A mint chocolate “nib” smoothie fit for Gwyneth Paltrow

I don’t know why, but I hear a lot of people have beef with Gwyneth Paltrow.

GOOP

Not sure why, but Gwyneth really bothers people.  My hippie vegetarian sister who hasn’t washed her hair in 15 years is about as holistic as they come…and even she thinks Gwyn is a smug jerk.

Sister Sharon
Sister Sharon

I quite enjoy Gwyn and her natural foods/lifestyle blog, http://www.goop.com.  While her cookbook yields some pretty delicious food, I agree some of the ingredients are a bit tough to find.  I have to say, that even though it can be annoying to find some of the obscure ingredients, the payoff with Gwyn is always big.

gwyneth-paltrow-sticks-to-her-diet-while-family-eats-pizza-and-pasta__oPt

I saw a recipe for a mint chocolate chip smoothie on GOOP.com that required something called raw cacao nibs and I was stumped but determined to make this smoothie happen.  Lucky for me, I happened to pass by the  ChocoSol food stand this past weekend at the Evergreen Brick Works which is my favourite place in all of Toronto.  ChocoSol makes and sells chocolate products here in Toronto using ingredients from indigenous communities in the Lacondon Jungle of Chiapas and the Oaxacan mountains of Southern Mexico…part of their product line includes raw cacao nibs.

Photo Credit:  The Torontoist
Photo Credit: The Torontoist

Raw cacao nibs, by the way, are cocoa beans that have been roasted, separated from their husks and broken into smaller pieces.  Raw cacao is high in zinc, iron, magnesium and antioxidants.

Raw Cacao Nibs

With my ChocoSol raw cacao nibs in arm, I attempted Gwyn’s smoothie with my own modification and the results were…spectacular.

Photo Credit:  GOOP.com
Photo Credit: GOOP.com

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp Manitoba Harvest Pro 70 Hemp Protein Powder (15 grams of vegan protein!)
  • large handful of spinach
  • 5 oz water
  • 5 oz unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3rd avocado
  • 1/8th tsp pure peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp raw honey (in Toronto, try Bees’ Universe unpasteurized Wildflower Honey available at the Evergreen Brickworks Farmers’ Market)
  • 1 tbsp raw Cacao Nibs (try ChocoSol’s as it is DELISH!)

Blend well and serve for an invigorating morning smoothie or afternoon pick-me-up snack.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“I’d rather smoke crack than eat cheese from a tin.”

–  Gwyneth Paltrow

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Weekly Recipe Roundup: Spring Breakfast Smoothie, Slow Cooker Veggie Casserole, and Fruity Cookies

It’s been a while, thanks for sticking with me. The past few months have been busier than usual over here at The Health Junction while I finish up with school (send me good vibes on April 19th when I write my final board exam), starting my dream job working at Glycemic Index Laboratories, and switching to teaching nutrition and cooking at a new school where I’ll be continuing my work with middle school kids.

When I get super busy, it becomes easy to stop eating well by grabbing food on-the-go or resorting to relatively processed choices.  I never feel good when I don’t infuse my diet with healthy ingredients so during particularly hectic periods my I like to focus on recipes that:

  • don’t require more than 15-20 minutes prep time
  • make a lot and freeze well for storing away some leftovers
  • have diversity; I want to get as many nutrients as possible
  • taste good
  • are focused on lean, quality, non-animal protein sources
  • are low in dairy content

The following recipes satisfied the above criteria and I hope that you’ll enjoy them during busy times as much as I did.  Enjoy!

