Brown Rice as a Side

A healthy, gluten free side dish suitable for any meal! Keep in mind even though brown rice is very healthy, one serving of grains per meal is only 1/2 cup so it is very easy to overeat and lead to weight gain. You can easily bulk this serving up by adding cauliflower rice in the last 5-8 minutes of cooking the rice, just add about 1/8 cup of additional broth or water as well. This will significantly increase the fibre and nutrient value of your meal without you even noticing!

1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup of organic chopped celery
3 tbsp olive oil
2 ½ cups long (medium or short will do just adjust cooking time) grain organic brown rice, uncooked
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups organic reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon dried thyme
REAL salt and pepper to taste

In large saucepan saute onion and celery in oil until tender. (power level 4.5)

Add rice and garlic; cook and stir for 3-4 minutes or until rice is lightly browned.

Add broth, thyme and pepper. Bring to a boil.

Reduce heat; cover and simmer (power setting 4) for 35-40 minutes or until rice is tender. Fluff with fork.

YUM.

Simple Roasted Cauliflower

I can’t believe there was a time when I didn’t like cauliflower, it’s versatility makes it a possible addition to practically any dish and being part of the cruciferous vegetable family it’s health benefits exceptional.

This is an extremely simple side dish that you can add to any plate, but if you need an extra kick of flavour try adding parmesan cheese in the last 5 mins of roasting. Personally I find the extra saturated fat isn’t necessary for this recipe, roasting the cauliflower with the onion, garlic and herbs gives it the kick I need.

Simple Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower
1/2 sliced medium white or yellow onion
4 unpeeled garlic cloves
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp REAL sea salt
A few thyme sprigs
Ground black pepper to taste
1/8 cup of organic grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Roast @ 425F until almost tender, about 20 minutes. Toss and roast for an additional 10-15 mins, and serve hot.

Tip: Do you have some leftover? Chop the remaining and add it to some cooked brown rice to bulk up that side dish!

Peanut Butter Oat Bites

This snack recipe is definitely one of my favorites to make with it being jam packed with protein, fibre and healthy omega 3 fatty acids while being 100% healthy for your entire family. My 18 month old loves anything he can eat with his hands so it’ll be a hit with any toddler and you can be assured your picky eater is getting enough nutrients :)

Here’s some tips:

1) After rolling half of the mixture into balls I’ll add 1 scoop of Whey Basics protein powder to INCREASE THE PROTEIN content even further, making it an excellent post workout snack or simply just something you’ll need to hold you over till your next meal.

2) CUT THE SUGAR down by decreasing the honey to 1/4 cup and the chocolate chips to 1/8 of a cup. To evenly distribute the chocolate I’ll add it to melted coconut oil on a very low setting on the stove and then add in the remaining wet ingredients. Then add to the dry ingredients and mix well!

3) You can easily double or even triple this recipe and freeze the balls so that you always have a healthy snack on hand, NO EXCUSES!

4) Rolling these snacks into balls is a lot of work so if you’re scrapped for time you can put the mixture into a glass Pyrex container (lined with coconut oil), compact it down with a spatula and just cut the end product into squares. LESS FUSS! Just let them sit in the fridge/freezer a while longer so that they will hold.

Give it a try and it will become a staple snack in your home as well!

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (gluten free)
1/2 cup unsweetened coconut
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup organic mini dark chocolate chips (carob chips for vegan)
1/2 cup smooth organic peanut butter (or any nut or seed butter of your choice: cashew, almond, wow butter, etc. I personally have a hard time with almond butter but cashew butter is an easier transition into the alternative nut butters :) )
1/3 cup organic honey (or maple syrup for vegan)
1/2 tsp almond or vanilla extract
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tbsp of melted coconut oil
1 scoop of Whey Basics vanilla protein powder (optional)

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir, using your hands works best.

Scoop the mixture with a small cookie scoop and place on a parchment paper baking sheet.

Chill in the fridge for at least an hour before serving, then freeze some if you’d like.

