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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!

About Kefir (and Yogurt)

April 24, 2012

If you live in North America, this may likely be the first time you have heard the term “kefir”. However, I am certain you have been hearing the term “probiotics” frequently for quite some time now. Well, kefir (and yogurt) is the result of combining milk with probiotics (aka live bacteria), resulting in fermented milk.

More specifically, kefir is made by using kefir grains, a combination of Lactobacillus bacteria, yeasts, protein, fat, and sugar to ferment milk. This takes approximately 24 hours, during which time the bacteria and yeast change the texture, taste, and nutrient composition of the milk. Carbon dioxide is also produced, which gives kefir a hint of natural carbonation. Kefir is best described as a naturally sweet, yet tangy, liquid yogurt.

Studies suggest that regular consumption of foods that contain probiotic organisms can stimulate the immune system, prevent allergies, improve symptoms of lactose intolerance, help treat inflammatory bowel disease, and possibly even lower elevated cholesterol levels. Emerging research also hints that probiotic bacteria may guard against colon cancer.

You can add unflavoured yogurt and kefir to muffins, pancakes, and other quick bread recipes to add moistness and a hint of tartness, however cooking at high temperatures kills probiotic bacteria. The best way to reap their probiotic benefits is to enjoy them fresh.

Here are ways to add a serving of kefir (and yogurt) to your daily diet:

Breakfast

  • stir a large spoonful into a hot whole-grain cereal, such as oatmeal
  • alternate layers of yogurt, low-fat granola, and chopped fresh fruit for a breakfast parfait
  • toss fresh berries into plain yogurt or kefir and top with a drizzle of honey
  • top pancakes and waffles with a spoonful of kefir, toasted walnuts, banana slices, and a drizzle of maple syrup
  • make a breakfast smoothie with plain yogurt or kefir, berries, banana, and 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed

Lunch and Dinner

  • toss shredded raw carrots and drained or crushed pineapple with plain low-fat yogurt for a refreshing salad
  • mix plain yogurt and dijon mustard with diced chicken breast or canned light tuna for a low-fat version
  • spoon plain yogurt or kefir onto sliced fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions for a tasty side salad
  • add chopped cucumber, fresh dill, and minced garlic to plain yogurt – serve as a dip for grilled meats and chicken
  • for tasty grilled salmon, mix plain yogurt or kefir with an equal amount of low-fat mayonnaise; add 2 – 3 Tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice, freshly grounds black pepper, and plenty of chopped fresh dill; spread on top of salmon fillets before grilling
  • top a baked potato with plain yogurt or kefir and snipped chives; or mix plain yogurt with salsa for a Mexican-inspired topping for baked potatoes
  • make a yogurt- or kefir-based salad dressing by blending yogurt or kefir with water to desired consistency; add your favourite herbs and salt and pepper to taste

Snacks and Desserts

  • swirl vanilla or plain, low-fat yogurt into applesauce or other strained fruits for a nutritious, kid-friendly snack
  • for an afternoon fruit smoothie, blend low-fat yogurt or kefir with your favourite chopped fruit and ice
  • add a dollop of plain or vanilla low-fat yogurt to desserts – try it on apple crisp and puddings

The above information is taken from Leslie Beck’s “Foods that Fight Disease”. You can find more detailed information about kefir on her website:  http://www.lesliebeck.com/ingredient_index.php?featured_food=94

Do you already incorporate kefir into your daily diet? If so, what are your favourite ways to enjoy kefir? If not, will you give it a try?