Vegan Almond Butter Cookies

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I haven’t been doing much baking lately (or blogging if you haven’t noticed). I haven’t felt very motivated to do much of anything except keep up with mindless TV shows. I should be working on my college assignments but instead I’m doing this! We are heading home to Canada in exactly one week for Christmas and I can’t wait.

Vegan Almond Butter Cookies

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These cookies are healthy, vegan and gluten-free!

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 8-10 min

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup of almond butter
  • 1/2 cup of oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla-flavoured brown rice protein powder (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons of stevia
  • 2 tablespoons of almond/soy milk
  • 2 tablespoons of dried cranberries or raisins

Instructions:

Combine dry ingredients and stir in almond butter. Add milk as necessary to get to desired cookie dough consistency. Stir in cranberries or raisins. Form into balls and bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

SONY DSCWe put up our Christmas tree!

SONY DSCWe also took a recent weekend break to Budapest and had an amazing time. Here are a few pictures from our trip.

DSCN8917DSCN8919DSCN8935DSCN8947DSCN8974DSCN8990DSCN8994DSCN9015DSCN9032DSCN9025The baths were definitely a highlight of our trip. I plan on posting at least one Christmas cookie recipe before the year is out, but for now I’m back to the books.

Pumpkin Ginger Molasses Cookies

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I made these cookies the day before the marathon to help distract me from being nervous and to use up the rest of my fresh pumpkin. Which reminds me… I had planned to do a post on how to make fresh pumpkin puree and I forgot to post it! Now I have something to work on today. Soft ginger molasses cookies are one of my favourites, and the addition of pumpkin only makes them better. It’s a cold and rainy Sunday here in Dublin – a perfect day for tea and cookies.

Soft Pumpkin Ginger Molasses Cookies

by Emily Ratzlaff

Prep Time: 10 min

Cook Time: 10-12 min

Ingredients: (makes 12 cookies)

  • 1/4 cup of dairy-free butter (or regular butter/margarine)
  • 1/4 cup of canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons of molasses
  • 2 tablespoons of stevia (or 1/2 cup of sugar)
  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or grease with cooking spray.
  • Combine butter, pumpkin, molasses and egg and mix well. Stir in stevia.
  • In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.
  • Roll into balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  • *If you use sugar instead of stevia, you may need to add a bit more liquid such as a bit more canned pumpkin or milk.

Dublin Marathon Recap

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It’s been over a week since my last post – it would be an understatement to say that I was a little distracted last week thinking about the looming marathon. I hope to get back to posting recipes this week as my stiff and sore legs recover. The good news is: I did it! I ran a marathon yesterday. Here are a few photos from the weekend, taken by Matt, the most supportive hubsy on planet earth.

On Saturday we went to the race expo at the RDS to pick up my race number.

Here I am, looking nervous, realizing that I’m really going to run a marathon in 2 days. A few weeks ago I had a dream that it was the day of the marathon and I had forgotten to pick up my race number! I didn’t forget.

There were lots of booths with different vendors selling running gear and energy drinks and other running-related products. We walked around for a few minutes but we didn’t buy anything.

Collecting my goodie bag.

Getting ready the morning of the race – I was feeling really excited to finally run.

The race organizers advised us to wear a garbage bag to the race so you can just take it off and throw it away at the start and then you don’t have to check a bag. I biked to the Luas (a train) and took that into town. I decided not to bike all the way in to the start because I didn’t know if I would be able to bike home afterwards. I’m really glad I didn’t bike all the way in!

It was really busy on the Luas and at the start. I planned to get there early so I would have time to go to the bathroom and get lined up – but everyone else also planned to do this. I found the section where I was supposed to start and then went to find a toilet. There were some toilets on an adjacent street, but there were only 5 and there were already at least 50 people lined up! I waited in line for at least 30 minutes and made it to the starting line just in time. The garbage bag really did help keep me warm.

