Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Top 10 Recipes of 2014


Most of the recipes on this blog are created by Lauren and me, which sometimes leads to disasters (note:  We don't post those ones!), but occasionally, I taste something I've made that is particularly spectacular and think to myself, "You are a wizard."  Those instances make up for all the recipes that just didn't turn out.  With 2014 wrapping up, we've decided to make a list of our favourite recipes from this year.

Lauren's Top 5 recipes:
Who doesn't love breakfast that tastes like dessert?? And what's better when its made from healthy ingredients that will keep you full and satisfied all day long??

2.  Roasted Sweet & Spicy Chicken Legs
The perfect combination of sweet and spicy! This chicken was so lick your fingers delicious! 

3.  Greek Potato Cakes
The perfect side to any meal, plus they make an excellent snack the next day! 

4.  Flourless Cashew Butter Cookies
These cookies are so delicious it was really hard to eat just one or two! 

5.  Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread
My all time favourite banana bread recipe!


Amanda's Top 5 recipes:
1.  Slow Cooker Lasagna
This recipe blew my mind because it means I can have lasagna without having to cook the meat and pasta before assembling it.  I tried it with chunky vegetables and with food processed vegetables mixed into the ground meat and both versions were great.  I've also made it with ground chicken and with ground beef.  The winner was ground beef.

2.  Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sausage and Chickpeas
This one was so good, I also made a slow cooker version.  It reheats well in the microwave and we've even had the leftovers for breakfast before.  It's packed with protein and fibre, so it will keep you full.

3.  Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos
Any food that provides me with an opportunity to pile fresh guacamole on top of it is a winner in my book.  I had a power outage in the middle of cooking this and it still turned out perfect, so I think it is impossible to mess this one up.

4.  Chocolate Avocado Brownies & Fudgey Black Bean and Avocado Brownies
Mashed avocado in baked goods provides all the fatty goodness of a cup of butter in fruit form!  What could be better than that?

5.  Chili Pepper and Basil Pesto
Fresno chilies and fresh basil from my potted plants provided the inspiration for this recipe.  It works well on chicken, pasta, flatbreads, etc.  Jars of homemade pesto make great homemade gifts, so if you have a food processor, I highly recommend this one!

Happy New Year!

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Slow Cooker Turkey Broth

Christmas dinner was an 18lb turkey with all the fixings.  That meant there were a lot of turkey bones left to make homemade stock.  There were so many, in fact, that I froze half of them to use later when this batch of stock runs out.  I have a six-quart slow cooker, which yielded three 900mL containers of stock (the same volume as one store bought carton of broth).  This way, I can freeze them in portions required for a pot of soup.  The containers I used are Ziplock 946mL with liquid safe lids (they twist on like a peanut butter lid).  Once your broth is done, the soup recipe is below.

For the broth:

Ingredients

1 turkey carcass, meat removed from bones
2 carrots, peeled
2 celery stalks
4 green onions, sliced into 2 inch pieces
1/2 onion, peeled
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried parsley (or fresh)
Handful of fresh thyme
Handful of fresh rosemary
Black peppercorns, to taste
Pinch of sea salt (more can be added when making soup)
12 cups water

Necessary tools

3 liquid safe Tupperware containers
Mesh sieve
Tongs
Ladle

Directions

Place turkey bones in bottom of slow cooker pot.  Chop carrots, celery and leeks in 1 1/2 inch chunks and place in pot.  Add onion and garlic (whole).  Add bay leaves, parsley, thyme, rosemary and peppercorns.  Fill pot with water to 1 inch below the rim (about 12 cups).  Cover and set slow cooker to low for 12-18 hours.

When cook time is complete, use tongs to remove large pieces of bone and vegetables.  Ladle stock through a mesh sieve to strain and pour into containers.  Allow to cool, then freeze.  Thawed stock can remain in fridge for up to three days before use.

Homemade turkey broth is rich in flavour, inexpensive, and low in sodium.

To make soup with your broth in the slow cooker:

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients

4 carrots, peeled and sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced
4 green onions, sliced
1 small onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 cups turkey broth
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp onion powder
Dried parsley, to taste
Black pepper, to taste
Sea salt, to taste
3 cups cooked turkey, sliced into bite sized pieces
180g brown rice, cooked according to directions

Directions

Layer all vegetables in slow cooker pot. Add turkey broth, bay leaves, dried herbs and spices. Cook on low for 6 hours. When there is 1 hour remaining on the cooking time, remove bay leaves, add cooked turkey pieces, and stir. Replace lid on slow cooker.

Cook brown rice on stove top according to instructions. Remove the lid from the slow cooker, and add cooked rice. Stir and serve.

Nutrition

Calories 266
Fat 4.4g
Saturated fat 1.3g
Carbohydrates 30.4g
Fibre 2.8g
Sugars 3.8g
Protein 25.6g

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Almond Butter Protein Bars



While I am a huge fan of Quest protein bars, the price of them can add up. Making your own bars is much more cost effective, and this way you can create your own delicious combinations of ingredients. The ones I made are filled with fiber, protein, and antioxidants.

Ingredients

3/4 cup natural almond butter
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 scoops protein powder (I used Lean Dessert in Chocolate Fudge)
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup rice krispies
1/2 cup oats
2 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions

1. In a bowl mix together almond butter, vanilla, maple syrup, and melted coconut butter.
2. Stir in protein powder, salt, and oats.
3. Gently stir in rice krispies and dark chocolate chips.
4. Spray a square brownie pan with cooking spray (I used a coconut oil spray from Trader Joes) and press the mixture into the pan, pressing firmly.
5. Put into the freezer for 10 minutes then cut into squares.

Optional: I melted together 2 Tbsp of dark chocolate chips and 1 tsp coconut oil and sprinkled onto for an added chocolate perk!

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Greek Chicken & Potatoes


I used to live on the Danforth in Toronto - aka Greektown. There was a restaurant there that I absolutely died for, so I used that for inspiration for tonight's dinner. We had greek salad with feta cheese, lemon and oregano chicken and potatoes, and whole wheat pitas with fresh tzatziki - delish!!

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tsp salt and pepper (each)
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
4 garlic cloves
2 russet potatoes

Directions

1. In a large bowl mix together olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, and garlic. Divide mixture in half by pouring half into another bowl.
2. Put chicken breasts into the one bowl with the mixture and toss. Cover with foil and put in the fridge for 1 hour to let marinate.
3. Peel and chop potatoes into 1-2 inch pieces. Toss potatoes in the mixture and lay on a pan. Place into an oven at 425* and bake for 45 minutes.
4. Bake chicken for 25 minutes.

