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Slow-Cooker Succotash with Quinoa and Butternut Squash

With plenty of savoury flavour and the convenience of the crock pot, finally, here is an appealing succotash recipe that makes me grateful and glad!

Slow-Cooker Quinoa Succotash

Skeptics like me need some convincing that succotash is a dish worth serving. Though I would like to be as thankful as the my immigrant ancestors were for basic sustenance, bland food does not incline me toward celebration. My opinion about succotash changed after one bite of this new, improved version.Slow-Cooker Succotash with Quinoa and Butternut Squash

Salt, onion, herbs and the lovely texture of quinoa round out this succotash and make it an appealing side dish worth repeating.  The blend of savoury herbs and the fluffy texture reminds me of my favourite part of the Thanksgiving feast–stuffing!  I am so glad I tried cooking quinoa in the slow cooker (inspired by a Mexican quinoa recipe I found).  Especially now, when we have two stove top burners out of commission, additional cooking tools are especially handy.  And it works wonderfully in a rice cooker too!

So whether for Thanksgiving, assorted potlucks, or future holiday gatherings, from now on, succulent succotash has earned its place in my side dish repertoire.

Slow-Cooker Succotash with Quinoa and Butternut Squash

  • Servings: 6 to 8
  • Time: 3 hours 40 minutes
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  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed*
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup white beans, cooked
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 1 cup celery, chopped, divided
  • 1/2 cup red onion or shallots, chopped, divided
  • 1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
  • 2 Tablespoons butter, oil, or vegan margarine
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • dried parsley, to taste
  • sea salt to tasteassembled-succotashDirections:
  1. Layer the ingredients in the following order: quinoa, 1/4 cup onions, 1/4 cup celery, corn, beans, sage, broth.
  2. Cook for 3 hours on high, or until quinoa is tender and fluffy.
  3. In a small skillet or pan, heat butter or oil over medium heat and sauté remaining onion and celery, along with the rosemary.  Add these to the squash and quinoa mixture.  Gently stir the layers together, adding salt to taste.  Keep warm until serving time.

Rice cooker option:  Follow the same steps as above, except add another 1/4 cup of water; use the “cook” setting on your rice cooker.  The time required will only be about 40 minutes (until the rice cooker switches itself to the “warm” setting).  Keep warm until ready to serve; if necessary, add a small amount of water to keep the dish moist throughout.

*Note:  To prepare butternut squash, I find it works well to submerge the whole squash (even part way is fine) in a pot of just-boiled hot water for 10 minutes.  This softens the skin enough to peel easily with a normal vegetable peeler.  After chopping off the ends, I cut the squash in half, peel the skin, and then cut it into cubes prior to cooking.

This recipe will be shared at Allergy Free Wednesdays, Natural Family Friday, Savoring Saturdays, and more.


Chocolate Dipped Banana Pop Bar

Toppings for Chocolate Dipped Bananas

When I saw this super idea at Hidden Ponies to make marshmallows pops with melted chocolate and assorted toppings, I knew we had to try it with bananas.  Because I’m just not that into corn syrup.

As much as we like sprinkles, to avoid artificial colours this time, I rummaged through my cupboards and the refrigerator and found a healthier array of coatings–pretzels, pomegranate fruit, almonds, and shredded coconut.  That’s not to say we wouldn’t use sprinkles (or even marshmallows) in the future though.  Yes, I’m ambivalent like that–a sorta health nut mom who tries to move in better directions.  Sometimes, but not always.

Melting chocolate in the microwave is often a dicey endeavour, but it started well.  After rewarming though, the chocolate was getting close to seizing and was none too smooth.  A fondue pot, double boiler or water bath is what I am recommending instead.  I’ll do that next time.  And there will be a next time soon!

Chocolate Dipped Banana Bar with Toppings

My daughter and I made and decorated our bananas as an after school snack.  Freezing any leftovers is highly recommended.  Frozen chocolate dipped bananas are one of my favourite healthy treats.  If you can hold back eating them right away, a greater reward awaits.  Two hours later (or after supper), cold melt-in-the-mouth chocolate bliss was mine.  It can be yours too.

Chocolate Dipped Banana Pop Bar

  • Time: 15 minutes, plus chilling
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Ripe bananas (still firm)
  • Chocolate for melting, such as chocolate chips or chocolate candy bars
  • Toppings of your choice, such as:
    • coconut
    • chopped nuts
    • fresh pomegranate arils
    • sesame seeds
    • crushed pretzels
    • sprinkles
    • mini candies


  1. Peel and cut bananas into marshmallow-sized chunks.  Spear each piece with a wooden stick.
  2. Gently melt chocolate using a double boiler, water bath, or fondue pot.
  3. Dip each banana piece in melted chocolate until covered.  Roll in desired toppings.
  4. Let chocolate harden by resting each dipped banana on waxed paper or by securing end of sticks in slits cut into a cardboard box.
  5. Enjoy the dipped bananas at room temperature, or wrap loosely and chill in the freezer until cold (about 2 hours).

