Pumpkin Buckwheat Mini Muffins

pumpkin muffins, gluten free, buckwheat

It's fall and that means pumpkin spice season! These little muffins have all the spices from pumpkin pie and are perfect for breakfast or as a snack.  Buckwheat is a gluten free grain that has an earthy taste that can be noticeable in some recipes, but pairing it with oat flour in these muffins helps to mellow out the strong flavour.  Pumpkin (and squash) is a wonderful seasonal vegetable to eat in the fall and winter because it's packed with vitamins and antioxidant strength.  

We recently learned that it's especially important to purchase organically grown squash (and pumpkin).   These veggies are particularly good at pulling contaminants and chemicals out of the soil they grow in (which means it's going right into the squash we eat as food).  So, stick to organic squash and pumpkin.

One more note for this recipe: You'll find that these muffins are not too sweet.  If you have a big sweet tooth, you could add an additional Tbsp of maple syrup to the recipe.

 

gluten free pumpkin muffins, buckwheat

Pumpkin Buckwheat Mini Muffins

1/2 cup oat flour (use certified gluten free oat flour if needed)
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch sea salt

Topping:
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

 

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375. Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

2. Mix together the wet ingredients and then fold into the dry ingredients.

3. Scoop out the muffin batter into a mini muffin tin (you can line with parchment paper muffin liners to make it easy to pop them out of the tray). Sprinkle a few pumpkin seeds on top of each muffin.  The batter will make 24 mini muffins.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until muffins are cooked in the center.

How to Make Pad Thai Vegan and Allergy Friendly

healthy pad thai, vegan, gluten free

There's nothing quite like a hot plate of pad thai from a amazing Thai restaurant.  Unfortunately this high carb meal is usually packed with sugar and not necessarily made with the healthiest oil. And, if you are vegetarian or vegan and don't eat fish sauce, then pad thai isn't really an option.  We've made this version that's always gluten free and made with nutritious ingredients.  In case you have other  sensitivities or allergies, here are our suggestions on how to modify the recipe:

1. If you don't eat peanuts- replace with cashews instead.

2. If you don't eat soy, replace tamari with coconut aminos.

3. If you don't eat coconut sugar, try replacing it with a few drops of stevia (we haven't tested this out, so not sure how it would turn out).  Alternatively, if you don't have a sweet tooth you could just omit the sweetener all together and add some extra lime juice.

4. Don't eat grains, replace the rice noodles with kelp noodles and you've got a really quick, easy meal!

 

Vegan Pad Thai

Sauce:
3 Tbsp coconut sugar
5 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp tomato paste
3 Tbsp tamari
1 Tbsp miso (we used chickpea miso)

Veggies:
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp ginger root, minced
1 bunch broccoli, chopped in florets
2 carrots, sliced in matchsticks
1 cup nappa cabbage, slivered
coconut oil for sautéing
sea salt

4 servings rice noodles

Optional Proteins:
2 eggs
1 cup organic tofu, cut in small cubes
1 organic chicken breast, cut in small pieces

Toppings:
organic peanuts, crushed or chopped finely
large handful fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
lime, cut in wedges

Directions:

1. Saute the garlic and ginger for 30 seconds in coconut oil in a large saute pan.

2. Add in the broccoli, carrots and nappa cabbage and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, until the veggies are lightly cooked.

3. Meanwhile, prepare the rice noodles according to the instructions on the box.

4. Remove veggies from the pan and set aside.

5. If you are making egg, tofu, or chicken, saute them at this point with some coconut oil in the pan.  For eggs- scramble together and cook quickly until fluffy.  Tofu or chicken can be seared on the outsides (cooked through to center).  Skip this step if you're just making vegetables.

6. Whisk together the ingredients for the sauce, except for the miso.

7. Add the sauce into the pan and saute with the cooked rice noodles for a few minutes, so that they absorb all of the liquid and are very flavourful.

8. Then you can add the cooked veggies (and protein option if you prepared it) back into the pan, tossing together with the noodles.  Mix in the miso at this point.  Try not to heat the miso too much as the heat destroys the healthy bacteria found in miso.

9. Divide into 4 servings and top with fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts, and lime wedges.

healthy vegan pad thai, gluten free

Matcha Chia Pudding

matcha chia pudding

Smooth, creamy, sweet and yet kinda like earthy green tea at the same time...matcha lends a unique taste to this chia pudding.  Chia pudding is one of our favourite things to make for breakfast because it's so easy to prepare in advance (even days in advance) and then just grab it and go in the morning.  With this recipe, we even prepped all the fruit in advance and stored it in the same mason jar as the chia pudding. 

