Sesame Sticky Rice Cakes with Banana

Inspired by my favourite Chinese and Vietnamese desserts, these rice cakes feature sticky rice coated in sesame seeds with sweet banana tucked inside.

Sesame Sticky Rice Cakes with Banana

Frosted birthday cakes in Asia were always a dicey proposition.  They almost never tasted quite right to me.  But anything sweet that involved sticky rice was usually excellent.   So I have come to the conclusion that it is best to seek out ethnic food that reflects the traditional ingredients and cooking methods of the area.  In China and Vietnam that means rice prepared without an oven.

I was craving some Vietnamese che choui nuong (grilled banana in sweet coconut milk) a while ago, but I thought it was yet another Asian treat I would have to forgo on this side of the ocean.  And then I remembered ba si xiang jiao (deep-fried banana with caramel syrup), another sweet-and-sticky dessert that we often enjoyed at restaurants in China.  And so this fusion dessert/snack/breakfast came to be.  It combines the flavours of sweet banana che and fried banana dumplings with the light crunch of sesame seeds.

Sticky Rice Cakes with Banana

Sesame Sticky Rice Cakes with Banana

  • Servings: about 12 cakes
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

  • 1 cup glutinous rice (or sushi rice), soaked for 2 hours or more
  • 2 bananas, cut into thick pieces
  • 1 cup sesame seeds
  • about 2 cups of oil for frying, such as grapeseed oil, peanut oil, or coconut oil
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • honey, to taste


  1. Drain water from rice and add 1.5 cups of water. Cook in a rice cooker or covered saucepan according to package directions. Remove from heat.
  2. Make sure the cooked sticky rice is cool enough to handle but still warm and moist. Take a portion of rice and use it to cover a piece of banana (and be ready for sticky fingers). Sprinkle with sea salt to taste and then dip the rice cake into a bowl of sesame seeds until completely coated.
  3. Pour oil for frying in a pan or skillet until it is about 2 cm deep. Heat over medium-high heat for several minutes before adding some of the sticky rice cakes. Fry on both sides until golden. Remove rice cakes from oil and drain.
  4. To make a dipping sauce, whisk warm coconut milk, honey, and peanut butter together until smooth.Sticky Rice Cakes with Banana and Sesame Seeds

I share recipes here and at Allergy Free Wednesdays.

I’m also joining Gluten Free Wednesdays this week.


Blueberry Lime Fruit Gummies

Blueberry Lime Fruit Gummies {Paleo-Friendly}

Tangy, sweet, and chewy, a touch of lime transports these healthy treats into the ultimate snack realm.  Elderberry and blueberries give added boosts of antioxidants and immune support.  But once these gems are ready to pick up, everyone will be too busy biting into the flavours to notice the hidden benefits.

Blueberry Lime Fruit Gummies

  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print


  • 2/3 cup pure apple juice
  • 1/3 cup blueberry applesauce (I used pureed blueberry lime applesauce)
  • 4 Tablespoons unflavoured gelatin powder (about 4 packets)
  • 2 Tablespoons pure maple syrup (or cane sugar if not paleo)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons elderberry syrup, optional (for colour and immune support)
  • pinch of ground ginger
  • oil for greasing the pan/s


  1. Blend gelatin and juice and applesauce together in a small, cool saucepan.  Turn heat to medium and warm mixture to dissolve gelatin.  Add maple syrup and elderberry syrup if using.  Continue to heat and stir gently until mixture is smooth and liquid is transparent.
  2. Turn off heat and stir in lime juice.  Pour warm liquid into a lightly greased glass dish, such as a loaf pan.  Carefully place the pan on a level shelf in the freezer for 15 minutes to set.  Lift the solidified gummy layer out and cut with a sharp knife into cubes or desired shapes.  Store covered in the refrigerator until ready to serve or pack in a lunch box.

Blueberry Lime Fruit Gummies {Paleo-Friendly}

This recipe is linked to Allergy Free Wednesdays and here.


10-Minute Tomato and White Bean Soup

Taste the flavours of Tuscan cooking with a minimum of fuss.  You can blend, heat, and serve this hearty Italian-style tomato soup in 10 minutes or less.


