Pumpkin Bran Muffins

Who doesn’t LOVE homemade muffins!?!

I do.

Now if someone could just bring me some that would be fantastic! ūüôā

So here I am in my new home trying to get my life back to its new normal. I have spent the last week and a half painting and moving. That’s right I said MOVING (who likes moving?‚Ķoh ya no one). ¬†I am exhausted but content. Hopefully within this next week I will get back to doing what I do‚Ķsharing food ideas on Instagram (@figbasil) and creating new recipes with you all. I am looking forward to sharing some holiday sweets and appetizers in December.

Until then, my lovely friend Stacey has given me an amazingly delicious looking muffin recipe that she created just for my Fig and Basil readers. A huge thank you to Stacey for this!

Check it out and let me know how it turns out. Also go find Stacey’s blog at http://www.staceydeering.com

Have a great week! Emily

Stacey’s post:

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Anyone who has children knows that baking of some kind is almost a parental requirement, whether it’s a birthday cake, cookies or muffins. While some muffins can be loaded with sugar, refined oil and refined flour this recipe is the exact opposite. I try and find ways around refined ingredients without compromising taste.

This pumpkin bran muffin is dairy free, wheat free, gluten free and low fat. The quinoa and almond flour are high protein flours and loaded with oat bran, they are high in fiber. Oat bran is a soluble fiber which helps to clear the digestive system. The pumpkin puree adds a great nutritional boost, high in vitamin A and beta carotene.

Sweetened with pure maple syrup and molasses, unrefined sources, they are not overly sweet. I like to serve them with coconut butter, which is naturally sweet, and warm tea.

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Pumpkin Bran Muffins

Vegan, Gluten Free, No Refined Sugar

Yield: 12 muffins

Author: Stacey Deering, RHN, staceydeering.com

Ingredients

1 cup oat bran (gluten free if required)

1/2 cup quinoa flour

1/2 cup almond flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3 tablespoons ground flaxseed

6 tablespoons warm water

3/4 cup pumpkin puree

2 tablespoons molasses

3/4 cup almond milk

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

2 tablespoons coconut oil, warmed

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup raisins

pumpkin seeds for garnish

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper muffin liners in a 12 hole muffin pan.
  2. Combine the oat bran, quinoa flour, almond flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and sea salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the ground flaxseed with warm water, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Then add in the pumpkin puree, molasses, almond milk, maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla.
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until mixed well. Stir in the raisins.
  5. Divide the batter equally into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle pumpkin seeds on the top of each muffin.
  6. Bake for approximately 20 minutes.

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Pancakes Pleeeease!

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Pancakes are about as close as I get to “baking” and lets face it eating pancakes for a meal is like skipping the actual meal and jumping right into dessert. And I do so happily ūüôā

I like to make weekend pancakes when I am in the mood and sometimes you could even find me making pancakes for dinner during the week. Yep that’s right…PANCAKES FOR DINNER! No need to feel sorry for my kids any longer ūüėČ

For many years prior to my food evolution, I am completely guilty of buying the bags of pancake mix and just adding water or worse yet, cow’s milk. But I have forgiven myself because as Maya Angelo says ” When you know better, you do better”. ¬†And what I know now is that making my own pancakes from scratch is just as easy and allows me the benefit of knowing exactly what goes into the them.

No two batters are ever the same at my house. Sometimes I use only white flour (when I am feeling¬†really¬†good and by “good” I mean bad) and other times it might have fresh fruit stirred in.

GF Apple & Pecan Pancakes *add 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 c. chopped pecans and 1-2 chopped apples

GF Apple & Pecan Pancakes
*add 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 c. chopped pecans and 1-2 chopped apples

And as a super-duper treat, according to my son, I like to add 1/4 cup of  beet powder into the mix to create pink pancakes. Beet powder is a fantastic natural food dye that can be added to any baked item with only a mild flavour change and a HUGE nutritional benefit.

