Banana PB Chia Pops

Hello beautiful people!

Here in Ontario, Canada, summer has arrived! The kids are out of school and the weather is hot! When the warm weather rolls in I seem to find that my craving for delicious, cool treats revs right up too, and I don’t think I’m the only one with this dilemma. Who doesn’t want a tasty, cold treat in the midst of a hot summers day?!

As I’ve mentioned in other posts, the problem with a lot of these tasty cold summer treats is that they’re packed in processed sugars. Sure, they taste great, but the effect of all that processed sugar on your brain and body isn’t quite so lovely. Fortunately, there are still tons of great ways to make fresh, nutritious summer treats while avoiding the processed sugars and other unhealthy compounds (eg. preservatives) found in many frozen treats.

The recipe I’m sharing with you today is a great one for kids and adults alike. It’s gluten and dairy free, plus oh so rich, creamy, delicious, and nutritious! These pops are easy to make and the kids can certainly help out with making them too, or even give it a try on their own with adult supervision.

Chia PB popsicle 2

Getting kids involved in the kitchen and teaching them how to prepare food is an important step in establishing healthy eating patterns throughout life. The more experience and confidence kids can build about how to choose and prepare their food, the more prepared and able they’ll be to make healthy eating choices as they grow. After all, as research suggests, we’re more likely to give something a try if we feel we have the skills and knowledge to succeed.

To make these treats you’ll need a blender and popsicle molds. Preparing them takes about 10 minutes, plus at least 5 hours to freeze, so it’s best to let them sit overnight. This recipe makes approximately 6 medium sized pops.

Chia PB popsicle 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 3 Tbsp natural peanut butter, smooth or crunchy (or other nut butter if you prefer)
  • 2 Tbsp raw, unpasteurized honey
  • 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup milk (I prefer cashew or coconut)
  • 2 Tbsp chia seeds

Method:

  • Place banana, peanut butter, honey, vanilla and milk into a blender. Mix until thoroughly combined and pureed.
  • Gently fold in the chia seeds.
  • Pour the mixture into popsicle molds. Place in the freezer and allow to sit for at least 5 hours, or overnight is best.
  • When ready to serve, remove pops from the mold; close your eyes, take a deep breath, think of one thing for which you’re grateful, then ENJOY!

I hope you enjoy this tasty and nutritious summer treat. It’s the perfect guilt-free way to indulge in something yummy this summer! 🙂

Wishing you much health and happiness,

XO Julie

 

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Strawberry Ginger Mint Lassi

Hello wonderful people!

Here in Ontario the weather has been heating up and this weekend is about to be no exception! I don’t know about you, but when the warm weather rolls in my craving for yummy, cold treats seems to roll in with it. Unfortunately, most ice creams and frozen treats are full of processed sugar, among other not-so-nutritious additives, which of course gives them their classic yummy taste. However, these tasty treats are also accompanied by the many downfalls of processed sugar consumption, such as “sugar crashes” and increased inflammation.

Fortunately, I have some great news: It’s absolutely possible to have a delicious, sweet, and nutritious frozen treat without all of that processed sugar! As some of you may know I do love my sweets, but I am particularly sensitive to sugar and especially it’s effects on emotional and mental health. As such I put considerable effort into exploring alternative options for treats that will be both nutritious and tasty!

Strawberry Ginger Mint Lassie 2
Strawberry Ginger Mint Lassi

One such creation is based on the “Lassi”, which is not dissimilar to a milkshake. Lassi’s are easy to make and adaptable based on the ingredients you have. The one I’ll be sharing with you here features strawberries, ginger, and fresh mint, but you could easily substitute in a different type of fruit, or leave out the ginger and/or mint if they’re not your cup of tea.

What really helps improve the nutritional value of this particular recipe is that rather than using ice cream, I used plain non-fat Greek yogurt, which gives the Lassi a creamy texture plus lots of protein, without all of the fat and sugar found in ice cream.It’s important to use plain Greek yogurt, as flavoured ones are again full of added sugar.

To sweeten my Lassi, I’ve used local raw unpasteurized honey. Why is using unpasteurized honey important? When honey is pasteurized the process removes the nutritional benefits of the honey, such as antioxidants and vitamins. Thus it’s best to use unpasteurized honey in order to gain the most nutritional benefit from it.

