Easy Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies [Vegan, GF, Sugar-Free]

Recipe for Vegan Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
This week I participated in a festive cookie swap. Each lady brings her own cookie dough to the party, and at the party, you are able to sample a variety of cookies. At the end, you trade your cookies, package them in a beautiful assortment, and leave with finished gifts (and new recipes!). You never know what dietary requirements come up at group events so I thought I would create out a dairy-free, gluten-free, refined-sugar-free, vegan cookie recipe. Being free of flour, eggs and butter you would think the cookies would be kinda ‘meeh’ but thanks to almond butter they have the cookie goodness we are looking for. The oats create the base of these healthy holiday cookies, and maple syrup is a great low glycemic index sweetener that prevents those post cookie blood sugar spikes. These Easy Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies are one of my new favourites, and will be a life-saver recipe when catering for multiple dietary restrictions.

“Almond Butter can be used in place of peanut butter in most recipes. Almond Butter contains nearly three times as much vitamin E, twice as much iron, and seven times more calcium than peanut butter.”

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High Protein Tahini Hemp Energy Balls

High Protein Recipe for Tahini Hemp Energy Ball No Bake

With so many Energy Ball recipes available on the internet, what makes these Tahini Hemp Energy Balls different? Tahini is made from roasted sesame seeds, and that’s exactly what it tastes like – some would describe the flavour as nutty or earthy. Energy Balls often use protein powders for added protein, where these ones use pure hemp hearts for protein. I’ve opted not to use dates, as I prefer local unpasteurized honey for sweetness instead. The flavour combination of tahini with honey and toasted coconut is what makes these Tahini Hemp Energy Balls one of my favourites, and comparable to the 100 Calorie Peanut Butter Energy Balls which are one of most popular recipes on my blog.

“Tahini is made from roasted sesame seeds. It is a good source of calcium, as well as other minerals including magnesium and iron.”

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How to Prepare Chaga and a Local Chaga Turmeric Golden Mylk Latte

Warming and Local Chaga Turmeric Ginger Golden Milk Latte Drink

We are blessed here in Canada to have wild Chaga mushrooms growing on our own birch tree, offering us wild medicine from mother nature herself. Chaga tea offers a slight vanilla flavour which tastes great on its own, and also makes a great base for a chaga turmeric golden mylk latte. Golden Mylk is a modern spin on the Auryvedic drink of warm milk and turmeric. Found at health food stores and speciality cafes, it is creamy and delicious and offers a wide nutrient profile provided by the anti-inflammatory curcuminoids in turmeric and the gingerols in ginger. Golden Mylk generally uses coconut milk as the liquid base, and as the fat source to facilitate absorption of any fat-soluble compounds. Hemp milk from our own Canadian grown hemp seeds can be used instead and offers a creamy consistency that rivals that of coconut milk (see How to Make Your Own Hemp Milk). The combination of the immunoprotective benefits of chaga and the anti-inflammatory aspects of turmeric make this an essential cold weather drink to help nourish and nuture the body.
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Blueberry Kefir Post-Workout Snack

Recipe for High Protein Blueberry Kefir Post Workout Snack

Every day there is new research emerging on the importance of our gut and resident microbes. From influencing the risk of diabetes to obesity, and anxiety to depression, we know that our tiny little microbes rule our world and we are just starting to understand how to keep them happy. Kefir is a fermented milk drink which contains a large number of beneficial bacteria; aiming for at least one fermented food a day is a good habit to get into and helps ensure a healthy colony of good bacteria is residing in our gut. Alongside the beneficial bacteria, this Blueberry Kefir Post-Workout Snack also has the perfect ratio of carbohydrates and proteins for a post-workout snack. By offering a quick refuel and a load of beneficial bacterial this post-workout snack really can be, and should, enjoyed at any time of the day.

“Kefir typically contains three times the amount of probiotic cultures than yogurt and uses 10 to 20 different types of probiotic bacteria and yeasts while most yogurts use only a few. Kefir offers around 40 billion probiotic organisms per half cup.”

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Vegan Ranch Salad Dressing with Hemp Hearts

Vegan Hemp Heart Ranch Dressing

Hemp hearts are currently a hot topic, and for good reason. They are an easy protein source, packed full of essential fatty acids, locally grown, and super versatile. I love hemp so much I’ve share my favorite milk alternative Hemp Milk, and a yummy nutrient dense snack Hemp and Sunflower Seed Pâté in the past. This Vegan Ranch Dressing with Hemp is my new favourite way to incorporate hemp into my day. The creaminess of the hemp lends itself to this dressing, and there’s no reliance on any other nut or seed butter (tahini, I love you but I need a change). It’s a great salad dressing for those hearty cold weather salads. I love it with shredded kale, beets and carrots on top of fluffy quinoa. Yum!