I started at the front of wave 2 – the section for runners aiming to finish in 3:45 – 4:15. I really had no idea how long it would take me when I was registering so I figured this time zone would be a safe bet. I’m glad that I was able to start right at the front of wave 2 because the crowd thinned out really quickly and I had lots of space to run without having to weave in and out to dodge other runners. It probably would have been slower starting at the back of wave 1. I felt really great at the beginning – it felt so surreal to finally be running the marathon. It was such a different experience to be running down the middle of the empty streets with no traffic – usually the city centre is packed with traffic. I tried to take it easy and not go too fast at the start; however, I decided not to look at my watch at all or try to keep track of my pace so I was just gauging it by how I felt. At the time it felt nice and easy, not too fast.

By the time I got to the 10 km mark in Phoenix Park, the clock read 59 minutes – I couldn’t believe I had already been running for an hour! But because I started in wave 2, it was actually only 49 minutes – I knew that I was running pretty fast but I still felt good so I just kept going. At the 10 mile mark I checked my watch just to see how fast I was going – 1:19! I did the 10 mile race in August in 1:18. I knew that I was probably going too fast. When I did the 10 mile race I felt like I was really pushing it and I didn’t feel like that at the 10 mile mark in the marathon so I decided to just go with it and not force myself to slow down.

It felt great getting to the halfway point – I still felt really strong and the clock read 1:45. If I could keep up my pace I’d finish in 3:30. After about mile 14 I started to get a bit bored, I find running and training for a marathon as much of a mental battle as a physical one. I knew Matt was going to be waiting for me outside of our house at mile 20 so I tried to focus on getting myself there. Miles 14 – 20 kind of flew by – I must have managed to think about something other than running. I was so excited to see Matt waiting for me. He took some pictures and handed me a water bottle and ran with me for a little while. It was nice to chat to him for a few minutes and then I waved good-bye and kept going. He headed into town to meet me at the finish line.

There was one small hill just past our house that I have run up a thousand times. I knew it was going to be hard but I slowly managed to get to the top. At about mile 21 my legs started to get really stiff and sore – I decided to briefly walk through a water station and stretch my legs for a few seconds. I started running again and it took everything in me to convince myself to keep running to the finish – I really wanted to walk. The last 5 miles were definitely the longest and the hardest – my legs did not want to go any further. I somehow managed to slowly finish without stopping to walk again. I was amazed by the people who were speeding up at the end to get across the finish line – I had nothing left – it was all I could do to just keep running.

I couldn’t believe the relief I felt crossing the finish line – I almost burst into tears – but managed to hold them back until I found Matt! My time was 3:39. I could hardly walk after finishing – I had to walk so so slowly to get around Merrion Square. Everything was sore and I was dying to sit down but at the same time I knew if I sat down I wouldn’t be able to get back up. I found Matt and changed into dry clothes and we walked to BoBo’s Burgers for a celebration feast!

Overall it was an amazing experience for me – I loved it! I can’t believe it’s over now – it feels like a dream now after the months of training and preparing. Even though I only missed qualifying for Boston by 4 minutes, I’m still really happy with my time. I went for a little bike ride this morning and tried to walk around a bit to loosen up my legs. I also had a nap this afternoon and now I’m waiting for the groceries to be delivered so I can go to bed. Back to my hospital placement tomorrow!

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

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The final countdown to the marathon has begun – this time next week I’ll be finished! And hopefully recovering with a burger and ice cream. After my really long training runs I was always craving burgers and ice cream – weird. I’m trying to eat well this week to prepare myself, so I compromised by putting extra protein in these brownies and calling them healthy.

Fudgy Chocolate Brownies

by Emily Ratzlaff

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 20-25 min

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of vanilla or chocolate flavoured rice protein powder (or substitute flour/oat flour/almond flour)
  • 1/2 cup of cocoa powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of instant coffee (optional)
  • 4 teaspoons of stevia (or 1/3 cup of sugar)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin
  • 1.5 tablespoons of coconut oil (or canola)
  • 2 tablespoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup of low fat plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup of milk (or soy/almond/etc.)
  • 60 grams of dark chocolate, chopped (or 1/2 cup of chocolate chips)
  • Sprinkles for decorating (optional)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease baking pan with cooking spray.
  • Combine dry ingredients and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, beat together pumpkin, egg, oil, vanilla extract, yogurt, milk and honey.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well. Stir in chopped chocolate.
  • Pour into prepared pan and garnish with sprinkles if desired. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

These are really good covered in peanut butter. Maybe next time I’ll just make peanut butter brownies.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

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Pumpkins have arrived in Dublin! I love being able to buy pumpkins from the grocery store – they only appear for a couple of brief weeks each year. On my way home from the hospital today I stopped to buy a pumpkin, a latte, chocolate, and grapes – Friday treats. I love Fridays – we get a half day at the hospital so I have the whole afternoon to relax and make cookies. These cookies make the perfect Friday treat – I adapted them from this recipe. I used canned pumpkin, but you could also use fresh pureed pumpkin.

Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 10-12 min

Ingredients:

For the Cookies:

  • 1 cup of spelt flour
  • 3/4 cup of all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of butter
  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar (I used Demerara)
  • 6 teaspoons of Stevia (or 1/2 cup of white sugar)
  • 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the Coating:

  • 3 teaspoons of Stevia (or 1/4 cup of white sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon of ginger
  • Dash of allspice

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper or grease with cooking spray.
  • Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and stevia. Add in egg, pumpkin, and vanilla extract and mix well.
  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir until just combined.
  • Mix together coating ingredients in a shallow bowl.
  • Form cookie dough into balls and roll in coating. Place on cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. (I like to slightly under-bake these so they stay soft and slightly doughy).

Happy Friday!

Gingerbread Pumpkin Pie

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If you’ve never made a pie before, pumpkin pie is probably the easiest. The hardest part is the crust, but you could always buy a pre-made crust. I always attempt to make a crust – it usually tastes good, but I’m not very good at rolling it out and transferring it into the pie plate without it breaking. This gingerbread crust was no exception – but it tastes good! You can’t have Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. The challenging part is finding canned pumpkin in Ireland – although I have found a few stores that stock it around October.

Gingerbread Pumpkin Pie

by Emily Ratzlaff

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 40-45 min

Ingredients:

For the Gingerbread Crust:

  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon of ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon of mixed spice
  • 3 tablespoons of sunflower/canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon of molasses
  • 2-3 tablespoons of cold water or milk

For the Pumpkin Pie Filling: (This is adapted from Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe)

  • 1 can (15 oz) of pure pumpkin (not pie filling)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2-3 tablespoons of stevia (or 1/2 – 3/4 cup of sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon of ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 cup of light cream (I used Alpro Soya Light Cream)

Instructions:

For the Gingerbread Crust:

  • Combine dry ingredients and mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine oil, molasses and water/milk and whisk until creamy. Pour into flour mixture and stir with a fork until a ball forms. (You may need to add another tablespoon or so of water/milk if the dough is too dry.)
  • Roll out dough on a floured surface and carefully transfer into pie pan. Press down with fingers and set aside.

For the Pumpkin Pie Filling:

  • Combine pumpkin and eggs and mix well. Stir in sugar, salt and spices. Lastly, stir in cream.
  • Pour into prepared pie shell and smooth the top with a spatula.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes or until a knife inserted into the centre comes out clean and pie is set. Let cool and serve with whipping cream or ice cream.

Slow Cooker Apple Chutney

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I love the relishes and chutneys that are commonly used in sandwiches here – we love Ballymaloe relish. We had never heard of putting relish or chutney in a sandwich before we moved here (or coleslaw) – but I have to admit that it’s a very good sandwich addition. This relish is not tomato-based like Ballymaloe, but it’s still perfect for sandwiches, burgers, and the roast turkey I’m making for our belated Canadian Thanksgiving dinner tonight.

Slow Cooker Apple Chutney

by Emily Ratzlaff



Prep Time: 20 min

Cook Time: 3-5 hours on high, or 7-8 hours on low

Ingredients:

  • 2 large cooking apples (about 550 grams when peeled and cored)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup of raisins
  • 1/4 cup of dates, pitted
  • 1 tablespoon of minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove of minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon of cornstarch

Instructions:

  • Peel and chop apples.
  • Chop dates.
  • Add all ingredients to slow cooker except vinegar and cornstarch.
  • Combine vinegar and cornstarch in a small bowl and mix until smooth.
  • Pour vinegar mixture into slow cooker and stir to combine.
  • Cook on high for 3-5 hours or low for 7-8 hours.
  • This will keep in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 1-2 weeks.

