Banana Chocolate Chip Granola Clusters

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If you love the taste of chocolate chip banana bread, and the crunch of granola then these clusters are for you! Although Goddess Granola, will be my one true granola love, these crunchy clusters come in at a close second. Perfect on top of coconut yogurt, chia pudding- or straight from the jar… these babies are the perfect pick me up when fuel is running low. These have the perfect amount of natural sweetness from overripe bananas and lots of fiber from buckwheat and oats! As always these are gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. They are also vegan! Mornings just got a little easier…

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Ingredients:

• 2 cups gluten free rolled oats
• 1 cup buckwheat (I used sprouted, or you can use more oats!)
• 1 cup walnuts (roughly chopped)
• 1/4 cup coconut sugar
• 1/2 tsp sea salt
• 1 tbsp cinnamon
• 1/4 cup coconut oil (melted)
• 1/3 cup maple syup
• 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
• 1 ripe banana mashed
• 1/4 cup 70% chocolate chips or cacao nibs

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Mash banana with a fork in a small bowl.

2. In a large bowl combine oats, buckwheat, walnuts, coconut sugar, sea salt and cinnamon.

3. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, melt coconut oil and whisk in maple syrup, mashed banana and vanilla. Pour mixture over dry ingredients and mix until combined and well coated.

4. Spread the mixture evenly onto your baking sheet and bake for 25-35 minutes or until golden. Do not mixture during baking to keep clustered! Allow to cool and then break granola up into palm sized clusters. Add chocolate chips and stir. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
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The Healthiest Bread Ever + Advice for the New Year

IMG_5360A new year allows people to mentally press the reset button and put the bad in the past and reignite hope for the future. We all become a little more attentive to our current state. We look at our jobs, relationships, and most often health and ask ourselves, is this where I want to be? Most of us are driven to do a little more, push ourselves harder and set the bar high. The problem is sometimes the bar is so high, that it is out of our reach. When we are on the highest tip of our tippy toe and still cant reach the bar, that’s when we all give up. Essentially all that is accomplished is some sore feet and a deflated self esteem. So with that said, heres my advice to you in 2015.

Set realistic goals. Set small goals. The more tasks you can accomplish the more confidence and drive you will have to do more. Here are some I think you all can do!

Drink more water!

Start with one glass as soon as you get up and one right before you go to bed. There’s two more that you probably weren’t having before. Just leave two glasses on your night table.

Eat more protein.

Choose a time of day where you feel the most noshy. That’s when I want you to add that extra protein. Do this once a week and see how you feel. Here are some ideas:
Breakfast: Scramble eggs or egg whites and eat those with what you normally eat. Add protein powder to your shakes or to your homemade breakfast bars.
Lunch: Add a lean source of protein to your salad or sandwich such as chicken, fish or tofu.
Dinner: Choose a lean meat to accompany vegetables and a complex carbohydrate.
Snack: Nuts, peanuts, nut butter, hummus… only rule here is to keep an eye on the portions. Follow the serving size on the label.

Cut back on sugar.

I love something sweet after something savory but it doesn’t always have to be a chocolate bar. If dessert is your weakest point, once a week have fruit with a tablespoon of almond butter for dessert instead of cake. Try it for a week and you’ll realize you don’t need more than that.

Exercise.

If you don’t ever exercise, go for half an hour walk once a week for a month. Increase at your own pace, before you know it you might even be jogging. Cold outside? Head to youtube and do 5 minutes of a HIIT (high intensity interval training) workout. Increase your time as you get in shape! Seems attainable right?

Get in the kitchen!

Making your own food allows you to be fully in control of what goes into it. Mark off three days/month on a calendar that will be your cooking days. You can do it.

Unplug.

Leave your phone at home once a month when you are heading out for one meal with loved ones. It feels really good to fully be in the moment sometimes.

Do for others.

Sometimes doing the smallest thing for someone else will make you just as happy as them.

Indulge.

Indulge once a while. Life is about living in moderation. There is no point in eating that piece of cake if you beat yourself up about it for the next week. Make it a point to have something sinful at least once a month and thoroughly enjoy it without any guilt. Make it a rule so you never feel bad about it again. ENJOY! You can get back on track again tomorrow.

To get you started, I am sharing my recipe for Nut and Seed bread that I make almost every Sunday. It is packed with superfoods, healthy fats, fibre, omega 3’s and protein. It is the perfect way to start your day without the guilt you feel from having that baguette. This recipe is adapted from Deliciously Ella’s Superfood Bread. I added a few of my own ingredients to give it a super crusty crust and slightly sweet flavour. All you need is a food processor and a big bowl and you’ll be able to make this bread in 5 minutes or less! Top with nut butters and jam, avocado, or poached eggs for a hearty and well balanced meal. Bon Appetit and Happy New Year!

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Ingredients:

• 1 tbsp coconut oil or olive oil for greasing
• 1 cup roasted pumpkin seeds + extra for sprinkling
• 1/4 cup slivered hazelnuts (any nut or seed will work too!)
• 1 cup almond flour
• 1 cup buckwheat flour or gluten free oat flour
• 1/2 cup hemp hearts
• 5 heaping tbsp psyllium husk (you can find this at any health food store)
• 1/4 cup chia or flax seeds
• 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds + extra for sprinkling
• 1 tbsp brown rice syrup (honey will work too)
• a good pinch pink salt (or to taste)
• 2 cups cold water

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and grease with coconut or olive oil.

2. In a food processor, pulse the 1 cup of roasted pumpkin seeds until they become a flour consistency.

3. In a large bowl add pulsed pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, almond flour, buckwheat flour, hemp hearts, psyllium husk, chia seeds, 3 tbsp whole pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and salt. Mix well.

