date balls (energy bites!)

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So I am officially a huge date fan now and remember that huge bag of pressed dates I had kicking around in the pantry?…Well it is gone and I had to buy pitted dates this time (I couldn’t find the pressed ones) and the 1kg container is at it’s half life already!

These are very similar to the previous post crispy oat, nut & date bars but they have a hint of peanut butter in them (which means less butter butter!), less sugar and lots of almond & pumpkin seed goodness.  Definitely experiment your favourite seeds & nuts – and the measurements don’t have to be exact but be careful to add them slowly to the date mixture because the important part is to be sure there is enough date ratio so the ball holds together well. These are a household favourite now and my kids just love them! They are a great snack to keep in your purse (they snacked on them this morning at the grocery store) with minimal mess!

*If your seeds and/or nuts are salted – you don’t need to add salt to the recipe.

what you need (give or take!):

  • 1 1/4 cup pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup whole almonds
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup rice crispy cereal
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp brown sugar (or coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 small pinch of salt

what to do:

  1. In a food processor, pulse almonds until quite fine (you can keep it chunkier but it tends to stick better in the ball if it’s smaller). Remove.
  2. In the same processor, pulse pumpkin seeds. Add to almond mixture and combine.
  3. In the same processor, pulse the dates until it forms a ball going around and around – paste like.
  4. In a small pot on medium low, add dates, butter, peanut butter, cinnamon, salt and brown sugar – use a firm spatula or large fork to mash everything together, until evenly combined – then turn off the heat. Add vanilla and stir.
  5. Add about 3/4 of the seed and nut mixture to the date mixture – stir to combine – if it’s still quite sticky and date dominant – add the rest. Add the rice crispies as well – stir and either form balls or press into a 9×9″ square pan for squares.

*if you are making balls – grease your fingertips a little bit with vegetable oil or butter so that they don’t stick to you.

*if you are making squares – make sure they are completely cooled before you slice. a knife dipped in hot water will make the slicing easier.

ENJOY!

crispy oat, nut & date bars

 

I have had a huge bag of pressed dates sitting in my pantry since my craze with baking date filled oatmeal cookies. I had a craving for the sweetness of dates but didn’t have the time commitment today to make the cookies – so pie pie and I experimented in the kitchen a little today while the boss was napping…and oh man these are actually amazing. They are so tasty I think if you had someone taste them blindfolded they might even think there is some sort of chocolate in there.  Even as we were tasting them, I asked pie pie if she thought we made junk food or good food…and she looked at me with a cute sheepish smile and replied “junk food” and I reviewed our ingredients again with her and she said…”good food??!”.  It is packed with nuts, dates, some oats and rice crispies, and for richness yes there is butter & brown sugar…but not lots.  My husband came home from work and popped one into his mouth and then said “mmm..what is this? is it bad for you?” and pie pie happily told him “no! it’s good food!” hahaha, after which he proceeded to eat a few more. If you or your family are like us (sweet tooths!) then this recipe is a must try!  You could certainly eliminate the brown sugar too if you prefer, as the dates are quite sweet.

Oh – and just realized – they are gluten free, for those who can’t eat wheat!

I also recommend making a double batch because these will go fast…

prep: 10 min     cook: 5 min     yield: 9 squares

what you need:

  • 1 cup pressed dates
  • 1 cup crushed mixed nuts (we used unsalted Kirkland brand of mixed nuts)
  • 3 tbsp (not packed) brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup rice crispy cereal
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • small pinch of salt

what to do:

  1. In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine dates, brown sugar, cinnamon and butter.
  2. Crush nuts in a bag with a rolling pin (perfect task for your kids!)
  3. Once butter is melted and dates are loosened, remove from heat and mix with a fork to work butter and sugar into the dates.
  4. Add in the rest of the ingredients and mix using fork or spatula, until everything seems evenly combined.
  5. Press firmly into a 9×9″ pan and allow to cool completely before cutting into squares and storing in an airtight container. Instead of squares you could roll them into balls (also a fun task for kids) – don’t be scared to press them in your hands firmly to make sure they stay together in a ball form. Enjoy!

pie pie, my lil’ kitchen helper

boss woke up from her nap to a healthy fun snack!

 

buying day old greens!

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can’t beat 3 bunches for $2! and it’s organic.

At the local grocery store where I shop, there’s always produce bundled up in plastic wrap that is just a little unattractive…but there is absolutely nothing wrong with it! It’s price is super attractive though ($2 for 3 bunches of organic kale! compared to regular $2.99 or so for 1 bunch) and here’s the trick to revive and make the greens look attractive and appetizing again!

Remove greens (for example, kale, swiss chard, collard greens) from plastic wrap and remove leafy part from stems. The easiest way to do this is to hold the bottom of the stem and run your other hand up to remove the leafy green parts.

Fill big bowls with cold water and submerge leafy greens.  Allow them to sit for 15 minutes or so. This will rehydrate them, making them full and leafy again and not so sad and wilted. Place greens in a salad spinner to spin off excess water before storing in your fridge. If you saved your clamshells – this is a perfect time to use them! Line them will paper towel and place leafy greens in, then close tightly.  Now they are ready for you to use (clean and washed!) when you prepare a meal:)

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3 bunches of organic kale, revived, washed, and ready to go!

greens for breakfast

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over easy egg over sautéed kale 

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love a runny egg over anything!

