Wow Protein Balls (school safe)

Once again I am experimenting with protein balls. Have you heard of Wowbutter? It’s a Canadian made substitute for peanut butter using soy beans. When my kidlet was young I tried to sub it in for a PBJ that could goto school. But she always knew something was different – texture I think and so I abandoned Wow. But years later, knee deep in protein ball recipes I thought to give it a try. And you know what? It is awesome in these double chocolate power balls.

Serving: Makes 16 ping pong sized balls with 6 grams of protein in two balls.


1/2 cup creamy Wowbutter

1 cup oats

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup honey

3 TB chocolate protein powder

1/2 tsp vanilla

pinch of salt

3 TB chocolate chips (optional)


In a medium bowl mix Wowbutter, honey and vanilla and stir till well mixed.

In a small bowl toss oats with cocoa and protein powder and salt. Add to wet mixture and stir till well combined. Add chocolate chips if desired.

Form and roll into ping pong sized balls.

I like to keep them in the refrigerator to keep firm. I haven’t frozen them (they don’t last that long 🙂) but I can’t see why they wouldn’t be fine.

School Friendly Tahini Protein Balls

Tahini protein balls

My teenager decided to go vegetarian about six months ago. Since then I have tried finding creative ways to make sure she gets enough protein in a day. And to her credit she’s been game to try things far outside what was previously her comfort zone.

As the school year approaches – with lots of Covid uncertainty – I am putting my focus into quiet tasks to quell my anxiety. Figuring out what to pack in her school lunch is a good place to start.

Obviously nut proteins are out but these energy/protein balls have Tahini (ground sesame seeds) as their base. Tahini is mild tasting, packed with protein and is great with honey. These little guys are super easy to make. They taste like chocolate chip cookie dough and have 3 grams of protein in every ping pong sized ball and most importantly, she loves them. Right now, I will celebrate these small victories.


  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup oats
  • 2 TB – 1/2 cup vanilla protein powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 TB chocolate chips
  • Optional additions: chia seeds, hemp hearts or if you don’t want to use protein powder you could substitute 2 TB coconut flour.


In a medium bowl mix together tahini, vanilla, honey, salt and protein powder and mix until smooth.

Add oats and chocolate chips (and seeds if desired). Stir till well combined and mixture holds together in a ball.

Roll into balls and store in the fridge. Enjoy! Makes about 20 balls.

** Tahini is like natural nut butters in that it separates into oil and solids. Make sure to mix the tahini till the oil is well distributed before using in the recipe.

Pumpernickel Bread

Who doesn’t have a memory of standing around a potluck table never straying far from the dark brown pumpernickel loaf that some brilliant hungry person decided would be best hollowed out and filled with a creamy artery-clogging dip? That was my introduction to this dark, rich slightly tangy loaf and I loved it. I tinkered with a number of recipes before calling this my own. You will find a wide range of techniques, ingredient ratios and rise times. I admit, I didn’t want to wait the three days that one recipe called for.

This uses quick yeast – instant yeast which means it can be added to dry ingredients. I wanted a rich earthy flavour and so in came the cocoa, molasses and espresso powder. My 13 yr old wrinkled up her nose when she heard the combo but that didn’t stop her from inhaling a slice when it was baked.

I haven’t been a bread maker all my life, this is relatively new for me. So I have been adding recipes to my repertoire that don’t stray too far from the techniques that I know. Maybe that makes me a scaredy cat, maybe it means I don’t have too many disasters. Either way, this bread is a winner.