4. Add 1 cup of water and stir. Then add brown rice syrup and mix until well combined. Then add remaining cup of water. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes so the psyllium will activate and hold loaf together. The mixture should be pretty stiff.

5. Press mixture into loaf pan and sprinkle sesame seeds on top. Pour over a tiny bit of olive or coconut oil to allow the top to crisp up.

6. Bake for 65-75 minutes or until the top is golden and crisp. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

7. Once cooled, slice at your desired thickness. The bread will keep fresh for a few days, but I like to freeze it right away. All you need to do is place a small piece of parchment between each piece and store in a freezer bag. You’ll have bread for months (if it lasts that long) Bon Appetit!

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Easiest Gluten Free Bread

Photo 2014-06-24, 4 10 23 AMThere are so many misconceptions revolving around this very new and trendy gluten free world. Gluten free is not synonymous with healthy. In fact, it can actually be the opposite. Most gluten free products are filled with tapioca, corn or potato starches. Whats wrong with these, you ask? Its not that these are entirely unhealthy for you. However, they are not the best choices if you are trying to lose weight, control hunger or stabilize blood sugars. Heres why:

These starches helps bind gluten free recipes and improves the texture of baked goods. Tapioca helps add crispness to crusts and chew to baked goods. Compared to wheat flour however, these alternatives have very little nutritive value. They are very low in protein and fibre and have a high number of carbohydrates.These starches are one of the few products that actually raises your blood sugar more than wheat. Mean nothing to you? Heres a point of comparison… regular table sugar raises your blood sugar less than wheat does. So wheat has a very high glycemic index*. The flours used in commerical gluten free breads, baked goods and frozen dinners contain tapioca, potato, corn etc… have an even higher GI!
This contributes to diabetes, cataracts, arthritis, heart disease and growing belly fat. The high glycemic value in these starches leaves you feeling unsatisfied and wanting more and more AND MORE!! Pretty much, this is the gluten free version of white bread.

This is not to discourage you in any way shape or form to derail from your gluten free diet. Genetically modified wheat comes with more problems than gluten free flours. What I do recommend however is to be more mindful of the ingredients in the breads, pastries and other gluten free products you find in your grocery stores. Better yet, if you can find the time to make your own gluten free meals and desserts you will be in control of you are eating! My goal with this blog is to give you guys simple, healthy and delicious recipes that won’t leave you feeling disappointed or unsatisfied. There will be no fillers, unhealthy oils or loads of added starches. With the use of almond, coconut, brown rice and quinoa flours as the main ingredients in your recipes you can make the most delicious breads that can be enjoyed by your entire family.

I don’t often eat gluten free bread because it really does make me feel starved after I eat it. And I have trouble stopping myself at two pieces. It is also filled with vegetable oils, sugar, processed fillers and salt. If baking is not your thing and you would rather buy a bread, I highly recommend a brand that is made here in Quebec called Cuisine L’Angelique. Is it an all organic and gluten free bakery line that is also casein and dairy free. The primary flours in their  bread is made from brown rice , buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth. They only use olive oil in their breads and often add superfood seeds like flax, hemp and pumpkin! These breads do contain xantham gum so if that is bothersome for you, I highly recommend making the super simple bread recipe I have provided here.

Like everything, have your bread, cakes, pastries etc… But eat it in moderation. I cant express this enough: GLUTEN FREE DOES NOT MEAN HEALTHY! Plus those gluten free cookies from the grocery are usually bland and crumbly. Also, because people seem so frustrated with people following this ‘gluten free fad’ it has become quite difficult for those who are celiac to ask for gluten free options or say no to food that has gluten in it. It has become kind of a nuisance to some service people or even peers because it seems everyone is just jumping on board with this health trend and faking an allergy. If you truly are sensitive to gluten I urge you to not succumb to pressure and continue on with your gluten free ways. I don’t care how annoying I may be, my health comes first! It is not worth the stomachache to not be that annoying girl with food allergies. If anything, it is a lot more irritating for us!

This gluten free bread recipe is SO easy to make and requires very little arrowroot starch. I have made this without the starch but you will get less of a crusty crust and more of a… very dense cake. This bread in generally is a bit heavier than most airy toasts, but I really enjoy that. You really only need one slice cut in two and you are more than satisfied. If you rather work without the starches and replace with more buckwheat or almond flour your bread will still taste absolutely delicious. For this recipe all you need is a few good eggs, hand mixer and 4-5 ingredients! Hope you enjoy.

****The glycemic index (GI) is a measure of how quickly blood glucose levels (i.e., blood sugar) rise after eating a particular type of food.
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Ingredients:

• 1 cup almond flour
• 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
• 1/4 ground flax or chia
• 3/4 cup arrowroot starch/flour
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1/2 tsp baking soda
• 4 eggs
• 1 tsp raw honey
• 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
• 1 tbsp coconut oil

Recipe adapted from Elanas Pantry Bread 2.0

Directions:

1. In a medium bowl, combine almond flour, buckwheat, arrowroot, flax/chia meal, salt, and baking soda
2. In a larger bowl, blend eggs for 5 minutes until light and frothy.
3. In a small saucepan melt coconut oil and honey and whisk until combined. Then stir in honey coconut oil mixture and apple cider vinegar into eggs.
4. Mix dry ingredients into wet.
5. Pour/scoop (it will be a bit thicker) batter into a well greased loaf pan (I used coconut oil)
6. Bake at 350º for 30-35 minutes, until outside looks brown and a toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean.
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