Posts Tagged ‘carrots’

Toddler peeling onions.

Bee focusing on peeling onions. She managed to remove the outer skins.

I always knew I would enjoy motherhood. I felt it would give me the opportunity to do more of some of the things I love, cooking and baking in particular. While it’s taken 18+ months to get to this point — I didn’t necessarily expect to get there sooner — I’m totally loving it: cooking a fresh, interesting and tasty dinner on most nights; trying out new recipes; transforming ideas onto the plate; eating good food! I’m in a real sweet spot, and Bee is playing along.

A good part of our afternoons are spent cooking, and some mornings we bake together. She may spend some time with me at the counter, helping me or playing with food scraps or, her favourite, water. Or she may cook in her own mini kitchen, where I see her imitate what she sees me doing. Or she may simply occupy herself otherwise, checking in with me every so often. The process takes longer, with frequent pauses for various reasons, but the food gets on the table.

Although I sometimes feel guilty that I’m not spending the time playing with Bee, I figure she is seeing a good example of home cooking and learning some valuable skills. Over time, I should be able to involve her more and more.

Toddler making muffins.

Bee stirring (and tasting, of course) the wet ingredients for muffins.

Just the other day we tried a new muffin recipe together. It’s been a long time since I got excited about a muffin recipe (probably not since I came up with the date and cranberry muffins with oatmeal streusel topping), but these banana carrot muffins are stellar!

I’m always searching for recipes with low/no sugar or tweaking them to reduce the amount of sugar. Too often recipes have too much sugar, which is not only bad for us but also, in my opinion, masks the other flavours. This recipe gets just the right amount of sweetness from bananas, dates and a touch of maple syrup, and includes a lot of healthy ingredients. I can’t get enough of them, and Bee is a fan too. Another sweet spot!

Banana carrot muffins.

Recipe: Banana Carrot Muffins

This recipe is adapted from Dr. Weil’s Carrot-Banana Muffin recipe. I made a combination of mini and regular size muffins; the recipe made 24 mini muffins and 9 regular-size muffins. 

2/3 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
2/3 cup ground almonds/almond meal
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp each cinnamon, cardamom, ginger
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped pitted dates
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

3 eggs
3 ripe bananas, mashed
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
2 medium carrots, finely grated

Preheat oven to 350° F. Line/grease 12 regular size muffin cups (or combination of mini and regular-size muffin cups).

In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Combine all wet ingredients in a second bowl. The chopped dates will tend to stick together. With your fingers separate them once they are in the flour mixture; coating each piece with the flour mixture will prevent them from sticking together.

Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Bake 30-35 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean. (Mini muffins will be done sooner, in approx. 25 minutes.)

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Carrot Ginger SoupThe food processor is escaping the cupboard and seeing the light of day more often lately. First oatmeal raisin cookies, then carrot ginger soup.

I was starting the soup later than expected, and didn’t know if Bee would be patient enough to allow me to chop the carrots and prepare the other ingredients. Out came the food processor, and we grated all the vegetables, as well as the ginger and onion in a couple of minutes, together!

Another bonus: having the vegetables cut so finely sped up the cooking time and made the soup easier and quicker to blend before serving.

Recipe: Carrot Ginger Food Processor Soup

6 large carrots, peeled
1 small yam or sweet potato, peeled
1 2-inch piece of ginger, peeled
1 small onion, peeled
1 tsp coriander seed
1-2 tbsp oil
Approx. 2 litres water or vegetable broth
Vegetable bouillon cube (if using water)
3/4 cup cooked millet (optional, gives some body and added nutritional value to the soup)
Salt and pepper to taste
Fresh cilantro for serving (optional)

Toast coriander seed until fragrant in pot intended to make soup. Remove from heat and grind using a mortar and pestle or spice grinder.

Grate carrots, sweet potato/yam, ginger and onion using food processor.

Heat oil in pot. Add grated vegetable, ginger and onion mixture and ground coriander. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add water or vegetable broth to cover generously. If using water, then add vegetable bouillon cube (I use a bit less than the recommended amount for the quantity of water). Add cooked millet. Stir to combine and bring soup to a simmer.

Simmer soup until vegetables are tender. Blend soup using an immersion blender or blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro to serve.

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NasturtiumMid-October and half of the beds in my garden are still occupied with Swiss card, kale, salsify, carrots, beets and fall lettuces. I’ve put off harvesting them, because I haven’t had time to process them and don’t have the appropriate indoor cool storage space. I figure they’re better “stored” in the ground for the time being.

I’m not worried. These are the hardier vegetables, resistant to lower temperatures. Some, like kale and carrots, I’ve read will get sweeter and/or more tender as they are exposed to the cool temperatures (and even frost).

As fall progresses, fresh vegetables from the garden become a bigger treat.

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Giant tomatoGiant carrots
So far, this tomato and this carrot are the winners in the size category of this gardening season! The largest carrot weighed almost 500g, but there are still more in the ground…

Unfortunately I don’t think the tomato (Brandywine variety) will ripen, but the carrot was crisp and sweet. I’m looking forward to pursuing the harvest.

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Every Sunday, I make muffins in preparation for a week of office lunches. The muffin is our “sweet treat.” I figure it’s better to have a tasty, healthy, homemade muffin than to buy an overly sweet and really-not-so-good cookie or muffin at an anonymous café.

I’ve been playing around with muffin recipes, trying to see by how much I can reduce the fat and sugar while still producing a good muffin. I think I finally got the right formula!

This recipe uses the standard technique of mixing wet ingredients into the dry, and results in a relatively light, moist muffin that freezes well. It can be adapted with any variety of flavours. Grated apples provide moisture and are easily combined with other fruit or berries, but can be replaced with grated carrots, zucchini … I haven’t tried banana with this recipe, but I imagine it would work too (maybe in a different proportion). As with anything in the kitchen, the possibilities are endless!

Rhubarb’s in season, so this week’s muffin brings together tart rhubarb and sweet apple in fresh harmony.

Recipe: Apple-Rhubarb Muffins

Apple-rhubarb muffins

I tried a cream cheese-type filling for this batch, but wasn't satisfied – needs some tweaking before sharing. The rhubarb chunks in these muffins are a bit too big too. Tasty muffins nonetheless!

1 egg
½ cup milk
¼ cup vegetable oil
½ cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 ½ cups apples, coarsely grated (2-3 apples)

2 cups flour (I use a combination of 1 ½ cups spelt and ½ cup unbleached white.)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch salt
1 ½ cups rhubarb, diced (I recommend a fine dice, approx. 1 cm. Rhubarb has a lot of water, so large pieces can create “soggy” pockets in the muffins.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line/grease 10-12 muffin cups.

Combine all wet ingredients. Combine flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in rhubarb. Pour wet ingredients into dry, and blend until flour mixture is just moistened.

Fill muffin cups. Bake 20-25 minutes or until golden brown and tester comes out clean.

Recipe Variation: Carrot-Pineapple Muffins

Carrot-pineapple muffins

Sweet combination, but not overly sweet muffins! These could be enhanced by adding chopped walnuts or raisins.

Replace grated apple with 1 cup grated carrot and ½ cup chopped pineapple (crushed works too, but chopped pineapple gives visible chunks and more texture). Leave out the rhubarb.

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