Sheryl Jesin


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Gluten free, dairy free, soy free banana chocolate chip muffins

I love baking healthy muffins, because they are such a quick and portable breakfast or snack.  I’ve been experimenting with gluten free versions for a while now.  Some are a real flop, and only I end up eating them.   Others are decent, and Benjamin and I will eat them.  I know that they are good when Dylan and Jake say that they like them.

My latest version of a banana muffin was a hit with everyone in the family.   I hope you try this recipe.  Let me know what you think!

Recipe – Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins – gluten free, dairy free, soy free (can be vegan)

Recipe modified from Smitten Kitchen’s Crackly Banana Bread

Ingredients

3 large over ripe bananas

1 large organic egg (for vegan version, substitute 1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water)

1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, or olive oil

1/3 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

3/4 cup oat flour

1/2 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/4 cup chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix wet ingredients in Vitamix until smooth (bananas, egg, coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla).  [If you don’t have a Vitamix, you can mash the banana by hand with a fork, and mix well with other wet ingredients.]

Mix baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, flours, and chocolate chips in a large bowl.  Pour in wet mixture.  Mix until combined.

Grease muffin tins well with grapeseed oil.  Pour in mixture to fill cups.  This recipe makes 12 muffins.

Bake until golden brown, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

I think that these muffins are the most delicious warm from the oven, especially when the chocolate chips are melty and gooey – I devoured a few of these right after I made them.  These will keep well in an airtight container for 3-5 days (if they last that long!)


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Raw Vegan Avocado Lemon Pudding

As much as I love chocolate, I’ve always had a place in my heart for lemon desserts.  There is something so refreshing about a lemon sorbet, a lemon merengue pie or a lemon square.  Unfortunately, a lot of these desserts are on my do-not-eat list since they generally contain copious amounts of white sugar and butter and gluten!

A couple of nights ago I decided I was in the mood for a lemony treat and whipped up something that turned out amazing.  It was rich, creamy, tart and also healthy.  I made a lemon pudding and its base was avocado.  Avocados truly are super foods – they are a good source of vitamin K, dietary fiber, potassium, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin C,  and copper.  They can help lower your cholesterol and your blood pressure.   Plus – they taste delicious!  I am quite sad that we are out of both avocados and lemons because I’d really like to eat this right now!  Must buy some tomorrow.

Recipe – Raw Vegan Avocado Lemon Pudding (gluten free, soy free)

Makes 1 large serving, or two medium sized servings.

Ingredients

1 large avocado

Juice of 1 lemon

Zest of one lemon

2-3 tbsp agave

2 medjool dates

2 ice cubes

Method

Place items in high speed blender.  Blend on high speed until smooth.  Enjoy! (Note – this was quite tart – if you like your lemon desserts sweeter, just add more agave.)


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Recipe – Banana Coconut Milk Ice Cream

Like many other runners, I love bananas.   We seem to go through so many in our house!   They are an amazing snack before a run, after a run and basically anytime throughout the day!  They are also so versatile when mashed and used in baking, and I adore them sliced in a bowl of oatmeal.  I find them very easy to digest, and they pack a lot of nutrition into 100 calories, including 3 grams of fibre and 12% of your daily requirement of potassium.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the deliciousness of banana soft serve (which is basically frozen bananas processed in a blender).  I was inspired by the Ultimate Vegan Ice Cream over at the (Never) Homemaker blog, and the “Blizzard” recipes over at Angela’s Oh She Glows blog.

So, I decided to come up with own version, made from some of my favorite ingredients – bananas, coconut milk, almond butter and chocolate!   It is so simple to make – I hope you give it a try!

Recipe – Banana Coconut Milk Ice Cream (Vegan, soy free, gluten free)

Ingredients:

2 medium bananas

1 tablespoon almond butter

100 mL coconut milk

4 ice cubes

A few squares of dark chocolate, chopped

Directions:

Slice bananas and place in freezer for an hour until frozen, or overnight.   Place frozen bananas, coconut milk, almond butter and ice cubes in food processor or blender (I used a Vitamix, of course).   Blend until smooth.  Top with chocolate.  ENJOY!

