Dairy-Free Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Recently we discovered that one of my daughters is lactose-intolerant, and have been modifying our cooking and baking to accommodate her. Avoiding the stomach aches, headaches, and general bad moods that follow her consuming dairy make the extra effort worth it. This morning we turned a classic lemon loaf recipe by Jean Paré (author of the Company’s Coming series) into moist dairy-free muffins that were great for breakfast. 


Ingredients:

Wet:

1/2 cup Vegan Becel margarine

2/3 cup granulated sugar

2 eggs

1/2 cup original almond milk

2 tbsp lemon juice 

Dry:

1 cup sprouted whole wheat flour 

1/2 cup white flour

1 tsp baking soda

 1/2 tsp salt

Grated rind of one lemon

Optional: a handful of blueberries. 



Instructions: Mix wet, mix dry, mix together gently until flour just blended in. Spray muffins tins with oil and scoop in the 12 muffins. Since half my kids like blueberries, and half not, I just stuck about 5-7 blueberries in the top of half the muffins, and left the others just lemon. 

Bake at 350 C for 18 minutes or until golden brown. 

Mix juice of one lemon with 2tbsp white sugar until dissolved. Slowly pour a little lemon glaze on each muffin and let sit a few minutes.

The muffins were nice and tender, and had a bit the texture of cornmeal muffins, likely due to the sprouted whole wheat flour. Enjoy for breakfast or afternoon snack with coffee, tea or juice! 

Super Simple Lentil Dahl

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This is one of my favourite easy, cosy recipes the kids love.
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It comes from this book I was given at my wedding shower 11 years ago! Lots of good ideas for healthy meals.
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Here’s what it looks like cooked.
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But I blend it because my kids like to eat it by dipping naan bread in it, and this way there’s no chunky veggies to pick out! 😉
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So here’s my quick and dirty way to share the actual recipe with you! You can tell from the splattered book I’ve made it often.
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My littlest eater likes to dip carrots in it and recommends hummus and cucumbers on the side.
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His big sister ate this many pieces of naan bread with it! Yum! Of course if it’s for dinner and not just lunch you can make some other curries to go with it or serve with salad. And if you’re gluten free it’s great with rice as well, instead of naan bread. Enjoy!

Summer Supper Save 

   
Here’s a quick recipe for one of those days when you feel like you have nothing but odds and ends in the cupboard. I usually make this as a black bean and rice bowl in the rice maker, but was missing lots of the essential ingredients…black beans, onions, garlic, salsa….so here’s what I made instead! This recipe was inspired by Robert Irvine’s Red Beans and Rice recipe on the foodnetwork.com.

  1. First cook a cup of brown rice with two-and-a-half cups of water with a tsp veggie powder, or use veggie broth instead.
  2. While it is cooking, heat up a large pot with a little olive oil and sauté several chopped sweet peppers (I used yellow), and a chopped red hot pepper.  
  3. Wander into the garden and pick a few cherry tomatoes, 5 or 6, a handful of chives, a some fresh basil.  
  4. Wash and chop the tomatoes and add to the pot. Stir in salt and pepper and a tablespoon of hot sauce. 
  5. Then drain and rinse two cans of kidneys beans and add to the pot. 
  6. After this all cooks for about 10 minutes, add chopped chives and shredded basil. 
  7. Once the rice is ready, mix it all together and serve with corn tortillas or tortilla chips. It’s really yummy….and just spicy enough to give a little heat while retaining lots of flavour. Pretty good for nothing in the cupboard! Can’t believe I cooked without onions and garlic…but it still had flavour! Enjoy!

 

Pregnancy Health: Getting Enough Fibre

  

This might seem like a less than thrilling topic, but it’s actually really important. Keeping your system cleared out when you’re producing waste for two people instead of one is quite essential. I know; I get really sick if I don’t. 

In all of my pregnancies but one, I’ve gotten a late pregnancy condition called colistasis, which means that at that point my body can’t cope well with the toxins from baby and myself, and doesn’t know how to get rid of them. So instead of eliminating them, it puts them under my skin. Sounds fun right? 😬 Especially when you’re too itchy to sleep.  So you see the importance of trying to prevent such a thing…but how? 

The only really effective way I’ve found to keep my body regular and on track is to eat Bran Flakes every day. Yup, good old Kellogg’s has done more to keep me healthy than trying to eliminate sugar, fried fat, excess salt, etc, even though those things are of course important, too. My OB suggested trying this in my third or fourth pregnancy, and when I’m really faithful to it I am much better. With my fourth I didn’t even get colistasis at all.

  
The tricky bit is keeping on eating bran every day. But this seems to be the key. A few times I went through most of the pregnancy healthy, and then when I got a bad cold or cough neglected my bran flakes for a few weeks. That was enough to do it; I got colistasis again. And this condition is not only uncomfortable but increases the chance of stillbirth as your pregnancy progresses. I’ve experienced this. I don’t wish it on anyone. 

