healthy food option

Avocado Brownies - Recipe

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Have you ever added avocados to your baking? You should really give it a try, these brownies are delicious and you would never know that there is avocado in them (great for picky eaters!)

Adding avocado not only adds in a good amount of healthy fat to your baking, but also makes the texture of these brownies very soft and fluffy.

Check out the recipe below and if you give it a try, let us know what you think!

Serving = 12 brownies, (9x9in. pan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar

  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil or coconut butter (melted)

  • 1/2 cup almond flour

  • 1/2 cup cacao power (or cocoa powder)

  • 1 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

  • 1/3 cup organic dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350F

  2. Add first 5 ingredients into food processor & blend

  3. Add in remaining ingredients (excluding chocolate chips) and blend until smooth

  4. Stir in chocolate chips, leaving some for topping

  5. Line pan with parchment paper

  6. Pour batter in pan and smooth - top with remaining chocolate chips

  7. Bake 18-20 minutes

  8. Remove & let cool before cutting

  9. Enjoy !

Homemade Ice Cream - Recipe

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Did you know that you can make ice cream at home without having to use an ice cream maker! Not only is it a healthier way to have ice cream (some call it “nice cream”) but you can also make what ever flavour you want, save money and involve the kids in the making process!

The base of this ice cream is made with bananas (no dairy here!). You can actually just make banana ice cream by chopping up a banana or two (or more depending on how many servings you want) freezing them and blending in a blender or food processor until it takes on the consistency of ice cream (approximately 3-5 minutes).

I have to admit, plain bananas is kind of boring (but good in a pinch when you don’t have much to add in), so here are a couple of options to make different flavours….

Mint-Dark Chocolate Chip Banana Ice Cream (a favourite of mine!)

  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced and frozen

  • 1/4 cup fresh mint (chopped)

  • 1/4 cup chopped organic dark chocolate

Chocolate Banana Ice Cream

  • 2 ripe bananas, sliced and frozen

  • 2 Tbsp organic cocoa powder

(optional - add in chopped chocolate or chopped nuts)

The directions are simple, make sure the banana is frozen, place all ingredients into food processor and blend (3-5 mins until smooth) If you want a more chunky texture add in half the ingredients and blend to get the flavour and then quickly blend the rest of the ingredients in to finish.

You can also store these in a glass storage container or a loaf pan. This is a great option if you are making a bigger batch and want to have some ready to go. Just store in the freezer and scoop out when needed.

Some other add-ins could be, any type of fruit, nuts, honey, spices (cinnamon, cardamom, etc) , any type of nut butter would work too (chocolate peanut butter banana ice cream sounds delicious!)

Give it a try and let us know what ice cream creations you came up with.

Enjoy !

Strawberry Chia Jam

Looking for a healthier version of strawberry jam for all of those fresh local strawberries you have waiting to be used?

Check out this recipe for a refined sugar free, gelatin free & vegetarian (or vegan) friendly!

Strawberry Chia Jam:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Strawberries

  • 1 Tbsp Raw Honey (use maple syrup for vegan option)

  • 2 Tbsp Chia Seeds

Directions:

  1. Remove stems & wash strawberries

  2. Place all ingredients into blender/food processor. Pulse until you reach the desired consistency for your jam

  3. Put in sauce pan over medium heat until bubbling, reduce heat and let simmer for 10-15 minutes until it begins to thicken

  4. Remove from heat, pour into mason jar & let cool. Store in fridge for up to 7 days, if using later you can freeze it, just be sure to leave room at the top of the jar for expansion

  5. Enjoy !

Simplified Caesar Salad Dressing

Finally, we are having some nice weather to enjoy all the summer things like barbecues and socials with friends and family. So, you know what that means…lots of salads loaded with store bought salad dressing!

Here are some reasons why you should ditch the bottled dressings and spend an extra 5 minutes making your own:

  • They are full of artificial flavours

  • They contain unnecessary sugars (like high-fructose corn syrup…who needs that on a salad… or ever?)

  • Bottled dressings are also made with tons of preservatives to prolong their shelf life … ever wonder why they don’t expire for 2 years?

  • These types of dressings are also loaded with trans-fat (the bad kind of fat!)

 All that being said, there are some bottled dressings you can buy with some clean ingredients and lower on the preservative side (these can be pretty pricey for a bottle though). The bigger picture here is that if you are making a dressing from scratch it’s going to 1. Taste better not only because its super fresh but also because you made it yourself (isn’t that always the way!) 2.  You don’t have to have 10 bottles of half used dressing in your fridge for years and years and years…you get the point. If you make your own, you can make as much as you need and there is no waste! 3. You can control the ingredients you put in your dressing, if there are any dietary restrictions or allergies this is the perfect way to know exactly what you are getting!

