It's cabinetry installation day at my #foodstudio - my heart is pounding http://t.co/TiXQLYT0df
Originally featured in Chatelaine
These cold, dark evenings at this time of year seem to coax out everyone’s sweet tooth. There is just something about the winter months makes us want to load up on sweet foods, but that doesn’t mean we need to load up on empty calories!
With Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and holiday parties fast approaching, we all need to make an extra effort to stay in control not to overindulge. Holiday treats are exciting to serve, fun to make, and make us feel happy. However, they aren’t always healthy. This doesn’t mean that I’m telling you not to enjoy them, but there is no reason to give your body desserts that have no nutritional value, when you can benefit from every bite by making your own desserts with natural ingredients that don’t compromise on taste or your figure!
Most holiday desserts – including cakes, cookies, and pies – are full of:
- Hydrogenated oils and saturated fats – These are used to keep most desserts and pastries on the shelf longer (they stick to your hips longer too) and are loaded with dense fats that can cause blockages in your heart and arteries.
- Refined sugars – These can be anything from white powered sugar to table sugar or even brown sugar. Other than being overly sweet and full of empty calories that accumulate on your waistline, they are often used to make your crave more than one piece of pie or more than one cookie.
- Processed white flour – This is often used to make cakes fluffy, light, and airy but give your body no nutritional value aside from starches which equal excess calories.
Choose these wholesome ingredients to make your cakes, cookies, squares, and pies:
- Coconut oil and grapseed oil – These are pure natural oils that can be heated to high temperatures without denaturing their precious fats. They work great in a variety of recipes and are good for you too. For example, coconut oil promotes health and offers a host of nutrients that benefit our skin, hair, nails, and the organs. See here for more info.
- Sucanat, maple syrup, and dried fruit – These wholesome sweeteners can be used instead of sugar in any dessert recipe. Sucanat is dark and rich and a great substitute for brown sugar, especially for gingerbread and date squares. Maple syrup gives a nice smooth sweetness to cookies and cakes and dried fruit is a great natural way to add sweetness without sugar.
- Spelt, kamut, or oat flour – All of these are great substitutes for both white and wheat flour. They are high in fiber, protein, and vitamins and can be substituted one-for-one in any baked recipe that calls for white flour. You can even use unbleached light spelt flour, which is like all-purpose flour and works great for squares, fluffy cakes, and loafs.
To learn how to bake some delicious and guild free desserts, join one of my dessert classes!
Orange Apricot Fig-Date Squares
1 cup chopped apricots, or dates
1 cup chopped dried figs
Juice of 1 orange
½ cup water
½ cup coconut butter
½ cup sucanat, coconut or maple sugar
1 ¾ cup light spelt flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup rolled oats
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Combine dates, orange juice, and water in a saucepan. Cook, covered, on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a bowl, cream together the coconut oil and “sugar”. Stir in the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the oats and mix using your hands. The dough will be crumbly but will hold together when squeezed.
- Press 2/3 of the dough onto an oiled 8 or 9-inch square baking pan. Stir the date mixture and spread it over the dough. Crumble the remaining dough on top.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Cool in the pan and cut into squares.
Marni’s Delicious Knowledge:
People don’t usually know that both figs and apricots are great sources of iron. But make
sure that you buy apricots that are dark brown and not bright orange (due to sulphites).
The rich and decadent taste of dark turkish apricots makes this recipe come to life! Also opt to use coconut sugar for a low glycemic option.
A couple of weeks ago I took on the Canada am Cookie Challenge. I thought that for whatever it was worth, I would submit one of my favourite cookie recipes to see if it would win and Canada would realize just how delicious this cookie really is. My cookie wasn’t the winner, but made it as one of the finalists, ( I didn’t even want the prize: $500 to the Bay), I wanted people to taste a cookie that was made without butter, sugar, flour and cornstarch. If you didn’t know it already – cookies can be made WITHOUT these ingredients – and still taste amazing.