Serve with greek salad, pita bread, and tzatziki!

Monday, 15 December 2014

Slow Cooker Corn Chowder

Corn has had a bad reputation in the nutrition world for some time now, but this starchy vegetable is high in potassium (392mg per cup for yellow corn and 416mg per cup for white corn) and insoluble fibre (3.9g for yellow, 4.2g for white per cup).  Insoluble fibre (sources include dark leafy greens, dried fruits, whole grains, root vegetables, etc.) speeds up the passage of food waste through the digestive tract.  The other type is soluble fibre (sources include oats, lentils, fruits, flaxseeds, etc.), which slows food down from leaving the stomach, making you feel full longer.

The concerns about corn and corn based products are based on use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs or Genetically Modified Foods).  If you are concerned about the use of GMOs, you can use organic corn for this recipe, but research shows no negative health effects from the consumption of GMO vegetables.  If you would like to know more about this topic, I highly recommend Tufts University podcast "Nutrition Talk: GMOs--Friend or Foe."

Serves 6

Ingredients

200g (8 strips) turkey bacon, diced and pan fried
2 large Russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch chunks
3 cups frozen corn
2 leeks, stem and dark green section removed, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dried parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 1/2 cups chicken broth, no salt added
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup 2% milk
2 tbsp butter

Directions

Slice turkey bacon into small pieces and pan fry for 5 minutes on medium heat.  Set aside.

Layer potatoes in bottom of slow cooker pot.  Season potatoes with paprika, cayenne, parsley, salt and pepper.  Add celery, onions, garlic and leeks.  Add turkey bacon and corn on top of vegetables.  Pour chicken broth on top and add bay leaf.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

When there is 15 minutes remaining on the cooking time, remove bay leaf, and add milk and butter and stir.  Replace lid and cook for remaining time.  When cook time is complete, unplug slow cooker and remove lid.  Using a ladle, scoop out half the chunks and pour into a large bowl.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup remaining in the slow cooker pot.  Pour the contents of the mixing bowl back into the slow cooker pot and serve.

Nutrition

Calories 240
Fat 7.0g
Carbohydrates 30.8g
Fibre 3.9g
Sugars 5.9g
Protein 14.4g




Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Outdoor skating

I was pretty excited about the Rink of Dreams opening for the season last week!  If you ask me sometime in February (when it's -40 out) why I moved to Ottawa, I will cringe and say I don't know what I was thinking, but in December, when skating season starts, I'm pretty happy about it.  The photo is one of me and my friend Leah skating in Niagara Falls last winter.

I often get bored of doing cardio in the gym, and skating is a great way to switch up a workout.  Leisurely skating burns approximately 5 calories per minute, which puts it at around the same caloric output as moderate stationary biking in the gym.  Compared to other low-impact activities, skating burns more calories than moderate walking, but less than the elliptical.

Getting ready to go skating?  Here are some tips:

Wear layers that keep you warm, but allow you to move efficiently.  I recommend a long sleeve workout (my personal favourite is ACX brand from Giant Tiger) shirt under a fleece sweater (love this leopard one from Old Navy), and a parka.  A warm pair of tights (these Under Amour tights are expensive, but a good investment if you spend a lot of time outside) and snow pants will keep you warm but won't restrict movement.

Walk to a local rink for your warm up.  Keep in mind that stretching before outdoor skating can be a bad idea since it is so cold outside, the muscles will be cold too.  Never stretch a cold muscle!  Warm up with a fast paced walk instead. 

Cross train in the gym with exercises that work the muscles used for skating, with side lunges, squats and single leg deadlifts.  These exercises will strengthen the glutes, quads, hamstrings, lower back and abs.  They will also improve your balance.  Be sure to maintain good posture with chest out, straight back, abs in and keep your weight on your heels for these exercises:



Skating a fun way to include some extra cardio in your day, and it is low impact!  Enjoy!

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Slow Cooker Ham & Navy Bean Soup


What to do when your oven is broken?  Slow cook everything.  You might have seen some of my posts in the past few weeks in which I had power outages in my condo.  My power went out in the middle of cooking Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos, which is looking like it was the fault of power surges related to the oven, because my 2 year old Kitchen Aid convection oven is now toast.  It's pretty frustrating, because not only can I not bake or roast anything, I also can't use the burners.  This means no stir fries, no rice, and no eggs.  I'm most frustrated about the lack of eggs, because I eat two hard boiled eggs as my mid-morning snack every day.

Anyway, back to slow cooking...this recipe is similar to my Slow Cooker Split Pea Soup, but with a few more herbs and spices thrown in for good measure.  I like my soup very thick, so if you prefer thinner soup, add one more cup of chicken broth.

Serves 6

Ingredients

450g (1 lb) dried navy beans
350g ham, precooked and diced (about 2 cups)
340g (12oz) baby carrots, chopped
3 shallots, diced (or 1 small onion)
4 celery stalks, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp paprika
1 bay leaf
Black pepper, to taste
5 cups chicken broth ('no salt added' or low-sodium)

Directions

Layer ingredients in the slow cooker pot in the order listed, adding the broth last.  Do not stir.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours until beans are soft.

Nutrition

Calories 363
Fat 4.9g
Carbohydrates 54.7g
Fibre 20.6g
Sugars 6.9g
Protein 26.2g

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Slow Cooker Shredded Beef Tacos

I spent three winters in Mexico in my time working on cruise ships, and in that time, ate a lot of excellent meals.  There's nothing better than sitting at a restaurant on the beach under an umbrella, with a plate of tacos, a bowl of guacamole and freshly cooked tortilla chips.  I once had a guest on the ship ask me if I ever had time off.  I told him that, yes, we do get a few days off the ship every week to go into port, and he said, "no, I mean you personally...you look like you haven't seen the sun in months!"  1. I don't do well in the sun.  2. I'd rather be eating tacos under an umbrella than suntanning.  So that is what I did for three winters!

Another story about this recipe:  I have had two power outages in my condo in the past week...not sure what the problem is yet, but I was actually cooking this when I had the second power outage.  It was out for 1h20, but I plugged it back in and carried on cooking it when it came back on.  It still turned out exactly as I had hoped!

