Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares

Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares

Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares

Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares

Date squares were one of my favourite snacks when I was a kid. My mom would make them regularly and the whole house would be filled with a sweet, buttery aroma.  She was strict about junk food and never bought any sugary cereals, cookies or candies.  As an adult I’m really thankful that I was raised in a healthy household.  My eating habits are generally well balanced, and I tend to favour savoury and salty, treating desserts as an indulgence.  I have my mom to thank for that.  And I also have her to thank for my love of date squares!  I tried to recreate my childhood dessert with these Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares.  Why are they gluten free you may wonder?  Well because April is detox time!

Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares

Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares

For me, detox is a time to restart the system and shed bad habits, but is also an opportunity to experiment with my favourite recipes and turn them into cleanse friendly foods.  These date squares use gluten free flour and oats, and are sweetened with honey and a few drops of liquid Stevia.  I replaced the butter with coconut oil, that still results in a light, buttery crumble. Additionally, I also included some coconut flour to bring out a bit of sweet coconut flavour. Because, more coconut is always a good thing!

Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares

Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares

These Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares are an awesome detox snack because they’re completely cleanse friendly without sacrificing any of the date square tastiness.  Creamy dates are sandwiched between soft, sweet and flaky crumble with hints of coconut and citrus.  Packed full of iron, fiber and magnesium, dates are also said to help with intestinal issues, reduce allergies and can also help to maintain weight, a healthy heart, and aid in sexual stamina.  High in natural sugars and protein, these date squares are a great energy boost pre-work out or a yummy recovery snack post work out.

So basically, you can’t go wrong with these babies. Gimme gimme all of them date squares!

Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares
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Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares

A healthy, post work out snack, these gluten free dates squares are easy to make and are full of delicious nutrients.

Course Dessert, Snack
Cuisine healthy, Vegan
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 25
Calories 190 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups Parnoosh dates chopped
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice freshly squeezed
  • 1.5 cups gluten free flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1.5 cups Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut oil, plus more for greasing melted
  • 3/4 cup organic honey
  • 2 drops liquid Stevia

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. Grease a 9" square baking dish.

  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, boil water. Add dates and stir constantly with a wooden spoon until water is absorbed and dates are smooth. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice. Set aside.

  3. Combine the flours, oats and salt. Add coconut oil, then honey (using the same cup, so that the syrup will slide right out) and liquid Stevia. Mix until crumbly but still moist.

  4. Divide crumb mixture into two portions and press one half firmly into the pan to make the base. Using a spatula, carefully spread the date mixture evenly over top. Add the remaining crumb mixture on top by taking small bits and placing them carefully over the dates. Do not spread. Lightly press down the top layer evenly with your hands.

  5. Bake on the center oven rack for 25 minutes until lightly brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely. Cut into 25 squares. Store in the fridge in a sealed container for up to one week or freeze up to two months. Best served at room temperature.

Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares

Healthy Gluten Free Date Squares

What was your favourite childhood snack?  How is your spring cleanse going?

What are some of your favourite detox substitutions?  I would love to know!

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Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day

In 2015, my boyfriend and I were all booked to go to Nepal but a week before we left the earthquake struck and we had to redirect to Turkey. Last year we gave Nepal another try, and as a bonus, we had a fourteen hour layover in Hong Kong. Dim sum, BBQ pork, the Big Buddha, here I come! It was no easy feat visiting Hong Kong in a day, but we did it!

First off, I would recommend that if you have only one day in Hong Kong, don’t do what I did! My first mistake was that I had assumed all the markets in Kowloon would be open bright and early. Back home, markets open at the crack of dawn, but not in Hong Kong! We were wandering the empty streets at 8AM, as not much was open until 10AM. So, my recommendation would be to go to Hong Kong Island first and head right up to The Peak to avoid the crazy lines ups. Then go to Kowloon, and finish the day at Lantau Island which is close to the airport.

We started our day super early arriving in Hong Kong at 5AM. While we waited for the gates to the train station to open, we had a coffee from McDonald’s and sorted out our transit card. We bought an Octopus Card which was the easiest and most economical of the transit cards. It covers all modes of transport for $50HK, and we had just the right amount for a day of travel.

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Goldfish Market

After discovering that both the Flower and Bird markets opened at 10am, we stumbled upon the Goldfish Market.  Here I am with a big ‘ol bag of goldfish.  Tempting, but ultimately not a good souvenir.  But the turtles were so cute! Even though the other markets were closed, walking through the quiet streets of Hong Kong was really peaceful, and we past a lot of elderly folk practicing Tai Chi.  The heavy, humid air was filled with the sounds of chirping birds and the faint honks of traffic; the calm before the storm.