“Hemp hearts have a soft, creamy texture and also taste great sprinkled on salads, blended in a smoothie, or as an oatmeal topper. A serving of 4 tablespoons of hemp hearts has as much protein as 2 eggs.”

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So Simple Pumpkin Spiced Coffee

So Simple Pumpkin Spiced Coffee

It’s hard to not get get caught up in all the pumpkin spiced hype. Coffee shops have been on the band-wagon even before the leaves started to turn. Now that October is here, I think it is fair to start filling the kitchen with pumpkin spiced everything. I love cafe style Pumpkin Spiced Lattes but I also know that they are so loaded with sugar and not worth the post-latte crash. Here is my healthier alternative to the sugar-loaded versions. This So Simple Pumpkin Spiced Coffee may turn out to be a regular in your autumn morning routine.

Cinnamon has been shown in help regular blood sugar levels. Studies demonstrated benefits in 1g or 3g servings. Adding 1/4 tsp of cinnamon to your day may help with better glycemic control.

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Vegan Hemp and Sunflower Seed Pâté

Vegetarian Pate Recipe with Sunflower Seeds, Hemp Hearts and Dill
Hemp hearts are a food that comes up daily in my practice. I recommend it to many of my clients as a great plant-based complete protein that offers a wide nutrient profile including omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium and zinc. Generally my focus is on breakfast, where most people struggle with getting in a good protein source – ”add 3tbsp of hemp hearts to your oatmeal” or ”make a chia pudding using Homemade Hemp Milk. The beauty of hemp is its versatility, and so it doesn’t get confined to just breakfast I wanted to share this Vegan Hemp and Sunflower Seed Pâté. Hemp hearts give this pate a nice rich creamy consistency and provide 13g protein per serving. Serve it with some seed crackers or cut up cucumber for a tasty afternoon treat, or as a light lunch.

Simple Vegetarian Pate with Hemp and Sunflower Seeds

“Hemp foods contain Omega-3 and the rare Omega-6 Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA). GLA may help with cholesterol, inflammation, skin and hair health, balancing hormones, and general heart health.”

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Hemp Milk Recipe – A Better Alternative

Hemp Milk Recipe - A Better Alternative

If you haven’t already heard, the new Canadian Food Guide draft is out and it’s down one food group – dairy. With more and more people becoming environmentally conscious, dairy has taken a back seat. There is a growing number of milk alternatives available – rice, almond, buckwheat, quinoa, soy just to name a few, though each pre-packaged milk alternative comes with its pros and cons (see Milk Alternatives – Finding The Best One For You and Almond Milk – Is It Worth Going Nuts For? ) Hemp seeds have been back on the Canadian market since 1998 and are only just being introduced to Australia and New Zealand. If you haven’t considered hemp milk yet now is the time! This homemade Hemp Milk Recipe is packed full of protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids. Bonus points for simplicity – no straining required.

“Hemp seeds contain all 8 essential amino acids making it comparable to animal protein. One glass of homemade hemp milk contains more protein than a glass of cow’s milk”

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Creamy Summer Slaw with a Yogurt Dressing

Creamy Summer Slaw with Yogurt Dressing
The summer markets are bursting with berries, stone fruit and fresh tomatoes. With the overload of delicious blueberries and wild blackberries we sometimes forget about the more humble harvests. Cabbage springs into season in summer and has a lengthy season lasting over 6 months depending on the climate. Cabbage is also packed full of antioxidants and is an easy addition to summer salads, BBQs and stir-fries. I’m sharing one of my favourite recipes -Creamy Summer Slaw with a Yogurt Dressing, adapted from My New Roots Sarah Brittons’s Cookbook Naturally Nourished. Her version is a beautiful creamy autumn slaw, using seasonal Brussels sprouts and apple. I’ve revamped it to suit the summer months, showcasing one of the most undervalued vegetables on our shelves – cabbage of course.

“The impressive amount of antioxidant phytonutrients in cabbage is one key reason why cabbage intake is liked to decreased risk of cardiovascular disease. Red cabbage is especially high in anthocyanin which provides cardiovascular protection.”

