Nutrient Dense QUICK Granola

A few family members have requested my granola recipe…..as I usually just “wing it” and just add ingredients by eye, I decided to finally measure everything out and get it all down for you all! It is a super easy, vitamin and mineral rich breakfast – and when you mix it up with some full fat yogurt, it fills yours and your kidlets’ tummies for a good while.

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If you have a kitchen-aid, it’s unbelievably fast. Just dump in the wet ingredients, mix, add the dry ingredients, mix, and you’re good to go. Grease a large baking sheet and spread the granola fairly shallowly over the pan. Bake for five minutes or until you notice the corners browning a tad, flip, and bake again for the same amount of time.

You can shake up the recipe a great deal by maintaining the same ratio of wet ingredients and oats, while switching out the puffed rice for any other type of cereal, the nuts for any other nut or large seed. The hemp hearts can also be subbed with chia – although the chia tends to not “stick” as well to the mix. You can even add nut butters to the wet ingredients if you like.

Let the granola cool on the pan and then transfer to an airtight container for storage. After it’s cooled, if you have an extra sweet tooth, you can add a scoop of chocolate chips to your mix (don’t do this while it’s hot or they will just turn into melted chocolate). If you can keep it that long, it should be good in your pantry for a week. But I challenge you to actually not eat it all by then 😉

Golden Turmeric Milk – An Amazing Home Remedy

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So I researched “golden milk” a while ago, and have spent some time testing it out – now I want to share this amazing remedy with you! I saw the recipe initially on Pinterest (many a blogger has posted something similar), and felt like I should give it a try just because it truly looked and sounded delicious. Little did I know about all the amazing health benefits to this helpful tonic!

Turmeric has long been an Ayurvedic remedy for many an ailment in India and other parts of the Middle East. Many families would cook with it to prevent and treat illness, and would specially prepare a tonic similar to this for sick family members.

The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has been found to have amazing antioxidant , anti-inflammatory , and antibacterial / antiviral properties, as well as being helpful for bone and joint health. It is widely used as an alternative treatment for arthritis, as well as being beneficial for osteoporosis – especially in conjunction with natural, whole milk. It is also a very effective treatment for pain.

Curcumin has also shown promise as a possible aid in the treatment of cancer, (as with many other potent antioxidants), although research is in its early stages and involves the isolated component, and not the whole food (I question whether they would have more immediate results had they not isolated the compound and instead just used it in natural and traditional forms).

One problem with turmeric by itself as a supplement is that the curcumin is not readily absorbed by your bloodstream in its raw form. However, a substance called piperine in black pepper makes it infinitely more bioavailable. Curcumin is also fat soluble, so it is ideally consumed along with healthy fats.

So how should you take this amazing spice? The answer is: in this delicious golden milk recipe!! Milk contains the fats necessary to help your body absorb the curcumin, and the black pepper in the recipe also steps up your absorption a mega-notch. And there are also some other tasty and beneficial ingredients on the list. Care to check it out? Keep reading:

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1). In a small pot, add:

1 to 1.5 cups whole milk (OR for a vegan option, choose whole fat coconut milk)
1 – 2 tsp finely grated / “zested” fresh organic turmeric root OR organic, fair trade pure turmeric powder
10 or so kernels black peppercorns
5 or 6 thin slices of fresh ginger root
A cracked up stick of organic fair trade cinnamon (I don’t recommend subbing the powder, but you can if need be).

2). Bring to a low simmer, stirring frequently, until the milk turns a nice golden colour (3). It will take less time to become golden with the powder than with the fresh root. I usually simmer the milk from 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and cover the milk to steep for an additional 5 minutes.

Stir in 1 tsp to 1 tbsp (depending on sweetness desired) of organic, quality raw honey. Mix until dissolved. I totally forgot to put this in the picture…..sorry ;). It’s mostly a taste thing.

4). Pour the milk through a reusable coffee filter or very fine strainer, unless you want it chunky ;). Sip and enjoy!

I find that for pain relief, this recipe usually goes to work within 15 to 30 minutes. I once used it to treat some bad menstrual cramps, and it literally took them away for the rest of the day. Just gone. I have been using the milk for a severe headache today, and it has worked pretty amazingly well. I am sitting here sans headache right now. It also works brilliantly well to settle tummy and other digestive troubles, especially with the ginger included.