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At the heart of any pancake recipe is the flour. Which flour is best? I don’t think there is one answer to that question. We are fortunate enough to live in a time that allows us access to many, many flours. Everything from whole wheat flour to quinoa flour. Brown rice flour to chickpea flour. Spelt flour to tapioca flour. The list goes on and on. Not that any of these are “new” they just have not always been as accessible. The reality is that most of us can benefit from avoiding gluten and when you prepare your own batters or baked goods you have the ability to play around with the flour combinations. In this pancake recipe the flours can be substituted depending on your dietary needs or just for the fun of it! I find that rice flour seems to be less absorbent of the liquids so the batter tends to be a bit thinner and therefore creates thinner pancakes. White pastry flour creates the fluffiest of pancakes (see the Coconut Banana Pancakes below) and the tapioca flour is essential in getting a beautiful crispy edge to the pancakes. I would recommend to always include the 1/2 cup tapioca flour and feel free to experiment with the remaining 2 cups of flour needed.

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Whatever your preference I hope that this recipe inspires you to avoid the store-bought pancake mixes and get in the kitchen on a Saturday morning to make your pancakes the old-fashioned way…from scratch ūüôā

Coconut Banana Pancakes * add 1/4 c. coconut water powder (or use coconut milk instead of soy milk) and 1 tsp. coconut extract to the batter. Finish with sliced bananas and dried coconut

Coconut Banana Pancakes
* add 1/4 c. coconut water powder (or use coconut milk instead of soy milk) and 1 tsp. coconut extract (instead of vanilla extract) to the batter. Finish with sliced bananas and dried coconut

Ultimate Pancake Mix

Gluten-free version in red

Serves: Approx. 6 people

Dry Ingredients

1/2 c. tapioca flour  1/2 cups gluten-free flour mix

1 c. rice flour   1 cup gluten-free flour mix

1 c. whole wheat flour  1 cup gluten-free flour mix

1 tbsp baking powder, aluminum- free

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients

2 1/2 c. soy milk  3 cups soy milk

2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp vanilla extract

4 tbsp non-diary butter ( I use Earth Balance), melted

1 flax “egg” (1 tbsp flax meal, add 2 tbsp of water, stir and let sit for 5 mins)

3 droppers of Stevia

2 tbsp maple syrup

  • add apple cider vinegar to soy milk in large liquid measuring cup ( I use a 4 cup) and set aside for 5 mins, this will create a “buttermilk” type effect
  • combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl
  • add remaining wet ingredients into soy milk mixture and stir
  • pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and combine until everything is incorporated. A few lumps are okay.
  • heat a large frying pan and add coconut butter before adding the batter. Cook on one side until air pockets are visible and then flip…you can figure out the rest! Serve with the finest maple syrup you got. Enjoy.

Eating…Vacation-style!

Greetings from Tofino!

I feel like this is more of a postcard than a blog post but lets just run with it ūüėČ

We have been here almost two weeks and life is darn good on this side of the our beautiful country. The weather has been slowly improving however I am just about done with having to suit up 2 kids in wetsuits (somehow they miraculously turn into jellyfish when I try to push through their limbs…arghhh). However any complaints out here is better than a great day elsewhere!

I have had alot of free time in the evenings to indulge in fun things (other than being in the kitchen) and I love to share things that I think are awesome! I finished this book, A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, you must read. I finished the entire season of Netflix’s newest show Orange Is The New Black, you must watch…but be advised this is not for minors…or prudes ūüôā I also discovered one of the most fantastic food blogs EVER, Thug Kitchen www.thugkitchen.com…you must check it out. Again not for children since every post is laced with “bad” words but totally hilarious and full of great information.

For this trip we have been staying at a house on Chesterman Beach and the kitchen set up is pretty fantastic considering I have slightly high standards in that department. ¬†I realized that I really enjoy stocking up a new kitchen, determining the essentials and then creating dishes from the basics. ¬†Every morning I bike into the closest market and pick up a few fresh items like avocados or cilantro for the days meals. ¬†It’s a way of life I could get used too ūüôā

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Most mornings have started with the most amazing bread ever, from 600 Degree Bakery, along with avocado slices and a flax milk tea latte. The kids are finding their own way around the kitchen and grabbing fruit or raisin toast for breakfast when they are ready. We seem to be splitting our time between the ocean and our new favorite hot spot, Kennedy Lake.  So packing beach lunches into a mini cooler has become a routine this past week.  I have been making everything from smoked tofu rice wraps, tortillas stuffed with avocado, rice and hummus to carrot & apple coleslaw with chick peas.

