Here are some tips that will help you get through the holidays. Thanks Innocent Indulgence for the great ideas!!
1. Set a goal of maintaining your weight and/or size during the holidays, of course you don’t want to gain wait but also don’t try and go on a diet! Be realistic.
2. Be sure that you are drinking lots of water or herbal tea during the day. Drinking water will keep you feeling full longer and will help you stay healthier during the holidays.
3. By starting your day off with a great breakfast. You will be less likely to fill up on holiday treats later. Also, you can balance what you plan on eating later and indulge in moderation on foods that you would like to enjoy later in the day. Nutritious breakfast ideas include: smoothie, green juice, fruit and whole grain toast or cereals.
4. Plan what you are going to eat ahead of time at holiday parties. By preparing yourself, you will be less likely to eat everything in sight when you see the spread. Start by limiting yourself to only one plate of food. Also, try eating a small healthy meal or snack before you go, so you won’t be as hungry at the party. Eating celery, drinking a green juice or having something hearty like hummus helps to satisfy cravings.
5. Be a sweetie and bring a dish or a snack. Not only will you contribute to the spread, but you will bring your favorite “healthy version” of the treats, share the goodness and ensure that there will be at least one nutritious option.
6. Keep your body moving! It doesn’t mean you have to start training for a marathon, but this a perfect time of year to connect with friends and family and play games outside, go for a walk or jog, ice skate, join a gym, or even start home workout videos.
7. Take time for yourself! The holidays are a busy time of year and can be very stressful. Take at least 5 minutes every day for yourself. Sit or lay down, clear your mind, relax and just breathe and enjoy the true meaning of the season.
8. Watch your intake of calories from beverages. During this time of year, many will be drinking lattes, hot chocolate, hot cider, and alcohol. All are loaded with empty calories which mean they don’t have a whole lot of nutritional value. Empty calories can lead to weight gain, especially when paired with all of the other holiday goodies. Try these versions of hot chocolate and Chai lattes and indulge without guilt!
9. Cookie platters and exchanges seem to make great gifts, but they also tempt you to nibble continuously. Instead of keeping them out on the counter, place them in a glass container and freeze them or give them to someone else as a gift! Or make these delectable cookies or Vegan Chewy Chocolate Brownies for your holiday party.
10. When you are eating holiday treats, enjoy them. When you decide you want a piece of pumpkin pie or a couple ginger bread cookies, choose a reasonable portion, sit down and enjoying every bite and don’t feel guilty. It is the holidays and they only come once a year!
If you’re still looking for holiday gifts or a way to pave the path to a healthy new year, book healthy cooking classes with us. Classes are up to 40% off for only a few more weeks. So don’t miss out! Check out the many discounted classes and packages here.
Enjoy a very special and healthy holidays!
Credit for this post and these tips were so fabulously inspired by Innocent Indulgence, namely Alisha Chasey (owner) and Rachel P (intern at ASU). My favourite dessert company in Arizona! Wish they were local!
Last Monday, family day – Ryan and I went to the Sha Sha Co. factory. If you aren’t familiar with this incredible product line, it is about time you are! Sha Sha Bread Co is a Canadian bakery company that is responsible for making some of the most incredibly nutritious and tastiest products on the market. From a variety of sprouted breads, to delicious heart shaped cookies, and more recently launched is their new bio buds and a sprouted buckwheat snack.
I have been in love with thier products (breads, pizza crusts, flatbreads) for years now, as they embrace spelt as a staple grain, they take pride in the baking process by soaking and sprouting their grains and everything they make just tastes so good and is made with love.
It is one thing to love a product and buy it and use it. But it is another thing to actually meet the creator himself, Sha Sha, and go to visit the factory. Everthing just seemd happen coincidentally. Ryan and I were planning to go and visit the factory on Family Day, and just the weekend before, I attended the annual Organic Groweres Conference and listened to Sha Sha speak at two seperate lectures over the weekend.
Sha Sha is purely passionate about what he does. He is a baker at heart and wanted nothing more than to make the most nutritoius breads and baked goods. He set out on this mission and now has a full thriving business because of it. I can totally relate to this, as a good business just doesn’t come with hard work and money – it comes with passion and love. Something I take pride in everyday with my own business. So after hearing the voice behind the breads and goodies I have been indulging in for years, this made me even more excited to visit his home…the ShaSha Co. factory.
