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I made this amazingly easy energy bar recipe last week and my family loved them…so did my clients!
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I had to share because if your household is anything like mine, having quick, nutritious and nutrient dense snacks on hand are a must.

Let me know what you think.

Gluten-free, Dairy-free, Raw & Vegan – Ginger Nut Energy Bars
3 cups of raw nuts (I used cashews but you could try almonds, pecans or macadamia nuts)
2 cups of pitted medjool dates
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp cardamom
pinch of sea salt

Place nuts into your food processor fitted with the “s” blade and process for about 60-90 seconds or until finely ground. Then add the dates, spices and salt. Process again for another 60-90 seconds or until dates are completely ground and the mixture is starting to form a ball. I added 2 TBSP of coconut oil to the mixture to make it stick together more but this is optional.

Press mixture into an 8X8 inch pan and refrigerate for 4-5 hours. Then cut into bar shapes and individually wrap for an easy snack on the run. Rolling the mixture into balls and then in shredded coconut also works well. Enjoy!

Recipe compliments of “Nourishing Meals” by Alissa Segersten & Tom Malterre.

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My family LOVES lentils. They’re one of our favourite legumes because they taste so great, they’re cost effective and you can use them in so many dishes. Lentil patties, vegetarian lasagna, vegetarian Shepard’s Pie, various casseroles and the list goes on…

A bag of green lentils (not cooked or canned) cost $2-4 depending on where you shop. One bag of lentils could potentially make enough meals for a family of four (eating lentils once a week) for a month! They also provide a great source of protein, fiber, vitamin B6, iron and magnesium. Combined with rice, lentils are a complete protein meaning that they provide the body with all essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) making them an ideal protein source.

lentil rice
I made this casserole for the first time a few weeks ago and everyone loved it. It’s so simple to prepare yet so amazing! The one thing to note is the cooking time (2 hours 20 minutes).

Recipe:
Curried Lentil and Rice Casserole
2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 TBSP finely chopped fresh ginger
1 TBSP finely chopped fresh tumeric, or 1 TSP dried
2 TSP curry powder
1 TSP ground cumin
1 TSP ground coriander
1/2 TSP cinnamon
2 TSP sea salt
4 carrots, chopped
1 1/2 cups French Lentils or black beluga lentils
1 cup long grain brown rice
5 cups water
1 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and onions, saute for 5 to 6 minutes. Add ginger, tumeric, spices, and salt. Continue to saute for another 2 minutes until fragrant.

Place onion-spice mixture into a large casserole dish. Add carrots, lentils, rice, water and coconut milk. Mix together well. Cover and bake for 2 hours.

After 2 hours, turn oven temp up to 425 degrees F. Remove cover and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes to let excess liquid cook off. Stir and serve.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

This recipe is compliments of the cookbook called “Nourishing Meals” by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre. I use this cookbook at least once a week. It’s $24.95 and can be found at most book stores.

If you have not eaten lentils lately this is a great weekend meal. The bonus is you will have leftovers for the work week ahead!

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I had a question in my inbox about a month ago regarding how to eat healthy on a budget. I know this reader and I are not the only people trying to live a healthy lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Eating healthy can easily be done with a bit of preparation and knowledge. My wife and I plan our meals and make a grocery list before heading to the supermarket. This saves us a lot of time while shopping and ensures we have all the necessary ingredients to make nutritious home cooked meals.

The following tips should help you save money and stay on track with your eating.

1 – Buy in bulk – Shop from the bulk section whenever possible. Things like rice, quinoa, nuts, seeds, flour and dried fruit are all great items to have on hand and buying in bulk is cheaper and eliminates all that extra packaging.

2 – Eat vegetarian as often as you can – Vegetables, organic wherever possible, are far less expensive than meat and go a long way. Staples in our house are broccoli, green beans, carrots, kale, cucumber, onions, yams, potatoes, peppers and garlic. You would be amazed at how many meals you can make with all those veggies and they offer great nutritional value! Be sure to use the “dirty dozen” list to ensure you’re getting the most highly sprayed fruits and veggies organically.
dirty-dozen-list
3 – Avoid highly processed or pre-packaged foods – Making things from scratch at home not only allows you to control every ingredient but it also saves you money. Homemade granola bars (see previous blog), healthy muffins, soups and casseroles are great to make at home and leave you with enough leftovers for a few days to a week.

