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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Ten Tips for the Toddler vs. Veggies Standoff

The theme for Nutrition Month in Canada is “Take the Fight out of Food”. I asked my Instagram followers for suggestions on what they would like to have the “fight” taken out of when it comes to food and the top request was information about toddlers eating vegetables so that is what this blog post is focusing on. The tips that I mention can be used for older children as well though!

Tip 1: It takes up to 20 exposures to a food before a child knows if they actually like it. An exposure can be seeing the food on a plate, helping to prepare the food, touching the food, tasting the food, and/or actually swallowing the food. For example, a child may help to tear spinach leaves up but never ingest any…this is an exposure. A child may pick up a iece of broccoli and touch and top feeling soft and spongy and the bottom feeling firm. This is an exposure. I child may lick a piece of watermelon but then set it back down. This is an exposure. Continued exposures in a safe, non pressured environment are is one of the best practices that will lead to a “well rounded eater”.

Tip 2: Do not get caught up in meals vs. snacks. Ideally we will capitalize on our children’s hunger and offer veggies at their “hungriest/most alert” times. Put a veggie tray out mid morning while you play and enjoy some veggies with them. Or have one ready for when they come home from daycare or school and you may find that more veggies are consumed than ever would be on their supper plate. Perhaps your children are hungry in the car on the way home from school or day care…this is a perfect opportunity for some diced peppers and sliced cucumbers!

Tip 3: Include your children in grocery shipping and meal prep. There are a lot of fun ways for children to help in the kitchen and many of them surround veggie prep. You can see a more extensive list here.

Tip 4: Offer dips. Children LOVE to dip. Whether it is hummus or Greek yogurt or tzatziki  or your favourite homemade salad dressing…kids LOVE to dip!

Tip 5: Help your child sort their thoughts out. When you child expressed that they do not like something, it could be more that they are worries what it will taste like and or feel like and do not feel safe to take the risk of trying it. We have had lots of fun in our house with “Today I tried…” which creates a non-pressured adventure of trying new things. You can find out more about that here.

Tip 6: Recognize “normal” behaviour. Food jags will occur and are expected. This means that young children love a food one day and hate it the next. This is most typical from ages 15 to 36 months, but certainly can still happen in pre-school years. It is part of normal development and one of many ways that these adorable tiny humans can drive parents crazy by exercising their autonomy and reaching to see where limits lie. The truth is that the best thing we can do is support our children in this journey. The “division of responsibility” is key to dealing with food jags and “picky eater” behavior in general. It is our responsibility as parents to offer healthy food throughout the day. It is the child’s  responsibility if they will eat it or not. child’s responsibility if they choose to eat. That means ideals no filler foods like gold fish and puffs and ideally no “short order cook”. Children will soon learn that no other options are coming, so they may want to eat what is in front of them. This process can take time, and there may be some meals that end up in the garbage, but overall it leads to well rounded eaters and that is the ultimate goal for well rounded nutrition.

Tip 7: Please do not use food as a reward or give punishment around food. A child who is lead to believe that they are “good” or “bad” with relationship to food may end up on the path of emotional eating. If a child does not eat their broccoli, this is not grounds for punishment. And if they do, this is not ground for “deserving” a brownie. When it comes to eating healthy food, a kind word of encouragement is great but there is never need for feelings of guilt of reward.

Tip 8: Lead by example. Are you eating vegetables in front of your kids? Are you reaching for them while you make supper? Are you sitting with your children at lunch and eating a salad? Even if it does not seem like it, your children are watching EVERYTHING you do. Whether it is putting your coat away, making exercise a part of each day, eating your vegetables, or sitting down to pray. They see it all and the best thing we can do to teach our children is lead by example.

Tip 9: Try smoothie bowls. This isn’t a direct means of having the child eat the whole food, but it is still a way to introduce flavours and increase a child’s intake of new foods. Trying a green smoothie bowl may help the child feel more comfortable to try other green foods.

Tip 10: Last but not least, realize that every child will have a few “I don’t like foods”. I know I do and you likely do as well. Just keep offering all foods and over time it will become obvious which ones are starting to stick and while ones may be “off the table”.

So, in summary…we are looking to offer veggies at times when are children are most hungry; avoid taking up space with “filler foods”; involve children in meal prep; keep meal times low stress and focus on the bigger picture; offer all members at the table the same foods (no short order cook); and last but not least lead by example. And please…DON’T GIVE UP…you are doing a great job!

I hope that his is helpful for you. As always, feel free to ask any questions in the comment section or on my Instagram page.

Until next time…stay healthy!

 

Go Green!

Well it’s St. Patrick’s Day and to an RD, that means all great green foods come to mind. Move over green beer! We have SO much more to offer the body. And not just on March 17th….EVERY DAY!!!!

Here are 10 green foods that I would encourage you to have on your weekly grocery list and some fun suggestions on how to incorporate them into your intake.

