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Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free

Yields: 8-10

As a child Brussels sprouts was one of those vegetables that I cringed even at the thought of eating them.  They have become one of my favourite adult vegetables (when in season of course).  Brussels sprouts are a great source of iron and potassium (important for bone health) and offer other benefits that can boost your overall health. Butternut Squash is a staple in my household in the fall and winters months.  It delivers an ample dose of dietary fibre as well as potassium and vitamin B6 (essential for the proper functioning of  both the nervous and immune systems). I try my best to incorporate vegetables, herbs and spices that boost the immune system during the fall and winter months to protect us from the common cold.

I adore the combination of ingredients here with all the flavours of winter. This dish is not only low-maintenance but it makes a beautiful presentation too – it was a wonderful holiday side dish that made a great addition to our Christmas menu.

Enjoy xx

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Brussels sprouts (halved)
  • 1 medium size butternut squash (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup pecan halves
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (Roast). Place the butternut squash chunks in a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano. Place the Brussels sprouts halves into another large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to distribute the oil evenly.
  2. Place the butternut squash on one baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Place the Brussels sprouts on another baking sheet lined with parchment paper (tip: place the Brussels sprouts cut side down so they caramelize much more evenly).
  3. Roast the vegetables for 25-30 minutes, flipping them gently 1 to 2 times.
  4. Place the pecan halves in a pan and toast for 5-7 minutes until golden.
  5. Gently place the roasted vegetables in a large serving bowl or platter. Drizzle olive oil and toss the vegetables gently until they are lightly dressed. Serve warm.

For a drink with holiday spirit!

Dairy- free, Gluten-free, Refined Sugar-free

Yields: 4

As soon as it begins to get cold I start to crave eggnog. It screams Christmas to me and I get this warm and fuzzy feeling inside. Eggnog, or also knows as egg milk punch, is traditionally made with milk, cream, sugar and egg yolks. It is a creamy dairy-based beverage that I have steered away from for years because of my dairy intolerance. However last year I decided to give this holiday drink a try making it gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. The holidays just aren’t the holidays without eggnog so I am happy I perfected this recipe (and so are my family and friends).

Some of you may be reading this blog thinking why make your own when you can buy a festive carton at the nearby grocery store. Store bought eggnog is filled with thickeners and stabilizers, artificial colors and flavors; some are also sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Making your own eggnog may initially appear intimidating but I promise that this recipe is simple. Making your own will spare you these additives and preservatives and you can create variety in the flavours of your eggnog. Using an orange peel, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and maple syrup will give your homemade egg nog the boost it needs without any refined sugars.

Some recipes use raw eggs to avoid tempering but typically these recipes call for quite a bit of alcohol which acts as a preservative and sterilizer. My recipe involves tempering the egg yolks but it is a quick process and you can still add in alcohol if you choose to 😉

Ingredients

  • 6 extra-large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1 stick whole cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cans full fat coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Instructions
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and maple syrup until thick. Set the bowl aside.
  2. In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, slowly heat the almond milk with the cinnamon stick, stirring frequently, until the cinnamon becomes fragrant. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and discard the cinnamon stick. Pour the milk very slowly into the egg yolk and maple syrup mixture, whisking constantly. This is how to temper the eggs, so they don’t scramble. Return the mixture to the saucepan, and stir in the coconut milk.
  3. Return the saucepan to the stovetop, and simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to bubble slightly (not a full rolling boil, or it will curdle) and starts to thicken.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat, stir in the vanilla, nutmeg, and ground cinnamon. Chill completely in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Yields:  8 Bars

Matcha boosts the metabolism and detoxifies the body effectively and naturally.  It is rich in fibre, chlorophyll and vitamins. This Japanese green tea enhances mood and aids in concentration.  I enjoy a Matcha latte (made with coconut milk) in the mornings as it gives me the energy boost I need to start my day without the headaches that can sometimes come with coffee.

Green tea and chocolate may make you second guess this recipe but both ingredients compliment one another very well.  Both matcha and cacao have a bitter taste but that is offset with the sweetness of the pure maple syrup.

