Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 4, 2009
How do you not cook spaghetti and meatballs? Well if it is all raw ingredients, no cooking is required! It is nice to know that you can please your palate with old time classic meals that are typically full of unnecessary calories and ingredients that may not agree with your digestive system or your nutrition mentality anymore. So fear not, there are ways around this. I know for instance my Dad's all time favourite meal was Spaghetti and Meatballs and now he can't sit down and enjoy it the same way. The wheat in the spaghetti noodles makes him bloated, he is not one for red meat anymore and the dairy (from Parmesan cheese) does not agree with him. So this is the perfect opportunity for me to jump in and create something innovative, healthy and satisfying.
Since consuming raw foods has amazing health benefits and I am on a bit of a raw kick myself, I figured I would experiment. So for my spaghetti noodles, I opted to use Kelp Noodles. These are noodles made from a seaweed called Kelp - but they do not taste like seaweed at all! Kelp noodles are pretty much odorless, tasteless and have no calories and the virtually take on any flavour that you marinate them in. They are also so simple to prepare as all they require is a bit of water to soak in for a few minutes or hours. If you want to soften them a bit, add a touch of lemon juice or vinegar to the water.
For a Marinara sauce - I concocted a blend of:
1-2 cups of "fresh from my garden: tomatoes (both cherry and regular)
1/4 cup olive oil,
2 cloves garlic
1 1/2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
handful of fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme)
sea salt and pepper
Whirled that all up in my vitamix and there I had a sauce, all ready to go. If I left it in long enough it would have been warm!
Now as for the "meatballs", here is where I got a bit creative. In a food processor I added:
1 cup soaked almond
1 cup soaked walnuts
2 stalks of celery
1 tbsp chopped fresh sage
5 mini onions or 1 leek
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup water
Smooth together until you get a thick paste and roll into balls and place in a food dehydrator for 12 hours or in your oven on a low temp - (as low as it will go) for 1-2 hours. But keep an eye on them!
Then top it off, I added some marinated kale and broccoli which I just tossed with some olive oil and sea salt and added to the dehydrator for about an hour to soften up.
Oh and if you needed a little "cheesiness" on top - because what is pasta without cheese, then I would add some crunched up pinenuts, cashews or hemp seeds tossed with some sea salt and lemon juice for a zesty topping!
Now if that isn't a hearty, satisfying and health prmoting bowl of Spaghetti and Meatballs, then I don't know what is!
Monday, August 31, 2009
The emphasis last night was on Superfoods. This term has been coined to emphasize food from nature which has superior health benefits. The best part is that these foods are so widely available to us - literally they are all around us in nature. Unfortunately most people don't even know what true superfoods are or better yet what they can do for our body, our mind and of course our health. Superfoods are foods that have unique properties that have the ability to nourish our body in more than one way. For instance on single food item (such as goji berries) may contain not only protein, but also immune properties, antioxidants and trace minerals. So in one single tiny berry you are getting an array of health benefits. Other superfoods - according to David Wolfe include Cacao (yes this is chocolate), maca, bee products, blue green algae, marine phytoplankton, aloe vera, hemp seed and coconuts.
So last night I went with a friend to watch and be inspired by David Wolfe's magnetic energy about superfoods. You can't help but feel his buzz and become pumped about all the benefits that these foods have to offer. Before I had arrived at the lecture, I was feeling a little tired from the long day I had, luckily there was a chocolate elixir available for me to drink and this perked me right up and made me feel amazing. I mean, who wouldn't want to drink a cup full of chocolate goodness? I am talking about chocolate in it's purest sense- no dairy and no unnatural sugars, only filled with herbal extracts and other super healthy goodies. This was followed by a slice of heavenly cheesecake made from cashews and coconut butter...I was in heaven!
David Wolfe with a Bag of Goji Berries on his head! - sorry for the poor quality pictures, I only had my phone available!
Since I already have been including superfoods in my diet for a long time - I thought I would share my favourite super smoothie recipe with you!
Chocolaty Super Food Smoothie!
1-2 cups almond milk
1-2 scoops of sunwarrior chocolate rice protein powder
2 tablespoons goji berries
1 tablespoon raw cacao or cacao nibs
1 tablespoon hempseeds
1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter
1 frozen banana
1 tsp maca powder
1 tsp cinnamon
Place all ingredients in blender or vita-mix and blend until smooth and creamy!
Thursday, August 20, 2009
If you want to see your dog thrive and live a long healthy life - make sure to feed him or her the best quality organic foods. There are actually some great dried food mixes on the market that are made from 100% organic ingredients - so look out for them or ask at your local pet food store.
Or if you really want to take control and responsibility for your pet's diet - you can go the length and make them muffins!
Here is the recipe I make for my dog Casey
Casey's Organic Muffins
5 cups of Canine Life - gluten free flour mix
1 organic red apple, chopped
2 carrots, shredded
1 large handful of green beans, chopped
1 lb. organic ground chicken
1 organic egg
1/2 cup organic sunflower oil
1-2 cups filtered water
1 cup blueberries
1. Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl.
2. Stir well to combine everything.
3. Place in muffin tray and bake for 20-30 minutes until they have hardened up.
4. Take one muffin out to let it cool and give to your dog right away - because he will have been hovering around the oven for the last half hour licking his lips!
Sunday, August 9, 2009
After just coming back from vacation to Scottsdale Arizona, a common landing spot for the Wasserman family - I was more impressed this time than ever before. I have been travelling here with my family for years. The first few years - most meals were centered around your standard American chain restaurants ( Cheesecake Factory, Houston's, P.F Changs) as the years passed and as my palate became more refined (and discriminating) I have had a yearning for more sophisticated and health based options - which Arizona clearly lacked. Luckily we have a "place" ( or a second home) down there and I have the ability now to stock up on my favourite groceries from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's which usually takes care of breakfast and lunches for me but often dinner is out at a restaurant and now finally I had places to go! So after much research online and just merely keeping my eyes open my family and I have now found more places to eat here than I have ever imagined. An amazing restaurant called True Food Kitchen - has become a new favourite. It is a restaurant built on the foundation Dr. Andrew Weil's anti-inflammatory diet. "The dishes feature whole grains, omega-3 rich fish, organic fruits and vegetables, whole soy products and anti-inflammatory herbs and spices such as ginger and turmeric. The result: food that is delicious, satisfying, healthy and environmentally responsible." This makes me so happy and of course fully nourished! Then there were some other hidden gems along the way like Pizza Fusion a happy eco organic pizza place that has gluten free crust and goat cheese! So as you can see I was very well nourished while I was away!
So here are some quick tips to make sure you can be just as successful on your next vacation!
