Healthy Treats, Snacks

Holiday Spice Energy Bites

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Here is a quick and easy recipe for those busy days during the holiday season. You can pop these into the kids lunches or your own. If there are nut allergies in your household or if your child goes to a school that is nut free, the almonds in this recipe can be substituted with a variation of seeds for a nut free version. These little bites are a great source of sustained energy. They won’t give you the quick energy that leaves you tired and hungry an hour later. For a time saver, make a couple batches and freeze ( they freeze well!). These don’t need to be limited to a snack, they can also be brought as a dessert/treat to your next holiday gathering! Fill up on a couple of these and you won’t want any of the other desserts or you might just be inclined to eat less of the unhealthy stuff.

Holiday Spice Energy Bites

Makes 22-24 energy bites

Ingredients:

1/2 cup  raw unsalted almonds

1/4 cup hemp hearts

1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds

3/4 cup pitted dates, packed

2 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp all spice

1/4-1/2 tsp ground ginger

pinch of cardamom ( optional)

pinch of nutmeg

2-3 drops of food grade pure orange oil/ extract ( optional) or 1 tsp grated orange peel

 

Instructions:

  1. Place almonds in a food processor and process for 5-10 seconds ( if your omitting almonds, skip this step)
  2. Add in the your seeds and process for 15 seconds
  3. Next, add in your dates, spice mix and vanilla. Process on high for 30 seconds or until mixture can form into a ball when scooped out.
  4. Scoop out about a rounded teaspoon full of the mixture and roll into a ball. You may need to wash your hands half way through as the mixture gets a little sticky.

 

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If you liked this recipe and are looking for more, feel free to sign up for updates on recipes like this one! ūüôā

Enjoy!

 

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Healthy Treats

Rich and Creamy Hot Chocolate

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As the temperature drops, we find ourselves craving more warm foods and drinks. Hot chocolate has long been a classic fall/winter drink, even before the ever popular pumpkin spiced latte made it’s way to the list of seasonal drinks. The problem with some of the store bought mixes or premade drinks, is that they are loaded with things that your body would be glad you didn’t give it. One of these being refined sugar…..obviously.

For example, here is a list of ingredients in one of the popular brands of hot chocolate………..

* Sugar, Modified Milk Ingredients, Glucose Solids, Hydrogenated Coconut, Palm Kernel and Soy Oils, Cocoa, Salt, Cellulose Gum, Flavour and Artificial Flavour, Dipotassium Phosphate, Mono- And Diglycerides, Datem, Silicon Dioxide, Guar Gum. ( listed in correct order)

Notice how sugar is the first ingredient? this means that it’s the most abundant ingredient in the product. There’s not one but two types of sugar as well. Hydrogenated oils are also harmful. They are considered a free radical and are known to be the most damaging of all oils. These convenience products definetly aren’t worth saving you 2- 5 minutes of your time.

When making anything homemade, you can add less sweetener or swap it for a healthy alternative. In this recipe, I’ve added pure maple syrup as the sweetener because unlike it’s refined counterpart, it contain minerals like Manganese, Zinc, Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium and it also contains Riboflavin ( B2). I must add that maple syrup shouldn’t be your go to source for these nutrients! It should be viewed as a treat that comes with a little extra nutritional kick ūüôā

 

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Rich and Creamy Hot Chocolate

Dairy Free/ GF

Serving Size: Four large mugs

 

Ingredients

1/3 cup or 5 Tbsp  high quality cocoa powder

4 cups of your favorite milk alternative

2 cups full fat coconut milk

1/3 cup pure maple syrup or to taste

1 Tbsp pure vanilla

1-2 pinches of sea salt

1-2 Tbsp water, if needed

Instructions

Add your cocoa powder to a medium sauce pan. Next, add in your maple syrup and whisk until the mixture turns into a chocolatey syrup. If this takes too long, add in 1-2 tablespoons of water. Slowly pour a few tablespoons of the milk into the chocolate mixture, stirring until combined ( do this one more time, then add in the rest of the milk). Turn your heat to medium high and add in your vanilla and sea salt. Heat hot chocolate until desired temperature, stirring frequently. Optional, blend with a hand held blender for a frothy hot chocolate.

