Friday, March 25, 2016

Hemp Protein Smoothie Mixes are Here!

Last week, I received an amazing package at my door from Manitoba Harvest. A few times per year, I put through a mega-order of about 50lbs of hemp hearts and hemp protein. If you wonder why, you probably don't normally read my blog! Although that wouldn't be too shocking, as I don't update it frequently enough!

I've been using hemp seeds for over ten years. But it's really been over the last five years that I have found almost every possible use for their hemp hearts. I did a whole month for Vegan MoFo a few years ago with just some ideas, and since then, I've tried countless more, but sadly, have little time to blog about them. But I always tweet!

In a nutshell, or should I say, hemp seed shell, they are amazing because each 30g gram serving of hemp hearts has 10g of complete protein, and 10g omega 3 and 6. As a vegan, that's pretty important, but also as a mom of an allergic kid, they are an easy substitute for nuts. Also as a mom of three, two of which are picky, I love that I can toss them into baking, on salads, in smoothies, etc. without too much fanfare.

I have also loved their protein powders - I keep meaning to write up my 'Bran' Muffin recipe that uses their Hemp Pro Fibre hemp protein powder, I loved to throw in Hemp Pro 70 into smoothies and really loved making truffles and protein balls out of their Chocolate and Vanilla Hemp Pro 70 flavours. So when, over the last year, I was seeing their Hemp Protein Smoothie in Mixed Berry flavour at Costco without seeing much on Manitoba Harvest's Facebook and Twitter about it, I have to admit my curiosity was piqued.

And then this lovely box arrived:

And when I opened it, I let out a little squeal:

Mixed Berry! Vanilla Chai! Chocolate! Oh boy! I was EXCITED. Plus a super cool Blender Bottle and measuring spoons. I was all set! 

Like the other hemp protein powders from Manitoba Harvest, these ones are chock full of protein - a whopping 15g per 30g serving! But the really sneaky thing that I like is that there are greens included! Spinach, kale and broccoli! It's like a little added bonus.

So to honour my favourite and most versatile 'health' food, I decided to go to town making some stuff with it. I hope you like what you see! Please note that I have no fancy photography - just an iPhone with no editing...ghetto!

Given that this is a 'smoothie' product, I thought, let's not go too far off the beaten path. I made this Mixed Berry Smoothie (above) first to give this flavour a try. I have to say, adding this protein powder not only gave my smoothie a great protein boost, but the Mixed Berry mix added an extra fruity flavour boost. I have to admit, this smoothie tasted exactly like something I'd order from Jamba Juice/Booster Juice (which is meant as a compliment). Really fruity!

Mixed Berry Smoothie
Gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, can be made oil-free (depending on milk used)

1 cup non-dairy milk (I used rice milk)
1 banana, sliced and frozen
1/2 cup frozen sliced strawberries
1/4 cup frozen wild blueberries
2 tbsp Hemp Protein Smoothie - Mixed Berry flavour

Toss all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth. Makes 2 servings.

Ok, so still on the smoothie front...decided to crack open the chocolate. I made Dreena Burton's Chunky Monkey Smoothie, using hemp seeds instead of almond butter, and my new Chocolate Hemp Protein Smoothie Mix (see pic below). Delicious!

Then decided I wanted to go beyond smoothies when it came to the Vanilla Chai Hemp Protein Smoothie mix. I decided to throw it into my favourite muffin recipe based on one from DIY Vegan. They are gluten-free, oil-free, nut-free and all over just plain awesome. But the boost from the Vanilla Chai Hemp Protein Smoothie mix put them over the top!

Banana-Hemp Muffins
Gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free
Based on recipe from DIY Vegan

3 overripe bananas
3/4 cup hemp milk (I use homemade)
1 cup oat flour
2/3 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup Vanilla Chai Hemp Protein Smoothie mix
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/3 cup Hemp Hearts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a couple of muffin trays with 14 liners.

In a large bowl, use an immersion blender to mix bananas and hemp milk. Add in dry ingredients (except hemp hearts) and mix just until smooth. Sprinkle in hemp hearts, and toss just to combine. Evenly distribute batter between 14 prepared muffins cups. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Makes 14 muffins.

