Thursday, 5 November 2015

Thai Crunch Salad With Peanut Dressing

This is a must-try salad!  I've made it several times over the past two months, both for meals at home, and to take to other peoples' houses when I've been invited for lunch or  dinner.  It has so much flavor and it's full of crunch (who doesn't love crunch) and colour (which means it's packed with good-for-you nutrients).  It can be served as a side salad, or even as main since it contains protein from the edamame, crushed peanuts and peanut dressing.  To make it more filling as an entree salad, it would be delicious with baked tofu, tempeh, roasted chicken or salmon.  


1/2 bag of coleslaw mix
1.5 cups chopped red cabbage (I used a 1/2 bag of already chopped red cabbage)
1 cup matchstick carrots
1 cup broccoli slaw (found in salad section of grocery store)
1/2 red pepper, thinly sliced
1/2 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
1/4 cup crushed (finely chopped) peanuts
1/2 cup edamame (I used frozen shelled edamame that I put in the fridge overnight to defrost)
1/4 cup peanut butter (preferably crunchy)
1/4 cup PB2 (prepared with water)
3 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce (or tamari if gluten free)
1.5 tbsp. lime juice
1 - 1.5 tbsp honey
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
1/2 cup hot water to thin it out

1. Place all salad ingredients into a large bowl ( make sure it's a large enough bowl to make it easy to mix).
2. In separate bowl, place all dressing ingredients and use an immersion blender to mix (you can use a whisk if you don't have an immersion blender).
3. Toss salad with dressing and enjoy.

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 8
Calories 126, total fat 7g (sat. fat 1g), carbs 10g, fibre 2.5g, sugars 5.5g, protein 6g

Weight Watchers Points: 3
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 3

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Why This Nutritionist Doesn't Limit Junk Food On Halloween

I belong to quite a few mommy Facebook groups and lately, due to Halloween coming up, I've been seeing a lot of posts about healthier and/or non-treat options for kids on this holiday, and how to prevent kids from consuming too much junk food.  As a nutritionist, I'm obviously all for healthy eating and healthier choices, but on holidays (especially this one) and birthdays, I say LET THEM EAT CAKE (candy in this particular case).  I'm not saying let them eat their entire bag of candy over the following week, but on Halloween night, let them  have have as much as they like.  It's one night, and think back to when you were a kid and what you most likely consumed on that night.  I remember my brothers and I had no limits and all of us easily ate a number of handfuls of chips, candy and chocolate.  And then over the next few days, we maybe took one or two pieces and then we forgot about all about it.  And we're all healthy weights today and in great health.  I can pretty much promise it won't hurt them.

But I'll tell you what will...putting it in their heads that junk food is bad and making them feel badly for wanting to eat it.

Think about a time when someone told you that you couldn't have something.  It doesn't even have to be related to food.  If you're being honest with yourself, you know that it only made you want it more.  It made whatever it was waaaaaayyyyy more appealing than it really should be.  And anything that you find THAT appealing, you're going to want more of.

Also, coming from someone with a past eating disorder, there were so many foods I told myself I couldn't have because I feared them.  I can't even begin to tell you how badly I wanted to eat those foods.  I craved them and they were on my mind all the time.  I can happily tell you that once I was fully recovered, and ate what I felt like eating, when I felt like eating it, I could care less about those foods.  

So let's get back to junk food on Halloween and other special occasions.  I let my kids have as much as they want that night (I also never stop them from reaching into the chip or candy bowl at birthday parties or other special events).  In fact, it normally works out that their Halloween treats are their dinner.  And I'm fine with that, because I know two things:

1.From all the past Halloween experiences with my kids, and like my younger self, after Halloween night they may ask for a few pieces during the following week, but they soon forget all about it and I can throw the rest out and not worry they will ask about it.  If they do ask, I tell them it was old and they've never made a fuss.  In fact, even on Halloween night, they don't eat a ton of candy, regarless of the fact that I don't tell them they can't.  We talk often about foods - those that make our body strong, and those that don't.  So they will often stop on their own, saying that junk food is not healthy.  And if they do overeat, the worst that will happen is they will get a tummy ache and learn very quickly what happens when you eat too much junk food.

