Ginger Veggie Stirfry + Oscar’s 9th Birthday!

Happy Thursday lovely people!

I hope you’ve been having a marvelous week thus far. As some of you might know, earlier this week I celebrated my pup Oscar’s 9th Birthday! We celebrate every year and it’s so much fun. I think I get more excited about the dog birthday parties than I do about my own birthday haha. It was a wonderful occasion and this year I made a healthy veggie stirfry for my mom and I, while the dogs enjoyed some all natural “duck stew” for Oscy’s birthday dinner, followed by Timbits for dessert.

Oscy birthday 2016
Blowing out the candle on Oscy’s Birthday Timbit!

Oscy is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and one of the sweetest pups out there. His interests include sleeping (and snoring excessively loudly haha), eating, and walking around the back yard sniffing stuff. Oh, he also likes to eat dead birds that he comes across which mighty hunter Calvy has left behind (gross, I know), watching TV (not even kidding he actually watches it especially if it’s an animal show) and enjoys playing with plush toys.

All in all he’s a wonderful dog and one of the kindest souls out there! It’s tough to believe he’s already 9 years old! Where has the time gone? We came into each others lives when he was just a pup and I can’t imagine my life without that big fluff ball.

From visiting Santa at Christmas…

babies at Christmas 2015
Oscy and Calvin Visit Santa (2015)

To dressing up at Halloween…

oscy halloween 2015
In the Halloween spirit – Oscy the Pumpkin (2015)

And of course celebrating Birthdays…

Oscy Birthday 2016 3
Eve helping Oscy open his Birthday gifts (2016)

 

Oscy loves to join in on the fun and have a great time. I think it’s safe to say that he thoroughly enjoyed his birthday celebration, as did we!

As I mentioned, I’d prepared a healthy veggie stirfry for my mom and I to enjoy for Oscy’s “Birthday Dinner”. It was loaded with fresh veggies, ginger, and I prepared a simple and slightly sweet soy based sauce to accompany it.

This recipe is a quick and easy one that only takes about 30 to 35 minutes to make (including veggie prep, which takes the most time), so it’s perfect for a busy week night dinner. To make things easier try cutting up the veggies in advance so they’re ready to go and you’ll have a healthy and nutritious dinner ready in 15 minutes!

Simple veggies stirfry 1
Ginger Veggie Stirfry with Vermicelli Rice Noodles

Here’s what I did (makes about 4 serving) for my Ginger Veggie Stirfry:

Ingredients:

  • 2 bell pepper, cut into 1″ chunks
  • 1 medium onion, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 2″ pieced ginger, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 cup cashews or peanuts, unsalted
  • 2 Tbsp olive or coconut oil
  • 3 cups cooked rice noodles (I use vermicelli), whole wheat spaghettini, or brown rice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup green onion, diced (to garnish, optional)

Sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 6 Tbsp warm water
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp turbinado (raw) sugar or honey
  • 1/2 tsp fresh grated (or dry powdered) ginger

Method:

  • For sauce: in a glass bowl, melt coconut oil. Then add in soy sauce, water, sugar or honey, and ginger. Whisk gently to combine. Set aside.
  • For stirfry: Heat oil over medium-high heat; add in peppers, onion, mushrooms, and broccoli. Saute for about 5 to 8 minutes or until beginning to soften.
  • Meanwhile, cook noodles or rice according to package directions, then set aside.
  • Reduce heat to medium and add in garlic and ginger. Saute about 5 minutes more, then add in nuts. Stir to combine, saute about more minutes.
  • Reduce heat to low, add in sauce stirring to coat and combine, then add noodles or rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Garnish with fresh green onion (if desired), serve hot and enjoy!
simple veggie stirfy 2
Healthy Ginger Veggie Stirfry with Vermicelli Rice Noodles

And here you have it folks: a tasty, nutritious veggie packed stirfry dinner ready to go. It tastes great as “left-overs” as well, though I do recommend reheating in a pan if possible rather than a microwave to maintain the delicious flavours. This meal can easily be made gluten-free by using a GF soy sauce and rice noodles. As always, when possible do try to use local, fresh, organic ingredients.

If you give this a try I’d love to know your thoughts and see photos! (#genuinelyjulie) Please like and share if you’re a fan of this recipe 🙂

ps. I will soon have the Pinterest “Pin It” function available on here for sharing my recipes too!

Wishing you great health and much happiness!

xo Julie

 

 

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Maple Matcha Latte

Maybe it’s the Canadian in me but I love maple syrup! And not the fake stuff – ew. I’m talking about the real 100% pure maple syrup. Yes, it’s a bit more expensive compared to the fake “maple flavored” syrup (that’s actually loaded in highly processed sugars and quite bad for you), but I assure you it’s worth it to invest in the good stuff!

Real maple syrup can not only be used as a natural sweetener, but it also tastes great root veggies like carrots and beets, on squash or brussels sprouts, and who doesn’t want an excuse to enjoy pancakes or waffles? heh I know I do!

