Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad and Northern Gardening in the Spring

A zesty bean salad stuffed with good things like tuna, red pepper and artichoke hearts makes a great salad-as-a-meal and is easy to make ahead for picnics, potlucks, and packed lunches, so you can get outside and spend time in the garden!

Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad - a complete meal-in-a-salad, great for picnics, pot lucks, and packed lunches!

Gardening in northern climates is not for sissies. It works on the principle of ‘two steps forward and one step back’ – a constant battle with forces out of your control. Deeply cold winters, with temperatures plummeting to -40°C many years (though this year was particularly mild – it only hit close to -30°C, and that was just for a few days), combine with late spring blizzards and early fall frosts in our zone 3 gardens.

These winter conditions mean that we are really restricted in what kinds of trees and shrubs can survive here. We intrepid northern gardeners carefully nurture trees, shrubs, and perennials with loads of tender loving care, then hold our breaths every spring to see which ones made it through the winter. Sometimes, a tree that has survived for 10 years or more, inexplicably fails to come back to life in spring, and we’re left heaving it out of the ground and starting all over again. Other times we lose trees and shrubs to wildlife predators. Moose come and chomp off all the tender branches they, in their 6 foot/2 metre high (at the shoulder) splendor, can reach (like this moose visiting our acreage, and this one at my mom’s). Herds of deer come to prune and paw some more. Mice can strip the bark off young trees right at snow level, effectively killing the whole tree to the roots.

And then there are porcupines.

Cute, velvety-nosed, slow and waddly porcupines. Menacing, bark-chomping, tree-disfiguring, dastardly porcupines.

Forgive me my little anti-cute-animal rant, but this little critter with the big brown eyes that visited our apple trees last fall (I know, I know, he is cute):

Cooking with Kids: Don't pet that porcupine

came back and did this to our trees during the winter:

Bean Salad, this is the damage the porcupine did to our trees this winter Bean Salad, this is the damage to our trees from a porcupine

See where that cute little critter chewed the bark clean off the branches? Well, we’ll now have to prune off those branches below the bark-stripped areas, because the tops will all die since there’s no bark to carry nutrients up the branches. After years of babying those trees (building cages around them when young to keep the deer off, watering, fertilizing, and praying), they’ll be all disfigured and lopsided. There won’t be much left of them, and the heavy pruning might even kill them. We’ll wait years again for the branches to grow in and the trees’ll never look completely normal. Not to mention the lost fruit production from our favourite apple tree, three cherry trees, and one ornamental crabapple tree that the porcupine used as his buffet dinner.

And that dear little porcupine (forgive my sarcasm, I know animal lovers will gasp) caused us more grief than that, too! Not only did it ruin five beautiful trees, at the end of last summer, our dog, Pippa, had a little run-in with his charming prickles. Canine curiosity got the better of Pippa, and after a mouthful of quills and a late-night run in to the veterinary emergency clinic an hour’s drive away, where the vet had to anesthetize her and remove over 200 quills from her mouth, the bill came to a choke-inducing $700.

I no longer think that porcupine is in the least bit cute. At. All.

If he ever shows his nose in our yard again, I’ll be jumping up and down and chasing him out of here as fast as his clumsy little body can lumber. You have been warned, Mr. Porcupine!

And what does this all have to do with a Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad, you ask?

Well, it’s a convoluted story, but looking at those trees makes me see that spring is poking it’s verdant green nose into all corners of our yard and garden. The pear tree is in full glorious bloom.

Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad & Pear Tree Full of Blossoms

Patches of azure blue squills create waves beside the path.

Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad, & a Patch of Blooming Blue Squills in Spring

Even our motley crew of chickens is happy to get out of the coop and scratch around in the dirt:

Our motley crew of chickens loves getting out of the coop and scratching around in the dirt.

Seeing all those signs of our unseasonably early spring here in northern Alberta (many years we can still have snow on the ground in April) makes me itch to get out in the garden. Spending hours out in the garden  makes me think about preparing meals before I head out there. If I get lost in gardening pleasures and forget to come into the house in time to make a warm meal, I know I’ll have a bowl of this bean salad chilling in the fridge. I can step out of my dusty boots and wipe my grubby hands on my jeans, then add a quick platter of crackers and cheese, a few veggie sticks, and I’ve got a delicious meal on the table. Plus there are few dishes to do, so I can head back out more quickly after dinner to dig in the dirt a bit more before it’s time to come in and be an exhausted couch potato, dozing off and snoring inelegantly in front of the evening news on television.