I selected this recipe in particular because as a little girl, nothing made me happier than creamy, white Jam Cookies. When I decided to give those up as I transitioned into healthy eating, I still longed for something that tasted similar. I came across a recipe that used all of the above “traditional” ingredients and began by converting them over one by one and landed with this recipe!
Which to me, is not only super simple, but it is also super delicious. I have tested it out on many a family member and have had nothing but a great response. So I thought the team at Canada AM would think the same?
Maybe next year my Jam Dot Cookies – filled with coconut oil and maple syrup will get the recognition and glory that they deserve. These ingredients may be new some some people, but they are responsible for making every one of my baked goods turn out perfectly and taste incredible. Others eventually will learn this – and it will become public delicious knowledge. Until then, enjoy the recipe below!
Jam Dot Cookies
1 cup almonds, ground to fine meal
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup rolled oats, ground to a fine meal or oat flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup melted pure coconut oil
½ cup maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt
Strawberry or raspberry jam (fruit sweetened or no sugar added)
Preheat oven to 350, line 2 baking sheets with Parchment paper.
- In medium bowl, combine almonds, flour, oats and cinnamon. Mix well to combine.
- In separate bowl, blend oil, maple syrup, and sea salt. Add to nut mixture and stir to combine.
- Roll into walnut sized balls. Place on baking sheet and press down with thumb.
- Fill indentation with jam and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Part 1 -
If you haven’t been raspberry picking yet this summer you should go before it is too late! These little red gems are so good when they are freshly picked. They are small, tart and juicy – and beaming with red hot love!
Last Saturday – my friend Jaime and I went to an Organic raspberry farm about a half hour north of Toronto (so worth the short drive). A cute cozy plot of land filled with lines of raspberry bushes. At first we both opted for the largest basket, but didn’t realize how much work it actually is to pick raspberries. Also when they are this small, it takes that much longer to fill up a box. So by the end of the first line, we decided to combine our efforts and just have one basket between the two of use. This would bare more than enough fruit for our soon to be made – Raspberry Tart!
It was a hot one, so we didn’t last too long before we were anxious to get home and start baking. When raspberries are so super tart (in taste) like these ones, they are especially good when paired with something sweet. So the attempt was a fresh raspberry tart with a sweet almond crust. We stewed the raspberries with some Kuzu and Agar-Agar – (my two favourite sea-veggie based thickeners) to make the raspberries hold together in a jello-like consistency. I love using this stuff! Then instead of putting the raspberry blend on the tart crust, we put the raspberries in a bowl and crumbled the crust on top. Since baking likes to do it’s own thing sometimes, the crust didn’t turn out as planned. It was supposed to be on the bottom of our tart, but since it stuck to the glass (which isn’t supposed to happen – even though there was enough coconut oil on it) – we scraped it out and used it as a crumble instead. Either way it was going down the same “pie-hole” – so to speak, and it all tasted the same – DELICIOUS. We weren’t trying to impress anyone but ourselves, so the actual look of it didn’t really matter. What mattered is that it tasted delicious and we have fun making it. So the moral of the story, is get out there, go pick some raspberries and put them in a smoothie, granola, a pie or raw pie, on cereal, fruit salad or just eat them straight from the bowl! Raspberries are not only beautiful and glorious to eat in the summer but they are full of antioxidants, fiber – and of course lots of love!
Jaime – stewing up those Raspberries!
Our gorgeous up-side-down Pie!
Two ladies in the bush – I promise, I am not naked!
I had so many leftover raspberries, I made a Raw Berry Pie – as a second attempt. I have strawberries growing in my backyard, just bought some fresh blueberries, and picked some fresh mulberries from a friends tree (right here in Toronto!). So I was inspired not to cook these berries up- but instead – blend them up in my blender – with some fresh peaches for thickness – then I made an almond coconut raisin crust, poured my berry blend on top – and let it freeze. What a nice treat!
These are the tastiest, sweetest berries!
