Quinoa for Breakfast!

Quinoa Breakfast

I first tasted quinoa when I was travelling throughout Peru in 2011 and learned that it was a staple to the Peruvian diet.  While I was in Peru, I really enjoyed quinoa in a variety of culinary ways, from hearty soups to delicious desserts.  In fact, my favourite memory of eating quinoa was having it as a scrumptious strawberry quinoa pudding for dessert after dinner on top of a mountain, as we settle in for the night, eagerly awaiting to see Machu Picchu at sunrise the next day. 🙂

Fast forward 2 years later, quinoa seems to be the new health buzz word in North America.  Everywhere I go, it is on restaurants’ menus and in grocery stores.  It is even included in all the health books and magazines I’m hungrily reading to learn more about healthy food and diet.

To sum it up: Quinoa is a seed (many people assume it is a grain, but it isn’t!!) that comes in white, red or black.  It is a superfood because it is a good source of protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorous, iron and vitamins B and E.  It is also gluten-free!  Therefore, it is perfect for vegetarians, vegans and people with gluten sensitivity or celiacs.

As I’m now gluten-free and also trying to cut down on my meat consumption, quinoa is another great alternative I can turn to for protein, and substitute for rice or pasta.  I am by no means an expert in cooking quinoa, and have been reading books and websites to learn how to cook it well, and getting some more recipe ideas.

Anyways, I got really excited when I was chatting with my vegetarian friend Mythili and she mentioned she eats quinoa for breakfast!  I thought what a wonderful way to start off the day with energy and happiness!!

I will now share with you a recipe Mythili passed on to me, and I tweaked it a bit with whatever I found in my kitchen, and as you know, I like to experiment with some of the ingredients in recipes.  After all, creativity in the kitchen is so much fun!! 😀

 

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Total TIme: about 25 minutes

 

Special notes:

-Turmeric- has health and beauty properties, mostly anti-inflammatory effects and helps increase blood circulation thus contributing to healthier and radiant looking skin!

Milk- you can replace the unsweetened almond milk with any other type of non-dairy milk you like!  For example, Mythili used rice milk for this recipe.

-Spice- instead of turmeric, you can replace it with cinnamon if you prefer a more flavourful tang, as turmeric is slightly bitter to taste

-Fruit toppings- you can put any fruits you like on top!  Mythili put blueberries in hers.

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa

1/2 cup unsweetend almond milk

1/2 cup filtered water

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 banana, sliced

handful of sliced strawberries

 

Instructions:

  1. Mix the quinoa, almond milk, water and ground turmeric into a pan at medium heat.
  2. Mix contents once in a while.
  3. Add sliced banana into the pan.  When the quinoa is cooked, take the pan off the stove.
  4. Plate the food and add a handful of strawberries.
  5. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Resources I used on learning about and how to cook quinoa:

The Power of Food: 100 Essential Recipes for Abundant Health and Happiness by Adam Hart, page 111

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-quinoa-63344

http://lowfatveganchef.com/how-to-cook-quinoa-perfectly-every-time/

http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101/kitchen_tips_techniques/how_to_cook_quinoa

http://www.queenofquinoa.me/get-to-know-quinoa/

Super Bite-Sized Peanut Butter Balls

Suddenly I’m thinking about those very yummy sugary peanut butter balls I used to make with my cousins when we were younger, and since I had time on my hands this week, I decided to try it with a healthy twist.

Here’s the easy no-bake recipe, that you can make in about 10 minutes.

 

Makes: 30

 

Special Notes:

-I call these balls “super” because many of the ingredients used are natural and considered “superfoods” (e.g. honey, goji berries, flaxseeds)

Flaxseeds- They are high in omega-3 essential fatty acids (good fats), lignans and fibre.  In fact, they have among the highest level of fibre in any food.  They help stabilize blood sugar, promoting cleansing.  Also, including them into your diet will help in having radiant and youthful skin.  However, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should avoid consuming them.

Goji Berries- They are high in fibre, Vitamins A and C, and has 15 times the amount of iron in spinach.  They apparently have the highest concentration of protein than any other fruits.  Also, they have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties.  They can help boost the immune system as well.  However, they do not interact well with diabetes and blood pressure drugs.

Unsweetened Shredded Coconut- It is high in fibre and minerals, and has natural fruit sugar which can add natural sweetness to food.