2.I know that after Halloween night (or after any occasion where they've eaten  too much junk food), they will be back to eating the regular, healthier foods, that I give them.

So, my advice is to let your child enjoy Halloween night with no restrictions.  Kids don't want to find non-treat items  and healthier treats in their bag on this night, they want candy and chips and chocolate.  Let your kids be kids...just for one night!

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Baked Crispy BBQ Chicken Breast (Gluten Free)

I rarely repeat any meal over a six month time span.  Which means I make A TON of different meals. Some are big-time hits, some are just good and some are not so good.  The night before I made this chicken was one of those not-so-good nights.  My husband is always truthful with me, which I like because the last thing I want to do is waste my time making a meal that he doesn't like.  And apparently the chicken I had made prior to this one was not a winner.  However, I will still be posing it in the future because I happened to think it was pretty good.  But I'm posting this one first because 1) it really was delicious and 2) it was so easy to make.  As my husband exclaimed after taking his first bite, "sometimes simple is the best."   

This chicken is made of simple flavors and was simple to make, yet it was so good.  I used Original Chex cereal to keep it gluten free, but Panko crumbs would work great if you don't need to avoid gluten.  I also highly suggest using a good quality BBQ sauce such as Diana or Sweet Baby Ray's.  And definitely take the extra time to broil it at the end because that's what will make it extra crispy and caramelize the BBQ sauce, so basically it's the step that contributes to all the flavor. 

4 boneless skinless chicken breast
1/2 cup good quality BBQ sauce (I used Diana Chicken and Rib)
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups crushed Original Chex cereal (pulse in food processor until it resembles bread crumbs)
1/2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. onion powder
BBQ sauce for drizzling

1. Trim fat of chicken breasts and place in large ziploc bag.  In bowl mix together BBQ sauce and honey
2. Pour BBQ sauce mixture into ziploc bag with chicken.  Seal bag and move chicken around inside so that all the pieces are completely covered in sauce.  Let marinate in fridge for 3-6 hours.
3. Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.  Spray foil with non-stick cooking spray.
4. In bowl mix together crushed Chex cereal, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder and salt.
5. Take one chicken breast out of bag, coat with cereal/spice mixture and place on baking sheet (don't worry if it's not fully coated, you'll sprinkle remaining crumbs on top after).  Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.  Sprinkle any leftover crumbs mixutre on chicken so that all pieces are completely covered.
6. Spray with cooking spray or Misto and bake for 20 minutes.
7. Remove from oven.  Drizzle with BBQ sauce. Turn on broiler (preferably on low).  Place chicken right under broiler and broil until coating become deep golden in color and sauce has caramelized (make sure to watch it while under broiler, it usually takes about 5 minutes or less).

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Allergy Friendly Flourless Double Chocolate Muffins (No Black Beans!)

This is a recipe I've been making weekly for a while now.  But getting to post the recipe is a different story.  Posting a recipe means that I first need a picture.  And it's pretty hard to get a picture when these muffins are gobbled up so quickly.  Granted, I've only been making 6 at a time, so that may be where the problem is.  But this time, I made quite a huge batch because I had some bananas to use up, and so that I could finally get a picture of them.

I love that these muffins are flourless (so that I can eat them), and they're not made with beans (so the rest of my family can eat them).  The ingredients are all healthy, and as long as you use Sunbutter instead of peanut butter, they make a great on-the-go breakfast or snack for your kids to take to school.  One of my kids actually asks me to bring him one when I pick him up from school to eat on the way to the park.  He's a bit of a chocoholic and a bit of a picky eater, so I find this is much healthier than any other chocolate snack I would give him.

