Breaking the Fast

Eating breakfast is the way to feel energized, balanced, and vibrant.  Check out the latest article from The Health Junction in the Fall 2013 edition of Fusia Magazine (see page 98).

FusiaFall2013_allpgs_Web_1

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

““Whatever you are, be a good one”.”

–  Abraham Lincoln

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The Health Junction Mailbox: Are Smoothies bad for me?

Dear The Health Junction,

I merely wanted to know what your take on smoothies was. At first they seemed to be the key to eternal life, but then I asked my other nutritionist mate Glen who pissed on the parade a bit, and then I started to read a book called Bad Science that is dissing Patrick Holford and the whole idea of nutritional science in general so I have got myself all confused.

What do you say?

From,

Stephen Kent, Sengawa Japan

Hiking with Stephen @ Mt. Takao in Japan

Hiking with Stephen @ Mt. Takao in Japan

Dear Stephen,

First up, I’m glad I could find a picture of you which showcases that you’re a healthy guy who enjoys eating healthy food (apple in hand and all)…though, bring British, I know you do enjoy the occasional beer.

Fukuoka Izakaya

Fukuoka Izakaya

Readers should really check out this great article by Glen Matten, founder of the site Health Uncut:  The Antidote to Poor Health Advice  before reading on as I think it provides some excellent insight into the usual main component of smoothies – fruit.

So, are smoothies bad for you?  Yes and No depending on how they’re made.  If you’re putting a bunch of fruit and little else in your smoothie, then I would argue you’re doing more harm than good.  Why?  Because, while natural, fruit contains a lot of sugar which we know, in excess and over time, can cause a cascade or health problems.  Inflammation, insulin resistance, hypertension, an increase in bad “LDL” cholesterol while decreasing your healthy “HDL” cholesterol..just to name a few.  I eat fruit but consider it a special treat which in my opinion should be limited to 1-2 servings a day.  Even at that, I would recommend choosing lower Glycemic Index fruits which will have less of an impact on your blood sugar levels than it’s higher GI counterparts.

fruit smoothie

Having fruit means having sugar and having sugar is especially problematic in the morning when you want to start your day off with a slow and steady release of energy rather than a sudden onslaught of sugar which is found in many homemade smoothies.

That being said, I have a green smoothie a few mornings during the week but I try to use them as an opportunity to ingest vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.  The combination of healthy fats, protein, vegetables, and some fruit help keep me satiated, sharp, energized, and blood-sugar balanced at during the time of day when it matters the most – starting off with stable blood sugar levels paves the way for stable blood sugar levels throughout the day.  Here is how I do it:

green-smoothie

BASIC AM GREEN SMOOTHIE

1/4th Avocado or 1 tbsp coconut oil

1/4 – 1/2 cup of low glycemic load fruit (I use a mix of raspberries, cherries, blueberries, and strawberries).  Click here for information on the GI/GL of fruit.  Low GI is 55 or less, low GL is 10 or less).

1-2 cups of leafy greens (start with a mild leafy green such as red leaf lettuce or romaine).  I normally use 1 cup romaine or red leaf lettuce and 1 cup of kale or bok choy.

2 tbsp of seeds (mix it up between flax, hemp, and chia)

3/4 cup of unsweetened almond milk

1 scoop Vega energizing smoothie powder (10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber per serving).

2 tbsp cooked steel-cut oats (good if you commute to work via foot or bike and you need a bit of extra available energy).

Place in a blender (I enjoy the Blendec but there are lots of great options on the market) and blend for 45 seconds or until contents are well mixed.  Drink immediately.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“”May the Smoothie be with you…Always”.

–  Author Unknown

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Green Smoothies 101 in 100 Words: A Veggietastic Breakfast Solution

What is the most important thing I’ve learned at school over the past 12 months?

what did you learn today

Drink more water and eat more greens.  Okay, that is technically two but lucky for you they’re both included in this next nutritional recommendation.  If you’re interested in learning about the benefits of adequate water consumption, click here and for information on why leafy greens are important, this will help explain things.

