Monday, July 25, 2016

Oatmeal Banana Muffins

"Count your life by smiles, not tears."
"Count your age by friends, not years."

Today's recipe is not what was scheduled...this one was more of a fall recipe but to be honest I didn't have time to get any new "summer" recipes done last week. I'm sure you can relate - summer is so beautiful and busy that sometimes you need to get out and enjoy it and worry about the rest later. Its ok to let yourself do this once in a while - its good for you!

Regardless these Oatmeal Banana Muffins are delicious, easy to make and are a super healthy "to-go" breakfast or snack. They are gluten free and low in refined sugar. The fibre from the oats and chia seeds will keep you feeling full and energetic and the bananas add a natural sweetness along with a dose of potassium.

Now its back to the kitchen for me to bring you something summery and delicious for next week.



Oatmeal Banana Muffins

2 cups gluten free oats
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup Earth Balance (vegan butter)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup almond milk (preferably unsweetened)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
1/4 cp walnuts to top (optional)

Pre-heat the oven to 325.

Prepare a muffin tin with paper muffin cups or lightly grease it with Earth Balance.

In a high speed blender or food processor blend the oats until they have the consistency of flour. In a large mixing bowl add in the baking powder, cinnamon, sea salt and chia seeds and stir until well combined.

In a separate mixing bowl cream the Earth Balance and sugar with a hand mixer until they are creamy. Mix in the almond milk, mashed bananas, apple sauce and vanilla extract.

Add the "wet" ingredients in with the "dry" and stir until well combined. Stir in the vegan chocolate chips.

Using a large spoon, fill the muffin cups 3/4 full with the batter. Add a walnut to the top of each muffin if desired. Cook in the oven for 40 - 45 minutes, until the tops start to lightly brown. Remove and let cool for at least 10 minutes.

These muffins will keep in an airtight container for 2 days or you can freeze them for up to a month. I  like to make a double batch and keep them in the freezer so they are easy to take when you are running out the door.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Crunchy Creamy Vegan Caesar Salad

This recipe is definitely one of my favourites.

A traditional caesar salad is usually loaded with unhealthy calories.

And yes there is a BIG difference between healthy calories and unhealthy calories.

Many people think the simple formula of eating less calories than you burn equals weight loss - well I hate to burst your bubble but that is totally untrue. It is all about what your body does with those calories. 100 calories from a sugary drink is dealt with completely different than 100 cals of chopped veggies and hummus...

Food for thought.


The 100 cals of sugar get stored in fat cells. The 100 cals of veggies get broken down and their nutrients and vitamins are used by different systems in your body - your skin, your lungs, your heart...

So in an effort to eat more healthy calories try making this delicious classic caesar salad. It is full of selenium for a healthy thyroid (from the brazil nuts), B vitamins for energy, heart and brain healthy fats, magnesium for your muscles and of course greens for your respiratory system.

Plus it tastes super yummy. You are going to love it!


Crunchy Creamy Vegan Caesar Salad

I realize this looks like a lot of ingredients but I promise it is super simple!

Ps. the croutons are amazing...I'm lucky if I get them on the salad before I eat them all. I use Food For Life brand Ezekiel Flax bread - it has lots of protein and flax seeds and tastes delicious toasted with the herbs and spices.

serves 4-6
2 heads/bunches of romaine lettuce or kale, chopped
1 avocado, cut into medium pieces (optional)
2 Tbsp hemp seeds

1 Tbsp olive oil
fresh ground sea salt and pepper
1/2 cup raw Brazil nuts
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed butter)
2 tsp coconut sugar
2/3 cup water

4 pieces of Ezekiel sprouted grain bread or gluten free bread, broken into 1" pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
fresh ground sea salt

Pre heat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the broken bread pieces with olive oil and spices until well coated. Arrange them on the baking sheet so that none are overlapping and bake for 8-10 minutes, watching to make sure they are crispy but not burning. Remove and set aside. 

In a food processor or high speed blender, puree the brazil nuts until they are finely ground. Add in the olive oil, salt and pepper, nutritional yeast, garlic, dijon, lemon juice, tahini coconut sugar and water and puree until it is a well combines, creamy mixture. 

