Thursday, February 28, 2013

Keep it Clean Mama!

My tip of the day!!! Keep your favorite toppings handy.
Today I tried to eat a clean but carbohydrate laden meal for lunch - Quinoa Sweet Potato Patties (a variation of my Hubby Approved Quinoa Cakes). Thought it would be nice to share a recipe that wasn't so low-carb and I know everyone is on the quinoa bandwagon. But I don't usually eat this many carbs. Well it was a good test because the sugar devil sat on my shoulder for the rest of the day poking and prodding me into wanting SUGAR, SUGAR, SUGAR. Every cell in my body was screaming for it.

I'm Chantel and I have a sugar addiction. 

Or a really severe blood sugar problem or candida overgrowth? I always thought it was just a lack of willpower that drove me to eat so much chocolate but its kind of comforting to know that its my body that's got the problem. So I will be back to a low-carb diet tomorrow. Other than the sugar devil taunting me for the rest of the day I also had VERY low energy. What a great reminder of how I used to always feel - crappy until my next sugar or caffeine fix. And motivation to keep trying to eat clean and low-carb even if it is a heck of a lot of work. 

So I'm not sharing my quinoa recipe. In my desperate for dessert haze I started throwing all kinds of things together to make a lemon poppy seed cheesecake type thing but without sugar and with hemp and chia. It was a hot mess. Baba M actually liked it (??), Hubby and I choked it down. I think that sugar devil was sorely disappointed. So another recipe that you are not getting today.

So I'm just going to leave you with a little tip on how to make eating clean snacks a little easier and a lot more interesting to keep you on track and from reaching for the crackers, chips or candy. 
I've started keeping my dry "toppings" in little baby food containers right next to my prep area in the kitchen. They are in a convenient spot so I can quickly jazz up a breakfast or an afternoon snack to make it more satisfying. They can make things look so good that you forget you are eating clean - remember PRESENTATION IS EVERYTHING. 

My go-to dry toppings are:
  • Dried unsweetened cranberries, Raisins, Goji and Apricots - to sweeten things up naturally
  • Raw Sunflower, Chia, Hemp and Pumpkin - for crunch and some nutty flavor
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut - I put this on almost everything if its not savory - yum
  • Organic Cacao nibs - these don't taste great on their own but they add incredible crunch
  • Nuts - my favorite are pecans but I keep walnuts, almonds and peanuts handy.
  • Cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice - for presentation and a bit of flavour

Probably not a bad idea to have some of these containers on your desk at work too!
Figure out what dry toppings you love, put them in an easy to reach spot in easy to refill containers and use them. It can make the difference between an apple feeling like deprivation to it feeling like a dessert. 

Throw them on grain-free pancakes instead of syrup. Put them in smoothies. Throw them on hemp and/or Chia puddings and porridge. Use them on high-protein Greek yogurt. Sprinkle them on soup and salads. Get creative. You will see in my Sunday Week in Review posts that I have them on lots of my food.  Yogurt, nut butters, apple butter and fresh fruit are the other things I keep on hand and ready to go as toppings. 

Good luck and here's to a better day of eating and energy tomorrow!

Pumpkin seeds sprinkled on Plain Jane Cabbage and Ham Soup - suddenly sophisticated!
Cacao nibs, coconut and chocolate/sunbutter on apples.  From ho-hum to oh-yum!
Banana's, Goji, coconut and cacao nibs on Chia/Hemp porridge. Hot and Tasty!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Life Saver Paleo No Bake Chocolate Avocado Protein Energy Bar - this time with Pecans, Dates, Chia and Pumpkin Seeds

Paleo No Bake Chocolate Avocado Protein Bars all wrapped up and ready to go!
Energy bars to the rescue once again. At my last Naturopath visit she suggested I should be eating about 15 to 20 grams of protein within an hour of my workout. This is based on my size, time of day, intensity of workouts and blood sugar/adrenal problems. The amount might be different for everyone but protein is always a good idea for muscle recovery. I was most definitely not doing this which could explain some of my unpleasant mid-day moods. Most days I work out in the morning and I'm usually done about 10:00. Tricky thing is I usually go out to run errands after the gym so not really home to make a snack and not  a big fan of protein shakes unless they are in a nice frozen smoothie form. I was caught out and about the other day so had to buy a protein bar at the health store - expensive and YUCK.

So here I am making protein bars again and this time they saved me when I was out at the mall buying some jeans. I was trying to put off buying clothes because my weight keeps dropping and I don't want to invest in clothes in case I gain 10 or 20 pounds when I finish nursing (like last time). Unfortunately a very likely scenario as I had to buy jeans in a size I haven't worn since about grade 10. Please be the clean eating - please, please, please - not just the nursing. I know its vain but who wouldn't want to fit jeans they wore in high school after having three kids. But I should probably return a couple of pairs (yes I bought 3 pairs) and make do until my weight settles out somewhere one way or another. Anyway, I had these protein bars in the car on the way to the mall and I sailed right through lunch until I got home at 1:30 without any anger or hunger pains. Apparently Dr. M knows what she is talking about.