Enjoy a warm hug from me to you ūüôā

 

Healthy Treats

No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Pies

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What is it that gets people ( myself included) super pumped about all things pumpkin? Is it the rich, warm, fragrant spices that accompany many of the pumpkin recipes? Does it remind us of the warmth and comfort that comes from being together with loved ones at Thanksgiving or during the times spends inside, curled up with woolys on after being outside in the crisp fall air? For myself, it’s all of the above plus more. Although, I do have to say that I’m not as pumped for pumpkin spice until the official day of fall because summer comes with its own set of feels……what can I say, I don’t like my seasons intermixing. Now if only some of the BIG chain warehouse stores would get on board with this ūüėČ

Now that pumpkin spice has been unleashed and invading our towns for the past several weeks, I figured it was time to come up with my own pumpkin creation. And naturally, being a fan of the sweets, I came up with a dessert-it’s healthier too!

A few benefits packed into pumpkins

Here are a list of a few benefits from  1 cup of cooked pumpkin:

Heart and bone health nutrients: 37 mg calcium, 22 mg magnesium (calcium is of no use to us unless we are getting sufficient amounts magnesium), 564 mg potassium and 2 mg of sodium

Vitamins and antioxidants such as vitamin C 12 mg,¬† vitamin A 14100 IU, and vitamin E 2 mg…..all of which are important in heart health as well!

This is definitely a treat that will satisfy your taste buds and your cells!

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No-Bake Mini Pumpkin Pies

Makes 9-12 mini pies

For the Crust:

1/2 cup of  pitted medjool dates, lightly packed

1/2 cup of pecans or walnuts

1/2 cup of oat flour ( process rolled oats into a flour)

pinch of salt

For the filling

1 cup of cooked pumpkin, mashed

1/2 cup of solidified coconut cream ( in some varieties of canned coconut milk , the cream will rise and solidify at the top of can after being refrigerate for 24 hours)

1/2 cup of raw cashews, soaked for a couple hours if not using a high speed blender

1/2 cup of coconut oil, melted

1/3 cup of pure maple syrup

1 tbsp of  unsulphured  blackstrap molasses

2 1/2 tsp of your favorite pumpkin pie spice mix

1 tsp pure vanilla

2 pitted dates, optional

1 tsp fresh lemon juice

1/8 tsp ground tumeric

pinch of sea salt

Instructions

For the crust:

Line a muffin tin with 12 cupcake liners or parchment paper strips for easy removal.

Place pecans into a food processor and process on high for 30 seconds. Then add dates, oat flour and salt and process on high until the mixture sticks together when you press it in your hand. Then, add a rounded table spoons of crust mixture to each prepared liner. If you have extra crust mixture, just add a bit more to each liner. Press crust filling until it forms a firm disk- you may have to lightly wet your hands after a while, as the mixture will start to stick to your hands and wont form well. Then set aside.

For the filling

Place all the ingredients into a high speed blender- putting cashews in first. Blend on the lowest speed to get things moving for 30 seconds. Then, blend on high until filling is fully blended and smooth….you might need to use your tamper to keep things moving. Then scoop 2 tablespoons of¬† mixture and add to each prepared muffin tin.

Place into the freezer for 6 hours to firm up. Take out mini pies 45 minutes before ready to eat, remove liner while they are still frozen and place on a plate to thaw.

Hope you enjoy these pint sized pumpkin treats!

