Category Archives: Desserts

Recipe: Coconut Chocolate Ganache Spread

Coconut Chocolate Ganache | IPOM

Holla from the beautiful hills of Whistler everybody!

I hope you all enjoyed a wonderful time with family and friends over Christmas for those who celebrate. We’ve gotten cozy here in the crisp air of Whistler where we are grateful to connect and catch up with great friends over great food and clean mountain air. It’s pretty spectacular to see the snow at Christmas time, and I for one am always happy to have a break from the rain soaked streets of mild Vancouver πŸ™‚

Gearing up for Christmas always presents a lot of prep work, and this year was certainly no exception.

Our traditional family breakfast is always the same: fresh crepes stuffed with chocolate and fruit. Always easy, always good. This year I was thrilled to use this recipe in our crepes (the other half was made with classic Nutella). Smooth, rich, creamy, and 100% amazing. Not to mention ridiculously easy to prepare. It’s almost too good to be true!

Almost as good as this view from our walk home yesterday.

Whistler | IPOM

The Less:

Less milk dependent dessert options means more flexibility for those craving it. Fewer ingredients in recipes means easy work of making them. Less chemically laden processed chocolate products means more clean, whole ingredients, so enjoying delicious foods doesn’t mean you can’t pronounce what is in them.

The More:

More clean eating rich desserts means more enjoyment from less volume of them. More full fat plant-based desserts means more taste and less overdoing it. More two ingredient recipes means more two minute inspiration, so whipping up a rich tasty treat is never taxing.

Coconut Chocolate Ganache | IPOM

Coconut Chocolate Ganache Spread:

  • (1) 398 ml can of coconut milk (with the cream separated from the liquid)
  • (115-130) grams of dark chocolate

Put up a double boiler onto the stove by boiling a small pan of water with a stainless bowl resting over top. Bring the water to a boil.

Open the can of coconut milk (without shaking the can!) and using a spoon, scoop out the cream from the top of the can, reserving the liquid to use in smoothie or salad dressing.

Combine the chocolate and the coconut cream together in the bowl over the boiling water and stir as the two melt together over the heat. Feel free to turn the heat down a little to maintain just a roiling boil. Stir the two together and using a spatula, ensure any chocolate that gathers on the sides of the bowl gets re-incorporated into the mix.

Coconut Chocolate Ganache | IPOM

Once the two are nicely combined and have formed a silky smooth sauce, remove from the heat and pour into a clean jar or serving vessel. Served warm, you can treat this like a thick sauce, but to keep it, simply store it in the fridge where it will form a thick spread that can be used as an icing, or to fill crepes, or even on toast.

In my next post I’ll share the hazelnut & chocolate Christmas cookies I made, taking inspirations from this recipe.

Coconut Chocolate Ganache | IPOM

It’s always a good time to set up camp in the kitchen for a fun time of exploration – I was so happy to discover this amazing combo (and I am certain I am not the first to do this).

  • Have you experimented with coconut cream & chocolate before?
  • What would you use this for/on?

Me? I am finding ways to use this on just about anything – it is especially good with fresh banana for an easy, sweet pick me up πŸ™‚ I’d love to hear your ideas! Wishing you all a wonderful remainder to your holiday week!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cooking, Desserts, Food, Gluten Free, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegan

Recipe: Gramma’s Raspberry Birds Nest Cookies

Gramma's Birds Nest Cookies | IPOM

Holla everyone! I am super excited today to share with you one of my all time favorite cookie recipes over at a super special holiday cookie exchange at Keepin’ it Kind. This cookie combines the wonderful nutty taste of walnuts with sweet raspberry jam to make a cookie as sweet to the tongue as it is darling to the eyes. I grew up eating these every Christmas and am so thrilled to know they are just as good or perhaps even better in this new vegan version (I am sure Gramma won’t mind too much).

kristy

If you haven’t met the beautiful & talented Kristy yet, while it is high time you correct this!

This girl is as creative as she is lovely and her recipes & photography are always mouth-watering.

Her story of choosing a purely plant-based diet as a way of life is a fabulous and inspiring read, and the coupling of her & her husbands talents together make me smile every time I visit her blog.

So head over to read my cookie post on her blog today and see just how much it means to me to have been invited to join this wonderful holiday baking exchange! And enjoy a peruse through the rest of the recipes too while you are at it πŸ™‚

Gramma's Birds Nest Cookies | IPOM

Head on over to Keepin’ it Kind to find this super nostalgic recipe, and enjoy the rest of the amazing offerings while you are there! I can’t wait to see what comes up next!

  • Got a favorite holiday cookie to share?

Let us know, and thank you for joining us!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Desserts, Food, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegan

Recipe: Fresh Homemade Coconut Milk

It doesn’t get any simpler than this.

Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.

~ Confucius

Surely something so simple cannot be this easy, can it?

I assure you, with a little effort, it absolutely is, and with that effort, you will be so richly rewarded.

With all the wonderful alternatives to dairy milk out there, it is no surprise that coconut, with all of the amazing health benefits that come with it, is leading the charge in many ways as a delicious way to get good fats and loads of high quality energy into our bodies.

While it surely isn’t a local food (unless you are lucky to live where they grow of course), coconuts are widely available in markets & supermarkets all across the world, and with (just a little) know how, can be purchased for just a few dollars and used in any number of amazing ways.

Here is my favorite way to enjoy it (other than found as-is on a beach in Mexico), and I am sure I am not the only coconut milk lover out there!

Knowledge speaks, but wisdom listens.

Β  ~ Jimi Hendrix

Picking coconuts can be a little tough, and often can yield something less than fresh.

