I am always looking for fun snack recipes for Ayla. I want them to have a good nutritional profile, but they also have to be tasty for her to show any interest. I had seen lots of cookie recipes that used chickpeas in place of flour and thought that sounded like a great place to start for a winning, healthy snack. But as I began looking around, I couldn't quite find a recipe that I was happy with. So, taking ideas from a variety of sources, I got to work on my own creation. This hasn't always worked out for me in the past, so when I gave my first batch the official taste test, I was shocked that they were actually quite tasty!
To make things even better, these cookies are packed with fibre, and are gluten, dairy and refined sugar free.
But none of this mattered if the ultimate taste tester didn't approve. Luckily, Ayla gobbled them up! Huge mom win. I can't tell you how many hours I have spent in the kitchen coming up with what that I think will be great dishes for the babe, only to have her turn her nose up at them. I needed an ego boost.
What I love most about this recipe is that you throw all of the ingredients in a blender at once, making the prep work really quick and easy. You can have these cookies prepped and cooked in less than 45 minutes. They really do resemble the peanut butter cookie of my childhood, but with more nutritious undertones. I wanted them to be baby friendly, which means low sugar (natural or otherwise) but if you are making them for yourself or an older child, there a couple of alterations you can do to make them a bit of a sweeter treat. I used 2 tablespoons of 100% maple syrup as my sweetener, plus a banana. You could up the maple syrup for an extra kick of sweetness (perhaps 1/4-1/2 cup), as well as stir in chocolate chips just before scooping them onto your cookie sheet. Chocolate chips tend to go a long way in elevating most cookie recipes. The first batch I made definitely had a more "rustic" look to them. The second time around, I used damp hands to create more uniformed shapes and pressed down on the tops with a fork to resemble a more traditional peanut butter cookie.
It’s apple season, which means my family was like most this past weekend and hit up an apple orchard. Particularly during these strange times, families are jumping on board with any and every outdoor activity available this year! Apple picking was no exception. We packed our picnic basket and trekked 45 minutes north of the city to one of the few organic orchards in our area. Apples are one of the dirty dozen foods, meaning they are one of the highest scoring fruits and vegetables in pesticides, so buying organic is important.
We headed straight for the honey crisp rows and got to work. Although many of the trees had been picked over already (despite being there one day after the honey crisps were deemed ripe enough to pick), we were still able to get a good haul. We weren’t above picking up decent looking apples off the ground. In fact, these are referred to as “wind apples” and it usually means they fell naturally--a sign they are ripe and ready to be eaten. So I was all for the ground apples, as I liked to call them.
As soon as we got home, I got to cooking, mostly because I didn’t have anywhere to store 5 dozen apples. First, I made a couple batches of home made apple sauce, my absolute favourite. I steam the apples with skin on for added nutrients, and blend them up using the Vitamix. Sometimes I add some cinnamon, but it’s optional. If any extra liquid is needed, just grab a few tablespoons from your steaming pot. If you make a few batches, it freezes really well and means you can enjoy homemade applesauce any time of the year.
After that I obviously had to whip up an apple crumble. Gluten-free was a no brainer for me, but I also decided to keep it vegan by omitting any butter. Easy.
The ticket to a crispy crumble is to make sure the mixture is entirely coated in oil before adding it on top of your apples and then also throwing the oven on broil for a couple of minutes at the end of the cooking process. Just make sure you are watching the clock like a hawk, or you’ll end up with a burn crumble… and nobody likes that. It’s a risky game, but I think the reward is worth it.
I don’t add any sweetener to my apples, like many recipes suggest. Most apples are sweet enough and if you’ve included maple syrup in the crumble, like my recipe uses, it provides just enough added sweetness. I recommend cutting down on the sugar content by letting the apples do their thing. This recipe actually has so much goodness packed in, you could use it as a dessert or breakfast interchangeably. And what’s better than that?
If you’re looking for a last minute Thanksgiving dish, I’ve got you covered. Otherwise, this makes the perfect fall comfort food and what a fantastic excuse to eat seasonally and support local.
Vegan, Gluten-Free Apple Crumble
I am forever making batch after batch of granola. I love topping my yogurt or cottage cheese with it, and so does my daughter! It's a family hit. I find homemade far more satisfying than what I can purchase in-store. It's also one of the simplest things you can make, doesn't require specific steps/ingredients, and is generally lower sugar than store-bought.
Although my laissez-faire method of making granola would leave me with a slightly different result every time, once I nailed this consistency, I knew I had found a winning combination that needed to be documented.
What makes this recipe so good? It's the perfect balance of crunchy, sweet and nutty. You can use it as a topping or simply grab a handful on the-go as a satisfying snack. I highly doubt it will last too long in your kitchen either!