Spinach, Kale, and other dark leafy greens are great as a salad base, wrap filler, and smoothie booster. These power foods are packed with nutrients including iron and fibre. While they are incredibly high in nutrient density, they are low in caloric density. Try to have at least two handfuls each day!

 

Broccoli is amazing steamed, stir fried, roasted, or chopped on a salad. Don’t really like the flavour? Try topping with  squeezed lemon, olive oil, or a little grated cheese. Broccoli is a great source of calcium and fibre among other nutrients and is an easy one for kids to dip so a welcome addition to everyone’s snack or meal plate!

Green peas are not only packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre…they are also a source of protein. Add these to pasta sauce, rice, soup, a salad, or as a side to any meal. The frozen version of these is an easy vegetable to have on hand and favourite of many children.

Honeydew is a delicious green melon that provides a refreshing vitamin packed snack for all ages and can be added as a juicy topper to salads, cereal, and/or yogurt.

Matcha powder is a green tea powder that is packed with antioxidants. It can be added to water or your choice of milk and served hot or cold. As part of a smoothie it can be paired with milk, yogurt, veggies, fruit, and more. My favourite combinations are:

1) coconut milk, banana, key lime, and matcha

2)coconut milk, spinach, pineapple, agave, and matcha

Green peppers are packed with vitamin C among other nutrients and make a quick and easy snack, wrap addition, salad topper, or side to any meal when roasted alone or with other veggies.

Green beans and snap peas are examples of other high fibre and nutrient packed vegetables that can be served fresh, steamed, pan fried, or roasted. These are most commonly served as a side….but these also make an amazing crunchy snack. If your kids aren’t big on vegetables with their meal…try putting a few green beans or snack peas out ahead of the meal and they may just disappear in no time!

Green grapes…serve them fresh with cheese or almonds for a refreshing and satisfying snack. Or cut them in half and freeze to serve frozen in the summer for a refreshing snack that doesn’t have the sugar of a Popsicle!!!

Green apples have that sour crunch that leaves your mouth watering for more. I love mine dipped in vanilla green yogurt or paired with Swiss cheese. My kids prefer them spread with peanut butter. They are also an amazing option for adding crunch to salad. What is your favourite way to eat them???

Last but not least…AVOCADO. You knew this one was coming! If you follow me on Instagram you know we go through several of these every day! My kids will eat diced avocado with any meal and I to be honest I do too. Whether it is mashed, mixed with a little lime, and spread into a wrap or toast. Or diced to finish off a soup or salad or just as a side. This omega 3 packed fruit is one of the most important foods you can eat in a day!

So…are all of these on your grocery list each week? If several are missing…what is one you can add for the next time you go shopping?

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!

Mussels!!!

My husband and I celebrated our one year anniversary with a road trip to the East Coast of Canada. Up until that point, I had never tasted a mussel. I always thought that the texture would be odd and was fearful of how I would react if I couldn’t chew and swallow without making a scene! Can anyone relate? I have heard from others that they have the same concern. But this one afternoon, while in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia we came across a restaurant that served only mussels. We decided it was now or never and we never looked back. The mussels were out of this world amazing!!! I couldn’t believe that I had gone so many years without experiencing this food that was rich in protein and omega 3 fatty acids and quite easy to prepare.

Once home from our trip I decided to make our own version. I was shocked at how inexpensive they were and how fast they are to make. Over the following 9 years I have created many broths that I like to cook mussels in but I will keep this to a reasonable length and share two with you now…one of which we enjoyed tonight.

First of all you need the largest pot you have as it is a lot of liquid, and then the mussels take up space as well. In terms of amount of mussels to purchase, it depends on everyone’s appetite, but I tend to plan on about 1-1.5 pounds per person served with a generous salad.

Broth 1

4 cups of water

5 cups of tomato or Clamato juice (or tomato sauce works too)

1 large can of No Salt Added diced tomatoes

1 red onion, diced

1 cup of frozen peas

1 Tbsp. minced garlic

1 Tbsp. avocado or canola oil

1 Tbsp. lime or lemon juice

Broth 2

4 cups water

3 cups white wine

1/4 cup avocado or canola oil

2 Tbsp. minced garlic and/or dill

1 red onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

Instructions

Bring either of these mixtures to a boil, add rinsed mussels and continue to boil for about 3 minutes or until you see that most mussels are open. At this point you can serve them or you can scoop them with a little bit of broth into a baking pan and sprinkle with feta or parmesan cheese and pop them under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or in the oven at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes.

fullsizerender-12In this photo, the mussels are just starting to open. It happens really quickly and is fascinating to watch. If any mussels do not open, this means that they were not meant to be consumed, so just leave them in the bowl.  The rest will open like the picture below and are ready to enjoy!
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You can easily use other herbs and spices and sauces to get any flavor that you enjoy. Bottom line is that you need a liquid base to bring to a boil and there is not limit from there.

Hope that you enjoy these and would love to hear any new combinations you come up with in the comment section!

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!