Apple Cinnamon Walnut Muffins

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With fall just around the corner, I have been working on making warming meals featuring some of my favourite fall ingredients. Although summer is an amazing break from our freezing, sometimes miserable winters here in Montreal, fall will always be my absolute favourite season. There is nothing more comforting then being in an oversized sweater (I have a slight addiction to buying these), with a warm cup of tea watching those beautiful multicoloured leaves fall.

When those crisp temperatures begin in September, we all crave more comforting, warming meals that feature hearty ingredients and bold spices. Cinnamon is definitely my favourite fall spice that I use year round. Besides for making dishes taste amazing,  cinnamon has so many amazing benefits some of which include controlling blood sugar levels and warding off hunger.

So to ease us into the season, I have made these super light muffins that are lower in fat but full of fiber, protein and whole grains. I have been able to reduce the fat content by replacing oil with apple butter. If you’ve never heard of it, apple butter is a highly concentrated form of apple sauce made by a slow cooking process where apples are cooked to a point where the sugar in the apples caramelizes creating a deep rich brown colour. It is extremely flavourful and adds intense moisture to baked goods! I bought apple butter at a regular grocery store where they have the natural nut butters, honey, maple syrup etc.. You can also make this yourself at home!

These muffins are packed with oats, chunks of apples and crunchy pieces of walnuts.  An extra sprinkle of cinnamon and coconut sugar gives these muffins a crunchy topping that goes amazing with a cup of coffee in the morning! These Apple Cinnamon Walnut Muffins are an amazing grab and go breakfast that the whole family can enjoy. These also are perfect with a little spread of  Chia Jam or Roasted Cinnamon Maple Almond Butter on top. As always these muffins are gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. Bon Appetit!
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Ingredients:

• 1 cup gluten free rolled oats
• 1 cup oat flour
• 1 tsp gluten free baking powder
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
• 1 cup diced and peeled apples (preferably organic)
• 2 tsp cinnamon (divided)
• 2 eggs
• 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 3 tbsp coconut or light olive oil (melted)
• 1 cup almond milk (or non dairy milk of choice)
• 1/2 cup apple butter or unsweetened apple sauce
• 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
• 2 tbsp coconut sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375.Line muffin tins with parchment and grease with coconut oil.
2. In a large bowl, mix oat flour, oats, 1 tsp cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
3. In a medium bowl, whisk together apple butter, melted coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla, eggs and almond milk.
4. Slowly add wet ingredients into dry until combined. Then, mix in diced apples and walnuts.
5. Pour batter into muffin liners. In a small bowl mix together the remaining 1 tsp cinnamon and the 2 tbsp coconut sugar. Sprinkle over the tops of the muffins.
6. Bake for about 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool and enjoy!
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PB + J Granola Bars

Photo 2014-08-15, 2 37 32 AMI can’t believe its already back to school time next week!Summer is over and both teachers and kids alike need a little boost to get through that first week. What better way to start the week then with a classic kid approved combination of peanut butter and jam. I don’t know about you, but I had so much chia jam leftover from last week that just needed to be used. In fact, that’s actually how a lot of my recipes come to be. I hate throwing out perfectly good ingredients, so sometimes you have to throw a few things together and cross your fingers.I bet you thats actually how jam became…jam!

Peanut butter and jelly is one of the best food matches of all time. It brings most people back to the good ol’ days when peanut butter was still allowed in schools and at camps. Although most kids can’t have this delicious combination during the day, it can still be enjoyed as an after school snack.  Not only will your child be able to enjoy these after school, adults will also love these as an energizing breakfast/snack/dessert. They are packed with fiber rich oats, protein packed peanut butter, and loads of omega 3s and vitamins from the chia jam! I really have been enjoying them before a work out to give me a boost of energy and a good balance of carbs, fat, and protein.

