Strawberry Banana Muffin Cake

I have many wonderful memories strawberry picking with my mom for as long back as I can remember. Yesterday we continued the tradition and took my three boys. On the way home one of my sons asked to make strawberry banana muffins and another one wanted to make strawberry cake…so today we did both in one. This recipe could be used for muffins or in the way we baked it as a cake. However you choose to make it, it will be a guaranteed hit!

Ingredients

1 cup steel cut oats

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup coconut milk (or buttermilk)

2 eggs, beaten (or 4 egg whites)

2 Tbsp. agave syrup

1 tsp. vanilla

2 large (or 3 small) bananas, mashed

2 cups of diced or sliced strawberries

Instructions

  1. Combine all dry ingredients (oats, flours, sugar, hemp hearts, baking powder, and cinnamon) in a bowl and set aside.
  2. Mash bananas, then add milk, eggs, agave, and vanilla to it.
  3. Add wet ingredients to dry ones and stir until all dry ingredients are moistened. Try to not over stir.

If making the cake version…spoon batter into a round or square pyrex and then add strawberries on top. Bake at 375 F for 50-60 minutes (or until a knife comes out clean of wet batter). You could also bake the cake without the strawberries on top and add them afterwards as a topping. The cooking time would need to be reduced if this was done to about 40-45 minutes.

If making muffins…spoon into muffin tin and add a few strawberry pieces on top or just inside of each muffin. Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes for mini muffins OR 22-25 minutes for medium size muffins.

This is a wonderful recipe to have children help you with. You can measure the ingredients out ahead of time and then have them mash the bananas, dice the strawberries, mix all the ingredients together, and place the strawberries on top.

Hope you enjoy!

Until next time…stay healthy!

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Mother’s Day Pancakes

I absolutely love pink…it just makes me smile. And my kids love pancakes. So for Mother’s Day brunch I decided to create a pink pancake recipe that everyone would enjoy. The best part…they helped me make it and kids in the kitchen is the best Mother’s Day gift I could ask for. Here is the recipe in case you want to try it too.

Ingredients

1 and ¼ cup milk (any milk is fine…buttermilk, cow’s milk, coconut milk, almond milk….etc.)

1 cup frozen strawberries or raspberries

2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)

1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil

¼ cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts

¼ cup chia seeds

¾ cup unbleached white flour

1 and ¼ cup whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp. baking powder

Instructions:

  • 1) In a mixer of your choice (Vitamix, Blentec, Ninja, etc.) blend together 1.25 cups milk of your choice (I like to use coconut milk), 1 cup frozen berries, ¼ cup hemp hearts, ¼ cup oil, and 2 eggs (or 4 egg whites). Set this aside
  • 2) In a separate bowl mix dry ingredients (flours, baking powder, and chia seeds) together.
  • 3) Pour wet ingredients into dry and mix together…but don’t overmix.
  • 4) Cook pancakes on a frying pan of your choice. I prefer an electric one as I find they are less likely to stick or burn.
  • 5) Serve with your choice of yogurt and fruit for a delicious and nutritious meal for mom!

Until next time….stay healthy!

The Breakfast Battle

As we reach the end of nutrition month, I have one more topic to look at with you under the realm of “Take the Fight out of Food”: The Breakfast Battle.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day for a reason. Our body has gone into “fasting mode” over night and slowly uses glycogen stores from our liver for energy to stay alive. Glycogen stores are like starch in the body…stored glucose. Our brain and central nervous system can only run on glucose so we need to replenish the body when we wake up. If we wait too long to eat, then the body will go after our muscles to glean the glucose backbone of body proteins.  We don’t want that! We work too hard to build muscle to use it that way! And for our children, we want their brains fed and ready for busy days of playing, learning, and growing. It is important that we, as parents, model making breakfast a priority for ourselves and our children.

Common questions/comments I get on this topic are:

  1. I feel sick if I eat in the morning.
  2. I am not hungry in the morning.
  3. My children will not eat breakfast.
  4. We do not have time for breakfast at our house.
  5. I find breakfast food boring!

Any of these sound familiar? Here are a few thoughts and tips for each one.

