Grain-Free, Paleo and Sugar-Free Strawberry Shortcake

strawberry shortcake grain-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, paleo

Fresh strawberries, fluffy cake and whipped cream is always a magical combination in the summer; there's nothing quite like strawberry shortcake.  Since we are huge fans of this dessert, we wanted to create a healthier version of the recipe that is not only grain free and gluten free, but sugar free as well. This strawberry shortcake contains healthy fat and protein that will keep your blood sugar stable and is even nutritious enough to eat for breakfast (why not, when it's possible, have dessert for breakfast). 

We use almond flour, coconut flour and tapioca flour instead of white flour in this recipe and coconut milk instead of dairy for the whipped cream.  We've been wanting to try out using monk fruit sweetener in place of sugar (and even in place of natural sweeteners like maple syrup and coconut sugar) in order to create a truly sugar free recipe.  And, you won't even know the different when you taste this recipe, the monk fruit sweetener works perfectly!

strawberry shortcake grain-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, paleo

Grain-Fee, Paleo and Sugar-Free Strawberry Shortcake

For the shortbread:
1.5 cups almond flour
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 Tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp monk fruit sweetener
pinch sea salt

3 eggs
1/4 cup butter or coconut oil, room temperature
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the strawberries:
1 container strawberries, sliced in thin pieces
1/2 lemon, juiced

For the whipped cream:
1 can full fat coconut milk (you'll be using the coconut cream part, not the liquid)
2 tsp monk fruit sweetener (optional)

strawberry shortcake grain-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, paleo

1. Preheat oven to 375. Mix together the dry ingredients for the shortbread. 
2. Use a food processor to pulse in the butter or coconut oil (or use a pastry cutter or butter knife) until you have a fine crumbly mixture that's starting to stick together.
3. Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and mix all together to form a thick batter.
4. Oil a muffin tin well with butter or coconut oil.  Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tins (it won't fill the tins very much).  Make sure the batter is flat and spread out evenly.
5. Bake for 10 minutes.
6. Remove from the muffin tin and let cool for 15 minutes.
7. Meanwhile, prepare the strawberries by slicing them in thin pieces and mixing together with lemon juice in a bowl.
8. For the whipped coconut cream: Carefully scoop the fatty cream part of the coconut milk off of the surface (you don't want the liquid part, you can save that for smoothies!).
9. Whip the coconut cream with a mixer or you can pulse in the food processor a few times instead if you don't have a mixer.  If you want to sweeten it, add in the monk fruit sweetener while whipping.
10. For the shortbread: Once it is cooled, carefully slice off the edges that have browned so that you can see the inside of the fluffy cake.  Note, this part is optional, you can definitely eat the lightly browned edges if you want to skip this step.  Slice off the puffy top of the shortbread, so that it is flat.  
11. Scoop a dollop of coconut cream on top of 6 of the shortbreads.  Scoop some strawberries over top.  Then place another shortbread on top, to form 6 mini layered cakes.  Top these with coconut cream and more strawberries.




Marinated Beet Salad w/ Almond and Sesame Seed Crumble

marinated beets, marinated beet salad

While we often associate beets with warming, hearty winter recipes, this root veggie is also delicious in the spring and summer.  In fact, beets prepared in a flavourful marinade served over salad greens is one of the tastiest ways to eat them.  This recipe is uplifting and refreshing with zesty lemon juice and a subtle bite from fresh garlic.

Beets are rich in the phytonutrients called betalains (gives them their beautiful color), which have been studied for their antioxidant properties as well as for their role in supporting the liver's ability to detox toxins from the body. 

If you eat dairy, you could add some goat or sheep cheese crumbled over top of this salad.  You could also add in some other vegetables, such as cucumber and radishes, if you want more variety.  But, the crunch of the toasted sesame seeds and almonds pairs perfectly with the tender beets.

marinated beets, marinated beet salad

Marinated Beet Salad w/ Almond and Sesame Seed Crumble

2 large beets, peeled
1 bunch of red leaf lettuce (or other type of lettuce that you like)

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 of a small garlic clove, minced
sea salt and pepper