So you see, porcupines = tree damage = spring = gardening = quick meals = bean salad. It all makes sense, doesn’t it?

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: Cannellini beans are buttery, mild, and soft, but if you can’t find them, any other white beans will do, or even chickpeas/garbanzo beans. This salad tastes even better the next day, and will keep for several days in the fridge.

I love using my mom’s trick for onions in a salad. She always chops them first, then adds vinegar to cover and sets them aside to ‘pickle’ while she cooks dinner or makes the rest of the salad. By the time the onions have pickled for 15 minutes or more, they’ve lost all their attitude and stink, and now add a deliciously piquant punch to the salad, rather than a sledgehammer blow. (She drains the vinegar, but I’ve left it in to use as part of the dressing.)

Ingredients for Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad Tuna for the Cannellini Bean Salad

I like to keep a jar of artichoke hearts in the fridge. I can buy the 1.8 litre sized jar of marinated, quartered artichokes at Superstore for under $10 and they are so handy to add to all kinds of dishes and salads, serve alongside a selection of appetizers, or to eat straight out of the jar. Try them in this delicious Mediterranean Fried Rice dish – another great one-dish meal. If you can’t get the big jars of marinated artichokes, use the drained contents of one of the smaller-sized jars instead, or even use regular canned artichoke hearts.

*In the batch of tuna bean salad I photographed, I forgot to add the dried oregano, which I usually include. (I stirred it in after taking the photos, but by then it was getting late and everyone was hangry, er, hungry, so I decided it was best not to take any more photos – in the interests of keeping my family’s support for this food blogging thing).

Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad - a complete meal

Tuna and Cannellini Bean Salad

  • ½ cup diced onion (½ of a medium onion)
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large can (798ml/28oz) cannellini beans (or two 400ml/14oz cans or 3½ cups cooked beans)
  • 2 cans (170-200gms/6-7 oz each) solid or chunk tuna
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper
  • 1 cup (240ml) marinated quartered artichoke hearts, drained (about 14 pieces)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • pinch of dried red pepper flakes (optional)
  • juice of half a lemon (about 1½ tablespoons – or use more vinegar)
  • ¼ cup (60ml) olive oil
  • ¼ cup (60ml) chopped parsley

Finely dice the onion and put it in the bottom of a large bowl. Pour on the apple cider vinegar and stir to moisten all the onion pieces. Set the onion and vinegar aside to pickle while you prepare the rest of the ingredients (let them marinate at least 15 minutes).

Drain the beans, pour them into a sieve and rinse them under running water. Set them aside to drain.

Drain the tuna.

Cut the red pepper into small dice (about ¼ inch/.5cm)

Cut each of the marinated artichoke quarters in half lengthwise.

After the onions have marinated for 15 minutes, stir in the salt, pepper, oregano, red pepper flakes (if using), lemon juice, and oil. Add the drained beans, tuna, diced pepper, sliced artichoke hearts, and chopped parsley.

Toss gently to combine, breaking up any large chunks of tuna. You still want to see the tuna chunks, but don’t want to stir it so much that the tuna becomes mush.

Serve over lettuce leaves if you wish.

Makes about 7 cups (1.7l) of salad, serving 4 to 6 as a main course and 8 or more as a side salad. Will keep for up to 5 days in the refrigerator.

Guten Appetit!

If you like my recipes, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. You’d make my day!

You might also like:

Mediterranean Fried Rice

Simple Tuna Salad

Ham ‘n Egg Salad with Hazelnut Flax Crackers

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Posted in Beans & Legumes, Fish & Seafood, Gardening, Salads & Dressings | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies – Crispy yet Chewy – a Yummy Classic

Gluten free chocolate chip cookies – a crispy-edged, chewy-in-the-middle version of that classic cookie.  A bit of banana adds a subtle complex flavour and sweetness, and the protein and fiber content get a boost from healthy flours. You’ll love having this recipe in your cookie collection.

Egg Free Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cookies and milk. Milk and cookies. They go together like hugs and kisses . . . sweet and comforting (and sometimes exciting).

When the cookies are these chewy, crispy, chocolatey little morsels, the milk can be any kind, as long as it’s frosty cold and in a big glass. And if the cookies are still slightly warm with gooey pockets of melted, oozing chocolate, even better.

