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Chocolate Beet Muffins

March 09, 2017

Clearly I've been in Germany for a while when I try to write 'schokolade' instead of chocolate for the title. We're in a bit of a weird season right now, where there is new plant life starting to pop up, but I'm still living off root vegetables that keep well during the winter months. It's the strangest thing to have flowers blooming everywhere at the beginning of March - my parents are blocked in by over a metre of snow right now and all the highways have been closed at home for a couple days due to a big snowstorm. Isn't that what spring is like for everyone? Hah. 

Beets are one of my favourite root vegetables. You might remember this beet hot chocolate I posted in February, and I feel pretty good about posting another chocolate and beet recipe, because it's an awesome combination. They're meant to be. The first bite of one of these muffins might be a little surprisingly beet-y but the chocolate takes over pretty quickly. If you have a sad lonely beet sitting in the bottom of your crisper, shred it up and make some muffins, then feed the muffins to your children and laugh at fooling them into eating beets. They'll just see chocolate on top of more chocolate and think it's a special treat. Make sure to have one of these muffins while it's still warm to experience the gooey chocolate on top! (And then check your teeth and face after, you'll be covered in chocolate.)

Despite the bright red colour of the beets, you really can't see it in these muffins, because they're heavy on cocoa for a dark chocolate flavour. If you're looking for a naturally red chocolate cupcake, I recommend Traci's recipe over at Vanilla and Bean. It's vegan too. 

My friend Ashley and I are going to Stockholm at the beginning of May (right before my wedding) so if you have any suggestions/recommendations please let me know in the comments! I've never visited other European countries, other than Germany, so I'm looking forward to it. 

There are several notes for this recipe, because I did a few tests with some different ingredients - please read them for extra tips and substitutions.


Chocolate Beet Muffins
Makes one dozen

1 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder*
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
Pinch salt
1 1/2 cup oat or nut milk
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted*
3/4 cup grated (raw) red beet, packed
1/2 cup dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F and grease or line a standard muffin tin.

In a large bowl, sift together the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate, reserving a couple of tablespoons for topping the muffins with.

In a smaller bowl, whisk together the milk and coconut oil until combined. Mix in the grated beet (everything will turn bright pink).

Add the wet beet mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just to combine. Measure out approximately equal amounts into each muffin tin and then top with the leftover chocolate.

Bake on the centre rack for 20-22 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted. Cool for ten minutes in the tin before removing and cooling completely on a rack. Store in an airtight container for up to three days.

Tips:
• Don't worry about peeling your beet(s) if they're organic. Just give them a wash, you won't notice the skin in the finished product. 
• I now use vanilla powder and chopped chocolate in place of vanilla extract and chocolate chips because extract and chips are prohibitively expensive and fairly rare here. Canadian/American readers, just add extract to the wet ingredients and use chocolate chips if you prefer. That goes for almost all of my recipes. 

Notes:
1. I prefer dark cocoa powder in this recipe for a deeper chocolate flavour, but I have tested it with natural cocoa powder (cacao) because I ran out of dark cocoa. They'll be quite a bit lighter with natural cocoa and slightly more red, almost purple. I recommend using dark cocoa if you can, and don't bother using raw cacao in this recipe, it's a waste of money if you're baking it anyway.
2. You can substitute olive oil for the coconut oil if you don't have any, but they are more dense and, in my opinion, overall more pleasant with coconut oil.

Chickpea Noodle Soup with Parsley and Lemon

February 24, 2017

My shop is now set up! You can now buy downloadable food photography prints, handmade items, and props at Flamma, with more items being added in the coming weeks. Follow us on instagram (we're brand new!) to make sure you're getting updates when new items are available. Here are a couple of examples.



This is one of those recipes that I've thought a lot about posting but never really got around to it. I wrote it down a couple of years ago (in one of my many scattered books/notes) and made it a few times, but never shared. A few days ago a friend was asking for soup recipes, and I looked in my archives and saw that the last soup recipe I shared was almost a year ago! We eat soup at least once or twice a week but according to this blog, recently at least, I only eat cookies and chocolate.

