Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Apple Cinnamon Muffin-tops


Apple and cinnamon is one of my favorite autumn flavour combinations. Apples are in season, and they just scream for cinnamon! 

In my family, muffin tops are a hot-commodity, so when making these cookies, I tried for a fluffy muffin consistency. The secret is to barely mix the batter (similar to a muffin batter), and to wet your hands when forming the cookies because it's super sticky.


I can't be the only one who thinks cookies for breakfast needs to become mainstream right?! Well here's my contribution to that good fight; a low sugar and fat cookie. Pair it with some yogurt for a perfect morning meal 😃

I was honestly shocked how fast this batch went. 8-year-old M couldn't get enough of them as an after school snack, and the rest of the family literally (I don't use that word lightly) snapped them up.






Apple Cinnamon Muffin Top Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 cup sugar
  • 1 small apple

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. Combine all dry ingredients
  3. Mix in wet ingredients until just combined being careful not to overmix
  4. Wet hands to form medium sized balls- it’s a very wet mixture
  5. Bake for 15-18 minutes
  6. Yield: 20 cookies.

Monday, 23 October 2017

Sweet Potato Crusted Potato Knish


Mashed potatoes is a total comfort food, and also a staple dish at many holiday meals. A knish upgrades everyone's favorite side dish into its sophisticated cousin by stuffing it into a crusty outside. 

Go outside the expected, and welcome Autumn, by swapping the original flaky dough with my colourful antioxidant-rich sweet potato crust.

It's pretty, the colours contrast wonderfully when sliced, and man, this tastes great!



This recipe does take a bit of time to make (there's making the dough, and the filling, plus assembling it), but it's always super popular, so I only make it for Fall special occasions! 

Assembling mashed potatoes on dough

Microwaving the sweet potato instead of boiling it can cut down on some time. Depending on the size of your potato, it can be ready in 4 minutes to 16 minutes. Peel it after microwaving, and it's so much easier - the peel just slips off! 


Raw knishes before egg wash
Save the water used for boiling the other potatoes, and use it to make super smooth and creamy mashed potatoes




Sweet Potato Crusted Potato Knish

Ingredients:

Dough:
  • 3 1/2 - 4 cups flour
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
Filling:
  • 1/2 bunch leeks chopped
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 5 small potatoes
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • egg- optional for glaze

Instructions

  1. Microwave or boil sweet potato until completely soft
  2. Peel and mash sweet potato until smooth
  3. Combine all dough ingredients and set aside
  4. Boil potatoes- save this water
  5. Sautee chopped leeks and onion
  6. Mash potatoes well and combine all ingredients
  7. Add in reserved potato water to reach the smooth consistency of mashed potato you prefer

    To assemble:
  8. Preheat oven to 350° F
  9. Divide dough in 2 equal portions, plus about 1/8th to use for decoration
  10. Roll dough into a ¼ inch thick rectangle
  11. Spread filling in the centre of the dough, and fold dough over, so sides overlap
  12. Place seam-side down on baking tray
  13. Repeat with second half of dough
  14. Form a crisscross pattern using assigned dough
  15. Brush with egg wash
  16. Bake for , remove from oven to cool.



What occasion will you make this for?





Thursday, 19 October 2017

What's for Lunch?



Lunch is one of your most important meals of the day (breakfast and supper being the others 😉). Packing a lunch is one of the best things you can do for sticking to your eating and budgetary goals, but it can be tricky coming up with lunch ideas day after day. I have some of my go-to ideas, and today I'll share one of my faves, plus some ways to switch it up.

A balanced lunch needs grains, protein and vegetables to keep you going strong throughout your day. Grains provide your brain with fuel, and making it a whole grain allows for slower digestion, both keeping you full for longer and preventing a sugar spike and crash. Protein also slows digestion and keeps you feeling full for longer, and vegetables provide important nutrients and health benefits.



  1. Chose a grain. Bulgur, rice, quinoa, wheat berries and barley are all great options; pick your favorite, or get adventurous and try a new one. (I've been wanting to try sorghum for a while now, but haven't been able to find it yet.)
  2. Grab your eggs: I recommend 2 eggs per person (this is a meat & alternatives serving on Canada's Food Guide, and more filling than just 1 egg)
  3. Season and choose your veggie add-ins; we'll get to those soon!