Perhaps the greatest challenge is finding a coconut that hasn’t gone bad. I assure you, once you crack it and drain the water inside, you’ll know if you’ve got a rancid one on your hands. Such is life, and I often purchase 2 at a time just to be sure. And at such a low cost of $2-$3 each, it’s not such a bad way to go.

If you’ve never worked with fresh coconut before, you are in for a treat!

Just talking about cracking these guys open brings back some of the fondest memories of my childhood – when finding the soft spot on the coconut with my dad (and the nail and hammer) was just about as awesome as it got.

And that’s pretty awesome.

This method of making (and enjoying) coconut might not be for everyone, but if you’ve got the will and a good blender, you might just be in heaven with this.

The taste and texture of fresh coconut milk is about the creamiest, dreamiest thing I can think of, and here it can be done right at home!

So be prepared for (just a little) work, and maybe (just a little) mess, but I promise the results will be worth it. And so will the recipe coming up for the pulp in my next post πŸ˜‰

The Less:

Less canned, processed items in the home means more hands on, homemade goodness. Less packaging and labels used means less waste, resources, and energy. Less shelf stable anything means more fresh live energy, so you can infuse yourself and your loved ones with love, straight from the earth right to you.

The More:

More rich, satisfying health food means more all round satisfaction in your belly. More whole, natural fats means more easy assimilation and clean fuel. More delicious fresh dairy alternatives means lots of healthy & tasty options, so living with less is easy, while still being tempting and delicious.

Fresh Homemade Coconut Milk:

  • (1) fresh hard-shell coconut
  • (3-4) cups water
  • Sweetener if desired
  • Lots of Love & Elbow Grease

Start by grabbing a safe sharp object – a good pair scissors with a sharp tip, or my dad’s favorite (and thus, mine), a nail and hammer.

Find the three spots on the tip of the coconut and with the tip of the sharp object, gently and carefully try to poke each hole. One of the three holes is the ‘key’ to the coconut and will cave under the pressure much easier than the other two. This is how you know which one to go for! Once identified, poke the soft hole all the way through and twist the scissors or nail to make as big a hole as you can (it will be about as big as a small pencil eraser).

Drain the water inside the coconut and set aside for drinking (right away or later).

Now the fun part.

(and you might find a better way to do this).

You’ve got to break the coconut into pieces. I do this by throwing it against the concrete in my backyard as hard as I can. It’s pretty satisfying and kids do love this (just make sure they are well out of the way of flying pieces!!). Otherwise, you can set the coconut on a hard surface and hit it with a hammer until it breaks. Keep breaking up the pieces until you get pieces smaller than the size of your hand.

Then, using a firm object (like a strong metal spoon that you don’t mind bending), separate the hard shell from the coconut meat. The meat itself will have a soft brown ‘skin’ – this can stay on, just carefully (and with elbow grease) get all the furry hard shell pieces off until you have a bowl of clean pieces of white coconut. Yum!

Growing up, this was a special dessert for us.

Once you’ve got all of your coconut pieces, give them a quick rinse under cold water to get any mess from the skin off. Break the pieces into smaller pieces if desired and add all the coconut to your blender (you should have roughly 4-5 cups of coconut pieces).

Next, add 3-4 cups of clean cold water to the blender. Blend the coconut and water on high for up to 3 minutes, ensuring all the pieces are well blended (the pulp will remain quite coarse depending on the strength of your blender).

If you start with less water, make sure to add enough water to facilitate good blending.

Once you have blended the mixture for up to 3 minutes, strain the milk through a fine strainer or cheese cloth. Notice the cream that rises to the top during this process – this is so good for you and so incredibly delicious too!

From here, transfer the milk to a large mason jar or container for storage in the fridge for up to 5 days. The milk will separate a little in the fridge, but just give it a good shake before using!

One recipe will make enough milk to fill just under a one liter jar (depending on how watery you like it). Feel free to sweeten with vanilla or maple syrup as desired, and enjoy this with anything and everything you like πŸ™‚

And there you have it, fresh, homemade coconut milk. How awesome is that?

Make sure to save the pulp, as I’ve got a most yummy dessert to share with you next, when I will be posting fresh upon our arrival in France!

You’ll be ready to dive into making coconut milk just to make the dessert I am sure, but once you’ve done both, you might not be able to stop (or maybe you will).

The more I see, the less I know for sure.

~ John Lennon

I’ve said before that coconut is almost literally a vegan’s dream, and whether you are vegan or not, I have yet to meet a soul (aside from my youngest daughter but never mind her) that doesn’t love the flavor and richness of coconut.

Here it is in all of it’s pure, unadulterated glory. The best kind of glory there is, if you ask me.

There is no exquisite beauty… without some strangeness in the proportion.

~ Edgar Allan Poe

Beauty is not caused. It is.

~ Emily Dickinson

So if you are an adventurer in the kitchen (I know quite a strong few of you out there) – I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. I’ve been relishing in the freshness of this drink all week and I’ve got to tell you, my friends and co-workers have not minded one bit, as they’ve also enjoyed the outcome of the delicious pulp too.

  • Have you ever made coconut milk at home?
  • What is your favorite way to use coconut milk?

Do tell friends! This will be the last of me from Vancouver for a while, we are literally in the last few hours here, and we leave very early Sunday morning. I’ve said my good-byes (some were very hard this time), but I am so looking forward to not only going, but to returning too.

Renewed. Inspired. Fresh.

I can’t wait to have you all join me. I hope you will!

This recipe has also been featured in Healthy Vegan Fridays #5 – check it out here!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cooking, Desserts, Food, Gluten Free, Happiness, Health, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian

Picking Fruit Seaside and a Chilled Cherry Almond Smoothie

This is one of the best parts of summer.

That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.