Maple Syrup
100% Real Canadian Maple Syrup

I’m sure I mentioned this at least a dozen times but I also love matcha! It’s fun to experiment with it and see what kinds of cool tasty recipes I can come up with. Sure, not all might turn out great but I could also end up creating the next great thing! From talking with friends and family I get the sense that many people often view cooking and making meals as a chore. And I’m sure that’s exactly how it feels if you’re not willing to have fun with it. Rather than seeing it as a tedious task though, try viewing making your next meal or snack as an opportunity for culinary adventure!

This might sound silly, but hear me out. If you’re doing something you enjoy you’ll be more likely to do it and doing something you enjoy facilitates positive mood states. Studies have shown that a positive emotional state allows individuals to be more creative thinkers and to find what they’re doing more enjoyable.

So, next time you enter the kitchen ready to try a new cooking experiment consider this: sure, your experiment might not turn out great – this is always a possibility. However, it could also turn out to be the next amazing recipe that all of your family and friends are asking for and can’t get enough of. There’s only one way to find out!

Anyhow, coming back to matcha. It’s delicious and has an abundance of health benefits, which you can learn more about here. However, I wanted to make sure these weren’t just biased claims or anecdotal evidence, so I took a look through the published scientific journals. Here’s what I found:

Experiments have demonstrated evidence supporting the positive health benefits of matcha. For instance, in a recent study by Xu and colleagues (2016) published in the journal of Food and Function it was found that matcha significantly lowered blood glucose levels, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and oxidative stress caused by a high-fat diet. The authors concluded that “Matcha has beneficial effects through the suppression of the blood glucose (BG) accumulation and promotion of the lipid metabolism and antioxidant activities. Moreover, the water-insoluble part of Matcha is suggested to play an important role in the suppression of diet-induced high levels of lipid and glucose” (Xu et al., 2016). Pretty cool eh?!

Matcha
Matcha Green Tea from David’s Tea

So now that I’ve given you some of the science behind what matcha does and have hopefully convinced you of how awesome this stuff is, I’d like to share a fun recipe I came up with!

Matcha lattes are one of my most favourite beverages out there and while playing around in my kitchen I discovered I can actually make them at home from scratch, and I don’t even need one of those fancy frothing machines! All it takes are the ingredients, a small pot, and a single serve blender such as a Magic Bullet (a hand mixer or immersion blender might work too but I haven’t given it a try).

Maple matcha latte 2
Maple Matcha Latte in my favourite Turtle Mug heh

Here’s how to make 1 serving of my (oh-so-Canadian) Maple Matcha Latte:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp. real maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. matcha
  • 1/4 tsp. real vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Method:

  • Combine coconut milk, maple syrup, and vanilla in a small pot over medium heat. Whisk in cinnamon and matcha. Continue stirring and heat to desired temperature.
  • Transfer mixture into a single serve blender (such as a Magic Bullet or Ninja) and blend for about 30 seconds. This is what will give it that nice frothy texture on the top.
  • Pour into a mug, garnish with cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa, or whatever else you like.
  • Smile and enjoy! 🙂

Maple matcha latte
Maple Matcha Latte garnished with cinnamon

This healthy, dairy free treat is so yummy and complements any morning, or chilly evening for that matter, perfectly. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I do!

Wishing you health and happiness!

xo Julie

 

Beet Apple n’ Ginger Soup

Happy Sunday!

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet as I have a very special birthday party to prepare for and attend tonight. Who’s birthday party you may be wondering? Why it’s my lovely little pup Oscar’s 9th birthday! And yes, we celebrate with dinner, “cake”, and gifts each and every year hehe.

Handsome Oscy
Oscy sporting the latest fashions hehe

Not to worry, I will be documenting the occasion in a later blog post complete with photos! Oscy gets SO excited about his birthday and I honestly think that I look more forward to his birthday than my own. He’s just so adorable when he gets all excited about the festivities and you can’t help but laugh and feel happy watching his enjoyment.

Anyhow, back to this wonderful Beet Apple n’ Ginger Soup I want to tell you about. I had some beets and a few other ingredients kicking around in my fridge that I wanted to make use of before they went bad, so I decided to make one of my favorite items: soup.

I think one of the things I love about making soup is that I can throw a bunch of items into a pot, add some spices as I go, and see what happens. I feel it really give me the opportunity to experiment and be creative in the kitchen, which I love! Sometimes I’m not so fortunate and my cooking experiments turn out not-so-tasty. Fortunately on this particular occasion though this one turned out great!

This delicious soup is packed with nutritious vegetables, plus a bit of heat from the ginger, which has terrific and scientifically validated health benefits, and apple to complement the earthy flavour of the root veggies with a bit of sweetness. I finished the soup off with coconut milk to give it a creamy texture. Boy, doesn’t that look tasty?! I just love the bright colour of it!