Egg free, gluten free chocolate chip cookies

These gluten free chocolate chip cookies get devoured by invisible snitching hands in our house. It’s hard to keep them in the cookie jar. The centers really do stay nice and chewy and the outsides are crispy and crunchy. If that’s how you like your chocolate chip cookies too, you’ve come to the right place. The banana stands in exceptionally well as an egg replacement, and even though you can’t really taste it (my daughter’s banana-hating boyfriend couldn’t tell there was any banana in there and polished off half a batch of these cookies), it adds a complex, slight caramel flavour to the cookies, the perfect counterpart to the richness of the chocolate and nuts.

We generally tend to like our cookies less sweet, and I did use less sugar than in most typical recipes for chocolate chip cookies. However, when I tried to reduce the amount of sugar any further, they didn’t turn out as chewy, so I recommend using the full cup of sugar listed below if you’d like to get that wonderful chewy texture in the centers of the cookies. (After all, cookies are a little indulgence, so they might as well be sweet – just don’t overdo it – in other words hide them deep in the freezer amongst the frozen fishing bait, or stash the cookie container at the bottom of the dirty laundry pile, so you won’t be as tempted!)

Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies, in pan ready to bake

Kitchen Frau Notes: You can’t taste the chickpea flour in these cookies, but it does help to increase their protein and fiber content – a little invisible boost of nutrition. You can buy chickpea flour in health food stores, and also in the international section of large supermarkets (like Superstore). It’s often used in Indian cooking and can also go by the name of garbanzo bean/chana/besan/gram flour.

Egg Free, Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies with Banana

Gluten Free Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies

gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free option, nut-free option

  • 1 cup (225gms) butter or non-dairy margarine
  • 1 cup sugar (I use natural evaporated cane sugar)
  • ½ cup (120ml) mashed overripe banana
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1¼ cups  (170gms) brown rice flour
  • 1 cup (130gms) chickpea/garbanzo bean flour
  • ½ cup (60gms) tapioca starch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (175gms) chocolate chips (dairy-free if necessary)
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (for nut-free, substitute with an additional ½ cup chocolate chips)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease several cookie sheets or line them with parchment paper.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in mashed banana and vanilla.

Add brown rice flour, chickpea flour, tapioca starch, and salt. Mix until smooth.

Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.

Chill the dough for 30 minutes. At this point, the dough can also be put into a smaller bowl, covered tightly with plastic wrap, kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, and be baked up as needed.

Roll the dough into 1½-inch (4cm) balls and place, at least 2 inches apart, on prepared cookie sheets. Do not flatten. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes, until brown around the edges, but still soft in the middle.

Allow the cookies to cool in the pan for 5 minutes (this is important, as they are very fragile when hot), then with a spatula, carefully remove them to a cooling rack. They will still be very soft, but the edges will crisp up as they cool. Leave the cookies to firm up at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours before storing them.

*You can also freeze the cookies by placing the rolled balls of cookie dough close together on a lined baking sheet and putting the baking sheet in the freezer. When the cookies are frozen solid, put the frozen cookie dough balls into a heavy duty zip-top freezer bag, remove the air, and seal the bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Bake from frozen for 1 minute longer than the normal baking time.

Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Guten Appetit!

If you like my recipes, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. You’d make my day!

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Posted in Cookies & Candy | Leave a comment

Gluten Free Sausage Rolls with Tzatziki Dipping Sauce

Gluten free sausage rolls that are crispy, crunchy outside and savoury, meaty inside?     You bet! (And the best part is they’re baked, not fried, plus they’re a cinch to roll up.) Serve them with cooling tzatziki dip for the perfect balance of flavours. 

Baked gluten free sausage rolls with Tzatziki

I’ve got it! I’ve got it! I’ve got it!

That cheering is the sound of me celebrating a method to bake things in rice paper wrappers!

All it took was a brush and some oil. Duh (slaps hand to forehead – why didn’t I think of that earlier?) Now they’re crispy and chewy and just so darn delicious. I think I can go crazy with all kinds of fillings. My head is buzzing with new ideas.

If you’ve never worked with rice paper wrappers, I urge you to try it. They are the cat’s meow in easy ways to get a meal on the table absolutely quickly. Got some leftovers in the fridge? Got a package of rice paper wrappers in the pantry? You’ve got dinner!