Makes 10 6" tacos

Ingredients

1kg beef chuck
1 tsp chile powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup no salt added beef broth
Juice of 1 lime
Canola spray, for greasing

Toppings

340g tortillas (10, 6")
Shredded cheddar
Guacamole
Salsa
Sour cream
Cilantro

Directions

Spray slow cooker pot with Canola spray. Place beef chuck in pot.  Mix spices together and cover all sides of beef chuck evenly with spices.  Pour beef broth over top and squeeze in lime juice. Set slow cooker on low and cook for 8 to 9 hours (mine cooked for 8).

When cook time is complete, shred beef with two forks inside slow cooker.  Serve on 6" tortillas with shredded cheddar, guacamole, salsa, sour cream, and cilantro.

Nutrition (per 1 taco with all the toppings)

Calories 344
Fat 12.2g
Carbohydrates 18.9g
Fibre 3.4g
Sugars 1.7g
Protein 39.1g

Friday, 21 November 2014

Chocolate Ricotta Brownies

Every time I make lasagna, I'm left with at least one cup of ricotta cheese leftover in the container, so it usually ends up in baked goods.  Last time, I made Pear & Honey Ricotta Bread, but this time, I wanted to try brownies.  I'm a big fan of ricotta because it is high in protein and low in calories (as far as cheese goes!

Serves 12

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Canola spray, for greasing

Direction

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a 9x7 or 8x8 baking dish and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder and stir.  Add ricotta, coconut oil, maple syrup, eggs and water.  Stir wet and dry ingredients just until uniform.  Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter into baking dish and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Allow to cool before serving.

Nutrition

Calories 176
Fat 9.4g
Carbohydrates 18.9g
Fibre 1.2g
Sugars 7.7g
Protein 5.3g

Monday, 17 November 2014

Working Through an Injury

I haven't had the best health in the past year and a half. Last September I fractured my hip after training for a marathon; and once that healed, I developed 3 herniated discs and a pinched nerve. Needless to say my workout routines have been majorly affected. There have been times where I haven't been able to exercise at all, there have been times I've worked out despite my better intuition, and there have been times when I've been able to go to the gym and just do what I can.

I finally had a really good workout today, despite my back injuries, and I was really happy. I've come to a few realizations through this all, so I thought I'd publish what I've learned through this all:

1. Don't give up. I've come to terms that I will never run again and I may never be able to do impact exercises, like burpees (I'm not crying over that one!) but I still can be active in my own ways.

2. Listen to your body. If you have an injury your body will find ways to let you know what you can do and whether you should take time off. Listen. Its that simple.

3. If you're having a good day, don't over do it. End of story - unless you want to be bedridden again. If you have a good day enjoy it, take it slow, and hope it turns into more good days.

4. Be creative. Try new things. I've always hated swimming in public pools, but since my injury I've given aquafit a try. Its not my favourite, but it gets me active and is essentially painfree.

5. Stay active. The one thing that all of the doctors and specialists have insisted upon is that I stay active, whatever that may be. Some days I literally go to the gym and walk for 20 minutes then leave. It helps to do something, no matter how small.

6. Make time for stretching and abs. These are things I used to always skip if I was short on time (maybe helped lead to my injuries??), but now I always make time for them. I'm still working on being able to touch my knees, but day by day I'm getting there.

7. Drink lots of water and eat well. The importance of hydration and sound nutrition will become extremely apparent when you are injured. I can notice a huge difference in my pain level when I haven't been eating well or drinking enough water. So search through the blog and find some delicious recipes to keep your nourished!


Blue Cheese & Pear Salad


There's a salad at a local restaurant that I cannot get enough of, so one night I decided to make my own version. This salad is not only filled with protein, iron, and calcium, but it is also the perfect combination of sweet and salty!

Ingredients

3 cups mixed greens (my favourite is a combination of baby arugula, romaine, and spinach)
1/4 cup sliced onions
3 Tbsp hot banana peppers
1/4 cup ground chicken, cooked
1/2 pear (use the canned version, but the packed in water - not syrup)
3 Tbsp blue cheese crumbles
3 Tbsp red wine vinaigrette (below) 

Red Wine Vinaigrette
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp honey
3/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Directions

1. Layer salad with ingredients - enjoy!

Nutrition (for the entire salad - a ginormous portion!) 

Calories 450
Fat 38 g
Carbohydrate 3.7 g
Fiber 2.7 g
Sugars 2.3 g
Protein 25.3 g


Chocolate Almond Butter Muffins


I based these muffins on my Whole Wheat Peanut Butter Muffins because they are high in protein (without adding protein powder).  They are a little higher in calories than most of my muffin recipes, but they make a great on the go breakfast because they are so filling.
 
I originally planned to add dried cherries to these, but was unable to find any at the grocery stores I went to, so mini chocolate chips won out.  This recipe makes 12 muffins in a regular sized muffin tin, but they are much larger than some of the other muffin recipes I've made, so you could make them a little smaller and make 18 instead.

Makes 12

Ingredients

1 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup almond butter
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 cup milk (dairy or unsweetened almond milk)
Optional:  1/3 cup mini chocolate chips or dried cherries/cranberries
Canola spray, for greasing, or muffin tin liners

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line muffin tin with liners or grease pan.  
Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl.  In a second bowl, add oil, followed by brown sugar and mix well with a fork.  Add almond butter, vanilla and eggs and mix. Transfer dry ingredients to wet, and add milk.  Mix together, being careful not to over mix batter. Fold chocolate chips into the batter.  
Spoon even amounts of batter into each muffin liner and place in oven for 18 minutes.  Insert a toothpick, if toothpick comes out clean, muffins are done.

Nutrition

Calories 310
Fat 19.3g
Carbohydrates 28.3g
Fibre 1.9g
Sugars 9.3g
Protein 8.6g

Monday, 10 November 2014

Roasted Sweet & Spicy Chicken Legs

A few weeks ago, I bought chili-garlic sauce to make stir fry, and when I bought a large package of chicken drumsticks today, it seemed like a good match.  I mixed it with maple syrup and low sodium soy sauce, but if you have honey on hand, that would work in lieu of maple syrup.

Serves 5

Ingredients

10 chicken drumsticks, skin on
2 tbsp chili-garlic sauce
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
Black pepper, to taste
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (convection) or 400 degrees F (regular oven).  Line a roasting pan with aluminum foil.  Spray the foil with Canola spray.  Place chicken legs on foil, evenly spaced.

