Our Happy, Healthy Blog

Posted by Shivma on January 30, 2017

Meatless Monday: Carrot and Mushroom Farro

Just so there are no doubts… I love farro! And my kids do too! It is very versatile and easy to use. Now you must be asking, what exactly is farro? Well, it’s an ancient wheat grain that was very popular in Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Over the years it has been overshadowed by other grains like quinoa and bulgur.

 

So why do I like farro so much? Well, you can treat it like you would rice or pasta but you have the added benefit of this awesome super grain. To give you an idea of what a punch farro packs, here are some nutrition tidbits. About 1/2 cup serving of uncooked farro provides:

  • 34g of carbohydrates
  • 7g fibre
  • 8g protein
  • 4mg niacin (good for metabolic health)
  • 60mg magnesium (prevents muscle cramps, helps with sleeping better and digestion)
  • 2mg iron (improves energy, prevents anaemia)
  • 2mg zinc (crucial for brain function)
  • 80mg calcium

Add some veggies to farro and you have a power packed meal. As an added bonus, although farro is a wheat grain, the gluten is considerably lower so it is easier to digest especially for those with gluten sensitivities.

 

When buying your farro, look for whole grain farro as opposed to pearled or semi-pearled since those have been more processed.

 

For this recipe, I used mushrooms and carrots but you can use any vegetable you have available.

 

Just cook the farro according to directions, leaving it slightly undercooked.

 

In medium pan, sauté onion and garlic over medium heat.

 

Then add farro with 1 3/4 cups unsalted vegetable stock.

 

Add grated carrots and chopped mushrooms as well as Italian seasonings. Stir to combine.

 

Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. Add salt to taste and 1/2 tablespoon of butter for creaminess. Mix well. 

 

Serve hot as is or add some pasta sauce for additional flavour.

Ingredients

1 cup farro

1 3/4 cups vegetable stock

1/4 cup grated carrots

1/4 cup chopped mushrooms

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

1/2 tbsp butter

salt to taste

 

Directions

  • Cook farro according to package directions, leaving it slightly undercooked.
  • Remove from heat and drain excess liquid.
  • In medium saucepan over medium heat, add farro and vegetable stock.
  • Then add carrots, mushrooms and Italian seasoning.
  • Mix well and bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer until all liquid is absorbed.
  • Add salt to taste and butter for creaminess. Mix well. 
  • Serve hot as is or add some pasta sauce for additional flavour.
Posted by Shivma on January 17, 2017

Veggie Rice Balls

I’ve been making these veggie rice balls for quite sometime now and my kids really love them! It might have something to do with using chopsticks but hey! If it works who am I to complain? I don’t recall where I first saw them but I remember thinking that this would be a great way to get a whole meal in one bite.

 

So these rice balls are actually a take on the traditional Japanese onigiri that uses a piece of fish wrapped in a ball of rice. In my version, I omit the fish but you can feel free to add pieces of any meat or meat substitute when you’re making this. I also chop the veggies instead of leaving whole pieces since I find the kids are more willing to eats small pieces as opposed to big ones.

 

With these veggie balls you can also add a dipping sauce or plain old ketchup or soy sauce would work too. I actually serve these with my Honey Garlic Tofu so it’s a nice, complete meal!

 

Now you know I’m a fan of the whole grains and the brown rice but for this recipe you really do have to use white rice because of its starchiness. You need the rice to be sticky for it to hold the shape of the ball. Brown rice just doesn’t do that.

 

So first off you need to wash your rice about 3 to 4 four times then soak covered in water for about 30 minutes.

 

Drain rice and add to pot with about 1 cup water. Bring to a boil for about 3 to 4 minutes then let simmer for about 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave covered for another 15 minutes. The rice should absorb all the water and be sticky.

sticky white rice

 

While the rice is cooking you can steam your veggies either on the stove or in the microwave. When I’m short on time I use the microwave. Just sprinkle a bit of salt on the veggies while steaming. Once cooked add to food processor and chop into bits.

