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! πŸ™‚

Wishing you much health and happiness,

XO Julie

 

Cashew Crusted Cod & Mushroom Kale Quinoa

Hello Lovely People!

I hope you’ve all been having a wonderful week. Mine has been a productive yet hectic one between meetings with students, and writing a manuscript for submission to a scientific journal presenting my findings from a study I did on the effect of oxytocin on pro-inflammatory cytokines and sickness behaviour. With any luck (finger crossed) it will get accepted and published.

We’ve been getting a lot of snow here in Ontario and the temperatures have dropped again so it’s pretty chilly. I recently decided I’d like to learn how to snowboard, and having acquired a snowboard and boots from my wonderful aunt I think there will finally be enough snow on the ground for me to go out and give it a try. Should be interesting… dun dun dunnn lol.

Calvy hasn’t been enjoying the weather much. He loves to get outside and play. So with all of this snow he mostly lies around and sleeps, has a few rowdy spurts here and there throughout the day where he bolts around like a maniac, and snacks. He will be happy when spring is here and he can spend all day outside, hunting leaves and such heh. Oh to be a cat.

Calvin + Little Dragon 2016
Calvy and his bff, Little Dragon, relaxing inside on a cold winter day

I’ve been keeping on track with my Kayla Itsines Bikini Body Guide fitness program which I recently started, and so far I’m really enjoying it. I like that it’s challenging yet quick (each workout is only around 30 minutes), as this approach compliments my busy schedule very well. Another plus is that it can be done at home and requires minimal special equipment, which I really like as I’m not a fan of going to the gym and prefer to do my workouts alone. I’m certainly feeling (and starting to see) the results of this program!

My healthy eating has been right on track too. Interestingly, I find this healthful practice much easier to be consistent with than I do exercising. My assumption is that since I’ve already established the habit of healthy eating and cooking for myself, it has become ‘second nature’ to now engage in healthy dietary practices. Not to mention coming up with fun, nutritious meals is a great break from all the writing I regularly do, especially lately!

As you may have noticed I mostly stick with vegetarian-type dishes because well, meat doesn’t really appeal to me. But occasionally I do like to enjoy some fish or seafood. One awesome recipe that I love to make which isΒ  quick and delicious, yet healthy is Cashew Crusted Cod with Mushroom Kale Quinoa!

Cashew cod + quinoa
Cashew Crusted Cod with Mushroom Kale Quinoa

Based on ingredients I had at the time I actually adapted my version of this recipe from the original “Almond Encrusted Tilapia” which I found on a wonderful blog called Fit Foodie Finds. I’ve tried the Almond Tilapia recipe and it’s super tasty as well, so if you’re a fan of tilapia please check this one out. However, I for whatever reason seem to prefer the cod-cashew combo (ha! try saying that five times fast). I find the cashews add a little extra sweetness to the cod, and I prefer the taste of cod a bit more than tilapia.

The fish only takes about 10 minutes at most to make, while the mushroom kale quinoa takes maybe about 20 minutes (and can be prepared ahead of time if need be and then warmed up). Equipment wise, you’ll only need some type of food processor for the cashews (I use a Magic Bullet). Alternatively, if you don’t have a food processor you can put your cashews into a plastic bag, wrap it in a dish towel, put it on the floor and stomp on them (yes, I’ve done this before haha). I know this sounds ridiculous, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and this honestly does work (albeit not as well) if you find yourself without a food processor. Not to mention if you’re feeling stressed and agitated stomping on some cashews may help to alleviate these feelings in a more productive way πŸ™‚

Alright, enough chit chat. As always try to use fresh, local, organic ingredients when possible. Here’s how you make 2 servings of my Cashew Crusted Cod and Mushroom Kale Quinoa recipe:

Cashew Crusted Cod

Ingredients:

  • 2 Cod fillets, defrosted (if using frozen)
  • 1/2 cup unsalted cashews, ground
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice, divided (approx. 2 lemon wedges)

Method:

  • Drizzle both sides of cod fillets with olive oil, then coat the side of the fish that’s facing you with ground cashews and a pinch of black pepper. Meanwhile heat coconut oil in a pan over medium-high heat.
  • Place fish in pan with the cashew crusted side down, then top the uncoated side (that’s now facing you) with remaining cashews and a bit of black pepper.
  • Cook fish for about 2 or 3 minutes then flip. Continue cooking for about 2 minutes more, or until fish flakes with a fork and cashew crust is golden brown on both sides.
  • Remove from heat and spritz with fresh lemon juice. Serve hot and enjoy!

Mushroom Kale Quinoa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 cups fresh kale, washed & chopped
  • 3 – 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1.5 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice (optional)

Method:

  • Cook quinoa according to package directions, then set aside.
  • Meanwhile heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in onion and saute for about 5 minutes, or until starting to soften. Reduce heat to medium and add in garlic; saute about 2 minutes more.
  • Add in mushrooms, kale, turmeric, a pinch of salt, and pepper. Stir to combine, cover and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes,Β  or until the mushrooms and kale begin to soften.
  • Remove from heat, add in warm cooked quinoa, and stir to combine (Note: If you’d like a little citrus flavor, spritz a bit of fresh lemon juice on at this time)
  • Think of one thing for which you’re grateful, smile, & enjoy!
cashew cod + quinoa 2
Yummy Cashew Crusted Cod + Mushroom Kale Quinoa

Here you have it folks: a quick and nutritious meal that’s easy to prepare and oh-so-yummy! This one’s perfect for a busy weeknight, since it won’t take a lot of time to prepare. To make things even easier, try having your veggies prepped in advance and ready to go. You could even cook your quinoa ahead of time, then simply reheat it when adding it to the veggies!