Strawberry Ginger Mint Lassie 3
Strawberry Ginger Mint Lassi

Ready to make this tasty and nutritious dessert? It only takes about 5 minutes to prepare. For 1 serving you will need…

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2/3 cup plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup milk of choice (I prefer cashew or coconut)
  • 5 or 6 fresh mint leaves
  • 1″ ginger, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 Tbsp raw, unpasteurized honey (or real maple syrup)

Method:

  • Place all ingredients into the blender and combine until thoroughly mixed. Garnish with mint if desired.
  • Close your eyes, inhale, think of one thing for which you’re grateful, and ENJOY! 🙂
Strawberry Ginger Mint Lassie
Calvy enjoying some lounge time + my nutritious, yummy, Strawberry Ginger Mint Lassi!

I hope you’ll enjoy this sweet treat as much as I have!

Until next time, wishing you much health and happiness 🙂

XO Julie

Apple Walnut Olive Oil Cake

Hello everyone – I’m back!

Does it ever feel great to be back at writing here on my blog. I wish I could tell you that I was off on some exciting adventure during my absence the past few weeks, however I was instead merely sucked into the oblivion that is marking and writing up my masters thesis. Fortunately, that’s nearly all done now so I can get back to doing what I love – sharing healthy recipes and wellness tips with all of you!

As it’s the holiday weekend and sweets are a mainstay for times such as these, I was looking for a healthier option for dessert. The original recipe for the one I’ll be sharing with you today came from the February 2016 issue of “alive” – Canada’s natural health and wellness magazine. My version is slightly different from the original with respect to the ingredients I’ve used, but it’s nonetheless absolutely delicious!

I always get excited when I give a recipe “experiment” a try for the first time and am pleasantly surprised to find that it’s turned out wonderfully. This was the case for my Apple Walnut Olive Oil Cake. For this recipe, olive oil replaces traditional butter to give you a boost of healthy fats. I get my olive oil from the Pristine Olive Tasting Bar in London and the one I used for this particular recipe was their “Picholine” olive oil.

Apple Walnut EVOO cake 2
Healthy Apple Walnut Olive Oil Cake

I used apples for this recipe as I had some on hand, but you can sub in pears or other seasonal fruits you enjoy as well. I replaced regular flour with a combination of gluten free brown rice and coconut flours, sugar with raw local honey from Clovermead Apiaries, and dairy milk with Silks original unsweetened coconut milk. The top is garnished with apple slices, walnuts, and a pinch of granulated maple syrup sugar (I didn’t even know that was a thing until recently) that my wonderfully thoughtful mom brought home for me the other week. The result: a healthy gluten and dairy free cake that’s both savory and sweet.

maple syrup sugar
Granulated Maple Syrup Sugar

Here you’ll find ingredient measurements for both a smaller sized cake (6 x 2″), which serves about 2 people, as well as a large cake (13 x 9 x 2″). As always, do try to use fresh, local, organic ingredients when possible to obtain optimal health benefits.

Apple Walnut Olive Oil Cake

Ingredients (small cake):

  • 1 apple (1/4 sliced to garnish top; 3/4 peeled and chopped)
  • 3 Tbsp brown rice flour
  • 3 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme (or 1/2 tsp fresh thyme)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil (high quality)
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 Tbsp walnuts (or pecans)
  • pinch of granulated maple syrup sugar (optional)

Method:

  • Set the oven to 350*F. Grease baking dish with olive oil and set aside.
  • In a bowl combine flours, thyme, cinnamon, and baking powder, stirring gently to combine. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl combine olive oil and coconut milk, using a whisk to mix thoroughly. Add in egg, then honey, whisking thoroughly to combine.
  • Slowly pour the dry mixture into the wet mixture, whisking to combine, until batter is smooth with no chunks. Gently fold in apple chunks and walnuts.
  • Pour the mixture into your baking dish, gently smoothing out the top. Garnish with apple slices and walnuts, and a pinch of the granulated maple syrup sugar if desired.
  • Bake for approximately 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until the top is golden brown. Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.
  • Smile, think of one thing for which you are grateful, and enjoy! 🙂
Apple Walnut EVOO cake
Delicious and Healthy Apple Walnut Olive Oil Cake

Ingredients (large cake):

  • 2 apples (1 cut into slices for top; 1 peeled and cubed)
  • 1 1/4 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp fresh thyme)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup high quality olive oil
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (or pecans)
  • 1 tsp granulated maple syrup sugar (optional)

Method: Same as above

I hope that you’ll enjoy this delicious and healthy treat as much as we did!