Instructions:
  • Add grain and water to a pot, bring to a boil, and then simmer until all the water is absorbed (amounts of grain, water and time vary, so check here to find ideal cooking times)
  • When most of water is absorbed, add in your raw scrambled eggs and combine with grains until fully cooked
  • Add in your spices: salt, pepper, garlic, cayenne... whatever gets your taste buds sizzling
  • Here's where you can get creative: the veggies! You've got 2 options: 1) Add them into the mixture 2) Top it off. (of course if you want to do both of them, you won't hear me complaining!) 
Wheat Berries + Eggs + Chunky Salsa

Some add-in ideas:
    • a couple tablespoons chunky salsa (adjust your seasonings depending on spice level here)
    • 1/2 can sliced yellow or green beans
    • fridge veggies reaching their prime
    • canned mushrooms
    • frozen green-beans (add before the eggs so the water is boiled out) 
Brown rice + frozen green beans

When going the topping route, you seriously can't go wrong: take any veggie you like, raw/roasted/sauteed etc. and top 'er up. Make it pretty if you want (I'm a proponent of 'pretty food tastes better'), and enjoy your high fibre, high protein, nutritious, filling lunch!!



Bulgar + 2 eggs Topped with 1/2 an avocado and 1 cob corn

Want more lunch ideas? Comment below and let me know :) 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Fig & Oat Squares


Figs, to me, are a special occasion fruit. Traditionally eaten on Rosh Hashana, it's a fruit I look forward to each year. (Figs are in season June to September). The tang of the skin, the sweet and creamy flesh combined with those crunchy seeds is a sensation like no other fruit! 

Figs are a good source of fibre, potassium, vitamin B6, copper, manganeese and pantothenic acid, and have many health benefits associated with eating them. 



With some extra figs this year, I decided to create these oat squares to kinda-sorta-not-really-at-all mimic those fave cookies; Fig Newtons.

The  fig jam filling is naturally sweet and tart (plus that great crunch!), and you may want to make extra for straight eating, because it is that good. 






Fig & Oat Bars

Ingredients:

  • 6 fresh figs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1 ½ cups oats
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. oil
  • 2 eggs

Instructions

  1. On stove top, bring figs, water and lemon juice to a boil, and allow to simmer until mixture starts to thicken, about 5-10 minutes
  2. Allow mixture to cool for about 5 minutes
  3. Process mixture until smooth
  4. Set aside in fridge
  5. Preheat oven to 350° F
  6. Line 8-inch pan with parchment paper
  7. Whisk together oats, flour, sugar and salt
  8. Add in oil and eggs and mix until combined
  9. Wet hands, and press half the mixture into the pan
  10. Spread fig mixture on top
  11. Crumple pieces of remaining dough on top as crumbs
  12. Bake for , remove from oven to cool.
Yield: 12 squares.

Sunday, 17 September 2017

Inside the Honey Dish


There's always a lot of hype around honey, and with Rosh Hashana coming- which is basically a honey celebration, I figured I should take a closer look at this natural sweetener. 


Sugar substitute:

Honey is not a "sugar free" sweetener. It is made up of glucose and fructose (along with small amounts of maltose and sucrose), and has an affect on blood sugar levels. Glycemic Index (GI) is the measurement of the effect in blood sugar from eating, and generally the higher a food's GI, the faster it raises blood sugar levels. Honey's GI is an average of 61 (it varies on location and what it's made from) and in comparison, table sugar is an average of 65. In one study  comparing honey to sugar and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), all 3 had similar impact on blood sugar levels, lipid metabolism, inflammation and increased triglyceride levels, plus increased blood sugar specifically in people with impaired glucose tolerance. On the other hand, there does seem to be a quicker decline in blood sugar levels in honey versus sugar, possibly making it a better option in small amounts. Additionally, a small study suggests that long term  honey consumption may have a positive metabolic  affect on people with type 1 diabetes. One proposed mechanism for why this happens is possibly because of the fructose and the phytochemicals within honey act as a pre-biotic by enhancing bifidobacteria in the gut. This is why honey has a laxative effect for those with fructose malabsorption, and does not fit in a low FODMAP diet. 


