Friday, October 3, 2014

Snack Bars - Sugar Free!

Full disclosure - this recipe is from someone else's blog. Here is the original link:

I am attempting to go sugar-free for a month. Today is Day 5. My friends have been kind enough to send me some recipes to help get me through the hard times and this is the first one I received. I made these last night and they are very yummy. I know those of you with kids are wondering if your kids will eat these - mine tried them. Sam said it wasn't terrible. Noah spit it out. There you go.

I don't have a big, long, rambling story to tell here, so I'm going to get right to the recipe!


2 cups pitted dates
3/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup nut butter (You have to use homemade or natural nut butter to ensure there is no sugar in there. Here is the link to my homemade peanut butter:
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 pinch of salt


Put everything in a food processor and mix it up until the mixture forms a ball. I put everything in except the nuts for the first few spins because I wanted the nut pieces to be a bit bigger. So after three or four pulses of the processor I removed the lid and added the cashews into the mix. This is what the mix looks like when it starts to form a ball in the processor.

Pour the mix into an 8 inch by 8 inch square pan

Press down firmly. Cover the pan and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes. 

Cut into bars or squares and serve! Make sure to store your squares in the fridge in an air tight container. They won't last long!

P.S. the original blog suggests using parchment paper in the pan, but I didn't have any and they turned out just fine.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Raspberry Millet Muffins

On the last day of our yoga retreat when we returned from morning yoga in the yurt, there was a basket of something yummy on the big wooden table in the front hall. Whatever was in the basket was covered with a colourful napkin, and there was a sign next to the basket and a little ramekin as well. The ramekin had a couple of dollars in it. Interest piqued, and smelling something delicious, Sarah and I approached the table to read the sign.

It went something like this: muffins, homemade and fresh out of the oven. Please leave $2 and enjoy a muffin. An honour system for baked goods - how very Zen.

The Shanti yoga retreat also had a store of sorts, selling things like blankets made from yak wool, books on yoga and meditation, hand made soaps, lip balms, and salves. Yoga clothes and props, candles and incense. There was an exercise book (or 'scribbler' for you fellow Newfoundlanders) on the floor next to the credit card terminal, and a price list. If you wanted to buy something you just had to write it down and pay before you left. This is the kind of world I want to live in.

But I digress. Back to the muffins. We ran upstairs to our room hoping to find some coins and lucky for us, we did. $4 and two muffins later, we were replete. I pushed my chair back from the table and went to rinse my tea cup, then I noticed the Shanti cookbook open to the recipe for the muffins. That kind of sealed the deal - a cookbook would be coming home with me.

The recipe in the book is called Apple Cinnamon Millet Muffins, but the version we enjoyed was made with local blueberries that day, since that was what was on offer at the market on Wolfe Island. When I returned home I decided that I would make these muffins for myself. The challenge would be to make them without sugar.

I had decided (been inspired by Sarah, actually) to go sugar-free for a month when I returned from Shanti. So I had to modify the recipe to suit this dietary restriction. It was pretty easy to do and the muffins were still amazing. I made them on a Sunday afternoon and one warning for you bakers out there - by Wednesday they had mould growing on them and 6 whole muffins ended up in the compost. Sadness. So my advice to you would be to freeze whatever you don't consume on the first day. This of course, really makes you think about baked goods that you purchase from the grocery store. You know the ones that have a shelf life of 10 days or so? What do you think is in them to make them last that long? Indeed.

You've waited long enough. Here is the recipe for the muffins, my adaptations are in brackets, as always.


2 cups spelt flour
2/3 cup millet (looks kind of like big grains of cous cous)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used skim milk from a cow)
1/2 cup apple sauce (I used unsweetened applesauce)
1/2 cup maple syrup (I used 1/4 cup of pureed prunes, but next time I will use 1/2 cup as they could have been a tad sweeter)
1/3 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups fruit (either apples and cinnamon, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or whatever you want! I used frozen raspberries.)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and coat 12 muffin cups with a light coating of oil.

Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.

Whisk together the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl. Combine the wet with the dry and stir until the flour is just absorbed.

 Then fold in the fruit.

Spoon the batter into the muffin pan and bake for 25 minutes.

Transfer to a cooling rack.

Enjoy! And Namaste.

Red Lentil Dhal

Yesterday I blogged about my amazing yoga retreat weekend and how delicious the food was. You can read all about the experience here in my blog about Shanti's herb biscuits:

When I brought the Shanti cookbook home, I think I was trying to bring a little bit of Shanti back with me. Perhaps preparing the amazing vegetarian and vegan dishes from this cookbook would allow me to remember my experience at the retreat for a little bit longer. Perhaps if I could recreate some of the amazing dishes we ate, I could mentally transport myself back there where I was relaxed, at peace, and hanging with my pal. 

It was difficult to decide on the first recipe to taste; we had eaten three days' worth of delicious and lovingly prepared foods. When I finally decided on the biscuits, it wasn't because we had tasted them at Shanti (we hadn't). I chose them as my first recipe to test from the Shanti cookbook because I wanted to use the herbs in my garden. It was a good decision.

After the success of the herb biscuits, I decided to try one of the recipes that we had enjoyed at Shanti, so I settled on the meal we had eaten the first night we arrived - Lentil Dhal. I have never made a dhal before, which is kind of unbelievable to me because I love dhal, and also because I make various curries, raita, chutney, and have even made homemade naan before - why had I never tried dhal?