It was a treat to have fresh Mulberries, as I have only ever had dried ones! They are also the most beautiful shade of purple!
Here is my Raw Berry Pie!
So there you have it. Two ways to use up your berries this summer. Both Vegan, both gluten free and both delicious! Enjoy!
Fresh Berry Tart with Almond Crust (Cooked)
1 cup almonds
¾ cup brown rice flour
2 Tablespoons maple crystals
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
¼ cup maple syrup
2 tablespoons agar flakes (to gel it together)*
1 ¾ cup apple juice
2 tablespoons kuzu dissolved in ¼ cup apple juice (to make it like pudding)*
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 cups raspberries, rinsed and drained
Preheat oven to 350. Oil a 9” tart pan.
For the Crust:
- In food processor, grind nuts to a meal. In mixing bowl, combine nuts, flour, maple crystals, baking powder and salt.
- In separate small bowl, whisk together oil and maple syrup.
- Mix wet ingredients (oil and syrup) into dry ingredients (nut meal and flours).
- Press crust mixture into tart pan. Refrigerate 15-20 minutes, and then bake 20-25 minutes. Let cool completely.
For the filling
- In a small pot, simmer agar flakes in apple juice until agar completely dissolves. When agar dissolves, add kuzu/juice mixture. Whisk until mixture thickens. Add maple syrup.
- Add pinch of salt and berries. Cook 6-8 minutes. Remove from heat and let mixture cool partially. Pour into cooled crust pan.
- let set completely. Garnish with mint before serving. There may be a small amount of filling left, you can enjoy as a pudding by blending in food processor.
**Kuzu and Agar can be found at your local health food store in the Asian or macrobiotic section. There are tons of resources online to help you use them.
But two quick tips, dissolve and heat!
Raw Berry Tart with Almond Coconut Crust
For the crust:
2 cup almonds, soaked
1 cup coconut flakes
1/2 cup raisins
- blend in food processor until you have a uniform “dough”
- press out in a tart dish evenly all over and up the sides (there should be enough)
For the filling
2 cups fresh berries
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 fresh peaches
- blend in a high speed blender until thick and creamy
- pour the blended berries into the raw pie crust and decorate ad you would like
- place in freezer for several hours, serve and enjoy!
If you didn’t know this already, I am not an advocate for cow’s milk. I can write a whole blog post about this or I can simply just tell you that it is not conducive to human health. It does not build our immune systems, it suppresses it, it does not help with digestion, it hinders it – and most conventional types are loaded with pesticides, hormones and antibiotics. Do you want this in your body or in your child’s body? I think not. Have a look here on more on the Dangers of Cow’s Milk. I know this can be frightening for many, as the Dairy industry dictates so much of the information about dairy that we have grown to believe. More than you even know. We are brought up in schools that push the four food groups (with Dairy being in it’s own category), milk and chocolate milk are available everywhere, they have so much money that they pay off companies to promote to the public that it is healthy, bone building and ESSENTIAL for health. But those who have already made the transition, swear by the differences in their health – as far as allergies, immunity and over all well being – who can attest to this (please comment below)?
So that I don’t leave you hanging, I want to set you with the alternatives, the other possibilities that are out there to complete your smoothies, breakfasts cereals, granola, latte’s, baking ingredients and even ice cream etc… there are many such solutions.
First off you can go to the store and buy all kinds of milk substitutes. Of course soy is one of them – but I am going to steer clear from that one, again, there are alternatives. There is rice milk (Rice Dream, Ryza), Almond Milk (Almond Breeze), Hemp Milk (Living Harvest and Hemp Bliss) – even Oat Milk can be found in the markets. These are convenient and easy choices for most people. I am not completely opposed to them as people need to find things that are available to make this an easy and smooth transition. Just be sure to look at the side panel for the amount of sugars or other additives. (FYI – added oils, and sugars are not necessary). You can buy unsweetened versions and just sweeten them yourself! Again, this is a safe easy bet for most people.
