Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Recovery Smoothie


This thick and delicious smoothie is packed with superfoods that contain powerful anti-oxidants and tons of nutrients. It is the perfect way to help your body recover from a sickness, operation, or even just a hangover with no medications or supplements needed! 

Ingredients:


1 frozen banana*

1/2 cup frozen blueberries*
1/2 cup frozen strawberries*
1 cup almond milk 
1/2 Tbsp. almond butter
1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed
1 Tbsp. chai and/or hemp seeds
2 Tbsp. oat bran
*You don't have to use frozen fruit but it makes the smoothie really cold and thick. If you don't have frozen fruit just add 2-4 ice cubes to get a thicker texture.

Directions:

Combine all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a tall glass and serve with a straw or spoon.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

If you're interested, here are some of the amazing health benefits of the ingredients in this smoothie:



Banana Health Benefits:
-Consist mainly of sugars and fibre, making them ideal for an immediate and slightly prolonged source of energy
-Contain tryptophan, an amino acid that can be converted to serotonin, leading to improved mood
-Relatively high in iron, which helps the body's hemoglobin function. Hemoglobin is a protein-based component of red blood cells which is primarily responsible for transferring oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.
-High in fibre and pectin, which help to promote normal digestive tract and bowel function
-Contain compounds that nourish probiotic bacteria in the colon, which protect our body's from unhealthy bacteria infections
-High in potassium and low in sodium, which helps stabilize and lower blood pressure and regulate the body's water balance
-Have a natural antacid effect in the body, providing soothing relief from heartburn



Blueberry Health Benefits:
-Have the highest antioxidant capacity of all fresh fruit. They are rich in anthocyanin, vitamin C, B, E, A, copper, selenium, zinc, and iron. Theses vitamins and minerals are effective in building up the body's immune system and resistance to harmful bacteria and disease.
-These antioxidants also promote brain health by preventing degeneration and death of neurones, brain cells, and also by restoring the health of the central nervous system. This can also lead to improved and sharpened memory.
-Contain a compound which inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria along the urinary tract, which prevents urinary tract infections 
-High in fibre



Strawberry Health Benefits:
-Contain a high level of antioxidants, which helps prevent damage to the body's cells, fight off disease, and reduce signs of aging
-Excellent source of dietary fibre, Vitamin C, and K
-Contain ellagic acid, which can increase anti-cancer activity on cancer cells of the breast, esophagus, skin, liver, colon, prostate, and pancreas. It can also bind with cancer causing molecules, thereby making them inactive.
-The acid in strawberries is extremely effective at dissolving tartar build-up on teeth and also improves gum health
-Contain phenols that fight against inflammation



Almond Health Benefits:
-High in monounsaturated fats (healthy fats!), which lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and have been associated with reduced risk of heart disease
-Excellent source of Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that promotes heart, skin, and hair health
-High in magnesium, which opens the blood vessels and improves the flow of blood, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the body
-High in potassium, which is essential for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function
-Studies have shown that almond's healthy fats may help you lost weight and lower the risk of weight gain by satisfying appetite, preventing over-eating, and stabilizing blood sugar levels in the body after a meal
-High in protein

From left: Hemp seeds, chia seeds, ground flaxseed

Flaxseed Health Benefits:
-High in Omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation, promote bone health by reducing bone loss/breakdown
-Omega-3 fats are also used to produce substances that reduce the formation of blood clots, which can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke
-Omega-3 fats are also needed to produce flexible cell membranes, which is helpful for nutrient absorption and waste elimination in cells
-Prevent and control high blood pressure and lower cholesterol
-A very good source of fibre that can lower cholesterol levels, stabilize blood sugar levels, and relieve constipation

Chia Seed Health Benefits:
-Extremely high in calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and protein
-Very high in Omega-3 fats which reduce inflammation and help the body fight off  the effects of aging
-Very high in fibre 
-Chia seeds are highly hydrophilic and hold around 10 times their weight in water, which is helpful for hydration 
-One of the most powerful anti-oxidant foods out there!

