Raw Beet Smoothie

I don’t like or NOT like beets. For me, they land somewhere in between, “Oh, this is disgusting! Why do I even have this on my plate?” and “Wow!! This is better than chocolate!”

My mom used to bring home beets and force them on us at dinner.  We’d all take 1 or 2 slices of boiled beets and push them around our plate until we knew we couldn’t avoid eating them any longer. It wasn’t the way the beets looked. But more so of how they tasted that made us kids not like them so much. The taste of a beet can be described as, well…. “beety.”  If you’ve had beets before, you know what I mean. You can’t really describe it, but you can certainly recognize the flavour.

So why post a recipe with beets if they’re not you’re favourite vegetable, Hinna? Well, a few weeks back, I got pretty sick and couldn’t eat anything. In the first few days of recovery, I was limited to rice cakes, crackers and water.  As the days passed, I was able to reintroduce yogurt, broth, mushy rice with lentils, fruits and vegetables into my diet.  Refined sugars, chocolate, milk and coffee were off limits while my stomach lining healed.  In those 1-2 weeks of healing, I discovered that a lot of my joint pain and old-injury pain had dramatically reduced or had disappeared. The refined sugars, chocolate, milk and coffee were increasing inflammation in my body, causing aches, pains and literally making me sick to my stomach.  With this knowledge, I have started shifting my focus to eating my healthy, whole foods…and well that means adding beets to my diet.

This raw beet smoothie comes from the Choosing Raw blog.

Raw Beet Smoothie

Raw Beet Smoothie

Raw Beet Smoothie

1 raw medium beet, peeled and cut into small pieces (you will need a high-speed blender to break down the beet)
1 cup fresh strawberries, hulled and cut in half
1 peeled orange, whole
1 cup homemade almond milk

Put everything into a high-speed blender, cover and let it blend until smooth.  Pour into a glass and let it chill in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.  Enjoy!

Amaranth Porridge from Green Kitchen Travels

Finding something that my two-year old daughter will eat for breakfast has always been a challenge for me. Since birth, she’s been a nibbler, so I always have to make sure that what she’s eating is hearty, healthy and filling, because chances are, she will have a few bites and declare that she’s “finished!”

In comes Green Kitchen Stories‘ most recent cookbook, “Green Kitchen Travels.”  This book is beautiful! It is filled with colourful images from far away places and has a wide variety of recipes inspired by the travels of David and Luise, the bloggers at Green Kitchen Stories. Flipping through the book, the recipe for Amaranth Porridge with Caramelized Plums caught my eye as something that could work for my daughter.  Plums weren’t in season when I made the porridge, so I subbed in caramelized apples. The original recipe also called for unsweetened coconut flakes for garnish, but I didn’t have any at home.

Amaranth Porridge with Caramelized Apples

Amaranth Porridge

1 cup amaranth seeds
a pinch of salt
2 cups filtered water
1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 apples, cored, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp maple syrup

Soak the amaranth seeds in cold water for at least 30 minutes or up to 8 hours. Then rinse and drain. Place amaranth, salt and measured water in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce heat and cook gently for 20 minutes or until creamy.
Heat coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add apples and maple syrup and saute until tender and caramelized.
Remove amaranth porridge from heat and let it sit for a few minutes.  When it has set a bit, stir in almond milk until creamy. Serve in bowls with another splash of almond milk and top with caramelized apples.

Cha Cha Chia!

Chia seeds have been around for a very long time.  If you grew up in the 80s and 90s, you’ll probably remember those cheezy Cha Cha Chia pet commercials where you smear the seeds on a plastic mold and your “pet” grows chia hair. Well, what was once used to grow “pet” hair is now becoming the new superfood on the market.  According to several sites, chia seeds: are gluten free, contain Omega 3s, contains all 8 amino acids, has 20% protein, helps combat diabetes, and contain 5 times more calcium than milk.

Last year, I started eating chia seeds on a regular basis. I would add one tablespoon of seeds to a glass of water or juice and let them soak and fluff up for 15 minutes.  The texture took some getting used to, but after a few glasses the gelatinous texture didn’t bother me.  Chia seeds don’t really have a distinct taste, so they’re great on top of cereal or oatmeal, mixed in yogurt or used in baking.

