Category : Nutrition

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Power House Muesli – it’s School Lunch Friendly!

Here’s the recipe (it takes 60 seconds to make, after your trip to a store, such as The Granary, New Global Vitamins, or Bulk Barn):
Handful each of…
– organic low sugar cereal (ie. Nature’s Path crispy rice, OR Nature’s Path corn puffs, OR Nature’s Path corn flakes)
– dried unsweetened cranberries
– dried mulberries
– dried apricots
Half a handful each of…
– raw sesame seeds
– raw sunflower seeds
– raw pumpkin seed
– dark organic chocolate
* choose organic & unsweetened options whenever possible!
* get creative… add other nutritious ingredients as you get inspired (these ones happen to have great complement of flavour)
* send this to school dry (as a nibbling snack), or send along some Whole Milk (so much more nutritious than lower fat alternatives), or milk alternatives (such as rice, flax, & coconut milk) for a fantastic well rounded meal!

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No Bake Qunioa Cookies

no bake cookiesThe only thing better than eating these cookies, is eating the batter when it’s warm!

Prep Time: 5min + 1hr to cool/set

Yields: 20+ small cookies

Diets: Gluten-Free, Vegan (Nut-Free if you substitute seed butter, such as sunflower butter, for peanut butter)

Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter (replace with sunflower seed butter for a NUT FREE alternative)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 3 cups cooked quinoa OR brown rice (from about 1 cup uncooked grain)

* when possible, choose organic ingredients, especially peanut butter and choose fair trade quinoa, cocoa and chocolate

Instructions
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and clear a space in your fridge or freezer for it. Set aside.
  2. Combine coconut oil, maple syrup, and cocoa powder in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring to combine. Let boil for about one minute, then remove from heat. Stir in peanut butter, vanilla and salt. Mix in quinoa, or brown rice. Make sure to taste test!
  3. Drop batter in small scoops onto the parchment paper.
  4. Place trays in fridge or freezer to set, which will take at least an hour. The cookies are ready once they are completely firm. For best results, store in the fridge.
  5. Enjoy!

 

Thank you to coffeeandquinoa.com for the idea for this fantastic recipe!

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Nutty Chocolate Balls

PBBs

These are the most delicious healthy treat I have ever tasted!  They are insanely healthy and will impress any “I am not eating any of that health crap”  person you care for ;)

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups of ground raw nuts & seeds (the best are organic: walnuts, pumpkin seeds, almonds, & cashews)
  • 2 cups of organic brown rice crisp cereal (Nature’s Path makes a great brand, which can be found in the health food section)
  • 500g organic nut spread (ie. almond butter, peanut butter, etc.)
  • 1 bag bitter sweet organic chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Start melting chocolate in a double boiler.
  2. Grind the nuts and seeds (I use a hand chopper, like the cheesy “Slap Chop”) until you have 1.5 c of ground texture.
  3. Combine the nut & seed mixture & rice crisp cereal.
  4. Add the nut spread and mix it all until the texture of playdough (go play with playdough, for reference).
  5. Using your hands, roll into balls about 1-2 inches in diameter and place on a cookie sheet.   If you find it difficult to roll the balls because they fall apart, you need more nut better & ground nuts.  If you find it difficult to roll balls due to stickiness, you may need a bit more rice cereal, or to butter your hands frequently.
  6. Place balls into freezer for 5+ min (to ensure they will hold shape during step 7).
  7. Roll nut balls in melted chocolate, coating as much as you would like.
  8. Enjoy… I dare you not to :)
  9. Freeze whatever is not devoured

PS – I invented this rocking, tasty recipe, so contact me  with any questions :)

~ Erin

 

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Green Monster Muffins (they taste great and – shhh – are made with spinach & quinoa)

Ok, my family is difficult to sell most items I consider healthy to… but they gobbled these muffins up in a day! Call them Green Monster muffins and your kids will not have to be told twice to eat them.

Omit the nuts on the top and the are school snack friendly!