I call it a home, because that is truly what the factory felt like. Being a family run business – it is has the warmth and feel as if we were invited into Sha Sha’s home. With kids and families part taking in the free event on family day you could just see how excited kids actually get about their products. Using bright colours and friendly packaging also thier facility is nut free – which opens it’s doors to even more avenues. The factory also implements green practices that have the environment in mind like re-using water, being efficient with energy and power usage, managing waste and paper trails and sourcing local and organic products as much as possible to keep the costs and travel emissions low! Sha Sha is truly innovative in everything that he does and we all get to benefit from it as a result!
Sha Sha educating his visitors
Lots of Love!
Ready to be enjoyed!
Happy with our goodie bags of treats!
Can’t all factories be like this? Filled with love, making delicious happy and healthy products that everyone can enjoy?
Thanks Sha Sha for being a frontier!
Have you tried Sha Sha breads or products? if not…..
Tell me why you love them and I might just send you some delicious spelt ginger heart cookies!
A couple of weeks ago I took on the Canada am Cookie Challenge. I thought that for whatever it was worth, I would submit one of my favourite cookie recipes to see if it would win and Canada would realize just how delicious this cookie really is. My cookie wasn’t the winner, but made it as one of the finalists, ( I didn’t even want the prize: $500 to the Bay), I wanted people to taste a cookie that was made without butter, sugar, flour and cornstarch. If you didn’t know it already – cookies can be made WITHOUT these ingredients – and still taste amazing.
I selected this recipe in particular because as a little girl, nothing made me happier than creamy, white Jam Cookies. When I decided to give those up as I transitioned into healthy eating, I still longed for something that tasted similar. I came across a recipe that used all of the above “traditional” ingredients and began by converting them over one by one and landed with this recipe!
Which to me, is not only super simple, but it is also super delicious. I have tested it out on many a family member and have had nothing but a great response. So I thought the team at Canada AM would think the same?
Maybe next year my Jam Dot Cookies – filled with coconut oil and maple syrup will get the recognition and glory that they deserve. These ingredients may be new some some people, but they are responsible for making every one of my baked goods turn out perfectly and taste incredible. Others eventually will learn this – and it will become public delicious knowledge. Until then, enjoy the recipe below!
Jam Dot Cookies
1 cup almonds, ground to fine meal
1 cup spelt flour
1 cup rolled oats, ground to a fine meal or oat flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup melted pure coconut oil
½ cup maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt
Strawberry or raspberry jam (fruit sweetened or no sugar added)
Preheat oven to 350, line 2 baking sheets with Parchment paper.
- In medium bowl, combine almonds, flour, oats and cinnamon. Mix well to combine.
- In separate bowl, blend oil, maple syrup, and sea salt. Add to nut mixture and stir to combine.
- Roll into walnut sized balls. Place on baking sheet and press down with thumb.
- Fill indentation with jam and bake for 15-20 minutes.
On the topic of healthy snacks this week (and just in time for school), it is within my knowledge to show you what is out there. Snacks that you can get your hands on that I approve of. We all need snacks, they are available, but we have a choice to make. If you have a guideline to follow of what to choose, how to choose, then you are taking one step closer to wellness and a healthy body! In a another post you will learn how to make your own snacks at home.
As a general rule, you want to look for whole foods that are packaged. Pure ingredients made from whole grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruits and natural sweeteners. You should be able to read all of the ingredients on the label (and there shouldn’t be more than 5 unless it is jam-packed super bar) and feel confident that you are putting a good product into your body even though it is packaged!
So here is a my approved guideline for healthy packaged snacks (most of which are in my home):
Rice Cakes with Almond Butter
Pita Break Spelt Crackers with Hummus
Sheep Yogurt with Granola
Whole Grain Bread with Almond Butter
Trail Mixes made from Navitas Naturals Products
Did I miss anything? I am sure I did. What are some of your amazing, wonderful and healthy snacks that you like to buy ?
Please do share, we all want to hear them!
I LOVE that I can make up a batch of cookies without even baking them! Just in time for Valentines Day these little “raw” sweethearts are power packed full of super foods. These are my same “go-to” ingredients that I use to super power my smoothies and snack on throughout the day. Except this time I threw them all into the food processor and blended them into a thick batter and pressed them into delicious yummy little cookies!
You can use anything you want inside. Just pick from wholesome raw and organic ingredients. It is best to use dates to stick them together and then throw in some other goodies like nuts, seeds, goji’s, cacao and super powders (maca, mesquite, cacao, lacuma) which would make them chewy, crunchy, sweet, bitter and scrumptious all at the same time.
