Crunchy Chickpea Flour Crackers with Onion and Sesame Seeds

savoury chickpea flour crackers with onion and sesame seedsThere is a reason I included chickpea flour as one of my ‘extra choice’ items for my April clean eating challenge – these crackers are that reason. These crackers, and all of the other awesome stuff you can make from chickpea flour, like socca, chocolate chip cookies, and vegan french toast.

Chickpea flour is underestimated and undervalued but the stuff is kickass. It’s got fibre, protein, minerals, and it’s naturally gluten-free. It’s versatile, delicious, and it’s fun. You’re baking with ground up chickpeas! What’s not to love?

Just don’t taste the batter.

savoury chickpea flour crackers with onion and sesame seeds

Now, some of you will probably disregard this advice or will perhaps have had traumatic chickpea flour experiences in the past. You will wrinkle your noses in disgust and say, Emily, I went ahead and tasted that chickpea flour batter.  It was touch and go there for awhile – I barely made it out of the experience alive. How could you lead me so astray?

Well, as with all things chickpea (in my experience), that beany bitterness bakes itself right out of the batter while it’s in the oven. Keep the faith. The resulting product will be savoury, delicious, crunchy, and sans-bitterness.

And with this base recipe, you can pretty much add whatever you want – omit the sesame seeds and add sunflower seeds; try with other seasonings (like garlic powder or chili powder!). It’s amazingly flexible.

savoury chickpea flour crackers with onion and sesame seeds

And you are making your own crackers! You’re part of the solution! No more boxes or plastic packages to throw away. No more spending your entire paycheck on one box of gluten-free crackers (because let’s be honest, that’s how much they cost). Just simple, savoury, chickpea flour.

Crunchy Chickpea Flour Crackers with Onion and Sesame Seeds

  • Author: recipe inspired by this basic version at Heather G Nutrition
  • Recipe Notes: egg-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour (cold)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus 1 teaspoon for brushing on top
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons organic onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon himayalan pink salt (reduce if you aren’t interested in a nice salty cracker)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 tablespoons water (or so)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together chickpea flour, sesame seeds, onion powder, pink salt, and baking powder.
  3. Stir in olive oil.
  4. After the olive oil is kind of ‘smooshed’ in, stir in water. The dough should kind of be a bit sticky but not too sticky. It should feel like cookie dough.
  5. On a well-floured surface, roll out the dough until thin (as thin or thick as you like your crackers). Keep flouring everything so the dough doesn’t stick.
  6. Using a bench scraper/dough scraper or some other device to cut the dough into strips and transfer to your baking sheet, then cut into squares.
  7. Brush lightly with a bit of olive oil.
  8. Bake for 12-15 minutes until light golden.
  9. Store in an airtight container.

Crunch and enjoy!

© Backyard Owl

 

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Radiant Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric and Ginger Tea

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

“Yellow is the ‘lightest’ of all of the warm-spectrum colors and the color which most resembles the sun. It brings with it hope, and the feeling that everything will be all right. It has an air of radiance, brightness, cheerfulness, and gaiety. Yellow is open-minded and inspiring; it glows and illuminates, and at is most positive vibration it corresponds with knowledge and wisdom.”

~ excerpted from Color Your Life, by Howard & Dorothy Sun

So many of us want to find ways to reduce inflammation in our bodies, seeing as, you know, inflammation is possibly at the root of all disease. That’s a super scary idea, and it makes me want to leap into action. It makes me want to find some kind of superhero to help me fight back. And, the super hero that I have in mind just happens to be a ugly and sort of weird looking, but powerful nevertheless. My super hero wears a yellow cape and goes by the name Turmeric.

Turmeric is one of these superfoods we keep hearing about over and over and for good reason – it’s one powerful little root. And, it’s been proven to be anti-inflammatory, to be a powerful antioxidant (protecting the body from the regular ongoing damage that occurs as a result of breathing, exposure to toxins, aging, just existing, etc), and to have promising potential in treating arthritis and joint pain, preventing some cancers, and possibly even preventing and treating Alzheimers.

And ginger! Ginger is great for digestion and/or indigestion, for nausea, and it’s also known to be anti-inflammatory.