  1. I feel sick if I eat in the morning. This is likely due to the fact that your body is not reacting well to coming out of fasting mode. Try to eat at least something…even if small, and then eat a more complete meal as soon as possible after that.
  2. I am not hungry in the morning. Hunger can present itself in different ways. In the morning you may not “feel” hungry, but that does not mean that your body does not need nourishment. As I mentioned above, try to have at least a little something. If you wait too long to eat, you are more likely to overeat later in the day.
  3. My children will not eat breakfast. Having children sit down for breakfast is a routine that can be encouraged by parents just like any routine. The earlier you model this and create it to be a habit for you and your children, the better. If you have older children that refuse, then having a “grab and go” option for them is better than nothing. For example, a smoothie in a “to go” container, a whole grain wrap with almond butter and sliced apples or peanut butter and banana, or overnight oats that can be eaten on the run. You can check out the lovefullyfuelsimply blog for some amazing overnight oats ideas!
  4. We do not have time for breakfast at our house. Mornings can be a very busy time in homes…especially with small children. As with anything, making time is the key. This means planning ahead and prioritizing. Setting our alarms at a time that allows for breakfast oriented activities is important. If you want to plan ahead, you could make pancakes or waffles the day before and then pop them in the toaster in the morning. If you like cereal, you can pre-pour it the night before and just add milk and fruit in the morning. I always pour our kids milks into their cups and store them in the fridge that way overnight so those are ready right away no matter what. I have a friend who makes sure that water is in the kettle and her tea is portioned and ready so all she has to do is turn the kettle on and pour water….that is organization!!! For more information on strategies we use and breakfast ideas for kids, you can check our this post.
  5. I find breakfast food boring! It is so true that toast and cereal can become boring and old super quick! Some people love the idea of an easy breakfast that doesn’t take too much brain work or time and that is great. Others like to have variety. Here are a few ways that you can keep breakfast interesting.
  • Try typical weekend breakfast ideas on week days: waffles, pancakes, French toast and omelets don’t have to wait for Saturday and Sunday. They can be a quick and easy option on a week day if prep is done ahead of time. You can make extra waffles or pancakes or French toast on the weekend and just pop them in the toaster on a weekday as I mentioned above. For omelets, you can mix everything together the night before and all you need to do is take a few minutes to cook it. Great options to add to an egg are diced peppers, tomatoes, and cheese, then add avocado once it is ready. Yum! Pair with some whole grain toast or English muffin and you are good to go!
  • Change up your fruit…you could serve cereal or toast with peanut butter everyday and still keep variety with a great rotation of fruit on top or on the side.
  • Try a homemade muffin and smoothie sometimes…or everyday with a variation in smoothie and muffin flavours. If you search the term “muffin” on this blog, you will see many options for keeping a good variety.

Until next time….stay healthy!

Milks…are they all the same?

Another topic that I was asked about “taking the fight out of” was the topic of milk. Now this is a big one but I am going to try to tackle it. The truth is that the variety of milks out there have many similarities, but important differences as well. This post is not meant to sway you to include or not include cow’s milk in your diet or your child’s diet. It is simply meant to inform you of the differences in the milks and the nutritional requirements that we are trying to meet with milk and milk alternatives at different life stages.

Cow’s milk: Cow’s milk contains 2 main proteins: casein and whey. It also contains lactose which is a sugar made up of glucose and galactose. There are many micronutrients that naturally occur in cows milk such as calcium, magnesium, and vitamin B12 (among others), and then vitamin A and D are added as per government regulations. The nutrients in milk work together to help us build and maintain strong bones and teeth, but also serve many other purposes as well. Milk comes in various fat levels. Whole milk (or homogenized) is 3.25% fat. This is the best milk choice for children age 12-24 months who are no longer breastfed due to its high fat content. Fat is essential for brain development in children and choosing a lower fat milk product at this age would take away from the fat in their diet. For a child who is allergic to casein or lactose intolerant, breast milk or a non casein based formula is best until 2 years of age. For children ages 2 and up, 2% milk is a good choice as it has sufficient fat. Ideally children 2 and up are drinking 16 oz of milk per day…no more, no less. So what about children who are allergic/intollerant to casein, lactose intolerant, or vegan? Well that is when it gets confusing. I am going to try to “take the fight out of milk choice” for you now.

Soy milk: Soy milk has the same fat percent as 2% milk so it is a suitable option for children over 2 years of age. It also provides the same amount of “complete protein” as one cup of cow’s milk.  It does not, however, contain all the micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) as cow’s milk. So if you are choosing soy milk, then please ensure that you choose one that is fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12 at least and ideally others as well. Because the micronutrients are added, they do not stay suspended in the milk very well so it is best to shake the carton of soy milk very well before pouring it to ensure that you are actually ingesting what you have paid for. Some people do not want to consume soy milk because of its estrogenic properties, so then we have to look at other milk alternatives.

Coconut milk: Coconut milk is the nest best option for children as it has the same fat content as 2% milk and soy milk. However, that is where the similarities end. Coconut milk is not a source of protein or any micronutrients. If a parent is choosing coconut milk for their child, then they need to replace the 16-18 grams of protein that would be provided by 2 cups of cow’s milk or soy milk each day AND ensure that the coconut milk is fortified and (as I said above) shake the carton well. A nice way to add a complete protein into coconut milk is to blend in hemp hearts. These are packed with protein and omega 3 and just add to the creamy nutty flavour that is already in coconut milk.