Beet Apple Ginger soup 1
Nutrient packed Beet Apple n’ Ginger Soup

Want the scoop on how I made this one? As always, use fresh, local, organic ingredients when possible to ensure the best and most nutritious food. Now, here’s what I did:

Ingredients:

  • 2 large beets, peeled and chopped (approx. 1″ cubes)
  • 8 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3″ ginger, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 4 apples, peeled and diced
  • 1 L carton vegetable broth
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp. raw, unpasteurized honey (or real maple syrup)
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp. coconut or olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Method:

  • Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat. Add in onion and saute for about 8 to 10 minutes, or until beginning to soften and brown slightly. Reduce heat to medium, add in garlic and ginger; saute about 3 to 5 minutes more, stirring frequently.
  • Add in carrots, beets, and apple, then cinnamon and turmeric (note: I like a lot of cinnamon so if you’re not a huge fan of the flavour start with 1 tsp. then add to taste). Stir to coat and combine. Pour in veggie broth.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat and simmer for about 40 to 50 minutes. The beets can take a while to soften so be patient. Once the veggies are soft, remove pot from heat. Using an immersion blender, puree soup.
  • Slowly add in coconut milk (2 cups was an approximation; use more for a thinner consistency and less if you’d like your soup more thick), then honey, salt and pepper to taste. Stir gently to combine
  • Serve hot and enjoy! 🙂

Beet apple ginger soup 2
Creamy Beet Apple n’ Ginger Soup

This soup makes for a delicious and healthy pick-me-up on chilly days. Plus, if you’re having tummy issues the ginger in this one will help to soothe the ache and get you back to feeling well again. Alrighty folks, I’m off to celebrate a special little pups birthday!

Wishing you much health and happiness!

xo Julie

 

Strawberry Ginger Acai Smoothie Bowl

Hello wonderful people!

You may have noticed I haven’t posted anything new during this last week. This is because I was away on vacation for my beautiful friends wedding in the Dominican Republic.

DR 2016 beach
Beautiful White Beaches in the Dominican Republic

I had a wonderful time, but I’m glad to be home (minus the cold temperatures haha) and reunited with my sweet kitty Calvin! Boy did I miss that little fur ball!

Anyhow, I learned a thing or two about keeping healthy while traveling on this trip, and unfortunately I did so the hard way. Normally I eat pretty healthy, limiting my intake of processed items, sugar, dairy, gluten, meat, etc. and apparently my body has become accustomed to this and quite enjoys this sort of diet.

How do I know this? Well, because I made the mistake of eating and drinking all the things I’ve cut out over the past year or so my tummy was NOT impressed! I spent most of the time with a stomach ache, which really I knew better and should have been smarter about my dietary choices. But hey, I learned some valuable lessons about keeping healthy while away traveling. Here are some of the things I learned:

  1. Try, as much as possible, to maintain your usual diet to avoid running the risk of experiencing gastrointestinal issues. This can be tricky with so many tasty looking treats around (not to mention all those sugar loaded tropical drinks!), but in my experience it’s worth the extra trouble.
  2. Try to maintain your typical activity routine at least to some degree. Normally I do yoga about 3 to 4 times a week, plus workouts with light weights about 4 times a week. I did none of this while I was away and I can certainly feel my body is more lethargic, lacking energy and strength, and my GI system is out of balance.
  3. Attempt to get a reasonable amount of sleep (between 7 to 8 hours) each night. I know it’s tempting to skip this and the thought goes something like “I didn’t go on vacation to sleep”. Well yes, this might be true but you’re body doesn’t really care and requires adequate amounts of sleep to function properly. Mess with this and you run the risk of disrupting your internal balance and ending up not feeling very well.
  4. Continue taking any supplements you regularly take. I was smart enough to bring with me my amazing Pro-15 probiotics from Hyperbiotics that I take daily (I’ll be writing a whole bunch about these in the next few months so stay tuned!). I think this is why I didn’t have more severe GI issues due to my poor dietary choices while on this trip.
  5. Take a break from work! Most of the time I enjoy my work, which makes it not really feel like “work” at all and gives me incentive to keep at it. While not exactly a bad thing, it’s important to take time away from the usual routine to find some stillness and reflect. Enjoy nature! Fortunately, this is one thing I DID manage to do right while away and it was wonderful!

DR 2016 wildlife
A crane hunting for some lunch

DR 2016 turtles
Turtle watching from the poolside – I adore turtles!

Now back home in Canada my tummy is still a bit sore and I expect it’ll take a few days for it to recover. Fortunately, I was able to get right back into my regular eating habits and I can already feel the difference it’s made. My energy levels are improving, along with my mood, and my stomach is slowly but surely feeling less bloated and back to normal.

DR 2016 flight home
Sunset as seen from my window on the plane ride home

This morning I woke up feeling much better than I have the past few days, but noticing my guts still feel a little off I thought I’d make use of a fantastic natural remedy for stomach issues – GINGER! Considerable research has accumulated suggesting that ginger is effective for treatment of GI issues, nausea, and a great many other health issues. If you’re interested, this article from Authority Nutrition discusses some of these implications in greater detail.

As I was saying, I love ginger and use it whenever I can; in everything from soups to smoothies, stirfrys, and especially when I’m having tummy trouble, it really does the trick! So this morning I enjoyed a cup of one of my favorite teas from David’s Tea – their Organic Ginger Pear tea. Almost instantly I could feel my stomach being soothed.

I then decided to make a yummy smoothie bowl for breakfast featuring some serious “superfoods” including ginger, acai berry powder, and strawberries. I was pleasantly surprised with just how delectable this recipe turned out to be, especially considering it helped my tummy ache to feel better too, boosted my energy, and kept me feeling full for several hours after.

