Breakfast Bites: Mango-Coconut Smoothie

The last thing many of us want to do first thing in the morning is prepare a complex, time consuming meal. Most of us just want to grab our coffee and go, but we shouldn’t skip on the opportunity to load up on nutritious, fueling food that will help us get going in the morning. Breakfast bites is here to solve that problem! With simple, quick recipes that will help you start your day off on the right foot, you won’t have any more excuses for skipping a meal.

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Ingredients
1 ½ cups of frozen mango
½ a banana
½ – 1 cup of coconut water
2 tbsp of coconut cream
Coconut chips (optional)

Directions

  1. In a blender combine all the ingredients aside from the coconut chips.
  2. Blend until desire consistency is reached.
  3. Top with coconut chips and enjoy the start of your day!

Saturday Morning Banana “Bread” Pancakes

Image may contain: foodGluten. Free. Two words I’m sure everyone has see pop up over the past couple of years.  Is it healthier? Should you be doing? Is it all a sham? No matter what you believe, for some people gluten is a huge problem.  Celiac disease, a condition affecting 1 in every 133 Canadians, is an autoimmune disorder in which the wheat protein gluten prompts the body to attack the villi in the small intestine. (Canadian Celiac Association, 2017) This leads to the poor absorption of essential vitamins and minerals.  Continued ingestion of gluten products may result in severe illness, and even death, in those suffering from the disorder.  So, what does that mean for you? Well, unless you have been diagnosed by a doctor as having celiac, gluten is completely safe for you to eat.  Some people argue that it is unnatural for humans to ingest wheat products, and they suggest that we would be healthier if we avoided foods containing gluten.  I think personally think that that’s a load of bull.  Out of all things humans do that s “unnatural”, I think eating a slice of bread falls pretty low on the list.  That being said, I think it’s important to make gluten free options available for those who truly need them.  Furthermore, if you feel better leaving gluten off your plate even if you have not been diagnosed, continue to do what makes you feel best.  After all, food should make you happy. I love experimenting with food, so trying to make tasty meals with ingredient restrictions is a challenge I am up for.  All diets can be delicious if you take the time to get creative!  This recipe uses simple, clean ingredients that are readily available.  With no added sugar, this naturally sweetened breakfast will be sure to fill you up without weighing you down.  Feel free to get creative with the toppings, experimenting with whatever you had on hand.

Ingredients

 1 large ripe banana

1 egg
1 tsp of vanilla
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 a cup of gluten free oat flour

1/2 tsp of baking powder
Coconut oil for the pan


Directions

  1. In a bowl mash the bananas with the vanilla. Add in 1 egg.
  2. Add in the oat flour and cinnamon.
  3. Stir to combine, but make sure not to over mix.In a pan over medium heat melt the coconut oil and add batter.
  4. Top with anything you like! I’m a fan of natural peanut butter, hemp hearts and bee pollen.
  1. Celiac Disease Foundation. (2017). What is Celiac Diseas?. Retrieved from https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/what-is-celiac-disease/

Smooth(ie) Talk

A lot of people have a hard time finding ways to incorporate their daily requirement of fruits and veggies into their diet.  After all, not everyone wants to eat salads and carrot sticks all day long. My solution? A simple smoothie. The beauty of smoothies is the diversity theyDSC_0235 (3) provide.  They allow for flexibility when it comes to ingredients and ratios, it’s almost impossible to get bored. My best tip for smoothies: make it colourful! The more diverse the colour of the ingredients, the more diverse the vitamins and minerals. Each ingredient should offer something different and beneficial. The easiest way to do that? Eat the rainbow. By adding in ingredients of differing colours, you are guaranteeing nutrient diversity. Whether it be beta-carotene from the orange family, iron from the green team, or antioxidants from the red party, you’ll be that much closer to providing your body with all the daily nutrients it requires. A smoothie a day will keep you feeling A-okay!

