Monday, August 15, 2016

Fresh Peach Salsa


"If nothing ever changed there would be no butterflies."
~anonymous

Sweet, juicy and delicious peaches are most commonly used in desserts - and don't get me wrong, I love a good peach dessert, but today I thought I would change things up and add peaches to something unexpected...salsa.

Now if you are a Seinfeld fan like me, you may remember George telling Jerry "Salsa is now the number one condiment in America." To which Jerry responded "...that's because people like to say salsa..."

I can't verify if salsa is the #1 condiment - although it definitely should be but I do agree that it is fun to say "salsa". Say it a few times with a smile ;-)

Why is salsa so great?

It contains healthy ingredients like lycopene rich tomatoes and organ cleansing cilantro and onion. The not so healthy part (which is my favourite part) - is the chips, so try to indulge in them moderately.

How can you enjoy salsa even healthier?

  • Try it with a baked black bean or sweet potato chip instead of a fried corn or tortilla chip. 
  • Dip cut up veggies in salsa - red peppers work great. 
  • Cut a cucumber lengthwise, carve out the seeds to make a little "boat" and fill it with salsa. 
  • Sauté zucchini noodles with a little olive oil and then top with salsa. 
  • Make a taco salad with lettuce and veggies as the base and then top with salsa and a few crunched up chips.
  • Top a baked potato with some avocado and salsa.
Whichever way you try it - you are going to love the sweetness that comes with the addition of fresh, summer peaches. 

Enjoy!

PS. speaking of change - there are a lot and I do mean A LOT of exciting changes going on with Picky Diet! Stay tuned in the next couple weeks for a big announcement...

Fresh Peach Salsa

Ingredients
3 medium tomatoes, diced
2 lightly ripe peaches*
1/4 of a red onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 tsp cumin
juice from 1/2 a lime
fresh ground sea salt & pepper to taste

Instructions
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until well combined.

*try to use peaches that aren't too ripe as they will get mushy, especially if it lasts until day two!

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Monday, August 8, 2016

Summer Peach Blueberry Crumble - GF

"Life is a balance of holding on and letting go..."

There are some foods that are the poster children for summer.

For me they are sweet corn on the cob, strawberries, watermelon, cucumbers, blueberries and peaches.

They all scream SUMMER!

You may also notice they have a common theme - they are all light, hydrating foods which balance out your hot summer body temperature.

This is not a coincidence. Your body (and all of nature) is constantly trying to maintain balance. Cool, refreshing foods are in season in hot, dry summer and you most likely crave them much more than you would in the middle of January.

Today's recipe is a sweet, easy dessert (that sometimes turns into breakfast) that mixes two of my fav summer fruits - peaches and blueberries.

Aside from being delicious, peaches are a good source of fibre and potassium and blueberries have amazing antioxidants and help lower bad cholesterol...I love when dessert lowers cholesterol ;-)

The crumble is easy to make and contains heart healthy, protein rich oats and is sweetened with mineral filled natural maple syrup.

Its going to become your new summer staple!

Enjoy...

Summer Peach Blueberry Crumble

Ingredients
1 cup gluten free oats
1 cup all purpose gluten free flour
1/2 cup coconut sugar
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
3/4 cup Earth Balance, softened (vegan butter)
8-10 medium peaches, peeled and sliced
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 tsp cinnamon


Instructions
Pre-heat the oven to 350.

Lightly grease a square baking dish (9x9 works well) with some Earth Balance. Add the peaches and the blueberries to the dish. 

In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, sugar, maple syrup, Earth Balance and cinnamon. Mix well with a large fork to create a "crumble".

Spread the crumble evenly over the peaches and blueberries. 

Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes until the fruit is bubbly and soft and the crumble is golden brown. 

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Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Get Gorgeous Skin with One Drink!

"Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself"
~Coco Chanel

Who doesn't want gorgeous skin?

Oh right - everyone does...even you men out there!

Your face is the first thing people see and is a reflection of what is going on inside your body.

What's the one ingredient that makes my skin look its best?

Water.

So simple. So beautiful.

When I'm well hydrated my skin is clear and fresh. When I'm dehydrated it gets bumpy and lifeless.


Think of a plant that is dry and how it changes when you give it water...your body is the same. Your skin is your largest organ and therefore greatly affected by dehydration.

The human body is composed of 75% water. Your brain is 85% water. So yes, your body works best when it is well hydrated. It also helps with your natural elimination process keeping unwanted toxins and waste from hanging out in the body for too long and coming to your skin's surface.

How do I stay hydrated?

I like to spice up my water with lemon, cucumber or any fruit to give it a little flavour or make me feel like I'm at the spa ;-) Also decaffeinated herbal tea is equivalent to water so go for that if you want to switch things up from regular water. Some foods are also very hydrating - cucumbers, leafy greens, watermelon, bell peppers and broccoli - adding them in to your diet will help keep you hydrated.


So drink up - have an extra glass of water or two today and notice how gorgeous your skin can be.

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White Bean Bruschetta

"Its the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting"
~Paulo Coelho

Cheers to these gorgeous summer days!

Its amazing how sunshine and warm weather can lift your spirits.

It is the same with food...things that taste good to you release "feel good" hormones in our body making you crave them. Yes, comfort food is real.

The secret is to make your comfort food healthy food so that it becomes what you crave. Its amazing how when you begin to eat real food (not packaged or processed) how truly delicious it tastes. Right now local fresh tomatoes taste like candy and ripe cucumbers burst with a cool fresh flavour in your mouth!

Today's recipe celebrates what is fresh and growing right now - cherry tomatoes, cucumbers and basil. If you have your own garden these items are plentiful - if you don't, take a spin around your local farmers market to get the latest and greatest local veggies.

The cannellini beans in this recipe add a creamy texture and are loaded with clean protein and iron. The garlic, oregano and olive oil add awesome antioxidants and the tomatoes and cucumber add to your daily veggie intake and aid in hydration - which is so important on these warm days.

For a gluten free option go with gluten free bread or you can make it into a wrap (even a lettuce wrap)...the possibilities are endless...just like we wish summer was.

Enjoy!

