Caramelized Banana ‘Ice Cream’ Pie

Photo 2014-09-09, 4 58 38 AMI often find myself having the urge to cook or bake and I love when I get to share my creations with friends and family. My man and I were invited to a friends for dinner, and instead of bringing the expected bottle of wine, I wanted to bring something homemade. I find it really nice to bring something you have taken the time to make when invited to a friends or family for a meal. Whether you bring your infamous, jam, granola or even salad dressing, I think it shows you have made the extra effort. Even making a cake from a box counts as homemade in my books! Bringing a homemade gift is personal and can be shared by all your guests!

With that said, I normally contribute to a dinner with a sweet ending. It was cold and rainy outside the day of the dinner and I had zero interest in going to the grocery store. So as always, I looked at what I had in the pantry and got to work. I had tons of super ripe bananas (as per usual) and I wanted to make something other than my Cinnamon Bun Banana Bread. I thought it would be a good idea to make a delicious banana cream pie. So, I began mixing my coconut cream, ripe bananas, vanilla etc.. and I put the finished product into the freezer to get it to solidify quicker. After bringing it to guests, everyone said they preferred it frozen then in its creamy state, so… the banana ‘ice cream’ pie was born!

Not only is this pie insanely delicious, it is also gluten, dairy and refined sugar free… oh and vegan! It is the perfect dessert to close our summer before we start all craving hot apple pies and rice puddings.The caramelized banana pieces in the centre are too die for! And even those who weren’t crazy about coconut couldn’t get enough of the coconut crust. What is best about this pie is that it is super easy to put together and only involves around 15 minutes of baking time. All you need is a good blender or food processor and the work is done for you! I served mine with some delicious coconut milk ice cream and raspberries but in truth, it really doesn’t need it. Bon appetit!
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Crust Ingredients:

• 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
• 1/4 cup egg whites
• 1/2 cup coconut sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1 pinch salt

Filling Ingredients:

• 4-5 very ripe bananas
• about 1/2 cup coconut cream (preferably organic)
• 1 cup coconut yogurt (you can find this in most grocery stores in the health section)
• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp coconut oil
• 1 tsp coconut sugar
• 2 tsp cinnamon (divided)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Mix all crust ingredients in a medium sized bowl and pour into a well greased pie dish. I greased mine with coconut oil. Press down evenly and bake for about 15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool.

3. While the crust is baking start preparing your filling. In a blender or food processor, put all but one banana, coconut cream, maple syrup, coconut yogurt, 1 tsp cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Pulse or blend until well combined and creamy. Put mixture in the fridge.

4. In a pa on medium high heat, allow coconut oil to melt. Slice one banana and carefully place into the oil. Sprinkle the bananas with coconut sugar and cinnamon while in the pan. Allow to cook on each side for at least 5 minutes or until golden and caramelized. You can use an offset spatula to flip each one. Set aside.

5. Pour half of the filling into pie crust. Spread caramelized bananas all around. Pour the remaining batter over the bananas. It is ok if you find the caramelized bananas have floated to the top. Simply push them down. Place pie in freezer and allow to set for at least 2-3 hours. It is best to make this the day before you need it or in the morning to ensure it freezes in time.

6. To serve, allow to sit at room temperature for five minutes. Dip a sharp knife in hot water to cut through. Enjoy!

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Kitchen Pantry Organization

Photo 2014-08-18, 3 40 57 AMOrganizational skills have not always come easy to me. A so-called ‘organized mess’ pretty much ruled all areas of my life until I reached my 20′s. As I started working with children, I realized the importance in keeping all areas of your life organized to ensure maximum potential and success is reached. So now, as I teach children to colour code, label, staple, highlight etc… I make sure to do the same for myself. And let me tell you, this same model holds true in the kitchen! An organized pantry will make cooking and baking SO much less stressful and will elevate your potential for increased success!