Green Smoothie

Green smoothies are the easiest way I can think of to get a huge dose of vegetables into your diet.  When starting your day of with one of these diddy’s you’re paving the way towards a full day of health eating.  The sugar content is extremely low because the only sweet ingredient included is fruit which is naturally occurring.  With a dash of complex carbohydrates and a whole lot of fiber, green smoothies will help stabilize your blood sugar levels and prevent ravenous cravings later in the day.  Green smoothies are alkanalizing and are busting with vitamins and minerals.  Here is a recipe to get you started but the beauty of green smoothies is that the combinations are endless…as are the health benefits.

The Health Junction Green Combustion

  • 2-3 cups of leafy greens.  I like mixing red leaf lettuce and kale.
  • handful of frozen blueberries
  • half a banana
  • stalk of celery
  • 1/4th avocado
  • 1 scoop of vega energizing smoothie powder (I like the Choc-a-Lot Flavour)
  • 2 tbsp oats
  • 1 cup of unsweetened almond milk + 1 cup of water
  • Cinnamon (optional)
  • A couple of tbsp’s of hemp, flax, or chia seeds (optional)

Throw ingredients in the blender – it’s best to layer the denser foods (frozen blueberries, celery) on the bottom and the lighter ingredients on the top.  Pour in water and almond milk last.  I usually start blending on the ice crushing setting of my blender but do whatever works best with your home blender.

Pour into a large glass and sprinkle with some cinnamon.  This contains 7-8 servings of fruits and vegetables!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

 “Each of us has two “doctors”—the left and the right leg.”

– Vilcabamban philosophy on the importance of walking

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Eating Likes the Aztecs: Amaranth 101 in 100 Words

Amaranth

What’s up with Amaranth?  I always see it on the standard list of gluten-free grains but it’s not so commonly used in western cooking.

Amaranth Plan

Amaranth, popular with the Aztecs, is a plant with a flowery head that contains the seeds we eat.  The nutritional profile of amaranth is interestingly similar to swiss chard, beets, spinach, and quinoa – this because they all belong to the same Chenopodiacease family.  Like many dark leafy greens, amaranth is chalked with magnesium, calcium, and iron in much higher quantities than most grains (like wheat for example).  In terms of taste, it can be described as nutty, earthy, and ever so slightly sweet.

Lysine

What’s cool about Amaranth is that it is rich in the essential amino acid Lysine.  An essential amino acid, btw, is protein building block that we cannot make and therefore must be obtained from our diet.  This particular amino acid is used for making carnitine which we need to convert fatty acids into energy.  Also, it helps the absorption of calcium which works very synergistically with the fact that Amaranth is a good source of calcium.  Overall, it has more protein than any other gluten-free grain and lots of fiber too.  Here is a amaranth porridge recipe from an awesome site called Naturally Ella that is DELICIOUS!

Amaranth Banana Porridge

Banana-Pecan Amaranth Porridge

(adapted from Naturally Ella & recipe created by Erin Alderson)

Ingredients

  • ½ cup amaranth
  • 1 cup water
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup pecan pieces
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 bananas
  • Milk (almond or coconut), to serve

 Directions: 

Combine amaranth with one cup water and salt. Bring amaranth to a boil, and reduce to a simmer and then cover and  simmer for 15 mins.  Remove from heat and let sit for 10 mins.  If it’s too thick, add some almond or coconut milk and set aside.  Add pecans to a dry skillet and toast over medium-low heat, stir often. Toast ar0und 3 minutes.  Set aside.  Heat coconut oil, maple syrup, and cinnamon over medium-low heat. Cut bananas in ½” slices and add to skillet, cook until bananas are extremely tender and maple syrup has absorbed into the slices.  Stir together ¾ of the bananas and amaranth. Pour into bowls and top with remaining bananas, pecans, and a drizzle of milk.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“A good laugh and a long sleep are the best cures in the doctor’s book.” 

– Irish Proverb

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Weekly Recipe Roundup: Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf, Chickpea Burgers, and Blueberry Banana Pancakes

It’s been a busy past few weeks and over here at The Health Junction, the kitchen has been in full swing making and testing new recipes.  Here are a few healthy takes on traditional recipes to kick off 2013!

