You don’t have to wait for a superfood to become trendy to add it to your diet. These five are found in every grocery store and can be incorporated in many different ways. Get cooking! Miranda revealed her top picks on The Marilyn Denis Show today!

Watch the segment here 

Superfood: Spagetti Squash

Health Benefits:
Spaghetti squash has an excellent source of Vitamin A to support eye health
Less calories (42 for one cup) compared to actual spaghetti (200 for one cup), less carbs (10 grams per cup) compared to 40 grams per cup in spaghetti
Contains healthy fats that reduce inflammation in the body and help protect against many diseases

Spaghetti Squash Burrito Bowl

Serves 2

Ingredients:
1 large spaghetti squash
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup diced red and green peppers
1/2 cup organic corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Additional toppings if desired:
Guacamole
Salsa
Hot peppers
Hot sauce
Baked organic nacho chips (to garnish)
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 400F
Wash and slice spaghetti squash into two
Scrape out seeds and place squash face down on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil
Bake for 35-40 minutes (it could be more or less depending on the size of the squash)
Meanwhile, prep ingredients:
black beans, dice red and green peppers, organic corn kernels, chop romaine lettuce and cilantro
Once spaghetti squash is cooked, run fork through the flesh of the squash to create a spaghetti like effect
Split ingredients into two and layer on top of your spaghetti squash bowls.

Superfood: Parsnip

Health Benefits
Parsnips have many essential vitamins and minerals that help to keep your immune system balanced.
They contain an excellent amount of potassium to help keep the cardiovascular system healthy.
They are a good source of soluble fibre which can help with weight loss and reduce hunger throughout the day.

Parsnip Dip
Ingredients
3 medium cooked parsnips, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tbsp water
1 garlic clove
juice of 1 lemon
a dash of sea salt and pepper
olives to garnish (optional)
Instructions
Throw all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth
Serve with a crudite platter or healthy crackers

Superfood: Beets

Health Benefits
Beets have a nutrient called betaine, which can help boost your mood and fight overall inflammation.
They also have pigments that help to detoxify the liver, and natural occurring nitrates that dilate blood vessels which can help you workout longer and perform better during exercise.

Healthy “Red Velvet” Chocolate Cupcakes

(gluten-free, vegan)

Makes 8 regular cupcakes

Ingredients
1 cup millet flour
1/2 cup cacao powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
3/4 cup beet puree (3 medium beets roasted with 1/4 cup water to blend)
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
3/4 cup coconut sugar
1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Instructions
Steam beets for 20 minutes or until tender
Cool to room temperature (place in the fridge for 30 mins)
Once cooled puree beets in a blender (add a bit of water to blend) or shred if you don’t have a blender. Measure out 3/4 cup and set aside.
Line a muffin pan with paper liners.
Whisk together the coconut milk and vinegar in a large bowl, and set aside for a few minutes (it will curdle and this is normal)
Add the beet puree and coconut oil to the milk and vinegar mixture
In a separate bowl add the flour, cocoa powder, coconut sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine
Pour batter into liners, filling 3/4 of the way full.
Bake 22 to 25 minutes (regular) or 12-15 minis (minis), or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean.

3 Ingredient Coconut Icing
(dairy-free, gluten-free)

Ingredients
1 14-ounce can (414 ml) full fat organic fair trade coconut milk
2 tbsp raw honey (look for thick varieties)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Instructions
Chill your coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight, be sure not to shake the to ensure the cream and liquid and separated.
The next day, chill a medium mixing bowl and the mixers from your hand-mixer for 10-15 minutes before whipping.
Remove the coconut milk from the fridge, again do not tip or shake the can. Scrape the top, hardened cream and leave the liquid behind (use for another recipe)
Place hardened cream, honey and vanilla in your chilled mixing bowl. Beat for 30 seconds with a mixer until creamy.
Stick in the fridge and top on the healthy red velvet cupcakes when they are cool.
Keeps for up to 1 week

