Healthy-ish Salted Almond Joy Bars

all dipped 2While these home-made almond joy bars aren’t exactly healthy, they are healthy-ish. It’s all a matter of degree. Consider the ingredients in a store bought Almond Joy:

Corn Syrup, Milk Chocolate (Milk Chocolate, Contains Sugar, Coca Butter, Chocolate, Milk, Lactose, Milk Fat, Nonfat Milk, Soy Lecithin, An Emulsifier), Coconut, Sugar, Almonds, Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oils, Whey, Cocoa, Salt, Vanilla, Chocolate, Egg Whites, Soya Lecithin, and Sodium Metabisulfite, to Preserve Color.ingredientsThese simply contain unsweetened almond butter, unsweetened coconut, honey, coconut oil, vanilla bean paste and salt. They are finished with a thick coating of bittersweet chocolate and topped with whole toasted almonds and sea salt. This recipe is from the genius mind of Anna Jones. I am loving her new book, A Modern Way to Cookmix in a bowlspreading in panChill the mixture for about 45 minutes in the freezer before cutting into bars. Get your dipping station all set up. I was excited to use my chocolate dipping fork. I bought it over 30 years ago and it still thrills me every chance I get to use it. it makes me feel like a professional chocolatier. A regular fork works just as well for dipping. ready for dipping

 

all dippedThese satisfy your sugar craving without being cloyingly sweet. The hard shell of bittersweet chocolate yields to a chewy almond coconut filling.

Click here to print recipe for Healthy-ish Salted Almond Joy Bars.

on a bed of coconut

Mexican Frittata

cooled and ready to cutI struggled with what to call this dish. To give you a better idea of what I created, try to imagine if Shakshuka and Nachos were to hook up. This dish would be their love child.

I first had Shakshuka a few years ago in Israel. It is essentially eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, peppers, and onions, often spiced with cumin. My husband loved it and kept asking me to recreate it at home. While I loved the classic rendition, I couldn’t resist tampering with it. Ingredients for sauceI began with the usual base for a Shakshuka sauce; canned tomatoes, onions, garlic and sweet peppers. I took a page from Mexican sauces and added a few dried chile peppers. I used an ancho and a guajillo pepper. Dried peppers add a depth of flavour you just can’t get from chile powder. Here is a great primer if you want to learn more about cooking with dried peppers. Many of the more popular dried peppers are not that spicy, so don’t be afraid. I added corn to my sauce because corn makes everything better.cheesesI knew that I wanted to top the dish with cheese, because, Nachos need cheese. I settled on a mix of cheddar, Monterey Jack and Queso Fresco, a mild cow’s milk cheese. If you can’t find it, Ricotta Salata would be a good substitute, or just use extra cheddar and Monterey Jack.

Rather than fooling with poached or fried eggs, I decided to make it easy and use scrambled eggs. Inspired by matzoh brei (fried matzoh), I briefly mixed the tortilla chips with the eggs, before pouring them over the tomato sauce. I added some chopped pickled jalapeños to the eggs for a bright bit of heat. ready for oveneggs and tortillasready to assembleready for ovenI served it with black beans, salsa and sour cream. Diced avocados or some guacamole would also be very welcome at this fiesta. ready to eat

Click here to print recipe for Mexican Frittata.

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Spiced Lamb Meatball Pita Pockets

pitas on wooden cutting boardOne of my favourite sources of inspiration for what to blog about next is my friend Marla. She is always trying new recipes and has a real knack for finding delicious ones. She was the one that turned me on to these spiced lamb meatballs from the November 2016 issue of Bon Appetit. I decided to adapt the recipe to create pita pockets.

I started with making a romesco (nut and red pepper) sauce to spread on the pita, alongside some store-bought hummus. It takes some time to make, but I loved the tangy, spicy bright flavour it added to the sandwich. I used a combination of hazelnuts and almonds for the nuts portion of the sauce. For the peppers, I used both jarred roasted red sweet peppers and a dried whole chile pepper.Romesco sauce ingredientsThe nuts and bread get toasted. They are used to thicken the sauce.toasting nuts and breadA quick blitz in the blender or food processor finishes the romesco sauce. It can be made a few days ahead and kept in the fridge. It is also delicious on a chicken sandwich or mixed in with some hot pasta.finished romesco sauceThe meatballs come together quickly. Paprika and cumin and coriander seeds add a warm earthy note, while fresh cilantro and parsley add a vibrant freshness. meatball ingredientsfrying meatballs

Click here to print recipe for Spiced Lamb Meatball Pita Pockets.

one pita ready for dinner

 

Rustic Seeded Oat Crackers

butter 2I don’t really get the appeal of smoothies. Yes, I know they are jam-packed with tons of healthy foods, but honestly, they have no crunch. If I’m going to take in calories, I want to chew my food. (I make an exception for wine, because there are exceptions to every rule).with wine 3These crackers are ideal for when hunger strikes at 4:00 pm and I want to devour everything in sight. They satisfy my craving for salt and crunch. And, as a bonus, I know that they are densely packed with good- for-me ingredients.