Why does chocolate make us happy? Because it tastes good and it provides us with an escape from our busy and often stressed-out lifestyles. Dark chocolate made with raw cacao is good for more than curing a broken heart. Scientific research has provided explanations around the idea that chocolate does in fact make us happy. There are over 300-naturally occurring chemicals in chocolate and some of them can affect the brain by releasing neurotransmitters. Certain neurotransmitters can be responsible for your emotions and the way that you feel. Eating chocolate releases endorphins into the brain. Endorphins are known to decrease levels of both stress and pain.

Not all chocolate is weighed the same. I am speaking about high quality chocolate made with cacao not the sugary junk.  Chocolate doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. These plant-based, healthy, vegan, dairy free, gluten free chocolate bars will increase your mood and enhance your taste buds leaving you feeling comforted, alert, excited and HAPPY.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1 Tablespoon organic matcha powder
  • 3 Tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup Naturespath organic brown rice crisps

Instructions:

  1. Line a loaf pan with plastic wrap for easy removal
  2. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and stir until smooth
  3. Scoop the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and smooth out
  4. Freeze for 20 minutes or until solid
  5. Slice into 8 chocolate bars and enjoy! These bars will melt at room temperature. Store into a container in the fridge to avoid melting.

 

Lets stop denying the fact that summer is over and fall is coming.  Although in Toronto it may not seem this way with the uncharacteristicly high temperatures, Fall weather will be upon us sooner than we want to come to terms with.  As the days get shorter and the temperature begins to drop, it is essential to adjust our cooking and eating habits. This is largely in keeping with the proceed that nature gives us at particular times of the year.

 Last week I was at the local farmers market and as I walked around the many farmers booths I noticed that the produce has already started to produce reflecting the autumn season.  I saw lots of winter squash, onions, apples and root vegetables.

Tuning into your body and understanding what it wants and needs at various times throughout the year is what I call whole body awareness.  You will notice that you do not crave fresh salads, cool drinks in the fall and winter like you do in the spring and summer.  Eating warming foods in the fall and winter is so vital in keeping the body healthy and balanced.  This philosophy of warming and cooling foods is derived from Ayurveda, which is the ancient Indian tradition of whole-body medicine.

Ayurveda suggests that the metabolism works harder in the fall and winter to keep us warm, and therefore the “digestive fire” must be well fuelled with heavier foods. Salads in the cooler months are suggested to zap the body of energy and possibly weakening the immune system.

Butternut squash is one of my favourite and most versatile fall vegetables.  From creamy soups, to hearty pastas, to nutritious tarts butternut squash truly shines in each and every recipe. I have decided to use this hard-shell squash in a delicious stuffed recipe. What I love most about this recipe are the leftovers!  Easy to warm up days after for lunch for a side to a dinner dish.

Gluten-free, Dairy-free

Yields:  4

Ingredients

  • 2 Medium sized Butternut squash
  • 1/3 cup fresh pomegranates
  • 2 cloves of Garlic
  • 1 bunch Kale
  • 1 1/2 cups Vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cups Quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Olive oil
  • Instructions

1.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Halve the butternut squash, scoop out the seeds, then place halves on a baking tray, cut sides up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in oven for approximately 45 minutes just until the squash is tender. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees F

  1. While the squash is baking, place the vegetable broth in a small pot and bring to a boil. Add the quinoa, reduce to simmer for 15 minutes covered. Set aside.
  2. In a large pan heat avocado oil over medium heat. Add the garlic until golden. Add the kale and cook until wilted approximately 3 minutes.
  3. Once the squash is cool, scoop out the flesh, leaving a 1/2 inch-thick border around the sides. Reserve the flesh (this can be made into muffins, stuffing or mash!). Stuff the squash halves with the kale quinoa mixture and return to the oven for approximately 10 minutes. Serve warm

 

Most of us have been perpetually reminded since childhood, that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This meal influences how we perform physically and mentally throughout our day.

The average adult gets 8 hours of sleep per day (or should) and 10 hours for children. In those 8 to 10 hours hours that the body is resting it is also essentially “fasting”. If breakfast is not consumed in the morning the body does not get the energy needed for the day, affecting concentration levels (particularly in children), mood and weight maintenance. Eating a nutritious and balanced breakfast (protein, veggies, good carbohydrates) maintains blood sugar levels and sets the tone for a day of healthy eating.

