I was recently sent a copy of Greta Podleski’s new cookbook, Yum & Yummer from the nice folks at Hype PR who asked me to try some recipes and write a review. I get approached all the time to review cookbooks and products, and I’m picky on which ones I choose, but I couldn’t say no to this one. Remember Greta and her sister Janet from their first cookbook Looneyspoons and their show on Food Network: Eat, Drink and Be Merry? I watched their show all the time! They took common recipes, and made them healthy and delicious – not an easy task!

Flipping though Greta’s cookbook, the first thing that impressed me was her food philosophy. She says, “…I’d rather not tell people how or exactly what to eat…My passion isn’t preaching about healthy eating, it’s helping busy North Americans answer the question, ‘What’s for dinner?’ It’s creating outrageously delicious recipes using common, everyday ingredients found at your local grocery store” (1).

The next thing that impressed me were the recipes themselves; they’re healthy without being intimidating for the average home cook, and she has something for everyone: entertaining, kid-friendly, cooking with your partner, Sunday dinner, grab and go, and dessert. There are plenty of gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan recipes for those with sensitivities, and she also uses a wide variety of proteins, including delicious looking fish and meatless meals (which can be tricky to work with). The best part is that all of the recipes are simple; combining delicious ingredients and flavours; I kept thinking as I was flipping through, why didn’t I think of that?

There are so many delicious recipes to choose from, but being a busy mom I chose three quick recipes that are also kid-friendly. These recipes would work for anyone though, and are perfect to make during your meal prep day to enjoy throughout the week at work or school. The Broccoli and Cheddar Quinoa Bites are perfect to take to work with a salad for a quick and healthy lunch or to toss in your kids’ lunch bag.

The Almond Butter Energy Bites were so easy to make (and SO YUMMY), and are the perfect snack with tea, post workout or after-school snack. The nice thing about this recipe is that it’s super versatile. Instead of almond butter, I used peanut, and if you want to make it school friendly, you can use sunflower butter. I also didn’t have coconut on hand so I used almond meal instead, and it worked great!

And of course, I needed to make a dessert. Greta’s Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies are to die for. The batch was gone in a matter of days, and last night my husband said, “I’m SO sad those are gone.” Again, super easy and can be tweaked if you want to use a different type of sugar or add your own toppings.

I don’t want to give away all of Greta’s recipes, but here is her recipe for Almond Butter Energy Bites – enjoy!

Almond Butter Energy Bites

Ingredients
2/3 cup quick-cooking oats (not instant)
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (I substituted with almond meal)
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips (I substituted with organic raisins)
2 tbsp. flax meal (ground flax) or ground chia seeds (could also use hemp seeds)
1 cup natural almond butter (I substituted with peanut butter, and could also use sunflower or pumpkin butter to make it school-friendly)
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla

In a small bowl, combine oats, coconut, chocolate chips and flax meal. Mix well and set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix almond butter, maple syrup and vanilla until smooth. I use a wooden spoon for this. Add oat mixture and stir again until all ingredients are well blended. It’ll look like raw cookie dough. Yum!

Using about 1 tbsp. dough per energy bite, roll mixture into 20 balls using your hands. Wet hands occasionally to help prevent dough from sticking. Store in an airtight container in the fridge.

Makes 20 energy bites.

Yum & Yummer also features “Kitchen Whizdom” for each of the recipes; Greta’s tips and tricks that are super helpful. For example, her tip for letting quinoa sit for 10 minutes after cooking without touching it – my quinoa finally had the perfect consistency! And if you’re a visual person, there’s an online video included for each recipe. All you have to do is scan the code in the book! Go get your copy of Yum & Yummer this weekend!

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New Year’s Eve Reflections

by Lauren on December 31, 2017

Every new years eve I find myself reflecting on the year; adventures we’ve been on, the highs and the lows; the people in my life who have been there, and those who haven’t. Here are some highlights of 2017:
First time taking both boys to the grocery store!
Made it to Colombia after almost 24 hours of travel – one of the hardest/most rewarding moments of the year!
Jack’s 3rd birthday party – the things you’ll do for your kids!

Max turns 1!
My parent’s 40th Wedding Anniversary celebration!

Cottage life!

One of the best family vacations ever to Turks and Caicos, and the moment Jack met Elmo.
Successful Halloween with both boys trick-or-treating…one of the cutest moments of my life.
Merry Christmas! One of the most successful group photos to date; the kids sat still, and seemed to enjoy it.

I also find myself thinking about the year ahead; major changes coming up, making plans (not too many though, after all, God laughs when you make plans), and setting goals for what I’d like to accomplish individually, as a couple and as a family.

Thinking a bit about 2018, here are a few major events and changes for us:

January:

  • Registering Jack for kindergarten! I can’t believe I will have a 4 year old, and a 2 year old, and will have mornings completely to myself again come September…what to do?

February:

  • John and I are going away just the two of us for four blissful nights to one of my favourite places in the world – Couples Swept Away on 7-mile beach in Negril, Jamaica. I will miss my kids like crazy, but we worked hard for this.
  • To answer the question above, I plan to register for a 200-hour Yoga teacher training course that will take place from February to June. This is a huge moment for me, as I’ve put my career on hold for four years to be with my kids. I’m anxious, but excited at the thought of working again, combining my passions: nutrition and fitness, taking some time to focus on me again, and seeing where this new chapter will take me.

March:

  • Off to Mexico! This time with the kids and of course grandparents 😉

April, May, June:

  • Yoga, yoga and more yoga

July and August:

  • Cottage, yoga, cottage, yoga and more cottage and more yoga

September:

  • Jack and Max off to school and daycare, and me off to work!