Strawberry ginger acai smoothie bowl 3
Yummy Strawberry Ginger Acai Smoothie Bowl

I like making smoothie bowls because I can put fun toppings on afterwards and feel like I’m getting a real treat haha. However, they do take more time to prepare and eat, so if you’re pressed for time and on the go, please remember you can simply leave this in a travel cup and take it with you. Don’t forget your straw! 🙂

Anyhow, here’s what I did for 1 serving of my Strawberry Ginger Acai Smoothie Bowl. As always, try to use fresh, organic whole foods when possible:

Ingredients:

  • 1″ ginger, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 cup (approx.) almond milk
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Acai Berry powder
  • 1 Tbsp. raw honey
  • Toppings: chia seeds, trail mix, walnuts, shredded unsweetened coconut, One Degree Organics Sprouted Brown Rice Cacoa Crisps

Method:

  • Combine ginger, banana, strawberries, and acai berry powder in blender. Add enough milk to just about cover the contents. Then add honey. Blend until smooth, then pour into a bowl and top with some of your favorite, healthy items
  • Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and think of one thing for which you are grateful
  • Smile and enjoy! 🙂

Strawberry Ginger Acai Smoothie bowl 2
Strawberry Ginger Acai Smoothie Bowl

I hope you’ll find this as delicious and nourishing as I did. It’s a great tasting, nutritious recipe for kids too, particularly if the little ones are having tummy troubles.

If you give this tasty recipe a try I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Don’t forget to share photos of your version of this yummy, wholesome creation with #genuinelyjulie

Wishing you much health and happiness!

xo Julie

 

 

Rutabaga Pear Soup

I’m sure you’ve noticed by now that I’m really big on soup! Not going to lie, I do love soup. Nothing makes a cold winter day better quite like a creamy, hot, flavorful soup. But I promise I do make and will share more than soup on here haha! However, this particular soup is just so tasty and in light of the current cold winter weather here in Canada, I couldn’t help but share it with you.

Rutabega Pear Soup 2
Yummy Rutabaga Pear Soup in my Adorable Owl Bowl

I like a good challenge and one of my favorite things to do is look around the kitchen to see what I have, pull out some ingredients, and come up with something new! I’ve been staying with my mom the past little while as she recently had major surgery on her spine to correct lumbar scoliosis and vertebral disc degeneration. Fortunately her recovery is going well, but to help facilitate her healing I’ve been trying to cook nutritious, wholesome meals.

Mom and I
My Beautiful Mom and I at my Undergraduate Graduation

While poking around her place I came across a rutabaga she’d recently picked up but hadn’t had the time to cook before going into surgery. I dug around a little more and found some ingredients I figured might make a decent soup. I’m used to cooking with squash and pumpkin, but haven’t had a ton of experience with rutabaga so this was going to be a fun experiment! My dear mama, bless her soul, always tries all of my kitchen creations – good and bad. Though fortunately most of them are usually good, I think she may have been a tad skeptical on this one though haha.

I put on one of my trusty aprons – this one is green and reads “great dam cook” with a picture of a cooking beaver on it (how witty, I know hehe) that I got years ago while on a family vacation in Alberta, Canada – and got to work. I guess I’ve done this (ie. make soup) a time or two because everything came together perfectly! In fact, my mom LOVED the soup and thought it was delicious! And I have to agree… it absolutely is 🙂

Rutabega pear soup 3
Rutabaga Pear Soup

Want the scoop on what I did? Silly question, of course you do! Here it is:

Ingredients

  • 1 rutabaga, peeled and cubed
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 pears, peeled and diced
  • 5 -6 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2″ ginger, finely diced
  • 2 – 3 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 L low sodium vegetable broth
  • 14 ounces coconut milk
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 – 4 Tbsp raw honey or real maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp coconut or olive oil

Method

  • In a large soup pot heat oil over medium high heat. Add in onions. Saute about 5 to 8 minutes, until they begin to soften and become translucent. Add in the garlic and ginger. Saute about 3 to 5 minutes more.
  • Add rutabaga, carrots, and pears to pot along with cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir to combine. Add in vegetable broth stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 30 – 40 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and puree with immersion blender (note: a hand mixer might do the job too if an immersion blender is not available).
  • Slowly pour in coconut milk, then raw honey or maple syrup, stirring to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Then add more cinnamon and nutmeg to taste, if necessary.
  • Serve hot with a garnish of walnuts or pecans.
  • Close your eyes, inhale slowly, smile, then enjoy 🙂

Rutabega Pear Soup 1
Silky, delicious rutabaga pear soup

This soup has a creamy texture and the pear adds a hint of sweetness which complements the earthy flavor of the rutabaga and carrots. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as we did!

Until next time wishing you health, happiness, and love!

xo Julie

Honey Banana Oatmeal

I really like honey. Like, a lot. I buy the stuff by the pail. No kidding I actually have a 5kg pail of Golden Rod honey from Clovermed Aparies in my pantry right now. Admittedly I do have a sweet tooth. As I kid I was the type to find my Easter chocolate and skulk off into some corner, hiding from my parents, and eat as much as I could until I felt sick haha. Fortunately I outgrew that behaviour, but my sweet tooth has remained, albeit to a lesser degree.