White Bean Bruschetta


Ingredients
makes 6 pieces
1 can canellini beans, rinsed and drained
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 large cucumber, diced
10 basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/4 red onion, chopped small
1 Tbsp tahini
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
6 pieces of multigrain or gluten free bread
1 tsp dried oregano
fresh ground sea salt and pepper
large handful of arugula

Instructions
Pre heat the oven to 250. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly brush the 6 pieces of bread with olive oil on one side and place them oil side up on the parchment paper. Toast in the oven for about 10 minutes until they are a lightly golden and crispy but still soft.

In a mixing bowl, combine beans, tahini, garlic and salt and pepper. With a large fork mash the beans with the tahini and garlic until it is creamy but still has come texture.

In a separate mixing bowl combine the tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, basil. Dress with lemon juice, 1 Tbsp of olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper and stir until combined.

Spread the white bean mixture onto each piece of bread and mash it in a little bit. Top with the cucumber tomato mixture from the previous step and top with a sprinkle of arugula.

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Monday, July 25, 2016

Oatmeal Banana Muffins

"Count your life by smiles, not tears."
"Count your age by friends, not years."
~Anonymous

Today's recipe is not what was scheduled...this one was more of a fall recipe but to be honest I didn't have time to get any new "summer" recipes done last week. I'm sure you can relate - summer is so beautiful and busy that sometimes you need to get out and enjoy it and worry about the rest later. Its ok to let yourself do this once in a while - its good for you!

Regardless these Oatmeal Banana Muffins are delicious, easy to make and are a super healthy "to-go" breakfast or snack. They are gluten free and low in refined sugar. The fibre from the oats and chia seeds will keep you feeling full and energetic and the bananas add a natural sweetness along with a dose of potassium.

Now its back to the kitchen for me to bring you something summery and delicious for next week.

xo

Enjoy!

Oatmeal Banana Muffins

Ingredients
2 cups gluten free oats
1 Tbsp baking powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/4 cup Earth Balance (vegan butter)
1/2 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup almond milk (preferably unsweetened)
2 ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
1/4 cp walnuts to top (optional)

Instructions
Pre-heat the oven to 325.

Prepare a muffin tin with paper muffin cups or lightly grease it with Earth Balance.

In a high speed blender or food processor blend the oats until they have the consistency of flour. In a large mixing bowl add in the baking powder, cinnamon, sea salt and chia seeds and stir until well combined.

In a separate mixing bowl cream the Earth Balance and sugar with a hand mixer until they are creamy. Mix in the almond milk, mashed bananas, apple sauce and vanilla extract.

Add the "wet" ingredients in with the "dry" and stir until well combined. Stir in the vegan chocolate chips.

Using a large spoon, fill the muffin cups 3/4 full with the batter. Add a walnut to the top of each muffin if desired. Cook in the oven for 40 - 45 minutes, until the tops start to lightly brown. Remove and let cool for at least 10 minutes.

These muffins will keep in an airtight container for 2 days or you can freeze them for up to a month. I  like to make a double batch and keep them in the freezer so they are easy to take when you are running out the door.

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Monday, July 18, 2016

Crunchy Creamy Vegan Caesar Salad

This recipe is definitely one of my favourites.

A traditional caesar salad is usually loaded with unhealthy calories.

And yes there is a BIG difference between healthy calories and unhealthy calories.

Many people think the simple formula of eating less calories than you burn equals weight loss - well I hate to burst your bubble but that is totally untrue. It is all about what your body does with those calories. 100 calories from a sugary drink is dealt with completely different than 100 cals of chopped veggies and hummus...

Food for thought.

Literally.

The 100 cals of sugar get stored in fat cells. The 100 cals of veggies get broken down and their nutrients and vitamins are used by different systems in your body - your skin, your lungs, your heart...

So in an effort to eat more healthy calories try making this delicious classic caesar salad. It is full of selenium for a healthy thyroid (from the brazil nuts), B vitamins for energy, heart and brain healthy fats, magnesium for your muscles and of course greens for your respiratory system.

Plus it tastes super yummy. You are going to love it!

Enjoy!

Crunchy Creamy Vegan Caesar Salad

I realize this looks like a lot of ingredients but I promise it is super simple!

Ps. the croutons are amazing...I'm lucky if I get them on the salad before I eat them all. I use Food For Life brand Ezekiel Flax bread - it has lots of protein and flax seeds and tastes delicious toasted with the herbs and spices.

Ingredients
serves 4-6
2 heads/bunches of romaine lettuce or kale, chopped
1 avocado, cut into medium pieces (optional)
2 Tbsp hemp seeds

Dressing
1 Tbsp olive oil
fresh ground sea salt and pepper
1/2 cup raw Brazil nuts
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp lemon juice
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed butter)
2 tsp coconut sugar
2/3 cup water

Croutons
4 pieces of Ezekiel sprouted grain bread or gluten free bread, broken into 1" pieces
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp parsley
fresh ground sea salt

Instructions
Pre heat the oven to 400 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, toss the broken bread pieces with olive oil and spices until well coated. Arrange them on the baking sheet so that none are overlapping and bake for 8-10 minutes, watching to make sure they are crispy but not burning. Remove and set aside. 

In a food processor or high speed blender, puree the brazil nuts until they are finely ground. Add in the olive oil, salt and pepper, nutritional yeast, garlic, dijon, lemon juice, tahini coconut sugar and water and puree until it is a well combines, creamy mixture. 

In a large serving bowl, mix the lettuce or kale with the avocado and dressing you made in the previous step. I usually have to do this by adding a few spoonfuls of the dressing at a time to evenly coat the lettuce. Top with the toasted croutons and hemp seeds. 

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Healthy Weight Loss Tips - No Kale or Kettlebells!

"Imagine if we obsessed about the things we loved about ourselves"

Weight loss is obviously a HUGE topic. It is not something I totally focus on because it can become an unhealthy obsession and often is associated with crazy diets or insane workouts - neither are healthy.

The best and healthiest way to shed some lbs is making small tweaks to your everyday life that will encourage weight loss and help you keep the weight off for good - because no one can be on a juice cleanse forever!

Here are 5 of my fav "Weight Loss Hacks" that are super easy!