In a large serving bowl, mix the lettuce or kale with the avocado and dressing you made in the previous step. I usually have to do this by adding a few spoonfuls of the dressing at a time to evenly coat the lettuce. Top with the toasted croutons and hemp seeds. 

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Healthy Weight Loss Tips - No Kale or Kettlebells!

"Imagine if we obsessed about the things we loved about ourselves"

Weight loss is obviously a HUGE topic. It is not something I totally focus on because it can become an unhealthy obsession and often is associated with crazy diets or insane workouts - neither are healthy.

The best and healthiest way to shed some lbs is making small tweaks to your everyday life that will encourage weight loss and help you keep the weight off for good - because no one can be on a juice cleanse forever!

Here are 5 of my fav "Weight Loss Hacks" that are super easy!

  1. Drink more water. The body often mistakes hydration for hunger. The whole "8 glasses of water a day" may not be right for everyone but if you weigh more than 130 lbs you should be getting at least 60oz a day - basically more than 6 glasses. Not only will this keep you feeling full it also flushes out your body - keeping your organs in proper working order. Next time you want a little afternoon snack, enjoy a big glass of water first. 
  2. Don't eat after dinner. Once you have finished eating dinner - that's it - no wandering around the kitchen an hour or two later looking for snacks. Its ok to occasionally have dessert however eat it shortly after your meal - not at 11pm at night. Give your body 10-12 hours without food (mostly while you are sleeping) to let it digest everything properly and to efficiently work on other systems. If you are having a craving - make a cup of tea or have a glass of water. This is something that may be difficult at first but after a while it will become a habit and you won't think twice about it.
  3. Get 7-8 hours of sleep. Sleep directly affects hormones that control hunger and satiety feelings - getting enough shut eye will keep those hormones balanced. Also when you are well rested you feel better and are less likely to snack later in the day. 
  4. Stop Drinking Your Calories. Choose your drinks carefully - stay away from anything that has sugar (soda, energy drinks, fruit juice, sweetened coffee drinks) - some of these drinks will have as many calories as a small meal - and wouldn't you rather eat? I would! Cutting down on sugar is an incredibly easy way to lose weight. When you are thirsty - drink water or unsweetened tea. Coffee is ok - but try it black or with a little unsweetened non dairy milk. Flavoured soy and almond milks can contain a lot of sugar so be careful! Oh and don't even think about switching to diet drinks - they can cause more weight gain and give you bigger sugar cravings after drinking them. #dontdodiet
  5. Cut down on Booze. Don't get me wrong - I love a glass of vino (or 2...) as much as anyone however the calories can add up. As the skinny French women say - you can have wine or you can have dessert, but you can't have both! Also stay away from mixed drinks that have soda, tonic water or fruit juice - they contain a lot of extra sugar = extra cals (see #4) you don't need. 
Give one or two of these simple lifestyle changes a try and see how they can work for you and your health goals! 

Take care of yourself and be kind to yourself...

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Creamy Vegan Ice Cream

Yes you read that correctly - vegan ice cream is a thing.

This has taken me a long time to accept. Conventional dairy ice cream was a big part of my childhood - as I'm sure many of you can relate. First of all I lived in a town that had its own dairy literally a block from my school. Secondly there was a little ice cream shoppe on the way home from the golf course and there was nothing like a creamy cold cone after 4 hours walking in the heat.

Oh how times have changed. These days I can no longer tolerate dairy and even if I could I wouldn't be eating it anyway - too many hormones, antibiotics and inflammatory proteins for me.

So on to a plant based version that I've come to love...

Yes, you can buy vegan ice cream from the grocery store - and don't get me wrong it is totally delicious - however this homemade recipe contains no preservatives and is seriously healthy. Like 4 ingredient healthy!

It is full of potassium, fibre, protein and magnesium.

It is super simple to make...

Ok, I won't keep you in suspense any longer. It is made using frozen bananas. Peel them, slice them, freeze them (for at least 5 hours) and then blend them in a food processor or high speed blender. They will get incredibly creamy and are not over powered with banana flavour (which was a pleasant surprise). Once you have blended them a bit you can add any ingredients you like - blueberries, cinnamon, a little dark chocolate...the options are endless.