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It’s Not Gluten In Your Bread That’s Making You Sick

Wheat Contamination By Glyphosate in Canada, Eurupe and USA

Gluten-free is all the buzz, and many people feel better when they cut out wheat. But what if it isn’t only gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye – that is causing the problem? Canada has been using the highly criticized herbicide glyphosate in the harvesting of wheat and scientists and medical professionals have proposed that maybe it’s the herbicides residue that our bodies are reacting to. Could it be that the demonizing of gluten has drawn attention away from the potential effects of this industrial agricultural practice?

What is Glyphosate and How Can It Affect Us?
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monstantos Ready Roundup. Since being off patent, glyphosate is being used in hundreds of herbicide products around the world. In 2015 the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer group classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Research has documented health concerns that glyphosate could be an endocrine disruptor and that it could kill beneficial gut bacteria, damage the DNA in human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells and be linked to birth defects and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.

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Moroccan Smokey Eggplant Dip [Vegan, Gluten Free]

Zaalouk or Smokey Eggplant Dip - Vegan, Gluten Free

Two months ago my trip to Morocco came to an end. My bag was filled with foreign souvenirs in an attempt to bring some of the exotic land home with me. Alongside the carpets, pillowcases, ceramics, tapestries and clay body masks were the edible souvenirs of almond butter, honey, argan oil and spices, as well as the inspiration to bring Moroccan cuisine home with me. Over these last 2 months, this, unfortunately, has not materialized into anything. Routine and familiarity overshadowed my memory of all the Moroccan favourites I had dined on the 3 weeks prior. Now I am ready to share some of my favourite dishes. This Moroccan Smokey Eggplant Dip packs a lot of flavour for such simple ingredients. I wanted this recipe to be the first from my trip to share.

“Eggplants are one of the best sources of soluble fibre which is not only important for helping keep us regular but also with regulating blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Soluble fibre is also a potent prebiotic food, and keeps our friendly bacteria happy.”

Zaalouk or Smokey Eggplant Dip

We knew before we left home that we wanted to do a cooking class. With so many on offer in Marrakesh, we did our research and decided on Café Clock because of their contribution to the vibrant art scene. Aside from cooking classes, they host jam sessions, traditional Arabic storytelling and Sunday Sunset Concerns. Among the dishes we prepared that day, I thought I would share the Moroccan Smokey Eggplant Dip or Zaalouk first because it is so unlike anything we commonly consume in North America, and it is relatively simple to prepare. The trick is to roast the eggplants over an open flame to achieve a smokey flavour. If you do not have a gas stove I’ve included an alternate method of roasting the eggplants below. Serve it with some fresh out of the oven khoobz or bread, spread it on an antipasto sandwich, or if you’re like me just eat it with a spoon!

Recipe for Smoked Moroccan Eggplant Dip

Moroccan Smokey Eggplant Dip

Adapted from Café Clock Cooking School in Marrakesh

Zaalouk or Moroccan Smokey Eggplant Dip can be eaten as a light snack, or accompany a main meal. In Morocco khoobz or bread is eaten with every meal, and small salads or dips may be had as a light appetizer before the main course.

4 Small Servings
Prep Time: 20 Min
Ready In: 30 Min

Ingredients for Moroccan Smokey Eggplant Dip

  • 6 very small eggplants, or 2 large eggplants
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 heaped tbsp. of parsley, finely minced
  • 2 heaped tbsp. of cilantro, finely minced
  • 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp of cumin, ground
  • 1 tbsp of paprika
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • ¼ tbsp of salt

Method For Moroccan Smokey Eggplant Dip

  1. Grill the eggplant directly over an open gas flame on your stove-top until the skin has blistered and the inside is soft. To do this place the eggplants on top of the open flame, rotating every 5 minutes until the skin has blistered on all sides. If you do not have a gas stove-top see alternative method below.*
  2. Once the eggplants are done, take them off the heat and put them in a bowl covered with a lid and let them sit until they are cool enough to peel.
  3. Once the eggplants are peeled, chop the flesh finely – I think the finer the better.
  4. In a small pan over a medium heat, add the eggplant mince along with the remaining ingredients. Continue to mash the mixture and let cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Zaalouk is good served warm or cold.
  6. *If you do not have a gas flame slice the eggplant lengthwise and place them skin-side-up under a broiler. Leave them to roast for about 15 minutes, or until the skin is scorched and the eggplant is very tender. Scoop out the roasted eggplant from the skin, puree it with a vegetable masher, and proceed with the recipe. This method may work better if using larger eggplants.

Add protein: Serve it with a side of thick Greek yogurt drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with Moroccan spices.
Serve it gluten free: Serve the dip with flax crackers or on cucumber slices.