Dry Ingredients:
* indicates it’s ideal to buy this item organic
  • 3/4 cup spelt flour* (can sub in whole wheat flour*)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour*
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
Wet Ingredients:
  • 1 egg*
  • stevia to taste* (can sub 1/4 cup sugar, maple syrup, or honey, but I do not know how it changes the texture)
  • 1-2 medium mashed banana (can substitute blueberries, strawberries, or other equally moist fruit)
  • 3 cups of dry spinach leaves (can sub-in kale… a super healthy green!)
  • 2 Tbsp high quality flax oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract*
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (prepare ahead of time and set aside until almost the last step… make loads extra and have with stir fry, or as a side to your favorite meat)
  • optional topping: sesame, or pumpkin seed, or chopped walnuts or almonds
  • optional hidden surprise: piece of organic dark chocolate
Cooking Equipment:
  • large batter bowl (dry ingredients)
  • small batter bowl (wet ingredients)
  • food processor
  • measuring cups and spoons
  • whisk
  • large spatula
  • scoop
  • muffin tin
  • super cute 4 yr old (you can borrow mine, if you’d like… he loves these!)
Directions:
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners or oil (try macadamia nut oil, or ghee).
  3. Put 2 cups of dry baby spinach leaves into a food processor and pulse until the leaves resemble a puree. You should have about 1 cup of chopped spinach total.
  4. Combine dry ingredients in larger bowl and whisk.
  5. In smaller bowl, whisk egg and sugar together until incorporated and light in texture. Add remaining wet ingredients and whisk.
  6. Pour dry ingredients into the wet mixture and stir just to combine—do not over-mix. Gently fold quinoa into the mixture.
  7. Pour batter into muffin tin to about 3/4 full each.  If you decide to hide a treat in the middle, pour half the amount of batter in, then add the hidden surprise and fill with batter until tin is 3/4 full. Top each muffin with your choice of topping.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes (check after 15min), until centers set or a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.
  9. Enjoy while warm.
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What Are the Best Oils for You and How Should You Eat Them…

I have had a few people ask me why it is important to be discerning when it comes to choosing oils for cooking with and eating in salads, etc.

Oils can be broken into cooking and room temperature eating oils, due to their flash-point.  If an oil has a high flash point, it can be heated to higher temperatures, without smoking and changing composition.

From here, oils can be chosen based on quality.  I recently posted grape seed oil as a good alternative to canola oil, because it has a higher flash point, but after consulting with a very educated colleague (an accomplished Strength & Conditioning I worked with at the Royal Military College), I realized that neither is high on the quality scale, here is why:

  • Grapeseed oil is extremely high on the Omega 6 : 3 ratio, which can cause inflammation in your body and competes with the healthy Omega 3’s.
  • Canola oil has been linked to health issues, as it’s been heated at extreme temperature and “bleached” in order to give you the final product.

So, let’s cut to the chase, considering quality, what are the best oils for cooking & eating… and what is the best way to cook with them/eat them?

Best Oils for Cooking:

  1. Red Palm Oil: not refined (which makes regular Palm oil a very unhealthy oil) and very high in beta-carotene (reportedly 76 times more than tomatoes), vitamin E (great for the skin) and tocotrienols. It remains stable when used for cooking and it is not hydrogenated, nor processed with solvents, or contain any trans-fatty acids.  Keep in mind, it has a smoke point of 400° F and had a bit of a reputation as a “trendy product”, but so far most of the literature is pro red palm oil.
  2. Coconut Oil: The benefits of coconut oil (another trendy oil these days) seem to be very lengthy.  I will list a few: cardio-protective, anti-fungal, fat-burning/weight management (because of the way it is absorbed) and detox reactions in the body.  I cook with this quite frequently.  It is solid at room temperature (but ruuuny on a hot day!), so it ideal for sautéing with, but hard to bake with, if a recipe requires a liquid oil.
  3. Macadamia Oil: If you like cooking with live Oil (and are disappointed to learn it is not ideal to do so), you may really enjoy replacing it with macadamia nut oil, because of it’s nutty flavor.  It is said to be one of the most heart healthy oils available, is great for the skin and (like I said) is good for cooking with, because of it’s high flash/smoke point (425° F)
  4. Ghee (clarified butter): Ghee is often used in Indian cooking and is considered far superior product to butter.  It has a high flash/smoke point (upwards of 500° F), compared to regular butter (325-375° F°).  The following site is great for explaining the difference between butter, clarified butter & ghee, as well as listing cooking recommendations and references http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=newtip&dbid=9.  Ghee is a good alternative to butter, but if you don’t use ghee try to at least reach for organic.

