Sandwich Maker Vegan Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

Okay. I know, this is a record. But tonight I made cookies on a sandwich maker for the first time in my life because we don’t have an oven or a stove (the people I am staying with have been renovating their house). Lawrence requested oatmeal cookies.

I just got a pic before we reached for the last ones. Sorry the photo is pretty poor quality…

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I was inspired by the Ultimate Vegan Oatmeal Raisin cookie recipe from Oh She Glows, which is an amazing blog, if you haven’t checked it out yet. 

Vegan Oatmeal Craisin Cookies

1. Mix dry ingredients and set aside

  • 3/4 C whole wheat flour
  • 1 C rolled oats
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • a pinch of sea salt

2. Soak 1/2 C dried cranberries in hot water until you are done preparing the cookies.

3. Grind 1 1/2 tbsp flaxseed. Add 3 tbsp hot water. Let stand for 5 minutes.

4. Melt 2 tbsp coconut oil in a small pot until liquid.

5. Add 1/3 C maple syrup and the flaxseed mix into the coconut oil. Stir until combined (which isn’t very long because these ingredients don’t combine well!)

6. Drain the dried cranberries and mix into your cookie dough.

7. Use clean hands and take small 1-2″ balls of dough and flatten with your hand. Place on hot sandwich maker. The one here has a setting that closes the lid, but doesn’t touch or flatten what’s inside. I closed it like this to create a bit more of an oven environment (if that is even possible!?!). You will still need to flip the cookies – about 5-7 minutes on one side, then 4-5 minutes on the second side. Makes about 15 small cookies.

So delicious! I told Lawrence if he puts in the stove tomorrow, I will try making another batch in the oven. He told me I should make a triple batch!

Running in Canada’s North and Tapenade

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The ice road heading North into Attawapiskat – can you spot the sign on the right? The road off to the left heads to the DeBeers Diamond Mine.

Today I realized that my limit of cold weather running is not -20°C as I had previously thought. Since I have been in Moose Factory and Attawapiskat in Northern Ontario, I have been on a few runs, but not many. I only go out running when it seems unusually warm. However, my friend Emily who is in midwifery with me, put out the offer for anyone who wanted to join her in the Mississauga Half Marathon on May 5. I thought, why not? After all, I am starting my year of being on call the following day. And we all know that it is pretty hard to run 21 kilometres when you are on call. So I think I will. Although I haven’t registered yet, I did go out and run for one hour and forty five minutes today, which is at least 30 minutes longer than anything I have run in the past year….and definitely the coldest long run I have ever done – 24°C, “felt like” – 32°C with the wind. 

It is isn’t so bad running in the cold! …Except the brain freeze part. I thought it was only for the first couple of minutes (despite the three layers on my head), until I passed the town of Attawapiskat and was on the open road. Even if the wind is minimal, it really stings when you are trying to run into it. I had to stop and hold my head with my mitted hands a few times, or alternate between sideways running or running backwards – just for a few steps until I warmed up and could face the wind again. Next time, I will wear either a thicker touque (I wore a lined balaclava, wool ear band and tube neck warmer over my head) or a hood which could cut the wind a lot. 

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The other challenge of running up here is wearing sunglasses. As you can tell from my photo, it is almost always sunny up here. So sunny that with the snow, it is really difficult to see if you don’t wear sunglasses. However when I covered my nose and mouth, my glasses fogged up very quickly! I decided that squinting on the return into the wind was better than keeping my nose uncovered.

I am glad I have figured out how to run with my face mostly covered – which is – slow. Really slow. I believe my LSD run pace during marathon training was 6 min/km. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was running a 7 min/km today. It was mostly out of necessity though to keep myself from falling on the ice road. Overall, it felt good.

Want something sweet and salty and entirely satisfying? Do you want to love olives but don’t? Try this super easy recipe.

Olive Date Tapenade

Grind:

  • 2/3 C. walnuts (…or almonds, pecans or any combination of these) in a food processor

Add:

  • 1/2 C sliced black olives (or otherwise, if you want to pit them all)
  • 1/3 C pitted dates
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • a pinch of rosemary

Blend until the desired consistency is reached.

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This recipe is really easy to adjust if you want it sweeter or less sweet, if you love balsamic vinegar etc. Serve with your favourite cracker, or try it as a spread in a sandwich! 

