Apple Crisp

Apple Crisp

As we head into cooler weather, some of us look forward to the warm and cozy foods that we are all about to indulge in.  This next recipe is a prime example of how to use up some of that late summer produce, as well as enjoy some lovely warm spices as we ease into fall.  

This is a super simple recipe, which not only has a great filling full of apples and cinnamon, but it reuses our crisp topping from our summery rhubarb berry crisp.

Apple Crisp
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Filling
  1. 6 cups apples, sliced
  2. 2 tbsp lemon juice
  3. 2 tsp cinnamon
Topping
  1. 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1/4 cup oats
  3. 3/4 cup sugar
  4. pinch salt
  5. 1 tsp cinnamon
  6. 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  7. 1/2 cup unsalted butter, cold
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F and pull out a 9" x 9" square baking pan.
For the filling
  1. Peel, core, and slice the apples.
  2. Add the lemon juice and cinnamon.
  3. Mix well and pour into the pan.
For the topping
  1. Combine flour, oats, sugar, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl and mix to combine.
  2. Cut in the cold butter to your flour and oats mixture. You can also use your fingers.
  3. Pour flour mixture evenly over your fruit and bake for 50-55 minutes or until golden brown on top.
Notes
  1. After baking, if you feel you would like the topping a bit crisper and more golden brown, use your oven's broiler setting and broil for approximately 3-5 min. VERY IMPORTANT NOTE: DO NOT walk away while the broiler is on!! I cannot emphasize this enough.
  2. Serve warm with ice cream, whipped cream, or simply on its own!
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
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Pecan Cranberry Granola Bar

Pecan Cranberry Granola Bars

It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks, school will begin, along with numerous other activities, and time for preparation will cease to exist.  You can’t help but ask yourself, what happened to my summer?!  This granola bar is a great option to have on hand when planning lunches or when you need a quick and easy snack.

 

 

Pecan Cranberry Granola Bars
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cups large flake oats
  2. 1 cup puffed rice cereal (i.e. rice crispies)
  3. 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  4. 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  5. 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  6. 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  7. 1/4 cup honey
  8. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  9. 1/2 tsp salt
  10. 1/2 tsp vanilla
Instructions
  1. Lightly grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. Mix together oats, cereal and coconut in large bowl.
  3. In a pan over medium heat, melt butter. Add honey, brown sugar and salt. Stir to combine. Wait for the mixture to come to a full boil and then let it boil for 2 minutes and 15 seconds. Turn heat down to prevent it from overflowing, but maintaining the boil.
  4. Pour hot mixture over oats. Stir together until the oats mixture is completely coated. Here, you can add in the pecans and the dried cranberries to your mixture before pressing into your pan. Press firmly, so they don’t fall apart when you cut them.
  5. Place in fridge for 20 minutes, or until ready to serve.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
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Whole Wheat Raspberry Muffins

It’s only the beginning of August, but back to school is already on our mind. 

Back-to-school time brings full days, busy nights, and struggles with getting nutritious foods on the table and into lunch boxes. We’ve all been there, but experience has shown us that just a little bit of planning ahead will help you keep on top of things.

One of our favourite make-ahead snacks are muffins, and these whole wheat raspberry muffins are sure to do the trick. These muffins are a simple and delicious snack packed full of fibre and fruit, to help keep you fuller longer. 

Whole Wheat Raspberry Muffins

We really like this recipe for a number of reasons. Fresh berries, when not in season, can be a fortune and this recipe works well with fresh or frozen berries. It’s also very quick to throw together and we include common kitchen ingredients. 

Look no further for your go-to back-to-school muffin!

Whole Wheat Raspberry Muffins
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Ingredients
  1. 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, at room temperature
  2. ¾ cup sugar
  3. 2 large eggs
  4. 2 cups whole wheat flour
  5. 2 teaspoons baking powder
  6. ¼ teaspoon salt (if you use unsalted butter or margarine, increase to ½ teaspoon)
  7. ½ cup milk
  8. 2 teaspoons vanilla
  9. ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  10. 1 ½ cups raspberries, fresh or frozen
  11. 1 tablespoon sugar, mixed with ½ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease, or line your muffin tins.
  2. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time - beat well after each addition.
  4. Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and beat well. Stir in the milk and both the vanilla and the almond extracts. Mix till smooth. Stir in the berries quickly.
  5. Fill the muffin tins about ¾ full. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, if using.
  6. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before removing them.
Adapted from King Arthur Flour "Our Favorite Blueberry Muffins"
Adapted from King Arthur Flour "Our Favorite Blueberry Muffins"
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
Whole Wheat Raspberry Muffins

This back-to-school season we hope to bring you nutritious, time saving recipes that are sure to please everyone in your family! Follow along this fall as we share our favourites.

