paleo balls

Not Paleo?

Neither am I.

I am interested in food though – all food – and especially healthy, tasty food.

And I’m interested in food trends even though I sometimes scoff at them. But when I was sitting in the dentist’s office and flipping through a magazine and saw these Paleo Balls – I just really liked the look and sound of them. So I made a quick note of the ingredients.

This is my version of the recipe. You can either make this Paleo or not – the Paleo version should have almond butter – but if you’re not Paleo – go ahead and use peanut butter if that’s easier. (Paleo diet does not allow legumes.) I added dark chocolate chips to my version even though the original recipe didn’t have any. I’m not really clear if the actual chips I used are Paleo or not because that’s not important to me.

What is important is that these balls are really delicious. They’re easy to make – remarkably healthy – and filling. So many great ingredients packed into them. They would be really good for packed lunches. Equally good with tea mid-afternoon. Perfect for travelling. Gluten and dairy-free. And seriously yummy.

Paleo or not – these are well worth trying.

Paleo Balls

  • Servings: 20-24 balls
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1/2 cup almond butter (can use peanut butter for non-paleo version)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup ground almonds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 sunflower seeds
  • 2 tbsp liquid honey
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • shredded coconut – amount will vary – see instructions

Mix all the ingredients together. If the batter is not stiff enough to roll into balls – add a tablespoon or two of coconut. Roll into balls about 1 inch (2.5cm)  in diameter. They are better smaller rather than larger so don’t err on the size of being overly generous. Should make between 20 and 24 balls. Roll the balls in coconut. Bake at 350 degrees F for 3 minutes. Yes – 3 minutes. The coconut should be a little toasted. Remove from oven and let cool before serving or storing.

 

 

fast, simple, tasty – garlic scape pesto

Garlic is one of those rare crops that gives you two harvests. First the scapes, which at least in Ontario, are usually ready to harvest around the summer solstice. Then the actual garlic bulbs which are harvested a bit later, typically on the first weekend in August. The bulbs can then be left to dry in the sun for a few days before storing for the winter.

Garlic scapes are lovely grilled or made into pesto which can be used on pizza, pasta, or bruschetta. This version is dairy-free and freezes well.

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Garlic Scape Pesto

(this version is an adaptation of the recipe in A Taste of Wintergreen)

16-20 garlic scapes
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
½ cup walnut pieces
¼ tsp salt
Parmesan cheese as desired. I make mine without the cheese because I think it freezes better and that way it’s also vegan and dairy-free.

Wash the scapes and chop into approximately 1-inch pieces. Process all the ingredients together in the food processor until desired consistency is reached. Bottle and use within a week or freeze.

 

Thai Red Lentil Soup

thai red lentil soup

When I stepped out into the dark night to walk my dog on the first evening of this New Year – there was a magnificent Barred owl sitting in the linden tree in my front yard. I stood on the front steps, stock-still, watching. My daughter, several paces ahead of me, turned to see why I wasn’t coming. I motioned silently towards the tree. She froze too. So there we stood – the three of us including the dog – transfixed by an owl.

A moment later, the owl took flight. It swooped down towards the road beyond us – coming surprisingly close to the pavement before it lifted back up and flew off with just the faintest whoosh of its almost silent wing beat, into the inky black sky. If my daughter hadn’t been with me, I might have thought I’d dreamt the whole thing. If I’d stepped out the door one minute later, I might have missed it. Owl spotting is a lucky kind of business.

It seemed like an omen – an auspicious start to the New Year. And I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

An owl has appeared at every critical juncture in my life. When I moved to Melbourne, Australia – a tiny Southern Boobook owl came and sat on the overhead wires along the abandoned railway-line-turned-recreation-path, directly across from my home. It stayed for weeks, softly hooting well into the night. When I moved to Brisbane, a family of Tawny Frogmouth owls inhabited a tree along my walking route. They were there for months. Not long after they flew away one-by-one, I flew away too. When I moved to my neighbourhood in Kingston, I wasn’t surprised when Barred owls started making regular appearances. And this past autumn, when I visited Killarney Provincial Park after a 34 year absence – an owl came and serenaded me all night long – hooting until the dawn chorus started up and the day began.