Chicken noodle soup was one of the first things I learned to make by myself, when I was nine or ten. It was always a total comfort food for me, and I had it whenever I felt like a cold was coming on. I don't cook chicken anymore, and chickpeas seemed like a natural alternative. Otherwise this recipe is very similar to the one I've been making for the last 15 years, with cozy noodles and broth, lots of vegetables, and parsley and lemon to brighten things up. Generally soups like this use celery, but I have an ongoing hatred toward celery, so I used kohlrabi instead. This is a great soup for the transition period between winter and spring.

Some of the ingredients in the soup can be changed to suit your preferences or based on what you have. Keep the onion, carrots, and peas, but try celery instead of kohlrabi, adding corn, leaving out the mushrooms, and so on. If you keep the base the same (don't lose the lemon and parsley!) some of the add-ins can be changed around.




Chickpea Noodle Soup with Parsley and Lemon
Makes a large pot, enough for 6-8 people

1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 white onion, chopped (1 cup)
1 1/2 cup brown button mushrooms, cut into small pieces
6 carrots, sliced (1 1/2 cups)
1 medium kohlrabi, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2.5 litres vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or one can, rinsed
100 grams soup noodles*
1 cup frozen spinach
1 1/2 cups frozen peas
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Zest of a lemon
Juice of two lemons
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and mushrooms and sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms are browned.

Add the carrots and continue to cook for a few minutes over medium heat.

Add the kohlrabi and garlic, and cook for another minute, then stir in the cayenne pepper.

Pour the stock into the pot and add the chickpeas. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, covered, for around 40 minutes or until the carrots are soft but not mushy.

Bring the soup back up to a boil and add the noodles. Cook according to the package directions (the type I used only take 3 minutes). If you're using very small noodles, add the spinach and peas with the noodles. If your noodles will take 8-9 minutes, then add the frozen vegetables halfway in to the noodle cooking time. 

Turn off the heat and add the lemon zest, juice, and parsley. Season the soup to your taste. Serve hot, topped with extra parsley and lemon if desired. 

Tips:
• If you're planning on storing the soup in the fridge for a day or two, I recommend cooking the noodles separately as they'll get soggy and overcooked if left sitting in the soup.
• The soup freezes well, but it's better if you add a little extra lemon juice when you reheat it. I prefer it fresh, unlike most soups that are better the next day!

Notes:
1. Be careful not to overcook your noodles - try to choose a small noodle type that will cook in the same time it takes the spinach to thaw (around three minutes).
2. Use your favourite gluten-free noodle, or substitute rice, to make the soup gluten free.


Thanks to everyone who entered into my e-book giveaway! The winners have been sent an email with the book attachment. Keep an eye out for another giveaway coming soon!

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies + An E-Book!

February 08, 2017

An E-Book! I'm so happy to say that I now have an e-book for you with ten brand new, exclusive recipes! To celebrate, I'm sharing one of the recipes from the book and hosting a giveaway - see below to enter. If you don't want to worry about a giveaway and want your copy right now, go here!

If you're looking for some new healthy comfort food recipes that can become part of your weekly rotation, this book is perfect. They're easily adaptable, and great for busy people, with minimal prep time and dishes. I really wanted to share a bundle of recipes that I make regularly in the hopes that you might, too, and make it worth your while to pay for the recipes. There's a mix of breakfast, snacks, mains, and a couple desserts in the e-book, and it costs less than a cup of coffee (and helps pay my rent!). There are three copies to be won here and another one available through a separate giveaway on my instagram.

It was a little tricky deciding which recipe to share from the book. Every single recipe is one that's a staple in my home (that's why it's called plant based comfort food!) and I love all of them. I thought about sharing the cover recipe, a grain-free chocolate hazelnut brownie that blows my socks off, or the quick seed bread that's an awesome alternative to yeasted bread. Or a main, like the creamy red lentil soup that I make almost weekly. I ended up with this one because I think it's the recipe that took me the longest to get just right - almost two years! The book I wrote it in is now permanently open at this recipe, and it's all scratched up with revisions.


These cookies are dairy, egg, and refined sugar free, and you don't need to mess around with flax eggs or any of that time consuming nonsense. They use spelt flour, coconut oil, and coconut sugar for a buttery, caramel-like flavour and have that perfect chewy centre and crisp edge. These cookies are my go-to for any sweet craving, and Graham goes nuts for them. We'll easily it a batch in one day (by we I mostly mean me. Zero self control) but they freeze spectacularly and taste great right out of the freezer, too. The original incarnation of these cookies was with olive oil and topped with sea salt, which I know is a little more refined, but who needs that shit with cookies.