It’s nice to know not all cookies have to be baked. These “hearty” bites took all of 15 minutes to prepare and the yield was enough for me to bring to a dinner party of 10 or more. Very little mess was involved plus the excitement of the creation was the biggest part. I didn’t really plan what or how I wanted these cookies to turn out – they just did!
1 1/2 cups whole raw almonds
2 tbsp hemp seeds
1 cup chopped dates
1/4 cup goji berries
2 tbsp cacao nibs or cocoa powder
1 tbsp agave nectar
1 tsp mesquite powder (optional)
1/2 tsp vanilla powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp sea salt
**for an extra protein boost – add 2 tbsp Sun Warrior Protein Powder
Place all the ingredients into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until you get a thick “doughy” consistency. Spread out and cut into “heart” shapes with a cookie cutter or roll and flatten into 2 inch cookies.
This may sound like a challenge, but you can enjoy delicious food this holiday without restricting yourself (or indulging for that matter!). It is not about dieting and sitting across the table wishing you can eat something that you told yourself you couldn’t. It is about taking control. Make the right choices this year, because you can treat your holiday however you want!
Maybe this year, you offer to make some of the side dishes, desserts or goodies. Or at least have something small with you to nibble on that is healthy and tasty. You never want to be left without options that don’t suit your goals or your taste buds! You don’t have to give in to the 4-5 course rich and heavy meals and all the holiday candies, sweets, desserts that may be delivered to our door or are laying on your table. If you have to go for that “once-a-year” something, then treat yourself to a small piece and enjoy every bite. You never want to approach the holidays dreading the amount of food you are going to eat…just approach it with peace and let yourself know that you can still enjoy the holidays without guilt.
Here are a few more helpful tips:
If dinner is not at your house – have a small meal before you go (vegetable juice, smoothie, bowl of soup, veggies and hummus with crackers)
Load up on veggies - if there is a salad or steamed veggies available – double your dose of them and leave only a small space on the plate for other things.
Wait before you have dessert - sip on herbal tea, let your tummy digest dinner before you indulge in dessert. Or better yet bring your own healthy and guilt free dessert – Ginger Date Cookies!
Get to the gym or go for a long walk - you will feel better knowing that you can burn off some of those (extra) calories (even if you did cheat a little!)
Sip on wine if you must – watch the eggnog, beer and other rich holiday drinks. These all have calories that can add up!
Make time for bonding – have after dinner activities that are fun and keep you away from all-night nibbling!
Approaching the holiday dreading the amount of food you’re going to eat is no fun. So take control this year and give yourself the gift of eating good food, in moderation. If you must give in, to that second helping – do it with gratitude and pleasure not with guilt and disappointment. The only one who will be left upset in the end is you!
Date Ginger Coconut Cookies
2 ½ cups spelt, kamut or oat flour
2 cups rolled oats
2 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped pitted dates (I like Medjool)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup maple syrup or coconut nectar
¾ cup coconut oil
1-2 tsp grated ginger
zest of organic lemon or orange
1 tsp pure vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper
- Whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in large bowl.
- In a separate bowl add in dates and coconut and stir to combine. Add the syrup, oil, ginger and zest and vanilla and mix just until all flour is absorbed.
- Drop heaping tablespoons or large scoops of the dough onto the baking sheets, spacing them out evenly.
- Bake for about 12 minutes, until golden brown.
- Allow to cool on a baking rack for a few minutes and enjoy!
Passover, the Jewish holiday celebrated this time of year is known for its traditional recipes and ingredients that have been used for centuries. The premise is to make savoury and sweet recipes that do not “rise”. In this case, many families have become accustomed to purchasing either pre-packaged “kosher for passover” treats or making their own “unhealthy” desserts. In which case, many of the ingredients are either full of fat, sugar and other processed ingredients that are tasteless and unsatisfying – (not to mention the digestive back up that comes along them).
I want to assure you that you don’t have to settle for bland desserts and cookies during Passover- there is another way!
All that is required is a little creativity and knowledge of what grains and alternative flours can be used and what other natural ingredients can be put together to make delicious treats that are not only comprised of butter, eggs, sugar and matzah!
So, I got a little crazy in the kitchen concocting all sorts of amazing passover cookie recipes. I wanted to prove to my own family that passover desserts can not only taste great, but also have some amazing nutritional properties (protein, fiber and heart healthy fats)!