As my awareness of the implications of proper nutrition on both physical and mental health have grown over the years I’ve sought to educate myself on these topics. In doing so I have gained greater awareness of the detriments of sugar, particularly highly processed sugars. I decided to take action and began cutting items high in processed sugars out of my diet. If you’ve read food labels and paid attention to how much sugar is in many food items we eat, it’s pretty scary!

By cutting food items that are highly processed and packed with sugar out of my diet I noticed some incredible things: I had more energy and felt much less lethargic. And much to my delight, the levels of anxiety and feelings of depression I had felt on a daily basis for years began to subside. Perhaps you’re wondering if I miss those sugary items because, lets be honest, sweet stuff is pretty tasty. Truthfully though, I don’t miss it at all!

Not only do I physically feel better and have noticed positive effects in my cognitive function and emotional valence, but my taste preferences appear to have adjusted too. Now if I eat something really sweet I find it over powering and it makes me feel a bit ill if I consume too much. Further, I notice that if I start to eat sweets consistently (eg. over the holidays) I begin to feel lethargic and my mood is negatively influenced.

Please note that these changes do take time though. So if you decide to cut down or try to eliminate processed sugar in your diet be patient, as seeing and feeling the effects and noticing a difference doesn’t happen overnight.

Although my “sweet tooth” has changed, I do still like a little sweetness here and there. I was faced with the challenge of how to find a balance between enjoying some sweetness in my food and making health conscious dietary decisions. What did I do? Well, I did what the researcher in me loves and I hit the books, databases, and internet search engines to find the information I needed to make competent, informed dietary choices.

What I learned in doing my research is that there are many natural substitutes that can be used for sweeteners, including raw unpasteurized honey. That’s the key here: the unpasteurized factor means that the nutrients in the honey have not been degraded. Most honey you pick up in the grocery store has been pasteurized. So while it still tastes yummy, the health benefits of it have been significantly reduced or eliminated through processing. That’s not very good either! Thus if you’re looking for honey, try to find that which is unpasteurized in order to obtain the greatest benefits from it. Also please be aware that it is not recommended for children under the age of 1 year to consume unpasteurized honey, the reasons for which are explained here.

Honey
5 kg pail of some tasty “Golden Rod”  Honey

 

What are some of the benefits of raw honey? For more detailed discussion I’ll direct you to these two resources that do a great job of summarizing the relevant information. “Health Benefits of Honey” by Organic Facts goes into great detail on this subject. While “Is Honey Bad for You, or Good? The Sweet Truth Revealed” by Authority Nutrition provides a brief and concise explanation of relevant information that has been supported by scientific research.

In a nutshell, honey is a better option than processed sugars. It does contains some important nutrients, but more importantly it has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties which may aid in health restoration and maintenance. It is now well established that inflammation is likely at the root of many pathological conditions including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and mental health challenges such as depression.

Thus, if consuming honey in moderation can not only provide the sweetness to food that I enjoy, but also help reduce inflammatory mechanisms within my body and improve my overall health, than logically it makes sense for me to do so. I will leave you to make your own decisions, but I can say that based on the evidence I’ve reviewed and my own experience, I am confident in honey’s efficacy.

If you’ve made it this far you’re probably wondering when I’m going to get to the good part (ie. the food). Okay, okay.. as much as I love talking science and nutrition, here’s a tasty and easy Honey Banana Oatmeal recipe that makes the perfect nutritious and filling breakfast…

Honey Banana Oatmeal 1
Honey Banana Oatmeal

For Oatmeal (1 serving):

  • 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup plain oats (such as these)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp walnuts or pecans (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey

For Honey-Banana Sauce:

  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • 1 banana, sliced (approx. 1/4″ slices)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Optional topping ideas: chia seeds, shredded unsweetened coconut, natural peanut butter, cashew nut butter, etc.

Method:

  • For oatmeal: Combine all ingredients except honey in a small pot over medium heat. Cover and cook approximately 5 minutes, stirring often. Reduce heat and simmer for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally (note: if mixture starts to get too thick, just add a bit more water)
  • Once cooked turn off heat and stir in honey
  • For bananas: in a small pan add coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add in honey, then sliced bananas. Try to lay them all flat. Sprinkle with cinnamon
  • Reduce heat to medium and saute bananas for about 3 to 5 minutes, flipping half way through, until softened and golden brown
  • Pour oatmeal into a bowl and top with honey-banana sauce
  • Smile and enjoy! 🙂

Honey Banana Oatmeal 3
Hot and Tasty Honey Banana Oatmeal

Please let me know if you decide to give this tasty breakfast treat a try – I’d love to hear your thoughts on it! #genuinelyjulie

Wishing you good health and happiness!

XO Julie

 

 

Black Cherry Avocado Smoothie Bowl

Good day wonderful people!

If you’ve been following the latest health trends then you’ve likely noticed the good ol’ avocado has been getting a lot of attention lately, and for good reason! It’s packed with vitamins, healthy fats, and a bunch of other nutritional and health benefits which you can learn about through this great resource.

