Celebrating a 2 year old milestone with Gluten-free Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes


I have a beautiful granddaughter named Aiobhann who just celebrated her second birthday. Aiobhann has some pretty severe allergies like eggs, dairy and gluten so finding treats for her party is not always that easy.

The good news is that we have an amazing gluten-free, vegan bakery in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood called Bunner’s Bake Shop. I have tried many of their baked treats over the past 2 years and I am so surprised at how delicious they are. They make a cinnamon bun that is the best I have tried anywhere. Imagine my delight when I was wandering around my local bookstore and found out that they had produced a cookbook filled with all of the wonderful Bunner’s treats that we love.

When it was time to choose a dessert for Aiobhann’s party I decided to be adventurous and to bake some cupcakes from the book.


I found reading the recipe a little daunting, at first. I ran around to some local health food stores to find the exact ingredients as I did not want to take any chances on having them turn out well. Fortunately, I was not the first person to ask for these ingredients and the sales people were very helpful.


The most important thing was that Aiobhann got to have some yummy treats that she could eat and share with the entire family. She is not the only one with food allergies but the cupcakes were a hit with everyone. They have a rich moist flavour and denser texture than a cake mix but I think it makes them taste better.

I made this batch with the Bunner’s Frosting recipe. If you are not concerned about them being vegan you could substitute cream cheese or traditional vanilla buttercream frosting. I do plan to try more recipes from this book and share them with my grandchildren. After all, isn’t that what Grandmothers are supposed to do?


Gluten-Free Vegan Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes 18 cupcakes


1 ½ cups Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo and fava flour
¾ cup potato starch
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp. arrowroot starch
1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tbsp. gluten-free baking powder
1 ½ tsp. sea salt
¾ tsp. xanthum gum
¼ tsp. baking soda
1 cup agave nectar
¾ cup rice milk
½ cup + 1 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce
½ cup canola oil
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 batch vanilla buttercream frosting (see recipe below)

(You will need 2 batches of frosting if you are piping it on in big swirls)




Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line 18 muffin cup with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, both starches, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, xanthum gum, and baking soda. Whisk to combine.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the agave nectar, milk, applesauce, oil, and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Using a spatula, thoroughly mix the batter, then let it sit for about 10 minutes to rise.

Pour the batter into each muffin liner and fill to 2/3 full. Bake for 20-24 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted to the centre comes out clean.

The cupcakes will be lightly golden on top.

Cool completely at room temperature before frosting with vanilla buttercream.

Cook’s note:

These cupcakes are best eaten the same day or the following day. If you are not concerned about the vegan icing, you can substitute for a vanilla buttercream or cream cheese frosting from your own recipe.

Recipe from Bunner’s Simple & Delicious Gluten-Free Vegan Treats by Ashley Wittig & Kevin Macallister


Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Makes 4 cups


½ cup Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (I stick) at room temperature
½ cup Earth Balance Shortening Sticks (1 stick), at room temperature
3½ cups organic powdered sugar, sifted
1 to 2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 to 5 tbsp. canned coconut milk or soy creamer


Using a stand mixer, cream together the butter and shortening until completely smooth and fluffy.

Slowly add the sugar, mixing well. Stir in the vanilla and then 3 tbsp. coconut milk, adding the milk as needed to achieve a nice, spreadable consistency.

Whip the frosting for several minutes, until fluffy. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator.

If refrigerated, bring to room temperature and give it a good stir with a frosting spatula or butter knife before spreading.

Cook’s note:

The frosting is very dense and a little tricky to spread but it tastes very much like regular buttercream without butter.

Recipe from Bunner’s Simple & Delicious Gluten-Free Vegan Treats by Ashley Wittig & Kevin Macallister


Crisp Lemon Snap Pea Salad


This has been an eventful week. My blog had its 10,000th visitor, and I launched my new photography website.

I also attended a wedding and sadly, a funeral.

The wedding made me remember that love comes along when you least expect it. My nephew and his wife met while traveling in New Zealand. He is from Canada and she is from Germany. They met by chance, fell in love and have been together ever since. They are one of those couples that you just know by looking at them, they are madly in love. I wish them both a lifetime of joy and happiness.

The funeral was for a man who died before his time. He was a great father, a wonderful coach, and a great husband.  He had an endless passion for living and helping others. While I watched hundreds of people pay their respects to this unique individual it made me wonder. What will people remember about me when my time comes?

We all need to put our lives in perspective, now and again.

