fancy pants granola: pistachio rosewater to be precise!

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You guys just floored me with your support and advice following my last post on my little health issues. You have no idea how much it means to me! As a person who blogs about health and nutrition it made me feel really bad and embarrassed that I couldn’t seem to get a handle on my own issues! I was also concerned because, as someone who eats a plant-based vegan diet, admitting nutritional issues might give people the impression that a vegan diet is incomplete, unhealthy and missing critical components. I do strongly believe in eating the way I do and I would hate to think I was doing a disservice the vegan community.

But what you guys reminded me is that health is a journey and each person needs to find the diet and tweaks that work best for them. So I will continue to blog about healthy eating and vegan recipes while exploring what works best for me. I do not believe there is one diet with specified amounts of each macro and micronutrient that will work for everyone. I just need to find my own balance. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that :)

I have taken a lot of your suggestions to heart and I’m working to incorporate some changes that will hopefully help! I am definitely going to look at a different iron supplement and search out for a holistic health care professional when I move in September. Until then I will continue to make tweaks and adjustments.

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I also want to briefly mention the results of the questions I asked a few days back on what you guys would like to see more of on the blog! Well turns out you’d like a little of everything! I’ll make sure to take all your suggestions into account and keep lots of variety going on. What you can expect moving forward are:

  1. Main meals
  2. Snacks
  3. Desserts
  4. Simple ingredients
  5. Superfoods
  6. And of course, lots of nutritional info and tips!

I know a lot of this is what I do anyway, so there may not be a lot of noticeable changes, but I promise I am listening ;)

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I hope you all had lovely weekends! I was in Montreal celebrating my great aunts 90th birthday and her and my great uncle’s 65th wedding anniversary. They are such an inspiring couple- in their 90s but still so independent and happily married. Something to aspire to for sure! It was such a lovely gathering of family I haven’t seen in at least 7 years. A lot of them didn’t even recognize me at first (not that I can blame them, I do look quite different!). It was a running joke of the evening that at first many people thought I was my cousin’s girlfriend! Oh awkward family moments….nothing beats them lol.

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Today I want to share with you a beautiful granola recipe that is gluten-free, high-raw, very low in added sweeteners, low in added oil and vegan.  In addition to these stellar nutritional features it is so special and exotic tasting! The rosewater adds a delicate floral scent that when tasted creates a complexity that goes beautifully with the tartness of dried cranberries and the subtle sweetness of pistachios.

Now I know rosewater isn’t an ingredient that is commonly kept in a lot of pantries, but I urge you to purchase some and keep it around. It makes everything seem gourmet! The rest of the ingredients in this granola are fairly common and I’m sure it would taste wonderful even if you decided to forego the rosewater.

This granola features rolled oats, buckwheat groats, dried cranberries and pistachios which are complimented by a hint of cardamom and rosewater, lightly sweetened with agave. It’s lovely paired with granola and fresh seasonal fruit for a refreshing and exotic summer breakfast or snack!

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Pistachio Rosewater Granola (Vegan, Gluten-free*, Sugar-free, High Raw)

  • 1 cup buckwheat groats (preferably raw and sprouted)
  • 1 cup rolled oats* (preferably soaked and dehydrated)
  • 3/4 cup pistachios, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped
  • 1/2 cup coconut flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp cardamom
  • 1 tbsp rosewater (make sure it’s food grade)
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tbsp agave
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 8 drops stevia (or more agave)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt

*ensure these are certified gluten-free is this is a major concern

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl combine the wet ingredients then add the wet to the dry and mix well, ensuring all the dry ingredients are coated.

Dehydrate for 3 hours at 105, flip the mixture over as best you can and continue drying for another 8-12 hours, or until crisp and crunchy.

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I am submitting this recipe to Allergy Free Wednesdays and  Wellness Weekends!

Have any of you had funny/awkward moments with family like that? Anyone get up to anything interesting over the weekend?