Dhal (or dal) is the name for a dried lentil (or pea or bean) (, but it also happens to be the name of the thick and delicious simple stew that is made with these lentils, peas, or beans. It's very basic, but can taste very complex after very little cooking time. That's right - a simple dish to make that tastes like you slaved over it. Where do I sign up?

Lucky for you I spent the weekend meditating and practising yoga, which has buoyed my spirits and provided me with incentive to cook and blog and share with you!

Here is the recipe for Shanti's Lentil Dhal. My adaptations are in brackets, as always.


1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed (oops, I forgot to do the rinsing)
4 cups vegetable broth
2 chillies, whole dried (I buy a bunch and keep them in the freezer with my lime leaves and lemongrass)
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil
1 tsp cumin seeds (I didn't have any so I used cumin powder)
2 onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 inch fresh piece of ginger root, grated (I also keep this in the freezer)
1 cup tomato, chopped
2 tbsp lemon, freshly juiced
1 tsp garam masala

Take a big pot out of your cupboard and put the lentils, broth, turmeric, and chillies in there. 

Bring the mix to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes until the lentils are tender. You are going to want to stir this pretty frequently, and feel free to add water or broth if it starts to look a little thick too soon.

In the meantime, heat the oil in a separate pan and (medium-high heat) and add the cumin seeds (or powder, but seeds work better). Sauté for about 30 seconds until the seeds are fragrant (don't burn them!). Then add the onions, garlic, and ginger and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes. 

When the onions are beginning to brown, add the tomatoes and cook for another 7 minutes or so. (All times are approximate).

Remove from the heat once the onion mixture is done. If your lentils are done by now, remove the two chillies and add the onion mixture to the lentil mixture. Stir it all up. Add the sea salt and the garam masala, along with the lemon juice.

Chop up some green onions and fresh cilantro. 

Serve the dhal with green onions, cilantro, and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt on top. 

Dhal is amazing when served with hot naan right out of the oven. If you don't feel like making your own, I have found that frozen naan is the most similar to restaurant-quality. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, toss in a couple of naan straight from the freezer. Bake them for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes and serve hot with your dhal. Thank me later. 


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Herb Buttermilk Biscuits

I am a lucky girl. And not just because I am pictured above eating a delicious biscuit, hot out of the oven, with real butter melting into the little pockets of herby goodness. I am a lucky girl for many reasons...if I start a list it might go on for quite a while. It would begin of course with my family - The King of Soup and my two kids, then the rest of the family, the dog, and on and on.

The reason I am lucky at this moment is that I just returned from a long weekend away with my BFFNAWBTOKILYA, Sarah. (Only she knows what that acronym means.) We spent a beautiful weekend together at Shanti Yoga Retreat on gorgeous Wolfe Island near Kingston, Ontario. Sarah was the first person able to get me interested in yoga, many years ago when we met at work. Other friends have tried (Kristin, I'm talking about you), but it never really stuck. For whatever reason, this time it stayed with me and I decided that I do like yoga. Perhaps it is related to the stage of life I am in (two young boys who sometimes stress me out and therefore I need yoga perhaps?), or maybe just that I finally recognize how much good yoga does for the body and mind. Whatever the reason, on January 1, 2014 I made a resolution to do more yoga. I started going once a week, then twice, and now I go three times a week and I wish I could go every day!

The idea of going on a retreat just popped into my head one day back in the spring and since I hadn't spent any quality time with Sarah in ages, I sent her a message and asked her to go with me. Without hesitation, she agreed and we started planning. Fast forward several months, and she was picking me up at the Go Station so we could hit the road for Wolfe Island.

The retreat was really nice. Yoga, meditation, a long walk into town for a blueberry tart, cows, cats, trees, water, geese, flowers, a yurt, yak blankets, silent breakfasts, catching up, wooden swings hanging from gorgeous trees, people who made us chuckle, garter snakes, crossword puzzles, and delicious vegetarian food homemade by the amazing staff at Shanti. The food was SO good that I bought the cookbook before I left and I have already made three recipes since then.

This is the first recipe I made upon my return. What appealed to me immediately was that I would be using fresh herbs from my garden in these biscuits. As well, I had most of the ingredients on hand and could easily substitute the one that I didn't have. Without further delay, here is the recipe (my adaptations are in brackets, as always).

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with either parchment paper or a Silpat.


2 cups spelt flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup fresh or 1/4 cup dried herbs (I used a full cup of fresh herbs, as recommended by Shanti)
1/2 coconut oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup almond or soy milk (I used buttermilk as that was all I had on hand)
1 tsp maple syrup (I omitted this as I am currently attempting to go sugar free for a month)

For the herbs, I used two kinds of rosemary, winter savoury, basil, chives, oregano, parsley, and lemon thyme.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the chopped fresh herbs and mix again.

Cut in the coconut oil using a pastry cutter (I used a food processor!).

In a separate bowl combine the vinegar, milk and maple syrup.

Combine wet with dry. The mixture will look like a muffin batter (thicker than pancakes, thinner than cake). If it doesn't look right you can add more milk.

Scoop the batter (~1/3 cup per biscuit) onto the prepared pan and bake for 10 - 12 minutes. Makes 10 - 12 biscuits (I got 10 nice large ones). I decided to sprinkle some sesame seeds on top before putting them into the oven.

Serve hot and enjoy! Wow, that's a lot of butter....

If you're feeling super generous, you can make breakfast for your significant other.

Namaste, Dear Ones.