Cucumber, Lemon, Ginger Water Infusion

In the hot summer months, keeping cool and staying hydrated is important. As the temperatures rise, so does the body’s need for water. Even mild dehydration can have us feeling tired, unhappy, and irritated not to mention lead to a decrease in physical performance. By staying hydrated you will feel more empowered and enjoy summer so much more!

Water is the most essential nutrient and drinking enough water should be a priority. Water infusions have become a popular way to make plain water a little more appealing and exciting!

This recipe is super refreshing and uses cucumber, lemon, and ginger. Not only does it add a little more zing to your sip, but there is no added sugar or calories which gives you the same benefits of drinking regular water, and even more. This flavoured water infusion recipe will prove a great pick-me-up for those long hot, hazy summer afternoons- especially with the kick from the lemon and ginger.

Cucumbers are naturally very hydrating because of their high water content.

Lemon juice provides some vitamin C which functions as an important antioxidant and is involved in many important body processes.

Ginger is traditionally associated with supporting digestion and adds a subtle hint of spice to the flavour of this water.

Keep cool, well hydrated and happy summer!

Peanut Butter Blast Smoothie Bowl Recipe

Here is the last recipe in this smoothie bowl series! What I love about this recipe is the simplicity but deliciousness of this combination! The banana provides sweetness, and the peanut butter creates the creaminess which combine for a very tasty and satisfying bowl. Smoothie bowls have grown in popularity because they are easy to prepare, quick to eat and can be very nutrient dense – which is important when you are looking for ways to save time and maximize your nutrition.

Whether you’re looking for a morning energy boost, pre-workout power-up this smoothie bowl is sure to deliver as between the two feature ingredients you get all three of the macronutrients – carbohydrates, proteins and fat!

Peanut butter is a good source of plant-based protein and heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. They also contain good amounts of vitamin E, folate, niacin, magnesium, and fibre!

Bananas are a great source of carbohydrates and provide great amounts of potassium, vitamin B6 and pectin, as type of soluble fibre which may help lower LDL cholesterol (the “bad” cholesterol) levels.

Healthy Tip: Make sure you use creamy and natural peanut butter – without the added sugar, salt and emulsifiers!

Top your smoothie bowl with a little shredded coconut, granola, sliced banana or or other fresh fruit or chopped peanuts!

Looking for some other great recipes? Check out the first three in this smoothie bowl series: Berry Bliss Smoothie Bowl, Super Green Smoothie Bowl and Tropical Twist Smoothie Bowl.

Fun fact – This recipe was inspired by the amazing peanut butter smoothie bowl I had when I was in Thailand.

Tropical Twist Smoothie Bowl

This smoothie bowl tastes like sunset on the beach! Tropical fruits have this way of adding a freshness and vibrancy to recipes. This recipe brings together juicy mango, sweet pineapple and creamy banana and a hint of coconut for a healthy and tasty meal!

Smoothie bowls are refreshing, easy to make and contain many nutrients which supports maintaining good health. They are simple to make and easy to eat!

Pineapple provides good amounts of thiamine, Vitamin C and manganese. Manganese is an important mineral used in bone and connective tissue formation and maintenance.

Mango are a good source of beta-carotene, a carotenoid which is converted to Vitamin A in the body, and functions as an antioxidant. In addition, like many fruits and vegetables they provide good amounts of Vitamin C and fibre, specifically a soluble fibre called pectin. Mangos are one of a few fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin E.

Bananas are a great source of potassium which is important for regulating blood pressure. They also provide pectin.

The fruits in this smoothie bowl provide carotenoids, the yellow-orange pigments, that have many potential health benefits.

Top your smoothie bowl with some extra fruit or shredded coconut.

Make it a regular smoothie by adding extra milk or pineapple juice.

Top your smoothie bowl with some extra fruit or shredded coconut.

Make it a regular smoothie by adding extra milk or pineapple juice.

If you haven’t yet, check out the first two recipes in this smoothie bowl series, check out Berry Bliss Smoothie Bowl and the Super Green Smoothie Bowl.

Stay tuned for next week’s final recipe in this smoothie bowl series!

