Wheat Belly Brownies

Wheat Belly Brownie

These wheat belly brownies do not replace the ooey, gooey, sticky (and if you’ll admit it, slightly underdone) homemade brownie or even box version. But, if you like rich, dark chocolate and opt for a less guilty version when you single-handedly demolish an entire tray, these make you feel like less of a degenerate.

This recipe was taken straight from the Wheat Belly Cookbook, although this is one you can really play with according to your taste. Less dark or less bitter, more sugar, sugar substitutes etc.  A good read is the Wheat Belly Blog where others post their variations.

Ingredients:

8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped

3/4 cup butter

2 tsp instant espresso powder

4 eggs

1/4 cup canned coconut milk

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 tbs coconut flour

1/4 cup ground golden flaxseeds

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Combine chocolate and butter. Melt in a double broiler stirring every 20 seconds and then add espresso powder.

Add the eggs, one at a time, blending well. Stir in coconut milk and vanilla.

Stir in walnuts, coconut flour and flaxseeds and pour batter into 9″x9″ baking pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

flourless brownie

brownie

Flourless Banana Muffins and the Devil’s Grain

My body doesn’t welcome wheat. I know this much. Even before I paid Rexall Drugs $400 to take a pinprick of blood and reveal “wheat” in bold print under “Severely Intolerant” (covered by benefits of course).

My immediate reaction was victory, as in I caught this little bugger red handed and I have it written in ink to prove it. Shortly after the tragedy of truth set it- I love wheat. Wheat has been a cherished buddy my whole life. Now it has become that addictive, loose moraled friend who I know is a poor influence, yet I find myself sneaking out the bedroom window to meet up with.

If you read Wheat Belly by William Davis, M.D, you might be shocked to learn that among other things, wheat contains an appetite stimulant resembling drug opiates like heroin. For those of you who have insatiably craved a pizza while flipping out at the dog, you already knew this. The reality of it is the processing of the grain has been so dramatically altered over the years that the present day version isn’t even a shadow of its former self. Hence, my belly’s rejection.

You won’t find countless gluten + wheat free recipes on this blog- I still cheat with wheat all the time. However, on occasion I find a good substitute for something I love to eat and is normally made with the devil’s grain. The below is a recipe I found on Pinterest by Debbie Reichert Fitness .

couplemuff

I bake these all the time and really appreciate having them around the house. They are a great impulse curb when I am craving an immediate “wheat” fix.

Flourless Banana Muffins

Ingredients:

2.5 cups old fashioned oats

1 cup plain low fat Greek yogurt

2 eggs

1/2 cup honey

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. baking soda

2 tbsp. ground flax seed

1 tsp. vanilla

2 or 3 ripe bananas, mashed

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400° and line a muffin tray with cupcake liners.

Pulse oats in a food processor for a few seconds or until lightly ground. Add mashed bananas and remaining ingredients, pulse to combine.

Pour batter into liners and top with extras of your choice- I like dollops of peanut butter in the centre for added protein.

muffinsraw

Bake for 15-18 minutes until springy when touched. Be careful not to overcook as you want to preserve all the moisture possible.

Let cool and enjoy with a piping hot cappuccino from the espresso machine which you feel the need to prove to your boyfriend that you use everyday.

muffincoffee

-S

Balsamic Glazed Carrots

Balsamic Glazed Carrots

Balsamic Glazed Carrots

Carrots are these wonderfully bright, colourful vegetables that I love to walk right past in the grocery store. I haven’t entirely opened my mind to the possibilities of cooking them. My creative autonomy is still bound by the lifeless, soft boiled version from childhood.

A big factor in throwing a bushel of these babies into the cart is having an idea of what ingredients will bring out the natural tastiness in all that orange. I want this to be easy. I’m not reinventing the wheel for carrots.

A few simple things I always keep at home did the trick.

Ingredients:

1 bushel of carrots

1 1/2 tbsp. Olive Oil

2 tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar

1 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar

1 dollop of honey

Directions:

Wash and scrub carrots, peel if you choose. Whisk ingredients together and slather on carrots. Marinade in the fridge for 1/2 hour.

carrotsglazed

BBQ or bake carrots at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until charred on the outside but still slightly crisp on the inside.

I served with marinated chicken skewers from St. Lawrence Market, Jasmine rice and grilled asparagus. The best part? All done on the BBQ, no mess, no clean up. Boom.

Garlic and Brown Sugar BBQ Chicken

bbq chicken

Adapted from a Pinterest find, this is an easy and delicious method for chicken and fantastic when charred on the BBQ in the summer.