Then I got to thinking about other ways to use my Vanilla Chai mix...I remember trying a 'healthier' Monkey Mix/Puppy Chow Mix and thinking it would be a good fit. Not sure if you are familiar with this Crispix/Chex-based concoction, but the original format involves melted chocolate chips, peanut butter and a lot of icing sugar mixed with cereal. I shudder thinking how I could actually munch on that back in the day. Now that I'm very careful about my sugar intake, the original recipe is a no-go, nor do I have any desire to eat it that way. Anyways, I came across a recipe somewhere that called for using protein powder as a coating for a similar mix instead of icing sugar. Perfect! So here's my version:

Chai Crispix/Chex Mix
Nut-free, oil-free, can be made gluten-free with GF Chex

6 cups Crispix or Chex cereal
1/3 cup melted coconut butter* 
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
2-3 tbsp Vanilla Chai Hemp Protein Smoothie mix

Toss cereal into a large bowl. In a small measuring cup, mix together coconut butter and spice. Pour over cereal and toss until cereal is coated. Either keep the cereal mixture in a bowl, or dump it into a large Ziploc bag. Add Vanilla Chai Hemp Protein Smoothie mix and stir or shake until cereal is coated. Makes about 6 cups.

* Note: This is not the same as coconut oil. I make this by dumping a bag of Let's Do Organic shredded coconut in my Vitamix blender and letting it run on full-speed for three minutes...makes 1 cup.

Stepping away from the Vanilla Chai flavour, and back to Chocolate. I thought this stuff would make a pretty damn good fudgy frosting...and I was right! It's pretty thick for cupcakes (seen here) but I think it would be PERFECT for spreading on some black bean brownies. I like this frosting because you don't need any sickening icing sugar nor vegan margarine. 

Chocolate Hemp Protein Frosting
Gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, refined sugar-free, can be made oil-free (depending on milk used)

3/4 cup melted coconut butter
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup Chocolate Hemp Protein Smoothie mix
1 tsp vanilla
Pinch of salt

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Use immediately, as frosting sets quickly as coconut butter cools. Makes just over 2 cups.

* Note: This is not the same as coconut oil. I make this by dumping a bag of Let's Do Organic shredded coconut in my Vitamix blender and letting it run on full-speed for three minutes...makes 1 cup.

Since I didn't have too many cupcakes kicking around, I decided to reformat the frosting into an energy bite. Easy peasy! These cute little balls are like milk chocolate bites of heaven. Super easy to pack in my bag or my kids' lunches as a better-for-you treat.

'Milk' Chocolate Energy Bites
Gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free

3/4 cup melted coconut butter*
3/4 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup Chocolate Hemp Protein Smoothie mix
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups oat flour
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life)

Mix first five ingredients in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Add in oats and mix until a soft dough forms. Add in chocolate chips. If dough is too soft to roll, chill in fridge for 15 minutes. Take teaspoonful amounts and roll into balls. Place on a lined cookie sheet. Chill for at least one hour. Keep refrigerated. Makes around 40 bites, depending on amount being rolled.

* Note: This is not the same as coconut oil. I make this by dumping a bag of Let's Do Organic shredded coconut in my Vitamix blender and letting it run on full-speed for three minutes...makes 1 cup.

And if there weren't enough recipes crammed into this post, here's one last one for you! A rich chocolate chia pudding that is ridiculously easy to make. Based on a recipe I found on the Internet but cannot locate, but let's be real - there are so many chia puddings out there anyways...they all can't be that original!

Chocolate Chia Pudding with Hemp Protein
Gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, oil-free, refined sugar-free

1 can full-fat coconut milk
3/4 cup water
2 tbsp maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup chia seeds
1 cup Chocolate Hemp Protein Smoothie mix, to taste

Add all ingredients except smoothie mix to a 1L mason jar. Stir, then shake vigorously. Refrigerate at least 4 hours, stirring halfway through. When ready to serve, scoop out a serving into a bowl, and add about 1-2 tbsp of Chocolate Hemp Protein Smoothie mix per cup of pudding and stir. Serve immediately. Makes 6-8 servings.

I would love to hear what ideas you might have for me to try with what remains of my smoothie mixes - let me know in the comments! Manitoba Harvest was generous enough to provide a 15% off coupon code when you checkout through their website - hempsmoothielaunch16 - which is good until April 30, 2016. Let me know what flavours/recipes you try! If you post a picture to social media using the hashtag #hempproteinsmoothie and tag +Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods, you have a chance to win a case of your favourite flavour! This contest runs until April 15, 2016, so be sure to try some soon!

* Full disclosure - I was sent this package from Manitoba Harvest and I decided to do a review with some recipes :) I love all of their stuff!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Vegan MoFo 2015: Favourite Cookbook

I have to admit, I started out with good intentions for MoFo this year! But as much as I want to be creative with some of the subjects, a good functional meal for three hungry kids is all that I have time for.