Now if you want to take it one step further, make your own milk. Sounds complicated, but really it isn’t. This works best mostly with either nuts or seeds – as making rice milk at home is not so simple! So once you have decided on your base – almonds, cashews, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, or hempseeds – all you need is water and other additions of your choice. You will also need a blender and some kind of contraption to strain your milk with. However with seeds, you can just blend and drink (you can with nuts too, it just depends whether you want a smooth creamy milk, similar to what you are used to!).
For straining you can use a fine mesh colander, cheesecloth or the funny looking device I have hear (which is actually a Jelly Strainer). But it works wonders for making nut milk. It is so easy to use and makes perfect milk every time. You actually get to “milk it” as if you were milking a cow, by squeezing down on the bag – you want to extract every last drop of liquid. It is rather fun! In fact I am going to give one away – depending on and how many times and how you respond to this post! The winner will be announced in one week! So if you want to know how to make the perfect “milk” then see the recipe below. Otherwise I encourage you to explore some of the other options that are out there, they are tasty, delicious and make the perfect substitution for milk.
For those of you who are wondering where you get your calcium and protein from without milk – let me assure you that even though the dairy industry would disagree, but you can get plenty of calcium from almonds, hemp seeds and sesame seeds! As for rice milk, you would look to other areas of your diet to boost these nutrients. Not everything has to come from a cow
P.S. FOR THE MILK TOLERANT PEOPLE – I want to just mention that Raw or Organic Cow’s Milk, Goat’s Milk and Sheep’s Milk are all suitable options!
Nut Milk Recipe
1 cup almonds, brazil nuts or hempseeds (soaked overnight)
4 cups of water
1 tbsp coconut oil (optional)
2 tbsp honey or maple syrup – you can even use 1-2 dates
1 tsp vanilla bean powder (or extract)
Simple and Delicious! Enjoy
It’s always good to stir things up every now and then. Whether it is in a salad bowl, a pot of soup, a blender or a wok – it is easy to make a nutritious meal out of a combination of great ingredients. As simple as it is to make a stir fry, I find that often people are very intimidated to “stir” things up in their own kitchen. I often get asked by my clients or participants at workshops and even in my cooking classes – “what do I put into a stir fry? how many veggies can I use? what type of protein should I use? how do I make a “healthy” Teriyaki sauce?” These are all great questions, but it is much easier than people think to make a great stir-fry. I just tell people to just get creative and have fun! What you need to get started is a wok or a large stainless steel pan. I use stainless steel cookware for my pots, pans and woks- they are great quality, conduct the best heat, non coated and rarely get burned or have stuff stuck to them – so in essence perfect for a stir fry! Once you have that all set, get your stove top turned up to high heat, throw a little grapeseed oil or coconut oil in the pan (two great oils for high heat cooking) and start stirring. You need to be quick, small movements, always keep the veggies moving. Don’t ever let them stay in one spot for too long. You want to cook them, but just a little – a really good stir fry will have crisp, tender and colourful veggies – that are just lightly cooked. There is nothing worse then a wilted brown, dark and soggy stir fry!
What I love about making stir fry’s – is that you can get as creative as you want and just throw anything in there. You can make a different combination every time! So there really should be no stress about choosing the right vegetables. For starters it is always good to have some onions, celery and carrots, they provide a great base. Then go crazy with anything like kale, broccoli, bok choy, peppers, bean sprouts, snap peas, green beans to zucchini and even eggplant. For my delicious bowl of goodness (photo above) this week I grabbed a whole bunch of fresh veggies from my garden (kale, carrots, broccoli, snap peas) added some purple cabbage and combined them with marinated Tempeh, Spelt/Buckwheat Soba Noodles and a simple “Teriyaki” sauce (you can just make some extra sauce and use that to marinate the tempeh).
Then I topped it with homemade sprouted mung beans. This just added a little extra boost of protein and raw enzymes to my meal to keep it fresh, light and crunchy!