So delicious, you might want to double it. My roommate in Moose Factory and I, ate this all in about 10 minutes and then made another batch. 

Bagels and Bread in One.

Happy New Year! It doesn’t really feel like the New Year because I haven’t done any official goal setting yet. I really should get working on that, although I have to say how much I have enjoyed being on holiday.

I arrived in Ontario yesterday, and start my next placement tomorrow at a teen pregnancy centre. I don’t actually know what I will be doing there, but I look forward to finding out! I felt quite unsettled yesterday, and not much better today.  It makes sense though; moving across the country with a suitcase and a rubbermaid, meeting new roommate(s), learning a bus network and starting a new ‘job’ could all be described as unsettling.

I might as well do something about it then!

My strategy?

Sign up for 2 weeks of unlimited adult dance classes (it turns out I can’t do shanays as well as I could when I was 11) and make bread!  I will write more later on the dance classes!

Combine:

2 ½ C whole wheat flour

1 ½ Tbsp quick acting yeast

½ Tsp salt

¼ C canola oil (or a similar oil)

¼ C honey

2 C warm water (hand washing warm)

Let sit 20 min (or 15 minutes in the summer) or until roughly doubled in size.

Grease a cookie sheet and a loaf tin while you wait.

Add:

1 ½ C whole wheat flour

½ C all purpose flour

…and knead in.

Add all purpose flour until dough is nicely combined and no longer sticky, bringing the edges into the centre and pressing down with the heel of your hand.

Use a serrated knife to divide dough in two.  Continue kneading one half for about five minutes and shape into a loaf, and placing it in the greased tin.

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Use the knife to cut the remaining dough into six. It took me a bit of moving dough around until I thought my bagels were an appropriate size. Knead each bagel separately. Follow the same kneading technique, taking the edges into the centre and pressing down with the heel of your hand.

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You will likely need to continue adding bits of flour until it is no longer sticky.  Press the ball of dough into your hand like you would a stress ball. Work it like this a few times until the ball of dough is mostly “seamless”, or your stress has all been released.

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Put a bit of flour on your fingers and poke a hole in the centre. Use your hands to shape into a bagel, gradually increasing the size of the hole. For all my midwifery and medical friends, I would say approximately 5-6 cm dilated. (I know, I couldn’t help it!) The holes may look big right now, but they will look smaller once the bagels rise a bit more.

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Cover the 6 bagels and loaf of bread with a warm, damp tea towel.  Leave to rise about 30 minutes depending on the temperature of your house.  Fill a big pot of water and find a slotted spoon – the big flat, round ones are best.

Heat your oven to 350˚C, and boil the water on the stove top.

The bread will take about 35 min and the bagels ~ 25 min so place the bread in the oven while you boil your bagels.

Since my bagels were pretty big, I boiled them one at a time. Although if you use a bigger pot, you could likely do 2-3 at one time. Make sure your water continues to boil and leave each bagel in the water for about 1 ½ minutes, flipping after 45 seconds.

Remove and place onto your tea towel to absorb the excess water for a couple of minutes, before placing them on your greased cookie sheet. Add to the oven with the bread and enjoy the aroma of bread baking in the oven!

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I can’t wait to enjoy one toasted in the morning…but I could also enjoy one now warm out of the oven.

I ate one with butter on half and PB on the other half. There is nothing like butter melting on bread freshly out of the oven.

Two years ago when I made bagels for the first time, I got most of my insight from 17 and baking. I haven’t browsed her blog much, but I did learn a thing or two about making bagels.

Since I am trying to adjust to Ontario time, I should be getting ready for bed soon.

Afghans and New Zealand Christmas

My lack of posts may be acceptable if nothing had been going on in my life.

However, in the past two weeks, I have done 5 days of tramping (NZ terminology), or hiking for all those Canadian folk, cycled 75 kilometres to a seaside town, swam in the ocean, visited with family, eaten too much, baked and read (almost done my second novel). I know I am on holiday when I have time to finish a novel in less than one week. It is marvellous.

I have been meaning to post the recipe for Afghans. Not because I created this wonderful biscuit, but because it is a NZ favourite and a personal must-have at Christmas time. The best way to describe it? A chocolate shortbread with cornflakes dedans (that’s French for within)

This recipe is brought to you from the Edmonds Cookbook – a staple in most NZ kitchens.

