I’ve stopped eating anything with gluten in it 99% of the time since last Christmas, and have never felt better. But quitting my love affair with baked goods and cereals makes breakfast a little more challenging (goodbye bagels and strudels!). Usually I’ll have eggs and bacon with avocado on top, but on days when I need to be out the door quickly, this easy recipe featuring chia seeds is definitely a win.
Chia seeds have been labeled a “superfood”, so I thought I’d do a little research into why these little guys earned that title. It turns out that there are numerous health benefits in chia seeds! They contain calcium, manganese and phosphorus, and are high in healthy omega-3 fats. They’re also high in fibre and protein, and help stabilize your blood sugars, regulate your appetite, and make you feel full longer.
This easy recipe is prepared the night before for a simple breakfast in the morning, or for a snack anytime of the day. It’s gluten and dairy free, so perfect if you have celiac’s disease, are avoiding gluten, or have a dairy/milk allergy. It’s also a great alternative to store bought puddings and could be served as a dessert, it’s so delicious!
I’ve been attempting to cut out dairy for a while now, or at least reduce it in my diet. It seems to cause my face to break out (or at least drinking milk did, which is a bit scary if you think about the hormones that must be in there). I’ve embraced coconut milk for a lot of my cooking, and have tried to get into almond milk, but the taste from a tetra pack always seemed a little off to me. Not sure why, but I haven’t jumped completely on the almond milk wagon, even though I know it’s so good for you.
Over the last little while I’ve heard of a lot of people making their own almond milk. Sounded a bit scary to me… what if my blender wasn’t good enough? I’d probably end up with a watery chunky mess on my hand. I kept hearing that it was easy, but didn’t quite believe it.
Well, guess what. It IS easy. And tastes amazing, and so fresh. I think I’m in love! So creamy, yet light. I could go on, and on. Bottom line: go and make this yourself! You will thank me :)
I’m especially looking forward to trying this with iced coffee… but can think of many different uses for it! I’ve added honey to this recipe, but feel free to omit it. I find the honey adds just a touch of sweetness, while still keeping it light and smooth.
Soak Almonds in a bowl of water to cover for 4-8 hours. Drain and discard water, rinse almonds.
Place almonds in blender with water, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt, and honey. Blend on high for about 1 minute, until creamy and frothy.
Pour through a jelly bag, strainer, panty hose, or cheese cloth into a bowl. It helps to squeeze the nut mixture to get all the creamy milk out. Discard almond meal, or save for pancakes, muffins, or other recipes that require almond meal.
Sometimes for the sake of tradition and heritage, we have to eat things that aren’t all that healthy. Okay, maybe we don’t have to, but I would have a hard time giving up the Dutch treat “Boter koek” (pronounced “Bow-ter-kook”). Unfortunately, translating it into the English language makes it “Butter Biscuit”, or “Butter Cake”, which sounds really bad for you. And guess what, there is quite a lot of butter… and sugar… and some other things that aren’t healthy for you. But the taste of almond, the chew-i-ness, the way it pairs so perfectly with a cup of coffee, it’s hard for anyone with a Dutch background to pass over when handed a plate of baking.
So, maybe for a treat once in a while, it’s okay? We’ll leave it at that. :) I’ll share my favourite simple recipe so you can enjoy this treat too!
+++ RECIPE +++
(Makes enough for 2 – 8″ pie plates)
1 1/3 cups of butter
2 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten, 2 Tbsp reserved
4 tsp. pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. salt
Preheat oven to 325 F.
Cream butter and sugar and beaten eggs, reserving 2 Tbsp of the beaten eggs.Mix in the remaining ingredients.
Pat in 2 greased 8″ round pie plates. Brush tops with remaining eggs.
Bake at 325 F for about 45 minutes, or until tops are nicely browned. Cool, and cut into wedges.
I’m starting a series called “In the Head of a Food Photographer”. I’ll be writing posts periodically about why I do the things I do when shooting, sharing bits and pieces of what’s in my head when creating and styling a shoot.