Not to mention it is SOOOO delicious! I just love it. My picky eating two and a half year old even drinks it! Let me know how it works for you if you try it! I highly recommend giving it a shot before taking and pain meds (although I am certainly not a “doctor” and you should always research for contraindications). I find it works infinitely better than Tylenol or Advil. It’s worth a try, no? And at the very least you get a tasty drink with many other health benefits to your bod 😉

Some sources on turmeric and curcumin:

http://authoritynutrition.com/top-10-evidence-based-health-benefits-of-turmeric/

http://www.naturalnews.com/043054_curcumin_antioxidant_cancer_treatment.html

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/turmeric

Crunchy cabbage carrot salad with spicy orange mayo dressing!

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I haven’t posted a salad recipe yet, and I was compelled to share one of my family’s favourites. This recipe goes great with fish and potatoes, or just as a standalone dish to bring to a summer BBQ! Take a gander at my series of lovely yet geeky instructional graphics, and tantalize your tastebuds!

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Add dressing to salad to taste – if you like a heavier dressing, add it all, if lighter – add until it looks right to you!

Hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!

Immune boosting, energy rich smoothie!

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I bought a hand blender a little while ago and have been making a LOT of smoothies with it. This is my favourite personal recipe so far, and my two year old loves it too. All of the ingredients are in the graphic – just blend! But don’t forget to let your chia seeds soak in the water / juice for about 5 minutes prior to heighten their bioavailability and make them more palatable.

I find this smoothie gives me more energy than a cup of coffee, and without the crash afterwards! Not to mention it helping your body immensely when you are sick – especially due to the turmeric, ginger, honey & lemon – don’t leave any of these ingredients out. Feel free to omit the yogurt and just add a bit more liquid (fresh orange juice would be my recommendation) if you are going dairy free. Hope you enjoy!

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chickpea Cookies (Gluten Free)

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So I’ve adapted this wicked recipe for these amazing gluten free cookies that will blow your mind. They are soooo tasty, moist, and best of all, they are actually kind of good for you! (We reeeaaaallly need to tell ourselves this right?) These bad boys are loaded with yummy protein in the form of chickpeas (or garbanzo beans, if you will) and peanut butter. And there is no sugar added (other than in the chocolate chips – which can be subbed out for dried fruit like raisins), just honey for sweetening!

Now, these are going to pack a lot of calories, but they are decent calories in the form of healthy fats and proteins. Betcha can’t eat just….two 😉

You will need:

One standard ~400 ml can of chickpeas / garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed.
1/2 cup salted natural peanut butter (please don’t use Skippy or anything like that, it won’t turn out – too many additives)
1/4 cup raw honey
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp aluminum free baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips (Oops – I somehow forgot this on the first go!)

I highly recommend you use a hand blender like THIS ONE, and not a stand blender or food processor. I have nearly killed these with this recipe, no joke – I almost burnt out the motor – the batter gets so thick and sticky it is ridiculous.

In a large bowl, add your chickpeas, vanilla, and honey. Using your hand blender, purée these ingredients until they are relatively smooth with no lumps. You may need to scoop out and pulse your hand blender outside of the mixture a few times to avoid jamming it.

Now is a good time to turn on and preheat your oven to 350 F.

Next, add the peanut butter and sprinkle in the baking powder. I do not recommend using your hand blender for this next step. Once the peanut butter is in there, the mixture gets so thick that it almost immediately jams up the blender. You will need to hand stir the batter for a little while, making sure the baking powder and peanut butter are as evenly distributed as possible.

Finally, add in your chocolate chips. Mix well. And that’s your batter! Grease a baking sheet, and scoop on cookies to your desired size. One of those cookie ballers would be perfect for this recipe! Don’t make them too thick, as the batter will remain relatively soft. These cookies won’t expand or rise much on the pan, so make the cookies just slightly smaller than you would like them – I recommend 1.5 inch flattened balls.

Bake for about 10 minutes (at 350 F), until you see some browning around the bottom edges and on the batter peaks. They won’t set quite like normal cookies.

I dare you to keep these in a container in the fridge for a maximum of 5 days. They only last 2 days in our house 😉

Adapted from:
http://www.texanerin.com/2012/04/grain-free-peanut-butter-chocolate-chip-cookie-dough-bites.html

Jayne’s Sick Tricks

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With the stress of my recent move, and this being the season for it, I’ve just been hit really hard with a massive head and chest cold. I thought I would share with you some of the many natural remedies I use when myself or a family member gets sick, as this has been the persistent theme of my last two weeks!

Let me start by saying these recommendations are by no means a replacement for, or to be taken as, professional medical advice. These are simply the methods I have researched, applied, and found to be useful in my family. I recommend doing your own research for anything that you are not completely comfortable trying. That being said, however, most of these remedies are pretty benign, and unless you are pregnant or breastfeeding (if so, you should really research ANYTHING novel you attempt trying with your body) they should be fairly innocent!

