Chocolate protein one-bite brownies

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Experiment # 2 was a success. I took a recipe posted to the Dr. Poon page called Phase 1 “Poonified” protein chocolate cupcakes by Cintia P. and made a few tweaks.

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Before you get started: I’m working with carbalose flour to reduce the net carbs in my baked goods. I used vanilla protein powder because I’ve got a 2 lb jar of the stuff and I don’t like it, and baking with it seemed like a good way to use it up.

Yields: 20

Cost per brownie: 13 cents

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $71.22

Ingredients:

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 175°c / 350°f and put paper liners into mini muffin tin.
  2. Beat egg, vanilla, and half of the water. Reserve remaining water.
  3. Combine dry ingredients. Pour into wet, half at time.20160604_100319
  4. Mix in remaining water and stir until combined.
  5. Pour into muffin tin, filling about three quarters. 20160604_101021
  6. Bake 12 min then cool on rack. 20160604_102941

Verdict: These were very easy to make and I’m pleased with the flavour and consistency. The outer layer of the brownie stuck to the liner.

I think they’d be much better with chocolate protein powder, but I like drinking the chocolate so I’m stuck using the vanilla to get rid of it.  I might add double the amount of cocoa power perhaps.

So far baking with Carbquik seems easy and it’s a nice challenge to find recipes and adapt things to the Dr. Poon lifestyle.

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No bite brownies

So these happened and they don’t taste good. What’s annoying is they smell like chocolate pudding and they ought to taste good, but they’re foul. This was my first time baking with Carbquik and protein powder. Learning curve!

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I’m trying to make a low-fat, low-carb treat that’s acceptable to people on phase 1 of the Dr. Poon Metabolic lifestyle and I’m going back to the drawing board. When a brownie tastes bad fresh out of the oven you’re doomed.

Patty’s vegan muffins 2.0

This is the same recipe as the first vegan muffins with two minor additions. They turned out great for a healthy and delicious breakfast.

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I used the organic lemon extract I purchased at The Spice Trader, and added ground cinnamon. These were so good fresh out of the oven, Boyfriend Unit just woke up as they finished and we ate them for breakfast. The smelled so amazing.

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The Spice Trader & gravlax

This week my friend Maui and I went to The Spice Trader, an organic spice house in the Queen West neighbourhood to attend a gravlax class, the Nordic way of curing salmon. The class was taught by Donna Ashley of Karelia Kitchen.

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We had a great time!

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This was my first visit to The Spice Trader, Maui and I had planned to visit twice before and that turned into a wash, luckily 3rd time was the charm. It’s located at 877 Queen Street West, Toronto, ON, M6J 1G5 (at Strachan), across from the park. They have both a retail and online spice shop.

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It’s a beautiful store, with wooden shelves and an old-fashioned scale in the window. The shelves are alphabetically organized and have ample room making them easy to find, I appreciated that the shelves were not jam-packed with product, they had just enough bottles out.

Sadly, only one jar of Saigon cinnamon to be found and Maui snagged it first. It smelled so amazing, I can’t wait to get a bottle. They have a sample of each spice and that one just smelled so good.

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At The Spice Trader they offer classes and we learned to make gravlax, or cured salmon. The etymology of gravlax was interesting to learn. Gräva is the Scandinavian word for grave, or “to dig”, and lax/laks means salmon. (Although you can use any fatty fish for this, like trout or halibut). The fishermen used to salt the fish and bury the salmon in the sand to ferment it, and dig it up later to eat it. Due to modern sensibilities we make it slightly different now.

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So how do you make this anyway?

  • Buy the freshest cut of salmon you can find, with the skin on.
  • Make a mixture of equal parts kosher salt and brown sugar. Kosher salt is used specifically because the shape of the salt flakes make it easier to get a good application of salt, the flakes cover more surface area than rounder granules. So ratio is 1:1. You can change this a bit to taste, I prefer sweeter.
  • Place the fish on a platter and pack the mixture around it generously.
  • Get fancy by laying a bunch of fresh herbs and a citrus fruit on top, like dill and lemon. Or make a puree of beets and horseradish. Possibilities are endless!  I’m intrigued by trying with vanilla beans.
  • Cover and refrigerate 5 or 6 days to cure it. The salt dries out the moisture and the fish will firm up. Then slice thinly and serve. Cooked fish without an oven! That easy!

Our instructor Donna was great, she was thorough, funny, and very charismatic. Allison the shop keeper was amazingly good with names. She memorized 12 names on the fly.

I left the shop with Hawaiian black salt, ground white pepper, pink Himalayan salt, lemon oil, and orange oil. I made a delicious chicken dinner with my new spices and can’t wait to try the oils.

This is the gravlax Donna cured in beets and horseradish I believe. Look at how the colour stays near the top, won’t that look stunning done on white fish?

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Here is the dill and lemon gravlax, see the packed sugar and salt?

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They all tasted delicious but the red one was my favourite. I will definitely make another trip to The Spice Trader to acquire that cinnamon.

Vegan banana muffins, experiment # 2

I didn’t set out to make a vegan muffin. It just happened during the course of testing out ingredient substitutions.  This muffin had some improvements over the previous effort, the inside was a lot closer to a regular muffin than the 1st healthy banana muffin experiment.  But I’ve discovered something disheartening during these substitution tests.

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An ingredient that reduces calories will up the sodium or the fat, or an ingredient to replace dairy will raise the values I’m trying to lower.  It seems you can have one or the other, but not both.  (Not that I’ve tried everything, but based on my experiments so far, when something goes down, something else goes up.)  It’s rather annoying.