So perhaps it’s not surprising that I am completely smitten with owls and a night owl myself. This year I’ve been watching the dark, winter night skies, thinking about how I’ve finally learned to love winter. Perhaps it’s the incurable romantic in me, but I love to see snow falling and waking up to a fresh, clean, white world. And I like the long evenings by the fire, snugged up reading, or catching up on all the films I’ve missed.

I like the seasonal change in cooking too. This year I’ve been making lots of hearty soups. This Thai Red Lentil Soup is one of my new favourites. It’s thick and hearty, easy to make, inexpensive, vegan, and extremely tasty. Make sure you use red lentils – I’ve tried it with other kinds and it doesn’t work as well. Red lentils cook down to a much softer consistency because they have the husk removed.

From a nutritional point of view – lentils are high in protein, fibre, folate, vitamin B1, and minerals. Health magazine named lentils as one of the five healthiest foods on the planet. Combined with a grain – lentils form a complete protein – so serve your soup with a good multigrain bread.

One last remarkable lentil fact – Canada is one of the largest primary producers of lentils and the largest export producer of lentils in the world. Buying Canadian lentils helps Canadian farmers!

Thai Red Lentil Soup
1 onion, finely diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1- 2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
5 cups vegetarian stock
2 1/4 cups red lentils, well rinsed
1 400 ml can coconut milk
Thai sweet chilli sauce for garnish
One bunch of fresh cilantro for garnish, washed, stems removed and chopped (optional)

In a saucepan, sauté the onion in olive oil until the onion is soft. Add curry paste and stir well. Add the lentils and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Stir in the coconut milk. Ladle into bowls and garnish with a swirl of Thai sweet chilli sauce (don’t skip this step – it enhances the taste so much) and chopped cilantro if desired.

 

the joy of blogging and the flourless, butterless orange-almond torte

One of the big surprises about blogging is that I realized shortly after I started up that it was the first time in my life that I haven’t had somebody – anybody – telling me what to do.

Plus there’s the added bonus that I am always trying new recipes.

This recipe for a flourless, butterless orange Torte comes from a displaced Scot living in the Alsace – Lovely Buns. I’ve adapted the original version slightly to suit my own preferences.

I knew I’d love this elegant-looking cake as soon as I saw the photograph and read the ingredient list. It’s incredibly moist and has an intense orange flavour and a great texture and richness thanks to the ground almonds. As a huge bonus, it’s gluten and dairy-free  (minus the whipping cream garnish of course).

It’s also simple – using only a few ingredients. My favourite way to cook.

Note that you must bring the orange to the boil and then simmer it for an hour before you start the cake.

Orange and Almond Torte

1 medium orange, preferably organic as you are going to use the whole orange, skin and all

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

2 ¼ cups ground almonds (sometimes called almond meal)

½ tsp baking powder

Icing sugar to dust

In a medium saucepan, cover the orange (whole) with water and bring it to the boil. Reduce heat and simmer for an hour, then drain thoroughly and allow to cool. Cut off the ends of the orange, cut into quarters, remove any seeds, and then place the orange (skin and all) into a food processor and blend saucepan to a smooth puree.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Beat together the eggs and sugar for a couple of minutes until thick and pale, then fold in the ground almonds, baking powder and orange puree. Pour the batter into a well-greased 9-inch spring-form pan and bake for 40-50 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool before removing from the pan. Dust with icing sugar and serve with whipped cream, crème fraiche, or Greek yoghurt. I served mine with whipped cream and a small dollop of homemade jam for colour.

chocolate lunacy

It’s not over ‘til the chocolate course is served…

On her multi-award winning food site, Chocolate and Zucchini, Parisian foodie Clotilde Dusoulier recently interviewed a Lithuanian chocolate maker who is a self-described “chocolate lunatic.”

Perfect, I thought, that’s me!  I’m not fond of labels but chocolate lunatic is one I can live with. I’m sure chocolate lunacy is a spectrum disorder and I’m definitely somewhere on the spectrum. The Lithuanian chocolate maker is also a chocolate snob but that’s not something I suffer from. Almost any chocolate will suffice. Continue reading “chocolate lunacy”