February 26, 2014

Flash Giveaway: The Ultimate Microgreen-Growing Book!

I've written about microgreens before. And I just wrote about them again on PBS Food because this winter, my windowsills have become veritable little microgreen mini-farms. It is such a joy to be able to grow your own nutrient-packed tender baby greens in the dead of winter. (And so easy it makes me wonder why I haven't been doing it my whole life).

While outside my window it's been looking like this:

Inside it's been looking like this:

And this:

The tray you see above holds my 8-day old broccoli microgreens. They are ready to eat and they contain 20 to 50 times the cancer-fighting compounds that a mature broccoli plant does. These little guys are a powerhouse of good stuff. So if you know someone who is looking to add cancer-fighting foods in their diet, this is a top-notch place to start.

My microgreens have come a long way since my first forays, two winters ago. I'm actually a little embarassed now at the measly little greens I grew in that first video. Part of what's made me a better microgreen grower is this amazing book which is a wealth of information: Microgreens, A Guide To Growing Nutrient-Packed Greens

This book will inspire you and take you through the easy step-by-step process of growing microgreens at home. It's packed with wisdom, tips, and gorgeous photos... like this one which makes me want to do a somersault (I mean just look at all those adorable little baby plants!!!)

Photo from the book Microgreens A Guide To Growing Nutrient-Packed Greens

I really wanted to share my enthusiasm about this exceptional book with you and the kind folks at Gibbs Smith have agreed to give away a copy to one lucky duck. So here's how you enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In the meantime, if you've got microgreens and want to try a delicious salad, this is my latest recipe which you can find on PBS Food:

Bon app├ętit!

February 12, 2014

Beet-colored Red Velvet Pancakes

I know what some of you might be thinking: beets in pancakes = gross. But don't knock it til you try it, you can actually only taste the beets in these pancakes if you reeeeeeally stretch your imagination and taste buds. They're mainly there to lend their glorious color (sorry to "use" you for a limited purpose, dear beets). And what a color it is!

To be fair, it's not only the color you get out of the beets but a little bit of their mighty nutrient punch, and perhaps even love-inducing magic.

Here's what I found out while researching this post: beets are rich in boron, a mineral that increases the sex hormones in both men and women, perhaps shedding some light on why they were used as an aphrodisiac in ancient Roman times and are referred to as nature's viagra. Who knows if there's any truth to the claim, one can only put it to the test. And what better time than Valentine's Day?

Aside from their sexy secret, beets have 50 times the antioxidant content of carrots, and they are so nutritious that many Olympic athletes are now guzzling beet juice instead of gatorade. Ok ok, I realize these humble pancakes are not the same thing as a glass of beet juice, but still, a little bit of the nutrients will shine through.

I recommend these pancakes served with maple syrup, whipped cream, and berries. (And served on a Tracy Horsman original plate, of course!) 

Here's wishing you a heart-warming Valentine's Day!
Find my recipe for these love-filled pancakes at PBS Food.

February 05, 2014

Paleo 'Nutella' Fudge Squares (minus the Nutella)

I haven't posted a recipe since December! How did that happen? In honor of World Nutella Day (yes, weird, I didn't know it existed either but today's the day, apparently), I have a special offering for you. And because I like to be a rebel about these things, these are 'Nutella' Fudge Squares... without any Nutella in them! Yayy! (But I promise they taste just like Nutella.) Oh, and they happen to be paleo, if that matters to you. And, they will melt in your mouth in a rather delightful way. There.

When I lived in Mexico as an exchange student many moons ago in my university days, I had a housemate who was Nutella-obsessed. It was nearly impossible to find Nutella in our little village and every time someone would visit from back home, he would beg them to stuff a few jars of Nutella in their suitcase. I once saw him polish off a jar in 24 hours flat.

I've always loved Nutella (who doesn't) but I don't really buy or trust most processed foods, I'm more of a DIY-er. Which makes me either a reaaallly boring person, or an interesting person, depending on who you ask. At any rate, there are many, many wonderful recipes online for making your very own homemade Nutella. I recommend this one. But for this recipe, you don't even need to make Nutella, or rather, you sort of do, but the 'Nutella' mix that you make quickly hardens into solid silk that you can cut into squares. That's right, solid silk. (That's actually what these should be called).

These are dead easy to make (essentially 3 ingredients), no baking involved, and the advantage to not using Nutella is that you can control what goes in them. For instance, I like to use organic ingredients and limit the sugar content in my sweets. That said, don't be fooled, these squares should be eaten in moderation, they're pretty decadent! So here goes...

