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Easy Overnight Dark Rye Bread

September 30, 2016

I love overnight bread. It's much easier to make than normal homemade bread, without any kneading necessary - you just mix everything together in a bowl, let it sit overnight, and then bake it in the morning. The thing is that it's usually baked in a dutch oven or lidded ceramic dish and involves some  dough folding and sitting in a tea towel in the morning after it's risen overnight, which I find detracts a bit from the simplicity of the method. 

This recipe is a little bit different. It's about as hands-off as you can get from bread making (other than picking up a loaf at the store and pretending you made it). The only thing you need is a few minutes to mix everything, and the bread does all the work on its own. This does require at least 12 hours of rising time, though, so I recommend that you make it in the early evening as opposed to right before bed. The dough rises a second time in the pan you bake it in, so you don't need to worry about proper folding technique or anything like that. All you have to do is mix it the night before, dump it in a loaf pan, and bake it. No kneading, no folding, no special equipment. Despite the lack of work that goes into this bread, the crust is surprisingly crispy, and the inside of the loaf is soft and tender. This bread lasts longer than other homemade breads, and it keeps for at least a week sitting on the counter, wrapped well. 

If you're familiar with traditional dark rye, this tastes just like it. If you've never had it before, dark rye is a commonly eaten bread in northern Europe and Scandinavia. I live less than an hour from the north sea now and just a couple of hours from Denmark, so the food here is very similar to Scandinavian food. The bread is quite dense and filling, and its flavour is reminiscent of sourdough because of the long rising time. It's often eaten as a breakfast bread with different spreads or used for sandwiches, usually open-faced. I happily eat it for breakfast or as a midday snack with some peanut butter or jam, and Graham will eat half a loaf in a day. The dark colour comes from a little bit of cocoa powder and whole grain flours.

On another note, I made my fig and hazelnut cake today for some students at a jewellery making workshop, and it went over really well. I changed the figs out for halved apples and added cinnamon to the batter. I also made a deal with the owner of the studio, one of my grandmother's friends, to teach me jewellery making in exchange for catering when she has groups of people there for courses or exhibition openings. She's an absolutely incredible artist and jeweller. You can see some of her more recent artwork here - the focus of this work was on forced migration during the second world war, which is also reflective of the current refugee crisis. 

Easy Overnight Dark Rye Bread
Makes one large loaf 

2 1/2 cups whole spelt flour
1 cup rye flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast or a pea-sized piece of fresh yeast
2 1/2 cups room temperature water
1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey

In a large bowl, combine the spelt, rye, oats, cocoa, and salt. Add the dry yeast to the dry ingredients as well if that's what you're using.

If you're using fresh yeast, stir it into the water with a fork to dissolve it before adding it to the flour mixture. Add the water and maple syrup/honey to the dry ingredients and stir to combine. The dough will seem wet and shaggy looking, but that's good. Cover the bowl with a lid, cutting board, or plastic wrap and let it sit for 12-15 hours at room temperature. It will at least double in size during this time.

In the morning, grease* a 30 cm / 12 inch bread pan or line it with paper. Scrape the dough into the pan, and then press it down evenly with wet hands. Sprinkle flour overtop and cover with a clean dish towel. Let the dough sit for 1-2 hours at room temperature.

Heat the oven to 200C / 400F. Once the oven is hot, place the bread on a middle rack and bake for 40-45 minutes. The crust will be hard and sound hollow when tapped once the bread is done baking. Remove it from the oven and place the pan on a metal rack to cool for 20-30 minutes before removing it from the pan to cool completely. The loaf will keep well for a week at room temperature, stored in a bag or plastic wrap.

If you grease the pan, it might seem like your bread is stuck to it. Don't worry, it's likely that just the very top of the loaf is sticking slightly to the very top of the pan (where it might not have been greased) and all you have to do is gently lift with your fingers or a butterknife. The bread should pop out of the pan easily if you pull the sides slightly and tap on the bottom. I've made this bread several times and haven't had any problems getting it out of the pan.

P.S. After realizing that the scale in my kitchen is definitely way off, I've decided to postpone including metric measurements in my recipes for now until I get a proper scale again, but they will be added soon. Sorry! 

Fig & Hazelnut Cake

September 27, 2016

I'm writing this from my computer! If you remember from my last post, my computer was still in customs three weeks after shipping it from Canada. My uncle works in customs and helped me to finally get it without having to pay the 20% fee for importing electronics (since it was my property anyway and not new). It's so nice to be able to work on the big screen again, and very reassuring that it wasn't destroyed on the trip over here, which is almost definitely because of my friend Sarah's marvellous packing skills. 