Have a great Monday!

mango cilantro smoothie, a minor vent and a few boston pictures

Happy weekend dear readers!

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To be honest, as I write this I am not feeling my best. I got results from my doctor the other day and despite our best efforts, my iron levels have not improved, in fact they have gotten worse somehow and my B12 levels aren’t great either, despite taking supplements. He’s ordered a whole new panel of tests for me to get done because we’re clearly missing something. This is so frustrating especially since those silly iron supplements have been making my stomach upset for a month and a half. I have been doing everything right. I eat loads of greens, have given up coffee and take my supplements. It’s disheartening too because my doctor isn’t really asking me how I feel about anything or asking about my diet. All his messages are relayed through a nurse. To add to that he’s not able to see me again for more tests until the end of August. Until then he hasn’t given me any suggestions, I’m just supposed to sit here. I am a little lost as to what I’m supposed to be doing and feel like I’ve been hung out to dry. It’s like I’ve been slotted into a category which has a pre-determined, step-by-step process assigned to it, rather than being considered as the individual I am. We all have different lifestyles and bodies so shouldn’t approaches to health be more personalized? I know my health issues do not even come close to what many people have to deal with, but I can’t help but be a little disheartened. Have any of you experienced situations like this with your health and/or your doctor?

While my journey towards solving my energy and digestive issues has hit this hitch, I’m trying to remain positive! I’m going to continue seeking out dietary sources of iron (but I’m stopping those pills) and start taking regular digestive enzymes and probiotics. Clearly my body is having difficulty absorbing nutrients for some reason or another so I’m going to to support it best I can. I’ll also try and stay active, but honour how I’m feeling and take rest days as needed.

I’m also trying to keep optimistic and I’m hoping the power of positive thinking works wonders.

=)

Oh Barney, so wise!

Listening to this adorable song has been helping loads too :)

Ok, that little vent is now OVER! No more wallowing in self-pity, I promise.

The real purpose of today’s post is to share with you a new smoothie recipe! Inspired by this Snappy Cucumber Mango Salad by Daily Bites, it packs quite the flavour punch!

This is definitely an interesting and intriguing smoothie, one that invites you to discover new components each time you sip! The ingredients list might seem a little out there compared to other fruit smoothies but I promise it totally works.  The cilantro gives it an Indian-inspired flavour, the ginger adds a little kick and the cucumber and lime keep everything fresh!

In addition to having all sorts of crazy flavour, this is also incredibly detoxifying and will help aid digestion. Cilantro has a detox effect on the body where it binds to heavy metals like mercury and helps remove them from the body. It is also produces digestive enzymes and stimulates digestions through peristalsis (the movements and contractions of the stomach). Mango produces digestive enzymes as well and ginger is a great stomach soother.

I hope you all give this smoothie a chance! Coriander lovers only though ;)

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Mango Cilantro Smoothie (Vegan, Gluten-free, Refined Sugar-free, Raw)

This smoothie is a little sweet, a little savoury with a definite kick. Perfect for hot summer days, or even cool summer nights.

  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 cup cucumber (quartered and sliced)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp coconut water (or more to desired consistency, could also use plain water)
  • 2 tbsp chopped coriander
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp agave (might need a little more if you are using water)
  • juice of 1/2 a lime
  • pinch sea salt

Throw it all into a smoothie and blend. Serve with a cucumber slice for a cocktail feel!

I am submitting this recipe to Allergy Free Wednesday and  Wellness Weekends.

Now before I go, I owe you guys a few pictures from the Boston trip I took last month! I’m a little late on these so please forgive me!

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where the declaration of independence was read

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Pride celebrations

awesome patio set! i can imagine having a tea party here

vintage market garden party furniture :)

hand ring holder

more of the market

creepty statues on the way to Sam Adams

crazy sculptures near the Sam Adams brewery

so many trees all over boston. i think it's why my skin stayed so good there- clean air!

so many trees all over Boston! I think that’s why skin stayed so clear here. Usually when I go to a big city I get flare-ups.

