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Okay, summer is pretty much here not that we need an excuse to make these adorable single serving cheesecakes. However, just in case you feel you do need an excuse here is what is headed our way this season: birthday parties, picnics, beach days, indoor rainy days, barbeques and so much more. All of these occasions heavily involve, if not revolve around our love for food. What better way to compliment some good summer eats than to finish it all off with some portable, homemade no bake cheesecakes for dessert?

I personally love the single servings. The recipe will make four little mason jars or ramekins but that means you could potetnially eat this delightful cheesecake four days in a row, guilt-free...during the kid(s)' naptime...with a hot coffee in hand. Mamas, you feel me, right?

This specific recipe cuts down on the traditional cream cheese heaviness and replaces it with a nutrient rich plain Greek yogurt. This provides us some lovely healthy fats, protein, and some probiotic love. I have also used all natural sweeteners in place of refined sugars to create a healthier cheesecake that is guaranteed to be a hit for the whole family (if you wanna share).

No Bake Single Serving Cheesecakes

*Makes 4

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • ¼ heaping cup of dates (soaked in warm water until soft to make them easier to blend)
  • 1/8 cup crushed pecans

Filling:

  • ½ cup plain cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/8 cup maple syrup (or any all-natural sweetener)
  • 2 Tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1.5 Tsp. lemon juice

Fruit Topping:

  • ¾ cup fruit (fresh or frozen)
  • 2 Tsp. honey (or any all-natural sweetener)

Directions:

  1. In a food processor, blend the pecans until you’ve reached a fine crumb. Add the softened dates and blend.
  2. Press the pecan and date mixture onto the bottom surface of each mini mason jar and press firmly to even out. Place the jars in the fridge as you prepare the filling.
  3. Add all filling ingredients to the food processor and blend until thoroughly combined.
  4. Divide the filling evenly into the 4 jars and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to harden before applying the topping.
  5. To prepare the fruit topping, soften the fruit of choice on a skillet over low heat. Once soft, gently mash the fruit with fork and stir in the honey. Remove from heat to let cool and thicken. Top your cheesecakes once the filling has solidified. Serve and enjoy!
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Nutty 4 Nutrition by Chantal Urbina - 1M ago

There are two types of people. Those who prefer hearty meals strategically placed throughout the day and those who prefer grazing. I am a full-fledged grazer. The truth is, snack plates make up a lot of my lunches and I prefer it that way. If there are leftovers from the night before I’ll eat it but if not, I’m eagerly preparing myself a colourful and nourishing arrangement of snack foods. It is great because I never need to “plan” what my lunches will be which is one less headache for this busy mama. It’s also a refreshing approach with the warmer weather coming into play. We can afford to spend more time outdoors as opposed to slaving away in the kitchen preparing yet another recipe.

Snack boards can be so fun as they allow us to get a little bit of everything all at once. And believe it or not, they can also be as equally filling and satisfying as a hearty meal. To ensure we have a properly balanced plate all we need to include is a source of healthy fat, quality protein, and fibre. Most whole foods have an array of nutrients so it’s easier than we think to get all the essentials our bodies need. And as long as we focus our attention to getting a little bit of everything, a meal can be whatever we want it to be-no stress needed.

This method of serving food is also a huge hit with my rather selective toddler. Kids loves options and variety even if it doesn't seem like it. When I sit down with a big spread like this in front of me, she is all over it. She always wants what mama has and jumps in my lap to take a peek at what she is willing to try in the moment. It's a very stress and pressure free for them to explore food. Exposure is key and if they eat more as a snacker, by all means I will take advantage of it. 

Here are some suggestions for some epic snack board ingredients:
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fresh Vegetables
  • Crackers (we love Mary’s Crackers)
  • Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Edamame Beans
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Dried Fruits
  • Cheese
  • Dairy-free alternatives such as Almond Feta
  • Hummus
  • Baba Ganoush
  • Pita Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Baked Goods such as muffins or bread slices
  • Pickles
  • Sauerkraut
  • Olives
  • Trail Mix
  • Candied Ginger
  • Coconut Chips
  • Dehydrated Fruits
  • Roasted Vegetables
  • Kale Chips
  • Roasted Seaweed
  • Guacamole
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Popcorn
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It is more than like;y that you have tried or at least heard of energy balls or bites. Why are these little homemade treats so popular? They are quick to assemble, delicious, and a mindful snack that offers us fuel and nourishment. The possibilities for energy ball recipes are truly endless. So many wonderful and wholesome ingredients can be packed into these little guys. Ever since I have fallen pregnant again, all I dream about is chocolate. I am a lover of anything sweet but I don’t usually obsess over chocolate as much as I have in the past months. My new addiction has led me to some kitchen experiments in hopes of finding healthier ways to cater to my sweet tooth.