* keep in mind, advice on use of these oils are for conventional cooking (frying pan, boiling, or baking), not microwaving.  That’s not to say don’t microwave with them, but some studies suggest microwaving can alter oils, and other foods)

Best Oils for Eating (at room temperature):

  1. Fish Oil: Fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to your health. Fish oil helps keep up your metabolism for weight loss, improves memory and concentration and can lower your cholesterol levels.  It typically comes lemon, or orange flavoured (to offset the fish flavour and it really does!), so pick your preferred flavour and add it to a smoothy, or mix it with plain Greek or regular organic yogurt & a couple drops of stevia (good quality fish oil = Carlson @ Granary & Natural Food Pantry, or Ascenta @ Independent)
  2. High quality flax oil: Another oil high in awesome Omega 3’s!  The natural form can have a nutty flavour (or you can buy flavoured), so use like Fish Oil, or Extra Virgin Olive oil (see points 1 & 3)… I do not normally buy it (I love Fish & Extra Virgin Olive Oil), so I do not know the best qualities, but the staff at the Granary will know!!!
  3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: drizzle on vegetables, mix 3:1 with balsamic vinegar & a dash of mustard for salad dressing, or dip fresh bread OR tomato slices into it and vinegar.

There are some others that are decent (from a health controversy stand point), such as avocado oil and certain nut oils, but that’s pretty much the top quality oils for your body.

… all these “caution signs” on foods and other household products are frustrating, I know.  Everything seems to be controversial these days, which is why at the end of the day, we need to just try to make informed decisions and then relax and enjoy life)

For sure, skip these ones:

  • Plam Oil
  • Soybean Oil
  • Margarine
  • Vegetable Oil

When in doubt… go organic and hopefully you will avoid eating foods laced with pesticides and/or highly genetically modified (GMO).

 

Emily, As You Head-out to the Grocery Store, Keep This in Mind…

Don’t let the grocery store fool you up (kind of a bad start to your self-promise):

  • Head to the grocery store after a meal (so you are not hungry) and with a list
  • Shop on the perimeter of the grocery store (this is where all the nutrient rich/fat loss food is)
  • When you can buy organic & local (CP Farmer’s market Saturdays 8am-12pm)
  • Limit the interior of the grocery store to only 10% of your purchases (this is where all the nutrient void food is… you know, all the food which makes us afraid of carbohydrates, because 90% of the grocery store is filled with this crap and it’s false marketing claims… the optimal form of fibre does NOT come from a Fibre 1 box and you do NOT get 2 servings of vegetables in V8 juice and Nutella is NOT a healthy way to start to the day)…rant :)
  • Consider what your food does for YOU!  If you look at a food/drink item and decide it does nothing more than taste good (ie. no protein, vitamins, minerals) … leave it at the store
  • When in doubt if something is good for you, use the rot test: If a piece of food will sit on the counter and rot in a week, it is probably good for you (ie. crackers = bad for you, homemade hummus & veggie sticks = good for you; wonderbread = bad for you, fresh homemade bread & muffins = good for you).  The only exception is raw (unsalted, unroasted, unseasoned nuts & seeds

Send me your questions & good luck!

Erin

Healthy Homemade Fries!

Hey, Em! You know how you told me today that you want quick and easy healthy meal options, well… Have you got an oven + potatoes + knife + salt and pepper (to taste)? Well then heat to 425f and cook for  20min (I did not even need to flip them!)

PS – I used parchment paper to speed-up clean-up and grapeseed oil for some extra good oil

Cold Quinoa Salad (AKA health in a bowl!)

Cold Quinoa Salad (AKA health in a bowl!)

