Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chilled Curried Carrot Soup (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

This soup is so amazing, and also amazingly simple to make.  Really it is good hot and cold so you can make this recipe any time of year.  I made it spicy, since we like our food hot, but go ahead and make it mild if you prefer.

Chilled Curried Carrot Soup (Vegan & Gluten-Free)

1 lb carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
1 + 1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1 chunk fresh ginger, peeled
900 ml vegetable stock

Toss carrots, onion and garlic with oil, 1 tsp curry powder and salt.  Place on a foil-lined baking sheet and roast at 400F for about 40 minutes.  Let cool.

Place veggies into food processor or blender with additional curry powder, ginger and stock.  Puree until smooth.  Season to taste.  Keep refrigerated up to 4 days or freeze.

This recipe has been submitted to Urban Naturale's Plant-Based Pot Luck Link-Up and this week's Gluten-Free Friday.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DrVita Product Review

You may have heard the news that vitamins do not prevent chronic illness?  Oh yeah, big headlines recently.  But then you've probably been told you should be taking a million supplements by either your doctor, naturopath or another health care provider.  Are you confused?

It is confusing.  Ultimately, there isn't strong evidence that taking a multivitamin can prevent chronic illness, but that doesn't mean you should throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Most people can and should be taking vitamin D, and many can benefit from fish oil or other omega 3 supplement.  Women of childbearing age should be taking folic acid.  Things like CoQ10 can be helpful for fertility and heart health.

So what about multis?

I'll be honest, I take one.  This is despite the lack of evidence that they are useful.  This is weird as usually my decisions are all evidence-based.  But for some reason, I can't give it up as a bit of insurance.  It just makes me feel better knowing I'm covering my bases...even though I eat a crazy nutritious diet and really probably don't need to take a multi.  To make it even, I take it every other day.  Or, if its one you take several times per day, like DrVita's Six Daily Advanced Multi-Vitamin, I  take just 2 rather than 6 capsules daily.

Anyways, here is what I like about this multi from DrVita: the capsules are easy to swallow and have no aftertaste.  They are free of artificial colours and flavours.  What I don't like is that it has a whole lots of unnecessary ingredients that are not present in large enough quantities to probably do much.  That being said, all the extra goodies in them do have health benefits, but I suspect only in much larger quantities, and keep in mind vitamins that throw in extra herbs, etc., are usually a lot more expensive.  Also keep in mind that herbs can interact with other supplements and medications, so it is best to check with your doctor first before taking any.  Most health experts will tell you that price is not always an indicator of vitamin quality.  If you do want to take a multi, I would check out the website for the Centre for Science in the Public Interest, or contact them for advice.  I was not able to find any third party reviews about the quality of DrVita multis so while I can say they are easy to take and I liked being able to control my dosage, I can't tell you much beyond that.

I think the question of whether or not to take a multi should be determined by your budget, your health status, your diet and your lifestyle.

Disclosure: I was sent a complimentary bottle of DrVita vitamins, but all opinions on this blog are my own.

Do you take a multi?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Vanilla Blueberry Cake Muffins

These are cake in name alone.  They are actually low-fat, whole grain and sugar-free...of course.

Did you know that most muffins in chain coffee shops have more sugar, fat and calories than donuts??  They are honestly a really bad choice for a breakfast or snack.  Eat, sugar crash, binge, repeat.

Despite being high in fibre, and protein, these babies are sweet, moist, tender and delicious.  The kids even said I shouldn't call them muffins because they taste more like cake.  So go ahead, have one for breakfast...have another for a snack!

Vanilla Blueberry Cake Muffins

2 cups unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup stevia granulated baking blend or 4 tbls uncut, pure stevia powder
2 eggs
1 cup milk+1 tbls cider vinegar or lemon juice, stirred together
2 tbls canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract

2.5 cups whole grain kamut or spelt flour
1 scoop stevia-sweetened vanilla protein powder (28g)
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

Whisk together wet ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir together dry ingredients in a medium bowl and then add to wet.  Mix just until combined.  Stir in blueberries.  Divide batter into greased muffin tins.  Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.  Let cool before removing from pan.  Makes 18 muffins.  Keep in air tight container for 3-4 days or freeze.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Big on Bloor

Toronto has a zillion summertime festivals across the city.  Although we have been to quite a few, for some reason this was the first time we got to the one in our own 'hood. 

Yesterday we took the girls to the Big on Bloor Festival and we literally had a ball!

Yes, those are the girls pretending to be hamsters!  It may have cost us $20 for the two of them to have a turn in these things, but it was worth every penny.  They had a blast.

They also volunteered to hold this snake...I was pretty amazed...I don't think I would have done it!

The girls also got free chocolate, freezies and popcorn and we bought them hand made turkey sausages and barbequed corn on the cob for their dinner.  Not the healthiest, but they had so much fun.  I actually think this was the best neighbourhood festival we've been to ever!

Normally I am not at all inspired by the arts and crafts at these events, but there was one vendor selling the most adorable handmade clothes.  I was smitten and liked so many different dresses there, I almost walked away without anything because I couldn't decide.  But Adam insisted I get one (okay, I won't argue).  I absolutely love the one I got and it is dressy enough for work but super comfortable.  Yippee!!

It did rain for a bit (which is why they look wet), but it cleared up pretty quick.  And, frankly, I was thrilled that it wasn't super hot and sunny.  This week is supposed to be!

What did you do this weekend?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Inquiring Minds Want to Know

Boy oh boy, its been quite the week!  I had 2 bad sinus headaches, which sucked, but overall, this summer has been the best ever for my allergies, which is weird, since most people say its a particularly BAD year for allergies.  I also had a dentist appointment and my dentist told me I have another cracked tooth and may someday need another root canal.  Ugh!  I know it comes from all my grinding and teeth clenching.  I carry all my stress in my jaw, it's so bad.  I am actually surprised all my teeth haven't shattered.