One of my family approved favourites are these Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls. They are great when we want or need something quick that will provide us with some nutritional balance in every bite. Along with a chocolate obsession, I have been devouring peanut butter as well. I cannot get enough so clearly this snack is a dream come true for this pregnant mama.

Last month, I wrote a blog post on Sproos Hydrolyzed Collagen Peptides. I touched on why collagen powders are being used daily worldwide and how it benefits us. I shared that I generally just add a scoop a day to my coffee or smoothie because it’s just that mindless of a habit to keep up with. However when I was whipping up this simple treat, my Sproos Collagen came to mind. It was too easy not to add and in doing so, I upped the protein content of these goodies.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Energy Balls (with collagen)

*Makes 18 Balls

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole rolled oats
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • ½ cup all-natural salted peanut butter (any nut or seed butter will work)
  • 4 Tbsp. ground flax
  • 2 Tbsp. Sproos Collagen Powder
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • ½ Tbsp. melted coconut oil
  • 1 Tsp. pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined and sticky.
  2. Roll into Tablespoon sized balls and keep them in the refrigerator or freezer for some easy grab n’ go snacking.

Since I have shared my collagen taking habit, I have gotten asked if I notice any differences in my health and/or appearance. What has stood out the most is that my aches and pains caused from pregnancy have diminished. After certain exercises I was finding that I was sore through the hips and glutes mostly. Since adding the collagen that soreness has been less present and persistent making it a lot easier to keep up with as much activity as I feel I can. My gut health has been ideal (especially for being in the constipation prone third trimester). It is harder to gauge any benefits in terms of skin and hair health since I’m currently pregnant (which we all know can cause that glow and grow some luscious locks). I am however looking forward to incorporating collagen peptides post-baby. I have heard from many mamas that it worked wonders for that post-partum hair loss struggle which I experienced bigtime after having my first child.

Sproos Collagen Giveaway

I’m honored to host a Hydrolyzed Collagen Powder Giveaway. One lucky participant has the chance to win two tubs of Sproos Collagen-one Marine and one Grass-fed. Please check out the details on how to enter via my Instagram handle, @Nutty4Nutrition. The contest will end Friday, May 18th at 8pm CST.

Alternatively, feel free to take advantage of my discount code. It is valid for all Canadian and/or U.S citizens interested in placing an order. Simply head the Sproos website, www.sprooslife.com, and enter the code SPROOSCHANTAL at the checkout for 15% off your order. This promo code is valid until the end of May, 2018.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Sproos for sponsoring this post. My promise is to only promote content and products that I truly believe in, buy, and use myself. Here’s to optimal health for all.

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I have officially found my go-to pancake recipe. We love making pancakes for a family breakfast on the weekends and I have tried and loved many different varieties. However this fluffy stack takes the cake. They are just so effortless. No vigorous mixing, no worry of uncooked centers, and no guilt. Made with whole grains and no added sugars this plant-based breakfast fuels us with just the right amount of nutrition to get us energized for those Sunday Fundays.

Of course, swap the blueberries for anything else your pancake loving heart desires. Fresh or frozen fruit, chocolate chips, coconut, and the list goes on. My toddler also loves these making it the ultimate no-brainer weekend family recipe. To limit her amount of sugars, I opt for serving these up with all-natural nut butters and hemp hearts or coconut oil and a tiny bit of iron-rich blackstrap molasses. My homemade chia berry spread is also always a hit and made with no added sugars. However you decide to make and enjoy them, I hope they become a family staple like they have for us.