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

And can we talk about the colour of this tea? We don’t often pay attention to colour in our lives but I’m learning that colour has a tremendous influence on us in all sorts of physical, mental, and spiritual ways.

We know we’re supposed to eat the colours of the rainbow; here is a way to boost YELLOW. Colours mean antioxidants, which in turn means protection for your cells, radiant health, and high levels of nutrients. Turmeric is a lovely brilliant yellow when dried and when fresh, it kind of looks like a carrot – bright orange and juicy (under the peel, that is. When it has a peel on, it basically looks like ginger, to which it is related).

And as noted above, the colour yellow links to radiance, glow, illumination, cheerfulness, vitality, and all of the other elements of health that we want and that antioxidants and anti-inflammatory foods can help us obtain. Coincidence? I think not.

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

Yellow is also the colour that represents the Solar Plexus Chakra, one of the seven energy centres of the body according to Ayurvedic traditions. In this school of thought, the Solar Plexus Chakra governs personal power, energy, and self-confidence. It’s all about purpose and your inner fire. The colour yellow supports and represents this chakra by encouraging radiance and stability and happiness and confidence.

Fire, pep, energy, radiance, yellow. Sound a lot like turmeric? I think so.

All that’s not bad for one little mug of tea.

radiant turmeric and ginger tea

And if you’re worried about this being too spicy, don’t be. I found it delightfully ‘awakening’ in my mouth but not at all burny or uncomfortable (read a description of turmeric’s taste here if you’re curious for more detail). It’s like a nice spicy chai: peppy and peppery, but not painful.

You can drink this straight as a steeped tea, or incorporate some non-dairy milk as I have done. The ground pepper and coconut oil are to enhance the absorption of the good stuff from the turmeric. I like making my tea into a latte because it mellows things into a more comforting mug and adds a nice smoothness. Plus, if you wanted to go crazy and add some coconut milk, you’re incorporating the healthy fats required to aid with turmeric absorption. Hey now!

Radiant Anti-Inflammatory Turmeric and Ginger Tea

  • Author: Backyard Owl (and everyone else on the internet who has ever made this kind of tea)
  • Recipe Notes: gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free or nut-free (depending on your milk), naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • fresh ginger root
  • fresh turmeric root
  • ground black pepper
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk
  • (optional) stevia for sweetening

Instructions:

  1. Measure out 1 cup of filtered water and place in a saucepan on low heat.
  2. Grate about 1 teaspoon of fresh ginger and 1 teaspoon of fresh turmeric and add to your water.
  3. Simmer for about 10 minutes (you should notice the water becoming, well, orange coloured).
  4. Pour the tea into your mug and strain out the spice pulp.
  5. Add a few shakes of ground black pepper and the coconut oil.
  6. Sir in 1/4 cup of your favourite non-dairy milk. If required, sweeten with stevia.
  7. Sip and enjoy!

Serves 1.

NOTE: Turmeric will stain anything it touches yellow. Just be warned. Your fingers, your counter, the knife you use to peel it, and so on. So I recommend paying attention while preparing this tea so that you don’t discover you’ve accidentally dyed your face, your clothes, or something else you would prefer NOT to become yellow.

© Backyard Owl

Crunchy Apple Cider Quinoa Granola – v, gf

apple cider quinoa granola

‘Tis the season – granola time again. Granola is an easy, crunchy, tasty, and delicious addition to your snack and breakfast repetoire. One batch requires minimal work, makes a good amount, and is pretty much foolproof (provided you don’t burn it in the oven).

And the customization options are endless! This particular granola is a sweet blend of apple cider, coconut oil, and maple syrup mixed with nuts, seeds, oats, and quinoa. Then, dried fruit including dried apple rings are stirred in at the end. And that’s pretty much it!

apple cider quinoa granolaapple cider quinoa granola

I’ve taken to eating this at work as a snack. I bring my almond milk in a separate container, and then add to my granola mix (with some chia seeds thrown in for good nutritional measure) and look out, I’m eating cereal at my desk.

