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Date Sweetened Hot Chocolate

My #1 criteria when testing a recipe is that it has to taste good.

As a dietitian I’m obviously a fan of incorporating more veggies, fruits, whole grains, legumes and healthy fats into meals. But I’m not willing to compromise on flavour for the sake of nutrition. You won’t catch me dead eating plain steamed vegetables or sugar-free cookies.

Hot chocolate sweetened with dates to give it a healthy boost of fibre!

All this to say, this date sweetened hot chocolate tastes good. I promise. And while there’s nothing wrong with a good cuppa traditional hot chocolate, why not add a few extra grams of fibre to your drink if you can?

If you have a powerful blender, you should be able to just blend and then reheat on the stove before pouring into your mugs. But if your blender is a little rough around the edges, you may want to pour your hot chocolate through a fine-mesh sieve after blending just to catch any lingering chunks of dates. Either way, this recipe comes together quickly to satisfy those hot cocoa cravings!

Hot chocolate sweetened with dates to give it a healthy boost of fibre!

Date Sweetened Hot Chocolate
 
Hot chocolate sweetened with dates to give it a healthy boost of fibre!
Author:
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 cups milk (see note for dairy-free option)
  • 4-6 large medjool dates, pitted
  • 1½ tbsp cocoa powder
  • ¾ tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Combine the milk and dates in a pot and bring to a boil. Remove from the stove and let cool slightly.
  2. Pour the milk and dates in a blender and add the cocoa powder and vanilla. Blend on high until completely smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture back into the pot then heat until warmed.
  4. Optional step: If your blender doesn't get the mixture completely smooth, pour the mixture through a fine mesh sieve before adding it back to the pot.
Notes
Note: To make this dairy free, use 2 cups almond milk plus 1 cup full fat canned coconut milk. I have tested this option, and it is awesome!

Hot chocolate sweetened with dates to give it a healthy boost of fibre!

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Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread

Just before it starts turning to gingerbread season, I’m squeezing in this whole wheat pumpkin bread. What is fall without a little (or a lot of) pumpkin spice, right?

Moist, tender whole wheat pumpkin bread made with 100% whole wheat flour and sweetened with maple syrup and brown sugar.

I’m not all “OMG pumpkin spice everything!” but I did pick up a box of pumpkin spice Mini Wheats to try this fall (they’re ok). I generally prefer homemade pumpkin spice foods though, namely this baked oatmeal from Budget Bytes and my pumpkin chocolate chip muffin tops.

And of course there needs to be a good pumpkin bread recipe in any recipe collection! This is one I’ve adapted from Ellie Krieger’s recipe that was in Fine Cooking magazine a few years ago.

whole-wheat-pumpkin-bread-3

There were a few changes in my version:

I used whole wheat pastry flour rather than all-purpose and regular whole wheat flour. Pastry flour is made from soft white wheat, making it lower in protein and great for soft, tender whole wheat baked goods. I also added a few scoops of ground flaxseed to sneak in some fibre. Finally, I swapped in maple syrup for the honey because it feels more fall-ish to me and decreased the total amount of sugar by just a smidge.

The result is a super moist whole wheat pumpkin bread that makes a great snack. Or you could increase the sugar slightly and top it with a maple cream cheese frosting for dessert (<– do it! It’s delicious).

Moist, tender whole wheat pumpkin bread made with 100% whole wheat flour and sweetened with maple syrup and brown sugar.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Bread
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Yield: 10 servings
Ingredients
  • 1-1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tbsp ground flax
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice*
  • ¼ tsp table salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup canola oil or olive oil (regular, not extra virgin)**
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 tbsp milk of your choice (optional for extra moistness)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 9"x5" baking pan with oil and dust with flour then set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl mix together the flour, ground flax, baking soda, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice, and salt.
  3. In a large bowl mix together the eggs, oil, pumpkin, maple syrup, brown sugar, and milk.
  4. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until they are just mixed, then pour the batter into the prepared baking pan.
  5. Bake for 43-47 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool for at least an hour before cutting.
Notes
*Or use about 1 tsp ground cinnamon, ¼ tsp ground nutmeg, ¼ tsp ground ginger, ¼ tsp allspice and ⅛ tsp of cloves.
**Could likely decrease this to ¼ cup without changing the taste or texture too much, but I have not tried this yet.

What’s your favourite pumpkin spice product or baked good?

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Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup

September is here – one of my favourite times of the year in the produce section! You get the best of both worlds: the peak of summer produce like tomatoes and peppers, but also new Ontario apples and squash hinting at the beginning of fall.

Roasted red pepper and tomato soup infused with fresh rosemary. A delicious vegetarian soup!

As excited as I am to start making apple crisp and roasted butternut squash, I always want to make sure I fully enjoy the last of summer’s produce first. Caprese salads, buttered corn on the cob, juicy peaches eaten over the kitchen sink, and this roasted red pepper and tomato soup. This soup is one I’ve been making every September for the past few years as a sort of last hurrah to summer. Served with a grilled cheese sandwich, it’s the perfect dinner for those chilly late summer evenings!

Roasted red pepper and tomato soup infused with fresh rosemary. A delicious vegetarian soup!

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Author:
Yield: 4-6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 red peppers, halved and deseeded
  • 2 lbs tomatoes, halved and stem removed
  • 1 small red onion, peeled and quartered
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, skins left on
  • 1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 cups of chicken or vegetable broth, no salt added
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • ¼ tsp salt, or more to taste
  • ¼ cup 18% cream (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Place the red pepper, tomato, onion, and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and drizzle with the olive oil. Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Remove from oven and let cool.
  3. Once cool enough to touch, slip off the skins of the tomatoes, red pepper, and garlic. Add to a large, high speed blender along with the onion and broth. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour soup into a medium to large pot and add the rosemary. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 5 minutes to let the flavour of the rosemary infuse into the soup.
  5. Season with salt before dividing into bowls. Stir a tablespoon of cream into each bowl if desired.

Recipe adapted from this Foodland Ontario recipe.

 

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