Avocado Encore: Chocolate Avocado Pudding

I know that it’s Easter weekend and the typical thing to post about would be Easter-related. We’re not exactly holding the traditional Easter weekend this year. So, I thought I’d do a post on a recipe that I tried out last week.

Remember how I had said in my Mango Avocado Salsa post that my Quack had recommended that I eat more avocados? Not long after I did that post, I found an article in my Living Without magazine all on Avocados. If you are a subscriber to the magazine, you can get the full Avocados article when you log in here. If you’re not a subscriber, and are interested in the article, you can buy that particular issue (February/March 2013) here under Recent Living Without Back Issues.

The article includes the following recipes (for those of you with a subscription, you’ll be able to use the below links to log-in and access the recipes if you’re February/March 2013 issue isn’t handy):

Avocado Lemon Quick Bread
Avocado Dinner Rolls
Chocolate Avocado Muffins
Blueberry Avocado Pancakes
Simple Avocado Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Avocado Chocolate Pudding

So far I’ve only tried the Avocado Chocolate Pudding, but I intend to try most, if not all, of these recipes.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

I don’t have a food processor so I used my blender, so the pudding came out with some small avocado chunks in it. I think it’s time that I finally invest in a food processor. Speaking of food processors, local blogger Colorful Canary just did a post on a BPA-free Glass Bowl Food Processor that looks economical.

Because Living Without is a subscription based website, I didn’t want to reproduce the recipes here. I did notice that the Avocados article was written by another blogger, Colette Martin, of Learning to Eat Allergy Free. So I checked out her blog and she just happened to have the Chocolate Avocado Pudding recipe there. The only difference is on the blog the serving size is half of that in the Living Without article (Living Without version Serves 4) as well as the Living Without version also recommends to refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. So I’ll direct you over to Colette’s blog to check out her Chocolate Avocado Pudding recipe.

If you’ve tried this recipe, let me know what you think! I thought it was delicious! 🙂

Having suffered through depression, I’ve been guilty of more than one of these Cognitive Distortions.

Amanda, from Celiac and Allergy Adventures has done a great job of making the connection between Cognitive Distortions, Celiac Disease, Food Allergies and Eczema! Check out the whole article on her blog 🙂

Mango Avocado Salsa

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One of the foods that my Quack suggested that I incorporate into my diet was avocados. “Great”, I thought sarcastically, “I don’t particularly enjoy guacamole”.

So when I discovered this Mango Avocado Salsa recipe in Free For All Cooking (check out an overview of the cookbook in this post), I thought it was a great way to incorporate avocados because I hadn’t yet had a chance to do any searching for recipes using avocados, and I have loved mangoes ever since my first Mango Daiquiri at the Mexican resort that our good friends got married at, in back in 2011.

Mango Avocado Salsa

(from Free For All Cooking)

Serves 4

1 large mango, peeled and diced

1 large ripe Haas avocado, peeled and diced

1 cup black beans, rinsed

1/2 ear cooked corn, cut off of the cob

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 small bunch fresh cilantro, chopped

Approximately 3/4 teaspoon Tabasco

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss together to combine. Taste to determine if you like more spice.
  2. Serve with corn tortilla chips, Golden Potato Latkes, Fish Tacos, or over grilled white fish like tilapia, orange roughy, or flounder.

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I didn’t have Tabasco on hand so I decided to throw on a dash of Tex-Mex spice and topped it with a dab of sour cream. It was delicious and a great option for anyone with an tomato allergy/intolerance who miss the ability to enjoy salsa (I’d caution to check any spice mixes that you might use to ensure that they are free of tomato).

What types of recipes do you like for incorporating avocados?

My Meal Making Equivalent of the 10-Second Tidy

If you were a Canadian child (or caretaker of a child) of the 90s, then you are likely familiar with the phrase “10-Second Tidy”. If not, it was one of the many aspects of a Canadian children’s television show called “The Big Comfy Couch

I work at an 8 AM to 5 PM job for an oil & gas company … but often it’s closer to 6 PM before I clue up for the day and make my way home. By the time I get home and play with my pup, who’s been home alone all day while we’re at work, I’m in no mood to to make a healthy meal that’s going to take the entire evening to prepare. And I wished that I could speed myself up like Loonette does while doing her 10-Second Tidy.

