Chocolate Zucchini Bread

I began my vegetable garden earlier this year so that I could have access to fresh, hyper-local produce to use in my recipes. In the three months that I’ve maintained the garden, I’ve learned a lot more than just how to grow plants, and I’ve been rewarded with more than just fresh fruits and veggies.

It has been so fascinating seeing the life cycles of some of my favorite foods – even now, I find it hard to imagine that my nearly six-foot corn plants began as seedlings no larger than blades of grass. Watching tiny strawberries materialize from the centers of delicate white flowers feels a bit like taking a sneak-peek into the secret life of nature.

It’s even been a lesson about the critters and bugs involved in creating produce (and the ones that just call my garden a home). When I water my garden at 6:30 am, I am greeted by 20 or so baby grasshoppers lounging in my sage plant. With their tiny bodies and long, massive feelers, they are a perfect dose of cuteness to start my day off with.

Now, the potato beetles and tomato-pecking catbirds are not as nice visitors in the garden, but I suppose everyone has their place.

I had a little bit of a scare earlier in the month when two of my four zucchini plants would produce flowers, but no fruit, and led me to believe they were male plants. They were bushy and beautiful with green leaves the size of dinner plates, but let’s be honest – I’m in this for the zukes.

After some research, I resorted to hand-pollinating the big zucchini blossoms with a Q-tip (ooh, flower sex), and that seemed to do the trick. Over the past week, the dark green veggies have been popping up left and right!

Chocolate zucchini bread is one of my all-time favorite uses for this versatile veggie. This vegan version is naturally low in fat, as I’ve swapped the cup of vegetable oil for unsweetened apple sauce, and can be easily changed into a gluten-free treat by using gluten-free flour. Feel free to add chopped walnuts or pecan in yours!

Happy baking!

Chocolate-Zucchini Bread
Serves 16*

3 cups all-purpose or gluten-free flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups sugar
1 cup smooth, unsweetened applesauce
5 tablespoons ground flax seed + 10 tablespoons water, microwaved for 30 seconds (this creates your flax “egg”)
2/3 cup non-dairy milk (I used So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup vegan chocolate chips


1. Preheat the oven to 350º. Grease two loaf pans well with non-stick spray.

2. Combine the dry ingredients (not including the flax egg) in a large bowl and mix well. Add applesauce and mix with a fork. It’s going to be dry, and that’s okay – just mix as thoroughly as you can.

3. Stir the flax egg and add to the bowl. Mix well.

4. Add milk, shredded zucchini and vanilla. Mix well. Add chocolate chips and stir until smooth batter forms.

5. Spoon batter into loaf pans and bake for 50-60 minutes.

6. Cut into thick slices and enjoy!

Nutrition per Serving: 278 calories, 6g fat, 54g carbohydrates, 6g protein.

*I made one large loaf and two small loaves from this recipe, so this is mostly an estimate.  Each batch is 4,440 calories, 92g fat, 870g carbohydrates and 74g protein, so you may be better off dividing that by your amount of servings.…

Whole Wheat Pancake Mini Muffins

I don’t know about you, but I find weekday mornings to be a crazy rush.  I have to get myself and my kids ready, make 3 lunches (the third lunch belongs to my husband) and get breakfast on the table.  During this time my kids are both asking me tons of questions AND fighting with each other non-stop, both of which interfere with me getting everything done as quickly as I would like to.  All of this before 8:30 when we have to start getting ready to leave the house, which is a whole other ordeal in itself.  Needless to say, I’m always looking for breakfast ideas that could be made ahead of time and simply put on a plate to make my mornings run a little smoother.

My kids aren’t generally too hungry first thing in the morning.  But I like them to eat even just a few bites of something so that they don’t go to school on a completely empty stomach.  When I ask them what they want for breakfast, the one food they always ask for is pancakes.  Not an easy thing to make when you’re busy enough as it is.  So I decided to make pancake muffins.  Not only can they be made ahead of time, and even frozen, but the batter only takes a few minutes to put together.

I was worried the end result would taste more like a plain muffin, but I was wrong.  These taste just like a pancake…in a muffin form.  While there are endless options to the number of add-ins you could include, I didn’t add anything and we all thought they were delicious.  I know when a recipe turned out good when one of my picky eaters declares “these pancake muffins are really good mommy, can I have another?”

Ingredients:

1 cup white/soft whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. margarine or butter, melted
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/2 cup milk (I used 2%)
Add-ins (optional): mini chocolate, white chocolate, peanut butter and/or butterscotch chips, blueberries, finely chopped fresh fruit (ie: apples, peaches, banana, strawberries), mashed banana or pure pumpkin puree, shredded coconut, dried fruit that has been soaked in boiling water (ie: apricot, raisins, dates), pecans

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a mini muffin tin well with nonstick cooking spray.
2. In bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
3. Make a well in the middle and add melted butter/margarine, syrup and milk.  Mix everything together just until combined.
4. Spoon in muffin tin and bake for about 11-15 minutes.