~ Emily Dickinson

Oceans are beautiful, aren’t they?

I am lucky to have grown up on the ocean, spending my youth just a few minutes from the peaceful rocky beaches of British Columbia. I still live near the ocean here in Vancouver, and admit I might find it tough to ever live away from it.

I am also lucky enough to live in one of the top cherry producing regions in the world. You know, those dark red fruits that grow up to the size of small plums and stain your hands and clothes as well as your palate, rendering it useless to enjoy any other fruit as much (at this time of the year).

Oceans and cherries. Two wonderful things.

Don’t worry about a thing, every little thing is gonna be alright.

~ Bob Marley

You have to be someone.

~ Bob Marley

Well you can imagine the sheer glee on our recent island weekend at the discovery (by me, my daughter, and my visiting younger sister) of cherry trees laden with ripe fruit growing seaside not far from our parents home.

There isn’t a much better way to cap off a leisurely afternoon of sunshine and swimming at the beach than taking a spontaneous detour down a country lane to find bushels of your favorite fruits – just hanging there amongst the shipwrecks and sun-laden stillness.

It was a perfect day if there ever was one.

You can only lose what you cling to.

~ Buddha

My sister and I felt like kids again without a care in the world, except maybe being late to dinner at home as a result of our spontaneous excursion to the seaside orchard. Not far from when we were kids really, now that I think about it. And it felt good.

Today I’m excited to share those photos with you all as well as this simple and truly delicious recipe for a memorable summer drink. Another simple recipe requiring no more than 2 ingredients, this summer chiller really, truly, hits the spot.

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

~ Ghandi

The Less:

Fewer ingredients to play with means each one stands to play its part. Less time to prep once you are ready means having it in hand in minutes. Less packaged, store-bought fruit drinks means less waste and cooked sugars, and more reasons to use what’s seasonally on hand.

The More:

More fresh fruit and whole ingredients means more easy simple nutrition. More fresh fiber and whole fats from soaked nuts means more natural fuel, protein, and roughage. More easy simple recipes means more ways to enjoy your favorites, and these two are a match made in seaside cherry heaven.

*photos of the recipe were not made with the cherries picked that day : – )

Chilled Cherry Almond Smoothie:

To pit cherries, use the ripest fruit you can. If you have a cherry pitter, go ahead and use it, but I never have and (like usual) prefer to use my own tools (my hands). If the fruit is ripe, simply tear the cherry open and remove the pits with your hands. If they are more on the firm side, you can open them with knife (like an apple) and remove the pit then.

If you have the almond milk handy, simple combine the milk and cherries in a blender and add the ice cubes. Blend on high until frothy. Serve as desired and enjoy! A simple, easy way to cool down and enjoy two healthful and delicious foods.

Nothing fancy. But somehow it still seems fancy to me – how about you?

The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it

~ Henry David Thoreau.

All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Summer is here and it’s a beautiful thing, my weekend at home was such a fabulous one, and much love to my folks and to my sister for the time together!

On another note, we are in the 10 day countdown until we leave for our trip to France for 3 whole weeks! I’ll be blogging from there as there will be just too much to keep up with, especially as we try to work our way through it all in true ‘less is more’ fashion.

As well, we are adding a link to the sidebar, but for those who wish to follow me on Instagram, you can do so by following @shiramcd.

I’ve really been enjoying this new way to keep up with friends, as pictures really can be worth a thousand words. There, you can bet I’ll be adding shots daily while we are away.

  • Are you an Instagrammer?
  • What is your favorite way to eat cherries?
  • Ever picked them from the trees?

Do let us know. Until next time, IPOM readers, and I wish you all a truly wonderful day wherever you may be πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Children, Cooking, Desserts, Food, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian

Recipe: Summer Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

It’s going to be a great summer!

Duty makes us do things well, but love makes us do them beautifully.

~ Zig Ziglar

Holla friends and readers!

I’m back in action after a tremendous few days. I mentioned in my last post that I might be (just a little) absent here in the blog world while I tackle a fairly big project.

I am happy to report it was (for me anyway) as successful as I ever could have hoped, and it is great to be back here – I am looking forward to catching up with you all!

On Saturday, Not So Fast hosted its first ever faster sponsored cooking class for youth.

You may have read here, about Not So Fast and the food support we offer through ‘living with less’. If you are new to IPOM, I would be honored to introduce you to Not So Fast here.

As a result of Chris & Carla’s amazing effort and contribution to our cause, we gathered with 10 enthusiastic youth to cook a nutritious meal together (yup it included lentils & barley!).

We not only cooked food for the kids to take home, but we also cooked enough food for the annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner to feed 40 people!

It was a giant challenge (I love a giant challenge), and with the help of some super amazing people, we prepared a (rather tasty) menu that embodied the simple philosophy of the recipes found here at IPOM.

It was nothing short of amazing.

Today I’ll share with you the fantastic dessert we prepared for the evening. This is a classic summer dessert in every sense of the word. Stay tuned for more from the weekend, but for now, let’s talk (just a little) summer dessert!

Love is the absence of judgment.

~ Dalai Lama

First, the rhubarb.

This locally abundant (here in BC) spring & summer treat has earlier been featured in these yummy dessert bars, but there is nothing as classic as pairing them with another classic.

Strawberries. Local strawberries. The truest sign of summer if there ever was one.

Local strawberries flood me with memories of garden patches covered in green mesh to keep the birds out. Fortunately little hands (mine) were always wily enough to push around the mesh to find the little red gems under the white blossomed strawberry plants (don’t tell).

This recipe is not for those who are shy in front of sugar (or butter or flour), but I am quite confident my vegan and gluten-free readers have more than an ample supply of tricks up their sleeves to make this combo shine with any sub or clever replacement.