As a result we’ve come up with our favourite options for speeding up meals when we are late getting home from work:

1. Prepare chicken or salmon in advance.

We usually cook 1 to 2 packs of chicken and sometimes a pack of salmon on Sundays and keep it in the fridge all week to assemble meals to take to work, or to quickly prepare a meal once we get home. We typically just drizzle on some olive oil and some spices and bake in the oven. The spices that we’ve been using are the Clubhouse mixes like Vegetable and Lemon & Herb. I know that these have additives, sulphites, etc. so once these are gone I’m going to switch to a natural spice mix. We use the salmon as a meal in itself, but we use the chicken as a main, in salads, wraps, tacos, various recipes, etc.

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2. Roast asparagus in the oven.

Place asparagus in a glass baking dish, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle a little salt and squeeze juice of 1/2 a lemon over top. Bake at 425°F for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Easy Peasy!

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3. Panini-press grilled sweet potato fries.

Chop up a sweet potato, drizzle some olive oil and your favourite spice and grill on your panini-press for 15 minutes. This method is super quick if you have your fries cut up the night before, but they will turn out a little soft (which I don’t really mind). However, I did find this recipe which has a tip for avoiding soggy fries. If I were to use their tip, I’d have my fries cut in advance, so that all I would need to do is place them in the water to soak for 30 minutes as soon as I get home so that they soak while I’m playing with our pup, Jax.

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4. Keep salad ingredients on hand.

I often make salads for lunch. I have my usual salad and my ‘I feel like a break’ salad.

My usual contains spinach, dried cranberries (Ocean Spray has a gluten-free and tree nut free statement on its package), sliced almonds (be careful of may contain ingredients), diced cheese (if I have it on hand), sliced chicken (from 1. above) and my salad dressing is usually just olive oil, balsamic oil and honey. I don’t measure out the dressing ingredients. I usually just eyeball it as I’m pouring it into a small container. It’s roughly 1 part honey, 2 parts balsamic vinegar, and 3 parts olive oil.

The other salad that I make when I want a break from the usual, contains spinach, mandarin orange segments, sliced almonds and sliced chicken. The dressing is similarly eyeballed. Its roughly 1 part sesame oil, 1 part soya sauce (I use VH soya sauce and got confirmation that it’s gluten free), 2 parts juice from the can of mandarin oranges, and 2 parts olive oil.

5. Slow-Cooker meals.

I discovered this blogger, Stephanie O’Dea, who does slow cooker recipes that are gluten-free, due to her daughter’s Celiac Disease. We use her Honey Garlic Chicken recipe on a regular basis. It is delicious! I like the fact that by using the recipe for left overs for the week that we can skim off the excess fat from the chicken thighs after it has congealed in the refrigerator. It all settles to the top so it’s very easy to skim off and dispose of.

6. Keep gluten-free pizza crusts on hand.

I like to make quick BBQ chicken using Kinnikinnick GF crusts, leftover chicken (from 1. above), BBQ sauce and cheese (if I have some on hand). In just over 20 minutes the pizza is ready.

7. Keep Ian’s Gluten-Free chicken nuggets on hand.

The package says to bake in the oven for 13 minutes but I like to bake them for just over 20 minutes to make the batter slightly crunchy.

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8. Keep cooked rice on hand (either packaged or prepared yourself and stored in the fridge).

You can use it as a quick and easy side or as filler in a wrap.

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9. Keep chopped veggies in the fridge.

Our usuals are peppers, mushrooms and onions.Use them to make a quick omelette, or fry up some peppers, onions and mushrooms with a little bit of seasoning for use in wraps, tacos, on paninnis, or simply as a side dish. Your kitchen will smell delicious as it fries.

These are just some of the ways that are able to eat in a short amount of time once we return home from work.

How about you? Do you have any 10-Second Tidy meals that you’d like to share?