Things to bring with just in case you have limited resources:
- quick grab goodies like healthy snack bars (lara bars, pure bar etc..) trail mixes (raisins, almonds, goji berries, walnuts)
- organic whole grain crackers or spelt flatbread
- organic dark chocolate bar
- a loaf of spelt or kamut bread or gluten free bread or rice cakes
- a jar of almond butter or now you can get them in little squeeze packs
- dried fruit (mango, apple, pear slices)
- seaweed (nori, dulse)
- rolled oats so that you can make them anywhere ( you may want to bring some cinnamon too!)
- a bag or box of spelt, kamut or brown ricepasta (this can really come in handy)
*** For the record - if you know you are going to be somewhere where you don't have many options on the menu and you have the guts to do so, bring in your own pasta - ask the head chef to make it for you and just add some tomato sauce or olive oil, order some steamed veggies and voila you have your very own healthy pasta dish! ( I did this while in Scottsdale, at a family dinner at a hotel - the only options for me were cheese layered lasagna or white pasta with tomato sauce - neither would satisfy - so I worked a little magic and instead of sitting there starving - I had an amazing dinner!)
Or if you are in big city (Vancouver, Montreal, New York, L.A, Chicago, Miami) be sure to:
- check out web resources such as happy cow or you may find a local website that has listing of local restaurants
- go to any health food store (such as whole foods) and ask if they can recommend restaurants
- find areas in the city that cater to a healthy living lifestyle and you can ask there - also any yoga studio or spa may have some ideas for you
Don't be afraid to nourish yourself and ask questions as you may discover some amazing organic and friendly places where the food is delicious!
If you have any suggestions or other resources to share all readers please leave a comment below!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Have you ever just wanted to get away for a weekend to reconnect, rejuvenate and re-energize your whole being? Who doesn't? We often don't get the opportunity to take a mini vacation and escape to nature and explore what really matters in our life. We get so caught up in our busy day to day lives and don't take enough time for ourselves. Well I if I told you that I had an opportunity for you to break away for a weekend mini vacation- to restore your body and your mind - would you do it? ...I hope so!
Here's what I got - I am part of an amazing group of people -organized through Evergreen Adventures and together we are creating a healthy living weekend just for you. A weekend where you can connect with nature and participate in a whole range of activities that are geared towards rejuvenating and rewarding yourself, by bringing your soul back to life!
Can you think of a better way to spend 3 days at the end of the summer? This is for everyone and anyone who is interested experiencing a relaxing weekend that will guide you towards a path of healthy living!
This amazing weekend starts on Friday August 28- Sunday August 30th 2009
And this weekend includes...
4 yoga classes (active hatha and vinyasa flow)
2 interactive healthy living cooking classes (taught by me!)
lessons in canoeing and kayaking
tea tasting and so much more...
So come and experience the 150 acres beautiful waterfront Muskoka property and stay in our 5000 square foot lodge for a weekend of relaxation, fun, and worthwhile activities.
If you are interested in participating in the amazing weekend please click here or call 416.843.6421 or email firstname.lastname@example.org as spots are filling up fast!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Of course these are better than timbits, because timbits are not even food. So really there is no comparison.(For those of you that don't live in Canada - Timbits are donut holes!) I really should have titled this post "GREAT Balls of Bliss" - because the second you let one of these little gems break apart and melt into your mouth, there is no turning back-you are in bliss. But don't have too many or you will be left with a tummy ache. Each little ball is so power packed full of nutrition - that you only need one or two to satisfy that sweet tooth or give you that much needed burst of energy. Just in case you didn't know, timbits or donuts only do the opposite - they make you tired and sluggish - not to mention there isn't one useful calorie in a donut. As they are filled with empty calories - meaning they contain refined white flour and white sugar and usually some low quality oils. Just for the record each "Bliss" ball is loaded with calcium, protein, fibre, iron, b vitamins, healthy fats and give you long lasting energy and make you feel great! So why not make something that looks just like it, is better for you and has a taste that is out of this world? Really there is not reason not to!
These little guys are so easy to make that all you need a food processor and some basic ingredients. What is also so much fun about making these, is that they are simple and they are not baked or heated. You can also sub in other ingredients and get creative every time you make them. If you or your child has nut allergies, you can use a seed based butter instead of almond butter or just just use pureed dates or figs. You also have the option of putting in all kinds of super foods like goji berries, spirulina powder, raw cacao etc... or you can just keep it to the basics like I did.
Chocolate Coconut-Almond Bliss Balls
3/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup oat bran
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1 cup coconut flakes
1. Add nut butter, tahini, and maple syrup to a bowl or food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Add sesame seeds, cocoa powder, oat bran and quinoa flakes and blend until mixture becomes like dough.
3. Scrape down sides of food processor as necessary. Spread coconut on a plate.
4. Rolled mixture into 1-inch balls and rolls in shredded coconut.
5. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.
So to build a compost - whether you have the luxury of a loved one in your family to build one for you :) or have to hire out help from a reliable resource, it is well worth your while - especially in this desperate and "smelly" time of need! Whether it is piling up in your backyard or down your street it has got to be decomposing somewhere and it may as well be on your own property! If you are using organic produce - which I hope you are if you are a reader of my blog then you know that I encourage you to buy only the best quality organic ingredients (especially fruits and veggies ) and in that case you will have the best quality- high nutrient soil that you garden will just soak up! When these ingredients break down...you will be on your way to some good sourced organic and high nutrient fertilizer.
Here are some tips on how to get started....
1. Location - select a level area for your bin with good water drainage. (partially shaded is best, and keep away from walls and fences, bushes, plants and openings of your home).
2. Before you place your bin on the ground, loosen the soil so it is sitting in teh dirt.
3. Once your bin is in place, put a layer of dead plants.
4. 3 STEP SYSTEM: a) Materials (use equal parts of Green and Brown Materials)- see below. Start with browns first, then add a layer of greens. Top greens with layer of soil or finished with compost. b) Moisture: keep your pile as damp as possible c) Air: add air to you pile every 2-3 weeks. Poke holes through the pile with a garden fork.
What to compost:
- grass clippings, flowers, green plant trimmings and newly fallen leaves
-fruit and vegetable peelings
-coffee, tea or fruit or vegetable juice
-grain or pasta products (no sauces or butter)
-dried grass clipping and dried leaves
-small amounts of woodchips
-thin layers of hardwood ash and sawdust
What NOT to Compost:
-peanut butter or oil based products
-fish, meat, bones, fat
-bbq charcoal or ash
-diseased or infested plants
-weeds with mature seeds
-treated wood products
-animal or human waste
I hope this gives you some insight and inspiration to get COMPOSTING!!