Nobody is remembered for the long hours that they worked or the things they did not do. They are remembered for their contributions to the world and their relationships with their family and friends. I admit that I have been guilty of not balancing my life, in the past.

 “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”

Mark Twain

Now I am pursuing my passions with great enthusiasm. I am soaking up knowledge like a sponge and trying new things, every day. I love writing my blog. I have learned so much on this journey. I love my family and my friends, and the wonderful man in my life.

I have a passion that I have been feeding for years. Every time I pick up my camera and shoot a few shots of a special place, a person, a wonderful recipe or a beautiful flower, I feel alive. Whenever life gets me down I focus on photography and find my inspiration. I don’t know what I would do without having this creative outlet in my life.

Another one of my passions is cooking. I found this recipe for Crisp Lemon Snap Peas Salad and thought it would be perfect for this time of year when the sugar snap peas are in season. When they are fresh from the farm they taste sweet and crisp. The original recipe called for raw mushrooms but I decided to saute them to bring out their rich flavour.

Crisp Lemon Snap Pea Salad

Makes 6 servings


2 cups (500 ml) water
1 cup (250 ml) quinoa
2 cups (500 ml) fresh sweet snap peas cut in half, diagonally
1 ½ cups (375 ml) brown mushrooms sliced
1 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup (75 ml) thinly sliced red onion cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) lengths
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup (75 ml) white balsamic vinegar
¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
1 tsp. (5 ml) grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. (15 ml) lemon juice
1 tsp. (5 ml) pure maple syrup

Directions :

Combine water and quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool completely.

Add 1 tbsp. olive oil to a medium frying pan and heat over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, cook until lightly browned, stirring as needed. Set aside.

Combine the peas, mushrooms, red onion and the dill in a medium bowl. Whisk together the vinegar, remaining ¼ cup olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice and maple syrup. Pour over the cooled quinoa in the saucepan and stir until evenly dispersed. Add the vegetable mixture, toss and serve.

Recipe adapted from Quinoa Revolution by Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming

Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches and Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese


“Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.” -Tony Robbins

For a little more than a year I have been changing my life by adopting a healthier diet and exercising more. For years I barely exercised because of time commitments, work, children and any other excuse I could come up with. Then I started to see the negative results of my sedentary life; I was diagnosed with hypertension. With a family history of cardiac disease I decided that was my wake up call.

I started exercising regularly, eating less carbs and bad foods and exercising portion control. I took up cycling, skating, running, power walking and Zumba. I feel 10 years younger and I have more energy than I have had in years. I have a whole new wardrobe that is 2 sizes smaller and more stylish. My doctor tells me to keep up the good work and to wear a helmet when skating.

It has been an amazing year!

My concern is that this past month I have been slowly losing my focus. I can give you lots of excuses why this has happened like work commitments, school, computer problems, bad weather and just plain laziness. They all sound quite logical but the truth is I need to give myself a shake and get back on track.

From now on I plan to get out running more and have started power walking home again. My wonderful bicycle, Victoria, is going to get a workout while I push her along the trails in the hope of beating my own distance record from last season.

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it.” Lou Holtz 1937 – American football coach

As I get back on track I will be eating some healthy dinners like this Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches and Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese. I found the recipe on Eatingwell.com and changed it up by grilling the peaches and changing the dressing. The flavour of the peaches is enhanced by the grill and the honey adds a subtle sweetness to the dressing that works very well with the goat cheese.

My friends say it is the best tasting salad that I have ever made.

Arugula Salad with Grilled Peaches and Pecan Crusted Goat Cheese

Makes 4 servings


1/4 cup finely chopped toasted pecans
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 4-oz. log goat cheese
6 cups baby arugula
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. white balsamic vinegar
4 firm peaches, halved and pitted
3 tbsp. honey


Place pecans in a frying pan and toast slowly over med-low heat. Chop finely.

Spread out chopped pecans on a cutting board. Season with 1/4 tsp. salt and pepper. Roll goat cheese log in the pecans to coat. Refrigerate the log until firm, if necessary, then cut into ¼ inch slices.

Grill peach halves until slightly soft, about 1-2 minutes per side.

Place arugula in a medium bowl. Whisk oil, vinegar and 1 tbsp. honey in a small bowl. Add to the arugula and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper.

Serve arugula in individual salad plates. Top with grilled peaches and goat cheese rounds and drizzle each salad with 1 tsp. honey.