Vegetarian Diets Explained – What Are the Advantages and What You Need to Know to Make It Work for You

The trend for following a plant-based diet has boomed recently. Just look at all the options for plant-based burgers on menus these day. What does this trend mean and why is this significant? No matter the type of vegetarian diet you follow, or even if you are a veterinarian or not, we can all enjoy and benefit from incorporating a variety of fruits and vegetables into our diets. Plants are powerful and they provide many known and as yet to be fully discovered and understood benefits for our health. Some of these known benefits include the high fibre content, which is important for digestive health and function. There are many studies on the effects of vegetarian diets and decreased risk for various types of cancer. Part of this is that Fruits and vegetables are natural sources of antioxidants. Antioxidants are important for many reasons in the maintenance of good health and prevention of many chronic diseases. Fruits and vegetables are also lower in calories and fat than other foods. Part of this is because of their high water content which means they will also help with keeping you hydrated which is so important for health, well-being and feeling your best.

Besides health, there are many other reasons individuals choose a vegetarian diet. Some of these include food preferences, religious beliefs and environmental concerns. Plant-based diets are being promoted for how they can support and reduce the effects of climate change, as the energy requirements for growing and supporting animals is much higher than it is for plants, and eating more plants can help us with sustainability measures.

Vegetarian Post 3

Something that is not very well or often known is that there are different types of vegetarian diets. When most people say they are vegetarian they are following a “lacto-ovo” vegetarian diet so they do not eat any animal meat, but they still eat dairy products and eggs. A semi-vegetarian or “flexitarian” will eat dairy, eggs and sometimes eat meat, poultry and fish. A “pescatarian” is a vegetarian who eats eggs, dairy and fish but no other meats. And a “vegan” is a vegetarian who does not eat any kind of animal foods (i.e. no eggs, dairy and honey). There are lots of options and approaches to following a vegetarian lifestyle to make it work.

Regardless of the reason or motivation, fruits and vegetables are an essential part of every diet and learning to incorporate a balanced variety of them into your meals will do much to support your overall health, vitality and longevity.

Vegetarian Post 4

There are some important considerations if you follow a vegetarian diet include. Otherwise, there is a potential for nutrient deficiencies. With the proper planning, however, these concerns can be addressed.

Protein is often a concern for people following a vegetarian diet, especially those who are physically active and looking to improve strength and stamina. What you need to know about is called protein complimentation. While meat offers the advantage of having all the essential amino acids in one food, it is not  impossible to achieve this with plants. With plant-based foods, which don’t often have all the essential amino acids in the same food, you just  have to make sure you eat a variety of different foods which combined together make a complete protein. For instance, grains have an amino acid that beans and legumes are lacking. A misconception is that the two foods have to be eaten at the same time in the same meal. Provided we eat them within the same day your body will break down the proteins into their amino acids and properly use them in your body. Some plan-based foods already come with all the essential amino acids. These special foods include quinoa and edamame or soy products.

On a vegetarian diet there are more than enough ways to meet your body’s requirements for protein. Ensuring that there is variety in protein sources with foods that collectively cover all the essential amino acids is the key.

Vegetarian Post 5

Some vitamins and minerals that are more easily available to the body from animal products. They are important for the health and functioning of the body, so it is important to know what they are and make sure you are incorporating them into your diet from plant-based sources as much as possible.

Iron is a particularly important mineral. We need iron for production of haemoglobin and the transportation of oxygen in our blood. Heme iron is the iron available from animal products while non-heme iron is the iron available from plant sources. Heme iron is naturally easier for the body to utilize. A quick tip is to combine the food containing iron with a food containing vitamin C because Vitamin C helps with iron absorption. Another tip is not to eat a food containing iron with a food containing calcium or with coffee or tea. Give a few hours between the two as calcium and coffee/tea interfere with iron absorption. Plant-based sources of iron include; fortified breakfast cereals, soy-based foods, dried prunes and apricots, beans and legumes, pumpkin seeds, eggs and fortified whole-grain breads.

Another important nutrient that it’s challenging to get enough of on a vegetarian diet is Vitamin B12, which is naturally found in animal products. A deficiency in Vitamin B12 can lead to anemia and muscle weakness. There are some fortified cereals, soy beverages or some fortified veggie mats or you may require a supplement to ensure adequate Vitamin B12.

Calcium is a mineral found mainly in milk and dairy products. Some vegetarians who consume dairy products may not need to worry about the amount of calcium in their diets. Vegan vegetarians will want to look for plant-based sources of calcium such as edamame, almonds, calcium-fortified non-dairy beverages (i.e. Almond Milk), spinach, collar greens, and more.