4 – Buy produce in season – Purchasing seasonal produce is a great way to keep costs low. Don’t buy fruits and veggies that are shipped from miles away; when you purchase locally grown produce that’s in season they’re generally cheaper and you are supporting your local farmers. It wasn’t too long ago that people accepted seasonal scarcity as a fact of life, so the only way you had berries and fruit in the winter was to preserve them or make jams and jellies. I personally think that we need to go back to this way of living.

5 – Buy items that are on special
– Most grocers have monthly or weekly deals. Check out what they have to offer before grabbing your groceries. Although making a list and meal plan is important, so is being flexible once you see what’s on sale.

Heading out to the local farmer’s market is another way to save money, eat locally, organically and seasonally!

What does your family do to stay on track, eat healthy and keep costs low?

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The next time you go to purchase a box of granola or snack bars take a good look at the ingredient list. They are generally loaded with sugar, soy, dairy and wheat; all of which are allergens that most of us could use a lot less of!

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A close friend of mine gave me this recipe that she discovered on the “Winnipeg Hippy Chick” website. I finally have a really amazing recipe for homemade granola bars. More often than not, I opt to make things from scratch rather than purchase pre-packaged. This way I have total control over the quality of the ingredients and can modify things to suit my family’s taste and dietary restrictions.

I have made three different variations of this recipe over the past month and these bars are truly amazing! When you’re trying to care for a newborn and need a quick but healthy snack, these really hit the spot.
**Side note: rolled oats help with milk production so not only is this recipe great for exercise enthusiasts but also for nursing moms!**

The best part about these bars is that there is no cooking required!

Ingredients:
2 cups of your choice of sweetener (maple syrup, brown rice syrup, honey, molasses, agave)
I use half honey and half brown rice syrup

1.5 cups of nut butter (almond, peanut, cashew, sunflower)
I like to use half almond and half peanut butter

4 cups of large flake oats

4 cups of dry cereal of your choice
I use half puffed millet and half Gluten-Free Nature’s Path Heritage O’s

3-5 cups of the following fillers (pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, raisins, dried cranberries, chocolate chips, chia, flax seeds etc…)

Optional: 3-5 Scoops of vanilla or chocolate protein powder
I found the bars pretty dense and filling so I never added any!

Salt to taste – 1-2 tsp.

Directions:
1 – Put your choice of sweeteners and nut butter into a saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
2 – Combine the remaining dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
3 – Pour the hot sticky stuff (in the large bowl) over the dry mixture. I do this in phases to ensure the dry ingredients are well coated. Be sure your hands are clean as you will need to mush it all together to fit in into your pan.
4 – Press the mixture firmly (using a spoon dipped in a glass of warm water) into a 9X12 glass or aluminum pan coated with butter or coconut oil to prevent sticking. Get the top as smooth as possible; it takes some work!
5 – Chill in the refridgerator for 2 hours or overnight.
6 – Cut into 2″ squares. Wrap individual squares in wax paper or snack sized Zip-loc baggies and store in a container in the fridge or freezer for longer storage.
7 – Enjoy!

What yummy snacks do you enjoy making from scratch?

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When it comes to food I’ll admit it, I am the Queen of Snacking. I generally eat five or six smaller meals throughout the day as opposed to three large ones. I almost never leave home without a snack. Grazing is a great way to keep the metabolism running on high speed as well as limiting the caloric load on the digestive system.

One of the most common questions I am asked by clients when it comes to nutrition is, what are the best snacks to consume that will leaving me feeling satisfied without blowing my caloric input for the day?

Here are my six favourite quick, easy and healthy options:

hummos

1 – Hummus & Veggies
Hummus is low in calories and fat and comes in many different flavours. I like olive hummus or basil garlic hummus with carrots, celery, cucumber and cherry tomatoes for dipping. This is an easy way to increase your vegetable intake for the day and is very inexpensive.

