Juicing and a Friday morning tradition…

As promised in my last post, I was going to talk about Juicing.  It is something I have thought alot about, read alot about and spent considerable amounts of time researching juicers. I even invited myself over to a friend’s place with a friend, who has juiced alot and had her demo her juicer and favorite juice combinations. It was impressive but seemed like too much work. Too much time to clean the machine, too noisy,  too much waste, (the pulp) and some of the “healthiest” combos just didn’t taste that good.  But…I accidently came across a juicer in a new favorite kitchen store here in Kelowna(Lakehouse) where they were making samples available to customers. Delicious and simple, apple and carrot. By the time she showed me how easy it was to clean and how quiet it was I was sold. I splurged.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XXTEPUggyuw

Now I realize most of you won’t be running out to buy a juicer anytime soon, but I have been juicing now for a little over 3 weeks. First thing in the morning, before coffee or breakfast and  before my workout,  I quickly juice varying combinations of fruit and vegetables.and we each have about 4-8 ounces. I am not going to say that I notice any great new burst of energy or better skin or any other noticeable health improvement yet, but I do feel good about getting a quick shot of nutrition into my body first thing in the morning.

Speaking of first thing in the morning..we’ve all heard it said “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. I really do believe this to be true. We have kept it pretty simple with a standard repeat every morning of the week except Fridays.  I decided about 9 years ago that Friday would be our special treat breakfast alternating between pancakes, waffles and French Toast.

I found a new pancake recipe, my search was inspired by a local restaurant.  Blueberry Cornmeal Pancakes. A delicious break from the norm. We all love Fridays, enough to come back home for:)

BLUEBERRY CORNMEAL PANCAKES

 ½ cup whole spelt flour

2/3 cup fine cornmeal

2 tbsp coarse stone-ground cornmeal

¼ tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp baking soda

1 tbsp brown sugar

¼ cup plain greek 0%fat yogurt

1 ½ cups soymilk + 1 ½ tbsp vinegar added

1 tbsp grapeseed oil

1 egg, bring to room temperature

1 cup frozen or fresh blueberries

toasted pecans (optional)

Coconut oil for cooking

 

Measure the dry ingredients and stir them together in a large bowl. In a separate bowl lightly whisk the egg, then add the yogurt, the “soured soy milk” and the oil.

 

Combine the wet and dry ingredients gently until just mixed. Do not overmix. Let the batter rest for at least 5-10 minutes. (Don’t skip the last 2 steps!) It will be a bit runny.

 

Heat a griddle on medium-high heat. Brush just a little coconut oil on pan. Use about 1/3 cup per pancake and cook until  a few small bubbles appear on the surface, drop  a few blueberries into the batter, When  the edges look a little dry, flip the pancake over and cook just a little longer..the berries will begin to release their juice. Serve topped with a few more blueberries if you like, a small handful of toasted peacans  or just a little pure maple syrup.  Delicious!

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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.

What’s for Breakfast?

Most of us have the heard the saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” right? There is so much evidence to back this up. It is part of maintaining a healthy weight, keeping blood sugars level and a kickstart to the metabolism.  I am not talking about a bowl of fruit loops or a piece of toast with jam. Dr.  Mark Hymen says that we should eat like a KING or QUEEN at Breakfast,  a Prince at lunch and a pauper at supper. In other words  breakfast should be loaded with lots of good nutrition to start the day. Most people eat the same thing at breakfast everyday, and this is not a bad thing. Our breakfast is the same 6 days a week and then healthy  “waffles or pancakes” every Friday.  Steel Cut Oats has replaced our regular large bowl of rolled oats.  It took some tweeking to get the recipe working for us and now there is no turning back.  We top this everyday with blueberries, 1 chopped date instead of brown sugar, some freshly ground flax seed, a little almond or soy milk and some days we add half a banana.  Silver Hills sprouted grains Squirrley bread is our favorite,  toasted with natural peanut butter and a drizzle of local honey and  to finish things off a hot, delicious cup of coffee (my only cup of the day).

Other Breakfast Ideas and a couple of recipes:

Healthy Waffles:

1 cup whole spelt flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce with 1 tsp baking powder mixed in (let sit 3-5 min)

2 cup unsweetened soy milk + 2 tbsp vinegar

1/4 cup butter melted

Mix dry ingredients together. Whisk wet ingredients together in separate bowl or large measuring cup. Mix wet into dry.

We top our waffles with lots of fruit, usually a mixture of berries, plain 0% greek yogurt, tsp ground flax seed, 1 tbsp toasted pecans and a little pure maple syrup drizzled.  Yum!

Chocolate Smoothie

5 ounces or a small handful of baby spinach

2 cups frozen blueberries

3/4 soy or almond milk

1 medium banana

1-2 pitted dates

2 tbsp natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tbsp ground flax seeds

Blend all ingredients together in a high powered blender until smooth and creamy. This makes 2 servings.

Steel Cut Oats (our recipe for 2)

1/4 cup Red River cereal

1 cup (almost) steel cut oats

3 cups + a little water

1-2 tsp cinnamon

Put all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and leave the lid off for about 5 minutes. Then put the lid on and turn the heat off. Remove from burner if you have an electric stove. Leave covered for 20 minutes then stir and serve. (the timing may need to be adjusted depending on how thick or thin you like it:)

New to try: Bob’s Red Mill Old Country Style Museli

Try this boiled for 3-5 minutes with water or milk, or just stir it into your milk or plain low fat yogurt cold.

1/2 cup gives you 220 calories with 8 grams fibre, 8 grams protein, no sodium or added sugar (only what comes naturally in the raisins and dates).