PoppySeed Loaf

Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf

A while back, my friend Melissa made a delightful dinner and praised “The Looneyspoons Collection” by Janet and Greta Podleski for the array of delicious recipes she had created.  Luckily, Santa brought me this book for Christmas and I’m glad he did – it is a staple for any kitchen.  Here is my take on Poppy Love (page 305):

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1/4 cup milled flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup almond, soy, or rice milk (you could use regular milk too)
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut butter or regular butter.
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsp grated lemon zest

Directions:  Mix flours, oat bran, milled flax seeds, poppy seeds, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and pour into a loaf pan.  Cook at 350 for 45 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes, remove from pan and let cool completely.

Chickpea-Burgers

Chickpea Burgers

I like this recipe so much because it’s a vegetarian recipe that is actually filling and satisfying….and it was approved by a picky non-vegetarian.  Chickpeas are an excellent source of insoluble fiber and for that reason is a great food for intestinal health.  They are also a good source of anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, and offer one of the best food combinations available – protein and fiber which means chickpeas are idea for blood sugar regulation…horray!

  • 1 x 19 oz can chickepeas
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 1/3 cup grated onion
  • 1/3 cup grated carrot
  • 3 tbsp fresh cilantro
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup bread crumbs

Directions:  drain chickpeas and put in a medium-sized bowl along with tahini and eggs.  Process it with a food processor or hand immersion blender.  Pulse till smooth but still a little bit coarse.  Add onions, carrots, cilantro, curry, salt and mix well.  Make 4 patties and coat with bread crumbs.  Place on parchment paper and put in fridge for 20 minutes.  Heat a non stick pan and bake 3-4 minutes per side.  Serve with a bun and side salad.  Serves 4.

blueberry-banana-pancakes

Blueberry-Banana Pancakes

Adapted from “The Looneyspoons Collection”, these are REALLY FILLING (and healthy)!

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup flax seeds
  • 2/3 cup oat bran
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 3/4 cups buttermilk (or Almond, Rice, or Soy  Milk)*
  • 1/2 cup banana, mashed
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil melted (or butter)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp pure  maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup fresh berries (I used a mix of cherries, blueberries and blackberries)
  • 1 cup of vanilla yogurt or yogurt substitute (like So Delicious Coconut “Yogurt”)

*if using something other than buttermilk, you may need to put in a little less to get a thicker consistency.

Directions:  In a large bowl, combine flours, flax seeds, oat bran, baking powder, and baking soda.  In a medium-sized bowl, whisk buttermilk, banana, coconut oil/butter, egg, maple syrup, and vanilla.  Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix well.  Add berries.  Heat a skillet over medium heat and scoop about 1/2 cup per pancake.  When you see bubbles start to appear in the middle of the pancake, flip and cook another 2-3 minutes.  Top pancakes with yogurt and a bit of syrup.  Makes 10 very filling pancakes.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

““Your body is a temple, but only if you treat it as one.”

– Astrid Alauda

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Getting Jiggy With Kale

Kale is delightful.  Its deep, dark, and earthy green colour is complemented by varying textures.  The stems are strong and as the leaves move outwards they turn from supportive and firm to curly and playful.  Just as versatile as its colour and texture is the taste of kale which ranges from bitter and tart when prepared raw to subtle and gentle when steamed.

Before I started studying nutrition I always though kale was an exotic intangible vegetable that only hippies ate.  I’ve come to realise it’s really a vegetable for the masses because there isn’t one of us out there that wouldn’t benefit from a serving or two of kale each day.

AA051054

I’m not kidding around about kale.  These days, I eat two cups of this beautiful leafy green most days of the week.  What’s the big deal?  The nutritional profile of kale is quite remarkable:

kale

NOTE: try steaming your kale instead of boiling it to retain more nutrients

  • 1 cup of kale will give you over 1300% percent of your daily Vitamin K requirements.  Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting and helps protect against post-menopausal bone deterioration.
  • 1 cup of kale has over 350% of your daily Vitamin A requirements.  Vitamin A is needed for healthy eyes, reduces inflammation, boosts the immune system, and is necessary for your cells to grow in a healthy and productive manner.
  • Kale has a compound called glucosinolates which forms isothiocyanates (ICTs).  The presence of ICTs has been linked to a reduction in risk for 5 types of cancers; ovarian, prostate, colon, breast, and bladder.
  • Kale has 45 different kinds of flavanoids.  Check out this past post for the benefits of flavanoids.
  • 1 cup of kale also provides 88% of your daily Vitamin C requirements.  So, in one cup of kale you have basically done all the work you need to get your Vitamin C, K, and A.