5 reasons why breakfast is the most important meal of the day:

  1. Increase metabolism
  2. Maintain or lose weight
  3. Enhance mood
  4. Enhance immune system
  5. Stimulate the brain improving memory and concentration

However on the days when we are scrambling to get out the door, we tend to push it off. What we really need is a breakfast that can rush out the door with us. By taking the time to prepare and eat a healthy breakfast, you eliminate grabbing or picking up the high-sugar breakfast options at your local coffee shop.  My simple and nutritious egg muffins prepped in a muffin tin are tasty, healthy, and totally transportable, making your mornings easier and your days energized.

These delicious and healthy breakfast egg muffins can be made in advance and even frozen for more convenience! When you’re busy, portable breakfasts make all the difference. I have created three difference recipes below but you can swap out or change up the ingredients as you desire.

Yields: 12

Ingredients

Kale & Spinach

  • 8 eggs
  • 1 cup sliced mushroom
  • 1 cup kale
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 shallot diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper

Broccoli Cheddar

  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup cooked broccoli florets
  • 1/4 cup sweet yellow onion chopped
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast

Pomodoro

  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves (chopped or minced)
  • 1 handful fresh basil torn
  • 1 cup quinoa cooked

Instructions

  1. Coat muffin tin with coconut oil and set aside. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Dice the vegetables into small pieces and add to the egg mixture (for the broccoli cheddar add the nutritional yeast at this stage as well).
  4. Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes until centres are set and no longer runny.
  5. Allow to cool slightly before serving

** Please note that extras may be stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in an air-tight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.

Everything in moderation. Except for Avocado

Guacamole is an avocado-based dip, originating in Mexico. Mexican cuisine uses guacamole as a condiment or side to their more snack-type dishes (burrito and tacos). However guacamole has become an addictive and very popular dip internationally and rightfully so!  Avocados are a unique type of fruit in that they are high in healthy fats.  Where most fruit contain primarily carbohydrates, avocados are also incredibly nutritious containing powerful health benefits.

Avocados have made the `superfood` list and it is not surprising considering its high nutrient content and health properties. Avocados are rich and creamy making them a fantastic addition to smoothies, desserts, salad dressings and guacamole. Guacamole has become well admired by most vegetarians and vegans, mainly because they contain 2 grams of protein, 2 grams of carbohydrates, 7 grams of fibre and 15 grams of healthy fat making this fruit a low-carb friendly plant food.

Avocado is a high fat food in fact the majority of the calories are from fat, making it loaded with heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids. It is important to note that the majority of the fat in avocado is a monounsaturated fatty acid called oleic acid. Oleic acid is proven to reduce inflammation and is also resistant to heat –induced oxidation, making avocado oil a healthy and safe cooking option.

Fat does not make you fat! I am persistent when it comes to demolishing this myth. Our bodies need good fats. When we eat healthy fats we are more satiated which allow our bodies to indicate to our brains that we are full and content (eliminating over eating or cravings for junk food). Most people confuse fat itself with the junk food that it is associated with. Do not be afraid of the heart-healthy fats that exist in avocados. Not only are they packed with healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre but they are loaded with powerful antioxidants, making them a healthy addition to any diet.

Avocados add that smooth and creamy texture and flavour to guacamole, making this dip an ideal snack or side dish. My guacamole bowl takes less than five minutes to make with very minimal utensils to clean afterwards.

Ingredients

3-4 ripe Hass avocados

Juice of 1 lime

¼ cup diced red onion

¼ cup diced ripe tomatoes

3 tablespoons of cilantro (chopped)

1 teaspoon kosher sea salt

A dash of black pepper

1-2 jalapeño (stems and seeds removed) – optional

Instructions

  1. Cut the avocados by running a knife around the avocado (top to bottom) and twist in half. Once the avocado is open, firmly press the knife onto the pit and twist to remove. Pull out and place the pit in a bowl to the side. Slice the avocado in strips vertically (top to bottom) and then repeat horizontally. Scoop the flesh out with a spoon into a medium sized bowl.
  2. Using a potato masher, mash the avocado until a smooth consistency. Cut the lime in half and squeeze both halves into the bowl with the avocado.
  3. Dice the onion and tomatoes and add to the avocado, mixing until well combined. Stir in all other ingredients. Place the avocado pits back into the bowl (this keeps the guacamole from browning).
  4. Serve with non-gmo organic corn chips

Guilt-free indulgence: A healthy alternative to the classic cinnamon roll

Have you ever smelt something that reminds you of your childhood? I can still remember the warm and cozy feeling I had as a child when I smell freshly baked cinnamon rolls. This sensory experience takes me back to my childhood in an instant. Fluffy, soft, doughy and bursting with cinnamon I just had to re-create the classic home-style cinnamon roll recipe to be gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free.