Monday, July 20, 2009
It's always good to stir things up every now and then. Whether it is in a salad bowl, a pot of soup, a blender or a wok - it is easy to make a nutritious meal out of a combination of great ingredients. As simple as it is to make a stir fry, I find that often people are very intimidated to "stir" things up in their own kitchen. I often get asked by my clients or participants at workshops and even in my cooking classes - "what do I put into a stir fry? how many veggies can I use? what type of protein should I use? how do I make a "healthy" Teriyaki sauce?" These are all great questions, but it is much easier than people think to make a great stir-fry. I just tell people to just get creative and have fun! What you need to get started is a wok or a large stainless steel pan. I use Titanium cookware for my pots, pans and woks- they are great quality, conduct the best heat, non coated and rarely get burned or have stuff stuck to them - so in essence perfect for a stir fry! Once you have that all set, get your stove top turned up to high heat, throw a little grapeseed oil or coconut oil in the pan (two great oils for high heat cooking) and start stirring. You need to be quick, small movements, always keep the veggies moving. Don't ever let them stay in one spot for too long. You want to cook them, but just a little - a really good stir fry will have crisp, tender and colourful veggies - that are just lightly cooked. There is nothing worse then a wilted brown, dark and soggy stir fry!
What I love about making stir fry's - is that you can get as creative as you want and just throw anything in there. You can make a different combination every time! So there really should be no stress about choosing the right vegetables. For starters it is always good to have some onions, celery and carrots, they provide a great base. Then go crazy with anything like kale, broccoli, bok choy, peppers, bean sprouts, snap peas, green beans to zucchini and even eggplant. For my delicious bowl of goodness (photo above) this week I grabbed a whole bunch of fresh veggies from my garden (kale, carrots, broccoli, snap peas) added some purple cabbage and combined them with marinated Tempeh, Spelt/Buckwheat Soba Noodles and a simple "Teriyaki" sauce (you can just make some extra sauce and use that to marinate the tempeh).
Then I topped it with homemade sprouted mung beans. This just added a little extra boost of protein and raw enzymes to my meal to keep it fresh, light and crunchy!
So next time you want to stir things up, don't be afraid! Grab some veggies, cook up some buckwheat noodles or brown rice, top it with marinated tempeh (or tofu, organic chicken, wild fish) for a change, and you will have yourself a nutritious and satisfying dinner!
Simple Teriyaki Sauce:
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup tamari
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of chopped ginger
juice of one orange
1-2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
Friday, July 10, 2009
So I was in New York for a fabulously beautiful 4th of July weekend. The weather was perfect and I got to visit and stay with a great friend from the culinary school I went to last year - The Natural Gourmet. I literally took advantage of the weekend and lived it up with some really good food.
It all started with an amazing lunch at One Lucky Duck- an incredible little vegan cafe that has the best salads, smoothies, juices and tasty desserts. It is the takeout and more casually version of the restaurant Pure Food and Wine which I will get to later in this post. I had the most amazing salad, filled with greens, hemp seeds, avocado and their amazing rosemary almond crackers and sweet miso dressing. I also ordered their amazing lemonade (ginger+lemon+agave and sea salt)
Then we took a walk down to the east village for some much anticipating vegan "ice cream". This little place called STOGO has it all! A variety of different flavours and toppings- all vegan - Yup that means no dairy, sugar or other hidden junk like artificial binders, food colouring and hydrogenated fats!
I ordered simple for my first trip there, as I really just wanted to taste the pureness of the ice cream - so I landed with coconut- chocolate and my friend has coconut vanilla bean! They were both amazing! If you live in NY or are going there soon, please drop by and have a treat!
We were a little unsure of what to have for dinner that night because we saw an off-Broadway show around dinner time Fuerza Bruta (crazy!). So we opted for late meal.Which generally I don't like to do, but when on vacation in New York - you've got to give somewhere! We landed at this little place called Hummus Kitchen - where they make hummus from organic chickpeas. It really was the best Hummus in NYC!! Now because I don't eat wheat - that means no white or whole wheat pita bread - I went to Whole Foods beforehand and grabbed a bag of spelt wraps. (Yes I bring my own food into restaurants!) That way I can enjoy the whole meal!!
So on Saturday July 4th - we headed to Brooklyn. Didn't really spend too much time there back when I lived in New York - so it was nice to go back. It is like Manhatten but simpler, more spread out and there is some green there- meaning lots of trees! (Actually they are also very GREEN as well, lots of amazing little eco shops!)
So we went to this little veg place in Brooklyn called the V Spot - and I had the most delicious open faced corn tortilla with black beans, kale and avocado! It was soo good and so simple! I have got to make these more often at home!
For dinner, I had the extreme pleasure of being invited over to one of my chef teachers from the natural gourmet's home. I have to say that we cooked up a meal (more like a feast) that was better than anything you would find at any vegetarian restaurant! Herb infused red quinoa, roasted yams, braised tempeh, sauteed rainbow chard and asparagus and a local greens salad with a homemade lemon vanilla vinaigrette and a peach berry crumble for dessert with coconut "ice cream"! Again, so simple and so delicious!
The next morning we were still so full - from the meal that all we could handle for breakfast was a giant green juice! Lunch, we ate in central park - just packed up a couple of spelt wraps filled with hummus, veggies and sprouts and we were good to go!
Now dinner was the absolute highlight of the trip. We dined at Pure Food and Wine where I not only did a one month internship following the chef training progam at NGI, but it is also the sexiest, most delicious raw vegan food you will ever eat. The plates are gorgeous, the portions are good and they are extremely creative! For an appetizer we had king oyster mushrooms topped with cashew cheese and black garlic with baby greens. The main courses looked so good at first glance-that I only noticed after the meal, that I forgot to take pictures!
One always knows to save room at Pure Food as their desserts are truly like no other. They have the absolute best "ice cream" made from cashew milk. It is so creamy and rich, that I promise you wouldn't notice a difference. The only difference you would notice is that your stomach isn't gurgling and that there isn't a sugary/milky coating left in your mouth!
I had my all time favourite - the chocolate chip mint sundae and my friend had an Indian spiced sampler plate!
As you can see, I ate very well in New York. It is hard not to with so many amazing restaurants. Even on my last day there, I spoiled myself all over again and went to Quintessence, back to Stogo, back to One Lucky Duck and then to the Union Square green market to take home some goodies!
So if you haven't been to New York yet, I encourage you to go, get some culinary inspiration or at least just infuse your palate with some originality and unique tastes. For me it is a treat, it just makes me that much more eager to create some new innovative dishes!
So get out there and hit those streEATS of New York and treat yourself!!
Improve Peach Berry Crisp!