You’re impressed, admit it.

How can you invite kale into your home?  If you’re a morning smoothie person, why not throw in a cup of kale?  For lunch, a  side salad with a couple of cups of lightly steamed kale mixed with other veggies and tasty dressing might be nice.  It’s possible to steam kale, puree it, and then add it into pasta sauces, chili’s or other casserole type dishes (even Mac and Cheese for the mums out there reading).

Here are a couple of delicious recipes to get your started from a book called “The Book of Kale” by Sharon Hana which was kindly lent to me by my classmate Lisa V.  Enjoy!

Savoury Kale & Pumpkin Scones

Kale Scones

Ingredients:  2 cups kale leaves, loosely packed 2 cups unbleached flour 1/2 tsp salt 1 tsp baking soda 1/2 tsp baking powder 1 tbsp sugar 1/3 cup cold butter 1 egg 3/4 cup buttermilk 1/4 cup cooked squash or pumpkin in small dice 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, grated

Instructions: Preheat oven to 375°F. Set oven rack in the middle.  Steam kale for a minute and then chop finely – try to squeeze out as much water as possible.  Blend flour, salt, soda, baking powder and sugar together. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or your fingers.  In a small bowl, beat the egg, then add the buttermilk, continuing to beat until well combined. Add egg/buttermilk mixture, along with squash, kale and cheese to dry ingredients, mixing with a fork just enough to combine.  Drop by spoonfuls onto parchment-paper-covered cookie sheet. Bake about 20 minutes until lightly browned.
Kale Cottage Cheese Muffins
Kale Cottage Cheese Muffins

Ingredients:  2 eggs, 1 cup low fat cottage cheese, 2 tsp dried dillweed, 3 Tbsp minced onion or chives, 3 cups kale leaves, loosely packed, 1 ½ cups flour (I used quinoa flour), 1 tsp baking powder, ½ tsp sea salt.

Instructions:  In a medium bowl, beat eggs until frothy. Add cottage cheese, dillweed, and onion, mixing only to combine.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place kale in a food processor. Pulse a few times until finely chopped. Squeeze excess moisture from the kale and add to cheese mixture.  In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt. Add wet mixture to dry ingredients and stir only enough to blend – a few lumps are acceptable.  Spoon mixture into greased non-stick muffin pan.  Bake about 20 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.  Makes 12 muffins.

 

Breakfast Kale Okonomiyaki

Food52

Ingredients:  1 large egg, 1/3 cups water, pinch of salt, dash of tamari, 2 tbsp flour (I used brown rice flour), 1/4 tsp baking powder, black pepper, heaping cup of kale, 1/2 cup bell peppers, 2 tsp olive oil.

Instructions:  Beat eggs and water and then add salt, tamari, flour, baking powder and black pepper.  Toss in kale and bell peppers and coat.  Heat skillet at medium heat and add the olive oil.  Pour in mixture make a flat circle.  Cook for 4 minutes on each side.  You may want to cover the skillet for the last few minutes if you like your peppers soft.  Serves 1.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

 “He that takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the skills of the physician.”

– Chinese proverb

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Weekly Recipe Roundup: Banana Coco AM Smoothie, Healthier Butter Chicken, and MORE!

Over the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about the concept of nutrient density.  It started when writing about foods such as Hemp and Chia Seeds and continued at work where I was trying to explain the difference between whole grain whole wheat (WGWH) and white bread.  In talking to the students about this concept, we came up with an analogy – white bread is like scrap metal and WGWW is like gold.  Eating white bread with give you immediate energy while WGWW will give you energy and a host of essential nutrients.

So, in evaluating my own diet I’ve been cognizant of selecting nutrient dense foods while trying to be flexible with the time and energy I put into meal planning.  With that in mind, here are a few of my favourite recipes from the last week which were made with the concept of nutrient density in mind – enjoy!