Orange

  • Carrots have long been thought of as food for your eyes, but did you know that carrots are loaded beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in the human body? Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that protects cells from free radical damage, and yes, they’re good for your eyes.
  • White potatoes vibrant relative, the sweet potato, is loaded with fiber, provides carbohydrates that won’t give you a sugar crash, contain a nice dose of vitamin A, and are tasty to boot!
  • Cantaloupe, like carrots and sweet potatoes, contain beta-carotene that fights against free-radicals and cell damage.  Their high water content also helps to keep you hydrated and full.

Green

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  • Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and swiss chard are full of fiber, as well as minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. They’re also a fantastic source of vitamins A, C, and K.
  • Kiwis are another great source of vitamin C (one kiwi contains more than 100% of your daily requirement), and eating them with the skin on ups their fiber factor.
  • High in healthy monounsaturated fats, avocados impart a creamy texture to any smoothie.  They help with satiety, keeping you feeling fuller, longer!

Red
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  • When it comes to ellagic acid, a potent antioxidant, raspberries are at the top of the class.  Also high in vitamins A, C, and E, their tart flavour provides a nice contrast to sweet pairings.
  • Nothing beats beets when it comes to a colour punch, but hey’re also loaded with fiber to keep you regular, and help to lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels increasing healthy HDL cholesterol.
  • Rich in colour, cherries are believed to help ease joint and muscle inflammation thanks to anthocyanins, an antioxidant that inhibits inflammatory enzymes. Perfect for a post workout refuel!
  • One cup of strawberries packs your daily requirement of vitamin C, as well as dietary fiber to help keep you full. Plus, that one cup of strawberries only contains around 50 calories. Eat up!

Purple/Blue
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  • Blueberries are an antioxidant all-star.  Grown all over North America, wild and cultivated blueberries contain the same anthocyanins as cherries, as well as the antioxidants flavonoids. A+ in antioxidant 101.
  • Along with raspberries, blackberries are also extremely high in ellagic acid.  They are also high in dietary fiber and vitamin C.  Bring the berry team together for a nutrient packed treat.

Yellow

  • Scientifically classified as a berry, bananas are a smoothie staple.  High in potassium and certain B vitamins, bananas fiber and starch content provide body and volume to any smoothie recipe.
  • Practically nature’s candy, mangoes are high in vitamins A and C, and contain natural enzymes similar to those found in papayas.  These enzymes help with digestion and the breakdown of fats and proteins.

References

  1. https://www.drweil.com/vitamins-supplements-herbs/vitamins/beta-carotene/
  2. https://www.mnn.com/food/healthy-eating/stories/8-health-benefits-sweet-potatoes
  3. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/fruit/health-benefits-of-cantaloupe.html
  4. http://cookingreens.com/health-benefits-of-darkleafy-greens/
  5. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/health-benefits-avocado
  6. http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-eats/nutrition/5-reasons-to-eat-more-berries/
  7. http://www.canadianliving.com/health/nutrition/article/health-reasons-to-eat-more-raspberries-sign-us-up
  8. http://www.besthealthmag.ca/best-eats/nutrition/5-reasons-to-eat-more-cherries/
  9. http://www.healwithfood.org/foods-that-contain/ellagic-acid-high-amounts.php
  10. http://www.stack.com/a/6-big-reasons-you-should-be-eating-blackberries
  11. http://www.health.com/food/5-reasons-to-eat-more-blueberries

Veggie Ramen

The humble mushroom.  Grown in earthy soil, hidden away in the dark, it is brought to light in the most flavourful of dishes. Full of umami, mushrooms provide flavour and body to any soup or stew.  You’ll hardly notice their isn’t.  This vegetarian, or vegan ramen minus the egg, is full of flavour that is sure to satisfy even the most carnivorous of appetites.  From oyster to lobster, enoki to  shiitake, every species of mushroom brings something to the table.  Mushrooms contain high amounts of potassium and vitamin D, as well a B vitamins niacin and riboflavin, which aid in the breakdown of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins.   Furthermore, mushrooms are a vegetable all-star when it comes to selenium.  Often found in high concentrations in meat and fish, the selenium content of 5 medium raw crimini mushrooms is a whopping 31% of your daily requirement, while white button mushrooms and Portabellos contain 22% and 21% respectively. (Tannis, 2009). Who knew something with such dark origins, would turn out to be a super food superstar?