I make my protein/energy bars really low sugar but you could always add a bit of honey, more dates or more Stevia if you aren't trying to kick a sugar addiction to the curb. And remember this is just a base recipe. Avocado could be replaced with coconut oil or pumpkin puree. Pecans with another nut like walnuts or macadamia. And pumpkin seeds could be replaced with sunflower, flax or hemp. Just adjust to whatever you can find in your pantry.  I wrapped these up quickly with wax paper so they would be ready to go straight out of the freezer to my purse in the chaos that is our typical morning. Very handy and portable! I really liked this batch - its my favorite and I've done quite a few experiments now. Its not dessert but its chewy clean goodness with a bit of crunch. Yummo!
So chewy, soft and clean. These are really good for a low-sugar, wheat-free, low-carb snack. 

Paleo No Bake Chocolate Avocado Protein Energy Bar

by MamaChanty
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: None
Keywords: raw snack gluten-free low-carb paleo sugar-free Chia Seeds Avocado
Ingredients (16 bars)
  • 1 cup raw whole or chopped pecans
  • 1 cup loosely packed dates, soaked for 1/2 hour in warm water to soften if hard/dry, chopped into fine pieces
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 3 tbsp cacao nibs, optional - I like them for the crunch
  • 1/4 cup black Chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds (I leave them whole but you can roughly chop them or throw them in with pecans if you want them chopped fine)
  • 3 tbsp 100% organic cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 10 drops liquid Stevia (optional or to taste)
  • 1 avocado, peeled and mashed
Combine coconut, cacao nibs, Chia, pumpkin, cocoa, vanilla and Stevia in a bowl. Place pecans and chopped dates in food processor and pulse until they are like course sand/starts getting gummy.
Add the pecan/date mixture and mashed avocado to the coconut mixture.
Blend thoroughly. I did this by hand because my food processor is acting up but you could probably do it either way.
Press the mixture into an 8 x 8 baking dish lined with wax paper.
Refrigerate until chilled.
Take out of the fridge and slice - 1 made 16 pieces.
Keep chilled or frozen until ready to serve.
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I left the pumpkin seeds whole, with the crunch from the cacao nibs and the softness from the dates and avocado these have an awesome soft and chewy texture. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Clean High Protein Greek Yogurt anyone? Kids?

I am an all or none kind of person. I have trouble doing things in
moderation. I do things "full out" as we used to say in my Ukrainian
dancing days or don't do them at all. I'm either obsessed with working out
or completely give it up. When I used to party, I really used to PARTY, and
now I have barely had a drink in 7 years. I go on a diet and I end up
completely changing how I eat and writing a blog about it. Its my blessing
and my curse.
On top - Vanilla high protein Greek yogurt. On bottom - plan, unsweetened high protein Greek yogurt.

So what does this have to do with yogurt. Well, when you have kids,
3 kids in 5 years in my case, you have to learn to do things in moderation. Sigh. They move at their own pace, change their minds, and are sometimes totally unreasonable. And they like the comforts of their routines and don't want things just completely changed overnight. So just because I've decided to go 100 percent (maybe 95) cold turkey clean eating, I can't expect them to do the same. Especially when I had let all of our eating habits veer so far away from clean - we had a pretty refined flour, sugar and processed food centered diet. And frankly I didn't, and still don't, know enough about nutrition to just go full out right away - there is a learning process.

So I am gradually changing over their diet and trying to introduce new foods slowly. That's hard for me but its working. Slowly we are chipping away at things and their diets are improving. Their sugar consumption is WAY down. We have reduced their wheat and processed food consumption by 50 percent. Probably more. They are eating way more fruit and vegetables. They aren't running to the kitchen begging for kale smoothies (good thing because they wouldn't find one) but they also don't refuse to eat lots of things they did when we first started this - like a Friendly Frittata.

One of their, and our, staple foods is yogurt. I would love to give up
dairy completely but its just not going to happen. My goal right now is to
limit myself to one serving of yogurt and one of cheese (6 oz) a day - at
the recommendation of my Naturopath. Its good when someone sets a limit for
me - I need boundaries to do things in moderation. The kids would eat as much of the stuff as I would let them and I probably would too.

But regular stirred yogurt has a ton of sugar. Not good for someone trying
to beat a sugar addiction and really not good for anyone except in
moderation. So this is one area where I'm converting us all slowly and I'm using it as an example of how you can also make slow gradual changes to your diet to
either go fully clean eventually or at least clean things up part of the

So this was my "yogurt" journey:
Step 1 - Pre-clean I was eating lots of stirred yogurt. Yum - loved it.
Feeding that sweet tooth and probably a candida overgrowth - keep it coming
Step 2 - Argh - all my clean books say yogurt isn't great, its full of sugar and I need some protein. Better switch to Greek.
Step 3 - Crap - I didn't read the label. No wonder this Greek yogurt tastes
like cheesecake - it has no more protein than stirred yogurt and it has
just as much sugar. I better switch to high protein Greek yogurt.
Step 4 - I don't know why I'm still craving sweets, I gave up milk chocolate -
this is supposed to get easier. Oh no. This stirred high protein Greek yogurt has lots of protein but it still has tons of sugar. Now what.
Step 5 - I better buy some plain, unsweetened high protein Greek yogurt like all the books said. 

Great. I was there. No sugar added. One big problem - its TASTES LIKE SOUR CREAM. The kids aren't going to eat this. I'm not going to eat this. 