After all, everyone should enjoy this classic combo, right?

The Less:

Less ingredients in baked treats make quick work for the chef. Less store-bought summer pastries means more goodness for far less cost. Less heavy, crumbly topping means more flavor for less portion size, so enjoyment needn’t come at a heavy cost.

The More:

More real, straight up ingredients means simple purity in taste and method. More fresh local summer fruits means more of the classic tastes like we remember. More flavor, sweetness, and balance, means your guests will go for seconds, so making this for a gathering means you’re guaranteed to be a star.

Summer Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp:

~ Adapted from Canadian Living

  • (3) cups chopped fresh strawberries
  • (3) cups chopped fresh rhubarb stalks
  • (3/4) cup granulated sugar (you can also use brown, feel free to reduce to 1/2 cup if you prefer)
  • (2) tbsp white or whole wheat flour

Topping:

  • (1) cup white or whole wheat flour
  • (1/2) cup slow oats
  • (3/4) cup brown sugar
  • (1/3) cup cold butter, cut into pieces
  • pinch each cinnamon and salt

Start by buying the freshest fruits you can. Rhubarb can be bought several days ahead for this, but fresh strawberries are the best, especially if they are locally grown.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Wash your fruits and cut them into (somewhat) uniform sizes and place in a large mixing bowl. Add the granulated sugar and 2 tablespoons of flour and mix all with your hands gently.

In a separate bowl, toss together the flour, brown sugar, oats, and cinnamon and salt. Add the cold butter and cut the mixture with a pastry cutter, or your hands (like yours truly does).

Grease well an 8 inch square pan. Spread the fruit mixture evenly to cover the bottom, then top with the crumble topping and press together lightly to ensure it is even.

Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes, until the topping is fragrant and golden brown.

Remove from the oven and let cool completely before serving. Serve as is, with tart plain thick yoghurt, or vanilla ice cream.

Empty pockets never held anyone back. Only empty heads and empty hearts can do that.

~ Norman Vincent Peale

My heart is full lately. It’s full of the promise that summer might just come. It’s full of the warmth of the community I am proud to be a part of.

It’s full knowing that the classics never go out of style, and easy comforting summer memories are easily at hand with just a few simple steps.

Everyone who got where he is has had to begin where he was.

– Robert Louis Stevenson

It’s safe to say this was a giant hit at the dinner. The kids didn’t cook this one, but the volunteers who make it all happen all year-long sure enjoyed it.

I’ll share the simple menu we prepared together in an upcoming post, after I catch my breath and finish the last few bites of this delicious crumble πŸ™‚

Yes, my heart is full. Full with gratitude for all who took part and contributed their time and talents to pulling this together. You know who you all are!

Carly prepares to cap off the crumbles…

Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.

~ Dalai Lama

Enjoy this delicious version of a summer classic. As the days are now (hopefully) as long as our smiles, the time is now to revel in the goodness of fresh local foods.

I am looking forward to catching up with you all, I hope you are all fabulous!

  • What is your favorite summer fruit dessert?
  • Are you reveling in the glory of local berries?

Do tell as I am sure there are more than a few berry lovers out there!

My humblest thanks for reading (as always) – stay tuned for more from this weekend, and here’s to the official start of the summer season!

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cooking, Desserts, Fasting, Food, Not So Fast, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegetarian

Recipe: Squeaky Clean Spinach & Stone-fruit Smoothie

It’s another gloriously fine day!

There is no man living that can not do more than he thinks he can.

~ Henry Ford

Welcome to today at IPOM fine readers!

What a fabulously fun few days it has been! Yesterday I was surprised, delighted, and humbled by none other than WordPress (thank you WordPress!) – for including IPOM as one of ‘7 Food Blogs To Read This Summer’ on the WP newsletter!

Wow! What a wonderful honor (and in some seriously good company too!), and for this I am so grateful!

To all of you who have supported this little blog and its mission from the start, and for those who are just joining us, thank you for being here.

It is such an honor and a pleasure and I enjoy each and every interaction with you, whether it is here, or on any number of your amazing blogs in this community (of which I am grateful to follow many a winner).

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.

~ Thornton Wilde

Today’s post is another fresh and simple way to kick-start either a bright new morning, a stodgy, slumpy afternoon, or even as a great way to try the concept of ‘fasting’ if you are new to it. (Trading heavy solid foods for a quickie smoothie is a great way to try it).

Blended foods are gentle on the stomach, and when filled with pure, unadulterated whole foods, are easily digested and assimilated too.

The Less:

Less additions to your fruit smoothie means easy simple ingredients that won’t break the bank. Less chewing and cooked foods means more raw nutrition that is easy to break down. Less challenging ingredients means you can find these foods anywhere, so eating this good is easy and accessible too.

The More:

More fresh spinach means more calcium, fiber, and chlorophyll. More fresh uncooked fruits means more fresh sun-kissed goodness. More blended raw foods means more clean gentle nourishment, so eating can be peaceful and healing when you need it.

Not just for Popeye!

Squeaky Clean Spinach & Stone-fruit Smoothie:

  • (2) fresh nectarines (can sub peaches or apricots, if using apricots up to 3-4)
  • (1) heaping cup frozen peaches
  • (1) large handful packed fresh spinach leaves
  • (1) banana
  • (1-1.5) cup mango juice (can also sub apricot, peach, or other yellow tropical combo)
  • (1) cup ice cubes (optional)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend on high until super smooth – about 1 minute minimum.

Depending on the strength of your blender, the time it takes to properly blend really varies.

Just make sure there are no chunks and if using ice, to give it a little extra time, or extra juice, or both.

We become that which we love.