 The recipe for this salad dressing is a Caesar style dressing, its light, healthy and full of flavour!

 Caesar Salad Dressing:

Ingredients:

1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 clove of Garlic

2 tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar

1 tablespoon Tamari (or coconut aminos)

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 tsp Dijon Mustard (I like to use an organic brand and make sure it is free of canola oil)

Sea Salt & Pepper to taste!

Directions:

Put all ingredients in a food processor, blend until smooth. You can also use an immersion blender or even a regular blender! If you don’t have any of those, make sure the garlic is minced well and whisk all ingredients together and let stand for a few minutes before using to make sure all the flavours come together.

Enjoy & happy BBQ’ing!

What's more important:

Weight loss or muscle gain?

Muscle mass is directly correlated with longevity and excellent health. Rather than trying to “lose weight”, people are better striving to improve body composition.  This means losing fat and building or maintaining muscle. The lean (non-fat) components of the body are denser than body fat. Therefore, the number on the scale isn’t always to best outcome measure, especially when it comes to health. A better predictor of health is body composition. A method to track your body composition at home (other than looking in the mirror) is measuring your waist-to-hip ratio (waist measurement divided by your hip measurement). As this ratio decreases, your abdominal (visceral) fat decreases, and so does your risk of all cause mortality.  So, it is actually possible for the scale weight to increase and your waist to hip ratio to decrease – and at the end of the day you will be healthier. 

Dr. Gabrielle Lyon calls muscle the organ of longevity.  “The stronger and healthier your muscle is, the more carbohydrates and fat your body burns”.  Healthy muscle mass improves metabolism and decreases risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.  Muscle mass is also a reliable protein reserve that is protective for people after prolonged illness (i.e. cancer)

There are numerous methods to lose fat – some more healthy than others.  There are only two basic ways to increase and maintain muscle mass: resistance exercise, and consuming protein. 

Resistance exercise is lifting heavy things a few times a week.  You could try body weight exercises like squats, push-ups and pull ups. I like a single set to failure using the rest – pause technique for bodyweight exercises.  You could lift weights in the gym or rocks in your yard. Compound movements are typically safest and the most effective for your effort.  My favorites are deadlifts, squats, bench press, shoulder press and a bent over row.  For these I prefer hierarchical sets i.e. 3 sets of 15, 8, and 4 reps – increasing the weight with each set.   

Protein is an essential macronutrient, necessary for all the cells of the body. It is needed for the structure, function, and regulation of all tissues and organs - especially for building and repairing muscle. Once consumed protein is broken down to amino acids.  Humans must obtain some essential amino acids from protein in their diet. Proteins also have a key role in immune function, building enzymes for metabolism and DNA repair, and building hormones and neurotransmitters.  High protein diets (45% of total calorie intake) have been shown to decreases blood pressure and increase HDL cholesterol. 

There is no conclusive evidence that a high protein diet can cause chronic kidney disease. Protein may be used as fuel in the absence of carbs and fat, however, excess protein is not stored as body fat and is excreted as urea via the kidneys. 

Protein should be prioritized.  It is nutrient dense and very satiating. Consuming a minimum 30 grams of protein per meal is needed to stimulate muscle protein synthesis. It is actually more important for sedentary people as they are not stimulating muscle growth with exercise and older individuals because muscle mass gets harder to maintain as we age.  Generally speaking, 30 grams of protein at each meal (3 meals a day) should be a minimum target. That’s 90 grams of protein per day. Up to 1 gram of protein per pound of desired body weight may be recommended for active people who want to maximize muscle mass.  

This is what 30 g of protein looks like:

•      7 thick slices of bacon

•      5 large eggs

•      4 ounces of ground beef

•      6 ounces of tempeh

•      1 scoop of whey protein

•      3/4 block of tofu

•       4 ounces chicken breast

 

References: 

1.    Srikanthan, Preethi et al. Muscle Mass Index As a Predictor of Longevity in Older Adults The American Journal of Medicine, Volume 127, Issue 6, 547 – 553.

2.    Srikanthan P, Seeman TE, Karlamangla AS. Waist-hip-ratio as a predictor of all-cause mortality in high-functioning older adults. Ann Epidemiol. 2009;19:724-731.

3.    https://drgabriellelyon.com

4.    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Waist–hip_ratio

5.    https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/measuring-your-macros-what-30-grams-protein-looks-like.html

Healthy options!

Avocado Chocolate Pudding

We are just crazy for the goodness found inside avocados!  Here's a little go to recipe we use when we are craving something sweet and "chocolatey".

