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.

 

 

Coconut Chia Breakfast Pudding

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It’s been a crazy few days around here and I am exhausted. Hubs and I are fostering two 6 week old lab cross puppies and boy are they a handful. In fact, I’m surprised that I have found the time to sit down and write this post (though, I can hear one stirring now so I’ll probably have to write this in chunks). I have always been in awe of mothers to newborns, and this is even more so true now. If puppies are hard, I cannot imagine what it’s like to take care of a new tiny human being.

It is no easy feat getting these little rascals up and down the elevator a million times a day as we house train them. We live on the 23rd floor! It is times like these when eating healthy meals is a bit of a challenge and take-out or a making up a quick pot of pasta seems like the easiest solution. OH MAN am I happy that I have a few go-to super easy breakfast options that are full of nutritious goodness. One of these go-tos is my chia seed breakfast pudding. Thats right, pudding for breakfast!

Chia seeds are amazing. Not only are they full of fibre (if you haven’t eat them before, introduce them slowly), but they are also packed with protein and Omega 3 fatty acids. I don’t know about you, but waiting for spring to arrive has left me a little blue and Omega 3s are great for mood! All that being said, chia seeds will fill you up, nourish your body and maybe even make you feel a little more happy!

This recipe is oh-so easy to make. Don’t worry too much about the fat content and calories. It’s all good stuff and breakfast is supposed to be a big hearty meal. This is the best of both worlds because it is big and hearty but doesn’t feel like it. It is so easy to fix up and eat in the morning and it goes down so effortlessly even if you aren’t feeling super hungry. I like to make a batch of the base and keep it in the fridge for the week. This gives me four super easy breakfasts and the prep is so quick!

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I like to use canned lite coconut milk, but if this is too rich for you, you can use an dairy-free or dairy milk, or a combination if you like. The coconut milk gives it an amazing texture and richness, but I realize it isn’t for everyone. I usually distribute it amongst two mason jars but you could easily make it all in a large container or even make one serving at a time, or make four separate servings in 4 jars at a time so you can pack and go this am treat.

Be sure to make the base the night before so the chia seeds can absorb as much liquid as possible. You want a tapioca like consistency. I always find mine works out best if I mix in the chia with a mini whisk, put it in the fridge, and then whisk it again an hour or two later so that the chia doesn’t clump together..

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The possibilities are endless with this. I like to keep it simple but you could add cocoa to make this a chocolate pudding, some nut butter to add some more protein, or blend up some fruit with your milk before mixing to give the base a fruity flavour. Top with whatever your heart desires! I like to do chopped nuts (cashews, almonds and coconut), some flax seeds, some hemp hearts for extra protein, some fresh fruit (bananas tastes amazing with this!) and some coconut chips. I’ve also tried matcha powder as an add-on but think it would be better if I blended it with the milk first.

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I hear a puppy whining (just in time!) so there goes my solitude! Enjoy and let me know any amazing variations that you may come up with!


 

Coconut Chia Breakfast Pudding

Makes 4 Servings

Ingredients:

1 can lite coconut milk

6 tbsp. chia seeds (the ratio here is approximately 1.5 tbsp per 1/2 cup of milk)

2 tsp. Pure Maple Syrup

Dash of himalayan sea salt

Any toppings you desire

Directions:

Split coconut milk between two mason jars. Mix half the chia seeds in one and half in the other. Stir in 1 tsp. of maple syrup in each jar and add a dash of salt. Place in fridge overnight. Stir after about an hour to prevent clumping.

Take out of fridge in morning and scoop out half the contents of one of the jars into a bowl. Top with chosen toppings and enjoy!

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How to Deal- Late Night Snack Attacks

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I don’t know about you, but I have a serious love affair with snacking and always have. I find during the day I am very mindful about what I eat and what snacks I consume. However, once I’m at home, dinner finished, workout done and cuddled up on the couch, my snacking becomes completely mindless. This is a phenomenon that has been observed time and time again so I know that I am not alone in this. Yet, even as someone who is completely conscious of living a healthy lifestyle, that all seems to so quickly fly out the window the second I sit down in front of the TV at night (which I will admit, in the winter it has become a daily thing- I’m not perfect). It doesn’t even matter if I’m full from dinner still- all of the sudden I want to eat EVERYTHING (and usually everything that is bad for me). Today I thought I’d share with you what I do to help combat this:

