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Hot Chocolate Mix with Cacao

What kid (and adult) doesn’t love a nice cup of hot chocolate on those cold Canadian days? I know it’s a favourite for us around the holidays. Nothing beats a fresh cup of hot cocoa after a day of skating on the pond. Truth be told, I’ve actually stopped drinking it years ago after I changed my diet. Have you ever actually read the list of ingredients in some of those pre-packaged things? Yikes.

While I choose to simply live without it, now I have a toddler in my house who wants what everyone else is having… so what’s my solution? We came up with our own, healthified (if you will), dry hot chocolate mix … that can stay in the cupboard just like any other hot chocolate mix you buy. That means it’s ready to go for when the kids come in from playing outside, or unexpected company shows up for a warm drink.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw cacao powder (or good quality coco will do)
  • 1 1/3 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla powder (omit if don’t have dry powder)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Directions:

Mix all ingredients well in a bowl. Transfer to glass jar for storage.

To make, simply dissolve desired amount of hot chocolate mix in boiling hot water (about half your cups worth of hot water). Top with warm milk of your choice. Note that because this mixture doesn’t contain any kind of powered milks, it’s best served with half hot water, and half warm milk of your choice (it’s AMAZING with homemade nut or seed milks).

This makes just over 2 cups of dry mix.

Tips & Ideas:

Freezes well!If you really want to go all out, you can top with homemade marshmallows. We always make a bunch around the holiday season and have ready to grab in the pantry. It’s easier than you think. Our FAVORITE recipe to date has been from Danielle Walker in her cookbook Celebrations (I HIGHLY recommend any of her cookbooks). For a quick look at how she makes them, click here.

This also makes an excellent gift idea for around the holidays. Who doesn’t love homemade hot chocolate mix with some homemade marshmallows!




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Nut and Seed Milks

Let’s talk nut and/or seed milks for a moment.

For any of us that can’t have dairy, or avoid it for whatever reason, an alternative is where it’s at. Unfortunately any nut or seed milk you buy usually has a LONG list of ingredients (most of the ingredients one cannot pronounce) and the truth is they can contain very little actual nuts and/or seeds. Absolutely frustrating for anyone looking to avoid ingredients that aren’t actually food, and/or were hoping to the get the actual nutrients from the nut or seed milk you’re consuming!

There’s good news here though. Nut and seed milks are NOT hard to make. I’ve spoken with many mom’s intimidated by the task, until they make their first batch, then they are hooked!! First of all – you know EXACTLY whats in your milk. And usually there’s only 3-4 ingredients. Secondly, any nut or seed milk is SOOOO creamy and taste nothing like anything you could buy. Third of all, you can make ANY milk you choose. There’s hundreds and hundreds of different combinations of nuts and seeds you can combine to make delicious, creamy, fresh milk. And the best part of all – your body will thank you for all the actual ingredients it gets to use to give you energy.

The only thing you really need to get into making your own nut milks is a good high-speed blender and a nut milk straining bag. Nut milk bags aren’t expensive (usually under $15), and can be re-used for years. I recommend one like this I found on Amazon. I prefer a thicker nut milk bag, so less “pulp” gets through to your milk. Your bag will also last way longer than the thinner mesh ones.

Why soak your nuts and seeds?

Most nuts and seeds that require a soaking time prior to making milk, have natural enzyme inhibitors. It’s natures way of preserving the nut that falls from the tree and is left laying on the ground. The enzyme inhibitors allow the nut (or seed) to survive a period of time, until it receives moisture, which then releases the enzymes so it can come to life.

So by soaking or sprouting your nuts and/or seeds, you’re essentially causing the nuts (or seeds) to come to life. This in turn releases their nutrients and makes them MUCH easier to digest.

When soaking your nuts or seeds, place them in a glass jar or bowl. The unsoaked nuts/seeds should take up no more than half of the space in your container (as they expand in size when they are wet). Fill your jar or bowl with at least double the ratio of water to nuts/seeds (if they swell to no longer be covered in water, simply add more water).

Leave your soaking nuts/seeds at room temperature to sprout.