This recipe makes 2 large servings.  You will be so surprised how creamy the bananas get in the blender.  You won’t believe that this ice cream is dairy free!  I used greenish bananas, and the ice cream did not have a strong banana flavour.  I think I like this recipe even more than my previous coconut milk ice cream recipe!  It is a bit lighter, more refreshing, and not quite as rich.

(As an aside, my photography skills can use a bit of work.  I’ve read that pictures of food turn out much better when taken in daylight.  This is a problem for me, since most of my adventures in the kitchen tend to take place once the little ones are in bed for the night.  Oh well…a real first world problem, right?)


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How to make juice using a blender

I love smoothies.  I really do.  I tend to have one every day for breakfast.   They are an easy way to get in tons of fruits and veggies first thing in the morning and when I add in all my extras like protein powder, almond milk, chia seeds and more, they are very filling and keep me going til lunch.

However, sometimes I’m looking for something that will give me a big punch of nutrition without filling me up.  This usually happens in the afternoon – my energy levels are low and I need a little boost.  This is where juice enters!  And I’m not talking the kind of juice you buy in the supermarket that is basically just sugar water.  I’m talking about home made juice.  (No – I’m not exaggerating over store bought juice – the kind in bottles and the refridgerated brands like Tropicana too.  When they are made, they are heated so high during the pasteurization process that basically all flavour and nutritional value are lost.  Manufacturers then add in “natural flavour” and vitamin C.  Click here for more info.  I absolutely refuse to buy store bought juice.  My kids do have it on occasion when we are at someone’s house, but NEVER at home.  We just don’t buy it!)

OK – so back to juice making – I really want a juicer and it is on the wish list of things I want for my kitchen. Until then, my trusty Vitamix is my juicer!

When making juice, it is best to use a whole bunch of veggies and just enough fruit to make it palatable.  When you make juice, you remove the fibre from the fruits and veggies.  This is no big deal – I know I get tons of fibre throughout my day.  However, when you eat fruit, the fibre in them helps to balance out the sugar, which prevents spikes in your blood sugar level.  That’s why I just put a bit of fruit in my juices, and mainly concentrate on the veggies.    You can never get enough veggies in your diet!

Here’s a picture of the veggies and fruit I used in today’s juice – a big chunk of cabbage, 5 carrots, 2 stalks of celery, 1 apple, 1 small cucumber, half a lemon and a chunk of ginger.

Ready to be juiced

I began the process by putting a bit of water in the blender to get things going – perhaps a scant 1/4 cup.   Then I added the celery and cucumber and blended til smooth.  Then I added each item and blended.  It’s easier to add things slowly then trying to cram everything in there at once.

Once everything was blended and smooth, I strained the mixture.  We have a very fine sieve that I use for this process.  You could also use a nut milk bag, cheesecloth, or even an old t-shirt!  I held the sieve over a bowl and poured the mixture in.  Then I pressed it down using a spoon to fully get all the juice out.  Here’s what that looks like:

Straining the mixture

Isn’t it such a beautiful purple color?   The cabbage really makes it so pretty!  Once I was done straining, I poured the delicious juice into a glass.  Here is the final product:

The final product
Top view

The whole process probably took me 15 minutes.  The most time consuming part is pressing down the mixture with a spoon to get all the juice out.  I managed to do this with my toddler grabbing on to my leg and my 4 year old talking my head off about Lego.  A bonus with using the Vitamix for juicing is that the clean up is super quick.  (I’ve heard the conventional juicers are a pain to clean).

I thought the final product was delicious.  I might have added a bit more ginger, but otherwise the combination of veggies with the apple was perfect.  I should add that my 4 year old wouldn’t drink it, but my 1 year old loved it.  Perhaps my four year old would have liked it with less ginger and another apple!

Have you ever used your blender to make juice?  Also, do you have any favorite juice combinations?