Friendly Food Snobs

no sugar breakfast cookies

no sugar breakfast cookiesI have bought way too many muffins and cookies on our weekend adventures. I was inspired to make a refined sugar-free, yummy, healthy breakfast cookie. I’ve been making these easy breakfast cookies on repeat since nailing the recipe. They’re a great road trip snack or simple breakfast with a coffee when you need to get out the door. Packed with oatmeal, walnuts, coconut and bananas, pretty much all my favourite things and also pantry staples. Sweetened with only a drop of maple syrup and two bananas. Recipe makes 24 small cookies. I will often keep half the batch on the counter and the other dozen in the freezer in bags to grab and go. I often make these with dark chocolate chips + walnuts, or raisins + hemp hearts/chia seeds.  If you like these cookies you might also enjoy my no sugar banana muffins that follow the same style with no added sugar, but also taste delicious.

no sugar breakfast cookies

Ingredients:
2 ripe bananas mashed (can be previously frozen)
4 tbsp maple syrup
1 egg
1/4 cup melted coconut oil
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup almond flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
3/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips (or raisins)
1/3 cup chopped walnuts (or hemp hearts or chia seeds or chopped pecans)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheer with parchment paper. Combine all wet ingredients in one bowl. Mix all dry ingredients in another bowl. Combine and stir until just mixed. Scoop teaspoon size balls onto a baking sheet. Bake 13-15 minutes until cookies set and bottoms are lightly brown. My oven takes exactly 13 minutes, and runs hot. Enjoy!

Where to eat in Prince Edward County

Parson's BrewingParson's BrewingSandbanksSandbanksPrince Edward County, that beautiful beach, plus the wineries, breweries, it’s all foodie heaven. Last time I was there I wasn’t a mom and the vacation was about wine, the beach and relaxing. Fast forward five years, and a two year old and our week in Prince Edward County (PEC) is more about reconnecting as a family in that way you do when you’re away from it all on holiday, playing in the waves at Sandbanks and of course eating amazing food.

Here’s my short-list of the best spots we ate, and all were super kid friendly. I picked late August as our week to go (warm water) and rented a little two bedroom cottage in Picton on Airbnb (because two bedrooms).

The Agrarian Market in Picton has a gorgeous old wrap around porch where we ate our breakfasts – coffee, a pastry, some cheeses and peaches. Their selection of cheese, meat, preserves, breads wowed me. Delicious coffee too. One could pack a killer picnic basket with just ten minutes in there!

Lunch at the Midtown Brewing Company in Wellington was one of those stumble upon gems. They brew their own beers and ciders which were lovely, but it was the food that blew me away. Fish croquettes for Oscar, Neil had a meatball sandwich topped with fior de latte (I stole a few bites) and I had a wild greens salad and shared my charcuterie board. Best part? The owners have kids and there was a beautiful thoughtful nook with shelves of toys, trucks and games. And every table has a clear view of it.

What’s summer without gelato and ice cream, right? Nice Ice Baby in Wellingon makes all their own ice creams and gelatos in house, made all natural with nothing artificial. Their cones are also all made on site: waffle, cookie, and gluten free sugar cones. We shared the mint chocolate chip, and vanilla (made with coconut milk), which were both awesome. The shop has a lawn out back for littles to run and lots of Muskoka chairs for you to kick back and lounge.

Wood fired oven pizza is my weakness. No surprise I loved the pizza at Norman Hardie Winery. A spot that also produces some of the best wine in PEC. We arrived starving after spending the morning at the beach, right at the time when Oscar takes his midday 90 minute nap. A 45 minute wait for a table – yikes. What’s a foodie mama to do but order two pizzas to go, eat them sitting on the grass among the grapes and then pile back into the car so her boy can nap? True story and the staff were lovely and accommodating. I look forward to going back here maybe next summer with my husband (only) and a reservation.

Best for last. Had my favourite meal at Parsons Brewing Company. A new spot that opened up recently. Neil had the flight of beer, and loved every single one. And the three of us played teetherball, horseshoes, Frisbee and climbed the giant wooden playground while we waited for our food. The meal was some of the best tacos I have had outside of Mexico. All served on house made blue corn soft tortillas. I loved the pulled pork carnita taco, Oscar ate two [!!] of the roasted cauliflower, beet mouse, toasted pepita seed veggie tacos. Neil’s fave was the carne asada (steak).

I hear great things about PEC in October, when they harvest the grapes. Whenever you go, hope you love the laid back vibe and food as much as we did. Tell me in the comments if you’ve been and any places you love. I think our family will probably go back every summer.

grilled halloumi caprese salad

grilled halloumi caprese saladRipe tomato slices play well with grilled salty halloumi in this grilled halloumi caprese salad. A rethink of the traditional tomato and mozzarella caprese, and I think maybe even better! It was a super busy weekend at our house Oscar turned two and we hosted a big family BBQ and Sunday was Father’s Day. My quick to make but still yummy Father’s Day dinner for Neil was BBQ flank steak and this salad, and some fresh garlic thyme pita bread and hummus. Fresh and tasted like summer.

I first tried halloumi about 15 years ago backpacking in Cyprus and we’d have it wrapped with grilled meats in a pita (usually at 2am after a night out). This meal reminds me of all those flavours.

