Author Archives: 98%naturalmommy

Apple Pie Muffins (gluten free and vegan)

 
I was craving muffins this morning and I happen to have an excessive amount of apples in my fridge right now so I decided to wing a recipe.  Since my daughter scarfed down two of these muffins in record speed I figured the recipe was blog-worthy.  These muffins are healthy, gluten-free, and vegan too! They don’t rise like regular muffins which means they are more dense and filling, making them great for a quick grab-and-go breakfast. 

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups oats
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cloves 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 apples, peeled and grated
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 chia egg* (or regular egg)
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • *to make a chia egg, combine 1 tbsp ground chia with 3 tbsp water and let sit 5 mins

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease a muffin pan and set aside.  

2.  In a large mixing bowl combine all of the dry ingredients and stir well.  Add in the rest of the ingredients and combine well.

3.  Fill pre-greased muffin pan.  Bake in oven for 28-35 mins, until edges are brown and toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.  Let sit in pan for 5-10 mins before removing.  

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Khichadi Recipe (Healthy Indian Comfort Food)

  
Most of you have probably never heard of khichadi.  It’s basically an Indian comfort food made with rice and lentils.  Khichadi is traditionally made for someone who’s sick or recovering from surgery or childbirth; it’s healthy and nutritious while also easy to digest.  My mom made it for me frequently after I gave birth to my daughter and I now make it regularly using sprouted rice and lentils.  I know I sound like a broken record but sprouted grains and legumes are better for you since the sprouting process makes them easier to digest while increasing nutrient bioavailability. So always choose sprouted when possible (Costco sells large bags of both sprouted brown rice and sprouted lentils).  

Yield: 3-4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp oil or ghee
  • 1 1/2-2″ piece of ginger root
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin or whole cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 cup lentils of choice (I use a mixture of green, brown, and black)
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 5 cups water
  • Garnish: Handful of chopped cilantro (optional)

Directions:

1.  Wash rice and lentils and set aside.

2.  Chop up the ginger and garlic and throw it into a small blender or food processor (a bullet works great for small quantities like this).  Add just enough water to blend into a thick paste.

3.  Heat oil or ghee in a large saucepan or small pot on medium heat.  Add garlic-ginger paste and cook until it has thickened, about 5-7 mins.  Add cumin, turmeric, masala, and salt.  Cook for 1-2 mins more.  

4.  Add rice and lentils and toast for 2-3 mins, stirring constantly to keep them from sticking to the bottom.  Add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 35-45mins until the rice and lentils have softened and absorbed all of the water (the texture will be mushy, not like traditional rice). If you prefer a thicker or thinner consistency you can adjust the water content.  

5.  Garnish with fresh cilantro (optional)

Eat Everything In Moderation: Truth, or Excuse? 

  

One of the most frustrating arguments that I hear from friends and family whom I try to persuade to eat healthier is that “everything in moderation is perfectly fine”.  But is it? 

The first problem with this reasoning is that everyone’s definition of moderation is different.  Eating a doughnut on Monday, a drive-through burger and fries on Tuesday, greasy pizza on Wednesday, a full size chocolate bar on Thursday, and fried chicken on Friday is NOT moderation. Eating a pastry with sugary, cream-topped coffee at breakfast plus a bag of chips in the afternoon and a few unhealthy cookies after dinner all in one day is DEFINITELY NOT moderation (I actually know a few people who argue that it is, you know who you are 😉). Eating healthy meals every day drowned in unhealthy sauces (ketchup is NOT healthy!) is also not moderation.  

Yet so many people don’t realize that what they think is moderation actually isn’t when they tally up all of the different foods that they claim to eat only occasionally.  One common mistake that I see people make is to look at each type of junk food they eat individually instead of looking at all the junk food they eat in a day or week collectively.  Sure, one doughnut a week is moderation, as is one bag of chips or one chocolate bar or one pizza etc.; but when you add all of these things up its simply too much.  

