Breakfast. Pie.

Yup. You read that right- breakfast pie.

The merits of pie as a breakfast food has long been a topic of conversation in my nearest and dearest friendship circle. All of us have agreed for years now that pie is definitely a legitimate breakfast food. I mean, think about it for a minute. Toast and jam is pretty much pie. Poptarts and toaster struddles, while a questionable choice for the first meal of the day, are technically considered a breakfast food. So, how come the rest of the world has never seemed to catch on to our obsession (legitimacy) of eating pie for breakfast? Come on, it really makes sense.

Maybe we have all just convinced ourselves that pie was a good breakfast food because it made us feel better about the fact that we ate dessert for breakfast on multiple ocassions (don’t pretend you haven’t done it too).

Now, I am happy to let my friends carry on and eat pie for breakfast. I really am. BUT, I also happen to be somewhat of a sugar policewoman when it comes to my own diet. And, we can’t really argue that eating a whole bunch of sugar first thing in the morning is probably not the best idea. Plus, I’m pretty sure that pie crust isn’t really much of…well, anything that is beneficial to our bodies. So while I don’t condone or question the merits of eating pie for breakfast (I mean, have you seen what is marketed out there as breakfast food…see above mentioned poptarts and the ingredients for my point) I have been thinking for a while now that I could probably come up with a way to make a pie for breakfast that is much more nutritious. Enter, breakfast pie. I’ll say it again. BREAKFAST. PIE.

Summer is so obviously my favourite season here in Southwestern Ontario. It’s sunny, it’s warm, cottage country is lively and fresh locally grown produce is abundant. Oh baby, there is nothing like eating fresh Ontario strawberries in July. Last week hubs and I headed north of the city to pick some strawberries, and besides coming home with a fairly bad sunburn (how come I never learn?) we had a very successful day and ended up with like…4L of strawberries or something ridiculous like that. Immediately, I started thinking about what could be done with all of them. The possibilities are endless really, but with one of my pie-eating-for-breakfast friends’ birthdays coming up I realized now would be the perfect time to try and make a healthy breakfast pie.

After washing and cutting (and eating) up our forage, I got to work. The result, if I do say so, was a success. In fact, I only have a picture of one piece of pie because it was gobbled up at said friend’s cottage before I remembered I didn’t photograph it at all.

I’m not kidding when I say this pie is healthy. The crust is full of protein and hearty oats. The filling is packed with strawberry goodness and chia. AND the whole thing only has a total of 5 tablespoons of maple syrup so it’s low in sugar and refined sugar free. OH, and it’s gluten free. OH, and it’s vegan. And did I mention it is pie that is acceptable to eat for breakfast?

I also heard from a little bird that it tastes really good with some whipped cream (which could be swaped for some whipped up coconut cream to keep it healthy).

This pie is based off of a crust recipe from My New Roots and the filling is adapted from this raspberry chia seed jam from Oh She Glows, so while I would like to take credit for this pie fully, as always, Sarah and Angela were recipe creator geniuses behind the elements of this pie.

With that, here it is. Breakfast. Pie.

 

Ingredients

For the crust:

  • 1/2 cup raw almonds
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

For the filling:

  • 4 cups strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • 3 tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp.  water
  • 3 tbsp. chia seeds

Directions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 375 F
  2. Place oats and almonds in a food processors or dry container of a high-speed blender and process until it is the texture of a corse flour
  3. In a bowl, mix oats and almonds with sea salt, coconut oil and maple syrup. The mixture should be thick but should stick together.
  4. Spread crust ingredients into a pie plate. Place the mixture in the middle and press down and outwards until it is evenly distributed.
  5. Poke the crust with a fork and then bake for about 12-14 minutes until golden brown.
  6. Remove from oven to cool
  7. While crust is baking, combine all filling ingredients into a saucepan.
  8. Bring to a low boil and then reduce heat to medium-low.
  9. Allow the filling to simmer for about 15 minutes.
  10. Stir the filling frequently as the strawberries break down. The mixture should begin to thicken.
  11. Place filling in fridge overnight which will help to thicken.
  12. When ready to serve, pour filling into crust and enjoy. Could be warmed up but is amazing cool as well.