  • If I’m not hungry and I keep feeling like I need to eat something, I’ll TURN OFF THE TV and go into my bedroom and read. Reading stimulates my mind enough for me to stop thinking about eating ALL THE SNACKS.
  • As soon as I find myself wanting to snack while I watch TV I stop and ask myself “am I really hungry? did I eat enough today?” If I am not really hungry, I’ll drink a big glass of water or make some tea and then reassess. If I realize that I didn’t eat enough, I’ll then consider having a snack. This helps me with make my sense of my snack cravings and makes me conscious of what is going on in my body and mind.
  • I think about how I will feel tomorrow. Sure, a giant bag of bulk candy or a bag of chips may sound great in the moment, but how will I feel after I eat it or the next morning? Chances are, not great. Knowing this and keeping it in mind is sometimes enough to prevent a snack attack.
  • I’ll brush my teeth. Once my teeth are all minty fresh I am less inclined to snack.

IF I must snack simply because my craving is taking over or I really am still hungry, here is how I deal, because let’s get real, I can’t watch “The Bachelor” without a snack…

The key here is to make CONSCIOUS and MINDFUL decisions of what goes in to my body, and yes, I do believe that night time snacking is not always a bad thing and can be a part of a healthy lifestyle:

  • As noted above, I will always try and drink a big glass of water or have a tea first and then see if I still want to snack.
  • I always make sure that I have healthy snacks on hand, so even if I eat a lot of said healthy snack, it won’t throw my body off that much. Preparation is key here. When planning out my meals and writing my weekly grocery list I always include healthy snacks.
  • Keep rich, “healthy” chocolate on hand, a.k.a. NOT Cadbury mini eggs. I can eat a million of those without stopping. However, when I have good, rich, dark and low-sugar chocolate around, I can eat one to three pieces of it and feel totally satisfied.
    • I recommend chocosol or something similar
    • A quick trick to make a healthy chocolate bar in a pinch- melt some coconut oil on the stove top and add cocoa powder and natural sweetener of choice (maple syrup or honey) to taste. Poor into the bottom of a muffin cup or small container and place it in the freezer. In a short period of time you’ll have a delicious creamy chocolate treat!
  • Bake healthy and satisfying “treats” ahead of time to have on hand when you want a snack! Anything packed with healthy fats and superfoods that mock a traditional treat is great:
  • If you’re more of a chips and salty/crunchy kind of snacker, reach for (or make) some of these healthier choices:
    • Popcorn! An air popper is a quick and easy way to make a healthy snack. Popcorn is packed with fibre and when you make it yourself you aren’t going to be eating a bunch of chemicals like the ones found in the microwave varieties. Top with whatever you like- butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, or my personal favourite- nutritional yeast
    • Kale chips as so easy to make (and way cheaper than buying store bought kale chips) and almost taste exactly like potato chips. Follow this recipe and use an oil spray bottle for flawless results
    • Olives are good for you and taste delicious too. Plus, they’re so salty it’s hard to eat too many
    • Pickles- same as above!

If you must indulge in the less-than-good kind of snack (hey, it happens) the key thing to remember is portion control. I know that if I buy a Costco size bag of mini eggs or a family size bag of chips, I will eat the whole thing (it’s not my fault!) so if I do give in to my less-than-ideal cravings, I make sure I only buy a small quantity so I literally can’t eat more than that small amount. Think a mini bag of mini eggs, a snack size bag of chips, a mini cupcake. BUT, always remember, the less you eat these things, the less you want them. Giving into these cravings is a sure fire way to make you crave even more (it’s science guys, I’m not making this up).

I hope this helps those late night snackers like me! Have a great night everyone and happy (healthy) snacking!

Vegan Bulletproof Latte

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If you know me, you know that there are a few things I really really love. One, of course being Happy Hubs, the other being coffee (and depending on the day, I may sometimes love coffee over Hubs). I literally cannot before coffee. Sometimes even after. I am NOT a morning person to say the least.

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However, about a year and a half ago I discovered Bulletproof Coffee and it may or may not have changed my life. Of course, the kind I made at home wasn’t technically bulletproof because I didn’t buy the MTC oil or use the endorsed coffee, BUT I did blend my coffee with some grass-fed butter (which is incredibly hard to source in Toronto if anyone else has noticed, ugh!) and a bit of coconut oil for quite some time. Let me tell you, that stuff kept me going. It made me love Hubs before my coffee even because I knew what sort of great energy boost was coming my way, and even better, I could function well into the morning on this stuff, no repeat cups needed. Eventually though, I tired of it (and I also moved downtown and could walk literally 3 minutes to amazzzzing cafes with amazing whole milk lattes) and stopped drinking it.