~ Saint Bridget

It is said that in order to achieve a dream, that you should pursue what you love. I believe this to be true. I have referenced in the blog before that there is great power in just starting, and with this, there is also great relevance in the notion of starting as you mean to go on.

So while we can’t wait for things to be perfect before we start something new (because they never are), it is important to start as we mean to go on.

Because there is no substitute for authenticity, and it will always shine through any imperfection πŸ™‚

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

~ Marcel Proust

Everyday is a day for new things. This smoothie was my new thing this week, as it is wonderful – and an easy way to start the day as you mean to go on!

I adore the summery taste of stone fruits and spinach is a wonderful mild green that is easily blended into these fruits with such big taste and character.

So if you think you don’t like green smoothies – you might just be surprised with this one (or not)!

There’s a wall between you and what you want and you got to leap it.

~ Bob Dylan

In the ‘coming soon’ section…

IPOM started 6 months ago to engage and connect with a bigger group of people in the celebration of good food (Holla! You guys are amazing!)

Many of you also likely know there is a bigger picture here as well.

Not So Fast, which is a new non-profit organization founded (by wee little me) last year, is just about to spread its wings a little.

We’ll be launching our new identity in the coming weeks, and sharing a story or two about (amazing) regular people (like you and me) who are making a difference in their community, by showing us that ‘living with less’, even for a short time, can make a giant impact!

We hope you’ll stay tuned while we roll this out, and I promise to keep you hungry for more great food ideas and recipes, and am (as always) looking forward to all of yours!

  • What is your favorite smoothie combo?
  • Are you a Green Smoothie novice?
  • Have you started anything new this week?

Do share – your comments and thoughts are always so enjoyed!

And of course, I am wishing you all a fabulous week…..I know I said it was last week (I ran out of time!) but after I publish this, I am turning my computer over to the pros, it’s finally time for a brand new computer!

Now, that’s my new thing. What’s yours? πŸ˜‰

Yours in Less,

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Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Desserts, Food, Gluten Free, Health, Non-Profit Organization, Not So Fast, Photography, Raw, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian

Recipe: Almond Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares

Can I tempt anyone with dessert?

There’s more to life than chocolate, but not right now.

~ Anonymous

Anyone up for a special treat?!

This has been a very special week here at IPOM, and for (little, wee) me. Many hard weeks of patient, persistent, and tough pushing on seem to be paying off.

There are some big decisions being made, some plans being laid out, and some fruit ready for the picking from from what has been (what feels like) a (very) long, a (very) careful, and (at times) a very trying growing season (yes, more corny metaphors…..I can’t help it!).

There is one reason only these things are happening, and that is I am lucky to be surrounded to by truly great people.

These people give of their time, and of their talents, and most of all, from their hearts. For these people, and for you readers who are so wonderfully supportive, I am so very grateful. Thank you.

So I made dessert this week to celebrate! It was rather overdue, and plus, I get to thank a couple of special people for the inspiration on this one.

It’s better to regret what you have done than what you haven’t.

~ Paul Arden, Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite

The inspiration for this recipe came to me from one of my blogging buds – Sarah from the Healthy Diva – who whipped up a batch of a lovely sounding dessert (originally from Oh She Glows) for a charity bake sale.

I checked it out and not only did the recipe sound amazing, but it was also right up my alley – gluten-free, no baking, and now, loaded with chocolate.

I made a few changes to the original, and the results are, well, more than worthy of this wonderful week!

Thanks to the Diva for her amazing efforts (in both cooking and giving) and to another wonderful reader also named Sarah (wink) who expressed her love for rice krispie squares this week in one of her comments.

The Less:

Less marshmallow sweetened rice krispie treats means less gooey, sticky messes to clean. Less heavy, flour-based treats means you can eat these and still feel light as air. Less time baking treats in the oven means less energy expended, so we can save it for something (or someone) else who needs it more.

The More:

More natural nut butter richness means sweet cravings become welcome. More crispy sweet rice cereal means less mess and more crunch. More yummy homemade treats means more yummy homemade smiles, ones you can share everyday.

Almond Chocolate Rice Krispie Squares:

  • (4.5) cups rice crisp cereal (I use the traditional Kellogg’s but you can use any kind)
  • (1/2) cup roasted or raw almond butter (feel free to sub cashew or pumpkin butter too!)
  • (1) tbsp coconut butter, butter, or margarine (optional)
  • (1/2) cup honey (or brown rice syrup)
  • (1/4) tsp fine salt, or to taste
  • (1) tbsp vanilla extract
  • (1) cup chocolate chips (we love Chipits in this house)

Get ready a 9 inch by 9 inch baking pan and butter lightly (either coconut butter or butter) or line with wax or parchment paper.

In a small pot, combine the nut butter, honey, sea salt, and coconut butter.

On very low heat, stir to combine and warm only very gently. Remove from heat once smooth and well mixed and add vanilla extract.

In a large bowl, combine the rice krispies and chocolate chips with the nut butter/honey mixture and mix (you need your hands for this!). Mix well with a firm hand, squeezing the mixture tightly to ensure evenness throughout.

The chocolate chips will melt as you mix and you will end up with a gooey mixture of pure amazing-ness.

Press the mixture into a square pan either greased with a little butter or lined with parchment paper. Push down firmly to pack it in tightly and evenly (this can be a bit of a meditative exercise). Once smooth, pop these babies in the refrigerator until set!

When cold and set, cut into small squares, triangles, (or whatever shape you desire really) and enjoy!

Keep these guys in the fridge to maintain their yummy firm texture.

Amazing, delicious, nutritious, and so easy!

I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.

~ Pablo Picasso

The beauty here is you need very little to be satisfied.