  1. Drink more water. The body often mistakes hydration for hunger. The whole "8 glasses of water a day" may not be right for everyone but if you weigh more than 130 lbs you should be getting at least 60oz a day - basically more than 6 glasses. Not only will this keep you feeling full it also flushes out your body - keeping your organs in proper working order. Next time you want a little afternoon snack, enjoy a big glass of water first. 
  2. Don't eat after dinner. Once you have finished eating dinner - that's it - no wandering around the kitchen an hour or two later looking for snacks. Its ok to occasionally have dessert however eat it shortly after your meal - not at 11pm at night. Give your body 10-12 hours without food (mostly while you are sleeping) to let it digest everything properly and to efficiently work on other systems. If you are having a craving - make a cup of tea or have a glass of water. This is something that may be difficult at first but after a while it will become a habit and you won't think twice about it.
  3. Get 7-8 hours of sleep. Sleep directly affects hormones that control hunger and satiety feelings - getting enough shut eye will keep those hormones balanced. Also when you are well rested you feel better and are less likely to snack later in the day. 
  4. Stop Drinking Your Calories. Choose your drinks carefully - stay away from anything that has sugar (soda, energy drinks, fruit juice, sweetened coffee drinks) - some of these drinks will have as many calories as a small meal - and wouldn't you rather eat? I would! Cutting down on sugar is an incredibly easy way to lose weight. When you are thirsty - drink water or unsweetened tea. Coffee is ok - but try it black or with a little unsweetened non dairy milk. Flavoured soy and almond milks can contain a lot of sugar so be careful! Oh and don't even think about switching to diet drinks - they can cause more weight gain and give you bigger sugar cravings after drinking them. #dontdodiet
  5. Cut down on Booze. Don't get me wrong - I love a glass of vino (or 2...) as much as anyone however the calories can add up. As the skinny French women say - you can have wine or you can have dessert, but you can't have both! Also stay away from mixed drinks that have soda, tonic water or fruit juice - they contain a lot of extra sugar = extra cals (see #4) you don't need. 
Give one or two of these simple lifestyle changes a try and see how they can work for you and your health goals! 

Take care of yourself and be kind to yourself...

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Monday, July 11, 2016

Creamy Vegan Ice Cream

Yes you read that correctly - vegan ice cream is a thing.

This has taken me a long time to accept. Conventional dairy ice cream was a big part of my childhood - as I'm sure many of you can relate. First of all I lived in a town that had its own dairy literally a block from my school. Secondly there was a little ice cream shoppe on the way home from the golf course and there was nothing like a creamy cold cone after 4 hours walking in the heat.

Oh how times have changed. These days I can no longer tolerate dairy and even if I could I wouldn't be eating it anyway - too many hormones, antibiotics and inflammatory proteins for me.

So on to a plant based version that I've come to love...

Yes, you can buy vegan ice cream from the grocery store - and don't get me wrong it is totally delicious - however this homemade recipe contains no preservatives and is seriously healthy. Like 4 ingredient healthy!

It is full of potassium, fibre, protein and magnesium.

It is super simple to make...

Ok, I won't keep you in suspense any longer. It is made using frozen bananas. Peel them, slice them, freeze them (for at least 5 hours) and then blend them in a food processor or high speed blender. They will get incredibly creamy and are not over powered with banana flavour (which was a pleasant surprise). Once you have blended them a bit you can add any ingredients you like - blueberries, cinnamon, a little dark chocolate...the options are endless.

I recommend keeping a stash of frozen, sliced bananas in the freezer at all times so you can whip this up whenever your heart desires - waiting 5 hours for ice cream is not fun.

My favourite flavour combo so far is Pecan and Caramel - give it a try one of these hot summer days - I think you will love it!

Enjoy.

"Life is like ice cream, enjoy it before it melts."

Creamy Pecan & Caramel Vegan Ice Cream

Ingredients
serves 2 (or 1, if sharing isn't your thing!)
4 ripe bananas
6 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
8 pecans, roughly chopped (plus a couple more for sprinkling on top)

Instructions
Peel and thinly slice the bananas and then freeze them for at least 5 hours.*

When you are ready to make the ice cream, place the frozen bananas in a food processor or high speed blender and let them sit for a couple minutes to slightly defrost.

Blend for a couple minutes until you have a smooth and creamy mixture. Add the dates, vanilla extract and pecans and blend for another couple minutes until everything is well combined.

Serve promptly.

*I keep peeled, sliced bananas in my freezer so there is no wait time!

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Wednesday, July 6, 2016

What is Nutritional Yeast? Ingredient Spotlight

Nutritional yeast is a popular ingredient in many plant based recipes and I use it all the time! It definitely has an unappealing name and the whole "yeast" thing is a bit confusing but it truly is a very healthy food with tons of nutritional benefits...Here's all the deets on this yummy, cheesy flavoured ingredient and why you should stock up today!


What is Nutritional Yeast?
Nutritional Yeast is a deactivated yeast so it will not grow or expand like bakers or brewers yeast. It is grown mostly on molasses or sugar cane. It is harvested, washed and then heated (to deactivate it).

Why should you eat it?
Nutritional Yeast (Nooch - as it is lovingly called by frequent users) has 8 grams of complete protein in 1/4 cup with only 60 calories. It is also fortified with loads of B vitamins including B12 which is usually difficult to get on a plant based diet. B vitamins are essential for energy and a healthy metabolism. It is gluten and dairy and sugar free.

How to use it...
-sprinkle it on pasta or salads like you would with parmesan cheese
-use it to add a "cheesy" flavour to dressings, dips and sauces
-I love to sprinkle it on popcorn and add it on top of baked potatoes

Where do you buy it?
You can usually find it in the "health food" section of the grocery store or you can definitely find it at a health food or natural food store. It may be in the bulk section. My favourite brand is Bob's Red Mill.


How to store it...
I keep mine in an airtight container in the fridge.

My favourite recipes that use Nutritional Yeast:
Classic Black Bean Burgers
Fresh Lemon Garlic Zucchini Noodles
Kale Caesar with Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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Monday, July 4, 2016

5 Amazing Reasons to Do Yoga

"Yoga isn't about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down" 

Yoga is a big part of my life. 

I have been practicing for over 5 years and try to practice almost every day, even if it is only for 10 minutes.