pumpernnickel bread


3 1/4 cups bread flour – divided

2 cups dark rye flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa

1 TB espresso powder

1 TB salt

2 1/2 tsp quick or instant yeast

1/4 cup molasses

2 TB maple syrup

3 TB vegetable oil

2 cups very warm milk

1/2 cup seeds (optional) flax, wheat germ, sesame, buckwheat, etc

cornmeal for dusting


  1. In bowl of stand mixer, whisk dry ingredients – 2 1/2 cup bread flour, rye flour, cocoa, espresso powder, salt and yeast (and seeds if using). Add molasses and maple syrup, oil and warm milk. Attach to mixer and mix with paddle attachment on low speed until well combined. It will be a sticky dough.
  2. Detach from mixing stand and stir in enough of the remaining flour so it is slightly sticky but knead-able. Turn out onto floured board and knead for 5-7 minutes, adding bread flour as needed, until dough is elastic and pillowy.
  3. Let rise in a covered greased bowl for about 50 minutes or until doubled in size.
  4. Cover a cookie sheet with 2 half-sized pieces of parchment and a dusting of cornmeal. (You are using two pieces of parchment to let you move them around before baking so they don’t end up attached to each other.)
  5. Punch down dough and cut in half. Form each into a ball and place on one of two pieces of parchment on opposite ends of cookie sheet . Cover and let rise for 45 minutes or until doubled.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 35 minutes. Let cool as long as you possibly can before devouring.

Gingerbread Muffins

Even though the calendar says we’re in Spring the weather has not been so sure. On our patch of paradise we had high winds, snow, hail and rain *yesterday*. So, needless to say we not only socially isolated on our property- we didn’t even go outside. I wanted comfort food. Sometimes that means mac ‘n cheese but other times it is the sweet spicy goodness of gingerbread. These muffins have the tang of molasses, enough spice to make your house smell amazing and yield a tender, moist muffin (great on their own but a little butter when they are fresh from the oven isn’t a bad idea either).

Yield: 18 medium sized muffins

Gingerbread Muffins
with crystallized ginger


3 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp each, cinnamon and ginger

1/4 each, clove and all-spice

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

3/4 cup molasses

1 cup hot water

1/3 crystallized ginger, chopped into small pieces


1. In a medium bowl, sift flour with baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar.

3. Blend in molasses and eggs

4. Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients until well mixed.

5. Slowly add the hot water, stirring well until it is a smooth light batter.

6. Add crystallized ginger and mix well.

7. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

8. Bake at 375°F for 20 minutes.

Chai Shortbread

Like many other bakers during home quarantine I have been trying recipes I have stuck in a binder or saved on Pinterest in my “to try” folder. This was one of them. These cookies aren’t overly sweet and are beautifully fragrant and spicy, using chai tea for flavour. The house smelled wonderful while they were cooking and they taste even better!

Chai Shortbread


1 cup butter

1/3 cup icing sugar

1/3 cup white sugar

2 1/4 cups all-purpose white flour

2 TB loose chai tea (I combined the contents of 3 bags of Bold Chai and 3 bags Bengal Spice – 6 teabags = 2TB)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp salt


1. With hand beaters or a food processor mix butter and sugars until creamy.

2. Scrape down sides of bowl and add flour, tea, vanilla and salt – mix and scrape again. It will be a crumbly dough.

3. Form into 1 1/2 diameter rolls/logs, wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.

4. Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

5. Unwrap dough and with a sharp knife cut 1/4-inch (no less) slices of the dough and place 1 inch apart on cookie sheet. Transfer to oven and bake until cookies are just beginning to brown on the edges, about 18 minutes.

6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Makes approx 3 dozen cookies

*recipe adapted from book Cookies by Sally Sampson*

Chocolate Beetroot and Chile Cake

I just got home from Mexico and while I was there I was fed the most amazing locally sourced authentic cuisine. This recipe is from the kitchen of my host Janet with some tweaks of my own. I love that this cake is not overly sweet, is moist and fat free. If does take a number of steps (and bowls!) but the result is worth it. I added the thin layer of chocolate ganache for a little spicy sweetness on top.

Chile spiced chocolate beetroot cake


1/2 cup pureed cooked apples/applesauce

1 1/2 cups cooked and peeled beets

6 oz semi sweet chocolate

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup almond flour / finely ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

4 TB cocoa powder

1 TB ancho or pasilla chile powder

4 TB hot espresso

5 large eggs, separated

3/4 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour an 8 inch cake tin. Line the bottom with parchment if desired.