The quinoa is a particularly nice addition, in part because quinoa is a wonderful source of protein and minerals (it is a superfood, after all) but also because it just looks really pretty. It gives the granola this extra texture and eye appeal, and eating beautiful foods is important too when we think about nourishment from a holistic perspective.

apple cider quinoa granola

This granola also makes a lovely gift. Store it in mason jars, tie with a bow using some twine or natural string, and you have a beautiful gift for a dinner party, for your friends who are constantly asking you why you don’t bring them granola gifts, or for anyone who enjoys a good mix of sweetened toasted grains and nuts with dried fruit (i.e. pretty much everyone, provided they don’t have an allergy to any of the ingredients).

Enjoy the Festive Season!

Apple Cider Quinoa Granola

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 cups mixed nuts and seeds (i.e. sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, almonds).
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 cup dried fruit (apple rings, raisins, dried cranberries, dates, etc).

Instructions:

  1. Soak quinoa overnight or for at least one hour in the apple cider. It will absorb most or all of the cider.
  2. Preheat oven to 325F.
  3. In a large bowl, stir together oats, nuts/seeds, sea salt, and cinnamon.
  4. In a saucepan, melt coconut oil over low heat and stir in maple syrup.
  5. Pour melted oil/syrup mix over rolled oats and stir well, until everything is coated.
  6. Add quinoa/cider mix and again, stir until everything is well mixed.
  7. Spread out on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 45 minutes, or until granola is dry, lightly browned, and getting crunchy/toasty. Try to stir every 15 minutes or so to keep the moisture circulating and to help release steam.
  8. Remove from oven and let cool.
  9. Add dried fruits and mix around, and then store in your choice of containers: tupperware, mason jars, your stomach, and so on.

(C) Backyard Owl

Chewy One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Chickpea Flour) – v, gf

chewy chocolate chip chickpea cookies - vegan & gluten-freeSo who here thinks chickpea flour tastes gross? Show of hands. That’s quite a few of you, but I’m betting it’s from when you tried some adventurous gluten-free chickpea flour recipe and tasted the batter and thought, dear god, what monster have I created? Chickpea flour – un-baked – is kind of bitter. It does not taste good. Let’s just get that out of the way right now.

BUT – chickpea flour baked INTO things has no taste, really. That is to say, it loses the offensive taste. And, it keeps the protein, chewiness, and gluten-free fabulousness.

chewy chocolate chip chickpea cookies - vegan & gluten-free

My eyes have been opened recently to the joys of chickpea flour. It makes a delicious cookie, for one, and it’s so versatile! Other cultures have been baking and cooking with chickpea flour for centuries, but North American culture is just catching up. In the last few days alone I’ve seen recipes for chickpea flour flatbreads, quiches made with chickpea flour, french toast with chickpea flour, and blondies with chickpea flour, among others.

And, compared to many gluten-free flours, it’s relatively inexpensive. And, though this may be entirely psychological, it seems a little more “from a whole food” than say, potato starch (how do they get just the starch out of the potato?)

So if you are looking for a healthy treat that is high in protein and fibre, I’d encourage you to try these cookies. You could add raisins, nut butter, or perhaps some sunflower or pumpkin seeds. If you don’t find the batter sweet enough (they are JUST on the edge), feel free to also add an additional tablespoon or two of maple syrup, or, sprinkle the tops with some organic cane sugar.

Welcome to the chickpea flour fan club! chewy chocolate chip chickpea cookies - vegan & gluten-free

Chewy One Bowl Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Chickpea Flour)

  • Author: Tweaks by Backyard Owl; original recipe inspired by Oatmeal with a Fork’s Incredible Protein Chocolate Chip Cookies.
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, source of fibre and protein, soy-free, nut-free, naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup COLD/FROZEN chickpea flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • ¼ t. sea salt or himalayan pink salt
  • ½ t. baking soda
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted before measuring
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons (or as needed) almond milk
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Whisk together cold chickpea flour, rolled oats, sea salt, baking soda, and chocolate chips.
  • Melt coconut oil over low heat, and measure out.
  • Add melted coconut oil, maple syrup, and vanilla to dry ingredients and stir. If needed, add the almond milk.
  • Scoop and roll into balls of your desired size.
  • Bake for about 12 minutes or until lightly golden.
  • Remove from oven, and gently press down with a fork. This step squishes the cookies and improves their chewy factor.
  • Cool, and store in an airtight container.