What you will need:

4 large skinless, boneless chicken thighs

4 cloves of garlic, minced

5-6 tbs of brown sugar

3 tbs of Olive Oil

Directions:

Remove excess fat/ cartilage from thighs

Heat oil in a skillet on med heat. Fry garlic until golden brown and remove from heat once done. Add the brown sugar and melt slightly in the garlic mix, then coat chicken thighs.

BBQ thighs on med-high heat for 12-15 mins, or until crispy and slightly blackened on the outside and juicy on the inside.

This goes great with a medley of marinated vegetables, which can also be done on the BBQ for a mess-free week night dinner.

bbqveg

What you will need:

1 green zucchini

1 yellow zucchini

1 red bell pepper

1 onion

3 carrots

1 tsp rosemary

1 tsp thyme

1 tsp oregano

1/4 tsp chili flakes

1/4 tsp garlic powder

salt and pepper

3 tbs Olive Oil

Chop all vegetables according to your liking. Toss with fresh or dried herbs, salt, pepper and oil. Cover and marinate for at least half an hour in the fridge.

Combine veg loosely in a foil pack, leaving space for them to steam inside. Place wrap on the BBQ 5 minutes before the chicken.

chicken-and-veg

Serve BBQ chicken and vegetables with rice or salad and enjoy!

Garlic and Brown Sugar BBQ Chicken

Eggplant Parmesan with Smoked Mozzarella

Eggplant Parmesan with simple Spinach Salad

Eggplant Parmesan with simple Spinach Salad

I spent 4 months in Italy in my last year of high school. I’d like to follow this with “where I learned to cook authentic Italian dishes, and later taught my Nonna some new tricks in fluent Italian” but unfortunately during this time my acquisitions were more physical than mental.

It IS however where I fell in love with Melanzane alla Parmigiana, or eggplant parmesan. We were spoiled to have a chef cook up amazing dishes every day in our school ‘cafeteria’, and I think Aurelio rather enjoyed watching the students grow porkier with time.

When I first tasted this dish I assumed it was the greatest reincarnation of lasagna done Italian style, having no idea it contained eggplant rather than traditional noodles. The texture remains the same melt-in-your mouth delicacy of my grandmother’s lasagna yet offers a new flavour profile with the vegetable’s absorption of tomato sauce, garlic and basil.  The result is a savoury, gooey comfort food that I like to make in stacks with smoked mozzarella.

What you will need:

1 large eggplant

1 bag of fresh spinach (for salad)

2 tsp of dried or fresh basil

1 ball of smoked mozzarella

3 cups of fresh or store bought tomato sauce

1/4 cup of grated parmesan cheese

1/2 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs

1/2 cup of Olive Oil

1/4 cup of flour

1 egg, beaten

salt and pepper

salad dressing of choice

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Slice eggplant short-wise into round slices, about 3/4  inches thick. If they are too thick, the eggplant won’t have that melty texture, and if they are too thin they will deteriorate in the cooking process.

Arrange the slices on a baking sheet and lightly salt. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until slices look slightly dehydrated and have a touch of brown in colour. I opt for this par-cooking step to take the stiffness out of the vegetable.

Let the eggplant cool slightly while preparing your dishes for breading. Each slice will be patted in flour, dipped in an egg bath and finished with a breadcrumb coating. I like to mix a little parmesan into the breadcrumbs. For gluten-sensitive people (myself included), the following can be done without breading the slices.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet at med-high heat. Lay your breaded eggplant slices in the oil, flipping once the bottoms are crispy golden brown. Resist the urge to move these around the pan! As with meat, browning is best done with your hands tied behind your back.

Once all eggplant steaks have been browned, you are ready to begin layering a masterpiece.

parmandbasil In a Pyrex dish or banana bread pan, coat a thin layer of tomato sauce on the bottom to prevent the first slice from sticking.

Place the largest diameter rounds along the bottom and spoon a dollop of sauce on each. Spread the sauce almost to the edges and sprinkle with basil. Lay a thin slice of smoked mozzarella and finish with a dusting of parmesan, topping with another eggplant round. Continue this way until the smallest rounds remain and use to top each stack.

Note, if stacks aren’t your thing, you can layer this flat in the pan lasagna-style as well.

stacks

* In this dish I used tomato sauce with meat (veal), but you can choose to make this fully vegetarian.

When stacks are complete throw them in the oven for about 20 minutes until cheese is bubbly and you can’t handle the tantalizing smell any longer. In the meantime, wash and remove the stems from your fresh spinach.

spinach

Since the eggplant is chock-full of flavour, I recommend using a simple dressing for the spinach. My favorite is good quality EVOO, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. Together, this dish makes for a healthy, filling meal and a perfect pair to a glass of red.

melanzane alla parmigiana