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Well, recently for the sake of my eczema compromised skin (and because of my Cowspiracy triggered environmental guilt), I have been going dairy free. As someone who LOVES a whole milk latte, this has NAWT been fun. Almond milk lattes just aren’t the same…

It’s been harder to function in the morning without looking forward to a whole milk latte. Until I remembered that blending coffee with coconut oil creates a yummy creamy blend too.

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For the past week I have been drinking this on the daily. It provides a healthy dose of fat in the morning to help fill you up, keep hunger at bay and stabilize blood sugar levels and it definitely helps curb that 2:00pm slump when all I want is sugar! Seriously, this is like drinking the juice out of energizer batteries, I kid you not.

Of course if you don’t have an espresso machine or milk steamer, you can just blend some coconut oil into your regular brewed coffee and throw in a splash of almond milk (or non-dairy milk of choice), it is a slightly different experience, but still pretty amazing with the same benefits that will go a long way.

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I use my own homemade nut milk for this recipe (I follow Erin Ireland’s recipe) but store bought also does the trick in a pinch.

Try it out and let me know what you think!

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond milk (or dairy alternative of choice)

1 tbsp. coconut oil

1-2 shots espresso

cinnamon, to taste

Instructions:

Steam milk to desired temperature. Place coconut oil in mug under espresso spout and pour shot(s) on top (this makes it melt). Pour coconut oil and espresso into blender and blend for about 10 second. Pour back in mug and add steamed milk on top. Sprinkle with cinnamon to taste. Put feet up, enjoy and prepare to take over the world!

 

(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!

 

Easy healthy meals for when you just don’t wannnnnnna

It’s January and it’s the first Monday of the new year and well, that just kind of stinks. I’ve been there, and I’ve experienced that awful feeling of leaving for work when it’s still barely light out and then leaving work and finding it’s already dark again. You may sit in front of a computer all day with little access to natural light and that little light only comes from a window if you’re very very lucky. If you’re like me, you are probably struggling hard right now with breaking that post-Christmas sugar and junk food addiction. Pair all of this with that sadness of returning to a normal routine after a week or so of relaxation, sleep and time with loved ones and you’re left with a perfect recipe for low low energy.

As New Year’s Eve rolls around most of us are inspired to get back on track with health goals whether it’s getting back to the gym or eating well. I am pretty proud of myself for staying active over the holidays but I’m always in need of resetting my eating habits after the holidays. I have a lot of motivation to do this….until Monday rolls around and I just want to come home from work and crawl into my bed and stay there until Spring.

I find days at work really suck the energy out of me, even when I’m inspired to make a healthy change. If I make myself get to the gym after work, I feel pretty good, but I still come home and just do. not. want. to. when it comes to cooking. Take-out and netflix always sound like a better idea!

How do I get through this? If I plan my meals ahead of time and make sure I have all of the ingredients at the beginning of the week, I’m much more likely to come home and cook a healthy meal. However, the key here is that it has to be easy as can be, or more likely than not, I probably will reach for that take out menu.

Without further ado, I present to you my go-to easy-peasy after work struggle healthy meals!

Thai Red Curry

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Photo by Cookie + Kate

I more or less follow this recipe by Cookie + Kate. Only I take a down a notch to make it even easier. I usually eat it over quinoa since I don’t eat much eat much meat, and I find the extra protein in the quinoa keeps me much fuller for longer. I also omit the ginger (hubs does not like fresh ginger), soy sauce, rice vinegar and coconut sugar, though these things would not take too much effort to add in. I find that the key here is the red curry paste that you use. I really don’t like the one that is linked in the original post. I use one that I found at the local market, which is much more flavourful and authentic (and probably why I don’t feel the need to use the other seasonings), you can get it here, just be aware that this paste contains shrimp, so this isn’t a good option if you are a vegetarian. I usually make this recipe with whatever vegetables I have left in my fridge. The hardest part of this recipe is remembering to make the quinoa before you start and the chopping of the veggies. However, it’s not that bad if you do these things ahead of time, or just turn up some tunes and chop away (it takes 15 mins max). Easy as pie and DELICIOUS!