Second Time’s A Charm: Granissimo Andean Mix Salad

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While shopping at Winner’s Home Sense, during the period between Christmas and New Years, I discovered this Go Go Quinoa product:

I figured I’d give it a try considering how I LOVE their Granissimo mix which I use regularly to make Go Go Quinoa Salad. Like with the Granissimo mix, I decided to go with the recipe on the back of the package.

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I unfortunately didn’t have carrots in my fridge at the time or celery, although I did have some celery salt so I decided to go ahead with what I had.

Andean Mix & Pumpkin Seeds Recipe1

Although it looked like it was going to taste great, the result was just ‘meh’. I thought that “salt and pepper to taste” was a bit of an understatement, but to their credit my attempt at the recipe was lacking the carrot and the celery. Perhaps these two components would round out the recipe by adding a sweet and savoury note.

I had kinda given up on the mix and it laid dormant in my pantry until I discovered their Granissimo Andean Mix Salad recipe while searching for recipes on their website to use with their Anelli Vegetable Pasta (which I later used to make Gluten-Free Spaghettios).

Granissimo Andean Mix Salad

by Go Go Quinoa

Ingredients:

1 cup of Granissimo Andean Mix with pumpkin seeds

1 cup of corn

2 mangos diced

2 cups of chopped fresh cilantro or parsley

1 cup of dried cranberries

½ red onion thinly sliced

3 tablespoons of olive oil (or more to taste)

2 garlic cloves finely chopped

3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (or more to taste)

1 red pepper diced

Salt to taste

Preparation:

In a medium pot, cook 1 cup of Granissimo in 2 cups of water until almost all the liquid is absorbed. Set aside, add the olive oil and let cool until room temperature. Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix. Refrigerate until time to serve.

Andean Mix & Pumpkin Seeds Recipe2

I didn’t wait for the salad to cool in the refrigerator. I ate it while it was still warm and it was delicious. I placed the remainder in the fridge so that I could bring it to work the next day, and about an hour later friends showed up with my guy and they asked what smelled so delicious. I grabbed a bowl and took out a small serving from the fridge for him to try. He had a funny look on his face and said “This would probably taste a lot better if it were warm”. I had said that I had only made the recipe that night for the first time and had tried it warm, but I had assumed that it was fine to serve it chilled as the Go Go Quinoa Salad is great either warm or chilled.

I tried the chilled version of the salad the next day, and I have to agree with my friend that it is, in fact, best if served warm.

Have you tried this Andean & Pumpkin Mix? If so, What’s your favourite recipe?

Chocolate Power Balls Recipe Trial

This past Sunday I realized that I had all the ingredients I needed to try out a new recipe that I had flagged. The recipe is the second that I’ve attempted from the Gluten-Free Vegan Comfort Food recipe book that I first introduced in my peach & blueberry smoothie post.

I know what you’re thinking: Are you vegan now? … No. However:

  1. I’m interested in learning about vegan cuisine, and
  2. I had planned on using it to attempt recipes for my friend who blogs at Am I Vegan Now? before she decided to move to the opposite side of the country.

(Sharon, if you’re reading this: I totally would have surprised you with these had we been living in the same city. If you try these, think “Supreeze!” as you imagine me gifting them to you).

There were three things that drew me to this recipe:

  1. Most importantly: Chocolate
  2. Cardamom
  3. Chia seeds

I have been in love with the combination of chocolate and cardamom ever since I first had a bite of this Polish chocolate bar:

I had discovered these bars at a specialty food store several years back. Apparently they would only stock the bars around the holidays because they claimed that it wasn’t worth the cost of importing the bars (from Poland) regularly throughout the year. Considering this, whenever my guy would ask what I wanted for Christmas, I would respond saying that all I wanted was a box of these bars to keep me going all year long.