Storage- Keep up to 3 days in airtight glass container in the fridge, and best consumed within 3 days.

Sweetness- You can control the degree of sweetness by reducing the amount of manuka honey and chocolate chips to your preference.

 

Ingredients:

PB_Ingredients

1 1/2 cups organic creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup manuka honey

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup rolled oats (wheat-free & dairy-free)

1/2 cup organic ground flaxseeds

1/2 cup organic goji berries

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/2 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips

 

Instructions:

PB_mix

  1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined.
  2. Use a tablespoon to scoop out mixture and roll into small balls.
  3. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge for 1-3 hours, or you can eat immediately if you prefer them to be room temperature.
  4. Enjoy treats! 🙂

 

Having 3 of these high-protein & fibre-packed filling peanut butter balls as my afternoon snack are good enough to satisfy my sweet tooth and chocolate craving!  Plus, I don't feel guilty indulging, since I know they are made of mostly wholesome natural ingredients. :)

Having 3 of these high-protein & fibre-packed filling peanut butter balls as my afternoon snack are good enough to satisfy my sweet tooth and chocolate craving! Plus, I don’t feel guilty indulging, since I know they are made of mostly wholesome natural ingredients. 🙂

 

Resources I used for following ingredients & if you want to learn more:

 

Superfoods: http://foodmatters.tv/superfoods

 

Flaxseeds:    http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/benefits-of-flaxseed

http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/natural-medicine/alternative/flax-seed.htm

                         The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Beauty Foods that Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You by Kimberly Snyder, page 103

 

Goji Berries: http://www.webmd.com/balance/goji-berries-health-benefits-and-side-effects

http://thehealthyeatingsite.com/the-health-benefits-of-goji-berries/

 

Unsweetened Shredded Coconut: http://www.livestrong.com/article/487458-does-unsweetened-shredded-coconut-have-any-good-health-benefits/

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-eating-shredded-coconut-4027.html

A Summer-Inspired Salad!

Simple and healthy ingredients: baby spinach, strawberries, walnuts, black sesame seeds and apple cider vinegar.

Simple and healthy ingredients: baby spinach, strawberries, walnuts, black sesame seeds and apple cider vinegar.

Since strawberries are in abundance during this summer season, and it was Canada Day yesterday, I really wanted to make a healthy and light salad to go with the red patriotic theme (minus white!) for my guests.  It was so simple to make and quick, and it was a hit at the party! 🙂

Here’s the recipe:

VIOLET’S STRAWBERRY, WALNUT & BABY SPINACH SALAD

Serves: 8-10 people

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: about 1 minute

Ingredients:

1 package/bag organic baby spinach

1 cup sliced organic strawberries

1 cup chopped walnuts (you can also get raw walnuts in a package that are already in pieces)

4 tablespoon raw apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoon black sesame seeds

Instructions:

  1. Wash, drain and dry baby spinach and strawberries.
  2. Slice strawberries into quarters.
  3. Chop walnuts if you need to.
  4. Toss baby spinach, strawberries and walnuts in a salad bowl with the apple cider vinegar.
  5. Sprinkle black sesame seeds into the salad as garnish.
  6. Enjoy!

 

Special healthy and important facts I learned from the following food:

Strawberries- One serving of strawberries provides 51.5 mg of Vitamin C, about half of our daily requirements.  They are also good for our eyes and prevent wrinkles!

Walnuts- They are high in protein, vitamin E (helps protect dry skin from environment), fibre, some B vitamins, magnesium, calcium and potassium.  Also, they contain melatonin, a hormone that helps ensure good sleep (good sleep = radiant, supple skin) and increases antioxidant activity.

Baby Spinach- It is low in calories and high in water content.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Pesticide Data Program, it is among the top 12 foods where pesticide residues are found, which is detrimental to our health.  Therefore, it’s best to buy and eat only organically grown baby spinach!

Apple Cider Vinegar (raw)- It helps promote the growth of probiotics (good bacteria in our intestines that aid in digestion) and helps balance the yeasts and bacteria in our bodies that feed off sugar.  According to Kimberly Snyder, eating it may help alleviate sugar cravings.  You have to buy a brand labelled “raw” and “unfiltered” to reap the many health benefits of it.

Black Sesame Seeds-They benefit us in increased energy and longevity!