© Backyard Owl

Back to School Cocoa Granola with Buckwheat and Cocoa Nibs – v, gf

cocoa granola with cocoa nibs and buckwheatFriends, I’m going back to school! Part-time, anyways. I’ve finally decided that now is the time, and I’ve enrolled at CSNN London to obtain my Registered Holistic Nutritionist designation. I’ve wanted to do this for years and I didn’t want to waste any more time – so now I’ll be working full-time and taking classes on a part-time basis. Hurrah!

To celebrate in style (and because, quite frankly, I kind of love school), I decided to make some back-to-school granola. This particular cocoa granola is indeed rather celebratory. And decadent. Deep and dark and chocolate-y, it has lots of crunchy pumpkin seeds, cocoa nibs, and buckwheat clusters. It also has lots of nutrition, in the form of, well, pumpkin seeds, cocoa nibs, and buckwheat clusters, not to mention hemp seeds, flaked coconut, raisins, pecans, coconut oil, and maple syrup.

passion for learning

 

If you aren’t much of a granola breakfast eater, fret not! You can use this as a topper for coconut or almond yogurt and fruit (that’s my new favourite!), or just by itself as a quick ‘boost’ snack. Perhaps you want to mix in some more nuts and seeds for a luxurious trail mix.

Enjoy, and if you too are heading back to school (in any form), I say: all the best! Learning is such a joy. I hope you have fun.

cocoa granola with cocoa nibs and buckwheat

 

Back to School Cocoa Granola with Buckwheat and Cocoa Nibs – v, gf

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, naturally-sweetened

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1 cup flaked unsweetened coconut
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder (sifted, if clumpy)
  • 1/3 cup cocoa nibs
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (or other seeds of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup pecans (or other nuts of your choice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt (or himalayan pink salt)
    • PLUS
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup (could go up to 1/2 cup if you taste and it isn’t sweet enough)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
    • PLUS
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together oats, buckwheat groats, flaked coconut, cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, pecans, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil and add maple syrup and vanilla.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients until all dry ingredients are coated.
  5. Spread on a baking sheet and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the granola is becoming dry and toasty (hard to tell with this recipe, but you’ll see).
  6. Remove from oven, and if desired, clump together to cool (this helps form clusters); or, leave as is to cool. Add raisins and chocolate chips.
  7. Store in an airtight jar or container and enjoy!

© 2015 Backyard Owl

Summer Strawberry Sherbet with Lemon Zest – v, gf

creamy strawberry sherbetStrawberry season is upon us! The Farmer’s Market has row upon row of beautiful red strawberries, and given that we’re in a stretch of hot weather, a frozen dessert seemed really very advisable. I had some awesome sherbet last week from the ice cream shop in my neighbourhood, and inspired by that, I decided strawberry sherbet was my next enterprise.

Now, I always thought it was sherbert and turns out I’m not alone. If you Google sherbet versus sherbert, the number of results tell you a few other folks were confused as well. These pages have informed me that while sherbet is correct, sherbert is a common mispronunciation. Who knew?

creamy strawberry sherbetBut, ‘r’ debate aside, give sherbet a try. It’s a lovely cross between ice cream and sorbet (less rich than ice cream, but creamier than sorbet, if you catch my drift) and there is no cooking required – simply let the strawberries sit in a bowl with some sweetener and flavourings, and then mix with one can of coconut milk. Then, puree until smooth, and mix in your ice cream maker.

The sherbet is this gorgeous shade of pink, one of those colours that is just a marvellous natural wonder. The lemon juice and lemon zest add a bit of zing, the vanilla adds depth and a kind of creamsicle flavour, and the whiskey, while optional, does add a little je ne sais quois. If you wanted to really go nuts, you could even stir in a spoonful or two of strawberry jam while the mix is in your ice cream maker for a kind of ripple effect.