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Simple Turmeric Ginger Latte

Simple Fresh Turmeric and Ginger Latte with Maple Syrup
Is turmeric the superfood of 2016? Will we see it come and go with the likes of Goji Berries and Agave Syrup? I sure hope not. Turmeric has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and has been renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties. Western medicine has caught on, though the majority of the research has been done on one of its isolated constituents – curcumin. If you’re like me and your Christmas was filled with extravagant dinners and endless treats, then it’s time to start filling your pantry full of foods that will nourish your body into 2017. This simple Turmeric Ginger Latte is such a great nighttime treat, and a great replacement for chocolate. Try it out, it’s easier and more delicious than you think!

“Curcumin, an active component of Turmeric may be helpful in treating a variety of inflammatory conditions including Crohn’s Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis”

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Easy Curry Lentil Soup with Kale

A Simple Curry Lentil Soup with Kale

I’m writing this post from the tropics, from Sumatra Indonesia. While I’m sitting beach front eating papayas and mangoes for breakfast the autumn chill is in full force at home. This is my third trip to Indonesia, and I am understandably a big fan of Indonesian food. Sumatrans like their food spicy, and tempeh and tofu are always on the menu, alongside fresh seafood and dark leafy greens. Despite my love affair with South-East Asian cuisine, I do find myself craving for the hearty lentils based soups of home. This soup was a regular before I left home, and will be one of the first things I make once I return. Don’t get me wrong, I am going to savour every last bit of Indonesian food while I can, but sometimes a Curry Lentil Soup with Kale is what your body needs.

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Chanterelle Barley Risotto with Kale and Mung Beans

Recipe for Chanterelle Barley Risotto with Kale and Mung Beans

This week I am doing the Welfare Challenge to bring awareness to the inadequacy of welfare rates in BC. Here in our beautiful province a person on welfare receives only $610 per month. When this is broken down and basic accommodation, phone and personal hygiene are accounted for only $18 per week is left for food. World Food Day is just around the corner on October 16th, making this a good time for us to take on the challenge and experience how difficult living off a strict food budget can be. I’m only on Day 2 and can only imagine the stress and weight that someone trying to feed themselves or a family may feel. I am fortunate enough to have the background and education to be able to make healthy and smart food choices on a budget and already I feel better equipped to help those that may not be. With the help of some foraging, this Chanterelle Barley Risotto with Kale and Mung Beans can be prepared for just under $0.45 per serving.

“Mung beans are an inexpensive source of protein, as well as dietary fibre, magnesium, potassium, zinc, folate and other B-vitamins”

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Asian Cabbage Salad with Tempeh and Ginger Sesame Dressing

Asian Salad with Tempeh and Probiotic Rich Dressing

Wow, where did summer go?! I’ve been holding on to the last of it with my smoothie bowls and salads, and here’s my last ditch effort at preserving summer. What makes this salad special is that Napa cabbage is the main star. It’s crunchy and delicious and oh-so-good shredded. It is also a good calcium source, but often gets over shadowed by kale and bok choy. This Asian Salad with Tempeh and Ginger Sesame Dressing is simple to prepare and uses fermented Apple Cider Vinegar as a base (also see Beet Apple and Kale Salad with Walnuts and Dill) which is something we could all eat a little bit more of. I hope you love this salad as much as I do. Here’s to finishing dinner while the suns still up.

“Napa cabbage, also known as Sui Choy, is a relatively good source of calcium with 60mg per cup. It’s low oxalate content makes this source of calcium more bioavailable and easily absorbed”

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Simple High Calcium Citrus and Fig Energy Balls

Simple Fig Energy Balls High In Calcium

As me and those around me are nearing the intimidating age of 30, a lot of things are spinning through our heads. Babies. Careers. Wrinkles. And as if that wasn’t enough, we women have to seriously think about our long term health goals. Do I want strong and healthy bones into my elderly years? Do I want to be independent with my daily activities right up until the last day. I think yes. Ensuring our calcium needs are being met is not an easy task. There is only so much kale, kefir, and choy sum we can fit into one day (for other non-dairy sources of calcium see see 10 Surprising Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium). With the knowledge that our bones are continuously being built until around age 30, in my last sprint to the dirty thirty I want to make sure I’m giving my bones the nutrients they need. These Simple High Calcium Citrus and Fig Energy Balls are a good way to pack in maximum calcium into a delicious morning or afternoon snack. Chia, tahini and figs are all good sources of this essential mineral, and luckily they all taste great together!

“At around age 18-20 up to 90% of our peak bone mass is acquired, and bone tissue can keep growing until around age 30. At peak bone mass our bones have reached their maximum strength and density. Women will experience minimal change in total bone mass between age 30 until menopause.”