If you aren’t a big fan of peanut butter, feel free to swap out the peanut butter for any other nut butter. I am sure my Maple Cinnamon Almond Butter would taste ammmmazzzing! As always, these granola bars are gluten free (so long as you use certified gluten free oats), dairy free and refined sugar free! For you vegans, feel free to use only maple syrup instead of honey! These take only about 5 minutes to prepare and use ingredients most of us have lying around. If you haven’t made my chia jam, store bought jam will be fine. Keep an eye out for sugar content and absolutely do NOT buy sugar free jam. I like to buy jams that are sweetened with natural fruit juice. These can be found at most health food stores. Bon appetit!
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Ingredients:

• 1/4 cup honey (I use raw organic)
• 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
• 1 cup all natural creamy peanut butter
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup coconut oil
• 2 1/2 cups certified gluten free rolled oats
• 1/2 tsp sea or pink himalayan salt
• 1/3 cup ground flaxseeds (optional)
• 3/4 cup strawberry vanilla chia jam

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9 inch baking dish with parchment. In a medium sized bowl, combine oats, salt and flaxseed.
2. In a small saucepan on medium heat whisk coconut oil, peanut butter, vanilla honey and maple syrup until combined. Pour over oats and stir until evenly distributed.
3. Press half of the batter into the prepared baking dish.
4. Spread the chia jam evenly across the pressed batter.
5. Press the remaining batter over the jam. (some may squeeze out, it’s fine!)
6. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until the surface is golden. Allow to cool for several minutes. Once cool, slice into bars. Store in an airtight container for 2 weeks! (If they even last that long…)
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Stone Fruit and Strawberry Vanilla Chia Jam

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Jam is one of my favourite toppings to spread on toast, scoop on oatmeal, or mix into coconut yogurt. You can swirl it into homemade breads, cakes and muffins for a really intense fruit flavour that is so comforting and most importantly, delicious. Jams always remind me of the inside of a pie and often, they have just as much sugar as one. I am sure that many of you may think that jam might be a great way to get a serving of fruit and vitamins, but sorry folks… I’m here to break the bad news. Although jam is made primarily of fruit it is also made primarily of sugar. LOTS of sugar. And for those of thinking that you have made an even better choice by buying sugar-free jam or reduced sugar jam you are simply getting a chemical replacement with aspartame, sucralose etc… Not so yummy and not so healthy. Have no fear, I have two amazing and super simple jam combinations to satisfy any enthusiast of this delicious spread.

Homemade jam is a super simple way to use fresh fruit that is over ripe or about ready to get thrown in the trash. It also requires very little effort, time and materials and you are left with something truly special. Place it in a beautiful jar and you have a thoughtful home-made gift that is really impressive. I have provided you with some of my favourite fruit combinations but feel free to mix and match your own. It is great to use fruit that is in season to ensure that you have the best flavour and sweetness without having to add too many ingredients.

I have used two different natural sweeteners for each kind of jam. For the Stone Fruit Variety I used a few drops of liquid stevia. The fruit was very ripe and in season which made it perfectly sweet on its own. For my taste, it needed only a small amount of added sweetness. For the strawberry jam, I added brown rice syrup to sweeten. This was my first time using brown rice syrup. On its own, I was not too excited about the flavour, but mixed into the jam it gave a really light sweetness that I loved! If you don’t have these sweeteners around, feel free to use maple syrup, honey or agave nectar. Remember that fresh jams will last about one week, in an airtight container that is stored in a fridge! Bon appetit!
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Stone Fruit Jam Ingredients:

• 7 apricots (chopped)
• 5 plums (chopped)
• 3 peaches (chopped)
• 4-5 drops liquid stevia (or sweetener of choice)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds

Strawberry Vanilla Ingredients:

• 3 cups strawberries (chopped)
• 2 tbsp brown rice syrup (or sweetener of choice)
• 1/4 cup chia seeds
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract or scraped vanilla bean pod

Directions

1. Chop fruit and place in a medium sauce pan on medium heat. * you may remove the skin of the stone fruit if you like a smoother jam, I like to leave mine on!

2. Allow fruit to heat up for about 5 minutes stirring occasionally. The fruit should begin to burst.

3. Add sweetener and chia seeds and allow to thicken for at least 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Cook for a longer period of time for a thicker, more syrupy jam.

4. Pour into jar or desired container and allow to cool. Seal and keep refrigerated for up to 7 days.
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