I recommend keeping a stash of frozen, sliced bananas in the freezer at all times so you can whip this up whenever your heart desires - waiting 5 hours for ice cream is not fun.

My favourite flavour combo so far is Pecan and Caramel - give it a try one of these hot summer days - I think you will love it!


"Life is like ice cream, enjoy it before it melts."

Creamy Pecan & Caramel Vegan Ice Cream

serves 2 (or 1, if sharing isn't your thing!)
4 ripe bananas
6 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 pecans, roughly chopped (plus a couple more for sprinkling on top)

Peel and thinly slice the bananas and then freeze them for at least 5 hours.*

When you are ready to make the ice cream, place the frozen bananas in a food processor or high speed blender and let them sit for a couple minutes to slightly defrost.

Blend for a couple minutes until you have a smooth and creamy mixture. Add the dates, vanilla extract and pecans and blend for another couple minutes until everything is well combined.

Serve promptly.

*I keep peeled, sliced bananas in my freezer so there is no wait time!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What is Nutritional Yeast? Ingredient Spotlight

Nutritional yeast is a popular ingredient in many plant based recipes and I use it all the time! It definitely has an unappealing name and the whole "yeast" thing is a bit confusing but it truly is a very healthy food with tons of nutritional benefits...Here's all the deets on this yummy, cheesy flavoured ingredient and why you should stock up today!

What is Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional Yeast is a deactivated yeast so it will not grow or expand like bakers or brewers yeast. It is grown mostly on molasses or sugar cane. It is harvested, washed and then heated (to deactivate it).

Why should you eat it?
Nutritional Yeast (Nooch - as it is lovingly called by frequent users) has 8 grams of complete protein in 1/4 cup with only 60 calories. It is also fortified with loads of B vitamins including B12 which is usually difficult to get on a plant based diet. B vitamins are essential for energy and a healthy metabolism. It is gluten and dairy and sugar free.

How to use it...
-sprinkle it on pasta or salads like you would with parmesan cheese
-use it to add a "cheesy" flavour to dressings, dips and sauces
-I love to sprinkle it on popcorn and add it on top of baked potatoes

Where do you buy it?
You can usually find it in the "health food" section of the grocery store or you can definitely find it at a health food or natural food store. It may be in the bulk section. My favourite brand is Bob's Red Mill.

How to store it...
I keep mine in an airtight container in the fridge.

My favourite recipes that use Nutritional Yeast:
Classic Black Bean Burgers
Fresh Lemon Garlic Zucchini Noodles
Kale Caesar with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Monday, July 4, 2016

5 Amazing Reasons to Do Yoga

"Yoga isn't about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down" 

Yoga is a big part of my life. 

I have been practicing for over 5 years and try to practice almost every day, even if it is only for 10 minutes.

I can’t do a handstand or a full back bend but that’s ok - and that’s why I love yoga. Its not about who you were yesterday or who you might be tomorrow or even who you want to be - its who you are right now in the present moment and truly accepting that moment. 

There is no finish line, no one to compete with or to compare to.

It is time with yourself, challenging your edge and moving your body with no judgement. 

I go to classes once in a while but mostly I practice at home with a website/app called myyogaonline

Sometimes I do a hard, sweaty workout practice and other days I do a quick stretch. 

The crow pose I show in my picture is one pose I have figured out. Each time I do it I'm reminded that in life I can lift myself out of anything! As a side note, it took me a really long time to be able to successfully do that pose - along the way there were many falls...again kinda like life.

I know some of you would tell me that you can't do yoga because you aren't flexible or strong or don't love wearing yoga pants...well here is my response - anyone can do yoga - there are tons of beginner and restorative classes and you don’t have to have a flexible bone in your body to do them - all you do is show up as you are and I guarantee you will learn a little something new about yourself. Still need more convincing? 

Here are 5 amazing reasons to do yoga...