Different nuts and seeds have different times required to be soaked, in order for their enzymes to be released. To my knowledge, almonds require the most soaking time, a minimum of 12 hours. As a general rule (and so there’s less to remember) I soak most of my nuts and seeds for the entire day, or overnight so they are ready to make milk first thing in the morning. And if for some reason, my morning or evening doesn’t go as planned and I can’t get to making the milk after the nuts or seeds have been soaking for 10-12 hours, I simply put my bowl of nuts/seeds (still in the water) into the fridge. They will definitely last another couple days in water once put in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

Always strain and rinse your nuts/seeds well after they been sprouting before they are ready for use.

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If you’re in a rush, I’ve included a general guideline below of the minimum required soaking times of various nuts and seeds.

 Soaking Times

Chia Seeds – Soak at least 2 hours

Sesame & Buckwheat Groats – Soak at least 4 hours

Cashews, Flax, Pumpkin & Sunflower Seeds – Soak at least 6 hours

Almonds & all other nuts – Soak at least 12 hours

What kind of nuts and seeds to use

Raw and organic is always best. Now don’t get me wrong, I TOTALLY understand that this isn’t the cheapest option. If I can’t find or afford organic, I’ll default to raw. You want raw nuts (that haven’t been roasted and/or salted) as they most likely haven’t been heated (where nutrients are lost) and do not contain additional ingredients like oils or salts.

Raw and organic nuts and seeds can be challenging to find, however, if you’re in Canada, I found a site that I LOVE to make my bulk nut and seed orders from… and the crazy thing… I’ve price compared this stuff. Most of the nuts and seeds offered on this site are organic, raw and they are FAR cheaper than other websites, or places like the bulk barn. Plus, I trust this place. The only thing is you have to pay shipping (which can easily add up) so we usually get a few ladies together and place a bulk order to spilt the shipping costs. Check them out – www.realrawfood.com.

Note that if you’re not used to raw nuts and/or seeds, they should be stored in the fridge for optimal freshness.

 

Disclaimer: I’m a busy mom. I have store-bought almond or coconut milk on hand for those times I don’t have time to make. I’m normal. I have hard, long days, or days I forget to soak my nuts or seeds. I don’t consume it often, but I have it for the days where there is just too much for this moma to do.

 

Nut & Seed Milk Recipes – Tips & Ideas

Let’s get into some different recipes here. Pay attention to whether the nuts or seeds need to be soaked prior to making milk and whether or not you have to strain your milk through a nut milk bag (some of these milks you don’t have to strain, which makes it that much easier!!)

Please note that these recipes are just guidelines. The quantities are based on our liking. If you prefer a creamer milk, or a milk that’s less thick, simply adjust the amount of water used accordingly.

We like to add sea salt into our milks as it’s a natural preservative and also brings out the sweetness of your nuts or seeds.

In each recipe is our sweetener of choice for that particular milk. Note you can easily use whatever sweetener of your choice. Maple syrup, a couple dates, stevia, honey or nothing can be used! When I was strict on my sugar intake, I simply made the nut milks with no sweetener and they were still amazing!

Vanilla extract (or powder) isn’t a necessity, but it certainly adds a nice flavour. Your choice to use it or not.

A good idea (so you have next to nothing for waste) is to reserve about 1 cup of water from going in the blender and use it to “clean” out your blender at the end. So if the recipe calls for 4 cups water, make your milk with 3 cups, then pour that mixture into your nut milk bag.

Use the remaining 1 cup of water in your blender to clean out any excess pulp from the first time. Pour this water into your nut bag and now you can start squeezing! This is the hardest part of making any nut or seed milk. Make sure you squeeze it well so there’s little liquid left in your pulp.

DO NOT THROW OUT THE PULP!! You can easily store leftover pulp in an air-tight container in the fridge or freezer to use in other recipes later (muffins, pancakes, granola, smoothies, oatmeal, etc.). Just google almond pulp recipes – there’s thousands. Most of the time, you an use any nut/seed milk pulp in place of any recipe that calls for almond pulp.