The same year that I went gluten-free, he stocked up on these chocolate bars and stuffed them in my stocking. Sadly, I discovered that these delicious bars had a ‘May Contain’ statement for wheat. At first, I decided to take my chances and tried a piece. And I can confirm that the ‘May Contain’ statement was valid … and I have not indulged in such deliciousness since that last bite 😦

As for the chia, I explained in my naturopath post, that my “Quack” had recommended I introduce chia seeds into my diet to increase my Omega Fatty Acids

… Just curious: hands-up if you sung “Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia” as you read the word chia?? I sing it every time I pull the package out of our pantry 😀

So, when I saw the combination of chocolate, cardamom and chia I had to try this recipe out! 🙂

Chocolate Power Balls

Makes about 16 Balls (my attempt yielded 20)

1 cup walnuts

1 cup cashews

1 cup pitted and chopped Medjool dates

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon flax seeds

1 tablespoon pure vanilla

1/2 cup Enjoy Life Foods vegan chocolate chips

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon cardamom (I opted for the 1/4)

1 tablespoon of water or orange juice

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  1. Place nuts and dates in a food processor and pulse until ground. Add the rest if the ingredients and whirl until the mixture begins to form a ball.
    (I don’t have a food processor, so I used my blender. I threw in all the ingredients as it directed but I started to get a perimeter of nicely chopped nuts and dates, but would jam up under the blade preventing the remainder from chopping. As a result, I had to take the blender jar off several times in order to shake and stir-up the contents. When I do this recipe again, I’d use smaller amounts in the blender and then transfer it to another bowl in order to chop the rest. I also think that the intent was for the chocolate chips to be grounded into more of a powder so that I would more easily disperse … but because there was so much volume to the recipe, very few of the chocolate chips would hit the blade. At first I thought that this was a downfall of how I had executed the recipe, but after the fact I realized that I quite like having the full chocolate chips intact. I thought I would point this fact out for anyone who might want to try out this recipe).

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  2. Remove the mixture from the food processor and put in a large bowl. Spread some waxed paper on a cookie sheet and with clean hands, form small balls (about tablespoon-size) and place them on the cookie sheet. Place in the refrigerator for about an hour to harden. 

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We love these! The recipe recommended that you keep the balls in the refrigerator and consume within one week. Considering that the recipe yielded 20 balls that were made on Sunday afternoon, and it’s now only Tuesday evening and there’s only 3 left …. I don’t think that will be an issue 😉

Let me know what you think if you try out this recipe! 

Bell Aliant breaks a Guinness World Records™ Title for Mental Health

You may have seen my post for Bell’s Let’s Talk Day where I shared my story on how I’ve struggled with and am overcoming my clinical depression. If not, I invite you to read it, or learn about what Bell Let’s Talk Day is all about by visiting the official website: http://letstalk.bell.ca.

Thanks to all my friends and family who texted, tweeted, Facebook shared or made long distance calls that day to help shrink the mental stigma while raising money for mental health initiatives in Canada. You guys are AWESOME!!! x1000 🙂

Bell Let's Talk Day 2013 Results http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/

Bell Let’s Talk Day 2013 Results http://letstalk.bell.ca/en/

Glutino Gluten-Free Toaster Pastry … A Surprise From My GFF!

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This week I discovered a new term from Glam Without Gluten, that I love: GFF … i.e. Gluten-Free Friend.  I thought this was very clever to use a phrase that is equally as catchy as the widely recognized phrase, BFF. Glam’s blog is full of great posts and videos. You should check her out!! 🙂

A few weeks back I first mentioned my GFF in my post titled “Become A Promiscuous Shopper“.  Once again, she returned from the States and this time she surprised me with Glutino‘s take on a gluten-free version of the popular Pop-Tart. She picked up a box of each variety, and split between us. The pastries are individually wrapped with no markings, so when she swapped two Apple Cinnamon toaster pastries from my box with two Strawberry pastries from her box, I had no idea which flavour it would be until just before popping it into my toaster bag at work. Quelle surprise! 😉