If you like green tea, then you'll love this special matcha treat. And, since matcha is made from whole ground up green tea leaves it's super rich in antioxidants.  Chia seeds are wonderful to support digestion and keep things moving regularly, plus they also contain protein and anti inflammatory omega 3 fat.

matcha chia pudding

Matcha Chia Pudding

2 1/4 cups dairy-free milk (we used 1 and 1/4 cups hemp milk and 1 cup  full fat coconut milk
1/3 cup chia seeds
2 tsp matcha
1 Tbsp maple syrup

Toppings:
raspberries
pomegranate (if it's in season)
green apple, slivererd

Directions:

1. The first thing you'll need to do is whisk the matcha into the milk.  Make sure there are no clumps. 

2. Then whisk together all of the ingredients in a bowl.  You can taste it and add more maple syrup if you'd like it to be sweeter.

3. Pour into 2 mason jars (or 3, if you want smaller servings).  Cover and place the jars in the fridge over night.  The pudding will be thick in the morning.

4. Top with berries, pomegranate and apple slices.  To save time for another morning- add in the fruit in advance and seal up the jar, keep in the regrigerator.

matcha chia pudding

Pomegranate Blueberry 10-Minute Pancakes (gluten free, vegan)

blueberry pomegranate pancakes, gluten free, vegan

When you don't have a lot of time in the morning, breakfast usually comes last, and quickly.  We get pretty tired of toast, smoothies and granola though.  Pancakes are normally reserved for the weekend, on more leisurely days.  But, with this month being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we've been thinking about simple ways that we can incorporate more self care.  Self care doesn't have to be an hour long massage or a girls' night with friends (although we love those things and would love to bank some more hours there).  Self care can be simple.  And, we want to put our attention on those simple things.  Pancakes for breakfast is a form of self care.

Taking a moment to breathe deeply is self care.  Washing your face with a natural soap that you love, buying your favourite beautiful fruit to enjoy even if it's not on sale, curling up with your favourite blanket and good book for 15 minutes before bed...these are all moments of self care.  Although we are nutritionists and talk a lot about food and importance of eating nourishing things to support your health, self care and how you emotionally feel is just as important when it comes to preventing disease, managing illness and recovering and healing. 

Our Top 4 Self Care Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention

1. Skin brush.  Buy a skin brush and use it in the shower every day, or even once a week.  Just start out with using it occasionally, so that you can implement the practice and avoid getting overwhelmed. Skin brushing helps stimulate your lymph system and move toxins out of your body (the things that can get stagnant and lead to blockage and illness). Remember, always brush toward the direction of your heart when skin brushing.

2. Get outside in nature. Whether you live in the city or in a more rural area.  Walk in nature.  Walk in a park or nature reserve area if you live in the city.  Spend some time sitting on the earth.  Being in nature helps calm the mind, body and spirit.  Haven't heard of forest bathing? Check it out: Forest Bathing

3. Detox your home from toxins. Clean out your house of all the cleaning supplies, soaps, lotions, makeup, etc. that are made with chemicals.  Anything that has a really strong smell is a good sign that it's probably not the healthiest thing for you to keep around.  Instead, pick up some new cleaning supplies from the health food store that are made with natural and organic ingredients.  Choose soap and beauty products that are free of dangerous chemicals.  Need help?  Check out the Environmental Working Group's guide: Skin Deep Database

4. Make pancakes more! Take the time to prepare and eat the foods that you love.  A little self care and nourishment is easy to incorporate when you make recipes that use good quality ingredients. 

Pomegranate Blueberry 10-Minute Pancakes (gluten free, vegan)

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour (certified GF if needed)
2 tsp coconut sugar (omit if you don't want sweets)
tiny pinch sea salt
1/2 tsp powder
1 Tbsp chia seeds mixed with 3 Tbsp water
1 cup dairy-free milk
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup wild blueberries (we use frozen)
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

additional coconut oil for cooking

Directions:
1. Combine the chia seeds and water in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl.
3. Create a well in the dry ingredients in the center of the bowl.  Add in the chia seeds and water, milk, and melted coconut oil.
3. Mix all together.  If the batter is too thick, you can add some more water or milk.
4. Then fold in the blueberries.
5. Heat a large skillet with some coconut oil.
6. Scoop out batter to form small pancakes.  Cook for about 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook on other side until center is firm and the edges are just beginning to crisp slightly.
7. Serve pomegranate seeds over top.  If you eat butter, add some on top of the pancakes (or use coconut oil), along with maple syrup or raw honey.