Not only will organization make you a better cook, you will be surprised how much money you will save. The amount of food we throw out in North America is absurd. As individuals, one way we can diminish this waste is by starting in our very own homes. Often, we throw out lots of food because we can barely see whats in our fridge, pantry etc… So we all opt to what is in the front row, because who wants to reach to the back? Another reason why there is so much waste in our homes is because we often buy multiples of things.  How many of you have bought the same pantry items over and over again because you believed there was none at home? I have bought quinoa, rice, flours, chia seeds and so on, in abundance simply because I didn’t have a clear view of what was in my pantry. The truth is, I have wanted to organize my pantry for years, but like many of you, I put it off. Because who really wants to spend their day off doing that?

Im here to tell you that taking those three or four hours on a rainy Sunday will be one of the best decisions you make. Especially if you are working with limited storage space or a smaller fridge/freezer, this will change your life! It might seem that putting ingredients into jars and storing items in baskets will only cause confusion and frustration in the future. But as time goes on you will notice how quickly ingredients come together and put away for all your meals.

Organization in any form should be tailored to your needs. So my tips for how I organized my kitchen might not be the way you choose to do yours. For example, if you never use chia seeds, there is no point in putting them on your eye-level shelf. If you never bake, you may want to store your baking items in a storage cupboard. It really is your place and should be all about you! That being said, it still might be difficult to know where to start. So here are my tips for how I got started!

Clean Eating Goddess Tips for Organizing Your Pantry

1. Start by taking everything out of your pantry and laying it out on the floor or kitchen table (wherever there is more room). Depending on how much food you have accumulated over the years, you may need to make labeled stations to get things organized. Simply use a cue card, piece of paper, tape (or whatever you have around) and make desired labels. Some sections will include: baking, cereals, sauces, snacks, spices, nuts, grains, oils, pastas, drinks, vinegars etc…

2. Once you have placed all of your pantry items in its appropriate category, quickly sift through best before dates and toss anything that has gone off. If you aren’t sure about something, my rule of thumb is to just throw it out. If you are questioning it to begin with, then its probably best to just buy a new one.

3. The first items I tackled was anything left in unsealed bags. We all have been there trying to get our measuring cup inside the almost empty bag of flour. Not only does it create a mess, but our food isn’t kept at its ultimate freshness. It is so much easier to have those kinds of items stored in airtight jars and/or containers. If it can take you years to go through a bag of flour, then make sure to date the jar with a label or directly on the cap. I moved all flours, nuts, grains, seeds, powders and any other items that were in a half opened bag such as coconut flakes, protein powder and dried lavender. Nuts and seeds can go rancid pretty quickly so it is best to keep them in the freezer if you don’t plan on using them in the near future. If you have loads of half opened bags of chips, crackers etc… I bought regular old clothes pins to seal up what I have. Or for a few extra dollars you can buy special bag clips (links found below). Cereals also tend to go stale pretty quickly if you aren’t eating them within a weeks time. Make sure to close them well with the clips or you can use special cereal storage containers (link below).

4. I got a great tip on how to save money on jars from the amazing organization specialist/interior decorator Ashley Shaanan. So many of us recycle tons of perfectly reusable jars from various items such as pickles, sauces, coconut oil etc… She suggested that I de-label all of the jars by soaking them in hot water overnight and then scrubbing the label off. To make the caps more beautiful and useful, she suggested spray paint chalk which will turn virtually any surface into a chalkboard. This makes labelling your jars a whole lot easier! I chose to label my jars with kraft tags and butchers twine (links below) but I still sprayed the caps of my old jars as a backup (plus they look a lot better!). Of course, you can still always buy beautiful Mason or Kilner jars which I love! (link below)
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5. Now that everything is labeled it is time for you to cater your pantry to your individual or family needs. Storage baskets are a great way to not only save room, but they also make it super simple to find exactly what you’re looking for. I have baskets for all grain products such as rice, pasta quinoa etc… I also have one for all of my baking supplies such as flours, vanilla, sugar, baking powder etc.. As a home cook, I have built up quite the collection of spices and seasonings and it became impossible to find what I was looking for. By putting the various spices in a basket, I am able to sift through what I need. A great idea is to label the tops of the spices so you can pick out exactly what you are looking for without wasting time checking the labels. Other baskets can include packaged snacks, canned goods, sauces, oils+vinegars, and  fresh produce such as garlic, onions, bananas etc.
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6. Store the baskets and other ingredients based on what you and your family uses most. If you eat snacks, cereal, seeds, nuts, and spices everyday then make sure to put those items at eye level. Heavier items should remain on bottom shelves so that no one gets hurt in the process of taking them down!