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Cooking with Olive Oil and Other Usage Tips

Italy - home of the Mediterranean Diet

Where the Olive Oil Grows – The Mediterranean Coastline, Cinque Terre Italy

When asked which is better – butter or margarine? The answer always is – olive oil. One thing that can be certain in nutrition science is that the Mediterranean diet has shown undeniable health benefits. This style of eating encourages an increased intake of nuts, fish, whole grains and vegetables, while eating less meat and processed foods. At the same time it promotes an increase in the good fats (monounsaturated as well as polyunsaturated) and lesser amounts of the bad fats (saturated fats and trans fat). Despite the reported health benefits of monounsaturated rich olive oil there remains much confusion on how to use it in cooking, how to choose the right type and how to store it properly. Switching from butter or margarine seems pretty straight forward – but as you will see, there is a lot more to know about olive oil than we thought!

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Roasted Garlic Hummus Recipe

The Health Benefits of Olive Oil

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Easy Vegan Almond Tempeh “Meatballs”

Vegetarian Tempeh "Meatballs" with Almonds

Not even a week has passed since my return from Indonesia and I can confidently tell you that the thing I miss most is not the warmth nor the beaches, its the food. The flavours and the variety place this cuisine at the top of my list. If you haven’t tried tempeh yet, and your a lover of healthy and tasty food, boy have I got a treat for you. Indonesians enjoy it fried and spicy, and often will add it to dishes such as Gado Gado (see my simplified recipe for Gado Gado Peanut Satay Sauce Recipe) or have it cooked in a spicy sambal served with rice. It is as versatile as tofu, but many prefer the firmer texture of tempeh over its soybean cousin. Here is my play on tempeh, and a good one to get you started on your tempeh journey – Simple Almond Tempeh “Meatballs”.

Indonesian Sunsets, Sumbawa Lakey Peak

Indonesian Sunsets, Sumbawa Lakey Peak

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Simple Beet Dip with Balsamic Vinegar and Cream Cheese

Simple Beet Dip with Cream Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar

If I have learned one thing from having a weekly vegetable box delivered to my door it is this – beets are always in season. Well they are on Vancouver Island anyway. From June, straight through to October, they haven’t missed a beet, and I have heard down the grapevine that the winter edition is set to include even more of this tasty vegetable. I have only just begun the experience the versatility of beets, from Beet Apple and Kale Salad with Walnuts and Dill to Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Green Beans and even Gluten Free Beet Chocolate Muffins with Chickpea Flour. And now another beet inspired dish to add to the repertoire – a super Simple Beet Dip with Balsamic Vinegar and Cream Cheese.

Recipe for Simple Beet Dip with Cream Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar

“Beets are very high in a phytonutrient called betalain. Betalains function both as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory molecules. Rhubarb, chard, amaranth, prickly pear cactus, and Nopal cactus are examples of foods that contain betalains.”

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Beet Apple and Kale Salad with Walnuts and Dill

Beet Apple and Kale Salad with Walnuts and Dill Recipe

As I grow older (and wiser), I can start to appreciate the presence of fruit in salads. Where the sight of strawberries in a salad used to make my stomach churn, I can now appreciate the surprise burst of sweetness from a blueberry, or the tartness from an apple in a salad. This April the veggie stands are showcasing beets, kale and apples. When these seasonal delights are jazzed up with a little bit of fresh dill and a simple vinaigrette style dressing, an exciting springtime dish is created.

“Walnuts are high in both omega-3 fatty acids and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, both of which have been shown to be protective against heart disease”

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Seasonal Roasted Vegetable Bowl with Kale Pesto, Lentils and Barley

Roasted Seasonal Vegetable Bowl with Kale Pesto Lentils and Barley

Ever thought about what’s in season in March? There is no question that Spring has arrived- the flowers are out in full force and the winter jackets have been put back into storage. But even though the cherry blossoms are in bloom, not much is being harvested from the veggie gardens at this time of year. Luckily, last years parsnips, carrots and beets have been kept cold in cellars for us all winter so we can still enjoy last seasons bounty while we wait for the new years crop.

“Root vegetables such as carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, potato and onion can be stored all winter long and are great additions to any winter or early spring dish.”

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Steel-Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana

Steel Cut Oats with Peanut Butter and Banana

Healthy alternative to pancakes! Good source of protein! Now that I have your attention, let me elaborate on my bold statements. Nutrition Science is an interesting field in that it is ever evolving and recommendations are continuously being improved upon. One area that is under review is our current daily protein recommendations. We won’t know for awhile, but there is some speculation that they are about to be increased. Nevertheless, following a plant-based diet can leave some of us a bit short on our protein needs – so no better place to start improving on this than with breakfast!

