Monday, April 29, 2013

April Foodie Pen Pals

I decided to participate in Foodie Pen pals again this month as I had so much fun with it in March.  I sent a package to my pen pal Sarah (a student in London) on the 15th and waited patiently for my package to arrive from Katie (a teacher in Toronto).  It arrived last week and I wasn't disappointed with its contents.  Katie obviously put a lot of thought into the package and tried to find things that worked with my dietary restrictions.  
Here's what she sent...
 It all came packed in this cereal box :)

And included a lovely, hand-written letter explaining what everything was
Mmmm, plantain chips.  I polished these off quite quickly!

 And she even popped popcorn and spiced it with two of my favourites, ginger and wasabi

 Yummy seaweed, a big favourite in this house!

 Some lovely mint chocolate David's tea.  Not really my thing, but Krestan loves it!

 A toasted coconut nutrition bar

 2 sachets of flavoured nut butter.  I bet these will taste great on celery!

 I love my gourmet salts, so this will definitely be well-used!

 And last, but definitely not least is some banana ginger curry sauce.  I never buy bottled sauces, so this should be fun to try.  Katie suggested brushing it on chicken or even as a dip.  Can't wait to try it!

What a wonderful box full of lovely surprises.  I highly recommend all foodies trying this pen pal programme  I'm having such a great time with it.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Working together to end human trafficking

On Saturday (yesterday) morning I was privileged to be a part of a wonderful charity eventPictured above is the lovely Johanna, owner and founder of JQ Fitness.  Johanna, her husband Jeff and their team at I Luv This Bootcamp have been working around the clock to make yesterday's event a reality.  All proceeds from this charity boot camp were donated to Free-them which is an organization working towards a goal to end human trafficking/slavery.
I decided that rather than paying to participate in the boot camp portion of the day, I would like to do a little more to help out.  I approached Johanna a couple of months ago and asked if I could provide some healthy baked goods for the participants to enjoy before and after their workout.  She accepted my offer, so over the next few weeks I made some treats and had the members of our kickboxing and stability ball classes (taught by Johanna) give me some feedback.  I'm happy to say that the comments were all positive and everyone seemed to enjoy being my lab rats :)  So for the past week, I've been baking and dehydrating my heart out to provide plenty of goodies to help fuel and replenish the participants of the event.  The day went off without a hitch (as far as I know) and was a great success.  Lots of money was raised for this wonderful cause and a whole lot of fun was had doing so.  I'm very happy to say that I got more compliments than I could ever have dreamed of and countless requests for recipes.  So, I promised I'd get working on a blog post about the event and that I would share the recipes for what I baked and dehydrated.  

So here goes...

This is the table covered in swag bags that greeted participants to the event...


And here's a peek at what was inside those bags...

    Among the contents was One Coconut Water, Awake caffeinated chocolate, a $30 gift card towards boot camp classes and many other goodies.

This is the kitchen area where Perry and I unloaded all my containers of treats onto platters and plates to be enjoyed by the participants...


And here are the plates and platters of aforementioned treats... 

 Pepsi Co. provided cases and cases of drinks such as One Coconut Water, Aquafina bottled water, Gatorade and Gatorade Pre-game Fuel

And Starbucks provided hot beverages...


This is naturopath Dr. Jason Lee giving a wonderful talk about health and its relation to what we put into our bodies...


The fitness activities started with a 'killer' group challenge.  Johanna's husband Jeff put together an obstacle course with burpees and pushups and all sorts of other forms or torture.  Here's a quick video of one of the stations...


 Winners of the group challenge, the aptly named "Team Awesome" :)

Free-them gave a heart-breaking presentation about modern day slavery/human trafficking.  It shocked me to my core...

And here's Johanna leading the boot camp warmup...

 There were all kinds of stations with things like hip lifts and mountain climbers

And all sorts of other 'fun' exercises :)

And there was even a kiddie boot camp :) ....

 And just because they're adorable, here are Johanna and Jeff's sweet babies...

One of the boot camp participants provided chocolate gold medals for the kids :)

I can honestly say that I'm already excited about next year's event.  Perry said he wants us to participate in the team challenge!  I think we'd better start training next week :)

And now for the recipes as promised.  I have already blogged about the seed cookies here (but changed them slightly) and the oatmeal spice cookies here and unfortunately I don't have my own pics. of the other goodies (yet) except for the chocolate zucchini bread as I didn't even think of that.  However, I'll share all the recipes below and hopefully will get around to baking these items again so that I can show the step-by-step processes.  Not all of these recipes were invented by me, so I'll also share links to the originals.
Here goes...

Here is where I found the original recipe for the zucchini bread.  This is the recipe, including my changes.
  Chocolate Zucchini Bread

1 medium zucchini, shredded 
2 large organic, pastured eggs, whisked 
¾ cup almond butter 
⅓ cup organic raw honey 
¼ cup cocoa powder (you could use raw cacao) 
2 tablespoons coconut flour 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon 
½ teaspoon baking powder 
½ teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 
Grate zucchini on the large holes of a cheese grater.  Lay paper towels on your kitchen counter, put zucchini on top and cover with more paper towels.  Press down to remove moisture and then put the zucchini into a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until well-combined.
Line 2 small (3" x 5") loaf pans with parchment paper and bake for 35-40 minutes until the tops spring back when gently pressed.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes in the pans, then remove to a cooling rack until cooled through.