Smoothie Bowl (Banana Free) & Why Make Sugar Free Smoothies?

smoothie bowl, banana free smoothie bowl, smoothie bowl no banana, acai smoothie bowl

The question of whether or not to eat sugar comes up a lot for many of our clients, especially when it comes to cancer prevention.  This can be a challenge when it comes to making smoothies and clients ask us if it’s okay to put sweet fruit in them.

In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this October, we are going to be sharing some blog posts with important information for women...and the question about sugar is one of the things we’ll look at.   

If you don’t like bananas it can be tough to find a good smoothie.  We admit it, even we resort to using bananas as a key ingredients in smoothies most of the time.  But, we don’t all love bananas and we get bored of their strong, overpowering flavour that seems to take over the entire smoothie no matter what other delicious ingredients we add.  

Besides the flavour, there are a lot of reasons why many of our clients limit or avoid their intake of bananas.  It’s not that they aren’t healthy, in fact bananas are actually technically a low glycemic fruit.  On the Glycemic Index scale they are rated at 51, and foods below 55 are considered low glycemic (meaning, they won’t release carbohydrates rapidly and spike your blood sugar as quickly as high glycemic foods immediately after eating). Bananas are also infamously known for their high potassium content, which is an important mineral needed for electrolyte balance.  

 

So, why would you stop eating bananas?

Bananas are still sweet and contain sugar, just as all fruit does.  However, if you are managing or recovering from a health issue, limiting sugar intake is helpful for many reasons.  Whether you are dealing with blood sugar management, hormonal imbalance, digestive imbalance, or cancer, reducing your sugar intake supports the balance of good bacteria in your digestive tract.  Too many sweet foods fuel overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast in the gut.  This in turn not only interferes with proper digestion and removal of waste, but can weaken the immune system.  70% of your immune system is found in the lining of the intestinal tract.  When the good bacteria is out of balance here, your body’s first line of defence is weakened.  

If you are dealing with insulin resistance or want to prevent that from happening, it’s a good idea to limit your intake of sweet foods (especially refined carbs like sugar, white flour, and processed foods). These foods trigger your pancreas to release insulin to help shuttle the carbohydrates into your cells.   However, if lots of sweets and simple carbohydrates are consumed the pancreas becomes taxed with producing so much insulin. And, your body’s cells can eventually stop responding to insulin (insulin resistance), which leaves glucose circulating in the blood stream. This elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance is linked with inflammation, which increases cancer risk.

 

What to do?

This doesn’t mean you have to stop eating fruit or whole grains and starchy vegetables.  Sweet potatoes and other root veggies, brown rice, quinoa and other whole grains, and so many fruits are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  It just means that you want to eat these things as part of a balanced diet with lots of leafy greens, a rainbow of colourful veggies, clean proteins (beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, or organic animal protein if you’re omnivore), and healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and omega-3 rich flax oil.  And, limit your intake of sweet foods and avoid refined products like white flour and sugar.

 

The Alternative to Banana in Smoothies

So, whether you are limiting your intake of sugar or just don’t like the taste of bananas, here’s what you can use instead to make a smoothie.  

Option 1: Pear
Pears are a bit lower on the glycemic index than bananas and taste less sweet. Add pear into your smoothies instead of bananas.  You can replace banana with the same amount of pear for a similar consistency.

Option 2: Avocado
If you’re  going completely sugar free, then avocado will provide the perfect creamy texture to your smoothie that banana normally does.  But, then you might be dealing with a smoothie that’s not sweet enough.  Berries are your best friend here.  They are low glycemic and the lowest sugar fruits. If you still need more sweet taste, then we recommend adding a few drops of stevia to the avocado based smoothie. Many healthy vegan protein powders are already sweetened with stevia, so if you add a scoop of that into the smoothie it can provide some sweetness.

 

Smoothie Bowl (Banana Free)

1 pear, chopped roughly
1 cup blueberries (or you can use raspberries and/or strawberries instead)
1 acai smoothie pack (we’ve been using this Acai Roots brand)
2 to 3 Tbsp hempseeds or protein powder of choice
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk of your choice)

Toppings:
Shredded coconut
Caco nibs
Mulberries (or goji berries)
Strawberries
Raspberries

Directions:

  1. Place the pear, blueberries, and hempseeds (or protein powder) in the blender.

  2. Break the acai smoothie pack into a few smaller pieces and add to the blender.

  3. Add a little bit of the milk and blend everything together.  Add the milk gradually, as needed to get everything blending.  The smoothie bowl with be thicker with less liquid added.