Broth
2 litre of vegetable stock
1 tbsp of mushroom base (like this one here)
2 tbsp – 1/4 cup of soy sauce (amount is based on preference)
1 tbsp of miso paste
2 tbsps of vegetarian oyster sauce
1 tbsp of freshly grated ginger
1 garlic finely diced garlic clove
Instant or fresh ramen noodles
1 tbsp of garlic chili paste (optional)
Dash of mirin

Additions
Grilled tofu
Nori sheets
Soft boiled eggs
Chili peppers
Grilled bok choy
Green onion
Kale
Spinich
Chili flakes
Bean sprouts
Light drizzle of sesame oil to finish

Directions

  1. In a large pot combine vegetable stock, dried mushrooms, and mushroom base. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until mushrooms are rehydrated.
  2. Remove mushrooms, purée into a fine paste and add back into the stock.
  3. Add all the remaining broth ingredients (minus the noodles) and simmer on low heat for 15-20 minutes.
  4. In the last remaining minutes add the noodles and simmer until cooked.
  5. Prepare your bowl with any of the addditions you want cooked by the broth (e.g. enoki mushrooms, nori sheets, spinach, etc.) and pour the broth over top.
  6. Add the noodles, and top with any others extras.
  7. Slurp and enjoy!

  1. Tannis, A. (2009). Feed Your Skin, Starve Your Wrinkles: Eat Your Way to Firmer, More Beautiful Skin with the 100 Best Anti-Aging Foods. Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press

No Need to Sugarcoat It

Sugar, the new tobacco, or, so they say. Extremely sweet, extremely addictive, sugar has become one of the biggest health concern of this generation. Found in everything from salad dressings to soups, and bread to spaghetti sauce, sugar has infiltrated almost every aspect of our dietary lives. There are over sixty different names for sugar when it comes to ingredient listings, making it more and more difficult to know exactly what we’re putting into our bodies.

We all know eating too much sugar is a bad thing. Eating too much of anything is a bad thing, but how much are we really eating? Well, a 2004 study of Canadians showed that we eat an average of a whopping 110 grams of sugar per day. That’s 26 tablespoons, over 20% of our daily caloric intake, and a total of just over 88 pounds a year. To put that into perspective, the average weight of a German Shepherd is 75-90 lbs. Woof. The World Health Organization recommends eating no more than 6 teaspoons, or 25 grams, of sugar per day. Seems a little hard to do when a can of 355ml coke contains 39 grams of sugar. More than the daily recommendation.

I, like many other people, love a sweet treat, but recently I’ve been giving a lot more thought in regards to the amount of sugar in my food. I love a good salad, but why top it with a salad dressing that contains 10 grams of unnecessary sugar? Do I really need the two teaspoons of sugar in a serving of crackers? These are the types of questions I’ve been asking myself. Yes, I agree certain things taste better with sugar. I’m not going to deny myself the sweeter things in life (pun intended), but I am going to try to create a balance between what is good for me physically, and what is good for me mentally. In order to do this there was only one option that would work for me, quit cold turkey. I challenged myself to comply to a 5 day diet that contained absolutely no added sugar. This meant no sugar in my morning coffee, not even honey. I read the nutritional label and ingredient list of everything I ate, and let me tell you, sugar, it’s EVERYWHERE.