From my mother I inherited a penchant for soups.  She is a soup artisan, crafting homemade soups like Pasta y Fagioli on a regular basis.  Her friends are often the ones who benefit from the big batches she cooks.  We tasted some of her soups again this summer and savoured each bowl.  Somehow I had gotten out of the soup habit earlier this year, and I missed it.  After a month on the road, everyone in my family was eager to enjoy soup from our own kitchen again.  So I recalled the simplest soups I have made, like White Bean and Cabbage Soup, and turned to them once more.

Since I had a surplus of white beans prepared, I decided to revisit a recipe for soup from my copy of Moosewood Restaurant Celebrates.  Accurately described as “simple and fast,” I took this delightful recipe to the next level of convenience with prepared marinara sauce.  A jar of sauce and a can of beans is all you need to have delicious tomato and white bean soup on the table in minutes.

Fitting accompaniments for this soup include Pesto Olive Bread Twists or Green Bean Foccacia.  If you prefer a gluten-free option, try Cilantro Olive Tapenade with Lentil Buckwheat Crackers.

10-Minute Tomato and Bean Soup

  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
10-Minute Tomato Bean Soup


  • Prepared marinara sauce (I buy jars of organic marinara from Costco or use Classico sauce, any flavour)
  • Cooked white beans, such as navy beans
  • Sea salt to taste


  1. Measure out equal parts beans and marinara sauce (so for 4 large servings, use 2 cups of each).  Add cooked beans with the marinara sauce to a blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Optional: reserve a small portion of whole beans to add later.
  2. Add blended sauce and beans to a large sauce pan and heat to a gentle boil, stirring frequently.   Dilute with water to desired thickness and season with sea salt.  Add reserved whole beans if using.  Reduce heat to simmer and continue stirring.  Serve warm.

I’m sharing this recipe at Fiesta Friday this week.

This recipe may be also shared here and at Allergy-Free Wednesdays.


Raspberry Rhubarb Apple Crisp

Raspberry Rhubarb Apple Crisp | Swirls and Spice
Loaded with tart rhubarb and tangy raspberries, sweetened with local apples and rich maple syrup, this fruit crisp celebrates the end of summer harvest.  The topping is delightful, made with oats and ground almonds held together with coconut oil (or butter if you prefer) and a touch of sugar and spice.  It also happens to be gluten free.  But mostly it’s a dessert that I want to repeat as often as possible.  To me it’s fruit crisp at its finest, which I’ll choose over chocolate decadence almost every time.

Raspberry Rhubarb Apple Crisp

  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Ingredients:Raspberry Rhubarb Crisp {with gluten free topping}
  • 3 to 4 cups chopped rhubarb
  • 1 cup chopped apple
  • 1 to 2 cups raspberries
  • 2 tablespoons apple juice or mixed berry juice, optional
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup oat flour or other flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar or equivalent
  • 2 tablespoons almond meal
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon


  1. In a large saucepan, bring rhubarb, apple, raspberries, juice and maple syrup to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C).  In a separate bowl, blend together oats, oat flour, almond meal, coconut oil, salt, ginger, and cinnamon to form the topping.
  3. Pour warm filling into a 2 quart baking dish.  Sprinkle with topping.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until topping is crisp and golden.  Serve warm.
adapted from Life on Manitoulin

Raspberry Rhubarb Apple Crisp {gluten free} | Swirls and Spice

I share recipes at Allergy Free Wednesdays and here.


Blueberry Lime Applesauce with Ginger

Simple, zingy, and astonishingly delicious–this homemade blueberry applesauce with ginger tastes sublime!  Another batch needs to be made soon, because we can’t get enough!

Blueberry Lime Applesauce with GingerA friend called me up last Friday and asked if I could go with her to gather some surplus apples in the neighbourhood.  The funny thing is, I had been hoping to score some free apples in the coming weeks.  I even said “bring on the apples” in my last post!  Well, my friend had no idea what I had wished for before she called, and I had not thought through how many apples would be coming my way when I said yes!  I sent my two daughters to help with the picking, since I had company at home.  And they filled both big bags that I supplied for apple collecting.

