Banana Maple Breakfast Bowl

I have been absolutely awful about posting consistently for the last couple weeks. Things have just been nuts, between work and Crossfit and Community Food Advisor training and getting a cold and everything, I just haven’t had time to come up with anything worth taking pictures of and writing about. For those who don’t know, the Community Food Advisor program is something that’s run in many counties in Ontario, usually through the local health unit. CFAs are volunteers. They usually have a background, or at least a strong interest in food and nutrition. We are trained in food safety, nutrition, cooking, and presentation techniques. We then do presentations, cooking classes, demonstrations, and displays at events and to community groups. If you have an event or group that would benefit from one of our presentations and have an idea what you would like us to talk about, see if there’s a CFA program in your area!

The idea behind this breakfast bowl also comes from CFA training, so this all ties together. I had to do a food log a few weeks ago and noticed I was much lower than I should have been on fruits and veggies. An easy way to start your day right is to add a serving or fruits or veggies to your breakfast. A serving of fruit is equivalent to a medium piece of fruit, 1/2 a cup of chopped fruit, 1/4 cup of dried fruit, or 1/2 cup of 100% fruit juice. Another great thing about this breakfast bowl is that instead of using sweetened yogurt, I used plain low-fat yogurt. By adding your own fruit and sweetener to the yogurt, you are in control of how much sugar is in it, and you know that your’re eating actual pure fruit.

This recipe makes one serving.

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 medium banana, sliced
  • 1 tbsp flax seed
  • 1 tbsp pecan pieces
  • 2 tbsp wheat bran
  • 1 tsp pure maple syrup
  1. Layer the ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine. Done and done.

Dairy-Free Berry Smoothie

It’s starting to feel like fall here! I was driving yesterday and the trees are starting to turn colours and it looks gorgeous. That also means I spend a large part of my drives to and from work trying to dodge farm equipment, but what can you do.

So this smoothie is dairy-free. I’ve talked about lactose intolerance here, so I won’t get in to that. Some people feel better from not drinking milk and eating milk products. If your body can tolerate them, there is not reason not to consume them. Your body needs the calcium and vitamin D, whether you’re younger and still building and growing your bones, or whether you’re older and trying to maintain your bone health. Almonds are a good alternative source of calcium, though you won’t get the added vitamin D. A 1/4 cup of whole almonds will contain roughly 10% of the recommended daily amount of calcium, so that’s a good start if you’re avoiding dairy. By throwing both almond milk and almond butter in this smoothie, we’re getting a little bit of calcium to make up for the regular milk I normally add. At Community Food Advisor training last week, we got to sample different alternate milks, so this is all still fresh in my mind. I’d tried almond, rice, and soy milks before, but I got to try hemp milk, goat milk, and kefir. Kefir isn’t necessarily lactose free, but it contains bacteria that help you digest it more easily. Goat milk also doesn’t contain lactose so it’s the traditional option for people looking to avoid lactose. The hemp milk was similar to rice or almond milk, it just had a bit of a ropey taste to it. Like when I chewed on a hemp necklace or something when I was little.

This recipe makes 1 (Magic Bullet sized) serving. The pictures are taken directly in the cup because I was drinking it while running around the house getting ready to head to Crossfit and work.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen banana, peeled, divided into chunks
  • 1/4 cup frozen blackberries
  • 1/4 cup frozen strawberries
  • 2 tbsp almond butter
  • 1 cup almond milk (more if the smoothie is still too thick for your liking, I keep mine pretty thick)
  1. Do you really need instructions for a smoothie?
  2. Throw all ingredients in a blender/Magic Bullet/Ninja/whatever you choose.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Drink quickly while running around doing a million other things.

Pumpkin Mac and Cheese

Canada’s Food Guide recommends eating 7 to 10 servings of fruits and veggies every day for adults. Of this, you should have atleast one dark green vegetable (broccoli, kale, spinach) and one orange vegetable (sweet potato, squash, carrots). This is to make sure that you eat a variety of foods and therefore a full range of vitamins and minerals. But no where in there does it say that your orange vegetable can’t be in mac and cheese form. This really is the ultimate fall comfort food. And not a blue and orange package or neon cheese in sight!

By making the base of this sauce with pumpkin puree instead of cream and butter, you save a ton of calories and fat, while gaining some fibre and getting half a serving of vegetables. Also, according to my Community Food Advisor training last night, pumpkin has the most fibre per serving of any fruit or vegetable. I thought it was raspberries, but go figure!

Make sure you’re using pumpkin puree and not pumpkin pie filling, or you will come out with a very sweet mac and cheese. Which I think would be strange but might taste ok. But save yourself the sugar for some cookies or something. This recipe makes 3 servings.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked whole wheat macaroni
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cup shredded medium or old cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp mustard powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • extra cheese for topping
  1. In a large non-stick skillet, heat the onions on medium heat until soft.
  2. In the meantime, cook the macaroni according to the directions and drain.
  3. Once the onions are soft, add the pumpkin puree to the skillet and cook, stirring as needed until heated through.
  4. Add the butter and margarine and stir to combine. The sauce should still be thick but smooth.
  5. Slowly add the cheese, stirring constantly to distribute evenly and prevent lumps.
  6. Add the nutmeg, paprika, mustard powder, and salt and pepper and mix.
  7. Add the cooked macaroni to the skillet and fold it into the sauce.
  8. Serve topped with extra cheese.