 

 

Spring Tips for Eating Well

I know that it is now April (though you wouldn’t be able to tell by the blast of snow we received here in Toronto) but it was just March. For those who do not know, March is Nutrition Month, this is certainly a National Health Observance that I can get behind and the inspiration behind this post. Inspiring people to eat well is something I enjoy so much- especially once people realize HOW GOOD (and how easy) healthy food can be, dessert included!!!

Maybe it’s the (impending) arrival of spring, or the post-easter binge guilt getting to people but over the last few days I’ve had A LOT of friends telling me that enough is enough and they are really needing to get back on the healthy eating train (amen, I am right there with you).

But what is nutrition? What constitutes a healthy nutritious diet? There is SO MUCH information out there. Gluten-free? Sugar-free? Paleo? Vegan? Fat-free? Juicing? It’s hard to wrap your head around it all isnt it? And once you finally get on board with a certain diet, everything seems to change faster than you can say “saturated fat”.

However, it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it’s not. Following a nutritious diet is easier than you may think. The first step in this involves ignoring all forms of media you see surrounding healthy eating and health foods, present and past. Okay, so maybe that part is hard. Especially when you see beautiful models promoting a certain diet who tell you if you do what they do, you’ll look like them (they’re lying). Now, once you are able to block that out, throw out what your grandma has told you regarding nutrition (“eggs are high in cholesterol and therefore bad for you!”) and try and ignore your mother too (“whole-fat milk will make you fat!”). Okay, hard part over. Here comes the easy part.

Here’s the secret: Eat real food.

If you follow this rule, you will be healthy, you will feel great and you will be able to eat guilt-free.

What is real food? Real food is something that grows in the ground or is raised on the ground and has been minimally processed. Plants, animals, it’s all real food. Boxed diet chocolate granola bars? Not real food.

Here are the guidelines I follow when it comes to determining what counts as real food:

If you must eat a boxed or packaged meal or food product, read the ingredients. Are they chemicals? Something made in a lab? Do you know what those things are? Can you pronounce them? Are they all things that are grown in the ground? If you can answer “yes” to the last three questions, then go ahead, eat it. Same thing goes for eating out at restaurants.

Limit/eliminate refined sugar as much as possible. But wait, sugar comes from a plant doesn’t it? You’re right it does. But do you know how much work goes into processing that sugar cane to get the sugar? A lot. But what about organic cane sugar? It’s still processed sugar. But what about strawberries? Grapes? They are high in sugar sure, BUT (and this is a big but), they are good sugar, and they aren’t processed. Those grapes and those strawberries are exactly the way nature intended them to be. Eat up. If you need a sweetener for baking, reach for something like pure maple syrup or honey, as they are not as processed and are closer to their natural state compared to something like white sugar.

Do you see where I’m going here?

What about dairy? I thought dairy fat was bad. False! Dairy fat is good and can actually be an aid in weight loss. In fact, go for the full-fat kind. I’m serious. It will fill you up and keep you fuller longer, not to mention it’s full of protein and doesn’t go through as much processing as it’s low-fat versions. (Bonus points if you can get your hands on non-homogenized products that are pasteurized at the lowest temperatures).

What about meat and eggs? Meat is super complicated and as someone who follows a vegan-ish diet, it’s hard for me to tell you what meat to eat and what meat to not eat. Personal opinions and choices aside, meat isn’t bad for you as long as it’s not ALL you’re eating and you don’t eat it with every meal. It is a great source of protein, and rich in B vitamins and iron. Most people will get more than enough protein by eating a balanced plant-based (with or without dairy) diet, but meat can certainly help you get more. The key here: keep it as natural as possible (back to my main theme). Natural means you’re eating a cow that was raised in a natural environment, that ate a natural diet. You are what you eat, therefore, you are what you eat eats as well. If you eat a cow who ate lush green grass and NOT processed corn feed, you are going to get the health benefits of eating something that ate something healthy, as nature intended.