I can’t do a handstand or a full back bend but that’s ok - and that’s why I love yoga. Its not about who you were yesterday or who you might be tomorrow or even who you want to be - its who you are right now in the present moment and truly accepting that moment. 

There is no finish line, no one to compete with or to compare to.

It is time with yourself, challenging your edge and moving your body with no judgement. 

I go to classes once in a while but mostly I practice at home with a website/app called myyogaonline

Sometimes I do a hard, sweaty workout practice and other days I do a quick stretch. 


The crow pose I show in my picture is one pose I have figured out. Each time I do it I'm reminded that in life I can lift myself out of anything! As a side note, it took me a really long time to be able to successfully do that pose - along the way there were many falls...again kinda like life.

I know some of you would tell me that you can't do yoga because you aren't flexible or strong or don't love wearing yoga pants...well here is my response - anyone can do yoga - there are tons of beginner and restorative classes and you don’t have to have a flexible bone in your body to do them - all you do is show up as you are and I guarantee you will learn a little something new about yourself. Still need more convincing? 

Here are 5 amazing reasons to do yoga...

It keeps your brain young...
A neuroscience study from 2015 shows that yoga actually changes the brain. They used an MRI of the brain to show yoga protects the brain from grey matter declining in volume as we age. Those that had practiced more yoga had brain volumes typical for much younger people - basically doing yoga protects your brain from shrinking as you age. It also sharpens your memory, boosts brain function and improves reaction time.

Its a good workout...
Yoga is one of the healthiest ways to shed some pounds and build strength. Seriously. Yoga engages your shoulders, arms, core and legs. And a few sun salutations will have you sweaty in no time. 

It makes you more balanced and flexible...
Practicing yoga regularly improves your balance and flexibility. This helps you be more coordinated in other sports or activities you enjoy. Don't worry if you aren't flexible to start - you can modify most poses to work with where you are at and you will slowly gain flexibility and balance each and every time you hit the mat.

Its good for your heart...
Studies show that yoga reduces the risk of heart disease as much as conventional exercise. On average, yoga participants lost five pounds, decreased their blood pressure, and lowered their low-density (“bad”) cholesterol by 12 points. Plus it teaches the practice of self-compassion and kindness giving yourself some much needed love.

It makes you feel happy...
Yoga is a proven stress reliever. A challenging yet calming practice will boost your mood and help you reflect on the present moment, clearing your mind of clutter and unnecessary thoughts. It connects you to the present moment and being happy with who you are and what you have right now.

Namaste.

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Classic Black Bean Burgers

"Freedom is being you without anyone's permission"

Happy 4th of July to my American readers and happy belated Canada Day to my fellow Canadians.

The first long weekend of summer has come and hopefully you soaked up every wonderful minute! My fav part of both these holidays is the fireworks - they never cease to amaze me and make me feel so happy to celebrate in such beautiful countries. We are truly lucky.

Summer weekends can be tough times to eat healthy and keep up with your #goals. Its the perfect time to stick to the 80/20 rule - try to eat healthy 80% of the time and the other 20% enjoy yourself and relax.

Easy ways to do this?
  • stay away from creamy salads or dishes
  • fill half your plate with veggies
  • drink a glass of water between every alcoholic bevy
  • only take a couple bites to "taste" dessert
These small steps help keep the Monday morning food guilt at bay so you can continue to look and feel great all summer long.

Today's recipe is a plant based take on a classic long weekend food - the burger. Subbing out beef for black beans is healthier for you and for the planet.

This classic Black Bean Burger is meat and dairy free and tastes great. It is full of clean protein, iron, B-vitamins, fibre and antioxidants - healthy things you don't get all of from a beef burger. If you make them a couple hours in advance and put them in the fridge they cook up beautifully on the grill. If you are stuck on time, you can cook them in a skillet on the stove with a touch of olive oil or bake them in the oven right after making them. Top them how you would your fav burger - I like a little mashed avocado, red onion, tomato and lettuce. Enjoy.

Classic Black Bean Burger
Ingredients
1/2 large white onion diced
1 1/2 15oz can of organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup of brown rice flour
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 piece of Ezekiel sprouted grain bread or gluten free bread, crumbled
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1/2 tsp oregano
1 Tbsp of olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
Sauté the onions in the olive oil over medium heat until soft, season with fresh sea salt and pepper and remove from heat. Set aside and keep the skillet with the oil in it out.

In a large mixing bowl mash the beans until almost smooth, add the bread crumbles, nutritional yeast, the cooked onions and seasonings and mix well. Slowly add the flour - the mixture will become thick and you may have to mix with your hands. Once all ingredients are combined, form the mixture into patties about 1/2 inch thick.

Place the patties in the pan you used to sauté the onions and cook them on medium heat until they are crispy on each side. You can also bake them in the oven on a parchment covered cookie sheet at 400 for 10 minutes a side. If you want to cook them on the grill, put them in the fridge for about an hour to set - then grill on medium low heat for about 4-5 minutes a side until they are browned on each side. You do not need to refrigerate them if you are cooking them in the oven or on the stove. 

Tips
For a gluten free burger, substitute GF bread for the Ezekiel bread and use a couple of lettuce leaves for a bun. Top with your fav burger toppings or maybe some avocado and salsa for a twist! This recipe makes 4 burgers - if you have some left over save it to break up over your salad for lunch the next day - so delish! You can make the burgers in the morning and keep them in the fridge until you are ready to cook them or make them up to a week in advance and freeze them until you cook them.

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Monday, June 27, 2016

Orange & Pistachio Endive Boats

"When you love and laugh abundantly you live a beautiful life"
Today’s post is coming to you from 34 000 feet on my way home from a great weekend away visiting amazing friends. 

The weather was absolutely fabulous and we ate almost every meal outside soaking up the gorgeous sun and fresh, early summer air. It always amazes me what sharing a meal really means - it is not only nourishment for your body it is time to laugh, talk, share, try new things and learn more about the people you love.

Today's recipe is perfect for sharing...And perfect for the hot summer weather!  The orange adds a hint of sweetness against the lightly bitter taste of the endive and is a great source of fibre and vitamin C. The pistachios are a good source of protein and iron and the cinnamon and olive oil both provide heart healthy antioxidants. 

