Tag Archives: dairy-free

Creamy Mango Coconut Popsicles

Mango popsicle, healthy whole food dessert
If you’re a mango fan you need to try this recipe. Coconut blends well with the mango to create an addictive, creamy, tropical treat. This recipe contains just 4 simple ingredients (can be made with just 3), making this a healthy alternative to the multi-ingredient popsicles you can buy.

 

Recipe:
Mango Puree

  • 1 cup mango (ripe or frozen)
  • 1 tbsp honey (If needed)

Mango Coconut Cream

  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract (can be made without, but tastes better with it)
  • ½ cup coconut cream*
  • 1-2 tbsp honey (depending on how sweet your mangos are and your preference)

Directions
1) In a blender add the mangos (allow the mangos to thaw if using frozen). Blend until a puree consistency is reached. Add honey if you mangos aren’t sweet enough for your tastes (do a taste test).
2) Add approximately 1 tbsp of the mango puree to the bottom of your popsicle molds (bpa free is preferred). Place in freezer for 15 minutes until the mango puree has become solid. Leave the rest of the mango in the blender for the next step.
3) While the mango is freezing in the molds, add the coconut cream, vanilla abstract, and honey to the reserved mango in the blender. Blend everything until completely smooth. Do a taste test and determine if more honey is needed.
4) Take popsicle molds out of the freezer and fill up the remainder of the mould with the mango coconut cream. Place into the freezer and freeze for a few hours until completely solid.

Note: If you don’t want to have the layered look and want a recipe that is easier to make and takes less time, just blend everything together and add it to the molds.

*You can make your own coconut cream by placing a can of coconut milk in the fridge for a few hours. Once the coconut cream and water have separate, carefully skim off the top of the coconut cream until you start seeing a more watery layer. An entire can (400mL) should yield approximately ½ cup of coconut cream

Collard Green “Sushi” Rolls

Collard green sushi rollI’ve encountered a number of people who have told me that they don’t like sushi because they dislike the taste of seaweed (edible seaweed wraps are known as nori in Japanese). A desire to bring sushi to these individuals inspired me to develop a nori free option. I admit that these rolls do not have the same taste as ones made with nori. A warning as well is that the rolls will not hold together as well as rolls made with nori, so be careful when eating them. I have drizzled a bit of soy sauce over the rolls instead of dipping them to reduce the chance of the rolls unravelling. I personally find these collard green “sushi” rolls to be extremely delicious.

These rolls are also very healthy. Collard greens are a cruciferous vegetable, and cruciferous vegetables have a reputation of protecting individuals against cancer. Collard greens contain glucoraphanin, sinigrin, gluconasturtiian, and glucotropaeolin, which are responsible for the cancer preventive properties of collard greens. One cup of collard greens also contains much more than your daily requirements of vitamin K, and is a very good source of vitamin A and folate.

Collard greens contain glucobrassicin which can be converted into indole-3-carbinol (I3C). I3C is both an anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer compound. Dietary I3C may help to prevent the development of estrogen dependent cancers such as breast, endometrial, and cervical cancers. I3C also provides nutritional support for liver detoxification and helps to support female reproductive health. It helps to regulate female hormones through the metabolism of estrogen in the liver, helping to maintain proper estrogen ratios.

Collard greens, unlike kale, have a very mild flavour. The broad, strong leaves are also ideal for wrapping items in. Collard green leaves make an excellent substitute for bread, adding both nutrition and a gluten free option for those that need it.

I’ve made these sushi rolls using brown rice because it is more nutritious. You’re welcome to make this recipe with sushi rice if that is your preference. To substitute brown rice for white, you need to make sure you use a short grain rice. Also mixing the rice vinegar in with the rice brings out the starches in the rice, causing it to bind together.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup short grain brown rice
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • Approximately a half bunch of collard green leaves
  • 2 avocados, cut into slices
  • 1 cucumber, cut into matchstick pieces (0.5cm width, which is approximately ¼ inch)
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into matchstick pieces
  • 3 green onions, cut into matchstick pieces
  • Horseradish root, shaved inner portion (amount to taste, optional)