Happy Fall ūüôā

 

Breakfast, Healthy Treats, Recipes, Snacks

Simple After School Snacks

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It’s safe to say that after school the majority of kids come home hungry or in my kids case, famished. It’s like they haven’t eaten all day. As I watch them empty the contents of their lunch kits, I see half of the lunch that was packed, untouched-most of which consists of the things I would have liked them to eat first; nuts, seeds and vegetables. Yes, even I still haven’t been able to get my children to love their vegetables. But overtime I’ve kept making sure that vegetables either accompanied their meals or are put into a recipe. Fast forward a couple years and they’ve started to add a few of these¬†vegetables to their favorites list or at least to the list of things they’ll tolerate……baby steps.

Some of these snack ideas that I’m sharing might be¬†familiar to some of you but I¬†want to emphasize two things in regards to them.

Keep Them Whole

By this I mean whole grains and whole fruits. One of the reasons why kids are feeling hungry after school¬† is because blood sugar levels are low. When this happens our kids tend to crave¬†foods that have a high sugar content. The more¬†refined and sugary their morning and afternoon meals were, the more likely you are to bring home a tired,¬†cranky/irritable and hungry child that kind of looks like your child but doesn’t behave like them ūüėȬ†Not fun for the child or the parent!

Get the Kids involved

Time for their creativity to shine.¬†Have all the ingredients out buffet style and let the¬†kids assemble¬†and pick out¬†their choices¬†and variations for their snack masterpiece. Children are more likely to¬†eat¬†something they’ve made or helped to make.

Here are a few simple and very versatile snack ideas that you can add to your family’s repertoire of foods to curb the mid day munchies.

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Apple Slices, Almond Butter, Dried Cranberries Plus a Few Exras

This snack can be¬†changed up with¬†different nut butter and dried fruit. For a nut less version, you can¬†use a seed butter¬†and sprinkle with sunflower seeds or hemp hearts. The kids can turn these into mini apple treat pizzas¬†by using all of the ingredients or only a couple. I found that our family liked having all the different tastes and textures. You’ve got sweet, tart, crunchy, and chewy all in one bite!

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Homemade Hummus With Veggies Of Choice

If you’re in a pinch, you can use premade hummus but be sure to read the ingredients label as some contain harmful oils and chemicals. And once¬†you’ve stumbled on a good homemade recipe, store bought won’t even compare.¬†Using dried beans means a little more time. It is best to make a big batch to have on hand, plus it is cheaper. If you don’t have the time and are looking to buy canned chickpeas, I’d suggest buying the ¬†brand Eden Foods as these aren’t processed with chemicals and the lining of the can¬†is BPA free.

Our Favorite Hummus

4 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas or 2 cans, drained and rinsed

4 small cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2-1 lemon, juiced

1/2 cup of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp sea salt

pinch of freshly ground pepper

Instructions

Place all the ingredients, except the oil into a food processor. You can also use a hand held blender, especially if you choose to make a smaller batch. Blend on high when using the food processor and slowly add in oil and blend until it has a fluffy texture (1-2 minutes), you might need to scrape down the sides a bit. If you are using a hand held blender, you can add the oil before blending. Blend on high speed until fully blended. Top with hemp hearts for an extra boost of protein, fibre and omegas.

Cut up some of your child’s favorite veggies and dip away. Or let your child get a little creative and make one of these guys

IMG_7928 (1)This guy gives a whoot¬† about healthy eating ūüėČ

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PB&J Smooothie

Here is an alternative to the classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich that doesn’t require bread. This smoothie is loaded with antioxidants and¬†immune boosting nutrients that will¬†help¬†fight that¬† back to school/fall cold.

Recipe

1 cup of  unsweetened milk alternative of choice

3/4 cup frozen berry mix

2 tbsp natural peanut butter or seed butter for nut free option.

1 tbsp Stevia, Wholesome Brand doesn’t have¬†as¬†strong of a taste as other brands of stevia do

or 1 tbsp of unpasteurized honey

Instructions

Place liquids into a high speed blender then add peanut butter, frozen berries, and blend on high until smoothie is well blended.