This is a great appetizer or shared plate - try it out next time you are sharing a meal and some laughs with friends or family.

Enjoy.



Ingredients
2 navel oranges, peeled and cut in small pieces
2 tsp olive oil
2 heads endive, bottom cut off and leaves separated
1/2 cup roasted pistachios
1/2 cup hummus
1/2 tsp cinnamon
Fresh ground sea salt to taste

Instructions
In a medium mixing bowl, toss the orange pieces and pistachios with olive oil, cinnamon and sea salt. Set aside.

On a platter, arrange the endive leaves and then spread a little hummus on each one.  Top each one with some of the orange pistachio mixture from the first step.  Serve promptly.

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic and Lemon

Eating local produce is so good for you.

Your body is acclimated with its surroundings and climate and when your food is grown in the same climates and surroundings it contains the nutrients and vitamins your body needs for that season. Obviously local produce isn't always available to us all the time so we should take advantage when we can.

Other great reasons to eat local:
  • supports the local economy
  • food is fresher
  • produce ripens naturally
  • less pesticides and toxins
  • better for the environment/air quality
Right now my fav local veggie is asparagus. I like it roasted with a hint of garlic and lemon as per the recipe below. Test it out - I'm sure you are going to love it!

Enjoy!

Roasted Asparagus with Garlic and Lemon
Ingredients
1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed*
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
juice from 1/2 a lemon or 1 Tbsp of lemon juice
Fresh ground sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Preheat the oven to 425 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

In a large mixing bowl , toss to coat the asparagus spears with the olive oil. Sprinkle in the garlic, nutritional yeast (optional) and sea salt and pepper. 

Arrange the asparagus on the baking sheet in a single layer and bake until lightly tender - anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes depending on the thickness of the spears. 

Top with lemon juice before serving. 

*To remove the ends of the asparagus, hold each end of the asparagus piece and bend it until it snaps - it will naturally break off in the correct place

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Monday, June 20, 2016

Arugula Lemon Salad

"Summertime is always the best of what might be..."
~Charles Bowden

Happy Summer Solstice.

Today has the most amount of sunshine and the least amount of darkness and is the start to Summer.

It is the perfect time to soak up the sun and honour all the beauty nature gives us in these amazing warm, gorgeous months. The beginning of summer marks days ahead filled with hot, sunny mornings, lazy afternoons, dinner al fresco and endless effortless joy.

Solstice brings with it energy shifts and turning points. And just like the solar system is making a turning point so can you. It is a perfect time to set new goals or habits for yourself and release what isn't serving you. Maybe it is eating healthier, cooking more meals at home, drinking more water, exercising more or spending quality time with those you love. Take a small peek inside and see what you can do better for you in these upcoming summer months.

As the days get warmer, your body naturally wants lighter, cooler food to maintain balance. Today's recipe is a light, arugula salad with wonderful flavours of dill, fennel and paprika. Quick and easy to make - but it looks and tastes like you spent hours on it ;-)

Enjoy!

Arugula Lemon Salad

Ingredients
6 cups arugula
1 cup cucumber, thickly sliced
1 cup fennel, finely sliced
1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
fresh ground sea salt

Instructions
Combine the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic powder and paprika in a bowl and whisk to combine or in a jar with a lid and shake to combine.

On a large, shallow bowl or dish, arrange the arugula and top with cucumber and fennel. Sprinkle with dill. Dress the salad lightly with the dressing you made in the first step and grind some fresh sea salt to taste on top.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2016

What's in your salad dressing?

Store bought salad dressings are made with cheap, unhealthy oils, contain lots of sugar and are full of preservatives. This is counterproductive when you make yourself a gorgeous fresh salad loaded with healthy vitamins and antioxidants.

Instead of buying salad dressing, you can whip up this delicious vinaigrette in no time and then you know exactly what you are getting - heart healthy olive oil and inflammation fighting apple cider vinegar.

It is quick to make using dried herbs. If you have a little more time you can chop up fresh herbs and garlic making it even more delicious.

Enjoy!

Basic Healthy Vinaigrette

Ingredients
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tsp pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp garlic powder or 1 garlic clove, minced
fresh ground sea salt

Whisk everything together in a bowl or shake it all up in a mason jar with a lid.
You can store this in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge.

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Monday, June 13, 2016

Fresh Lemon Garlic Zucchini Noodles

"Be grateful, eat more vegetables and love others."
~Louise Hay

Eating more vegetables is one of the keys to good health!

I realize this is not breaking news.

I'm sure you are well aware of the amazing health benefits of eating more veggies...disease prevention, healthy immune system, happy digestive system, this list goes on. The issue is actually eating enough of them every day.

Some easy ways to get more are:

  •  drink a green smoothie in the morning with spinach or kale or whatever greens you like to put in
  • have a salad at lunch, load up your sandwich or wrap with tons of veg, use lettuce as a wrap, have veggie soup, snack on cut carrots, bell peppers and cucumbers with hummus
  • sauté greens with dinner, have a salad with dinner (or as dinner) or make a veggie stir fry or bowl (a great way to use up veg from your fridge) 
  • disguise the veggies as something else - use zucchini for noodles, cauliflower for mashed potatoes or baked sweet potato slices as chips
Today's recipe uses zucchini as noodles or as they are affectionately called, "zoodles". The texture and taste works prefect with whatever you usually like to put on your pasta - tomato sauce, olive oil and herbs, or even a plant based creamy sauce like the one in this recipe. They are super easy to make. If you have a spiralizer you can use it to make skinny, spaghetti like noodles or a mandolin or peeler for thin, wider noodles. All you do after that is sauté them a bit to warm them up. Give them a try - your tastebuds and your waistline will thank you!

Fresh Lemon Garlic Zucchini Noodles

Ingredients
serves 2
2 medium zucchini
1/4 cup gluten free breadcrumbs
6 brazil nuts, chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
juice form 1/2 a lemon with grated zest
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped fresh ground sea salt and pepper

Instructions
Wash the zucchini and trim off the ends. If you have a spiralizer use that to make the zucchini spiral "noodles" (like spaghetti). If you don't, you can use a mandolin or a peeler to make wider, thin "noodles". Set the noodles aside.