Makes 8 to 10 squares

2/3 cup hazelnut butter (you can find this at most health food stores, or you can make your own!)
1/4 cup coconut oil (for this recipe, I like to use the organic refined kind that doesn't have a coconutty taste, but this is a matter of personal taste, extra virgin works fine too)
6 oz. good quality dark chocolate
1 pinch salt
1 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbsp. hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped (optional)

Chop the chocolate into pieces. In a double boiler (or a metal bowl placed over a pot of simmering hot water), melt the chocolate completely and remove from heat. Place your jar of coconut oil in the hot water and once the coconut oil has liquified a bit, pour out 1/4 cup. Add that to the chocolate. Now add the hazelnut butter, salt, and vanilla. Whisk well, until silky smooth. Taste the mixture and if you wish, add a little more salt, vanilla, or even honey or agave nectar if you think it needs a bit more sweetness. 

Pour into an 8.5 x 4.5" loaf pan that is lined with parchment with an overhang so you can lift out the whole thing easily. Pour the chocolate into the pan and sprinkle on the chopped hazelnuts. Allow the whole thing to rest in a cool place for at least 3 hours, at room temperature should be fine. (Though if your kitchen is very warm, and the block doesn't harden enough to slice cleanly, you can place the pan in fridge for an 15 minutes before slicing). Remove the whole chocolate block once it has hardened and cut into squares. Enjoy!

PS: Store these in the fridge or a cold pantry. These will get all melty if they are kept in a warm place.

February 03, 2014

My 10 favorite winter things

Things have been a little quiet around here lately, I suppose I'm in blog-hibernation mode. I hope you'll forgive me. You've probably heard this from me a million times since I started this blog, but... I'm working on my thesis. I really am this time, and I plan to finish it THIS YEAR. There. I said it. Now I have to do it. 

So. I'll be doing a little less blogging than usual this winter, and also slowing down the monthly giveaways to a more occasional surprise every now and then. That way I can devote my full attention to the mountain of work ahead. So now that I'm all bunkered down with my computer and tapes and hard drives in this quiet little pocket of Nova Scotia, and winter has enveloped us in its long endless embrace, I really really (really!) do not have any excuse for not getting down to work and getting this blasted thesis done, once and for all. Though let's be honest, I'll need tiny distractions to keep me sane along the way: wintery comforts to keep me going on those days when it's frigid outside and all I want to do is throw my computer out the window and fly to a Mexican beach until spring comes. Maybe you're feeling the urge too? As we plunge into February (my most dreaded month of the year), some of my latest little winter pleasures are what I wanted to share with you today. 

1. First thing is my current snack du jour: walnuts dipped in buckwheat honey. Simple divine instant energy boost for sluggish afternoons.

2. Second on my list of recent wintery pursuits: marvelling at the ice patterns on window panes. Hours. Of. Fun. 

3Knitting! Legwarmers! From this free pattern! (And slowly working my way through my pinterest knitting board). Also, this wool is making me drool. (The knitting ideally takes place while  simultaneously watching Downton Abbey. Yes, that's my idea of a hot winter date).

4. This wintery album from Montreal-based Folly and The Hunter is perfect for sipping a hot drink by the fire.

5. The Lehman's catalogue. A homesteader's dream come true. How is it that no one ever told me about this before?

5. Sn'ice cream!!? Whaaaatt?! Ice cream made with actual snow. Pure magic from one of my favorite food bloggers.

6. Ami McKay's book, The Birth House is keeping me up til 2 in the morning these days. So good!

7. Ok this 'polar vortex' song killed me.

8. I've been coveting these moccasins which are hand-made in Labrador

9. On dreary days, there are these exquisite photos by Russian photographer Elena Shumilova to fall in love with, over and over again.

10. Telephone pictionary. I almost peed my pants laughing so hard. If you've got a group of 5 people or more at your house (the more people the better), please play this game, you won't regret it and all you need is some paper and pens. It's a perfect winter's eve game, and guaranteed it'll have you in stitches.

And finally, this might be an opportune time to announce I'm on instagram! Still a newbie and figuring out how to use it (forgive me if I'm a little filter-happy) but if you'd like to follow my daily adventures, I'm @kitchenvignettes

I'd love to hear about your own wintery delights in the comments below. What keeps you going through this season?