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carrot muffins made with spelt and coconut flour (vegan)

I have been testing muffin recipes this week and my in-house taster Gordy has very busy eating them.

My plan: To come up with a healthy muffin recipe using coconut flour, coconut sugar and coconut oil.

The method: Having never baked with coconut flour, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The first few batches I baked used just the coconut flour, I found the muffins too dense and heavy. I wanted a muffin with texture, so I added spelt flour, nuts for crunch and currents for sweetness.

What the experts are saying:  Marla: ‘I think this is a really good muffin, moist and not too sweet. You could add a handful of chocolate chips or some shredded coconut to the mix.’ My taste tester is happy and I am he has no idea that this is a certified healthy muffin he is snacking on. He said ‘the muffins are delicious’ and asked me ‘what are we testing next week’‘cauliflower pizza crust,’ I answered.

Coconut flour is high in fiber and protein and is gluten-free.  Since coconut flour contains natural sugar from the coconut meat, the good news is baked goods need less added sugar.


This recipe makes 8 large muffins or 12 small muffins.


Dry ingredients:

  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flour
  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
  •  1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup currants or raisins
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped (or any other nut you like)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut for garnish and a handful of nuts for garnish, (optional)

Wet ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seeds or chia seeds
  • 2/3 cup almond milk
  • 1 cup shredded carrots, (packed)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, (melted)


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl.
  3. Mix wet ingredients together in a medium sized bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients , mixing until combined.
  5. Spoon into lined muffin tin.
  6. Sprinkle with unsweetened coconut and some chopped nuts, (optional)
  7. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

This is the brand of coconut flour I used:


Romanian eggplant salad (Salata de vinete)

This is a traditional family Romanian recipe from my  mother-in-law Florence Hertzman that she learned from her mother Bessie Swartz.  Bessie was born in Iasi, Romanian in 1904 and she was taught this recipe by her mother Batya Yancovitz. Florence remembers her mother calling it ‘Potelagela’ or ‘Putlagula’.

There are many variations for eggplant salad, each Romanian housewife adding one or two ingredients to make it their own. Bessie added green onions and used  a wood pasty cutter to mash the eggplant and peppers. This Russian/Polish housewife, (that’s me) will be using the food processor and adding a dash of hot sauce.

The blackened eggplant.

The blackened peppers.

Salata de Vinete.

Thank you Flo for sharing your recipe with me.


  • 1 medium eggplant, whole
  • 1 medium green or red pepper, cut in quarters and seeded.
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons of canola oil, or more if needed (you could use any light tasting oil)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or more to taste
  • dash of white pepper


  1. Place eggplant and peppers on a baking sheet and broil until charred on all sides, turning often.
  2. When done take out of the oven and let the eggplant and peppers rest for at least 30 minutes or until cool enough to handle.
  3. When cool carefully peel the charred skin from the eggplant and peppers, set aside.
  4. Add the green onion to the food processor and process until finely chopped.
  5. Place only the flesh of the eggplant and peppers into the food processor.  Add the oil, salt and pepper, mix well.
  6.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
  7. Spread on crackers or crusty bread.

Best served at room temperature.


Winter Root Vegetable Stew

This is a perfect recipe to make when you have lots to do, such as holiday shopping and you just don’t feel like doing it. This recipe has lots of slicing, dicing and chopping to keep you busy.

My instructions are very simple.

  1. Get Gordy to build a fire.
  2. Open some wine.
  3. Make this stew.
  4. Then eat and enjoy while watching your favourite TV show.

I took the photo and realized I forgot to add the peas!

Cooks Notes:  Read the recipe before you start.

This is a one-pot meal.

Servings: 6


For the mirepoix:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped medium
  • 1 medium carrot, minced
  • 1 medium stalk celery, minced

For the stew:

