I am not a Christmas baker. The only Christmas baking that I look forward to (other people making) is shortbread, specifically my Grandpa's recipe, and something referred to as "Christmas Crack". My mother-in-law makes it, it consists of a layer of soda crackers with a toffee like layer smothered in chocolate. We are spending the holidays with my in laws in Edmonton this year and I have been assured the "Christmas Crack" has been made....fewf. A pregnant girl has got to have something while others are enjoying rum and eggnogs or mulled wine. That being said it is nice to have something sweet around, so I decided to make some glazed nuts.
1 egg white
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 pound walnut halves or pecans or mixed nuts (works out to about 3.5 cups)
Adapted from here.
I used mixed nuts and accidently bought salted nuts. I like the salty/sweet combo so no big deal. These turned out really well. I thought the amounts of spices sounded like a lot (especially the cloves) but they all blend really well together. When you take them out of the oven they will still be a little sticky but will harden up once they cool. I highly recommend the use of parchment paper or a really good non-stick cookie sheet.
Overall: really easy and great taste. They also make a great gift, are a perfect topper for salads and are add some tradition to holiday gatherings. They are pretty easy to get carried away with, so watch out. Nuts are loaded with protein and healthy fats but are also calorie dense, so try to stick to a handful (good luck).
Over the weekend we went to visit Santa at Woodland Gardens, didn't go so well. But really, would childhood be complete without a crying with Santa photo?
When I first saw this recipe for healthy double chocolate muffins I was intrigued. On the up side there was a lot of interesting ingredients, plus the promise of double chocolate. On the down side, could it taste good? Sometimes the healthy version of things are so far off, it is embarrassing to even pretend they are the same thing. I did note this is a muffin, not a cupcake. Let's keep expectations under control here.
1 cup (250 mL) buttermilk ( or 1 cup skim milk + 1 tbsp vinegar let sit for 5 min)
1 cup (250 mL) pure pumpkin puree – not pumpkin pie filling
1 cup (250 mL) dark brown sugar, packed
½ cup (125 mL) bran
1 cup (250 mL) whole wheat flour
¾ cup (175 mL) ground flaxseed
½ cup (125 mL) cocoa powder
2 tbsp (30 mL) wheat germ (I didn't have any so I left it out)
2 tbsp (30 mL) cinnamon
1 ½ tsp (7 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/2 cup (60 mL) chocolate chips at least 60% cocoa mass or 70% cocoa mass chocolate chunks
Adapted from here.
These are not muffins you want to eat hot out of the oven, they taste better once cooled. I really liked them. If you are looking for a hard core chocolate fix, this is not your winner. But they are not too sweet to have for breakfast.
The whole wheat flour, bran and flax add fiber (who doesn't want to take great poops?). The pumpkin is acting as a fat replacer with the added bonus of adding a lot of moisture and beta carotene (with the left over pumpkin make these). The dark chocolate contains fabulous antioxidants, plus it is chocolate. The flax brings omega three fatty acids, almost all of us could use more of those. I bought the flax whole and ground it myself in the Magic Bullet to the consistency of corn meal. You can buy ground flax, but be sure to keep it in the freezer. Once the outer shell is cracked they can go rancid quickly. At the same time the shell needs to be cracked for our bodies to be able to digest the omega three fatty acids, otherwise out the same way as they came in. A lot of poo talk today, not that I mind. I have never grown out of poo and fart jokes, I can't help myself.
This did seem to make a real mess in my kitchen. You might envision Susie Homemaker over here, umm not so much (if you know me well you probably don't). I can be a disaster while in preparation mode. Maybe that's part of the fun?
Tiffany McFadden, RD