 My chocolate zucchini bread

And here is where I found the recipe for the Maple Flax Cookies.  Here's the recipe with my changes...
Maple Flax Cookies 

1/2 cup (60 g) whole rolled oats
1 Tbsp (15 ml) coconut oil, solid at room temperature
3 Tbsp (45 ml) pure maple syrup (look for B grade)
1 tsp (2.5 ml) pure vanilla extract
2 Tbsp (30 ml) finely ground flax seeds (don't buy already ground this yourself in a spice or coffee grinder immediately before using)
3 Tbsp (45 ml) whole flax seeds
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 ml) baking powder
1/4 tsp (1 ml) Celtic sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F (180C).  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a food processor, blend the oats until they resemble a coarse meal. 
Add the coconut oil, maple syrup and ground flax seeds.  Blend until combined well and smooth.  Set aside for at least 2 minutes.
Put all of this into a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.  Stir well.
Using a teaspoon-sized cookie scooper (or 2 teaspoons), drop the mixture onto cookie sheet about 2 inches (5 cm) apart.  Do not flatten the cookies as they will spread on their own.
Bake 10-13 minutes, until slighlty puffed and lightly browned.  Allow to cool completely before removing from sheet (they will firm up as they cool).  Makes 8-10 cookies.  May be frozen.

The little coconut balls are actually a raw recipe from Sarma the owner of Pure Food and Wine which is a restaurant we plan to visit one day.  
This recipe was e-mailed to me, so I don't have a link for it.  Hopefully mentioning the author here is giving enough credit!

Chocolate Coconut Balls

3 cups unsweetened, dried coconut
1 1/2 cups cocoa powder 
1 cup maple syrup (look for B grade)
1/2 cup coconut butter (this stuff)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt

Mix all ingredients together.  Using a teaspoon-sized cookie scooper, place mounds on the mesh trays of a dehydrator.  The original said to dehydrate for 12-24 hours at 115F.  I did it at 125F for about 4-6 hours and that was plenty.  I'm sure you could do these on cookie sheets in the oven at its lowest setting with the door slightly ajar.  Because the lowest oven temp. is probably higher than 125F, it would most likely only take 3 hours or so.

Seed Cookies

1 1/2 cups whole rolled oats
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 cup almond butter
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup raw cacao nibs
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon Celtic sea salt

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until well-combined.  Onto 2 parchment-lined cookie sheets, dollop mixture using a tablespoon-sized cookie scooper.  There's no need to leave space between cookies as they do not spread.  Bake for 16 minutes, rotating trays halfway through baking time.  Remove to wire cooling trays and enjoy.

Oatmeal Spice Cookies

1/4 cup gently melted virgin coconut oil
1/2 cup organic coconut palm sugar
1/3 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
1 large organic, pastured egg
2 cups whole rolled oats     
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons dried cinnamon
2 teaspoons dried ginger

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a large bowl, mix all ingredients until well-combined.  Dollop by teaspoonfuls onto  parchment-lined cookie sheets.    Bake for 15 minutes and then allow to cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes.  Remove to cooling trays to firm up.  


Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Foodie Pen Pals Guest Post

This one is short and very sweet.  I asked Joanna (who received a package from me) to write a little bit about what I sent.  She mentioned that she forgot to take a picture as she was too excited to sample what was in the box of goodies.  
Here's what Joanna wrote...

Both Deborah and I were first time "Foodie Penpals" last month. I can't express my utmost delight when a parcel appeared at my door wrapped in kraft paper and filled with thoughtful, delicious treats. Since my only stipulations were "No papaya, please," Deborah had full reign of preparing a fun and tasty package. She included chipotle flavoured seaweed, chocolate quinoa biscuits, cheese crostinis, a bar of Cocoacara orange and chili dark chocolate, lamb curry mix, and Deborah's own homemade sharp cheddar cheese shortbread biscuits. Although everything in the package was incredible, the cheddar shortbread biscuits were the top contender. I had to keep a watchful eye my fiance didn't sneak too many away from me! It was a real treat not only to receive such a generous package, but it was exciting to become acquainted with a new person who shares an interest in food and cooking. Food truly brings people together. Many thanks Deborah!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Foodie Pen Pals!

You may have noticed the link on the left-hand side of the page for 'Foodie Penpals'.  I found out about this wonderful exchange programme a few months ago and recommended it to my sister Ashleigh.  She signed up for February and had such a blast, that I decided to do it for March.  The reason I didn't do it right away is because we don't eat wheat or most grains, rarely eat sugar of any kind and really don't eat a lot of processed foods.  I figured that would be a bit too difficult for the person who was buying food for me, so thought maybe it wasn't a good idea.  But when I mentioned this to Ashleigh, she said there's no reason why I couldn't just explain about my restrictions and see what happens.  So, I went for it and I'm so happy I did.  What a great time I had buying items for my penpal's package!  She's a teacher in Toronto and said she loves everything except papaya, so that made for a fun shopping spree with almost no restrictions.
I received my box of goodies last week and was thrilled with the thought my penpal (you don't receive from the same person you're sending to) Vesna put into my treats.  

Here's what I got...

A lovely little hand-written card
 Delicious seaweed (I LOVE seaweed)

 Dried apricots, with no added sugar

 A fruit and seed mix which is supposed to be a snack, but I've got some cookies planned with this in them

 Raspberry licorice, which I found a bit sweet but Perry gobbled up in 2 seconds flat :)

And the very best part, homemade blondies made with chickpeas.  They are delicious!

Thank you again to Vesna for such a great Foodiepenpal first experience!  If you'd like to participate in Foodiepenpals, just click on the link at the top left-hand side of the page.  Do it, it's so much fun!!! :)

The Lean Green Bean