing beverage. One of my family’s favourite afternoon “snacks” is a Refreshing Fruit Smoothie (though they also make for a great way to start your day!). They are quick and simple to make and are packed with great nutrition because I use plain Greek yogurt and plain kefir as the base of my smoothies. What I add to the base depends on who I am making the smoothie for and what I have in my freezer and in my fruit basket. Mostly, I use ripe bananas (fresh or frozen), frozen berries, a splash or two of orange juice, and a little agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup. However, banana and mango, or banana and pineapple also make super yummy combinations! Feel free to scroll to the very bottom of this post for the recipe, however I would encourage you to continue reading for some (what I feel are important) nutritional information related to this recipe.

Why do I insist on using plain yogurt and plain kefir? Because they are much lower in sugar than their flavoured counterparts. For example, compare PC brand’s 0% Plain Greek Yogurt versus their 0% Vanilla Greek Yogurt: per 3/4 cup, the plain yogurt contains 2 g of sugar while the vanilla yogurt contains 13 g of sugar! I also like that the plain Greek yogurt does not contain any gelatin or other unnecessary, not-so-good-for-you ingredients. In fact, the ingredient listing is simply “Skim Milk, Bacterial Culture”. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t other good brands of yogurt out there – I would just encourage you to read the label of your current yogurt to be aware of what’s actually in there. And true, by adding agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup to my smoothies, I’m basically just adding the sugar that has been left out of the yogurt – but at least I can control the amount and type of sugar added.

Aware of the risk of getting too analytical and technical, I would like to briefly explain why the type of sugar is important. It’s because of something called the “glycemic index” (GI). It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes during my second pregnancy that I even heard of this term, and indeed it is an important tool in managing one’s diabetes. However, I believe that the GI index is an important tool for everyone and this is why I’d like to provide you with a simple definition: “The glycemic index measures how fast and how much a food raises blood glucose levels. Foods with higher index values raise blood sugar more rapidly than foods with lower glycemic index values do.” (Click here for the source and a more detailed definition.)

Our goal should always be to incorporate mainly “low GI” foods into our diet and to keep “high GI” foods to a bare minimum. Examples of “high GI” foods are white bread, white rice, refined breakfast cereals, white potatoes, and candy. Examples of “low GI” foods are large flake oatmeal, bran cereals, whole grain bread, brown rice, legumes, nuts, quinoa, apples, berries, yogurt, and milk. Essentially, you want what you eat to be as un-processed as possible. And when it comes to “sweeteners”, you are better off using agave nectar, honey or maple syrup (in order of lowest to highest on the GI index) in place of the highly processed sugar our current generations are seemingly addicted to.

Here is an excellent link to some more in-depth information about the glycemic index, in case you’re interested!

And finally, here is the recipe for my “Refreshing Fruit Smoothie”!

Ingredients:

1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I prefer PC brand’s 0%)

1 cup plain Kefir

2 Tbsp orange juice

1 – 2 ripe bananas (fresh or frozen) (Whenever I have too many ripe bananas on hand, I either whip up a batch of my Bran & Flax Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins or peel them and put them into an air-tight container and into the freezer.)

1 and 1/2 cups frozen mixed berries or other preferred fruit

1 – 2 tsp agave nectar, honey or maple syrup

<strong>Directions:

1. Add first three ingredients into blender (or beaker if using an immersion blender as I do). This becomes your “base” and you can then add any fruit combination you would like!

2. Add fruit and sweetener. Blend. Add kefir for a thinner smoothie. Add more sweetener for a sweeter smoothie. Add more fruit for a fruitier (?!) smoothie. Serve. Enjoy!

What is your favourite summer beverage?!

Have you ever heard of the glycemic index and do you use it in your daily food-consumption decision making?!

If you have ever wondered how to incorporate cabbage into your diet other than through cole slaw and cabbage rolls (and it’s not likely you’re eating these on a regular basis!), then this is THE recipe for you! The best thing about this recipe is that it requires only one pot (well, really a large frying pan or wok) and it can be seasoned using different spices to suit your taste! A very good friend of mine recently came up with the recipe when she wanted a quick, tasty way to incorporate cabbage into her diet. I have since made this dish several times, and though the kids turn their noses (tonight I served them chicken enchilada “pie” instead – recipe to follow soon!), my husband eagerly helps himself to seconds (and sometimes thirds)!

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey (ground chicken or beef will also taste great)

1 onion, sliced or diced

1 – 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/4 cabbage, shredded (I use a mandolin to do this)

1 – 2 carrots, coarsely shredded

1 – 2 Tbsp curry powder (or, you can leave this out entirely!)

1 – 2 cups tomato sauce (my favourite for this recipe is from Costco and is called, “All Natural Marinara Sauce” by “White Linen Collection – Gourmet Pasta Sauce” – I highly recommend using this over the PC Blue Menu version for this recipe unless you’re in a pinch)

1 and 1/2 cups water

Directions:

Cook the meat (I used ground beef tonight, though I actually prefer it with ground turkey) in a large frying pan or wok, over high heat.