Glutino Gluten-Free Toaster Pastry

Now, it’s been likely 15, if not 20 years since I ate my last Pop Tart. I went through a spurt of eating them when I was a kid but I found (for me, personally) that the texture was a bit too dry, and the ones that were coated in icing were too sweet while the plain ones seemed like they were missing something. I later started eating Toaster Strudels, and fancied those more because the pastry was slightly more moist, the filling was a little more gooey, and it came with a pack of soft icing that I could apply to my individual liking. Like I said, it’s been at least 15 years since I had either of these … so my memory isn’t quite as reliable for comparing to the non-gluten-free versions of the Pop-Tart and Toaster Strudel … but the Glutino version reminded me somewhat of a cross between the two (minus the packet of icing). This quick breakfast option isn’t available in Newfoundland yet (and perhaps even Canada), but hopefully they start popping up on shelves soon as it’s a quick and easy breakfast option when you’re too busy to prepare breakfast ahead of time, and unlike the majority of the population where you can’t just pop out to the nearest coffee shop to get a quick snack.

Thanks again to my GFF for my GF Surprise!! 🙂

Have you had a chance to try these breakfast toaster pastries out? What did you think? What’s your favourite flavour?

I Experimented … With Kale

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There’s several reasons why I started this blog and do varying posts.

  1. I want to help those in the St. John’s, NL area find out what options are available in terms of gluten intolerance and other dietary restrictions … My main focus is in dining out, and this is just starting to kick off. Expect the premier post, soon! 🙂
  2. To share my experiences in exploring natural living and cooking. I’m just a regular Joe, with no  nutrition or culinary background. I assure you that if I can do it, you can most certainly can too.
  3. I want to learn from others. I post things because I want to tell the story of what I’ve tried and attempted, but I want to get ideas from others like me who are exploring the same things and what they’ve found has worked and what hasn’t.

So today, I experimented with Kale. I’ve been wanting to try out cooking with Kale for a long time. Mostly from seeing various graphics on the benefits of Kale such as this one:

And also from seeing various posts from my friend Sharon, at Am I Vegan Now?, on how much she loves Kale. More recently she’s got me thinking about a trying out a breakfast scramble.

So today, I decided to try out a Kale Scramble.

Kale Scramble

I went with Sharon’s advice and used ingredients that I had on hand in my pantry and fridge. Last week’s Small Fruit and Veggie Box from Real Food Market consisted of organic Kale, Spinach, Potatoes, Tomatoes and Bananas. So, for the scramble, I used:

  • Organic kale
  • Organic Potatoes
  • Organic Tomatoes
  • Organic onion (left over from my last RFM purchase)
  • Organic pine nuts (that I purchased at Whole Foods when I was in Toronto recently)

as well as:

  • Non-organic red and green peppers
  • Non-organic bacon

 … as I mentioned at the start of this post, this is my exploration into more natural living so I’m not 100% organic, but I’m getting there 🙂

I fried the bacon in a separate pan in order to remove excess fat. I fried all of the harder veggies first (such as the potato, peppers and onion) and once softened, I added in the kale and tomato. As for seasonings, I didn’t need a lot because the veggies naturally give a lot of flavour … as well as the bacon … but I did add in a pinch of celery salt at the end.

The result was delicious! Thanks Sharon for making me want to try out cooking with Kale … and attempting a scramble. It was as easy and delicious as you said it would be 🙂

Do you cook with Kale? If so, care to share links to your favourite recipes? How about Scrambles? Have you tried any interesting concoctions? 

I Tried This Blueberry Smoothie … So Did My iPhone

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Well, my iPhone technically didn’t try my smoothie. But for a while I thought that a blueberry fragment had somehow made its way onto the inside of my iPhone camera lens. Turns out, it was from me being duped by a Ninja Kitty, named Gizmo. But more on that later.

I had purchased this cookbook from Living Without about a year ago. It was an attempt to find a cool recipe to make for my newly vegan friend, Sharon, who blogs at Am I Vegan Now? …. but she, along with her boyfriend, moved to the opposite side of the country and as a result, I never did get to make her anything from it. I have a ton of things flagged to try, but hadn’t actually tried any of them.