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 18 mini muffins
Calories per muffin 50, total fat 1.5g (sat. fat 0g), total carbs 8.6g, fibre 0.9g, sugar 3.3g, protein 0.9g…

The Talking Crayons

Don’t talk to me about yourself. Just draw your heart and I’ll know whether you are happy or sad`.

Looking at the sky after a heavy rain and seeing the beautiful rainbow makes you sure those colors have been created for children. And they love to take them from the rainbow and put them into drawings. One of their favorite activities is making pictures or drawings alive by coloring them. Their whole feelings are on the page. All we have to do is `read` it.

Not all of them will end up being Picassos, but each and every drawing may give us a hint of what they are concerned for, what they feel like, what makes them happy or sad. Thus drawings can be a very good method which help us know our children better, take a peek into their universe.

Specialists say the evolution of drawing depends on the child’s development but is artistic skills- independent.
As soon as the crayon seems to belong to the little hand as if it were a part of the body and the child becomes aware of what his drawing represents (because he is intellectually involved in the artistic act), his works will make sense. Before that doodles represented the child’s pleasure to get dirty but even these doodles make sense and have been studied by specialists. They talk about his way of being. The unstable child has a discontinuous work and abandons his activity early, the happy child has firmly lines and the one filling the whole page wants to take all the attention and love. Holding the pencil also betrays the child’s intellectual development.

Circles, lines, dots for details are used by early preschoolers and later on the objects get more and more detailed with the mental age and not with the artistic skill. So the child does not have intellectual development delays if his drawing is not very beautiful.
What specialists call `the visual realism` comes with the ages of 7 and 12 when we can read his inner self by the way he draws lines, by the colors he uses, by geometry, characters and subject. Thin lines, corrections or even negative comments on his own work betray a shy, timorous child while powerful, thick lines, that make wholes in the paper, betray aggressiveness.

When a child’s drawing represents his family he should be asked questions about the members and one should pay attention to their order in the drawing. This may tell us about the way he feels loved or the place he’s got in his family. If one member is left out it may mean that there is rejection or conflict. The size of the characters may talk about its importance in the child’s life or the fear he feels toward that person.
An introverted child uses only a few colors and he chooses the dark ones while an extroverted child uses a lot of colors and the light, vivid ones.

Drawings talk about the inner world of our children. It is helpful for doctors when he needs to figure out the universe the child comes from and it helps us know our children better and know how to help them develop their personalities and creativity. So let the crayons talk!

Balance The Mother Load Book Club

Book Club Description

Do you consider yourself lucky when you have time to shave both legs?

Are you having a more intimate relationship with your smart phone than your spouse?

Do you look forward to your annual pap just to have some “me” time?

So many moms neglect themselves and their well-being because they think it’s the only way to take care of their family. After all, isn’t that what a “good mom” does?

Join Carly Cooper, life coach and author of Balance the Mother Load: R.E.I.N.V.E.N.T. Your Life in Just 8 Weeks! for an 8-week discussion on how busy moms can focus on getting back in touch with who they really are.

Week by week we will cover a chapter in the book in a very intimate and interactive manner, going over the exercises and questions featured in the book.

The topics that will be addressed are;

  • Redefine Motherhood
  • Envision Your Ideal Life
  • Improve your Relationships
  • Nurture Yourself
  • Vanquish Mommy Guilt
  • Expectation Overhaul
  • Nix Negativity Now
  • Time Management Tune Up

If you are struggling to balance your mother load, this book club is for you!
When: 8 weeks starting Monday, May 14- July 2nd
Time: 7:30-9pm

Where: Lil Bean and Green- 1133 Queen St. E. Leslieville, Toronto
Cost: $160 + HST (includes a copy of the book which you will receive ahead of time so you can read the first chapter before the first session).
To register, please email Carly Cooper at [email protected]
by Wednesday May 9th
Space is limited so register today!

 

Think about it – Reading Be of Service to Others?

When we think of reading, we often think of sitting and reading to our kids, or homework that our kids have now (or we had when we were in school) – read the assigned book, write a book report, take a test to make sure we really read it. Sometimes we think of reading the paper or a magazine or reference material to find information or to understand various contracts – especially the fine print. These are all normal, everyday ways that reading impacts our lives.

There is another, less often thought of the way in which reading can have a positive impact on our lives and an enormous impact on the lives of others. That way is reading in service to others.

