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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.

I have to admit I have been on a kale kick these past few days (or maybe weeks lol)! I can add this hearty vegetable to any dish and be pleasantly full and satiated. Try swopping out spinach or rapini, at your next meal, for this fibre packed cruciferous vegetable.  It contains a ton of fibre which is excellent for elimination and aiding in digestion which puts this leafy green vegetable high on the list of the world’s healthiest foods.

Busy days calls for quick and easy meals.  My days lately have been non-stop however I refuse to allow that to compromise our health and making wholesome nutritious meals are my top priority.  This simple, yet delicious, pasta dish is my family’s “go-to” on days like these.  This is one of those dishes that never disappoints!  You will love the look, smell and taste of this.  It is both hearty and healthy not to mention absolutely beautiful in colour 😉

Most bean based pastas, which are naturally gluten-free, pack more fiber and protein than your typical white pasta (which only raises blood sugar).  You can also opt for an organic brown rice pasta which is filled with fibre and iron.

If you’re a pasta lover like me, it doesn’t get much better than this! Enjoy!

Ingredients

  • 1 bag orecchiette brown rice pasta, cooked to Al Dente
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 2 Tablespoons Avocado Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 bunch organic kale, torn into pieces (stalks discarded)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

 

Instructions

Marinade chicken breast in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and leave for 10 minutes. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20-25 minutes.

Heat the avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and quickly stir (avoid burning). Toss in the kale and add salt and pepper and continue cooking until slightly wilted about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add kale, pasta and chicken and toss.  Serve hot!

 

The only thing that gets this girl energized in the morning is a breakfast filled with fuel.  As a crazy-busy passionate entrepreneur and mom, I have a few projects on the go right now and have been living  my life a mile a minute. This is most definitely not my preference but it is also reality right now. There are days that as soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning I am moving so fast that I forget to eat!  This leaves me low on energy which doesn’t start my day off on the right foot.  My blueberry super smoothie is nourishing, fueling and energizing, providing me with exactly what my body needs to get through these busy busy days.

If you are reading this and nodding you can relate. If you experience rough mornings from time to time then you can use a healthy-on-the-go smoothie that will take your mornings from rough and grumpy to smooth and happy!

Smoothie bars seem to be popping up impressively fast here in Toronto.  Some are good, most are not.  Most smoothies we think are healthy are actually filled with sweetened fruit juice, way too many bananas, dairy and can contain as much sugar as a large coke!

Be mindful of what ingredients are in your smoothie while out buying one! Or better yet, make my Blueberry Morning Super Smoothie and avoid wondering.  Enjoy!

Ingredients

½ cup blueberries

1 cup almond milk

½ cup coconut water

2 scoops Sunwarrior natural protein powder

½ cup spinach

2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter

½ Tbsp pure maple syrup

½ Tsp cinnamon

1 Tbsp chia seeds

1 Tbsp flax seeds

Directions

Blend all ingredients (add ice if you want it cold)

Cooking a healthy breakfast for your kids can be tough especially when you want to add variety to their diet. I often struggle with breakfast ideas and what to make Savannah that is healthy, well-balanced, nutrient-dense and tasty!

I like these patties because they’re a quick, handheld meal or snack that your kids can eat on the go or even on the way to school. They contain protein, fibre and complex carbohydrates and will give your kids the energy to get through the day!

   

 

Savannah loves black beans and I wanted to create another fun way that she could enjoy them! I love serving these to her with a side of dairy-free yogurt for her to dip.  Most of the ingredients I keep on hand, so cooking up extra is easy and this way my hubby and I have something nutritious on hand to snack on throughout the next day.

If you’re a mom who is tired of feeding their child cereal and milk in the morning try something new and whip these patties up in less than 20 minutes and you can finally smile with the knowledge that your child is getting a healthy breakfast.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 15oz can of organic black beans, rinsed and rained

1/4 cup zucchini chopped

1/4 cup cilantro

1 garlic clove minced

2 Tablespoons ground flax seed

2 Tablespoons hemp hearts

1 Tablespoon chia seeds

1 egg

1 Tablespoon grass-fed butter

Instructions

  1. Place all ingredients, except the butter, into a bowl and mix well
  2. Heat a large pan over low to medium heat with 1 tablespoon butter
  3. Place 1 tablespoon of black bean mixture into the pan. with a spatula, spread the mixture into a shape of a pancake
  4. Cook each side for approximately 2-3 minutes
  5. Cook the remaining mixture, using 1 Tablespoon of butter for each batch
  6. Cool and serve

This smoothie makes the ultimate breakfast to-go.  If you are anything like me who values time above anything else, you will appreciate this smoothie as it takes less than 5 minutes to make.  Your mornings just got a little bit easier!