Directions

1) Rinse rice well and bring to a boil with 2 cups water, then reduce heat to very low. Cover tightly and simmer until water is absorbed, about 40 minutes. Remove from heat and let rice stand, covered for 10 minutes.
2) Prepare your vegetables by cutting them into matchstick size pieces about 0.5cm (¼ inch or so) in width, and 6.5cm (2.5 inches) in length. The size doesn’t have to be perfect, it is more important to make your ingredients a consistent size so that one doesn’t bulge out or overpower. You can also add different vegetables to suit your taste and what you have available.
3) Transfer rice to a wide nonmetal bowl (wood, ceramic, or glass) and add the rice vinegar. Mix gently with a large spoon to combine. Cool rice, tossing occasionally, about 15 minutes.
4) Wash and destem the collard greens. Choose the largest leaves for making the rolls. Lay down the leaf and spread the rice over the middle of the leaf in a thin layer. Lay a few pieces of each ingredient down length-wise on the rice in the centre.
5) Use your thumb and forefinger to pick up the edge of the leaf closest to you. Carefully roll the leaf away from you, using your other fingers to try to keep the ingredients within the roll. Make the roll as tight as you can. A sushi mat could be useful, but is not necessary to roll these (I didn’t use one). Watch videos on how to roll sushi to get an idea if you’re not sure how to do it.
6) Using a sharp knife carefully cut the rolls into pieces. I found that the rolls on the end were lacking in stuffing and didn’t create nice rolls. (Feel free to snack on the end pieces.)
7) Carefully transfer pieces to a plate and serve with some pickled ginger, wasabi, and soy sauce (gluten free ). If you added the shaved horseradish to your roll, I’d suggest not using wasabi.
Note: If you can’t get the rolls quite right these make tasty wraps. I also added shaved horseradish in my rolls instead of using wasabi because most wasabi has food colouring in it that I’d like to avoid. Horseradish will also offer that lovely sinus clearing sensation that wasabi offers.

Kale, Ginger and Lentil Soup

ginger kale soupThe weather forecast predicted that there would be snow today, but I didn’t believe it. After the cold winter we’ve had I thought that we had seen the last of snow, but it seems we are not so fortunate. This cold weather prompted me to make a nourishing warming soup, with ginger as the highlight.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is both a great plant to use in cooking and medicinally. It has such a unique flavour and can add subtle heat to a dish. Ginger contains compounds called gingerols which give ginger its pungent taste and is responsible for many of the medicinal properties. Medicinally, ginger has a variety of different actions. One of the more widely known benefits of ginger is its ability to act as an antiemetic (reduces nausea and vomiting). This is beneficial for reducing motion sickness as well as morning sickness. Ginger can actually act as an abortifacient in large quantities. Therefore, pregnant women shouldn’t exceed 2 grams of ginger a day and should be cautious when consuming ginger.
The digestive system can benefit from ginger. It acts as a digestive stimulant, helping individuals who have weak digestion. This plant can increase blood flow to the digestive tract, normalize peristalsis, and help relax smooth muscles. This leads to some relief from intestinal gas buildup, and stimulates the release of enzymes involved in digestion.
Gingerols have strong anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger can help decrease pain and increase mobility in arthritis sufferers. Both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can benefit from the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger.
The root of the ginger plants contains the medicinal benefits and is the part that is used in cooking. I was surprised to learn when I was in Hawaii that the flowers are beautiful. The flowers of the ginger plant can vary between a brilliant red to white. The picture below is the yellow ginger plant that I came across. I was told that this particular specifies is invasive, and not a welcome addition in Hawaii.

Hawaiian ginger

The recipe below is to make a lovely ginger and kale soup. You can adjust the recipe to your tastes and add or omit items to taste and availability. For instance if you don’t have kale you could try adding spinach or even parsley. Potatoes could be added for an interesting texture. Soups are quite forgiving.

Recipe:
Ingredients:

• 1/2 white onion (chopped)
• 2 carrots (chopped)
• 1 cup lentils (you can try quinoa instead)
• 6 cups organic vegetable broth or ideally use homemade broth (If you are buying stock, look for gluten and dairy free if you have sensitivities. Chicken broth can be substituted for vegetable broth)
• 2 tbsp grated ginger
• 2 garlic cloves, crushed
• 2 tbsp oil
• 1/2 bunch kale, remove the stems, finely chop
• 1-2 bay leaves
• 2 tsp dried basil (You can also try a blend of rosemary, basil, oregano and thyme)
• salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
1) Roughly chop the onions to your desired size. Dice the carrots into cube sized pieces.
2) Peel and crush the garlic. Peel the skin off of the ginger and grate the ginger against the small holes of a cheese grater. The skin of ginger is quite delicate and can be peeled using a small spoon.
3) Sauté the onions and carrots in oil of your choice until the onions become translucent. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for another 1-2 minutes.
4) Add the vegetable broth, bay leaves and lentils (or quinoa). Let everything come to a boil, then cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
5) Wash, chop and de-stem kale. Stir kale into soup then cover for 4-5 minutes.
6) Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve!