“Steel-cut oats have double the amount of fibre and protein as traditional rolled oats, with 4g of fibre and 5g of protein per serve”

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Raw Chocolate Brownie with Caramel Icing

Raw Chocolate Brownie with Caramel Icing

Tomorrow is Valentines day and being the responsible Dietitian that I am, I am sharing my favourite ultra healthy raw chocolate brownie. If your looking for a non-Cadbury chocolaty treat for your special someone, I encourage you to give this recipe a try. Even the biggest of skeptics would be impressed by the gooiness of the dates, and the heartiness of the nuts. And you wouldn’t believe its completely raw! But what really makes this recipe a keeper is the “caramel icing…”

“Cacao retains it’s health benefits because it is not as processed using heat, making it a (mostly) raw product which contains more antioxidants and nutrients in comparison to coco powder.”

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Winter Kale Pesto Whole Wheat Pizza & Sauteed Kale Onion Pizza

Winter Kale Whole Wheat Pizza

All hail kale, the “superfood” all-star of 2013. This trendy vegetable made headlines and it didn’t shine in the spotlight for no reason. Let me tell you why kale really does live up to all the hype.

“Kale is one of the easiest vegetables to grow organically and can be grown year round in most climate zones. A light frost or two even brings out the sweetness in kale – eating seasonally just got so much easier!”

Kale is an excellent source of provitamin-A compounds such as beta-carotene which is important for low light and night vision. Kale is also renowned for its excellent phytonutrient repertoire which range from chlorophyll to quercetin, to lutein and zeaxanthin to sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol.

Kale Pizza Two Ways - Kale Pesto and Sauteed Kale and Onion

Kale tops my leafy greens book due to its excellent calcium content. The calcium from kale is more easily absorbed than that from other greens such as spinach due to its low oxalate content (oxalates bind to calcium and inhibits absorption in the gut). The recommendations for calcium range from 1000mg-1300mg per day (see below). New evidence shows that our peak bone mass occurs at around age 30, then starts to decline thereafter. So if your yet to hit dirty thirty, keep building up your calcium levels to ensure adequate bone density – there’s nothing pretty about osteoporosis.

Recommended Intake of Calcium

  • 1-3 years: 700mg daily
  • 4-8 years: 1,000mg daily
  • 9-18 years: 1300mg daily
  • 19-50 years: 1000 mg daily
  • 51-70 years: 1200 mg daily for women; 1,000mg daily for men
  • 71 and older: 1200 mg daily

Calcium Content of Some Common Foods

  • Kale 1 cup raw: ~180mg
  • Asian or Collard Greens 1/2 cup cooked: ~150mg
  • Milk/Milk Alternative 1 cup: ~300mg
  • Kefir 175g or 3/4 cup: ~190mg
  • Yogurt 175g or 3/4 cup: ~330mg
Kale Walnut Pesto Whole Wheat Pizza

Kale Walnut Pesto Whole Wheat Pizza

When adding up your calcium values it is important to remember a few things. Oxalates decrease absorption of calcium, as does iron and phytates (legumes, whole grains). Vitamin D is also extremely important in helping to absorb calcium in our gut. For optimal bone health don’t forget regular weight bearing exercises – yoga anyone? For more information on sourcing building strong bones on a dairy free diet see Maximising Calcium For Bone Health On A Dairy Free Diet

Sautéed Kale and Onion Whole Wheat Pizza

Sautéed Kale and Onion Whole Wheat Pizza

This Recipe Redux challenge was to do a healthy creation of homemade pizza. Pizza making is usually reserved for your most favourite of people, and what better way to show your love than with this super nutritious, winter greens pizza.

Recipe for Kale Pesto Whole Wheat Pizza & Sauteed Kale Onion Pizza

Makes 1 Kale Pesto Pizza and 2 Sautéed Kale and Onion Pizzas

Ingredients for Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

1 tsp fair trade cane sugar
1.5 cups warm water
1 tbsp. active dry yeast
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp sea salt
2 cups organic whole wheat flour
1.5 cups organic all-purpose flour

Method for Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

In a large bowl dissolve the sugar in warm water. Add the yeast and let sit for about 10 minutes or until foamy.

Add the salt and the olive oil to the yeast mixture and stir. Add 1 cup of whole wheat flour, stir to combine with a fork. Add the second cut of whole wheat flour and continue stirring. Now add 1 cup of all-purpose flour slowly – you may not need all of it. Once the dough all comes together tip the dough onto a floured work surface.