So let’s start off the list with my first recommendation:

The best, and most effective time to hit viruses and bacteria with natural remedies is at the initial onset of symptoms.. As soon as you feel that first throat tickle, that early sniffle, or any symptom that you suspect to be the beginning of something, hit it with all you’ve got.. Once something really has a hold of your body, it is much harder to boot it out, and often times you end up in for the long haul. I’m not saying you shouldn’t bother with herbal and natural remedies if you’re right in the thick of it, only that it will work better next time if you kick it out before it gets in the door :). Some of these remedies will prevent flus or colds from catching hold altogether if used early and effectively.

Herbal / Homeopathic Supplements I have used and found helpful (You can find these at your local health food store):

1). Oil of Oregano: This tastes awful, but it works. This herb has caught on like wildfire, so there are a lot of sub-par versions floating around. Make sure to buy organic, “wild” oregano. If it is super cheap, beware. You generally get what you pay for. Follow the directions on the label. Take this at first onset of symptoms. If you are right in the middle of a cold or flu, I personally wouldn’t bother much with it. There are some alternatives below.

2). Elderberry syrup: This remedy can be taken at onset of symptoms (for best results), or if you are fully ill. This is a powerful natural antioxidant and source of vitamin C that boosts your immune system’s ability to fight off infection. Plus, unlike oregano oil, it doesn’t taste nasty and is sold in dilutions safe for kids. Have fresh elderberries around? Eat ’em up, yum! They will work even better 🙂

3). “Respiractin”: For ANY respiratory concerns, including those brought on by colds and flu, such as coughs, wheezing, asthma related symptoms, this supplement is amazing. Filled with a mix of herbs that are natural respiratory tonics, they support your lungs in healing and expelling mucous. I have used this for myself, my husband, and my son. It can be used acutely to give fairly quick relief, or preventatively. Follow directions on the label.

4). “Stodal” by Boiron (Homeopathic): I used this homeopathic preparation for treating my toddler’s cough. It actually seemed to help quite a bit. I don’t claim to truly (other than surface level) understand how homeopathy works, but it definitely does for our family. I have used several of Boiron’s remedies on my son with success. Try this one out. I even found it at Walmart.

Food based remedies and relief:

1). Immune Boosting, Sore Throat & Tummy Tea: I make my own immune boosting, sore throat, cough, and tummy trouble treating tea for my family when we are sick. You can also include any of these (organic, please) ingredients in your cooking, in as close to raw form as possible, to achieve their immune boosting benefits. The ingredients and what they benefit are: peppermint (tummy), a few cloves (tummy, throat), a few slices of lemon with peel on (throat, immunity), raw honey (throat, immunity), sliced raw garlic (immunity), sliced, raw ginger root (tummy, immunity), fair trade, cracked apart cinnamon stick (respiratory tract).

My son won’t drink this tea, he is extremely picky about beverages. But I sneak a lot of the ingredients into other food dishes that i make, especially honey, cinnamon and garlic. If you aren’t into the garlic taste, you can skip it, but it is really beneficial for your immune system, so I highly recommend keeping it in if you can handle it.

2). Avoiding milk, cream, yogurt, and cheese as much as possible.. These dairy products are known to increase mucous production, which is not something you need during a cold or flu. It is best to avoid them when you are sick for that reason, unless you have a kid that you just really need to get some food in and one of these is the only thing he will take. Otherwise, best to steer clear until that mucous dies down!

3). Aloe vera inner filet gel:. This is a great remedy for sore throats, and upset stomachs. Also works great for heartburn, FYI. I like “Lily of the Desert” products the best. Do make sure it is the inner filet and not the whole leaf, as the whole leaf tends to purge your bowels.

4). Oil Pulling with Coconut oil: This is a traditional technique used for generations, involving swishing in the mouth, for about 15 minutes (yes, minutes, get comfortable), about a tablespoon of oil. I put some extra virgin coconut oil on a spoon, let it melt in my mouth, and swish. If you are really stuffed up, this is a bit uncomfortable as you have to keep opening your mouth to take a breath. BUT, that being said, this can be a excellent reliever of congestion and toxin build-up in your lymphatic system, so it is believed. Do not swallow the oil afterwards – although it can be beneficial to also eat raw coconut oil, spit it out this time. Supposedly it is “pulling” toxins from your system, so you would not be benefitting in swallowing them.