I took some traditional cookie recipes and modified the ingredients by using almond flour, quinoa flour and amaranth flour as the main ingredients. (For the record these are not only kosher for passover, but are also gluten free!). Then I used natural sweeteners like agave nectar, maple syrup and brown rice syrup and oils such as grapeseed, organic canola or coconut oil and then some added in some fun ingredients like nuts and seeds, chocolate chips, coconut and naturally sweetened raspberry jam.
It is simple and may even save you some money to make your own treats this year! So enjoy and have a little fun in the kitchen. Then pass-over your own healthy and delicious cookies to everyone in your family!
For more healthy and nutritious passover friendly recipes for your family join Marni at Preparing for Passover Cooking Class on March 21st.
Passover Friendly Jam Dot Cookies
1 cup almonds, ground to fine meal
1 cup quinoa flour
1 cup amaranth flour
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup melted coconut oil, sunflower, canola oil
½ cup maple syrup
Pinch of sea salt
Raspberry or Apricot Jam
Preheat oven to 350, line 2 baking sheets with Parchment paper.
1. In medium bowl, combine almonds, both flours and cinnamon. Mix well to combine.
2. In separate bowl, blend oil, maple syrup, and sea salt. Add to nut mixture and stir to combine.
3. Roll into walnut sized balls. Place on baking sheet and press down with thumb.
4. Fill indentation with jam and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Despite what people might think, eating a gluten free diet is not limiting at all. In fact you can get more variety eating a gluten free diet than most people do eating their average diet. When people don’t have any limitations, it is ironic, but that is when people tend to eat the same thing day in and day out. When one is restricted to a specific diet either for health reasons (allergies, intolerance’s, sensitivities or digestive problems) – it forces you to become more creative and add more variety to your everyday eating.
On Wednesday night at my “Gourmet and Gluten Free” cooking class, my participants learned just that. By incorporating gluten free foods in your diet you can have more variety, colour and balance then you ever would have dreamed. For example we made these delicious “Everything Cookies” (recipe below) that had just about everything in them – except for gluten! Based on the response – these cookies tasted better than anything they had ever expected. Also included in the menu was a creamy carrot ginger apple soup, a quinoa pilaf salad with cashews and cherries, a tofu vegetable stir fry with buckwheat soba noodles, black bean and yam burgers, a pesto sauce on brown rice penne pasta and guacamole with blue corn chips. As you can see, there is no lack of flavour, variety, colour and texture in this menu. Gluten free grains are also extremely high in protein, calcium, vitamins, minerals and best of all they don’t make you bloated! You don’t have to be intolerant to gluten to have this variety in your diet – just be creative and have fun.
A word on Gluten:
Gluten is the protein in wheat that many people nowadays have difficulty digesting. If someone is gluten intolerant, they are likely to have Celiac Disease. This can be an extremely severe situation for some people as everyday digestion is compromised causing inflammation of the small intestine.
People who suffer from Celiac Disease need to stick to a gluten free diet indefinitely.
If someone is just simply sensitive to gluten containing foods it is important to stick to gluten free foods as much as possible to keep the gut lining nourished and soothed.
Examples of Gluten Free Grains:
Grains & Grain Products
GF Grains: amaranth, arrowroot, buckwheat, corn (cornmeal, corn grits), fava, flaxseed, garbanzo bean (chickpea, besan, gram or channa), hominy, hominy grits, kasha (toasted buckwheat), millet, pure uncontaminated oats, quinoa, rice, sago, tapioca
GF flours: bean flours (garbanzo, fava, romano), pure buckwheat flour, buckwheat bran, cornstarch, cornmeal, corn bran, garfava flour (garbanzo + fava bean flours), mesquite flour, quinoa flour, montina flour (made from Indian rice grass), nut flours and nut meals, pea flour, potato flour, potato starch, rice flour (white and brown), sorghum flour, soy (soya) flour, teff (or tef) flour
Breads and baked goods made with GF grains and free of other gluten-containing ingredients
Pastas made from rice, beans, corn, potato, quinoa, soy, wild rice and other GF grains
Cold cereals: puffed corn, amaranth, buckwheat, millet or rice, rice flakes and soy cereals
Hot cereals: hominy grits, soy grits, cream of buckwheat, cream of rice, puffed amaranth, rice flakes, quinoa flakes, soy flakes
Rice: brown, white, basmati, jasmine or wild rice
Grains: buckwheat, millet, amaranth, rice, corn, quinoa
Corn or rice tortillas
Everything (but gluten) Cookies
1/3 cup maple syrup or agave
1/3 cup honey
2 tbsp brown rice syrup
2 tsp. vanilla
2 Tbs. almond butter
1/3 cup tahini
1 cup quinoa flakes
¼ cup puffed amaranth
¼ cup brown rice flour
½ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup pumpkin seeds
½ cup chocolate chips
¼ cup ground flaxseeds
1/3 cup currents
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease 2 large cookie sheets, or line with parchment paper.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together the maple syrup, honey, vanilla, almond butter and tahini.