How can reading be of service to others? Actually, this can happen in some very simple but meaningful ways. For instance, often a school or a church will take students or members on “reading field trips.” These field trips can be to various places, such as convalescent or nursing homes, hospitals, even senior citizens clubs. Some field trips visit the blind or other people who have reading barriers. How encouraging it is for an individual who might not be able to read to have someone bring the words to them. How comforting to have someone take the time to read to them and just be there with them for a short time. How enriching for the reader, too, to know he is helping someone by allowing them the gift of reading – especially if they can no longer read for themselves.

Reading can bring people together who might never have met. Perhaps a younger individual meets an elderly person by volunteering to read to them. There is no end to the information that the two could exchange and learn from one another. Perhaps a sighted person reads to a blind person. They will both be in a position to share information about one another’s experiences, perhaps bringing more compassion and understanding to one another.

The ideas could continue on. These are just a few to get folks thinking about how reading can be of service to others. Whether you are an individual wanting to give back or contribute something positive, or you are part of a church, school or community group, there are many ways you can be of service to others by reading. Take the time to think about it, talk about it and plan a reading activity. Not only will it be of service to others, it will enrich you and every person who participates – both readers and listeners.…

Prenatal Yoga at lil’ bean

Relax & prepare your body, mind, and spirit for childbirth

WHEN:

April 12th from 6:30-8:30pm (6 week series)

INSTRUCTOR

Crescence Krueger, Doula & Yoga Teacher

FEATURING – The only prenatal yoga class with birth preparation + 2 partner classes!

Childbirth is a miraculous doorway that opens us to a deeper knowledge, appreciation, and love of our bodies and ourselves. It is a profoundly beautiful human experience, but preparing for it can feel overwhelming and sometimes scary, especially for first-time parents, which is why Yoga Goddess offers a prenatal yoga and meditation class that also includes birth preparation and partner yoga. Pregnancy is the ideal time to honor your body, calm your mind and reconnect your spirit with a self-nurturing practice like this one.

Yoga Goddess’ is the one and only prenatal yoga class that gives you all the tools you need for an easier birth! Learn yoga postures to strengthen your confidence in your body’s ability to birth.  Practice deep breathing and relaxation to allow your body to work safely, naturally and more comfortably. Release the fear and tension that can interfere with the natural birthing process. Visualize a peaceful, calm and positive labor and birth of your baby.

Each class includes:

• Prenatal yoga for physical preparation
• Meditations and visualization for mental & spiritual preparation
• Practical childbirth education class discussions + birth preparationtechniques

Benefits of Yoga

1. Promotes calmness, concentration and will power.
2. Alleviates stress.
3. Help normalize blood sugar level and blood pressure.
4. Strengthens the immune system.
5. Helps unloosen pinched nerves.
6. Develops muscle tone, strength & flexibility.
7. Help normalize body weight.
8. Creates a greater sense of vitality and well-being.

“A body that is relaxed and calm conduces to mental peace”.

Attire & Equipment

1. Comfortable clothing for Yoga
2. Bare feet or socks
3. Yoga mat or towel
4. Bottled water (optional)

Approach

Classes are gently heated when necessary and incorporate yogic principles of rejuvenation:

1. Alternating tensing/stretching and relaxing.
2. Regulated and natural breathing.
3. Visualization.
4. Positive healing affirmation.

* Beginners are welcome in all adult classes, as levels are mixed and practice at their own pace.

*  Sessions for children also include songs, stories with morals, simple anatomy games and creative movement.

F.A.Q s

We believe that the practice of yoga can be of benefit to virtually anyone. But it’s not unusual for people new to yoga to have questions or concerns about whether yoga is right for them, or whether they are able to participate. Here, we address some of the most common questions we hear.

Q. I’m not very flexible; can I still do yoga?
A. Flexibility actually has little to do with whether or not you can practice yoga. Some people are born with natural flexibility, while others may have to work at it a bit. Regularly practicing yoga will increase anyone’s flexibility level. Understand, however, that increased flexibility itself is not yoga’s only objective, nor its only benefit. The ultimate benefit of yoga – to harmoniously unite body, mind, and spirit in a healthful physical practice – can be experienced regardless of whether you’re able to easily touch your toes! It is important to remember that the postures are tools to open the body, rather than goals to be achieved.

Q. I have a back (or shoulder, or neck, or knee) injury. What should I do?
A. Always feel free to introduce yourself to one of our instructors, and describe any injuries you might have. The instructor will then be able to advise you on how best to work around your problem area to avoid further injury. The instructor may also be able to suggest particular exercises that might help to bring increased mobility and healing to your injuries. In any event, listen to your body’s feedback. If anything you do in yoga feels painful or uncomfortable, you should “back off” immediately. Your instructor will most likely be able to recommend an appropriate alternative pose for you during the class. (You may also wish to discuss your desire to participate in yoga with your doctor, physical therapist, or other health professionals; in most cases, they will be very supportive and may be able to offer guidance on how to best avoid worsening your injury.)…