Vegan Blueberry Pancakes               

*Makes 8 medium pancakes

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup spelt flour
  • ½ cup whole rolled oats (not instant)
  • 2 Tsp. baking powder
  • 1 Tsp. cinnamon
  • ½ Tsp. sea salt
  • 1 ¼ cup water or milk alternative
  • 1 Tbsp. melted coconut oil (avocado or olive oil will also work)
  • 1 Tsp. pure vanilla extract
  •  ¾ cup fresh or frozen blueberries

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, sift together the spelt flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, and sea salt.
  2. Once sifted, add in the water or milk, oil of choice, and vanilla and gently mix together just until all the ingredients are combined.
  3. Fold in the blueberries.
  4. For fluffy pancakes, let the batter sit for at least 2 minutes. This ensures that the ingredients set nicely and the oats absorb the liquid.
  5. While the batter sits, preheat your oven to the lowest temperature. This is to keep the cooked pancakes nice and warm while you continue cooking the rest of the batter. Also heat your skillet/s on a medium heat.
  6. Once the batter is looking thick and beautiful, lightly spray or coat the skillet/s with some coconut oil and pour the batter on using ¼ cup measurements. Cook for a couple of minutes until the batter starts to bubble and the edges are browned. Flip and cook the opposite side for another couple of minutes.
  7. Garnish, serve, and enjoy! *These pancakes also freeze well so making a double or triple batch is never a bad idea.
Homemade Chia Berry Spread

Great for using as jam, in oatmeal or yogurt bowls, or as a topping for pancakes, crepes, and French toast. It’s also fabulous with some ice cream or as a topping for desserts like angel food cakes or cheesecakes.

*Makes ~1 cup serving

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen berries of your choice
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • Optional: 4 drops of liquid stevia or ½ packet of powdered stevia (or to taste)

Directions:

  1. Soften the fruit in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Once softened, turn the heat off and mash the fruit with a fork. Leave some chunks if you desire.
  3. Add the water (use less if you prefer thicker spreads), chia seeds, and stevia and stir together.
  4. Remove from heat to let set.
  5. Enjoy right away or store in a glass jar in the fridge (use within 7 days)
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Nutty 4 Nutrition by Chantal Urbina - 3M ago

A meal plan is the plan of action we come up with before we hit the supermarkets. The purpose is to have an organized menu plan that both saves us time and chaos in the kitchen. It also avoids wasting food and blowing up our grocery budgets. Some come up with a monthly menu, some a weekly menu and others play it day by day. It is important to note that meal planning and prepping will not look or work the same for everyone. What is effective for me may not be effective for you and your family. There is no benefit in comparing planning and prepping methods and/or styles. Find a system that works for you and stick with it. If you have been interested in meal planning but are not sure where to start, I have come up with some helpful tips to help steer you in the right direction.

Browse for Inspiration

Take some time to find recipes on a weekly basis. Pin any candidates on Pinterest, favourite some blog recipes, save posts on Instagram, and/or bookmark the pages in cookbooks. Asking family & friends for their favourite recipes is also a great resource.  

Decide what Meals you Need Planned Out

Some like a full schedule mapped out including what will be served for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. I personally enjoy winging breakfast and snacks. I usually just plan out dinners and a couple of lunches since leftovers always serve us well here.

Use What you Have

Go through your kitchen. Write down recipe foundation items you already have in stock. I personally pay attention to what proteins (dried or canned legumes, hemp hearts, nuts/seeds and their butters, tofu, any animal proteins, anything in the freezer),  and what grains I already have (pasta or stir fry noodles, rice, quinoa, oats, flours, etc.). I then proceed to plan my menu based on what I already have at home. This may sound tedious but it ensures I actually use what I have in stock-no wastage and it’s been saving me boatloads of money.

Organize Theme Nights

Theme nights are a popular meal planning tactic. For example Mondays can be Meatless Monday. Tuesday can be Mexican. Wednesday could be pasta, Thursday a curry dish, and Friday can be pizza night. It can really help when narrowing down those recipe searches when you at least know what type of dish you are looking for.

The Grocery List

 Once you have your completed meal plan written out in front of you, you can then proceed to making your grocery list. Mark down all ingredients (and how many of each) you’ll need to create each meal. I highly recommend doing this instead of just assuming that you have certain ingredients in stock or that you have enough of an item. Nothing is worse than needing a ½ cup of an ingredient and when the time comes you actually only have a drop or a pinch. Head to your kitchen and physically scope out your stock. Mark down any and all ingredients you will need to purchase.

Stick to the List 

Once you do hit the supermarket, only purchase items that are on your list. You have planned out every last ingredient you will need for the week, nothing else should make into that cart! You will be amazed at how much money you can save by staying faithful and committing to your grocery plan.