Complementary Medicine:

Honey is often touted as a natural miracle healer. It does appear to have antimicrobial activity that is similar to antibiotics against certain bacteria (1) and prevents food spoilage and inhibits specific food-borne pathogens (2). While honey has been demonstrated as having anti-inflammatory capabilities, there is inconclusive evidence whether honey reduces inflammation caused from smoking (3). There is evidence that it is effective for healing wounds, burns and ulcers, and sterilizing infection, by stimulating tissue growth and minimizing scar formation (4). It's even more effective for healing diabetic wounds (5) as it combats many microorganisms that are involved in the wound process, and can fight inflammation. This makes it an "all in one" remedy that's safer, faster, more effective and more economical than traditional methods of wound healing.

Antioxidant Activity:

You've probably seen loads of varieties of honey- buckwheat, clover, acacia... Basically, this tells us which flowers were pollinated to make the honey. The flower variety influences the colour, flavour, and antioxidant level of the honey, resulting in over 300 honey varieties! Generally, the darker the honey, the more antioxidant content. Honey has small amounts of many minerals (calcium, iron and potassium among others), but with the small amounts, honestly you're better off getting your minerals and antioxidants from fruits and veggies! 


Want to start using more honey?

Honey is a pasteurized food, but this is only to make it last longer and be shelf stable. It still may contain botulism, and shouldn't be given to children under age 1 (adult's immune system should be strong enough to counter this).

When substituting honey for a sugar in a recipe, use 3/4 cup honey for each cup, and cut down on all other liquids by 2 Tbsp. Additionally, lower the baking temperature by 25 ℉.

At 17 grams of carbohydrates per Tbsp., honey is a good fuel source both pre-activity and during activity. It's possibly better than glucose as it increases heart frequency while keeping the blood sugar stable. 


What do you think? Is honey part of your usual intake, or relegated to once a year? Let me know below! 

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies



I've got the perfect school snack for you: high in plant based protein, low GI and high fibre plus nut free 🙌
How? you ask. CHICKPEA POWER
I love chickpeas. They are low GI, high in fibre, a great source of plant based protein, and are inexpensive to boot.
And even better for the skeptics, you can't even taste them (yay for stealth health!). So bake up a batch and let me know what you think of these chicks. 
😊






Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Chickpea Blondies

Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (540 ml)
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk of choice
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Drain chickpeas and rinse well
  2. In food processor, finely puree chickpeas
  3. Preheat oven to 225℉
  4. Combine all ingredients
  5. Pour into 8-inch tray
  6. Bake for , remove from oven to cool.
Yield: 16 squares.


Sunday, 20 August 2017

Is Popcorn a Healthy Snack?



What's the story with popcorn, is it a healthy snack, a guilty indulgence or something in between? Let's take a look!


  • Popcorn, in and of itself, is a complex whole grain, so it's high in fibre with a low glycemic index.
  • It's naturally vegan, gluten free and low FODMAP
  • A 2 cup portion is equal to 1 Canada's Food Guide grain serving
  • 2 cups provide less than 1 gram of fat, 2 grams of protein, 2.5 grams of fibre, plus magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and small amounts of many other essential nutrients 
  • Serving sizes on packaged popcorn is huge, ranging from 3.5 cups to 7.25 cups! (Have you ever seen such a large serving anywhere else?!) This is because popcorn is so light and fluffy, so it takes a significant amount to add up. 
  • It is considered a choking hazard, so it's recommended to not give to children under 4 (and also anyone who has difficulty chewing and swallowing)
  • Popcorns' bad rep comes from the recipes and additives to make it 'more delicious' or 'fun': Caramel popcorn, chocolate covered,  marshmallows and peanut butter... Here are 6 delish popcorn recipes that will satisfy your snack cravings and won't lessen popcorn's health benefits

Spicy, savoury popcorn from Cheryl Meyer RD of Dish & Delite


Peanut Butter Popcorn & Chili Lime Popcorn from Sarah Koszyk MA RDN Family. Food. Fiesta 

Rosemary Parmesan Popcorn from Brynn McDowell RD from The Domestic Dietitian

Savoury Vegan "Cheesy" Popcorn from Julie Harrington RD of RDelicious Kitchen 

Sweet & Savoury Popcorn Seasonings from Jodi Danen RD of Create Kids Club


Not sure how to make home-made popcorn? Check out this easy 5 minute 'How-To' from Dixya Bhattarai RD of  Food Pleasure & Health

What's your favorite way to eat popcorn? Comment below, and happy snacking :)