In a large fry pan, sauté the bread crumbs and brazil nuts in 1 Tbsp of olive oil over medium heat until they are lightly browned - about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and set aside in a bowl.

Using the same pan, sauté the garlic in 2 Tbsp of olive oil over low heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, nutritional yeast.

Add the zucchini noodles to the pan with the cooked garlic and lemon juice. Add in the toasted bread crumbs and brazil nuts from the second step and heat it all on medium heat for about 5 minutes, until the zucchini noodles are warmed through. Sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

Enjoy.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Snazzy Sautéed Kale

Green vegetables are the most commonly missing food in people's diet today.

This is a sad statement because greens are literally amazing!

Why?
  • they improve liver, gallbladder and kidney function
  • they clear congestion, especially in the lungs
  • they fight cancer
  • they strengthen your immune system
  • they purify your blood
I think that is more than enough reasons to try and get more glorious greens in your day!

As much as I love salad - and trust me - I LOVE SALAD - sometimes I prefer my greens cooked. This recipe for sautéed kale is interpreted from one of my fav restaurants. The slivered almonds add a dash of extra protein and vitamin E and the grapes give a hint of sweetness that offsets the tang of the kale. It makes a fab side dish or I like to add some kidney beans and eat it as an entree. 

Enjoy!

Snazzy Sautéed Kale

Ingredients
1 large bunch of kale, torn and tough stems removed
1/4 cup slivered almonds
12 red grapes, halved
1 Tbsp olive oil
juice from 1/2 a lemon
a dash of crushed red pepper (optional)
fresh ground sea salt and pepper 

Instructions
Sauté the kale and slivered almonds in a large sauté pan on medium low heat with the olive oil until it it starts to soften. Add the grapes, crushed red pepper (optional), sea salt and pepper. Cook for a couple more minutes until the kale is your desired tenderness.  Spritz with lemon juice before serving.

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Monday, June 6, 2016

Are you ready to get healthy?


"If  you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten."
~Tony Robbins

I have been writing the Picky Diet blog for over two years now and have loved every minute. I learn so much everyday and am constantly striving to be better to bring you great recipes, useful nutritional info and hopefully some smiles and inspiration.

However up until now I had no professional education in nutrition. How could a girl that has only ever sold car parts be giving you advice on what to eat???

I am excited to tell you that I am now a certified Nutrition and Wellness Coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. It was an amazing course and I learned so much more over the last year than I ever could have imagined - including a lot about myself.

I feel this gives me a better foundation to bring you all the healthy info you need to be your best self.

This also makes me available to you personally as a health coach. If you are interested in working with me on a program to reach your personal health goals in an easy, attainable way without crazy diets or food restrictions please reach out to me via email kim@pickydiet.com


The coaching program can be done in person, over the phone or with face time. I will work with you to set your personal nutrition and wellness goals and work toward reaching them by giving you a deeper understanding about food and lifestyle choices that will help you look and feel your best. This program gives you a set of skills you will be able to use for the rest of your life.

To clarify, Picky Diet is all about plant based recipes but my nutrition coaching is an individualized program and isn't meant to turn you vegan if that isn't what works for you. Every person is different and one way of eating does not fit all.

If you would like more information on personal or corporate nutrition and wellness coaching please drop me a line at kim@pickydiet.com  - I would love to hear from you.

Sending you sunshine, happiness and love,
Kim

Spring Green Rice Bowl

"Rice is great if you are really hungry and want to eat 2000 of something."

Lots of  people are "carbophobic" - yep that's a word - at least it is in the nutrition world.

But here is the real truth...

White, over processed, refined carbs are not good. Their nutrients and vitamins have been stripped during processing. These foods make your blood sugar spike and then crash raising your insulin levels - leaving you with low energy and making you hungry again shortly after you have eaten. Some examples are white pasta, white bread and any processed breakfast cereal.

Whole grains (and I'm not talking about the ones that claim to be in Frosted Flakes) are literally whole - they still have all their nutrients, vitamins and fibre. They digest slowly keeping your blood sugar levels steady, giving you good energy and keeping you feeling full. Some examples are quinoa, whole oats and brown rice.

Brown rice is a grain that has been around for thousands of years. It contains fibre, protein, iron and magnesium. It gives your body healthy, usable energy and is extremely good for your heart and your brain. Don't get caught up in it being a "carb" in a negative way it is actually a positive whole food for your body and your health.

Today's recipe uses brown rice as a base in a delicious spring green bowl. It has kale, broccoli and green beans along with cashews for added crunch and protein. It is one of my favourite dinners.

This recipe calls for tamari - which is a wheat free soy sauce that has a richer and milder taste than traditional soy sauce. It is thicker and less salty. It is a Japanese form of soy sauce as opposed to the traditional Chinese soy sauce. You can pick it up at your regular grocery or health food store.

Spring GreenRice Bowl

Ingredients
makes 2 servings
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1 cup cremini or white mushrooms, sliced
1 cup broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
6 kale leaves, torn into small pieces
1 cup fresh green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp tamari
12 cashews, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp red onion, diced
Fresh sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
Cook the rice according to package directions. I usually start the rice and then chop up the veggies while its cooking.

In a large sauté pan, warm the garlic with 1 Tbsp of olive oil on medium low heat for 2 -3 minutes. Add in the broccoli pieces and green beans and cook for 5 - 7 minutes on medium heat. Add in the mushrooms and kale and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Stir in the cooked rice to combine the cooked vegetables with the rice.

Divide the cooked rice and veggies between two bowls and drizzle each one with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and 1 Tbsp of tamari. Top each one with 1 Tbsp red onion and half of the cashews.  Season with fresh ground sea salt and pepper.

Enjoy!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Apple Almond Butter Breakfast

"Skip ropes, not breakfast..."

Some mornings I want a simple easy breakfast that will fuel me until lunch but isn't a big undertaking.

Your morning meal is super important as it gets your metabolism fired up for the day. A healthy breakfast sets you up to make better food choices throughout the day. It is a good time to eat fats and protein because your body has all day to use them up.

A current staple for me these days is an apple cut up and topped with almond butter, ground flax seed and cinnamon.  It also makes a great afternoon or after school snack.

The apple gives you lots of fibre and antioxidants and helps keep you full until lunch.