Store in a container in the fridge or freezer.

VOILA!

When can I start my baby on solids?

Introducing solids will vary from baby to baby, some are ready as early as 4 months and others well past the 6 month mark. The developmental signs that indicate if your baby may be ready to start solids are 1) Sitting upright unsupported; and 2) The loss of the tongue thrust reflex.

At this point you may get the go ahead from your doctor to start solids but I want to emphasize that your baby should genuinely be interested in tasting and chewing food. Many parents are eager to get started with solids but there is no need to rush into this milestone; your child will not NEED to rely on nutrients from foods until the 1 year mark especially if you are nursing. And contrary to popular beliefs, there is no scientific evidence showing that the introduction of solids to your baby will help your baby sleep longer for you at night. If it were true I would have thrown my “granola” parenting ways out the window and given it to my son earlier, any exhausted mother nursing around the clock would. Sorry mamas!

In the mean time, prepare yourself for the mess you’ll be cleaning up all day long! A glimpse of my son Keenan loving his peas and carrots :)

Fresh Guacamole

Spring is here! And with the warmer weather presenting itself our bodies will start to crave more cooling foods such as fresh leafy greens, and other raw fruits and vegetables so I thought I should post this A-MAZING guacamole recipe that is guaranteed to please everyone even your picky eaters at home!

Try it out…

2 ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
1-2 medium limes, juiced
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
½ can of drained black beans (optional for added protein and fiber)
1/2 cup of cherry tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons chopped FRESH cilantro (I insist on fresh)
1-2 small cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1/2 tsp REAL sea salt
Black pepper to taste
If you like to spice it up try adding a tbsp of finely chopped jalapeño pepper or a dash of cayenne pepper

Place the avocados and lime in a medium bowl, and lightly mash with a fork. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
Serve immediately or cover and chill for up to 3 hours, I prefer chilled.

You WILL enjoy this!

Quinoa Pizza Muffins

Pizza is one of my favourite foods! For the sake of convenience I’ll still order take out once in a while, but to keep my waste line in check and satisfy my cravings at the same time I needed an alternative. These pizza bites include all the goodies that a pizza does, cheese, grains, veggies and marinara sauce but just happens to be WAY less calories, vegetarian and gluten free.

I came across a bunch of variations of this recipe online and after dozens of tries I’ve tweaked it to my preference, feel free to do the same!

1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 large organic eggs
1/2 cup chopped green onion
3/4 cup shredded organic mozzarella cheese (part skim if you’d like to cut fat)
1/4 cup of shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cloves of minced garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped (or 2 tablespoons dried but I insist on fresh)
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
1/2 cup finely chopped veggies (broccoli, green pepper, mushrooms, cauliflower, whatever you like)
1/2 teaspoon REAL sea salt
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
Homemade tomato sauce for dipping

Place the quinoa and two cups of water in a covered pot. Bring to boil and then simmer for 20 minutes or until quinoa is tender.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together all ingredients, except tomato sauce, in a medium mixing bowl.

Distribute mixture into a greased mini muffin tin, filling each cup to the top (one heaping tablespoon each), and press down gently to compact.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve warm with sauce for dipping.

And VOILA!

My Wholesome Hearty Chicken Soup (from scratch)

Chicken soup is an all time favourite in any house, and it is surprisingly easy to make this dish FROM SCRATCH starting with the stock. Yes we are talking about 5 hours total cooking time, but I promise any idiot can make this dish and the end result is a truly wholesome dish of deliciousness.

So, just give it a try…

Ingredients
1 whole organic, local chicken
Extra chicken bones from previous soup stocks if you have them
1 gallon of water (estimation)
1 white onion
1 head of garlic (I’m a garlic lover, you can use less if you wish)
1 bunch of fresh parsley
1 tsp thyme
1-2 bay leaves
1 tsp basil
5 whole peppercorns
1-2 tsp of real sea salt
6-8 cups of locally grown, in season vegetables, your choice
Precooked brown rice or noodles (Optional, this soup is filling as is so additional grains aren’t necessary. Add them in right before serving if you chose)

Place whole chicken in a soup pot and pour enough water that covers the chicken by a couple inches. Add all the ingredients except the 6-8 cups of vegetables you’ve chosen, and bring the water to a boil. Once the water is boiling bring the temp down to a slow simmer and let cook with the lid off for 4-5 hours.