Chili and Parmesan Pasta

Happy Tuesday! I hope that everyone had amazing long weekend and safe travels to and from wherever you were going.

As we head in to colder months, we move away from wanting to grill everything all the time and actually want to start using the stove again. This recipe is something I made a lot last winter when I was in school because it only needs 4 ingredients and is super quick to make.

While there’s such a movement against carbs and gluten, whole wheat pasta has more fibre than normal pasta. Pasta is also a pretty cheap food, and can be combined with any kind of ingredients you have in the fridge or cupboard to make something great. I’ve made this with all kinds of different cheese, from the No Name Parmesan that comes in a cardboard tube, to the Kraft shredded version that melts nicely, to some fresh grated Parmesan I picked up at the deli counter. No matter how you make it, it’s always great. The same goes for the type of pasta you use. Whatever makes you happy and is handy will work. The spice can be adjusted to your preference by increasing or decreasing the amount of chili flakes. Try pairing this pasta with a fresh green salad for a complete meal.

This recipe makes one serving.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup dry whole wheat pasta
  • 1/2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp dry red chili flakes
  1. Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain and pour into a bowl.
  2. Add the olive oil, cheese, and chili flakes and stir to combine evenly.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste if needed.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (no butter!)

I’m continuing on with Friday’s pumpkin theme with today’s recipe. This recipe has been a long time in the making. Every fall, I make a handful of patches of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. This started three years ago when I was in my second year at Guelph. I’d make them whenever I knew my boyfriend was coming to visit because he loved them so much the first time I made them. (That time I used steel cut oats instead of quick oats or old fashioned oats because it didn’t occur to me that there was a difference. There is.) The recipe has changed every year, and sometimes from batch to batch. This is the version I’m currently working with that I love. As soon as it started to cool down, I started getting requests for pumpkin chocolate chips cookies again. And what better time for pumpkin cookies that October?

Speaking of October, I hope everyone is registered to vote in 2 weeks. No one has any excuse not to vote. If you don’t know whether you’re registered or can vote, visit Elections Canada and they’ll get you all set up. If for some reason you can’t do everything online, drop by your local Elections Canada office and they’ll get you set up and registered. There is really no reason not to vote. Get informed and decide what’s important to you, and then vote! I registered to vote last week, which was slightly more complicated than it needed to be. All my official ID in the world still has my Deep River home address on it and I’ve never changed it. To prove I live at this end of the province and can vote in this riding, I brought a couple pay stubs. However, they couldn’t find me in the system because the address associated with my name and date of birth was my address from the last two years at school! Go figure! Anyway, the point is that if they let me register to vote like that, no one has any excuse not to do their civic duty.

This recipe makes roughly 20-24 cookies. Just because there’s no butter or oil doesn’t mean these are the healthiest thing in the world. But since there’s oatmeal and whole wheat flour for fibre and pumpkin in them, they’re a healthier treat than all the Halloween candy we’re all going to eat this month.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pie filling, we’ve been over this)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine the pumpkin, eggs, and vanilla. Beat in the brown sugar.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine the cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, salt, flour, and oats. Stir to combine.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir everything together until thoroughly combined.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Use a pair of small spoons to place balls of dough on a non-stick baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

Happy October! In my last post, I mentioned that we’re heading into the season of all things pumpkin. My second post, here, featured pumpkin muffins with white chocolate chips. If you make them, you should know that they come out very sticky and dense. I’m planning on re-working that recipe so stay tuned for that!

The problem with so many pumpkin things (muffins, cake, that ever-popular pumpkin spice latte), is that they are totally loaded up with sugar. This smoothie is an awesome way to get your pumpkin fix without all that nonsense. Being the basic white girl that I am, I like my #PSL as much as the next girl in Hunter boots, but until right now, I’ve never looked up the nutrition info. A Starbucks tall (or medium to the rest of the world) pumpkin spice latte has 380 calories! Seriously! Let’s top that off with a nice big dollop of 14g of fat, and a shot of 50g of sugar just for good measure. We all know that our bodies don’t process liquid calories the same of solid food, so that lovely hot drink is not going to fill you up the same way 380 calories of a sandwich, or salad, or fruit would. So if you need a pumpkin spice latte to feel like it’s fall, have one. But then don’t let it be a thing you drink constantly from now until the New Year. Don’t deprive yourself, but be aware of what you’re consuming!

Pumpkin on it’s own is an awesome food, and another one that I think is pretty underrated. 1 cup of pumpkin has 30 calories, but almost 200% of your daily vitamin A intake. You’ve also got 17% of your daily vitamin C in there to help keep your immune system safe from all those fall sniffles. Make sure when you’re buying canned pumpkin, that it’s pure pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin pie filling already has sugar and spices added to it, but we both know you’re already sweet enough and don’t need that.

This recipe makes 1 serving.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 small frozen banana (peeled)
  • 1/3 cup plain low fat yogurt
  • 2/3 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tbsp chopped pecans
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • tiny splash vanilla
  • 1 cup almond milk (or whatever milk makes you happy)
  1. It’s a smoothie, do you really need instructions?
  2. Throw everything in your favourite blender/Magic Bullet/Ninja.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour into a glass and top with pecans if you want to feel like you really have your life together.