Check out my post on Salmon and Spinach Salad Rolls for tons of great ideas on how to fill these handy little wet-em-and wrap-up-anything-for-a-great meal-or-snack packages. Plus, they’re naturally gluten-free, too!

We love salad rolls with a bit of salmon or leftover meat, whatever veggie ingredients I can raid from the crisper drawer, maybe some herbs, and a favourite sauce. So fresh and easy (and quick).

But I’ve been on a mission to figure out ways to fill and heat rice paper wrappers. I’ve tried baking them with my samosa filling – but they became hard when baked. I tried making a shrimp filling and deep-frying them, but they kept sticking to each other in the boiling oil and bursting open.

Finally one day I tried brushing them with oil before baking them – voilà – perfectly light, crispy, yet chewy. Oh, I am in food heaven.

baked gluten free sausage rolls made with rice paper wrappers

So, on to the sausage rolls.

I have memories of sausage-making days when growing up on the farm. After the butchering was done, and all the meat was cut up, it was time to make the sausage. My dad made a special tube that attached to the end of the meat grinder (which you can buy, too) and the meat, fat, and spices would be put through the grinder. I remember playing with the long lumpy spaghetti strands of the tangled intestinal casing soaking in the sink, waiting to be slipped over the end of the sausage tube and filled to become plump shining coils of flavourful sausage. My Opa (dad’s dad) came and helped us sometimes for sausage-making sessions. He was the one with the recipe in his head. He died when I was only 10 years old, but I do have some special memories of him.

When I called my mom and asked her how my dad and Opa had made the sausages, she couldn’t remember the recipe, only that lots of black pepper, plus allspice and cloves, were the main flavouring ingredients. I had been playing around with variations of a sausage filling, and was pleased that my seasonings were close to that old version. Instead of using fat along with my meat, I used caramelized onions and mushrooms to provide moisture and flavour. (It takes a bit of love and time to slowly sauté the onions til they are sugary sweet and silky, but the effort is worth the flavour.) And since I didn’t have any sausage casing handy, I used rice paper wrappers. Opa and Dad might have rolled their eyebrows at this unconventional type of sausage, but I think they’d have approved of the flavour.

mmm, a gluten free sausage roll with a dollop of tzatziki sauce

Here’s a picture tutorial for rolling the rice paper wrappers. While I wrap one roll, I have the next wrapper softening in a skillet with about ½ inch (1 cm) of cold water in it.

  1. Lay out your soaked (30 to 45 seconds) rice paper wrapper.
  2. Place the meat mixture on it horizontally, about 1/3 of the way up the wrapper.

rolling rice paper wrappers 1 rolling rice paper wrappers 2

3. Roll the wrapper up to cover the filling, starting at the bottom.

4. Then fold over one side of the rice paper wrapper.

rolling rice paper wrappers 3 rolling rice paper wrappers 4

5. Now fold over the other side of the rice paper wrapper to cover the filling. Make sure you’ve folded in both sides enough so they don’t stick out farther than the edges of your filling.

6. Then continue rolling up the wrapper to the end, finishing with the end of the wrapper underneath the roll to keep it sealed.

rolling rice paper wrappers 5 rolling rice paper wrappers6


Now place the rolls, seam side down, onto a parchment lined baking sheet, making sure there is about 1 inch (2.5cm) space between them. Brush the tops and sides of the rolls generously with oil, using a pastry brush, and making sure to dab oil onto the ends, too.

rice paper wrappers for the sausage rolls IMG_5601a

Bake them, then enjoy a bite into a crispy-shelled, savoury little sausage roll.

Kitchen Frau Notes: Rice Paper wrappers can be purchased in Asian grocery stores, or in the Asian section of large supermarkets (like Superstore).

Chickpea flour can be purchased in natural food stores, health food stores, or in the Asian section of large supermarkets. It goes by many different names and is relatively inexpensive. Our local large supermarket chain (Superstore) carries the Suraj brand of chickpea flour (called chana flour) in its Indian import section. This brand is included in the Grande Prairie Celiac Site (click ‘Pages’ then click ‘GF Flours and Mixes’ in the dropdown).