Wishing you health and happiness!

xo Julie

Strawberry Rhubarb Upside Down Cake

Hello Everyone!

I hope you’ve all been having a lovely week so far. Commitments with work have been keeping me quite busy, thus why I haven’t been posting as often, unfortunately. During hectic times like these maintaining a healthy routine can be especially challenging. However, it’s also times such as these when eating well and making healthy choices becomes most critical in staying balanced both mentally and physically.

I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but when I start to feel a little stressed I tend to crave a sweet treat, but I know all that extra sugar and processed stuff isn’t good for me and will only serve to exacerbate my stress levels. Luckily, this is perfect motivation for me to have a little fun and try to develop healthier dessert alternatives that I’ll still be able to enjoy.

One of my favourite desserts is my moms “upside-down cake”. It can be made with almost any fruit you like, however my personal favourite is strawberry-rhubarb. I remember as a kid I’d get so excited and look so forward to occasions when my mom would make this cake. The original recipe is of course your traditional dessert situation – that is, loaded with butter, sugar, and refined white flour. Don’t get me wrong, it’s delicious as all-get-out, but obviously not especially healthy.

So, while doing some work last night I found myself really craving this delicious upside-down cake, and I thought to myself: “self, can you make this delicious treat into a healthier more nutritious version?” Turns out I can! See…

upside-down cake 2
Strawberry-Rhubarb Upside-Down cake topped with pecans, raw honey, and shredded coconut!

By following my moms original recipe and subbing in coconut oil for the butter, maple syrup for sugar, coconut and brown rice flour for regular flour, and coconut milk for regular milk, I was able to come up with a recipe for my favourite cake that is a significantly healthier version than the original, as well as being gluten and dairy free!

I seriously debated sharing this one with you, I guess because the little girl in me wanted to selfishly hoard my moms delicious upside-down cake recipe all to myself haha. Fortunately, the adult Julie reasoned that it would be quite inconsiderate to withhold such a delectable and reasonably healthy dessert recipe from you.

And so, I will now share with you my healthy version of my moms upside-down cake! I’ve provided measurements for both a small serving (6 x 2 inch round) for about 2 people, and a full sized (13 x 9 x 2 inch) cake. This recipe works great too with apples, peaches, blueberries, or raspberries. I meant to take a photo of it looking all pretty in it’s dish after it came out of the oven, but it looked so yummy that I started eating it and forgot, so these photos of it already on the plate will have to do heh.

For the small (6 x 2 inch) cake…

Ingredients:

For the Bottom…

  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp real maple syrup, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup strawberries & rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice

For the Top…

  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, softened
  • 3 Tbsp real maple syrup, room temperature
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 3 Tbsp brown rice flour (gluten free)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 Tbsp coconut milk

Method:

  • Oven at 350*F
  • Bottom: whisk coconut oil and maple syrup together, then spread over bottom of baking dish. Arrange fruit on top and sprinkle over with lemon juice. Set aside.
  • Top: in a bowl, whisk together coconut oil and maple syrup until a smooth paste forms. Add in egg and vanilla, mix well until combined.
  • In a separate bowl, combine flours, cinnamon, and baking powder. Add to the wet mixture, whisking to combine.
  • Add coconut milk 1 Tbsp at a time, mixing it in gently. If the batter is a little too thick and sticky, add a bit more milk. It should be a thick, smooth texture when finished.
  • Pour the cake mixture over top of the fruit. Bake for approximately 40 to 50 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.
  • Allow to cool in baking dish for about 15 minutes before serving.
  • To serve, top with more fruit, nuts, or whatever else you like, or enjoy as is! 🙂
Upside-down cake 1
A lightened up version of my mama’s Upside-Down Cake – made here with strawberries and rhubarb and topped with raw honey, pecans, and shredded coconut!