Almond and Sesame Seed Crumble:
3 Tbsp sesame seeds
3 Tbsp sliced almonds

marinated beets, marinated beet salad

1. Peel the beets and cut into small wedges.
2. Place the beets in a small pot with around 1/4 cup of water (enough water to cover the bottom of the pot and some of the beets, but they don't need to be completely covered).
3. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer.  Cover and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes, or until the beets are tender.
4. Run the beets under cold water to cool them down.
5. Then toss the beets together with the marinade in a bowl.  Add sea salt and pepper to taste>
6. While the beets are cooking- rinse off the lettuce well and  make sure to dry.  Pull the leaves apart carefully, leaving them whole (remove any wilted or dirty parts).
7. Place the leaves out on a serving platter and serve some beets into the center of each leaf.
8. Place the sliced almonds and sesame seeds on a baking sheet and toast lightly at 350 in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until just light golden (be careful not to burn).
9. Once toasted, pulse the almonds and sesame seeds in the food processor into a crumble.
10. Sprinkle the crumble over top of the beets right before serving.



Creamy Cauliflower and Celeriac Soup

cauliflower soup, cauliflower celeriac soup, vegan cauliflower soup

This creamy cauliflower and celeriac soup was our farewell to winter for another year. As it warms up outside, we feel less inclined to eat soups and gradually transition to plenty of cool, hearty spring salads. Anything to avoid turning on the stove when it’s warm out!

In lieu of using a traditional mirepoix that consists of onion, celery, and carrots, we added celery’s sibling celeriac to the mix (also known as celery root). While celeriac is not so pleasant on the eyes, once you peel away the twisted, dirty outer layers it reveals a smooth white flesh that packs an earthy, subtle celery flavour.

Celeriac is great to eat raw in salads, as a puree that’s a wonderful alternative to mashed potatoes, or in soup recipes as we’ve done here. This soup is great for a chilly evening, or you can turn it into a delicious cold soup by adding in a few pears or apples to the mix.


Creamy Cauliflower and Celeriac Soup

2 to 3 tsp Lee’s Za'atar Star ghee (or use any type of ghee or regular olive oil)
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped (plus extra for garnish)
sea salt, to taste
1 head celeriac, chopped
1 head cauliflower, chopped
3 cups vegetable broth
½ cup coconut milk


  1. In a pot over medium-low heat, melt the ghee. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, sauteeing until translucent (about 5 minutes). Add in the garlic and thyme, cooking until fragrant.

  2. Add in the celeriac and cauliflower, sauteeing for 7-8 minutes until softened.

  3. Add in vegetable broth and coconut milk, adjusting if needed.

  4. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer, cooking until vegetables are completely soft.

  5. Puree the soup using either an immersion blender or carefully transfer to a stand blender.

  6. Top with a sprinkle of fresh thyme.

Cacao Cherry Granola Clusters

Written by Bronwyn Cawker

granola, gluten free granola, healthy granola, chocolate granola.jpg

Granola doesn't last very long around Living Kitchen HQ. We love it so much that we could eat it for every meal (alright, maybe we're exaggerating a little bit). While oats are packed with heart-healthy soluble fibre that makes for a satiating breakfast, store-bought versions are often high in sugar - around 12.5 grams per cup according to The Guardian. Eating this first thing in the morning can absolutely be a recipe for a massive energy spike and crash later in the day. 

Homemade granola is definitely the best option if you're looking to control your sugar intake. It is easy to prepare a large batch on Sundays to use for grab-and-go breakfasts or snacks. Prioritize loading it up with healthy fats from nut butter and seeds, adding sweetness with honey or unsweetened dried fruit. 

We created these crunchy granola clusters that are packed with cacao, peanut butter, and dried cherries. It is light on sweetness with only a touch of raw wildflower honey from Beekeeper's Naturals. The best part? It's completely adaptable and you can modify our recipe to include the things you love.

Plus we have an awesome cooking technique that you can use to get nice crunchy clusters! 

healthy granola, granola, honey, raw honey, gluten free

Cacao Cherry Granola Clusters

Dry Ingredients:
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup raw pepitas
1/4 cup flaked coconut
1 tbsp raw cacao powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients:
1/4 cup peanut butter (or preferred alternative)
3 tbsp raw honey
1 tbsp coconut oil

Additional Toppings:
3 tbsp dried cherries
2 tbsp dried mulberries
2 tbsp cacao nibs

1. Preheat oven to 300 F.
2. Combine all dry ingredients together in a small bowl. In a small pot over medium-low heat combine peanut butter, raw honey, and coconut oil until completely glossy and smooth.
3. Mix together the wet and dry ingredients until completely coated and spread evenly on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet.
4.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until golden brown, rotating the pan halfway through the cooking time. Do not stir it (trust us).
5. Place on a cooling rack, allowing to cool completely to the touch. Once cool, break into large cluster sized pieces and mix with additional toppings.
6. Store in an airtight glass container or mason jar.
7. Serve on top of yogurt, or with a splash of coconut milk and a drizzle of raw honey. 