Afghan Biscuits

  • 200g butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cups Edmonds, standard plain flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 cups cornflakes
  • walnuts (optional)
  • chocolate icing (I made up the recipe below as the written recipe calls for actual chocolate which I didn’t have. This is just as good I think.)

1. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Sift flour and cocoa.

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2. Stir into creamed mixture. Fold in cornflakes. 

3. Spoon mounds of mixture onto a greased oven tray gently pressing together.

4. Bake at 180 C (355 F) for 15 minutes or until lightly browned and firm.

5. When cold, ice with chocolate icing and a walnut piece.

Chocolate Icing: 

  • 1 tbsp butter, or alternative
  • 1/3 C cocoa
  • 2 C icing sugar
  • 3-4 tbsp milk, or alternative until icing consistency is reached

Beat all together until smooth.

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On Christmas day, we went to three different meals. Breakfast at my aunt’s brother’s house, lunch at my uncle’s home and dinner out at another family member’s farm! My uncle resides in England much of the time with his lovely opera singer wife who hails from Germany. They put on an absolutely amazing meal! The most delicious salad was served to start – fresh lightly cooked artichokes from Dorothee’s garden with capers, hard boiled egg, fresh dill covered in a lemon mayonaise dressing. I would like to try to create a vegan version in the future.

In case you are interested in opera singing, here is my aunt’s website.  I hope I can see her perform one day, as this past week was the first time we have met!

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Craisin (Orange) Scones

After neglecting my blog for so long, it is hard to know what to write about! In the past 3 weeks, I have made some delicious food, said goodbye to my wonderful preceptor and nurses at GGH, visited with new friends in Guelph, checked out a craft fair in Chicago, IL, written my final exam for the semester (18 months left!) and been on at least 6 airplanes!

I am currently in Sydney, Australia waiting for my flight to New Zealand, where I am heading for my Christmas holiday!

I have a few recipes I would like to post, but they might not all come at once. I brought my mom’s famous craisin scones for my last shift at the hospital and I promised the staff that I would put the recipe on my blog. Other soon to be posted recipes?

  • GF Moroccon Vegetable Pie
  • Spelt seed bread (similar to the bread I bought at With the Grain in Guelph!)

Craisin (Orange) Scones

Ingredients and Method:

1. Preheat oven to 400˚F

2. Soak ¾ C craisins in boiling or very hot water for 10 minutes, or however long it takes you to prepare the rest of the recipe…

3. Mix dry ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ C all purpose unbleached flour
  • ¾ C spelt flour (or whole wheat)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp sugar (depending on how sweet you like your scones)
  • 1 (generous) tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp orange rind (if you have it – I didn’t this time, but it is so good!)

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4. Cut ¼ C softened butter (or vegan margarine) into dry mixture until it looks like course crumbs.

5. Drain craisins. Toss them in the dry mixture until they are flour coated and well dispersed.

6. Whisk 1 egg and put into a ¾ C measure. Fill to the top with soy or almond milk. It should be roughly 2/3 C milk alternative.

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7. Add egg/milk mixture to dry ingredients until just combined. Add a bit more milk if needed, depending on the flour you choose (spelt flour will likely absorb a bit more liquid than whole wheat).

8. Place by the spoonful (2 generous tablespoons per scone) on a baking sheet 2-3 cm apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.

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9. Optional Icing:

Heat 1-2 tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate with about 2/3 C. icing sugar until smooth. Pour by the spoonful onto the scones and allow to cool and harden before serving! This is really a nice touch that I highly recommend!

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I asked a couple of kids to be in this photo with me in front of this screen which projects different “faces of Chicago” every few minutes! They agreed!

Here are a few photos from Chicago where I spent the weekend with one of the most amazing people, my dear friend, Josina. She came from Minnesota where she is currently working to meet me for the weekend! We checked out all the best food locations including this vegan restaurant called Native Foods which is from California. We were thrilled to eat whole bowls of vegetables seasoned with fresh tahini and spices.

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The famous 'bean' downtown in Millenium Park with a city backdrop!

The famous ‘bean’ downtown in Millenium Park with a city backdrop!