Recipe adapted from one on EatingWell.com

Berry, Cucumber and Quinoa Salad with White Balsamic Vinegar for a Gluten-free Life

Do you know anyone in your life that has a gluten allergy or has been diagnosed as a celiac?

I have more than a few relatives and friends who have had to change their diets due to one of these conditions. At first the idea of changing their eating habits was daunting but with a little research and the help of a few specialty stores they were able to get started. What I have noticed is the growing variety of Gluten-free and even Vegan Gluten-free products that have been showing up, even in the mainstream grocery stores.

A few weeks ago we went to a pop up market called Gluten-free Garage that was held at the Artscape Wychwood Barns in Toronto. Dozens of food suppliers, bakeries and caterers were on hand allowing visitors to taste their products and ask about ingredients. We had attended the event in the hopes of finding a bakery that could offer gluten-free, dairy free and egg free cupcakes for my granddaughter’s first birthday party. Surprisingly, there were a few excellent choices that offered tasty solutions.


While wandering the fair I spent some time chatting up a few of the vendors to get a sense of what each vendor had to offer this niche market. I came across two vendors who were offering classes in gluten-free cooking. Since I am so interested in new styles of cooking I immediately gravitated to their booths for tastings.

Arvinda’s offered us a lentil curry dish that was truly remarkable. They are suppliers of Indian spices through retail and online sales. Chefs Arvinda Chauhan and her daughter Preena teach classes in home-style, healthy and traditional Indian cooking at Nella Cucina in Toronto. I see an Indian cooking class in my future.



Pimenton offers cooking classes and catering for gluten-free events. Chef Jose Arato was serving up some Paella Vegetariana for those who like a little Spanish in their lives. Chef Jose was telling me that it was his birthday and he was having a great time meeting people at the market.



Other vendors who we spoke to were suppliers of ready-made gluten-free dinners for those who were looking for quick meal options. We particularly enjoyed the gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free Gnocchi from Antipastos Kitchens.



I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the event even though I am not on a gluten-free diet. I found out more about these diet restrictions and what is available to accommodate those whose health is affected by them.

I have learned over the past few years to make a few gluten-free dinners that are not only tasty, but healthy options for everyone. This Berry, Cucumber and Quinoa Salad with White Balsamic Vinegar is one of my favourites from Quinoa Revolution. Like many of you, I have added Quinoa to my diet for its health benefits but also because I like how it tastes in salads and baking. This recipe has a great blend of fruit and cucumbers with the Quinoa that tastes fresh and light.


Berry Cucumber Salad with White Balsamic Vinegar

Makes 6 servings


2 cups (500 ml) water

1 cup (250 ml) quinoa

¼ cup (60 ml) white balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. (15 ml) pure maple syrup

1 tbsp. (15 ml) extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup (250 ml) fresh blueberries

1 cup (250 ml) fresh strawberries, quartered

1 cup (250 ml) diced English cucumber

½ cup (60 ml) thinly sliced red onion

¼ cup (60 ml) sliced blanched almonds


Combine the water and the quinoa in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil;. Reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Transfer to a salad bowl and cool completely.

Whisk together the vinegar, maple syrup and olive oil; stir into the quinoa. Gently toss in the blueberries, strawberries, cucumber and red onion. Sprinkle with almonds just before serving.

Recipe from Quinoa Revolution by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming


A Little Taste of Paris and Warm Apple Quinoa Crepes

Elora Mill

Elora reflections

A few weeks ago we were in an area north of Toronto for a family wedding. On the way home that Sunday we decided that since we were already in the area, why not go exploring some of the places that we never get to see. One place that came to mind was Elora, Ontario.

Elora is a historic village  1 1/2 hours north-west of Toronto that is nestled along the Grand River. It is well-known for the Elora Gorge Park and Quarrie, The Elora Festival and The Elora Mill Country Inn and Restaurant.  The village has become home to numerous artisans and performers and is a favourite spot for a weekend getaway.

The Elora Mill, at the head of the Elora Gorge, was constructed in 1833. It is considered one of Ontario’s finest historic mills and was made famous in the 1930s by a painting by Canadian Group of Seven artist A.J. Casson. When the mill ceased operating in 1974 it was turned into a lovely country inn and fine dining establishment.

Our original intent was to have lunch at the Inn while looking out over the river, but unfortunately it was closed for renovations. Still hungry, we started to wander along the shops that back onto the Grand River on Mills St. and came upon a quaint little spot called Cafe Creperie.