Below you will find a list of my some of my favourite accessories for organizing my pantry. Check it out!

 

CEG’s Favourite Pantry Organization Accessories
1. Kilner Jars
2. Mason Jars
3. Chalkboard Spray Paint
4. Kraft Tags
5.  Butcher’s Twine
6. Storing Baskets
7. Large Glass Jar for storing items in bulk. Looks beautiful on your counter!
8. Cereal Keeper plus Easy Pour
9. Clothes Pins to keep open bags sealed! Cheap and cute way to keep your food fresh!
10. 1 L Mason Jar. Where I keep my granola at all times. Looks amazing on the counter or window sill.
11. Bag Clips

 

I hope these tips have inspired you to get the kitchen pantry you have been dreaming of! If you have any questions about your own pantry please feel free to contact me by commenting on this post or reaching me through my contact page.

xx-

Jen

Ps. If you live in Montreal and don’t have the time to get this done but so badly want your pantry to be as organized as mine, have no fear! Reach out to me through my contact page and let me do it for you!

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Roasted Mediterranean Salad

Photo 2014-08-27, 4 03 11 AMMediterranean food is one of my favourites. It truly encompasses my food philosophy in that it uses wholesome, simple and good quality ingredients and allows them shine! We all long to look like the people of Greece, Italy and Spain etc… with their beautiful glowing skin and slim physiques. People have even gone as far as following the ‘Mediterranean Diet’. There is no real trick here.  It all goes back to the basics of clean eating. Heart healthy and tasty olive oils, vegetables, protein rich grains and legumes and lots of fish make up the Mediterranean cuisine. All fall under the various clean eating categories and most impotently, they are all delicious.

With colder days ahead, I think it is is really nice to serve a warm salad. What is also nice is that it also works great cold, straight out of the fridge. Throughout the week, I actually used this salad inside of an egg white omelette for a super quick breakfast or light dinner. It was also an amazing topping for my beloved avocado toast! yum…

This salad really involves just a little prep and then the oven does the work for you. A light toss in a lemony dressing with lots of fresh herbs makes it super light and refreshing. Lentils provide a boost of fiber and protein while you get lots of vitamins and antioxidants from all those veggies. I hope this salad eases you into the colder months with a smile on your face (and in your belly)! Bon appetit!
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Ingredients:

• 1 eggplant (chopped in cubes)
• 2 zucchini (sliced)
• 1 red onion (sliced)
• 2 red peppers (sliced)
• 1 tsp red chilli flakes
• 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil divided
• 1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
• 2 cups green lentils (if from can, rinse and drain well)
• 2 tbsp chopped chives
• 1 sprig fresh oregano chopped
• 1 heaped tbsp grainy dijon mustard
• 2 tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
• juice of half a lemon + zest
• 3 tbsp toasted pine nuts
• 7-8 sundried tomatoes (chopped)
• 1 tbsp capers (alternatively, you can use chopped kalamata olives)
• salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375. Prepare vegetables and place on large roasting pan.

2. Coat in 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, chilli flakes, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.
Roast for about an hour.

3. While the vegetables are roasting, prepare your dressing and toppings.

4.In a small bowl, whisk mustard, balsamic, lemon juice + zest until combined. Slowly add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and add chopped chives and some more oregano if you desire.

5. If your pine nuts are not roasted, you can do so in a dry pan over medium heat for 5 minutes. Watch carefully or they will burn!

6. Remove vegetables from oven and place in a large bowl. Toss together with dressing, lentils, pine nuts, capers and sundried tomatoes. Top with more fresh herbs. Beautiful on its own, but would be great served with your favourite toast, fish or chicken!

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