Vegetarian Post 1

Awareness is key to developing healthy eating habits and eating to empower you. Whether you feel like following a vegetarian diet or maybe having vegetarian meals more often there is tremendous power in plants to nourish and sustain us. Following a vegetarian diet definitely does not have to be blah! Vegetables are versatile and the options and combinations of foods is infinite.

How will you harness the power of plants?

 

Zucchini Bread Recipe

Finding easy to prepare, portable and nutritious snacks is challenging. Healthy food is not always easy to find on the go.  If you are on-the-go and trying to stay healthy, it’s important to pack healthy snacks that will help support your energy levels throughout a long or busy day. It’s when we get tired and are low on energy that we can fall into the temptation of not so healthy food choices and break with the routines and strategies we worked so hard to set in place for ourselves. Look no further than this empowered version of Zucchini Bread to help you stay motivated and on track with your healthy eating habits.

zucchini_bread_2

The combination of fibre, protein and healthy fats in this recipe make this a snack that will give you sustainable energy to power you through any day. This is a great addition to back-to-school lunches to start the school year strong!

zucchini_bread_1.jpg

Key featured ingredients that make this an “Empowering Eat” include zucchini, walnuts, and flax seeds.

Zucchini is the feature ingredient here, obviously. Like many fruits and vegetables contains nutrients and antioxidants which support good health. Zucchini is also a source of lutein and zeaxanthin which can protect our eyes from cataracts and macular degeneration.  While it is a bland tasting vegetable (so you won’t taste it in this recipe at all–I promise!) zucchini provides moisture to the recipe and a way to sneak an extra serving of veggies into your day!

Flax Seeds are a fabulous nutritional powerhouse. It always amazes me how there is so much goodness contained in so small a package! Flax seeds provide plenty of fibre and omega-3 fatty acids which may help reduce heart disease risk. The fibre in flax is responsible not only for supporting intestinal functions but may also lower blood-cholesterol. Flax seeds also have lignans which is a phytonutrient which may protect our bodies from certain cancers. Find out more about flax seeds here.

Walnuts are a source of heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fatty acids. Healthy sources of fat are essential in our diets for many reasons such as promoting healthy skin and hair, and supporting the integrity of cell membranes. Like other nuts walnuts also provide a source of plant-based protein and some fibre.

zucchini_bread_3.jpg

I’ve used a variety of different flours to give variety and provide texture and contribute unique nutritional advantages to this recipe. All these flours are gluten-free. You could alternatively substitute other types of flours as long as the volume is 1 cup. Amaranth flour may be new to you. It’s available in most bulk food stores. Amaranth is an ancient grain growing in popularity for many reasons. It is higher in protein than other grains and is a source of fibre while not having an overly strong ‘healthy’ aftertaste, so it blends well into this recipe.

 

zucchini bread recipe final.PNG

Instead of a loaf pan you could also make this in an 8×8 glass baking dish and have zucchini bread squares.

Power Fruit Popsicle Recipe

Popsicles are a fun and refreshing summer treat. I created this recipe to upgrade the traditional versions, which are mostly just a lot of sugar in water, by using wholesome, real food ingredients.

photoeditor_20190825_161125

Berries are a nutritional superstar and one of nature’s richest sources of antioxidants. Like many other fruits and vegetables, berries are a good source of Vitamin C and because of their small size and large surface area they are an excellent source of fibre.

The four berries I used in my recipe were blueberries, blackberries, raspberries and strawberries.

Blueberries are probably the most researched berries and are renown for their antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which can protect the body from cell damage which may lead to aging and certain diseases. Pectin, a type of fibre found in blueberries, may help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and is good for the functioning of the digestive system.

Raspberries contain pectin and quercetin, the latter may slow cancer growth.

Blackberries may have the highest antioxidant content of any berries!

Strawberries are the berry with the highest Vitamin C content!

Using coconut milk and coconut yogurt (or another type of yogurt) gives these popsicles a little more substance and additional nutritional benefits. If using a dairy-based yogurt, you will add calcium to your diet. Calcium is important for bone health.

Power-Fruit-Popsicles-4.jpg

If the natural sweetness is not enough for you, consider adding a natural sweetener like a tablespoon of honey to the recipe.