As with all simple recipes, quality ingredients are key. Thankfully they’re not hard to find for this salad. I let my tomatoes ripen on the window sill for a few days, and just bought the halloumi from my local grocery store. You can get cow or sheep and both are great. The basil came from my garden, the olive oil from my mother-in-law’s recent trip to Italy and the balsamic reduction is store bought. You can find balsamic reduction at any major grocer now. It’s reduced balsamic vinegar (make sure you read the ingredients) and so handy to drizzle over a salad, BBQ meats or cheeses. I use it for salad dressing instead of honey often too.  My boys gobbled this salad up and used the fresh pita bread for the leftover olive oil on the plate. So if you occasionally eat carbs like we do, serve up a little good bread for this recipe – worth the calories to sop up that good olive oil! Makes four side portions.

grilled halloumi caprese salad

Ingredients:
250 gram package halloumi cheese
2 large or 3 small ripe tomatoes
salt and pepper
10 whole basil leaves
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic reduction

Cut the halloumi cheese into 1/4 inch pieces. I usually get 10-12 slices per package. Pat dry with paper towel. Heat a non stick pan or case iron skillet to medium heat. Grill cheese for 2 mins a side until golden brown. Use a rubber spatula to check it every minute or so. I do it in two batches to not crowd the pan. Slice tomatoes in 1/4 inch slices and layer on serving platter. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Layer grilled halloumi on top of tomatoes. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and toss basil leaves over top. Eat right away or can sit on the counter for 30 minutes or so until serving.  Recipe can easily be doubled. Enjoy and happy summer eating!

toasted quinoa granola

quinoa granola Quinoa granola is quickly becoming my favourite breakfast lately. Packed with oats, crispy toasted quinoa, cinnamon, coconut oil and maple syrup it makes me excited to hear that weekday alarm. No joke. The nutty and crispy quinoa is the best! Served over yogurt with a little drizzle of honey? Yum. It’s totally vegan, gluten free and packed with protein and good fats to keep you feeling full. Seriously it is so easy, once you start making your own granola it’s hard to go back to store bought. Feel free to swap in pepita seeds or sliced almonds if you have them on hand too instead of the hemp hearts. I just measure out all the ingredients and pour them directly into my glass baking dish, using it as my mixing bowl and minimizing clean up. Makes 6-8 servings.

toasted quinoa granola

Ingredients:
2 and 1/2 cups old fashioned large oats
1/2 cup uncooked dry quinoa
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsweeteneed flaked coconut
1/4 cup hemp hearts
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 and 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup melted coconut oil

Combine all ingredients. Bake at 300 degrees for 35-40 minutes in a glass or ceramic baking dish, stirring once halfway. Once done cooking give the granola a good stir all the way to the bottom (sometimes the quinoa can stick a little) and let cool completely before storing. Keeps well in a sealed container in the fridge or on the counter top for two weeks or in the freezer for longer. Hope you enjoy!

coconut curry squash lentil soup

coconut milk butternut squash soupcoconut milk butternut squash soupcoconut milk butternut squash soup
The return to work is really the last sort of triumph is new motherhood isn’t it? Another change, another end and beginning. Pluses: the option to actually drink hot coffee, and wear accessories that have been collecting dust, and that renewed sense of self [or yes my brain does still work!]. The downside, I’ve learned so quickly is less time with your babe and less time actually at home. I am so lucky here in Toronto, Canada we have one year of maternity leave. I stayed home with Oscar for 14 months and it was the happiest and craziest time of my life.

For me this transition back to work happened in late summer. Since then it’s also marked me shifting into uncharted cooking territory: meal planning. I used to totally mock it, now I get it. Leftovers are my friend, and the freezer is my BEST friend. I’ve found joy and maybe even a little calmness in spending Sunday cooking big catches of food like roast chicken, quinoa, homemade granola and now that it’s January and freezing out – soups. Weeknights become easier with three or four prepped dishes in the fridge or freezer. Soups freeze so well for up to several months.

Which brings me friends to this awesome little soup. Red lentils for protein meet coconut milk, butternut squash and a hint of curry. It’s kid approved and recipe makes 6-8 servings. You could easily swap out the butternut squash for acorn too. I’ve also stirred in some leftover rice or quinoa I had to use up in the fridge before serving and it’s yummy with or without. We’ve been eating it lately topped with a few chia seeds, cilantro, feta, or a big dollop of plain yogurt. It’s yummy just by itself too.

coconut curry squash lentil soup

Ingredients:
1 butternut squash
1 onion chopped
4 cloves garlic chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp yellow curry powder
pinch red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
one can full-fat coconut milk
1 cup dry red lentils
3 cups water
olive oil

Cut squash into four pieces leaving the skin on. Scoop out the seeds. I find it easiest to use a metal spoon. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes. While the squash bakes, I take a minute to prep the remaining ingredients and rinse my lentils. I just swish the lentils in a large metal bowl of cool water. Then I use my hand to hold the lentils in and tilt the bowl over the sink to drain the water. It’s not a science so if you don’t get all the water or lose some lentils, it’s all good.

Coat the bottom on a large soup pot generously with olive oil and cook onion on medium heat with salt and pepper until fragrant. Add garlic, cumin, curry and red pepper flakes. Add a bit more oil if you need to and keep stirring, spices will become fragrant. Remove from heat and scoop the squash from its skin, adding to the pot. Add the coconut milk, water and lentils. Stir and bring to a light boil. Then reduce heat and let simmer on low for 30-40 minutes.

I use an immersion blender to quickly blitz this into a creamy consistency. A regular blender works well too. If you want a chunkier soup just mash with a plain old potato master. Tell me in the comments – do you meal prep too? Hope you love this soup as much as I do!

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