Carrot, Coconut & Raisin Muffins

I have a friend who is currently training to run a marathon and she has cut the refined sugar out of her diet.  I totally admire her for her efforts in this venture so I decided that I wanted to bake her a treat while challenging myself at the same time to bake with some alternative ingredients.  I initially went the banana bread route, but my ingredient amounts were off and it didn’t come out as I desired so I will revisit that one at a different time.  I then moved on to muffins and carefully chose the ingredients based on their health benefits, and the result was Carrot, Coconut & Raisin muffins.  Some of the substitutions to the usual muffin ingredients that I made are highlighted below with their health benefits.

  • Instead of Butter or Vegetable Oil, I used Canola Oil.  It is low in saturated fat, high in monounsaturated fats and contains essential omega 3 fatty acids.  It has a fairly light and mild flavour so it is a great substitute in most cooking.
  • Instead of using the full amount of All Purpose White Flour, I used half Whole Wheat Flour.  Whole grains have been proven to decrease the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and pop a little more fiber into your diet.  I did half and half in this recipe as whole wheat flour is fairly dense and I didn’t want these to be heavy lumps.  You can use Whole Wheat pastry flour if you want to go all the way with whole grains and it will provide a lighter effect.
  • Instead of Sugar, I used Raw Agave Syrup.  There is some controversy behind the health benefits of agave, but essentially it is natural and has a low glycemic index so it won’t cause sharp rises or falls in blood sugar.  And just a fun fact for you, Aztecs used to use agave syrup on wounds because of its antibacterial properties.
  • I used Unsweetened Shredded Coconut.  Coconut is higher in fat, but it is the good kind that is full of rich vitamins and minerals.  Coconut has also been proven to decrease the risk of diabetes, cancer and crohn’s just to name a few.
  • I used Raisins.  There is a reason why hikers toss these little treats into trail mixes as they are high in energy and low in fat.
The muffins are great without the icing, but after I had tasted one I wanted it to be just a little bit sweeter so I improvised an icing.
Carrot, Coconut & Raisin Muffins
¾ cups all purpose flour
¾ whole wheat flour
¾ tsp baking soda
1½ baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ nutmeg
½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
3 large eggs
½ cup canola oil
½ cup raw agave syrup
¼ cup skim milk
1½ tsp vanilla extract
2 cups carrots – grated
½ cup raisins
¼ cup water
¼ cup cocnut
½ tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp agave
1.  Preheat oven to 350º.  In a saucepan mix all ingredients of the icing/glaze and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and place in fridge to chill.
2.  In a bowl mix ap flour, ww flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Stir in coconut.
3.  In another bowl beat eggs.  Stir in canola oil, agave, vanilla and milk.  Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients.  Stir in carrots and raisins just enough so that they are moistened, do not over mix.
4.  Pour into a paper lined or greased muffin tin.  Bake for 20 minutes.
5.  Wait until muffins are cooled and put a thin layer of the icing/glaze mixture on top.
Makes 12 muffins
Per Muffin:
Calories 174      Fat 8g       Carbs 21g      Protein 3.5g

Peashoot Salad

I have been on a bit of a peashoot kick lately.  They are a nice break from the usual greens and they have such a great rich and nutty flavour.  I usually just toss them in as an addition to a burger or stir fry, but I wanted to make them the highlight of a recipe.  I made a Peashoot Salad which was super delicious, fresh and healthy, yum!

I’m a big fan of multicoloured heirloom carrots, mainly because of how they look but also because they are so very delicious.

The dressing was so simple to make and will be making an appearance in my food more often

Not only does it taste fantastic, it also looks pretty which is an added bonus if you eat with your eyes like I do.