One of the best things about food is the way it can bring people together. Sharing a plate and a glass of wine at your favourite restaurant. Chatting with an old friend over coffee. Charcuterie at a small intimate gathering. Saturday morning breakfast with the family. Food has a powerful way of opening senses, helping to build relationships, and making people content and happy.
In my photos there is almost always room for two or more to come and dig into the food I’m featuring, to share an hour of time together and build their relationship with food as a catalyst. I either have more than one plate or bowl, or often more than one spoon or fork. It’s an invitation for you, the viewer, to grab your spouse, your friend, your entire family, and come and celebrate your relationship while eating and drinking the amazing food in front of you.
Because I have a sweet tooth, I find one of the best ways to share food is with dessert. This recipe I’m sharing today is just two ingredients… you can hardly call it a recipe, but it dresses up yogurt to be a fancier dessert, and kids and adults both love this light and not-too-bad-for-you dessert. You can serve it at a party ready-made in little glass bowls, or as a quick after dinner dessert when your kids keep asking you “What’s for dessert?” again.
+++ RECIPE +++
Vanilla Yogurt with Apricot Topping
1 Container of Greek Vanilla Yogurt
1 Jar of Apricot Jam
Spoon a few scoops of the yogurt into little bowls or jars. Top with a little apricot jam and serve. This can be made ahead and refrigerated for a gathering.
Speaking of childhood memories (see last post), raspberries were definitely a huge part of growing up for me. Having the largest patch in the neighbourhood, we were always picking buckets and buckets of them from late July to mid August. Many of them went into the freezer, the rest were turned into rich raspberry jam, to be eaten all year round on toast. The smell of jam cooking sends me right back to being nine again, and stealing little spoonfuls of the sticky, hot foam my mom just skimmed off the boiling jam.
Now I still go back to my parent’s house a couple of times in the summer to pick raspberries and take them home to make my own jam or freeze for smoothies and muffins. I have plans to build my own raspberry patch one day from shoots from my parent’s garden, but there is nothing like a well established patch for picking.
+++ RECIPE +++
Grandma’s Raspberry Jam
4 cups of squashed raspberries
6 1/2 cups of sugar
1 package of fruit pectin (I use Certo)
Fill a large canner half way with water. Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer. Wash jars, bands, and lids in hot soapy water, rinse clean. Place in the canner and let simmer while making jam.
Measure 4 cups of the squashed raspberries into another large pot. Add sugar and bring to a full rolling boil. Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, and skim off foam with a metal spoon. Save foam in a bowl to eat directly after finishing on toast. :)
Remove jars, bands, and lids from the hot water and ladle the jam into the jars. Place lids on jars and screw the bands on gently, but tightly. Place in the hot water in the canner, making sure all jars are submerged. Bring to a boil and process for 8-10 minutes. Remove and place on tea towel to cool. Check seals after they’ve cooled to make sure the seals are down. If the lid pops back up, keep those jars in the fridge.
I’ve been on the hunt for more props lately (one can never have too many). Sometimes that means heading out to the local thrift stores or scouring Ebay and Etsy, and sometimes it means stumbling across something amazing in Target’s sale section. Like $7.00 for a solid marble cake stand. Yes, I just said solid marble. And I just said $7.00. Of course I needed to bake something right away to try out this awesome steal of a deal. Something apple-y… and cinnamon-y…
I love baking with apples. Something about their soft sweetness when combined with cinnamon that makes real comfort food. And what could be better than apples in a cheesecake? This recipe combines cream cheese with mascarpone cheese to make a delicate and not-too-sweet cheesecake filling. Passed down to me from my mom, this recipe is a favourite in our family.
+++ RECIPE +++
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/3 cup white sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 cooking apples, sliced with skin on
1/3 cup white sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375°F
Cream together butter, sugar, vanilla, and flour. Press into 10″ springform pan, going up the sides about 1 inch.
Cream mascarpone and cream cheese together, add sugar, egg and vanilla. Mix until smooth. Pour over crust.
Core and slice apples. Mix sugar and cinnamon in a bowl and toss apple slices to coat. Arrange on cheese mixture.
Bake for 35-40 minutes until apples are soft and edges are browned. Cool before cutting and serving.