I often hear people say that they aren’t a fan of the taste or texture of avocado though, which deters them from eating it. Well, you’re in luck because I’ve come up with some clever ways to use avocados and you won’t even know they’re in there! The recipes are also kid friendly, especially if you have a picky eater! Mix up one of these smoothie bowls and you’ve got a nutrient packed, delicious dessert or breakfast that will surely be a hit! Toss it in the freezer for an hour or so to alter the texture and you can even call it ice cream. Now that’s what I call a win!

I’ll also mention that for anyone out there who finds eating solid food challenging, a problem faced by many who have had laryngectomy surgery such as myself and for some elderly folks, this is an awesome recipe for you too! It’s quick, easy, nutritious, and super yummy!

Okay, so today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite smoothie bowl recipes which uses black cherries, avocado, banana, and spinach to create a filling and energy packed meal that will keep you going through the day! A few things you’ll need: a blender or single serve mixer such as a Magic Bullet or Ninja, the ingredients (obviously), and a smile. Why a smile? Well, why not?! Even if you don’t feel that you have something to smile about do it anyways. Studies have shown that when a person smiles it actually influences neurochemical mechanisms in the brain associated with emotion which have the ability to boost one’s mood and elicit a more positive attitude. Pretty cool eh?! So smile away 🙂

Alrighty, enough chit chat from me… lets get to the good part!

Black Cherry smoothie bowl 1
Black Cherry Avocado Smoothie Bowl

For 1 serving you’ll need:

  • 1/2 to 1 avocado, pitted
  • 1/2 frozen banana (peel, cut in half, then freeze in bags or containers for easy access)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen, pitted black cherries
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 1 cup almond or coconut milk (or other milk of choice)
  • 1 Tbsp raw honey
  • Optional toppings shown here: One Degree brown rice crisps (SO delicious, organic and GF), shredded unsweetened coconut, acai berry powder, and trail mix.

Method:

  • Place avocado, banana, cherries, then spinach into mixer. Add in milk (just enough to cover things), then honey. Blend together until pureed and mixed well.
  • Pour mixture into a bowl and top with your favorite, healthy toppings such as those suggested above.
  • Breath, Smile, Enjoy!

Black Cherry smoothie bowl
Black Cherry Avocado oh-so-yummy Smoothie Bowl

I hope you’ll enjoy this as much as I do! If you give this recipe a try I’d love to hear about it and please feel free to share with Instagram, Facebook, or Pinterest (#genuinelyjulie)

Well friends, as much as I’d love to keep chatting I do have some hot “Chai and Mighty” tea to drink from David’s Tea while I read “Missing Microbes” by Dr. Martin J. Blaser. “Missing Microbes” discusses how the overuse of antibiotics is having detrimental effects on the gut microbiome and by extension our health. I could go on and on about the topic of the gut microbiome and it’s implications for both physical and mental health and well-being (this is one of my major research interests), but I will save this discussion for another time.

Good reads
Missing Microbes” and some “Chai and Mighty” Tea for this chilly Sunday afternoon

Wishing you health and happiness!

XO Julie

Maple Ginger Acorn Squash Soup

Why hello there friends! I hope this finds you well and warm!

The weather here in Ontario has been pretty cold as of late. I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite ways to warm up when the cold weather’s here is with a hot bowl of creamy soup! I had found a lovely organic acorn squash a few days ago whilst wandering through the grocery store in the evening, which is my favorite time to go as it tends to be less busy. I think I’ve mentioned before that I love to experiment in the kitchen, so I was excited to see what sort of tasty, healthy new recipe I could turn this squash in to.

A few items I always like to keep around just in case my creative juices get stirring: organic veggie broth, coconut milk, real maple syrup, nuts, ginger, and raw unpasteurized honey. Fortunately I had all of the ingredients I needed to whip up some soup and with the cold weather out there, it seemed like the perfect thing to make. I love cream soups, but I’m not a huge fan of the calories and fat the accompanies cream, so I’m constantly trying to think up ways to make cream soups without the cream. Luckily, my soup experiment was a success! Here’s what I came up with…

maple ginger acorn squash soup 2
Delicious and Creamy Maple Ginger Acorn Squash Soup

Yumm! Doesn’t that just look delicious? Since I was feeling creative I finished it off with a drizzle of maple syrup, some fresh ground pepper, and pecans! And would you believe, I think it tastes even better than it looks. It’s creamy, filling, oh so tasty and simply too delicious not to share. Here’s what I did…

Ingredients

  • 1 acorn squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 6 – 8 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2″ ginger, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 3.5 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 – 2 cups coconut milk (depending on desired consistency)
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Tbsp raw, unpasteurized honey (I get mine at Clovermed Apiaries by the pail – can’t get enough of this delicious, nutritious stuff!)
  • 3 – 4 Tbsp real maple syrup (depending on desired sweetness)
  • Pecans or walnut to garnish (optional)

Method

  • In a large pot, heat coconut oil (or olive oil if you prefer) over medium-high heat. Add in onion and saute for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until soft and fragrant. Add in ginger and garlic, saute a 3 to 5 minutes more over medium heat.
  • Add in carrots, squash, cinnamon and nutmeg. I should note here that I tend to like a lot of spice and flavor in my food, so if you’re not a huge fan of that start with less of the spice and add more to taste.
  • Stir to coat veggies and combine. Add in vegetable broth, salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce temperature and simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until squash and carrots are soft.
  • Turn off the heat and using an immersion blender puree the soup. Add in coconut milk, honey, and maple syrup, stirring gently to combine. Finish off with salt and pepper to taste.
  • Serve hot with a drizzle of maple syrup and garnish with pecans if desired. Enjoy!