These little guys are loaded with nutrition from the almonds, sweetness from the bees (or rice syrup if you choose for my vegan readers), and crispy chocolatey perfection.

As is often said here at IPOM, it’s about celebrating & reveling in the little things, and a little really does go a long way here!

Talent helps, but it won’t take you as far as ambition

~ Paul Arden

These will now be household staple here as it is rare we don’t have all the ingredients in the house.

Once you taste these you’ll really understand πŸ™‚

It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.

~ Lou Holtz

So with that, I am signing off for a relaxing weekend with old friends over food, family, and (just a little) poolside banter and a few long, deep breaths of clean country air.

I am feeling incredibly grateful for life’s lessons this week, and know that the secret to doing anything is always just in starting.

From there, the road is bumpy. It’s messy and full of failure. But it is also exhilarating, and full of giant triumphs and smiles.

If you always make the right decision, the safe decision, the one most people make, you will be the same as everyone else.

~ Paul Arden

I can’t imagine any other way I’d want to live, and I am so happy you are here with me too!

  • What’s your favorite rice krispie recipe?
  • Are you as in love with chocolate as we are?

Wishing you all a wonderful weekend!

I might be a little MIA for the next few days and will try to keep up with you all as best I can. I am looking forward to some amazing meals and can’t wait to share it all with you when I get back!

Let us know your thoughts friends – I’ve a feeling there are some chocolate lovers out there with me πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,

92 Comments

Filed under Cooking, Desserts, Food, Gluten Free, Nut Recipes, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Snacks, Sweet Treats, Vegan, Vegetarian

Dessert Recipe: Spring Rhubarb Almond Squares

Time for a special spring treat!

Imagination is the highest form of research.

― Albert Einstein

You know it’s a good life when you’ve got great neighbors. Let’s hear it for great friends and neighbors, shall we?

When it comes to our hood, we’ve lucked out to the max, as was evidenced by the large bushel of blushingly gorgeous rhubarb that was harvested across the lane and delivered to my back deck this past week (thanks Brian!).

I'll call this the Diva salad today πŸ™‚ It's so yummy!

But before we dive into this gorgeous recipe, I’ve got to say a very special thank you to another kind of friend.

The blogging kind!

Sarah at the Healthy Diva has a guest post up over at her Sydney, Australia based blog featuring IPOM and a simply yummy salad dressing recipe .

Feel free to pay her a visit to see what was up with this salad I enjoyed this past week. It’s a goodie!

Thanks so much to Sarah for the wonderfully kind invite – and welcome to any Diva readers who may be visiting IPOM for the 1st time!

β€œBe humble for you are made of earth. Be noble for you are made of stars”

― Serbian proverb

This rhubarb gifting came to me just as I had picked up a magazine dedicated to spring recipes – it’s easy to stumble upon delightful ways to use asparagus, rhubarb, nettles, and the many other wonderful spring foods that come at this time of year here in Canada.

I made a few alterations, based on what I had on hand, and went straight to work – reserving the remaining rhubarb to stew and use later (I grew up eating it with plain yoghurt for dessert).

The result was a beautiful, date square like dessert, with a bright gooey filling and gorgeous light texture.

All over town now, there are shoots of rhubarb plants exploding in backyard gardens everywhere.

I’ve never made space to plant it in my small backyard garden, and I figure as long as Brian’s across the lane I won’t need to πŸ™‚

I used real butter in this version as the recipe called for, but I would be delighted to see it veganized with coconut butter too.

There is no other dairy in the recipe at all, so making this adjustment would be easy!

The Less:

Less far away fruit desserts means easy ways to eat local. Less tough to find ingredients means using what’s on hand, so you can get to work as soon as harvest is done. Less heavily sweet and cakey desserts means savoring without filling up, so you can still feel the pleasure long after you are done.

The More:

More rhubarb means more fresh, lively flavor. More local food means less carbon, and less cost to the planet and your pocketbook. More neighborly ways means stronger community, and more yummy desserts means inviting them over is easy.

Spring Rhubarb Almond Bars:

Adapted from Canadian Living Magazine

  • 6 cups chopped fresh rhubarb (about 6 thick stalks)
  • (3/4) cup brown sugar
  • (1) tsp grated orange zest
  • (1/3) cup fresh orange juice
  • (1) tbsp all purpose flour
  • (1.5) cups quick oats (not instant)
  • (2/3) cup all purpose flour
  • (1) cup brown sugar
  • (3/4) tsp cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • (2/3) cold butter, cubed
  • (4) tbsp sliced or slivered almonds, chopped

Heat oven to 350 degrees and get a 9 inch square cake pan ready (no need to oil it).

In a large saucepan, combine the first 5 ingredients – rhubarb, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and flour – and bring to a boil with the lid on. Reduce heat to medium, and cook, partially covered until the mixture is reduced to 1 3/4 cups or so – about 25-30 minutes. Make sure to stir regularly to keep the mixture from burning at the bottom.

Once cooked and reduced, turn the heat off and allow to cool for a few minutes, about 10 – 15 minutes or so.

While the rhubarb cooks, combine the oats, flour, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. With fingers or a pastry cutter, blend in the butter (I always use my hands for this – nature’s tools – but that’s just me!).

Press 2/3 of the mixture into the cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees until golden brown, about 2 minutes. remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before adding the rhubarb mixture.

Add the cooled rhubarb mixture to the pan and spread until it is even.

Next, add the chopped almonds to the remaining crumble mixture, and gently press together into small clumps. Sprinkle the mixture over the filling and distribute evenly.

Bake at 350 until the crumble is golden, about 40 minutes. Let cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares.

β€œThe truth is, everyone is going to hurt you. You just got to find the ones worth suffering for.”

