Bars & Squares

Sweet Traditions – Healthier Matrimonial Squares

October 24, 2012

My Grandma Alice was well known for her sweet tooth. I blame my Mother’s side for my sweet tooth, and my Father’s side for my love of savoury foods (the Italian side).

When my mom and I would go to visit my Grandma, we would take her out to shop, and then for lunch (almost always for Chinese food), and afterwards my Grandma would want something sweet for dessert. One of her favourite desserts were lemon tarts, or lemon squares. She loved lemon desserts. She was also Diabetic, but she never passed on dessert. My Grandpa was also notorious for eating an entire bag of chocolate bars (they would try and hide them from him, but he found it).


When we would get together for family functions my Grandma would make one of her specialties – Nanaimo bars (tooth-achingly sweet), Butter Tarts, or Matrimonial Squares. Now, My moms sisters, my cousins and myself carry on these recipes (I’ve mentioned it before here and here ) I loved Matrimonial Squares, and would always look forward to a family gathering because I knew one of the above treats would be served. Apparently my Grandma would even add lemon to her matrimonial squares, so I’ll have to try that next time. I haven’t had them in a quite a while, but when I was searching the other night for a ‘bar’ recipe, I happened to stumble upon a recipe for 5 Ingredient Date Bars. They reminded me so much of Matrimonial squares, or cake,  that I didn’t hesitate to make them. If my Grandma were here I know she would have loved these, and wouldn’t have even missed the sugar! I’ll have to try these out with my Mom’s family at the next gathering to see how they like them. I don’t think they will be disappointed.

I probably could have eaten the entire tray myself. They are amazingly close to the real thing, with no added sugar, wheat free, dairy free, and vegan! And, no bake. Definitely a repeat recipe for the future. And even great as a dish for a brunch or breakfast buffet.

Healthier Matrimonial Squares or “5 Ingredient Date Bars”

From, Oh She Glows, original adapted from Karen


  • 1.5 cups whole raw almonds
  • 1.5 cups oats (I used Gluten Free/Wheat Free Oats)
  • 10 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut

Date filling:

  • 25 Medjool dates, pitted and roughly chopped (about 2.5 cups)
  • 6-8 Honey Dates
  • 1/4 Cup Water


1. In a food processor, process the almonds and oats until fine. Next, add in the 10 dates and coconut and process until crumbly again. Melt the coconut oil and add to the mixture and process until it becomes sticky, and clumps together, You can do this on pulse mode.

Remove from processor, set aside about a cup to use as top layer later, and press the rest of the mixture very firmly and evenly into an 8×8 or 9×9 un-greased pan. You can use your fingers, or the back of a spoon to do this.

2. Next, take your pitted and roughly chopped 25 Medjool Dates + Honey Dates and water and process in the food processor until a paste forms. You will have to stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl often. Feel free to add more water if the paste is too thick, but you don’t want it to be too thin either. Scoop out the date mixture with a spatula and spoon onto the nut/oat base. Gently spread with a spoon to get it even.

3. Last, sprinkle by hand the 1 cup of mixture you set aside and gently press down. Refrigerate in the fridge until firm – about two hours or overnight.

Cut into squares and serve. Store in the fridge or freezer.

Chili, Soup

Pumpkin Turkey Chili – Comfort in a Bowl

October 21, 2012

We’ve run out of luck here in Vancouver – Fall is definitely upon us. We had a good run with a late summer this year – and this weekend was testament to that. Today it was raining, and then in was hailing. And now it is sunny and cold. Vancouver weather is still a mystery.

Chili has to be one of my all time favourite comfort foods. Chock full of vegetables, whatever you have on hand, spices and tomatoes (an Italian staple). Simple, warm, comforting. It is Fall in a bowl. And when Fall comes around, I like my foods in a bowl (Think: Soup, Chili, Oatmeal, Pasta) The goods.

This chill isn’t just like any other chili, it has earthy hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and cumin paired with pumpkin puree for added thickness. The spices make for a rather aromatic Fall chili. Turkey and pumpkin naturally go together – like Thanksgiving. Since I’m not a coffee drinker (I know), I can’t go all crazy for the Pumpkin Spiced whatever at Starbucks – But I do go crazy for pumpkin spice anything. Especially food.

Pumpkin is also super nutritious – full of antioxidants, and carotenoids, so be sure to add it whenever you can to your food – trust me, no one would even notice!