This recipe’s combination of brown rice flour and coconut sugar produces rolls that are pleasantly doughy with a subtle touch of sweetness. If you are like me and love cinnamon, you will adore the filling of these rolls as they are filled with the aroma of ground cinnamon while also delivering a healthy dose of fibre with the organic chia seeds. This recipe is not only delicious but it is also versatile. You can add nuts to the filling and even top with raisins once glazed.

I really want to speak a little about balance. As a holistic nutritionist I am very pro-balance when it comes to indulgences (and life in general!). It is funny, I usually see shock on people’s faces when I tell them about the indulgences that I have weekly. YES I indulge, I am not a rare creature who lives life restricted. I believe that depriving yourself will only lead to overeating or bingeing.  An overly healthy lifestyle can be restrictive and although I advocate for healthy eating habits, I also encourage my clients to indulge from time-to-time.  There are many healthier treats to indulge in and having something homemade is always a better option than out of a package.

My tips and tricks on exercising healthy indulgences:

  1. Commit to a healthy lifestyle with balance: Eating healthy most of the time (80%) with a few indulgences here and there (20%) and developing a healthy relationship with food eliminating all guilt
  2. Plan for your indulgences: By planning your treats you can ensure your indulgences are a healthier option rather than running to the grocery store to purchase anything that looks tempting. Getting excited about the indulgence, you’re less likely to feel any guilt.
  3. Release the need to eat overly healthy all the time: Food can be the most incredibly beautiful experience or the worst. If you have an intolerance or allergy, stick to indulgences that your body can tolerate. No one is perfect and no one can upkeep an overly healthy lifestyle, it is not healthy! Indulge, enjoy it and let it go!

 

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 2 cups glutenfree baking flour
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 teaspoon unrefined sea salt
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ cup coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon organic vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons ghee melted and cooled slightly

For the filling:

  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 3 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon organic chia seeds
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoon arrowroot powder

For the glaze:

  • 2 tablespoon ghee
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot powder
  • 1 teaspoon coconut milk

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Grease a 12 muffin tray with coconut oil.
  3. Dough: In a large bowl place all dry ingredients. Place all wet ingredients into a medium bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well. Set aside while you prepare your filling.
  4. Filling: In a medium saucepan melt the ghee over low heat. When melted add sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon, chia seeds and arrowroot flour until consistency is thick.
  5. Roll out the dough, on lightly floured parchment paper, into a rectangle. Then spread the filling on the rolled out dough.
  6. Roll up the dough into a log and with string feed it under the roll and cut into 12 rolls.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes.

Many people avoid snacks because they believe it will contribute to weight gain when in actuality it helps to maintain a healthy weight and keep energy levels at an ultimate high, avoiding cravings of junk food and refined sugar.  However not all snacks are weighed the same.  Choosing snacks that combine complex carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats is key!

No bake bars are one of my favourite on-the-go snacks because they are portable, easy to eat and do not require a napkin! WIN!  However commercial bars are what we nutritionists call junk food dressed up as a healthy snack. The majority of these so called “healthy snacks” that sit on the shelf in your nearby grocery store, contain a ridiculous amount of refined sugar and ingredients that even I cannot pronounce!

So why are these individually wrapped bars so popular?  Well because they are easy and can be eaten for breakfast and snack.  What if I told you, you could whip up a batch of really healthy bars in less than 20 minutes?  Would you consider making them?  I hope so because these 5-ingredient healthy bars are not only delicious but they are packed with complex carbohydrates, protein, fibre and a ton of vitamins!

Whether you`re looking to eat healthier, have more energy, fuel your workout or liven up your child`s lunch box these bars are the ideal addition to your life. They are stress-free, convenient and healthy. When you’re short on time, feeling tired, or don’t want to heat up the house, whip up these simple yet delicious no bake peanut butter cacao bars.