Although it's a simple recipe, there are a couple of things to keep in mind for exact results. If you change some of the ingredients, the outcome will be slightly different - think puffier, or less crispy, for example. I recommend using full-fat coconut cream, taken from the top of a can of coconut milk, because it makes the cookies chewier and less fluffy. Other non-dairy milks result in a more cake-like cookie. That's the big one. I know it's more sugar than I usually use in the recipes I share, but it's simply not that good without it, and you lose the crispy edges. Go for it, and just don't eat the whole batch in one sitting. And maybe walk a little further to make up for it. Using coconut oil instead of an oil that's liquid at room temperature also makes the cookies chewier.

These cookies are vegan, but I guarantee that if you feed them to non-vegans, they'll never know. My parents, in-laws, extended family, and friends have all demolished these cookies and asked for more. Seriously, two years of extensive testing. I 100% promise that these are excellent.

Scroll down to the bottom of the post for the giveaway! *Update: the giveaway is now closed!*


Get your copy of Plant Based Comfort Food now!







Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes a dozen

1 1/2 cups light spelt flour*
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/3 cup chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
3 tablespoons coconut cream, from the top of a can of coconut milk
2 tablespoons maple syrup

1. Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F and grease or line a baking sheet.

2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the dry ingredients, including the chocolate.

3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, coconut cream, and maple syrup. Make sure the coconut oil is no longer warm, and then pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and stir to combine.

4. Measure out about two tablespoons of dough for each cookie, 6cm apart on the baking sheet. Press each cookie down slightly with the palm of your hand.

5. Bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes, then remove the pan from the oven and let the cookies cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan and cooling fully on a rack. They'll keep for 3-4 days in a sealed container on the counter, and freeze well.

Notes:
1. I have made this recipe with all-purpose flour, and it turns out fine. If that's what you have, then go ahead and use it in place of the spelt.
2. Substitutions in this recipe can have very different results, especially in how much the cookies spread. See above for further information.

The giveaway is now closed! Thanks to all who entered, and congratulations to Donna, Amy, and Janice for winning copies!

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Red Velvet Hot Chocolate + Wellness Coaching

February 01, 2017

I'm happy to announce that I'm now offering wellness coaching through Occasionally Eggs! As a yoga instructor living in a country where I can't teach right now, I've been going bonkers trying to figure out how to reach people to help them with their health. Wellness coaching is a perfect combination of my yoga training and my experience with healthy recipe development/meal planning. I'm most passionate about helping others with mental and physical health and have been missing it since we moved overseas. I'm offering plans both for adults and teens (not weight loss for teens, but healthy living practices). If you've been trying to become healthier but struggling on your own, wellness coaching is a great option. You can find more information on my new page, here

Plus, I'm currently offering a 30% off sale for the first month of coaching until Valentines Day! So now is the perfect time to get in touch if you want to get started on a new journey toward better health. If you have any questions shoot me an email at alexandra@occasionallyeggs.com.

I chose Valentines Day for the sale date because of this romantic hot chocolate recipe - made with fresh beets! I shared a snap on my instagram stories a couple of weeks ago and had an awesome reaction from followers, and since these pictures have been sitting in my blog folder for a while now... red velvet hot chocolate! This sneaks in vegetables for an even prettier and more flavourful cocoa than usual, made with lots of beautiful whole food ingredients and a million times healthier/tastier/better than store-bought. If you have cacao butter at home, it's what really takes this drink over the edge from pretty damn tasty to oh-my-goodness fabulous. Otherwise good old melted chocolate does the trick.

If you have a high-powered blender, the beets will mix right in and you'll have a smooth, high fibre and high vibe drink with all that beet goodness blended in. If not, and you don't want any beet-bits, just give it a quick strain after blending to catch any pieces that might not break down fully. I don't have a high powered blender and I had a couple of little pieces in mine, but chewing your drinks is good for you! 


Red Velvet Hot Chocolate
Makes 2 cups

2 cups non-dairy milk*
1/4 cup red beet, grated
2 tablespoons cacao butter
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
3 tablespoons cacao powder*
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder
Tiny pinch salt

Add the milk and grated beets to a saucepan and heat gently over medium-low until simmering. Let it simmer for five minutes to cook the beets.