A week or so ago I came across a recipe for Chia Fresca on Oh She Glow’s blog.  Right away, I knew I would be saving the recipe for later because it was a flavoured version of my plain glass of chia seed and water. I made a few changes- I used doTERRA’s Lemon Esssential oil for flavour, raw Manuka Honey for some gentle sweetness and topped my glass off with some fresh cut strawberries.

Chia FrescaChia Fresca

2 cups water

1.5 tbsp chia seeds

1 drop of doTERRA lemon essential oil (wild orange would work as well)

1 tbsp raw Manuka Honey (Active 16+)

Cut fruit (optional)

Add chia and water into a glass and stir to combine. Let chia seeds sit for 15 minutes to plump up and become gelatinous. Stir occasionally to remove any clumps.  Add honey and essential oil and stir.  Top with fruit. Chill and serve.

Read more on the health benefits of chia seeds here and here.

 

Bananaberry Muffins and Spiritual Reflections

 “Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives and the fruits (of your toil) but give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Those who, when misfortune strikes them, say: ‘Indeed we belong to Allah and to Him is our return. Those are the ones upon whom are blessings and mercy from their Lord and it is those who are rightly guided.” [Qur’an 1:155] 

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “When Allah desires good for someone, He tries him with hardships.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî 

These last few months for me have been tough emotionally and spiritually. I found myself enveloped in a darkness that brought me down to an all-time low.  As the verse from the Holy Qur’an states above, God will test us in our lives and we must patiently persevere for “Allah does not burden a soul beyond that it can bear..” [Qur’an 2:288].  Keeping this in mind, I have been putting myself through a cleanse- not a detox cleanse of my body (although I would like to do that one of these days), but a spiritual cleanse whereby my life, behaviour, attitude, personality, heart, and soul come into alignment with Allah swt and the teachings of Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him).  This spiritual cleanse has not been easy and is far from over…I feel as though I have only just scratched the surface. All I can do is continue on this path of realignment with patience and gratitude that God put me through this test and be thankful for all that God has given me.
(Please note that I use God and Allah interchangeably because they mean the same thing- Allah is the Arabic word for God.)

_________________________________________________

Bananaberry Muffins – these are great for Sehri/Suhoor 
(Recipe adapted from Janet and Greta)

1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup wheat bran (original recipe calls for ground flaxseed or wheat germ)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4-5 small ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 large egg
1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries, washed and drained of water

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners or spray muffin tin with oil and set aside.

Combine first 7 ingredients in a large bowl, mix well and set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together bananas, butter and egg. Fold in banana mixture into dry ingredients until dry ingredients are moistened.  Gently fold in blueberries.
Evenly divide batter into muffin tin using a large spoon or ice cream scoop.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Remove muffins from tin and cool on wire rack.

My Favourite Banana Bread

Lately I have been buying up bananas and eating one a day.  Sometimes I buy so many that I can’t finish them before they get to that icky brown, over ripe stage. You know that stage- where they’re too gross to eat on their own, but are perfect for a cake, muffin or bread recipe.

I have eaten my share of banana bread over the years, but have never come across one that I really enjoyed. Well that changed when I decided to try this recipe from allrecipes.com  It’s a VERY easy recipe to follow and I’m pretty sure you already have most, if not all, the ingredients in your kitchen.

My Favourite Banana Bread

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten,
5 medium size bananas, overripe and mashed
6 Hershey kisses, cut in half (my addition)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease a loaf pan and set aside.
In a bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.  In another bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.  Beat in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir wet mixture into flour mixture until just combined.  Gently stir in Hershey kisses.  Pour batter into prepared pan.
Bake in oven for 60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of cake comes out clean.  Remove pan from oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Invert bread onto a cooling rack.

A breakfast time saver!

I don’t know about you, but I’m finding that I don’t have enough hours in the day to get things done. It seems like I blink my eyes and three hours have gone by!  There is so much to get done: I have a stack of books to get through, some unit plan designing to complete, prayers to read, and online classes to attend. Not to mention the daily household chores that must get done after work and daily trips to the gym.