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Greek Barley Salad

This colourful Greek Barley Salad is packed full of flavour, fibre, and veggies. Using barley as the base to this salad has the benefit of giving it a huge nutritional punch while also being easy to prepare.

Greek Barley Salad

The recipe is very versatile. You can use pot or pearl barley to make this salad and feel free to make extra barley to freeze for future use. Any veggies you have on hand can be added or substituted to make this salad your own. We strongly recommend making the salad dressing in a mason jar so that you can shake to mix the ingredients well – this is a fun task for kids too!

Greek Barley Salad

Greek Barley Salad
This colourful Greek Barley Salad is full of veggies and packs a nutritional punch. Serve it as a dinner side or as part of a healthy lunch.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
50 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup Pot or Pearl Barley
  2. 1 English Cucumber, chopped
  3. 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  4. 1 Red Pepper, chopped
  5. 1 cup Baby Tomatoes, slice in half
Dressing
  1. 1/4 cup Canola Oil
  2. 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  3. 1 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
  4. 1 Tsp Oregano
  5. pinch Salt
  6. pinch Black Pepper
Instructions
  1. Combine barley with 2 cups of water and cook until tender (about 40 minutes).
  2. Meanwhile, combine salad dressing ingredients in a mason jar. Shake and set aside.
  3. When barley is cool, combine with cucumber, onion, pepper, and baby tomatoes in a large bowl.
  4. When ready to serve, pour dressing over salad and mix to combine.
River City Cookery http://rivercitycookery.com/
 For more information about barley, check out our past post!

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What you wanted to know about Whole Grains

With the help of our new readers, we have some great questions for you.  We have also added some more information about whole grains that you may have been wondering about.  If there is still something that you want to know about, please let us know!  We are more than happy to answer your questions.

So, here’s what you wanted to know:

What ARE whole grains? 

To put it simply, whole grains are the fruits of grasses.  They contain all the carbohydrates and protein needed for the plant to grow.  Humans, however, have harvested these grains for our own nutritional and health needs.  A whole grain contains all essential nutrients for the plant to grow.  In most cases, whole grains are made up of three different parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm, with each part containing different nutrients.  For example, the endosperm is primarily carbohydrates and the bran contains fats.  If you want the biggest nutritional punch, then your best option is whole grains.

What is the difference between sprouted grains and non-sprouted grains?

The main difference between sprouted and non-sprouted grains is that sprouted grains are allowed to germinate (i.e. start to grow a new plant). Grain kernels can do this because they are really the seeds of a plant. These sprouted grains are then dried and then flour can be milled from the whole grains. Products made with sprouted grains may have more nutrients in them (compared to non-whole grain products), but this may only be because they use the whole grain to make their products. No scientific research exists to suggest they are superior in any way.   

What’s the difference between whole grain and multigrain?

Whole grain products are different than multi-grain products because they will contain the whole grain: bran, endosperm, and germ. Multi-grain products don’t necessarily contain all parts of the grain, but rather the product contains several types of grains.  If you are interested in purchasing multi-grain products, look for items that indicate that they are also whole-grain. Multi-grain products are not always healthier, despite the label!

What’s the best kind of bread to buy? 

The answer to this question depends on a few different things.  For example, do you eat bread only for enjoyment?  Do you want some nutritional benefit from your bread?  Does texture affect your enjoyment of the bread?  Let me answer these all separately.  If you eat bread only for enjoyment, then the best would be a lovely crusty country-style bread with a soft interior.  It could be a sourdough or it could be a baguette.  These are excellent to enjoy with some cheese, jam, or simply by themselves.  Now, if you would like some nutritional benefit from your bread, then the grainier breads are definitely the way to go.  When looking at these breads, label reading is key.  If you want maximum nutrition, look at the ingredient list: this will tell you if the grains are whole, or if they have been previously milled to get a flour that has been baked into the bread.  One grain to watch out for will be flax.  While whole flax is definitely an excellent source of fibre, if it is ground before being incorporated into the bread, it is a potential source of omega 3s.  If texture affects your enjoyment, then I suggest exercising some caution while you are perusing the bread aisle.  Here, again, learning how to read labels will be a great help.  Having said all this, there is a middle ground.  You can have a great crusty sourdough that has seeds and grains in it.  It really depends what you look for in your bread.