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the cacao butter until just melted. Cacao butter will burn if overheated so avoid overcooking it.

Remove the saucepan from the heat and pour the mixture into a blender. Add the coconut sugar, cacao powder, cinnamon, vanilla, and salt. Blend until fully combined and the beets have broken down. Strain if necessary and serve hot.

Tips:
• You can substitute 1/4 cup chopped dark chocolate for the cacao butter and powder. Add the chocolate when you would add the cacao butter and then omit the cacao powder.
• Blend with the centre of the lid removed (if possible) to let some steam escape.
• If you have a very powerful blender, 3-4 soft dates can be used in place of the coconut sugar.

Notes:
1. I use a combination of half full-fat coconut and half oat milk. Use all coconut milk if you like very rich hot chocolate.
2. Raw cacao powder is a good option in this recipe because it's not being cooked, and it retains its nutritional benefits. If you don't have raw cacao just use regular cocoa powder.

Winter Raw Chocolate Bar

January 28, 2017

Is anyone else appalled by the price of raw chocolate? Every time I see any 'healthier' sweets in the store I get sticker shock, especially with easy treats like this. Raw chocolate couldn't be easier to make and the ingredients are so easy to come by these days, especially if you choose coconut oil instead of cacao butter - more on that later. I've written about raw chocolate a few times (here's a recent example) but it's a staple for us, especially when I'm hormonally raging and need chocolate to get through those few days of the month when everything seems to shut down. All the raw chocolate recipes I've posted here in the past have been as part of another treat, to coat whatever goody is hiding inside. This is more of an I need chocolate right now kind of recipe, instead of as part of a larger, more time consuming project. Take a couple minutes, make chocolate, and feel better.

This recipe uses pomegranate arils, fresh ginger, orange zest, and bee pollen. The resulting bar is extraordinarily fruity, almost juicy. It's a bit of a shock that chocolate can taste like this. I prefer to keep this particular bar in the fridge instead of the freezer so it stays a little bit softer, almost like a truffle, instead of snappy crisp chocolate straight out of the freezer. It has to be eaten within a couple of days so the pomegranate doesn't get soggy, but I'm sure you won't have a problem with that. I kept opening the fridge and sneaking little pieces when I made it and it was gone within the day. An extra bonus with this chocolate is just how pretty it is, which makes it a perfect gift, even if it's a gift to yourself!



Winter Raw Chocolate Bar
Makes 1 large bar

1/3 cup raw cacao butter*
3 tablespoons raw honey*
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon fresh finely grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
Pinch salt

Toppings:
1/4 cup pomegranate arils
1-2 teaspoons bee pollen
Zest of one unwaxed orange*

Prepare a container or loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper.

In a glass bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water (don't let it touch the water), gently melt the cacao butter. Remove from the heat as soon as it's melted and whisk in the honey, mixing until it's fully incorporated (see tips).

Whisk in the cacao powder, ginger, vanilla, and salt until combined and glossy looking. Pour the chocolate into the prepared container and top with the pomegranate, bee pollen, and orange zest. The pomegranate seeds will sink slightly into the chocolate.

Place the chocolate into the fridge to solidify for at least two hours, then break into pieces and serve. Keep it in the fridge in a sealed container for up to three days.

Tips:
• Whisk the honey into the cacao butter for a little extra time than you think you need to. If you don't mix them together fully, they don't emulsify, and your chocolate runs the risk of separation. See this post for a photo and extra guidelines if you're not sure what to look for. Your honey/cacao mixture should look like soft butter before you add the cacao powder.
• Different types of honey will result in different flavours of chocolate - for an especially fruity taste, try wildflower honey if you have it.

Notes:
1. Coconut oil can be substituted for all or some of the cacao butter, but the texture and flavour isn't nearly as good. Spring for cacao butter if you can, it lasts a long time, and is cheaper to buy online than in the grocery store.
2. For a vegan option, use maple syrup in place of the honey. The chocolate will be a little less soft than it is made with honey, and will no longer be raw. 
3. Only zest the orange part of the fruit, not the white pith underneath. The pith is very bitter. Use a microplane if you have one.