Spring Breakfast Smoothie

Spring Breakfast Smoothie  (serves 2)

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup any type of berry
  • 1/2 cup carrot
  • 2 cups any type of leafy green.  If you are new to adding greens to your smoothie, start with a standard red leaf or romaine lettuce.
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (I like Vega Energizing Smoothie…the tropical mango, vanilla-almond, berry, or choc-a-lot flavours are nice)
  • 2-3 tbsp oats
  • 1.5 cups almond milk (or rice, or soy)
  • 1.5 cup water

Blend to your heart’s content.  Sip.  Enjoy knowing this breakfast is literally chalked full of Vitamin A, B6, B12, Folate, C, Magnesium, Potassium, Flavonoids, and Fiber.  The oats add a complex carbohydrate for increased energy and balances blood sugar.  Finally, the protein powder is totally vegan, has 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, and just enough calories to keep you going without feeling bloated or full.

vegetable_casserole

Vegetable Slow Cooker Casserole

  • 2  19-oz. cans cannellini beans
  • 1  19-oz. can garbanzo or fava beans
  • 1/4  cup purchased basil pesto
  • 1  medium onion, chopped
  • 4  cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-1/2  tsp. dried Italian seasoning, crushed
  • 1  16-oz. pkg. refrigerated cooked plain polenta cut in 1/2-inch-thick slices (looks like a tube…found in the international isle or  near the pasta section in your grocery store)
  • 1  large tomato, thinly sliced
  • 1  8-oz. pkg. finely shredded Italian cheese blend (2 cups)
  • 2  cups fresh spinach
  • 1  cup torn radicchio

Rinse and drain beans.  In large bowl combine beans, 2 tablespoons of pesto, onion, garlic, and Italian seasoning.  In 4- to 5-quart slow cooker layer half of bean mixture, half of polenta, and half of cheese. Add remaining beans and polenta.  Cover; cook on low heat setting for 4 to 6 hours (or on high heat setting 2 to 2-1/2 hours).  Add tomato, remaining cheese, spinach, and radicchio.  Combine remaining pesto and 1 tablespoon water. Drizzle pesto mixture on casserole.  Let stand, uncovered, 5 minutes.

Fruity Chocolate Chip Cookies

Fruity Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 cups oats (I use old-fashioned rolled oats)
  • 1 1/4 cup flour (whole wheat or brown rice work nice)
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup dried fruit (I like strawberries, cherries, raisins, apricots, cranberries or apple)
  • 3/4 cup milled flax seeds
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 cup honey (I only use 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup coconut butter/oil (mash it well before adding it to recipe)
Pre-heat oven to 350.  Add all the dry ingredients up to an including the salt in a bowl.  Mix well.  Add the bananas, honey, and coconut butter in another bowl…mix well.  Combine wet ingredients into the dry ingredients…and mix well.  I use the kitchenaide mixer for a few minutes to make sure it’s well combined.  Drop cookies 1 tbsp at a time onto a cookie sheet…cook 10 minutes or until brown.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“I don’t like food that’s too carefully arranged; it makes me think that the chef  is spending too much time arranging and not enough time cooking. If I wanted a  picture I’d buy a painting.”
– Andy Rooney

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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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Boring Salads Are For Suckers! 10 Ways to Spice Up Your Leafy Greens

Eating a salad feels like s chore for many people, but it doesn’t need to because salads can be fun.  Yes FUN!  Just like anything else, adding some variety into your salad eating routine is the best way to keep motivation high and your colon happy.  Getting 8 servings of fruits and vegetables a day requires planning, scheduling, and just a little bit of time by the payoff is indisputable.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was curious to see what the correlation was between fruit and vegetable intake and long-term health status and turned to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  Started in 1971, this is a longitudinal study that is tracking the dietary habits and health status of just over 14,000 US citizens.  This study is well designed and helpful in seeing over time, what happens to the body as a result of dietary choices.

obese-kids-comparison-over-time

So, in 2002, researchers at Tulane University did a follow-up study as published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on 9,600 of the original participants and found that when someone eats 3 servings of fruits and vegetables a day compared to just 1 their risk was decreased as follows:

27% less chance of having a stroke

42% less chance of dying from a stroke

24% less chance of having a heart attack

27% less chance in having cardiovascular disease

15% less chance of dying in general

And that is  just at 3 servings a day.  Imagine what eating the recommended 8 can do for your body?

F V

Here are ten ways to make your salad more appealing:

1.)  Mix your greens up.  Romaine lettuce every day is boring!  Try combining different leafy greens up or rotate through a favourite list.  My favourite combination is kale and red leaf lettuce.  Here is a good list to start with.

2.)  Add fruit to your salad.  I like diced apples, berries, pears and oranges.  Dried raisins or cranberries are also nice.