Save your Favourite Recipes 

Always save the meals that are a hit. Pinterest is a great resource as well as just saving blog links to your favourites on your phone. This list will become your go-to list. You’ll want to fall back on them on those weeks when you are pressed for planning time, are craving a favourite, or just aren’t feeling like tackling new recipes. The more favourites you save, the more plan recycling you can do….this is the goal. Put in the work now and a few months down the road you’ll be laughing.  

Bonus-Saving all the Money

I mentioned a few tricks above that have been keeping me well under budget. On top of those tedious yet super rewarding tasks, I have also been saving a lot of cash by cutting down tremendously on the animal products. I am not here to spark a debate on diet or lifestyle choices but I will say that all plant based proteins are the fraction of the cost than any animal protein. Adding more vibrant vegetables, legumes and organic non-gmo tofu into our meals had me high on the cost difference.

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There’s a new supplement frenzy circulating the internet right now. It’s a product that looks so easy to use but can be overwhelming when it comes to understanding the benefits it delivers. I’m talking about collagen powder. It seems everyone is using it and it’s most likely made you wonder why. Let me try and break it down for you in the simplest of terms. And before I begin, let me express that I believe that this supplement is hype worthy. Collagen aids our well-being in many different ways. Today I’m going to be specifically focusing on a Canadian made brand called Sproos because I believe that supporting local is a crucial and proactive move for our future. 

Okay, now let’s get into it. Aside from water, collagen is the most abundant in our bodies. It’s a protein that holds us together and is responsible for building and maintaining healthy bones, ligaments, tendons and cartilage. Collagen also does wonders for our digestive system, joints, and skin, hair, and nails.

What does this really mean? It means it’s magical. Collagen decreases pain associated with joint related issues such as arthritis. It supports the health and maintenance of the bones and all their surroundings for everyone including professional athletes to our grandparents. It creates a glow alongside an increase in skin tone thus reducing fine lines and wrinkles. It hydrates and strengthens our hair and nails. It supports optimal digestive health and restores and repairs our gut linings-fabulous for those battling digestive conditions such as IBD and Leaky Gut. It can also help prevent stomach ulcers.

We are finding that today it is harder than ever to eat enough collagen sourced foods in our diets. We also produce less of it as we age. We can get this protein rich ingredient through eating gelatinous meats (and their broths), and through consuming fish and their skins. I don’t know about you but those are far from my favourite things to eat on a daily basis (or ever…if I’m being completely honest). The availability and price for quality sources of grass fed cattle and marine life these days are also a huge challenge. This is why we have been seeing collagen powder take over the internet. It’s an easy way to include this essential protein in our everyday lives and at an affordable price.

Sproos differs from other brands that I’ve seen as they offer two sources of collagen. They have Grass-fed collagen which is most common and Marine collagen. Both sources are pure, hydrolyzed, easily digested, bio-available, unflavored, and dissolve easily into both hot and cold beverages.  For the easiest use, just add one scoop a day to your beverage of choice. I personally just add a scoop to my coffee, tea, or smoothies because my life loves that simplicity. See below for my current and favorite Collagen Boost Green Smoothie recipe. Of course there are also many other ways we can incorporate collagen powder into our diets. Some creative and inspiring ideas are using it in baking, for soups and stews, in raw goodies like energy balls, in dips or spreads, and in yogurt or oatmeal bowls.  

Sproos has also fabricated specialized beverage crystal blends to target specific health issues or concerns (joint health, gut health, and skin and hair treatment). These hydrolyzed collagen based flavoured crystals are enhanced with nutrient rich ingredients to support our health and are naturally sweetened with plants (with 0 grams of sugar). Simply just mix your blend with water and enjoy a health boosting, flavored beverage.

My Favorite Collagen Boost Green Smoothie
  • 1 cup spinach
  • ½ an avocado
  • 1 cup pineapple
  • ½ cup zucchini ( 1 small-I save the inside cores after making zucchini noodles).
  • 1 apple
  • 1 inch piece fresh gingerroot
  • 2 cups milk of choice or water
  • 1 scoop of Sproos collagen powder

If you have been curious about collagen powders, it is now the time to try it out. The benefits of this protein are truly undeniable and are more in demand as we age. I’d love to extend my discount code to any Canadian and/or U.S citizens interested in placing an order. Simply head the Sproos website, www.sprooslife.com, and enter the code SPROOSCHANTAL at the checkout for 15% off your order. This promo code is valid until the end of May, 2018.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Sproos for sponsoring this post. My promise is to only promote content and products that I truly believe in, buy, and use myself. Here’s to optimal health for all.