The problem with most packaged crackers is that just a few never satisfy me. Plus, the list of ingredients almost always contains items I can’t pronounce, and probably shouldn’t be eating. The healthy packaged crackers, while packed with fibre, taste like cardboard.

These crackers are the creation of British food stylist and author Anna Jones. Her Instagram account is gorgeous. I just bought her new cookbook, A Modern Way to Cook, and I am so inspired to cook my way through it.

Oats are the main ingredient, the glue that holds all these seeds together. Feel free to play around with the seeds you add. I used pumpkin, sunflower, sesame, poppy, nigella and fennel.assortment of seedsready to mixAdd water, a few teaspoons of vegetable oil and maple syrup, and let it sit for about 10 minutes so that the oats can soak up all the moisture.mixedDivide the batter into 2 and roll each half out between 2 sheets of parchment paper. rolled outready for bakingOnce baked, let them cool and break into crackers. You can make them any size you like. I was curious to know the nutrient info for these crackers, so I did the calculations. Each large piece (recipe makes 16 large crackers) contains 85 calories, 1.5 grams of fibre and 3 grams of protein.

They are delicious plain, with butter and salt or with some olive tapenade. My friend Sandy has a great tapenade recipe.crckers in bowl on marble platterbutter 1

Click here to print recipe for Rustic Seeded Oat Crackers.

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Pickled Apple Slaw

3-bowls-of-slawHappy New Year! Hope everyone filled up on lots of cookies and family time over the holidays. Did anyone make any New Year’s resolutions? I must admit, resolutions kind of scare me. I always end up being so disappointed in myself. But, I’m going to go out on a limb here and make two resolutions.

1. I feel like I should probably give up my favourite potato chips for just a little while. (How’s that for a definitive statement?) WAIT! I take that back. Perhaps I should just take baby steps here. OK, I resolve to fill my little portion control bowl to the rim with chips, rather than to overflowing! A much more realistic and achievable goal.

2. I resolve to drink more Prosecco. Yes, I said more. Breaking news folks! Prosecco is actually good for you. 

If early January is too soon for you to start pickling your liver, how about pickling apples? I first read about pickling apples over on seriouseats.com. Daniel Gritzer featured a recipe for Beet and Wheat Berry Salad with Pickled Apples and Pecans. To date, I have only pickled onions, shallots, cucumbers and carrots. Pickled apples intrigued me. I love the addition of apples in slaw, but you need to cut them just before serving or they turn brown. Pickling solves that problem.

This slaw packs in a ton of vegetables, which, if you’re like me, I try to do every January to help cleanse my system after my December gluttony. This recipe does not feel like deprivation at all. The choice of vegetables is up to you. These are what looked good to me when I went to the market.

I started with a base of red and green cabbage.cutting-cabbgeI love the crunch and verdant freshness of sugar snap peas, so they went in next. sugar-snap-peasI thought that the flavour of celery would really complement the apples, so I bought some celeriac (also known as celery root). It’s the ugly knoby, hairy root you always see and wonder about. A few stalks of celery would be a good substitute if you can’t find celeriac.celeriacJust peel and slice it into a julienne. Put it in a bowl of water with a bit of lemon juice to keep it from turning brown before adding to the salad. celeriac-cutI decided to pickle shallots, along with the apples.apples-and-shallots Combine apple cider vinegar, water, sugar, salt and some mint sprigs in a small pot. Simmer until salt and sugar are dissolved. Pour hot pickling brine over apples and shallots and then place bowl in an ice bath to cool quickly. chilling-pickling-liquidA simple cider vinaigrette, with a touch of dijon and honey is the perfect dressing for this slaw. Finish with some diced or sliced jalapeños, fresh mint and some toasted pecans for crunch. Your digestive system will thank you.

Any leftovers will keep well for a day or two in the fridge. I added some diced hardboiled eggs and julienned gruyere cheese the next day for a lunch salad. It was bonkers good!composed-salad

Click here to print recipe for Pickled-Apple-Slaw.

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