Portobello “burger”

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Photo by www.cookinglight.com

This one is extra simple, and a good way to sneak in some extra veggies while still feeling like you’re eating an indulgent meal. If you’re super motivated, you can marinate a portobello mushroom the night before or in the morning before you go to work and keep it in the fridge. To make the actual burger, all you have to do is throw it on a skillet on medium heat or on the grill until it is juicy and tender. I usually marinate mine with balsamic vinegar, some onion powder and some garlic. The possibilities are endless here but we’re going for simple. Once the mushroom is cooked, I throw it on a piece of bread if I want an open faced burger or a bun (those thin buns work well for this) and top it like a burger. I usually throw on some avocado, salad greens, hummus, caramelized or fresh onions, a slice or two of cheese (omit if vegan), some greens, and this Oh She Glows hemp pesto (I make this every other month and keep it in my fridge for occasions like this). When I have extra energy I’ll even slice up some sweet potato and roast it as a side. BOOM.

Spaghetti Squash

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Photo by www.ohsheglows.com

The convenience of spaghetti without all the carbs and calories. The hardest part of this meal is cutting open the squash. Yes, I’m serious. Cut open a spaghetti squash (this doubles as a workout if you skipped the gym) and scrape out the seeds. Place it open side down on a cookie sheet and poke some holes in the skin. Roast that squash at 400 for about 40 minutes (I know this is a long time but if you do it when you get home it’s not that bad) or until the inside fleshy bits are stringy and cooked. You alternatively could roast this with the flesh up and some seasoning but that’s extra effort. Once done, scoop out the flesh and put it in a bowl. Now top that squash how you would spaghetti. On an adventurous night for me this means with shrimp, sautéed veggies and some marinara. But let’s get real, thats a lot of work. This tastes equally as good with some good old jarred sauce (just look for one with no added sugars!) and a sprinkle of parmesan.

Polenta with eggs and caramelized mushrooms

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Photo by Half Baked Harvest

This one has a few more steps than the others but it is really simple and beyond delicious. Click here for recipe!

Omelette

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Photo by http://wishfulchef.com

Okay, this one is easier than the spaghetti squash and it doesn’t involve opening any large, hard vegetables. I often forget how easy it is to make an omelette, but once I remember, I find myself eating these bad boys at least once a week. This is the ultimate, easy as pie dinner that fills you up with protein and veggies. Sauté whatever salad greens you have with some onion and garlic. Once fragrant, add to a bowl with two cracked eggs, and throw in whatever chopped veggies you desire. Throw on a skillet and fold over half way through cooking. VOILA. Doesn’t get easier than that!

Enjoy my friends. Eating healthy doesn’t always have to be hard!

Creamy Cashew Chai Milk

Something about the Holiday season that just makes you crave delicious warm and cinnamon-y flavoured things, amiright?

After seeing some chai flavoured nut milk in a store a few weeks back, I thought I’d have a go at it. This could be made with other nuts (almonds, coconut) or hemp, or a combo of any of these but I was really looking for something rich and indulgent (tis the season!) which I why I went with cashews.

When I visited Kenya 7 years ago we had chai every afternoon. “Chai” literally means tea, but in North America, we call it chai tea because it has a distinct flavour different than our every day black tea. The chai we had in kenya was super creamy, slightly spicy and so full of flavour. It didn’t need much sweetness (or any at all). When I returned to Canada, I couldn’t drink a chai latte again- it was all wrong! I’ve tried many times to re-create the chai that I had in Kenya by boiling the spices directly in water, adding plain black tea and then adding milk and letting in simmer. It’s not quite the same, but it’s pretty close.

This cashew milk was inspired by 1. seeing chai nut milk in a store as mentioned and 2. my recent fondness of putting cardmom in my coffee. Throw all of this together with my never-ending quest to create that super creamy Kenyan chai experience and this is what I came up with.

Yesterday morning I tried it in my latte and OH MAN was it all the Holiday cheer I needed to get through a busy day of running errands and hosting friends.

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Cashews are incredibly versatile when it comes to vegan baking and cooking. Use them to make cashew sour cream, cashew “cheese”, as the base in a vegan cheese sauce or as a creamy filling in a raw pumpkin pie. Seriously, they’re amazing. I often have some laying around soaking and ready for use because I end up using them so often. For this recipe, I soaked 1 cup of raw cashews overnight in water (to speed this up you can soak them in boiling water for an hour or so).

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I also added 2 medjool dates for a little bit of sweetness. I recently discovered that my older dried out looking dates can simply be rejuvenating by giving them a little soak (this makes it easier for blending).DSCF7633

Once the cashews and dates were good to go, I rinsed the cashews and added them to my blender with 3 cups of water, pitted the dates and threw them in and then added the spices.DSCF7632

After a good blend on high for a few minutes, the creamy milk was pretty much ready to go!DSCF7636

I strained the milk with a nut milk bag but this step isn’t necessary. Cashews (especially once soaked) blend up really well and creamy and don’t really produce much pulp, but I do prefer to strain mine, totally just a personal preference. Once blended, store in the fridge in a container with a lid. 