Superfood: Buckwheat

Health Benefits
Buckwheat has all essential amino acids offering a complete protein source. One serving has 6 grams of quality plant based protein. It’s easy to digest properties and is gluten free (be sure to just get 100% buckwheat). It also offers a good source of iron. Adding buckwheat to your diet can reduce your chances of anemia and keep your blood flowing

Buckwheat “Pad Thai”

Serves 4

Ingredients
1 package of buckwheat noodles
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, peeled and shredded (box shredder)
1 handful fresh cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
Sauce:
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp gluten-free Tamari
2 tbsp organic peanut butter (can use any nut butter)

Instructions
Cook noodles as per the package instructions
Prepare pepper, carrot, cilantro and onions and set aside
Mix sauce ingredients together. If peanut butter is too firm, melt to combine.
Combine all ingredients and serve while hot
Superfood: Lime

Lime Health Benefits
Limes have bacteria fighting abilities. They can even help to decrease the strength of a cold and flu virus.
They also have compounds and acids that help to aid in digestion, and just the smell of a lime can increase saliva, which helps in the digestive process. Limes are also high in vitamin C which can help to give your skin a natural glow from the inside out

Vegan Lime Pudding

Serves 3

Ingredients
2 limes, juiced
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1 small ripe banana
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tablespoons pure maple syrup
Instructions
Put all the ingredients in a blender and puree.
Put in 3 small mason jars and store in the fridge to chill. Serve on the same day as it will turn slightly brown (avocado)

Miranda Malisani shares her favourite ways to stay healthy while still having fun and hosting fantastic fétes all thorugh the holiday season!

Serving Drinks

Offer a signature, guilt-free holiday drink. Miranda loves this honey pear and cinnamon cocktail.

cocktail

photo credit: The Marilyn Denis Show

Honey Pear and Cinnamon Holiday Cocktail

Ingredients:

3/4 cup boiling water
4 jasmine green tea bags
1/2 cup raw honey
1 organic bartlett pear, peeled and sliced
2 lemons, juice only
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 ounce premium vodka
2-3 ounces prosecco
Instructions:
Steep 4 tea bags in water for 5 minutes and then remove tea bags
In a blender add raw honey, pear, lemon juice, cinnamon and the green tea
Blend until smooth
Add to a mason jar and chill in the fridge
In a highball glass filled with ice, add 2-3 ounces of the blended mixture and top with vodka and/or prosecco.
Add a slice of pear and extra pinch of cinnamon when serving

Tip! Set the bar with tall, skinny highball glasses instead of short, wide tumblers.
In a recent study of college students, as much as 30 percent more liquor was poured into tumblers than highball glasses.

Serving Food:
First off, opt for smaller tables rather than one long table. One study found that dining with six or more people can cause you to eat 76 percent more, most likely because the meal can last so long.

Next, offer more nutrient-dense, lower calorie items on the buffet first (veggie platter, salad, soup (non-cream based) or begin your plated dinner with a salad or soup. when we are hungry we tend to eat the most of what is first put in front of us. We first want starchy carbs as it quickly satisfies our hunger. By consuming these lower calorie items first, we are able to make more wholesome choices and avoid eating too many carbs.

Lastly, rethink the casserole. Instead of drowning your veggies in cream, salt, cheese and too much butter, try a healthier version this year. Think single ingredients seasoned with anti-inflammatory, seasoning like ginger, turmeric and lemon include a healthier oil in the dish like olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil.

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photo credit: The Marilyn Denis Show

Healthy Holiday Green Beans and Red Peppers

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 lb green beans
1/3 cup goat’s feta cheese
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup roasted red bell peppers
2-3 tbsp chopped fresh basil
Dressing:
1 lemon, juice only
3-4 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste
Instructions:
Mince garlic and let sit for at least 5 minutes.
Prepare green beans by washing and trimming the ends. keep the green beans whole while cooking to preserve nutrients.
Fill the bottom of the steamer with 2-3 inches of water and place prepared green beans inside and place a lid on top.
Steam, for 7-8 minutes or until tender. when they are tender enough to stick a fork through easily they are done.
Transfer to a bowl and toss in goat cheese, almonds, roasted red peppers and basil.
Pour dressing over top and gently stir to ensure all ingredients are covered.