Chopped carrots and broccoli

 

Add veggies to rice and mix well. Adjust salt to taste.

Rice with veggies

 

Now this part may burn your hands a bit but you can’t let the rice cool too much or it won’t hold as well. Scoop about 1 to 2 tablespoons into your hands and roll into a ball. Quick tip: keep your hands a bit moist and the rice won’t stick to them.

Veggie Rice balls

 

That’s it! They’re ready to serve!

 

Ingredients

1/2 cup white rice

1 cup water

4 baby carrots

1/2 cup broccoli

Salt to taste

 

Directions

  • Wash rice 3 – 4 times.
  • Soak rice in water for 30 minutes then drain.
  • Add rice to pot with 1 cup water and bring to boil for 5 minutes.
  • Reduce to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and leave covered for another 15 minutes.
  • Steam carrots and broccoli with salt then chop in food processor.
  • Add vegetables to rice and mix well.
  • Scoop about 1 to 2 tablespoons into your hands and roll into a ball.

Ready to serve and simply nutritious!

Posted by Shivma on October 5, 2016

Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week 2016!

Happy World Breastfeeding Week!

breastfeeding

What better time to talk about the benefits as well as the challenges of breastfeeding.

 

Before we get to that though, i just want to say that I also celebrate the moms who have made the decision to bottle feed for whatever reason. I know there is a lot of judgement out there about moms who breastfeed and moms who don’t but being a mom who bottle fed my first and then breastfed my second, I think I know a little about how each feels. Whichever way you choose make sure it’s the right choice for you. Both my kids are happy, healthy and thriving which I think is the most important.

 

But being World Breastfeeding week and all, I thought I’d talk a bit about some of the benefits of breastfeeding.

 

Breastfed babies:

  • tend to have fewer ear and respiratory infections
  • have fewer allergies
  • have easier digestion
  • absorb more nutrients

 

Breastfeeding moms:

  • have less postpartum depression
  • have less osteoporosis
  • are less likely to have breast, uterine and ovarian cancers

 

Breastmilk is designed to meet the needs of your growing baby, changing as your baby changes. If even changes depending on if you’re in a warm or cold climate. Once you get the hang of it, it really is a wonderful thing but the challenge sometimes is exactly that – how to get it right. Many moms, myself included, really struggle in those first weeks. You’re exhausted and sleep deprived and you’re not sure if the baby is getting enough and it hurts sometimes! A lot! You forget all the things you’ve read about it taking a few weeks for your milk supply but breastmilk really is wonderful.

 

It supplies all the fat that your baby needs for brain development and it is regulated so the baby gets the most fat to feel full and satiated at the end of the feeding. Of course, it is also the best source of Omega 3s, proteins, vitamins, minerals and iron.

 

Your breastmilk will always be nutritious for your baby but part of making sure your baby gets all that she needs is making sure you get all that you need. That includes rest and good nutrition. I know it’s hard to find time to eat when you have a baby but try making things that are quick and nutritious and that can be stored in the fridge like my Power Up Protein Smoothie or my Peach Pina Colada Smoothie.

 

Remember to celebrate being a mama!

Posted by Shivma on October 5, 2016

Peach Pina Colada Smoothie

With my son in school full time now, I find myself having less time to eat breakfast which makes for a very grumpy me. So I had to find a way to get a power packed breakfast in the quickest way possible with the easiest delivery method (if you know what I mean).

 

So enter my Peach Pina Colada Smoothie!

 

Peach Pina Colada Smoothie

 

It is smooth, creamy and intensely satisfying. Not to mention it has everything you need for a breakfast on the go AND makes you think of the beach!

 

The milk and yogourt are both a rich source of calcium and protein. The bacteria in the yogourt fosters a healthy colon, decreases yeast infections, boosts your immunity and can lower your cholesterol. No bad, huh?