5). Making Vitamin C and Antioxidant Filled Smoothies: I love blending up a bunch of fruit and nutritious goodies into a smoothie for myself and sick family members. Load it up with fresh berries, apples, oranges, and leafy greens (you can’t even taste them with the fruit). Add some honey, a bit of lemon juice, cinnamon, coconut oil, and chia seeds for extra benefits such as immune boosting power, omega fatty acids, and protein to name a few. Plus, your little ones should love it, and it’s a great way to get some yummy, vitamin rich fluids in. I love my electric hand blender for this!

Other Tricks:

1). Breathe deeply during a hot shower, or using a hot steam humidifier: Inhaling steam has powerful benefits for congestion, both in your head, and chest. Stand or have your sick kiddos stand in the shower, or if too little, busy them with an activity in the hot bathroom. Try and engage in this for at least ten minutes, and consider purchasing a humidifier for nighttime and nap time use. They are relatively inexpensive, and I found mine to be supremely helpful in reducing my son’s nighttime coughing episodes.

2). Add some eucalyptus oil to your steamy experience by adding some in a sink or bowl of hot water and breathing it in, or buying a therapeutic aromatherapy diffuser and filling a room with it that way. Eucalyptus is amazing for clearing congestion. For my toddler, I used a diffuser, and put a few drops of the oil on his bedtime snuggle buddies. For adults, you can also add peppermint oil, although this is not recommended for young children, as in some rare cases it can actually work backwards and increase mucous production. If you find this is the case for you, just go back to straight eucalyptus.

3). Make your own vapour rub: See my article on making your own vapour rub HERE.. Put it on the chest and on the feet.

4). Engage in some lymphatic massage to drain your sinuses and ear canals. Watch THIS video for a thorough explanation of an amazing massage technique that truly works to relieve congestion. Have a little one with an ear infection? Try this lymphatic drainage technique several times a day before trying antibiotics if you are comfortable doing so. Some parents swear by this method for naturally treating ear issues in little ones. Make sure to oil up your hands to make the procedure more comfortable for sensitive skin.

So there you have it, a look into my repertoire of sick tricks. What do you use in your home as natural remedies for colds, flu, and allergies? Do you prefer natural remedies, or do you feel safer with drugstore remedies? To my displeasure, I know I had to cave and rely on some Benylin for some nighttime relief this time around, as this head cold has been particularly nasty. If you do prefer natural remedies, when do you throw in the towel and run to the pharmacy? I hope some of these remedies work for you, and that you stay relatively healthy during this cold and flu season.

Get your ‘Green’ on WITHOUT the toxins!

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I know it can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon of all the fun green coloured treats on St. Patty’s Day. But did you know that food colouring can be quite toxic to your body, especially yellow colouring (which is often mixed with blue to make your lovely green hues)?

There have been studies done which demonstrate not only carcinogenic and disruption of certain natural functions in animals, but ADHD like tendencies in children exposed to drinks containing food colouring. (Please do some basic research on the topic if you have the time, it’s best not to blindly trust my blogger opinion). So, if you are overloading on these colourants on holidays like today, you could be dealing with toxic bods and some hyperactive kids to boot. Doesn’t sound very celebratory to me!

Never fear, though, as always, I have some alternatives for you!

Today, for breakfast, we made “green eggs” (minus the ham) simply by adding some pureed kale to our scramble. You can add pureed kale to a lot of dishes (including just a bowl of yogurt) to green it up! It really doesn’t add a lot of flavour (or texture, if you puree it fine enough) and you are adding lots of great vitamins and minerals instead of yucky toxins. Spinach also works, but I find kale to be slightly superior if you have the option! If you want a burst of flavour, add some pesto!

Apparently matcha (a kind of green tea) can also be sprinkled into icings and sauces to add a green hue without much flavour. You can buy a box of the tea bags, and just rip one open when you need it – or make the tea and use the water (although you might get a little more of a yellowish hue this way).

If you are making a milkshake or a dip, you can also add avocado for a mild flavour and a decent colour burst. Make sure you add some lemon juice as well so your avocado doesn’t brown as fast! Or just serve up some fresh guacamole as a dish on its own 🙂

If you want to keep it even more simple, just serve some foods that are naturally green, such as those listed above, or: cucumber, celery, green salads, zucchini, grapes (pleeeeeease make sure these are organic), green apples, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and seaweed. Serve up some minty cocktails if you are wanting an alcoholic drink (mojitos, anyone)? The leaves are so vibrantly green you shouldn’t need a colorant to add more!

So we’re keeping it safe by lowering our toxins (green should really be a healthful food option, should it not?). BUT, please also remember to keep it safe this St. Patty’s Day by NOT drinking and driving – find a safe way home by deciding on a designated driver, taking transit, calling a cab, or a volunteer designated driver service. Plan ahead so you aren’t stuck with a difficult decision!