The possibilities are endless, actually, You could try with raspberries, blueberries, juicy peaches, or maybe even a mix of fruits. You might wish to substitute lime juice and zest for the lemon – and perhaps even orange zest.

creamy strawberry sherbet

Summer Strawberry Sherbet with Lemon Zest

  • Author: Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups strawberries (sliced in half, or left whole if small)
  • 1 tablespoon organic cane sugar
  • 1 tablespoon your favourite whisky/scotch (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest (from an organic lemon)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 can organic full-fat coconut milk

Instructions:

  1. Wash and measure out strawberries, placing into a large non-metal/non-reactive bowl.
  2. Add vanilla, whisky, lemon zest, lemon juice, cane sugar, and maple syrup and toss to combine.
  3. Let sit for about 1 hour, to allow flavours to mix and strawberries to macerate.
  4. Pour strawberry mix into a blender and add coconut milk, pureeing until smooth.
  5. Let the mix sit in the fridge until nice and cool, and then pour into your ice cream maker and prepare according to the instructions for your machine.
  6. Freeze and serve.

© Backyard Owl 2015

 

Healthy Rhubarb Oat Bars with Crunchy Almond Crumble

spring rhubarb

It’s rhubarb time! Actually, it’s probably almost past rhubarb time, but never mind that.

Truthfully I typically have so much rhubarb in my freezer (that I’ve carefully hoarded from the rhubarb season the year before) that I don’t think I’ve actually ever run out, thereby ensuring that it is ALWAYS rhubarb time.

I’ve made fruit crisps before, but I wanted to make these more of a wholesome bar. What’s the difference between that and a crisp, you might ask? Well, mostly it’s that bars have delicious oat-y, nutty, crispy goodness on both the top AND the bottom. Simple as that.

rhubarb bars with almond crumble

These bars are something you might bring to a picnic, or serve after a casual (vegan) barbecue in the backyard. If you like, you can serve them with some whipped coconut cream, or just keep them as they are. Now get thee to a picnic, post-haste!

A few notes about the recipe:

  • Yes, you can taste the banana. I liked it though! It somehow compliments the rhubarb in this unusually delicious way. If your first instinct is “perish the thought!” then try substituting with 1/3 cup organic applesauce.
  • Yes, the topping is AMAZING. Nutty almonds baked up with rolled oats and maple syrup make for a super crunchy and addictive topping. Ground almonds are expensive, I know it, but they really work here.
  • Yes, you could throw in some strawberries, raspberries, or even cranberries, if you feel so inclined.
  • Yes, I will be keeping this base/topping recipe as a standard go-to for all future fruit bars. Can you imagine this with peaches? Or blueberries? Incredible.

Digging the fruit approach but want to try something else? Consider rhubarb strawberry crisp or cranberry pumpkin seed muffins or rhubarb cranberry crisp or lemon blueberry cranberry muffins.

rhubarb bars with almond crumble

Healthy Rhubarb Oat Bars with Crunchy Almond Crumble

  • Author: Choosing Raw, with tweaks by Backyard Owl
  • Recipe Notes: vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, contains nuts

Ingredients:

Base:

  • 1 3/4 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil
  • 1 large ripe banana (or 1/3 cup applesauce)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 4 cups rhubarb
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar

Crumble Topping:

  • 1 cup almond flour/ground almonds
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Instructions:

  1. Prepare the base: stir together oats, oat flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and sea salt. In a separate bowl, mash banana, and then add almond milk, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla. Add to dry ingredients, and stir until all ingredients are incorporated.
  2. Scoop batter for base into a 9×13 glass pan, or other similarly sized pan. If you know your pan often sticks, grease with a little coconut oil.
  3. Preheat oven to 350F.
  4. While oven is preheating, prepare rhubarb filling. Stir together cornstarch and sugar. Measure out 4 cups of rhubarb, and then sprinkle sugar/cornstarch over top, tossing to ensure that the rhubarb is well-coated. Scoop the rhubarb onto the base filling.
  5. Bake for 15 minutes, or until rhubarb is starting to release some juice.
  6. While rhubarb/base are baking, prepare topping: stir together oats and almond flour. Pour coconut oil and maple syrup over top, and mix well.
  7. Scoop topping onto partially-baked rhubarb mix (after the first 15 minutes in the oven), and bake entire extravaganza for another 30 to 60 minutes. Yes, it’s a wide range.
  8. Remove from oven when a) topping is browned and, more importantly, b) when the rhubarb filling is bubbling not just around the edges of the pan, but closer to the middle too.
  9. Cool, and enjoy!

© Backyard Owl 2015