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Loaded Brown Rice Cakes

Here is another opportunity for the kids to get creative as these can be turned into mini pizzas. The possibilities are endless. These can be made savory with hummus or guacamole as a base. The only main thing to try and focus on is to keep the ingredients whole by adding foods that are an ingredient rather than foods that have a list of ingredients. These rice cakes aren’t technically a whole food but these ones (Lundberg Organics ) contain two ingredients that are a whole food. Brown rice is a whole grain, white rice isn’t. Refined grains lead to unstable blood sugar levels and are lacking¬†important vitamins and minerals which in turn will send hunger signals soon after.

For these loaded rice cakes I used:

1. Natural almond butter, blueberries, unpasteurized honey, topped with hemp hearts

2. Natural almond butter, bananas, dried unsweetened cranberries

3.  Natural peanut butter, bananas and unsweetened coconut flakes

You can sub the nut butter for seed butter for nut free version or variety.

My goal is that¬†this be simple, nutritious, contain ingredients that you¬†might regularly have on hand and that those ingredients be interchangeable……..and fun of course!

I hope these recipes benefit your afterschool time with your children. If you’d like updates on more recipes like these ones, feel free to sign up down below!

Healthy Treats

Mango Nice Cream

IMG_7258I’m not sure how or when the term “nice cream” originated but it is very fitting as it is a lot nicer to your body ( especially to those with dairy allergies) than your average store bought ice cream…..sorry Hagen Daz.

 

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The majority of my recipes require¬† certain elements that fit our family’s lifestyle, in order for me to be interested in making them. Nutritious ingredients are at the top of the list. I want my food to serve a purpose other than making me feel full.

Second, and sometimes depending on our busy schedule, at the top of the list is time-how long is this meal going to take me to cook it? I think this is where poor food choices tend to creep into our lives. When we’re busy we tend to lean toward the nutrient deficient foods¬†that¬†after awhile leave us in¬†a state of¬†sub optimal health.

Lastly but also equally important is taste. Yes, food that is healthy can be quick, easy and tasty too. It takes thinking outside the box sometimes and letting go of the cultural norms of when and how to eat our foods. I think some of you have already realized that its ok to have a satisfying smoothie for dinner instead of steak and potatoes or burger and fries :)The smoothie is quicker¬†to make and can be just as satisfying…..plus it’ll be easier on your digestion!

As you incorporate more of these nutrient rich foods into your diet, your taste buds start to change and that frozen pizza will start to taste a lot like the cardboard it was packaged in.

On to dessert…..or breakfast!¬†My kids will tell you that one of moms favorite sayings is ” this is breakfast worthy”.¬† This is¬†another dessert recipe that is also worthy of becoming a¬† breakfast staple :)…… just¬†top with some hemp hearts,¬†chia seeds, and granola for an extra nutritional boost!

This Mango Nice Cream is a REAL treat, it tastes delicious and it will love you back!

Just a little note on required kitchen equipment: A food processor will work great but it will require a few more stops to scrape down the sides than if you were using a high speed blender.

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Mango Nice Cream

Prep time: 5-10 min with optional freeze time of 1-2 hours

Serves: 2-3 small servings

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups of frozen mango chunks

1 frozen banana, chopped ( the riper your banana is, the more sweetness it will add)

1/2 cup of full fat coconut milk

1 tsp stevia (optional)

1/2 tsp pure vanilla

 

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Place all your ingredients into a high speed blender or food processor. Add¬† your liquids first if using a blender. Blend or pulse to get things going, then blend on high speed, stopping every so often to make sure there aren’t any chunks; this may take some elbow grease but its worth it!¬†Once you have the¬†desired consistency, scoop it¬†out into a lined pan then¬†place a layer of parchment paper¬†on top of the nice cream; making sure that it is touching¬†so¬†that ice crystals do not¬†form.¬†Place in the freezer for¬†1-2 hours to firm up. Or, you could just eat the whole thing right away ūüėČ

 

Happy Healthy Treat Eating!!