Note: This soup doesn’t provide an individual with a large dose of ginger, but if you are taking ginger as a tea or in a more concentrated form, certain individuals should be cautious. Individuals who have gallstones should be cautious consuming ginger. If you are on certain medications such as anticoagulants then you should contact your naturopath before taking ginger as a supplement.

If you have morning sickness or other pregnancy related complaints you want help with, book an appointment with me to discuss your concerns.

Raw Caramel Chocolates

Caramel chocolatesI have to admit, dark chocolate is a weakness of mine. I  absolutely love a rich piece of dark chocolate as my go to indulgence. The good news for fellow chocolate enthusiasts is that cocoa has some amazing health benefits.

Cocoa beans are seeds from the theobroma cacao tree. Cocoa beans contain a natural chemical called flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that has important health benefits. Many people have heard of antioxidants and that consuming antioxidants can improve your health, but you may not understand how they are beneficial. Antioxidants help to stabilize and remove free radicals in your body. Free radicals occur naturally in your body as byproducts of metabolism. They are also produced in your body when you break down harmful chemicals from the environment such as smoke. Free radicals can damage our DNA and cell membranes leading to aging, cancer, and a variety of diseases. Your body has developed ways of managing free radicals, but an excess toxic burden can create extra burden on your body. This increases the need for antioxidants.

Gram for gram, cocoa is one of the most antioxidant rich foods that we know of. Other flavanol rich foods include tea, berries and other fruit. One study showed that cocoa is more beneficial to health than teas and red wine in terms of its higher antioxidant capacity. Cocoa contains flavanoids called flavanols. Numerous studies have demonstrated the potential cardiovascular benefit from flavanol containing food such as cocoa. The benefits include a reduced risk of vascular disease, enhancing vascular function, and a small reduction in blood pressure. In addition to the antioxidant benefits of cocoa, it is also a great source of magnesium, zinc, copper, iron, and potassium.

Keep in mind that not all cocoa is equal. How the cocoa is harvested and processed can negatively affect the antioxidant benefit, reducing the flavonoid content by as much as 90%! The addition of chemicals and roasting the beans particularly damages the flavonoids. It is best to choose raw organic cocoa to maximize the nutrition and health benefits that cocoa can offer. The word cacoa is generally used instead of cocoa to indicate that the product is raw.

Though dark chocolate is beneficial for your health, the high calorie content of cocoa makes it something that should be enjoyed in moderation. This can be difficult given how delightfully decadent these chocolates are! These delicious chocolates were adapted from two sources: My New Roots (one of my favourite food blogs) and Empowered Sustenance.

Recipe:

Caramel

  • ½ cup pitted mejool dates
  • ½ cup coconut milk, warmed
  • ½ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • ¼  tsp. sea salt

Chocolate:

  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted (use a tasteless coconut oil to avoid an excessive coconut flavour to your chocolates. I personally don’t mind the coconut flavour)
  • 1 ½ tbsp cacao butter, melted
  • 3 tbsp raw honey
  • 5 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • ⅛ tsp sea salt

Directions:

Chocolate coating
1) Melt the coconut oil and the cacao butter in a double boiler.
2) Remove from heat and whisk the honey into the melted mixture.
3) Sift in cacoa powder and salt in order to avoid lumps. Whisk until combined.
Caramel filling
1) Remove the pits from the dates, measure and let soak in very hot water for 15 minutes. Drain the water and add to a food processor.
2) Heat the coconut oil and coconut milk on low heat until the oil just melts and add to the food processor.
3) Add the vanilla extract and sea salt. Blend all of the ingredients in a food processor until well blended.
Chocolate assembly
1) I’ve made these using an ice cube tray but a silicone mold produces the best results. Spoon the chocolate mixture into the molds. Start by filling up the mold or ice cube tray about ¼- ½ way up. Swirl the mold around, attempting to coat the sides with chocolate. I find it easier to get the chocolate to stick to the sides of the mold if you  pre-freeze your mold for about 30  minutes.
2) Place the partially filled molds in the freezer for 10 minutes to harden.
3) Remove from freezer and spoon some of the caramel filling in each mold, the amount being determined by how much filling you’d like to have. Depending on your mold size, each chocolate will have about ½ – 1 tsp  of caramel.
4) Pour the chocolate onto the caramel filling until the mold is full.
5) Place the chocolates into the freezer for a minimum of one hour.
6) You can remove the chocolates from the molds and place them into an airtight container or you can leave them in the mold. If you have additional chocolate and caramel you might want to continue making chocolates until you have no more ingredients.
7) This recipe is to make raw chocolates so unfortunately they will need to be stored in the freezer and not taken out for more than 15 minutes because they will melt.