Tip! Make your desserts mini in size. This way guests can taste more of them, but they will not consume as many calories. With those mini desserts, Miranda recommends her dark chocolate almond butter cups!

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photo credit: The Marilyn Denis Show

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Cups
Makes 24

Ingredients:

2/3 cup organic coconut oil
½ cup organic cocoa powder
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
12 tsp almond butter
Instructions:
Melt coconut oil on low heat and add cocoa powder, ma
ple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla. stir until smooth. Pour 1.5 teaspoons of the mixture into mini muffin papers.
Freeze for 10 minutes.
Take ½ teaspoon of almond butter and flatten onto chocolate cups.
Pour a thin layer of the chocolate mixture on top of the almond butter to cover.
Freeze for another 10 minutes.
Remove and enjoy!

Tip! Be sure to include a large fresh fruit platter or a baked apples and pears with lots of cinnamon to encourage healthier choices.

After Dinner
Offer a welcoming food free space for guests with holiday activities. A great idea is to have a game where you can get them moving to help improve digestion, and curb the desire to overindulge. Also, having food out of reach can help your guests avoid mindless eating and will save 100-200 calories over the course of the evening.

A great game to play is Christmas Carol Pictionary; it works exactly like regular pictionary except it’s all with christmas carols!
It’s a sure way to get everyone and bonding both in the guessing of the carols and singing together.
Another fun game Miranda loves at parties is Santa Limbo! This is a fun twist on classic limbo, but with a pillow as a santa belly!

 

Cold and flu season is here… when you hear these, only thoughts of dread follow! With young kids in school I know that it’s just a matter of time before they pass the cold like a game of hot potato but it’s a stuffy nose, burning eyes, congested chest potato and sooner or later one of the boys bring the potato home. It’s inevitable.

Getting sick is miserable, but there is some value in challenging our children’s immune systems as this builds strength in the body so that when they are older they can fight off the bugs easier. So it’s my job as a mom to make it more comfortable for my boys and help to speed up the process when they are unwell just like my mother did for me and her mother did for her. My Great Grandmother’s chicken soup has been the go-to remedy when someone in our family isn’t well. The very smell of it brings a feeling of nurture and warmth.

But it’s not just the warm and fuzzy feeling that the chicken soup induces to help fight an illness. The broth from chicken soup can be more effective than over-the-counter cough syrups at reducing a cough and treating cold symptoms. One study revealed that chicken soup broth inhibited the movement of neutrophils (most common type of white blood cells) that defends against infection. The theory is that by preventing the spread of these cells, chicken soup broth can help to reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms.

The challenge I’ve had over the years is running out to the store when the kids are sick and picking up the ingredients and then spending time in the kitchen preparing when they need me to cuddle and hold them.

So, after years of this I’ve finally gotten a bit smarter and now I make a big batch of chicken soup before cold and flu season and freeze it in individual portions. I can then take it out at the first sign of a sniffle.

It’s hard to completely avoid getting sick when you care for young children. That direct sneeze in your eyes when you are hugging them is a sure sign it’s about 4-7 days away from hitting me too. So, the soup comes in handy when I don’t feel like cooking either.

img_1434Homemade Organic Chicken Soup

Ingredients:
1 organic whole chicken
2 medium sized organic sweet potatoes peeled and chopped
1 medium butternut squash, chopped
4-5 organic carrots (can be left unpeeled if organic), chopped
2 organic parsnips, peeled and chopped (you can also use 1-2 cups red baby potatoes if you prefer)
2-1 litre organic low sodium preservative-free vegetable stock
Cold water (to completely cover chicken)
2 cloves of Ontario garlic, minced (let sit for at 
least 5 minutes before adding to heat)
1 bunch of organic dill

Directions: 