Two other milks that I am commonly asked about are almond and rice milk. These milks are not a source of fat or protein and are only a source of micronutrients if fortified. These milks are not suitable for young children unless they are mixed with higher fat and protein sources such as hemp hearts and chia seeds.

One other thing to consider is that a pure whey protein powder that is casein free is a nice complete protein alternative for a child that needs casein free but can handle whey.

I hope that this information is useful and as always, please comment below with any questions. If you want to read about our journey to dairy free with Clay, you can do so here.

 

 

Pi Day Pie Smoothies

Happy Pi Day!!! Yes, that’s right…its 3/14. Now before you go and grab that piece of pie, let’s see if we can make a smoothie that is equally enjoyable! Want to eat it with a spoon? No problem. Just cut the milk in half and make it a smoothie bowl!

I have a few pie favourites…apple, coconut, berry, peach, lemon mirangue, and cherry are all high on the list. I am really not a big “dessert” person though. Really, who needs all that extra sugar when we have fantastic tasting fruit?! Perhaps you want to skip and pie and the smoothie and enjoy the fruit as it is. That is an amazing plan too. But in case you want to add a little extra flare to your snack today…here are a few ideas…and some have an extra punch of veggie power too!!

Coconut Cream Pie Smoothie Ingredients

2 cups Unsweetened Coconut Milk

1/2 cup Coconut Yogurt (or vanilla Greek yogurt if you cannot find coconut milk yogurt)

1 Banana

1 cup frozen pineapple

1/2 cup shredded coconut

2 Tbsp. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

 

Peach Pie Smoothie Ingredients

1-2 cups Almond Milk

1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

1 cup frozen peaches

1 cup frozen mangoes

2 Tbsp. Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

 

Cherry Chia Pie Smoothie Ingredients 

1-2 cups soy milk

1 banana

2 cups frozen cherries

1 cup spinach

1/2 Tbsp. Agave

2 Tbsp. Chia seeds

 

Apple Pie Smoothie Ingredients 

2 cups almond milk

1/2 cup vanilla Greek yogurt

2 apples

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 cup diced carrots

1/4 cup oatbran or steel cut oats

 

These were all tested in my Vitamix but should work in any blender

Well this list could go on and on but I will stop here. Hopefully this gives you some fresh and nutritious alternatives to the traditional pie on pi day.

Until next time…stay healthy!

Super Berry Muffins

Rhett has quite an obsession with Berry muffins these days. He wakes up asking for them in the morning and if it were up to him, he would have them at every meal and snack. This morning we didn’t have any left and he threw a small fit…you know the typical toddler “I want my way” tantrum. I explained that he would have to have something else for breakfast, but after breakfast we could bake some. This seemed reasonable to him, so that is exactly what we did. I like to keep fresh berries for eating as they are, so we used frozen in the recipe below. However, you could easily use fresh if you have an over over abundance on hand. I have called these Super Berry Muffins because berrie certainly are superfoods packed with nutrients and disease fighting antioxidants, but also because the boys were pretending to be superheroes while making them. The name seemed fitting all around. 😉

Ingredient

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1/3 cup Baby Brain Organics (or an extra 1/4 cup whole wheat flour)

1/2 Tbsp. Baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup coconut milk (or alternate milk of your choice)

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or other fruit puree)

1/4 agave syrup or honey

2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup frozen berries

Instructions

1. Mix together all dry ingredient.

2. Mix together all wet ingredients.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just moistened. Try to not over mix.

4. Spoon muffin mix into pan and then add berries. You may wish to add just one Berry to each muffin if you are making mini muffins or a spoonful if you are making large muffins.

5. Bake at 350 degrees F. Baking time for mini muffins is about 12-14 minutes and for medium size muffins is 22-35 minutes.

When we were making these, there was more of a mess than I anticipated as the kids were involved, but they tasted better for it and the experience was one that will keep me smiling all day long!

Hope you enjoy!

Until next time…stay healthy!

Promega Banana Muffins

Looking for a breakfast or snack food packed with quality protein and omega 3 fatty acids? Look no further! These muffins are packed with nutrition and flavour AND have no added sugar!!! You can also “dress them up” as I have in the picture above. This mini version of the muffin is topped with Yoso Chocolate Coconut Milk Yogurt and a raspberry. You could also use Greek yogurt and/or any other fruit you and your little ones enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cup oats (ideally steel cut quick cooking oats)

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached white flour

¼ cup Manitoba Harvest hemp hearts or Baby Brain Organics

¼ cup chia seeds

½ Tbsp. baking powder

½ Tbsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup bananas (about 3 large bananas)

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce (or alternate fruit puree)

1/3 cup canola oil

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

2 eggs

½ Tbsp. vanilla

Instructions

  1. Mix dry ingredients together and set aside.
  2. Mash bananas and beat eggs then add these together along with applesauce, oil, yogurt, and vanilla.
  3. Add the dry and wet mixture together and stir until moistened, but do not over-stir.
  4. Spoon into muffin pan and bake at 375 degrees F for 14-17 minutes for mini muffins and 22-28 minutes for “regular” size muffins.