I made a hazelnut and rhubarb cake in the spring, much like this one, but I've improved the recipe since and decided to share it now with some fall produce. I'd never had fresh figs before we moved here because they weren't available at home. I also found some fresh turmeric here so look for a recipe with that soon, too. Turns out fresh figs are pretty great, and perfect for this cake with the combination of hazelnuts, caramel-like coconut sugar, and olive oil.  If you can't get fresh figs, though, the base cake is delicious on its own, and I would top it with sliced apples, pears, or stone fruits. The cake itself isn't particularly sweet but the ground hazelnuts make it quite rich and it's certainly a dessert. It's gently spiced with a hint of cardamom and vanilla for warm fall flavours. This recipe is vegan, but without any special binding agents, and I promise that no one would notice if you didn't tell them, so it's perfect to bring to get-togethers or serve to hard-to-please guests.

The abundance of food here is shocking - my parents have a farm at home with fruit trees, but because the climate is so harsh, there just isn't as much variety. We went to my uncle's house a few days ago and picked three different types of apples and two types of pears, I have grapes from a friend of Omi's, and there are quince, pear, apple, and hazelnut trees all growing in Omi's yard. They're just there and no one thinks anything of it. Graham and I found a whole bunch of wild blackberries a few days ago, and there are rose hips and nettle growing everywhere. It's not that there aren't wild foods or fruit trees in Manitoba, there are - I think that it's because the area I lived in was so full of large-scale agriculture that a lot of it had been destroyed, and then in wilderness zones the animals eat it before we can get to it, or I don't want to take too much food from the bears and other animals because the winters are so cold. I feel the same kind of awe every time I visit British Columbia, which has a very similar climate to northern Germany. 

I have big plans for all of this produce (and my aunt's juicer). 

Fig & Hazelnut Cake
Makes one 26 cm / 10 inch cake

2 cups light spelt flour
1 cup hazelnut meal
3/4 cup coconut sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla powder
1 cardamom pod, finely ground, or 1/4 teaspoon pre-ground cardamom*
1 1/2 cup oat or nut milk
1/2 cup olive oil
8-9 fresh figs, halved

Preheat the oven to 175 C / 350 F and grease a 26 cm / 10 inch springform pan or line it with paper.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, hazelnut meal, sugar, baking powder, vanilla, and cardamom.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the milk and oil together until incorporated. Add the milk mixture to the larger bowl and gently whisk to combine the wet ingredients into the dry. Don't over mix.

Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking tin and smooth the top by gently dropping the cake tin on the counter to release bubbles. Place the halved figs onto the cake, cut side up. Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until golden.

Cool the cake on a rack for 15 minutes before removing the outsides of the pan and cooling completely. You can gently remove the base of the pan once the cake is almost cool. This cake is best at room temperature, but will keep well in the fridge for up to three days.

1. You can substitute the cardamom for 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon if you can't find it.

Apple & Oat Blackberry Jam Thumbprint Breakfast Cookies

September 21, 2016

Hello from Germany! We’re almost settled now (in other words, I finally got around to doing some laundry) but I still don’t have my computer, and we just got the internet hooked up in our apartment today. My computer, which cost an arm and a leg to ship here, was detained at customs in Frankfurt, so I have no idea when I’ll be getting it. I have piles of work on there so I’m a little worried about that. Apart from that everything has gone well so far with our move.

Our apartment is kind of huge and was clearly decorated by a wealthy older lady (gold/brass accents everywhere) but it has massive windows, a great kitchen, and overall it’s really nice. We’ll only be here until November but until then it’s good to have a home base, and especially a nice bright one. There's a huge ledge in front of the window in the living room and I've been using that for almost all of my pictures so far, since I don't have any backgrounds and hardly any props to use in photos. It's nice limestone, but be forewarned that my pictures are all going to look pretty similar over the next few weeks. 

So far my grandmother has been here almost every day, or we've been at her house in the country. One of the reasons for moving here, the main reason, was to see more of my family, so we're certainly doing that. She doesn't cook much so she's taking advantage of my constant cooking, ha. Yesterday she came over for dinner before choir (adorable) and watched me take pictures of a pasta recipe before we ate. It's the most wonderful thing to be able to see her as part of my daily life. That being said, it's hard not being able to have my mom in my life as much now. It's always difficult to have family in two very different spaces in the world and being so far apart. I think we're going to enjoy our time here, though. 