Winter Running Festival recap!

On Saturday, I did a 5 kilometre race at the University of Guelph Arboretum. It has been more than a year since my last race – which was the Niagara Falls Marathon… and now I am racing 5 kms??!!? Ah well, I guess I have to get back into it sometime! During this race, I was thinking about how I have forgotten what it feels like to race. Regardless of my fitness (which is obviously less than amazing at the moment), there is something about racing that makes it always hurt. Not consitently, nor relentlessly, but there is a certain type of pain that reminds you of your limitations and capabilities. It is humbling, really. I like it.

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I finished 5th in my category, women 20-29, which is less meaningful to me than the fact that I maintained a sub 5-min-kilometre. My time was 24.45, which isn’t amazing, but is fast enough considering I haven’t raced in some time. AND – it was hardly a WINTER running festival. Tons of people were wearing shorts and tanks, as it was a gorgeous day!

Introduction to minimalist running

I am so glad I finally got up this morning and put on my running shoes. Because not an hour after I got home, it began raining and proceeded to pour for the rest of the day! I felt super happy when I got home this morning – partly because of the perfect weather, and partly because of the double shot americano in my coffee mug.

It strangely warmed up here for the past two days. I went outside and then returned inside to change into shorts! Can you believe it – mid November and shorts. It reminds me of the Postal Service song, Sleeping In:

concerns about the world getting warmer
people thought that they were just being rewarded
for treating others as they’d like to be treated
for obeying stop signs and curing diseases
for mailing letters with the address of the sender
Now we can swim any day in November

Anyway, the wind was glorious and warm. I love watching the leaves fly across the road.
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Last October I had a stress fracture in my second metatarsal. Much to my dismay, this injury had me off running for many months. A number of different people and bits of information I acquired along the way lead me to be interested in minimalist, or sometimes called, barefoot running.

I actually started off doing just that. Running barefoot. The first day I barefoot ran was in the spring living in Cornwall, ON. It had just started to snow so the ground was pretty cold – it was exhilarating anyway. I ran to the end of the street and back… maybe 400 m. I gradually started to increase the distances, and once I was really running again, I would take off my shoes at the end of a run and carry them for the last 500 m. That is what my summer runs looked like.

I finally bought minimalist shoes at the start of October, right before I came back to Ontario.   I did have a gift card that I needed to use, so I thought it was a good time. And they are orange. And…if you didn’t know, orange is the new black! Well… at least it was last year!

The technique is quite different when running barefoot. The most notable differences are landing mid to forefoot (instead of heel striking), a faster turnover and a lighter landing. As you may imagine, this is hard work for the calf – particularly the stress on the Achilles tendon. It is crucial to start slow. My plan is to run with this technique 2-3 days per week for my faster, shorter runs. I have been building my time over the past 6 weeks, adding 1-3 minutes per run.

Today was a milestone. I ran 25 minutes!

Why is this a milestone? A 5-minute kilometre is a pretty comfortable pace for me to maintain for short distances, which means I can likely do a 5 km run in my minimalist shoe!

However, my calves are still sore. The soreness IS less the day after than the first time I ran “on my toes” for any length of time, but still ever present. I think I am going to aim to run 25 min 2-3 days/week until my calves no longer get sore. That’s possible, right?

 

Raw Vegan Mint Nanaimo Rounds

Last week, Pauline made these amazing triple chocolate delicies. As I was devouring their velvety texture, I couldn’t help but think of one of my favourite desserts – Mint Nanaimo Bars! I have been known to eat half of a 9″ x 9″ pan in one day.

I decided it wouldn’t be too difficult to modify the first recipe into a new and improved, and perhaps healthier Mint Nanaimo Bar! Here is the original recipe from pure2raw.com. I changed things only slightly and added in my own mint layer.

Are they healthier? Better ingredients, but definitely calorie-dense. In one of these mini rounds, there are close on 230 calories! They are super tasty, but I don’t find them addictive like processed sugar. I think that’s a good thing.