 

Pineapple has one of the highest values of manganese. In fact, 1 cup of pineapple provides 77% of your daily manganese requirements. Manganese is an essential nutrient need for bone production, collagen production and the creation of specific enzymes to control blood sugar.

 

Coupled with the pineapple, the peach provides a good source of vitamins A and C and because of its skin is a great source of fibre.

 

What more can you ask for in a smoothie!

 

All you have to do is add everything to the blender. Process until smooth.

Ingredients in blender

 

Then serve and enjoy!

Peach Pina Colada smoothie with fruit

 

 

Peach Pina Colada Smoothie

 

Ingredients

  • 6 oz. milk of choice
  • 1/4 cup yogourt, plain & unsweetened
  • 1 peach, sliced
  • 1 cup pineapple, chopped
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp honey (optional)
  • 1/2 cup ice

 

Directions

  • Add milk, yogourt, peach, pineapple, vanilla and cinnamon (and honey if using) to a blender and mix on high speed until smooth and frothy.
  • Add ice and blend until ice is crushed.
  • Serve and enjoy!
Posted by Shivma on October 3, 2016

Meatless Monday: Black Bean Veggie Nuggets

I know it’s been a while…

 

What can I say? Summer has been super busy with camps and trips and prepping for the start of Kindergarten. I can’t believe my little guy has gotten so big!

 

He also started Lego club, as if I need more Lego in my life (as I roll my eyes), at the end of which they were sending the kids home with these pre-packaged snacks that were not very nutritious. So being me I decided to chat with the coordinator and at the end I was tasked with preparing nutritious snacks for 24 kids. I’m happy to help spread the good nutrition but it makes life a WHOLE lot busier!

 

Despite all those things, I have been working on a few recipes and testing them on my kids of course! This black bean nugget is super simple and really takes no time at all. I like to buy my black beans dry and pre-cook them. Then I put them in the snack sized storage bags for freezing and it’s the perfect portion size when I’m ready to cook. Best thing about this recipe is that everything happens in the food processor! Score!

 

black bean nuggets, sweet potato fries

 

The black bean nuggets are very versatile and can be paired with most anything. I actually like to do this with sweet potato fries and grilled cheese wraps. They’re also great as lunches with some mozzarella cheese sticks and crackers. I find that if you give kids a dip they will be more willing to try anything. Even if you use good old ketchup. Of course, find a brand that is low on sugar and doesn’t contain high fructose corn syrup.

 

Now all you have to do is put all the ingredients in the processor and mix until if clumps together almost like a ball.

black bean, carrots, seasoning in processor

 

black bean nugget puree

 

Using your hands, make 1” balls and place on lined baking tray. Press down to create the nugget shape. Et voila! You have nuggets.

 uncooked black bean nuggets

 

Bake for 20 minutes turning half way through and you’re good to go!

black bean nuggets

 

These nuggets are packed full of the goodness of black beans. They’re high in protein and dietary fibre and are chock full of minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorous and potassium. It’s great for pregnant women because it contains about 64% of the daily value of folate, essential for baby’s neural development. The fibre makes it incredibly filling and as a complex carbohydrate it provides long lasting energy and keeps blood sugar levels stable. Not bad for a little bean!

 

Ingredients

 

  • 1 tin/ bag black beans*
  • 5-6 baby carrots, steamed
  • 1/2 cup plain bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax+3 tbsp water)

 

Directions

 

  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • Put all ingredients in food processor and process until combined and mixture sticks together.
  • Form into 1” balls and place on parchment lined baking sheet. Flatten gentle with fingers to form nuggets.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, turning halfway through.
  • Serve with any dip and a side of sweet potato fries.

*I buy dried black beans and pre-cook the whole bag. I put the cooked beans in individual snack-sized storage bags and freeze. When I need it, I just pull out a bag and I’m good to go!