patty's blog

Sweet Ambrosia Cookies

Ambrosia: The food of the gods. It is said the consumption of ambrosia results in immortality.

Recipe: Sweet Ambrosia Cookies

I can't promise immortality, though I will say these honey-sweetened aromatic cookies are pretty satisfying and delicious :-) Inspired by Tahini Oatmeal Walnut Cookies, these are made with sweet nutty sunflower seed butter, which is abundant in these parts (and for some, easier to digest than tahini). Rich and healthy, these gems also contain oats, pecans, coconut, vanilla and cinnamon. These cookies happen to be vegan and wheat-free/gluten-free - they're really quick and easy to make too!

How to make your own healthy baking powder

The other day I ran out of baking powder, so I decided to make my own. I was delighted with how easy it was, and how well it worked in my recipes - just as good as the store-bought stuff. The best part is, the home-made variety doesn't contain aluminum, so it's much better for you, and doesn't impart an aluminum flavour. (Knowing what we do about aluminum, I'm surprised that some baking powders still have it! To be fair, the store-bought baking powder I used didn't contain aluminum, it had corn starch, monocalcium phosphate, and sodium bicarbonate.) Another bonus to making your own: you can choose your own starch, I use tapioca starch. (Typically, baking powder contains corn or wheat starch, so this recipe is good for people with corn or gluten intollerances/allergies.)

Recipe: Aluminum-free Baking Powder

Happy healthy baking :-)

Sprouted Quinoa Cornbread

Fresh cornbread with homemade guacamole: yum!

Here's another healthy tasty quick bread for cornbread lovers ~

Recipe: Quinoa Cornbread

I've updated classic cornbread to make it healthier, without compromising flavour or texture. Like my Quinoa Rice Bread, this is also made with germinated/sprouted quinoa seeds, resulting in a moist delicious nutritious bread that's surprisingly easy to make. (I've served it to non-health nuts with rave reviews :-) It's also great for special diets, as it's naturally gluten-free, and optionally dairy-free and sugar-free.

Fresh cornbread with guacamole.

Surrounded by a lovely crust, this cornbread is terrific warm and fresh out of the oven. If keeping longer than a day, I wrap it up and store it in the fridge, and then toast or grill thick slices - particularly good topped with homemade guacamole, or butter and honey!

Toasted cornbread with butter and honey.

Spring Experiments & Fabulous Gluten-free Recipes

Image (a tasty little experiment): Mini Rice Flour Cream Puffs with Rose Water Icing (coloured with beet juice)

Lately I've been busy in the kitchen experimenting and tweaking new recipes. Stay tuned for Toasted Coconut Granola, Sweet Ambrosia Cookies, Sprouted Quinoa Cornbread, and more... In the meantime, check out these fabulous rich chocolate recipes - all gluten-free:

Amaranth, Quinoa and Dark Chocolate Cake
“Lighter than Air” Chocolate Cake
Very Healthy Chocolate Bars
Chocolate Pavlova

Happy baking!

Noni & Guifiti

While in Guanaja (Honduras), I learned about a couple of regional health elixirs from the locals and wanted to share my discovery.

One is noni juice from the noni shrub. A 75 year old ex-deep-sea marine I spoke with swears by the stuff, drinks the juice every day, and admits it tastes pretty bad. The fruit, leaves, flowers, bark, and roots have been eaten and used topically for hundreds of years by different cultures to treat various ailments. Many claim that noni contains valuable nutrients and phytochemicals that can treat asthma, lower cholesterol and inhibit cancerous cells from growing - a controversial claim that "modern" medicine has not proven yet...