Milk will last in the fridge for about 3-5 days. Trust me, you will know when it’s not good anymore (it has a very distinct smell).

Expect your milk to separate as it sits in the fridge. Because it has no additives or emulsifiers, it will separate as it sits. No need to worry, just shake it up right before use.

Flavouring Your Milk

There are hundreds of different ways you can make these milks. You can easily add a dash of cinnamon, or some pumpkin spice for a nice seasonal drink. If you want to make chocolate milk, simply add 2 tbsp of cacao! Once you get comfortable making some basic milks, you’ll have so much fun playing around with this!

You can also EASILY add in a very small handful of different nuts and seeds (that may not be your favourite taste, but are FULL of amazing nutrients) to your milk. By adding in a small amount, you won’t affect the taste of your milk, but you’ll get all the nutrients!! For example, I’d easily throw in a brazil nut or two (make sure it’s soaked with your other nuts/seeds), or some pumpkin seeds (as I don’t personally care for the taste of the pumpkin milk).

 

Almond Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds (soaked, strained and rinsed)
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 dates (pitted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or pinch of vanilla powder)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Place the soaked, strained and rinsed almonds in your blender. Top with water, sweetener of choice (dates in this case), and salt.

Blend on high for about a minute, until milk is formed. Set your nut milk bag in a bowl (I use a glass bowl with a spout so it’s easier to pour the milk out after). Pour your milk through the nut milk bag.

Now start squeezing. The more milk you can squeeze out the better. Pour strained milk into a glass jar for storage in the fridge. Clean out the pulp in your nut milk bag.

Enjoy the creamy goodness!!

 

Almond Coconut Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds (soaked, strained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 5 cups water
  • 2 dates (pitted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or pinch of vanilla powder)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Place the soaked, strained and rinsed almonds in your blender. Top with water, sweetener of choice (dates in this case), shredded coconut and salt.

Blend on high for about a minute, until milk is formed. Set your nut milk bag in a bowl (I use a glass bowl with a spout so it’s easier to pour the milk out after). Pour your milk through the nut milk bag.

Now start squeezing. The more milk you can squeeze out the better. Pour strained milk into a glass jar for storage in the fridge. Clean out the pulp in your nut milk bag.

We love the slight coconutty flavour!!

 

Cashew Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup cashews (soaked, strained and rinsed)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 to 2 tbsp maple syrup (adjust to your liking)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or pinch of vanilla powder)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Place the soaked, strained and rinsed cashews in your blender. Top with water and remaining ingredients.

Blend on high for about a minute, until milk is formed. (Note this milk DOES NOT have to be strained!!)

Pour milk into a glass jar for storage in the fridge.

I think this has to be my favorite milk :)

 

Hemp Milk

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup hemp seeds (do not need to be soaked)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 date (pitted)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (or pinch of vanilla powder)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Place all ingredients in blender.

Blend on high for about a minute, until milk is formed. (Note this milk DOES NOT have to be strained!!)

Pour milk into a glass jar for storage in the fridge.

Tips & Ideas:

Personally, I don’t care for the taste of hemp milk (it taste like wheat chaff to me or something). However, it is MY FAVOURITE milk to make for smoothies. (ideally because you can’t taste it in smoothies, and you still get the “creaminess” of milk).

My theory is why waste the good tasting, expensive nut milks (especially when you have to go through the work of straining most of the recipes) in a smoothie when you can’t taste it anyways! Plus there’s LOADS of plant-based protein in this milk!!

 

Pecan Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pecans (soaked, strained and rinsed)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 to 2 tbsp maple syrup (adjust to your liking)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or pinch of vanilla powder)
  • dash sea salt

Directions:

Place the soaked, strained and rinsed pecans in your blender. Top with water and remaining ingredients.

Blend on high for about a minute, until milk is formed. (Note this milk DOES NOT have to be strained!!)

Pour milk into a glass jar for storage in the fridge.

 

Pumpkin Seed Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (soaked, strained and rinsed)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 to 2 tbsp maple syrup (adjust to your liking)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or pinch of vanilla powder)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

Place all ingredients in blender.

