Cookbook Preview: Maple Apple Cake

I am VERY excited to make a cookbook announcement…cooking/photographing production is DONE! I can barely believe it. I might add a few more once it’s all together, but for now…done. Now onto the easy task of writing/editing/graphic designing/publishing (right). No I am actually very pleased with how it’s coming. I love the content. They are recipes I’ve written and use frequently and am confident to pass on. My photographer is brilliant, her work pure art. And I’m just starting back into regular September life with preschool schedules, gymnastics etc, so it’s easier to plan to write from the MacBook wherever I may be instead of cook all afternoon in the kitchen.

So to celebrate the end of one part of this journey…a little cookbook preview! This was the last recipe I did and it is such a delicious cake, it disappeared before I had much of a chance for a photo. I honestly do not think that your guests or kids or whomever your critics may be will have ANY idea that this cake is pretty darn healthy. It uses a little bit of butter, but mostly yogurt, a teensy bit of raw sugar but mostly maple syrup, so….it’s a treat, but just barely.

Quickly Disappearing Maple Apple Cake

Maple Apple Cake

Serves 12

Cake

3 cups spelt flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup raw sugar

3 eggs

1 cup greek style vanilla yogurt

1/2 cup maple syrup (the darker the better)

2 cups shredded apples

Glaze

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup heavy cream

Directions: Preheat oven to 325 with a rack in the middle. Grease a bundt pan. Sift together first three ingredients into a medium bowl. Set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar on medium speed until smooth (about 2 minutes). Add eggs one at a time and beat to incorporate after each addition, scraping the bowl down each time. Add yogurt and maple syrup and beat until incorporated. Add flour and beat on low until just combined. Stir in apples. Pour into bundt pan and bake until cake is set and a tester inserted into the middle comes out clean approximately 50 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes in pan on a rack. Turn onto platter.

Prepare the glaze: in a small saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add maple syrup and bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, swirling the pan frequently. Add heavy cream and bring back to a slow boil. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until glaze begins to turn a deeper shade of amber. Cool in pan for 10 minutes.

Assemble: With a skewer(a chopstick works great), pierce holes in the top of the cake so that the glaze will soak in. Pour the warm glaze over the warm cake. Serve.

Enjoy!

Think Fresh: Quinoa

Quinoa Salad

Native to South America, quinoa (KEEN-wah) is a definite superfood! It’s been getting some positive media attention in the last little while, and rightly so! Quinoa looks a lot like rice, that has burst into little curly-ques. It has a wondeful texture, with a little pop and crunch when you eat it.

When I was pregnant with Foodie Baby, I decided to radically alter our diet, in hopes of having a)a natural birth after a dramatic C-Section with Picky Princess and b)the healthiest pregnant body I could possibly have. I read a fabulous book called The Gentle Birth Method by Dr. Gowri Motha. She presented a nutritional plan for having a healthy body and one of the most interesting things I learned is that according to the Standard American Diet(SAD), over 90% of the grain consumed is: wheat. Rice made up almost the entire other 10%. There are SO many amazing, healthy, and delicious grains for us to consume, but many of us just…don’t. Yet we have skyrocketing problems with wheat sensitivity, and she argues, that some of this is simply because we are over exposed to one grain, when we are designed to consume a variety. So I completely eliminated all grain products from my diet, for the duration of the pregnancy, and honestly, it was SHOCKING to me, at how wheat-centered my diet was. Wheat is in everything! Or at least everything convenient! And now I have reintroduced wheat, but try hard not to let it exceed about 25% of the grains in my diet. Quinoa became a new favorite of ours!

Nutritionally, quinoa is second to none! It has a full set of essential amino acids, which makes it a rare vegetarian complete protein. High in fibre, magnesium and iron, quinoa is also gluten-free, making it a great wheat alternative to gluten-sensitive diets.

Quinoa can be used in place of any other grain: pasta, rice, barley. It is great hot or cold, savory or sweet. Picky Princess loves to eat it with almond milk, maple syrup and cinnamon, and Foodie Baby loves it with goat cheese, lemon, garlic, roasted tomatoes and basil.

Tip: Quinoa is coated with something called Saponin. This makes it taste bitter and needs to be rinsed off. So rinse your quinoa well before consuming. The best way to do this is to put it in a large bowl, fill the bowl half way with water and then rub the quinoa between your hands to rub the saponin away. Rinse and repeat until the water becomes mostly clear, which can take several washes.