We all know that making our own treats means cleaner ingredients and these whole food bars are sure to keep you energized and fueled all day long. I highly recommend making a batch every few days and storing them in the fridge, or freezer, for fast, convenient and healthy snacking!

As a busy mom and entrepreneur anything that takes less than 30 minutes to make is my jam! These bars are an easy grab-and-go power-packed snack keeping my blood sugar levels balanced. In turn, this makes me a better mom, a better wife and a more energetic entrepreneur.

Dietary Restrictions: Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Refined Sugar-free

Yields: Makes 8 square bars or 16 smaller bars

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 cup gluten free oats
  • 1/4 cup cacao powder
  • 1/4 cup organic almond butter
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Instructions

  1. Place the dates in a food processor to form a dough
  2. Add all other ingredients until well combined
  3. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and then press the dough tightly into the pan
  4. Place in the freezer for 1 hour
  5. Lift out of the pan and cut into squares or bars
  6. Store in an airtight container (these can be frozen)

As we have all likely noticed, smoothie bowls are the biggest trend on social media these days and for good reason! Take your smoothie make it thick and ditch your straw for a spoon. These thick and colourful bowls provide a ton of variety and the gorgeous toppings you can play with are not only healthy but fun.

Why are smoothie bowls so popular? You can eat them for breakfast, lunch or snack and feel confident that you will be getting the energy and fuel you need to tackle whatever the day throws your way. Filling your smoothie bowl with fruit, veggies, nuts, seeds and healthy fats gives you an easy meal packed with nutrients, fiber and vitamins.

The Açaí berry is the popular superfood from Brazil. It is an indigenous berry found in the rain forests of the Amazon. Along with this berry’s delicious taste, it provides an array of health benefits.  The Açaí is a powerful fruit and its popularity is well deserved.  Adding this energy-boosting fruit to your diet, will help stimulate your immune system and may help repair oxidative damage because of its high antioxidant content. In my popular eBook “Healthy is Sexy”, I speak a lot about beautifying from the inside-out and achieving true beauty from a whole foods diet. Antioxidants provide our cells with protection while slowing down the aging process.

Being an entrepreneur and mom I am always looking for fast and easy meals that are packed with nutrients to keep me going all day long. Needless to say, Acai smoothie bowls are my favourite these days.  After eating this beautiful bowl of deliciousness you will feel satiated and full for hours.  Not to mention it will satisfy any sweet craving you may have (minus any guilt or blood sugar dips).

Unfortunately here in Toronto, we are not able to get our hands on fresh Açaí berries. You can only purchase Açaí as a fruit puree and this can be found in the freezer of your local health food store. The biggest producer of this puree is Sambazon. Finding this puree is not the difficult part of this recipe, the challenge here is to find the balance of thickness for your smoothie bowl so that your toppings simply float on the top and do not sink into the mixture. Smoothie bowls really are not difficult but they can take a few tries, especially if you’re new to the smoothie-bowl scene.

If you want to blend a super thick and spoonable smoothie bowl follow my tips and tricks below:

  1. Make it thick – use frozen fruit to give you a thick base (you do not want a soupy smoothie bowl). The more frozen fruit and less liquid you use, the thicker the bowl. Be sure to use a powerful high speed blender like a Vitamix.
  2. Chill your bowl before starting – smoothie bowls can be delicate and can begin melting the moment you pour your mixture into the bowl. By chilling the bowl first you can avoid this.
  3. Find your perfect smoothie bowl – Its best to use a deep bowl versus a wide or shallow one to keep the mixture cold and it is a smaller surface to add your toppings to.

Açaí smoothie bowls are popping up at trending local juice & smoothie bars however I encourage you to try my recipe below. Remember smoothie bowls have personality so you can change up the toppings to whatever your heart desires adding your own flare!

Prep time  10 minutes

Total time 10 minutes

Makes: 2 Bowls

Ingredients

2 frozen Açaí packs (unsweetened)

1 frozen banana

¼ cup coconut milk

¼ cup coconut water

Toppings

½ banana (slices)

strawberries

¼ cup coconut flakes

¼ cup hemp hearts

1 Tbsp chia seeds

Instructions

  1. Run Smoothie Packs under hot water for 5 seconds.
  2. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until well combined (consistency should be that of a very thick smoothie).
  3. Poor Açaí mixture into a deep bowl and top with toppings.