So here is what I've done:

For me - I add some liquid Stevia and vanilla extract or organic apple butter to my plain, unsweetened high protein Greek yogurt to sweeten it up. Then I usually top it with some dried fruit, fresh fruit, cacao nibs, nut butter, coconut, whatever. Or I just use it as a topping for my Chia Pudding. And I treat it like a dessert now not just snack food. 

For the kids - They aren't ready for straight up plain yogurt yet. So instead I am mixing theirs half and half. Either 1/2 stirred regular or stirred Greek yogurt with 1/2 plain unsweetened high protein Greek yogurt. So now they are getting some protein, a lot less sugar and they still like it. They don't even notice the difference. 

Read your label. They both have the same amount of protein but the sweetened version has 2 1/2 times the amount of sugar. You can sweeten it up yourself. The regular sweetened non-Greek version in my fridge has even more sugar than that. 
So some tips on yogurt if you are keeping it in your diet.
  • Costco sells a 3-pack of 500 gram plain, unsweetened high protein Greek yogurt for a good price and it has probiotics in it. You can sweeten it like I do or use it in lieu of sour cream and then you are getting some protein;
  • Wherever you buy it, why not buy some with probiotics in it. Jury is still out on whether they really do their job in this form but maybe they do. 
  • Read your labels. The yogurt isle is a confusing place. If you are paying for Greek yogurt make sure it is high protein. It should have 14 - 18 grams of protein per serving. And compare the carbohydrate/sugar on the labels between brands and types.
  • Gradually add the unsweetened kind in with the sweetened kind to let yourself and your kids get used to less sugar. I can't believe how sweet, too sweet, the regular stuff tastes to me now. 

There might eventually be a Step 6 in all of this where I learn to make my own organic yogurt. One of the books I'm reading now even has a recipe for Hemp yogurt but I'm not there yet. And I'm okay with it for now. We are in a lot cleaner place than we were in Step 1. And I have to do some things in moderation.

Hope this helps you skip a couple of those steps.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Friendly Wheat-free Frittata and the Status of my Insomnia

I have always been the girl that couldn't sleep. I have had off and on (mostly on) insomnia my whole life. I mean real, up until 4am when you have to be at work at 8:30, for weeks in a row, insomnia. Not the "Oh - I'm so tired it took me an hour to fall asleep last night" kind. If you are in the first camp with me you have probably wanted to jump across a table and strangle someone for saying that taking an hour to fall asleep is insomnia. True insomnia is like torture and it wreaks havoc on your body and your life. 

My lovely sister forwarded a link for me this morning about sleep because she thought I mind find it interesting. I would come to mind, of course, because remember, I'm the girl that can't sleep. But guess what, for the first time in my life, I'm not the girl that can't sleep anymore. I am woken up 4 times a night by a 7 month old, yes, but generally I fall asleep at night and usually fall back asleep in between feedings. And I'm sleeping soundly and waking up rested. Hallelujah. Miracles do happen and I cherish every precious second of it. I may not be cured and I know it could come back any day but here is what seems to be giving me relief from the insomnia:
  • I never, never, never stay up past 10 o'clock unless absolutely necessary. If you have adrenal fatigue you definitely should follow this rule but I think it applies to most people. And if I stay up past 11 I may as well start cleaning the house or something because my second wind has kicked in and I'll be up until 1 for sure. Since baby is up for the day at 5:30 or 6:00 that is not a good situation;
  • Eating clean has significantly improved my stomach issues which I believe contributed to my inability to sleep. I have noticed on the very few occasions I have eaten out since going clean or if I overate/had a big late snack I have trouble falling asleep;
  • I gave up caffeine. Do it. Try it. Go cold turkey or do it slowly. Just do it. This has changed my life. Its poison if you have a caffeine sensitivity (about 15% of us do) and you probably won't know for sure until you give it up and realize how much better you sleep and how much more stable your blood sugar is. I also watch that there aren't stimulants in medications I'm taking (even cough syrup, etc). Oh - thinking back now I realize why I could never sleep when I was sick...........and if you can't sleep you can't get better. Vicious cycle. 
  • I don't watch anything disturbing on TV (I actually don't really watch tv) or even talk on the phone after 8:00. Once I get the house tidied up, I try to do something relaxing like reading or blogging and I always take a hot bath before bed.
  • No more naps - unless I have had a horrendous night with baby and I take a quick nap in the morning. If I nap I can't fall asleep at 10 and if I'm still up at 11 I'm screwed.
There are obviously other changes in my life that are helping like being off of work, having low stress, taking adrenal support pills and working out. Oh yeah, and my new Costco pillow that has a "cool gel insert". I get hot at night - hormones, adrenals, who knows - the coolness of the pillow does seem to help. 

So that's the status of my insomnia. If you are suffering maybe some of these things could work for you. Like my stomach problems, I just thought insomnia was something I was born with and would have to cope with for the rest of my life...............but maybe I won't. Crap now I have an uneasy feeling that I'm not going to sleep tonight - I've probably jinxed myself. 

