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

 

Creamy Walnut Avocado Soup (without the cream!)

It seems as though winter has finally arrived here in Ontario and with the cold weather I find myself wanting something warm and comforting to eat more often. I was short on time and craving something creamy and tasty for lunch that wouldn’t take up much time to make. I had some avocados in the fridge that I assumed would spoil shortly if I didn’t eat them (they can be so temperamental!) – and one can only have so many avocado smoothies!

Putting my creative hat on, or rather apron I should say  (it’s a delightful thing with cats all over it hah), and searched around my tiny kitchen to see what I had that I could make a soup out of. Fortunately I had enough to whip something tasty up! And so the Creamy Walnut Avocado Soup became.

This is a quick and easy to make soup with a lovely, creamy texture and rich taste. But best of all is the health benefits it packs between the walnuts and avocado providing healthy fats, vitamins and nutrients. For those who like cream based soups but are trying to avoid the dairy, this is an excellent alternative.

The photo doesn’t do this soup justice – I am still trying to learn how to use my snazzy new camera. Being that I am a tad technologically challenged, this is  no easy feat. One of my many new years goals is to learn how to work that thing!

Anyhow, I hope that you enjoy this delicious healthy soup! It pairs well with a good book and a cold winter day  🙂

Creamy Walnut Avocado Soup

walnut soup

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp. walnuts, crushed
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • pinch of thyme

Method

  • In a medium size pot, combine veggie stock with avocados and mash them a bit with a fork. Add in coconut milk. Combine using an immersion blender (or hand mixer), over medium heat.
  • Add in nuts. Use the blender to puree or simply stir in for more texture.
  • Add in spices and stir to combine. Once thoroughly heated, serve.
  • Enjoy!
  • Approx. 2 servings
  • 10 – 15 minutes to make