After choosing a cozy window seat we were greeted by a charming French gentleman who inquired as to whether we had tried their crepes before. We said that we had not and he just smiled and told us we were in for treat. As we waited I glanced around the room at the warm, rustic decor and small intimate tables. There was a collection of photographic portraits on the walls that showcased Elora’s talented artistic community.

The menu offered a variety of sweet and savoury crepes with wonderful fillings like goat cheese, feta, sun-dried tomatoes, chicken, etc. I ended up choosing the Provencal and my friend ordered the Tuscan crepe. Minutes later we were served the most delightful lunch. Let me start by saying I am a crepe lover from way back and I have tasted crepes in Canada and France many times. The crepes that we had this day were the best I have ever had!

The batter was exactly the right consistency and each crepe was topped with a sprinkle of fleur de sel and freshly ground black pepper. It was light and flavourful and so very French. It was a little taste of Paris in Elora, Ontario.

As it turns out; our charming server was actually the chef, Jacques Dion. His warm demeanor, delightful smile and culinary prowess are a treasure to find in this little village. The restaurant often hosts artists works and musical events and contributes regularly to other village events. It is worth the drive next time you are in the area.

Crepe chef Elora


Although I was not able to get the recipe from Jacques for his wonderful crepes, I was able to find this one from one of my favourite cookbooks. These Quinoa Crepes with Warm Apples are a healthy option served with a dollop of vanilla yogurt and are vegetarian and gluten-free.


Warm Apple Quinoa Crepes

Apple Topping

Makes 6 crepes


2 tbsp. (30 ml) non hydrogenated margarine

4 apples, peeled and thinly sliced

½ cup (125 ml) brown sugar, packed

½ tsp. (2 ml) ground cinnamon

¼ tsp. (1 ml) ground nutmeg

1 ½ cups (125 ml) low-fat vanilla yogurt

Fresh mint leaves for garnish


Prepare Quinoa Crepes (see recipe below).

Add the margarine to a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the apples and sauté for 2-3 minutes until they are translucent.

Add the brown sugar, stirring to coat the fruit, and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until the mixture starts to bubble.

Add the spices and continue to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the apple slices are tender but not mushy. (Recipe can be made in advance to this point. Cool, refrigerate and then reheat before serving.)

To serve, fold the crepes in quarters and place on a plate. Add a few tablespoons of the apple mixture and a dollop of yogurt on each. Sprinkle with cinnamon and add a sprig of mint to each plate.


Basic Quinoa Crepes

Makes 6 crepes


¾ cup (185 ml) quinoa flour

3 large eggs

¼ cup (60 ml) canola oil

1 cup (250 ml) organic vanilla soy beverage


In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process the flour, eggs, oil and soy beverage for 10-15 seconds, until smooth and lump free. Refrigerate batter for at least 30 minutes before cooking.

Lightly grease a small 7-8 inch crepe pan with canola oil. Spoon 3 tbsp. of the batter into the pan and rotate the pan around so that there is an even coating on the bottom of the pan.

Turn the crepe after 30 seconds. Crepe will be lightly browned and will be flexible for folding.

Place cooled crepes on a plate lined with parchment pepper to cool. They can either be used in crepe recipes or frozen for later use. Freeze in small amounts, placing a small piece of parchment paper between the crepes and wrapping them in clear plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 1 month.


Recipe from The Vegetarian’s Complete Quinoa Cookbook edited by Marilyn Smith, PHEc from the Ontario Home Economics Association.



Pistachio Macarons and Memories of Paris

It has been almost a year since my last trip to Paris. I remember clearly how much fun we had discovering her beautiful neighbourhoods, her arts and culture and her history. I also recall how we enjoyed discovering new and interesting places to eat and culinary delights to savour. Paris holds a special place in my heart as a great walking city and a great people city.

One of my fondest memories of Paris was the abundance of Macarons. Beautiful patiserries like Ladurée, Jean-Paul Hévin, and la Maison du Chocolat dot the neighbourhood streets offering row upon row of these lovely colourful sweets. We tried many different varieties from many different shops. These little gems are not only light and delicious, but they are also gluten-free. I was travelling with a friend who is a celiac and macarons were as much a treat for her as they were for me.

In memory of our trip I am featuring a recipe for pistachio macarons. The subtle nutty flavour in the rich butter cream nestled between two pillows of meringue makes this flavour one of the nicest.

