Magical Parchment Paper

Baking cookies on parchment paper

In case you didn't know - baking with parchment paper is like magic!

Line a cookie sheet with cooking parchment, and bake cookies directly on it (rather than on a greased pan). Your cookies will come right off with no problems: they will not stick to the parchment paper and your pan will be clean! You can also line a loaf or cake pan with it: the cake will come right out of the pan and the parchment paper will easily peel off the cake or loaf. As well, the paper is somewhat heat-resiatant, and can be handled soon after being pulled out of the oven.

More magic:

Eggs... i love you

The Wonderous Egg

When looking for "healthy baking" recipes, I often come across ones calling for egg whites - rather than whole eggs. While egg whites are definitely healthy and high in protein - the whole egg offers more nutrition - not to mention flavour. Some recipes do call for egg whites because of their special physical properties. Other "healthy" recipes eliminate the yolk because of its high fat and cholesterol content.

Blueberry Season!

Blueberry Fig Sprouted Almond Clafouti, July 2006

Once again, it's blueberry season!

To celebrate, I made my first clafouti of the summer:
a glorious Blueberry Fig Sprouted Almond Clafouti.

Chewy, sweet, and nutty

Chewy Oat Nut Cookies

My friend Meeshka sent me a recipe for some lovely little cookies.

These are pretty special: chewy, sweet, nutty, and delicious. They are also free of dairy, eggs, wheat, and refined sugar. They can also be gluten-free, if you use oats that have not been contaminated with wheat. Yes, these cookies are packed with flavour and nutrients - one could even call them healthy. Eater beware: consume in moderation - these cookies are rich!

Recipe: Tahini Oatmeal Walnut Cookies

Added bonus: quick and easy to make!

Bikes and Blenders

The Byerley Bicycle Blender, or B3

I'm obviously not the only one who loves both bikes and blenders.

The blender: indispensable for smoothie making and great for pureeing and combining ingredients for baking.

The bike: excellent mode of transport. Great for bringing home ingredients to put into the blender.

Some clever fun-loving folks down in Berkeley California have come up with a new way to enjoy both: The Bike Blender!

Yes, it's funny. Fun too!

Delighted

I often bring my own home-made snacks to work. For the times when I can't, I'm thrilled that it's now easy to find a good nutritious snack at many Toronto convenience stores.

Almond Delight almond bar

I popped into a magazine store steps from my studio looking for an afternoon snack. After scanning the selection of protein, nut, seed, grain and fruit bars, I picked up an "Almond Delight" almond bar - currently my favorite nut bar. Here's why:

  • It has only 3 great ingredients: almonds*, honey, malt
  • It has 9 grams of protein and 183 calories
  • It's produced locally (Markham, Ontario)
  • It's under $2
  • It's delicious

*Almonds are high in calcium, magnesium, vitamin E, protein, fiber, and cholesterol-lowering fat. Here's the full nutritional breakdown. Yay almonds!

Panne Rizo

While in Vancouver recently, my lovely sister-in-law bought some gluten-free baked goodies. The tasty treats were from Panne Rizo, a gluten and wheat-free bakery/deli/cafe - especially good for those with a gluten or wheat intolerance (celiac disease).

When tasting gluten-free versions of wheat-based baked goods, there will usually be a difference in texture (more granular) and sometimes flavor.

gluten-free treats from Panne Rizo


We tried three traditional treats - all made with rice flour:

  • Walnut brownies: iced and very sweet - almost as sweet as fudge, very similar to a traditional bakery brownie, great texture
  • Ginger cookies: crunchy and chewy, nice spice blend, slightly granular texture
  • Banana bread: tasty and moist, very similar in taste and texture to a traditional wheat-based banana bread, slightly granular

We also tried the rice bread, and it was surprisingly light and moist.

...so many other tasty nutritious grains, nuts, and seeds to try baking with: Amaranth Shortbread? Chocolate and Chestnut Cake? Bring it on! More on gluten-free goods another time.

