Grain Free Pumpkin Zucchini Muffins

In case you haven’t heard, it’s been quite hot in Southern California.  I’m talking sleep with all the windows open, don’t want to turn on the oven hot.  We finally got a couple of days with cool(er) temperatures, and I used the opportunity to finally light my pumpkin candle and whip up some grain free pumpkin zucchini muffins.

grain free pumpkin zucchini muffinsEven though pumpkin recipes have been popping up all over the web since August, and pumpkin spice lattes have been available for weeks now (really Starbucks?), I always try to wait and bust out the pumpkin until the weather starts to give a hint of fall, and then it’s all pumpkin, all the time.  So consider these grain free pumpkin zucchini muffins a taste of what’s to come over the next few months.

The inspiration for these muffins came from Balanced Bites’ Carrot Pumpkin Spice Muffins, only I used a combo of eggs and egg whites, and swapped carrots for zucchini instead.

At first I wasn’t sure how the zucchini-pumpkin combo would pan out, but I was pleasantly surprised!  These muffins also have just a small touch of sweetness from the maple syrup (the good stuff from Canada since we know it tastes better), and contain minimal ingredients.

grain free pumpkin zucchini muffins pinGrain Free Pumpkin Zucchini Muffins (makes 12 muffins)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup canned pumpkin

2 cups shredded zucchini

3 eggs

3 egg whites

1/2 cup water

3 tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350F.

In a small mixing bowl whisk your eggs, pumpkin, vanilla, maple syrup and water until well blended.  Gently fold in your coconut flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and ginger.  Mix well.

Gently spoon your batter into paper-lined muffin tins and place in the oven for 35 minutes.

grain free pumpkin zucchini muffins bowlRemove from the oven, cool and enjoy!  They are the perfect breakfast/snack/anytime treat.

What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe?

Dinner at Brassaii

This past week I traveled to Toronto for work.  Since I was only there for roughly 48 hours I didn’t have much time to explore the city, but I still managed to have quite the delicious dinner at Brassaii.

dinner at brassaii platesWhen I traveled to Vancouver in January I had a couple of great dinners, so I was hoping that my experience in Toronto would be similar.  I had read mixed reviews about Brassaii, but saw that it was one of the hot spots for the Toronto International Film Festival, so I figured if the food was sub-par at least I’d maybe get some stargazing.

I have to say that my dinner at Brassaii exceeded all expectations.  The service was superb, the food was on point, and my coworkers and I were able to chat with executive chef Marcus Monteiro and pasty chef Mark Cheese which was a nice bonus.

After ordering a bottle of wine, we decided to start our evening off with a few appetizers to share amongst the table which included the crispy ribs, popcorn shrimp and the house cut-fries.

Dinner at brassaii ribsI normally don’t eat a lot of gluten because it doesn’t sit well with me, but crispy ribs were too good to pass up.  They were coated in panko breadcrumbs and came with a Moroccan glaze and mint chutney on the side.  The ribs were definitely a highlight of the night and I’m determined to recreate the Moroccan glaze at home.

Dinner at brassaii friesThe house cut-fries were also quite good, but really when are fries not good?  I enjoyed the parmigiano-reggiano sprinkled on top as well.  I didn’t get a shot of the shrimp, but it was tasty as well.

Dinner at brassaii tomato soupA couple of people ordered the tomato soup which I managed to steal a bite of.  It was creamy with a nice kick at the end.  One of the better tomato soup dishes that I have tried.

For my entree, I decided to go with the pan-seared halibut which came with cucumber stewed vegetables and micro-greens.

dinner at brassai halibutLast time I had fish in Canada I was quite impressed and this halibut did not disappoint.  It was light, flaky, and the fish melted in my mouth.  I LOVE cucumbers, so the cucumber stewed vegetables complimented the fish nicely.

dinner at brassaii mushroomsI also had a side order of wild mushrooms and garlic which was also very tasty.

My coworker got the chicken stuffed with breadcrumbs, sundried tomato and mint and came with a side of couscous.  The chicken was juicy and prepared perfectly.

dinner at brassaii chickenA couple other people got the striploin which I did not try, but I heard nothing but good things.