 

Rules

  • Avoid all 61 terms for sugar for 5 days
  • Natural sugar found in whole foods (fruit, vegetables, etc.) are okay

A day in the life

The first day of this challenge was a big learning curve. That morning I instinctively reached for the sugar when making my cup of coffee. I could tell habitual routine was going to be my biggest struggle. Putting down the sugar, only adding milk to my coffee, I began to look through my fridge and cupboard for breakfast options. Reading the ingredient list of all the cereals I had all had one thing in common, added sugar. All-Bran? Sugar. Flax Plus? Organic granulated sugar cane juice. Multi-Grain Cheerios? Refiner’s syrup (a.k.a golden syrup). Well, those options were off the table. So were the 4 different loaves of multi-grain bread I had on hand. All had sugar listed withing the first 5 ingredient. So, I settled on oatmeal. I cooked up some plain oats and topped it with chopped granny smith apple, cinnamon, raisins, and plain Greek yogurt. Satisfying, but I still missed the sweet tough a little honey or maple syrup would have provided. For lunch I had a salad with kale, tomato, cucumber, chickpeas, peppers, and feta. Simple, right? Until you get to the topic of salad dressing. If your just not a vinegar and oil kind of girl like yours truly, or don’t have time to whip up your own, finding a sugar free salad dressing can be quite the challenge. For example, Kraft Greek Feta & Oregano lists corn syrup as the third ingredient and sugar as the fifth, while Renée’s Sweet Onion Vinaigrette doesn’t get it’s sweetness from Spanish onions like the package claims. That would be the sugar lists as the second ingredient (only behind water). Yikes. If you’re looking for a packaged salad dressing with no sugar and recognizable ingredients look not further than Newman’s Own Olive Oil & Vinegar (offered in both organic and inorganic varieties). There isn’t an unfamiliar ingredient listed on the packaging, and on a plus side all profits from Newman’s products go to charities (bonus!). Snacks throughout the week consisted of sliced apples with all natural peanut butter, carrots and hummus, and yogurt with berries and nuts.

All of these foods are regular staples in my diet, and I often eat them on a daily basis, so why did I develop a headache that just wouldn’t go away? I discovered that I had been eating more sugar than I led myself to believe, all thanks to honey. I love honey. So much so that I eat it almost everyday. By not allowing myself to have honey I was denying 80% of the added sugar I eat on a regular basis. Turns out I was addicted to sugar in a way I didn’t even realize. The headaches were a sign my body was detoxing, and I both loved and hated it at the same time. Eventually the headaches subsided as my body began to adjust to the change. I didn’t notice a change in my skin or mood, aside from cravings, but it generally felt better to not be reliant on a sugar as a way to feel better.

Did I accomplish my goal?

I was so, so close. I let my guard down one time, and it was all thanks to a temptress in red, Sriracha (sugar is the second ingredient). My love of hot sauces got to me and one day while at work I, without thinking, reached for the bottle to add a little heat to my lunch. It wasn’t until I was about half way through my mug of soup that I realized what I had done. Was I disappointed in myself? Sure, but it also proved my point that sugar is in the things you least expect it to be. My one and only slip up was a lesson learned. I realized I had to become more aware about what I’m putting in my body, and not to blindly eat something just because it tastes good.

Did anything change?

Definitely. Realizing how much hidden sugars were in foods I had previously thought were “healthy” scared me. Many people are blindly consuming extra, unnecessary sugar as well as . I consider my self a fairly aware and conscious consumer, and this little experiment has prompted me to delve even deeper into food and how we as a society choose and consume the foods we do. I’ve even begin to make changes in my daily life, such as cutting out the sugar in my morning coffee, and choosing sugars with other nutrients and benefits (honey & molasses) over those that are purely sweeteners. Am I going to deny myself a slice of birthday cake? Absolutely not. Added sugar, like everything else should be consumed in moderation. Enjoy sweetness as a treat, not a trend.