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a pretty church

more Harvard

Harvard campus- so green!

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pretty flowers in the Public Gardens

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enjoying the moments- staring at the clouds

another one! So cute

Hmmmm: cute frog statue outside a playground in the Boston Common

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Beacon Hill

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His and hers bathrooms at the Thinking Cup Coffee Bar

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We loved Boston :)

And with that, I’m heading to Montreal for a couple days. See you all back here soon, and enjoy your weekends!

quinoa with kale, raisins and chickpeas

Hello chickpeas!

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I have made a new goal for myself- to stop being lazy when it comes to dinner. Or more specifically, put together a main dish that is not simply a snack plate or a salad composed of everything in the fridge at least 2 x per week. This may not seem like a big deal for all of you food bloggers extraordinaire out there, but for me this is going to be challenging. While I absolutely love dreaming up and making interesting breakfasts, desserts, snacks and sometimes even lunches, by the time it gets to dinner, I simply have no motivation or desire to get into the kitchen and create. Then before I know it, it’s 6 pm and I’m starving- leading to scrounging for leftovers or making a mish-mashed plate. While there’s nothing wrong with this, it’s still healthy, I miss eating good food at night! I miss truly enjoying my final meal of the day in the same way I enjoy the rest of my meals.

I will probably keep these meals simple (can’t expect me to go from 5 min meal prep to 1 hour can we?), but sometimes just putting a little thought into preparation can turn simple ingredients into a delicious meal!

So this (hopefully) will be the first of many main dish recipes coming from here!

Kale

Kale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For this recipe it all started with kale. Kale is a nutritional powerhouse! While it can be quite intimidating to work with at first, it’s actually super easy to incorporate into pretty much any dish. It is absolutely loaded with vitamins K, A and C, folic acid as well as loads of important minerals like iron and calcium. It is also very rich in glucosinates which have cancer-preventative benefits. Not to mention it is rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds meaning it is very important in maintaining whole body health and keeping stress-effects on your body, both nutritional and non-nutritional, down. I discussed the concept of nutritional stress in more detail here.

Also I just learned, courtesy of whfoods.com that cooking kale by steaming it can help fiber-related components of kale bind with bile acids in your digestive tract. This means the bile acids are more easily excreted which helps lower cholesterol! Go kale!

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Anyway, I had some kale that was starting to wilt in my fridge and considering how awesome it is, I simply couldn’t allow it to go to waste. I decided to pair it with protein-rich quinoa and chickpeas for a meal that would keep me full for a few hours (because another one of my goals is to not snack after dinner unless I’m really hungry). I tossed some raisins in too because I am a huge fan of sweet and savoury components in meals.

I absolutely loved how this dish came out. It is a great combination of savoury, sweet, zesty and just a little heat which makes it incredibly satisfying. It comes together really quickly (about 20-30 min) and includes greens, a grain (or psuedograin in this case) and a protein. Not too shabby for my first attempt eh? ;)

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Quinoa with Kale, Raisins and Chickpeas (Vegan, Gluten-free, Sugar-free)

Serves 4.

  • 2/3 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well
  • 1 1/3 cup vegetable broth or vegetable bouillon and water to equal 1 1/3 cups
  • 4 cups packed kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • one 19 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed well
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup raisins, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 tsp good quality sea salt
  • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • nutritional yeast and chopped walnuts for serving (optional)

Place the quinoa and broth in a large pot, bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer until almost all the liquid has been absorbed. In the last couple minutes add the kale on top and give a quick stir. Cover and let cook for 2 more minutes. Set aside.

