A bite of sweetness to tide you over

As the days of fasting continue, I find myself having chocolate cravings- Snickers, Twix, Crunchie. Oh so yummy, but oh so bad for the waistline. I’ve been holding back, but last night was just too unbearable.  I had to have a chocolate fix right then and there.  I quickly scoured my kitchen cupboards to find something and I came across a bar of Lindt’s 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate bar. Perfect!  I also came across a box of Baker’s Secret Semi Sweet baking chocolate. Even better! I wanted to have some texture to my chocolate fix, so I threw together a dash of this, a handfull of that and came up with bite sized crunchy chocolately goodness.

Crunch Chocolatey Bites

1 Weetabix biscuit, crushed
2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
2 tsp almond slivers
4 squares of Lindt’s 70% Cocoa Dark Chocolate bar (should be about an ounce)
2 ounces of semi-sweet baking chocolate
Crush the Weetabix biscuit in a bowl and mix in the coconut flakes and almond slivers. Set aside.  On the stove, create a double boiler- put a small pot on the stove with some (don’t fill it up all the way because you do not want the water to touch the chocolate) water and let it simmer. In a small steel bowl, break the chocolate into pieces and place on top of the small pot. Stir until the chocolate has melted.  Pour the melted chocolate into the Weetabix, coconut and almond mixture. Stir well.  Using a round 1/4 tsp measuring spoon, scoop out the mixture onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  Set aside to firm up. Once firm to the touch, put the tray in the fridge for 1-2 hours.

Lebanese Tabbouleh with a twist

Slowly but surely all of us are getting used to the Ramadan routine.  This year, the fast day is longer and the time between iftar and suhoor is much shorter.  I don’t know about you, but I find myself feeling very full when I wake up to eat my suhoor because it’s only been like 4-5 hours since iftar and dinner.  Keeping this in mind, I thought I would take a recipe Nutrition Unplugged posted and change it up a bit. It’s a light dish that’s chock full of healthy benefits.  Feast your eyes on a a not so traditional Lebanese Tabbouleh.  Instead of bulgur, I’ve used red quinoa. Quinoa is a seed that is protein rich and contains all 9 amino acids that our bodies need.  Try this for iftar or as a side with your dinner, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it!

Lebanese Tabbouleh with a Twist

1/2 cup of cooked red quinoa (see note below)
juice of 3 limes
1 bunch of parsley, washed thoroughly and diced finely
handful of mint leaves, washed and diced finely
2 medium tomatoes, diced into cubes
3 scallions (green onions), sliced thinly
1 Tbsp good olive oil
salt to taste

Quinoa note: Take a 1/4 measuring cup and pour in dry quinoa until the cup is just half full and give it a good rinse. Put it into a pot with 1/2 cup of water. Boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer until quinoa is cooked. Cool before adding to the rest of the ingredients.

Another Quinoa note:  If you can’t find red quinoa, switch it up with any other variety.

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve.

A simple suhoor/sehri (early breakfast) for Ramadan

During the month of Ramadan, Muslims worldwide wake up before sunrise to eat their suhoor/sehri/early breakfast.  Depending on the region of the world, this meal can be comprised of porridge, curries, eggs, sandwiches, rotis (plain or stuffed), juices, tea, milk, water, or in my case, plain old cereal out of a box.  I find that if I eat too much in the morning, it does not agree with me the entire day, so my routine since childhood has been to eat cereal for sehri.  This Ramadan, however, I have decided to try something different- fresh muesli (pronounced moose-ley), cereal that doesn’t come out of a box! Muesli is a Swiss breakfast cereal made up of uncooked rolled oats, either soaked in water or juice, fruit and nuts. It was created in the 1900s by a Swiss physician and was given to his patients who were on a diet of fruit and vegetables.

My recipe includes fruit yogurt and 1% milk.  If you want to try something light, yet filling, try some muesli!

Muesli
1/2 cup of raw slivered or sliced almonds
1 cup of 1% milk
2 small strawberry fruit yogurt cups, Balkan style
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
a drizzle of honey
1 cup of mixed berries, fresh or frozen ( I used frozen black berries, blue berries and strawberries)
Toast the almonds in a dry skillet over medium-high heat, until golden in colour.
In a bowl, mix together milk, yogurt, oats, honey and fruit. Stir in the almonds.
Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.  The muesli will keep for 3 days

Ramadan

God Willing, Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting will begin in the next day or two.  Many people believe that abstaining from food and drink from sunrise to sunset is what this month is all about.  But there is much more to this holy month than that.  It is a time to reflect on one’s relationship with God and how one can achieve closeness to the Creator.  It is also a time to gain patience, perfect good manners, practice charity (not only monetary), and improve one’s character.

During this month, I might not be as active on the blog. For one, I can’t taste anything during the daylight hours so I won’t be cooking that much. Also, I will be busy trying to achieve all the things listed above.

Take care readers,

Ramadan Mubarak!

A healthy cake that I can eat on a regular basis!

I’m really excited about this cake. It’s a healthy, hearty and absolutely delicious quinoa and carrot loaf cake!  The combination of ingredients is quite unique and may put people off from making it, but I do recommend trying it out once. If you like it, keep making it. If not, move along.  I tweaked Bakeaholic’s recipe to suit my needs.  The only one thing I regret tweaking is the amount of sugar. I cut the amount of sugar from 1/3 cup to 1/4 cup and I found that there was some sweetness missing. If you don’t want the cake to be sweet, use 1/4 cup of sugar. Otherwise, stick with 1/3 cup of the sweet stuff.

Quinoa Carrot Loaf Cake

2 cups of whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup cooked red quinoa **(see note below)
1 cup shredded carrots
1/2 cup low fat, plain yogurt
2 eggs
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 Tbsp unsweetened apple sauce (instead of oil)
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Quinoa note:  Take 1/4 cup of dry quinoa and give it a good rinse. Put it into a pot with 1/2 cup of water. Boil and then reduce heat to a low simmer until quinoa is cooked.  Cool before adding to wet ingredients.

Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, combine eggs, shredded carrots, yogurt, apple sauce, vanilla and cooked quinoa.  Pour wet mixture into dry ingredients and stir until just combined.

Pour mixture into a parchment paper lined loaf pan and bake for 40 minutes. Double check using the toothpick method.

Cool completely on a wire rack.

A fruit blend enjoyed on my balcony

What do you do when you have fruit that’s over ripe and turning brown? Make a fruity juice blend.  If you have a Magic Bullet or a blender, you can whip this up in no time!  I dressed it up by pouring it into a lead crystal goblet and used a sprig of mint for garnish.

A Simple Fruit Blend
1/2 glass of mango juice
1 over ripe, very mushy banana
4 sprigs of current berries
splash of 1% milk
Throw in all of the ingredients above into your Magic Bullet or blender and whip it together.  Pour over ice in a glass and add a sprig of mint for garnish.