Blend the beetroot in a food processor to a rough puree.

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler then pour in the hot coffee and stir to blend. Stir in applesauce, remove from heat and let cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl.

Sift or whisk together flour, ground almonds, baking powder, cocoa and chile powder. Set aside.

Separate the eggs. In one bowl, beat eggs whites until stiff and then fold in the sugar. In another bowl beat the yolks until frothy and then stir into the chocolate mixture. Fold in the beet puree.

Fold in the eggwhite/sugar mixture into the chocolate mixture and then fold in the flour/cocoa.

Pour the batter into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool on the pan then turn put onto a rack. If desired pour a thin layer of ganache over the cooled cake and let sit till firm.


3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup whipping cream

1/2 tsp ancho chile powder

1/4 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients except cream in a small heat proof bowl.

Heat whipping cream till hot but not boiling. Pour over chocolate and let sit for 3 minutes before stirring until smooth. Pour over cooked cake. If desired, sprinkle on a small amount of sea salt once ganache is set.

Best Bran Muffins

I have a confession to make. Although I have always loved bran muffins I secretly thought of them as *old people muffins *. I think it was they often are in the good for you category. I mean, they are high fibre, low fat, good protein muffins.

Well…after a while I realized a) I now am old enough to eat *old people muffins* b) they aren’t actually old people muffins and c) good for you can taste awesome.

I’ve added hemp hearts to this recipe, mostly to give a great boost of protein in an already stellar muffin.

In our house there is a great divide. Do you add raisins or chocolate chips? We compromise and half the recipe with each. My 12 year old loves these in the morning or thrown on her lunch for school.

This makes around 18 medium sized muffins, filling the tin 2/3.

Give them a shot. They are super tasty, healthy and meant for all ages.


1 1/2 cups wheat bran

1 cup buttermilk

1 egg

1/2 tsp vanilla

2/3 cup brown sugar

1 individual unsweetened applesauce cup – (about 1/3 of a cup)

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup hemp hearts

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup raisins or chocolate chips – optional


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare 18 muffin cups with silicone or parchment liners.
  2. Combine wheat bran and buttermilk in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl mix applesauce, egg, vanilla and brown sugar.
  4. Add bran and buttermilk mixture and mix until well combined.
  5. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and hemp hearts. Stir to combine.
  6. Stir in raisins or chocolate chips if desired.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for 16-18 minutes or until centre is set and bounces back when you gently press it.
  8. Let cool on rack or eat warm.


Nut Free GF Chocolaty Breakfast Bars

protein bars

Let me start by saying my motivation for making these was not to create the ultimate power bar for marathon runners (although one might argue that school is indeed a marathon).  No, I am still trying out recipes for our school breakfast program – trying to find balance of yummy enough for the discerning 6 year old and at the same time offering some solid nutritional value.  These tick both boxes.  I haven’t yet tried them on a 6 yr old but my 12 year old just got off the bus and scarfed two on her way up to her room. She smiled and nodded while she chewed.  Yay!

A word about pumpkin seed butter.  If you’ve never tried it let me describe it to you…. it’s green, very green – and my brand at least – tastes toasted. Not bitter but definitely toasted.  It is also pricey but can definitely make your own.  My main motivation for using it is that it packs huge protein into each bite.  It has 10 grams of protein in just two tablespoons (that’s more than peanut or almond butter) and is a great source of vitamins and minerals. I also added hemp hearts – amazing source of protein. I added 1/4 cup and that boosted this recipe by a whopping 15 grams of protein! The cocoa makes this bar a more enticing chocolaty brown instead of green and its just enough maple syrup to satisfy sweet tooth students.

Even after refrigeration they are on the soft chewy side of things. I’d keep them in the fridge and cut them into manageable pieces.  Mine are about the size of a small granola bar and they hold together just fine. For breakfast club little people I might form these into balls so there is less chance of them breaking in half mid way in.