For a slightly different taste and a more interesting version add a teaspoon of cinnamon.

Power-Fruit-Popsicle-Recipe-Final

 

 

 

Traditional Greek Salad Recipe

Greek Salad has to be one of the most iconic dishes known to the culture both within Greece and around the world. I really looked forward to having this dish when I was in Greece. In all seriousness, almost every meal I had while there featured a version of it! In Greek the word for Greek Salad is “horiatiki” which means “village salad”.

Greek Salad 3

Cool, crisp and refreshing this dish is super simple to make but there is something so satisfying in it. It is also full of healthy and empowering food combinations that taste good and are good for you too! With only some basic ingredients (no lettuce is not one of them!) you can have a substantial side dish perfect to accompany many main dish options (check out my recipe for Greek Stuffed Eggplant or chicken souvlaki). It’s always best to pick the freshest ingredients for flavour and nutritional benefit.

Greek Salad 2.jpg

Here are some key ingredients that make this salad health and nutritious and tastes amazing.

Cucumbers are one of the lowest calorie vegetables because of their high water content. This also makes them a great hydrating food.

Tomatoes are a popular vegetable for a variety of different cultures and cuisines. One of their greatest claims to fame is that they are a great source of the plan pigment “lycopene” which possibly helps prevent heart disease. Like many other fruits and vegetables, they are a great source of vitamin C and potassium. They are also a good source of fibre.

Red Onions are low in calories and like other types of onions provide a variety of nutrients such as fibre, vitamin C, potassium and some phytochemical which may raise levels of a protective enzyme which in activates and eliminates cancer causing agents.

Green Pepper provide vitamin C and are a good source of fibre.

Olives & Olive Oil are signatures for many Greek dish. These are ingredients embedded not only in the cuisine but in the very history and culture of Greece. Olives and olive oil are a source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) which are healthy fats found in our diets that may lower the risk of heart disease and reduce levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol. They also contain vitamin E which is an especially powerful antioxidant.

Greek Salad 1

What I love especially is how easy it is to make this salad. The vegetables are roughly chopped so they can be thrown together quickly.

It’s recommended to serve the salad in a shallow dish and don’t mix the dressing into the salad before you serve it. Put all the vegetables in the bowl, drizzle with the olive oil and vinegar and layer with the feta cheese.

Traditional Greek Salad

 

Cumin Carrots

Here’s an interesting and exotic side-dish. I was inspired to create this recipe from my trip to Morocco.  This dish is bright with the sweet tang of of lemon and earthy from the rich dark tones of cumin. The sweetness of the carrots nicely balances the tartness of the lemon juice. It’s like lying in the grass on a summer day. This definitely makes for a great summer side dish!

photoeditor_20180513_213409

 

Carrots are a vegetable and the leading source of beta-carotene in the North American diet. Beta-carotene is a carotenoid which is converted after it is eaten into Vitamin A in your body. This adds to your body’s daily Vitamin A requirements. Vitamin A is essential for the function of the retina and therefore effects the health of your vision. Carrots are also a god source of fibre which is important for the functioning of your digestive system as well as lowering unhealthy cholesterol levels. In addition, carrots, like many fruits and vegetables, contain potassium, an electrolyte that helps regulate acid-base balance in the body, is involved in normal muscle contraction and nerve impulses as well as proper functioning of the heart and kidneys. Potassium may also help with lowering blood pressure thus preventing hypertension and the risk for heart attack and stroke.

Cumin is a spice. Spices have been valued for their ability to add flavour to food for centuries. Cumin’s earthy notes give this dish a distinctive and exotic flavour. Not only do spices like cumin add flavour to dishes (without unnecessary calories, fat or salt) but they also may be the source of antioxidants which are important for the maintenance of healthy cells with the reduction of free-radical damage.

Garlic is a member of the allium family with a host of reputed health benefits. It has been used medicinally for many centuries. Alicin is a compound found in garlic which is responsible for its strong taste and aroma. Alicin may function as an antioxidant which could possibly be one of the reasons garlic has been credited with so many medicinal properties.

Onions are also a member of the allium family of vegetables and a rich source of phytochemical which may reduce the risk of some cancers.