Chocolate Dipped Bananas

I share recipes here.

This is also part of Allergy Free Wednesdays and Gluten Free Wednesdays this week.


Cinnamon Glazed Apple Cider Waffles

When the air turns from crisp to chilly, and a light blanket of snow has begun to appear, I know autumn is ending.  The ideal time for me to enjoy a mug of hot spiced cider has arrived.  And since I have a large jug of apple cider handy, why not use some to make waffles as well?Apple Cider Waffles with Cinnamon Glaze

We enjoyed our apple cider waffles for brunch, with a side of crisp bacon strips.  I added some Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream as a topping to my double stack, which made the glaze less necessary.  If you prefer syrup to glaze, I recommend trying some cinnamon maple syrup to accent the spice blend in the waffles.  Or if you really want the apple cider flavour every which way, you can reduce 2 cups of cider on the stove until it thickens into 100% cider syrup.

Apple Cider Waffles with Cinnamon Glaze

Apple Cider Waffles with Cinnamon Cider Glaze

  • Servings: makes 12 to 16 waffle squares
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For the waffle batter:

  • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (may use part whole wheat)
  • 2 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice blend
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons golden (light brown) sugar, optional
  • 3 Tablespoons melted butter or oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 ¾ cup pure apple cider (without preservatives if possible)

For the cinnamon cider glaze:

  • 1 cup icing sugar (confectioners sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 to 3 Tablespoons apple cider, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon melted butter or coconut oil


  1. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt in a medium mixing bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat together eggs, oil or butter, and apple cider.
  3. Combine wet and dry ingredients, stirring together until evenly incorporated.
  4. Heat waffle iron and spray or baste with oil.  Cook waffles until golden.  Cover to keep warm.
  5. To make the glaze, whisk together icing sugar with cinnamon.  Add 1 Tablespoon cider and melted butter or oil and whisk until a paste forms.  Gradually add more cider until glaze reaches desired thinness.
  6. To glaze the waffles, dip one side of each waffle into the glaze.  Or serve waffles with cinnamon maple syrup or Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream.

Apple Cider Waffles with Pumpkin Ice Cream

I’m sharing this recipe at Allergy Free Wednesdays and elsewhere.


Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream {Dairy-Free, Paleo}

Creamy coconut milk pairs with pumpkin and warm spices to create a gloriously rich ice cream that might even eclipse a slice of pie.  And it only needs five ingredients!

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream {Paleo} | Swirls and Spice

Clean eating that tastes this good makes me even happier to celebrate and “indulge.”  Gathering with friends and family to enjoy some amazing pumpkin ice cream seems like a great way to spend November (or any month hereafter).   Meanwhile, it’s easy to forget that the homemade ice cream we’re enjoying is just as healthy as a smoothie.

For something sweet and nourishing, dates are where it’s at.  Their sweetness adds to the flavour in a completely natural way.  This recipe for ice cream incorporates the date soaking technique used in my recipe for Cranberry Date Tartlets.  The trio of pumpkin and spices and extra creamy coconut milk blend incredibly well with the flavour of the dates.

The urge to enjoy pumpkin ice cream for breakfast is something I need not resist therefore.  A scoop could even serve as a legitimate topping for waffles, such as these Ginger Pear Oat Waffles.  Or if you are really in a pumpkin mood, why not enjoy a Pumpkin Spiced Oat Bar à la mode?Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream | Swirls and Spice

Paleo Pumpkin Ice Cream {No Sweetener Added}

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 45 minutes, plus chilling time
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  • 1 can full fat coconut milk (400 ml)
  • 25 honey dates (or equivalent)
  • 1 cup plain pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • pinch of sea salt, optional


  1.  To soften the dates, pour boiling hot coconut milk over dates and cover for 20 minutes or longer to soak.
  2. Blend soaked dates and coconut milk in food processor or blender until relatively smooth.  Add all remaining ingredients and blend again until smooth.  Cover and chill the mixture for one hour.
  3. Pour chilled mixture into prepared ice cream maker and churn for 20 minutes or until ice cream starts to thicken.  Continue to churn for a few more minutes until it is firm enough to scoop.  Serve immediately.  Top with whipped coconut cream, caramel sauce, and nuts if desired.