~ Bob Marley

Cut the cold butter into the bowl with a knife. Get ready to mix it all together.

A person’s a person, no matter how small.

~ Dr. Seuss, Horton Hears a Who

Crumble it all up until the mixture is well-integrated – making sure there are no large chunks of butter or sugar left straggling around in there.

I get in there like a kid in the dirt. I don’t like to wear gloves to garden either, do you?

Press the 2/3 of the mixture into the pan as tightly as you can. This will be the base for this wonderful yummy filling!

I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.

― Helen Keller

Let this mixture cool before adding it to the base – about 15 minutes or so.

Try not to eat too much of it as it does this (but do be sure to eat a little).

You never fail until you stop trying.

~ Albert Einstein

Any almonds will do for this, sliced, slivered, even chopped whole almonds if that is what’s on hand.

Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

The result, a beautiful pan of (neighborly) spring goodness. Worthy of stopping to enjoy with friends, neighbors and family.

Serve these with or without vanilla ice cream, and give some to your neighbors (or not).

These guys will keep in a container or tin at room temperature – I am sure they would make a rather smashing breakfast served alongside some cashew cream or thick greek yoghurt.

How’s that for versatility?

You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.

~ Colette

I can’t wait for the next harvest from across the lane! Truthfully, Brian has got a pretty sweet garden and so I just might head over there with these bars awfully soon.

They just might be good enough to keep him delivering more of his earthly goodies πŸ™‚

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

~ John Lennon

I hope each and every one of you had a fabulous weekend – next up, I’ll share with you a kick ass salad recipe inspired this week by a gift from another great friend of mine!

It features a favorite of mine that I haven’t posted about for a while…yep….it’s kale!

So stay tuned it’s that good.

  • Are you gearing up to use rhubarb this spring or better yet, do you grow it?
  • What is your favorite rhubarb or spring dessert recipe?

I hope you enjoy these as much as we did – and thanks again for reading and for your comments! I had a lot of fun with the last post and got more than a few awesome ideas for not only making but seasoning popcorn. Thank you!

Wishing you all a truly fabulous week – PS – I am traveling again (this time to the TDOT aka Toronto) so I might be spotty with my comments – I’ll be back the end of the week though!

Yours in Less (from out east),

52 Comments

Filed under Cheap, Cooking, Desserts, Food, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Vegan, Vegetarian

Recipe: Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars

Let’s start the week right, with chocolate!

Live as if your were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

~ Gandhi

Happy Monday everyone!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday weekend – filled with family, good food, and (maybe) (just a little) sunshine!

We enjoyed a few days together and certainly made the most of it: by cleaning out the basement!

Well, not the whole weekend was spent this way, but a needed spring-clean was a feel good way to ring in the season of newness, and clean out some cobwebs (literally!)

It felt pretty good, and it’s a gift that keeps on giving.

We are not creatures of circumstance; we are creators of circumstance.

~ Benjamin Disraeli

A few weeks ago, a reader wrote me asking if I had any recipes for kid’s lunches that are yummy, portable, and nut-free.

I admit I’m a little guilty of throwing a fruit snack or a little piece of chocolate (even a very occasional Oreo) into my kids lunches, as I’ve got at least one very picky eater in my house – the home baked goodies aren’t a guarantee that is for sure!

I’m not a big cookie-maker (or baker in general) – but I do like a good challenge…so I set out to make a treat that was flour-free, kid-approved, and still easy to make and (just a little) healthy.

I’ll let you guys tell me how I did!

No act of kindness, no matter how small is ever wasted.

~ Aesop

The Less:

Less flour-based sweet treats means more in tact nutrition, and less reliance on gluten. Less packaged cookies and treats means less waste, less additives & preservatives, and more fresh gooey texture to boot. Less looking for ways to use whole grains means more inspiration that eating this way is easy. Less wondering means more confidence, and who doesn’t want that?

The More:

More chewy sweet ways to combine healthy ingredients means more ways to ‘trick’ loved ones who may not be keeners. More millet and oats means more super-powered fuel from clean sources. More homemade sweet goodness means more ways to the hearts of those you love, and who wouldn’t want that everyday?

This recipe incorporates millet, which is actually a highly nutritious seed that dates back to Biblical times. It’s totally gluten-free and high in protein, so if you are new to it – it’s worth checking out for sure! This recipe can easily be veganized too – and I know at least a few of you who are pros at that!

Chewy Chocolate Granola Bars:

  • (1/2) cup dry millet
  • (1.25) cups cold water
  • (1.5) cups quick oats
  • (1) cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • (1/2) cup coconut milk (or nut milk or regular milk)
  • (1) tbsp butter (or coconut butter)
  • (1/4) cup brown sugar (or sucanat)
  • (2) tbsp cocoa powder
  • (1/4) tsp salt
  • (1) tsp vanilla
  • (1) tsp baking powder
  • (1) banana (fresh or frozen)
  • (1) fresh egg (or egg substitute)
  • (3/4-1) cup chocolate chips of choice (I used medium-sized dark for this, 1 cup will make them super sweet)

Start by combining the dry millet and the cold water in a small pot with the lid. Bring to a boil, and cook, covered on low heat for 20 minutes, until fluffy. Once done, remove from heat and fluff with a fork.

Oil a cookie sheet lightly with butter or oil and heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked millet, oats, coconut, coconut milk, butter, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, and vanilla and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mash the banana and add to the mixture. If you are using a frozen banana, skip this step and instead simply soak the banana in hot water until it thaws and add it straight to the large bowl.

Add the egg or egg substitute and mix. Add baking powder and stir one more time before adding the chocolate chips.

Mix well one last time (don’t be afraid to get in there with your hands!).