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Goldfish Market

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Nathan Street

We continued down Nathan Street, the main street in Kowloon with a similar vibe to Broadway in Manhattan.  A bit grungy and bustling with life; the connecting thread of the city.  Our tour of closed markets continued with the Ladies Market, so instead we stopped for our first bite of dim sum.  As you can see, I’m full of glee at the idea of authentic dim sum for breakfast.  Verdict?  Juicy, flavourful bites of Siu Mai (minced pork and shrimp parcels topped with crab roe) were everything I dreamed they would be.

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Dim Sum near the Ladies Market

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day

We wandered down Shanghai Street and Reincarnation Street as markets started to open for the day.  The Jade Market had many pretty items, but I felt a bit overwhelmed.  We were their first customers and were pounced upon whenever we stopped at a booth, so we didn’t stay too long.  

The Chinatown in Toronto has the same vibe as Kowloon, so I felt right at home.  The hanging BBQ ducks in the window were a familiar sight, and their perfectly roasted, shining skin looked just as appetizing as I remembered.  

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – BBQ duck on Nathan Street

We walked through the very pretty and quiet Kowloon Park.  Strolling among anime statues, gazebos, huge trees, manicured shrubs and more elderly practicing Tai Chi, the park was a peaceful break from the busy city streets.

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Kowloon Park

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Kowloon Park

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Kowloon Park

I would describe Hong Kong as an infusion of NYC and Japan.  The busy, gritty streets of the Big Apple mixed with the Asian grandeur and odd Western influence of Tokyo.

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Space Museum

We ended up at the waterfront, passing the Space Museum and the Clocktower along the way.  I was disappointed that I couldn’t find the Bruce Lee statue, I think it was hidden among the construction that was taking place in that area.  Next time!

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Kowloon, Clocktower

This landmark Clocktower was the last remnant of the old Kowloon railway terminal, and was the last stop for trains coming from the mainland as well as the famous Orient Express from London.  I liked the random, colourful popsicles that were scattered along the fountain in front.  They complimented the palm trees!

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Hong Kong Island

The historical Star Ferries have plied between Hong Kong Island and Kowloon since 1888!  I would definitely recommend taking this short ferry ride across Victoria Harbour to Hong Kong Island.   As we admired the towering skyscrapers that lined the shore, the skies overhead were starting to look quite ominous.

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Hong Kong Island from the Star Ferry

Hong Kong Island was completely different than Kowloon, being the more modern area of the city.  Huge department store complexes, futuristic banks, glass towers and winding flagstone lanes were reminiscent of Tokyo and Los Angeles.  We didn’t have enough time to explore much past the central area, but I found this part of Hong Kong cold and corporate.  

The main attraction here is to venture up to The Peak, the viewing platform in the Sky Terrace of of a huge anvil-shaped mall.  To reach Victoria Peak, we traveled on a tram, a funicular railway that has been running since 1888.  The steep ascent was a bit of an adventure, covering a distance of 1.4 kilometres and an elevation of just under 400 metres.  A tourist trap for sure, but The Peak is still a “must see” attraction in Hong Kong…on a sunny day.  

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – view from the Sky Terrace at Victoria Peak

Unfortunately for us, after waiting in a long line and being packed like sardines into the Peak Tram, by the time we arrived at the top the rain had started.  While I’m sure the view of Hong Kong would have been spectacular from the highest lookout  in the city, all we could see was thick and misty fog.  Next time!  Sigh.

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Dim Sum at The Peak

What does one do when you’re rained out?  Go find something awesome to eat of course!  We found this Dim Sum restaurant just outside the main complex, and promptly ordered all our favourite dim sum: Cha Siu Bao (pork buns), Lohr Bahk Goh (pan fried turnip, shrimp and Chinese salami cakes), Har Gow (prawn dumplings) and Cheung Fun (rice pastry rolls filled with shrimp and sweet soy sauce).  Everything was so yummy, it was almost worth the crowds and rain!  Dim Sum saved the day!

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day

With only a few hours left, we jumped on a cable car and traveled out to Lantau Island – the site of the famous Big Buddha.  Visiting Lantau Island was the highlight of our day in Hong Kong, and I wish we’d had more time to explore this beautiful site.  

 

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – heading to Lantau Island on the Ngong Ping 360 cable car

The Ngong Ping 360 cable car ride from Tung Chung to Po Lin is an adventure in itself.  The 25 minute journey sweeps over 4 miles of scenic views of Hong Kong, the airport, the South China Sea and the lush North Lantau Country Park.

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Hong Kong from the Ngong Ping 360 cable car

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Hong Kong Airport from the Ngong Ping 360 cable car

The 112 foot bronze Buddha statue was a breathtaking site to behold, from the moment you first see him sitting peacefully in the distance…

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery – Lantau Island

…gradually travelling closer…

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery – Lantau Island

…closer still!

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery – Lantau Island

 …until finally we were standing at the foot of one of the largest seated Buddha images in the world.