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
pinch of sea salt
1/2 cup each blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries
2 tbsp lemon juice
1. mix topping ingredients in a bowl, set aside
2. slice up the peaches and nectarines and toss in a bowl with berries, lemon juice and cinnamon
3. place the fruit in a large baking dish, top with oat crumble - until evenly distributed
4. bake at 350 F for about an hour
Serve with vanilla coconut ice cream!
Saturday, June 27, 2009
There really is nothing better than produce shopping in your own backyard!
I have always been able to maintain a simple garden consisting of tomatoes, cucumbers, kale and green beans. By maintain, I mean drop the seeds and hope for the best! This year I decided to take it to the next level. Because I have a the farthest thing from a green thumb, I had to hire in help for this task, an organic farmer. He came at the beginning of the season to get my soil turned over with organic goodness and now he comes by to plant things in their proper places - because now I know there is a proper place for every little seedling and they can't just go anywhere.
I am also learning that there is a timeline involved with everything, and that all things will grow in cycles. I am also learning that little critters, bugs and animals like to feast on my organic buffet in the backyard - I guess it's because it all just tastes so good! But honestly it's not fair that they get to dive in before I do - and they usually eat the best parts! But there are ways around this - like building a mesh mini green house to keep the animals away. As for the little critters, cayenne pepper in a water bottle seems to help a bit. However, I am open to more suggestions, if you know of some other ways I can get the bugs off my chard, kale and lettuce - please let me know and leave a comment!!
So far this season I have been seduced with radishes, spinach and some other greens (which I am going to have all season) this includes everything from salad greens to kale, chard, collards, broccoli and arugula. I also have some berry bushes planted that will yield strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and blackberries. In the later part of the summer I will have carrots, beets, fennel onions - I will take more pictures at that time. I also have a beautiful little box of fresh herbs like oregano, lavender, sage, thyme and rosemary.
So if you are considering having your own garden please go through with it, hire some help or at the very least just get some seeds or herb plants and plant them yourself. You can usually get a hold of this stuff at your local farmers market. There is nothing better than walking out to your own "garden of eatin' and picking your own produce.
Having my own organic garden has made my weekly produce shopping extremely easy. It also provides me with enough veggies for my morning juice - without any worry that I am running out of greens. But the best part is that I get to use some of this wonderful organic and very local produce in my cooking classes. The participants really enjoy this as there is nothing better than eating salad that is picked that same day. If you want to experience this, then you are just going to have to come to a class to find out!
Veggie Delight Salad:
2-3 handfuls fresh arugula, baby greens or spinach
4 radishes, thinly sliced
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
2 carrots, shredded
1/4 of a beet, shredded
2 tablespoons hemp seeds
1/2 cup olive oil or Vega's EFA Oil Blend
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2-3 tablespoons agave nectar
1 heaping tablespoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Well I am pretty much on that path already...to make a change that is. The focus of my business and my whole philosophy is stemmed around wholesome and organic foods. Not only the foods themselves but the impact that these foods have on our everyday health and well being. So to reinforce my immense passion for food, I went to go see an advanced screening of FOOD INC. last night. I was invited to join Lisa Borden of Borden Communications to view this life changing film about the industry of food. You will also have a chance to go and see it this Friday June 19th in select theaters around Toronto.
I was all excited and expecting to run into some other nutrition junkies and other health focused/ like minded people- but instead I was shocked to see that the theater was filled with people who most likely didn't know anything about the film - which was actually a good thing in the end. I was even more shocked at the fact that more than 80% of these individuals were stocked up on bags full of popcorn of the worst kind (made with genetically modified corn, loaded with hydrogenated oils and butter and low quality salt), liquid sugared sodas and candy. Well maybe I am not that shocked, as this is common. People go to the movies and order popcorn...right?
Well if we were to look that majority of people, whether it is in Toronto or North America for that matter - this is the mainstream, and these are the individuals who need to make these changes and understand where their packaged, processed and fast food is actually coming from. For that reason alone it should not have been a theater full of people like me who are already converted and sold on the power and healing potential of whole foods!
So of course, I felt sorry for anyone who was snacking on popcorn and candy during the movie - as they would have learned very quickly where their buttery kernels actually came from and that High Fructose Corn Syrup was the basis of their coca-cola and junior mints. This extracted and concentrated syrup made from corn as you will learn from the film leads to all kinds problems like obesity, diabetes and heart disease.
On a more positive note, I truly hope that these individuals where awakened, enlightened or at least ready to make some changes in their daily food choices. Honestly after seeing this film I don't know how you couldn't. Whether you are an omnivore, vegetarian or vegan. There is something for everyone to learn.
Even though I consider myself fairly informed of most of the issues in the modern food industry, I have to say that I my eyes were even opened to some of the disturbing political issues around food and the meat industry. This of course left me frustrated, depressed and angry at all the information that was presented in this film.
To be honest though -all of this actually fueled my fire and confirmed my passion to continue to inspire individuals to make healthy choices around food. Through my ongoing workshops, seminars, cooking classes and of course my blog - I strive to educate people on how they can make changes everyday by simply making healthier and more natural food choices. These changes can be as simple as buying more organic fruit, vegetables, meat, dairy or adopting a more plant based diet and of course buying local, buying seasonal, or planting your own garden...as you will see, these are some of the tips at the end of the film! Go and find out for yourself what FOOD INC is all about. If you can't get to it...wait, as I will be hosting a screening and a discussion in the fall!
In the meantime you can TAKE PART and start to make a change!
Thursday, June 11, 2009
How does one bring a Rainbow into their kitchen you ask - all you need is a wide variety of colourful fruits and vegetables - and there you have it - a rainbow in your kitchen!
This week's "Taste the Rainbow" cooking class was themed around the colourful veggies. I couldn't help but inspire others to learn how to make meals that are bursting full of vibrant colour and of course delicious flavours - as this is how I eat on daily basis.
We made so many colourfully healthy recipes that even a child who believes that the only rainbow in your kitchen comes from a box of lucky charms - would have been impressed!
The good news is that with colourful foods - from nature and not a box - you are not only getting something that is beautiful on your plate - but you are loading your body up full of antioxidants, vitamins and essential minerals. In each colour category: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple - you are providing your body with separate and very different elements of something called phytochemicals. These little guys help to protect us from diseases and keep our immune system strong. So make sure to EAT YOUR COLOURS!
Some highLIGHTS on the menu in last nights class included- mango rice paper wraps, cabbage, carrot, beet slaw, sauteed swiss chard, wild rice with oranges and cranberries and a wild blueberry tart (with a gluten free crust of course!)