For those of you with little ones, the cashew crusted cod recipe can easily be adapted to make a healthy version of fish sticks for the kids by simply cutting the fish into strips, then prepare and cook them in the same way. This is a much healthier and more nutritious (and better tasting!) option compared to the processed stuff you find in the frozen isle of the grocery store.

On a final note: this meal is also dairy and gluten free! Turns out quinoa is actually not a grain, but rather a pseudocereal seed. However, issues with gluten can come into play when quinoa has been processed in a facility alongside grain products. More on this can be found here. Thus, when purchasing your quinoa just be sure to look for that which has been processed in a grain free facility or that is certified to be gluten free.

Well it’s about time for me to get back to writing up that manuscript. Until next time, happy eating, folks! πŸ™‚

xo Julie

 

 

 

 

 

Tropical Matcha Smoothie Bowl

Happy Monday Wonderful People!

I’m starting to think we should call Monday’s “matcha Monday’s”. Is that cheesy? Perhaps a little eh (lol) but I think it’s kind of catchy too. I know many people dread Monday because it tends to bring with it the start of a new work week. So perhaps adding a little matcha green tea to your Monday’s will help brighten them a bit? Heh It’s worth a try I suppose!

Given that logic, it’s settled: “Matcha Monday’s” it is! And in honor of the delightful delicacy that is matcha, I have a tasty recipe to share with you all: the Tropical Matcha Smoothie Bowl!

Tropical Matcha Smoothie bowl 1
Tropical Matcha Smoothie Bowl

But first lets have a quick review on why matcha is just so darn awesome and great for you!

In short it’s a powerful antioxidant, has select vitamins and minerals, lowers blood glucose levels, HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol, and oxidative stress, among others. A great resource to learn more about the health benefits of matcha can be found here. One of my previous posts for the yummy Maple Matcha Latte also goes into more detail about the health benefits of matcha and scientific evidence supporting such claims.

Matcha
Matcha Green Tea

This recipe also features avocado, which boasts several nutritious benefits including healthy fats, fiber, and numerous vitamins and minerals, to name a few. You can learn more about the health benefits of avocado here. I try to incorporate one avocado each day into my diet. However, I understand that many people aren’t a fan of the taste or texture of these nutritious little items. Fortunately though, when combined in this smoothie recipe the taste of the avocado becomes undetectable while adding a creamy texture that compliments the smoothie perfectly.

The other key ingredient in this recipe is pineapple (or mango if you prefer). Pineapple is noted as having powerful anti-inflammatory properties, are packed with Vitamin C (among other vitamins and minerals), and not to mention a delicious taste! Nutritional properties and health benefits can be found in more detail here.

Combine all this awesomeness together and what you get is a nutrient packed, delicious tasting, creamy smoothie that’s going to keep you full and energized for several hours! I recommend having this one for breakfast, but it also makes for an easy and healthy lunch. Feel free to toss on whatever toppings you prefer, or if you’re on the go leave it in a cup and skip the fancy toppings to make for easy sipping. As always, try to use local, fresh, and organic ingredients when possible.

Avocado Matcha Smoothie Bowl 2
Tropical Matcha Smoothie Bowl topped with raspberries, blueberries, hemp hearts, and cinnamon

Here’s how I make the Tropical Matcha Smoothie Bowl! (1 serving)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen pineapple (or mango), chopped
  • 1 tsp matcha
  • 1 Tbsp raw, unpasteurized honey (or maple real maple syrup)
  • 1 cup (approximately) unsweetened coconut or almond milk
  • optional: 1 Tbsp coconut flour for added fiber (this is great if you’re having trouble moving things along your digestive track)
  • optional: 1 handful spinach

Topping ideas: fresh fruit, granola, One Degree Organics Sprouted Brown Rice Cacao Crisps, shredded unsweetened coconut, walnuts, pecans, almonds, hemp hearts, chia seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg.

Method:

  • Place avocado, banana, and pineapple in a single serve blender (or regular blender) with enough liquid just to cover the ingredients.
  • Add in honey and matcha (and coconut flour here too if you’re including it; you’ll want to add about 1 or 2 more tablespoons of milk as well if you do).
  • Blend ingredients together for about a minute or so, until thoroughly combined and smooth.
  • Top with your favorite healthy toppings.
  • Take a deep breath, smile, and think of one thing for which you’re grateful; serve cold and enjoy! πŸ™‚
Tropical Matcha Smoothie Bowl 2
Tropical Matcha Smoothie Bowl topped with One Degree Organics Sprouted Brown Rice Cacao Crisps, shredded coconut, and pecans

I hope you’ll find this nutritious smoothie as delicious and enjoyable as I have!

This is a great recipe if you need an extra (and filling) boost of energy to get you through your day. It’s a lovely one for kids as well, since all the healthy stuff is camouflaged for those picky eaters out there, and it has a naturally sweet tropical taste from the pineapple! Give it a cool name (I’m thinking something that has to do with The Hulk or Ninja Turtles with all of that green? heh) and you’ve got a winner! πŸ™‚

Happy “Matcha Monday” y’all!

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! πŸ™‚

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! πŸ™‚
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

 

 

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 πŸ™‚

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