Banana Coco AM Smoothie

This is a shake that provides complex carbohydrates, healthy fat, quality protein, fiber, and enough calories to keep you alert throughout the morning.  It’s also really delicious and takes less than 7 minutes (including time taken to clean up afterwards!).

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water

2 tbsp quick oats

1 banana

1 scoop Vega Energizing Smoothie Powder* Choc-A-Lot

1 tbsp nut butter; can be almond, peanut butter, macadamia, cashew, etc

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp pure maple syrup (optional)

Directions:  Get your blender out and put 2 x tbsp oats and 1 cup of hot water.  Let the contents sit for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, cut a banana up into chunks and toss it in the blender.  Pour in Vega Energizing Smoothie Powder, nut butter, cinnamon, and maple syrup.  Blend thoroughly.  This can be taken on the go – just give it a good shake before consuming.  Serves 1.

*I am not to crazy about protein shakes, especially whey based products.  The Energizing Smoothie Powder is like a more laid back and less intense version of traditional protein powder.  Vega is p based and totally vegan – each scoop of the Choc-A-Lot flavour contains 11 grams of protein, 7 grams of fiber, 2 servings of vegetables, and 1 gram of omega-3 – this would be a good option for people with dairy allergies or sensitivities.

Healthier Butter Chicken

This recipe is from my favourite cookbook called Simply Great Food by the Dietitians of Canada.  If you’re just getting into healthy eating and want a book that doesn’t have a slew of crazy ingredients and will not leave you feeling exhausted – this is your lady.  If you like traditional butter chicken, this dish is sure to become a meal planning staple because you can feel good about the fact that the fat content is much lower without compromising the taste.

Ingredients: 

Chicken Marinade

3 tbsp tandori paste

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp low-fat yogurt (or a soy alternative if you have a dairy allergy)

1.5 lbs or 750 grams of chicken

Sauce

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 cup water

1 inch finely chopped gingerroot

1 green chili pepper, finely chopped

4 tsp lemon juice

1 tbsp cilantro (fresh or spiced version)

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp garam masala (can be found in the spice section of your grocery store…even No Frills!)

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp granulated sugar

1/4 tsp chili powder

1 tbsp unsalted butter

1 cup 10% cream (I use 1  cup of rice milk or 5% instead of the 10% recommended in the book)

Instructions:  mix the “chicken marinade” ingredients in a decent sized bowl – add diced up raw chicken at let marinate for around one hour.  After an hour, put chicken onto a baking sheet and pour the sauce over top.  Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes and then remove from the oven.  While chicken is baking, mix the “sauce” ingredients together – everything except for the butter and cream.  Get a good-sized cooking pot and melt butter…add the sauce and bring to a gentle boil.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Add chicken.  Add cream.  Serve with basmati or brown rice.  Serves 8.

Teriyaki Rice Noodles with Veggies & Beans

I was pleasantly surprised at how well this recipe turned out – the ingredients are so simple yet they really work well together to bring out the flavours and contrasting textures of the veggies.  It calls for beans but you could easily substitute with chicken breast or even beef if it suits your fancy.  Each serving is exceptionally high in Vitamin C and Fiber (when  made with beans).  This recipe comes from the holy bible of fast, easy, and healthy food, Simply Great Food by the Dietitians of Canada.

Ingredients:

2 cups rice noodles – use penne or macaroni instead of long spaghetti style noodles

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, diced

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup peeled and chopped carrots

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups broccoli florets

1/2 cup reduced sodium teriyaki sauce

1 x 19 oz can mixed beans, drained and rinsed

Instructions: cook rice noodles according to package and set aside.  In a large skillet, heat oil and add onion, carrots and celery – saute for 5 minutes.  Add broccoli and garlic and then cover the skillet for 5 mins.  Pour in teriyaki sauce, beans, and rice noodles.  Cover for 5 more minutes.  Serves 8 – tastes even better than next day when packed for lunch.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama):

“Spend some time alone every day.”

– Dalai Lama XIV

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Weekly Recipe Bulletin: Chicken Tetrazzini, Cocoa Banana Blueberry Pancakes, and Cold Fighting Tea

This week’s recipes are not only delicious, but they were really easy to make and of course…healthy!  Enjoy.