Let us know what your favourite granola toppings are over on our Instagram page. While you're there, don't forget to enter our Spring Snack Giveaway where you can enter to win a jar of raw wildflower honey from Beekeeper's Naturals.

Happy snacking!

Three Eco-friendly Swaps to Ditch Plastic in Your Kitchen

Written by Bronwyn Cawker

reusable kitchen2311.jpg

Happy Earth Day! Earth Day is a moment we often use to reflect on the small changes we can make that have a positive impact on environmental health. Whether that’s being more conscious of food waste in the kitchen, bringing reusable produce bags to the grocery store, or cutting down on how much plastic we are using in our lives.

The theme for Earth Day 2018 is all about ending plastic pollution. According to Earth Day’s Plastic Pollution Primer, if plastic production and waste management trends continue as they are right now, 13.2 billion tons of plastic will enter landfills or the environment by the year 2050. If that wasn’t startling enough, our oceans are already swimming with plastic waste; an estimated 8 million metric tons entered the ocean in 2010. Plastic not only poses a major threat to environmental health, but contains chemicals such as bisphenol-A and phthalates that have been studied for their negative effects on human health.

Being conscious of how much plastic we’re consuming is well worth your time. We've compiled three easy swaps  you can make to cut down on how much plastic you're using in the kitchen.

1. Swap Plastic Straws for Glass or Metal Straws:

Single serve plastic straws are a hot button issue right now, with Britain completely banning the sale of plastic straws and urging Canada to follow suit. Locally speaking, Torontonian collectives like Last Straw are calling for restaurants to stop giving plastic straws with their drinks. Last Straw estimates that 57 million plastic straws are used in Canada each day, which are often not recycled. 

An excellent alternative to plastic straws are reusable glass or metal straws from companies like Strawesome and Keep Cup. Their straws are lightweight, portable, and easy to clean with a small brush. Strawesome even offers a lifetime warranty and will replace your straw if it accidentally breaks. 

2. Swap Plastic Wrap for Silicone Jar Toppers or Reusable Beeswax Wrap:

Silicone jar huggers like these ones from Food Huggers are easy to clean and can be used to cover half-empty cans, containers, and half-cut produce. Beeswax wrap like Abeego is a fantastic alternative to plastic wrap. It comes in four different sizes and through human heat becomes malleable enough to seal bowls or wrap produce in the fridge.  It can be washed, dried, and reused for up to a year after it’s purchased.

3. Swap Plastic Food Containers for Glass, Stainless Steel, or Mason Jars:

Glass food containers, while typically more expensive than plastic ones, are a worthwhile investment. They are microwave and dishwasher safe, great for storing leftovers, and for taking your food on the go. If you’re worried about potential breakage search for tempered glass containers like Wean Green, which are stronger than traditional glass. Not into glass? Stainless steel containers like Lunch Bots are another eco-friendly non-plastic alternative.

Mason jars are a popular alternative to plastic due to their versatility and affordability. Large jars can be used for storing batches of soup or bulk items like flours and legumes; while medium and small jars can be used for storing salads, smoothies, dressings, and spices.

mason jar, glass container, eco friendly, earth day

Let us know what your favourite eco-friendly kitchen products are, or what you're doing to reduce the amount of plastic in your life.

Leave us a comment below, or connect with us on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.

Building A Better Snack Board

Written by Bronwyn Cawker

snack board, charcuterie board, vegan, vegetarian, vegetarian snack board, vegan snack board, snack plate, snacks, snack platter

Today we’re giving you tips on building an impressive health-forward snack board that is packed with flavour and will please all of the palates at your dinner table. The board we’ve created features an assortment of gluten free crackers, vegetables and fruits and four recipes: earthy beet hummus, thyme and roasted garlic cashew cheese, radish green hemp pesto, and maple citrus candied nuts.

Our recipes would be at home on any snack board, or are great as a stand alone option. Feel free to use them on your board, or keep these three tips in mind to build your own version. View the snack board as a canvas on which you can flex your creative muscles.