Remove the chicken and other larger pieces from the pot and strain the remaining pieces out and VOILA, you’ve got yourself homemade chicken and bone stock!

Place the stock back into the soup pot and add the vegetables, for this dish I chose locally grown and in season:
Carrots
Parsnips
Turnips
Celery

If you generally aren’t a fan of these veggies give them a try anyways! They take a lot of chicken stock flavour into them and are very filling. At this point you can add however much chopped chicken you like, I only used about ¾ of the whole chicken cooked in the soup because I like my soup to be mostly vegetables. Plus you’ll get some leftover lunch meats for the week by doing this! 2 birds with 1 stone :)

Tip: If you plan on freezing some, you may want to cut down the cooking time so that the vegetables aren’t overcooked.

How long you cook these will depend on the vegetables you’ve chosen and how small you’ve cut them, but for these I say a good 45 minutes. Then remove from heat and serve!

Maple Roasted Vegetables

This recipe is by far my favourite vegetable side dish, and is always a hit with company especially kids! For this recipe I kept it simple, local, and seasonal with the vegetables I chose which were sweet potato and brussels sprouts. Not a fan of brussels sprouts? I dare you to give this recipe a try they will win you over! Cauliflower is another vegetable I often use with this particular combination I just didn’t have any on hand at the time.

Other vegetables that can be used for this dish:
- Cauliflower
- SQUASH! Acorn, butternut, buttercup, whatever you’d like
- Parsnips
- Zucchini
- Broccoli
- Green Beans
- Asparagus
- Potatoes of any kind
- Turnip
- Onions
Note: Keep it simple, I’d use a combination of 3 vegetables max for this dish.

Ingredients
- 4-5 cups of assorted vegetables of your choice
- 4-6 garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/3 cup local maple syrup
- REAL Sea Salt and pepper to taste

Warm the olive oil and garlic on the stove for about 20 mins on low heat, once that’s started preheat oven to 400F.

Toss veggies in a large bowl, with garlic olive oil, maple syrup and generously salt and pepper to taste.

Place veggies on baking sheet in a single layer (if you discover your veggies won’t fit on one baking sheet, pull out a second baking sheet, and prep it the same way you did the first).

Place baking sheet(s) in the oven and roast for 40 minutes. Check veggies 1/2 way through and see if they are browning and need to be turned. If they look dry, add a little water to the pan so they stay nice and moist. Check again in another 10 minutes and cook until fork tender and golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve immediately!

End result….

Zesty Quinoa Salad

YUM. This recipe is TO. DIE. FOR.

This dish is packed with non animal protein and fiber, is gluten free, and is super duper easy to make. It is now my go to dish for BBQs and gatherings of any kind not to mention having it handy in the fridge for when I need something quick to shovel in my mouth when I am on the go. The colourful ingredients will intrigue any child to give it a try; even my 10 month old son LOVES this dish!

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 cup good quality extra-virgin olive oil (I love The Pristine Olive company, see http://www.thepristineolive.ca/)
2 limes, juiced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon REAL Salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
1 1/2 cups halved organic cherry tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can no sodium added black beans, drained and rinsed
5 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
REAL Salt and ground black pepper to taste

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until quinoa is tender and water has been absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Whisk olive oil, lime juice, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes together in a bowl.

Combine quinoa, tomatoes, black beans, and green onions together in a bowl. Pour dressing over quinoa mixture; toss to coat.

Stir in cilantro; season with salt and black pepper. Serve immediately or chill in refrigerator.

ENJOY :)

http://mallrecipes.com/recipe/229156/zesty-quinoa-salad