Bon weekend :-)

Say Kimchi!

Kimchee in Korean

I can't get enough kimchi. I'll eat it as-is, like a pickle, whenever I have a savoury kimchi craving. I'll eat a pile of it with a can of tuna for lunch. I'll eat it with brown rice and adzuki or mung beans for dinner. I hear it's great on barbecued hamburgers too...

For those of you not familiar with kimchi, it's a traditional Korean side dish (as well as a condiment and a key ingredient in many dishes) typically made with fermented cabbage, chili pepper, garlic, onion, and various other vegetables. It has a wonderful spicy, sour, savory taste. There are many variations, for example, some kimchi is based on cucumber or radish. It often has seafood paste in it like shrimp, fish, or oyster - though I've tried fantastic vegan versions as well. Apparently, most Koreans love their kimchi and eat it everyday. There is even a Kimchi Museum in Seoul.

I picked up two kinds of kimchi (cabbage and radish) from a Korean-owned fruit stand in my old neighbourhood. It's the good stuff: home-made and packed with fresh ginger and leeks - so good that my partner is now a kimchi convert.

Whole-cabbage (Tongbaechu) and diced-radish (Kaktugi) kimchi

Movin' and shakin'

We've just moved home and studio and consequently, I haven't had time to post. (As well, we're still waiting for our internet hook-up - eek!) We did unpack our kitchen yesterday, and I'll be baking in a brand new oven soon - yay!

Our new living space is very small: half the size of our last place. While looking for inspiration, I came across the Smallest Coolest Apartment Contest. See "ingenious and beautiful" examples of little living spaces - all under 650 square feet. Cozy. Cool.

A Versatile Classic ~ Healthy Banana Bread

banana bread touch test

What classic baked good is easy to make, delicious, nutritious, yeast-free, portable, and can use up all sorts of bits floating in your pantry? You guessed it ;-)

I often make variations of these basic, easy, healthy banana bread recipes:
Healthy Banana Bread and Easy Gluten-free Banana Bread

Wonderfully versatile, banana bread can incorporate just about any nut (pecans, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, hazelnuts...), seed (pepitas, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, poppy-seeds...), fruit (figs, dates, apricots, berries...), flour (wheat, rice, spelt, barley...), sweetener (honey, agave syrup, maple syrup, fruit concentrate, marmalade/preserves, sucanat, stevia...), spice (cinnamon, nutmeg...) chocolate (chips, baker's chocolate, bars - dark, medium, or white), carob chips, extracts (vanilla, almond, lemon, orange...), or booze (rum, Kahlua, Grand Marnier...).

Tips for delicious and healthy banana bread variations:

nuts: use 1/2-1c. nut combos like pecans and walnuts are great. chop up large nuts
seeds (use up to): 1Tbsp poppyseeds, 2Tbsp sesame seeds, 1/4c sunflour seeds or pepitas
booze: 1-2Tbsp
extracts: 1/4tsp lemon/orange, 1/2tsp almond, up to 1Tbsp vanilla
sugar: 1/2c of sweetener/sugar (brown sugar, sucanat, fruit juice concentrate, honey, maple syrup, preserves...) is enough to make a sweet tasty bread. (I use as little as 1/4c.) try sweetener combinations like: 1/4c honey, 2Tbsp orange marmalade, 2Tbsp brown sugar
chocolate: 1/2c is great. you can, of course, use more or less (1/4c-1c)
mixing tip: coat chocolate and dried fruit with flower before mixing in to prevent it from sticking to the pan

*Bonus: a great way to use up all those over-ripe bananas!

UPDATE: Some new variations:

Chocolate Fractal Banana Bread: Gorgeous, delicious and marbled with chocolate.
Super-Healthy Banana Bread: Multi-grain, whole-grain and wonderfully spiced: gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free and flavorful with no unnecessary sugar or fat.