So next time you want to stir things up, don’t be afraid! Grab some veggies, cook up some buckwheat noodles or brown rice, top it with marinated tempeh (or tofu, organic chicken, wild fish) for a change, and you will have yourself a nutritious and satisfying dinner!
Simple Teriyaki Sauce
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup tamari
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of chopped ginger
juice of one orange
1-2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
Making up a blended batch of smooth and creamy goodness is just the absolute simplest and best way to get whole food nutrition in, extremely fast!
Creating a daily smoothie is an amazing first step in taking charge of your health. It is an easy way to digest a whole slew of vitamins and minerals – along with complex carbohydrates, protein and essential fats all in one shot! Especially if you are pressed for time in the morning, a smoothie to take with you on the go is the best thing you can do for your body and your energy. Just make sure you don’t add too many ingredients or you will be left with a stomach ache and a really high calorie drink!
Smoothies are also a great way to sneak in some green veggies or powders that you may not be inclined to take with water alone – at least with a smoothie you can mask the earthy or bitter flavour (which I happen to like!). This means you can even add a bunch of spinach, collards or kale into your blueberry banana morning smoothie. Go figure! It really is that easy. That way you can at least say that you got your dose of greens in for the day!
So let me help you out and get your started with a few ideas and recipes to get some liquid nutrition running through your body.
It is important to make a smoothie that compliments what you are looking for or what your body needs – if it is a breakfast smoothie you may want just fruits, or maybe add some sheep’s yogurt, soy yogurt or coconut oil, rice milk and honey/agave or if it’s a post workout smoothie – you want a higher protein content from a plant based protein powder such as Vega, Hemp or Sun Warrior (my newly discovered RAW and VEGAN brown rice based powder that is incredibly high in protein – easy to absorb and delicious!).
Or maybe your smoothie is just for a snack in the middle of the afternoon in which case you can use some cacao or carob powder, banana, almond butter, coconut oil and cinnamon to hit that sweet craving and replenish your energy for the rest of the day!
Other than that here are some more ideas to get you started…
All you need is a good blender or if you want to take it to the next level…a Vita Mix – which is the goddess of all blenders. It is a high powered machine that will emulsify all of your ingredients into the perfect blend of whatever you put into it!
So let’s start simple.
First off – make sure you are using high quality organic fruits and vegetables. You can pick anything under the sun that makes you feel good.
Fruits: Banana, Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Mango, Pineapple, Coconut, Kiwi, Peaches, Apple, Pear, Grapes, Acai
Vegetables (sometimes it is better to juice your veggies first and use the juice as the base of a smoothie): Carrots, Celery, Kale, Collards, Beets, Spinach – if you want all green you can just use a veggie juice base and add green vegetables, an avocado and spirulina ( I call this the liquid lunch smoothie!)
Protein: Vega, Hemp, Rice Protein , Sun Warrior, Hemp Seeds, Almonds or Almond Butter, Sheep’s Milk Yogurt
Liquid: Filtered water, 100% Fruit juice, Rice milk, Almond milk, Hemp milk, Coconut milk
Sweeteners: Raw Honey, Maple syrup, Coconut Nectar, Yacon Nectar Rice Syrup, Fresh Stevia, Dates or Figs
Healthy Fats: Flax oil, Flaxseeds, Coconut oil, Coconut shreds, Chia seeds, Avocado
So here is a sample recipe to get you started….
Scrumptious Coco Shake
2 Cups almond milk
2 scoops sun warrior chocolate protein powder + 1 tsp raw cacao powder (for extra chocolate)
1 tablespoon sunflower lecithin
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tsp yacon necter (optional)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mesquite, maca or carob
Place all ingredients in blend and blend on high speed for 1 minute. Pour into two glasses and drink immediately!