Ingredients
5-6 ripe and ready avocados
1/4 cup milk - or dairy free milk (coconut, almond, soy - whatever you are into)
3-4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder - to taste
1-2 teaspoons vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste - to taste
pinch of fine salt
2-3 squares of bittersweet chocolate (70% or higher) (we like the lindt bars)
1/4 pure maple syrup (we use Highland Maple Syrup - from right here in Cape Breton!)

Instructions

  1. Cut and pit avocados and blend in a food processor.
  2. Add the milk, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt: Add the milk, cocoa powder, vanilla, and salt - blend till smooth - and transfer to bowl.
  3. Melt chocolate and add to mixture.
  4. Add maple syrup.
  5. Mix.
  6. Add chocolate, syrup or coco to taste.  Can also change consistency by adding more liquid if needed. 
  7. Chill and serve.
  8. Enjoy! 

 

Gluten Free, Dairy Free "Cheesecake"

Dairy Free "Cheesecake"

I've had my eye on this recipe for awhile and I thought Christmas would be the perfect time to try it out.  I can't even start to explain how good this "cheesecake" was!  Every single person that tried it said it was remarkable!  Here are what some people are saying:

  • "This is really really good -what is the crust made out of?" Keith (gluten intolerant)
  • "It was SOOOOOO good" Jen G. (supermom)
  • "DOOD" aka "Good" Ethan, (age 1)

I adapted the recipe from the Helmsley and Helmsley cookbook we got last year for Christmas.    It was the easiest thing on earth to make and it's jam packed with nutrients! 

Needed:

  • 1 cup pecans
  • 7.5 tablespoons shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 9.5 tablespoons cocao nibs (found them at superstore and at bulk barn)
  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 9 tablespoons raw honey
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil (melted) for base
  • 5-6 ripe avocados
  • 3/4 cup lime juice
  • 1 tsp lime zest
  • 3/4 cup coconut oil (melted) for the filling
  • stevia to taste
  1. Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F - When heated, toast the pecans and coconut on a baking tray for about 7-10 minutes, until coconut is golden.
  2. Line the base (and sides if you wish) of a springform or loose-bottomed 7 inch round cake tin with parchment paper.
  3. Put the pecans, coconut, cocao nibs, pitted dates and 3 tbsp coconut oil in blender/food processor and blend until mixture is crumbly but still holds together, keeping a little crunch is a nice touch.
  4. Fill the bottom of your tin with the base mixture and press it down tight with the back of a spoon - making sure it is even on all sides.  Let the base cool in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
  5. Put the peeled avocados, lime juice, lime zest, raw honey, 3/4 cup coconut oil, and stevia in the blender/food processor and blend until smooth and silky.  The more coconut oil you use the thicker your cake will become.  Check for taste and add more lime juice, honey or stevia based on your preference for sweet vs. tart. (to be honest I used barely any stevia when I made mine). 
  6. Pour filling in the cake pan, cover the top and return to fridge for at least 4 hours or let rest overnight. 
  7. Before serving carefully remove cake from pan - you may need to run a knife around the edges before removing cake. 
  8. Enjoy!

Ps - I thought a little bit of drizzled dark chocolate, or toasted coconut could make a nice addition to the cake - but it's pretty perfect as it. 

P.Ps - You could use this base for any other type "non-bake" cakes too - it was seriously that good. 

Lobster Coconut Noodle Soup

Lobster Coconut Noodle Soup

With Lobster season in full swing, here's a good way to use up your leftover lobsters (if there are any!).  It's a nice, quick and healthy option for those who always feel a little guilty with the full cream in traditional lobster chowder. Give this recipe a try, it might just become your new go to for lobster the next day!

Cooking time - about 20 minutes if you lobsters are cooked and shelled in advance.

  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • lobster Shells
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 400ml full fat coconut milk (1 can)
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1+1/2 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1/2 lime
  • 2 stalks lemon grass chopped (use the lower 1/3)
  • 2 chopped carrots
  • 5 quarterted mushrooms
  • 1 small handful of rice noodles - I used thick ones, but vermicelli type noodles would probably work well too
  • cooked lobster meat - I used 4 tails and 8 claws, in bite sized pieces 
  • cilantro 
  1. Bring the stock, garlic and shells to a boil. Reduce heat to min. Remove the shells and garlic
  2. Add 1 can of coconut milk, fish sauce and thai red curry paste, whisk for 1 minute.
  3. Add carrots and lemongrass.
  4. While that is cooking, in a shallow pan, boil water for noodles.  Once water is boiling, add noodles and let them boil only for a very short time (like less than a minute). Dump hot water and let noodles sit in cold water. 
  5. Add lime and mushrooms.  Increase heat to medium (not quite boiling)
  6. Add lobster and noodles.
  7. Serve with cilantro garnish.