As mentioned, it was amazing in a latte, but this would also be delicious with some granola or cereal, in a smoothie, in some oatmeal, or simply warmed up on it’s own for a cozy evening drink.

This recipe can be made with either more or less water, depending on your preference for creaminess. Less water gives it more of a coffee cream consistency, whereas the 3:1 water to nut ratio that I used gives it the consistency of whole milk.


Creamy Cashew Chai Milk

1 cup raw cashews, soaked

2 medjool dates, pitted

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ground ginger (this would be amazing with fresh ginger as well)

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp. cardamom

A couple twists of ground black pepper

3 cups water

Directions

Add all ingredients to a high-speed blender and blend for 1-2 minutes. Strain through nutmilk bag (or omit this step) and pour into container with lid and refrigerate. Enjoy within one week.

 

Simply Magic Gluten Free Chocolately “clean” Granola Bars

Greetings Everyone!

Those who know me, know that I am not a big supporter of the packaged food industry. I try and avoid packaged foods as much as possible. Do you read the ingedients list of packaged foods? If so, you know as I do that the majority of packaged foods contain at least 1 of these as the first couple ingredients, if not all; wheat, sugar, soy, and corn. Since I believe no one should be eating refined sugars and I am fairly certain I’m allergic to both wheat and soy, packaged foods are pretty much out of the question for me (both because of what I believe in and also because of my poor stomach).

However, this can definitely be a challenge sometimes. Especially as a student with a job who is constantly on the go. Sometimes I really just wish I had that cheap packaged (insert “food” product here) to grab on my way out the door.

Another thing to point out is that buying packaged health food products are ridiculously expensive- up to 3 or more times the price of the conventional stuff!!

Yesterday a classmate pulled out a granola bar. “That looks so good” I said, “I have another,” she told me, “take it.” I had to decline but every last bit of me wanted to eat it- even knowing that I would pay for it in stomach pains later.

So, when I came home from class I went on a mission to create the perfect wheat free, no refined sugar yet still sweet, “healthy” granola bar. What resulted was the following recipe. I am quite proud of it and I think you’d like to too if you give it a go!

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This recipe can be made with less of the sweet stuff to make a little healthier (and I think next time I’d do this as these bars turned out quite sweet!) by cutting back on the maple syrup, honey and coconut sugar. Each bar has about 150 calories, 6.7g of fat, 4g of belly filling fibre, 9g of sugar, and 5g of protein. I wouldn’t recommend pigging out on these bad boys because of the high-ish sugar content but they are definitely a lot better for you and full of more natural ingredients than the store bought variety, and will satisfy your hunger more as well. They are perfect for a small snack with your afternoon coffee or tea when you just need a bit of a pick me up!

 

Ingredients:

2 cups certified gluten free rolled oats

1/4 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup sunflower seeds, unsalted

1/2 cup slivered almonds

1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

1/4 cup chia seeds (any variety is fine)

4 tbsp ground flax seed

4 tbsp whole flax seed (I like to do half and half to get the Omega 3’s and the fibre)

1/4 cup ground pecans (you can used chopped as well, I just had ground in the house)

1-2 chopped apples

2 scoops Vega One Chocolate protein powder (you could just use a few tablespoons of cocoa)

1/4 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup pure honey

1/4 cup butter (or butter substitute like coconut oil or earth balance spread to make this vegan)

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/3 cup coconut palm sugar

1 tbsp sea salt

 

Pre-heat oven to 450. Combine first 10 ingredients in bowl then distribute evenly on baking sheet. Sprinkle with sea salt. Roast ingredients at 450 for 20 minutes (I like mine quite crispy so this time could be lessened).

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While mix is roasting, combine honey, maple syrup, butter and coconut sugar in saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly. Add in vanilla. Bring to boil and remove from heat. Stir in protein powder.

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When mix is done roasting combine dry ingredient and wet ingredients in a large bowl. Grease a spatula and a baking sheet and use spatula to press combined mixture into baking sheet, pressing firmly. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.  Use a sharp knife to cut into bar shaped portions. Be careful to press down firmly in order to keep bars from breaking.

I like to freeze them so they keep longer.

feel free to experiment with these and make them your own creation! The possibilities are literally endless!