The second problem is that a lot of what you hear and read is promoted by companies who stand to lose a lot of money if everybody were to eat healthy.  Just like the tobacco industry had doctors and researchers on its payroll for decades to convince people that smoking didn’t cause lung cancer, the junk food industry has people out there promoting the idea that a little junk food isn’t all that bad.  And just like smokers who couldn’t fathom the thought of quitting supported and perpetuated the tobacco industry’s denials of a link to lung cancer, junk food addicts also support the junk food industry’s motto “everything in moderation is safe”. 

 If this were true, smoking crack in moderation would be safe too.  

Every time a new study comes out confirming the ill-effects of a certain unhealthy food or additive, junk food addicts are quick to argue “well it’s still ok in moderation” 😒.  Just like addicts of any other substance, they will ignore reason and logic and look for any excuse to continue eating the crap that they think they can’t live without.  And taking the moderation angle is the perfect excuse. 

The third problem is that because we are exposed to an increasing amount of harmful stuff that we cannot control (pollution, radiation, etc), we must do everything in our power to avoid exposure to the toxins that are in our control.  And that includes food.  Yes, our bodies can handle a small level of toxic substances without any ill-effects; but when you add the cumulative effect of pollution, stress, radiation, and decreased nutrient content of food, there really isn’t any room left for “moderate” consumption of processed junk food.  Eating mostly healthy food is not a license to eat whatever extra junk you want.  

I dont believe in quitting all processed food cold turkey, as that is likely to be short lived. The transition to a clean diet and lifestyle should be gradual and taken one step at a time.  The best way to start your road to healthy eating is to slowly eliminate unhealthy foods that you know you can live without first, then work your way up to foods that are harder to part with.  Pick a few select “junk foods” that you absolutely love and use those as your occasional (not daily) treats.  For everything else, find a healthy alternative. 

 This may seem difficult but it’s not; a simple Google search will show you that for any type of food you can think of, there is someone out there who has come up with a healthy version of it.  If you love French fries, learn to make your own healthy baked version, or ask for your fries to be baked at restaurants (more and more restaurants are accommodating this request).  If you love sweets, try making a big batch of naturally sweetened baked goods at the beginning of the week that you can eat when you get a craving.  If you can’t survive without coffee every day then cut the sugar and cream and find healthier ways of flavouring it.  If you fall off the healthy eating wagon a few (or several🙄) times, don’t beat yourself up about it and don’t give up.  Just get back into it the next day.  The further you go on your clean eating journey, the less those relapses will happen because you will simply lose the desire to eat or drink things that you once thought you could never give up.  

If you are pregnant or have kids, it is even more important for you to understand that everything is not safe in moderation.  Babies and kids are developing so fast that exposure to toxins can have a negative impact on not only their growth and brain development, but also on their future health (more on that in a future post).  The field of epigenetics is discovering exactly how early exposures to the right or wrong chemicals can have lifelong consequences.  So stop including that mini chocolate bar in your child’s lunchbox every day as a treat for eating their vegetables.  You’re basically just negating the positive effect of the healthy foods that they eat.  

Healthy Oat and Buckwheat Gluten-Free Pancakes

  
I’ve been trying to incorporate buckwheat into my family’s diet more often because it’s one of the few grains that counts as a complete source of protein.  Despite having wheat in its name, it actually contains no wheat or gluten so it’s perfect for anyone on a gluten-free diet.  

Ingredients:

  • 2 very ripe bananas 
  • 1 egg or chia egg*
  • 1 cup milk of choice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup + more for serving 
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2/3 cup oat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder 
  • 1 tsp baking soda 
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • Butter or oil, for greasing the pan

*to make a chia egg, mix 1 tbsp chia seeds with 3 tbsp water. Let sit 5-10 mins until a gel forms.

Directions

  1. In a medium mixing bowl, mash the bananas and then whisk in all of the wet ingredients.  Combine well.  
  2. In a separate mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and whisk until well combined.  
  3. Preheat a skillet on medium-low heat.  Brush with either butter or oil and pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the batter onto the skillet.  Cook for a few minutes until bubbles form on top, and then flip over and cook a 1-2 mins more.  Makes 6-9 pancakes, depending on size.  Serve with maple syrup and fresh fruit.  Enjoy!