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Thanks to the wonderful world of Pinterest I have stumbled upon a super easy and tasty substitution for pasta that I have made for dinner a few times. Sweet potato “noodles” are quicker to make than regular noodles, are totally gluten-free and look WAY prettier ūüėČ The cooking instructions are simple: using a vegetable peeler (or a julienne peeler of you have one handy) peel sweet potato, heat a small amount of oil/butter in a large frying pan (I used Earth Balance), toss the potato and some sea salt into the pan and saut√© for approximately 5-10 mins depending on the thickness of your sweet potato pieces. ¬†Done. ¬†You can eat just as it is (which is the way the kids prefer) or add a tomato sauce. You’re welcome!

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But I do not want to mislead you to think that I have been making ALL of our food on my vacation! We have been eating out plenty…more than we ever do in our regular life. My new favorite eating spot in Tofino, Sobo. I have read numerous article about their delicious approach to sophisticated flavours in a very laid back setting and as it turns out everything I read was true! ¬†Their lentil burger with kale chips was out of this world good and the polenta fries were inspiring. My favorite dish so far ¬†is the Cold Noodle salad which is a combination of Soba noodle, peanut Thai dressing, fresh veggies and a gorgeous greens blend that they refer to as the “Nanoose Edibles”. But an honourable mention to their Tofu pockets with Shiitake ¬†mushrooms. Yum!

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The things coming out of their kitchen should be available to everyone, in any city, and any country. Local, seasonal, whole foods converted into delicious combinations by clearly talented people…what a clever idea!

I can’t forget to mention another new obsession here in Tofino and that is the newly opened juice and smoothie joint, The Juicery. Located just steps away from the Tacofino truck, The Juicery offers amazing fruit and veggie juices and totally delicious smoothies. The bonus is the options. You can substitute coconut water, coconut milk, almond milk or add Vega One protein powder, spirulina or even bee pollen. If you are here then you need to pay them a visit.

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So as my love affair with Tofino continues, I shall be heading home this week to the one place I love more than anywhere…my kitchen!

See you next week.

Emily

Wake Up Calls

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Okay, so this blog is more for me than it is you…sorry!

But like always, there is a part of me that thinks perhaps someone else struggles with the same issues or is hungry (pun intended) for more information.

I have flaws (many actually) but not eating breakfast properly is the one that I need to seriously work on. On any given morning I would be completely happy with a large cup of tea and a piece of toast. Almost the exact same breakfast my mother has been eating for 30 years and almost the exact same breakfast that I have been trying to get her to change for the last 10 years. Sighhhhh. I am my mother’s daughter. The only difference being mine is Earl Grey tea and Spelt Sourdough toast with Earth Balance. Okay so maybe I am splitting hairs on this one. Anyway you slice that damn sourdough bread my breakfast skills are lacking. Maybe yours are too? Perhaps you are stuck in a rut, eating the same thing over and over. Or maybe you are amongst the many people that jolt their bodies awake with hard to digest (not to mention acidic) meats or dairy?¬†And yes, I am familiar with the popular proverb “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” ¬†ūüôā

So I gave myself a wake up call!  I have been on a mission these last few weeks to pull together simple, quick and nutrient-dense breakfasts that even I could muster up.

I am not someone who wakes up hungry, I have to work at it. Believe me I understand the importance of a well balanced breakfast…but the truth is that for some people it doesn’t come naturally (well that might be more of “my” truth and not an¬†actual¬†truth).