  • 2 cups brown rice crispy cereal
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seed butter
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Handful of chocolate chips (optional)



  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir pumpkin seed butter, maple syrup and vanilla until combined.
  2. In a medium bowl toss rice crispies, cocoa powder and hemp hearts and then add to wet mix and stir well until all rice crispies are coated.
  3. Line a baking sheet or plate with parchment paper and pour mixture onto the paper.
  4. Cover with another sheet of parchment and press down firmly to create a giant rectangle.
  5. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to harden.
  6. If you are shaping them into balls I think the mixture might be a little sticky at first.  You could let it firm up in the fridge for 15 minutes and then shape into balls.
  7. Once the mixture has hardened, remove from fridge and slice into small bars.
  8. Store in refrigerator.

Double Chocolate Ricotta Muffins


Since first volunteering for my daughter’s school breakfast club I have made many items to try and appeal to small people who don’t particularly like trying new things.  Last year, despite it’s unusual choice as a breakfast item, I made meatballs every Thursday.  And with that meaty joy came the label Meatball Lady.  Well, as much as I *loved* that, the menu has changed this year and I’m making smoothies and possibly these little muffins.  These chocolaty bites of goodness have more protein with the addition of ricotta.  They are moist and dense and go down easy.  Maybe this year I’ll be Muffin Lady.  I think that’s an upgrade!




2 large eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup smooth ricotta cheese (whole or part skim)

1 cup granulated sugar – I used cane but you can sub white sugar.

1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

4 TB butter, melted and cooled to room temp

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted

1 1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp kosher salt

3/4 cup chocolate chips




  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 12 large muffin cups or 48 mini muffin cups with paper or silicone liners.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk eggs. Add the ricotta cheese and whisk to combine.  Whisk in the sugar, milk, vanilla and melted butter.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  4. Add the ricotta mixture to the flour mixture.  Stir until just combined. Do not over mix or the muffins will be tough.
  5. Divide the batter into the muffin cups till 3/4 full.
  6. Bake for 18-20 mins for a regular sized muffin or 11-12 minutes for a mini muffin.  They will spring back when pressed lightly on the top.
  7. Remove from oven and put on rack to cool.
  8. Can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  They can also be frozen.

Gluten Free / Dairy Free / Vegan Strawberry Rhubarb Crisp

I was at a friends house recently and because of her son’s allergies she has come up with fabulous dessert recipes by swapping out ingredients. She served this crisp after dinner on Thursday. Today is Sunday and I’ve already made it for my family. It’s that good.

There is something about the combination of strawberries and rhubarb that *screams* summer and in using coconut oil in the topping, this dish has a flavour unlike any crisp I’ve had. Obviously if you don’t need it to be GF or DF you can make other choices but for flavour alone I’d leave it as it is. Enjoy!!


2 cups rhubarb*, cut into bite sized pieces

2 cups strawberries*, cut into bite sized pieces

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 TB cornstarch

Pinch of salt


3/4 cup oat flour (if you don’t have some you can make your own by grinding oats in a food processor or coffee grinder)

1 1/4 cup oats

2/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

1/4 tsp salt

** The fruit measurement is approximate. I used 4 stalks of rhubarb and a container of strawberries and it was fantastic.


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Grease 8×8 baking dish or deep pie plate and set aside.
  3. In a large bowl combine granulated sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add chopped fruit and stir to combine. Let sit for 10 mins while you put the rest together.
  4. In another large bowl stir together oat flour, oats, brown sugar, coconut oil and salt.
  5. Spoon fruit into baking dish and cover evenly with topping.
  6. Bake for 40 minutes or until topping is firm and fruit is bubbling. Let sit for 15 mins before serving.

Like I said above, this is great as is. But if allergies arent an issue, you can swap out the oat flour for all-purpose flour and the coconut oil for melted butter but honestly, I wouldnt. If you have the ingredients, try the original version first.

If you are serving this to someone who needs it gluten free make sure your oats are certified gluten free.