Can you make risotto with barley?

Yes! Typically, a traditional Italian risotto is made with Arborio rice – which is a starchy, white, short grain rice. However, you can make a healthier risotto using barley!

Try this Barley Risotto with Bacon by Chef Michael Smith, this Mushroom Barley Risotto by Epicurious, or this Slow Cooker Squash and Barley Risotto by Chatelaine.

What else can you use puffed wheat for?

Let’s be honest – who doesn’t love a good puffed wheat cake?  It’s like the chocolate-y version of rice krispies!  However, the question still remains – what else can you do with it?  After a search through some of my reference cookbooks yielded little result, I did a quick search on Google and found that puffed wheat is a common, nutritious snack in India.  It can be gently roasted and mixed with various spices and enjoyed when hunger strikes.

What’s the difference between regular rice and par-boil rice?

Parboiled rice (white or brown) differs from regular rice in that it has been partially cooked by being steamed, then dried. This extra processing allows for quicker cooking time later on and increases the nutrient content of the rice

Parboiled rice is more nutritious than regular white rice because its outer layer (hull) has been left on during the steaming process. This allows nutrients from the hull to make their way into the rice kernel. When choosing a rice our favourites in order of most nutritious are: par-boiled brown rice, brown rice, par-boiled white rice, white rice.

What IS gluten?

There is a lot of buzz about gluten these days – not all of it good, but I believe that there are some who don’t know exactly what gluten is.  Without getting too technical, gluten is the protein present in wheat that provides baked goods with stretch, texture, and flavour.  In a baguette, gluten is responsible for the crust and the way it tears when you bite into it.  In a cookie, gluten, literally, causes the cookie to crumble the way it does.

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Grains: Nutrition Comparison

Grains Nutrition Comparison

Different grains and grain products have different nutritional values. Today we’re going to compare some common grains and grain products you might find in your pantry to help decode the differences.

The comparison table below contains several grains and grain products that are common to Canadian kitchens with some relative nutritional information to allow for comparison. This chart shows that some of these products can vary greatly depending on which nutritional aspect you’re looking at.

Flours

Whole wheat flour has more protein, fat, and fibre than white flour. This is because during the milling process much of the wheat kernel is removed creating a product that is more shelf stable and more beneficial for processing. However, this also causes white flour to have less nutrition.

Nutrients and Fibre

Grain products contain more nutrients if they’re whole grains – which means they contain the kernel and the germ, giving the product more fibre and fat soluble vitamins. When choosing grains at the store, select ones that are in their whole, or nearly whole state (i.e. barley or brown rice).

Whole Grain Nutrition

All data is from the Canadian Nutrient Data File; (*) May be contamination, be sure to check the label; (-)Information not available

A note on gluten: Wheat, rye, and barley naturally contain gluten. If you have celiac disease it is important to avoid these grains and products that contain them. Oats may have come in contact with gluten during their milling process so you may need to check labels to find a gluten free variety.

In summary, include a variety of grain and grain products in your diet and try to include more whole grains. Simple switches are a great way to start: try a whole wheat pizza crust or substitute brown rice or barley for white rice. Finally, experiment with new-to-you grains like barley or wild rice.

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What do you want to know about whole grains?

We hope that you have enjoyed our first few posts and learning a little more about whole grains. In addition to several new recipes, you can find information about whole grain storage, the types of wheat products you might find in the grocery store, what to do with barley, and what the difference is between instant and rolled oats in our archive. We hope that we have given you some inspiration and some new ideas to try out in the kitchen.

If there’s something you still want to learn about, or if you have any questions about what we have already shared, please let us know!  We are excited to share more with you, so please ask us anything that comes to mind.  We would love to give you even more information and recipes.

Do you have questions about whole grains? Leave your question below or ask us over social media:

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Almond Flax Granola

Almond Flax Granola

This easy to make Almond Flax Granola combines whole grain oats with flax to bring you a delicious granola that is family-friendly and full of fibre.

Almond Flax Granola

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Almond Flax Granola
A delicious, family-friendly granola packed with omega-3 fatty acids and fibre!
Course Baking
Servings
Ingredients
Course Baking
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. First, preheat the oven to 300F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a Silpat.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, and flax. Set aside.
  3. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, canola oil, vanilla extract, and salt.
  4. Add maple syrup mixture to dry ingredients and mix until coated.
  5. Spread mixture in a thin layer on the baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and stir every 10 minutes.
Recipe Notes

Store your granola in an air-tight container; a mason jar works well. It will keep for a few weeks at room temperature (if it lasts that long!).