Okay - and here is a recipe. Its barely a recipe because it is so simple. MY 5 YEAR OLD ATE IT AND TOOK LEFTOVERS FOR SCHOOL. Another miracle. I am slowly chipping away at those terrible eating habits I let them develop. Use this as a base recipe and throw whatever you have into it - any meat/veggie/cheese combo will work. Its so easy. Literally took me 5 minutes to prep. And why not make a double batch and take the leftovers for lunch or have them for breakfast. Goes great with a salad.

Clean, Wheat-free, Low Carb and Kid-friendly Frittata - I used bacon, broccoli, sun-dried tomatoes with egg and cheddar cheese. 

Friendly Frittata

2 cups broccoli, chopped into small florets, microwaved with a tbsp of water for 3-4 minutes or until fork tender but be careful not to overcook it since its still goes in the oven for 1/2 hour
4 strips cooked bacon, chopped into bite sized pieces - ham or sausage would work well
2 tbsps sun-dried tomato
5 eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup milk of choice (any unsweetened or coconut milk would work)
salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
1/4 cup shredded cheese, optional - if the kids weren't eating I would have done feta or goat cheese but I used medium cheddar for the kids

Mix together the beaten eggs, milk and spices. Layer the broccoli, bacon and sun-dried tomato in a greased pie plate and then pour the egg mixture over top. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes in a pie plate well greased with coconut or olive oil.

Just out of the oven. How easy was that.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Another week gone clean........I mean gone by!

Here we are at Sunday again. Oscar night. I actually don't watch TV but I'm considering checking out the gowns. Since I have 3 kids under 6 and I go to bed by 10 every night I also don't watch movies so not that interested in the actual awards.

Hopefully you look at this before you sit down to watch with a bag of chips and a glass of coke................don't do it - you'll just get a tummy ache and guilt............maybe you could make a delicious smoothie or apple nacho's for a Sunday treat. Or if its too late then you can make up for it by eating clean this week. Here are some ideas from the meals we didn't post last week. Doesn't eating clean look good...............these are all unprocessed, wheat-free, grain-free, low carbohydrate, low or no sugar meals.

My new and improved Paleo Banana Bread recipe with flax. The kids LOVE it. Its nutritious  wheat-free, full of fiber and delicious. I deserve a pat on the back for this one. Really.

A tale of two banana breads - I actually improved my banana bread recipe (that I thought was already awesome) by adding flax - the new recipe is the one on the left. Seriously - you need to try this. You would never know it is grain-free, low-carb and low-sugar. Wicked!
Salad - how I do love you.
Hot Chia Pudding with Hemp seeds. A filling alternative to Oats with no carbohydrate load to speak of! Yum. Can you say addiction.

Nitrate free Bacon, Scrambled free-run eggs made with coconut milk, sauteed spinach and tomato's. I really don't miss a piece of toast with my breakfast (lunch really). You get used to it pretty quick - don't get discouraged if you still crave it.

A pumpkin loaf experiment. It was okay but it just can't compare to my kick ass banana bread recipe so I didn't really have any takers. I froze most of it so they will have to eat it when the banana bread is gone.

Mashed Cauliflower. I made it with cream cheese. I loved it. Hubby tolerated it with some vinegar on top (what?). Will be making that again - i think he just needs to get used to the texture.

I made a quick soup out of some leftover roasted sweet potatoes and butternut squash puree (baby food that baby didn't like). Topped with high protein Greek yogurt and cilantro. I love soup.

A Costco Rotisserie chicken to get us through the week with a little goat cheese, blackberries, hemp seed and poppyseed dressing. 

How original....another salad. But I love salad so I don't mind eating them most days for lunch. I make with baby spinach so I get my greens.

Home made nitrate-free ham and cabbage soup sprinkled with some pumpkin seeds.  I love soup. It is really quick to make and a great way to use up leftovers. 

Shocking - another salad - this time with eggs.
Baba is in town so brought us some Swiss steak. Yummo!!!

Hot Chia Porridge with hemp. Topped with banana's, Goji, cacao and coconut.

Broccoli salad with cranberries, bacon and sunflower seeds and a Greek Yogurt dressing.

Chocolate Banana Almond Flour Pancakes. I liked them. The kids liked them. No-one loved them. So you don't get the recipe. 

Fruit salad - the kids just love this and I always forget about it during the winter. Great way to use up fruit that is past its prime or just change things up a bit. And you can make it ahead of time and its ready for all those many snacks they want.

That's my chocolate smoothie I made with an avocado for creaminess. It was not bad. I will do some experimenting before I pass along the recipe.

I made some almond breaded sole for lunch with a Kale super food salad from Costco.

That's kind of it for the week. There were some other meals in there that I forgot to take pictures of but more of the same. We don't really "cheat" other than I use bottled salad dressings and I eat more 70% dark chocolate than I should. I ate almost two 100 g bars this week. My goal next week is to cut that back. There - I wrote it - now I have to stick with it. Happy Sunday! Enjoy the Oscars. I bet those ladies ate clean to fit into those gowns.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Paleo Avocado Chocolate Walnut Protein Bars with Apricots, Hemp and Chia

Time to fill up the freezer with pre and post workout protein/energy bars! This time I had some avocado to use up so went with it - result was a nice soft chewy protein bar. 
I like to make sure we always have protein/energy bars in the freezer to grab on our way to the gym or when I am going to be out somewhere and will need a healthy snack to tie me over. They are a must if you want to eat wheat free, low carb and clean on the run.  I like to make my own because I can make them low carb, tasty and cheap. They literally take only a few minutes to make if you have a food processor. I said I was going to stay away from avocado's for a while after overdosing on chocolate avocado pie and peanut butter avocado cheesecake bites a couple weeks back but I couldn't resist a bag from Costco. Now here I am - stuck trying to invent new ways to use them up. Problem with buying them in bulk is they all like to ripen at the same time. So I had a chocolate avocado protein shake this morning, avocado protein bars this afternoon and some guacamole before dinner. Three down, two to go.

