Roasting fresh vegees..

Fresh baby carrots, beets and new potatoes are now available locally. If you have not tried a fresh raw baby carrot in a while (not the kind that are all exactly the  same size and shape in your local grocery store or costco bags) you just don’t know what you are missing. Sweet, crunchy, the perfect mid-day snack. And beets.. they are delicious raw too, grated and added to the top of a salad.  But best of all, roasting both carrots, beets and new potatoes brings out the sweet and amazing flavor of all these root vegetables. No need to peel. Just rub them gently to remove any dirt, toss them with a splash of olive oil, a little fresh cracked pepper, a little chopped fresh dill and either roast them in the oven in a baking dish lined with parchment paper or on the BBQ in a foil pack. They will take anywhere from 15-25 minutes to reach a tender, perfectly cooked deliciousness!

Leftovers are great too. I add them  to the top of mixed greens, add a little crumbled feta, some green onion, any other fresh raw chopped vegees you want and top with a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar or the “Everyday salad dressing” I posted a while ago.

Peas….first pick of the season

I have some wonderful memories of sitting in my grandma’s garden picking and eating peas. I also remember hoping I would be sent out to the pea patch to pick peas when I worked at a local vegetable farm as a college student. “One for the bucket…one for me”.

Such a yummy snack, though on my way home today, hungry and tired, my thoughts didn’t go straight to peas. I had been thinking about stopping in and buying some of my favorite dark chocolate or some lentil chips I sampled this past weekend. But then I saw it, “fresh peas” on the sign ahead at a local farmer’s  vegee stand. I immediately swung in and picked up a bag of snap peas and a large bag of shelling peas.  Driving, shelling and eating peas is not really all that safe so I started in on the snap peas.  I almost finished the shelling peas in the truck parked in the garage until I snapped out of it and remember there were other people in the family that might like to enjoy a few. I left some:)

My goal this growing season is to eat as much fresh and local as I can.  I am trying to grow some,  the rest I will buy from our local farmers.  I will keep you posted about what’s  fresh and “in season” for fruit and vegetables  here in the Okanagan Valley, in Beautiful, British Columbia, Canada.

 I  challenge all of you, whereever you live, buy local, eat local, support your local farmer!  It’s a healthier way to live.

Snacks Matter….Banana Bran Chocolate Chip

Snacks,  as I have mentioned in a previous post by the same name continue to be apart of our healthy eating plan.  I found this recipe 10 years ago in a newspaper (adjusted to include less oil and more fibre) is easy to make and a great way to use up those over ripe bananas.  Fibre packed, filling, moist and just sweet enough to satisfy the sweet toothed (not sure if that is even a word) members in your household, is the most requested muffin in our house.  You can leave out the nuts if you need to. You can substitue the cocoa and chocolate chips for  1 cup of  frozen blueberries for a whole different taste.  I usually double the recipe.

Best of all, it is a homemade muffin and you know exactly what went into it:)

 BANANA BRAN CHOCOLATE  CHIP  MUFFINS

1 egg (or substitute ¼ cup applesauce with 1/2 tsp baking powder mixed in)

¼ cup grapeseed or canola oil

1 cup unsweetened soy milk + 1 tbsp vinegar or 1 cup buttermilk

1 ½ tsp vanilla

1 cup mashed banana (2 1/2  ripe med. bananas)

¼  cup liquid honey

1 ½ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup oat flour or oat bran or whole spelt flour 

¾ cup natural wheat bran

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)

1/2  tsp salt

½ cup chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans)

1/2 cup dark mini or regular sized  dark (not milk) chocolate chips

 

1.   Whisk egg or applesauce with oil, milk, liquid honey and vanilla. Stir in banana.

2.    In a large bowl use a fork to mix flours, bran, cocoa, soda, baking powder, salt, nuts.

3.    Pour banana mix into dry mix  and  stir only until blended. Stir in chocolate chips.

4.    Bake 400 for 16 minutes or until done

 

  • Great breakfast idea for kids that don’t like to eat breakfast. Add some sliced fruit or a fruit smoothie and give them a great start to their day. The big kids in the house will also appreciate this as a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.