The first thing I made in our new apartment was a version of these cookies. We didn't have very many groceries, but I had picked some apples at my grandmother's house and wanted to make something out of the sparse pantry (my cupboards are much fuller now). I just had quick-cook oats, a few dates, and a small jar of coconut oil. I've improved the recipe since that first attempt, and haven't been able to stop eating these little breakfast cookies since. I could take or leave my first try, but these are so good. The earlier ones didn't have jam. My godmother makes oodles of jam and gave me some blackberry jam, so  when I tested the recipe again I ended up making thumbprint cookies and filling them with it. 

The ingredients have remained simple and straightforward, and hopefully you have most or all of them already in your house. I tried my hardest to make these without chia, but they just wouldn't hold the thumbprint shape without falling apart and I ended up adding some to make the cookies work. The blackberry jam could be replaced with raspberry if that's easier for you to find, but definitely look for something that isn't extremely sweet or even just make some speedy chia seed jam (definitely go that route if you're looking to keep these free of added sugar). This recipe is naturally gluten-free and made just with oats, as well as being sweetened only with fruit and vegan. 

I'm not sure what kind of apple I used in this recipe, but I imagine any type will work. If you're in the northern hemisphere look for local apples now - they're so much better than the imported ones, and apple trees are all over the place. Get them while they're cheap, since that's also when they taste best!

I'm also switching to include metric measurements/weights in recipes now, so if you prefer to cook and bake that way, the option is here. 

Apple & Oat Blackberry Jam Thumbprint Breakfast Cookies
Makes about one dozen cookies

2 cups rolled oats
2 tablespoons chia seeds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (1/4 tsp if fresh)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large tart apple, shredded*
6 large soft dates (1/2 cup), seeds removed
60 ml / 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
3 tablespoons sunflower or olive oil

12 teaspoons blackberry jam

Preheat your oven to 175C / 350F and grease a baking sheet or line it with parchment paper. 

Place the oats, chia, cinnamon, baking powder, nutmeg, and salt in a large bowl and stir to combine.

Blend the dates in a food processor until a smooth paste forms, then add the milk and oil. Blend again until everything is fully incorporated.

Add the date mixture and the shredded apple to the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix until the dough sticks together easily. You will likely have to use your hands as it's difficult to mix. 

Form approximately equal balls of dough, about 2 tablespoons per cookie. Place on the cookie sheet (they won't spread so don't worry about leaving too much space between them) and use your thumb to make an indent in the centre of each cookie. You may need to gently push the sides back into place after making the thumbprint. 

Fill each thumbprint with a teaspoon of jam, and bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool for ten minutes before moving them to a rack to cool completely. Store on the counter for up to three days or in the fridge for a week. 

P.S. My lovely friend Traci of Vanilla and Bean has just released her first e-book! It's all about easy, healthy snacks and I promise that the recipes are delicious (I was one of her testers!) as well as being totally refined sugar free, gluten free, and plant based. You can get the book here

20 Plant Powered Snacks

September 02, 2016
The first blog post I ever read, and the post that kick-started me into healthier, plant based eating was this round-up of vegan snacks by Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows. I stumbled upon it searching for healthier recipes and it was such an incredible inspiration to shift my eating habits. 

I make a lot of snack foods, for me and for Graham (who never stops eating). We always have some kind of muffin, bar, dip, or smoothie kicking around, and I rely heavily on nutrient dense snacks to get through my day. With school starting up again and this shift into cooler weather, a collection of healthy, plant based snacks seemed appropriate. Toss one in your child's lunch kit, pack some for yourself, or just keep them around the house for when a craving hits but you want a healthier option.

We're heading to Germany on Monday and I'm low on time right now, so instead of a new recipe this week I decided to put together this collection of healthy, plant based snack recipes. I'll be making a bunch of these to take on our flights, with some quinoa salad, raw chocolate, and plenty of water, fruits, and veggies. 

1. Easy No-Bake Energy Bars

This is my all-time favourite granola bar recipe, partly because it's so easy to make and doesn't require and stovetop or baking time. They're only sweetened with applesauce and dates, so these bars are perfect for little hands and bellies! In addition to being sugar-free, they're also gluten-free, nut-free, and vegan.

2. Chewy Granola Bars

One of my first recipes and one that I still turn to as a go-to for an easy to transport snack. These chewy, slightly sweeter bars hold up well and they're also nut-free. The original recipe isn't gluten-free but I have made these with oat flour before with good results.