Then it was time for dessert.  Pastry chef Mark Cheese was kind enough to treat us to a dessert sampler platter which was out of this world.

dinner at brassaii dessertEverything was so good that it was hard to pick a favorite, but the standout for me was the Hazelnut Crunch made with roasted pear, hazelnuts, gianduja cream and espresso sauce.  Second favorite of the night was the carrot cake with yogurt cream, pistachio ice cream and valhrona blond dulcey.

If you ever find yourself in the Toronto area, be sure to check out Brassaii.  Chef Monteiro prides himself on updating his menu frequently, so every time you dine there you’ll get the best of what’s in season.

Thanks to the team at Brassaii for a great dining experience!  Hopefully I’ll be able to return again soon.

Healthy Orange Julius

When I was a kid one of my favorite treats to get at the mall was an Orange Julius.  I loved that delicious combination of oranges, sugar and ice and would spend those afternoons at the mall sipping my beverage as content as could be.  It’s been a long time since I had one of those drinks, and decided to try my hand at making a healthy Orange Julius.

Healthy Orange Julius PinI found that it’s ridiculously easy to make a healthy orange julius, because the ingredient list is so short!  Just some fresh oranges, a hint of banana, vanilla, ice, and unsweetened almond milk and you are done.  That’s it.

The banana adds a nice creaminess and sweetness to the drink so you don’t even miss the sugar.  The vanilla, ice and oranges give it that traditional Orange Julius taste, and the unsweetened almond milk finishes it off.

If you wanted to make this an “adult” healthy orange julius, I recommend adding some Veev Coconut Colada or even a splash of rum to give it a tropical beverage feel.  I may or may not have had some spiked healthy orange julius drinks while watching some Sunday football.  Ahem

Bottom line is, you need this drink in your life.

Healthy Orange Julius GlassesHealthy Orange Julius (makes 1 large or two smaller servings)

Ingredients:

1 orange, peeled

1/2 frozen banana

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1-2 cups ice

Directions:

Place ingredients in blender.  Blend until nice and smooth.  Add a shot of liquor if you feel so inclined.

Healthy orange Julius close upDrink, and enjoy!

What was your favorite snack at the mall as a kid?

Freshology Review

At home meal delivery services are definitely a trend these days.  You can go the Blue Apron route where the ingredients are delivered and you prepare at home, or you can do the Freshology route where your meals are prepared and all you have to do is warm them up.  The Freshology team recently offered to send me a free day’s worth of meals in exchange for a Freshology review, so here are my thoughts.

Freshology Review

One thing I must caveat is that the Englishman and I are big cookers.  We do a Sunday meal prep and usually plan out or meals for the week, so having Freshology plan my day’s worth of meals for me was an interesting concept.  The team at Freshology was also great about accommodating my food allergies, and I ended up with a day’s worth of corn, soy, and gluten-free meals.

Since I work in an office all day I was a little concerned that the meals would sit outside my doorstep before I got home that evening.  Not only did my meals arrive by 6 am, they also came in an insulated cooler bag.

The breakfast meal included eggs, Parmesan, kale and fruit which was great since I often have eggs for breakfast.

Freshology Breakfast review

Lunch was a giant salad (again what I usually have at work), and was a Cobb salad loaded with turkey, ham and eggs.

Freshology Review LunchDinner was fish wrapped in a banana leaf and a side of quinoa and peppers.  The bag also included a cup of fruit and chicken skewer for a snack, which I ate at work.

Freshology Review DinnerThe best part about Freshology?  You simply place your cooler bag outside your door Sunday night and someone picks it up (or drops off a new delivery) by Monday morning.  This reduces all the excess packaging waste that often comes along with meal delivery services.

I really liked the Freshology concept, but since I do prepare almost all my meals at home anyway, I probably wouldn’t use them on a regular basis.  But if you work long hours or simply don’t have time to do meal prep, this is a great option.

Now the best part.  The team behind Freshology is offering all Sweet Potato Bites readers a $25 voucher to use on their first order!  If you are curious about an at home meal delivery service, be sure to check them out.

Many thanks to the Freshology team for letting me try a day’s worth of meals!