Friday, August 23, 2013

Baked Blueberry Banana Overnight Oats


I don't know what happened, but I've become a morning person! Everyday this week, I woke up at 6am, wide awake and ready to go. Rather than my usual scramble to get out the door, I was able to take my time getting ready and enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Normally I'm one to hit the snooze button 5 times before getting out of bed a full hour later than I'd intended. But this week, mornings were no big deal.


Normally I wouldn't have time to bake something before I had to rush off to work in the morning (which is why I stock my freezer with green smoothies and juice), but this week I actually had time to make delicious Baked Blueberry Banana Overnight Oats.

I prepared the oats the night before, and in the morning all I had to do was pop the dish into the oven. By the time I was showered and ready, my breakfast was ready to eat. The cinnamon aroma that filled the kitchen made my early morning even more delicious!

Baked Blueberry Banana Overnight Oats
(Yield: 4 servings)

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 c steelcut groats
  • 1/2 c quick oats
  • 3 tbs chia seeds
  • 1 banana
  • 1 c blueberries
    1 c almond milk
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c maple syrup

Directions: Combine all dry ingredients in an oven-safe baking dish. Add almond milk, vanilla and maple syrup. Add sliced banana and blueberries. Stir until mixture is well combined. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Lemon Chia Jam


With all the juicing I do nowadays, I'm always trying to come up with ways to use up the leftover pulp. When I'm prepping big batches of juice for the freezer, I make sure to juice all my greens together, all my carrots together, and ingredients like lemon, orange and berries separately, so I can store them in individual freezer bags. Veggie pulp can then be used in soups, sauces and recipes like the Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie I made recently. Citrus and berry pulp is great for incorporating in smoothies, baked goods or raw energy bars.


This week, Mike and I were obsessed with chia pudding for desert. I think we had it four evenings in a row! All that chia gave me the idea to try making a chia jam. It seemed like a perfect way to use up some of the lemon pulp I had in the freezer. Usually when I'm juicing, I'll include the pith and all, but when planning to use the pulp, it's important to remove the pith before juicing because otherwise it'll be really bitter. This recipe requires only a few ingredients and can be whipped up in no time!


Lemon Chia Jam
(Yield: 1 cup)

Ingredients:
  • 2 tbs chia seeds
  • 2 tbs warm water
  • 3 tbs maple syrup
  • 1/2 c lemon pulp
Directions:
In a food processor, process all ingredients until well combined. Transfer into bowl or jar, cover, and refrigerate for at least 10 minutes. Keep in fridge for up to 1 week.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Juice Fast Tip: Put it in a bowl and call it soup!


 On a juice fast, you can enjoy a huge variety of fruit and veg combinations to keep things interesting, but the fact of the matter is that you’re drinking juice. A lot of it. All day, every day. When you feel like you couldn’t possibly drink a single additional juice, pour it into a bowl and call it soup! Seriously, a bowl and a spoon can break up the boredom that you might experience during a juice fast. You’ll feel like you’re actually getting to eat something!


While I’m less inclined to drink juices that taste like onion and garlic, they’re great once you put them in a bowl of soup. A lot of people find it a challenge to drink enough veg-based juices throughout the day, so go ahead and enjoy your fruit juice in the morning, and then have a couple bowls of soup for lunch and dinner.
You can eat your soup at room temp, but if you’re not totally opposed to killing off a few nutrients, warm it up just a little on the stove. A warm cup of soup is just so filling and satisfying! On a juice fast, you aren’t getting much sodium and that can contribute to feelings of weakness and lethargy, so go ahead and add some high quality sea salt. The nutritional yeast provides a creaminess and cheesy flavor which is especially nice in the cauliflower soup.


Tomato-Celery Soup
(Yield: 2 servings)

Ingredients:
  • 1 large tomato
  • 5 medium carrots
  • ½ red pepper
  • 1 celery heart
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2" ginger
  • ¼ onion
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tbs nutritional yeast


Cauliflower-Parsnip Soup
(Yield: 2 servings)

Ingredients:
  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 2 large parsnip roots
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 1 clove garlic
  • ½ onion
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tbs nutritional yeast
Directions: Juice all ingredients. Season to taste. Serve at room temperature or warm slightly on stovetop. 