In a small bowl, combine chili-garlic sauce, maple syrup, soy sauce and black pepper.  Stir sauces together.  Brush sauce onto chicken legs (there will be sauce remaining for basting).  Place in oven.  Every 15 minutes, remove chicken and brush with additional sauce.  Roast for a total of 45 minutes, or until chicken legs are fully cooked.

Nutrition (for 2 drumsticks)

Calories 228
Fat 6.9g
Carbohydrates 6.0g
Sugars 4.9g
Protein 33.4g

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Peanut Butter & Honey Cookies

Who doesn't love a good peanut butter cookie?  This recipe is a little higher on the sugar and oil content than others I have posted, but I wanted to make something closer to a traditional peanut butter oatmeal cookie.

This recipe made two dozen large cookies (heaping tablespoons of dough), so they can also be made smaller if you prefer a larger yield or smaller serving size.

Makes 24

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups oats, ground to a flour in food processor
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease two baking sheets with canola spray.
Grind oats into a flour in food processor and pour into a large mixing bowl.  Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices and mix until uniform.

Add peanut butter, honey, coconut oil, vanilla and egg to bowl.  Mix contents together (you may need to mash coconut oil with a fork if it is solid).

Scoop out heaping tablespoons of dough and form into mounds on baking sheet.  Use the back of a fork to lightly press down the tops of the mounds.  Place in the oven and bake for 8 to 9 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Nutrition

Calories 114
Fat 5.5g
Carbohydrates 14.3g
Fibre 1.0g
Sugars 6.4g
Protein 2.8g

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Roasted Potatoes with Carrots and Brussels Sprouts

Fall is the perfect time to enjoy a hearty side dish of root vegetables with crisp brussels sprouts!  This side is packed with vitamins A and C, and very high in potassium.  When consuming fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), it is recommended to consume a heart healthy monounsaturated fat alongside them to assist in vitamin absorption.  The olive oil in this recipe provides that serving of dietary fat.

You might require two roasting pans for this recipe (to avoid crowding the pan).  I purchased the sprouts and carrots both in 340g bags, but you can adjust those amounts as needed.

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 large Russet potatoes, diced
340g baby carrots
340g brussels sprouts
2 tbsp olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
Dried thyme, to taste

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (for convection oven), or 400 degrees F (for regular ovens).  Dice potatoes into small pieces (about 1cm tall, 0.5cm wide), leaving skins on, and place in a large mixing bowl.  Chop stems off brussels sprouts and slice in half, and add to bowl.  Add baby carrots and drizzle olive oil on top and toss to coat.  Season with black pepper and thyme, and toss.  Pour contents of mixing bowl into one or two roasting pans.  Place in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.  Remove from oven and use a spatula to flip pan contents.  Place back in oven for another 15 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.

Nutrition

Calories 218
Fat 7.4g
Carbohydrates 35.7g
Fibre 8.3g
Sugars 7.5g
Protein 5.7g

Friday, 7 November 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken & Prosciutto in Pumpkin Ale

As part of my love for pumpkin flavoured everything (except for pumpkin lattes...those don't actually have pumpkin in them), I get excited for pumpkin ale to make its seasonal appearance!  A few weeks ago, I bought three bottles of Pumking, which is my favourite of the pumpkin ales I've tried.  It has been a busy month, and I still have those three bottles in my fridge, so I thought I would cook with one (and drink the rest of the bottle once it was open, of course!).  I found this recipe, which I had planned to make, but later came across a totally unrelated recipe that had me asking the question, "how is this cooked in a slow cooker with no added liquid?" Then the solution came to me:  Use pumpkin ale for the liquid!  I veered off from my original plan, but this recipe was worth it.
Also, I was pleasantly surprised at the nutritional tally for this one...I don't tend to think pouring beer over fatty cuts of meat is healthy (it sounds delicious though!), but this was surprisingly low in calories, and high in protein and fibre.  For the sake of laziness, I bought cubed butternut squash in 400g packages.

Serves 6

Ingredients

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
6 slices prosciutto
800g butternut squash, cubed
Black pepper, to taste
1 cup pumpkin ale
3 cups peas, frozen
Canola oil, for greasing

Directions

Spray Canola inside slow cooker pot to grease.  Place butternut squash cubes evenly in bottom of pot.  Place six pieces of prosciutto on a cutting board.  Take each chicken thighs and unravel it so it is flat on top of a prosciutto.  Roll them up tightly and place them on top of the squash in the pot.  When all six chicken rolls are complete, season with black pepper.  Pour pumpkin ale over top of chicken rolls.  Place the lid on the slow cooker and set to high heat for 4 hours.  When there is 1h30 remaining on the cooking time, remove the lid and quickly add frozen peas.  Replace lid and finish cooking.

Nutrition

Calories 370
Fat 9.6g
Carbohydrates 27.7g
Fibre 6.4g
Sugars 7.0g
Protein 41.0g

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Healthy pre-packaged snacks

As much as I love cooking, and certainly prefer to have fresh foods or home cooked foods for meals and snacks, pre-packaged snacks make a busy day a little easier.  I've rounded up a list of some tasty and healthy on the go snacks (all of which are available in Canada...often if I google items like this, I can only find American packaged foods).

Bananatangs are dried bananas, but they are not your standard dried banana chip.  They are made by Solar Gold Premium Dried Fruit (there are other fruits as well, but the bananas are my favourite!), which have no artificial additives in the drying process.  The bananas have a chewy, fruit leather consistency, rather than a crunch to them, and the banana flavour is intense!  These are sold at various retailers across the country.

Quest bars are my favourite protein bar, and they are very high in protein and fibre, and low in sugar (1 gram!).  They come in a variety of flavours (I recommend Cookies & Cream or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough), and have a chewy, dense consistency (like a Tootsie Roll).  Many protein bars have a chalkiness to them, but not these!  Lauren also likes to use them her cookie recipes.  You can find these at your local nutrition store.