3.)  Toast some nuts and throw them on top.  A couple of tablespoons is a good serving size.  I enjoy cashews, walnuts, pecans or almonds.

4.)  Toast up some seeds and throw them on top.  A couple of tbsp’s should do it.  Try pumpkin, sesame, or sunflower.

nuts-seeds

5.)  Make your own salad dressing.  It’s SO MUCH HEALTHIER than what you will find in a bottle and it tastes 1000% better.  The easiest recipe is combining 1 tbsp of olive oil with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar (I use a fig infused balsamic vinegar).  Check out this site for dressing ideas.

6.) Add bean sprouts.  Yum.

7.)  Add green onions, garlic, or shallots.  You might stink, but that’s ok.

GARLIC ONION SHALLOTS

8.)  Add fresh herbs.  I like basil but cilantro, chives, dill and parsley are nice too.

9.)  Mix it with a grain for example, 1/2 of brown rice or some cooked quinoa.

10.)  Add a vegetarian source of protein.  Chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, tofu, edamame, and eggs.

Feta

BONUS:  Top with cheese (if lactose isn’t a problem for you).  Some popular choices are goat cheese, feta, mozzarella, and parmesan.  Limit your serving size to 1/8th to 1/4th of a cup since cheese is high in saturated fat.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama)

“If you don’t take care of your body, where are you going to live?”

– Author Unknown

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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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Tired of dry, flakey, tight, and dull winter skin?

Around the beginning of November, the skin on my face goes from manageable to as dry as the Sahara desert.  My normally very minimal routine no longer suffices and in the past, I’ve resorted to a wonderful, but expensive cream by Kiehl’s.  After investigating, I realised that there are easier and cheaper ways of getting the skin you want that involves just a few simple ingredients that you can find at your local health food or grocery store.

The first thing you’ll want to do is ensure that all the nutrients vital to skin health are being consumed regularly:

Water:  it makes sense right?  The more hydrated you are, the more hydrated your skin will be.  Aim for at least 10 cups of water a day…no less.

EFA’s (Essential Fatty Acids):  These are your omega 3 & 6’s and sources include:  cold water fish (salmon, etc), flax seeds, hemp seeds, avocado, chia seeds, nuts, and leafy greens.  I also personally supplement with omega-3 fish oil capsules twice a day @ 1400 mg’s/capsule.

EFA’s cannot be absorbed through the intestines when your digestive system isn’t working properly.  So, make sure that you’re avoiding foods which you may be allergic to, chew your food thoroughly, ensure adequate fiber intake (50 grams a day!), and drink lots of water to keep things “flowing”.

Salmon is an excellent source of both omega-3 fatty acids and protein.

Have you ever heard of Jojoba Oil?  The oil comes from the seed of the Jojoba shrub which is found the desert areas of both Mexico and the United States.  What is unique about this oil is that its chemical structure is almost identical to the oil produced by our skin and hair.  It’s nourishing and moisturizing to the skin and because it’s similar to our own oil, is easily absorbed and doesn’t leave a nasty greasy residue.  Jojoba oil contains a compound called myristic acid which is an anti-inflammtory agent – this is why jojoba oil is commonly used in the treatment of inflammatory skin disorders like eczema and psoriasis.  A bottle of Jojoba Oil (my favourite band is called Desert Essence) costa about $13 dollars and will last you several months.

Jojoba Oil Instructions:  just put a penny sized drop of Jojoba Oil on your palms and massage into your face before bed.  Overnight it will soak into your pores and absorb.  The next morning, wash and moisturizer your skin as your normally would.

If you’re looking to gently exfoliate your face and get ride of those existing flakes, try the following concoction which was recommended by my classmate Emily P.

Facial Scrub Instructions:  Mix a tsp of brown sugar in with a tbsp of Jojoba Oil.  Spread of over your face and gently massage.  Rinse, wash, and moisturize as you normally would.

THE DAILY DL (Dalai Lama):

“Look at children.  Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do.  Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside?  Children don’t usually act in such a manner.  If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished.  They can still play with that person the following 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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