I absolutely love this smoothie because its sweet and tart in taste, super healthy and filling! Even if I am not physically going somewhere in the morning I seem to be still on-the go with my little one and this is such a great and tasty go-to breakfast for me.  Now that the weather will be warming up here in Toronto (I hope!), I am definitely blending up this smoothie a few times a week.

This delicious smoothie recipe makes eating breakfast easier and healthier.  It is packed with fruit, protein and good carbohydrates to power your day. Remember starting with small changes and keeping life and your diet simple is key.  This breakfast smoothie will have you looking forward to your mornings and enjoying healthy eating!

Ingredients

1/2 cup rolled oats

1 teaspoon chia seeds

14 frozen or fresh strawberries

1/4 cup almond butter (or nut butter of choice)

1 cup almond milk

3/4 cup yogurt (I use coconut based yogurt for a dairy-free option)

1 tablespoon raw honey

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon hemp hearts (topping)

Instructions

  1. Blend oats and chia seeds together in a blender until a fine consistency
  2. Combine all remaining ingredients until smooth
  3. Top with hemp hearts

Of the winter soups, leak and potato is one of my favourites.  I have fond memories of my grandmother making this soup for me when I was young.  I have taken her classic recipe and added a twist! This creamy and comforting soup is delicious and takes less than 30 minutes to whip up!

In spite of the name, this soup does not have a drop of dairy. It might seem like a strange addition but I have used full fat coconut milk as the substitute to cream making this soup incredibly flavourful and thick.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons coconut oil

2 cloves garlic

1 medium yellow onion

2 leeks

4 large potatoes

1 tablespoon salt

1 tablespoon pepper

1/2 tablespoon cayenne

4 1/2 cups vegetable broth

3 tablespoons full fat coconut milk

Instructions

  1. Cut of the tough dark green tops and discard. Slice the white and light green parts of the leeks into 1/4-inch thick slices. Peel and cut potatoes into cubes
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a medium pot and sauté garlic and onions until soft.  Add leeks, potatoes, salt, pepper and cayenne then lower heat and cook for 10 minutes
  3. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil the simmer for 20 minutes
  4. Using a hand blender, puree half of the soup (for a chunkier consistency)
  5. Add more spices after tasting (potatoes soak up salt so you may need to add more here) and coconut milk. Top with chopped parsley

  

Growing up with a British mother, jam (or ‘jelly’) was always a staple in our home and consumed at breakfast with traditional toasted English muffins or crumpets. The smell of freshly brewed English breakfast tea and toast is probably still one of my favourites and what would make this all complete is the JAM.

Store bought jams are processed and have a very high sugar content. Not ready to let go of my love for jam I decided to create a simple recipe that did not include pectin.  The main reason jams or jellies are so unhealthy is because of this one ingredient.  When using pectin, you must use a large amount of sugar (in most cases more sugar than fruit). The sugar is what reacts with the pectin to make it gel.  However, it often requires a sugar content of more than 55% or more!

Chia seeds when mixed with liquid create a gel-like consistency so it was a no-brainer to use this as a substitute for both pectin and gelatin.  Hope you enjoy my 3 ingredient Strawberry Chia seed Jam.  You can mix up the fruit each time for a change in flavour.

Enjoy x

Ingredients

3 cups Strawberries cut into small pieces

1/4 cup pure Maple Syrup

1/4 cup Chia Seeds

Pinch of salt

chia-jam-1Directions

  1. Place strawberries and maple syrup into a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the chia seeds and pinch of salt and reduce heat. Continue to simmer and stir occasionally until the mixture becomes thick (approximately 20 minutes). Note:  If you like a thicker jam, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for an additional 5-7 minutes stirring frequently to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  3. Remove from heat and spoon into mason jars allowing to cool before placing in the fridge. Jam will remain fresh for 1-2 weeks (if it lasts this long!)chia-jam-3