Last Sunday, it was a very cold sort of gloomy day.  Just the sort of day that called for something hearty, warm, and filling.  The hearty and filling descriptors can be tough do do when attempting a healthier meal – but I believe this recipe will surprise you.  Everyone in the household enjoyed this meal…even the cat(s) who we found illegally eating from the casserole dish on the counter – totally against the rules!  Adapted from Clean Eating Magazine, here Chicken Tetrazzini has everything;  veggies, protein, and healthy carbs.

Ingredients

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • 1 cup dried rice pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 oz cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup finely diced sweet onion
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled, halved length-wise and thinly sliced (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 cups low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, finely grated (about 1/3 cup), divided
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 5 oz roasted chicken breast, torn into bite-size pieces (about 1 cup)
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped raw almonds, optional

Directions (serves 6)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Cook pasta until al dente and then rinse under cold water and set aside.  In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat and add mushrooms, onion and carrot and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add salt and continue to cook, stirring, until mushrooms are golden brown and carrot has softened, about 4 minutes. Add broth, bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer gently until carrot is tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer three-quarters of broth and half of vegetable mixture to a blender and purée until smooth.  Add sour cream, parsley, half of Parmigiano-Reggiano, tarragon, lemon zest and juice and pulse blender until mixed. Return puréed mixture to skillet and toss with pasta, chicken and peas. Transfer mixture to prepared casserole dish, and sprinkle remaining half of Parmigiano-Reggiano and almonds, if desired, over top. Bake until sauce is bubbling and top is golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Sweet glory, these were good.  I made them twice this week – once at home and once with the kids at school.  Both times, they were a hit.  Cocoa Banana Blueberry Pancakes were a surprise because they have no added sugar and are packed with nutrient dense, antioxidant rich ingredients.  Adapted from Meghan Telpner’s recipe, this is sure to become a staple.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup arrowroot or tapioca powder (can be found at any health food store)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 2 bananas
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil (now available at most No Frills grocery stores!)
  • 1 cup blueberries or raspberries…or strawberries

Directions

In a large mixing bowl, blend all dry ingredients together including brown rice flour, raw cocoa powder, arrowroot starch, baking powder, and baking soda.  In a blender or with an immersion blender, blend together ground chia seeds, warm water, bananas, honey and coconut oil.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir in berries.  Heat your skillet to medium heat and add coconut oil – add 1/4th cup of batter for each pancake.  Cook till bubbles appear in the middle of the pancake and then flip.  Serve with honey or maple syrup.

It’s that time of year…cold and flu season is a comin’.  I felt a little itchy in the throat and had the chills this past weekend but a few cups of this Ginger Lemon Honey Tea concoction really helped.  Ginger is an anti-inflammatory agent and helps improve circulation while lemon is a source of immune boosting Vitamin C (it’s also an anti-oxidant).  Finally, honey is super soothing on the throat and acts as a natural anti-bacterial – you can see why the three ingredients in this tea really do help fight colds and the flu.

Ingredients (makes 2 cups)

Ginger

1 x lemon

Honey

Water

Directions

Cut off about a thumb sized block of ginger – peel it and throw it into a pot with 2 cups of water.  Bring the water to a boil and then reduce and simmer for 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, squeeze 1/2 a lemon into a large mug and add 1 tbsp of honey.  Remove the block of ginger from the water after 20 minutes and add water to the mug.  Stir.  Sip.  Sleep.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama):

“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.” 

– Dalai Lama XIV

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Hemp Hearts 101 in 100 Words

The Health Junction received and overwhelming response to Chia Seeds 101 in 100 Words – thank you!  Since you seem to enjoy reading about seeds so much, here is a another 100 word post on Hemp Seeds – another goodie you might want to consider stocking in your cupboards.

If you like flax seeds and chia seeds, hemp hearts will also appeal to you.  Hemp Hearts come from inside the shell of a hemp seed and they are high in essential fatty acids (EFA’s).  About 35% of their EFA comes from ALA Omega-3 which is the vegetarian derived omega-3 source responsible for reducing inflammation.  Aside from their anti-inflammatory properties, they’re also high in Vitamin E (antioxidant), Magnesium (good for your muscles and relaxation  – 2 tbsp provides 55% of your daily Mg requirements), and contain a full spectrum of the all important B Vitamins.