The almond butter has tons of protein and iron to fuel you for a busy morning plus vitamin E for smooth skin.

The flax seeds of course have omega fatty acids to fire up your brain and keep your heart healthy.

The cinnamon has amazing cleansing properties for your liver - plus it gives yummy flavour.

Ingredients
1 apple of your choice, preferably organic
1 -2 Tbsp almond butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground flax seeds

Instructions
Obviously I made this pretty for the picture (#Instagram) but you don't necessarily have to core it and slice it as shown. You can cut it up any old way you like and then smear a little almond butter on each piece and sprinkle with ground flax and cinnamon. If you are taking it to go and don't want to cut the apple until you are are at work - put a couple tablespoons of almond butter in a small container and stir the cinnamon and flax in to make a super healthy "dip" - this is a perfect way to "hide" the flax from people who think they don't like it ;-)

Enjoy!

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Fresh Herb Quinoa Salad

Happy Memorial Day to my US friends and readers!
I hope you are taking time to enjoy your long weekend.

I'm totally loving cooking with herbs right now.

They are full of so many vitamins and antioxidants and they make ordinary food taste delicious.

My current favs are:

Parsley - full of disease fighting vitamins A & C (also amazing for your skin). I'm putting it on all of my salads and in my green smoothie - it makes it taste so fresh! Its also really good for your tummy!

Mint - contains fibre and iron (yes you read that correctly ;-). So perfect chopped with fruit or muddled in a ice cold summer drink. It is also very soothing and anti-inflammatory.

Dill - high in magnesium, calcium and potassium, dill is an essential summer herb - I love it in a basic cucumber and tomato salad with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of fresh ground sea salt - yum.


The best way to get herbs? Plant your own herb garden! They take up very little space so they will fit on your balcony or porch, they are easy to maintain and if you don't use them for cooking you can always cut a fresh sprig or two for a vase making your kitchen smell so good. Lots of stores and garden centres already have herb gardens pre-made in pots you can buy - so easy - and cleaner than dealing with all that dirt!

Experiment for yourself - you will be amazed at the great flavour some fresh herbs will give whatever you are cooking. Chop them and sprinkle them on your salads, rice dishes, pasta and veggies. The possibilities are endless.

Today's Meatless Monday recipe is a Fresh Herb Quinoa Salad.

It is light, flavourful, full of clean protein, fibre and lots of vitamins. Perfect for an evening bbq or a sunny summer lunch. This recipe makes a big bowl so you make it for a party or keep the extras in the fridge for tomorrow's lunch - I like to put it over a bed of arugula day 2 to change it up a bit and get some greens.

Enjoy!

"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow"
~Audrey Hepburn

Fresh Herb Quinoa Salad

Ingredients
serves 6-8
2 cups uncooked quinoa
1 cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
handful of mint leaves, roughly chopped
handful of dill sprigs, roughly chopped
large handful of parsley, roughly chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 cup tahini (sesame seed butter)
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt & fresh ground pepper

Instructions
Cook quinoa according to package directions. Once it is done, let it stand for about 20 minutes or put it in the fridge to cool down. You can make the quinoa in advance so that it is completely chilled by the time you are ready to serve it but it also serves well at room temp.

Whisk together the olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, tahini and garlic to make the dressing.

In a large serving bowl combine the cooked quinoa, the beans, red onion and stir in the dressing made in the previous step. Add in sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Before serving mix in the chopped herbs and maybe a couple squeezes of lemon.

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Friday, May 27, 2016

My Fav Fast & Fun Cardio


Yes you read that correctly.

Fun and cardio aren't two words you usually associate with one another.

I have nightmares of spending a zillion minutes on a cardio machine getting nowhere. I totally look at the clock after what has seemed like 40 minutes only to find out its been 4. Ughhhh.

A good friend of mine inspired me to try something new for cardio and now I love it.

Jump rope.

Why?

  • it burns a ton of calories
  • its easy
  • its fun
  • its inexpensive
  • it improves cardio fitness and tones your body
  • it sculpts your legs, bum, shoulders and arms
  • you don't need to do it for very long
  • you can do it anywhere
  • you can easily travel with it
I use a good, lightweight jump rope, put on my running shoes, blare some tunes and jump rope for about 10 - 15 minutes a few times a week.  I like to do intervals to step it up a notch - 30 seconds of going as fast as I can and then regular/slow pace for a minute. 

That's it!

When the weather is nice, try it early in the morning outside with no music - and listen to the world wake up. 

"Those who don't jump will never fly..."

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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Chilled Sweet Matcha Latte

Its no secret I adore matcha tea.

It has so many amazing health benefits (read about all of them here).

I usually drink it straight up - only the powder and hot water which can taste a little bitter.

Its also not the greatest warm weather drink..

So I've found a new way to love matcha - a cool, refreshing latte.

This is so easy to make and super yummy.

Let me know if you like it in the comments below...

Enjoy!

Chilled Sweet Matcha Latte

Ingredients
1 1/2 tsp matcha tea
2 Tbsp hot water (boiled but not boiling)
1 tsp pure maple syrup (you can sub with honey or agave)
1/4 tsp pure vanila extract
1 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
ice
sprinkle of cinnamon

Instructions
In the bottom of a large glass cup or mason jar whisk the matcha tea with the hot water.

Add in the maple syrup, vanilla extract and almond milk and stir really well.

Throw in a few ice cubes and sprinkle the top with cinnamon.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Quick Crunchy Cherry Crisp

Happy Victoria Day to my Canadian readers! I hope you are enjoying this gorgeous long weekend.

As the days get longer and the temps get warmer we want to spend more time outside soaking up the sun and breathing in the fresh air - its the best medicine you can get!

This leaves less time in the kitchen and therefore the need for simple quick dishes.

Today's recipe is a delicious cherry crisp. Its easy to make, gluten free, healthy and perfect to take to a weekend get together. Its also yummy to enjoy while sitting out in the late evening sun with a glass of wine or a tea.

So go out and soak up the sun - cheers to long weekends!

Enjoy.

"I love that this morning's sunrise does not define itself by last night's sunset."
 ~Steve Maraboli

Crunchy Cherry Crisp


Ingredients
6 cups frozen cherries (organic if possible)
1 1/2 cups gluten free oats
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup ground flax seeds
3/4 cup earth balance, melted

Instructions
Pre heat the oven to 350.