There isn't a lot of magic/science to making protein bars. I have made them several ways and they always turn out. You just need some nuts, something for a bit of sweetness and usually something to help bind it. Don't feel you have to follow my recipe exactly. If you don't have walnuts try almonds, macadamia or pecans. No apricots, how about dates. If you don't have hemp or chia why not try it with pumpkin or sunflower seeds. I usually use some kind of binder - if you don't have avocado why not try pumpkin puree, melted coconut oil or more nut butter.  As long as they stick together and you can throw them in your purse/gym bag you are good to go. If they are too sticky add some coconut or if you are having trouble cutting them into squares just roll them into balls. Get creative!

After they set in the fridge they are ready to be cut into squares and put into the freezer!

Paleo Avocado Chocolate Walnut Protein Bars with Dried Apricots, Hemp and Chia

1 cup dried apricots, unsweetened, cut into small pieces
1 cup raw walnuts
1/2 cup hemp seeds (hearts)
1/4 cup black chia seeds
3 tbsp organic 100% cocoa powder
2 tbsp almond butter
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
6 drops liquid Stevia (optional sweetener - adjust to taste)
1 small/medium avocado, mashed
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional - I didn't add it to this batch but I will next time)

Place all ingredients except mashed avocado in food processor. Pulse until fully combined and granular in size (don't let it go too long or it will be like butter). Add avocado and pulse in or stir in with a spoon.   Line a 8 x 8 baking dish with wax or parchment paper. Press the mixture into the pan and smooth out the top. Put in the fridge until fully chilled - 1 to 2 hours. Take out of the fridge and cut into 16 squares. Freeze or refrigerate until ready to use.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hemp...........A super food I can get behind and a little Apple Nacho Afternoon Snack!

A great afternoon snack - Apple slices topped with a warm sunbutter/flax/dark chocolate mix, sprinkled with coconut and hemp seed hearts!

So I'm still on the Chia seed train. Really enjoying my Chia puddings and Chia porridge in the mornings. The only problem with the Chia seed addiction is that there isn't enough protein to meet my requirements for a snack or breakfast on its own...........enter Hemp Seed.

I feel really good about hemp because I felt really guilty about all my bad feelings towards grandfather would be appalled that I CHOSE to give up wheat. I grew up on the farm, surrounded by fields of the stuff. I come from a long-line of grain farmers. I don't want any of my "farming" friends and family to know about his blog - I might be shunned. But its okay now - I have a big bag of Manitoba grown Hemp in my pantry - they can grow that and we can all be friends again. 

That's my bag of hemp hearts - raw shelled from Costco - $14.99 for almost 2 lbs. You can also get these in bulk at Bulk barn and I've seen them at most major grocery stores. Watch your prices - they can get expensive. This Costco bag is the best deal I've seen at about $8 per lb.
Why are hemp hearts so awesome - well, just like Chia Seeds they have a long list of health benefits including being full of nutrients (including vitamins A, B1, B2, D and E as well as the minerals calcium and iron), Omega 3 and 6,  both soluble and insoluble fiber and protein. What little carbohydrates they have (3 grams in 3 tbsp's) are completely offset by an equivalent amount of fiber for net carbs of 0. Yay - so they can provide you with energy that won't cause a spike in your blood glucose. 

And 3 tbsp's of these have 10 grams of protein. Yay - another clean and convenient way to get protein without having to rely on protein powders. 

These little hemp hearts have a very mild nutty flavor so you can basically sprinkle them on anything without offending anyone's taste buds. And they have a normal texture (as opposed to gelled Chia which everyone is not necessarily a fan of).  And they are filling......I make Chia and hemp puddings and porridge for breakfast and you seriously can not eat a whole lot of this stuff. It fills you right up which should help control your appetite and keep you on the clean eating path. Yes, they are high in fat but its healthy fat and if they do their job of filling you up you will make up for it by eating less empty calories and fat the rest of the day. Just don't sprinkle them on a Big Mac - then you're in trouble.

I didn't think I could top Chia Seeds as a super food but Hemp is awesome. And its grown in Manitoba.  It's my new favorite. But don't worry Chia - I still love you! Plus the combination together is fabulous.

You can basically eat hemp Hearts as is (by the tablespoon), sprinkle them on anything you are eating, put them in smoothie - get creative. Just get eating them. I sprinkle them on an Apple Nacho plate for an afternoon snack. There is no magic to this recipe - just something I threw together quick one day - mix up the toppings to whatever you have/like. Kids even like it.

A delicious way to get some hemp hearts into your diet and into your kids!