Over Easter we were incredibly lucky to have spent the weekend in California’s Disneyland with my parents!  What a treat it was for all of us – literally in every sense.  Though it’s fun to eat out and enjoy things like decadent pastries for breakfast, we all came home feeling like we needed more greens and veggies.  This week I am challenging myself to eat more greens (to make up for my lack of consuming them in Disneyland!) and it seemed fitting to start the day right.  Sometimes it seems weird to have your coffee alongside veggies but this morning I actually quite enjoyed my sautéed kale with a runny egg on top, instead of a piece of toast and fried egg.  Super filling, easy, nutritious, and very yummy.  Feel like your morning is too rushed to prep a breakfast like this? Plan ahead and make sure you wash and tear up your kale the night before so it’s ready to go in the morning!

what you need:

  • 2 large handfuls of washed and roughly torn kale
  • 1 large egg
  • salt & pepper
  • cooking oil (I use grapeseed oil)

what to do:

  1. In a nonstick pan, add 1 tsp oil on medium heat.
  2. Add kale and season lightly with salt and pepper – cover with a lid for 1 minute – just so it steams and softens.
  3. Remove lid and toss/stir, to cook all edges of the kale.
  4. Load up your kale onto a plate – then fry up an egg any style you like (my favourite is over easy…love the creamy yolk) – ENJOY!
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piepie, minnie mouse, & the boss

basic buttercream icing

Need a good buttercream icing for your cupcakes? This one is my go to – it’s 4 ingredients, easy to pipe on, and tastes great. You can easily give your icing some colour with food colouring paste; but there’s something very pure and classic with just the buttery white colour too though!

The key to a really good buttercream icing is patience – make sure you take the time to whip the butter until it turns fluffy and lighter in colour, and add the sifted icing sugar 1-2 cups at time.  Take your butter out the night before you want to make this; the butter HAS to be at room temperature – melting it in the microwave often doesn’t work because you’ll likely melt it too much!

prep:  15 min   yield: enough to ice about 24 cupcakes

what you need:

  • 1 cup unsalted butter, must be at room temperature
  • 5 cups icing sugar (sifted)
  • 1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • a splash of milk

what to do:

  1. In a stand mixer with whisk attachment (best) or with a hand mixer – beat butter until smooth and white and fluffy – you will need to scrape down the bowl a few times to get all the butter whipped – should take a good 5 minutes or so.
  2. Add 1 cup of icing sugar and beat well again – then add another cup of icing sugar and beat well again, making sure after each addition the butter comes back to a fluffy and light consistency.
  3. Add vanilla extract and beat again.
  4. Add another 1-2 cups of icing sugar – beat well – then add 1 tbsp of milk. Beat well and then check consistency.  It should be soft and light. Add the last cup of icing sugar a little bit at a time – if you find the icing is too hard or firm, add another little bit of milk to loosen it up. You want it soft and fluffy to be able to spread or pipe it easily onto your cake.
  5. ENJOY!
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chocolate buttercream icing…                  will post soon:)

 

chocolate banana cupcakes

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These cupcakes are so flavourful (who doesn’t like chocolate and banana?) and moist you’ll be surprised there is only 1/2 cup of vegetable oil in them. And actually because of the bananas’ sweetness, doesn’t have a whole ton of sugar either, which makes it great for kids birthday parties and such.  My family loves these and anytime I make them (and I have made them A LOT) they are always well received, and I always find amusement in how shocked people are that in 24+ cupcakes there is only that little bit of fat! [cake part only…can’t have buttercream icing without butter…]

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chocolatey banana in every bite

I just hosted my cousin’s baby shower this past Sunday and the comments about the cupcakes were that they were tasty, moist, delicious, tender, and what!? no way?! in regards to the fat content of the cake…pretty good responses right?  I really hope you try out this recipe! Your family and friends will love it as much as mine do.

prep: 20 min   bake: 15-17 min   yield: ~24 cupcakes at least

what you need:

*ingredients at room temperature will give best results

  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour (all purpose flour works too)
  • 1 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 large bananas
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (mild tasting like canola or grapeseed oil)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk (almond milk, coconut milk, etc. work too)
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extra
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips

what to do:

  1. Line 2 cupcake baking sheet with paper muffin cups.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F (325 F if you have a convection oven).
  3. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and white sugar.
  4. In another bowl, mash bananas with a fork until very mushy, then whisk in oil, eggs, water, milk, and vanilla extract.
  5. Use a double boiler method to melt the chocolate chips (small amount of water in a small saucepan, aluminum bowl on top with the chocolate chips in it) – this indirect heat keeps the chocolate from burning.
  6. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, mixing until incorporated but don’t over beat.
  7. Add in the melted chocolate and stir/mix one more time to get chocolate throughout.
  8. Pour into lined trays – about 3/4 full only – and then bake for 15-17 minutes. This really depends on your oven – so be sure to cheque at 15 minutes. If they are still soft at the top and wiggle when you move the tray, they will need another minute.
  9. Remove from oven and allow to cool a little bit – once they are cool enough to handle, transfer immediately to a cooling rack to cool completely.
  10. Once they are cooled completely, you can ice them with whatever you’d like! Some of my favourites for this cupcake are buttercream icing, peanut butter buttercream icing, or a straight up chocolate ganache.  Enjoy!
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Mrs. Bontius’ “bontiful” spread