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Ingredients

Bottom layer –

  • 2/3 C walnuts
  • 8-10 dates
  • 1/4 C Fair Trade cocoa
  • 1/4 C unsweetened coconut
  • pinch sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mint filling –

  • 2/3 C cashews, soaked
  • 1/4 C coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp agave
  • 4 dates
  • 1/4 C spinach leaves (remove stems)
  • 1 1/2 tsp mint extract
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate top –

  • 1 C cashews, soaked
  • 1/4 C coconut oil
  • 1/4 C maple syrup
  • 1/4 C water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 C + tbsp Fair Trade cocoa

Directions:

This recipe is pretty simple. It just requires a few steps as you have to make each layer individually.

You can do layers in any order, but if you want to not dirty another container, start with the bottom.

1. Throw everything into a food processor and blend until slightly crumbly. Press into a greased (I used coconut oil) mini muffin tin, or really any pan you like. Technically this would make about 16 rounds if you had two small muffin tins.

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2. Repeat with the next two layers, but process until very smooth. Add to the previous layer.

3. Place into the freezer for a few hours to set! Serve cold.

You may have noticed that I wrote Fair Trade cocoa. I normally hate it when recipes I find online include the brand name of a particular product, especially when you know it won’t change the taste. However, I will shamelessly promote Fair Trade (which isn’t actually a brand, but a certification process) products because I really believe that Fair Trade is making a difference to peoples’ lives around the world. I hate the thought that my indulgences of coffee, bananas and chocolate (three of the worst industries in terms of human rights) are exploiting people, so I try whenever I can to pay the extra money to ensure farmers are being paid fair prices. If you want more information, check out FairTrade Canada.

Gluten Free Apple Cinnamon Muffins

Makes 16-18 muffins

Prep time: 20 minutes

Bake time: 10-20 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 Cup chopped apples (skin on)
  • 1 Tbsp. buckwheat flour (or any other GF flour should be fine!)
  • 1/4 Cup mashed banana (or unsweetened applesauce)
  • ½ Cup liquid sweetener – I used ¼ C agave, and ¼ C maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup GF flour mix + 1 tsp xanthan gum*
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup oats
  • 3/4 Cup Light or fat-free sour cream/ plain yogurt/ or soft tofu with 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice

* I sometimes whip up my own with the flours I have on hand. The last time I used: 1/4 C white rice flour, 1/4 arrowroot flour, 1/2 C sorghum flour, 1 large tsp xanthan gum, and they turned out great!

Separate mixing bowls

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease muffin tin(s) – I fill the cups ¾ full and it made 12 regular and 9 mini muffins.

1. In small bowl, toss apples with 1 Tbsp of buckwheat flour. Set aside.
2. In a larger bowl, combine applesauce or mashed banana and sweeteners. Add eggs and mix well. Add vanilla.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt & cinnamon. Mix well and add to the liquids in the larger bowl. Add sour cream & oats, stirring after each addition. Fold in apples – be careful not to overmix!
4. Spoon into prepared muffin tin, filling 3/4 full. Fill any remaining cups 1/2 full of water. Bake in preheated oven for about 8 minutes for mini muffins and 15 minutes for regular muffins! Depending on your oven, you may want to go 2-3 minutes more.

For gluten free muffins, these are pretty darn good!

Since Pauline is pretty much doing a sugar and dairy free diet (except greek yogurt), I had to modify my previous recipe to sugar alternatives. I forgot until I had cooked my muffins for 20 minutes (as I had previously with my recipe including sugar) that maple syrup makes baked goods brown FAST.

Yes, my first batch of regular sized muffins were a bit burnt. However, with a little butter… the flavour is reminiscent of cinnamon raisin toast on the fire – a favourite of mine while camping!

I greatly reduced the time for the minis as indicated in the recipe and they worked out perfectly!

The mini muffins!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Bites

Ingredients

  • 3/4 C. pitted dates
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3 Tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 C. quick oats
  • 1/4 C. cocoa
  • pinch of salt

Method 

1. Put everything into a food processor until smooth. Roll between your hands into 1″ balls. Freeze 3-4 hours before eating

I obviously didn’t wait 3-4 hours, but I only had one.

Pauline gave me this idea after she found a blog recipe from pinterest for cookie dough bites (chocolate chip). On the weekend, my dear friend Bekah made chocolate peanut butter cookies to die for, and I knew after that, I had a flavour for the next cookie dough bite!

Pauline has already labelled a container for her freezer. Now… to keep it full might prove to be difficult!