I also managed to tear an abdominal muscle.  Oh yeah, I do things like that!  If you don't think you need your core for absolutely everything, try getting an abdominal injury.  I have had to totally rejig my workouts.  It f#@&* hurts!

The girls have been fighting a bit more, but not nearly as much as they had been.  I am wondering if we are FINALLY in that temporary sweet spot I've heard about that happens after toddlerhood and before the teenage years.  Oh, who am I kidding, they'll probably be driving me totally nuts again tomorrow.

One thing I love as a parent, is witnessing my children's cognitive and intellectual growth and seeing how they observe the world around them.  Little A has been asking me really big questions lately, like:

"Why did all the cavemen die?" - I had to try and explain evolution

"Who was the first person on the planet?" - Had to explain evolution further, and talk about the creation versus scientific explanation

"Is God air?" - I told her that we don't know, that we can't even know for sure that there is a God, but that different people believe different things

"Can you decide how many babies you want?" - I said that some people can but some can't.  Some get exactly what they want and some get more then they want (through multiples or oops babies), or fewer than they want (due to opportunity or infertility/medical issues).

"How are things made?" She meant EVERYTHING. So I explained that living things grow and develop, are reproduced, while objects are often made by people (we talked about how our kitchen table was made from cutting down the tree, to the finished product).  We talked about where all our food comes from.

I love when she asks these types of things but man, do I ever feel like I am giving her insufficient explanations.  There is clearly so much going on in her head right now!!

Big A also asked a funny question, she said, "Mommy how will I get big boobies like you, like will my nipples fall off and then I'll grow big ones?"  Ha ha!  I had to explain that boobies are not like baby teeth.  Speaking of which, she visited Big A again this week for another lost tooth.

Its Friday and my brain is fried.  Unfortunately, I work tomorrow, but then am going out to celebrate a friend's 40th birthday...depending on how wild and crazy things get, Sunday will probably be quiet.

Have a fabulous weekend!!

Speaking of boobies, Little A also made us laugh when we discovered that she calls the two little buttons on her chest, "Nibbles."  She really thought that's what they were called!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Sweet Debbie's Organic Treats: Book Review

I am not vegetarian, I am not vegan. If I had to label how I eat I would call myself a healthitarian.  I do eat meat, just mostly poultry and fish, and I do it dairy and eggs.  I also eat gluten. I don't have any food allergies.  But I mostly eat plants.  I do believe plant-based foods are healthiest...and I love them!

It irks me though, when people confuse some of these other labels (vegan, gluten-free, etc.) as meaning healthy.  There is a shitload of vegan and gluten-free food out there these days that is just total crap.

For this reason, I hesitated to agree to review Sweet Debbie's Organic Treats: Allergy-Free & Vegan Recipes.  After all, a cupcake made with vegetable shortening instead of butter and white rice flour instead of white wheat flour, is no healthier, and healthier is what's important to me.

But boy am I glad I went for it! This cookbook is the BOMB!

Author, Debbie Adler, is the owner of Sweet Debbie's Organic Cupcakes bakery in Los Angeles.  I tell you, I wish we had one of her stores here in Toronto!  Yes, we have a number of vegan bakeries here, but they sell stuff no healthier than the usual bakeries.  Sure, no eggs or dairy, but lots of refined flours, sugar and saturated fats, thank you very much, and no thank you.

In contrast, Debbie's recipes are right up my alley!  Instead of using white rice flour, like many gluten-free bakers, she uses a blend of nutritious sorghum, millet, teff, quinoa and tapioca flours.  Her oils of choice are grapeseed and coconut, and she uses stevia, erythritol, and coconut nectar for sweeteners.  She even has a recipe for making your own sugar-free chocolate chips!! Oh yeah, this woman gets how to make stuff not only free of animal products and gluten...but also full of nutrition.

There are muffins, brownies, cookies, cupcakes, bars, donuts and breads.  They all look so good, I can't wait to try making some.  I just have to find time to get to the health food store so I can create her flour blend and pick up some coconut nectar.  But don't worry, if you can't find any of these ingredients where you live, you can for sure buy them online.

She is incredibly creative, using shitake mushrooms to make faux-bacon for her Caramel Glazed Fakin' Bacon Brownies.  Her Lemon Parsnipannies use, yes parsnips.  I am definitely going to have to try making Debbie's Blondies with Roots, and luscious looking Vivid Vanilla Cupcakes.

If you are on a restricted diet, or just looking for healthy baked good recipes, this book is a great place to start!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Smokey Bake-un Almonds

What's a little sweet, salty, smoky, spicy and addictive?  Nope, not bacon!  These bacon-seasoned almonds.  Perfect if you love the flavour but are looking for something that won't take years off your life (yes, I think most health experts would agree one of the most unhealthy things you can eat is cured and processed meats).

These are for Adam to have at work, but they are so yummy, that after I made them, I thought of hiding them and hoarding them to myself.  Fortunately, I'm a nicer wife than that...

You gotta bake these!!

Smokey Bake-Un Almonds

2 lbs almonds
2 tbls olive oil
2 tbls low-sodium soy sauce/tamari/coconut aminos
2 tbls Worcestershire (regular or vegan)
2 tbls coconut sugar
1/2 tsp paprika
A few drops liquid smoke
Cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Toss almonds with all other ingredients until well coated.  Spread evenly on non-stick baking sheet.  Bake at 350F for 12 minutes.  Make sure they don't burn.  Let cool and store in an air-tight container.

I have added this recipe to Vegetarian Mamma's Gluten-Free Friday and Urban Naturale's Party Blog Hop link-ups.