Another is the Garifuna tonic guifiti - an elixer of plants soaked in rum. Made from medicinal plants (including local spices and noni), the recipe is guarded and passed on generation to generation. The Garifuna use guifiti for all sorts of ailments: impotence, menstrual cramps, pain relief, nerves, high blood pressure, low blood pressure... I remember the bottle I saw had a long list of all sorts of things. I tried some, and it was spicy, herby and swampy tasting - not that bad :-)

Images: Noni photos from Wikipedia, Guifiti photo by April

Roasted Almonds with Figs

Figs and almonds are a classic - and with great reason. Lately, I've been eating dried figs stuffed with roasted almonds and WOW. This combination is almost shockingly delicious - satisfying too. It's super nutritious as well:
Almonds: high in healthy fats, vitamin E, B2, magnesium, copper, antioxidants
Figs: high in fiber, potassium, calcium

This combination is even better when you roast the almonds yourself - here's how:

Recipe: Roasted Almonds with Figs

  • Heat oven to 350.
  • Spread raw almonds on a single layer on a pan and bake (a jelly roll pan works great) for 10 - 20 minutes, stirring once or twice while baking.
  • When they are ready, they will be fragrant and golden inside (cut one open to check). Be careful, as they will continue to roast once you remove them from the oven - so don't let them get too brown.
  • Allow to cool completely.

Next, snip the top off a dried fig (buy natural dried figs with no sulfites) and push a few almonds in. Enjoy!

Guanaja Mango Vinegar & Roatan Honey

Booty! I scored these exquisite locally produced goods while on The Bay Islands, Honduras.

The Springers make this delicious fruity organic vinegar from their own mango trees on the little mountainous island of Guanaja: it's like a mango version of apple cider vinegar. Awesome on salads with olive oil and a bit of sea salt.

I love tasting honey from all over the world. This fragrant honey made on the island of Roatan reminds me of Yucatan honey, as it has similar exotic floral and orange blossom aromas - likely from orchids and orange trees. I overhead someone saying that this honey was made by stingless bees - endangered native bees cultured by the Mayans.

Lime in the Coconut

I'm back from the Bay Islands, and had an absolutely amazing time - many fantastic adventures... Rum was the drink of choice, so I enjoyed lots of delicious fruity cocktails made with Flor De Caña. Danny at West Peak Inn scored some fresh coconuts for us - a total treat. This was my favourite way to enjoy one of these:

  • have someone experienced with machetes and coconuts hack one of these open for you. A hole about the size of a quarter in one end is all you need.
  • drink about 1/3 of the milk with a straw
  • pour in 1-2 shots of white rum
  • fill the rest with fresh sweetened lime juice (or the juice of a lime and simple syrup or other sweetener)
  • enjoy :-)

Photo by Crispin

Recipes from the Depths

I'm off to the Caribbean for a couple of weeks for some much needed R&R - this time The Bay Islands, Honduras! (Interesting fact: Honduras means "the depths" in Spanish.) Besides relaxing in a hammock under a coconut palm, hanging out in a mango tree, snorkeling with sea turtles, and kayaking, I'm looking forward to enjoying a lot of fresh fruit and fish and other local fare.

Here are some regional recipes that sound wonderful:

Honduran Mango Avocado Salsa - Great with fish.
Caribbean Recipes from Roatan Honduras - Check out the Baked Mango Dessert, Coconut Bread, and Johanna's Mango Salsa "to die for".
Tortillas - A Honduran staple. This is a very good detailed description on how to make your own - fresh is so much better!
Garifuna Backyard Oven Allspice Cinnamon Buns - Sarita the "Sweet Bun Lady" uses her great-grandmother's recipe. Great story.

Hasta luego mi amigos!

Marvelous Macaroons

The first time I had a real fresh almond macaroon was in French Switzerland. After one sweet crisp chewy almondy bite, I was hooked. Later, I looked up recipes for classic French-style almond macaroons, and was pleased to see how simple they are (basic ingredients; almonds, egg whites, sugar) and easy to make. Another bonus: they're gluten-free! After several delicious experiments, I came up with this lovely not-too-sweet version of classic French-style almond macaroons, here made with fresh almond flour, fragrant orange zest and honey.

Recipe: Honey Almond Macaroons

Miam miam!