3. Double Chocolate Raw Protein Bars

This is another no-bake, no stovetop recipe that's sweetened with dates, and it's also oil-free. These bars are protein packed, with plenty of seeds and lots of healthy fats from avocado, hemp, chia, and cacao powder. They need to be refrigerated so if you have a fridge at work pop them in there, or keep them for an at-home treat!

4. Strawberry Jam Bars

Berry-packed bars with an oat and almond butter base and crumble topping. I've made these with frozen raspberries too and they turned out well - think PB&J in bar form.

5. Dark Chocolate Raspberry Protein Shake

With over 20 grams of protein in one of these smoothies, you're looking at a great post-workout meal or even a meal replacement - with no protein powder! It's perfect for quickly growing kiddos. 

6. Four Ingredient Banana & Date Milkshake 

This quick and easy snack tastes just like a creamy milkshake but it's made with frozen bananas, dates, and cashew milk. 

7. Super Seedy Crackers

I make these all the time to bring to get-togethers because they're always a huge hit, no matter who you're feeding them to. They're high in protein and easy to make, plus being gluten-free!

8. Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas

I used to bring these to work all the time when I was working with kids instead of bringing cashews or almonds, since most schools don't allow nuts. Try them alone, as a topping on soup (especially this one), or with salads.  

9. Chocolate Snowball Cookies

If you make nut milk from scratch, you probably end up with piles of nut pulp. These grain-free date sweetened cookies with warm spices are a perfect way to use it up, and I often end up making these once a week in autumn and winter.

10. Ultimate Peanut Butter Cookies

I know you might be thinking that a peanut butter cookie doesn't belong in a healthy snack post, but this recipe does! These cookies are gluten/grain-free, vegan, and low sugar (with just some maple syrup). I promise you'll feel good about having these in the house and having one as an afternoon snack, or a healthier dessert.

11. Peanut Butter & Banana Protein Bites

Fruit sweetened, oil-free, and gluten-free soft protein cookies made with oats. The peanut butter mixture for these is so good that I made it into popsicles

12. Black Forest Bliss Bites

These chewy energy bites can help keep your blood sugar stable through the day and prevent crashes, and they have chocolate and cherries so you really can't go wrong.

13. Raw Pecan Caramel Chocolate Truffles

Think extra decadent bliss bites for these. The pecans make these raw truffles rich and buttery tasting but keep the energy-sustaining protein content high.

14. Chunky Almond Chocolate Granola

Chocolate for breakfast! I never buy granola because the store-bought versions are so high in sugar, and it's so easy to make. One batch usually lasts around a week and it only takes a few minutes to throw together. This version is gluten free and made with oats. 

15. Grain Free Granola

This is a double recipe, with granola and a coconut berry parfait. The granola is gluten/grain and nut free (no oats!). You can pop some granola in a container and pour milk on it when you're ready to eat it, or make the parfait ahead of time and bring it with you to work/school for a hearty snack.

16. Split Pea Spread

If you like hummus, you'll like this too. Split peas are generally easier to digest than chickpeas and are higher in protein. Try this dip with crackers, naan, or veggie sticks.

17. Sweet Potato Naan Bread

Homemade bread is just about the best thing ever, and this is one of the easiest, fastest ways to make your own bread. It's quick enough that you can come home from work and make it for dinner, but it also keeps well for a few days, so I love it as a snack with hummus and other dips.

18. Maple Roasted Hazelnut Butter

Every time I make this I end up eating half of it straight out of the jar with a spoon, but it makes a great snack with a sliced apple or mixed into chia pudding. 

19. Comforting Banana Bread

I generally use spelt instead of whole wheat pastry flour for this recipe now, but otherwise it's the same one I've been making for years - it's just sweet enough without being too sweet for breakfast, and it really is a perfect comfort food. 

20. Blueberry Almond Muffins

These are easily the best muffins I've ever made and kicked any other muffin recipes I have on the blog right off this list. Frozen blueberries work perfectly so you can make them all year round, and I love that they hold up well in a bag or backpack. 

Almost all of these recipes store well in the freezer, so go crazy! See you soon from our new place in Germany - I'll post pictures! 

P.S. You can follow me on Instagram if you'd like to see how our transition and trip go. I'll be posting on Insta stories with some quick snaps and updates as we travel and settle in. 