 

Rhubarb Muffins..

The Rhurbarb is almost ready to pick and enjoy.  Strawberries and Rhubarb are meant to go together.  These really are the “best-ever” rhubarb and strawberry muffins I have ever had. With  a cup of green tea, yummy.  Enjoy.  Oh how I love spring!

BEST EVER RHUBARB/STRAWBERRY/PECAN MUFFINS

 2-cups whole wheat flour

1 ½ tsp baking powder

¼ cup oat bran

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

¾ cup chopped pecans

1 egg or substitute (1/4 applesauce + 1/2 tsp baking powder)

¼ cup grapeseed  oil

2 tsp orange zest

¾ cup orange juice

¼ cup liquid honey

¾ cups chopped rhubarb

¾ cups sliced strawberries (frozen or fresh)

1. In large  bowl combine flour, oat bran,  baking powder & soda, salt and  pecans.

2. In another bowl whisk egg, oil, orange zest,orange juice and honey.  Add to  flour mixture and stir until    moist and almost blended. Add rhubarb and  strawberries until just combined.

3. Put into muffin tins, fill to top.  Bake in preheated oven 25-30 minutes.

Snacks Matter….

Snacks are

an essential part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Frequent small meals help to control appetite and cravings especially when the chosen snacks are nutritious. Sticking to a routine has helped keep us on track so we have pretty  much enjoyed the same snacks,  eaten at the same time of day (during the work week for sure)for the last 8 years. Boring you say, Not all!. At 10-1030 every morning we have a muffin. I bake a double batch every couple of weeks, recipes vary, and freeze them. At 3-330 every afternoon we  have granola, fruit with yogurt/almond milk or a homemade cookie and a piece of fruit.  This has helped eliminate the “2 in the afternoon, I need a nap” syndrome I suffered with for years and has cured the “I’m starving” syndrome after work which almost always led to overeating at supper. By eating these frequent small meals it keeps blood sugar levels more even throughout the day preventing spikes and drops in blood sugars which can lead to the above described syndromes as well as  irritability and mood swings.  Of course this only works when your snacks are chosen carefully and don’t include processed & packaged high fat, high sugar and high salt items.  Portions are important here, remembering that a SNACK is just that, a snack.  Take yogurt for instance. I don’t know about you but I go crazy everytime I stand in front of the yogurt shelves, overwhelmed by all the choices.  They all claim to be healthy. If you actually take the time to read the labels you will realize that many have too much sugar, too many artificial ingredients, too much fat, it’s all just too much! After trying all sorts of different brands I have decided on “Liberte 0% Plain Greek Yogurt”.  A snack serving size is usually 2 heaping tablespoons with 1/2 cup fruit (oranges or strawberries or blueberries or banana) and 1/8-1/4 cup of my homemade crunchy granola (recipe follows) and for those with a sweet tooth a drizzle of honey. Personally, I have never really been a fan of yogurt, a texture thing I think, but now and then I will indulge, but more often than not I would rather enjoy my granola with a cold 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk. However you eat it, I hope you enjoy this yummy crunchy granola. It’s not alot of work to make and best of all, you are in control of what is in it:)

Crunchy Granola

2 cups large flake oats

1 ½ cups barley flakes

½ oat bran

1 cup unsweetened coconut

¼ tsp salt

1 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped OR

1 cup whole raw almonds

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds

½ cup raw sunflower seeds

1/3 cup grapeseed oil

¼ cup water

2/3 cup maple syrup or honey or combination

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup dried cranberries

1. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except the cranberries. Mix well.

2. Whisk together the oil, water, honey, vanilla. Combine the wet and dry and stir thoroughly.

3. Spread the mixxture out onto parchment paper lined baking sheets (2). Bake at 325 degrees for 10 min. Stir then bake another 10 min. Then turn the oven off and combine two trays into one. Leave in the oven until mixture is dried out approx. 1-2 hours.  I usually stir one or two more times and add the cranberries when the oven is cooled off. Store in a sealed container in the fridge.