It keeps your brain young...
A neuroscience study from 2015 shows that yoga actually changes the brain. They used an MRI of the brain to show yoga protects the brain from grey matter declining in volume as we age. Those that had practiced more yoga had brain volumes typical for much younger people - basically doing yoga protects your brain from shrinking as you age. It also sharpens your memory, boosts brain function and improves reaction time.

Its a good workout...
Yoga is one of the healthiest ways to shed some pounds and build strength. Seriously. Yoga engages your shoulders, arms, core and legs. And a few sun salutations will have you sweaty in no time. 

It makes you more balanced and flexible...
Practicing yoga regularly improves your balance and flexibility. This helps you be more coordinated in other sports or activities you enjoy. Don't worry if you aren't flexible to start - you can modify most poses to work with where you are at and you will slowly gain flexibility and balance each and every time you hit the mat.

Its good for your heart...
Studies show that yoga reduces the risk of heart disease as much as conventional exercise. On average, yoga participants lost five pounds, decreased their blood pressure, and lowered their low-density (“bad”) cholesterol by 12 points. Plus it teaches the practice of self-compassion and kindness giving yourself some much needed love.

It makes you feel happy...
Yoga is a proven stress reliever. A challenging yet calming practice will boost your mood and help you reflect on the present moment, clearing your mind of clutter and unnecessary thoughts. It connects you to the present moment and being happy with who you are and what you have right now.


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Classic Black Bean Burgers

"Freedom is being you without anyone's permission"

Happy 4th of July to my American readers and happy belated Canada Day to my fellow Canadians.

The first long weekend of summer has come and hopefully you soaked up every wonderful minute! My fav part of both these holidays is the fireworks - they never cease to amaze me and make me feel so happy to celebrate in such beautiful countries. We are truly lucky.

Summer weekends can be tough times to eat healthy and keep up with your #goals. Its the perfect time to stick to the 80/20 rule - try to eat healthy 80% of the time and the other 20% enjoy yourself and relax.

Easy ways to do this?
  • stay away from creamy salads or dishes
  • fill half your plate with veggies
  • drink a glass of water between every alcoholic bevy
  • only take a couple bites to "taste" dessert
These small steps help keep the Monday morning food guilt at bay so you can continue to look and feel great all summer long.

Today's recipe is a plant based take on a classic long weekend food - the burger. Subbing out beef for black beans is healthier for you and for the planet.

This classic Black Bean Burger is meat and dairy free and tastes great. It is full of clean protein, iron, B-vitamins, fibre and antioxidants - healthy things you don't get all of from a beef burger. If you make them a couple hours in advance and put them in the fridge they cook up beautifully on the grill. If you are stuck on time, you can cook them in a skillet on the stove with a touch of olive oil or bake them in the oven right after making them. Top them how you would your fav burger - I like a little mashed avocado, red onion, tomato and lettuce. Enjoy.

Classic Black Bean Burger
1/2 large white onion diced
1 1/2 15oz can of organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup of brown rice flour
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 piece of Ezekiel sprouted grain bread or gluten free bread, crumbled
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp of olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Sauté the onions in the olive oil over medium heat until soft, season with fresh sea salt and pepper and remove from heat. Set aside and keep the skillet with the oil in it out.

In a large mixing bowl mash the beans until almost smooth, add the bread crumbles, nutritional yeast, the cooked onions and seasonings and mix well. Slowly add the flour - the mixture will become thick and you may have to mix with your hands. Once all ingredients are combined, form the mixture into patties about 1/2 inch thick.

Place the patties in the pan you used to sauté the onions and cook them on medium heat until they are crispy on each side. You can also bake them in the oven on a parchment covered cookie sheet at 400 for 10 minutes a side. If you want to cook them on the grill, put them in the fridge for about an hour to set - then grill on medium low heat for about 4-5 minutes a side until they are browned on each side. You do not need to refrigerate them if you are cooking them in the oven or on the stove. 

For a gluten free burger, substitute GF bread for the Ezekiel bread and use a couple of lettuce leaves for a bun. Top with your fav burger toppings or maybe some avocado and salsa for a twist! This recipe makes 4 burgers - if you have some left over save it to break up over your salad for lunch the next day - so delish! You can make the burgers in the morning and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them or make them up to a week in advance and freeze them until you cook them.

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