Grain Free Granola + Berry Coconut Chia Parfaits

August 24, 2016

Graham and I are moving to Germany next Monday. Next Monday. I'm freaking out a little bit but hoping for the best while we're there - neither of us have jobs lined up, and he only knows a few words in German. He can pretty much say "Wo ist mein Hut" which means where's my hat. Hehe. It's exciting, though. Before we move is my sister's wedding, in a few days, so we're busy right now tying up loose ends and planning for friends and family to visit. I might post a couple of pictures here once the photos are done.

We've been trying to do a lot of camping before we leave, especially since some friends of my grandmother passed through and told us that camping in Germany isn't really great. Apparently Denmark is all right so we're hoping to take a trip up there at some point to camp. Canada is so full of beautiful wild spaces and I think that's something we're going to miss. Norway's not far, though, at least by our standards. This past week we were in Whiteshell provincial park, on the border between Manitoba and Ontario. It's part of the Canadian shield, with granite cliffs everywhere and piles of lakes. It's rich in Indigenous history and you can see petroforms there (forms, usually animals, made from rocks arranged in specific patterns). It's one of my favourite places. 

I've had this recipe sitting on the back burner for a couple of weeks now (you can see a post about grain-free granola on my instagram), and our raspberry bushes are done for the season. Blueberries are still going strong, though, and blackberries if you've got them. I think this parfait would be equally delicious with peaches or citrus fruits, though, and you can always use frozen berries.

Here's the deal with chia pudding made with coconut milk. It's very creamy. Chia pudding tends to be a little on the slimy side, but making it with full fat coconut milk gets rid of any slime and you get an almost whipped-cream consistency. I highly recommend it (and that you ignore calories and walk a little further instead, ha). If you don't make your own nut or other plant based milks and rely on store-bought milk, definitely try this version. I usually make my own milk but have a container of cashew milk in the fridge right now - I made chia pudding with it last night and it was shockingly watery this morning. Homemade nut milk makes excellent pudding but coconut milk is so dreamy, and it's a good option for people with nut allergies. One of the reasons I chose coconut milk for this recipe was because the granola is nut-free as well.

Chia pudding is my breakfast of choice in the summer because it doesn't take as long to make or eat as porridge does. It lasts a few days in the fridge, so you have an effortless stretch of breakfasts, and it's nice to have something cold to eat in the morning. I love that it only needs a handful of ingredients and especially love not having to cook when I'm still half asleep.

Not only is this granola free of nuts, but grains too! No oats required, and I bet you won't miss them. This recipe is especially useful if you like to top your oatmeal with granola for some extra crunch but don't want to be overwhelmed by oats. So don't worry about trying to find gluten-free oats here if you have a wheat allergy or prefer to avoid it. It's lightly sweetened with some maple syrup but the coconut makes it plenty sweet enough. 

You don't need to layer the pudding and granola in a glass, but it is particularly pretty that way. If you're having friends over for breakfast it makes a beautiful but easy meal. Everything can be prepared the night before and assembled in the morning, so it's a good breakfast to go if you're in a rush or like to bring it with you to eat at work or during your commute. In that case, you could still layer it but use a lidded jar instead. 

Grain Free Granola + Berry Coconut Chia Parfaits
Makes 4 cups of granola

Grain Free Granola
1 cup sunflower seeds, roughly chopped
1 cup pepitas, roughly chopped
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup flaked coconut (optional), reserved

Preheat the oven to 300F/150C and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Use a baking sheet that has a lip if you have one so that the granola can be spread more easily. 

In a large bowl, combine the sunflower seeds, pepita seeds, shredded coconut, and salt. In a smaller dish, whisk together the maple syrup, melted coconut oil, and vanilla. Add the maple syrup mixture to the seed mixture and stir until fully incorporated.

Spread the granola onto the prepared pan, getting an even layer if possible. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until golden. Stir in the reserved 1/2 cup flaked coconut. Let the granola cool completely in the pan, and then store in a sealed jar in the fridge for up to a month. 

Berry Coconut Chia Parfaits

Chia Pudding
1 cup coconut milk
3 tablespoons chia seeds
1 teaspoon maple syrup (optional)
1/4 teaspoon vanilla powder

1 cup fresh or frozen berries

In a jar or a container with a lid, mix all of the chia pudding ingredients and refrigerate for at least two hours or overnight. Stir before serving.

Assemble the parfaits right before serving them. To assemble, layer glasses or jars with a couple of tablespoons of chia pudding, then granola, then a handful of berries. Repeat this until the container you've chosen is full. It doesn't matter what order you do it in, just try to finish with berries to make it pretty.