Simply Food Trail Mix Handfull of Everything is exactly that.  In this mix, you get dried apricots, raisins, cranberries, bananas, almonds, cashews, yogurt covered peanuts, chocolate chips and coconut.  This snack will cover all your bases...fibre, protein, healthy fats and it has some sweets in there for good measure!  These are sold at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Simply Food Jalapeno Cheddar Popcorn beats out any bag of chips if you ask me!  While pre-packaged popcorn can run a little high on the sodium content, you still get a healthy dose of fibre.  I have an air-popper at home, so I typically don't buy packaged popcorn, but for this Jalapeno Cheddar flavour, I make an exception from time to time!  Find it at Shoppers Drug Mart.

Amy's Burritos are a quick fix when I don't have any food in the house and need something to eat quickly (so I don't get hangry...I'm not a nice person when I'm hangry).  They can be microwaved in 2 minutes, they are made of organic ingredients, are vegetarian, and come in gluten free varieties.  I've tried a few other Amy's products, which are also tasty, but the burritos are the quickest to heat up (other items have to be heated in the oven).  Loblaw's carries these in the organic frozen food section, or they can be found at your local health food store.

These are some of my personal favourites, but if you have any additional suggestions, feel free to add them in the comments!


Monday, 3 November 2014

Make your workout more efficient

Is your workout efficient?  Is the time you're spending in the gym getting you the best bang for your buck?  As a personal trainer, many people come to me after they've been working out on their own for years without any professional advice (which, of course, will still lead to positive results, any exercise will!), but their personal programs are imbalanced, inefficient or redundant.  Here are some mistakes you might be making in the gym and how to fix them.

Common mistake:  Working each muscle group once per week (ie. "Chest day")
How to fix it:  Every muscle group should be worked twice per week.
Work to rest ratios in your workouts are very important.  A muscle group takes 48 hours to fully repair after weight training.  To maximize your work to rest ratio, it is best to work the muscle as frequently as possible (every 48 to 72 hours).  If you work a muscle group twice per week, the work:rest is 1:3, whereas if you work a muscle only once per week, the work:rest is 1:6, which is far more rest than any muscle group needs.  To manage this, you need to work more muscle groups in each workout than just one.
If you're guilty of doing 4 different chest exercises every Monday, and wondering how you will ever fit in your 4 chest exercises when you also have to fit a few other muscle groups, don't worry, I have the answer!  Divide up your workouts into less exercises per muscle group on EACH workout, but do them more often (it will be the same number of chest exercises per week, I promise).  Let's look at an example 4 Day Workout.  In this case, the muscle group is indicated, as well as a number to differentiate the exercise (meaning chest exercise 1 can be bench press, while chest exercise 2 can be cable pec flyes, exercise 3, dumbbell press, and 4, push ups).

Day 1--Half body 1A
Chest exercise 1
Shoulder exercise 1
Abs/obliques exercise 1
Chest exercise 2
Shoulder exercise 2
Tricep exercise 1

Day 2--Half body 2A
Leg exercise 1
Back exercise 1
Leg exercise 2
Back exercise 2
Lower back exercise 1
Bicep exercise 1

Day 3--Half body 1B
Chest exercise 3
Shoulder exercise 3
Abs/obliques exercise 2
Chest exercise 4
Tricep exercise 2
Abs/obliques exercise 3

Day 4--Half body 2B
Back exercise 3
Leg exercise 3
Back exercise 4
Leg exercise 4
Bicep exercise 2
Lower back exercise 2

Common mistake:  Performing exercises that do not work with and against gravity.
How to fix it:  Exercises should have a controlled concentric/eccentric phase.
There are two types of exercises that are performed in a standard weight room workout, they are isometric and isotonic.  Isometric contractions refer to those in which the muscle is contracted, but no movement takes place (ie. a plank).  Isotonic contractions are those in which there are distinct lifting and lowering phases.  The lifting phase, in which the weight or body moves against gravity is called the concentric phase.  The lowering phase, in which the weight or body moves in a controlled manner with gravity is called the eccentric phase.  Research shows that the tiny muscle fibre tears that contribute to muscle building activity occur during the eccentric phase (controlled lowering).  Two mistakes are often made in the gym that prevent a proper eccentric phase:
1.  Improper set up of exercise.
2.  Improper technique during exercise.

So let's break those two mistakes down further:
1.  Improper set up of exercise.  When you are setting up to perform an exercise, take gravity into account.  Dumbbells and barbells should not move laterally, they should only move up and down.  When a lateral movement is necessary, a cable or tube must be used instead (because the weight stack of the cable will move with and against gravity in that case).  For example, when you want to perform a row exercise, there are several options--use a dumbbell and kneel on a bench or fold forward from the hips (maintaining a flat back) to hold the upper body parallel to the floor to work with and against gravity.  If you prefer to remain upright (seated or standing), you must perform a cable row.

This might seem pretty obvious with row exercises, but there might not some quite as obvious ones, because you've probably seen a lot of people do them, such as Arnold presses.  Arnold presses consist of a lateral movement of dumbbells in front of the chest first, then palms turned out and up into a shoulder press.  The lateral movement portion of this is not effective!  If anything, you're just risking injury by performing additional movements with heavy weights.  Only perform movements with dumbbells that have clear concentric and eccentric phases.

2.  Improper technique during exercise.  When performing an exercise, the standard concentric phase should consist of 1 second to lift up, and eccentric, 2 seconds to lower the weight down.  The importance of the controlled lowering phase cannot be understated.  If you lift the weight up and then simply allow your arms to flop back down to your sides in your bicep curls, you're not lifting effectively.  This can also be seen in exercises such as lat pulldown (pulling down, then just allowing the cable to forcefully pull your arms back up), tricep cable pressdowns, leg press, etc.  Maintain a steady eccentric phase to maximize each rep.

Common mistake: Too much rest time between sets.
How to fix it:  Know how your rest times affect your fitness goals.
Rest between sets can greatly affect the results you get from your workouts.  Understanding rest times can help you to determine how long you should be resting.
Why rest between sets?  When a set is performed to exhaustion, the body's natural creatine levels are depleted.  On the first set of an exercise, creatine levels start at 100%, deplete and slowly return to full capacity.  This process takes 2 minutes.  If a second or third set is performed when there is a creatine deficit (anywhere from 30s to 90s of rest), the body will recognize this deficit and produce additional creatine, which aids in muscle growth (hypertrophy).  If, however, your goal is maximal strength on every set, you must rest 2-3 minutes to work at full strength.
To match your fitness goals, rep range and rest times, the recommendations are as follows:

Strength--4 to 6RM--2 to 3 minutes rest
Hypertrophy--6 to 12RM--30 to 90s rest
Endurance--15 to 30RM--<30s rest

I hope these suggestions help you on your quest to getting jacked!  If you have questions, comments or other fitness topics you'd like covered, please drop me a line in the comment section!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Slow Cooker Sausage with Sweet Potatoes

This recipe is easy to prepare, high in fibre, protein and heart healthy fats for a filling meal.  Each serving is packed with vitamins A, C, and K, potassium, and iron. I've made a very similar recipe by roasting it in the oven before, but the slow cooker was ideal for this (the ingredients had various roasting times, whereas everything went in the slow cooker at the same time, with the exception of the spinach).  It also reheats well for lunch the next day!