3. In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients. Pour wet mixture over dry and stir to blend well.
4. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto prepared bake sheets.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden brown. Cookies will firm up as they cool.
Makes 20-24 cookies.
Coconut oil has to be among one of the most controversial topics these days. I am constantly being asked about it’s relation to health. How can a saturated fat be healthy?
Coconut oil has been perpetuated by both the media and medical practitioners as unhealthy, fattening and damaging to the arteries. Well let me tell you something- this is a wrong approach as those who are against coconut oil have not really looked at the whole picture. It is the hydrogenated coconut oil that is use in most processed products that are deemed unhealthy, as hydrogenation changes the delicate nature of virgin coconut oil into a trans fat. By the way this goes for most cold pressed vegetables oils (such as olive, sunflower, safflower and sesame) that when heated at high temperatures they too become denatured and altered into a trans fat!
There have been studies upon studies done on the health benefits of virgin coconut oil (in it’s original state), from its antibacterial, antiviral, energizing and healing properties all the way to being used daily as a moisturizer!
Bruce Fife, among many others such as Conrado S. Dayrit have proven that coconut oil is actually a cure to so many health ailments and diseases.
For example, the saturated fat component of coconut oil is made up of certain fatty acid chains called medium chain triglycerides or MCT’s. These are different from animal sourced fatty acid chains made up from long chain triglycerides. This may not sound like a big deal, but in your body it is! The long chain fatty acids found in animal and dairy fats are the ones that clog arteries, contribute to increased cholesterol, heart disease and weight gain. Also the consumption of processed and packaged foods made up of trans fats (or altered vegetable oils) such as margerine and shortening are also the main culprits that lead to high cholesterol and other heart damaging conditions such as atherosclerosis. Whereas the medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil actually help people who suffer from digestive problems to protecting against infections to boosting energy and metabolism and it even protects against serious health problems such as cancer and diabetes. (Source: The Truth about Coconut Oil : Conrado S. Dayrit, 2005)
So don’t be afraid of this wonderful and tasteful fruit, use it whole, use it’s water, use it’s butter, use it’s shell. There are endless possibilities!
I make wonderful recipes with Coconut Oil – it is one of my favourite ingredients. It is dairy free, gluten free and full of delicious flavour. It can also be heated to high temperatures in baking and stir frying without any fret or used raw in smoothies and desserts. You can even drink the water straight from the coconut and use it as an energy drink before, after or during exercise!
I could really get into a whole long discussion about how wonderful coconut oil really is, but I am going to leave it at that.
So get yourself educated about the benefits of coconut by reading some books or going to:
OR Please CLICK HERE! to find out more about nature’s miracle food!
I will also leave you with a recipe for shortbread…yes coconut oil is the perfect replacement for butter in this decadent and rich shortbread cookie created by Jae Steele.
Spicy & Sweet Shortbread Cookies
(Slightly Adapted from Jae Steele’s recipe for Shortbread Cookies in her book “Get it Ripe”)
1/2 cup maple sugar or organic sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
2 1/4 cups brown rice flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup virgin coconut oil, diced
1/4 cup room temperature applesauce
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, cocoa powder or maple crystals
Preheat oven to 275 F
1.Place sugar and salt in food processor and blend for 30 seconds to give a finer texture.
2. Add the flour and baking powder and blend to combine. Add the oil and applesauce and process until well combined, but do not allow to form a ball.
3. Scrape dough onto a clean surface with spatula and knead gently with your hands and form a ball. Divide dough in half and roll out each half to 1/2 inch thick.
4. Cut dough into rounds using a cookie cutter (I chose a heart!)
5. Place cookies on to parchment paper lined baking sheets and dust with cinnamon, cocoa powder or powder maple sugar.
6. Bake for 25-35 minutes, until they turn a light colour. The shortbread will be be firm at first, but it will harden as it cools.
7. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheets before storing in an air tight container for up to a month.