Wednesday, 19 September 2012

September Superfood of The Month!

I love fall. The colours of the leaves, the temperature dips into that perfect “running weather” range, and there are many delicious flavours incorporated into seasonal restaurant menus. One of my favorite fall foods is pumpkin, it is so versatile and healthy!

One cup of canned pumpkin has only 80 calories, 7 grams of fiber and 1 gram of fat. It also contains a whopping 760% daily intake vitamin A (thanks to its beautiful orange color), 17% vitamin C, 6% calcium and 19% iron. While fresh roasted pumpkin is best, let’s be honest here, the canned stuff is way more convenient and easy to use. Be sure to buy 100% pumpkin with no added salt. Don’t get canned pumpkin confused with canned “pumpkin pie filling”, which contains added sugar, spices and preservatives. Pumpkin seeds are also extremely healthy, chocked full of healthy essential fatty acids, zinc, magnesium and protein They are great toasted on salads, sprinkled on top of quick breads or added to homemade granola/trail mix.

Here are a few different uses for pumpkin. **I am not a food blogger, so go ahead and make fun of the quality of my photos, I do have a life, and a Master's to complete...

1. Spicy Pumpkin Thai Soup! This bowl of soup was made using the Spicy Pumpkin Tofu Soup recipe from the Planet Organic Cookbook could always leave out the tofu and add extra coconut milk/non-dairy milk/greek yogurt if you are allergic to soy.

2. Pumpkin “ice cream” This turned out to be way more delicious than I thought. I made ice cream using two frozen, sliced bananas pureed in my food processor and added a scoop of pumpkin and a sprinkle of cinnamon. I served it with a small dollop of organic Greek yogurt, again totally optional. It made a great late night treat to enjoy while watching Master Chef (amazing show BTW).

3. Pumpkin Muffins, these moist pumpkin muffins were made using the recipe from a food blog, Wellness Mama.
I LOVE using coconut flour, which you can buy at any health food store or sometimes even your local bulk store.

4. Pumpkin Bread in a bowl- another amazing recipe from the beautiful and talented Vegan Dessert Blogger Chocolate Covered Katie,
This was a delicious breakfast pre-workout this morning, I used Nature’s Path Mesa Sunrise Flakes and added a banana and some cinnamon for extra flavour and energy.  I have also made overnight oats in a jar and added a scoop of pumpkin for added flavor. Google “overnight oats in a jar” if you have no idea what I am talking about

5. My ULTIMATE go to pumpkin recipe, quinoa pumpkin pancakes from Quinoa 365.
This no fail recipe is a crowd pleaser and makes a HUGE batch. I freeze the pancakes in a giant container, take a few out the night before, and pop them in my toaster for a crispy, quick breakfast. I’m not a fan of added sugars, so I top mine with almond butter and banana or frozen berries thawed in the microwave instead of the traditional butter and maple syrup shown in this picture. FYI, if you are lactose-intolerant, I have made this recipe using “soured” almond milk (almond milk with 1tbsp lemon juice) and it still tasted great.

If you haven’t figured it out already, I am addicted to pumpkin. My next recipe will be to try chocolate brownies with pumpkin, yum! If you live alone like me and wonder how the heck do you get through an entire giant jar of pumpkin without it spoiling, simple, freeze some. Pumpkin freezes very well, when you unfreeze it, remove some of the excess liquid before using in baked goods otherwise the consistency will be off.

New to pumpkin? Start small. NO, ordering a Venti pumpkin spice latte with whipped cream at Starbucks does not count. Instead, try a pumpkin soup at a restaurant or add some pumpkin seeds to your salad at dinner.

Hope you are inspired to get some pumpkin in your life J

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Skinny and Healthy Are Not The Same Thing

Okay, I realize it’s been awhile since my last post. It’s been a crazy few weeks of school, and on top of that, my beautiful Trek mountain bike was stolen from campus!  On a side note, if you see an ad for an orange Trek 3500 series, 18-inch frame online, let me know ASAP!

Back to the topic of being skinny versus healthy. Last weekend my mom and I went on a fabulous shopping trip to Buffalo. Truth to be told, everything IS bigger in America, especially their portion sizes. Looking for healthy options in the mall was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Luckily we stumbled upon the Skinnylicious Menu at the Cheesecake Factory of all places. The salads we ordered were insanely delicious, filling, healthy, but the name of the menu really bothered me. I HATE how skinny=healthy in our society. I could tell the emphasis on their Skinnylicious entrees was all about calorie counting and losing weight, when all my mom and I wanted was a healthy entrĂ©e that wouldn’t leave our digestive system in a comatose state.

Enter the term “skinny fat person”, beautifully coined by the wonderful Dr. Mark Hyman. I completely agree that just because you’re skinny, that doesn’t automatically make you healthy. I know lots of skinny people with terrible eating habits, no muscle mass, low energy and numerous health issues (skinny on the outside, metabolically obese on the inside). It’s not about the numbers on the scale, it’s more important to know numbers like your cholesterol, blood pressure, body fat percentage and blood sugar levels. I know lots of “bigger” girls who are strong, fit, happy and in good control over their mental and physical health.

All in all, I think it’s time we stop the emphasis on losing weight, being skinny and calorie counting. I think it’s time to be Healthylicious, and focus more on how you FEEL inside, and not what dress size you wear.

For more information, check out this article-

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Gluten-Free Does Not = Healthy Eating

Gluten-free is all the rage these days. It is the latest hot ticket item used by food marketers to lure you into buying their products and think you’re making healthy choices. I have seen many restaurants post “gluten-free friendly” on Urbanspoon or gluten-free menus that features a salad, or fries…

Just because it says gluten-free DOES NOT mean it’s automatically healthy. You can still eat a lot of naturally gluten-free, nutrient poor junk food. These foods won’t fill you up and will leave you hungry, tired and irritable. Did I mention that pop, white rice, and sugar are all gluten-free?

The other day I was looking at the website of a well-known gluten-free manufacturer and distributor called Glutino. Since I follow a gluten-free diet (for health reasons in case you were wondering) I wanted to know if they had any products worth buying.. When I finished browsing the website, let’s just say I will never touch any of their foods or bring them into my home.
In literally everyone single one of their products, the first ingredient was potato/corn starch or sugar, even the seemingly healthly sounding multigrain sandwich bread. All of these items cause HUGE blood sugar rushes, insulin levels to soar, followed by a huge crash in blood sugar levels, giving you those afternoon hunger pains, fatigue and increased appetite for more. All in all, replacing whole grains with highly refined starchy ,white gluten free grains is more detrimental than beneficial. Even if that cookie, muffin or granola bar is gluten free, that doesn’t mean its free of empty calories, high fructose corn syrup and other nasty additives/preservatives.

The BEST thing you can do is make your own gluten-free products at home, and READ the labels well when shopping at the grocery store.  The quick and dirty on good gluten-free options include: whole grain brown or black rice, millet, buckwheat grouts, quinoa, flaxseed meal, chia seeds, almond flour (my fav), coconut flour and canned beans and lentils.

Here’s my two cents.
A lot of gluten free products are saviors for people with celiac disease, IBS or gluten sensitivity. If you choose to eat gluten-free, do it for your personal health and digestive system if necessary, NOT because you’re trying to lose weight. This is a lifestyle change that requires some serious research, reading, and cooking adaptations to ensure you are still eating a healthy, balanced diet and not putting yourself at risk for dietary deficiencies. There are PLENTY of health gluten-free alternatives, products and recipes out there, but that is a whole other blog post in itself I will save for another day :)