So tonight - to keep up with the rainbow theme my good friend came over a for a night of creation. We do this every once in a while - get together and cook up a storm of delicious and of course colourful recipes. Just because it was rainy outside didn't mean that we had to settle for anything less than a delicious meal - even without the sunshine we brought a rainbow into the kitchen. In fact we even called our meal the "veggie-Q" our version of a typical BBQ - rain or shine the rainbow was on our plates!
Since the slaw salad was such a hit last night - I really wanted to make it again - and what is a "veggie- Q" without a good slaw salad? Of course there had to be burgers and fries thrown into the mix - so we made flax - almond burgers, served in a collard wrap with a pesto made from fresh basil and arugula from my garden, and yam "fries" baked in the oven on a low temp with coconut oil, pumpkin seeds, garlic and oregano (Inspired by Brenden Brazier's Thrive Diet).
For a sweet and colourful ending to this meal, what better than a bowl of ice cream - yup you got it - vegan creamy goodness made from coconut milk, banana's and mango and topped with sprouted buckwheat, blueberry compote and cacao nibs - can you say YUM!!!
Once again - I leave it to you to get creative and have fun. There are a whole slew of colourful veggies out there - take advantage of them, have some fun and bring the rainbow into your kitchen this summer with this colourful recipe!
Carrot, Cabbage and Beet Slaw
1 savoy or nappa cabbage, shredded
2 ½ cups grated beet (approx. 2 beets)
2 cups grated carrots (approx. 4 carrots)
1 fennel (optional)
1 green apple (optional)
5 Radishes (optional)
½ cup olive oil
¼ cup apple cider vinegar
1/3- ¼ cup agave syrup
1 ½ Tbs. fresh lemon juice
½ tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
1. Shred beets and carrots (fennel and apple) using a food processor
2. Chop cabbage into long shreds or shred in food processor.
3. Mix the dressing and toss over cabbage mixture and let it sit and marinate for 1 hour before serving.
Thursday, June 4, 2009
So it's after 10 pm...and I should be settling down, getting ready for bed - but I can't. Not because I am stressed, not because I have so much to do, but because I am fueled full of living and raw foods - as I just finished (not more than a half hour ago) my Raw and Ripe Cooking Class (although no "cooking" actually took place).
Since it was a Raw class, we just prepared all the meals. Delicious meals created from recipes that are based on sprouted nuts, seeds, fruits, vegetables, spices, fresh herbs, sea vegetables, pressed oils and a few other little goodies like dates, sea salt, tamari, cider vinegar etc...
But the reason why I am so awake and feeling so alive right now...is because these foods are living. Living means they are full of enzymes. When you soak and sprout nuts and seeds, beans etc.. you are activating all of it's nutritive potential - so in your body it can't help but do the same thing! Also when you eat raw fruits and veggies which are also full of enzymes -your body has to do less work to break them down, leaving bundles of energy readily available. I have to admit, I also get a bit of an adrenaline rush after all of my classes - they are so much fun and there is always such great energy throughout my kitchen that I can't help but feel energized at the end of the night!
Okay enough rambling and back to raw foods...I am by no means " a raw foodie" or "100 % raw" in fact, I believe in a very balanced approach to food and raw food being a huge component! Especially this time of year, it is very easy to "prepare" most of my foods as opposed to cooking them. Eating a "gourmet" raw meal like we did tonight in the class - takes a bit more thought and planning than just a salad or smoothie but still easy enough that anyone can do it (even without fancy equipment).
However, once it's complete and you have created a whole raw meal from zucchini noodles, fennel, carrot and beet slaw, cold avocado cucumber-coconut soup, almond basil pesto and the list goes on you will be feeling really proud of yourself and not to mention revived and alive!
It is common for most people to feel intimidated when it comes to raw food, and raw food prep. But the focus of tonight's class was on how to make raw foods simple and a apart of your everyday life without too much time and effort. You can make anything from "pasta" made from zucchini noodles (in your food processor) with an almond pesto, to "pizza" made from sprouted (Ezekiel) crust with sun dried tomato paste and cashew ricotta cheese to, nori rolls to an apple pie that wasn't even baked!
Have a look!
Yes, this may require a tad of planning. But all in all, preparing raw food can be simple, delicious and energizing!
Try this for starters....
Sun Seed Nori Rolls
1 cup sunflower seeds soaked 10-12 hours
1 cup almonds soaked 10-12 hours
1 ½ tablespoons dill, fresh and minced
1 tablespoon oregano fresh and minced
1 teaspoon sage, fresh and minced
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon tamari
1 tablespoon kelp or dulse granules
½ tablespoon Celtic sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup celery minced
1/3 cup red onion minced
Mix almonds and sunflower seeds, hand mix in remaining ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Serve by itself or wrapped in nori with veggies (cucumber, lettuce, carrots, sprouts) or with flatbread, raw crackers or on top of a salad!
Also have a look at some of these resources to read more about the benefits of Raw Food.
Raw Food Life
Raw Food Diet
Raw Food Research
Raw Food and Energy Gains
Raw Food vs. Cooked Food
Friday, May 29, 2009
So I used beans as the first example, because this was my lovely appetizer of my "Calci-Yum" cooking class last night. The theme was based around non-dairy sources of calcium that are supportive to your bones and long term health. I also wanted to highlight the cute little radish on top - because it was grown in my very own backyard organic garden - which is so very exciting.
My garden has yet to provide me with an array of wholesome organic veggies that will become the foundation of my cooking class recipes over the summer months - it doesn't get more local than that! So make sure to come to a cooking class, enjoy the recipes and check my garden out. (check back soon, as I will be writing about my organic garden in a few weeks!)
Okay, now back to calcium rich foods and recipes that were prepared last night. For starters calcium can be found in a slew of foods that usually would not come to mind for the average person. They are found in green veggies (tall dark leafy ones like: kale, collards, beet greens, chard, bok choy, spinach), nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sesame and sunflower seeds), soy products like tempeh, miso and tofu (organic of course), carob powder, sea vegetables, tahini, avocados and quinoa. That is just a taste as these items were the foundation of the delicious menu last night, which included: Mixed Bean Salad, Arame Pomegranate Orange Salad, Steamed Greens with Scallion "Butter", Maple Marinated Tempeh, Roasted Root Veggies with Cinnamon Glaze, Red Quinoa with Broccoli and Pinenuts and Carob-Fig Frozen Fudge for dessert. Now that is what I call a healthy, calcium rich and balanced meal!
To top the night off, I had the wonderful distributors, Linda and Dale of Natural Calm (natural magnesium) attend my class last night. Which was the perfect compliment to the class. What good is calcium in the body without magnesium? Calcium absolutely needs magnesium to be assimilated into the body. For more information on the benefits of magnesium please read this page.