1. Add low sodium stock to a big pot and add 
chicken
2. Add cold water to fully cover the chicken
3. Bring to a boil and cook at a high heat for the 
first 45 minutes
4. Skim any fat that rises to the surface
5. Reduce to medium and cover pot with a lid and 
simmer until chicken is cooked. Depending on the size of the chicken this could take 1 to 1.5 hours. When the chicken comes off the bone easily you know it is done.
6. In the meantime, peel and chop the veggies and mince garlic. To save on time, pick up freshly chopped veggies from a local market. For the most nutrient bang for your buck, make sure they are chopped that day.
7. Remove the chicken from the pot carefully, trying to keep it in tact and place on a cutting board. I do this as I have little ones and I want to ensure that no little bones are mixed in with the goods.
8. Debone the chicken and place cooked meat back into the pot
9. Add all of your roots, garlic and dill (I cut the stems off and place it in whole) and simmer for another 30 mins. or until all vegetables are soft
10. Let the soup cool down for 30 mins. and then transfer to glass or ceramic containers and place in the fridge
11. Once it is cold the fat will harden at the top. I usually skim this the next day before heating up to serve.
12. Divide up the portions to stick in the freezer. Store in freezer safe containers for easy defrosting.

Warning! A piping hot bowl of soup will clear congestion in your sinuses so be ready with your ROYALE® 3-Ply Facial Tissue. I have also gotten smarter with how many boxes of ROYALE® I stock during cold and flu season. I choose ROYALE products because they are soft, but strong enough to handle our colds. It’s so awful when the boys get a red nose from over-wiping. I always find that they get less skin irritation with ROYALE® as it’s the softest and most comforting on their sensitive skin. When you’re feeling under the weather, you can rely on the strength of kitten soft ROYALE® 3-Ply Facial Tissues to add comfort to every situation.
I now place a box of ROYALE® 3-Ply Facial Tissue in each room of my house and stick tissues in their pockets, their book bags and my purse or the kids are bound to use something else to wipe their nose. Most often a sleeve…I’ll spare you the details of other places I’ve found traces of their cold. If you’re a parent I am sure you have your own list.
Wishing you a quick and easy cold and flu season!

Although this post has been generously sponsored by Royale, the opinions and language are my own.

Miranda <3

 

 

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I kept my composure during the segment, but inside I was doing cartwheels!!

This was one of those surreal feeling moments when I got to share a segment on The Marilyn Denis Show with someone who I’ve watched and admired for years! Jamie Oliver organically and passionately demonstrates his love for cooking real food and has put a huge spot light on how we can change our health and our children’s health with a focus on getting back to the basics, simply cooking.

I had the INCREDIBLE task of putting Jamie (and the cutest crew of elementary students in the audience) to the test when it comes to superfood pairs.These food duos work together to create supercharged nutrients for your better health.

Watch the segment HERE

Here’s the info below and some easy recipes to try out with your family!
1. Buckwheat + Peppers (Rutin + Vitamin C)
HEALTHY HEART DUO

Buckwheat has a good source of Rutin, a bioflavonoid that helps enhance vitamin C found in peppers. When these two work synergistically together the result is improved circulation in the body and better cardiovascular health. This power pair helps to halt oxidation of bad cholesterol (LDL) from turning into plaque on the artery walls.

Buckwheat Stuffed Red Peppers
Serves 4

Ingredients
• 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
• 1 onions (around 300g), diced
• 1.5 cups roasted buckwheat (to roast place on frying pan for around 3-5 minutes until it starts browning and releases flavours, make sure you are stirring it to disperse the heat equally)
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1/2 tsp salt
• Chilli powder to taste
• 1 handful parsley, chopped
• 4 red peppers use ones that are similar size to help with cooking
• 1 litre low sodium vegetable stock
• 1 can of tomatoes (400 g)