 I know if I manage my time a bit better ( I blame it on no longer having a steady work routine!!), I would be able to complete many of these tasks.  From the minute that I wake up to the time I go to bed, I have to make sure I am not wasting any time.  I’m hoping to start off with a simple breakfast routine on days that I know I will be extremely busy.  I whipped up a really simple breakfast parfait this morning to kick start my day.  Since there is a lot of protein in the Greek yogurt, I felt full and satisfied. If you think this isn’t enough for you eat a boiled egg on the side.

Breakfast Parfait

2 scoops PC 0% Honey Greek Yogurt
1 large stem of Seedless Organic Coronation Grapes
3 tbsp PC Blue Menu Raisin & Almond Granola

Place a scoop of yogurt in the bottom of a wide-rimmed glass.  Layer on some grapes and 1 tbsp of granola. Create a second layer of yogurt, grapes and granola.

So excited!

It’s finally here! The last installment of the Harry Potter movie series.  It has been a long journey for Harry Potter and the millions of fans out there.  I became a fan back in 1999 when I was drawn to a display of books in front of the cashier at the Indigo book store at Scarborough Town Centre. Unbeknownst to me, I picked up a book that ended up launching a global reading revolution. Although the book seemed to be recommended for kids, the blurb at the back of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone drew me, a first-year university student, in and I quickly passed it to my older sister, who read the back of the book, and then proceeded to line up and buy it.  And so our love for “the boy who lived” began and has continued for the past 12 years.

My sister and I eagerly waited for the new books in the series to be released and watched the first two movies in the series together.  Shortly thereafter, we both got married and life moved on.  At that point, I carried my love for Harry Potter into my new life and began going to midnight book release parties and movie releases with my two sister-in-laws Z and S. And sometimes my husband and brother-in-law would come and join in the fun!
My husband hasn’t watched all the movies, so before going to the movie yesterday, I had him read a summary of all the movies on Wikipedia, and we watched the first part of The Deathly Hallows in 30 minutes- I had to forward through some parts- just so that he would understand the second part!

I wish the recipe I’m going to share with you is one related to Harry Potter, but instead it’s my lemon poppy seed disaster of a cake that I managed to salvage.

When I went back to TO in June, my close friends and I scheduled our monthly meet up at Shiva’s house.  Right away I said I would make dessert because this gave me the opportunity to test out a few recipes on my friends.  Normally when I make a dessert-style dish, I end up with so many left overs because my husband and in-laws enjoy more savory things then sweet.  This girls’ night guaranteed me no left overs!

The first recipe I made was the Double Chocolate Cupcakes and the second was Sprinkles of Parsley’s Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.  The two changes from the original recipe that I made were that I used cake flour instead of all purpose flour because I wanted a lighter texture to the cake and I added more lemon juice to the icing. The mistake I made was using the same all purpose flour measurements for the cake flour when in reality one cup of all purpose is equivalent to 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cake flour. Another mistake I made while making this cake was not greasing and flouring the bunt pan enough. I only realized this when I was trying to release the cake from the pan and half of the cake got stuck while the rest came out, resulting in a horribly broken up cake.  The way I managed to present this cake was to slice it in half width-wise and serve the “half-slices” on muffin tin liners.

Lemony Poppy Seed Cake

Cake:
3 cups cake flour  (So that you don’t repeat the same mistake I made, add 6 tbsp to this, so it’ll be 3 cups and 6 tbsp cake flour)
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup poppy seeds
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup buttermilk
4 large eggs (I used vegetarian feed, hormone-free eggs)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fresh baking soda

1/2 tsp salt
grated lemon peel from 2 large lemons, make sure you wash and dry the lemons prior to using

Lemony Icing:
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
juice of two lemons

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Mix together all of the ingredients in a large glass bowl using a hand mixer. Mix on medium speed until the dry and wet ingredients are combined to create a smooth batter. Butter and flour your bunt or cake pan liberally. Pour in your batter and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, about 1 hour or so.

Remove the cake from the oven when it’s ready and let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Use a small knife and run it around the edges of the pan, say a quick prayer and flip the cake over onto a cooling rack. Hopefully, the cake will release and you will have a beautiful dessert.

Stir together the icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth.  Taste the icing to make sure it’s not too tart, add more icing sugar if necessary.  Drizzle over a cooled cake, and slice and serve with a cup of coffee.