2 – Crackers & Cheese
Although cheese is higher in fat it’s a good source of calcium and protein. Many low fat cheese options exist such as mozzarella or marble. If you read the label and consume the recommended portion, cheese is a healthy snack. “Hot Kids – Rice Crackers” or “Ryvita” are both great wheat-free and tasty crackers to pair with a few slices of cheese! Again, add a few veggies sticks and you have a well rounded lower calorie option.

3 – Apples & Nut Butter
Apples are a great source of fiber, help to detoxify the liver and can help alleviate the symptoms of irritable bowel. Sliced into pieces and dipped in nut butter, you will have a whole new appreciation for apples. I enjoy Gala and Ambrosia apples dipped in peanut or almond butter. Many people have the idea that because nut butters are higher in fat they should avoid them when in fact, if eaten in moderation they are just fine and provide you with a source of good fat and energy.

4 – Yogourt or Cottage Cheese & Berries
Cottage cheese is a great source of protein, low in fat and supplies the body with calcium. When enjoyed with frozen or fresh berries you also get added fiber and naturally occurring antioxidants. Although the protein content in yogourt is not as high as cottage cheese, it’s a great alternative to cottage cheese if you don’t like the texture (a texture I myself have never been able to get used to).

5 – Organic Nacho Chips & Salsa
Nacho chips are a good source of fiber, carbohydrates and go well with salsa and/or guacamole. I like my chips with “Que Pasa” or “Fresh is Best” homemade salsa. Salsa is a great source of lycopene (found in the tomatoes), low in calories and can contribute 1-2 servings to your vegetable intake for the day. Homemade guacamole is also a great addition to this snack. Guacamole is a great source of omega 6 fat and is best if eaten in moderation.

6 – Homemade Organic Popcorn
I say homemade because making popcorn from the kernel allows you to add any seasonings you like and control the amount of butter or oil. Organic Popcorn that is air popped is also the cheapest route to go! Pre-packaged non-organic popcorn is genetically modified, loaded with salt and often contains added chemicals that you just do not need. I make popcorn a few nights a week. It’s a great alternative to chips when settling in to watch a movie as it’s higher in fiber and lower in fat.

popcorn
Depending on how we’re feeling, I either make a savoury or sweet rendition:
Sweet:
1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
1 TBSP Coconut Oil
1 TBSP Butter
1 TBSP Honey (or if you prefer a sugar-free version you can use a few drops of stevia and powdered cinnamon)
Sprinkled with sea salt
*all melted together in the microwave or sauce pot

Savoury:
1/2 cup of popcorn kernels
1 TBSP Coconut Oil
1 TBSP Butter
*melt in microwave or sauce pot
Sprinkled with basil, oregano, nutritional yeast & sea salt!

I hope you enjoy these simple snack options and remember, eating smaller meals throughout the day will keep your energy level high and your metabolism humming away!

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I made some delicious gluten-free ginger molasses cookies a few weeks ago and posted a picture to facebook. Within a few hours I had several requests to share the recipe. I wasn’t sure how a recipe for cookies really fit my blog’s MO, so I decided to write about the medicinal properties of ginger and ways to use it… including the cookies of course!

Ginger is commonly bought as a powdered spice or a fresh root. It is generally consumed in three different ways: as a side dish, as medicine or as a spice added to food. Because of ginger’s versatility it can be eaten pickled, raw, as a tea, in juice, and of course in many savoury and sweet dishes.

Ginger is also great when you’re trying to ward off or treat the common cold. Placing fresh squeezed ginger, sliced lemons, water and a touch of honey into a pot on medium heat for 15 minutes makes a soothing tea… far healthier than Neo Citron!

Combating nausea is another great way to utilize the medicinal benefits of ginger. Whether taken in capsule form or as a candy, ginger is great for calming the stomach and it’s safe for pregnancy too!

Now here’s the recipe everyone’s been waiting for…

The start of my holiday baking!

The start of my holiday baking!