Don’t be afraid of fat. We need fat, it is crucial to brain functioning and as long as we are getting real, good fats, we won’t gain weight. Remember again that dairy fat is good, so is the fat that is found in things like nuts, olive oil and avocados.

Plants. Eat all the plants. All of them. In every form. In any way. Chopped, sautéed, steamed, raw, roasted, purred, heck even fried. Calories don’t count when it comes to veggies. DIG IN.

When it comes to my own eating I follow this one simple rule, as said by Michael Pollan: “Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants”

The “not too much” brings me to another important point. Eat until you are full. Eat when you are hungry. If you eat mostly real foods, it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll eat too much.

One last thing to remember- eating well doesn’t always mean total deprivation of all the yummy things. Sure, if you want to be the absolute best you can be, by all means, go all in. I just don’t think that this type of lifestyle is realistic or sustainable for most of us. What is a birthday without a birthday cake? What is a trip to the cottage without some chips? It’s all about moderation. Moderation doesn’t mean you can eat these things in moderation once a day, but maybe once a week or once every other week. When you do indulge, please don’t feel guilty, the last thing anyone wants is to have a negative relationship with food. Food is amazing, it brings us together, it nourishes us and it gives us energy- not to mention, it brings us so much joy!

Keep it simple, remember these few things and you’ll be feeling great in no time at all!

 

Some suggested reading:

“In defence of Food, An Eater’s Manifesto” -Michael Pollan

“Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us” – Michael Moss

“Eating Animals” – Jonathan Safran Foer (this is a good read if you are pondering the philosophy and the ethics behind eating meat, of course it encourages a vegetarian diet but it talks about how unnatural the meat industry is, worth a read even if you vow to not never up meat)

(Healthier) Super Bowl Eats

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I don’t know about you, but when I hear “Super Bowl” I think two things; the first being “puppy bowl!” and the second being “food!”

I would be lying if I said I actually pay any attention to the game itself, but come on, who doesn’t love a good reason to pig out on some indulgent food??

I have spent more than my fair share of Super Bowl Sundays pigging out on food that I wouldn’t normally eat, and I find I’m often still paying it for it days later. This is especially true after spending Super Bowl Sunday with my mid-western american relatives. YIKES, talk about some super heavy, zero nutritional value comfort food (velveta cheese and breakfast sausage dip anyone?)

This year, instead of heading out and ordering some crappy bar food (we are also pretty broke and didn’t want to spend money), we decided to stay in and have a little more control over what we ate. Don’t get me wrong, I still plan on indulging a bit but I really wanted to do it in a way that wouldn’t make me feel sick afterwards. I love me some junk food, but more than that, I love food that is actually full of the good stuff, but disguises itself as the bad stuff. That way, I can completely shove my face in the spirit of football and feel okay about it afterwards.

Here is what is on tap for this afternoon, try these out for yourselves for a healthier, while still indulgent evening:

1. Life Affirming Nacho Dip by Oh She Glows

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Okay guys, I swear this is amazing. I make this all the time and people can’t stay away from it and ask me for the recipe. I usually wait until there is only like a tablespoon left in the dish to reveal that the recipe is vegan. People often don’t believe me. But for serious guys, it’s vegan and it’s delicious and it’s good for you and it truly is life affirming. You won’t regret trying this, I promise.

I change it up a bit by adding a little bit of chipotle powder for some smokey flavour and a touch of dijon to just give it a little more something-something, but it is already full of so much flavour, these additions aren’t totally necessary.

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2. Buffalo Cauliflower bites

These bad boys have been circulating allllll over the interwebs recently, and for good reason. Do we actually love wings because we love the taste of the chicken? Or is it about the sauce? Instead of chicken wings, these buffalo bites are made from cauliflower and I swear you can’t really tell. Even my meat-lovin, chicken wing obsessed husband loves these! Pair with some blue cheese dressing or if you’re a vegan, try this recipe for a dairy-free ranch dressing from the Hot For Food blog.

