Chocolate Hazelnut Squares

Chocolate Hazelnut SquaresThis week has been a funny week for me. The new company I work for offers extended health & dental benefits as well as critical illness benefits as an additional coverage. When I started I thought “What the hell? Might as well apply for the it – I know how shit can happen”. Well, I received a letter from the benefit company stating that I was denied all critical illness coverage because – you guessed it – I had cancer.   Chocolate Hazelnut SquaresDoesn’t matter that it has been 11 years since I had it, or that I practice a healthy life style, eat all my vegetables, drink several litres of water a day, exercise daily. Nope. None of that shit matters. Because all they see in bright red lights as they read my application was ” CANCER, CANCER, CANCER” screaming at them (my hands and arms are of course flay-ling right now to describe this).

At first I was annoyed that I was denied all critical illness coverage (this includes about 40 different types of illnesses other than cancer like heart conditions). But then, I thought about it. Instead of getting mad that I was never going to get this coverage, I thought  – what if I invest that monthly fee differently? Either I invest the money into more organic, healing produce OR I invest it into my retirement plan when I will be living even longer then the people who denied me  my application? I decided to go with the later. Because let’s be honest, only 10% of all cancers are genetic – the rest happen due to life style choices, environmental pollutions or toxins that people have been exposed to. If I am making a daily effort to live an honest, clean eating, balanced lifestyle then I am already making more of an effort to sustain my life. And the truth is, none of us know what’s to come. Maybe my conscious efforts will work, maybe they won’t. But at least I can say I tried. At least I took the time to invest in my health, my mental well-being and my future of living to 100. And that, makes me smile. :)

Chocolate Hazelnut Squares

Chocolate Hazelnut Squares
 
Chocolate pudding layered on top of a hazelnut chocolate crust.
Ingredients
  • CRUST
  • 20 pitted dates, soaked in water for 15mins
  • 1¾ cups raw hazelnuts
  • ⅔ cup cocoa powder
  • ½ cup gluten free flour blend (I used TJ's brand)
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil, softened
  • PUDDING
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot powder
  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • ½ cup cocoa powder
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9.5 x 13.5 glass pan with a little coconut oil. Set aside.
  2. In a food processor on an 'S' blade, grind up nuts until a grain-like consistency. Place in bowl and set aside.
  3. Next, place soaked dates into food processor and blend until a paste-like texture. Dump in bowl with nuts.
  4. Add all other ingredients to bowl and mix until mixture takes on a dough-like shape. Spread into glass baking pan and spread evenly. Press the dough firmly into the pan, using the bottom of a glass if necessary to make it level. Bake for 10 - 15mins. When baked, set aside to cool.
  5. In the meantime, start your pudding. Place your arrowroot powder and a couple tablespoons of almond milk in a bowl and mix together until there are no lumps. Set aside.
  6. Take remaining ingredients and place in a small sauce pan. Heat on medium low heat and continue to stir until well blended/melted.
  7. Add the arrowroot mixture and continue to stir continuously. Once mixture begins to thicken quickly transfer to spread on top of the hazelnut crust. Smooth out fast before pudding begins to set. Place in fridge to cool for several hours or overnight.
  8. When ready to serve, add chopped hazelnuts & grated dark chocolate. Cut into squares and devour!

 

Classic (but not so classic) Lemon Loaf

I hope the title of this post hasn’t thrown you all for a loop! It’s classic, but not so classic. Like I said on Facebook, this week’s post would be a lemon loaf based off of a recipe I found in my Grandmother’s hand written cookbook. This cookbook has generations of women’s hand writing in it. Women who have cook for years for their families – caregiver being their primary job. As I go through the book, I think about how the roles of the women in this book changed throughout the generations. My Great Grandmother’s role in life and to her family would have been significantly different from my own mother’s role or even to the role I play to my family.

Classic (but not so classic) Lemon Loaf

I really like being a working mother, a working woman, it is something I take pride in. I truly enjoy being able to contribute to our family in that way. Plus, I might go crazy if I was full time caregiver – this week has been March break at my son’s school and I am slowly going crazy 1,2,3,4,5,6, switch crazy am I going slowly 6,5,4,3,2,1…(any Sharon, Lois and Bram fans out there?). For all the mom’s out there that stay at home with the kids full time – you are amazing! I wish I had the patience.

Classic (but not so classic) Lemon Loaf

Anyways, my point is that this lemon loaf originally was made for afternoon tea with the ladies or perhaps a bridge game where the women would have a break from the everyday hustle of the family to gossip about the neighbours. I’m totally making that up by the way…I have no idea what would be talked about but I have a feeling it was close to that. Does anyone in my generation play bridge? I never learned how to but I did learn how to play crib. You don’t hear about people gathering for bridge games anymore. You certainly don’t hear about Candy Crush gatherings either. Can you imagine “Hey girls, lets gather at my house Sunday afternoon with our smart phones to play Candy Crush and eat lemon loaf. xo Suzanne”. We would all stare at our phones for two hours, barely make conversation while eating sweet treats and sipping red wine – I mean tea…

Grandma's Lemon Loaf Recipe

Wow, am I ever chatty today. OK, let’s get to this “classic” lemon loaf recipe, shall we? As we can see from exhibit A (A = above) my Grandmother used to make this loaf often. This page is well used from the cookbook. *Heart* Although I think back and I’ve never tasted this recipe EVER so she obviously only made it pre-grandchildren.  Can’t remember a baked good made by my Grandma for us grandchildren. I asked my Mom though and she said she used to make this quite often for bridge games with the ladies.

So, what have I done differently? Changed the flour, changed the fat, changed the sugar, changed the garnish…pretty much making this not a so classic of a lemon loaf anymore – hence the title.  My version of this loaf is gluten-free, paleo, packed full of fiber, refined sugar-free but still bursting with lemon flavour.

Tip, tricks and notes about this recipe:

1. Be aware when making this loaf that coconut flour soaks up liquid like crazy, so I would suggested eating this with good cup of tea or a large glass of water. Coconut flour has an incredible amount of dietary fiber in it making it a great option for diabetics (2 tablespoons has 9 grams of carbs and 6 grams of fiber as an example). It is also high in iron.

2. Allow the loaf to cool completely before taking it out of the pan and eating it. This will allow it to crumble less. After cooled, store in fridge. But be warned, this is a crumbly cake.

3. Try to use organic lemon if possible as you will be using the rind in this recipe. If not, make sure you wash the outside of the lemon before using it. A simple vinegar and water solution will do just fine and make sure you rinse.

Classic (but not so classic) Lemon Loaf
 
Ingredients
  • 3 eggs at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, liquified (but not hot)
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar
  • ½ cup apple sauce
  • ½ cup non dairy milk (cow's milk OK if that's all you have)
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ¾ cup coconut flour
  • FOR TOPPING 1 tbsp melted honey mixed with 1 tbsp lemon juice sprinkled with 1 tbsp chopped pistachios (almonds could work also)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut oil, coconut sugar, apple sauce and milk together.
  3. Add lemon rind, baking powder and salt. Whisk together until blended. Add coconut flour and mix with a spatula (will soak up all liquid fast). Once mixed, place into loaf pan and with wet hands mold the dough into the pan.
  4. Bake for 55mins to 1 hour. Remove from oven and top with honey, lemon & pistachio topping.
  5. Let cool on baking rack completely before cutting with sharp knife. Store covered in fridge for 3-5 days.