Cutting up our oodles of apples took a few hours.  But I now have endless options for stewing and baking them.  First I made some cinnamon applesauce, which I used to make some Saskatoon Berry Applesauce Bars.  Then I decided to go in a citrusy direction with lime applesauce, sweetened with blueberries, and accented with ginger.   The kids loved it.  I adore it.  Definitely worth making, even if you have to pay for your apples.

Have you ever picked your own apples?

Blueberry Lime Applesauce with Ginger

Blueberry Lime Applesauce with Ginger

  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • approximately 4 cups of sliced apples
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • juice of 1/2 large lime
  • ground ginger to taste (about 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 100% apple juice, optional, to taste


  1. Cover the bottom of a large pot with a shallow layer of water.  Add apple slices and cover.  Simmer over medium low heat until apples are very soft.
  2. Stir in blueberries, ginger, and lime juice.  Simmer for 10 minutes or so.  Add apple juice to sweeten the sauce if desired.
  3. Remove applesauce from heat.  Serve warm or chilled.

This post may be linked here and at Allergy Free Wednesdays.


Crêpes on a Stick with Green Apples and Ham


September is nearly here, so bring on the apples!  Add some savoury ham and/or cream cheese, roll it all up with a crêpe, and breakfast becomes almost as much fun as a Seuss book!

In the house or in a car, eat them, eat them; here they are!
Crêpes in a car? Is there a way?
All you need is a stick I say.

Crêpes can brighten anyone’s morning; they also are an ideal breakfast component to make ahead of time.  On the weekend or during an evening show, whip up a stack to stow in the fridge or freezer (but see this post for storage tips).  Then become a morning hero, with sweet and savoury crêpes ready to roll as you start the day.

Now I grew up with Swedish pancakes, which are basically the same as crêpes; they are only made from wheat flour though.  French crêpes, on the other hand, have a dual tradition, with savoury crêpes made from gluten-free buckwheat flour, as well as sweet crêpes that are wheat-based.  I am all about reducing my gluten consumption these days, but most buckwheat crêpes aren’t as flexible and friendly to rolling as the pancakes from my childhood.  So these new and improved gluten-free crêpes were developed with flour ratios that help them flex and roll just right.

Since buckwheat is a seed and tapioca is a starch, these crepes qualify as grain-free too.  If, however, you prefer the classic wheat-based crêpes, you may use my simple recipe for Sunshine Crêpes.  Both recipes give wonderful results for spearing on a stick.

Crepes on a Stick with Green Apples and Ham or Cream Cheese

Crêpes on a Stick with Green Apples and Ham

  • Servings: 4
  • Time: 30 min
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print


  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup coconut milk or dairy milk
  • 1/3 cup buckwheat flour (I used light buckwheat)
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • butter or oil, for greasing the skillet
  • 8 thin ham slices, preferably nitrite free and/or 6 ounces cream cheese*, softened
  • 1 to 2 green apples (or other tart variety), cut into medium slices
  • lemon juice, for sprinkling on apples


  1. Whisk eggs and milk together until smooth.  Add flours* and salt and beat or whisk until a smooth, thin batter forms, adding a little more water or milk if needed.
  2. Heat a 9-inch round skillet or sauce pan over medium heat.  Grease with butter or oil and pour in about 1/4 cup crêpe batter.  Quickly tilt and swirl the pan to create a thin, round crêpe.  When the batter is cooked through (it will lose its shine), flip and cook the other side until golden spots appear.  Transfer cooked crêpe to a platter and cover to keep soft.  Lightly grease skillet before making the next crêpe.
  3. Sprinkle lemon juice on apples and saute them with butter or oil for several minutes, until the apples are softened but not mushy.  Let apples cool.
  4. Place a slice of ham in the center of a crepe and roll up.  For vegetarian crepes, spread crêpe with softened cream cheese and roll up.  Slice each crepe at 2 cm intervals to form round pinwheels.  Cut each apple slice in half and spear through with a sharp knife tip.  Thread crêpe pinwheels and apples onto wooden skewers or stir sticks.  Cover until ready to serve.  If tightly wrapped or kept in an airtight container, these can be refrigerated and served the next day.


* If you prefer to make crêpes that are not gluten-free, use this recipe.
* Cream cheese may be sweetened to taste with maple syrup or caramel sauce.


This recipe may be shared here and at Allergy Free Wednesdays.


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