BlackBerry Chia Pinwheels

One of my favourite holiday traditions is baking with my mom and kids. This week-end we took an old family recipe and made it dairy free by using coconut oil instead of butter. We also made it free of refined sugar and replaced some of the white flour with whole wheat and added a touch of omega 3 by replacing regular jam with chia jam. My mom was skeptical how they would turn out. I’m thrilled to report it was 100% successful. Here is the recipe.

Ingredients
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 cup Garden of Life Coconut Oil
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1 egg
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
Several spoonfuls if blackberry chia jam (or your favourite chia jam/purée)

1. Blend all ingredients except the jam/purée and knead until it becomes a dough.
2. Place between two pieces of wax paper and roll into a rectangle. It takes a bit to get it all flattened out, but you will get there.
3. Remove the top piece of wax paper.
4. Add jam/purée in small amount spreading it into a thin layer to about 1/4” from the edges.
5. Using the bottom piece of wax paper to help you get started, roll the dough into a long roll.
6. Wrap it up in the wax paper and place in fridge for at least 4 hours. You can leave it there for up to 48 hours though.
7. When ready to bake, unwrap the roll and slice into 1/4” pieces. Place on cookie sheet or stone and bake at 325 F for about 18 minutes.

Until next time….stay healthy!

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Finding Balance Between “the Cookies and the Carrots” of the Holiday Season

I am often asked how I handle holiday treats with my children so I decided a post was in order. The reality is that my main goal to create a healthy relationship for my children with food. So the choices I make surrounding food always go back to that. Here are a few things we consider when it comes to this topic.

  1. We want our boys to remember that their bodies still need the same base of nourishment that they need in all other seasons of the year. Treats are special and cannot cover the nourishment their bodies need. They are not to be consumed all day everyday. We talk about the fact that a treat is something “extra” we choose to enjoy. We encourage them to savour and enjoy treats rather than rushing through them. We also remind our chidren that they may not feel well if they have a lot of treats as they are not the main fuel for our bodies.  I often use the phrase “having more of that may cause your head, tummy, or teeth to not feel well”.
  2. Our boys are not given a treat or restricted from a treat based on if they are “good” or finish the food on their plate. The treat food is planned from the start as long as they feel like it. They are also given full option to save it for later if they are too full at the time it is served. It is not a “now or never” but rather a “when you wish to enjoy this”.
  3. We use “Division of Responsibility” to determine when and how much of a treat will be offered. The boys can decide if they will eat it and how much they will eat of it. If we are at a social gathering we chat about all the treat options and we let them know that they are welcome to choose one favourite OR share a few favorites with each other.
  4. We love to make and offer healthy, fun treats. Red and green fruit and veggie platters, berry cakes, green (spinach) waffles with red berries and yogurt, and snow men made out of pancakes and yogurt can be really fun and exciting for young children and yet still offer great nourishment. Involving them in the preparation takes it to a whole new level of excitement.
  5. Creating a fun food craft is another way that our children enjoy Christmas treats. They love to bake and decorate gingerbread men and cookies and although they have been known to take a few bites here and there, they tend to enjoy the decorating more than the eating. The reality is that creating joy from experiences rather than food sets them up much better in the long run.

These are just a few thoughts on the topic that I have. I hope it is helpful. Thank you for reading.

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Feel free to share your thoughts below. I would love to hear your ideas on this topic.

Until next time…stay healthy!

Pumpkin Oatmeal Muffins

Autumn has so many wonderful traditions and one of my favourite is our annual visits to a local pumpkin farm. The boys love to pick out pumpkins for the front porch and a few for baking too. One of our favourite pumpkin recipes is pumpkin pudding which you can find here. Another is these pumpkin muffins…a true staple in our home during the fall months.

And if you don’t have a pumpkin farm near you where you can get fresh pumpkins to roast, not to worry, canned pure pumpkin works well too. Here is the recipe!

 

Ingredients:
1 and ¼ cup whole wheat flour
1 and ¼ cup steel cut oats
¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup hemp hearts
2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
1 cup coconut milk (or alternate milk of your choice)
¼ cup maple syrup or agave syrup
2 eggs
3 cups roasted pumpkin OR 1 can (796 mL) pure pumpkin puree
¼ cup unsweetened applesauce (or 1 banana mashed)
¼ cup canola oil or coconut oil
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Optional Ingredients:
½ cup crushed walnuts or pecans
½ cup raisins or dried cranberries

Instructions:
1. Combine all dry ingredients and make a well in the centre.
2. Combine all wet ingredients and pour into dry ingredients.
3. Add optional ingredients as you wish.
4. Mix together until moistened. Do not over mix.
5. Spoon batter into non-stick muffin pan.
6. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes.

Makes 18 muffins.

Here are a few more pics from the two trips we made to gather pumpkins this year…

 

 

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

 

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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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!

Energy Bites

Looking for a sweet snack that has a nutrition packed punch ???

I have exactly what you are working for and you can make it in less than 10 minutes.

These energy bites are packed with omega 3 fatty acids which play a huge role in brain and eye development, support mental health and heart health, have anti-inflammatory properties, and so much more. They also are a source of protein which helps support muscle growth and development as well as a stronger immunity and many other body functions. And last, but not least, they are a source of soluble fibre which supports bowel health, can help to lower cholesterol levels, and helps support satiety.

Here is the recipe…

Ingredients

1 and 1/4 cup Steel Cut Oats

1 cup unsweetened, shredded coconut

2/3 cup natural peanut or almond butter (crunchy or smooth is fine)

1/3 cup shelled hemp hearts

1/3 cup chia seeds

1/3 cup Buckwheat Honey (or regular honey will work too…Buckwheat honey has an anti-inflammatory effect which we really appreciate in our home)

1 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and let sit in the fridge for 5 minutes. Then roll into balls and place on parchment paper in a glass or Tupperware container and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months.

You may also wish to add pumpkin seeds or dried fruit.

Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

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!

Whole Wheat Apple Cake

This morning my boys were super excited to try a new apple cake recipe I had put together. When baking with children, it is nice to organized first. I like to measure out all of the ingredients and then call them into the kitchen. I take things down to their level (on a clean floor or mat) and they all love to add ingredients and mix them together.

The recipe worked out really well to make a moist cake that kids will love the taste of and parents will love the nutrition of (relative to other cakes of course). We are hosting a Thanksgiving Brunch tomorrow and I will be serving the apple cake we made today along with an Egg Bake, Sweet Potato Soup, and a platter of fruit and veggies. A nice variation from the traditional turkey dinner…which we will get our fair share of this weekend too.

So, if you have apples in your home or you plan to pick some up soon, I hope you will try this recipe too! Here it is…

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup unbleached, all purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 cup brown sugar

60 mL canola oil

1 cup milk

100 mL Greek yogurt

2.5 cups diced apples, with the peel left on (Spartan or Empire are the best varieties to use for baking, but any apple will work)

Instructions

  1. Mix together both flours, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda and set aside.
  2. Beat brown sugar and canola oil together until smooth, then add in the dry ingredient mixture and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the milk and yogurt in gradually as you continue to mix.
  4. Then add the diced apples, stir only until the apples are evenly divided.
  5. Pour into lightly greased baking pan (can be deep dish pie plate or 8X8 square pan).
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 42-48 minutes, or until a knife comes back out of the cake clean.

Serving Suggestions

  1. As part of a snack paired with almonds and/or cheese and/or milk.
  2. As part of breakfast with Greek yogurt and fruit.
  3. As part of lunch with a spinach salad topped with colourful veggies and Swiss cheese.
  4. For dessert with a small serving of frozen yogurt.

Thanks for reading! Until next time…stay healthy!

 

 

 

Coconut Clusters

We found a fun new product at Costco this week and I thought I would share it with you.
It is called Coconut Clusters and in addition to delicious,  has pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and chia seeds which provide protein. There is a only small amount of added sugar per food label serving size. They are gluten free, dairy free, organic, and non-gmo.

They have a fresh, sweet, and slightly nutty taste. They work well for a small snack for kids (my boys LOVED having them in their lunches this week) or as a topper for cereal, yogurt, or salad. As with all foods of higher caloric density, moderation is key. I packed about 2 Tbsp. for the boys in their lunch twice this week.

But is coconut healthy? Coconut is a source of nutrition that is unique in its make up. It contains saturated fat which we usually should try to avoid; however, the make up of the fatty acids in coconut is quite different from that in high fat milks and red meat which have a direct link with increased risk of heart disease. While (long chain triglycerides) saturated fats increase our LDL cholesterol (the bad); the type of saturated fat (medium chain triglycerides) in coconut also has been shown to increase our HDL cholesterol (the good). Long story short, moderation is key. Coconut is not a fat that we want to use in place of olive oil, grapeseed oil, and avocado oil; however, it is a fat that we can consume in moderation as part of healthy diet. The list of possible health benefits of coconut oil is quite long including, but not limited to, some studies showing that intake of coconut can help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and may help to reduce inflammation.

Why chia? Chia seeds are a source of complete protein. This means that they contain all of the essential amino acids our body needs to make body proteins. This is not true of most plant based proteins. Other plant based complete proteins include quinoa, soy nuts, and hemp hearts.

If you love coconut I hope you can try this new product too!

Until next time….stay healthy!

Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Warm days and cool evenings….I love fall! It is a season of routine and balance, it is a season of soups and stews, and t is a season that inspires eating and cooking with apples and pumpkins…lots of apples of pumpkins!!!  I will be sharing some of my favourite fall dishes over the coming few months.

Today I wanted to share one of my favourite pumpkin recipes. Pumpkin is full of vitamins, minerals, fibre, and antioxidants. I developed this recipe a few years ago, but made a few adjustments/new options to it for this fall. It is one of my children’s favourite muffins. I hope you and your family enjoys it too!

Ingredients:

1 cup All Purpose Flour

1 cup Whole wheat flour

3/4 cup Rolled oats

½ cup Baby Brain Organics (or oatbran)

1 cup 1% Buttermilk (or other milk of choice…I use coconut milk)

2 eggs (or 4 egg whites)

3 cups (750 mL) pureed pumpkin (from the can or from freshly baked pumpkin

1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup honey or maple syrup

2 Tbsp. canola oil

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

Optional: ½ cup crushed walnuts or pecans

Optional: ½ cup raisins or dried apples or dried cranberries

Instructions:

  1. Combine all dry ingredients and make a well in the centre.
  2. Combine all wet ingredients (this can be done in a blender or by hand) and pour into dry ingredients. Add nuts and/or dried fruit as desired.
  3. Mix together until moistened. Do not over mix.
  4. Spoon batter into non-stick muffin pan. (Makes 18-24 medium muffins or about 48 mini muffins)
  5. Bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean).

Additional notes:

  1. One of my sons has an allergy to oats. When I am making these for him, I leave the oats out and add an extra 1/2 cup whole wheat flour. If you have anyone in your family that cannot have oats, you could try this too.
  2. For this recipe to be dairy free, you can use a milk alternative such as soy, almond or coconut and you can use 4 Tbsp. ground flax seed mixed with 2 Tbsp. water (let stand for 5-10 minutes to gel) to replace the eggs.

Until next time….stay healthy!

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