But for today's theme, I wanted to spend a little time and effort because it is a subject that is important to me!

I went vegan ages ago. This is when you had to buy your TVP from a dusty shelf at the back of a natural food store that only serious tree huggers frequented. Cookbooks? There was the Single Vegan (because no one else was!) and a few macrobiotic cookbooks that just seemed a little *too* weird at the time. But eventually more and more books were published, and I snatched them up with eager anticipation.

One of those early books in my collection was The Everyday Vegan by Canadian cookbook author Dreena Burton. The recipes were great, the food was relatively normal for being vegan food. While some ingredients were not readily on hand, I was intrigued. Hemp seeds?, I thought. If I could have only known then that this cookbook would introduce me to an ingredient that I would consume at least a pound of each week. The As-You-Like Muffins were a staple, as were the Sweet and Sour Neat Balls.

As the books kept coming, you could see a maturity in the progression through the vegan diet. Fewer and fewer processed foods were being used, and her last book, Let Them Eat Vegan, really seemed to be focused much more on whole foods. While I couldn't make everything from Dreena's most recently published book since Kyson was diagnosed with 11 food allergies, I was able to make substitutes quite readily. I was so appreciative for Dreena's healthy recipes as I could still find a way feed a family healthy vegan food without legumes, nuts or soy. Thank goodness for those hemp seed recipes!

I have no idea how it happened, but somehow Dreena asked me to be a tester for her newest cookbook, Plant-Powered Families. I said yes, and warned her of the allergy situation I had that would prevent me from testing her recipes the way that she had written them. I also had a newborn, one that never slept and needed me constantly. But I was excited about having a new slew of recipes.

When the testing pages starting to roll in, I was hooked. Every recipe was so easy, kid-friendly and made from whole foods. And finally - it was vegan food that wasn't reliant on legumes, nuts and soy. There were allergy subs everywhere! This sounds really pathetic, but I had tears in my eyes and the sight of a cookbook that seemed to be made for us and our situation.  I felt like I needed to jump up on the rooftops and tell everyone about this book. I thought that every parent needed this book - they could send their kids to school with super easy, nutrient-dense food with nut-free options abound!

I can't even tell you all of the recipes I've made from this book. And I make them again and again. OK, here is a list, some of which I subbed allergy-friendly ingredients, either suggested by the author or from my own will:

Pumpkin Chia Pudding
Lemon-Kissed Blondie Bites
Chickpea 'n Rice Soup
Chunky Monkey Smoothie
Apple Pie Smoothie
Best Banana Bread
Blueberry Lassy Muffins
Double Chocolate Orange Banana Muffins
Artichoke Spinach Dip
All the burgers
Vanilla Bean Chocolate Chip Cookies
Nicer Krispie Squares
No-Bake Granola Bars
Protein Power Balls
Chocolate Sweet Potato Cake with frosting
A+ Caramel Apples

Plus it has a section to inspire you when dealing with picky eaters and back to school lunch menus and ideas and a meal plan when you are in a rut and tired of meal planning all of the time.

So even if you aren't dealing with kids, or even food allergies, but are a busy person looking for nice and easy healthy food to prepare, this book is ideal! I'm so grateful for this book and hope that it finds itself in everyone's cookbook collection.

Note: I will post up pictures of my creations of these recipes once I have a way to get them in here, other than sending my pics from my computer to my phone, then logging into Blogger and putting them in. It just doesn't seem so 2015. Why, oh, why, does Apple not like Google products and crash every time I try to upload?

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Vegan MoFo 2015: Recreating a Fave Childhood Food

I have to keep this short since I have only five minutes to write up something, figure out how to paste in a pic from my new Apple computer, and get the kids in the bath!

So I'm crazy enough to think that I will have a shred of time this month to officially participate in VeganMoFo. A few years ago I unofficially participated with my 'Hemp Foods' theme, and was amazed at myself for being so dedicated. But this year, the commitment-phobe I am, I decided to take the plunge and sign up my rarely-updated blog, fully expecting to rely on my Twitter handle to provide quick 140-character answers.

But today's challenge, of recreating a favourite childhood food, forced me to write something with a bit more detail. When thinking of the challenge last night, I had such a brain fart that it seemed as though my memories of being a child were long-lost. So I texted my mom, who wrote a pile of ideas (thanks mom! although you never read my blog so you won't take note of my appreciation...). But the first one she wrote stuck out. I forgot about Nutella! The delicious hazelnut-palm oil concoction that is marketed to be healthy with its nuts and skim milk powder.