Hemp Seed Health Benefits:
-Excellent source of amino acids and easily digestible protein
-Rich in iron, zinc, and calcium
-High in Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids
-Lowers LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels
-Healthy fats improve skin and hair health



Oat Bran Health Benefits:
-Rich in soluble fibre, which helps reduce LDL cholesterol levels and raise HDL cholesterol levels and can reduce blood pressure
-Helps to stabilize blood sugar levels
-High fibre content helps regulate bowel movements and relieves constipation
-Considered a whole grain
-Good source of protein and B vitamins


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus


I know it sounds like it would be a lot of time and effort, but roasting your own red peppers is super easy and takes no time at all! Sure you can buy roasted red peppers in a jar from the grocery store, but why not take advantage of all the fresh produce of the summer and just do it yourself? It is really worth taking a small amount of time to do because the peppers give this hummus a smokey, sweet flavour that is irresistible. It's the perfect dip for veggies, crackers, or chips, and is also delicious as a spread on wraps, pitas, and sandwiches. I think I may like it even more than regular garlic hummus!

Ingredients:

1 large clove garlic, minced
1 19 oz. can (2 cups) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp. tahini (sesame seed paste) - If you don't have tahini then you can substitute it with 1 Tbsp. olive oil, but I would recommend using tahini because it gives the hummus such a great flavour!
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup lemon juice
2 roasted red peppers (1 heaping cup)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
Pinch of black pepper

Directions:

Begin by making your two roasted red peppers. Wash the peppers and pat them dry, then place them on a baking sheet. Broil on high for 10-20 minutes, turning the peppers frequently until the skins have turned black and blistery. Watch them very carefully so that you get an even charring on the skin. 


Remove the peppers from the oven and place them in an airtight container or a plastic bag to steam for 10-15 minutes. This will make the removal of the outside skin very easy.


After they have been steamed, remove the skin from the peppers by gently rubbing your fingers over the surface over the surface. Cut the pepper in half and remove the stem and seeds. Slice into strips and set aside.


Place the garlic, chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, roasted red peppers, salt, and pepper in the bowl of food processor. Process on high until the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a bowl and serve with fresh veggies, pita chips, or in a wrap. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lemon Hydrangea Cake


I made this cake for my Grandma for her 75th birthday party this week. She loves to garden and always has beautiful flowers every spring and summer so I decided to make her a cake full of pink and lavender hydrangea flowers. The cake itself was lemon, with blueberry preserves in the middle, and decorated with a buttercream icing with a hint of lemon. Happy birthday Grandma, I love you!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Zest of 2 large lemons
Juice of 1 large lemon (approx. 2-3 Tbsp.)
1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup milk


Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Line the bottom of two 8x8" or 9x9" round cake pans with a circle of parchment or wax paper and spray the pans with a non-stick cooking spray.

With an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract, lemon zest, and lemon juice.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and milk to the butter mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Fill the prepared cake pans with the batter and spread out the batter evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake for about 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a cake comes out clean with a few crumbs attached. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Cool the cakes completely before frosting.

Once the cakes were cooled I mixed about 3 Tbsp. of blueberry jam with 1 Tbsp. of water and spread that over the bottom cake layer. Then I placed the top cake layer over the blueberry jam and iced the entire cake with the white lemon buttercream icing recipe below. To make the hydrangea flowers I dyed the buttercream cornflower blue and pink and piped flower petals onto the iced cake using a leaf tip. To finish it off I placed a silver sprinkle ball in the centre of each blue flower. Store the iced cake in the refrigerator.



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Lemon Buttercream Icing

Ingredients:

1 and 1/2 cups butter, room temperature
3 and 1/2 cups icing sugar
Juice of 1 large lemon (approx. 2-3 Tbsp.)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until smooth and creamy (about two minutes). Add one cup of icing sugar, and continue beating until well incorporated into the mix. Repeat with the remaining icing sugar until smooth. Add the lemon juice and vanilla, and continue beating until smooth. Add food colouring if desired and mix until combined. Spread out or pipe onto cooled cakes.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Crispy Peanut S'more Bars


What do you get when you cross a Rice Krispie square with a s'more (and some peanuts thrown in just because)? This delicious bar! 

Ingredients:

3 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 Tbsp. white sugar
3/4 cup (1 and 1/2 sticks) margarine or butter, melted
3 cups mini marshmallows
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup light corn syrup
3 Tbsp. margarine or butter
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup peanuts, finely chopped
3 cups Rice Krispies cereal


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9x13" baking pan with aluminum foil so that it covers the bottom of the pan and overlaps two of the sides. Lightly spray the foil with non-stick cooking spray or grease with margarine/butter. 