PHEc Tip: Keep your milled flax seed in the freezer to lengthen it's shelf life.

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Whole Grains: Oats

Whole Grains Oats

Oats are a wonderful grain. They’re a Canadian crop, extremely versatile, and very nutritious. There are quite a few types of oats and oat products found in the grocery store, all with their own best uses. Here we will explain the differences between them and what you can use each type for.

Types

It’s important to remember the differences in oats have to do with how they are processed before they end up in their packaging in the store. Just like other grains, a whole oat has an endosperm, germ, bran, and outer hull. However, unlike other grains, processing doesn’t remove most these items but rather modifies the oat as a whole while removing the inedible hull.

Large Flake Oats

Large flake oats are made by taking the whole oat and rolling it flat. They take a little longer to cook than an ‘instant’ oat variety, but they contain more insoluble fibre (the rough stuff) and more beta-glucans which are an insoluble fibre that helps your GI tract maintain it’s beautiful flora! They are very versatile, can be used in many different recipes, and retain their shape during the cooking process.

Instant Oats

Instant oats have been rolled flat like the large flake oats, but then they’ve been beaten up by way of being chopped up. This ‘chopping’ causes them to soak up by water much quicker during cooking than their intact large flake friends which allows them to cook much quicker. They have a more flaky consistency than the large flake oats.

Instant oats can be used almost anywhere a large flake can be used but they aren’t providing as much of a fibrous punch because the oats are in smaller pieces.

Steel Cut Oats

Steel cut oats (or Irish oats) are made by taking the whole oat and chopping it up. This is different from the chopped up instant oats because the instant ones were rolled flat first, these ones are not. Steel cut oats take quite a bit longer to cook because they are still very enclosed in their outer fibrous layer, but they also pack a nice fibre punch.

Oats

Nutrition

I’ve mentioned before that oats contain a lot of fibre – two types to be precise! They contain the rough stuff, or soluble fibre as well as beta-glucans (just like barley), which is an insoluble fibre. There is also a health claim about oat fibre content in Canada where: “Oat fibre helps reduce/lower cholesterol.”

Oats do not contain gluten however the harvesting and processing of oats may lead to cross contamination. If you have celiac disease be sure to read labels carefully to find a brand of oats that is gluten free.

Uses

Large flake oats can be used in many dishes including bulking up burgers or meatloaf or in desserts like apple crisp. They add extra nutrition and texture compared to their ‘instant’ counterparts. We prefer large flake oats over instant oats when making oatmeal because they have a bit more of a bite to them than instant oats. However, instant oats are great for a bowl of oatmeal when you only have a few minutes.

Steel Cut oats can be made a head of time and served in the morning topped with your favourite nuts, seeds, and fruit. You can also freeze them into pucks in a large muffin tin for perfect individual portions.

Other oat products include: Oat bran (can replace wheat bran in a pinch) and oat flour.

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Cranberry Almond Granola Bars

This easy granola bar recipe lends itself well to many flavour combinations and variations.  Feel free to add any variety of nuts, seeds, and chocolate chips, along with any spices, that you like.

For example, instead of almonds and cranberries, try:

Pecan-Cranberry – add 1/3 cup chopped pecans and 1/3 cup dried cranberries to the dry ingredients, along with 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 tsp nutmeg.

Chocolate-Cranberry  add 1/3 cup dried cranberries to the dry ingredients; once they are coated with the sugar mixture, allow to cool slightly and add 1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips.

Chocolate-Almond – add 1/3 cup dried cranberries to the dry ingredients; once they are coated with the sugar mixture, allow to cool slightly and add 1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips.

NOTE: We tested the following recipe with both creamed honey and liquid honey.  The bars from the liquid honey did not stick together as nicely as the bars with creamed honey.

 

 

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Cranberry Almond Granola Bars
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
9x13 pan
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
9x13 pan
Instructions
  1. Line with parchment, or grease a 9x13 pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine oats, rice crispies, shredded coconut, sliced almonds, and dried cranberries.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir to combine and let it come to a boil. Once the whole pot is boiling, cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Pour butter mixture over dry ingredients. Mix until dry ingredients are well coated.
  5. Pour mixture into prepared pan and press firmly. Place pan in refrigerator for 20 minutes. Cut into desired sizes.
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