I also love that they're allergy friendly, for the most part.  They're dairy free as long as you use dairy free chocolate chips such as Enjoy Life.  They're nut free as long as you use Sunbutter.  And they're gluten free.  So they're a great option for playdates, so long as you don't mind chocolate crumbs everywhere.

1 egg
1 banana, mashed
1/3 cup nut butter (I always use Sunbutter so that my kids can take these to school)
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/3 cup semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 6 compartments of a muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
2.. Whisk together egg, mashed banana and nut butter.  Add cocoa powder, honey, vanilla, baking powder and baking soda.  Mix just until combined (don't overmix).  Mix in chocolate chips.
3. Divide mixture among 6 muffin compartments and bake for 15-20 minutes (in my oven it takes 18 minutes).

Nutritional Information:
Servings: 6
Calories 180, total fat 8.5g (saturated fat 3g), carbs 23.5g, fibre 2.5g, net carbs 21g, sugars 17g, protein 5g

Weight Watchers Points: 4
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 5

Monday, 14 September 2015

Italian Turkey and Veggie Skillet Dinner

With the cooler weather we've been having here in Toronto, I've been in need of some cheese-smothered, stove-top comfort food.  While we all have our own definition of comfort food, mine will always include lots of veggies, lots of color and lots of protein, all mixed together and covered in cheese.  In my opinion, comfort food should make you feel good emotionally AND physically.  If I ate what some would consider comfort food (ie: pizza or a hamburger and french fries), I may feel good while eating it, but I definitely wouldn't feel so good afterwards.  

This meal was not only super nourishing, it's also extremely filling.  It contains lots of fibre from the veggies and protein from the cheese and turkey.  And it's absoluteley delicious, especially served over brown rice or whole wheat pasta.

Recipe adapted from Recipe Runner
1 1/4 lbs. extra lean ground turkey
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tsp. minced garlic
1.5 cups sliced mushrooms
1.5 cups bagged green beans (that have ends already trimmed), halved
1 green zucchini, quartered and chopped
1 yellow zucchini, quartered and chopped
1.5 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 14.5oz. can fire roasted diced tomatoes, with juice
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup low fat shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Place large deep skillet over medium heat and spray with non-stick spray.
2. Cook ground turkey until no longer pink.  Remove from skillet and set aside.
3. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes, occasionally stirring.  Add mushrooms and cook for another 3 minutes, occasionally stirring.  Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for about 20 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally.
4. Add turkey back to skillet with veggies, as well as diced tomatoes with their juice.  Season with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning.  Cook everything together for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Sprinkle with parmesand and mix in.  Top with mozzarella and let melt before serving.

Nutrition Information:
Servings: 5
Calories 235, total fat 2.9g (saturated fat 1.3g), carbs 14.5g, fibre 3.5g, net carbs 11g, sugars 5.5g, protein 37.5g

Weight Watchers Points: 4
Weight Watchers Points Plus: 5

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

My Trick For The Best Homemade Hummus and Za'atar Spiced Pita Chips

I've finally come to the conclusion that my favorite seasoning blend has to be za'atar.  I discovered it a few months back when my husband and I went for our date night to an amazing mediterranean restaurant called The Fat Pasha, here in Toronto.  Since then, I haven't been able to get over the fact that I've gone my whole life without it.  

In my opinion, you can't have hummus without za'atar, and you can't have za'atar without hummus.  They just go together like peanut butter and jelly, which I also feel you can't have one without the other.  I actually never eat hummus at home without sprinkling some of this delicious seasoning on top first.  And if I know I'll be going some place where hummus will be eaten, I may even carry a small container of this seasoning with me.  

And we all know what else goes well with hummus....pita.  And pita chips...even better.  So what could be better than making za'atar seasoned pita chips?  That's right, probably nothing.  Except for maybe a peanut butter and jam sandwich.  That's right, I may like fancy spices, but I also love a basic PB&J like nobody's business.  