Read all about my recent juice fast HERE!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sweet Potato Shepherd's Pie


I love trying out new, healthy recipes, but sometimes I just crave good ol’ comfort food. One of my favourites was always my mom’s mashed potatoes. They’d be perfectly mashed – smooth and creamy but with some chunks left, and seasoned with the lightest touch of salt. No cream, milk, oil or butter. As simple and delicious as could be.

Nowadays I rarely eat white potatoes, but I try to eat sweet potatoes at least once per week… usually sliced into ¼” disks, tossed in coconut oil and sprinkled with paprika. Yum! An awesome source of antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, sweet potatoes are one of the most nutritious foods out there! You know what’s typically not one of the most nutritious foods out there? Shepherd’s Pie!
In this recipe, I left out the milk, butter, and cheese, and added almond milk, carrot pulp and cinnamon instead to up the nutrition content and cut the calories and fat.


Sweet Potato Shepherd’s Pie
(Yield: 8 servings)

Ingredients:
  • 3-4 large sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 c almond milk
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • ½ c onion (chopped)
  • ½ c green pepper (chopped)
  • 1 c corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 c carrot pulp (from juicing)
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce


Directions: In a large pot of boiling water, cook chopped sweet potatoes until tender. Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, cook onions and beef over medium heat until browned, about 10 minutes. Stir in green pepper, corn, and carrot pulp and continue cooking until vegetables are tender, 10-15 minutes. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon and water and simmer for 3 minutes. Once sweet potatoes are tender, drain water and return to heat for a minute or two (to dry off excess water). Stir in almond milk and mash until smooth (but still a little bit chunky!). Transfer beef mixture to a large oven-safe dish and top with mashed potato.
Bake in 350°F oven for about 30 minutes. Or cover with plastic wrap and foil and freeze for up to 1 month. Bake, uncovered and frozen in 350°F oven for about 60 minutes.



Friday, August 9, 2013

Banana Raisin Energy Bites


We loved the cacao berry bars I recently made, so using a similar recipe, I made a big batch of these energy bites for Mike to take along on his boating trip with the boys this weekend. I totally failed again at popping the amaranth (on the stove top this time), so it ended up just getting toasted again. Oh well, it still adds a nice texture and flavour. I'll get it right one day!

Banana Raisin Energy Bites
(Yield: 25 servings)

Ingredients:
2 bananas
1.5 c soaked dates
1 c toasted amaranth
1 c walnuts
5 tsp cinnamon
1/4 raisins
1/2 c sesame seeds
pinch sea salt

Directions: In a food processor, process all ingredients except raisins. Mix raisins in by hand. Roll into bite-sized balls or flatten and cut into bars. Bars become easier to handle after freezing for a few hours.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Breakfast to go


I recently shared my lidded easy egg muffins, but what's so great about this muffin-tin breakfast is that there are endless variations. My favourites are the sunnyside up ones, but they're all delicious and make such a pretty spread to serve up to guests at brunch. Making breakfast for a large number of people couldn't be easier!


I'm already trying to come up with new ingredient ideas. I'll definitely have to go with some spinach and mushrooms. Oh, and spinach and feta. That would be soo good! Also, I made these ones mainly for Mike as an alternative to drive-thru breakfasts, but I'm going to have to come up with a healthier alternative to the bread slices.


But my choice for breakfast all week? Smoothies and juices I'd frozen in advance. There's no way I'd have time to pull out the blender before work most mornings, but taking a jar out of the freezer each evening couldn't be easier, and I know that no matter what else happens during the day (chocolate chunk muffins, maybe), at least I got a good dose of vitamins and nutrients.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Camping...kinda


I really didn't want to let another summer go by without going camping, so I called around at the last minute to book a camping site for the long weekend. It wasn't easy to find one, especially since we didn't want to drive more than a couple hours away. We ended up at a nearby "camp site" which ended up being pretty much like setting up a tent in a parking lot. There were hardly any trees! We had a great time anyway though even though it poured rain the first evening and we had to start a fire to cook our dinner using shreds of newspaper and the few wet branches we were able to find.


Cooking over a campfire can be challenging but that's what makes it so fun! Pulling off great meals with just a few cooking tools and a grill that didn't fit was so rewarding and made everything taste even better. Now, I don't know if we could feed ourselves if we were lost in the wilderness, but we managed pretty well at our parking lot camp site even without a grill that fit.


I love getting the perfect embers for roasting marshmallows. That's probably my favourite thing about camping! I also enjoy sleeping in a sleeping bag. When I'm cold in the winter, I always warm myself up with thoughts of being all cozy inside a sleeping bag, in a tent, under the stars.