Maple ginger acorn squash soup
Maple Ginger Acorn Squash Soup

I hope you’ll enjoy this nutritious and healthy soup! If you give it a try please let me know; I love hearing feedback on my recipes as it helps me to improve them. You can also share on Instagram at #genuinelyjulie

Until next time: wishing you warmth, health, and happiness! 🙂

XO Julie

 

Compassion, Emotional Well-being… and Calvy!

Hello wonderful people!

I hope that this week has been treating you well! This post will be about something a little different from the usual recipes and health focused posts, yet in some ways is entirely relevant with respect to emotional well-being. This post will be about my three-legged “wonder kitty”, Calvy!

Handsome Calvy
Looking as handsome as ever!

I adopted Calvin in June 2015 after he was brought into Imperial Road Animal Hospital. He had been found on the side of the road in a ditch and appeared to have a paralyzed front right leg. It was unclear as to what had caused the injury, but evidently he had suffered some sort of trauma that resulted in the loss of sensation and function in his limb. After a few days and no improvement the decision was made to amputate his leg.

baby calvy
Calvin as a kitten after his amputation surgery. Seriously, Look at the face! So adorable!

I brought Calvy home on June 20th and quickly discovered what a treasure he is! I can say with absolute certainty that adopting him was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. He brings me so much joy and happiness. As those who have met him can confirm, he has quite the personality!

From playing guard cat on duty…

guard cat on duty
Keeping watch over the neighborhood

To celebrating my birthday…

My Birthday 2015
Checking out this weird thing some humans do… lighting the candles on my owl birthday cake!

Helping me in the kitchen…

helper calvy
Helping out in the Kitchen

Participating in Halloween festivities…

Halloween Calvy
He did not find this unicorn costume funny… but I did

And visiting Santa at Christmas…

babies at Christmas 2015
Calvy and Oscy visit Santa – 2015

Calvin has been a wonderful influence in my life while positively impacting my emotional well-being. Indeed studies have found evidence supporting the claim that companion animals can and do contribute positively to the emotional well-being of people. Moreover, there is also evidence that these interactions can similarly have positive benefits for the animals themselves. However, this appears to differ from one species to another and can depend on the context. A great article published in Psychology Today which summarizes some of these interesting findings can be found here.

Anyhow, back to Calvy. I’ll be honest, mostly I just wanted to write this post so that I could talk about my amazing cat that I love and adore. And because he’s so ridiculously awesome I think that he’s earned his very own blog post. Don’t worry… I’m sure this will not be the only Calvy post I write and that there will be many more stories about him to tell. There’s never a dull moment with that little fur ball around!

Calvin has an incredible spirit and resilience that is in itself an inspiration. Many people ask me if he “gets around okay”, well let me tell you he gets around perfectly well! In fact he can often be found out in the back yard chasing the dogs around, stalking the squirrels, leaves, and anything else that moves. And most recently (and hilariously) dashing, quite literally, through the snow! He has not let his “disability” negatively impact his capacity to enjoy life. As I’m sure you can tell from the many photos here, Calvy doesn’t let anything slow him down or stop him from having fun!

baby calvy 2
Chillin’ with his pals after a solid play session

On a final note I want to emphasize the importance of being a responsible pet owner. This is an issue that is important to me having grown up around the vet clinic, as my mom has worked there for many years, I’ve seen a lot of abandoned and neglected animals come through. It is completely heart breaking and frustratingly also avoidable. Too often people seem to forget that puppies, kittens, and other pets grow up into adults and that owning a pet is a commitment. Ensuring one has adequate resources (ie. time, finances, environment, etc.) to provide a loving and safe home for a pet is critical. Finally, to help control over population which is a huge issue in many places, spaying and neutering ones pets can have tremendous positive impacts. Please, be mindful of the fact that others, including non-human animals such as pets (that’s right, humans are also technically animals), deserve kindness, compassion, and empathy.

I will end with this inspiring quote on the value of compassion, which states: “Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” (Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness)

Oh, and one more Calvy picture of course… 🙂

Calvy outside
Enjoying the outdoors… we both love nature!

 

Kicking Off the New Year with a Juice Cleanse!

I hope that everyone’s New Year has been off to a great start! If you’re anything like me and maybe overindulged a bit during the holidays you might be looking for a way to get back on track. Something I love to do about twice a year and especially after the holidays is a 3 day juice cleanse. I find it really helps me to reset my body and get my clean eating habits back in order. Something I love about juice cleanses is that they tend not to leave one feeling famished, as fasts often do. And as I tend to get “hangry”, I don’t do so well with fasting. Juice cleanses on the other hand are fairly easy to stick with for the 3 days, and afterwards I always feel more energetic with an improved mood.