While waiting for the quinoa to cook heat a large pan over medium heat. Add the coconut oil and once hot add the garlic and chilli flakes. Sauté until starting to brown and are fragrant (a couple minutes. Add the chickpeas and lemon zest and cook until warm, about 2 min. Add the quinoa, kale, raisins and salt and stir to mix well. Add the cherry tomatoes last stir over the heat for 1 minute. Serve with some nutritional yeast and chopped walnuts sprinkled on top.

This dish is best eaten the day made, although is good as leftovers as well. If you are planning on saving some for a later date, I suggest sprinkling it with some lemon juice and maybe a drizzle of olive oil before serving.

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With that, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

  • What would you like to see more of here? More main dish recipes? Desserts? Other topics besides recipes?
    • I love creating and writing about a lot of topics so I’d be open to suggestions
  • Is there a meal you guys seem to slack on more than others? How do you overcome this? Any tips?
    • I slack on dinner as I explained above and I’m not sure how to motivate myself at night- maybe doing more meal planning?
  • Plans for the Weekend?
    • Heading to Montreal for a family get-together, then Canada’s Wonderland on Monday!

Have a great Thursday everyone! Weekend is almost here!

I am submitting this post to Slightly Indulgent TuesdaysAllergy Free Wednesday and  Wellness Weekends!

canada day “almost raw” maple walnut cups

Happy Canada Day to all my Canadian friends!

We Canadians are funny, we are quiet, polite and unassuming except for a few days a year where we suddenly become crazily and almost obnoxiously patriotic and I LOVE IT. A day where it’s perfectly acceptable to tattoo maple leaves to your face and where ridiculous clothing, that as long as it’s red and white, you’re good to go.

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These bites are a celebration of our country’s colours and flavours- red and white with some maple syrup thrown in for good measure. Because what’s more Canadian than maple syrup?

Featuring a maple walnut base with a maple cashew cream filling, there are so much healthy fats going on (you all know how awesome walnuts are) and topped with a few more walnuts and strawberries, well these really show just how amazing simple flavours can be. I tossed the strawberries in a little maple sugar but that’s not necessary if you don’t have any!

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The recipe for the filling makes more than you’ll need, so you could double the crust recipe of why not dip some strawberries in it for another red and white (and delicious treat)?

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Now, do your patriotic duty and go and make these bites eh?

Almost Raw Maple Walnut Cups (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Refined-Sugar Free)

These cups are rich and creamy and oh-so Canadian! A maple walnut base with a cashew maple filling, topped with strawberries and walnut pieces. Best enjoyed right out of the fridge!

Makes 9 bites.

Base

  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup*
  • pinch salt

Filling

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 a frozen banana
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup*

Topping

  • 1 tbsp finely chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped strawberries
  • 1/2 tsp maple sugar (optional)

*this is what makes it “almost raw”

Process the walnuts, maple syrup and salt in a food processor until walnuts are chopped small and the mixture sticks together. Press into a mini muffin pan (or a larger one to make larger cups) that is lined with muffin cups or plastic wrap for easy removal. Place in the fridge while you make your filling.

Blend all filling ingredients except coconut oil until smooth.  Then quickly add the coconut oil (you don’t want it to re-harden) and blend until incorporated). Spoon into the cups and place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes

Toss strawberries in the maple sugar. Sprinkle the walnuts and strawberries onto the cups. Now you can freeze for about 30 min or until firm and serve, or just just refrigerate overnight. In the morning remove from the muffin tin and either eat them right then or continue to store in the fridge.

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Not going to lie, I had 2 of these for breakfast ;)

I hope you are all celebrating the day like true Canadians- barbequing and drinking in the backyard, maybe even some fireworks are sparklers. And to all my non-Canadian readers, why not pay tribute to our super friendly and polite nation by wearing red and white, order some (vegan) poutine (fries with cheese and gravy), throw “eh?” onto the end of every sentence and drench all your food in maple syrup? All right? Awesome :)

I am submitting this post to Slightly Indulgent Tuesdays,  Allergy Free Wednesdays and  Wellness Weekends!