Learning about healthy plant sources of calcium and the power of magnesium and their natural abilities to protect, heal and support the body made for a wonderful, delicious and informative evening.
To complete this post, I will give you the recipe to make a nutritious bean salad of your own. This is a great recipes to have on hand for simple lunches, a great snack, a side dish for a dinner party or a morning brunch.
Zesty Three Bean Salad with Fresh Mint
1 can each eden canned organic black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans (you can also soak and cook all of your beans)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½-1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ extra virgin olive oil
3 red radishes, small dice
3 scallions, minced
¼ cup parsley, minced
¼ cup fresh mint, minced
1. Rinse and drain beans in a colander until all the residue and foam is rinsed off.
2. Strain any excess water and pour beans into a large bowl.
4. Whisk together the next five ingredients and pour over beans.
5. Then toss together with radishes and fresh herbs.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
A little background on pH:
Your body is measured on a scale of “potential hydrogen” or pH. When your pH level is low (1-6 on pH scale) your body is considered to be in an acidic state. When your pH levels are high (8-14 on pH scale) your body is considered to be more alkaline. In order to reach an optimum pH level that is considered "healthy" or neutral – you want your pH levels to be around 7.
What causes high acid levels:
- stress, tension
- poor sleep habits
- environmental toxins
- household chemicals and cleaners
- red meat or a high protein diet
- processed foods and refined carbohydrates
- eating to few fruits and vegetables
What does an acidic state lead to:
- low energy
- poor health
- weight gain
- bladder infections
- kidney stones
- infections (weak immune system)
- poor skin, hair and nails
- poor concentration
- mood swings
Choosing an Alkaline based diet means:
- drinking more filtered water daily (have 1-2 glasses of lemon water every morning: 1 wedge of lemon squeezed into warm water)
- consuming more fruits and vegetables ( juices, smoothies, whole fruits and whole vegetables)
- drinking herbal teas
- eating a more plant based diet
- eating whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, cold pressed vegetable oils, avocados
What lifestyle habits can help:
- going to bed at a regular time
- eating breakfast everyday
- clearing your environment or your home of toxic chemicals
- taking deep breaths (belly breathing)
- having warm baths with Epsom salts and essential oils like lavender, mint, eucalyptus or lemon
- taking time to walk outside and enjoy nature
- taking time for yourself (journaling, reading, singing, yoga, pilates...whatever makes you happy!)
As you can see there are so many things that YOU can do to counteract high acid levels in your body. When it comes to diet especially, it is extremely important to make the right choices and choose foods that contribute to a more alkaline state (which means for the most part a plant based diet). That does not mean that you can't eat any foods that are considered acidic (even grains and nuts are considered to be acidic)- it just means that for the most part you should focus on consuming more raw or steamed green veggies, big colourful salads, fresh raw, ripe organic fruits, smoothies, juices etc...!
So here is a simple recipe to get you going!
Green Beans Almondine
1 cup of water
1 cup almonds, chopped (and lightly toasted or raw)
2 lbs. organic green beans, ends trimmed, and strings removed
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp grapeseed or olive oil
1 Tablespoon Bragg’s or Tamari
1 T. toasted sesame oil
1. Place the green beans in a large steamer basket and steam for 3-5 minutes or until tender - but still crispy. Place under cool running water to halt the cooking and maintain a bright green colour. Transfer the steamed green beans to a large bowl.
2. Season the green beans to taste with salt and pepper, toss gently, and set aside.
3. In a non-stick skillet, warm the olive oil or grapeseed on medium heat and add the green beans and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the tamari and sesame oil.
4. Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir well to combine. Sprinkle the toasted or raw almonds over the green beans and toss well to thoroughly coat the beans with the mixture.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
What does it mean to become a green goddess you ask...well let me tell you!
I had four lovely goddesses join in on my "GREEN GODDESS" cooking class last night. We teamed up and cooked up a storm of delicious and nutritious green dominant recipes. It was a great night, everyone learned about different greens and how to use them in simple and tasty recipes.
If you are not yet acquainted with the array of greens that exist, I am going to give you a bit of an introduction and some reasoning behind why consuming green veggies on a daily basis is absolutely crucial to your health and well being. That way you can also learn how to make delicious recipes and become a green goddess in the kitchen!
Here are some reasons why you need to consume greens everyday...
- Greens are cleansing, they are alkaline forming, purify your liver and aid in detoxification
- Greens regulate bowel movements and clean out the intestine and prevent constipation
- Greens provide good amounts of calcium, protein, magnesium, zinc and antioxidants that are essential to good health such as vitamin c, magnesium, folic acid and beta carotene
- Greens give you boundless amounts of energy – just try it! Start your day with a fresh pressed vegetable juice and you will see the amount of abundant energy you have for the rest of the day
- A healthy intake of green leafy vegetables reduces your cravings for sugar (and help to regulate blood sugar), fried foods and processed foods, coffee and alcohol
- Greens are and excellent source of fibre
- Greens remove toxins from the body and bloodstream and prevent diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer- greens are excellent to consume as part of cancer therapy and treatment!
- Greens strengthen the immune system for overall health
- Just remember that a meal isn’t a meal without a portion of greens, just make sure that you are getting in your daily dose
There are many ways to incorporate greens into your life and become your own Green Goddess- I have even mentioned a few options before in previous blog posts - such as juicing or masking them in smoothies (for the fussy ones)!
Otherwise- a simple salad will do - but make sure to use dark greens such as arugula, spinach, spring mix or romaine. You can also steam, saute, braise or stir fry greens such as kale, collards, bok choy, green beans, broccoli, swiss chard, beet greens the list goes on. Just be sure not to overcook them or you will loose their precious nutrients. A great resource for getting started and learning about the different greens that exist out there and how to prepare them - is a book called "Greens Glorious Greens" by Johnna Albi & Catherine Walthers. They introduce greens in a fabulous way that is not intimidating but rather encouraging and exciting! In the meantime...here is a simple recipe to get your inner green goddess going:
Green Goddess Salad Dressing
1-3 cups of mixed salad greens (arugula, baby spinach, spring mix)
1 medium avocado
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 cup cold pressed sunflower oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp rice syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch cayenne
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/8 cup parsley
1/8 cup green onion
1/4 cup spinach
Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, scoop the flesh into the blender, add everything else and blend very thoroughly- until you have creamy and thick dressing.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Juicing is key to vitality and an overall sense of well being. It is even a great part of a good cleansing regime. Juices are a great addition to any diet. Even if it is just as simple as apple juice...I am encouraging you to make them!