Blend on high for about a minute, until milk is formed.

This milk can be strained or not, depending on your preference. Taste it without straining it, and see if you like it. There’s more nutrients in the milk if you don’t strain it. However, it’s rather “pulpy”. Strain if you prefer.

Pour milk into a glass jar for storage in the fridge (and don’t be alarmed – milk will be slightly green).

I think this would be an EXCELLENT smoothie milk as it’s so creamy, and you wouldn’t taste the additional pulp mixed in a smoothie!

 

Walnut Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup walnuts (soaked, strained and rinsed)
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 dates
  • Dash sea salt

Directions:

Place the soaked, strained and rinsed walnuts in your blender. Top with water and remaining ingredients.

Blend on high for about a minute, until milk is formed. (Note this milk DOES NOT have to be strained!!)

Pour milk into a glass jar for storage in the fridge.




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Dill Fridge Pickles

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love traditional dill pickles. The challenge with all our grandmother’s recipes is the mounds of sugar added. This recipe is completely sugar-free and you will be amazed at how good they are!

Ingredients:

  • Dill
  • Garlic (2 cloves per mason jar) – thinly sliced
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • 1 cup vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tbsp sea salt

Directions:

11902585_10155933982335510_4127461488519385307_nPlace all ingredients in a mason jar. I usually use a handful of dill (some chopped some heads) per jar and place it at the bottom. Seal the jar and shake vigorously for 5 minutes.

Let sit. I turn them upside down for an few hours to marinade the top cucumbers. Refrigerate. 

Ready to eat in 4-6 hour and will keep for over a year!! (If they last that long)




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Roasted Red Pepper Curry Sauce

This sauce is beyond delightful. Light, flavourful with a slight kick. A dear friend made this for me and I couldn’t get enough.

Ingredients:

  • 1 roasted red pepper (skin removed)***
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 lime (squeezed)
  • 1 tbsp Persian Lime OLIV oil (or plain olive oil)
  • 1 garlic clove (minced)
  • 2-3 tbsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp Tandoori paste

Directions:

***To roast a red pepper*** Heat oven to 450. Place whole pepper on parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake for 25-45 minutes until chard on all sides (you’ll have to rotate throughout baking). Remove from oven and place in a paper bag and seal. Allow to cool for a couple hours. Once pepper is cool, remove from paper bag. Skin, and core should slide off easily. Discard skin and seeds. Reserve pepper for sauce.

Place all ingredients in high speed blender. Blend until well combined. Transfer to medium sauce pan. Cook on medium heat until it simmers (mixing often). Simmer on medium-low heat for 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and serve!

Tips & Ideas:

This sauce is amazing served on a bed of rice, over fried chick peas, or cauliflower rice. I’ve even poured it over top salmon fillets and baked! Amazing and so versatile.

Freezes very well. I double the batch and freeze half so I have a sauce ready for those days I don’t have time to be in the kitchen!




salsa

Fermented Salsa

Once you get into fermenting, you will be surprised at how much good can be turned into cultured goodness. This is one of our favourites. And the best part… no one can tell it’s fermented!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 4 large tomatoes (diced)
  • 1 medium red pepper (diced)
  • 1-2 jalapenos (diced)
  • Clove of garlic (minced)
  • Handful of fresh cilantro
  • Lemon and lime juice to taste
  • Starter culture such as Body Ecology Veggie Culture Starter

Directions:

Follow directions on your specific culture starter.

Mix all chopped veggies in bowl, or put in food processor, depending on your desired texture. Add culture starter. Place salsa in jar and fasten lid.

Ferment for 4-7 days at 72 to 78F.Move to fridge where it will keep for several months.

Drain off excess fluid from fermentation, if desired.




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Almond Miso Dressing

This dressing is so versatile it can be used as a dressing over your salad, or a dip for wraps and asian rolls. Absolutely delicious!

I haven’t made this for a person yet who didn’t absolutely love it!