Studies show that eating a healthy breakfast (as opposed to the kind containing doughnuts) can help give you:

  • A more nutritionally complete diet, higher in nutrients, vitamins and minerals
  • Improved concentration and performance throughout your day
  • More strength and endurance to engage in physical activity
  • Lower cholesterol levels
  • Help maintain a healthy body weight

And with this information in hand I set out on Operation: Wake Up Call. ¬†My requirements for my morning meal might be more restricted than yours so use these more as suggestions and modify as you wish. Other than avoiding dairy and eggs for personal/moral reasons, a recent food-allergy test revealed that I need to also avoid almonds, soy, and whole wheat. So what’s left? Well, here is what I came up with, I have broken it down into 2 categories, Sweet & Savoury…

Sweet Breakfast Cravings

“Tree-hugging, Birckenstock-wearing Granola Bowl “

(I used Highwood Crossing Organic Sunflower Flax Seed Granola and unsweetened Flax Milk as my base)

Topped off with fresh berries, chia seeds, and chocolate chips. Yum!

Topped off with fresh berries, chia seeds, and chocolate chips. Yum!

Topped off with bananas, coconut chips, hemp seeds and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Topped off with bananas, coconut chips, hemp seeds and a drizzle of pure maple syrup.

Banana Nut Porridge

Slow cooked oats topped with flax milk, caramelized bananas (pan fried using coconut oil) chopped pecans, and delicious maple syrup for sweetness.

Slow cooked oats topped with flax milk, caramelized bananas (pan fried using coconut oil) chopped pecans, and delicious maple syrup for sweetness.

Recipe from lunchboxbunch.com Toss together strawberries, avocado, lemon juice, fresh ginger, maple syrup and assemble on top of your favorite toasted bread. Garnish with hemp seeds. This is by far my favourite new breakfast!

Recipe from lunchboxbunch.com Toss together strawberries, avocado, lemon juice, fresh ginger, maple syrup and assemble on top of your favorite toasted bread. Garnish with hemp seeds. This is by far my favourite new breakfast!

Savoury Breakfast Cravings

Spread homemade hummus over toasted Sourdough and finish with sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and sea salt. Very quick.

Spread homemade hummus over toasted Sourdough and finish with sliced cherry tomatoes, fresh cilantro and sprinkle with sea salt. Very quick and protein-packed.

Breakfast FEAST! On a lazy Sunday morning I went all out- Potato Hash (filled w/roasted onions, leeks, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms), sautéed spinach w/garlic, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, leftover baked Maple Beans, and Tempeh "bacon". They leftover potato hash was so tasty for a couple of  weekday breakfasts afterwards.

Breakfast FEAST! On a lazy Sunday morning I went all out- Potato Hash (filled w/roasted onions, leeks, zucchini, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms), saut√©ed spinach w/garlic, slow roasted cherry tomatoes, leftover baked Maple Beans, and Tempeh “bacon”. The leftover potato hash was so tasty for a couple of weekday breakfasts afterwards.

Sweetness of Nature

Stewart's Sugar Bush Pakenham, ON

Stewart’s Sugar Bush
Pakenham, ON

What a difference a week makes! Last week I was heading to Ottawa with a million things on my mind and no time to execute them. Today I am a peacefully sitting in my kitchen with a Raspberry Leaf tea and a bunch of checks off my “to-do” list. ¬†Happiness may be overrated but contentment fills the soul.

This week has been productive: I returned from out east (okay maybe Westjet deserves the credit for that one), designed/ordered Fig and Basil paper products, prepped this week’s recipe 3 times, started my indoor seeds for my veggie garden, participated in a Garden Show, and don’t tell anyone this but… I also contemplated on getting a rescue puppy ūüôā Okay so I recognize the last one is borderline insanity but for the most part I have got my two feet planted back on the ground.

Indoor Grow-Op: Week One

Indoor Grow-Op:
Week One

My trip “home” was fantastic and we managed to stay¬†very¬†entertained. ¬†Baby Mason, Olivia and Alyssa were adorable, as were the rest of the crew. The highlight was definitely when we drove our 5-car convoy deep into the Ontario bush and spent hours eating and learning about maple syrup. I haven’t done this since I was a kid. ¬†Surrounded by maple trees, we ate pancakes & maple taffy, had a game of adult teeter-totter and even a horse drawn wagon ride. What could be better? ¬†Well…the MAPLE SYRUP, thats what!