I did say I wasn’t going to post anymore recipes with Pumpkin in them – but I didn’t even think about it when I was making this Saturday night. Usually when I think of pumpkin in a recipe, it’s the sweet kind. Like the Marbled Pumpkin Bundt Cake, or the Pumpkin Swirl Brownies, or even Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream.

But – Pumpkin can definitely be savoury. Adam and I loved this chili – I’ll definitely be keeping pumpkin on hand, for baking and for chili. I think Pumpkin Soup is also in the future.

This weekend was an absolutely fabulously slow weekend – The days seemed to drag on, which was much needed after two weeks spent observing in an Elementary school. Friday night we stayed in, Saturday we went to our favourite three year old’s birthday (I can say this because we don’t know any other three year olds at the moment, so he’s allowed to be the favourite) and then made some chili. This morning we went to the gym (much overdue this week) and then stayed in. I managed to photograph three recipes – so the blog will have lots of action this week! (also much overdue).

I also love veggie chili – if you’re a vegetarian just omit the ground turkey, it’s just as satisfying.

Pumpkin Turkey Chili


  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 tbs. olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 red or orange peppers
  • handful – approx. 10 mushrooms
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups pumpkin puree
  • 2 large cans (946 ml) plum tomatoes
  • 1 package ground turkey
  • cinnamon
  • nutmeg
  • cumin
  • chili spices
  • black pepper
  1. In large pot on medium-low, saute diced onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent – about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the ground turkey and continue to sauté until almost completely cooked – another 5-7 minutes.
  3. Chop up all remaining vegetables, and add to the pot.
  4. In a blender, add the cans of tomato and pulse until slightly blended. Pour into pot, and turn up to medium heat.
  5. Add the rinsed and drained can of black beans (can also use kidney)
  6. Add two cups of Pumpkin Puree, and stir to incorporate.
  7. Add as much spice as you like, I like a spicier chili, but you can add more cinnamon and nutmeg to even it out. The cumin adds a deeper flavour, and the cinnamon actually brings out the chili spice – Don’t worry about it actually tasting like cinnamon, just a couple dashes will do.
  8. Turn chili to medium-low, and let simmer for an hour or so, until the vegetables are tender.
Optional: Serve with sour cream, diced avocado, and chopped green onions.



Ice Cream

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

October 10, 2012

This week I started my student teaching at an elementary school – yesterday I was in a kindergarten class, and today I was in a grade 1 class. I volunteered in a grade 3 class previously, but the little K’s an 1’s are so cute! Definitely keep you on the go =) I’m looking forward to the next week and a half in different classes too.

I know this is my third pumpkin recipe in a row, but somehow pumpkin takes over all baking recipes in the Fall. Sorry, I’m not sorry.

Since our Thanksgiving weekend was quite amazingly unseasonably warm I thought making ice cream for a dessert kind of fit. Unfortunately, as I write this, Vancouver has received the memo that it is indeed Fall, and the fog and cold weather has definitely rolled in. The mornings are quite cold, and unlike yesterday the sun has not shown up this afternoon. Hope everyone soaked up the sun in Augtober as best they could.

If you’re still wishing it were summer, you can make this ice cream that reminds me of warmer days, but the pumpkin spice definitely tastes like fall. Or, if you’re lucky enough to live down south and are still enjoying the sun, but love fall baking this ice cream is for you.

BONUS – It’s allergy-friendly (Dairy free), Paleo (for Adam), Vegan and delicious.

{Let it sit for a few minutes before serving once frozen, or you can microwave it for a second}

Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream

Recipe from Here

  • 1 3/4 cups full fat coconut milk
  • 1 3/4 cups light coconut milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tbs. pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
(or you can use pumpkin pie spice)
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, whisk together 1 cup of the coconut milk, pumpkin puree, brown sugar and vanilla extract. Bring to a boil and whisk vigorously to ensure the pumpkin mixture smoothes out. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of coconut milk, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves; whisk to combine. Remove from heat and transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours. Once chilled, pour the mixture into the bowl of your ice cream machine and mix according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Eat ice cream immideately (it will be somewhat soft) or transfer to a container and freeze until ready to consume. Thaw for 10-15 minutes before serving.

{Adam, the official taste-tester. Wish it were still hot and sunny out}