Category Archives: Good Chemicals

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.  

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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

Raw Energy Balls (Vegan and gluten free)

  Although I try to eat nuts and seeds on a daily basis, they can get kinda boring which makes it hard to stay consistent.  That’s why I created these healthy raw energy balls; they can be eaten for breakfast or as a mid-day snack when you’re tempted to eat junk food.  To make this recipe even more healthy, you can soak the nuts and pumpkin seeds overnight and then rinse them to remove most of the phytates (phytates in nuts and seeds bind to certain nutrients which prevents your body from absorbing them).  Make sure they are completely dry again before using (wet seeds and nuts will not blend properly and will taste different as well).  Although I stay away from making chocolate goodies due to my husband and daughter’s GERD, you can also add raw cacao powder to satisfy your chocolate cravings.  

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds*
  • 1 cup walnuts*
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds*
  • 4 tbsp ground chia seeds
  • 1/8 tsp of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted medjool dates
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder (optional)

*preferably soaked for 8 hours or overnight, and then rinsed and dried before processing.  Soaking is not a required step.  


Directions:

1.  Place the nuts and seeds in your food processor and blend until they form a coarse flour.  

 
2.  Add the remaining ingredients and blend until a dough-like texture is formed.   

 
3.  Form the dough into 20-25 balls using your hands.  Keep refrigerated. 

 

Roasted Red Pepper Spaghetti (Vegetarian Recipe)

  

Over the last year I’ve done a lot of experimenting to find healthy yet delicious alternatives to tomato-based pasta sauces.  My daughter has GERD so tomatoes are a no-no for her.  It has definitely been challenging trying to create a red sauce that looks like tomato sauce yet contains no actual tomatoes; but this one is a winner with not only my daughter but also my picky husband.  I like to add lentils for added protein, iron, and fibre, but they are not everybody’s cup of tea.  If you’ve never had them in your pasta before, try adding some to just a portion of the pasta so you can do a taste test before adding them to the whole pot.  

Ingredients:

2 cups chopped mushrooms

3 roasted red peppers

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 onion, diced

1 cup fresh chopped parsley, loosely packed

1 cup vegetable broth

1 cup grated cheddar cheese (optional, vegans can omit or substitute nutritional yeast)

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp black pepper 

340g package of spaghetti, cooked and drained

1 1/2 cups cooked lentils (optional for added protein, iron, and fibre)

Directions:

1.  In a large pot, heat the olive oil on medium heat, add the mushrooms and sauté for 5-10 mins until tender. 

2.  Meanwhile, place the roasted red peppers, garlic, onion, and parsley in a food processor and purée. 

 3.  Add the purée to the mushrooms.  Add the broth, salt, pepper, and oregano.  Stir to combine. 

 4.  Simmer on medium-low heat for 10-15 mins until the sauce thickens.  Remove from heat, add cheese and stir until melted.

 
5.  Add cooked pasta to pot and stir to combine.  If you are adding lentils, they can be added now.  Feel free to add greens or any other veggies you like!

Healthy Apple Pie Recipe (gluten free, grain free, and vegan)

 
I haven’t been to a McDonald’s restaurant in ages but the one thing I miss is, believe it or not, their apple pies.  What I don’t miss is the sick feeling I would get afterwards due to who-knows-what ingredients they add to make it so artificially tasty and addictive.  So I decided to make a healthy version.  A healthy, gluten free, vegan version that I could enjoy with no guilt or sick feeling afterwards.  Not only can you have this for dessert, but you can also enjoy it for breakfast as well since it is basically nuts and apples combined into a delicious pie.  

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 10 medium apples
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice 
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt 
  • 3 tbsp arrowroot powder

For the Crust: 

  • 1 cup almond flour 
  • 1 cup unsalted cashews
  • Pinch of sea salt
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Water


Directions
:

1. Grease a 9 inch pie dish and set aside.

2.  Peel and thinly slice the apples.  Stir in lemon juice, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt until well combined.  Remove 1 cup of seasoned apples and set aside.   

 3.  Cook the rest of the apples in a pot on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until apples are fork-tender (about 10-15 mins).  Remove from heat and add arrowroot powder.  Stir until well combined. Set aside.  

4. Place the cashews in a food processor and process until powder-like.  Add the almond flour and salt and process until combined.  Add the coconut oil and combine.  Add a teaspoon of water at a time and pulse until a dough ball forms. 

 
5.  Press the dough into the greased pie dish with your hands until flattened out and even.

 
6.  Pour in cooked apples. 

 
7.  Arrange the remaining cup of uncooked apples on top of the pie as shown below (or however you like). 

 8.  Bake at 400*F for 35-45 mins, until crust is golden.  

Now even though this is a healthy pie, try not to eat it all in one sitting. The nut base adds a good dose of healthy fats so enjoy in moderation!

Healthy Carrot Muffins (gluten free)

 My daughter has been asking for a lot of baked treats lately, so to avoid being the “mean” mom who always says no, I’m making more of an effort to bake healthy treats with hidden veggies and no refined sugar.  These muffins are a great way of satisfying your kids’ sweet tooth (and yours!) while still getting important nutrients.  The honey and coconut oil make them super moist with just the right amount of sweetness.  

Yield: 12 muffins

Ingredients: 

2 1/2 cups grated carrots

1/3 cup coconut oil

3/4 cup honey

1 chia egg* (can use regular egg instead)

1 cup oat flour (ground oats)

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional) 

*to make a chia egg simply mix 1 tbsp of ground chia seeds with 3 tbsp water and let sit for 5 mins

Directions:  

1. Preheat oven to 350*F.  Grease a muffin pan or line with muffin cups.

2. In a medium bowl, combine carrots, coconut oil, honey, and egg.  Stir until well combined.

3.  In a large bowl, combine oat flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt.  Stir wet ingredients into dry until just combined.  Stir in optional add-ins.  

4.  Spoon mixture evenly into muffin pan.  Bake for 25-30 mins, or until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.  Cool for 10 mins in pan. Remove and cool on rack.