chickpea protein bites

two things get me out of bed in the morning…  well, other than the need to pee, my phone alarm beeping, the farmer getting a little too ‘handsy’, the need for 4 glasses of water, children to feed and pack lunches for and two dogs to kick out of the porch…

but there are two main things that excite me the most…  (apologizes to the ‘handsy’ farmer)

food… cooking, creating, eating…

and running...

(or other forms of exercising… weights, pilates, yoga… as long as I am sweating by the end of it)

so today was just about the perfect day...  I woke up knowing I was going to attempt my fourth try at a recipe I had been tweaking that a friend had sent me…

and I was going to get a run in on my treadmill while watching Netflix…

describe to me a better day… please try…

in my mind the best recipes involve fantastic ingredients…  the Lindt dark chocolate with sea salt bar is hands down the best chocolate bar out there…

and this raw almond butter is so good you don’t want the taste to ever leave your mouth…

I have three active kids in the house along with a farmer and myself who are attempting to eat well lately, so the food I’m making needs to taste good and provide sufficient fuel for the day…

we were going through so many protein bars, I figured I’d make a homemade version of a protein bar...

something I could have as a snack that would not only quench my sweet tooth but feel good in my belly and power me through my run while watching Grace and Frankie...

this was the epiphany I had… putting the chickpeas, maple syrup, almond milk, almond butter and vanilla in the Vitamix...  the consistency it beats it up into is perfection…

a few years back I came across a chocolate chip chickpea cookie recipe that changed my life… well my kids lunch kit life really…

so you can understand the level of excitement that flooded over me when my friend sent me a brownie recipe with chickpeas!

this is easily the best way I have ever incorporated chickpeas into my baking…

transfer the wet mixture to a bowl and fold in the brown rice flour, baking powder and chia seeds to bind it…

place in a greased square baking dish and think to yourself of all the power foods you just put into a brownie pan!!!

this is when the chocolate comes in… you might notice one square is missing… I attribute this to having to go to Parent Teacher Interviews last night and needing to make myself not feel like such a failure when I got home…

chocolate with salt has a way of making everything better…

who cares if my 15 year old is still hiding in different spots in the school to avoid class and eating his pencils?

chocolate made it seem just fine…

I had to showcase the decorative measuring spoons my mother brought me on her last trip out here…  they are so cute and remind me of her… (and sadly her hoarding habits)

once you sprinkle the chocolate and a smidgen of love on the brownies, pop them in the oven and allow yourself to feel the pure joy of making something that is good for you to eat… so good

gluten free almond butter chickpea protein bites


  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup almond butter (or peanut butter)
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour (or all purpose flour)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 cup chia seeds
  • 1 bar dark chocolate, crushed


  • blend chickpeas, almond butter, maple syrup, almond milk and vanilla in a Vitamix or food processor
  • transfer to a bowl and add flour, baking powder and chia seeds
  • fold flour mixture in and transfer to a greased square baking dish
  • chop up chocolate bar and sprinkle over the top
  • bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes
  • let cool before cutting
  • freezes well

Pat Toner’s Baked Lentil Oatmeal

it’s been awhile since I’ve given an update on how hugging is going for me…  about a year ago I shared my struggles with hugging… my short-comings, anxiety, avoidance and strategies…  so thought it was high time for a report…

I still don’t get it…  don’t understand the motives behind it or the pleasure in doing it… I miss the signals to hug someone and I misinterpret other signals and end up hugging at the wrong time…

the farmer and I had been visiting his grandmother last weekend and I was doing my usual sneaking along the wall trying to get my shoes on and avoid a hug as I was leaving her apartment…   and she caught me and reprimanded me and made me hug her…

I thought to myself – ‘what kind of awful human being have I become?’

I told myself I need to grow up and hug people…  stop being so frigid and closed…

a few days later, it is Valentines Day, and I am taking cupcakes to the bake sale at the library… freshly showered with Martha Stewart cupcakes in hand I head out to deliver them to the lucky recipient that will spend $1 per cupcake to eat this homemade delicacy…

I enter the library and set down the pans of cupcakes and see a lady heading over to chat with me…  I have known this lady for quite some time now and really enjoy our conversations together…

I turn to face her and as she talks she begins to put one arm behind my back... with the fresh memory of being awful and not hugging the farmer’s grandmother, I decide that this must be a universal sigh to hug someone…

I generously put my arm behind her back and swiftly put my other arm around her and completed the hug… with my wet hair ending up in her face and not entirely sure how long I should hold the hug for or if I should continue talking while hugging or if I should pat her on the back while hugging… I felt like I was having an out of body experience…

