Comfort food makeover: brownies

raw brownie

Who doesn’t like brownies? This recipe turns a generally dairy and gluten-filled dessert into a healthy raw brownie that tastes amazing! Best of all you don’t need to turn on the oven and these 3 ingredients brownies are ready in a few minutes.

Ingredients:
1 cup dates
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 cup walnuts*

Instructions:

  1. If your dates are dry soak in warm water for 10 minutes, then drain and keep the water aside.
  2. Place walnuts in food processor or Vitamix and process until they resemble a fine crumb mixture.
  3. Add the cacao powder and pulse until combined.
  4. Add the dates to the food processor a bit at a time until it forms a dough like consistency. You may not use all the dates. If the mixture is dry add a bit of the date water.
  5. Remove the dough and place it onto a piece of wax or parchment paper and shape the dough into a large square that you can cut later or form the dough into balls.
  6. Place the brownies in a container and freeze for at least an hour. They will keep in the freezer for at least 1 month.

* The walnuts can be substituted for almonds, hazelnuts or pecans.

Make ahead breakfast recipes

Chia PuddingThese recipes are quick to prepare and make enough servings for breakfast for a week for 1 person.

Oatmeal Bake
Oats provide a good dose of soluble fiber to help you stay regular and lower cholesterol levels.

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 cup berries (fresh or frozen)
  • ½ cup chopped nuts & seeds
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup almond milk
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C).
  2. Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl and add the berries.
  3. In another bowl, mix the egg,  almond milk and vanilla.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry mix and then spread the mixture into a greased baking dish.
  5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown
  6. Serve with more berries and milk or on its own!
  7. Store in the fridge or make a big batch and freeze.

Chia seed pudding
Chia seeds are rich in fiber, omega-3 fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.

  • 1 cup of full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup of almond milk
  • 2/3 cup of chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp of maple syrup
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  1. Place all the ingredients in a blender and blend on low speed until thick or blend on a higher speed for a smoother texture.
  2. Store in the fridge.
  3. Option to serve with fruit.

Comforting and nourishing golden milk tea

ginger-turmeric

Golden milk or turmeric tea is a traditional Ayurvedic recipe used to support the mind and body. Turmeric has been used in therapeutic preparations over the centuries in different parts of the world. It is known for its antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. This tea is comforting, and highly nutritious.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups almond milk or any milk you prefer
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil, optional
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • a pinch of black pepper

Instructions

Place all the ingredients in a saucepan, stir and bring to a light boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer up to 10 minutes. Serves 2

Notes: If you find the taste of turmeric too overpowering add a bit of honey or maple syrup and gradually decrease the amount over time. It’s important not to omit the oil and pepper as they enhance the absorption of curcumin, the main the main component found in turmeric.

Alternatively, to save some time, you can make a golden paste and add ¼ to 1/2 tsp to a cup of warm milk.

Golden Paste:

  • ½ cup turmeric powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 5 tsp ground black pepper
  • 5 tbsp coconut oil

Directions:

  1. In a saucepan mix the water and turmeric and slowly heat it for 6-10 minutes. Stir the paste until it becomes thick. Add more water if it’s too thick.
  2. Once the mixture has become a paste add the black pepper and oil and continue stirring until all the ingredients are combined.
  3. Allow the paste to cool. Store in the refrigerator in a jar for up to 1-2 weeks or add the paste to an ice cube tray and place in the freezer for up to 2 months.

Enjoy!

Make ahead lunches

soup-1006694_1280When it comes to making healthy lunches, planning is crucial. The good news is that once you get used to the routine it becomes easier.

Planning for healthy work or school lunches might look like this:

  1. during the week make a list of possible lunches
  2. create a grocery list
  3. create menu plan to ensure meal rotation
  4. prepare your meals Sunday and possibly a few on Wednesday

Choosing foods that stay in the fridge for a few days without going bad is key. As a general rule cooked foods should be stored in the refrigerator and be eaten within 3 to 4 days. This is why you might want to take some time Wednesday to cook a few things such as quinoa.

The following foods keep for at least 3 days once cooked and refrigerated:

Rice: 4 to 6 days in the refrigerator or 6 months in the freezer.

Quinoa: 3 days in the refrigerator

Beans: 3-4 days in refrigerator or 1-2 month is freezer.

Chicken: 3-4 days in refrigerator or 4 month is freezer.

Boiled eggs: 1 week in the fridge.

Hummus: see the label. Most are good for up to 5 days after opening.

Foods that freeze well include: soup, stews, chili, pasta sauce, bread, baked goods, or homemade bars.

