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Happy Healthy Holidays! Sharing your favorite plant-based recipes

Rustic Table Setting

Hey, everyone! TGIF, am I right?! I don’t know about you, but my October flew by with insane determination, and November’s already kicking my butt, too. With no slow-down in sight (’tis the season for parties and get-togethers and perhaps a little fete-a-fete here and there), I know my brain will be mush within a few short weeks. SO…I thought maybe I’d try and conjure up a few simple ideas regarding shared eats. With Canadian Thanksgiving in the rearview mirror, and American Thanksgiving just down the road, it’s clearly that time of year.

When I’m asked to “bring a dish to pass,” there are definite times when I fall back on old, lazy favorites. But considering I have a recipe book coming out next summer, I thought maybe I’d attempt to raise the bar for myself and be ready to show up to my friends’ houses with something that looks (and tastes!) like I’ve put at least an ounce of effort and creativity into it.

I’m going to share three plant-based concoctions that I think might fit the bill, and hopefully you think they sound good enough to try at home. I specify “plant-based,” because I like to share ideas that fit with my usual foodie lifestyle, which is that of clean, whole, nutrient-rich eats. We get enough crap out there, right? Let’s set a good example and share some healthy, happy recipes!

Alright. Here we go…

Chocolate-Graham Banana Bites (Makes 32)

banana bites2

Ingredients:

  • 4 bananas (not too ripe)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup graham crumbs
  • 32 toothpicks*

Method:

Melt chocolate chips in double broiler, slowly. Slice each banana into 8 chunks (so there should be 32 chunks in total), and stick each with a toothpick. Once chocolate is melted, dip each banana chunk half-way into the chocolate, then dust with graham. The chocolate will harden, so it must be done quickly. Repeat until every chunk has been dressed, then cover and refrigerate until they can be served.

Acorn Squashed Casserole (serves 8)

Acorn Squash

Ingredients:

  • 2 acorn squashes
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 cup watercress
  • 1/4 cup Italian parsley

Method:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice each squash horizontally. Remove seeds and pulp, and discard. Slice squash into 1/2″ rounds. (Which will actually look like flowers.) Set aside. In a large bowl, combine oil, syrup, and spices. Add squash to bowl and mix well, until evenly coated. Bake in a single layer on cookie sheet for 10 minutes, then flip squash and back for another 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and arrange in dish. Chop herbs and sprinkle on top of squash. Serve hot as a side dish.

Baked Ratatouille Bruschetta (Serves 12)

Grilled vegetables

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 an eggplant
  • 1/2 a zucchini
  • 1 orange bell pepper
  • 1 white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 16 oz. can of chopped and roasted tomatoes
  • 1 large whole wheat baguette

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Finely chop eggplant, zucchini, pepper, and onion. Mix, and place in oven-safe dish. Mince the garlic and add to mixture, then stir. Drizzle olive oil over mixture, and then pour tomatoes over all the vegetables. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Once done, remove from oven and let sit until it cools slightly. Meanwhile, slice baguette into rounds. Place a spoonful of ratatouille on top of each, and place back in the oven for 6-8 more minutes. Serve hot.

Hope you enjoy! From my table to yours, stay happy and healthy! (And have a great weekend!) xo

Happy Healthy Vegan Recipes: IBS-Friendly

Vegan kitchen

With the kids finally back in school (British Columbia experienced a lengthy teacher’s strike throughout the late spring and entire summer this year), I’ve found myself scoring way more time to cook and bake and experiment in the kitchen. And with the vegetarian cookbook I have coming out next summer, I find myself wanting to perfect the recipes that will be featured.

Last weekend, I managed to make chocolate-pumpkin muffins, my version of grown-up oatmeal, and spicy applesauce. (I actually made more, but these are the ones I remembered to take pictures of.) I can’t divulge the exact recipes, but perhaps these will inspire you to mess around in the kitchen and create something similar!

Each recipe below is vegan, and kind to your digestive tract (IBS-friendly).

Vegan Chocolate-Pumpkin Muffins

Vegan Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

These dense, completely vegan muffins are made with applesauce in place of oil, and pumpkin puree in place of egg. My kids LOVED them (always the ultimate test of taste), and they were very simple to make.

