Our Happy, Healthy Blog

Posted by Shivma on September 4, 2015

Banana Walnut Loaf

I’m always wondering what to do with those last two overripe bananas no one wants to eat and sometimes I just don’t feel for muffins!

 

 

Spelt is packed with nutrients – it contains high levels of protein and dietary fibre as well as iron, copper, potassium, vitamin B6 and folic acid. The flax is rich in omega-3 ALA and is a great source of lignans (a powerful antioxidant). Walnuts have the highest concentration of omega-3 fatty acids of all the nuts.

 

So it’s nutritious and healthy! Treat yourself a little bit and go make a banana walnut loaf!

 

Combine all dry ingredients (except walnuts)and whisk well.

 

In a separate bowl combine yogourt, sugar, flax eggs and vanilla. Mix well then add bananas and mix again.

 

Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined. Add walnuts and mix until incorporated. Pour in greased and lined loaf pan.

Ingredients

3/4 cup spelt flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup yogourt

1/2 cup sugar

2 flax eggs (see Directions on making flax eggs)

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 walnuts, finely chopped

 

Directions:

  • To make flax eggs, combine 2 tbsp ground flax with 6 tbsp water. Mix well and place in fridge for about 10 minutes for the flax to set.

  • Heat oven to 350 F.

  • Line 1 loaf pan with parchment paper along bottom and long sides allowing for overhang.

  • While the flax eggs are setting, combine all dry ingredients (except walnuts)and whisk well.

  • In a separate bowl combine yogourt, sugar, flax eggs and vanilla. Mix well then add bananas and mix again.

  • Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

  • Add walnuts and mix until incorporated.

  • Pour into loaf pan.

  • Bake for 55 minutes or until tester inserted comes out clean.

  • Cool in pan for 30 minutes then remove and place on cooling rack to cool completely.

Posted by Shivma on September 3, 2015

Sugar Cravings and Us

Before I start this piece on sugar let’s all agree that we think that sugar makes everything better. Over the years however, sugar has gotten some really bad press but it is in fact one form of carbohydrates and is very necessary to provide us with energy. In fact, 60–70% of our calories should come from carbohydrates.colors-1242661_1280

 

The problem is where we’re getting the sugar from and the “company” our sugar keeps. If we are getting our sugar from fruits and complex carbs then we’re also getting other vitamins and nutrients which help to slow the uptake of sugar.

 

If we’re getting our sugar (sucrose) from a candy bar then there are no other nutrients to manage the sugar absorption which causes our blood sugar to spike and stresses our pancreas to release insulin.

 

Before we can understand how sugar works let’s take a minute to rank our sugars from best to worst for our bodies:

  1. Complex carbohydrates (chickpeas, lentils, oatmeal, pasta, soy, whole grains)

  2. Fructose (fruits)

  3. Sucrose (table sugar)

 

When we eat carbohydrates our bodies break them down into a simpler form known as glucose. The body stores glucose as glycogen but if we have enough stores then the body converts the excess glucose into fat. The more complex the carbohydrate the longer this process takes and the more energy we use which means there is less chance that our body will need to convert the glucose to fat.

 

What the sugars in sodas, sweets and junk food do to us

Most of us have a bit of a sweet tooth and that’s okay but many of us are consuming far more sugar than we should. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends that the daily intake of sugar be no more than 25 grams for adults. That’s about 5 teaspoons or one Hershey’s Milk Chocolate bar.  We know that excess sugar is linked to obesity but even persons with a normal BMI who eat excess sugar are twice as likely to die of heart disease.

  • Excess sugar depresses our immunity – simple sugar has been shown to cause a 50% drop in our white blood cells ability to combat bacteria.

  • Sugar promotes cravings – basically the more sugar you eat the more you want

  • Sugar promotes obesity – foods high in refined sugar encourages the body to store food in fat cells since all those extra calories have to go somewhere!

  • Sugar promotes diabetes

  • Sugar promotes heart disease – those excess calories that are stored as fat tend to increase the level of blood triglycerides which increase your cardiovascular risk

 

What we can do to curb our sugar cravings

  • Choose water over sugary or caffeinated drinks. If you want a sweeter taste try adding a few pieces of fruit or squeezing a fresh fruit into your glass

  • Don’t offer sweet rewards to your kids for eating their veggies at dinner. Instead, offer some fruit.