So that’s why I thought I’d share this simple trick, to keep up your bran which clears out your guts and keeps your system running clean, so you can be a safe environment for your baby to grow and develop. Here are a few ideas on how to consume it:

  1. As All Bran Flakes cereal at breakfast. With milk or yogurt, or if you have a cold, try almond milk instead for less mucous production.  If you’re getting bored, add berries or make it half Corn Flakes.  
  2. Bake the flakes into muffins…chocolate covers a multitude of sins, so just add cocoa powder to make dark, moist chocolate bran muffins. Or blueberries of course for a classic muffin. 
  3. Buy bran as a powder and throw it into your homemade pancakes…you can also make them healthier by adding applesauce or mashed banana instead of oil, and ground flax with a bit of warm water as an egg replacer. Oats or oat bran is also good to add to baking.
  4. Buy the All Bran Breakfast Bars and pack them in your purse for snacky moments, or days when you can’t stomach another bowl of cereal. 
  5. If you forgot to eat it for breakfast, have your Bran Flakes at bedtime with some chopped banana. Both milk and banana will help you sleep  better, and that’s always a good thing.🍌
  6. Buy other healthy, fibre rich cereals on occasion, to give you some variety. But don’t stay away from fibre all together for any length of time. 
  7. Buy fibre-rich crackers like Ryveta and eat them with cheese or peanut butter for a good protein snack. 
  8. Eat whole grain pasta and brown rice instead of white whenever you can. Quinoa is also a great choice for a hearty salad or as a side dish.  You can even throw it into bean burritos or stews.
  9. Eat other fibre rich foods like lentils and beans, and try to avoid things that will plug you up, like white flour products, too much dairy and fried fat. 🍟🍰🍩 Stinker I know…Some dark chocolate bars have a surprising amount of fibre, though, so if you promise just to have a little…🍫
  10. Finally, coffee is a diuretic, so while some women choose to eliminate it in pregnancy, I find a cup in the morning also helps to move things along. Besides me! 😉 Good luck and please share any ideas you have as well…happy baby baking! 🍼

    soft arms scented with cinnamon and sugar

    My big sister—

    the poet, the editor, the mediator

    the strong survivor,  the loving mother

    the beautiful woman

    my inspiration, my friend—

    gave me this Dutch cake mix for appeltaart

    when she last came to visit us.

    And though she’s a province away,

    when I make it with my girls—

    carefully chopping the apples together,

    blending in the butter,

    brushing with egg to finish the masterpiece—

    I am with her, too.

    “Lekker gezellig!” deliciously cosy…

    The love of my sister

    wraps around me like these strips of dough

    around the nested apples,

    soft arms scented with cinnamon and sugar.

      

    Brainless No-Bake, No-Measure Cookies

    Perfect for a quick snack on a lazy afternoon! Ready in 5 minutes…so you can please your low-blood sugar critters before they eat each other up…even if you forgot to plan their after-school snack!

      
    Here’s the basic idea…but feel free to ask for more details in the comments if you like!

    1. Warm about a cup of peanut butter in a pot on medium heat. 

    2. Add some apple sauce and stir.

    3. Throw in some chocolate chips and mix to help them melt. 

    4. Pour in a bit of (almond) milk and stir till creamy. 

    5. Dump in some ground flax. 

    6. Mix in quick oats until the whole thing sticky but fairly solid. 

    7. Remove from heat and drop by spoonfuls on a cookie sheet. 

    8. Let cool a few minutes or until little fingers grab ’em! 

       
     

    Quick and Easy Pesto Pasta Salad

      

    Here’s a simple recipe for a nice pasta salad you can have on hand in your fridge to pull out for a quick lunch or to bring along to a potluck. 

    Ingredients:

    ~one package spiral pasta/rotini, cooked and cooled

    ~a few tablespoons pesto

    ~one chopped sweet pepper (yellow, orange or red)

    ~1/3 cup crumbled sheeps feta (or other)

    ~1/4 cup chopped assorted olives, such as kalamata, royal, or sundried

    ~small handful of fresh parsley and fresh basil, chopped

    ~fresh ground pepper

    Steps:

    1. Cook and cool pasta, leaving it slightly firm. I used whole wheat this time, but rainbow spiral pasta (coloured by mixed vegetables) is also nice. 

    2. Wash and chop pepper and fresh herbs.

    3. Mix pasta with pesto.

    4. Chop olives and remove any pits.

    5. Add sweet pepper, herbs and olives to pasta in a big bowl, crumble in feta, ground in a bit of fresh pepper and mix. 

    6. Enjoy right away or put in the fridge for later! 🙂

    Food Therapy: Baking Away the Blues

    Homemade Spinach Feta Pie

    This yummy recipe was inspired by my good friend and retired chef, Bonnie Mitchell, who first taught me to make spanakopita. Here it my version in a pie crust,  just out of the oven, but how did I make it? Here are the simple steps:

    1. In a large mixing bowl, combine:

    a small container (250ml) ricotta or cottage cheese

    half a block crumbled feta (again about 250 ml)

    2 eggs

    pepper

    a pinch of salt

    a generous amount of dried or fresh dill, to taste (at least 1 1/2 tsp dried dill)

    2. While working in this dry steam a bag of spinach in a large pot or pan, maybe half at a time, until wilted.

    Let spinach cool, squeeze out excess liquid, and chop.

    3. Then add chopped green onions (3-5) or chives (a handful)

    4. Mix with the rest of the ingredients.

    5. Make a simple pie crust (no French pastry degrees required) from Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood cookbook.

    Actually I used whole wheat flour and threw in a tablespoon of brown sugar for good measure.    

    Here I am being spoiled and using the kitchenaide friends gave me, but this can be done by hand or with a pastry cutter as well.

    6. Grease pie plate with butter and place in pie crust.

    7. Put filling in crust.

    8. Put in preheated 350 C oven for about 40-45 minutes.

    9. Enjoy! Would be nice with a side of green or Greek Salad, or even Greek Lentil Stew, but that recipe will be for next time!

    So Much For Soup!

    Here’s what the kids thought of my dinner tonight….sigh!

    

    But for those of you who’d rather eat soup than throw it, here’s the recipe:

    I for one liked it!                            Homestyle Lentil Soup

    I added lots of fresh herbs from the garden, like thyme, sage, rosemary and chives, and found it lovely! Kind of like a vegetarian beef stew.

    So here’s to all my fellow moms who are trying to cook healthy, instead of putting IKEA toy food on the table cause it’s less messy! 😉 I hope that all of your dinners went better than mine tonight!