Grown-Up Oats with Coconut

Vegan Oatmeal

You can make this hearty breakfast in advance by layering ingredients, and then simply adding boiling water when you’re ready to eat. Line them up on the counter before bed, and then it’s a quick, easy, and healthy breakfast for the next morning.

Homemade Spicy Applesauce

Vegan applesauce

I love making applesauce, because it makes the house smell incredible, and is truly SO much better than the store-bought variety. The hint of spice comes from freshly grated ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and then a dash of chai spice.

So there you have it! A weekend of yummy smells, tastes, and healthy meal planning. Happy Meatless Monday, and have a fabulous week!

Fragmented Foods: is low-quality food and lack of nutrition education to blame for poor digestion?

Photo from whollyfitvictoria.com

Photo from whollyfitvictoria.com

When you think of food, what immediately comes to mind? Do you think of grains, vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, beans, and good quality meats? Or do you conjure up images of pre-packaged breakfast cereals touting ‘whole grains,’ and processed deli meat that is meant to inhabit a bleached-out bun? Most people wouldn’t admit it, but option number two is far more prevalent than the first.

Today’s “foods” are the leading contributors to the enormous influx of gastrointestinal disorders that over twenty million Canadians[1] currently suffer from. Forget meds and surgeries—could simply eating better food solve most of our gastrointestinal problems?

Dr. John McDougall is one doctor that thinks so. In his book, Dr. McDougall’s Digestive Tune-Up, he says “the food you put in your body is the single most powerful factor that determines your health and well-being.”[2] If you’ve read his book, you’ll know that he’s speaking primarily about the power good foods have on proper (or improper) digestion.

Hmmm…food for thought?

I have to admit, I have a personal vendetta against food companies that market their products as healthy, natural, and whole, only to discover them teeming with filler, additives, artificial ingredients, and preservatives; companies that go out of their way to label sugar as “organic cane sugar” or “sucrose” so that un-savvy consumers think the sugar content is lower and healthier than it actually is—and don’t even get me started on “fat-free!”

I suffered from irritable bowel syndrome for nine years before realizing I could eradicate my terrible symptoms by eating actual food instead of food-like substances—in six days. (True story—and I was a pretty healthy eater to begin with! Just not informed.) If ordinary foods have the ability to correct extraordinary digestive problems, then why aren’t we all eating the good stuff and leaving the bad foods alone (to NOT rot– haha) on the grocery store shelves?

One reason is that most of us just don’t realize that digestive issues may be related to what we eat. When talking to a doctor about your IBS or IBD or whatever chronic digestive malfunction you may be experiencing, you will almost NEVER hear that doctor ask you what you’re eating or what you’re not. Even most specialists won’t ask you those questions! Most will ask you about family history, offer you medications that have been approved for treatment (even though many of them are statistically less effective than a placebo)[3], and maybe try and book you for another appointment with different doctor who may or may not be interested in talking you into surgery. Grrr…

The second most common reason for not changing your diet when confronted with digestive problems is that food companies do such a great job of disguising crappy ingredients from the average consumer. We genuinely have no idea what we’re putting into our bodies.

(If that major company is calling this food, then its food, right? I mean, is HAS been approved by the FDA…) Etc, etc, etc.

Can we please take a step back from this mess and do our own investigative work? Once you want to, it’s easy. Being diligent about such things as reading ingredients labels (if you don’t know what it is, don’t eat it), buying organic (if it’s not organic then it’s been sprayed with chemicals), and making sure you consume plenty of whole foods (non-processed—a food with one ingredient; for example, apple, oats, grass-fed beef, almonds) will ENSURE you better digestion, and in turn, better overall health.

What’s it going to be? Confusion over your tummy’s ability to cooperate with you on a regular basis? Or will you begin to take a hard look at what you’ve been putting in your mouth? Your gut is important—create a happy, healthy environment, and you will alleviate a lot of unnecessary pain and embarrassment.

Happy Father’s Day!

References:


[2] John A. McDougall, MD. Dr. McDougall’s Digestive Tune-Up. Introduction. Book Publishing Company. 2008.