In my mind, what differentiates hemp hearts from other seeds is that they are a complete protein which means they contain all 10 essential amino acids – one serving of 2 tbsp provides 7 grams of protein.  In short, 2 tbsp of hemp hearts sprinkled in cereal, on a salad, or in a smoothie offers an excellent  nutritional bang for your buck.  I enjoy a brand called Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts.  And yes, they come from hemp plant but no, they won’t make you feel loopy:)

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama):

“If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito.”

– Dalai Lama XIV

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Weekly Recipe Roundup: Banana Almond Butter Smoothie, Jamaican Spinach Soup, and Pumpkin Spice Muffins

This Weekly Roundup is dedicated to my awesome friend Jenn D who gave me my very first cookbook almost 6 years ago (she realised I needed H-E-L-P!).  Jenn is the person introduced me to the gift of creative cooking…and more importantly, she always makes me smile with genuine affection!

 

I’ve been working on meal plans for some of my case studies and smoothies is something I often slot in for breakfast – but finding a smoothie that provides healthy fats, quality protein, and that all necessary carbohydrate fuel is hard to come by.  Here is one that I tested out and really enjoyed – it’s creamy and just sweet enough to be enticing.  It filled me up for a good three hours.  For those of you who haven’t tried chia or hemp seeds, they are super seeds that can be found at any health food store.  I like them because they’re high in fiber and omega-3 fats but also a good source of protein.

Banana Almond Butter Smoothie

  • 1 cup almond milk (or soy, or regular milk if you want)09
  • 1 banana, chopped
  • 1 heaping tbsp almond butter
  • 1 tbsp milled flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds or hemp seeds
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Blend and enjoy!  Serves 1.

This is the kind of weather that makes me want to hibernate and eat warm foods – hence lots of soups over the past week  but my favourite was this spicy Jamaican Spinach Soup.  The kids at school liked making this but enjoyed eating it even more!  This recipe was adapted from Fresh at Home: Everyday Vegetarian Cookingby Ruth Tal Brown and Jennifer  Houston.

Jamaican Spinach Soup

3 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 stalks celery, chopped

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp minced fresh ginger

1 tbsp sugar

1/2 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp all spice

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 potatoes, peeled and diced (one sweet potato and one regular)

4 cups chopped zucchini

6 cups veggie stock

Pinch cayenne pepper

1 cup fresh spinach

1 red pepper, minced

Instructions:  heat oil in a large pot and add onion, garlic, celery, garlic, ginger and sugar and cook for 5 minutes.  Add salt, turmeric, allspice and nutmeg and cook another few minutes.  Add potatoes, zucchini and veggie stock – bring to a boil and then reduce heat and summer for 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and add cayenne pepper and spinach.  Using a hand blender or regular blender, puree.  garnish with minced red pepper.  Serves 6.

Pumpkin anything usually tastes good…pumpkin seeds, pumpkin lattes, and pumpkin spiced muffins.  In the spirit of Halloween, we made these at school this past week and they were a hit – and all without any butter or icing.   This recipe was adapted from Canadian Living.

Pumpkin Spice Muffins

1-3/4 cups(425 mL) whole wheat flour

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1-1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp nutmeg

2 eggs

3/4 cup canned pumpkin puree

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp vanilla

Instructions:  Pre-heat oven to 375.  In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients (flour all the way to nutmeg).  In a medium bowl, beat eggs and combine with pumpkin puree, veg oil, and vanilla.  Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until just combined.  Spoon into prepared muffin liners/tins and bake 20-25 minutes.  Makes 12 delicious servings!

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama):

“A genuine, affectionate smile is very important in our day-to-day lives.” 

– Dalai Lama XIV

**DISCLAIMER:  PLEASE NOTE THAT ANY ADVERTISEMENTS THAT APPEAR ON THIS PAGE DO NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS AND OPINIONS OF THE HEALTH JUNCTION**

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