Pistachio Macarons

Makes about 15 macarons


For the Shells:

2 large eggs
½ cup ground almonds
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 ½ tbsp. superfine sugar
Green food colouring

For the Pistachio Ganache:

Scant ½ cup whipping cream
½ pistachio paste
1 tbsp. vanilla sugar
2 eggs yolks
1 1/2 tbsp. softened butter


Prepare ahead:

Separate the eggs and set the whites aside in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Bring to room temperature before making the macaron shells the following day. Reserve the yolks to use in the ganache.

To make the pistachio ganache:

Gently beat the whipping cream in a saucepan and dissolve the pistachio paste in it. Add ½ tbsp. vanilla sugar and bring to a boil. In a mixing bowl, blend together the egg yolks and the other ½ tbsp. vanilla sugar and add to the cream-pistachio mixture. Heat to 200 degrees F, using a candy thermometer to check the temperature. Let cool, then add the softened butter, mix in well, and chill in the refrigerator.

To make the shells:

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.

Finely grind the ground almonds and confectioners’ sugar in a blender. Strain the mixture over a baking sheet and cook for 5-7 minutes. Let cool.

In a mixing bowl, beat the egg whites into snowy peaks using an electric hand mixer. When they start to stiffen, gradually add the superfine sugar, beating constantly. Add a few drops of green food colouring and combine until evenly dispersed. Strain the almond mixture over the egg whites and fold in using a silicone spatula.

Fill a pastry bag with this mixture and pipe out 30 x 1 ½ inch uniform circles onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Let stand for at least 1 hour in a dry place until a crust forms on the surface, then cook for 10-12 minutes. Let the shells cool, then pour a trickle of water between the parchment and the baking sheet and remove the shells using a small frosting spatula.

To assemble the macarons:

Spread the pistachio cream over half of the shells, then top them with the remaining shells. Chill for 1 hour before serving.

Recipe from Macarons by Berengere Abraham

Bocconcini, Quinoa and Oregano Salad for a healthy life

“When your life flashes before your eyes, make sure you’ve got plenty to watch.” Anonymous

Spring is about new awakenings. Trees and flowers wake up from a long winter’s rest to bloom and grow, filling the landscape with rich hues and fragrant aromas. Animals and birds begin to show themselves to the world after a period of hiding or a long migration north. People who have spent their winter indoors are now outside enjoying the warm weather. They have turned off their TV sets and have taken their exercise routines out of the gym and onto the playing fields and streets.

Each day of this spring has been an awakening for me. My new healthy lifestyle has contributed to a fresh outlook and renewed confidence, but it is more than that. I realize that I have been holding back from making things happen out of fear of failing. I have started to look at my life differently and feel more confident that I can shape my future to what I want it to be.

I understand that if I can see my goals, I can reach them. Instead of just saying what I want to do with the rest of my life, I am going to stop talking; I am going to put my words into action. My close friend, coach and mentor tells me that a plan for a successful, meaningful life is:

”Say It, Mean It, Do It”.

I plan to use this motto to guide me.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to sound like a motivational speaker and I don’t expect the road to my goals to be smooth or easy. It is bound to be full of bumps, falls and possible road blocks. I have already fallen off of the bike once and will likely fall again before I am good at this. I also understand that you cannot be successful without first getting uncomfortable. That is why I have been pushing myself out of my comfort zone in all aspects of my life, be it physical, emotional, creative or mental. I will report back on my progress when I have been on this journey a little longer and can provide evidence of the positive change that I am beginning to experience.

“Action is the foundational key to all success.” Pablo Picasso

This Bocconcini, Quinoa and Oregano Salad is a good source of protein and vitamins. It makes a nice main course for lunch or dinner or a tasty side dish with grilled fish or meat.  I am really enjoying the Quinoa 365 cookbook for its versatile and inspiring recipes.

Bocconcini, Quinoa  and Oregano Salad


¾ cup quinoa
1½ cups water
1 cup diced zucchini
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
½ cup diced red onion
½ frozen baby green peas, thawed
1 cup diced red bell pepper
½ cup diced yellow bell pepper
3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 tsp. fresh garlic, minced
Pinch salt
Pinch ground black pepper
1 cup mini bocconcini cheese pieces, halved


Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 4 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork. Set aside to completely cool.

Combine the zucchini, tomatoes, onion, peas and red and yellow pepper in a large bowl.

Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and thoroughly mix all the ingredients. Add the quinoa and boccocini and mix until evenly combined. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Recipe from Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming

Figs with Young Pecorino and Honey

My life seems to be going through a huge transition at the moment. I have been taking stock of what is important to me and have started a whole new routine of exercise and health eating. I am feeling wonderful and strong and content with the direction that my health is going.