For the spice mix, I used the leftover mix from the rub I made for the Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork.  I will definitely make that spice mix again to keep in a small jar for chicken and pork recipes, it had the perfect balance of savoury and spicy!  The spice mix I listed below is a simplified version (and matches the amount you need for this recipe).

Serves 8

Ingredients

1kg sweet potatoes (about 3 large or 4 medium), peeled and diced in bite sized chunks (2 cm by 1 cm)
450g pork sausage, sliced into bite sized pieces
1 19oz can chickpeas, drained
1 red bell pepper, julienne
1 tsp spice mix (1/2 tsp paprika, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, 1/8 tsp black pepper)
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 cups fresh baby spinach

Directions

Place peeled and chopped sweet potatoes in the bottom of the slow cooker and toss with 2 tbsp olive oil.  In a bowl, combine chickpeas, 1 tsp olive oil and spice mix and toss to coat.  Add spiced chickpeas on top of sweet potatoes.  Put sausage pieces and bell pepper into slow cooker and drizzle with remaining olive oil.  Place lid on and cook on high for 3.5 hours.  Remove lid and add spinach on top.  Allow to cook for another 10 to 15 minutes (until spinach is wilted).

Nutrition

Calories 573
Fat 24.5g
Carbohydrates 66.6g
Fibre 14.5g
Sugars 6.7g
Protein 23.1g

Friday, 31 October 2014

Slow Cooker Spicy Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is a slow cooker classic, and is great to make for a crowd, or to make extra and freeze it for later.  This version has a mix of spices that kick up the flavour so much, it tasted great even before the barbecue sauce was added.  For this, I used a 1.5kg boneless blade pork roast (pork shoulder), which was perfectly cooked in 6 hours on the low setting.  You might not use all of the spice mix, this mixture should make enough to cover the outside of the pork.

Serves 8

Ingredients

1.5kg pork shoulder
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups water
Buns, for serving

Directions

Remove strings from pork with scissors and place pork into slow cooker pot.  Sprinkle spice mixture over pork and spread evenly with the back of a spoon.  Flip pork over and add spices to other side.  Add water to slow cooker pot and set to low.  Cook for 6 hours (cooking time will have to be adjusted for weight).

When 6 hours is complete, remove the pork from the slow cooker (using slatted spoons--pork will be very hot) and place on a large cutting board.  Use slatted spoon to remove fat pieces from water remaining in bottom of pot and discard.  Use a fork to remove fat pieces still attached to pork, and discard.  Put pork back into slow cooker pot and shred with forks.  Add barbecue sauce as desired (1/2 cup approximately).  Serve pork on a bun.

Nutrition (serving of pork with barbecue sauce, bun not included)

Calories 418
Fat 28.9g
Carbohydrates 5.7g
Sugars 4.1g
Protein 31.4g

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Bananas


Halloween is just around the corner and there is miniature versions of chocolate bars everywhere! Even though I'm trying to avoid them that doesn't mean I still don't get a killer sweet tooth! These banana slices are ridiculously easy to prepare and they definitely hit the spot! And to top if off you get a healthy dose of potassium, protein and fiber! 

Ingredients

1 banana, sliced into coins
2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips
1 Tbsp peanut butter

Directions

1. In a small bowl combine chocolate chips and peanut butter. Microwave for 30-45 seconds, stirring every 15 seconds until melted.
2. Using a small spoon drop melted chocolate and peanut butter mixture on to banana slices. 
3. Place slices in the freezer for 15-30 minutes until frozen. 

Nutrition (for entire recipe)

Calories 324
Fat 17.4 g
Carbohydrates 44.2 g
Fiber 5.6 g
Sugars 27.9 g
Protein 5.1 g




Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Pumpkin Spice Morning Glory Muffins


The reason I love morning glory muffins is because you really can't go wrong with them! There are so many delicious combinations of ingredients that you can combine to make these muffins, but the key is to find nutrient dense ingredients that work well together. 

Ingredients

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
pinch salt
6 eggs
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 medium apple, peeled and diced
1 1/2 cup grated carrots
1/2 cup dates, pitted and chopped
1/4 cup raisins 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350* and spray a muffin tin with cooking spray (I used Trader Joe's coconut oil cooking spray).
2. In a large bowl combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. 
3. In a different bowl add eggs and whip until combined. Add oil, vanilla, honey, and pumpkin. 
4. Combine wet and dry ingredients. Stir in carrots, dates, apple, and raisins. 
5. Divide between muffin cups and bake for 15-18 minutes. Should make 15 muffins. 

Nutrition (per muffin)

Calories 158
Fat 10 g
Carbohydrates 14.5 g
Fiber 3 g
Sugar 9.5 g
Protein 3.5 g

Carrot Ginger Muffins


I bought fresh ginger this week to make stir fry, so yes, this is my third ginger recipe this week!  When I make a new recipe, I often just open the fridge and see what needs to be used up.  This was one of those.  I was a little bit lazy this time and didn't bother grating the carrots and chopping the ginger, I just threw them both in the food processor, so you can use either method.

Makes 12

Ingredients

1 cup oat flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 cups carrots, grated
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1 egg
2 tbsp coconut oil (or canola)
1/2 cup coconut milk
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a muffin tin with canola spray or line with muffin papers.
 
Pour oats into food processor and grind into a flour.  Pour oats into a large mixing bowl.

Chop or food process carrots and ginger.  Set aside.

Add flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and spices to mixing bowl with oat flour.  Stir to combine ingredients.  Add fresh ginger and carrots from food processor to mixing bowl.  Add maple syrup, egg, coconut oil, and coconut milk and mix until uniform.

Scoop batter evenly into muffin tins and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until muffin tops are firm.