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I roughly follow the recipe that is linked above, but I usually use spelt or sprouted whole wheat flour instead of the junky white flour. And like all recipes, I throw in a little bit of chipotle. I also will usually substitute the butter with some ghee or if I’m going for a vegan version, some coconut oil. I like to drizzle some more wing sauce on top after they are done as well. More flavour that way! You seriously can’t lose with this, and they definitely satisfy the buffalo wing craving!

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Of course, if all of this seems like too much work, don’t forget some “junk” foods aren’t as bad as others. Dig in to some guacamole, some hummus or white bean dip, or pop up a batch of popcorn on the stove.

What are your favourite Super Bowl foods and do you have any secret healthy versions?

Happy Super Bowl Sunday everyone!!!

Raw/Vegan Key Lime Pie Mousse

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Is anyone else still craving holiday treats or is it just me? Maybe it’s because I’m not working right now, or perhaps it is because it’s cold and grey out, but I also suspect that it may be directly correlated to binge-watching “Scandal” for hours every night. What is it about a good netflix binge that makes me just want to pig out?

Luckily, since I’m currently not working I have enough time to experiment with recipes and make delicious yummy treats, which is how I came up with this one!

I originally made this in the food processor but I found it a little too fibrous for me still so I threw it in my blender to make it extra creamy. I’ll leave the process vs. blender choice up to you. I got this idea from various raw key lime pie recipes I saw online as well as from this delicious Avocado Chocolate Mousse from Chocolate Covered Katie. As Katie points out Avocados are quite the super food- they are low in sugar and loaded with fibre, vitamins and minerals. Avocados are a great evening snack in my opinion because they leave me feeling full, and not ravenous for any junk I can get my hands on.

I know, I know, it’s not exactly Key Lime pie season, and I’m definitely not in the Keys. However, I think this is why my mind was thinking about a treat like this. I also can’t technically call this “Key Lime” because it doesn’t have any actual key limes, but forgive me just this once. Once I find some key limes I will definitely try it out with them.

Not only is this mousse good for you and satisfying because it is full of healthy fats, it’s also low in sugar and tastes a little bit like sunshine. Perfect winter couch indulgence. I can almost hear the waves and feel the ocean breeze….

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Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados

1 ripe banana

1/2 cup coconut cream (place a can of full-fat coconut milk in the fridge overnight, the cream will separate and harden making it easier to scoop out)

Juice from 2 limes

1 tsp. lime zest

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

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Instructions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-speed blender and process/blend until smooth. Serve immediately. Store any leftovers in fridge (if you have any!) for a maximum of 3 days. It’s that easy I swear!

 

“Ritz” crackers should not count as a grain!

My mother recently forwarded this to me http://gawker.com/mom-gives-kids-homemade-lunch-school-forces-them-to-ea-1466822586/@neetzanz

Basically, a Mother in Manitoba was fined by her children’s because her home-packed, homemade, whole food lunch lunch did not include a serving of grains. Along with the fine, the school “supplemented” her children’s lunches with Ritz crackers to make up for the “lack” of a grain.

There is so much wrong with this. First of all, following the food guide literally to a T can be completely misleading about what a healthy, wholesome and nutritious diet should include.

Second of all, why does every meal have to include a grain? What if these kids had grains at breakfast and will have grains at dinner?

Third of all, what about the kids who are allergic to wheat? What about those who are vegetarian or lactose intolerant? What would the school do to their homemade lunches? How can they follow the Food Guide to a T?

Fourth of all, and maybe most important? HOW ON EARTH ARE RITZ CRACKERS CONSIDERED A HEALHY SUPPLEMENT? The whole point of following the food guide at this school, I presume, is to make sure children are eating a balanced, wholesome and nutritious meal. Yet somehow Ritz crackers are considered crucial to that? In our fight against the packaged food industry and obesity and health of young people, this is concerning.

What does everyone think of this? Should schools have the power to do this?

I think that it is great that schools are checking homemade lunches but what is important is the food and nutrition knowledge of those who are checking. Clearly, there are a lot of things that need to be addressed here.