Instructions
1 Heat the oil in a small saucepan on low and add the onion. Sauté for around 8-10 minutes until the onion starts to brown and caramelize.
2 Add the roasted buckwheat, garlic, salt, chilli and parsley and cook for a further 3 minutes.
3 Make a lid for the peppers by chopping towards the top (which will help to cook the buckwheat mixture inside). Make sure to clean the inside of any seeds and wash out before stuffing.
4 Stuff the peppers 3/4 of the way. Put the lid on top.
5 Take a saucepan that will fit all 4 peppers inside but that it will be a firm fit. Place the peppers side by side.
6 Add the stock just enough to cover the peppers and with a spoon, add about 2-3 tablespoons of the liquid into each pepper and place the lid back on top.
7 On a medium heat cook for 10 minutes. Partially cover with lid.
8 Add the can of tomatoes, adding about 1-2 tbs of it into each peppers and cook for a further 10 minutes. Partially cover with lid.
9 It’s finished when the buckwheat is cooked.

2. Kale + Chickpeas (magnesium + B6)

MOOD BOOSTING DUO

Kale is rich in the calming mineral magnesium which helps us to reduce anxiety and makes us feel happier. When magnesium is combined with B6 (found in chickpeas) the result is better absorption in the body and a super mood boosting duo.
Kale & Hummus Wrap

Ingredients:
1 whole grain, paleo or raw vegetable wrap
2 tbsp hummus
1 handful of kale, sliced or baby kale
1/4 avocado, sliced
1 baby cucumber, sliced length ways
1 tbsp hemp hearts, sprinkled

Instructions:
1. spread hummus on wrap
2. lay kale down, followed by the rest of the vegetables
3. carefully fold

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3. Sweet Potatoes + Avocado (Vitamin A + Healthy fats)

Sweet potatoes contain an excellent source of beta-carotene (which gets converted into Vitamin A in your body) Vitamin A provides healthy glowing skin, immune and reproductive health. In order for your body to absorb it fully, a healthy fat (found in the avocado) should be combined.
GLOWING SKIN DUO

Baked Sweet Potato Wedges with an Avocado Lemon & Dill Dip

Ingredients:

Sweet Potatoes Wedges:
2 sweet potatoes
2 tbsp avocado oil
2 garlic gloves, minced
dash of sea salt and pepper

 

Avocado Lemon & Dill Dip:
• 1 med ripe avocado
• 2 tbsp fresh dill
• 1/2 lemon, juice only
• 2 tbsp organic 5% plain yogurt

Sweet Potato Wedge Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment.
2. Wash and cut each sweet potato length-wise into 8 wedges.
3. In a large bowl, toss wedges with oil, garlic, salt and pepper
4. Spread wedges evenly on the parchment paper and bake for 25 minutes, flip halfway through.
5. Serve with avocado yogurt and dill dip

Avocado Dip Instructions:

In a small food processor add all ingredients and pulse until smooth
Store in the fridge until ready to serve
4. Apples & Raspberries (ellagic acid + quercetin)

CANCER FIGHTING DUO

Together, apples and raspberries improve the disease-fighting powers of antioxidants. Ellagic acid (found in raspberries) enhances the ability of quercetin (found in apples) to kill off cancerous cells.

Miranda’s Raspberry Apple Muffins
(gluten-free)
Makes 12

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cup millet flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 organic apples, chopped or grated (leave the peel on)
1 cup organic raspberries, fresh or frozen (if frozen let thaw for 10 minutes)
1/3 cup raw honey
2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 pod of bourbon vanilla, seeds scraped or 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup organic 5% plain yogurt
2 organic eggs
Instructions:
Preheat oven to 350 F
Line muffin tin with papers
Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine
In a separate bowl add the coconut oil, honey, maple syrup, yogurt, vanilla and eggs until combined
Pour in the apples and raspberries and using the whisk press down to slightly crush the fruit
Mix together until combined
Pour batter filling 3/4 of muffin liners
Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown

 

Oct
30
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The Ombre Muffin

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I bake a lot of “weird” things (according to my kids) and sometimes these weird things turn out really well. This one did. It started as a Halloween experiment where I was trying to get the “vampire blood’ look, but I think I’m going to add this to our monthly baking rotation.