Gluten-free Ginger Molasses Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup fancy molasses
2 cups quinoa flour (gluten-free)
(OR 1 cup quinoa flour &
1 cup all purpose flour)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/4 cup white sugar (optional-to sprinkle on top)

1- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2- Cream butter and brown sugar in a large bowl. Beat in the egg and molasses. Set aside.
3- Mix the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon and cloves in a medium bowl and blend well.
4- Add the butter mixture to the flour mixture and mix until a smooth dough forms.
5- Roll the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls or use a rolling pin to flatten dough on flour-coated counter top and use cookie cutters.
6- Place cookies 2 inches apart on baking sheet and sprinkle tops with white sugar.
7- Bake on center rack of oven for 8-10 minutes. If you enjoy a crisper cookie, bake for an additional 2-4 minutes.
8- Let cookies cool for 1-2 minutes on cookie sheet before moving to wire rack.

Nothing beats the smell of home baked ginger cookies on a cold winter day… so yummy! Wishing everyone happy holidays and a healthy new year!

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I was first introduced to quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) 6 years ago while working at the Kootenay Co-op in Nelson, BC. This ancient grain, native to South America, has become a staple in my home ever since. It’s versatility, nutritional value and taste make it the perfect all around superfood. When comparing quinoa to other grains, meats and white rice, here’s how it stacks up:

* great source of protein
* contains all 8 essential amino acids (not the case with any other grain)
* ideal for those who suffer from digestive disorders, wheat and gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, Crohn’s disease or colitis
* helps promote weight loss, stabilize blood sugar levels and even helps to build muscle
* can be used in both savoury and sweet dishes and takes mere minutes to prepare…15-20 to be exact!
* it’s even great cold and stores in the refrigerator for up to one week
* great for pregnancy as it contributes to a healthy baby and enhances a mother’s milk production
* contains the amino acid histadine, which is necessary for human development therefore ideal for growing children
* it’s chock-full of fiber, iron and calcium among other vitamins and minerals – necessary for children and adults alike

Not only do I enjoy quinoa for its many health benefits but also because it’s great for people who have a wheat or gluten intolerance; something I have just discovered I do. My digestive system has been compromised for several years (see my previous blog post) but I was unaware of exactly what the culprit was. A recent trip to the Naturopathic Doctor and Colon Hydrotherapist have indicated that I suffer from non-celiac gluten intolerance, and in order to heal my digestive tract, I must avoid gluten all together.

Although this news did not come as a total surprise to me, regardless if you’re prepared or not it always takes time to adjust to a new way of eating and essentially, living. If you find yourself dealing with digestive discomfort, wheat or gluten intolerance or even more serious digestive diseases, quinoa is a grain I think you will appreciate.

One of my all time favourite dinner recipes –


Quinoa and Veggie Bake (from Vegetarian Times)

1/2 cup quinoa
1 1/2 cups celery tops
4-6 kale leaves, shredded
3 Tbsp. olive oil (divided)
1 medium onion
2 green onions thinly sliced
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill or 1/2 Tbsp. dried dill
1/4 cup feta cheese
1/4 cup grated cheese (we use white cheddar)
1 egg lightly beaten

1- Rinse quinoa in a sieve. Toast in small pot over medium heat for 1-2 minutes, or until almost dry. Add 1 cup of water, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium/low and simmer covered for 15 minutes.

2- While quinoa is cooking, prep veggies and sauté onions for 6 minutes, using 1 Tbsp of the oil. Add celery and green onions and sauté for another 2 minutes.

3- When quinoa is ready, pour 1 Tbsp. olive oil into 9-inch glass pie pan. Place in oven to heat.

4- Put shredded kale in a large bowl and then cover with the cooked quinoa. Then add the sautéed veg, dill and cheese into the bowl. Stir in egg and season with salt and pepper.

5- By now the oil in the glass pie pan should be hot. Remove from oven, ensure oil is covering the bottom, and then pour entire quinoa veggie mixture into pie pan. Bake 20 minutes, then drizzle 1 Tbsp over the top and bake 20 minutes more until golden brown.

Be sure to be on the lookout for quinoa grains on your next trip to the grocery store. They come in red, black, white or golden coloured seeds as well as ground for use as a creamy textured flour.

The majority of the information presented in this blog was taken from the cookbook “Quinoa – The Everyday Superfood 365” by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming. This book is amazing! It’s filled with all kinds of great recipes that use quinoa as the main event for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacking options. Enjoy!

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