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As the years go by there is always one thing we can all improve on: self-care. It is far too easy to get wrapped up in to-do lists, careers, kids, and doing our best to keep our heads above water that we often forget about our needs.

Ever since I became a mom I have discovered how truly easy it is to put ourselves last. I have also learned the hard way that putting ourselves last does nobody any good. We can’t perform to the best of our abilities as professionals, parents, friends, or lovers if we are lacking on self-care.

The good news here is that there are many easy ways to pamper ourselves. Self-care can be affordable, easy to fit into the schedule, and can even be done from the comfort of our own homes. Here are 14 ways we can focus on ourselves and start this New Year off with a clear mind and relaxed soul.

Self-Care Tips

1. Take a relaxing bath. Turn it up a notch and dim the lights, light some candles, and add some essential oils. Bonus if there is a glass of wine involved.

2.  De-clutter the home. Although this is a lengthy process, there is nothing more rewarding. Sort through your home, room by room, and focus on keeping only what is serving you and your family.  

3. Coloring. And parents, your kids coloring books work just fine-no need to fall into the overpriced adult coloring book hype-trust me.  

4. Go for an unplugged walk. Time spent in nature will be forever underrated. Nature heals. Take time to listen to the wind, the birds, and the bees and put a pause on anything involving earphones.

5. Go to sleep earlier. Sleep is a time for rest and restoration and let’s be real; most of us aren’t getting enough. Winding down for bed even 30 minutes earlier will make the world of a difference.  

6. Stretch upon waking. Getting our circulation flowing freely first thing in the morning starts the day off on the right foot.  

7. Read a paperback novel. Ditch the electronic books and magazines and kick it old school. Feel the pages turn between your fingertips and indulge in a captivating story.

8. Create a home café. Take your reading atmosphere to another level by turning on some soft acoustic music and making yourself the best damn latte that you’ve ever had.

9. Practice positive affirmations. Body image issues don’t’ escape any of us and we could all use some extra love when it comes to this department. Focus on the things you love about yourself, write them down and hang the notes up on your mirror. These are things we should never lose sight of.

10. Say no more often. We all know that we can’t possibly “do it all” but despite knowing this fact we seem to keep trying. If there’s an opportunity or commitment you cannot or do not want to follow through with there is absolutely no harm in saying no. It is not selfish, it is self-care.

11. Journal. Writing down our greatest emotions can be so therapeutic. Journaling can honour feelings of all nature and it helps to clear the mind.  

12. Home spa treatments. A rejuvenating DIY face mask always does the trick for me but a self-administered manicure and/or pedicure or hair treatment would be just as lovely.

13. Get an indoor plant. I have sadly killed my fair share of plants but luckily there are some varieties that thrive no matter what. My absolute favorite additions to consider are the spider plant, the dracaena and a pothos plant. These varieties also all happen to be air purifying.

14. Catch up with friends. Nothing beats having the chance to let loose and spend time with those loved ones we don’t see nearly as much as we’d like to. Whether you set up a cozy date at home with a friend (or group of) or go out for brunch or drinks, it’s all time allotted for you and your missed ones.

 

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Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. There’s just something about waking up and starting the day off on the right foot. And as much as I love my sweet meals, I wanted to branch out and create a savoury breakfast that was full of plant-based fuel. Meatless and dairy-free savoury breakfast ideas are hard to come by and I was craving something more than some fluffy pancakes, creamy oatmeal, or a blended smoothie.

My daughter loves legumes. She honestly cannot get enough. For this reason, I do have an impressive stock of dried peas, beans, and lentils in the pantry. However, we all know those days where the canned goods are required so I also have a couple of cans handy at all times as well. It saves me on those days where I’m far from organized.  

This recipe was inspired by a random handful of leftover canned lentils I had in the fridge. I remember preparing this “kitchen sink” of a dish thinking to myself “oh man, this is probably going to be a hard fail but at least no food will go to waste.” At the last second I decided to whip up some guacamole to serve with my hash and that was that. The only fail here was that I didn’t make enough.