Rinse the frozen cherries in a strainer and let them sit on the counter while you are mixing the rest of the ingredients.

Use a little Earth Balance to grease a 9x13 baking dish.

In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, flour, cinnamon, flax seeds and sugar. Stir to combine. Pour the melted Earth Balance over the dry mixture and stir well.

Spread the cherries evenly out over the bottom of the pan. Top with the crisp mixture.

Bake uncovered in the oven for 45 minutes.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

What is Matcha Tea and Why I Drink It Everyday


Matcha Tea is amazing.

Why?
  • 1 cup is the nutritional equivalent to drinking 10 cups of regular green tea
  • it is a hard core cancer and disease fighter
  • it has more antioxidants than goji berries, pomegranates and blueberries combined
  • it boots metabolism and burns calories
  • it helps the body naturally detox
  • it reduces inflammation
  • it calms your mind and increases concentration
So basically yes, you totally should be drinking it.

Matcha tea is in a powder form so you are actually consuming the entire tea leaf, not just the water that has been steeped in tea leaves like with regular brewed green tea. That's why it is so much higher in antioxidants. Studies have shown the antioxidants, particularly EGCg, in matcha tea especially effective for cancer prevention and reduced risk of heart disease.

Where do you buy Matcha Tea?
You can get matcha tea at your local heath food store, Whole Foods or search to order it online. Make sure you are buying "premium" or "ceremonial" as these are best for drinking. Also organic is preferred. If you see a bamboo whisk when you are buying the matcha buy it - you will use it to mix the powder with water. It isn't necessary but it does a better job mixing than a fork or spoon.


How do you make Matcha Tea?
Its easy. Boil water in your kettle and then let it sit and cool for about 5 minutes - you don't want to use boiling water as it will burn the tea. Put a teaspoon of matcha in the bottom of a large mug - I use a teaspoon of matcha but I worked my way up to that (the taste is going to be bitter) so you may want to start with half a teaspoon and go from there. Pour a little water in the mug to just cover the powder and then whisk it with your bamboo or wire whisk or a fork until it is like a paste. Then pour more water to fill the mug and stir. You may want to stir in a little natural sweetener like honey or brown rice syrup to start as the taste is going to be bitter but in time you will get used to it and you won't need the sweetener anymore. That's it! You will want to stir or swirl your mug as you are drinking it so that the powder doesn't collect at the bottom.


Keep in mind that Matcha tea does have caffeine (but doesn't come with coffee jitters) so if that keeps you up at night make sure to drink it earlier in the day. It is also quite strong - I like to have something to eat before drinking it but feel it out for yourself.

Be careful when ordering a Matcha drink at a coffee shop - most times they are made using a sweetened mixture that has tons of sugar and calories and actually isn't healthy at all (Starbucks). Ask if they use real matcha powder and what else is in the drink to make a healthy decision.

Stay tuned for more posts on my fav ways to enjoy Matcha.
"Would you like an adventure now, or shall we have our tea first?"  
~Peter Pan

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Monday, May 16, 2016

Healthy Granola Bars

"Be careful when you blindly follow the masses...sometimes the "m" is silent"

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal stated that the FDA was working on changing their criteria of what makes food allowed to be labelled "Healthy".

Currently their standards are from 1994. YES! You read that correctly...1994.

Right now Pop Tarts and Frosted Flakes can be labelled "Healthy" but almonds, avocados and salmon would not be able to be labelled "Healthy".

Seriously.

The current (severely outdated) criteria takes into consideration fat amounts and if the food is fortified with vitamins. It does not have any regulations on sugar amounts - yet we know today that sugar is the main culprit of diabetes and obesity in our society.

Food like avocados and almonds do not qualify because they have too much fat - however we know now that it isn't about the amount of fat but rather the kind of fat. Avocado and almonds have good fats - ones that keep your brain healthy and your cholesterol low. They also have a zillion other vital vitamins and nutrients that definitely are NOT in pop tarts.

This is proof that terms like "Healthy" and "Natural" on food packages are often not the truth and are often more of a marketing tool than an aid to help you make good choices.

You need to be your own decision maker on what is "Healthy". Low sugar, whole, unprocessed foods closest to their natural state are your best options. Fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans and whole grains.

With this in mind today's recipe is for Healthy Homemade Granola Bars. They are low sugar, have no preservatives, are vegan and gluten free. They are super quick and easy to make, taste amazing and you can keep them in the fridge for up to a week and in the freezer for up to a month.

They are loaded with fibre, omegas, zinc, antioxidants and magnesium.

You can also make them nut-free by using sunflower seed butter instead of almond butter.

I like to make a big batch and keep some in the freezer. They are my absolute favourite "to go" snack.

And I know they are truly "Healthy".

Enjoy.

Healthy Homemade Granola Bars

Ingredients
2 cups gluten free oats
2 cups brown rice crisps cereal
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/3 cup roasted almond butter (I like the crunchy one)
1/2 cup brown rice syrup*
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1/2 cup vegan dark chocolate chips
1/2 tsp cinnamon
sprinkle of sea salt

Instructions
Line a 9x9 baking dish with two layers of parchment paper, large pieces so it is hanging out over the edges.

In a large bowl combine oats, brown rice crips, seeds, chocolate chips, cinnamon and sea salt.

In a small saucepan stir together the brown rice syrup, maple syrup and almond butter over medium heat until it is lightly bubbling and well combined. Remove from heat and let sit for a few minutes.

Pour the warm mixture over the dry mixture and stir to combine. It will get a bit tough to stir but make sure everything is well mixed together.

Pour the combined mixture into the baking dish and put hot water on your hands to press it into the dish. Be  firm and make sure that the mixture is pressed hard into the dish and into all the corners.

Put the dish in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Remove from the freezer and use the parchment paper to take the now hardened mixture out of the pan. Cut it into bars any size you like. Wrap each bar in plastic wrap to keep them fresh and easy to take with you. Refrigerate for up to 1 week and freeze for up to 1 month.

*do not substitute the brown rice syrup as they will not turn out. You can buy it at your local health food store or at Whole Foods.

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