Transfer to the oiled cookie sheet and press until you have a layer about 2/3 inch thick.

This recipe doesn’t make quite enough to cover an entire large cookie sheet so I butted it up the edge of one and lt it go from there trying to make the free end as straight as I could. I didn’t mind the jagged edge – the perfect tester piece before cutting the bars!

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool before cutting into bars either 3/3 inches or 4/4 inches square. Totally your call how you want to cut these! Keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature and eat with 2-3 days.

Moist, chewy, and sweet – these are perfect for the chocolate lover’s post lunch treat! No wrappers or crumbs either.

Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.

~ Will Rogers

Serve kid-style with a cold glass of your favorite milk. With these treats fresh from the oven….that’s a match made in heaven!

We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.

~ Aristotle

That’s a sweet way to start the week – even if you are up to your bunny ears in chocolate from the weekend πŸ˜‰

Success isn’t a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.

~Arnold H. Glasow

An even bigger thanks for stopping by regularly and for taking the time to leave your notes and comments. I loved the response from the last post – and the appreciation for the beauty in the little things!

  • What was your favorite cookie as a kid?
  • Whats’ your favorite cookie NOW?

Let us know – we might just share in that too!

Yours in Less,

68 Comments

Filed under Children, Cooking, Desserts, Family, Food, Gluten Free, Photography, Recipes, Rich & Simple, Sweet Treats, Vegetarian

Dancing Shoes and Lemon Love

There’s something about a hot mug of Lemony Love.

The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive.

~ Albert Einstein

When thinking of simple pleasures, there really is nothing better than a Friday afternoon.

Is there?

Wherever you are, whatever the weather, there is always something to brighten the mood of you and those around you when the countdown to the weekend is inching to a close! It’s here!

My favorite thing to do on a Friday is to come home, drop the bags, the phone, all the noise of the week, and hit the outdoors.

Alternatively, if the weather is the way it was all this week (with rain and more rain), I love nothing more than to curl up on the couch with my grandmother’s afghan, my laptop or a book, and a hot cup of sweet honey lemon.


This is my go-to fasting drink, and a way to soothe the soul and perk up any old day. This drink (to me) is a classic.

Growing up, my mom used to make it with boiled ginger (a few thumbs of fresh ginger in a boiling pot of water for 30 minutes), or simply as shown. We always had in our family kitchen a giant bucket of local honey from a beekeeper named Albert (as I recall that was his name). When we weren’t prying it open to steal spoonfuls, we used it as a seat to rest our tired legs.

I respect and admire all the reasons to avoid honey – every drop is a beautiful and sacred thing – and I am always sure to appreciate it and regard it as an extremely special and beautiful gift from the bees.

After all, without the bees we wouldn’t have these:

Life is the flower for which love is the honey.

~ Victor Hugo

They are a treasure, and so are the bees that pollinate our fruit. We enjoy honey and use it very sparingly, and with gratitude. Of course, hot honey-lemon can easily become hot maple-syrup-lemon, and both are yummy and extremely beneficial either way.

The More:

More lemony goodness means more cleansing vitamin C and healthy vitamins for your body. More soothing hot beverages means you can enjoy it over more time. More slow sipping means more slow living. More slowness is nice. So relax and enjoy, it’s Friday after all!

The Less:

Less refined sugar sweetened lemon drinks means less of the white stuff in your clean water. Less coffee, tea and other sweet drinks means less calories, milk and all the other things that go with them. Less outsourced drinks means cheaper nourishment for you and less waste overall.

Hot Honey Lemon Drink:

  • (1-2) organic lemons
  • (2-3) tbsp local unpasteurized honey to taste (or maple syrup)
  • (2-3) cups boiling water
  • (1) favorite mug
  • (1) sprinkle cayenne powder (optional)

Put up a kettle to boil of clean water. Squeeze the juice of your lemons in to your favorite mug, adding a few slices to crush inside. Crush your lemon slices with a spoon or fork until juicy and pulverized. Add honey to lemon juice and lemon slices and crush together. Add optional dash of cayenne powder.

When the water boils, pour directly into the cup and stir. Taste to see if sweetness is right (and add more honey if desired).

Grab a book or a bright corner with a window and enjoy the view. Breathe deep and enjoy….because you can. I call that a great way to start the weekend.

He is richest who is content with the least, for content is the wealth of nature.

~ Socrates

Whatever you choose to do this weekend, I hope you do it in style – after all it’s not the start of the weekend everyday!

Here’s a little shot of something that made me smile this week.

My daughter returned home from her grandparents house (my parents) with these shoes – my jazz shoes from the stone ages (I was about 12).

I was (just a little) overjoyed to see them as I had no idea they were still around. I was even more pleased to put them on, and believe it or not they still fit! (but if you must know my toes are popping out (just a little) a bit).

Dancing with the feet is one thing, but dancing with the heart is another.

~ Unknown

So now when I talk about kitchen dancing, you can be pretty certain I might just have these on πŸ™‚

  • How are you planning to ring in April?
  • What’s your favorite way to start the weekend?
  • Are you a lemon drink fan too?

Thanks to all of you for reading this week and for my new IPOM followers!

I was beyond thrilled this week to receive comments from old friends, new friends, and family from afar – I just love to connect with you over food and sharing enthusiasm with you all just makes my day..

Next I’ll be sharing about those french lentils, a new breakfast bar, and a wonderful recipe sent to me by a fellow blogging buddy…;)

Cheers to Friday or whatever day it is in your part of the world!

Yours in Less,

40 Comments

Filed under Desserts, Fasting, Going Without, Happiness, Recipes, Rejuvenation, Rich & Simple, Snacks, Sweet Treats, Uncategorized, Vegetarian