Simple Apple Nacho's

One apple, cored and sliced into wedges
1 Tbsp Sunflower butter with flax (I bought at Bulk Barn) - or you could use natural peanut butter or almond butter
1/2 Tbsp dark chocolate chips (preferrably over 70% cacao and organic)
unsweetened shredded coconut
hemp hearts

Layer your apple wedges on a plate. Put Sunbutter and chocolate chips in a small microwavable glass bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir and microwave again for about 20 seconds. Adjust to your microwave strength but the chocolate chips should be just melted - don't overcook. Stir mixture again and drizzle on apples. Sprinkle with coconut and hemp hearts. Enjoy!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Paleo Chia and Hemp Seed Pumpkin Spice Pudding - Breakfast of Champions

I was pretty pumped about my Naturopath appointment this week - it was both exciting and humbling. I'm excited because it got me thinking about where I'm at with my health and where I can still go - if I can figure a few things out first. And it was also humbling because although I have learned a ton about nutrition in the last 6 months I realized there is so much more to learn. A Naturopath can be an awesome resource to help with coming up with a diet and lifestyle that can optimize your health that is tailored just to you.

 A Hemp filled alternative to my  Pumpkin Chia Protein Pudding if you don't want to use protein powder.
I feel awesome energy wise. I can't even believe how tired I used to be all the time. Because it was my "normal" I didn't know I could be any different. But I am still struggling a bit with my adrenal glands. Although my symptoms are pretty mild compared to where I was 2 years ago I am still wrestling with some anxiety if I don't take adrenal support pills and I still have days where I get Hangry - hungry and angry - about mid-day. My Naturopath is working with me on tweaking my diet a bit to see if that can help. What I'm eating is obviously pretty good but the timing is still off a bit as I struggle with eating my protein within an hour of waking up and I don't always eat protein within a hour of a work-out. So we will see if that helps but given I have virtually no stress in my life, I'm eating better than ever and exercising regularly I suspect there is still something else going on - but what is the catalyst and what is the symptom? And why is my adrenal gland still pissed off at me?

Stress - Did it start with prolonged stress that I'm still not fully recovered from? Or is the lack of sleep from three terrible sleepers within 5 years that is taxing my adrenals?

Candida - Do I have a Candida overgrowth - which by the way affects 25% of people? I got tested for this 2 years ago and my levels were really high. I never did anything about it until now, inadvertently, by cutting sugar and going low-carb. That could explain why my sugar cravings are so unbelievably strong all the time - some days I feel like I'm possessed or some kind of addict - its disturbing. It could also be why my body has responded (with bounds of energy) to this low carbohydrate diet when lots of other people feel tired when they make the switch? Maybe its a candida problem that is abusing my adrenals.

Food sensitivities - Could I still be eating something that is triggering a food sensitivity? I had food panels/allergy tests done two years ago and I had crazy results - I was reacting to numerous foods - they really didn't know what to make of it. My clean diet has significantly helped with my leaky gut problems given I no longer have stomach aches but maybe there is still something I shouldn't be eating - maybe its even something clean like a vegetable or fruit.

So I'm on a mission now to figure out where the problem is starting so I can fix it. I have a month before my next appointment to stew on this, do some research and tinker with a few things. And to decide if I want to spend the money for some candida tests and a new food panel. Its not cheap. But now that I know what it is like to feel good I don't want to go back to the way I was, even for part of a day. I also don't want to be on adrenal support for the rest of my life. So I guess I have more figuring out to do and luckily a Naturopath to help me with it. If you don't feel like you are operating at your best but you have no idea how to sort through all the information out there I highly recommend you give it a try. Just be clear to them on what you expect. I told them I want to reduce the amount of supplements I'm taking and get as much nutrients and support from real food. I'm not looking for a medicine cabinet full of pills and although I take a couple of supplements (adrenal support, Vit D, Vit C and sometimes Omega's 3's) we have kept it pretty basic.

And because I have committed to this eating within one hour of waking up thing (which means I sometimes need to eat by 6:30 without making any noise and waking up the rest of the house) I came up with a new Chia pudding. You can make the night before. This time I added hemp seed as a protein source instead of protein powder. This is a great option for someone not keen on protein powders. If you want to make it with protein powder instead of hemp  go to my Pumpkin Chia Protein Pudding recipe. I also topped with some plain/unsweetened high protein Greek yogurt that I sweetened up with some liquid Stevia and vanilla extract to give it an extra protein boost.

Chia and Hemp Seed Pudding with Pumpkin Spice - topped with pecans, raisins and coconut and plain /unsweetened high protein Greek yogurt doctored up with some Stevia and Vanilla!

Chia and Hemp Seed Pumpkin Spice Pudding (about 1 serving - but I couldn't finish it)

2 Tbsps Chia Seeds
2 Tbsps Hemp Seeds
1/4 cup Pure Pumpkin Puree
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
4 drops liquid Stevia (or to taste)
1 tsp unsweetened shredded coconut
1 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 cup of milk (I used soy - use what you've got)

Mix it all together in a bowl. Stir thoroughly and then stir once every few minutes until the Chia has gelled (about 10 minutes). Put in fridge to chill. Serve with toppings of choice.