I actually blogged about one recreation I already made (Hempella), but I wanted to try something different that might be less like a chocolate version of Map-O-Spread, and something like Nutella that had a texture similar to chocolate magic mud (colloidal suspension, anyone?). I haven't read my Hempella post for awhile, but I probably wrote that I ate so much of this stuff as a teen that I earned us a whole set of like 12 drinking glasses from eating the stuff.

As you know, seeing as though you are a loyal reader of this blog and know ALL about our food challenges, we are nut-free. So that eliminated many of the recipes that featured hazelnuts that look so delicious and authentic - as much as Nutella can be considered 'authentic'.

Enter this version with one of my newest fave versatile foods - pumpkin seeds. Not the ones that you scoop out of a pumpkin at Halloween, but the raw, shelled pepitas. So without further adieu, here's what I did and some basic photos since my toddler was having a tantrum at the time.


2 cups raw pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp coconut sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
Pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a piece of parchment on a cookie sheet and spread out pumpkin seeds evenly on top. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes.
2. Pour seeds in a high speed blender. Add remaining ingredients and blend for about one minute, plunging where necessary.
3. Pour into a jar and keep in the fridge. I'll guess it will keep one month, but it only makes one cup or so, so it won't last that long - especially if it was in my house.

This is my fave childhood food - tell me yours!

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Double Hemp Bars

Wow, it's been awhile! 

I've been busy making lots in the kitchen - I have a toddler that is happy to sample anything that prevents me from giving her undivided attention; two kids in school that need an endless supply of snacks; a better half with a wicked sweet tooth and myself - always looking for something quick to grab that is also healthy.

I devised these bars as a cross between a granola bar to pack in lunches, a protein bar after a workout (ha! When does that happen these days?!) and a fancy square that could be served at a bridal shower. 

If you've read this blog, you will see how over the last few years, I've become a major fan of the hemp products from Manitoba Harvest. A 3 tbsp serving of hemp hearts offers a whopping 10g of protein, never mind a slew of vitamins and minerals. Their hemp protein powders offer a similar nutritional profile, and I love how the Hemp Pro Fibre can substitute for much of the flour in many baking recipes!

Now onto the bars - the crust is thin and hearty, and the filling almost melts in your mouth. The hemp hearts offer a delicious nutty taste without the nuts - obviously - making them ideal to send to nut-free functions or school events. 

They do remind me of the sickly sweet, condensed milk creations my mom would craft when I was younger, but without all of the sugar, dairy and guilt! I'm looking forward to sharing these at a family function and surprising them with treats that don't have to be sinful to be enjoyable.

Double Hemp Bars

1 1/2 cups oat flour (I like Only Oats brand...GF!)
1/2 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro Fibre hemp protein powder
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp coconut oil
3 tbsp agave nectar

1 cup full-fat coconut milk, stirred before measuring
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tbsp tapioca starch or arrowroot powder
1 tsp vanilla extract or seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
1/8 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I like Enjoy Life, or chopped dark chocolate would be fab)
1/3 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix oat flour, coconut, Hemp Pro Fibre and salt. Add coconut oil and agave, mixing with a pastry blender or your fingers until a nice crumbly texture is achieved that holds together when pressed. Press evenly into a glass 9x13" pan.

Wipe out bowl with a paper towel. Add coconut milk, agave, tapioca, vanilla and salt and whisk until no lumps remain. Pour over crust mixture in pan. Sprinkle coconut on top evenly, then chocolate chips then hemp hearts. Gently press these into the coconut milk mixture just slightly. 

Bake for 25 minutes or until edges are slightly browned and centre is bubbly. Cool, then chill in the fridge until very firm. Slice into bars or squares. Store cut bars in the fridge until ready to serve.

Tell me - what family favourite would you love to see given a healthy makeover?

Saturday, February 01, 2014

Lazy Arrowroot Cookies

My allergic son attends preschool where a variety of snacks are served. I, of course, provide his food and find myself crafting allergy-safe replicas of what the other kids are having.  Every week I check the calendar for what I need to prepare; sometimes remembering to check at 10pm the night before and realizing I need to make safe noochie crackers to complement the Goldfish crackers that the others will be eating.

I was ahead of the game this week. Arrowroot cookies are on the menu! These are ridiculously easy - hence the name I gave this recipe!The only way to make these even lazier would be to buy them off a shelf...but taking a look at the ingredients of Mr. Christie's version, who would want to?

Ingredients: Enriched wheat flour, sugar, vegetable oil shortening (soybean or canola, modified palm, modified palm kernel), arrowroot flour, glucose-fructose, salt, cornstarch, baking soda, glycerol, soy lecithin, diammonium phosphate, sulphites, natural flavour. Contains wheat, soy and sulphite.