BANANA/BRAN/DATE MUFFINS

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour

½ cup coarsely chopped dates

3 cups natural bran

1 cup boiling water

1 cup raisins

2 ½ tsp baking soda

1 cup “buttermilk” (unsweetened soy milk with 1 tbsp vinegar)

3/4 cup liquid honey

2 ripe bananas, mashed

1/3 cup oil

½ cup unsweetened applesauce with 1 tsp baking powder stirred in (let sit) or 1 egg

½ chopped walnuts (optional)

1. In a food processor combine 1 cup of flour with dates and process until finely chopped (mine looked more like oatmeal)

In a bowl combine this mixture with the bran, water and raisins. Let stand for 10 minutes

2. In another bowl combine remaining flour and baking soda and nuts

3. In another bowl combine buttermilk, honey, bananas, oil, applesauce and blend well. Add to flour mixture; combine well.  Add bran mixture; stir just until moist and blended

4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins, filling ¾ full. Bake in pre-heated oven at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

HEALTHIER PEANUT BUTTER/OATMEAL/CHOCO CHIP  COOKIES

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1/2 cup wheat germ

1  tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/3 cup grapeseed oil + 1/4 cup  becel or butter

1  cup natural peanut butter

1/2 cup liquid honey

2 eggs  or (just 1 egg + egg substitute – ¼ cup applesauce + 1 tsp baking powder)

2 tsp vanilla

2  cup rolled oats

Optional :

1 cup mini or regular chocolate chips or 1 cup raisins or cranberries or karob chips

3/4 chopped nuts (any kind)

2/3 cup sunflower seeds (raw shelled or roasted unsalted) and/ or pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup freshly ground flax seeds

Preheat oven 350.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper

1. Stir together the flour, wheat germ, salt, baking powder and baking soda

2. In a large mixer bowl, beat together the oil, peanut butter and honey.

3. Add egg and vanilla and beat well. Add flour mixture, mixing well.Then stir together optional ingredients with the oatmeal and mix in.

4. Drop onto cookie sheets. Flatten with fork. Bake 10 minutes. Let cool on pan for 1 minutes then remove to wire rack.

But I don’t like Raisins or tofu…

“No Mom, you don’t like raisins”, “yes I do like them now”. “No, you don’t like raisins, remember?” Kirsten, my 19-year old daughter pleaded with me after finding raisins in my last batch of morning glory muffins. I have even amazed myself. Our tastebuds can actually change.  I hated raisins so much that I would almost gag on them.  My mom will testify to this and will probably be quite shocked to learn that I now eat them.  We , my brother and 2 sisters, have for years blamed her for our hatred of raisins after being force fed rice pudding with raisins. We all have imprinted in our memories the time she made us sit at the table  for what seemed an eternity and finish every morsel. You know the line about “think of all the starving children in Africa”. I’m not sure when the change actually happened but it has.

Our relationship with food has alot to do with what we were exposed to as a child. Our kids are watching what we eat and how adventurous we are with food.  If I could do it all over again, I would have introduced more foods to my kids, more than once or twice.  I had never tasted an avocado or sushi or indian food until the last few years.  It takes time to develop our taste buds so don’t give up.  Be adventurous. Model it. You might even like Tofu :).

Morning Glory Muffins (tasty, energy packed, and as healthy as I can get them- make them small)

3 cups whole grain wheat flour

1 cup rolled oats

1/8 cup demarra brown sugar

4 tsp baking soda

2 tbsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp salt

3 cups grated carrot

1 cup raisins

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut

2 apples cored and shredded (peel on)

1/2 cup unsweetened appplesauce + 1 tsp b. powder

2/3 cup grapeseed oil

1 cup pureed pumpkin

2/3 cup honey

4 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl mix together flour, oats, b. sugar, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Mix and then add in shredded carrots, raisins and walnuts.

3. In a separate bowl stir together shredded apple, applesauce, oil, pumpkin, honey and vanilla.

4. Pour into dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Scoop into 24 muffin tins.

5. Bake about 20-25 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.