Toppings of choice - I topped with high protein Greek yogurt, pecans, coconut and raisins. Just enough for a bit of crunch from the pecans and some natural sweetness from the raisins.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Paleo Curry Apple Ginger Turkey Meatballs with Coconut Curry Glaze

I was apparently not meant to have a minute to myself won't stop crying (teeth) and my 3-year old refuses to go to bed (can't find her blankie anywhere). I had a Naturopath appointment yesterday and was very excited to discuss it today...................but it will have to wait for another day. Instead I am leaving you with a recipe from last week that I never got a chance to post. Hope you enjoy. Its another clean, low carb, grain-free recipe. You could make the meatballs in advance or make a double batch and freeze some for another day. Or you could omit the curry and ginger, add some Italian seasoning or oregano, and serve them with some Paleo Marinara and some wheat-free alternatives to spagetti. Lots of options with meatballs.

Have a great evening. I'm pretty sure I'm in for a rough night. Good thing I whipped up some Chia Pudding for morning - I'm going to need it!

Curry Apple Ginger Turkey Meatballs.

Curry Apple Ginger Turkey Meatballs

1 clove garlic
1/4 cup minced onion
1 lb extra lean ground turkey
1 tbsp finely minced ginger
1/2 cup ground golden flax
1 egg
1 apple - peeled and shredded (I used cheese grater)
fine sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp curry powder (or to desired strength)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together. Make into meatballs - about 1 tbsp of mixture per meatball. Place on a greased baking sheet (I used coconut oil). Bake for 25 minutes, turning at least once.

Meatballs pre-glaze!
Coconut Curry Glaze

1 tbsp coconut oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup full fat canned coconut milk
1 tsp soy sauce (I use Brigg's gluten free organic soy)
1 tsp curry powder
fine sea salt and pepper to taste
Guar Gum to thicken - as desired/required

Melt the oil over medium heat. Add garlic and fry for one or two minutes. Add stock, milk, soy and spices. Bring to boil and then reduce heat and let simmer for 5 minutes. If you want to thicken add a very very small amount of guar gum and mix thoroughly. Add previously cooked meatballs and cook through. Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A word on Fitness..............not to be forgotten

I haven't said much about fitness in my blog because: 1)  if I have energy, 2) I'm in a routine and 3) I've past the "I want to die" phase - I like exercising and find it fun. That's why I could never get into jogging - can't get past the 10 minute I want to die phase. Its the eating part of my clean lifestyle that I find most challenging and that's why I obsess about how to make it tasty so I can stay on track. Plus, before I started eating clean I didn't really have the energy to feel like exercising - I was on a blood sugar roller coaster, had stomach aches and didn't sleep well.  No surprise that I didn't feel like working out. So I think cleaning up my diet was the critical step for changing my health.

But I did want to mention that in the past six months, since baby #3, I have completely changed how I work out. I do mostly high intensity interval training, including both cardio and strength training, and I constantly change up my workout by going to different classes and doing different moves pretty much every time I work out. My muscles are constantly being "surprised" and muscle confusion is a great thing for building strength and changing your body. And its a great way to keep yourself engaged and excited about working out.

That's my right shoulder that just recently gave me two years of chronic pain and I thought might put me on pain killers for the rest of my life. I am drug free, have only rare pain and have full range of motion. A miracle!

I work out quite a bit (3 - 5 times a week) but I do a relatively short work-out - 45 minutes. So I'm working out about 2 1/4 - 3 3/4 hours a week. And I actually feel more fit and strong than in my 20's when I was dancing a minimum of 6 hours a week plus going to the gym at least once or twice. I have more aches and pains than back then but I definitely feel more fit. Hmmm, what's going on here!

Well, other than the poor diet choices I used to make, I think its the high intensity intensity interval training and strength training that is working for me. Some great work-outs you can do at home are plyometric moves and/or Tabata work-outs. I also found an awesome Tababa timer online so you can just let your computer deal with making sure you are following the time. Very helpful. You can pretty much do it with any exercise - there are a million examples out there.  And if you have even one set of light/medium weights you can do lots of basic strength training. I use 8 lb weights at home and 10 lb at the gym and I have seen a significant change in muscle definition. I'm not interested in bulking up - I just want to be fit to keep up with my kids and keep my shoulder and back strong to ward off anymore injuries. And I find it fun!

I've gotten fit, by doing shortish, intense work-outs that I can make time for - because what we all don't have much of these days is time. My last pregnancy really changed my body so even at 20 pounds lighter than when I got pregnant my stomachs not as flat (not fair) and I have some hideous varicose veins. I might not wear shorts again but I'm going to rock a tank top this summer (at least until the breastfeeding Gods come back for their boobs) and hopefully I will keep feeling this energetic. You can too if you can find 45 minutes three times a week and some motivation!

I am not bragging I am just trying to give you some motivation - 8 months ago I spent several mornings crying in my car because the thought of the walk to my office was too much for me...I can't believe that now my fitness goal is to do Tabata handstand push-ups...............Lots can happen if you eat clean and set your mind to things. And it doesn't hurt to be on maternity leave.

So far the only thing I can do is stand in this position for 20 seconds, 8 times. I can't do an actually dip. Its bloody hard. 
And remember, I'm not a cook, nutritionist, doctor or physical trainer. I'm just sharing my experiences - consult a professional before starting a new training program if you aren't sure what you are doing. Getting hurt can be worse than doing nothing! And start slow - I couldn't keep up with the "retired ladies" at the gym six months ago.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Lemon Garlic Chicken with an Almond Parmesan Crust - Grain Free and Paleo!