Peashoot Salad

4 cups peashoots – chopped

1 large carrot – julienned

2 tbsp fresh basil – chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

½ tbsp agave nectar syrup

1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tsp low sodium soy sauce

2 tsp sesame seeds – lightly toasted

1.  In a small bowl mix together olive oil, agave nectar, rice vinegar, soy sauce and sesame seeds.

2.  In a large bowl toss peashoots, carrots, and basil.  Toss dressing in.  Serve right away.

Makes 4 servings

Per Serving:

Calories 69      Fat 4.5g      Carbs 3.5g      Protein 3.5g

Zucchini & Carrot Cakes

I love my vegetables, but sometimes they need a little facelift to change things up.  I’m always looking for different ways to serve them so why not a zucchini & carrot cake?  The inspiration behind this idea came from a potato latke, which are a tasty fried potato cake treat.  Unfortunately potato latkes are not particularly friendly to the old waistline, so I made a version with some healthier veggies and left the frying out of the equation.

These are great on their own, but I made a dill yogurt topping to go with these cake creations and highly recommend you do the same.

Zucchini & Carrot Cakes

1 medium zucchini

1 medium carrot

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp flour

½ tsp garlic powder

1 tsp seasoning salt

½ cracked black pepper

Dill yogurt topping:

½ cup plain non fat yogurt

2 tsp dried dill

½ tsp granulated sugar

½ tsp garlic powder

1. Preheat oven to 375º.  Grate zucchini and carrots.  Squeeze out excess liquid with a paper towel.

2.  In a bowl mix grated veg with egg.  Stir in flour, garlic powder, seasoning salt and pepper.

3. Form into 4 patties.  Place on a lightly greased baking pan.  Bake for 15 mins, flipping halfway.

4.  While cakes are baking, mix all ingredients for the dill yogurt topping in a small bowl, chill till ready to use.

Makes 2 servings

Per Serving (2 cakes with topping)

Calories 91      Fat 2g      Carbs 8g      Protein 4g

Chicken Strips

Craving some chicken strips? Here is a healthier version that still has all the flavour you could want.

I have a weakness for chicken strips and nuggets of the deep fried variety.  So I decided I should probably make a few tweaks to health it up a bit, and did so by making a whole wheat coating and baking them in the oven.  I paired it up with some hot mustard dip and I do have to say, they were not too shabby, not too shabby at all.

  Chicken Strips

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts – cut into strips

1 large whole wheat bun – or the equivalent in bread – cut into cubes

1 tsp garlic powder

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp parsley

1 tbsp grated parmesan

½ tbsp sesame seeds

2 eggs

1.  Preheat oven to 350º.  Lay cubes of bread out on a baking sheet and bake for 10 mins

2. Place baked bread cubes, garlic powder, paprika, parsley, and grated parmesan into food processor and pulse until  desired texture for chicken strips coating is reached.  Pour into a bowl and stir in sesame seeds.

3. Turn oven up to 400º.  Coat chicken strips in egg and then coat with breadcrumb mixture.  Place on a lightly greased baking pan.

4. Bake for about 20 mins.

Makes 2 servings

Per Serving

Calories 280      Fat 9g      Carbs 10.5g      Protein 35g

Golden Beet Chips

I’ve been neglecting the blog, but I have a ton of entries stockpiled up so there is about to be a bunch plopped down on here!

One of my favourite vegetables out there is the Golden Beet.  For some reason they are really hard to find, and just magically appear once in awhile.  I got some in my Spud harvest box this week, so a happy dance commenced in my kitchen and I decided I wanted to try something new with them, chips!  Ok, I admit, the golden beets were not the inspiration behind the chips idea…I got a new mandolin last week and have been itching to try it out.  New kitchen toys are oh so fun.

These were incredibly easy to make, super tasty (addictive even) and a very healthy alternative to its fried counterpart.  The dip shown here is just a super simple mix of sour cream, garlic powder, dill and paprika.

Golden Beet Chips

3 golden beets

½ tbsp olive oil

1 tsp dried dill

1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp cracked pepper

1. Preheat oven to 325°.  Slice beets thinly with a mandolin or super sharp knife. If using a knife, try to keep thickness as consistent as possible.

2.  In a bowl toss beets with olive oil and dill

3. Lay beets on a baking pan that has been lightly sprayed with cooking oil and bake for 15 mins.  Flip and cook for 15 mins more, or until beets are crisp.

3.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt and pepper and let beets sit on pan for a few minutes before transferring to paper towel.  Enjoy!

Makes 4 servings

Per Serving:

Calories 42     Fat 2g      Carbs 6g     Protein 1.5g