With beets, carrots and Medjool dates I am happy to add it to the kids lunch snacks. I added some chocolate chips because they’ll try anything with a chocolate chip on it. And it actually complimented the sweet earthy flavour of these ingredients combined.

Beets are a supportive root to include around this time of year.  They are a liver-loving food and help to keep the bowels moving. The vibrant red colour is not only a Halloween showcase but it also contains rich antioxidants that help keep the body in balance and feeling vibrant too!

 

The Ombre Muffin

(Gluten-free, dairy-free)

Makes 9 regular sized muffins

Ingredients: 

1 small beet, peeled

3 medium carrots, peeled

6 Medjool dates, pitted

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk

1 organic egg

1/2 cup brown rice flour

3/4 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate

 Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F
  2. Blend the beet, carrots, dates and coconut milk in a high powered blender until smooth
  3. Add the organic egg until combined
  4. In a medium bowl add flour, coconut sugar, baking soda, baking powder, sea salt and mix
  5. Pour blender mixture into medium bowl and mix until combined
  6. Add  1/4 cup chocolate chips to the mixture
  7. Fill muffin liners 3/4 of the way full
  8. Add the rest of the chocolate chips on the top of each muffin
  9. Bake for 20-24 minutes or until your toothpick is dry after carefully testing in the centre of the muffin

 

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Serving my 2 growing boys healthy food is one of my top priorities on my “Mom must-do list”. The most common barrier to checking this chore off my list is, of course, time. When there is a whole lot of life happening, as it is in all families, sometimes it is hard to construct a healthy meal every single night.

When confronted with those busy evenings of late work schedules, kids activities and empty fridges, I don’t grab fast food from a drive through, but I will grab fast food from a grocery store. Here I can find some healthy meals  that are made with fresh ingredients that I can clearly see on the label. I have a checklist in my head that it needs to pass; no preservatives, no unhealthy fats, no artificial colours or flavours. I am looking for real ingredients prepared in a way that maintains nutrients. I know that there will be slightly higher sodium then I use at home, but I can deal with this as I just ensure we keep it to a minimum in the earlier part of the day. Foods that fit this check list are not abundant in the grocery aisles so when I do find a healthy ready made product it makes the nutritionist in me happy and I want to share it with everyone!

With Fall here, soup season is also here as it’s our natural instinct to want warming foods when it’s cooler and damp outside. Happy Planet fresh soups have been a nourishing and easy reach for our family and we’ve been turning them into full meals with a couple easy additions.  There’s lots to love about this company as there soups are:

Made with fresh, premium, natural and certified organic ingredients

Gluten Free

Organic, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan options

Contain NO preservatives, artificial ingredients, colourings or anything that you can’t pronounce!

Proudly Canadian & made in small kettle batches in BC & Ontario

They have an impressive variety for every palate, but the top two soups that have been in our weekly rotation lately are the West African Squash & Cashew and the Indian Split Pea Soup.

The West African Squash & Cashew combines some of my favourite warming spices; turmeric (anti-inflammatory), cinnamon (blood sugar stabilizing) and ginger (digestive aid). With the  creaminess of coconut, this soup has a zingy and velvety flavour that is just so good and best of all my kids like it too.

I love that they use simple ingredients that I would put in my own soup (Indian Split Pea Soup):  water, organic yellow split peas, organic onions, organic tomatoes (organic tomatoes, organic basil), organic coconut cream (organic coconut cream, organic guar gum), organic spinach, organic garlic, organic spices, organic sunflower oil, sea salt, organic coriander. 

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Now, my boys are h-u-n-g-r-y (now!) when they arrive home from school. They’ve burned a ton of energy and are now waiting for mommy to refuel them so that they can keep me on my toes the rest of the night. For dinner, when they need a larger meal I will make the Happy Planet soup the star of the meal and add a pasta or grain to fill the hunger gaps. Yesterday I made a big batch of quinoa (actually a seed, but I digress), which I used as a base for the Indian Split Pea Soup. I was able to stretch one pouch of soup for our family of four.