*You could also substitute another gluten-free or regular flour for the chickpea flour.

baked gluten free sausage rolls with tzatziki dipping sauce

Gluten Free Sausage Rolls with Tzatziki Dipping Sauce

  • 1 tablespoon butter, ghee, coconut oil, or bacon fat
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped (about 3 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 cups (170gms) finely chopped mushrooms
  • 1 lb (454gms) lean ground beef
  • 1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ¼ teaspoon ground dried ginger
  • 1 large egg
  • ¼ cup chickpea flour (garbanzo/besan/chana/gram flour)
  • 16 medium rice paper wrappers (8-inch/20cm) diameter), or 32 small rice paper wrappers (6-inch/15cm diameter) to make appetizer sized rolls
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons oil or melted ghee

Prepare the filling: Finely chop the onions, either by hand or in a food processor – just don’t process too long or you’ll have mush. If you used a food processor, finely chop the mushrooms in it before washing it out, or chop the mushrooms finely by hand.

Heat the ghee, oil, or fat in a heavy bottomed skillet set over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and the 2 tablespoons water to the skillet. Cook the onions for 20 minutes over medium heat, stirring often, until they are brown and caramelized and reduced to at least half their volume. Add the mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes longer, stirring often, until the mushrooms have released their juices and the juices have evaporated off, with the mushrooms starting to brown a bit at the edges. Let the mixture cool. (You can cook the onions and mushrooms a day or two ahead and refrigerate them until ready to make the sausage rolls.)

While the onions and mushrooms are cooking, mix the ground meat, salt, pepper, thyme, allspice, ginger, egg, and chickpea flour in a bowl. Stir in the cooled caramelized onions and mushrooms, and mix lightly with your hands until combined.

Assemble the rolls: Preheat the oven to 400°F. Set out a shallow dish (pie plate or clean skillet) and fill it with about ½ inch (1 cm) water. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set a large cutting board in front of you for a work space.

Place one rice paper wrapper into the water and let it soak for 30 to 45 seconds, until it is just pliable. Remove the wrapper and set it onto the work surface in front of you. Place the next rice paper wrapper into the water to soak while you roll the first one. If the wrappers soak too long they get limp and sticky, but if they don’t soak long enough, they are hard to roll and can crack. After rolling a few you’ll get a feel for exactly how long to soak them for ease of wrapping. If the wrapper isn’t quite pliable enough to work with when you take it out of the water, let it lay on your work surface for 10 or 15 more seconds, and it should be soft enough to roll.

Take about 3 tablespoons of spiced meat mixture from the bowl and roll it into a ball (about 1¾” diameter). Form the meatball into a 3-inch long (8cm) sausage in your hand. If making appetizer-sized sausage rolls, use only 1½ tablespoons of spiced meat and shape it into 2½ inch long (6cm) sausages (then use the small-sized rice paper wrappers).

Place the sausage horizontally in front of you, onto the rice paper wrapper about one quarter of the way into the wrapper. Fold the short end of the sheet over the sausage, and start rolling it, away from you. Fold over both sides of the wrapper, tucking the ends in as you roll the sausage roll all the way to the end of the wrapper. Place the roll onto the prepared baking sheet, seam side down.

Continue making all the rolls, always soaking the next rice wrapper as you roll the previous one.

Once all the rolls are placed on the baking sheet, use a pastry brush to brush each one generously with the oil, making sure to dab oil onto the ends of the sausage rolls too.

Bake the large sausage rolls for40 minutes, turning the rolls once about halfway through, until they are golden brown and crispy. Bake the smaller appetizer-sized rolls for 30 minutes, turning them after 20 minutes.

Let cool 10 minutes on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Serve with tzatziki or your favourite dipping sauce.

Makes 16 gluten free sausage rolls or 32  appetizer-sized rolls.

*Rolls also taste great at room temperature – send them in lunchboxes. To reheat and crisp up leftover rolls, reheat them in a 400°F oven for 5 to 10 minutes.

baked gluten free sausage rolls and tzatziki sauce


  • 1 cup (250ml) Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup (120ml) packed, shredded English cucumber (thin-skinned)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • a sprinkle of coarsely ground pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill (optional)

Pass the garlic clove through a garlic press, or finely mince it then crush it with the flat side of a knife blade. Shred the cucumber with the skin on, and pack it into the measuring cup to measure.

Stir together all ingredients in a small bowl. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes to mellow the flavours.

Makes 1½ cups tzatziki sauce. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to a week. Stir before using.

Guten Appetit!


If you like my recipes, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. You’d make my day!