Vegan Coconut Macaroons

Vegans and vegetarians are often told to eat a lot of protein, and that protein often comes from a rather simple source, beans.  No matter the variety, beans become a pantry staple for most people omitting animal products from their diet. What if I told you that with those cans of beans you could make a sweet, virtually guilt free dessert?  It’s true, all thanks to aquafaba.  What is aquafaba, you may ask, well, have you ever drained a can of chickpeas? There’s your answer.  Aquafaba is the liquid in which beans have been cooked and caned in.  The viscous liquid lends itself wonderfully to desserts traditionally calling for egg whites.  When whipped, aquafaba forms stiff peaks due to its high starch and protein content (read more here).  Aquafaba can be used for a wide variety of things, including meringues for pies, pavlovas, mousses, mayo, and you guessed it, macaroons.  This recipe is simple, minimal, and a great way to utilize an often discarded product!

Ingredients

2 – 2 ½ cups of coconut flakes

1/3 cup aquafaba (preferably from chickpeas)

1/4 tsp of cream of tarter

1 tbsp coconut oil

1/3 cup of maple syrup

1 tsp of vanilla

Pinch of cinnamon if desired

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 300 °F.  Spread coconut evenly on a baking sheet and toast until golden brown.
  2. Meanwhile, in a stand mixer whip the aquafaba, cream of tarter, and vanilla until stiff peaks form.
  3. When the coconut has been removed from the ov
    en and allowed to cool, add 2 cups to the aquafaba mixture, along with the
  4. maple syrup, coconut oil and cinnamon.
  5. Gently, key word GENTLY, fold in the coconut and other ingredients.
  6. If the mixture is too wet, add in a more coconut a lit
  7. tle at a time until a moist “dough” forms
  8. With a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon, scoop the mixture onto a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes.
  9. Once the first bake is completed, increase the over temperature 350 °F and bake for another 8-10 minutes.
  10. Let cool and enjoy as is, or top with a drizzle of melted chocolate for and added treat!

Golden Milk: I Like You a Latte

The turmeric trend is in full swing. An ingredient almost exclusively limited to curries and other savoury dishes is making its way into coffee shops near you.  The turmeric latte, aka golden milk, has become the newest trend in hot beverages. Much like its relative, ginger, the brightly coloured spice has been prized for its colour and medicinal purposes for thousands of years in Asia. Recently, the bright yellow rhizome has been praised for uses as a health food. Curcumin, the primary compound in turmeric, is responsible for its signature colour as well as its health benefits. Known for it’s anti-inflammatory properties and high levels of anti-oxidants, curcumin has been making big waves in the healthy living community. From pills to powders, curcumin is being used as a way for many to help add to their health regimen without having to down a bowl of curry every night. With its mild flavour, bright colour, and many health benefits it’s easy to see why turmeric has become the new ‘it’ thing. This recipe for my golden milk latte combines inflammation fighting turmeric, heart-healthy cinnamon, digestive aiding ginger, and calming chai tea to create a creamy vegan drink that can be served hot, or over ice for a refreshing summer drink. Feel free to play around with the flavours adding a little more, or less, of whatever you like. While I used almond milk for this recipe, cashew, hemp or coconut milk would all be lovely additions.

Ingredients
5 cups of almond milk
2 chai tea bags (or 3 tbsp of lose tea)
Star anise, cinnamon sticks, raw ginger slices, and cardamom pods
2 tbsps of ground turmeric
2 tbsps of cinnamon
1 tbsp of nutmeg
1/2 cup of raw honey or maple syrup
Coconut cream to taste
Directions
  1. In a large saucepan over medium heat combine the almond milk, chai tea, star anise, cinnamon sticks, ginger slices, and cardamom pods.  Bring to simmer and leave for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and let steep for 3 more minutes.  Remove the tea bags and whole spices.
  3. Whisk in the remaining spices and honey.
  4. Pour into a mug, stir in a little coconut cream, and sprinkle with some cinnamon and turmeric. Enjoy!