I'm hoping that we'll get out camping again this summer. Maybe something in, y'know, an actual forest... But either way, it was a great weekend to cap off my holiday before heading back to the office.


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Easy Egg Muffins

Mike loves to grab breakfast sandwiches from fast food joints on those days when he has to hit the road early in the morning. I wanted to give him an option that is a little bit cheaper and a little bit healthier, but just as quick, convenient and delicious.


We love muffin tin breakfasts for when we're feeding a big group of people, since no one has to wait around for their eggs. They're also perfect for stocking the freezer with egg muffins that are easy to heat up in the toaster oven before rushing out the door. This lidded version is great for eating on the go!


Easy Egg Muffins
Ingredients:
(Yield: 12 servings)
  • 1 dozen eggs
  • 24 slices bread
  • butter for greasing pan
  • optional: onions, tomatoes, peppers, spinach, bacon
Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease muffin pan with butter. Using a rolling pin, flatten bread slices. Using a circular cookie cutter or the rim of a large glass, cut circles out of bread. Line muffin pan with bread slices, using excess bread cutting to fill gaps. Ensure that bread reaches top of pan. Whisk eggs with any desired veggies or cooked meat and fill bread cups to just below brim. Place remaining bread circles on top, and pinch edges to seal top to base (this doesn't have to be perfect). Brush melted butter on lids. Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes, until eggs are cooked thoroughly. Allow to cool. Place egg muffins in freezer, unwrapped for at least 2 hours. Wrap tightly in foil or plastic wrap and store in a freezer bag. In the morning, heat egg muffin in toaster oven or microwave, and enjoy!

Friday, July 26, 2013

Cacao Berry Bars



Continuing with my effort to stock my freezer before I head back to work, I made these bars based on the Chocolate Blueberry Energy Bars recipe in The Thrive Diet. I made a few changes based on what I had on hand. These bars are packed full of the super nutritious ingredients you actually want in an energy bar. Not like those candy bars masquerading as energy bars! 


What's great about Brendan Brazier's energy bars is that they can be stored in the freezer, but they don't freeze solid so they can be eaten right away.

I tried popping amaranth in my popcorn maker but the kernels were too tiny and got jammed in the little vents of the popper and burned up. What I got instead were somewhat toasted kernels that add a nice bit of texture and crunch. Hey, whatever works!


Cacao Berry Bars
(Yield: 12 bars)
 
Ingredients:
  • 1 c dates
  • 1/4 c raw almonds
  • 1/4 c frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 c raw cacao powder
  • 1/4 c ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 c hulled hemp seeds
  • 1/4 c hulled sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp lemon zest
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1/4 c popped (or toasted) amaranth (exclude to keep raw)
  • 1/2 c fresh blackberries (or other berries)
Directions: In a food processor, process all ingredients except amaranth and fresh berries. Mix amaranth and fresh berries in by hand. Roll into bite-sized balls or flatten and cut into bars. Bars become easier to handle after freezing for a few hours.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Almond Butter Fudge


It's been a week since I completed my 10-day juice fast, and the transition back to solid foods wasn't very challenging at all. The first day, I juiced until evening and then stuck to raw veggies. The next day I incorporated grilled veggies, fruit and even a small piece of pastry. I didn't experience any discomfort at all and I've been eating normally since then. My digestive system has been working so much better than pre-fast and I also surprisingly haven't gained any weight. The 10 lbs I shed during the fast have remained off! I haven't been juicing much lately, mostly because I got pretty sick of cleaning the juicer multiple times per day during my fast, but I'm going to get right back into it today!


I'm heading back to work in a couple weeks, so I'm taking this time to stock my freezer with as many meals and snacks as I can to make my life easier when I have less time. I have a bunch of recipes to try out, but of course I started with this decadent almond butter fudge. Now, this isn't health food by any means, but it's free of all the dairy, butter and sugar that you'll find in traditional fudge. With this in the freezer there won't be any need to hit up the store when my nutty-chocolate cravings inevitably strike!


Almond Butter Fudge
(Yield: 14 servings)

Ingredients:
  • 500 g raw almond butter
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp sea salt (optional)
Instructions:
Combine all ingredients in a food processor, but retain half of the sea salt. Process until well combined and thick dough has formed. Shape into block or press into cupcake liners and top with remaining sea salt. Freeze for at least 4 hours. Fudge should be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and stored in the freezer.