We've got a pretty decent meal plan happening from Monday to Friday in our house. It isn't too strict, but gives us enough structure at the beginning of the week that we feel organized and aren't scrambling at 3pm every day, wondering what the heck we're going to feed our family. My only rule (most weeks) is I don't cook or do dishes on Friday! Easily the best house rule I've ever created. And with everything going on in the world right now, it's another great excuse to support our local restaurants. It's so relaxing at the end of the week, knowing I don't have to prep dinner for anyone (except maybe Austin, depending on what we decide to order).
My second favourite day in our meal plan is Thursday, because Thursdays we like to save for pasta night. And this particular pasta dish is my current fave in our dinner rotation! It hits my flavour profile on the dot and I end up saying "mmmm" out loud every time I eat it. It's tangy, it's savoury... it's pasta. What more could you want in a dish? I can usually pick out a star ingredient in a meal, but all of the components just come together so nicely that I simply can't pick a winner this time.
I like shrimp, but you could easily swap out your protein for chicken if seafood isn't your thing. Or, you could take it the other direction and add in scallops (but for the price, maybe save those for date night).
You can use whatever pasta you'd like, but our go-to is always a quinoa and lentil noodle. From a nutrition standpoint, when compared to white or even whole wheat pasta, it just makes more sense. Quinoa and lentil noodles provide a good hit of protein and fibre, making this meal far more satiating. Our other favourite is cauliflower linguine. However, I like to order that from Natura Market and don't always have it on hand.
My favourite way to cook shrimp is with grass-fed butter, garlic and lemon. Seriously, it's a flavour explosion and if you haven't cooked shrimp in butter... what are you even doing with your life?
You can also add in whatever vegetables you'd like, but I love the sweetness of baked tomatoes and the punch of colour the broccoli gives this dish. The mushrooms add a nice meaty texture. These three make for some pretty breezy prep. A good prep hack is to wash all of your veg in a big sink of soapy water as soon as you bring it home from the grocery store (I like to use a natural concentrate). It makes prepping meals later in the week just that much easier, because all produce is already washed and ready to go.
The finishing touches of most pasta dishes should always be a drizzle of high quality olive oil and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. And with this dish, throw on an extra squeeze of lemon.
Trust me--you're going to want to add this dish onto next week's meal plan. It doesn't disappoint.
Lemon + Garlic Shrimp Primavera
I know I preach about green smoothies on the regular, and I do love starting my day off with a massive mason jar of green goodness, but there’s a new breakfast obsession that I am throwing into the rotation: the quinoa breakfast bowl.
I can’t deny that every now and then I love a good bowl of oatmeal. It’s hearty and warm and holds so many possibilities when it comes to toppings and flavours. That said, even when you buy organic (an absolute must for oatmeal), it isn’t necessarily the best breakfast choice.
As delicious as it is, oatmeal spikes blood sugar easily and can also cause bloating for many people.
So when I discovered the idea of making quinoa a breakfast food, I was pretty excited.
Quinoa is unrefined, gluten free, contains all nine essential amino acids, making it a complete protein and is full of fibre. It doesn’t have the same blood sugar effects as oatmeal, but can achieve the same breakfast results.
You can top it with whatever you want! Try nuts, seeds, cinnamon, yogurt, granola, fresh fruit… whatever your breakfast-loving heart desires. This morning, I chose chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, coconut yogurt, granola and fresh raspberries.
Will I still have oatmeal from time to time, or has it been banished from my breakfast regime for good? Of course it hasn’t. I am not an abstainer by nature. I will always maintain that sometimes food is just meant to be enjoyed. That said, I am constantly on the hunt for optimal food choices to have on a daily basis.
So, if you’re an oatmeal lover like me but have your blood sugar levels top of mind, give this swap a try and let me know what you think!
We have hit summer temps here in Ontario, and that always inspires some cooler dishes in the kitchen. Nothing says summer like BBQ and fresh salads, am I right? Ayla is a massive fruit monster. The kid would live off of fruit salad if I let her. So she was the inspiration behind this dish. It's fresh and has a nice balance of sweet and salty. The star of the show is definitely the mint, in my opinion, so if you're nurturing an herb garden this year, it's the perfect opportunity to snip some of those babies off the stem and toss them in. Although I didn't use any this time around, basil would also be a beautiful addition to this recipe.
You don't have to worry too much about a specific measurements and should definitely allow the number of people you are serving to guide you, as well as a little taste test. But here's what I used, which served 3-4:
Mint, Watermelon + Feta Salad
I think it's natural for many to step away from a doing a whole lot of baking during the warmer months. We are more inclined to look for refreshing food choices when the sun is beaming down. But, as the weather turns colder and my nesting instincts grow stronger, I find myself being drawn back into the kitchen. There's something about the winter months that make me want to bake up a storm on the weekends. I am constantly looking for ways to turn traditional comfort baked goods into something a little more nourishing, and this past weekend was no exception. I had a few zucchinis waiting to be used, so I thought, what better way than to whip up a loaf of zucchini chocolate chip bread! After a little research, I was able to adapt a few different recipe ideas to make this version of a gluten-free, dairy-free, refined sugar-free bread. I generally try to avoid a lot of food labels, but "paleo" was a lot easier to fit into the title. This loaf turned out moist and fluffy with just the right amount of sweetness, in my opinion. There are a couple of interesting things to note about the recipe: one of the key ingredients is a mashed banana. This not only adds to the natural sweetness, but also helps give it a great texture. The second thing is that the recipe requires quite a few eggs (6!), but that's stretched out over an entire loaf and helps to add a good dose of protein and healthy fats.