Choose a Variety of Options:

Variety is the spice of life, or so the old saying goes, and it is essential when assembling a snack board. Choose not only a variety of items to place on your board - fresh produce, cheeses (or non-dairy options), meats, crackers, nuts, seeds, and spreads - but a variety of textures and flavours as well. Appeal to the 5 tastes by featuring a combination of savoury, salty, sweet, bitter, and sour items. You can add the crunch of raw vegetable crudités while featuring soft pickled ones, or a bevy of fresh fruits with a tangy fruit chutney.

Choose a Theme:

Build your board around items for a holiday, event, season, or a regional cuisine. Is it spring time? Load up your snack board with in-season items like fresh radishes, radish green pesto, and shaved asparagus. Is it summer? Break out the grill and feature loads of grilled in-season veggies like corn and bell peppers. Do you love Mediterranean food? Try beet hummus, marinated artichoke hearts, or harissa roasted chickpeas.

Choose Colour:

When in doubt loading up your board with an assortment of brightly coloured fresh vegetables, herbs, and fruits is sure to appeal to our tendency toward eating with the eyes. They are not only packed with flavour, but fibre and phytochemicals that are beneficial for disease prevention. It’s a win-win situation.

Better Snack Board Recipes:

radish green pesto, hemp pesto, vegan pesto, radish greens, radish pesto, root to stem

Beet Hummus:

Beet hummus is a nice break from traditional hummus and lends a rich, earthy taste and a pop of colour to your board. We even experimented and used a bit of smoked tahini from Parallel Brothers in our hummus (local for you Toronto folks).

1 medium cooked beet
3 cloves roasted garlic
1 15 oz can chickpeas
3 Tbsp olive oil, plus extra to garnish
1 lemon, juiced
2 Tbsp tahini
1 tsp cumin
sea salt, to taste
¼ cup ice water, as needed to thin

1. Combine all ingredients except the ice water in a high-speed blender or food processor, scraping down sides of bowl with a spatula if needed. While still running, drizzle in ice water until the hummus has a smooth, creamy consistency.
2. Garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and chopped herbs.

Radish Green Hemp Pesto:

If you buy radishes with the greens still attached, this hemp pesto is an incredible way to utilize them and avoid the compost bin. Yes, radish greens are edible! They tend to be incredibly sandy, so make sure to rinse thoroughly to clean off any grit.

1 bunch radish leaves, thoroughly washed and dried
2 cloves roasted garlic
2 Tbsp olive oil
¼ cup hemp seeds
3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
½ lemon, juiced
sea salt, to taste

1. Combine all ingredients in a small food processor until smooth, scraping down sides of bowl with a spatula if needed.

Tip: If desired, you can add a ½ cup of basil to this recipe to get more of a traditional pesto taste.

Roasted Garlic and Thyme Cashew Cheese:

This is an excellent option to add to your board if you’re vegan or have lactose intolerance and are looking for something to fill the void of a traditional cheese. It is creamy, bright ,and herbaceous. The thyme can be swapped for other herbs if you’re looking for a different flavour profile for your board. Dill, chives, basil, or tarragon are all fantastic choices.

1 ¼ cups raw cashews, soaked overnight
2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
½ lemon, juiced
1 tsp lemon zest
3 cloves roasted garlic
3 tsp fresh thyme, divided
sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
water, as needed to thin

1. Soak cashews overnight in warm water, draining and rinsing thoroughly. If you’re in a time crunch, you can soak in hot water for an hour.
2. Combine soaked cashews and remaining ingredients in a food processor until completely smooth and spreadable, scraping as necessary with a spatula.
3. Using wet hands, you can optionally roll your cheese into a log or ball, placing on a small piece of parchment or wax paper. Otherwise, place in a bowl.
4. Sprinkle with remaining thyme and cracked black pepper.

Maple Citrus Candied Nuts

These crunchy clusters are the perfect balance of sweet with a bright hint of orange. Feel free to use pecans in this recipe or substitute for walnuts, almonds, or pistachios.

½ cup pecans
1 tsp coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp maple syrup
2 tsp orange zest
pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 325 F.
2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat combine coconut oil, maple syrup, and orange zest. Add in pecans (or nuts of choice) and stir to coat.
3. Spread on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 13-15 minutes, checking on and stirring them periodically.
4. Allow to cool and serve.

snack board, vegan snack board, vegetarian snack board, snacks

If you’re racking your brain for something to make for a dinner party or a potluck, this snack board is sure to be a show stopper!

These four recipes are some of the things that we like to include, but we’d love to hear what your must-have snack board items are. Give us a shout in our comments section, or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram pages.