 

If you like to learn more about any of the food, please check out where I got the information:

http://www.besthealthmag.ca/eat-well/healthy-eating/10-health-benefits-of-strawberries

The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Beauty Foods that Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You by Kimberly Snyder

http://www.livestrong.com/article/258415-what-is-the-nutritional-value-of-baby-spinach/

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-5875/15-Reasons-to-Use-Apple-Cider-Vinegar-Every-Day.html

http://krisheeter.hubpages.com/hub/Black-Sesame-Seeds-a-fountain-of-youth

 

Happy Summer!! 😀

Cheers, Violet

Grateful for Green Smoothie

I'm beginning to love drinking a green smoothie for breakfast!  I like to top it with a sprinkle of raw cacao nibs.  Yum!! :)

I’m beginning to love drinking a green smoothie for breakfast! I like to top it with a sprinkle of raw cacao nibs. Yum!! 🙂

In my search to find satisfying and healthy gluten-free breakfast, I came upon Kimberly Snyder’s book The Beauty Detox Solution- Eat Your Way to Radiant Skin, Renewed Energy and the Body You’ve Always Wanted, and began reading it avidly.  I got inspired by her “Glowing Green Smoothie” (see her blog for recipe: http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/ggs/).  She claims that drinking a green smoothie or drink daily is the most powerful way to increase our mineral and enzyme consumption, which are critical to our health and beauty.  She says “green-based drinks are the real super foods- not exotic, expensive or hard-to-find fruits or plants from foreign countries.” (Chapter 4: Beauty Minerals and Enzymes)  Furthermore, dark, leafy greens are packed with many nutrients that are good for our bodies, and they’re better than any other food groups.  Basically, having vegetables, especially the greens (e.g. kale, spinach, celery etc.) and fruits will nourish us completely.  According to Health Canada, we should have at least 7-8 servings (if you’re female, and for males: 8-10 servings) of both fruits and vegetables per day (http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/food-guide-aliment/choose-choix/fruit/need-besoin-eng.php), which translates roughly into 2-3 servings of fruits and 7-8 servings of vegetables (I confirmed this information with my naturopathic doctor).   Therefore, having a nutritious and fiber filled green smoothie is such a great way to consume our vegetables and fruits early on in the day.

As I’m going gluten-free, I decided to give the green smoothie a try.  Although I am nowhere near in drinking one per day, I do drink it 2-3 times a week for my breakfast.  Perhaps, in the summer, I will challenge myself to drink Kimberly Snyder’s “Glowing Green Smoothie” every single day and see if it is true about becoming even more energized, more beautiful with radiant skin and leaner.  She claims these are all the positive health effects one will have in drinking it daily.  Keep you all posted on this!

Here’s a recipe that I tried with whatever ingredients I could find in my kitchen, primarily with the intention of making a “green” smoothie, and the result was quite refreshing.  It wasn’t as sweet as I usually prefer, but I was surprised I liked the taste and the energy boost I got from it!  I love how adding the fruits balances the taste of the greens.  So,  I am grateful for discovering the power of green smoothies for my breakfast! 🙂

VIOLET’S  GREEN SMOOTHIE   

Makes: 1 smoothie

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: about 15 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups of baby spinach

2 stalks of chopped celery (excellent source of calcium, vitamin C, fibre,  potassium, folic acid, fiber, vitamins B1, B2 & B6)

1 chopped nectarine

2 tablespoons chia seeds (makes the smoothie filling as it has protein, and provides 4.4 g of protein)

1 cup unsweetened cold almond milk (if you prefer a sweeter taste, go with original)

1 tablespoon raw cacao nibs

Instructions:

1. Put all ingredients (except the cacao nibs) into the blender and mix.

2. Sprinkle with cacao nibs and enjoy!

I’m discovering there are so many possibilities in making a “green smoothie” that it’s deliciously fun!!  I keep Kimberly Snyder’s mix and match rule in mind when creating a green smoothie:  “Your favourite fruits are your favourite go-to jeans and your leafy greens are your many different cute tops.  The jeans (fruits) are really the support for the fabulous, eye-catching tops (leafy greens) which are the most important part of the outfit.” 😀

What ingredients do you put in your green smoothie? 