  4. Once everything is creamy and smooth pour into a bowl.

  5. Top with your toppings of choice!

 

References:

Ben-Shmuel S, et.al. “Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cancer: Epidemiology and Potential Mechanisms.” Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, April, 2015.

Brown, Kirsty, et al. “Diet-Induced Dysbiosis of the Intestinal Microbiota and the Effects on Immunity and Disease.” Nutrients, vol. 4, no. 8, 2012 Aug: pp. 1095–1119

Sears, Barry, and Mary Perry. “The Role of Fatty Acids in Insulin Resistance.” Lipids in Health and Disease 14 (2015): 121.

Simopoulos, Artemis P. “An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity.” Nutrients 8.3 (2016): 128. PMC. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.

Vighi, G et al. “Allergy and the Gastrointestinal System.” Clinical and Experimental Immunology 153.Suppl 1 (2008): 3–6. PMC.


Wellen, Kathryn E., and Gökhan S. Hotamisligil. “Inflammation, Stress, and Diabetes.” Journal of Clinical Investigation 115.5 (2005): 1111–1119. PMC. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.

Homemade Gluten Free Poptarts

gluten free poptarts, homemade poptarts

Slow mornings are always the best for making something special for breakfast.  A few weeks ago, on one of these types of slow mornings, we had a craving for poptarts.  Not the gross, sugary, refined flour poptarts, topped off with bright pink icing glaze though.  But, for some reason the thought of homemade flaky poptarts, filled with real fruit just sounded so good.  

So, after some trial and error, we came up with this recipe.  It is gluten free and can also be made completely vegan as well (instead of using real butter, just substitute in a healthy vegan butter).  Working with this crust can be a little tricky sometimes.  You want it to be chilled just enough so that it sticks together, but not too cold that it's not malleable.  Another variation that you could do is substitute in spelt flour if you can eat other grains and aren't avoiding gluten.  Spelt flour would definitely be easier to work with and would ensure the dough rolls out nicely. 

The best part about this recipe is that the filling is made with real fruit.  And, you don't even need to sweeten it.  We use chia seeds to create a "jam" and this provides soluble fiber in an easy to eat treat.  This recipe is especially good for kids, as they won't even know the fibrous chia seeds are mixed in with the berries.

homemade poptarts, homemade gluten free poptarts

 

Homemade Gluten Free Poptarts

2 ¼ cups gluten free flour blend (such as Bob’s Red Mill or Pamela’s)
¼ cup coconut sugar
½ cup coconut oil
¼ cup butter (or dairy free vegan butter)
⅓ cup apple sauce
pinch of sea salt

Chia Seed Berry "Jam" Filling:
1 cup frozen raspberries
½ cup frozen blueberries
2 tsp chia seeds

Directions:

  1. Combine the flour, sea salt and coconut sugar in the food processor.

  2. Add in the coconut oil and butter, pulsing in the food processor to cut into the dry ingredients.  Pulse until a crumbly mixture is formed.

  3. Add in the apple sauce and pulse until dough forms.  You might need to add a spoonful or two of cold water, if the dough is too dry.  You’ll know that it’s working when the dough turns into a ball.

  4. Form dough in a ball and wrap with plastic wrap.  Put in fridge for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the jam! See directions below.

  5. Then place the ball between two sheets of parchment paper and  roll out dough into ¼ inch thickness sheet.

  6. Cut out equal sized rectangular pieces for the poptarts to make 12 rectangles.

  7. Then place 6 of the rectangles on a parchment lined baking sheet.

  8. Place 2 to 3 tsp of jam in the center of each rectangle.

  9. Place a dough rectangle on top of each one and then seal the edges with a fork, pressing down to leave indents from the fork prongs.

  10. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

  11. Allow to cool.

 

Directions for the Chia Seed Berry Jam:

  1. Place the berries in a small pot and heat on low heat.  

  2. Once they start to heat up, stir and mush them together.  After 5 to 10 minutes the berries will be soft and mushy.  

  3. Stir in the chia seeds and let side for 10 minutes.  

  4. The mixture will be thick like jam.

  5. If you prefer sweetening the jam, you can stir in maple syrup.

homemade poptarts, homemade gluten free poptarts