In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and 3/4 cup melted margarine/butter. Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside on a wire rack.
Layer one

Increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Evenly sprinkle the marshmallows over the prepared graham cracker crust. Bake for about 7-8 minutes until the marshmallows are puffy. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.
Layer two

While the marshmallows are cooling, mix the Rice Krispies and chopped peanuts together in a large bowl. Combine the chocolate chips, corn syrup,  3 Tbsp. margarine/butter, and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly until the chocolate has just melted - be careful not to burn the chocolate! Once melted, remove from the heat and stir into the peanuts and Rice Krispies. Mix gently with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon until well combined. Spread this mixture evenly over the marshmallows.
Layer three

Cover and refrigerate for about an hour, or until firm. Once cooled, lift the bars from the pan using the aluminum foil as "handles." Cut into bars with a sharp knife. I cut 48 bars out of mine but you could get more or less depending on the size you want. I'd recommend doing 48 smaller bars because they are fairly sweet. Store bars in an airtight container in the refrigerator.


*Recipe by Brooke McMillan

Friday, June 17, 2011

Caramel Apple Pancakes

These pancakes are positively bursting with apples! They make an appearance in the pancake batter itself, then in the caramel sauce, and finally as a garnish on the cooked pancakes. In addition to the apples, the whole wheat, oats, and flax in the batter make these pancakes a nutritious breakfast that will keep you feeling full, and the thick, healthy caramel sauce provides a decadent topping without the mid-morning sugar crash. An apple a day is certainly no chore when you get to eat it like this!

Whole Wheat Apple Pancake Ingredients:

1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup rolled oats
1 Tbsp. flax seed meal
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup almond milk (can be substituted with cow's milk)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 medium/large apple, finely diced - I used Gala but any good baking apple will work fine

Caramel Apple Sauce Ingredients:
1/4 apple, finely diced - Just use another 1/4 from the apple used in the pancakes!
1 Tbsp. peanut butter
3 Tbsp. almond milk (can be substituted with cow's milk)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup 
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Begin by dicing your apple. If you didn't want chunks of apple in your pancakes then you could grate the 1/4 apple instead and add that to the pancake batter!

In a small bowl, mix the flour, oats, flax seed meal, baking soda, cinnamon, and nutmeg until evenly combined. Add in the vanilla and almond milk and stir to combine. Fold in the diced apple.

Spray a skillet with nonstick cooking spray or grease with margarine. Heat the skillet on medium high heat and drop three equal-sized portions of the pancake batter into the skillet once it is hot. Cook for approx. 2-3 minutes, flip, then cook for an additional 2-3 minutes on the other side.


Plate, top with caramel apple sauce and the remaining diced apple, and enjoy! Serves 1 - double/triple/quadruple the recipe accordingly.


To make the caramel apple sauce: Combine the diced apple, vanilla, maple syrup, and cinnamon in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 90 seconds then set aside. In a separate small microwave-safe bowl, combine the peanut butter and almond milk, then microwave for 30 seconds. Stir the peanut butter and almond milk mixture with a fork or small whisk until smooth, then stir it into the apple mixture until combined. Heat for an additional 20 seconds in the microwave. Drizzle over pancakes. This sauce would also be great to dip fruit in, or as an oatmeal or ice cream topping.


*Pancake recipe adapted from Clean Eating Chelsey

Monday, June 13, 2011

Vegan Chocolate Pudding (with a secret healthy ingredient)


You'll never believe that the secret healthy ingredient in this decadent, chocolatey pudding is avocados!


 I promise that you can't taste the avocado at all - it just takes on the sweet, rich flavour of the chocolate and makes the pudding super creamy and thick. And not only does this light summer dessert boast rich chocolate flavour with a serving of veggies, it is also vegan and lactose-intolerant friendly! If you're a chocolate lover looking for a simple recipe with no fancy ingredients, no endless stirring over a hot stove, and none of the strange chemical fillers that you find in store-bought puddings, then this pudding is the perfect option.

Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados
1/2 cup agave
1/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and thoroughly combined. Transfer into an airtight container, cover, and chill in the refrigerator (or freezer for longer storage). 


Serve on its own or with fresh fruit, whipped cream, etc. I made a dessert parfait by layering the pudding with sliced strawberries and bananas. 



*Recipe adapted from Love Veggies and Yoga