The Indian Split Pea Soup has a bit of heat to it, my boys weren’t bothered, but if you have little ones with sensitivity to spice try it first before you serve it. You can give them some plain organic yogurt on the side which is fun and helps take away any residual spice that may come from spices.

You could do also add quinoa, wild rice or brown rice to the West African Squash & Cashew Soup. I have also prepared it on top of roasted spaghetti squash and it was de-lic-ious!!  Try adding leftover sprouted tofu and chicken when you need a little extra protein. Although the soup is delicious and satisfying on its own, by adding a creative touch you can have a real satiating crowd pleaser that cuts dinner prep time, clean-up time, and means I may be able to fold the heaping pile of laundry that has been growing all week! I know.

I also love how convhpp4191_groupshot_nolid_intub_300x225_sm_150_rgbenient the little soup containers are for an fast lunch for my hubby. He is notorious for waiting too long to eat and then being ravenous when he gets home. He has been taking the to-go cups with him and a couple of boiled eggs and has them between his meetings. Now when he comes home he is not forging past me to the fridge every time he walks in the door. Win win!

 

Happy Planet soups can be found in most grocery stores across Canada. To find a store closest to you click here.

Although this post has been generously sponsored by Happy Planet, the opinions and language are my own.

 

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Okay there’s no voodoo in this brownie, but it’s pretty magical that you can turn three healthy ingredients into chocolate decadence.

I’ve shared this recipe before and I’m doing it again in Jack-o-lantern form. It’s not going to end up in a trick or treat bag, but it’s just too easy (and cute) not to be passed around to all moms and dads looking to divert the kids attention from the junky junk candies and chocolates coming home in their trick or treat bags.

My boys like anything that looks like chocolate; chocolate cake, chocolate bars, chocolate chips, chocolate chunks and chocolate brownies. They much rather go to town on the chocolate treats in their halloween stash then thlogo1-2e candies. So, I am making this to have on hand the day of Halloween and the day after. I’m actually making two of them, one for each of my boys (this recipe makes enough for two small pans.)

These three ingredients combined provide healthy fats (walnuts) minerals like magnesium (raw cacao powder) and fibre (medj
ool dates + walnuts)

There’s no hydrogenated oils, food colouring, artificial colours, flavours and high fructose corn syrup and it still tastes yummy!

I get that having some of the halloween candy is part of the experience, but in our house we keep it to a minimum and instead call on the Switch Witch to take our candies and chocolates that have “tummy hurting ingredients.” She then brings a wished for toy or game as a gift in return. The boys get to pick their top 8 treats and then she gets the rest.  I’m all for the fun of Halloween, but I’d rather avoid the roller coaster of temper tantrums and tummy aches, so balance is key.

3-Ingredient Voodoo Brownie

Ingredients
1 cup raw walnuts
½ raw cacao powder or cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups soft Medjool dates (pitted)

Instructions

  1. In a food processor add the walnuts and pulse until finely ground
  2. Add in the cacao powder and combine
  3. Add 3 dates at a time and pulse to ensure that they are broken down into the mixture. Repeat until all dates are combined and the batter is smooth
  4. Press the brownies into an 8×8 pan and either eat right away or stick in the fridge to firm up further

 

 

 

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Dead leaves, seaweed, rotten eggs, too.

Stir them in my witches’ brew.
I got magic, Alakazamakazoo.

Spider web, moldy bread, mucky mud, too.
Stir them in my witches’ brew.
I got magic! Alakazamakazoo

ooo – My witches’ brew – ooo
What’s it gonna do to you?
Boo! (Witches Brew, Hap Palmer)

There isn’t moldy bread, rotten eggs or mucky mud in this smoothie, but seaweed would have been a great idea. Seaweed has a crazy amazing amount of minerals that are needed to boost the immune system after the sugar gorge fest a.k.a Halloween.

Although this holiday is not high on the loved list for many Nutritionists because of the junk that gets passed out in heaps to our kids, which makes them crazy hyper, halts their desire for real foods (due to intensity of sweetness and it creating tastebud insensitivity) and makes them more likely to catch a virus due to the anti-nutrient effect that sugar has, I still love Halloween – but not for these reasons.