My mom makes the BEST shortbread cookies! Okay, I might be a little biased, but they are seriously delicious and she only makes them at Christmas (thank goodness!). Needless to say I take advantage of this once a year opportunity and eat more cookies than I need to. While I love them, after a few days of eating cookies and other sweet, sugary things I notice my body starts to feel lethargic. My mood also begins to deteriorate and I start feeling rather down – a pattern I’ve noticed over the years when my consumption of highly processed items, particularly sugars, increases significantly. This is when I know it’s time to do a little “reboot” of my system and the best way I’ve found for doing this is a juice cleanse!

If you’re new to juicing a great site to check out is “All About Juicing” – they share tons of great info on basically everything to do with juicing, from the different types of juicers available to various juicing recipes. Over the past few years I’ve experimented with different juice recipes and come up with my own new creations. I like variety so I try to do different juices each time I do a cleanse. This time I came up with 3 of my own creations based on past experiments (must be the scientist in me because I love experimenting, especially with FOOD! heh).

I always try to buy fresh and when possible, organic, produce. This is especially important when one is doing a juice cleanse so as to minimize exposure to potential toxins or harmful compounds found in foods. However, I know this is not always feasible and access to certain items can be difficult depending on your location and the time of the year, so just do your best. As a rule of thumb, try to buy local and fresh as much as possible. A great place in my area I like to get my produce from is “Globally Local“, which offers a variety of organic items and they even deliver! For those of you in the USA, a great new resource is “FarmersMarket.com” – which develops local markets for farmer and artisan products in various locations.

Okay, onto the cleanse! To simply things I’ve listed the actual recipes mentioned here on the “recipes” page of my blog.  Basically, I mix up all of my juice for the day in the morning and store it in mason jars in the fridge. Try to consume 1 glass of juice every 1 to 1.5 hours throughout the day, with water in between. At the end of the day I have one solid meal. I like to keep it all veggie based and simplistic, but adding in a lean protein is fine. Avoid any processed items or additives.

It’s best to mix up your juice fresh that morning, but if you’re tight for time it can be done the night before. Alternatively, you can prep your produce the night before (this is what takes the most time anyhow) and then juice it all in the morning. For those of you with kids, this is a great way to get them involved in learning how to prepare food. This is something I know I personally take for granted – knowing how to prepare my own food – which I learned how to do when I was a kid. Literature suggests that individuals are more likely to give something a try if they have some knowledge and a feeling of competency regarding the task, and cooking is no different! If kids don’t know how to prepare food items, even something as simple as how to properly peel an orange or carrot, they may not have the confidence to try using these items later on. Thus it’s important to get kids involved in the process of preparing and cooking food so that they can learn these essential skills that will be important tools for cultivating wellness and health throughout their lives.

For day 1 I decided to make what I like to call Sunshine Beet Juice. It’s a tasty combo of beets, carrots, oranges, grapefruit, and ginger. I finished off day 1 with a mushroom, kale, and beet stuffed bell pepper.

Sunshine Beet Juice
Sunshine Beet Juice – The Goods

Ingredients:

  • 6 medium beets, cut in half
  • 8 – 10 carrots, scrubbed (or peeled if you prefer)
  • 5 oranges, peeled
  • 4 grapefruits, peeled
  • 3″ ginger

Sunshine Beet Juice
Sunshine Beet Juice

Day 2 of my cleanse was a simple Green Juice consisting of apples, cucumbers, kale, ginger, and lemon. I wanted to add some raw turmeric to it but wasn’t able to find some this time around. It’s a great item to add in if you’ve got it! I finished off the day with a spinach salad topped with tomatoes, avocado, and walnuts. I used a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. I get my olive oil and balsamic vinegar’s from The Pristine Olive Tasting Bar. Seriously, the BEST olive oils and vinegar’s out there! I am not ashamed to say that on more than one occasion I have licked my plate clean after finishing my salad because the dressing is just SO DELICIOUS! If you’re not a fan of salads these dressings will change your mind – I actually crave salads now! One of my favorite combos is their Arbosana olive oil paired with the Cinnamon Pear balsamic vinegar. Amazing!!

Ingredients:

  • 6 – 8 apples, washed and cut in half (remove seeds)
  • 4 – 6 cucumbers
  • 2 bunches kale
  • 1 – 2 lemons
  • 2″ ginger
  • 2″ turmeric (optional)

Green Juice
Green Juice

Finally, on day 3 I decided to make some Pumpkin Juice (aka. wizard juice haha) consisting of a pumpkin, ginger, lemons, oranges, apples, and carrots. I finished off the day with Cinnamon Pear balsamic vinegar roasted beets and carrots, along with cashew crusted cod.

Ingredients:

  • 1 small pumpkin; seeds removed, peeled, cut into large chunks
  • 2 – 3 lemons
  • 4 oranges
  • 6 apples
  • 10 – 15 carrots
  • 2″ ginger
  • 2″ turmeric (optional)

Pumpkin Juice
Pumpkin Juice

Method:

  • Add each item one at a time. My juice pitcher fills up quickly so I keep a large bowl on hand to pour the juice into and combine.
  • Once you have finished juicing everything and combined it in the bowl, pour into mason jars and store in the fridge.
  • Serve cold and enjoy!

Have fun and happy juicing! 🙂