Tuesday, 13 November 2012

What a Pear

Today I said goodbye to my partner in crime, my cycling companion, personal mechanic and ultimate taste-tester. He's off on an epic ride through Central America and I'm really proud of him for undertaking this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, not to mention being totally excited for him and really, really jealous. He inspires me to better myself, to seek out adventure and to continue to challenge myself. If he's reading this, he's totally disgusted by my flattery right now. But trust me, he's a pretty rad dude. 


Here's Baz being ever so helpful. Evidently, he has a thing for tools.

As expected, this weekend was busy with last-minute packing and organizing. I wanted to make him something special for breakfast, but also wanted it to be quick and easy so that it didn't take up the whole morning. What I ended up with was a chocolate pear scone. "Blog worthy?" I asked him. He didn't really answer, as he was too busy inhaling them. The way to a man's heart, etc. These were my first attempt at making a gluten-free scone. I've been making muffins and quick-breads for years, but for some reason, the scone just wasn't something that I tried to recreate. Well, let me tell you, it's probably a good thing that I wasn't aware of the amazing tastiness that are these scones (or sconces, as my tired fingers keep typing. Crunchy!) or I'd be the size of a truck by now (and that would be an American-sized truck, not a cute Japanese one). Without further ado, I bring you these:



Pear and Chocolate Scones
Inspired by these.
Makes 6

3 pears, cored and chopped quite small
1 cup brown rice flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/4 cup potato starch
1 tsp xanthan gum
1/4 cup cane sugar
2 1/4 tsp gluten-free baking powder (or 1 1/2 tsp regular baking powder)
1/2 tsp salt
5 tbsp cold (solid) coconut oil
1 1/2 tbsp yogurt (I used goat)
1 1/2 tbsp milk (I used almond)
1/3 cup good quality chocolate chips or chopped up chunks
2 eggs

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking tray with parchment and place chopped pears in a single layer. Roast for 20 minutes and then remove from oven to cool. 

2. Mix flours, baking powder, sugar and salt. Add the pears, coconut oil, yogurt, milk and 1 egg and mix until well incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and mix. 

3. Line baking tray with parchment paper. Dust the baking tray with rice flour and rub your hands with rice flour as well. Pat dough into a round and cut into 6 triangles. Trust me, you need to cut and arrange the scones on the tray, as gluten-free dough doesn't have the same elasticity as glutenous dough. If you try to form the scones on the counter and transfer them, they will fall apart. And that's sad. 

4. Whisk the other egg and brush onto the tops of the scones. Sprinkle with some sugar. Arrange scones on tray and bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown. 

5. Eat warm from the oven, with some tea and a loved one. 

Please excuse the quality of these pictures; the light in my basement suite wasn't cooperating but I NEEDED to share these with you all. So please, make them and share them with someone who you would be sad to be parted from. Or, if you're already missing someone, make these for yourself and eat your feelings. These are worth it. 

Cheers!




Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Keen on Quinoa

Have you ever had the need to literally dive into a bowl of food, eat without breathing and not stop until the wobbly feeling in your legs has disappeared? No? Because that's what happened to me this weekend. I had a long commute in the cold rain and a totally exhausting ballet class on Saturday. I was cold, wet and so hungry I wasn't sure I was going to make it home. But I did. And I'm so glad about that, because born out of necessity came this meal I'm about to share. If I had passed out instead, I would be sharing a technique for getting grass stains out of your jeans and mud out of your hair. Let's save that for another post, shall we?

Evidently, I needed something fast and nourishing and for me, that usually means quinoa. The seed that thinks it's a grain, quinoa cooks up quickly and is full of good carbs and protein, both of which are a must after a crazy-intense workout. First eaten by the Incas four-thousand years ago (talk about shelf life!), quinoa is now back in fashion. And I am nothing if not fashionable. You know, in my rain-drenched leotard and all. This dish was really easy and really delicious and if spooning in bed was a meal, it just might be this one.


Maple Quinoa Porridge with Pears and Hazelnuts
Serves 4 (or 2 ravenous ballerinas)

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1.5 cups water
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
Nutmeg
Milk of your choice (I used almond)
Maple syrup
1 pear
Handful of hazelnuts (or filberts, if you're feeling posh)

1. Put quinoa, water, cinnamon, allspice and salt in a saucepan, bring to the boil, cover and reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the element for an additional 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, slice the pear.

3. Over medium heat, toast the hazelnuts until aromatic and just starting to brown. If you don't like the skins, rub them off at this point. Regardless, chop hazelnuts. Chop em' good.

4. Place quinoa in a bowl. Top with a splash of milk, a drizzle of maple syrup, some pear slices and the hazelnuts. Garnish with a little freshly grated nutmeg.

5. Inhale.



Cheers!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Ch-ch-ch-chia!

Remember these little furry terracotta things? They would magically spout tiny green leaves and voila! You'd be the proud owner of this:

Roar . . . I'm a bunny. 

Nowadays, chia has become more well known for it's nutritional value. These tiny little seeds are an amazing storehouse of all sorts of goodness. They are about the same size as a sesame seed and are a source of omega-3s, fibre, antioxidants, minerals and protein. That's a lot to pack in! So what does this have to do with this post?

As someone who is pretty active, I enjoy my snacks. However, needing to avoid both gluten and dairy (and wanting to try and not eat things full of refined sugar) means that my options are few when it comes to buying granola or protein bars. So instead I went a little crazy in the bulk section and threw a whole bunch of good things into a bowl, stirred it up and made my own! And, you guessed it, there were chia seeds in there.



Almond Butter Fruit Bars

Makes 16 bars

4 ripe bananas
1 cup almond butter
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dates
1 cup gluten-free oats
1 cup quinoa flakes
1/3 cup sunflower seeds
1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup shredded coconut
4 tbsp flax seeds
3 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

1. Preheat oven to 350 and line 2 8x8 pans with parchment paper.
2. Mash bananas and place in small saucepan. Add almond butter and stir over medium heat until blended and smooth. Remove from heat.
3. Place apricots, dates, cranberries and almonds into food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.
4. Place nut and fruit mixture in a bowl and add oats, quinoa, seeds, coconut and spices. Mix in banana and almond mixture and stir until totally blended.
5. Divide batter between the two pans and press into place, smoothing it as much as possible.
6. Bake for 30 minutes.
7. Cut into 8 bars per pan (16 in total) and enjoy! These will last about 2 weeks in an airtight container in the fridge.

These are my favourite snack right now. They're just the right combination of complex carbs, protein and fats, and they get me through a gruelling dance class or a long ride. A little bit sweet, a little bit salty and the same spices as pumpkin pie. What's not to love? Nothing, that's what. So go make some and ch-ch-ch-chew like a green bunny. Nom, nom, nom.

Cheers!