I released the hug when I felt sufficiently awkward and satisfied that she had got what she had come across the room for…

this is when I started to second guess my actions…  what if, just saying, what if…  she had come across the room to put a hand on my back and that was it?  just an open faced conversation where someone has a hand on your back… at the most you would put your hand on their back and leave it at that…

the moment this idea entered my head I started to fumble my words and blush and feel like I had just made things very uncomfortable for her and the two other women at the library…  and now she was having to be gracious and chat about cupcakes and the weather…

this is when I started to plan my exit…

 perhaps with my self-awareness of my body and what hugging is all about, I should stick with a solid hand shake or a fist bump or nothing… probably nothing…

the best way for me to show love I’ve realized is to make cupcakes… or oatmeal…

cook… this is how you know I love you… no more hugs… just food… 

this baked oatmeal recipe is THE BEST baked oatmeal I have ever made…  my friend had shared it with me and my kids absolutely loved it and it is packed with nutrition and superfoods!!!

(I did forget the berries in the morning when I was assembling it and they still loved it)

some of us were made to hug… and some to cook…  I figure – know your place and stick with it…  

so if you see me coming, please don’t send me any signals that you want to hug…  it will end poorly and you’ll wonder how something could get so weird so quickly…

Pat Toner's Baked Lentil Oatmeal


  • 1 1/2 cups large flake rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup red lentils
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp ground flax meal
  • 1/4 cup hemp hearts
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut
  • 2 cups almond milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
  • 2 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 cup frozen berries


  • in a square baking dish, mix up dry ingredients night before
  • in the morning, mix milk, syrup, egg, butter and vanilla and add to the dry ingredients and stir
  • add berries
  • bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes
  • serve with some almond milk

zucchini three ways


I warned you that all I can think of lately is how to cook with zucchini…  while others are pondering the Hip’s last concert, the end to the Olympics or perhaps the Blue Jays attempts to win the division…  I am solely focused on zucchini…

in fact, I’m already planning the zucchini coconut chocolate cake to make for the men tomorrow night…

anyways, if you are obsessed to use up your zucchini like I am… here are three recipes for you!  happy baking!

the first is a loaf…  coconut chia seed zucchini loaf…

 I’ve told the children that ‘loaves’ or ‘muffins’ are just fancy words for cake…  little cakes…  they all need eggs, sugar and oil to come alive…  so get over it…  and throw healthy ingredients in if possible… but enjoy your little sugar high from your slice of loaf…


coconut chia seed zucchini loaf

  • Servings: 2 medium loaves or 3 small loaves
  • Print


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup plain greek yogurt, room temperature
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 3 cups shredded zucchini (drained)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups shredded sweetened coconut


  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • grease (I used Pam spray) 2 medium loaf pans or 3 small loaf pans
  • in a large bowl, combine flours, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and chia seeds
  • in a mixing bowl, combine sugars, oil, yogurt and eggs until well blended
  • add zucchini and dry ingredients and blend
  • add vanilla and coconut
  • divide evenly among the loaf pans and bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean
  • let it cool in pans for 10 minutes
  • carefully remove and completely cool on a rack

these are the healthiest baking item on the menu today… apple zucchini muffins… and they tasted the healthiest too…

apple zucchini muffins

  • Servings: 15 muffins
  • Print


  • 2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 granny smith apple, grated
  • 1/2 cup grated zucchini
  • 1 granny smith apple, cut into chunks
  • 2-4 tbsp turbinado sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 cup cinnamon


  • preheat oven to 375 degrees
  • line muffin pan with paper liners and spray with a cooking spray
  • in a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt. cinnamon and allspice
  • in a mixing bowl, combine buttermilk, applesauce, oil, egg and vanilla until well combined
  • add dry ingredients and grated apple and zucchini
  • fold in apple chunks
  • using a large ice cream scoop, scoop mixture into muffin tins
  • sprinkle sugar and cinnamon on top
  • bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown

lastly, and the kids favourite, carrot zucchini hemp heart muffins…   it is an attempt at throwing healthy items into a very unhealthy recipe… and it worked!

carrot zucchini hemp heart muffins

  • Servings: 24 muffins
  • Print


  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups white flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts
  • 1 cup melted coconut oil
  • 4 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 cups grated zucchini
  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 1 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tsp vanilla