Makes 18 regular size muffins or 36 mini muffins.

Feel free to add dried fruit or nuts for added nutrition and flavor too!

Until next time…stay healthy!

Apple Pie Waffles

We celebrated the first Sunday in December with a fun festive brunch today. It was delicious, packed with nutrition, and looked amazing on our plates. I had to share!

It all started with a request for waffles from my kids. So I made my waffle recipe which you can find here  but made a few substitutions and additions. First I used a variation adding Baby Brain Organics which you can see here and then I added 1 tsp. a cinnamon and 1 tsp. of vanilla. The Baby Brain Organics added omega 3 fatty acids and protein. The cinnamon and vanilla added a little extra “Christmas” flavor.

Next I sautéed the apples (slice 3-4 apples thinly, toss them in 1 Tbsp. grapeseed oil and 1 tsp. cinnamon, then cook stovetop for about 10 minutes on medium high). I served the waffles and apples with caramel flavoured Greek yogurt (dairy free vanilla coconut yogurt for the twins) and raspberries to add that nice red colour. We all decided that the combination of cooked apples and waffles tasted like apple pie and the yogurt was like ice cream on top. Meanwhile, the brunch was packed with protein, omega 3, and antioxidants!

If you are hosting  Christmas brunch this holiday season I highly recommend this. In addition to tasting great, it also looks lovely on the plate! If you aren’t, then maybe you just want to serve it to your immediate family as I did today!

Until next time…stay healthy!

Chia Granola

I have been experimenting with making my own granola and this is one that has been a hit so I thought I would share it. I will share a few others over time too.

Granola is both nutrient dense and calorically dense so the key is portion size. A few tablespoons to 1/3 cup is a good range to aim for. If you have a child that is “hungry all the time”, granola is a wonderful thing for them to eat to try to fill up. This one has incredible nutrition packed in that surpasses some others.

Steel cut oats: good source or soluble fibre; offers slow released carbohydrates into the body; low glycemic index; rich in iron.

Chia seeds: complete protein (contains all the amino acids the body needs to make a body protein)

Blueberries: packed with antioxidants that fight cancer, aging, and heart disease

Buckwheat Honey: anti-inflammatory properties

Cinnamon: helps to control blood glucose levels

Here is the actual recipe…

Ingredients

3 cups Steel Cut Quick Cooking Oats (I like to use Bob’s Red Mill oats)

1 cup Chia Seeds

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup honey (preferably Buckwheat honey)

1 cup dried blueberries (or raisins)

1 Tbsp. cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl thoroughly.
  2. Spread onto a baking stone (or baking sheet).
  3. Bake at 400 degrees F for about 45 minutes or until mixture is crispy.
  4. Store in sealed container on the counter or in the fridge.

Serving suggestions are endless for this granola. I like to add a few tablespoons to cereal, on top of pancakes or waffles, into yogurt, with sliced apples or bananas, on a salad, etc.

Until next time…stay healthy!

Egg White and Banana Scramble

Well the weekend is coming to an end and I am feeling ready for the week ahead. It is going to be a busy one so I have planned ahead as best possible. Meal plan is set for lunches and suppers, groceries have been purchased and put away, school bags are packed, lunches are made for tomorrow, and the kids clothes are laid out for the next two days. No matter how organized I am, there is always a chance of a curve ball…but I will hope for the best 😉

Before I head to bed, I wanted to share one of my favourite breakfasts. Perhaps you want to try it to kick off the week!

Egg White and Banana Scramble

Ingredients:

½ cup Simply Egg White (or 4 egg whites)

1 banana, sliced

1 tsp. cinnamon

1-2 Tbsp. natural almond or peanut butter and/or ground walnuts or almonds

2 Tbsp. oats

Instructions:

  1. Whisk egg whites, cinnamon, and oats in a bowl and then pour it into a fry pan.
  2. Cook over medium heat until egg whites are cooked through.
  3. Slice a banana and add this to the pan and stir until the banana is warmed through.
  4. Add nuts or nut butter on top if desired. If using nut butter, let it sit and melt for a few minutes. If using nuts, then you can serve immediately.

OR

Mix all ingredients into a microwave safe bowl and cook for 2-3 minutes until egg whites are cooked through.

Serving Ideas:

  1. Eat as is…yum!
  2. Serve in a whole grain wrap or on whole grain toast…adding long acting carbohydrates.

Whether you are feeling prepared for the week ahead or just treading water day to day (I totally have those Sunday nights too!!!), I hope you have a blessed week!

Until next time….stay healthy!