Only use the last 1/2 cup of flour if needed. The dough should be slightly sticky but at the same time still easily comes away from your hands. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes. It should be nice and smooth when you are finished.

Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Let sit for about an hour with a slightly damp cloth covering the bowl. Try and find a nice cozy place in your house for the dough to grow, somewhere with no draft.

Prepare your toppings (see below). Once an hour has passed, or the dough has doubled in size (whichever is first) remove the dough from the bowl and separate into 3 even balls. Form nice tight balls of dough and let sit for another 45 minutes.

Roll the balls of dough out on a lightly floured surface into 3 12″ circles. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) while you make the toppings.

Ingredients for Winter Kale Pesto Whole Wheat Pizza

1 large bunch of organic kale
sea salt
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup shredded organic parmesan cheese*
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar**
75g fresh organic mozzarella cheese, slice into 1/4″ slices

*The rennet in parmesan renders it non-vegetarian. Strict vegetarians should find another good quality hard non-rennet cheese or use 1 tbsp. white miso place for a vegan alternative.

**I used apple cider vinegar in place of lemon juice as lemons are not grown in Canada in the winter months. If you are making this dish during lemon season substitute with 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Method for Winter Kale Pesto Whole Wheat Pizza

Wash kale, remove stems and roughly chop. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add a pinch of salt and blanch the kale leaves in the water for about 20 seconds. Remove kale from hot water and run under cool water to stop the cooking process*. Pat dry.

Place the kale, walnuts and parmesan cheese in a food processor and roughly chop. Gradually add in the olive oil and apple cider vinegar (or lemon). Process until finely chopped and blended.

Spread pesto onto 1 12″ pizza dough, arrange mozzarella slices on top. Place on parchment paper or a pizza stone. Bake for about 5-7 minutes or until crust is nice and golden.

*Kale is one of those foods (along side tomatoes and carrots) that are actually more nutritious when heated slightly. Heat helps to release the carotenoids (phytonutrients) and allows them to be absorbed more efficiently in the body. A small amount of vitamin C may be lost, but don’t worry – a serving of raw kale contains a whopping 200% of your RDA for vitamin C.

Ingredients for Sautéed Kale and Onion Whole Wheat Pizza

1 large bunch of organic kale
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 yellow onion
Sea salt
150g fresh organic mozzarella, sliced into 1/4″ slices

Method for Sautéed Kale and Onion Whole Wheat Pizza

Wash kale, remove stems and roughly chop.

Place a frying pan on medium heat. Add olive oil and fry onions for about 7-10 minutes or until nice and tender. Add kale, salt and pepper and fry for about 1-3 minutes or until kale is wilted. Remove from heat.

Spread mixture onto 2 rolled out 12″ pizza dough rounds. Add slices of mozzarella cheese. Place on parchment paper or pizza stone and bake in preheated oven for about 5-7 minutes or until crust is golden.

Kale Pizza Two Ways - Kale Pesto and Sauteed Kale and Onion

Nutrition Information for Kale Pesto Whole Wheat Pizza

Per slice

Calories 350 cal
Fat 20g
Protein 11g
Carbohydrate 30g
Fibre 3g
Vitamin A 406 RAE
Vitamin C 60mg
Calcium 180mg
Folate 130 DFE

Nutrition Information for Sautéed Kale Onion Whole Wheat Pizza

Per slice

Calories 200 cal
Fat 5g
Protein 8g
Carbohydrate 30g
Fibre 2g
Vitamin A 20 RAE
Vitamin C 30mg
Calcium 120mg
Folate 120 DFE


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Sprouted Summer Salad Recipe:The How To & Health Benefits of Sprouting Foods

Sprouted Spring Salad

I have been dabbling into sprouting foods since my early university days but back then I was too skint to buy a proper sprouter. I’ve used everything from nut milk bags to glass jars and cheesecloth. If your a first time sprouter,prepare to become addicted. Sprouting is one of the most simplest things to you will do in the kitchen. All you need to do is remember to water your sprouts. No green thumb required, which suits me well!

Why Should I Start Sprouting?

Plant foods such as whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes contain something called phytates. Phytates bind to minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium and zinc and often decrease the absorption and therefore bioavailability of these essential minerals in the body. This is especially important for those following a vegetarian/vegan diet as some of these minerals may be lacking. Luckily these dried foods also contain an enzyme called phytase which is activated when these foods are soaked or sprouted. Phytases job is to separate the phytate from the essential minerals, thus improving the absorption and bioavailability.