Not sure what to make? Here are a few lunch ideas:

Wraps
You can use flour tortillas, pita bread, collards or romaine lettuce as your wraps. Fill the wrap with your favourite fillings. Egg and tuna salad is good in romaine lettuce. Refried beans, salsa and cheese are good in a flour tortilla. Make a salad and stuff it into pita bread. Ideally you would have all the ingredients on hand and make your wrap in the morning so that it doesn’t get soggy overnight. You can also bring the filling in a separate container and make your wrap at lunch time.

Bento Boxes
For those who love variety, the possibilities are endless! If you need some ideas check out this post and if you want to make an extra special bento try these.

Hearty soup, stews and chili
Make a big batch and freeze in individual portions for a quick lunch. Use a slow cooker to save time.

Veggie Bowls
Add steamed, roasted or raw veggies over cooked rice, quinoa, rice noodles or another grain. Top with it beans, nuts, or lean meat for added protein and add a drizzle of your favourite sauce.
This is a simple and delicious sauce that will keep in the fridge for up to a week. You can add it to a veggie bowl, salad or use it as a dipping sauce.

Tahini Lemon Sauce
Blend 1/2 cup tahini, 1/2 cup lemon juice, 1 garlic clove, and a 1/4 cup water.

Burrito Bowl
Layer some rice, refried beans, salsa and avocado. This is one of the quickest lunches to put together when you have everything on hand.

Once your meals are prepared, pack them in containers free of BPA and other toxins. It’s best practice to stay away from plastic as much as possible. If you do use plastic make sure they are dishwasher safe if you use a dishwasher and do not heat your meals in plastic.

Some ideas for safe packaging include: mason jars, stainless steam thermos and parchment paper. Ikea sells these glass containers that have good lids so they are less likely to leak. Terra 20 has a few stainless steal contain options such as this 2 layer sandwich box.

If you have children include them in the planning and prepping process so that they get into the habit of preparing healthy meals.

3 different uses for protein powder

Protein powder isn’t just for smoothies. You can boost your protein intake by adding it to foods or recipes. The added protein keeps you full longer and reduces cravings. Here are 3 ways to consume your protein powder other than drinking it.

  1. yogurt-1442034_640Power-up your breakfast!
    Add some protein powder to your oatmeal or yogurt. Try a small amount first such as a teaspoon in a bit of oatmeal to see if you like it.
  2. Summer Treat
    These protein ice pops make a great summer or post workout snack
  3. Healthy snacks like these energy bars

1 cup pitted dates
¼ cup dried apricots
1 scoop of VegaOne vanilla flavor or your favorite protein powder
¼ cup ground almond
¼ cup hemp seeds
½ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
½ cup quick oats
2 tbsp of cocoa nibs (optional)

Directions:

  1. Soak the dates and apricots in water for about 30 minutes.
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  3. Drain the water from the dates and discard the water.
  4. Process the dates in a food processor or Bullet until they form a paste.
  5. Add dates to dry ingredients and mix until smooth.
  6. Place in a pan or roll into balls

NOTE: You can substitute the fruit, nuts and seeds with your favorites.

Choosing a protein powder can be challenging because there are so many on the market. My favourites brands are Vega and Sunwarrior because of their ingredients and taste. When shopping for your powder keep in mind it’s different uses so that you can choose a flavor that will compliment the recipes and whatever you plan on adding it into.

 

Comfort Food Makeover: Baked Beans

As a child growing up in an active family it was not uncommon that our dinners needed to be quick and convenient. When my Dad was left with the task of preparing the meal his favourite choice was baked beans and toast. This involved warming up a can of baked beans and putting them over toast. I loved these special dinners made by my Dad and to this day when I am craving a comfort food this is the meal that comes to mind.

Given what I have learned over the years about the importance of whole food eating and the sodium, sugar and additives that are found in processed and refined canned foods, I decided to makeover this family classic with an easy and healthy slower cooker recipe. These baked beans can be prepared in bulk and frozen for those busy nights when a quick meal is required.

Ingredients:

4 cups dry white or navy beans
8 cups water
1 green pepper diced
1 yellow onion chopped
3/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp dijon mustard
1 -15oz can of tomato paste
2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

Method:

1. Completely cover the dry beans with water and let soak in room temperature overnight.  Drain and rinse beans the following day.

2. Place soaked beans, onion and pepper at the bottom of slow cooker.

3. Whisk together maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, mustard, tomato paste, sea salt and pepper.  Cover the contents in the slower cooker with mixture.

4. Cook for 6-7 hours on high or 8-9 hours on low.

5. Top 100% rye, kamut or spelt bread with cooked baked beans.  Serve with a side salad or steamed veggies.

Enjoy!!!