  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • line muffin tins with paper trays and spray with cooking spray
  • in a bowl, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and hemp hearts
  • in a mixing bowl, add oil and eggs and beat
  • add dry ingredients, applesauce, vanilla and then zucchini and carrots
  • using a large ice cream scoop, scoop mixture into muffin tins
  • bake for 20-25 minutes

special snowflake syndrome 

one of the best sermons I’ve heard… and this has nothing to do with the fact that I only get to listen to about ten a year…  was last Sunday…

I even took notes…  although I was wondering if fellow church goers were thinking

‘oh… she’s finally here and she’s texting the whole time’…

kinda like when my Dad used to close his eyes to pray during a sermon…  we had our doubts…

the Pastor was addressing the fact that the new generation is full of narcissists…  we like to think we should find happiness, every job should be fulfilling, every thing is about us…

wikipedia describes narcissism  as ‘the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration of one’s own attributes’…

and the Pastor termed our generation with having the ‘special snowflake syndrome’…  we all like to think we are a special snowflake and life should center around us…

I connected with these thoughts both as a parent of ‘special snowflakes’ and also feeling a bit like I am a ‘special snowflake’ myself…

when I met the farmer seventeen years ago in college, he was of course first blown away by my staggering beauty… but a close second to the earth shattering beauty was an air of confidence…  he could not believe how confidently I approached every situation…  no matter my lack of talent or intelligence or athletic ability…  I was confident completely with no relation to how well I did at things or my credentials…

what he didn’t know is that I grew up feeling ‘special’…

my childhood was all about being special… I was special because God created me for a purpose and reason and my life revolved around serving and worshipping this Divine power…  who made every human being special…

I was put here to create, serve, work, love, contribute and give…

I was also told over and over again that I was special (I wish they had known to call me a special snowflake)…

I was special, not for what I did but for who I was…  I was a child of God, created by God, with work to do for God…

I was never under any assumption that life was supposed to be about me…

this message gave me freedom to succeed or fail and not worry that I was loved any differently based on the result… because no one cared… not really… not deeply…  there were bigger concerns in the world than if I won my intramural football game…

out of my three children, the daughter is definitely the one who believes she is a special snowflake…  and this sermon made me think I need to let her in on the secret that she is special because every human being is special… but she’s not a special snowflake…  big difference…

and man, it really frees you up as a parent to not need to give them everything that they think they need…  and to even ignore them so that they get bored and have to remember how to play… by themselves… in the yard…  with a cat or a dog… or imaginary friend…

the boys were playing basketball out in the yard and wanted me to watch them…  just as I was heading over to do so, I stopped myself and yelled out the window…

‘not interested… you’re not a special snowflake… go ahead and shoot your hoops and do your jams on your own and I’ll just keep ignoring you’

(full disclosure… I watched them because it’s too comical not to watch but I didn’t want them to know that I had taken time to do so…  again… they need to know they are special… not special snowflakes)

when you go surfing, one of the rules they tell you is ‘your board goes where your eyes go’ …  I remember this very well because as I was colliding with the farmer on my board I was yelling at him ‘I’m not looking at you… I’m not looking at you’…

the Pastor said this is what we are to do with our lives… in order to get away from being special snowflakes…  and back to being just special…

‘where you look is where you’ll go’ … if we look at ourselves, our accomplishments, our failures, our results… we’ll never get outside of ourselves and we’ll never see a bigger vision or world…

if we focus on something other than ourselves we’ll see a bigger picture… we’ll see ideas and opportunities… we’d cheer for our peers instead of constantly competing…  we’d eagerly help those in need… we’d share our time and experiences… because we’d realize we are all in this together…

the hymn we sang during the service brought back many nights when I would wake up scared and my mom would come to my room and sing to me…  (which arguably was more frightening than the nightmare itself)

‘turn your eyes upon Jesus… look full in His wonderful face… and the things of earth will grow strangely dim… in the light of His glory and grace’

sometimes we need the things of this world to grow strangely dim…  and we do need to focus on something other than ourselves…  we need to see the Divine…

not because it makes us feel less… but because it can make you feel so much more…

you are special… very very special… just not a special snowflake… unless you are a Kardashian… then you are a special snowflake…

chia seed applesauce cookies


  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2/3 cup applesauce
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted and room temp
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup sweetened coconut


  • preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • line two baking sheets with parchment paper
  • combine oats, br sugar, flour, chia seeds, cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder and salt
  • stir in applesauce and coconut oil until dough is evenly mixed
  • fold in cranberries, chocolate chips and coconut
  • using a medium ice cream scoop, spoon out dough and flatten with a fork
  • bake at 350 for 12 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the cookie
  • they will be soft and need to sit in the pan for at least 10 minutes before being transferred to a drying rack
  • these cookies will harden and freeze really well