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Bacon Wrapped Fruit Appetizers

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gluten free sausage rolls with Thai sweet red chili sauce

. . . and if you don’t feel like making the tzatziki sauce, they’re pretty good with bottled Thai sweet red chili sauce, too . . .

Posted in Appetizers, Meats | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Green Goobers (Matcha Green Tea Energy Balls)

These little two-bite matcha green tea energy balls will add zip to your day with their tangy lime flavour and the healthy kick of green tea!

Fuel up with nutrition-packed Lime & Matcha Green Tea Energy Balls (Green Goobers) for an energizing antioxidant boost ! (5 ingredients, no-bake, gluten-free)

Okay, okay, I’ll eat more greens.

Do these Green Goobers count? They’re bright green and they taste amazing. They must be good for me, right?

Oh, yes – so right.

These little green energy balls are loaded with nutrients, made with only 5 ingredients, and can be whipped up in minutes. Cashews and honey, chia seeds and lime. Yum. The antioxidant level of matcha green tea powder is higher than any other type of tea, and it gives you a slow-release caffeine boost that comes with calmness and mental clarity, but no jitters like you get from coffee. That’s all I need to know. Plus, that wonderful citrus zing from the lime makes my mouth happy.

I love to pop a couple of Green Goobers whenever I feel the need for a little pick-me-up.

Green Goobers, Lime and Matcha Green Tea Energy Balls

If you haven’t yet jumped onto the energy ball bandwagon, what are you waiting for? Much easier to make than cookies, these little no-bake balls of power and yum usually whip up in under 10 minutes and satisfy that craving for a little something sweet – but give you so much more in the nutrition department.

Try my Chocolate Walnut Cookie Dough Balls for your chocoholic fix, or my Gingerbread Cookie Dough Balls if you’re hankering for something warm and cozy and spicy. If you’re in the mood for another fruity version, these Apricot Orange Energy Balls will satisfy your craving. You could even make these decadent chocolate-covered Truffle Cake Pops (with a secret super-healthy ingredient), that are really just energy balls disguised as dessert!

Green Goobers, Lime and matcha green tea energy balls

* * * * *

Kitchen Frau Notes: You can use the chia seeds either whole or ground up for these energy balls. I’ve made them both ways. Some people prefer the seeds ground because the whole seeds tend to stick in the spaces between their teeth, but others preferr the energy balls made with whole chia seeds because they like the crunch they provide. To grind the seeds, I use a coffee grinder. I grind up a bunch at a time and keep them in a baggie in the freezer. You can also use a blender to grind the seeds.

Lime and matcha green tea energy balls ingredients

5 ingredients for matcha green tea energy balls

(For the energy balls in the photographs, I used ground white chia seeds.)

ground up stuff for matcha green tea energy balls

I’ve specified white chia seeds because they are less noticeable, but dark chia seeds would work just as well. They have the same nutritional value.

ready to roll the matcha green tea energy balls Lime and matcha green tea energy balls

I’ve also made these Green Goobers with macadamia nuts and they work equally well.

Matcha green tea powder is finely ground green tea leaves that have been shaded during their last weeks of growth to produce a higher than normal chlorophyll content, producing the bright green colour. This tea is extremely high in antioxidants. Matcha is quite expensive, but a little goes a long way. It’s available in health food stores and tea shops, but I’ve found it to be much cheaper in the Asian supermarkets, with a variety of different brands available.

Cashew, Lime, and Matcha Green Tea Energy Balls

Green Goobers (Lime & Matcha Green Tea Energy Balls)

  • 2 cups raw unsalted cashews (or macadamia nuts)
  • ¼ cup honey
  • zest and juice of 1 lime (1 teaspoon zest and 1½ tablespoons juice)
  • 2 tablespoons white chia seeds, whole or ground
  • 1 tablespoon matcha green tea powder

Combine all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and grind until you have an even mass with small nut chunks in it. Once the dough sticks together in somewhat of a ball as it whips around the blade, it is sticky enough. If it is too dry to come together, add a small drizzle of additional lime juice or water to help it come together.

Scrape the dough from the food processor into a smaller bowl, and refrigerate for about 10 minutes, to allow the chia seeds to absorb water and make the dough easier to roll.

Use  a teaspoon to scoop up about a walnut-sized chunk of dough at a time, and roll it into a ball with the palm of your hands until it is smooth and shiny.

Makes 20 energy balls.

Store them in the refrigerator for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Guten Appetit!