  • 9 medium portobello mushrooms, sliced 1/2 inch thick (about 1 and 1/4 pounds)
  • 10 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup wine, (red or white)
  • 2  1/2 cups vegetable stock, (you could use water in a pinch)
  • 2  teaspoons salt
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 large carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 large parsnip, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 turnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium red potatoes (about 1 and 1/2 pounds), peeled, quartered lengthwise, and cut crosswise into 1-inch piece
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 cup frozen peas, (frozen corn works well too)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves, (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the mirepoix and sauté, stirring frequently, until the vegetables begin to brown, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the portobello and cremini mushrooms, raise the heat to medium-high, and sauté about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic, rosemary, and thyme and cook for a few seconds until you can smell the herbs.
  5. Add the wine, vegetable stock, salt, tomatoes, bay leaf, carrots, parsnip, turnip and potatoes and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the carrots, parsnip, turnip and potatoes are tender, about 35 minutes.
  7. Mix the cornstarch with water to form a smooth paste.
  8. Stir the paste into the stew and cook until the liquid thickens for about 2 minutes.
  9. Stir in the peas and cover.
  10. Just before serving stir in the parsley, discard the bay leaf.
  11. Taste and adjust seasonings.


Fresh canteen and love thy carrot are a perfect match

For the next two weeks Fresh Canteen will be featuring a vegetarian recipe created by Love Thy Carrot.

Fresh Canteen delivers fresh ingredients to your home so you can create meals with easy-to-follow recipes, photos and instructions.  To learn more about them and to see the recipe for the Tofu and Broccoli in Peanut Sacue check out the website at http://www.freshcanteen.com

Tofu & Broccoli in Peanut Sauce

Photos by Fresh Canteen

Two soups to feed the soul… Vegetable and Leek & Potato Soup


24 Volunteers
1 Rabbi
15 pounds of potatoes
5 pounds of carrots
and a pound of onions
…take all these “ingredients” and what do you get?
4 stock-pots of delicious soup!

I was thrilled to have the  honour of leading a group in women in soup-making for the Bikur Cholim Soup Brigade evening at Holy Blossom Temple. Bikur Cholim is Hebrew for “visiting the sick”, and what we did was chop, dice and stir two big batches of soup.  While the soup simmered the room filled up not only with delicious cooking smells, but the warmth of people working together and a Talmud study session lead by Rabbi Teri Appleby. We all left that evening with a good feeling in our hearts, leaving behind 100 containers of some great-tasting soup that will help warm some people over the coming winter months.

Here is the link to Holy Blossom’s Bikur Cholim if you would like to know more.

Here are the two recipes we made:

Vegetarian Vegetable Soup 

This recipe serves 4 to 6


  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 carrots, diced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced, (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 small zucchini, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 cup green or yellow beans, sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chopped savoy cabbage, sliced
  • ½ cup orzo or any small pasta


  1. In a small bowl mash half of the beans with a masher or the back of a spoon, and set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and celery, sauté until soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook for another few minutes or until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add the water and tomatoes with the juice.
  4. Then add the vegetables, the thyme, sage, salt and pepper.
  5. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add the mashed and whole beans.
  7. Simmer for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
  8. Taste and adjust seasonings, you may need more salt and pepper.

Leek and Potato Soup

This recipe serves 4 to 6


  • 6 potatoes, diced
  • 2 large leeks, white part only, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme, fresh
  • 1 – 2 bay leaves
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Rinse the leeks and slice them thinly.
  2. Dice the potatoes, carrots and celery.
  3. Heat the oil in a large stockpot, sauté the leeks for a few minutes.
  4. Add the onion and garlic and continue cooking until onions are soft.
  5. Add the potatoes, carrots and celery.
  6. Add the water, salt, thyme and bay leaves.
  7. Simmer until the vegetables are very soft, about 20 minutes.
  8. Add the pepper.
  9. Remove the bay leaves.
  10. Puree soup in blender or with hand blender.
  11. Add more salt and pepper if needed.

Cooks Notes:  Both theses soups are great basic recipes.
Here are a few suggestions to make these soups your own…

For the vegetable soup:

  • Add some red or white wine 
  • You can add some little meatballs, (cook meatballs in the oven then add to the soup).
  • Add a parmesan rind while the soup is simmering.
  • Drizzle some pesto over the soup just before serving.
  • Garnish with fresh herbs like basil or parsley

For the Leek and Potato Soup:

  • Garnish with chives or fresh parsley.
  • Garnish with some crumbled goat cheese or sharp cheddar.
  • Toast some bruschetta with a little olive oil for dipping.
  • Make the soup creamy with some cream or milk.
  • Or for an Asian twist add a tin of coconut milk and a dash of curry powder and a chunk of ginger (omit the thyme and bay leaves).