Genius idea: Coffee Ice Cubes

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I’ve tried making iced coffee in the past and it just didn’t turn out right; too watery, not enough flavour, somewhat lukewarm and the sugar still grainy at the bottom. Last summer, I finally found the right formula that lets me enjoy gourmet iced coffee without leaving the house: coffee ice cubes! They keep your coffee strong as they melt, so you can sip at your own pace with losing that bold delicious flavour.

Note: this requires freezing time, so plan it a day ahead

What you will need:
-Good quality strong coffee
-Espresso maker (I use a stovetop Bialetti: cheap and makes a strong cup) *If you don’t have an espresso maker, a strong batch of filtered coffee will do)
-Ice cube tray + freezer
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Directions: Make the coffee in the espresso maker as you normally would. Let it cool. Pour it into the ice cube tray and freeze it for several hours. One cup of coffee makes about 8 large/standard ice cubes. I used 4 ice cubes per serving.

When you want your coffee in the morning, heat some on the stove again. If you are adding sugar, put it in your glass and stir in a little bit of hot coffee so that it dissolves. Next, add the coffee ice cubes (as many as you can fit – I used 3 at first) and then add the rest of the coffee. Then one more ice cube (the others will start to melt). Stir carefully, add milk if you wish. Top with whip cream and cocoa powder if you’re feeling extra fancy. Enjoy!
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Super Energy Snack: Coconut oat chocolate chip granola bars

I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time searching for the perfect homemade granola bar recipe. Ironic, isn’t it? I knew what I wanted: something chewy, with shredded coconut and chocolate chips, but that was still filling and gave me an energy boost, not just a sugar rush. Finally, I found it, and it all made sense: the recipe was made by one of the chefs who cooked for the employees at Google. Of course, they need brain food to stay energized and really really focused! But, um, don’t we all?

From personal experience, here are a few occasions where these bars have been shared and enjoyed: staff meetings, study sessions, after a workout, breakfast on the go, second breakfast, on road trips, satiating a cranky sibling during a long drive… I’ll stop there.  Try this one out, you’ll never want store-bought granola bars again.

**I always double the batch, because they keep well and always seem to go fast. If you want to try the original portion, see this source.

Coconut-Oatmeal Bars with Chocolate Chips
Makes 32 small squares
From “Food 2.0” (DK Publishing; $25) by Charlie Ayers

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 cups rolled oats (I’ve been using quick oats without any issues)
1 cup unrefined light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 cup dried, unsweetened, shredded coconut
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon natural vanilla extract

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Instructions (from Charlie Ayers): Preheat the oven to 350°. Lightly oil and 9X13-inch square baking pan and set aside (I use virgin coconut oil).

Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in the oats, brown sugar, coconut, and chocolate chips. Stir together the melted butter, egg, and vanilla, then add to the flour mixture and stir until just blended. Avoid mixing more than needed. Transfer to the prepared pan and level the surface.

Bake until slightly risen, golden, and just firm to the touch, about 25 minutes. Put the pan on a rack and let cool before cutting into triangular or rectangular bars or squares.

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Enjoy! And see you tomorrow when I post a DIY craft somewhat related to this!

Salad Days: Crunchy Red Cabbage and Kale Slaw

I’m not the type of person who throws around terms like “detox” or “cleanse,” mainly because I don’t like doing things in extremes. But also because I know I won’t stick to something if it doesn’t make me happy or requires constant effort. I can get a load of groceries full of leafy green vegetables and have the best intentions (“green juice every day!” or “only plant-based meals this week!”), but when it comes down to scouring the fridge for a snack, the chances of me actually following through are slim.

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However, that process was made a little easier when came across Martha Stewart’s Red Cabbage and Kale Slaw. A hearty colourful salad that can live in the fridge for a few days, you say? And it’s easy to make? Simple 3-ingredient dressing? I’m in. Here’s my variation:

Dressing:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon apple-cider vinegar
Coarse salt and pepper

For the salad:
the juice of half a lemon
3 cups mixed shredded kale and red cabbage
1 carrot, shredded or julienned (use organic and you don’t have to peel it!)
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves (or parsley if you prefer
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
handful of smoked almonds

squeeze half a lemon over the kale and red cabbage in a big bowl, sprinkle with some sea salt. While it soaks in, make the dressing:
Whisk olive oil, mustard, and apple-cider vinegar in a small bowl. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.
Add the shredded carrot, cilantro, pumpkin seeds and almonds to the kale-cabbage mixture and drizzle the dressing. Toss to coat, add more salt and pepper if needed. The dressing and lemon juice should soften the leaves, but it will still have a satisfying crunch.

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Cover up the leftovers and keep them in the fridge. Next time you’re rummaging for a snack, it’s there waiting for you.

Time-tested Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Alright guys, I know I’m not reinventing the wheel here. But I’m often asked for this recipe, and it’s pretty fool-proof, so I thought I’d share it and settle this for once and for all.

But first, here’s my ultimate time-saving tip: When you have bananas that are well-ripened, looking more brown than yellow, and you’re in denial about still eating them, put them in the freezer. This will put your mind at ease and they will keep for months.

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I first used this recipe almost a decade ago, but have changed it slightly over the years to reduce the sugar and fat content and it always turns out great. I mainly cut back on the butter and instead add a little yogurt and extra banana to keep it from being dry.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Ingredients:
¼ cup butter
¾ cup sugar (or you can even do ½)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
¼ cup yogurt or sour cream (somewhat optional, it’ll still turn out if you don’t add them)
1 ½ to 2 cups mashed bananas (about 4-5 frozen bananas, depending on size)
2 cups flour (you can do 1 cup whole wheat, 1 cup all-purpose)
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips

optional:
¼ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup ground flax seeds
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

I like a bit of texture in my bread, so I almost always add the coconut, walnuts and flax seeds. Feel free to experiment with other additions you may like, such as sunflower seeds or craisins.

Preparation (adapted from Mitzi)
Cream sugar and butter; beat in the mashed bananas, eggs, and vanilla.
Combine dry ingredients and stir into the first mixture just until moistened.
Fold in chocolate chips (and coconut, nuts, etc if you are using them) until well incorporated.
Pour batter into greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Cover loosely with a tent of aluminum foil (very important so that it stays moist and doesn’t burn the top!). 

Bake at 325° for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 40-45 minutes or until wooden pick inserted tests done.
Cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and cool banana bread completely before slicing.