Berry Blast Smoothie
1 1/2 cup rice milk, or almond milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries or 1 packet of Acai Pulp
1/2 frozen banana
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 tablespoon sunflower lecithin (optional)
1 scoop of Sun Warrior or Vega Smoothie Infusion
1 tablespoon sprouted chia/flax or goji berries
dash of cinnamon
and if I have some fresh coconuts, I use the water and the meat for excellent flavour, electrolytes, healthy fats
Place all ingredients in blend and blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes. Pour into one or two glasses and drink immediately with a glass straw if preferred!
There is so much confusion between yams and sweet potatoes. They look the same, they taste the same and you never really know which you are eating at any given time.
So I am going to do my best and give you some information on why these two roots are different from each other and not to be mistaken. However you can still choose to interchange them in recipes-I always do!
Yams were first cultivated in Africa and are part of the tuber family. They are very popular in tropical regions of the world. They are round and elongated with a thick, scaly or rough skin and it’s flesh can be either white, ivory, cream, pink or purple. Yams are typically mores starchy and dry. However the most common variety has a deep orange flesh, which is why they are often mistaken for sweet potatoes. Most of the time they are also mislabeled in stores and are actually sweet potatoes!
Sweet Potatoes on the other hand, are native to South America and is part of the morning glory family. Sweet potatoes are actually not at all related to Yams or Potatoes. They are very sweet and dark and sometimes mislabeled as Yams. Sweet potatoes have a wide center and taper at both ends. They also have a thin and smooth skin. Sweet potatoes are also sometimes mislabeled when actually they are yams.
I know it can be confusing…but when it comes to their nutritional content and health benefits they are pretty much the same with a few unique qualities between the two.
They are both amazing sources of beta carotene, an antioxidant found in most orange fleshed foods such as mangoes and carrots. They are both high in vitamin A and C with a good amount of thiamine. They are nourishing to the spleen, pancreas and stomach. Yams are particularly known for it’s properties to help regulate menses and prevent miscarriages. Yams also help to treat fatigue, inflammation, spasms and stress.
For more information on the differences between Yams and Sweet potatoes you can read many articles and resources available on the web with sometimes confusing, but insightful information these root veggies. Or you can always check out Rebecca Wood’s Whole Foods Encyclopedia for a small description on the health benefits and uses for each.
So in conclusion, both yams and sweet potatoes are amazing for their own unique properties. Now you can be just a bit more aware of which varieties you are eating (if it is labeled correctly). Either way both are sure to please your palate and make wonderful ingredients for side dishes, soups, dips, pancakes or pies!
Yummy Yam Pecan Pie
1 cup almonds, ground
1 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoon maple crystals
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups mashed or cooked yams or sweet potatoes (you can always buy canned organic sweet potatoes or yams if necessary)
1 cup vanilla almond or rice milk
3/4 cup maple sugar, coconut sugar or sucanat
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fair trade vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup chopped pecans, mixed with 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 1 tablespoon coconut oil and roasted for 5-10 minutes at 200F
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil a 9 in tart pan or a few mini tart pans.
For the Crust:
2. In food processor, grind nuts to meal. In mixing bowl, combine nuts, flour, maple crystals, baking powder and salt.
3. In separate small bowl, whish together oil and maple syrup
4. Mix wet ingredients (oil and syrup) into dry ingredients (nut meal and flours).
5. Press crust mixture into tart pan.
For the Filling:
1. Blend all the ingredients in a vita mix or a blender until well combined.
2. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 45-60 minutes.
3. Cool on rack and then refrigerate over night before serving.
Coconut oil has to be among one of the most controversial topics these days. I am constantly being asked about it’s relation to health. How can a saturated fat be healthy?
Coconut oil has been perpetuated by both the media and medical practitioners as unhealthy, fattening and damaging to the arteries. Well let me tell you something- this is a wrong approach as those who are against coconut oil have not really looked at the whole picture. It is the hydrogenated coconut oil that is use in most processed products that are deemed unhealthy, as hydrogenation changes the delicate nature of virgin coconut oil into a trans fat. By the way this goes for most cold pressed vegetables oils (such as olive, sunflower, safflower and sesame) that when heated at high temperatures they too become denatured and altered into a trans fat!
