Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Muffin With a Carbon Footprint

Living four vast provinces east of my parents makes it nearly impossible to skip home on any given day for an afternoon snack, a hearty meal, or heck, just a baked good. It forces you to recreate the recipes you remember from childhood or to visit your local baker weekly hoping to find something that might suffice.

However at the end of the day, you may just not have added enough flour, or the baker may have used currants instead of raisins...It's just not the same.

The distance between my parents and I has unknowingly developed a "meals on wheels" program, rather a "fare in air" one. It doesn't happen very often, obviously. But when that brown box arrives with my name on it, you can only imagine how ecstatic I am.

Around the age of 12 I thought it would be a great idea to give up sugar. That's right. Sugar. What 12-year-old in their right mind would say no to the "oh-so-sweet, makes-you-feel-good-about-yourself-when-you're-down" tasty treat? Well, me.

I read the ingredients on nearly every packaged product in the grocery store and if there was any word with "ose" as its suffix it went right back on the shelf.

As a result, my oversupportive mother began whipping up dishes and baked goods sans sugar. I was in heaven...Specifically, molasses heaven. After a few alterations, she had created the most incredible raisin molasses bran muffin I had ever laid eyes on.

Even though it is similar in appearance to a bear's feces and it could be mistaken for a meteor rock from far away...These muffins are amazing.

So every now and then, that is what she sends me. A large batch of molasses muffins...Which unfortunately having travelled nearly four hours via air, and then another three hours around the city, carry with them a carbon footprint.

Now, I will not now or ever turn down a parcel (especially of muffins) from my mother; however, if I want them whenever the craving hits I will just have to learn to make them myself!

So, here it is. I give you the recipe that's better than prune juice, that has showed up at nearly every family gathering, that's been shipped to me for the past five years, and finally, that got me through my sugar detox.

Raisin Molasses Bran Muffins

* Makes 12 muffins, but can easily be doubled, tripled, or quadrupled.


1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup bran
¼ cup wheat germ
1 cup molasses
¾ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 egg
½ cup oil
(canola and olive oil combination)
½ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup raisins


1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and line a muffin tin with muffin cups or lightly grease.
2.In a large bowl, add all dry ingredients (flour to baking powder) and thoroughly mix.
3. In a smaller bowl, blend egg, oil, milk, and vanilla.
4. Add wet to dry. Fold.
5. Add raisins. Fold.
6. Dispense into cups and bake for 20 minutes at 375 or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool...Or not. Make yourself a cup of coffee, and enjoy!

Do you ever receive baked goods via air? Or, what favourite childhood recipe would you love to see land at your doorstep?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Less Talk, More Rice

There’s an old Chinese proverb: talk doesn’t cook rice. Now, I have never been one to dwell on many quotes or inspiring statements but being mildly obsessed with food, I immediately thought “Hey, I sure do a lot of talking and no, I haven’t seen a lot of rice.”

I love to talk; specifically, I love to advise. I love to give health advice. I have gone through life telling other people what they should or should not eat or do without ever really following my own advice. I was fortunate enough to be born into a very environmental and health conscious family. You couldn’t find a
Pamper’s diaper in my house if you tried. My mother refused to put a bottle or a soother in my mouth, and chose to conquer our nutritional needs and tears through breastfeeding. Instead of entertaining ourselves with Fisher-Price®, my sister and I played with chickens and swatted at walnuts hanging from strings in the backyard.

(Excuse me for the lack lustre photo quality.)

I remember one too many Charlie Brown Christmas trees as my mother refused to cut down one that still had potential life in it.

We were raised pescatarians as my parents believed that fish was important for brain growth. Grandma was really the only one who provided us with our sugar kick as a freshly baked apple topped with cinnamon was the only “sweet” coming out of our house …That, or a zucchini pricked with candles for birthdays (Okay --- I may be exaggerating a bit here, but it did happen. My father decided it would be a great idea to bring out an enormous zucchini with candles protruding from it for my eighth birthday. Let’s just say my birthday party turnouts got progressively smaller over the years.)

So, the list could go on but you either get the point or think that we were deprived as children. And yes, that may be the reason why I used to look forward to the sleepover’s at my bestfriend’s house where I would lick off the
Skippy peanut butter from my toast in the morning so that I could immediately reapply it with a fresh layer, or why I used to sneak handfuls of chocolate chips from the freezer later to find out that they were actually carob. But behind all of this child “deprivation” was a motive; my parents made a conscious effort to raise children who would be aware of the health and environmental issues that surround us every day. I was raised to be a health nut.

Or, a wanna-be.

If I haven’t been lying to you, then I have been lying to myself. Even though I am still a pescatarian (yes, I know you can get your Omega 3’s elsewhere, and fish isn’t the most environmentally friendly food out there but I love it,) I have been going against everything I have ever believed in or been raised to do. For the most part, I know what to ingest, and how to lead an active lifestyle, but I have been sliding over the past few years and to compensate for that I tell other people what to do…Because food and health is what I am obsessed with.

Some days I would not eat for hours, and then binge on crap because I would be starving. I would refrain from eating to compensate for the calories that I would consume in alcoholic beverages later that night. And then I would drink, a lot. I would smoke…and even though I haven’t bought a pack in over a year, I still find myself randomly doing it.

Sure, I could keep living like this but then there would be no point for eating whole and organic foods or being physically active. These things are so important to me that I need to make changes now…For myself, and for the people around me.

Having just entered my 21st year and my 4th year of university, I feel like it is time for a new beginning and/or a reintroduction to my old lifestyle.

While I recognize that there will be challenges along the way, I know that everything we do involves some sort of stepping stone. So this, my online friends, is a stepping stone that I want to share with you. It will document yummy recipes you should try that make me glow from the inside out, the workouts that put a smile on my face, or just the little things in my life this coming year that may be worth mentioning.

To start things off, here’s a creation I made last week after a trip to the farmer’s market. It’s simple and colourful, yet still packs a punch!

Swiss Chard Wrap
*inspired by Angela’s protein power bowl and a meal I had at CafĂ© Bliss in Victoria, BC

*For one wrap but can easily be adapted to two or ten

2 sprigs of swiss chard
¼ cup of cooked brown rice
¼ cup of cooked lentils
½ cup of raw chopped vegetables
(I used cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, and fresh basil)
2 tbsp. of Angela’s lightened up Tahini-Lemon dressing (make in advance for convenience, and uncontrollable snacking…)
Salt and Pep to taste


1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the swiss chard and boil until bright green and tender. Remove from pot and pat dry.
2. Place the chard on a plate so that they overlap one another.
3. Top with rice, lentils, and chopped veg. Drizzle over the tahini-lemon dressing and sprinkle on S&P.
4. Roll that bad boy up.

5. Add any desired zest or spice (Sriracha anyone??) Ohh..and maybe some hummus.

(This year I also plan to improve my camera skills!)

A knife and fork may be needed for this one. But believe me, it’s worth it.

Eat. And Enjoy…Before it gets too cold out there to even think about eating anything other than chili and soup. :)

I feel like many people see September as a start to a new year. So what healthy changes are you making or if you’re already in the process, wanting to continue?