Ok, so now onto my trick of how to get your hummus super smooth.  It's a bit time consuming, but it's also quite cathartic, similar to peeling dried glue off your hands (don't pretend you didn't do this in grade school and love it).  I shell my chickpeas.  That's right, I peel the outer membrane off each individual chickpea.  Just find a time when you have 15 minutes to spare, like when you're watching TV.  It will make all the difference and do you want to know another benefit to doing this?  Here more unpleasant digestive side effects often caused by chickpeas.  See, the outer membrane of chickpeas contains raffinose which is an oligosaccharide (a type of carbohydrate)  that causes gastrointestinal distress.  Humans don't have the enzymes to break down raffinose, so it passes through the stomach undigested, causing gas. Remove the membrane, and  no more tummy upset and gas.  I know some may not agree, but to myself, better hummus and no gas is well worth the extra 15 minutes!

And last but not least, I have to talk about how good hummus is for you.  It's packed with protein and fibre, both of which will make and keep you full more than anything else.  It's also super versatile.  I use hummus as a dressing, as a sweet potato/kabocha squash topper, as a sandwich spread, to coat chicken and as a dip for veggies.  Hummus. Is. Awesome.  Especially with shelled chicpeas (sorry, I just feel very strongly about this, and you likely will as well once you try it). 

1 19oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained (outer membrane removed if you  have the time)
3 tsp. minced garlic
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 tsp. regular or smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup plain fat free yogurt (regular or greek)
1 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Pita Chips
4 whole wheat or gluten free pitas
1.5 tbsp. olive oil
3 tbsp. za'atar seasoning
1 tsp. salt

1. Place all ingredients for hummus into a food processor and blend until a paste form.
2. To make pita chips, begin by preheating oven to 350 degrees and spray one large or two small foil-lined baking sheet(s) with cooking spray.
3. Cut each pita into 8 triangles and place all triangles on baking sheet(s) in an even layer with no overlapping. 
4. In bowl, mix oil, za'atar and salt.  Brush onto pita triangles and bake for 10-12 minutes until crispy.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Baked Whole Wheat Banana Mango Coconut Donuts

Although I haven't been posting the recipes, I've actually been using my donut pan A LOT over the past few weeks.  My kids happen to love donuts, but I rarely take them for one.  Especially over the past few months because the during the hotter months, ice cream seems to be the go-to treat.  I much prefer giving them ice cream as a treat over anything else because at least they get some calcium and protein out of it.  

While cleaning out one of my cupboards a few weeks ago, I came across my donut pan.  And while they were at camp one day, I made them banana chcocolate chip donuts (a healthier version, of course).  They were thrilled and took them in their lunch as a snack every day until we eventually ran out of them.  

For the second batch, I not only had old bananas to use up, I also had some mango that was on its last leg, so I threw some of that in as well.  And since a tropical theme seemed to be emerging, why not throw some coconut into the mix as well.  Such a yummy flavor combination!

To keep these donuts tasting fresh in my kids' lunches every day, I freeze the majority of them in freezer bags (2 per sandwich size bag) as soon as they've completely cooled.  Then every night I take out one bag and leave it on the counter overnight.  The next morning I have donuts to put in their lunch boxes that tastes like they were freshly baked.

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Sprinkle of salt
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup finely diced ripe mango
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp. coconut butter or oil (you can replace with canola oil)
1/4 cup fat free plain greek yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup shredded coconut


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray 2 6-compartment donut trays with non-stick cooking spray (if you don't have to, you can do this in 2 separate batches).
2. In bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In separate bowl, mix bananas, brown sugar, egg, oil, greek yogurt and vanilla.
4. Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix to combine.  Mix in mango and coconut and pour into donut compartments.
5. Bake for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan.

Nutritional Information:

Servings: 12
Calories 164, total fat 3.8g (sat. fat 2.2g), carbs 30g, fibre 4g,  net carbs 26g, sugars 10.5g, protein 3.6g

Weight Watchers Points: 3

Weight Watchers Points Plus: 4

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