If you like my recipes, follow me on Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook. You’d make my day!


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Posted in Cookies & Candy, Dairy-free, Snacks | 2 Comments

Cooking with Kids: Rice Krispie Easter Egg Nests

These little Rice Krispie Easter Egg Nests were dropped off by the Easter Bunny! Aren’t they just the sweetest little treats?

Crispy Rice Easter Egg Nests

Cooking with Meredith

Shhhh. Can you hear that rustling? Stand really still so you don’t scare him. I think it must be the Easter Bunny, and I think he’s hiding something. I’ll just tiptoe over there to see if I can peek at him.

Yup! I believe that was him – I just saw a fluffy little tail whisk around the corner!

Oh my, look what he left us! 

These sweet little nests!

Meredith and I helped the Easter Bunny prepare these little crispy rice nests for Easter. We know he’s so busy painting eggs he wouldn’t have had time to get them all done by himself.

Crispy Rice Easter Nests: Cooking with Kids

We sneaked a little taste and they were so yummy. We hope you like them too!



Kitchen Frau Notes: These nests are best to make with two people, since you have to work fast to get them formed before the mixture cools and the marshmallow sets.

Spritzing the outside of the nests with a light mist of water helps keep them sticky enough for the coconut to stick. You can buy spray bottles at the dollar store, or use a clean empty spray bottle from a non-toxic cleaning product.

Chickie with Crispy Rice Easter Egg Nests

Rice Krispie Easter Egg Nests

gluten-free option, dairy-free option

  • ¼ cup (60gms) butter or coconut oil, plus a bit extra
  • 250 gms (9oz.) marshmallows (6 cups mini marshmallows or 40 regular-sized ones)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 cups crispy rice cereal (gluten free if necessary)
  • ½ cup (40gms) shredded coconut
  • 36 jelly beans or mini candy-coated chocolate eggs (check for gluten or dairy)
  • a spray bottle filled with water

Before you start, lay out a sheet of wax paper or parchment paper on your work surface. Have a spray bottle of water ready so you can mist the nests so the coconut sticks to them.

Measure out the crispy rice cereal in a large bowl. Place the coconut in a smaller bowl next to the wax paper.

weighing marshmallows for crispy rice Easter egg nests

we used a mixture of small and large marshmallows so had to weigh them out

In a large saucepan set over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the marshmallows and stir constantly just until they are melted and combined with the butter. Remove the saucepan from the heat and stir in the vanilla.

Pour the melted marshmallow mixture over the crispy rice in the bowl, scraping out the saucepan with a silicone spatula. You’ll have to work quickly so the marshmallow doesn’t set. Use a long-handled wooden spoon to stir the crispy rice and marshmallow mixture together until it is all coated.

Take a pea sized amount of butter or coconut oil and rub it between your palms to grease them. Take a large handful of the gooey rice mixture (about ½ cupful) and pack it firmly into a ball (like you’re packing a snowball).

make a ball of crispy rice for Easter egg nests

Then press both your thumbs into the center of the ball to make an indentation. Pinch around the sides of the ‘nest’ to make a ridge all the way around.

forming crispy rice Easter egg nests

Quickly spray the whole surface of the ‘nest’ with a misting of water – this will help make it sticky.

spraying crispy rice Easter egg nests with water

Roll the nest in the coconut, sprinkling some into the indentation and shaking out the excess.

crolling the rispy rice Easter egg nests

Gently press back together any parts of the nest that came apart a bit. Set the nest onto the waxed paper.

Quickly continue making more nests until you have used all the crispy rice mixture, regreasing your hands with more butter whenever the nests start to stick to your fingers. You should have twelve nests.

Once they are all done, you can fill the nests with 3 jelly bean eggs in the center of each one.

Filling crispy rice Easter egg nests with jelly beans

Let them cool until they harden.

Makes 12 nests.

Guten Appetit!


For more fun kitchen projects to make with kids, see the ‘Cooking With Kids’ series.


You might also like:

Cooking with Kids: Surprise Jellied Easter Eggs

Cooking with Kids: Raspberry Honey Marshmallows

Choco-Crisps (Oaty, Chocolate Rice Krispie Cookies)

Chocolate Truffle Cake Pops – with a Surprising Secret Ingredient

there's still snow at Easter time

the Easter Bunny’s gonna have a hard time hiding Easter eggs outside in this snow!

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