There have been studies upon studies done on the health benefits of virgin coconut oil (in it’s original state), from its antibacterial, antiviral, energizing and healing properties all the way to being used daily as a moisturizer!
Bruce Fife, among many others such as Conrado S. Dayrit have proven that coconut oil is actually a cure to so many health ailments and diseases.
For example, the saturated fat component of coconut oil is made up of certain fatty acid chains called medium chain triglycerides or MCT’s. These are different from animal sourced fatty acid chains made up from long chain triglycerides. This may not sound like a big deal, but in your body it is! The long chain fatty acids found in animal and dairy fats are the ones that clog arteries, contribute to increased cholesterol, heart disease and weight gain. Also the consumption of processed and packaged foods made up of trans fats (or altered vegetable oils) such as margerine and shortening are also the main culprits that lead to high cholesterol and other heart damaging conditions such as atherosclerosis. Whereas the medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil actually help people who suffer from digestive problems to protecting against infections to boosting energy and metabolism and it even protects against serious health problems such as cancer and diabetes. (Source: The Truth about Coconut Oil : Conrado S. Dayrit, 2005)
So don’t be afraid of this wonderful and tasteful fruit, use it whole, use it’s water, use it’s butter, use it’s shell. There are endless possibilities!
I make wonderful recipes with Coconut Oil – it is one of my favourite ingredients. It is dairy free, gluten free and full of delicious flavour. It can also be heated to high temperatures in baking and stir frying without any fret or used raw in smoothies and desserts. You can even drink the water straight from the coconut and use it as an energy drink before, after or during exercise!
I could really get into a whole long discussion about how wonderful coconut oil really is, but I am going to leave it at that.
So get yourself educated about the benefits of coconut by reading some books or going to:
OR Please CLICK HERE! to find out more about nature’s miracle food!
I will also leave you with a recipe for shortbread…yes coconut oil is the perfect replacement for butter in this decadent and rich shortbread cookie created by Jae Steele.
Spicy & Sweet Shortbread Cookies
(Slightly Adapted from Jae Steele’s recipe for Shortbread Cookies in her book “Get it Ripe”)
1/2 cup maple sugar or organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/4 cups brown rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup virgin coconut oil, diced
1/4 cup room temperature applesauce
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, cocoa powder or maple crystals
Preheat oven to 275 F
1.Place sugar and salt in food processor and blend for 30 seconds to give a finer texture.
2. Add the flour and baking powder and blend to combine. Add the oil and applesauce and process until well combined, but do not allow to form a ball.
3. Scrape dough onto a clean surface with spatula and knead gently with your hands and form a ball. Divide dough in half and roll out each half to 1/2 inch thick.
4. Cut dough into rounds using a cookie cutter (I chose a heart!)
5. Place cookies on to parchment paper lined baking sheets and dust with cinnamon, cocoa powder or powder maple sugar.
6. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until they turn a light colour. The shortbread will be be firm at first, but it will harden as it cools.
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheets before storing in an air tight container for up to a month.
Golden Morning Granola
4 cups rolled oats
¼ cup coconut or canola oil
¾ cup pure organic maple syrup
1 tbsp rice milk
1 ½ cup oat bran or quinoa flakes
¾ cups sesame seeds
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup coconut flakes
¼ cup flax seeds
1 cup of chopped almonds
1 tsp sea salt
1 ½ cups raisin, apricots or cranberries
- Combine maple syrup, rice milk and coconut oil in a large saucepan and set aside.
- Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl, except raisins, and toss well.
- Add the oil maple mixture and stir together really well.
- Pour mixture into shallow pan or baking sheet with parchment paper and bake for 15 minutes, stir and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
- Remove from oven and stir in raisins.
- Cool and store in air tight container.
- Serve in ½ cup portions and serve with rice or almond milk, or add into a cup of yogurt.