  • Cut back on your caffeine intake. Caffeine can trigger a drop in blood sugar which leaves you desperate for a sugar rush. Instead, eat a healthy breakfast made up of complex carbohydrates and protein that will provide a steady flow of energy to get you through your morning.

  • If your cravings are a mood habit that try to find a non-food substitute. Instead go for a walk, listen to music or exercise. Replace that sugar craving with a healthy alternative.

 

Now that we know a little more about sugars here’s my challenge to you – think of one junk sugar you consume regularly and remove it from your diet for at least a month. Replace it with a complex carbohydrate or a fruit. Observe how you feel.

Posted by Shivma on August 28, 2015

Back-to-School Lunch Ideas

So it’s that time of year again! The kids are heading back to school (if they haven’t already). We’re mostly happy to send them to school but we’re dreading packing those lunch bags. For me, it’s always a struggle to figure out what to put in their lunch that will be healthy, easy and fun to eat and be nutritious. That’s tough! (especially after week 1!)

 

Kids lunch

 

First of all, try to make something you can do the night before and let your kids help with making their lunch. Doing it the night before will give you more time and your kids can learn to make better, healthier food choices.

 

Try to use nutritious foods you know your kids enjoy. If you try to introduce foods they’re not use to then chances are they won’t eat their lunches.

 

For snacks, try to avoid those bags of chips and cookies and instead let your kids help create their own little baggies. You can find zipper bags with different designs to put the snacks in. Also make sure the snacks can be picked up and eaten easily. Kids are more likely to eat cut or small pieces of fruit than they would a whole apple.

 

Here are some snack suggestions:

  • Veggie sticks (pick ones your kids like) with peanut butter or hummus for dipping

  • Trail mix (you can check out my recipe)

  • Homemade “Lunchables”: use some non-processed cheese slices, whole grain crackers and some fruit slices (fresh or freeze-dried)

  • Fresh fruit: grapes, berries or any fruit in season (make sure they’re bite-sized!)

  • Mini muffins (check out my banana oat muffin recipe)

 

Remember to keep it simple. Chances are if you put small amounts of a few things they will eat it quicker than if you put one big thing.

Posted by Shivma on August 10, 2015

On-the-go Trail Mix

This recipe is so versatile you can add pretty much anything you want.

 

I know it’s easy to buy trail mix at the store but I found that most times they all have a lot of sugar. Not to mention, this way I get to choose what I want to eat and I can make small amounts of different versions to suit the tastes of my family.

 

I did not use quantities for this recipe since you can make a little or a lot based on your needs. Feel free to add or remove ingredients!

 

 

Ingredients

Sunflower seeds

Pumpkin seeds

Cranberries

Pineapple chunks

Yogourt covered raisins

Walnuts

Dash of Pink Himalyan Sea Salt (or any other salt you have handy)

 

Directions

1. Place all ingredients in a bowl

2. Add salt to taste

3. Mix and enjoy

 

You can store trail mix in airtight containers or bags for up to a week.

Posted by Shivma on August 7, 2015

Power Up Protein Smoothie

My expert taste testers (my kids!) love this smoothie! It’s great because it’s so easy and really versatile. You can add and subtract ingredients as you like but if you follow the recipe you can get a very balanced meal rich in protein.

Kids are tricky eaters – some days they’ll eat everything you give them and other days they don’t want anything. For those days that they’re fussy this is an awesome alternative that will put you at ease about making sure they get the nutrients they need.

The milk and yogourt provide calcium and protein and the fruits give you a range of vitamins and minerals (Hint: pick the fruits you know your kids enjoy). The avocado is especially great for growing kids because it has higher amounts of those heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and the flax seeds provide Omega 3s which we don’t always get in our diets.

 

All in all I’d say it’s good for everyone!

 

It easy to make and you can double the recipe to make a large batch if you’d like. This recipe makes about 16 ounces.

 

Ingredients

1 cup milk of your choice (I like to use dark chocolate almond milk to give it a nice flavour)

1/2 cup plain yogourt

1 frozen banana

1/4 avocado (omit if not handy)

1 cup frozen/ fresh fruit (pick any that you like but some like mango and papaya will make the smoothie thicker)

1tbsp. ground flax seed

1tsp. vanilla essence

1 tsp. cinnamon

2 tbsps. protein powder of your choice (optional)

 

Directions

1. Place all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth.

2. Stir and enjoy!

Tip: Always put your liquid ingredients first then add your fruit. It makes it easier and faster to blend.