Nutrition

Calories 165
Fat 5.6g
Carbohydrates 26.7g
Fibre 1.6g
Sugars 11.8g
Protein 2.8g


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Apricot Ginger Cookies

I was recently on a flight in which the in flight snack was a ginger apricot cookie that was chewy and filling.  I wanted to recreate something similar at home, so for this recipe, I just added ingredients until I achieved the texture I wanted.

I had two objectives for this cookie:  Firstly, to make a dense breakfast cookie.  Second, to make a cookie that doesn't rely on cinnamon for flavour.  If you follow this blog, you may have noticed I use cinnamon and nutmeg in almost all my baked goods and desserts.  I try to use as little added sugars as possible, so cinnamon is usually the easiest way to add flavour without adding more sugar.  Don't get me wrong--I love cinnamon!...but I wanted to try something different this time, so ginger it is.
This recipe can be made gluten free by purchasing oats labelled Gluten Free.  Oats do not contain gluten, but can be subject to cross contamination during packaging.

Makes 15

Ingredients

12 dried apricots, diced
1 cup oats
100g (1 cup) ground almonds
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp fresh ginger, finely diced
1 large egg
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tbsp molasses
1 tbsp coconut oil
Canola spray, for greasing

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease a cookie sheet with Canola spray.

Chop dried apricots into small chunks (about the size of a raisin).  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, ground almonds, salt, baking soda, ground and fresh ginger and mix until uniform.  Add egg, maple syrup, molasses, coconut oil and apricot pieces and mix until oats and almonds are coated with liquid.

Scoop out dough in tightly packed circles and place evenly distanced on cookie sheet.  Use a fork to flatten tops of cookies.

Place in the oven and bake for 8 minutes.  Allow to cool on pan for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Nutrition (per cookie)

Calories 101
Fat 4.9g
Carbohydrates 12.8g
Fibre 1.9g
Sugars 6.8g
Protein 2.8g

Monday, 20 October 2014

Baked Apple Cinnamon Beavertails


This weekend, I took a pizza dough out of the freezer, but when it thawed, I didn't feel like having pizza (odd, I know, pizza is one of my favourite foods!).  So I asked myself (and Google), "What else can I make with this pizza dough?" which led me to this Martha Stewart recipe.  I (roughly) followed the recipe, but decided to use maple syrup and peanut butter to sweeten it instead of brown sugar.  If you prefer to make pizza dough from scratch, see Lauren's recipe here.

Now, I suppose you could call this a tart like Martha did.  But as an Ottawan, I took one bite into this and knew it was more than that.  It was a (relatively) healthy Beavertail.  Confused?  Beavertails are  doughnut-like fried pastries topped with chocolate, fruit, etc., and are a staple in Canadian tourist cities.

Serves 4

Ingredients

325g pizza dough (this was half of the thawed store-bought dough)
Canola spray, for greasing pan
Cinnamon, to taste
2 Royal Gala apples, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
1 tbsp coconut oil, divided
3 tbsp natural peanut butter (smooth)
2 tbsp pure maple syrup

Directions

Divide raw pizza dough into four equal pieces.  Spray a large baking sheet with canola spray and place one piece of dough onto pan to use as work surface.  Roll out the dough into a rectangle, keeping the dough as thin as possible.  Fold the dough lengthwise in thirds (the way you would fold a letter to place inside an envelope) to create a long, thin piece of dough.  Roll dough out more to be as wide as an apple slice is long.  Repeat with remaining 3 pieces of dough, and space evenly on baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 

Dust the tops of dough with cinnamon.  Set aside.

Peel and slice apples to about 2mm thick.  Place slices on top of each piece of dough, overlapping slices.  Use 2 tsp of coconut oil to brush over top of apple slices.

Place in the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes, until dough is lightly browned underneath.  Remove from pan and place on cooling rack.  Allow to cool completely before icing.

In a small saucepan, combine 1 tsp of coconut oil oil, peanut butter and maple syrup and stir to combine over low heat.  Pour icing mixture into piping bag (or into a sturdy plastic sandwich bag, then make a small cut off one corner to pipe out icing).  Pipe out icing onto beavertails and serve.

Nutrition

Calories 373
Fat 12.3g
Carbohydrates 58.1g
Fibre 5.5g
Sugars 18.7g
Protein 10.3g

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Slow Cooker Leek, Potato & Turkey Bacon Soup

I recently attempted to make Butternut Squash Soup, and the reason I didn't post the recipe was that it was too thin...and that I didn't have an immersion blender, so I mashed the squash and sweet potatoes in it with a potato masher.  I called my dad, who is a chef, to ask him to send me his butternut squash soup recipe, and after hearing about my substandard potato mashing plight, he immediately went out and bought me an immersion blender (thanks Dad!).  I haven't yet attempted his recipe, but I did use the blender for the first time today to make Slow Cooker Leek, Potato & Turkey Bacon Soup.

This was also my first time working with leeks, and I have to say, they are pretty time consuming to wash and chop, so give yourself a few extra minutes to prepare this recipe.  I sliced off the stems and the dark green section, soaked them in a large mixing bowl to rinse them and then sliced them.
I used PC Blue Menu Turkey Bacon strips for this recipe, but you could also swap it for regular bacon or diced ham, if you prefer.

Serves 6

Ingredients

200g (8 strips) turkey bacon, diced and pan fried
3 large Russet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1 inch chunks
2 leeks, stem and dark green section removed, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, diced
1/4 tsp paprika
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp dried parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
5 cups chicken broth, no salt added
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup 2% milk
2 tbsp butter

Directions

Slice turkey bacon into small pieces and pan fry for 5 minutes on medium heat.  Set aside.

Layer potatoes in bottom of slow cooker pot.  Season potatoes with paprika, cayenne, parsley, salt and pepper.  Add fried turkey bacon pieces on top of potatoes.  Add celery, onions, garlic and leeks.  Pour chicken broth on top and add bay leaf.  Cover and cook on high for 4 hours.

When there is 15 minutes remaining on the cooking time, remove bay leaf, and add milk and butter and stir.  Replace lid and cook for remaining time.  When cook time is complete, unplug slow cooker and remove lid.  Using a ladle, scoop out half the chunks and pour into a large bowl.  Using an immersion blender, puree the soup remaining in the slow cooker pot.  Pour the contents of the mixing bowl back into the slow cooker pot and serve.