Here is a super easy and versatile recipe. You can substitute any of the vegetables for others, you can swap cheese and add anything else you like, but it’s a good base. Give it a try!

Quinoa Salad

Prepare quinoa. Bring 4 cups of water to boil and add 2 cups of well rinsed dry quinoa. Simmer until the quinoa curls, approx 15 minutes. Drain any excess water.

In a pan, saute one minced garlic clove with 3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil and sea salt to taste. Saute for a couple of minutes and then pour sauce over the quinoa. Toss to coat. Add the juice of half a lemon.

Stir in two cups of chopped vegetables. This time I used fresh peas, roasted tomatoes and zucchini. Crumble over salad half a cup or so of goat cheese. Serve hot, room temperature, or chilled! This is an easy picnic salad!

Farmer’s Market Friday

I know. It’s not Friday. However every Friday morning, Sexy Husband and I pack up the girls and head down to my favorite place in the world (or at least my favorite place in my regular little world of Calgary): The Calgary Farmer’s Market! Thankfully, the Market is open all year, but it is definitely a booming place in the summer! Vendors from all over Alberta bring their fresh and colorful wares and I wade through the crowd in a state of blissful giddiness. There are many amazing vendors that, over time, I will have to write about. People who are doing their part to make local food available, to grow organic food, to support green growing. It is multi-cultural. It is fabulous.

We have our own little routine, which has become practically sacred in our house. It goes something like this: upon arrival, Foodie Baby and I head straight for Phil & Sebastians for the best coffee in town(congratulations to them on their recent win of the KRUPS cup of excellence award for the bazillionth year in a row). Sexy Husband takes Picky Princess to the bouncy castle. She jumps with glee while we sit in happy silence with our coffees. Magically, ever week, as we take our last sips, she decides she’s done with bouncing and off we head for “sweet pie” at Simple Simon Pies. She samples a rotation of delicious fruit pies and we hit up our regular stops: fresh organic farm eggs, some kind of new spice mix from Silk Road Spice Merchants, organic bananas from Lunn’s Farm, and whatever other produce that catches our eyes. The energy is spectacular, the air thick with hope that I have what you need and you have what I need. I love it.

In fact, I love it enough to make it a feature to write about. So from here on in, once I return from the Market on Fridays, I will write about the treasures and inspirations of the week. Watch for it: Farmer’s Market Friday.

Markets like this one are an amazing way to buy food that has not travelled very far, by people you can actually get to know and support, and who are passionate about what they do. They are an incredible source of inspiration and usually…great deals. Last I read, Calgary has 17 official Farmer’s Markets, so chances are…wherever you live, there has to be some too!

We are off to the Okanagan for holidays this Friday, so I won’t be at the Market this week… but here are some pics from past visits.

Picky Princess finding some treasures

Phil & Sebastians

What?

For the last year or so, I’ve been working on a cookbook: fig & fennel. I am just about done with the production stage and entering into the graphic design stage. It’s been such a fun “job” and I hope to release it early 2011. I thought it would be beneficial to have a blog to promote the cookbook, with some sneak peeks of recipes and photos. The spectacular Kristy-Anne Swart of Up and Away Studio has been the photographer for this entire project. I am always moved by her photography and ability to capture the beauty around her.

Over the last few years, my family has made some pretty drastic lifestyle changes to reflect our desires to be healthy in our bodies, healthy in our minds, and to do as little harm to the earth as possible. We have yet to arrive at any spectacular destination, but have found the journey to be life changing. Shopping locally(at least in the summer), teaching our children how the food we eat gets from earth to plate(hard lessons for city kids), and being mindful that our bodies run smoothly and happily if they are fed food as close to natural as possible. These have become things that are highly valued in my life. I want to use this blog to highlight some of the local places we go to for this kind of inspiration and some of the people who make this healthy lifestyle possible.

I think the organic, green, healthy-eating micro-world has a bit of a reputation as being judgmental and hardly attainable. I hope to be able to present recipes and ideas that are simple steps to a healthier life. I believe that every day we make 1000 little decisions about our health and our impact and our power to change our lives is in those little decisions.

The cookbook! The cookbook is full of recipes that are healthy, fresh, and feature food that is as close to nature as possible. It is chock full of healthy baked goods: scones, muffins, cakes, cookies, and one dish meals that are family friendly and easy to make. I’ve been working on them for a long time. They are recipes I cook, recipes we eat, approved by my Picky Princess (4 year old) and a panel of strict critics (you know who you are). I’ll keep you posted as it comes together.

The Picky Princess Herself

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