Lemons are a spectacular source of Vitamin C, which is a water-soluble vitamin and may reduce the risk of cancer as well as act as a cold-fighter and immunity booster. Vitamin C enhances iron absorption and is crucial to collagen production, which stabilizes connective tissue. Lemons also contain limonene, a phytochemical which could possibly block abnormal cell-growth which suggests anti-cancer benefits.

 

photoeditor_20180513_213043

Braising is a healthy cooking method. It is a moist-heat slow-cooking method. You start with browning the food you are cooking and then adding a small amount of liquid and simmering or steaming the food, covered, until it is coked. You can braise meats, chicken or vegetables. It is a very versatile cooking method. One of the reasons it is such a good way to cook food is that all of the cooking liquid is reabsorbed back into the food while it is braising. This means that any nutrients that were lost into the cooking liquid are reabsorbed back into the food so you still get all of the nutritional benefits of the food!

photoeditor_20180513_212014

 

Cumin Carrots

This is a great side dish. It goes really well with roast chicken!

Roasted Beet Hummus

This hummus is striking! Both for its flavour and vibrant colour. Hummus is a popular dip found commonly found in Middle Eastern cuisines. Traditionally made from chickpeas, tahini, olive oil lemon juice and garlic, there are many variations made by introducing additional flavouring and ingredients.

Beets are the key feature ingredient that give this hummus it’s rick colour and earthy flavour. Beets are a source of many antioxidants, rich in folacin and other nutrients. You can read more about the benefits of beets in this previous post.

Chickpeas are an important ingredient in hummus. They are a great source of protein and fibre which promotes satiety.

Olive oil is a source of mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are healthy dietary fats that may have a role in reducing the risk of heart disease.

Tahini is a paste made from sesame seeds. Tahini provides protein and is a source of many minerals like calcium and magnesium, which are important for bone heath, as well as iron.

Garlic not only adds to the flavour of this hummus but also adds antioxidants that provide protection against free radical damage and have antibacterial properties. It may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer as well as lower cholesterol.

The spices in this recipe are cumin, coriander and allspice which intensify the earthy flavour of the hummus.

Roasted Beet Hummus with Veggies

 

Hummus is a great portable snack to have with chopped up vegetables or crackers. It would make a very appealing appetizer (especially for holiday entertaining!).  You can also use hummus as a spread for sandwiches or in wraps.

roasted beet hummus

 

 

Peas Pack a Powerful Nutritional Punch!

Small and delicate but not to be underestimated, peas are a signature food for springtime. Don’t be deceived by their small size. Peas offer a powerful nutrition punch!

In Ancient Egypt peas were stored in the tombs of pharaohs and mummies because the Egyptians thought them valuable for sustain them on their journey through the afterlife.

There are a few different varieties of fresh peas. These include green peas, snow peas and sugar snap peas

peas-16803_1920

Peas are low in fat and high in fibre. They offer a good amount of protein and some valuable nutrients including Vitamin A, Vitamin B1, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, and Vitamin K. Vitamin K is particularly important although often found in green leafy vegetables it is involved in wound healing and maintaining blood vessels as well as contributing to bone health by assisting with bone formation thus strengthening bones which may help prevent fractures and the risks associated with osteoporosis. Different varieties have slightly different nutritional compositions. Green peas provide more riboflavin, niacin and zinc than snow peas but snow peas offer more Vitamin C, Vitamin E, folate, lutein and zinc.

textures-1938301_1920

Fresh peas are available from June to July. Always refrigerate your fresh peas to preserve their freshness. Wash peas well. You may have to shell your peas before using if eating green peas. Snow peas and Sugar snap peas do not need to be shelled but you should remove their tips at both ends before you eat them.

Meal Ideas for Fresh Peas

There are so many ways you can use peas to power-up your diet and make your meals more interesting! They are easy to add into many different recipes like soups, salads, pasta sauces or served on their own as a side dish. You don’t need much – one serving of peas is only 1/2 cup (125 mL).

  • Fresh sugar snap peas or snow peas make great healthy portable snack foods. Serve with hummus for extra flavour.
  • Make snow peas part of the vegetable mix for a stir-fry.
  • Steam fresh peas for 1-2 minutes. They make a simple but satisfying side to meats and fish. Be careful not to overcook your peas or else you will have mushy peas.

 

Note: Fresh is best where peas are concerned. Frozen peas are better than canned peas though because the retain more of their flavour and nutrients than canned peas. You can substitute frozen peas for fresh.

peas-390679_1920