Lentil Hash

*Serves 3-4

Ingredients for the Hash:

  • 2 Tbsp. avocado oil
  • 4 medium potatoes, cubed
  • 1 small onion, chopped (about ½ cup)
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup brown lentils (I used canned, rinsed)
  • 1.5 cups baby spinach
  • ¼ Tsp. chili powder
  • ¼ Tsp. chili flakes (omit to avoid heat in the dish)
  • 1/8 Tsp. garlic powder
  • S & P to taste

Simple Guacamole:

  • 1 large & ripe avocado
  • ½ Tsp. lime juice
  • Pinch of sea salt

Directions:

Pro Tip:

The day before, I quartered my potatoes and boiled them. In the morning I cubed them and proceeded to make my hash. It cut down the cook time tremendously and the potatoes were soft and perfect.

1. Unless you have a huge oversized skillet, heat 1 Tbsp. of avocado oil each in two separate skillets. If you have a huge skillet, just use the one. Once the oil is hot, add half of the cubed potatoes in one skillet and half in the other. This will make sure your potatoes cook evenly resulting in prefect golden brown cubes. If the skillet is too small the potatoes will be too crowded and overlap each other which will result in some burnt cubes and some undercooked. Cook the potatoes for several minutes on each side. Avoid over-stirring them-we want them to brown nicely. You can add a little bit of water if necessary to prevent sticking.

2. While your potatoes are cooking, prepare your guacamole and set it in the fridge. Keeping the avocado pit mixed in the guac can help avoid any browning.

3. Once your potatoes have almost all cooked through and turned golden (this time will vary drastically depending on whether or not the potatoes were boiled in advance-see Pro Tip above), add the onion and green pepper to both skillets and cook for a few minutes until they soften.

4. Once your potatoes have fully browned, you can combine everything into one skillet or just mix everything together at the end. Add the cilantro, lentils, spinach, and spices to the skillet and cook for another two minutes until the spinach has wilted.

5. Serve the hash with a generous dollop of fresh guacamole.

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When it comes to protein, we have heard and perhaps believed one claim from two opposite spectrums. Either protein is life and nothing else matters or that we don’t need much protein at all. What is true is that protein is an essential nutrient and although we may not need massive amounts, we do need to be acquiring quality sources throughout our day.

Protein is a core macronutrient that is essential for building a complete meal. For complete biological satisfaction, our meals and snacks should ideally contain a quality source of protein, fibre, and healthy fat. Protein is crucial for the building and maintenance of healthy bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, hair, hormones, and enzymes.  There is no doubt that this macronutrient plays a huge role in our overall wellbeing. The good news is that getting a variety of quality in our diets is not as much of a stressor as it has become for some. Even adding some teeny tiny seeds such as hemp hearts to a dish can make all the difference.

Over time (and especially thanks to pregnancy), I have mastered how to quickly and effortlessly get this important macronutrient included in my meals. Here are a few ways I like to add quality plant-based protein sources to my diet.

HEMP HEARTS

3 tablespoons of hulled hemp hearts carry a whopping 10g of protein. This superfood can easily be added to anything and everything as the flavour is so subtle. It is honestly my favourite way to get a great source of not only protein but healthy fats and fibre as well. I add them to my oatmeal, in my smoothies, to my pastas, and everything in between.

NUTS, SEEDS & THEIR BUTTERS

I love sprinkling nuts and seeds on top of salads and any dish involving noodles. I also add nuts and seeds a lot into my baking. And let’s be real, we have no issues snacking on fruit and grains such as bread and crackers. Adding nut butter to these sources of fibre would not only add a source of protein but also adds a healthy fat making it a dream team snack.

NUTRITIONAL YEAST/NOOCH

This is a yeast that grows on the ever so popular natural sweetener, molasses. After being harvested, washed, and heat dried (making it an inactive yeast), it becomes a savoury flake that has a cheesy and nutty flavour. Also known as “nooch,” nutritional yeast is a good source of vitamin B12 and protein (along with folic acid, selenium, and zinc). I use nooch just as often as I use hemp hearts because it can so easily be added to anything savoury. It is commonly used to make plant-based cheese substitutes but is also great sprinkled on top of soups, pastas, and steamed or roasted vegetables. It also makes for a great popcorn seasoning. Two tablespoons of this magic has 9g of protein.

SPROUTS

There are many different kind of sprouts and they all individually pack a nutritional punch. My favorite to use is alfalfa sprouts and I include them in wraps, sandwiches, and salads. I also like broccoli, radish, pea, and sunflower sprouts, especially to liven up a fresh salad bowl. Experiment with different kinds and get a variety. All sprouts have a significant amount of micronutrients but they also are a great source of plant-based protein.