Here is a great recipe for a cold quinoa salad, which offers a bit of kick: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/13/health/nutrition/13recipehealth.html

(loose “the kick” by omitting the jalapeño and, if cilantro is not you thing, you can swap it for parsley… or, is that modification just for me? Probably ;)

Quinoa is a superfood! When you combine it with cucumber, tomatoes & avocado and you have a highly nutritious dish (abundant with protein + antioxidants, as well as being low fat + low insulin forming). This dish is home made, which means it contains no added salt and other crappy preservatives (super important)!

Here’s a few reasons why QUINOA ROCKS!:

  1. High quality protein: with the nine essential amino acids, the protein balance is similar to milk. At 16.2 – 20% protein, it has is more protein than rice (7.5%), millet (9.9%) or wheat (14%).
  2. Not fattening: Only 172 calories per 1/4 cup dry (24 of the calories from protein and only 12 from sugars, the rest are complex carbohydrates, fiber and healthy fats).
  3. Gluten-free: Since it is not not related to wheat, or even a grain, it is gluten-free.
  4. Alkaline-forming: Although it is not strongly alkaline-forming, it is comparable to wild rice, amaranth, and sprouted grains.
  5. Smart Carb: It is a complex carbohydrate with a low glycemic index, so it won’t spike your blood sugar (important when you are trying to loose fat).
  6. Great source of riboflavin. Riboflavin has been shown to help reduce the frequency of attacks in migraine sufferers by improving the energy metabolism within the brain and muscle cells.
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Seriously Awesome: Healthed-Up Carrot Cake + Healthy Alternative to Cream Cheese Frosting

Prep time: 

Cook time: 

CAKE INGREDIENTS (choose organic when possible):

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups whole wheat, or spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 cups grated carrots
  • 1 1/2 cups grated peeled apples
  • 1/2 cup walnuts (optional) + 1/2 cups diced figs (optional)

ICING INGREDIENTS & DIRECTIONS:

  • 1 C Greek yogurt (I used Stonyfield Farms)
  • A good splash of vanilla extract (I used 1 t)
  • 1/2 C powered sugar, sifted
  1. Whisk all ingredients until they become a bit thick.
  2. Place in the fridge to thicken even more (at least 30 minutes).
  3. Spread on cool cake (or cupcakes)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix together the sugar, oil and eggs until the mixture is slightly thickened. Sift the flour, soda, salt & cinnamon together.
  2. Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Add the carrots, apples, raisins and walnuts. Stir until evenly mixed.
  3. Bake in a greased and floured pan, 9″x13″x2″ or a bundt type pan or two round cake pans. Bake at 350ºF for 35-40 minutes if using the 13″ long pan.
  4. Check for doneness by piercing the center of the cake with a toothpick. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If you use the round cake pans, check for doneness about 5 to 10 minutes earlier as they are smaller and you don’t want to over bake the cake.
  5. Let the cake cool and ice with the now thickened greek yogurt icing.

If you are making a layered carrot cake in the round pans and want to put some icing between the layers, double this recipe to make sure you have enough.

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You May Have Low Iron Levels….

A training client recently asked me for a little advice on how to increase their iron levels.  Since the majority of people I train are prone to iron deficiencies (menopausal, post menopausal, pregnant, post-partum, or do not eat a variety of fresh, “real” food) I thought it would be very relevant & useful to post some information on Iron Deficiencies.

This is Important to You If:

  1. I you fall into any of the afore mentioned categories (menopausal, post menopausal, pregnant, post-partum, or do not eat a variety of fresh, “real” food)
  2. You regularly experience weakness, irritability and decreased energy
(everyone reading this is now saying ‘yeah, yeah, that’s me, I must have an iron deficiency’)
Learn more:
  • Canadian Living published a very concise and thorough article on Iron Deficiencies (less than 1000 words) click here
  • For a detailed list of iron rich foods click here
  • For a guide on foods which enhance iron absorption and which inhibit iron absorption click here
IMPORTANT:
*** Iron can be toxic for the body (especially children) in very high quantities, so if you think you are iron deficient, speak with your doctor about getting a blood test and how to manage your iron levels
Have an awesome day :)
Erin

 

( image via www.brainharmonycenter.com)

 

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