Invest In Your Health: Eat Real Food

   
One of the reasons why people choose processed food over real food is the cost.  Real food costs more, and if you’re comparing organic food the price difference is even greater.  I understand that it’s hard for a lot of families to afford fresh, wholesome food.  But it needs to be at the top of everyone’s priority list.  Your health and your family’s health should come first.  That may mean cutting costs in other departments (housing, clothing, entertainment, etc), but nothing is more important than your health.  The old saying goes “you are what you eat”, NOT “you are what you wear”, or “you are what you live in”, or “you are what you drive”…..

Good quality food made with real ingredients and nothing artificial is worth the investment; your return on that investment will be good health.  That, in my opinion, trumps everything else.  

Quick and Easy Healthy Oat Bites (gluten free and vegan).  

 This recipe is perfect for when you want a quick and healthy treat but don’t have much time.  All you need is one mixing bowl (no sink full of dishes!), 1 mini muffin pan and less than 20 mins.  I used buckwheat flour in this recipe because it’s gluten free and nutritious (buckwheat is one of the few vegetarian sources of complete protein), but feel free to substitute a different flour.  

Ingredients:

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted 
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)

Directions: 

1.  Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease a mini muffin pan and set aside.

2.  In a large bowl, mash the bananas.  Stir in the maple syrup, coconut oil, vanilla, and cinnamon.  Add oats and buckwheat flour and combine well.  Stir in raisins.  

3.  Spoon batter into the pre-greased mini muffin tin.  Bake for 10-12 mins until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Remove from pan and let cool.  Makes 24-30 bites, depending on how large you make them.  Enjoy!

Maple Syrup: My Favourite Natural Sweetener 

  Let’s make this very clear:  When I say that maple syrup is my favourite natural sweetener, I mean REAL maple syrup, the kind that comes from a maple tree.  NOT the fake stuff made of high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavours and colours that so many people drown their pancakes in.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but Aunt Jemima duped us all.  Don’t believe me? Read the label.  Real maple syrup should have  only one ingredient: maple syrup.  I stopped using fake syrup a few years ago when I realized there was no actual maple syrup in it.  

If you are still using the fake version, stop poisoning yourself and/or your kids and buy the real stuff.  Yes, it’s definitely more expensive, but it’s worth it.  Read the label when you shop to make sure that you’re getting pure maple syrup.  There are plenty of brands that advertise “natural” or “no high fructose corn syrup” on the front yet the ingredient list on the back is still appalling.  

Why do I like maple syrup so much? 

Well, aside from the great flavour and aroma, real maple syrup contains a moderately high level of antioxidants and has potential cancer-fighting properties.  It’s high in zinc and manganese and contains many other nutrients in addition to the numerous polyphenols that give it anti-inflammatory power.  It has more minerals and less sugar than honey yet doesn’t lose its health benefits when heated the way that honey does, which makes it the better choice for baking and cooking.  Also, maple syrup has a lower glycemic index than table sugar, so it won’t make your blood sugar spike the way regular sugar does.  

When choosing maple syrup, the darker the better.  Syrup that is harvested from the trees later in the season has a darker colour, and also has higher levels of minerals (except for zinc) and antioxidants.  

A word of caution: although maple syrup is healthier than plain sugar, it still contains sugar so consume it in moderation.  The fact that it has healthy components doesn’t mean you can drink it by the glass.  Eating too much sugar is linked to a myriad of health problems so you should always limit the amount of sugar in your diet to as little as possible.  But if you’re going to use sugar anyway, maple syrup is a much healthier substitute.   

References:

1.  Amritpal S. Singh, A. Maxwell P. Jones, Praveen K. Saxena.  “Variation and Correlation of Properties in Different Grades ofMaple  Syrup”.  Plant Foods for Human Nutrition.  March 2014, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 50-56

2.  Yan Zhang, Tao Yuan, Liya Li, Pragati Nahar, Angela Slitt, and Navindra P. Seeram.  “Chemical Compositional, Biological, and Safety Studies of a Novel Maple Syrup Derived Extract for Nutraceutical Applications”.  J Agric Food Chem. 2014 Jul 16; 62(28): 6687–6698. Published online 2014 Jul 1. doi: 10.1021/jf501924y