Now I’m off to put our turkey in the oven. Happy Thanksgiving.

Apple Cinnamon Cookie Dough Balls

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I bought a few giant cooking apples this week to make apple sauce. I made apple sauce (using this recipe), and I also decided to try making an apple chutney – recipe coming tomorrow. I’m planning to put apple sauce in my morning oatmeal this week instead of the usual banana. I also made these cookie dough balls with apple sauce. There is no need to bake them as they don’t have any eggs or baking soda. Isn’t the best part of making cookies eating the dough? Matt told me that he went to high school with a kid who brought a container of chocolate chip cookie dough for lunch everyday.

Apple Cinnamon Cookie Dough Balls

by Emily Ratzlaff



Prep Time: 10 min

Ingredients (makes 7 cookie dough balls):

  • 2 tablespoons of Biscoff spread (or Almond or Peanut Butter)
  • 2 tablespoons of apple sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of almonds, ground into a flour
  • 3 tablespoons of oats
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla-flavoured brown rice protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon of dessicated coconut

Instructions:

  • Combine all ingredients and mix well.
  • Add sugar/stevia or honey to sweeten the dough if desired.
  • Roll into 6 balls. Store in the refrigerator.

I enjoyed these as a snack after my 2 hour run today. I’m currently in tapering mode for the upcoming marathon. I finished my longest training run last week and it felt surprisingly good. I can’t believe it’s happening so soon!

Banana Biscoff Muffins

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Have you ever tried Biscoff Cookie Butter? Over here it’s called Lotus Original Speculoos Spread. I’m not sure if you can buy it anywhere in Ireland – I asked for it for Christmas last year (I know, weird Christmas gift) and since then I’ve bought it in Belgium and France. Trust me, it tastes as good as it sounds. Although I try not to, I have been known to eat it by the spoonful straight from the jar.

I created these muffins yesterday afternoon when I came home from my hospital placement. It’s been a bit of a slow start so far (which is very unusual compared to all of my previous placements) – I’ve had lots of time to sit around and read (or think about muffins to bake when I get home). I think it’s going to pick up now that I’ll have my own caseload, so that’s good.

Banana Biscoff Muffins

by Emily Ratzlaff

Prep Time: 15 min

Cook Time: 20-25 min

Ingredients: (makes 14 muffins)

  • 3 very ripe small bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup of Biscoff spread (aka Lotus Original Speculoos Spread)
  • 1/3 cup of low-fat plain or vanilla yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of almonds, ground into a flour
  • 1 cup of oats
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon of baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 60 grams of chocolate, chopped (or 1/2 cup of chocolate chips)

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin tin with cooking spray.
  • Combine mashed bananas, yogurt, biscoff spread, and egg. Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just moistened. Stir in chopped chocolate.
  • Spoon batter into muffin tin. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the centre comes out clean. Let cool on a rack for 10 minutes before removing from muffin tin.
  • *To make your own almond flour: Add 1 cup of almonds into blender and grind until a fine flour forms. If necessary, pour ground almonds through a sifter and return the larger pieces to the blender and repeat.

Even cats like them!

Back to School

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Today was my first day back to college. I’m doing a placement in neurology at Peamount Hospital (I love the name Peamount, isn’t it funny?) It is a pretty serious trek on the bus – I felt like I was out in the country. On the plus side, the hours are nice (and shorter than usual), and it’s a very small, very laid-back place.

This weekend, Matt and I rented a car and drove around Ireland – we stopped in Galway, Kylemore Abbey, Donegal and the Slieve League Cliffs. We had a great time driving on the other side of the road (actually Matt did all of the driving because we only insured one driver, but he did a great job!). Here are a few pictures – more to come later – must get back to studying tonight.

Galway

Tea at my favourite place!

Kylemore Abbey

Connemara

Double Rainbow

Sheep

The Slieve League Cliffs

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving – unfortunately we didn’t get around to making a turkey dinner in time – so we had chili tonight. We’re planning on making a turkey dinner next weekend with pumpkin pie! Happy Thanksgiving.

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