You can go as basic as you would like with juicers, they range in price from $150 - $500. So pick and choose what works for your lifestyle and your budget. But remember, the more expensive juicers give you more juice and more nutrients and enzymes. (This is due to the way the juice is extracted from the vegetables.)
Check out online resources and other places in your area that may sell juicers and ask around to other people you may know - which juicer they use and if they like it!
If you are not ready for a juicer yet...
At the very least start your day by making a cup of lemon juice! You don't even need a juicer for that! Squeeze a half of a lemon into some warm or cool water and drink on an empty stomach.
Another excellent way to cleanse your body (and flush your kidneys) and get your metabolism going for the day.
If you have a blender or a vita-mix you can make all kinds of concoctions and pour your juice through a sieve and capture all the pulp - or you can make a vegetable smoothie with the pulp (see the Simply Smooth posting below!)
But if you do get a juicer and you want a recipe to crack in your new toy...here it is!
Revitalizing (Salad) Juice
I call this a salad juice because instead of making a salad for lunch you can juice it! But don't do this all the time as you don't get any of the beneficial fibre from the vegetables. This is a great recipe for days when you don't really feel like eating or when you are cleansing!
Handful of Sunflower sprouts
2 small (really small) Beets
1 or 2 apples (Granny smith work nice)
2 stalks of Celery
1 inch piece of Ginger
handful of Collard green or kale
small handful of Romaine lettuce
Place everything into you juicer according to instructions....best to do one vegetable at a time and finish off with lemons because it cleans the juicer at the end!
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Making up a blended batch of smooth and creamy goodness is just the absolute simplest and best way to get whole food nutrition in, extremely fast!
Creating a daily smoothie is an amazing first step in taking charge of your health. It is an easy way to digest a whole slew of vitamins and minerals - along with complex carbohydrates, protein and essential fats all in one shot! Especially if you are pressed for time in the morning, a smoothie to take with you on the go is the best thing you can do for your body and your energy. Just make sure you don't add too many ingredients or you will be left with a stomach ache and a really high calorie drink!
Smoothies are also a great way to sneak in some green veggies or powders that you may not be inclined to take with water alone - at least with a smoothie you can mask the earthy or bitter flavour (which I happen to like!). This means you can even add a bunch of spinach, collards or kale into your blueberry banana morning smoothie. Go figure! It really is that easy. That way you can at least say that you got your dose of greens in for the day!
So let me help you out and get your started with a few ideas and recipes to get some liquid nutrition running through your body.
It is important to make a smoothie that compliments what you are looking for or what your body needs - if it is a breakfast smoothie you may want just fruits, or maybe add some sheep's yogurt, soy yogurt or coconut oil, rice milk and honey/agave or if it's a post workout smoothie - you want a higher protein content from a plant based protein powder such as Vega, Hemp or Sun Warrior (my newly discovered RAW and VEGAN brown rice based powder that is incredibly high in protein - easy to absorb and delicious!).
Or maybe your smoothie is just for a snack in the middle of the afternoon in which case you can use some cacao or carob powder, banana, almond butter, coconut oil and cinnamon to hit that sweet craving and replenish your energy for the rest of the day!
Other than that here are some more ideas to get you started...
All you need is a good blender or if you want to take it to the next level...a Vita Mix - which is the goddess of all blenders. It is a high powered machine that will emulsify all of your ingredients into the perfect blend of whatever you put into it!
So let's start simple.
First off - make sure you are using high quality organic fruits and vegetables. You can pick anything under the sun that makes you feel good.
Fruits: Banana, Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Mango, Pineapple, Coconut, Kiwi, Peaches, Apple, Pear, Grapes, Acai
Vegetables (sometimes it is better to juice your veggies first and use the juice as the base of a smoothie): Carrots, Celery, Kale, Collards, Beets, Spinach - if you want all green you can just use a veggie juice base and add green vegetables, an avocado and spirulina ( I call this the liquid lunch smoothie!)
Green Supplements: Kelp, Spirulina, Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Smoothie Infusion (Vega), Vitamineral Green, Nu Greens, Progressive Greens
Protein: Vega, Hemp, Rice Protein , Sun Warrior, Hemp Seeds, Almonds or Almond Butter, Sheep's Milk Yogurt
Liquid: Filtered water, 100% Fruit juice, Rice milk, Almond milk, Hemp milk, Coconut milk
Sweeteners: Agave nectar, Honey, Maple syrup, Stevia, Dates or Figs
Healthy Fats: Flax oil, Flaxseeds, Coconut oil, Coconut shreds, Chia seeds, Avocado
Other: Carob powder, Cocoa powder, Cinnamon, Non GMO soy- lecithin, maca root, Green or red tea powder, Activated barley and the list goes on....
So here is a sample recipe to get you started....
Scrumptious Coco Shake (a perfect midday snack shake!)
2 Cups almond milk
2 scoops sun warrior chocolate protein powder + 1 tsp raw cacao powder (for extra chocolate)
1 tablespoon soy lecithin
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 tsp agave nectar (optional)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon
Place all ingredients in blend and blend on high speed for 1 minute. Pour into two glasses and drink immediately!
And this is my typical Breakfast:
Berry Blast Smoothie
1 1/2 cup rice milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries or 1 packet of Acai Pulp
1/2 frozen banana
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 tablespoon soy lecithin
1 scoop of vega's smoothie infusion
1 tablespoon sprouted chia/flax
dash of cinnamon
Place all ingredients in blend and blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes. Pour into one or two glasses and drink immediately with a glass straw if preferred!
Monday, April 13, 2009
Hemp is actually becoming quite popular these days. It has a nutritional value that is off the charts. Let me tell you why...
Hemp is an extremely nutrient rich whole food. It is also one of the purest sources of raw plant based proteins. As a plant, this means that hemp is also extremely alkaline forming unlike many other proteins that come from meat, fish, eggs or whey which can be acidic to the body overtime. So for athletes and busy/active people, hemp is an amazing form of sustaining and nourishing energy. The protein present in hemp is also complete -containing all 10 essential amino acids which makes it ideal for vegetarians, vegans or anyone seeking an alternative source of protein. Hemp also contains balanced healthy fats - both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids. This makes hemp an excellent natural anti-inflammatory as well as providing the body with healthy oils for skin, hair and nails. If this isn't enough already... hemp is also easy to digest (because it contains it's own natural enzymes), contains a high levels of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, fibre and chlorophyll. So if this isn't a superfood, I don't know what is!
There are so many ways that hemp can be consumed - whether it is as a seed (also know as hemp hearts), in a powder, as a flour or mixed in a blend- you can even by "hemp ice cream". There are many options to choose from for your first go at hemp!