This past weekend I was in the mood to try out a new smoothie recipe. I had picked up a few individual packs of Vega to try out. My “quack” had suggested to both my guy and I that we try Vega. My first attempt at trying Vega was back in 2008ish, and I had trouble getting the stuff down. But, more recently I had read that Sharon thoroughly enjoys Vega from many of her posts, and I was interested  to see if I would like it (considering that I had heard that their formula had changed). My “quack” had also suggested that I incorporate chia seeds into my diet, and I found this smoothie recipe in the Gluten-Free Vegan Comfort Food Cookbook that included chia seeds:

Peach and Blueberry Protein Smoothie

Serves 4

  • 1 scoop protein powder (I used Vega Vanilla & Almond)
  • 2 cups milk substitute (I used almond milk)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon flax seeds (I had none so I substituted more chia)
  • 4 cups organic blueberries (I only had frozen non-organic at the time)
  • 1/2 cup organic peaches (again, I only had frozen non-organic)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • ice (optional)
  • mint leaves for garnish

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Not knowing if I was going to like the recipe or not, I decided to only make one quarter of the recipe. It was a good thing I didn’t. I realized that I was more interested in peachiness of the recipe, but it was overshadowed by the intensity of the blueberries. If you are a lover of all things blueberry … then this is the smoothie for you! I think that I was more in love with the intense purple colour than the taste. I’ve always said that colour makes me smile, and the hue of this smoothie definitely made me 🙂

Blueberry Smoothie

I found the texture to be a slightly gritty due to the Vega, but it was much more better than when I had tried the Vega on it’s own back in 2008. I found that if I used a straw to drink it down, it was much more easier to drink because the texture would bypass the sides of my tongue.

I’d probably try this recipe again, but would probably swap the blueberry to peach proportions. It felt good to be drinking the smoothie. I knew that I was having something that was healthy for me. But I just couldn’t handle that much blueberry.

Have you tried Vega smoothies or anything from this cookbook? If so, let me know what you think! 🙂

Oh right …. you’re probably wondering what my iPhone thought of the smoothie 😉

Not long after I made this smoothie, I noticed a small purple speck on my iPhone screen. Only to later realize that it wasn’t on the screen, it was actually on the camera lens. No amount of trying to clean it would get it off. So I was convinced that the fragment must have somehow gotten in under the lens. My bro-in-law was convinced that it was a chip. But I pulled up the pictures of the smoothie making process on my phone and how there was no sign of the speck until after I had blended the blueberries. And I convinced him that it was in fact, blueberry on the lens.

Contrary to popular belief … while I was looking at photos on my laptop to see which ones I would upload for this post, I discovered that on a larger screen, I could see that “blueberry” speck in photos taken previously to turning on the blender. They were well blended into the background (much like a “Where’s Waldo?” graphic), but they were there.

So, of course I wanted to pinpoint the moment at which I acquired the-speck-formally-known-as-blueberry. And low and behold, I found the instant at which it first appeared … was after meeting a cat (a.k.a Ninja Kitty, Gizmo) that was up for adoption at PetSmart.

Available for Adoption at the St. John's PetSmart, http://stores.petsmart.com/Store/Details/2159

Available for Adoption at the St. John’s PetSmart, http://stores.petsmart.com/Store/Details/2159

Stealthy Ninja Kitty, Gizmo, pops up when you least expect him ;)

Stealthy Ninja Kitty, Gizmo, pops up when you least expect him 😉

Stealthy Ninja Kitty, Gizmo. Plotting his attack.

Stealthy Ninja Kitty, Gizmo. Plotting his attack.

And just above Gizmo’s ear is the not-so-blueberry speck. I remembered that I had dropped my phone when Gizmo startled me. Turns out that my bro-in-law’s chip hypothesis was correct after all. Don’t believe me that he’s a Ninja Kitty? Check out this video:

Honestly, if we were cat people and also not allergic, I would totally have brought Gizmo home. I know it seems like he just wants to take Jax out, but I’m sure it’s just an act of displaying dominance and in a short amount of time they’d adjust. I think he has a quirky personality, much like Jax and I could see them eventually being buds. We’ve always described Jax as being stealthy. Looks like Gizmo is his feline match. LOL.

I’m not sure if Gizmo is still up for adoption. But, If he is and you’re interested in adopting him – give the SPCA or PetSmart a call (or visit!)