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There’s just something about maple syrup. ¬†The sweet, smooth earthy goodness dripping over your pancakes. The nutty smell when you heat it. Heaven! As we get older and wiser (?) there are endless reasons why we should avoid refined sugars but thankfully maple syrup is in a whole different category . ¬†One might even argue that it is a “health food”. ¬†In just 2 tsp of pure maple syrup there is 22% of your Daily Value (DV) of manganese and almost 4% DV of zinc. Manganese is a very important trace mineral and is an essential cofactor in a number of enzymes important in energy production and antioxidant defences. The zinc supplied by maple syrup, in addition to acting as an antioxidant also can decrease the progression of atherosclerosis. So it’s good for your heart! Not to mention that the zinc and manganese are a sweet support for your immune system.

***Never confuse pure maple syrup with the maple-flavoured syrup that is loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners. Pure maple syrup, although more expensive, is a natural product, has many health benefits and a superior flavour.

So when I came home with a little piece of Ontario in my luggage (many thanks to Paulette & Sebastian) I almost immediately started my Slow Cooked Maple Baked Beans.

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This recipe is simple and versatile. Serve as a complete meal or a side dish…I even had it for breakfast this week on a piece of toasted sourdough bread. The preparation of this dish only takes about 10 minutes active time with the remainder of your time spent waiting (hence the word SLOW¬†in the recipe name :-)). ¬†Patience is important for this dish. Plan ahead by soaking your dried beans overnight and then boiling them for about an hour in the morning. Of course, canned beans are always an option but you need to reduce the cooking time on your slow cooker to 4 hours and be sure to use a firmer white bean like a navy bean.

Aside from all the nutritional benefits of maple syrup, the blackstrap molasses and beans in this recipe are also amazing. The beans provide an excellent source of fiber & folate and are a good source of iron. The molasses is very high in iron, manganese and potassium as well as a good source of calcium. Since everyone usually asks a vegan how they get their calcium, here is a great example; Just 1 tbsp of molasses contains 179 mg of calcium (as a point of reference- 1 tbsp of plain yogurt contains 24 mg of calcium).

If you are out west like me, then you are likely getting a fresh dump of snow this weekend so its a great time to crank up your slow cooker to keep warm. I hope you enjoy this recipe and feel free to let me know how yours turns out.

Emily

Slow Cooked Maple Baked Beans

Prep Time : 6-8 hours (Inactive), 10-15 mins (Active) plus soaking time for beans

Ingredients:

2 cups dried Great White Northern bean (or approx. 4 cups of canned white beans, drained and rinsed)

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 medium yellow onion, chopped small

1 clove of garlic, minced

15 oz canned tomatoes, crushed (+ one can of filtered water)

1/2 cup blackstrap molasses

1 cup pure maple syrup

1 tsp. smoked paprika

1/2 tsp allspice

2 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp liquid smoke (if you do not have liquid smoke then add another tsp of smoked paprika instead)

salt and pepper to taste

Cooking Instructions:

  • Cover 2 cups of dried beans with filtered water, in a large bowl. Leave to soak for at least 6 hours or overnight.

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  • When soaking is complete, drain and rinse with clean water. Add beans to a med saucepan and cover with fresh, salted water. Bring water to a boil with lid on. Then lower heat to med-low and simmer for approx. 1 hour, adding more water if necessary.
  • Heat coconut oil in medium sized frying pan and then add onions and garlic.¬†Saut√©¬†for 5-7 minutes until slightly¬†caramelized.
  • While onions are cooking turn on slow cooker to 6-8 hours on HIGH.
  • Toss all ingredients into slow cooker. ¬†Don’t forget the 15 oz can of water and the saut√©ed onions/garlic.
This is a double batch. I managed to fit it all in my little slow cooker!

This is a double batch. I managed to fit it all in my little slow cooker!

  • Mix completely and place on the lid. DO NOT REMOVE THE LID FOR ANY REASON…well, maybe if there is a fire and you need to shield yourself or a food fight breaks out in your kitchen and you need to take cover…you get the point ūüėČ
  • After 6 hours has passed remove lid and stir. Check beans for doneness and determine if you need more cooking time (adding a small amount of water if you feel it needs it). Also adding salt if necessary.
  • When fully cooked, remove and serve immediately with a buttered piece of rustic bread. Delish!

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