These new muffins weight in at:

nutrition

This is still much better than a muffin from a fast food restaurant, but it has more calories, fat, carbs, sodium, and sugar than it’s non-vegan predecessor.  Wuah!

Before you get started: There’s a thorough explanation on substituting flaxseeds for egg whites on this great resource Vegan Baking.

Time required: 30 min

Yields: 12

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients:  $45-ish

Cost per muffin: 52 cents

Ingredients:

  • 4 large bananas
  • 188 grams organic sprouted spelt flour
  • 25 grams granulated Splenda
  • 60 grams red palm oil + 4 oz water
  • 5 grams baking powder
  • 4 grams pure vanilla extract
  • 10 g ground flax seed + 1.5 oz warm water

Instructions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 176°c or 350°f.  Grease the muffin tin well.

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2. Whisk warm water into the flaxseed and let stand 10 min.  It will turn into sludge. Yummy!

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3. Meanwhile mash the bananas, then beat in the Splenda, red palm oil, water, and vanilla.  Once the flaxseed sludge is ready, add it to the wet mixture and beat until combined.

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Wowzers this looks vile.

4. In a seperate bowl, stir the baking powder into the spelt flour, then add gradually to wet mixture.

5. Bake 24-26 minutes. Tah-dah!

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Verdict:

Loved these.  The consistency isn’t overly chewy like last time.  There’s a very slight graininess to them, which I suspect is the flaxseed.  The muffins rose quite high in the oven and collapsed to hockey puck height when they came out.

I let them sit out overnight and in the morning, the outside was firm but not hard, the inside was still moist.  This was definitely a muffin that impressed more when it was oven-fresh, but still good the next day.

I don’t foresee making them this way again due to the calorie and fat content. They were really good though!

Do you know of any ingredient substitutes that improve the nutritional values?

Healthier banana muffins, experiment # 1

I went back to the drawing to work on the treasured banana muffins.  I opted to cut the Splenda by 50%, eliminate salt, use red palm oil in lieu of butter, use egg whites, and spelt flour again.

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Unlike blueberry trial # 4 which had a very thick batter with spelt flour, this batter was quite runny.  They took an extra 2 minutes to cook through, and they do feel very moist, with a chewy consistency.  These muffins did not rise very high.

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Boyfriend Unit noted that this time, he can’t detect the Splenda aftertaste that was present in the 2nd blueberry trial. Perfect!  These muffins clock in at:

banana muffins Mar 8

I am quite pleased with these muffins, but not ready to post a recipe.  I’m still looking into cutting the sodium so stay tuned.

Success! Healthy muffins experiment # 4

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Very pleased to report the 4th experiment was a huge success!  I came up with a healthier alternative to a traditional blueberry muffin, and it tastes like a blueberry muffin.  It’s really good!  At this point I don’t even notice the odd colour.  I see one and think “delicious muffin get in my mouth”.

Thanks to Calorie Count I have the nutritional data again, and I notice the sodium is still fairly high, based purely on using baking soda.  No other ingredient has salt.  I want research further into leavening agents to see if anything can be done about that.

Just how healthy awesome is this muffin?

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The flavour not was sacrificed in the name of nutrition, to make this just required opening my mind to some new ingredients and getting more creative.  I compared my muffin to what you can buy at two popular fast food chains:

mcdonalds muffin

McDonald’s blueberry muffin

That is a lot of calories!  The salt in the next one is even more insane!

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Tim Horton’s blueberry muffin

After reading those charts, I’m even more excited about my muffins!  I learned a lot by experimenting to make a healthier muffin.  If you try this recipe, I suggest adding a little more water, my batter was very thick.

The spelt flour came from the Bulk Barn, and they have two types of spelt, the stone-ground spelt has way more calories (ha ha, get it?) than the sprouted spelt.  I used sprouted spelt.  I’m going to check what other brands are available locally though since there seems to be a big difference in the numbers of the flour.

Time required: 30 min

Yields: 12

Total cost if you have none of the ingredients: $45 ish

Cost per muffin: 52 cents

Ingredients:

  • 230 g frozen blueberries
  • 188 g organic sprouted spelt flour
  • 63 g egg whites
  • 60 g organic, unrefined red palm oil
  • 50 g Splenda granulated sucralose
  • 5 g baking soda
  • 4 oz water
  • 4 g pure vanilla extract, Lorann Madagascar Bourbon

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Instructions:

1.Grease the muffin tin.  (Grease it really well because mine stuck badly.)

2.Combine all of the wet ingredients (except the berries) with the Splenda.

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Something really awesome about baking by weight is that I used way less dishes!  All I needed to do was sit the mixing bowl on my scale, and add each ingredient one at a time until the desired weight. So easy!

3.Measure out the dry ingredients and add them to wet, gradually.

4.Stir in fruit and spoon into tray. They are an… alarming colour I’ve begun to refer to as “blinding chartreuse”.

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The batter was very thick.

5.Bake 20 min.

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6.Remove from tray immediately.

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So happy!

Verdict:

They tasted great!  We tried them with breakfast when they were fresh from the oven, and they were amazing.  However the real test of a muffin is once it’s cooled down.  I’ve yet to eat a baked good straight out of the oven that tasted bad.  These muffins were still very tasty once they cooled completely.

Boyfriend Unit says, “They’re delicious. Better eaten warm.  But still delicious.”

Once the muffins cooled the texture got crumbly. I believe this is caused by the spelt flour.  Future baking plans include looking into correcting the crumbliness, lowering the sodium content in the leavener, and find a flour with less calories.

Playlist: Walk the Moon – Shut up and dance