References:

Keen, Carl, Roberta R Holt, Patricia Oteiza, Cesar G Fraga, and Harold H Schmitz. Cocoa antioxidants and cardiovascular health. Am J Clin Nutr January 2005 vol. 81 no. 1 298S-303.

Lee, Ki Won, Young Jun Kim , Hyong Joo Lee , and Chang Yong Lee. Cocoa Has More Phenolic Phytochemicals and a Higher Antioxidant Capacity than Teas and Red Wine. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2003; 51 (25), pp 7292–7295.

Ried K, Sullivan TR, Fakler P, Frank OR, Stocks NP. Effect of cocoa on blood pressure. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012 Aug 15;8:CD008893. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD008893.pub2.

Making a Smoothie

Breakfast is so important and it is unfortunately a commonly skipped meal. Many people complain that they do not have time in the morning to prepare something. I feel that smoothies are an answer to the morning time crunch because you just throw everything in the blender, blend everything for few minutes and you’re ready to run out the door. Smoothies are very forgiving and you can experiment to find out what combination works for you. Here is a basic recipe to follow and adjust according to what you have and your personal preferences:

Ingredients:
• 1 cup unsweetened milk (almond, rice, coconut, oat)
• ½ banana (can be frozen ahead)
• ½ cup fruit
• 1 tbsp seeds (ground flaxseed, chia, hemp seeds
• 1 tbsp nut butter (almond, cashew, macadamia)
• 1 scoop whey or vegetarian protein powder (find one that has no artificial sweeteners and colouring)

When using ground flaxseed, don’t buy flax pre-ground as it will quickly go rancid. Buy it whole and grind it before adding it into the smoothie. For added convenience, you can peel and half bananas and put them in the freezer. This is especially useful when your bananas are overripe and about to go bad.
I’ve included some smoothie recipes below. You can play around with the amounts of things you add and you can try different flavour combinations. For example, do you find 1 cup of milk is too much for you or you don’t have enough on hand? Try using a ½ cup milk and ½ cup water instead.

Berry Smoothie
Ingredients:
• 1 cup unsweetened milk (almond, rice, coconut, oat)
• ½ banana
• 1 cup mixed berries (frozen are okay)
• 2 handfuls of organic baby spinach
• 1 tbsp ground flaxseed
• ½ scoop protein powder

Directions:
1. Place everything in the blender and blend until smooth. It’s helpful to add the liquid first and protein powder last so that items don’t get stuck to the blender blades.

Mango, Avocado and Kale Smoothie
Kale can be bitter and may not be the most pleasant in a smoothie, It is such an incredibly healthy vegetable that it is worth trying to get to like! I would start by adding half of what the recipe calls for and then slowly increasing how much is in your smoothie.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup unsweetened milk (almond, rice, coconut, oat)
• 1 cup kale leaves, loosely packed (do not blend the stems, instead rip the leaves from the stems)
• ½ ripe banana
• ⅓ cup mango (you can use frozen)
• ½ scoop protein powder

Directions:
1. Place everything in the blender and blend until smooth. Enjoy!

Chocolate Avocado Smoothie
• ½ cup unsweetened milk (almond, rice, coconut, oat)
• ½ cup water
• ½ ripe banana
• ½ avocado
• ½ cup frozen berries (can be mixed or a berry of your choice)
• 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
• ½ scoop protein powder
• Optional: you can add 1 tbsp nut butter to vary the flavour and add a bit more protein

Directions:
1. Place everything in the blender and blend until smooth. The addition of an avocado makes this smoothie very rich and creamy. If your smoothie is too thick add ⅛ cup water, blend and assess the consistency. Keep adding water until a desired consistency is reached.