Nutrition

Calories 258
Fat 6.8g
Carbohydrates 33.0g
Fibre 4.7g
Sugars 4.8g
Protein 14.8g

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Chicken Sausage and Arugula Salad


This was one of those recipes that just happened. I had some really great ingredients and I was originally going to make an omelette when I decided to make a large salad instead. I was a little nervous but it ended up coming out amazing! Probably one of the best salads I've ever had!

Ingredients

3 cups argula
3 Tbsp red onion
2 large mushrooms chopped
2 Tbsp low fat feta cheese
1 spicy chorizo chicken sausage (I bought mine from Whole Foods)
2 Tbsp poppyseed dressing

Directions

1. Heat up a pan over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Cut the casing of the sausage and squeeze the meat into the pan. As it cooks, chopped it into small pieces and cook until cooked thoroughly. Remove from heat.
2. Spray pan one more time with cooking spray. Add onions and mushrooms and cook until tender. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and remove from heat. 
3. In a large bowl layer the arugula, the onions and mushrooms, the feta, and chicken. Toss with dressing and enjoy!!

Nutrition

Calories 328
Fat 17.5 g
Carbohydrate 19.8 g
Fiber 2.2 g
Sugars 14.6 g
Protein 24.1 g

Pumpkin Squares


After I made the pecan pumpkin tarts, I had exactly 1 cup of pumpkin left, so what better way to use it than in pumpkin squares! This recipe is great because it's sweet enough to have as dessert, but also healthy enough to have as breakfast or a snack in the afternoon! 

Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup quick cooking oats
1 cup pumpkin puree (100% pumpkin)
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips 
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground nutmeg

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a square brownie tray with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl combine flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.
3. In a medium bowl combine pumpkin, almond milk, eggs, and honey.
4. Combine the wet and dry ingredients until combined. Stir in chocolate chips and pecans. 
5. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes. Will make 16 squares. 

*You can also make this recipe into mini muffins for a bit size snack!

Nutrition (1 square) 

Calories 132
Fat 5.4 g
Carbohydrate 20.6 g
Fiber 2.5 g
Sugars 11.7 g
Protein 3 g 

Whole Wheat and Chocolate Pancakes


What is better than pancakes on the weekend? Pretty much nothing! This is my favourite pancake recipe - it is filled with fiber from the oats and whole wheat flour, but still has a ton of flavour! Plus the chocolate chips get all soft and gooey! 

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
2 cups milk
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup flour
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips 

Directions

1. In a large bowl add the milk and oats and let sit for 5 minutes.
2. In a different large bowl add the flours, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir with a fork until combined. 
3. In the milk and oat bowl, add the eggs and stir until combine. 
4. Add the wet mixture with the dry mixture and stir until combined. 
5. Heat up a large non-stick pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray.
6. Using a ladle pour mixture into the pan, wait about 1 minute then add 1 Tbsp chocolate chips. When you see bubbles, flip the pancake and wait until the second side is slightly browned (approximately 2 minutes). You should get 10 pancakes. 

*Feel free to top with 100% maple syrup for extra deliciousness!

Nutrition (for 1 pancake)

Calories 161
Fat 4.6 g
Carbohydrate 25.6 g
Fiber 2.6 g
Sugars 7.6 g
Protein 6.2 g

Pecan Pumpkin Tarts


Normally our Thanksgiving dinners are filled with glutinous desserts, but this year was a little different. With a few family members watching their sugar consumption our Thanksgiving menu took a change for the better! Above is a sugar-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free pecan pumpkin tart. Its filled with fiber, protein, and vitamin A - Now there's something to be thankful for!

Ingredients

3 cups pecans
1 cup pitted dates
2 eggs
2 cups pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/2 cup almond milk
1 cup date butter
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
pinch salt
1 tsp vanilla 
1 Tbsp melted butter

*If you're not opposed to sweeteners, you can substitute the date butter for 1/2 cup maple syrup for a sweeter taste 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 
2. Mix 2 cups pecans and dates in a food processor until it forms a dough. 
3. Spray a muffin tin or mini tart pan with cooking spray. Divide the dough between the cups and press firmly so that you leave a spot in the middle for the batter.
4. In a large bowl mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, vanilla, almond milk, date butter, 1 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and salt. Divide batter between the cups. 
5. In a small bowl mix together 1 cup pecans, butter and 1 Tbsp cinnamon. Top each cup with a bit of the pecan mixture.
6. Bake for 25-45 minutes depending on if you are making muffin size tarts or larger tarts. 

Nutrition (for 1/12 recipe)

Calories 305
Fat 22 g
Carbohydrate 28 g
Fiber 6 g
Sugars 20 g
Protein 5 g




Monday, 13 October 2014

Slow Cooker Turkey & Rice Soup

It's Thanksgiving, so this is my second turkey recipe this weekend (I bought two turkey breasts that were half a kilogram each).  This recipe can be prepared with boneless, skinless turkey breast or chicken breasts, and wild rice or brown rice.  If you are using regular rice, you can put it in the slow cooker for the full cooking time, but if you are using instant rice like I did, add it to the pot when there is 30 minutes remaining on the cooking time.  I used no salt added chicken broth, so I found it needed additional salt, but if you are using stock with salt, you can omit the salt.

Serves 6

Ingredients

500g carrots, peeled and sliced
4 celery stalks, diced
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
500g turkey breast (or chicken breast), boneless and skinless
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried thyme
Black pepper, to taste
Salt, to taste
6 cups chicken broth (no salt added)
1 bay leaf
1 1/3 cup (120g) instant brown rice

Directions

Layer carrots, celery, onions and garlic in the slow cooker pot.  Slice turkey breast into 1 cm wide strips (about the size of a chicken finger), and layer them on top of vegetables.  Add dried herbs and salt and pepper on top of turkey pieces.  Pour chicken broth into pot.  Add bay leaf on top.  Cover and set to 4 hours on high.

When there is 30 minutes remaining on the cooking time, remove lid and scoop out the bay leaf.  Pour the instant rice into the pot and stir.  Replace lid and cook for remaining 30 minutes.  When cook time is complete, use a wooden spoon to break up large pieces of turkey.

Nutrition

Calories 231
Fat 2.8g
Carbohydrates 30.7g
Fibre 3.8g
Sugars 9.3g
Protein 20.2g