Thanks & Love, Violet

*If you want to know the nutritional values and health benefits for the following ingredients, please see these links:

Baby Spinach: http://www.livestrong.com/article/258415-what-is-the-nutritional-value-of-baby-spinach/

Celery: http://www.foods-healing-power.com/celery-health-benefits.html

Nectarine: http://www.livestrong.com/article/408098-what-are-the-health-benefits-of-nectarines/

Cacao Nibs: http://www.livestrong.com/article/462015-benefits-of-cocoa-nibs/

Up for a Sugar-free Cookie Challenge!!

At the special request of  my mother and grandmother, who are both diabetic, but still have a thing for cookies, I decided to rise to the challenge of baking some real “sugar-free” cookies for them.

They gave me specific criteria of what they want in their sugar-free cookies.  They wanted the cookies to be sugar-free, healthy (as in loaded with fiber, which they want to aid in digestion), and have almonds.

Well, it was very fun to experiment in the kitchen and to come up with the perfect sugar-free almond cookie just for them!

I would like to share the following recipe with you.  These cookies are great for those who are diabetic or health conscious (especially those who do not prefer sweets or sugar too much).  I have it on good authority that they are delicious when paired with a cup of steaming coffee or tea!  My mother brought them to work, and her coworkers liked them so much that they asked me for the recipe.

I hope you will enjoy making them as much as I did, and find joy in feeding them to the people you love!

VIOLET’S ALMOND & AVOCADO SUGAR-FREE COOKIES

Oatmeal Avocado Almond Sugar Free Cookies Photo

Makes: 24 cookies

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 1 hour

Special Notes: Avocado is used in replacement of butter.  It’s a healthier option as it’s naturally creamy and rich already.  Also, to give that extra almond flavour, almond meal/flour, unsweetened almond milk, and almond extract are used in addition to the chopped almonds.  When the cookies are done, they should have a “cakey” or “biscuity” texture.

Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup almond meal/flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Half an avocado or 1 small avocado

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 large egg whites

1 tablespoon almond extract

1 cup chopped almonds

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 2 baking trays with parchment paper.
  2. Mix oats, whole wheat pastry flour, almond meal/flour, cinnamon, and baking soda in a medium bowl.
  3. Mash the avocado or put it into a blender if you want it to be creamy.
  4. Blend avocado with almond milk, egg whites and almond extract in a large bowl with a wooden spoon.
  5. Stir in the oat mixture until just moistened.
  6. Finally, stir in the almonds.
  7. With damp hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the batter into a ball, place it on the baking sheet and flatten it to about 1 cm thick; don’t let the sides crack.  Continue until batter is gone, spacing the flattened balls 2 inches apart.
  8. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  9. Let the cookies cool completely.
  10.  Bon appétit!!

Special Information on Almonds:  Almonds is another superfood, and it is not only tasty but nutritious as well!  There are many health benefits to eating almonds on a daily basis.  To name a few, they…

-protect against diabetes

-build strong bones and teeth

-reduce heart disease/attack risk

-provide healthy fats and aid in weight loss

-provide good brain function

-help prevent gallstones

-provide a good source of protein

-give energy

If you’re interested in reading more about almonds, here are the websites I visited:

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-health-benefits-of-almonds-king-of-nuts.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=20

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/benefits-eating-almonds-daily-5007.html

What do you think of these cookies?  Would love to hear from you!

Thanks & Love, Violet

A Simple & Satisfying Superfoods Salad!

My Avocado, Blueberry and Kale Salad, minus the chia seeds and pumpkin seeds.  In my haste to eat it, I forgot to add them for the photo!

My Avocado, Blueberry and Kale Salad, minus the chia seeds and pumpkin seeds. In my haste to eat it, I forgot to add them for the photo!

Lately, I’ve been absorbed in reading about the kinds of healthy food we should eat to maintain good health and nutrition.  I learned about the “superfoods”.  It is a term coined for food that have many health and healing benefits and nutrients for the body.  I have been slowly adding some of them into my daily diet.  Of course, there are so many of them, that one can get overwhelmed.  Therefore, it’s one day at a time for me!

Anyways, the other night I was flipping through my newly purchased book written by Kimberly Snyder called The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Beauty Foods that Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You, and was excited to try her Blueberry & Avocado Salad recipe, since I love both of these superfoods, and knew I had them in stock.  Today seemed like the perfect day to try it out as I felt like having something light and refreshing for lunch.

In my journey of healthy eating so far, I learned that making your own food is so much better because you control what goes into your mouth, and ultimately your body!