Now, these are targeted to kids - mainly babies! I'm perplexed as to why anyone would want their 10-month-old sucking on these, after reading the list of crappy ingredients. But I digress...

I looked on the web everywhere for a vegan version that also didn't contain soy, one of my son's allergens. I found one that included coconut oil and agave that was dense and revolting; almost like a sugar cookie gone bad. It was missing that starchy taste too. Plus, it required that you roll out the dough, cut out shapes, transfer them to a sheet, roll dough out again...blah, blah, blah...I loathe cookies that require that effort.

Again, enter Lazy Arrowroot Cookies! Now I should disclose that I didn't even use arrowroot. I just can't seem to find one that hasn't been processed with soy or tree nuts. I did spend some time searching online then gave up. So I used a safe tapioca flour. You could even use cornstarch if desperate! Just try to be good to yourself and find one that is non-GMO, but good luck with that.

Lazy Arrowroot Cookies

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

3/4 cup arrowroot starch (or like me, tapioca flour)
2/3 cup coconut sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup hemp milk
1/2 cup oil (I used light olive)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 3 equal lengths of parchment paper, large enough to line a cookie sheet with. 

This is easy. Mix dry ingredients and set aside. Combine wet ingredients in a glass measuring cup and whisk to combine. Add wet to dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until dough forms. Divide dough in half to make two balls. Place one ball on a piece of parchment paper and top with a second piece of parchment. Roll out to an even 1/8"-thickness (don't worry about the shape if you can). Remove top parchment and make vertical then horizontal slices in the rolled dough using a pizza cutter. Prick dough with a fork, or a tool like I have that I think is for pricking pastry (it's awesome!). Pick up the parchment and transfer to a cookie sheet. Repeat process for other ball of dough. Discard the parchment topper just saves you from having to scrub the rolling pin, and not having to dust flour around!

Once dough is rolled and cut, transfer sheets to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. I like to turn the oven off at this point and leave the cookies in there to hang out for a 5-10 minutes to ensure they are crispy. I then remove them and let them cool completely on the cookie sheet. Since they have been pre-scored with the pizza cutter, they are a cinch to break apart and devour. 

Of course I have pics of all of my steps but getting them on my PC is too much work for someone who is too lazy to make real arrowroot cookies. And of course, mobile blogger is acting up.

Friday, January 03, 2014

Happy 2014 & Update

Happy new year! Hope this year is full of good times and great food!

A little update - I had to close my bakery biz to new orders as the demand for vegan, allergy-friendly cupcakes and cookies far exceeded what I had planned as a stay-at-home mom of three young kids. I hope to resume baking in the fall with more healthy options too!

But the good news is that I will soon be offering an e-book that feature my original vegan and allergy-friendly recipes! I'm really excited and will share more in the coming weeks!

So my publishing my own ebook is one of my resolutions...what are you planning as a new year's resolution?

Monday, September 30, 2013

Vegan MoFo - Day 30

Wow. This is it! 30 days (minus a few here and there...I'm a mom of three and was out of town!) of hempy foods...never thought I'd be able to blog about so many!

Smoothies, dips, bread, cookies, seitan...the possibilities are endless! 

Today I have an ultra hempy post. First up is dinner - Chloe Coscarelli's Avocado Pesto Pasta. Being nutfree here, and free of many other foods that are allergens to my son, pesto is normally off-limits due to pine nuts. But swap in hemp seeds and you not only have a safe dinner, but also a much healthier one too! Blended with an immersion blender with avocados, garlic, olive oil, basil and my touch, a big handful of spinach, and they are magically transformed into creamy deliciousness. After mixing with hot pasta, I topped with sundried tomatoes.

Next up is a healthy and yummy energy bar. I love this recipe because the combos are endless because it's based in ratios - you can read about it here:

Here's my combo:
  • 1-pound can of beans - black beans
  • ½ cup binder - chia/water
  • ¼ cup sweetener - agave
  • ¼ cup soft sweet fruit - applesauce 
  • 1 teaspoon of extract (optional) - vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon of dry spice (optional) - cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • 1 cup dry base ingredient - hemp pro 70/ some cocoa
  • 1 cup stir-ins - choc chips/coconut/hemp seeds

I then topped the baked and cooked bars with 1 1/2 times the recipe of frosting from Dreena Burton's B-raw-nies. I could just make it and eat it out of the mini food processor. Thick and fudgey!