HUMMUS

Hummus is such an underrated spread. It is so incredibly easy to make at home and it can go far beyond being used on veggie sticks and crackers. To quickly make a creamy and thick pasta dish, I will stir in hummus. It’s a great meal especially when served with tomatoes, onion, chopped leafy greens, and fresh herbs. I also regularly use hummus on homemade pizzas. I replace the traditional pizza sauce with a layer of hummus followed by a thin layer of salsa. It may sound strange but it is a game changer.

BONUS: ALL THE GREENS

Green veggies are loaded with magical health powers, including protein. It’s the last thing on people’s minds when it comes to considering protein but honestly, it all adds up. Adding some leafy greens to every meal can go such a long way. I also usually have some frozen organic peas and/or edamame beans steamed and ready to be used for some easy peasy meal enhancers.  

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Growing up the only beans I ever ate were the canned baked beans in tomato sauce. This was the only kind of bean I ever knew of for more years than I’d care to admit. Once I dove into this healthier wholesome eating lifestyle I definitely was made aware of all the types of beans and legumes in general there were. It was unbelievable but intimidating. And for the longest time I relied on canned beans which honestly there is nothing wrong with….until you get used to the unique taste of beans prepared from scratch. My mother in law is from El Salvador and so I am spoiled when it comes to home cooked meals. Nothing will ever compare to her beans but it’s motivated me to also start cooking my own legumes from scratch. My whole family loves beans (toddler included) so I make them quite often. They are such an affordable staple in the pantry. They are high in both protein and fibre and can work wonders in any type of dish.

One important thing to keep in mind is that cook time will vary per type of bean. Some varieties can be done within half of an hour and others will take a whole hour, sometimes more. This prep is best planned to be done at a time when you will be home and are perhaps prepping other ingredients as well. Because it is a process, I like to make a larger batch and incorporate them into different meals over a few days.

The How-To:

Ingredients:

  • 1.5 cups soaked and drained beans.
  • 1 Tbsp. full fat butter or your favourite cooking oil
  • 1/3 cup chopped white onion
  • Water or broth of your choice
  • Sea salt

Directions:

1. The first step to preparing our own beans is to rinse them off and soak them in cold water in a large container overnight. Soaking all legumes (and most grains actually) allow them to be more easily digested (prevents bloating or gas) and allows for better absorption of the proteins and other nutrients offered. When soaking the beans, be sure that the water sits 2 inches above the bean surface and allow room for expansion as they will double in size.  I usually soak 1.5 cups which will result in 3 cups of cooked beans (keep in mind this is for 3 people over a few days. Cooked beans also freeze well so anything we don’t end up using-I freeze).

2. Drain and rinse the soaked beans.

3. If using water instead of broth, opt for boiling your water in one full kettle or pot (this is a tip from the Salvadoran MIL).

4. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat and add the onion and cook until translucent.

5. Add the strained and soaked beans and cook for about 3 minutes. Stir occasionally.

6. Add the boiled water or broth of your choice into your skillet. You want to the liquid to fully cover the beans by at least ½ inch. Bring to a boil and simmer down to a low heat (I keep it at a 2 on a temperature gauge of 0-9).

7. Cover with a lid and let cook, stirring occasionally, until they are ready (which means are tender but still firm as they begin to split. Avoid overcooking them to the point where they are falling apart and are mushy….unless you’ll be blending them anyway for a refried bean type of deal).

8. Add sea salt and any other seasonings you’d like.

9. Take about ¾ cup of the cooked beans and its liquid and transfer to a blender or food processor. Blend until you have a puree and add it back in with the cooked beans. This thickens up the beans which is ideal for when it’s served over rice or anything really. If there is still too much liquid, you can blend more or just remove some water and just discard it until you have a desired consistency.

Notes:

  • Cook time will depend on many factors: the type of bean, how old the beans are, how hard your water is, if they have been soaked or not, etc. Generally speaking, most beans will take about an hour but some can be less (chickpeas) and some more (small white beans). It’s for this reason I make my beans when I know I’ll be home for a good stretch of time (and usually tackle it while I’m prepping other food). Start testing your beans at the 30 minute mark. If they aren’t quite ready, keep simmering and checking every 15 minutes or so).
  • Cooked beans will last up to 5 days in your fridge. Alternatively you can freeze them as well.
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