For a full (13 x 9 x 2 inch) cake…

Ingredients:

For the bottom…

  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup, room temperature
  • 2 cups strawberries & rhubarb (or fruit of choice, fresh or frozen)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice

For the top…

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, softened
  • 1/2 cup real maple syrup, room temperature
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk

Method: same as described above. Cooking time may be slightly longer.

I hope you’ll love this lightened up version of my mom’s delicious Upside-Down cake as much as I do! 🙂

Wishing you health and happiness,

xo Julie

Apple Pecan Maple Crumble

Hello wonderful folks!

I hope your week has been off to an awesome start! I’ve been trying to finish the manuscript I’m writing which is due by months end for presentation of my research findings in a scientific journal. While I’m looking forward to hopefully having my paper accepted and published, it certainly is a LOT of writing and I’ve had to put extra effort into staying focused.

Keeping on track with my fitness program and healthy eating has also been a little more challenging given the circumstances, but I’m almost there and looking forward to having this manuscript finished and submitted. As for the follow up post on my last piece in which I discussed my personal journey with depression, it’s a coming soon 🙂

The science behind depression is pretty complex and it’s a topic I feel deserves considerable attention. I’ll be doing my best to communicate the scientific information in such a way that makes it approachable and clear. I’m excited to have the opportunity to share such information about depression with you as I feel knowledge helps one to develop awareness and understanding, which fosters acceptance, and counters the stigma that tends to be associated with many forms of mental illness, including depression. So please stay tuned for that post.

Okay, lets talk about food! I don’t know about you, but when I’m under pressure and feeling a little stressed I tend to crave sweet treats. Unfortunately, as I’ve discussed before sugar does some pretty bad things to the body and mind (you can learn more on the specifics of this here), so finding a balance between satisfying my sweet cravings and keeping things healthy has been my focus.

While experimenting in the kitchen the other night, I happened to come up with a pretty darn tasty treat that also so happens to be reasonably healthy, and both gluten and diary free: Apple Pecan Maple Crumble!

Apple Pecan maple crisp 1
Apple Pecan Maple Crumble

This yummy treat is quick and simple to make, and reasonably healthy for a dessert. Real maple syrup replaces the traditional granulated sugar that most dessert recipes call for, or if you prefer honey can be used instead. It should be noted that maple syrup, while a healthier alternative to granulated processed sugar, still contains a considerable amount of sugar which is why it’s best consumed only in moderation. More information regarding the nutritional components of maple syrup can be found from this article published by Authority Nutrition.

So, how does one make this gloriously delicious dessert, you may be wondering? Well… let me tell you! As always, please try to use fresh, local, organic ingredients when possible. This recipe makes about two smaller portions, or one large one.

Ingredients:

For the bottom…

  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, and chopped into small chunks
  • 2 Tbsp dried dates, coarsely chopped (or raisins)
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp real maple syrup

For the topping…

  • 3 Tbsp gluten free oats (or regular if you prefer)
  • 1 Tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 Tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 2 Tbsp real maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp pecans, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp coconut, shredded and unsweetened (optional)

Method:

  • Grease two small (or one medium sized) oven safe ramekins with coconut or olive oil.
  • For the bottom layer, combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss gently to combine apples and dates with the spices and maple syrup. Pour mixture into greased baking dish.
  • In another bowl mix oats, ground flax seed, coconut flour, and cinnamon together. Add in melted coconut oil, then maple syrup. Stir with a fork until mixture is thoroughly combined and forms a crumbly consistency. Stir in pecans.
  • Top the bottom apple layer with the crumble mixture. Sprinkle with unsweetened, shredded coconut if you like.
  • Bake uncovered in the oven at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown (note: time may vary due to differences in individual oven temperatures, so keep an eye on it and adjust timing accordingly). Allow to cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.
  • Pause to think of one thing you’re grateful for, then smile and enjoy! 🙂
Apple pecan crisp 2
Yummy Apple Maple Pecan Crumble

Well folks, I hope you enjoy this tasty treat as much as I do. This healthier alternative to traditional fruit crumble recipes is quick and easy to prepare, and aside from the extra sugar from the real maple syrup, it’s nutritious too! This is also a great one for anyone having digestive motility issues, such as constipation, as the ground flax seed and coconut flour are very high in fiber, which helps to move things along the GI tract and promotes gut health.

Wishing you all a wonderfully happy and healthy week!

xo Julie