With no Thai restaurants in Sydney, I modified a Tom Kai Gai recipe just a little, the results were fantastic!  You can opt for no noodles in this dish. When I make this the next time, I think I will add some celery and maybe some bamboo shoots.

There is quite a bit of salt in the stock, so you probably won't need to add any into the soup.  We were serving this to our little office manager, so it was less spicy than we would normally serve. You can add a small dash of scriacha if you want to liven things up - but give this a go first, it is a very flavourful soup as is.

You can opt to go with "lite" coconut milk, but I find "lite" to be very watered down and less flavourful. Live a little, go with the full fat coconut milk....

It's kinda sad that we needed a nice hot soup on such a cold day in July.  Oh summer, I feel like you are just playing games with us.... will you ever really show your face?

JMM

Healthy Soup for Dinner!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup

Here's an easy and healthy option for dinner tonight!

  • 2 medium sized butternut squash
  • 1 large can diced tomatoes (fresh if you have them)
  • 1 small onion
  • 6-10 roasted garlic cloves
  • Bone broth (homemade if you can...) - amount depends on how thick you like your soup
  • Coconut oil or olive oil
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Dried basil
  1. Slice the squash and remove the seeds and place onto a baking pan
  2. Dice the onion and place into the hollowed squash, leave the garlic wrapped and place onto the baking pan with the squash and onions
  3. Using olive oil or coconut oil - coat the squash with oil and mix a touch of oil in with the onion
  4. Bake the squash, onion and garlic at 350-400 for around an hour (squash will be soft to pierce with fork)
  5. Remove the skins of the squash
  6. In a pan warm the coconut oil and sauté the tomato for 20 minutes then let cool
  7. Let the vegetables cool so that you can work with them without burning yourself. Mix all the vegetables in a blender and blend until smooth.  You may have to add 1/4-1/2 cup of bone broth  into the blender to help liquify the vegetables.
  8. In a large pot add the vegetable mixture and bone broth.  We added about 2.5 cups of broth, which gave us a soup with a consistency thicker than broth but thinner than baby food. 
  9. Bring pot to a gentle bubble, adding salt, pepper and basil to taste
  10. Enjoy!

This soup had a nice blend of sweet and savoury!

** A pinch of dried chillies might compliment this soup nicely.  We did not add any chillies as our little office manager will be eating this soup for the rest of the week!

The soup is pictured with a small glass of fresh-squeezed non-pasturized  orange/pineapple/raspberry juice and two small pieces of fresh baked olive loaf (both from Superstore... I wish I was that kind of supermom!!)

Should you supplement with fish oil?

Benefits of Omega 3 fatty acid

Do you have enough omega 3 fatty acids in your diet?

The evolutionary human diet had 1:1 omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids ratio.  Today most modern diets have a 10:1 to 30:1 omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids ratio.  So what?  Both fatty acids are essential to our diet and help regulate your body’s metabolic and inflammatory state.  Omega 6 fatty acids are much more inflammatory than omega 3 fatty acids and if the ratio is altered, the body’s homeostatic state is altered. 

Our ancestors ate real food like game meat, seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds.  They ate a variety of seasonal foods and had healthy habits around food.   Today we eat more processed foods, such as, grains, sugars, and unhealthy fats/oils.  Even the animals we raise are no longer fed their evolutionary diet.  Cows are meant to graze on grass but are fed grains, which increase their omega 6 fatty acids.  We also eat too much.  We snack all day and use food as a coping mechanism for psychological stress.

How you can get enough omega 3 fatty acids in your diet?

There are marine sources of omega 3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).  α-linolenic acid (ALA) is found in plant oils, most commonly flax oil.  While ALA is great the more benefical source is EPA/DHA.

The best source of omega 3 fatty acids (EPA/DHA) is oily fish like anchovies, sardines, herring mackerel, and wild caught salmon.  We need about 2-3 servings a week.  Avoiding processed foods in our diet will decrease our omega 6 fatty acids.  If you do not eat this much fish you should consider a quality fish oil supplement. 

Effects of fish oil on your health and longevity

Acute stress and inflammation is an important function of the immune system and the healing process.  However, chronic inflammation caused by poor diet, physical inactivity, psychological stress, and genetic function contributes to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease and more.  Omega 3 fatty acids have a role in combating these chronic diseases.

Omega 3 fatty acids are responsible for proper functioning of the cell membranes of all the cells in your body.  The health of your cells determines the health of your brain and body.  Thus, omega 3 fatty acids play a role in all functions of your body including growth and development, brain and nerve function, digestion, immune function, hormone regulation, skin and bone health, regulation of inflammation and healing, blood triglyceride levels, cardiovascular function, vision, and emotions and behavior.

Canadians do not consume enough omega 3 fatty acids in their diet and supplementing may help prevent and treat disease.  It can be a simple step toward living your life!