Note: Any remaining ice cream can be frozen in a covered container for future use.  After time in the freezer it will need to be set out to soften for about 10 minutes prior to scooping and serving.

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream {Paleo}

This recipe is part of Natural Family Fridays, Savoring Saturdays and may be shared here as well.

I’m also sharing it at Allergy Free Wednesdays and Gluten Free Wednesdays.


Savoury Cilantro Popovers {Gluten Free}

Poll a group of people and you will find few, if any, who are undecided when it comes to the taste of cilantro (or coriander).  I fall into the cilantro lovers’ camp most definitely!  But should you find yourself on the other side of the aisle, fear not.  You can easily swap in fresh basil or even baby spinach leaves.  And in all of these variations, I think you will agree that green is a gorgeous addition in these airy alternatives to yeast buns. Cilantro Popovers - Gluten free and Dairy free This is my final contribution for Muffin Tin Month, and what a month it has been!  We haven’t quite finished all of the deliveries to complete our “Love Your Neighbour Challenge,” but I gave myself a grace period due to two family funerals that occurred in the same month.  So we’ll be choosing a few more recipes to make this weekend for people in our neighbourhood and community. Throughout Muffin Tin Month, I used cranberries in abundance, and you will find some delicious pumpkin muffin recipes from other contributors on the Muffin Tin Mania Pinterest board.  You are invited to check it out and pin your favourites too! http://www.pinterest.com/aiming4simple/muffin-tin-mania/ Cilantro Popovers {Gluten and Dairy Free}

Savoury Cilantro Popovers


  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 2 Tablespoons tapioca flour
  • 1/8 cup (2 Tablespoons) fresh cilantro (coriander), packed
  • 1 green onion
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • scant 1/4 teaspoon sea salt


  1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (218 C).  Blend all ingredients in an electric blender until smooth.
  2. Grease mini muffin tin cups well with butter or oil.  Preheat muffin tin for several minutes. Pour in egg mixture.  Bake for 15 minutes or until middles of popovers test done.  If using a regular muffin tin, allow more baking time. Carefully remove popovers with a knife or spoon.  Serve warm.

I share recipes here and at Allergy Free Wednesdays and Savoring Saturdays.

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Cranberry Pineapple Upside-Down Baked Oatmeal {GF}

Cranberry Pineapple Upside-Down Baked Oatmeal Cups | Swirls and SpiceUpside-down baked oatmeal cups are ideal for a weekend breakfast or as part of a simple holiday brunch.  Soaking the oats gives a light and fluffy texture to these lovely fruit-topped oatmeal cups.  Oats also contain the anti-nutrient phytic acid, some of which gets broken down during the soaking process, yielding a more nutritious breakfast option.

This was actually my first attempt at baked oatmeal, and I adapted a baked oatmeal recipe from Whole New Mom.  The results were fantastic—healthy, naturally sweet, and colourful!Cranberry Pineapple Upside-Down Baked Oatmeal Cups

Cranberry Pineapple Upside-Down Baked Oatmeal Cups

  • Servings: about 18 muffins
  • Time: 45 minutes plus soaking time
  • Print


  • 2 cups old-fashioned (large flake) oats (GF)
  • 2 cups coconut milk beverage, light coconut milk and/or almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 Tablespoons coconut oil or unsalted butter
  • 2 Tablespoons maple syrup (or other sweetener)
  •  1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 36 fresh cranberries, cut in half
  • 1 cup fresh, frozen, or canned pineapple, diced
  • 2 teaspoons pure honey (or unrefined sugar)


  1. The night before, combine oats with non-dairy milk(s) and lemon juice in a non-metallic container.  Cover and let soak for 8 hours or longer.
  2. Mix together pineapple, cranberries, and honey, so that the flavours blend together.
  3. Line muffin tin compartments with paper liners and grease the bottoms of the liners well.  Place 4 cranberry halves in each cup, followed by some pineapple pieces to form a fruit layer.  (Or to save time you can fold in the fruit with the batter in the bowl just before baking.  The result will taste the same, but you will not achieve the upside-down effect.)
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 C). In a medium mixing bowl, stir together soaked oats, oil or butter, salt, and cinnamon.  Stir in egg, followed by baking powder.
  5. Add batter on top of fruit layer.  Each muffin tin cup should be about two-thirds full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until middle of muffins tests done.
  6. Let baked oatmeal cups cool for 5 minutes in the muffin tin before gently taking them out of the liners, using a butter knife. Turn the baked oatmeal cups upside-down, with the fruit layer on top.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Top with additional maple syrup or unrefined sugar if desired.

This recipe is part of Muffin Tin Month, and may also be shared here.

I’m also sharing this at Savoring Saturdays.


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