*A small amount of phytates may be beneficial in lowering cholesterol and blood glucose levels. They may also protect against some cancers.

Sprouted Spring Salad

What Are The Health Benefits of Sprouting?

Aside from improving the bioavailability of certain essential minerals, they are also high in phytochemicals which are important in fighting free radicals (as discussed in previous post The Antioxidant Army). Sprouting foods is a great way of boosting phytochemicals and this can be seen in broccoli sprouts and fenugreek seeds. Sprouting wheat also greatly increases its content of vitamin E (along with vitmain C and beta-carotene). Sprouted bread anyone? For those of you that don’t tolerate conventional breads, a literature review on the sprouted grains found that the digestibility of proteins and starch are improved due to their partial hydrolysis during sprouting.

Sprouting and Food Sustainability and Food Security

Sprouts are indispensable in the winter months when fruit and vegetables are hard to come by. Instead of relieing on fruits and vegetables from as far off as Mexico and the Philippines why not grow your own sprouts right on your counter top! They are also very inexpensive, who says healthy eating can’t be done on a budget?

Nutrient deficiencies are a grave concern in developing countries where their diets are often composed primarily of foods that are high in phytates. Sprouting could be used as a great benefits to help deliver vitamin, minerals and protein in an easily digestible and assimilated form.

What Can I Sprout?

As easy place to start is legumes. Sprouted puy lentils are used in the recipe below. Sprouted chickpeas make excellent hummus! Sprouted sunflower seeds are also used in the recipe below and are super delicious. Sprouted quinoa is a popular choice and is a great addition to tabuli recipes. Other commonly sprouted seeds include alfalfa, fenegreek, radishes and peas. Any sprouting seed mix is also a good idea and any good healthy food store will have some good ones.

Sprouted Spring Salad

Where to Start in the World Of Sprouting

If your new to sprouting, websites such as Sprouters.Ca are a good place to start.

If your into DIY then all you need is a jar (start with 1 litre) and some netting (either nylon tulle from a fabric shop or grey fibreglass screen from a hardware store) and an elastic band to hold it all together. Then;

  • Use 1-4 tbsp of your desired seeds. Put in the jar and cover with your netting and secure netting on the opening of your jar with an elastic band. Add water and swirl around, then drain. Add water again, about 1 cup, and soak for 4-8 hours.
  • Now all you need to do is remember to rinse twice a day. After each rinse remember to drain the water and let the jar sit propped up on an angle. I usually let my jar sit on a 45 degree angle against a wall with the unused lid of the jar below to catch any run off water.
  • Your sprouts should be ready in 3-6 days, or when sprouts or 3-5cm long. To store your sprouts screw on the lid of your jar and keep in the refrigerator.

I use a Sprout Master, (pictured above) and its super easy. Just add water and rinse twice daily. You can also have a variety growing at one time.

Recipe for Sprouted Summer Salad Recipe

This Recipe Redux challenge was to use seeds in a new and interesting way that compliments the season in your side of the world. Well here in Canada it is summer and the veggie garden is overflowing with fresh salad greens and herbs. Use whatever salad vegetables you have on hand. If it is autumn on your side of the world them maybe a kale salad is a good idea, or even shredded cabbage.

Sprouted Spring Salad

Serves 4 hungry salad eaters
Recipe by Rachel
Prep Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients for Sprouted Summer Salad Recipe

6-8 cups of salad greens and/or kale
6 baby tomatoes cut in half
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
1/2 cup cucumber, quartered then sliced
1 small red/orange/yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1 small carrot, grated or shaved
1/4 cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used parsley and chives from the garden)
1 cup of sprouts (I used an organic sprout mix, puy lentils and sunflower seeds)
1/2 lemon

1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp seeded mustard
1 tsp raw honey*
2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
6-8 tbsp. cold pressed olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

*use maple syrup for vegan version

**Eating sprouts raw comes with the risk of foodborne illnesses. It is recommended not to consume raw sprouts if you are pregnant or immunocompromised. Choose organic seeds where possible.

Method for Sprouted Summer Salad Recipe

Combine prepared salad ingredients in a bowl. Squeeze lemon over.

Combine dressing ingredients in a separate bowl and whisk well. Alternatively put into a jar with a screw lid and shake to mix.

Enjoy as a light meal, or accompanying a main meal. Salad dressing will keep for a few days in the fridge.

Nutrition Information for Sprouted Summer Salad Recipe

Calories/energy 163 calories
Fat 13.9g
Saturated Fat 2.9g
Protein 1.8g
Carbohydrates 8.9
Fibre 1.8
Sodium 33mg


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