I am all for a good pumpkin carving / decorating the house and dressing up, but the main reason I love Halloween is because I can sneak any ingredients into my smoothies if they are poured into a bottle with a witch or haunted house on it. The coloured straw always helps too.

If you haven’t tried packaging your healthy smoothies in a fun and festive bottle or mason jar with a brightly coloured straw then do it! Kids eat with their eyes and when they feel the fun in it they are WAY more likely to drink the whole thing. I like to milk holidays and fun events for as loooong as possible, so the halloween bottles have already been pulled out and this morning was our first batch of Witches Brewberry.

 

Witches Brewberry Smoothie 

Serves 3-4 

2 cups unsweetened almond milk

1.5 scoop Vega Protein & Greens Vanilla

2 tbsp organic Kefir

1/2 cup frozen organic kale

3/4 cup organic frozen blueberries

1 tbsp pumpkin seed butter

1 tbsp hemp hearts

Directions:

  1. Blend in a high powered blender

Halloween glass bottles from Michaels

Photo Credit: The Marilyn Denis Show

If you’re my friend, you know that this is my go-to treat to bring to parties, when I have company, or when I am in need of a little chocolate/peanut butter therapy. I even brought them on The Marilyn Denis Show as a healthy halloween treat last October.

Once you make a batch they last for a few months in the freezer, so these bad boys are ready for you when you want a bite or two.

With only 6 ingredients that you probably have in your cupboard right now!

Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups 

Makes 24 minis

Ingredients:

2/3 cup organic coconut oil
½ cup organic cocoa powder
½ cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp pure vanilla extract
12 tsp organic peanut butter

Directions:
1. Melt coconut oil on low heat and add cocoa powder, maple syrup, cinnamon and vanilla. Stir until smooth.
2. Pour 1.5 teaspoons of the mixture into mini muffin papers.
3. Freeze for 10 minutes.
4. Take ½ teaspoon of peanut butter and flatten onto chocolate cups.
5. Pour a thin layer of the chocolate mixture on top of the peanut to cover.
6. Freeze for another 10 minutes.
7. Remove and enjoy!
*Best kept in the freezer, but can also be kept in the fridge

You can use any nut or seed butter to replace the peanut butter.

Miranda <3

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Today’s dinner consisted of one of my boys eating his fish and not eating his broccoli and purple potatoes, the other one would only eat his broccoli and potatoes. Together they make a nutritionally balanced kid, but apart they like to make me work for it.

Of course I told them to eat it and they declined saying that they don’t like it, and you know how it goes from there. The food tug of war that no one ever wins…

So I walked away slightly annoyed and decided they are on a need to know basis for the next little bit while we make it through this picky period. I’m a believer in bringing them into the kitchen, having them cook with me and teaching them about food and health as much as I can without them rolling their eyes. In reality it’s not always feasible to get into these big lessons when everyone is hungry and you’ve got 20 minutes to make something.  Sometimes I just want them to eat their damn vegetables and be done with it.

I had to kick up my creativity in the easiest way I know how.

 

What do they both love…pancakes!

What is the most challenging green to include lately…kale!

So I’ll put kale in their pancakes.

Kale is a tad bitter so I had to add  some berries to counter with sweetness. I blended three different purees to add to Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free pancake mix.

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Raspberry Puree 

1/2 cup organic frozen raspberries + 4 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk

Blueberry Puree 

1/2 cup organic frozen blueberries + 4 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk

Kale Puree 

1/2 cup organic frozen kale + 1 banana + 6 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk

I blended them all one at a time in my Vitamix. I then added it to the pancake batter and cooked up the pancakes as usual.

My eldest is the true kale hater in our home and he ate two plates without noticing a thing. His palate normally has a leafy-green detector, but the flavour really worked to disguise any bitterness.

He loved it so much it’s going in his lunch tomorrow as a snack.

Can I get a Kale-Yeah!

<3 Miranda

 

 

 

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