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery – Lantau Island

We didn’t have time to climb the 260 steps or explore the monastery, gardens and temples around the island, but I fell in love with Lantau Island and the Big Buddha.  You can almost feel the peace flowing out over the land from this magnificent statue.  I will return to you one day Big Buddha!

Hong Kong In A Day

Hong Kong In A Day – BBQ pork and duck, Hong Kong Airport

A trip to Hong Kong would not be complete without some BBQ pork and duck!  We squeezed in one more meal at the airport – and paid an arm and a leg for it!  Do you really want to know how much this was?  It pains me to write this…but for this dish plus some greens, two beers, two teas (they charged us for tea!) and “complimentary” apps that they charged us for (I didn’t even want peanuts!) – we paid $80 Canadian!!  In comparison, the same meal would have cost no more than $30 tops back home.  But I have to say, the pork and duck were delicious!  I mean, just look at that crispy skin and juicy meat!

As our day in Hong Kong came to an end, we were tired but pretty impressed with ourselves for packing in so much in one day!  Lots more to see – and eat – but at least I know what to do next time (and will definitely avoid eating in the airport!).  By far my most fun layover to date!

BUDGET FOR ONE DAY IN HONG KONG
(includes food, entry fees, transportation and ridiculously expensive meal at airport)
$180 CANADIAN

ITINERARY FOR ONE DAY IN HONG KONG:
6:00AM Depart airport for Hong Kong Island
7:00AM: Hong Kong Island: The Peak
9:00AM Star Ferry to Kowloon
9:30AM Star Ferry Pier: Clocktower, Bruce Lee statue
10:00AM Nathan Road (Kowloon Park, Jade Market, Ladies Market, Goldfish Market, Flower Market, Bird Market)
12:00PM Lunch in Kowloon
1:00PM Depart for Tung Chung
2:00PM Ngong Ping 360 Cable Car to Lantau Island
2:30PM Big Buddha and Po Lin Monastery
4:00PM Depart for airport
5:00PM Check in for 7:00PM departure flight

Have you visited Hong Kong before?  How long were you there, and what did you see?  Do you love Dim Sum as much as me?

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Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

Spring is in the air, and that means salad season is here! I want lots of big, beautiful, fresh salads full of awesome, yummy ingredients. With Easter around the corner, we’re all on the lookout for delicious dishes to make for a big group dinner, so I’ve decided to share this Big Italian Salad with you just for the occasion.

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

My boyfriend is half Italian so over the years my consumption of olives, cured meat and artichokes has increased, and you could say, they have added more flavour to my life (though, he might have a little something to do with that too!). We try our very best to eat salads regularly, but find it challenging to keep ‘em interesting. There’s only so much tomato and cucumber you can consume before you hit a salad slump. And let’s face it, when all is said and done, I’m a meat and carbs kind of gal.

Yum. Meat.

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

But the great thing about my Big Italian Salad is, it has meat! And cheese! The parmesan and salami add just the right amount of salty creaminess. Fresh romaine lettuce and bitter radicchio are topped with sweet bursts of cherry tomatoes, crunchy licorice-infused fennel and velvety artichokes. Finally, the bright pop of the olives brings the whole salad to life.

This, my friends, is not your average, boring salad.

Big Italian Salad

Big Italian Salad

A light, lemony vinaigrette that incorporates some of the artichoke marinade ties the whole dish together. Before you can say “you can’t make friends with salad” you’ll be happily chowing down on a big mouthful of all things Italian.

Big Italian Salad
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Big Italian Salad

This Big Italian Salad is full of awesome, fresh ingredients. Romaine lettuce and bitter radicchio are topped with sweet cherry tomatoes, crunchy fennel, creamy artichokes and salty salami, olives and parmesan.
Course Healthy, Salad
Cuisine Italian
Prep Time 25 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 people

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 1 small head of Romaine lettuce roughly chopped
  • 1 small radicchio finely chopped
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
  • 1 half fennel thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup green and kalamata olives pitted and finely sliced
  • 2 ounces salami or your fave cured meat finely diced
  • 227 grams marinated artichokes finely sliced, marinade reserved
  • 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggianocheese grated

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons marinade from the artichokes
  • 1 half lemon juiced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Instructions

  1. Combine all the ingredients except for the cheese in a large bowl.
  2. In a food processor or medium bowl combine all the dressing ingredients except for the oil. Slowly add oil while whisking or mixing on low.
  3. Drizzle dressing over salad and sprinkle cheese over top. Toss and serve immediately.

I could seriously eat this entire bowl in one sitting. The salad is so fresh and lightly dressed that all the other flavours are allowed stand out, and it’s addictive. But, one must learn to share, so here you go my friends, some salad to go with your roasted ham.

What are you making for your big Easter dinner?  Let me know if you liked my Big Italian Salad and what type of cured meat is your favourite!

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