Without further ado, please enjoy my version of the salad, inspired by Kimberly Snyder, using some other superfoods.  I guarantee that you will find this salad simple to taste and make, but very satisfying!

VIOLET’S AVOCADO, BLUEBERRY & KALE SALAD

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: about 20 minutes

Ingredients:

1 cup kale leaves

1 cup blueberries

1/2 or 1 peeled and chopped into cubes/sliced avocado (the amount depends on how filling you want your salad)

1-2 wedges of lemon

1 tablespoon of chia seeds or pumpkin seeds (or both if you prefer, both are a source of protein; if you prefer to eat your salad without them, you can also leave them out)

Instructions:

  1. Wash, drain and dry blueberries and kale.
  2. Toss kale and blueberries together in a salad bowl with freshly squeezed lemon juice from the wedge of lemon.
  3. Place chopped/sliced avocado on top of the salad, and if you prefer, you can also squeeze a little bit of lemon juice on them.
  4. If you have chia seeds and/or pumpkin seeds, sprinkle them into the salad as well.
  5. Mix the salad and enjoy!

Special Information on Each Superfood & Its Benefits:

Avocado- It is filled with fiber and healthy fats, lowers cholesterol,  and keeps skin smooth and youthful.  It helps protect the body from heart disease, cancer, degenerative eye and brain diseases.

Blueberries- They are high in water and fiber, which help to cut down sugar cravings.  They make eyes (the antioxidant anthocyanin strengthens eyes and vision) and skin beautiful, plus promote brain function, lower stress level, and boost energy.  They also help to prevent the body from diseases such as cancer, heart disease, stomach ulcers and high blood pressure.

Chia Seeds- They are high in fiber, antioxidants, omega-3 fats, protein, calcium, potassium and iron.  They are a good workout food, as they supply the body with strengthening and toning nutrients.  They also help with digestion.  The most amazing thing about this superfood is that they swell more than 5 times their weight in liquid so it means when you add 1-2 tablespoons of them to meals, you will feel fuller faster, and have a long burning source of energy.

Kale-  It is rich in iron, copper, minerals, vitamins A, C, E and K, magnesium,  calcium, and omega-3 fats, and antioxidants.  It is high in fiber so it helps to tone up the body, and make it strong and resilient.  Also, it is an anti-cancer and anti-aging food!  One cup of kale provides about 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.  Other interesting facts about this superfood is that per calorie, it has more iron than beef, and more calcium than milk!  No wonder it is called “the new beef” and “the queen of greens”!!

Lemon- It is rich in vitamin C, balances our pH level, detoxifies the liver, helps to eliminate waste in our body and improves our digestion.

Pumpkin Seeds- They are rich in zinc, magnesium, iron, calcium, phosphorous, manganese, copper, sulfur, vitamins A, B, C, E, K, fatty acids, and protein, and contribute to the growth of healthy and shiny hair.  The high zinc content helps in avoiding acne and other skin imbalances.  They help stabilize blood sugar which means weight loss.  Like the lemon, they balance the body’s pH level.  A great fact to know, if you’re looking into moving away from getting protein from meat, is that a 1/4 cup serving of pumpkin seeds provides approximately 16 percent of your daily value of protein.

Sources I took information from, and if you would like to read more about each superfood:

The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Beauty Foods that Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You by Kimberly Snyder

http://www.naturalnews.com/038324_food_superfood_nutritional_density.html

http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2012/03/31/12-superfoods-for-a-healthier-lifestyle/

http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2011/08/23/5-superfoods-that-improve-your-memory/

http://kimberlysnyder.net/blog/2011/06/07/25-snacks-that-will-give-you-energy-througout-the-day/

http://www.drfranklipman.com/the-super-7-foods-with-benefits/

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8354/5-amazing-benefits-of-drinking-lemon-water.html

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/16-health-benefits-of-lemons.html

http://getmotivatedpaige.blogspot.ca/2013/01/10-reasons-lemon-juice-is-superfood.html

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-health-benefits-of-pumpkin-seeds.html

http://www.livestrong.com/article/253658-what-are-the-benefits-of-eating-pumpkin-seeds/

What are your favourite superfoods, and how do you eat them?

I would love to hear how you add them into your diet, and learn some new recipes for my healthy eating lifestyle!

Thanks & Love, Violet