Nutrition Fun Fact of the Day: Egg yolks contain a high level of lecithin, a fat molecule that helps with a number of bodily functions. It not only helps you digest fat, but plays a valuable role in moving waste out of cells and allowing nutrients to move into cells (it helps maintain cell permeability). The take away here is to not be afraid of the yolk! As of recent, I do feel like this message has been received by the general public. The fear of yolks is passing with the increase in available information regarding the health benefits. Some professionals may suggest to limit your yolk intake IF you struggle with high cholesterol. Otherwise, you're probably fine (and will reap the benefits) of consuming the entire egg.
Ok, back to the recipe...
I used dark chocolate chips for this recipe, which I enjoy more than a milk chocolate, personally. This also helps ensure your loaf remains dairy-free, if that's important to you. I am not dairy-free myself, but I do limit the amount of cows milk in my diet to usually yogurt and a little bit of cheese from time to time. Many people, of course, find that cows milk causes digestive distress or other side effects. If you suffer from this, but are not sure why, it's one of the first foods I would suggest removing from your diet as it can be highly inflammatory. There are a couple of brands of dairy-free chocolate chips. For this recipe, I used Enjoy Life, available at most health food stores.
If you're a regular "healthy" baker (if you like to think of it that way),
I would say most of the ingredients needed for this recipe can be found
in your pantry. I didn't have to go out and grab anything special (other
than another carton of eggs so my husband still had breakfast
in the morning), as I use all of these items on the regular. So, without
further ado, let's get into how to make this yummy treat a reality
in your kitchen!
I hope you enjoy this yummy treat on a cold day as much as I did!
It's been months, but I am back with a new blog! And after a lengthy hiatus, I thought I would ease myself back into things with a simple recipe.
Just as a little update, I spent my summer writing an email subscription course for Leanfit Protein, a company based in British Columbia. This was an incredible opportunity, and I had a blast doing it. However, it didn't leave a lot of content in the writing bank for blogging. That said, I submitted my final drafts yesterday and am ready to dive back into Eat.Move.Live.!
Today, I am sharing a very simple "breakfast" cookie recipe that I threw together yesterday. Now that I'm back at work and into a routine, healthy baking has made its way back into my weekend activities. Although the name suggests a breakfast food, these cookies can be easily enjoyed at any point throughout the day. Personally, I knew that a "cookie" wasn't going to cut it for breakfast, so I chose to make mine smaller and just have it as a morning snack. That said, if you're not a huge breakfast person, you can pump up the volume, add in more healthy fats and be left with a perfect grab-and-go food to fuel your morning.
The nice thing about a recipe like this is that it's hard to go wrong. You can substitute ingredients right left and centre, and still be left with something delicious. This was my second recipe of the evening, so I went for fast and simple:
2 cups oats
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used half sunflower butter)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2tsp all spice
1/2tsp baking powder
1/2tsp baking soda
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
chia seeds, sunflower seeds, hemp hearts, pumpkin seeds, almond butter, coconut, etc.
Combine oats, nut butter, banana, spices, baking powder/soda, salt, vanilla, and honey. Fold in cherries and pecans.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and spoon on batter at desired size. Cook at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.
And voila: cookies for breakfast!
There’s no denying it. One of the best parts of Christmas is the copious amounts of baked goods that turn up everywhere you go. But for anyone with food intolerances, indulging in festive treats can often leave you in a bit of a pickle. This morning I was in the mood for homemade cookies. And although what I landed on was by no means a traditional Christmas recipe, it cured my craving for something sweet, while filling my condo with the aromatic scent of freshly baked goodies, all the while remaining gluten and dairy free (and even egg free, if you’d like).
These yummy little nuggets were adapted from Danielle Walker’s recipe, made with a few personal modifications. Danielle’s recipes are geared towards families living with various food intolerances and allergies, so if you haven’t already, I encourage you to visit her site and dive into her cookbooks. Her fresh take on the everyday staples never disappoints.
Here is my version, creatively titled Peanut Butter Chocolate Cherry Cookies (alternative name suggestions welcomed):
Grab-and-go snacks are important for those busy days. They're also handy to have around in times when hunger sneaks up, unexpectantly. Without good choices readily accessible, you're more likely to make a food decision you'll later regret.
Recently I have been whipping up weekly batches of my own granola bars, adapted from Oh She Glows author, Angela Lidden's Glo Bar recipe.
These little bars of deliciousness are made with real food and don't contain any of the unidentifiable crap found in many store bought brands.
I'll be testing today's batch out on my almost-3-year-old niece and am fairly confident they will get the toddler seal of approval.