Once no longer pink, add onion and garlic. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes.

Add cabbage and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and cook for approximately 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the curry powder (if using) and stir.

Add 1 – 2 cups tomato sauce (depends entirely on how “saucy” you want it to be).

Add water and reduce temperature to medium. Continue cooking for approximately 25 minutes, or until cabbage is tender and sauce thickened.

Serve with “Cucumber Salad” (see my recipe on a prior post) or garden salad using “Honey Mustard Dressing” (see my recipe on a prior post). And if you haven’t banished carbs from your dinner menu as I have (in an effort to finally lose the remaining pregnancy weight), serve with brown rice or quinoa! Oh, and a dollop of plain greek yogurt or drizzle of kefir would taste great, too!

Will you be giving this recipe a try? Please post a picture and give your verdict once you’ve done so!

I made these on the weekend and they were a huge hit with my family! You can experiment with a mixture of quinoa flour, whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour to adjust this recipe to your taste. I thought they were fabulous just as they were as per the recipe below, which is from “Quinoa 365 – The Everyday Superfood” by Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming.

2 1/2 cups quinoa flour

1/4 cup white or cane sugar (I used only 1 Tbsp)

2 Tbsp baking powder (use gluten-free if you are gluten intolerant)

1 tsp salt (I generally omit salt from my baking)

2 1/2 cups milk or soy milk (I used 2 3/4 buttermilk)

2 large eggs

2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I generally use canola oil for baking)

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Combine dry ingredients. In a separate, medium bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add to the flour mixture and whisk together until smooth. Then prepare as you normally prepare your pancakes. (For Christmas my mother gave me a griddle and now that is my favourite way to cook pancakes. First, I can fit more on the griddle than even my biggest frying pan. Second, I don’t need to use any oil or butter for greasing purposes.)

I usually prefer to eat my pancakes with pure maple syrup, however sometimes I use agave nectar instead since it is lower on the Glycemic Index. And when I’m trying to be REALLY good, then I eat them with plain greek yogurt, grated lemon rind and fresh berries! YUMMY!

Since our family LOVES to eat pancakes, I’ll be posting many more pancake recipes, so stay tuned!

What’s your favourite pancake topping?

I just adore quinoa. Although it is referred to as a whole grain, it is actually a tiny seed, and it can also be ground into flour. Cooked whole quinoa has a slightly nutty flavour and a lovely crunchy texture. But what I love most about quinoa is that it cooks in just 15 minutes and is a complete protein! Oh, and it’s gluten free! I use it often instead of rice and prefer it over couscous, but it is even more versatile than that – you can add it to virtually any meal or snack. When I cook quinoa, I make sure to cook enough to last several days in an airtight container in the fridge. Please refer to a previous link for more information about quinoa.

Here are a couple of ideas for using cooked quinoa: Add 1/4 cup of cooked quinoa to the Greek Yogurt Delight recipe to boost it’s nutritional value and satiety. Or, you can add any array of roasted/grilled vegetables to some quinoa and drizzle it with some Honey Mustard Dressing and sprinkle some feta cheese over top (and some sliced almonds or chopped pecans are also a nice addition).

This afternoon, however, I decided to add some cooked quinoa to the “Carrot Spice Muffins” in Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming’s national bestselling cookbook, entitled “Quinoa 365 – The Everyday Superfood” . These muffins are kid-friendly, gluten-free, and of course, contain vegetables! And as an added bonus, they contain no oil or butter! Rather, they are moistened by the addition of plain yogurt. Serve these for breakfast, lunch or snack time!

Here is the recipe with some slight modifications.

Ingredients:

2 1/3 cups quinoa flour (can be purchased at the “Bulk Barn”)

2 tbsp ground flaxseed (can also be purchased at the “Bulk Barn”)

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt (I usually omit salt from my recipes)

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (or omit these and replace them with an additional 1/3 cup raisins)

2 large eggs

1/2 cup brown sugar – NOT packed (I always try to reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe!)

2/3 cup plain yogurt (I used PC’s Greek Yogurt, of course!)

2 1/4 cups finely grated carrots (you could reduce the amount of carrots and add grated zucchini instead to add more vegetable variety!)

1/2 cup cooked quinoa (I buy mine from Costco as it’s organic and pre-washed. The brand name is “truRoots”)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Farenheit. Lightly spray a 12-cup muffin pan with cooking oil. Combine the first eight ingredients in a medium-sized bowl. Stir until well blended. Mix in the raisins and nuts (if using) and set aside. Whisk the eggs, sugar and yogurt in a large bowl. Stir in the grated carrots.

Using a spatula, gently stir the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until just blended. Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin cups. Bake on the centre oven rack for 20 – 24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Remove the muffins from the oven and allow them to cool completely before removing them from the pan. Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month, but I doubt they’ll last very long – the batch I made this afternoon is already devoured!