A few months ago I was put on medication for high blood pressure. For the doctor to tell me this was a huge wake up call. I come from a family with a long history of heart disease. I have known all of my life that I needed to take care of my health but I always thought any symptoms would show up much later in life. Now I am faced with the reality that I needed to change my lifestyle.

Part of the new regime is a renewed interest in cycling. I have finally found my self the perfect bike at a used bike shop. I took her out on her inaugural ride on Victoria Day so my bike is now known as Victoria. She is a lovely blue Norco hybrid that came with only the basics, but rides like a dream.

I scoped out some important accessories for Victoria last weekend by picking up some lights for night riding and pannier bag and a lock. I also bought some sporty bike gloves for me to wear as I navigate the city trails in style. I rode 47km in total last weekend and plan to get in regular trips all summer.

I also own a blue car that I named after Grace Kelly because it is a classic, elegant sports car painted in a rich Monaco blue. I have not driven Grace much over the past few months but plan to find a bike rack for her so Grace and Victoria and I can go on adventures together. Perhaps a cycling day in Niagara wine country or exploring Prince Edward County is in order.

My healthy eating regime is often supplemented by a protein shake which I am advised will help rebuild muscles. I continue to try new recipes that are healthy and easy to make. I purchased two cookbooks by Yotam Ottelenghi called Plenty and Ottelenghi The Cookbook. Both of these gorgeous books feature recipes from this famous London-based restaurant that are both a delight to the eye as well as the palate. I plan to try out more of the recipes in the coming months.

Figs with Young Pecorino and Honey

Makes 4 servings as a starter


2 tbsp. good quality honey
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
8 ripe green or black figs
10 oz. young pecorino cheese or similar cheese
½ cup fresh arugula
¼ cup fresh basil leaves
Coarse sea salt and black pepper


Whisk together the honey and olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cut the figs into quarters. Use your hands to tear the cheese into large chunks.

Arrange the arugula, basil, figs and pecorino in layers on serving plates or a large platter. Drizzle over the honey dressing as you go along, and finish with some freshly ground black pepper.

Recipe modified from Ottolenghi The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi

Chocolate Quinoa Crepes with Bananas (Gluten-Free Goodness)

What a great weekend! As I continue on this journey of getting fit, I have decided to take up cycling again. I went out with a friend last evening and cycled along the Toronto Beaches bike trails. Just as we were riding back home the super moon was hanging over the lake reflecting rich, golden hues into the water. What an outstanding night!

I plan to continue with this fitness program all summer and will report back periodically on how well things are going. So far I am feeling more alive and happy than I have in years.

I will also try to add more recipes for healthy eating as I go.

I was skeptical when I tried this recipe for chocolate quinoa crepes. I am a crepe lover from way back. When in Paris, I love to order Crepes Chantilly as a treat and I love savoury crepes for dinner. So here I am making crepes with quinoa flour. This is a very different style of cooking for me. Well, the truth is, it was the chocolate that got my attention.

I have to admit that they turned out so well my daughters ate them up in mere minutes. The great thing is that my celiac friends can also enjoy this great gluten-free dessert with bananas or another fruit. They are a real treat for anyone who loves crepes.


Chocolate Quinoa Crepes with Bananas


1/3 cup quinoa flour
2 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp. white sugar
3 large eggs
1 tbsp. salted butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
2/3 cup plain yogurt
2 tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
4 bananas, sliced
whipped cream
chocolate shavings


Combine the quinoa flour, cocoa and white sugar in a medium bowl, mixing well. Whisk in the eggs, then the melted butter, mixing gently. Slowly add the milk, blending until smooth.

Lightly grease or spray a small frying pan with cooking oil and place over medium heat. When the pan is hot, pour about 3 tbsp. of the crepe batter into the pan spreading evenly to coat. Fry until the edges begin to turn golden brown and flip, cooking about 30 seconds per side. Set aside on a plate. Repeat until all of the crepes are done (you will have about 6-8 crepes).

In a separate bowl, combine yogurt, brown sugar and vanilla to make the filling. Spread about 3 tbsp. of the filling onto each crepe. Add some sliced bananas. Wrap the crepe gently by folding in each side. Garnish with additional slices of banana, a tablespoon of whipped cream and some chocolate shavings.

Serve immediately.

Recipe from Quinoa 365 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming