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!

 

 

 

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Hello Fresh….Hello Dream Come True!

September hit me hard! After an overall relaxed paced summer, we hit the ground running with new school, work, and extra curricular activities. I have worked hard to meal plan, grocery shop, and meal prep as well as possible but some days we still end up with a rush around supper. Enter Hello Fresh! We had the opportunity to try a 3 meal package from Hello Fresh a few weeks ago and it was a total life changer for this mom!

At 4:45 pm on a Tuesday we came home from a family bike ride to find a box at our front door filled with fresh produce and amazing quality (aka antibiotic free, local, sustainably farmed, etc.) meat, fish, and poultry. I was very impressed with the food safety aspect too. All items were packed in a way that ensured appropriate temperatures were kept.

One of the boxes was labelled “Make Me First” and so I unpacked that one right away and within 30 minutes we were enjoying salmon cakes, roasted sweet potatoes, and fresh veggies. Our whole family truly loved the flavor and I loved the ease of preparation. All the ingredients were perfectly prepped and portion and yet I still had the opportunity to do the cooking. A win-win for me!

Over the coming week I chose our two busiest days (one being piano lesson day) to cook the other two meals. They were equally easy to prepare, packed with nutrients and flavour, and enjoyed by the whole family.

If you have busy weeks, and a few partially prepared, high quality and incredibly tasty meals would be useful for you, please use my discount code MINIS50 for $25 OFF YOUR NEXT TWO BOXES!

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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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Heart Healthy Pasta

My boys LOVE pasta but I often worry that the meal will not offer enough protein and vegetables so I have come up with several blender pasta sauces so all their nutrition needs are met in one simple bowl. Here is one I developed last weekend that was a huge hit so I wanted to share.

The tomato base offers lycopene which is a cancer fighting antioxidant.

The hemp hearts offer a source of complete protein which means all essential amino acids are present and a source of omega 3 fatty acids which are wonderful for growing brains in children and promoting heart and mental health in adults. They also act as an anti-inflammatory.

The feta cheese is a lower fat cheese that offers a creamy texture and taste and a source of complete protein.

Nutritional yeast offers a cheesy flavour as well and a great source of vitamin B12.

Spinach and kale are packed with nutrition!!!

Ingredients

1 jar low sodium pasta sauce (any flavor is fine)

1/3 cup Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1-2 large handfuls of spinach or kale

Instructions

Blend in a blender and pour over pasta. I have a vitamix and blend my sauces on the soup setting to warm them up but this is not necessary if you don’t have a blender that heats.

Hope you and your family enjoy this as an easy meal sometime soon!

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

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!

Red Curry Bean, Lentil, and Vegetable Stew

May has started out wet and chilly where we live which is keeping me interested in making warm soups and stews. I developed this recipes recently and it is not only packed with nutrition but also a ton of flavor and a bit of heat to warm you right through on a cold wet day. If you like curry…this is a must try!

Ingredients

2 cups dry mixed beans

1 cup red lentils

3 cups vegetable broth

2 cups coconut milk

½ red cabbage

1 sweet or red onion

3-4 large celery stalks

2 yellow zucchinis

2 green zucchinis

1 Chinese eggplant

3 Tbsp. Avocado oil (split into 2 portions)

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp. red curry powder

1 tsp. paprika

1 tsp. cinnamon

Instructions

  1. Rinse and drain beans and lentils and then soak in warm water for 2-3 hours. Once beans are ready, you can move forward with the rest of your recipe.
  2. Dice onion and place at the bottom of a large pot. Sautee the onion on medium heat in 2 Tbsp. of the avocado oil. Add diced cabbage and celery as you have it ready. Once they are softened add diced zucchinis and eggplant and stir together.
  3. In a separate dish mix together red curry powder, paprika, nutritional yeast, cinnamon, 1 Tbsp. avocado oil, and stir together. Then add this into the pot. Once all vegetables are coated well, add the beans and stir thoroughly.
  4. Add the vegetable broth and stir and then let simmer on low for 1 hour stirring every 15-20 minutes. Add coconut milk and let simmer for an additional hour (or more) until it reaches desired thickness and beans are to desired softness.

My favourite way to enjoy this stew is heated and topped with dollup of coconut or vanilla yogurt. It would also be great warm or cold in a whole grain wrap!

Until next time…stay healthy!

Mixed Bean and Barley Vegetable Stew

This is a simple vegan recipe that makes a nice stew allowing for versatility of its use. It can be consumed on its own, on top of rice or quinoa, on top of a salad, in lettuce wraps, or pureed with a bit more liquid and eaten as a soup. So whether you were hoping to find a recipe for meatless Monday, Taco Tuesday, Wellness Wednesday, Thrifty Thursday, Fast Friday, Soup Saturday, or Stay-at-home-Sunday…this recipe could fit them all! My favourite way to enjoy it is on top of a spinach salad with a dollup of tzatziki on top and a sprinkling of The Chicago Spice House Moroccan Seasoning.

Bean Barley Stew

Ingredients

1 cup lentils

2 cups mixed beans

1 cup barley

2 cups sliced mushrooms

2 zucchinis, diced

1 red onion, diced

1 cup vegetable broth

1 cup dry white wine

1 cup water

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

1 tsp. truffle or sesame oil

Instructions

  1. Wash, drain, and then soak the lentils and beans in warm water for 2 hours.
  2. When read rinse them again and place in a pot. Add barley, fresh water, broth, and wine (or additional broth).
  3. Heat on medium and add in the remainder of the ingredients. Keep at a rolling boil for 30 minutes, then reduce heat to low and let simmer for about an hour or until liquid has boiled off. Additional spices or herbs can be added during this time or at time of serving is a variety of flavours is desired.

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.

 

 

Mango Curry Chicken Pizza

I grew up eating traditional pizza, but for years now I have not enjoyed it. Don’t get me wrong, I like pizza…but I like it dressed up in new ways. I love BBQ chicken pizza with roasted broccoli and red onion. I love Mediterranean pizza topped with grapeseed oil, garlic cloves, arugula or spinach, sundried tomatoes, and black olives. And one of my all time favourites is this Mango Curry Chicken Pizza packed with flavor and nutrition your whole family will love!

Ingredients:

1 Whole wheat pizza crust

1-2 chicken breasts (cubed or sliced)

1 cup Pizza sauce or Tomato sauce

3-4Tbsp. Tandoori curry paste (or 3-4 Tbsp. avocado oil mixed with 2-3 Tbsp. of red curry powder…I like the one from Chicago Spice House)

1 Tbsp. Honey or Agave

1-2 tsp. Pureed garlic

1 Red pepper (sliced)

1 Mango (sliced)

½-3/4 cup old cheddar cheese (shredded) OR Daiya dairy free cheese

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
  2. Mix together tomato sauce and tandoori curry paste (or oil and curry mixture).  Spread this over pizza.
  3. In a non-stick fry pan, cook chicken breasts in water until no longer pink inside.
  4. Drain excess water, and then add the garlic, remaining curry paste and honey or agave.  Mix together and cook until warmed through.
  5. Spread over pizza, cover with diced red peppers and pieces of  mango.  Sprinkle with cheddar cheese (preferably low fat) or Daiya dairy free cheese.
  6. Heat in oven until cheese is melted and toppings are heated through. I find 15-20 minutes works well.

I like to serve this with a fresh arugula salad topped with diced green apple, halves red grapes, almonds, and a honey mustard dressing but you could pair it with any salad or just cut up fresh veggies.

Until next time….stay healthy!