Happy Family Weekend! It was awesome to have a three day weekend with not too much on the agenda. We really "chilled out" given the storm blowing outside and our unwillingness to go anywhere. We spent dinner discussing what we are going to do this summer when it warms up. My three year-old daughter wants to "take an ice cream cone to the park and eat it under a tree". So sweet. Little does she know I plan to get an ice cream maker before summer so she will be eating home-made ice-cream with very little sugar. And I'm not sure if there is a park we can walk to without our ice cream melting. So a few logistics to work out but doesn't that sound wonderful. The simple joys of life and the little ones to remind us of them when its howling outside.

And here is a simple recipe that is really tasty. Another one of my go-to recipes that I have "cleaned-up" to make it grain-free and low carbohydrate. The breading is very similar to my Parmesan Chicken and Cordon Bleu crust but hey - if it ain't broke don't fix it - just give it a tune up. It was pretty delicious and moist. 

Lemon Garlic Chicken in an Almond Parmesan Crust - Simple, Quick and Tasty!

Low Carb - Almond Crusted Garlic Lemon Parmesan Chicken

by MamaChanty
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Keywords: bake entree gluten-free low-carb paleo chicken lemon
Ingredients (Serves 3 - 4)
  • 3 large chicken breasts cut in half or 6 small chicken breasts
  • 1 egg, well beaten
  • 2/3 cup blanched almond flour (almond meal flour would work as well)
  • 1 tbsp golden ground flax seed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
Butter Glaze
  • 1/3 cup butter (melted)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 fresh lemon, sliced into six rings (optional)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray/Greese a 9 x 13 baking dish with olive oil. Mix the breading ingredients together in a shallow pan. Put the beaten egg in a separate shallow pan. Dip each chicken breast in the egg and then in the breading mix. Place in baking dish. Mix the melted butter, garlic and lemon juice together. Spoon/drizzle the mixture over the breaded chicken breasts. Place a lemon slice on top of each chicken breast. Bake for 40 minutes or until breading is slightly browned. Dribble any drippings/butter sauce in the bottom of the pan over the baked chicken before serving.
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Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sunday Reflection - More Clean, Low-Carb, Grain-free Meal Ideas to keep you going for next week!

Mind, Body, Spirit! I've invested a lot of time and energy cleaning up my mind and body over the past six months and have seen awesome results. I've also been working on the spirit part by looking for a church for our family to call home. We found one we are really enjoying and the message today really spoke to me. So this week I'm going to work on "cleaning up" my thoughts and trying to exude positive energy to those around me. If I can give up milk chocolate I think I can give up being critical of others........and not just on Sundays but all week. But just like eating it is something I will have to keep working at.

And here are some of the clean meals I worked at and enjoyed but didn't post the recipes for this week. Just to give you some ideas as you start your week and to show you once again how delicious clean eating can be.

Okay - other than the yummy Banana Chia Almond Pancakes I posted yesterday  here are some delicious breakfasts I enjoyed...................notice a theme!

Frozen Mango Smoothie made with organic mango chunks, ice, milk and Vanilla Whey Isolate Protein Powder. This is actually my favorite smoothie. If anyone has trouble with the taste of protein powder this masks it pretty good!
Yep - that would be Hot Chia Seed Protein Porridge! Can you say chilicious! Topped with Banana, Strawberry and Cacao Nibs!
More Hot Chia Seed Protein Porridge - with coconut, raisins and cacao!
This was actually an afternoon snack - Vanilla Chia Seed Pudding with whipped coconut cream, Goji berries, Cacao nibs and coconut! OMG - good.
A new Chia Seed combination I'm working on - hopefully you will get a recipe this week for Hot Chia Hemp Seed Porridge. Yay for all the protein in hemp. This batch was topped with fresh peaches and a lone raspberry! 
Okay - lunches are usually leftovers, a salad or a salad topped with leftovers. Awesome way to get some leafy greens...............

Spring mix and spinach leaves topped with slivered almonds, red onion, strawberry and goat cheese! And Kraft poppy-seed dressing (still haven't kicked that habit).
Spring mix and spinach leaves topped with leftover grilled chicken. I made a salad dressing out of high protein Greek yogurt, milk and leftover Ginger, Pear, Apricot Chutney. Yum. 
Kale Super Food Salad from Costco with leftover Turkey Apple Curry Meatballs and Cottage Cheese!
Spring mix, shredded cheese, tomato, red pepper and leftover Rotisserie Chicken!

And for dinner.........

Turkey, Apple Curry Meatballs with coconut milk and curry glaze!
Mama's famous ribs served with Kale salad and leftover Kaboche squash!
Greek Salad, Rotisserie Chicken and Carrots!
Balsamic marinated Salmon with a Grilled Peach, tomato & Cilantro Salsa. This is the first time in my life I ate a piece of salmon and didn't hate it - yay - progress. Its on my lists of things I want to like but don't. 

Hope you have a great week! Eat clean, think clean - be happy! And to one of my good friends going through a tough week - you are in my prayers!