I usually start my day off in the morning with a hemp smoothie. I use Vega's smoothie infusion, mixed with some organic fruit, rice milk and agave nectar. I sprinkle hemp seeds on salads or use them in baked or raw desserts and I use hemp flour to make delicious baked items like these high protein, low carb, gluten free loaves. They are hearty, filling and delicious. You can eat them in the morning or enjoy them after a good workout.
So if hemp is new to you, it may take some getting used to a gritty texture, nutty flavour and a greenish look. But it is worth it and your body with thank you for it in the end!
Hemp Coconut Mini Loaves
1 cup hemp flour (Hempola Brand)
1 cup coconut flour or coconut meal
1 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder
1 organic egg or 1 tablespoon ground flax + 3 tablespoons water for vegan option
1/2 cup organic apple sauce or pureed apples
1/4 cup maple syrup
6 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1. Add oil, maple syrup, and salt to mashed banana and beat until well mixed.
2. Add egg or flax and vanilla and mix well.
3. Add remaining dry ingredients and nuts. Mix until just blended.
4. Pour into greased mini loaf pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes.
5. Allow to cool on baking rack.
Monday, April 6, 2009
Passover, the Jewish holiday celebrated this time of year is known for its traditional recipes and ingredients that have been used for centuries. The premise is to make savoury and sweet recipes that do not "rise". In this case, many families have become accustomed to purchasing either pre-packaged "kosher for passover" treats or making their own "unhealthy" desserts. In which case, many of the ingredients are either full of fat, sugar and other processed ingredients that are tasteless and unsatisfying - (not to mention the digestive back up that comes along them).
I want to assure you that you don't have to settle for bland desserts and cookies during Passover- there is another way!
All that is required is a little creativity and knowledge of what grains and alternative flours can be used and what other natural ingredients can be put together to make delicious treats that are not only comprised of butter, eggs, sugar and matzah!
So, I got a little crazy in the kitchen concocting all sorts of amazing passover cookie recipes. I wanted to prove to my own family that passover desserts can not only taste great, but also have some amazing nutritional properties (protein, fiber and heart healthy fats)!
I took some traditional cookie recipes and modified the ingredients by using almond flour, quinoa flour and amaranth flour as the main ingredients. (For the record these are not only kosher for passover, but are also gluten free!). Then I used natural sweeteners like agave nectar, maple syrup and brown rice syrup and oils such as grapeseed, organic canola or coconut oil and then some added in some fun ingredients like nuts and seeds, chocolate chips, coconut and naturally sweetened raspberry jam.
It is simple and may even save you some money to make your own treats this year! So enjoy and have a little fun in the kitchen. Then pass-over your own healthy and delicious cookies to everyone in your family!
Passover Friendly Jam Dot Cookies
1 cup almonds, ground to fine meal
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup amaranth flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup melted coconut oil, sunflower, canola oil
½ cup maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt
Raspberry or Apricot Jam
Preheat oven to 350, line 2 baking sheets with Parchment paper.
1. In medium bowl, combine almonds, both flours and cinnamon. Mix well to combine.
2. In separate bowl, blend oil, maple syrup, and sea salt. Add to nut mixture and stir to combine.
3. Roll into walnut sized balls. Place on baking sheet and press down with thumb.
4. Fill indentation with jam and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Despite what people might think, eating a gluten free diet is not limiting at all. In fact you can get more variety eating a gluten free diet than most people do eating their average diet. When people don't have any limitations, it is ironic, but that is when people tend to eat the same thing day in and day out. When one is restricted to a specific diet either for health reasons (allergies, intolerances, sensitivities or digestive problems) - it forces you to become more creative and add more variety to your everyday eating.
On Wednesday night at my "Gourmet and Gluten Free" cooking class, my participants learned just that. By incorporating gluten free foods in your diet you can have more variety, colour and balance then you ever would have dreamed. For example we made these delicious "Everything Cookies" (recipe below) that had just about everything in them - except for gluten! Based on the response - these cookies tasted better than anything they had ever expected. Also included in the menu was a creamy carrot ginger apple soup, a quinoa pilaf salad with cashews and cherries, a tofu vegetable stir fry with buckwheat soba noodles, black bean and yam burgers, a pesto sauce on brown rice penne pasta and guacamole with blue corn chips. As you can see, there is no lack of flavour, variety, colour and texture in this menu. Gluten free grains are also extremely high in protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals and best of all they don't make you bloated! You don't have to be intolerant to gluten to have this variety in your diet - just be creative and have fun.
A word on Gluten:
Gluten is the protein in wheat that many people nowadays have difficulty digesting. If someone is gluten intolerant, they are likely to have Celiac Disease. This can be an exteremly severe situation for some people as everyday digestion is compromised causing inflammation of the small intestine.
People who suffer from Celiac Disease need to stick to a gluten free diet indefinitely.
If someone is just simply sensitive to gluten containing foods it is important to stick to gluten free foods as much as possible to keep the gut lining nourished and soothed.
Examples of Gluten Free Grains:
Grains & Grain Products
GF Grains: amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, corn (cornmeal, corn grits), fava, flaxseed, garbanzo bean (chickpea, besan, gram or channa), hominy, hominy grits, kasha (toasted buckwheat), millet, pure uncontaminated oats, quinoa, rice, sago, tapioca
GF flours: bean flours (garbanzo, fava, romano), pure buckwheat flour, buckwheat bran, cornstarch, cornmeal, corn bran, garfava flour (garbanzo + fava bean flours), mesquite flour, quinoa flour, montina flour (made from Indian rice grass), nut flours and nut meals, pea flour, potato flour, potato starch, rice flour (white and brown), sorghum flour, soy (soya) flour, teff (or tef) flour
Breads and baked goods made with GF grains and free of other gluten-containing ingredients
Pastas made from rice, beans, corn, potato, quinoa, soy, wild rice and other GF grains
Cold cereals: puffed corn, amaranth, buckwheat, millet or rice, rice flakes and soy cereals
Hot cereals: hominy grits, soy grits, cream of buckwheat, cream of rice, puffed amaranth, rice flakes, quinoa flakes, soy flakes
Rice: brown, white, basmati, jasmine or wild rice
Grains: buckwheat, millet, amaranth, rice, corn, quinoa
Corn or rice tortillas
Everything (but gluten) Cookies
1/3 cup maple syrup or agave
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. almond butter
1/3 cup tahini
1 cup quinoa flakes
¼ cup puffed amaranth
¼ cup brown rice flour
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup ground flaxseeds
1/3 cup currents
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 2 large cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, honey, vanilla, almond butter and tahini.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour wet mixture over dry and stir to blend well.
4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared bake sheets.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Cookies will firm up as they cool.
Makes 20-24 cookies.