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp raw almond butter (fresh is always best)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp miso paste
  • 1 clove garlic (minced)
  • 1 tsp dried onion flakes
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 drop liquid stevia (or 1 tsp of raw honey)
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes

Directions:

Add all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately or store in the fridge for 3-5 days (if it lasts that long).




coconut sugar syrup

Coconut Sugar Syrup

This is an easy way to replace any type of syrup for everything from baking to toppings on your pancakes. Easily stores in the fridge and taste amazing.

You can easily buy this stuff, although it’s cheaper to make if you buy your coconut sugar in bulk like i do:)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cup coconut palm sugar

Directions:

In medium sauge pan, bring water to boil.

Quickly add the sugar & whisk to combine.

Reduce heat to a medium/low heat and simmer for about 3 minutes (until sugar is dissolved).

Remove from heat and allow to cool fully. Store in the fridge. It can be substituted 1:1 for an other liquid sweeteners or syrup.




Poppy-Seed-Dressing

Lemon Poppy Seed Dressing

This dressing will make any salad taste AMAZING!!

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of honey (adjust as desired. Or use a couple drops of stevia. I usually do a couple drops of stevia and honey)
  • 2 tsp dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp poppy seeds

Directions:

Put all ingredients except the olive oil and poppy seeds in small blender. Blend until smooth. (add in more honey or stevia to sweeten if you prefer it sweeter at this point). Add in olive oil and half the poppy seeds. Pulse until creamy. Remove from blender and stir in remaining poppy seeds.

 

Easily stores in the fridge for up to a week.




dairy free coffee creamer

Dairy-Free Coffee Creamers

It’s no secret, in the midst of our busiest days, we’ve all reached for those horrible sweetened coffee creamers. Many have described this as a “guilty pleasure”.

We’ve come up with 3 alternatives that are fast, simple, wonderfully tasty and creamy. Enjoy your morning up of coffee without the guilt :)

Vanilla Almond Coffee Creamer

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds (soaked for 12-24 hours for max health benefits)
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 6 large dates (will vary depending on how sweet you like it)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1 tbsp liquid coconut oil (NOT coconut oil melted)

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender. Blend vigorously until smooth.

Pour mixture through a nut milk bag or cheese cloth. Squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible. Discard pulp (or put in the freezer and save it for another recipe).

Use in coffee or tea as desired. If it happens separate, its still good, just give it quick stir.

Can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Vanilla Cashew Coffee Creamer

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 4 large dates
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1/2 tbsp liquid coconut oil

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender. Blend vigorously until smooth.

Pour mixture through a nut milk bag or cheese cloth (although this creamer is much different than the almond recipe, and can easily be enjoyed without straining it at all!). Squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible. Discard pulp.

Use in coffee or tea as desired. If it happens separate, its still good, just give it quick stir.

Can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days.

Vanilla Pecan Coffee Creamer

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 large dates
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla powder
  • 1/2 tbsp liquid coconut oil

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a high speed blender. Blend vigorously until smooth.

Pour mixture through a nut milk bag or cheese cloth (although this creamer is much different than the almond recipe, and can easily be enjoyed without straining it at all!). Squeeze as much of the liquid out as possible. Discard pulp.

Use in coffee or tea as desired. If it happens separate, its still good, just give it quick stir.

Can be stored in the fridge for 4-5 days.

 

Feel Free to play around with these base recipes until you find what you enjoy.




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Cashew Sour Cream

One of the things that can suck about giving up dairy… is the staples… like sour cream. This base cashew sour cream recipe will have you stunned. It’s so delicious and can be used anywhere you use traditional sour cream.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups raw cashews (soaked in water for at least 6 hours)
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup water (up to 1/2 cup)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice

Directions:

Strain soaked cashews (note that if you didn’t have time to soak your nuts for at least 6 hours, you can cheat by soaking them in boiling water for 30 minutes).

Put all ingredients in high speed blender (use only 1/4 cup of the water to start). Blend vigorously on high until mixture appears smooth and creamy. Note, you may have to stop the blender and scrape down the sides a couple times, or even add more water to make the blending easier (and adjust to your desired thickness – Note it will thicken once it’s been refrigerated).

Store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 6 days.