Kat eats local

Yesterday while shopping at Karma I noticed some interesting nuts in the corner, next to in-shell walnuts and hazelnuts: heartnuts, they were called. Michael, the produce manager, happened to be in the store so I asked him about them. He said they were similar to a walnut but without the astringency – and that they required a hammer to open. Sounded interesting, so we packed a few up to take home and tried them today.

Michael was right. You do need a hammer, and like all nuts, some will be easy to open and some end up in crumbs.

According to information on the interwebs, heartnuts are a variety of Japanese walnut. The tree apparently doesn’t grow true to seed, so certain varieties have been developed for grafting. According to this website, a variety called Imshu is grown in the Niagara region – perhaps this is the one I tried?

In any case, they do taste like a non-bitter walnuts, and bonus: they didn’t make my mouth itchy, like walnuts tend to do (although I eat them so rarely that they don’t do it as bad as they once did). And perhaps most important: how gorgeous are the shells? I can’t bear to throw them in the green bin.

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Black bread with carrots in it, from this recipe from 101 Cookbooks. Delicious. It makes a huge loaf, you could easily split it into two. Good with chili.

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101 Cookbooks is one of my favourite blogs, and this super-easy egg quesadilla recipe (like many of her posts) is one of those things you wish you’d made up yourself. Instead, I made it local with some awesome ingredients.

First, ox-eye daisy capers I picked up in Quebec:

An egg from Hope Eco-Farm, picked up at Karma Co-op, with a corn tortilla and sprinkled with Monforte hard sheep cheese.

Folded up deliciousness.

Served with a dollop of yogurt.

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Today my dear former coworker Sonya of Frost Cake Co. was kind enough to come over and teach me the art of macaron-making. I can’t say I’ll be able to reproduce today’s efforts (for one thing, I don’t have enough Silpats or baking trays) but it was fun to get the experience and now I have a starting point to play around on my own.

Ready to go in the oven:

Peeking through the oven door:

Freshly baked:

Matcha filling:

Matcha macarons:

And blackcurrant filling (we also did chocolate and salted caramel):

Thanks, Sonya!

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The only thing even close to local in this one is the hemp seeds – and the rainy fall weather that inspired it.

1 banana
1 cup frozen mango
3 oranges, peeled and cut at least in half
3 tablespoons hemp seeds
1/3 cup coconut milk
1/4 avocado
1/2 cup water
protein powder and other add-ins to taste (this time of year, drops of vitamin D go in all my smoothies)

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Another post with no picture. The other day I roasted a couple of acorn squash (cut in half, seeds removed, face down – no added oil or sugar) and had them left over in the fridge as we didn’t end up eating them. I threw two halves in the blender (skin on) with a frozen banana, half a cup or so of yogurt, some water, some coconut milk (can you tell I’m cleaning out the fridge?), maple syrup and blackstrap molasses for sweetness and a spoonful of protein powder. The result? A sweet, thick smoothie that’s reminiscent of pumpkin pie.

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Every August and September, I buy basket after basket of Ontario peaches. And every September, I know that one of those baskets will be the last good basket – but you never know which until you get the basket after the last good basket. If you know what I mean.

Last week I bought that basket – the one where the peaches had been in cold storage too long and just didn’t ripen up nicely. A little mealy, a little mushy, they no longer taste like summer. The easy solution? I roast them. Just slice in half, remove the pit and put in a 375F oven for about 25 minutes. The flavour comes back, and as an added bonus, anyone with oral allergy syndrome (an itchy mouth from eating fresh peaches, as well as other fruits or nuts) can eat them after they’re cooked.

This morning I made a really tasty smoothie with these roasted peaches. My approximate recipe is below, though of course you can adapt. (They would be really good with grated fresh ginger and blueberries, for instance.) I didn’t take a picture because the truth is, it’s not the prettiest smoothie – it’s a little brown. But it tastes like summer.

Roasted peach and matcha smoothie
8 roasted peach halves, with skin
1 – 2 bananas, preferably frozen
2 teaspoons matcha powder
2 tablespoons hemp seeds (optional)
1 cup yogurt (use canned coconut milk + water to make vegan)
water as needed
maple syrup and protein powder to taste
vitamin D drops if needed/desired

Blend until smooth. If you have a cheaper blender, you may want to consider removing the skins from the peaches.

Photo from Flickr by FrancescaV.com

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First row: Coffee with alfajorcitos and a mini banana; chicha morada; chocolate cake taste-off
Second row: Passionfruit and lucuma desserts; bruselina de naranja; sacks of potatoes at the market
Third row: Cooking choclo and papas fritas (corn and fried potatoes); animal-shaped alfajores; tequeños

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This is an adaptation of a recipe my Dad has always made, which itself is an adaptation from Betty Crocker. It’s a very flexible recipe. If you hate raisins, substitute dried cherries or chopped dried apricots. Add chocolate chips if you like. Or coconut. Use your favourite blend of nuts and seeds. Increase or decrease the spices.

It’s a big recipe (double the original) but the cookies do freeze well. I think the vegan ones are a little crumblier than non-vegan so be careful when carrying/shipping them.

I cut the sugar quite a bit from the original already. You could probably cut slightly more depending on your sweet tooth. The raisins do add a lot of sweetness.

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups coconut oil
1 1/2 cups brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 T ground flaxseeds + 6 T water
1/2 cup water
2 t vanilla
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 t salt
1 T cinnamon
1 t baking soda
1 t nutmeg
1 t allspice
1 T dried ginger
2 cups raisins
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup wheat germ
6 cups rolled oats

Heat oven to 350F.

Mix flaxseeds and 6 T water in a small bowl; set aside 10 minutes.

Mix thoroughly coconut oil, sugars, 1/2 cup water and vanilla. Add flaxseed mixture when ready.

In separate bowl, mix all dry ingredients except rolled oats. Add to web mixture and mix thoroughly. Mix in oats. (It can be easier to add the oats in two or three parts – the last addition will be hardest to mix in.)

Using your hands, create packed cookie shapes (dropped spoonfuls might work instead, or might not hold together) and bake 12 to 15 minutes or until almost no imprint remains when touched with finger.

Or – add raw dough to banana soft serve for cookie dough ice cream. (I didn’t do this but should have.)

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There are certainly a lot of tasty options on the market these days when it comes to energy and snack bars. But I really prefer to make my own if I can, for cost and health reasons. So I’ve been on a bit of a quest to find some reliable bar recipes. My criteria are that they have to be healthy (little to no added sugar or flour, lots of nutritious ingredients), easy to make ahead and freezable, but not melt when they come out of the freezer or fridge (which happens to a lot of raw bars). These are three I’ve found that I love – and they’re all different, which makes for excellent variety. And they’re all vegan, too.

Raw Chocolate-Chia Energy Bars
This recipe’s from Vegetarian Times. Its ingredient list is simple, it relies on dates for sweetening and includes chocolate. Tastes like a chocolate bar, but healthy. I used pumpkinseeds instead of almonds.

Fruit and Nut Energy Bites
This one’s from vegan recipe blog Oh She Glows. I left out the sugar completely – you don’t need it – used coarsely ground pecans instead of walnuts, and raisins instead of cranberries. Oh, and water instead of almond milk.

Vegan Fig Bars
This is a great pick for Fig Newton lovers and really energizing. They do take a bit of prep and a food processor but the result is worth it. Next time I’ll leave out the maple syrup from the filling and I might try and make a slightly larger amount of base/topping as I found it didn’t quite cover the filling.

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