October:

  • Living our new normal

November:

  • Off to Florida!

December:

  • Time to start thinking of 2019 and what that will bring…

Even though God laughs when we make plans, I think it’s important to set goals. If you’re facing changes and new challenges next year, here are a few quotes that I found inspiring:

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone, and as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
— Marianne Williamson

“The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways.”
― Robert Greene, Mastery

“Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.”
— Albert Einstein

“You can be the juiciest, ripest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be people who hate peaches.”
—  Dita Von Teese

Happy New Year Everyone!

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Almond Thumbprint Cookies

by Lauren on December 22, 2017

This time of year always puts me in the mood to bake. I love giving friends and neighbours homemade goodies, and I love it even more when I give them something healthy. I’m not opposed to having my favourites over the holidays (egg nog, candy cane ice cream, toffee squares), but with all the super sweet treats out there, it’s nice to throw in a healthy cookie, and even better when they taste awesome. These Almond Thumbprint Cookies are easy to make, and with their buttery texture and sweet almond flavour; remind me of my grandma’s Dutch boterkoek, but without all the refined sugar, flour and butter. This recipe was adapted from @dula_nd and it does not disappoint! Happy baking!

 

 

 

 

 

Almond Thumbprint Cookies

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp coconut oil, melted
4 tbsp. real maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
1 tsp. apple butter (or your favourite jam or preserve) per cookie

Method

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

Add all dry ingredients to a bowl, and stir to combine.

In a small glass bowl, combine melted coconut oil, maple syrup and extracts. Add this wet mixture to the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until combined and a dough forms.

Roll a small ball of cookie dough in your hands, place on the lined baking sheet and gently press the centre with your thumb. Repeat until all the dough is gone (makes about 16-18 cookies). Fill each cookie with 1 teaspoon of apple butter.

Bake for 8 to 12 minutes or until cookies are golden-brown around the edges.

Enjoy!

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Happy and HEALTHY Holidays!

by Lauren on December 19, 2017

With my family being in the Toronto area, I’m in full packing and planning mode around this time of year in preparation for our annual trek to visit my family for four nights, and than up to John’s family cottage for three nights.

The holiday season is notorious for being heavy on the sugar and light on the sleep – a recipe for weakening the immune system and getting sick. With this in mind, I come fully prepared with healthy homemade snacks and the necessary vitamins to try and avoid the dreaded Christmas cold.

We usually leave early for our drive to Toronto so most of the boys meals and snacks are in the car. I pack and prepare as much “real” food as possible: fruit, boiled eggs, cheese and I also bring some homemade breakfast and snack options. This year I made my Raw Granola Bites – chock full of healthy fats, and 2-Ingredient Pancakes – gluten-free and high in protein!

When it comes to vitamins that help strengthen my kids’ immune system, I add Webber Naturals Kids vitamin D drops to their water, they get a daily omega-3 (Progressive is my favourite brand), and I mix Progressive probiotics powder into their smoothie or yogurt. I’ve also started to add echinacea drops to their water at the first sign of a cold, which helps to shorten the length of the cold.

Feeling a bit confused about probiotics? Basically, it’s important to get as many different strands, from as many different sources as possible (great probiotics article here). A probiotic supplement is always a good idea (I like Jamieson for myself), I also add kefir to our smoothie, and have made kimchi a part of our holiday meal plan (perfect pairing with my Pulled Pork!). For myself, I also like to add 1000 IU’s of vitamin C and a B100 vitamin during times when I’m feeling run down to keep my immune system strong. It sucks when your kids are sick, but it’s even worse when you get sick and can’t take care of them!

It’s inevitable that you and your kids will probably eat more sugar (us adults will drink more wine!) and get less sleep than you’re used to over the holidays. In addition to the treats, try and incorporate fruit and raw veggies any chance you get, take your vitamins, and despite the chaos and busyness of the season, try to live in the moment and enjoy.

Raw Granola Bites

Ingredients
3/4 cup instant oats, uncooked
1/4 cup almond flour
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup agave or unpasteurized honey
1/4 cup natural peanut or almond butter

In a large mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine honey and peanut butter (microwave to soften if necessary).

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir to combine (this may take a bit of elbow grease to incorporate all the oats). Refrigerate mixture for 30 minutes. Remove from fridge, and form into balls (about 1 tbsp. size).

Store in the fridge or freezer. These balls are a great source of healthy fats, protein and whole grains; making them a perfect healthy snack on the go!

2-Ingredient Pancakes

Ingredients
1 ripe banana
2 eggs
Optional additions:
2 tbsp. almond flour
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. cinnamon

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-low heat.

Mash banana in a bowl, and whisk in the eggs. If you choose, stir in optional additions now.

Before each batch, scoop a dollop of coconut oil into your pan to prevent pancakes from sticking. Add about 1 tbsp. of batter per pancake (I usually cook 4 at a time). Let cook for 1 minute, flip and cook an additional minute. Continue cooking until all the batter is used.

Allow pancakes to cool and store in the fridge or freezer. Reheat in microwave and top with real maple syrup or unpasteurized honey. Enjoy!

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Get Hygge This Winter

November 16, 2017

Are you dragging your feet lately? Finding it hard to get out of bed and get motivated for the day? I am. The sudden cooler temperatures and additional hours of darkness that we get in November in Canada really have an effect on my mood and motivation. Why than, are the Danish, who experience 6 […]

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Oh, hello abs.

November 13, 2017

Oh, there you are abs. After two kids, and a few years of lackluster core workouts, I thought you were gone forever, but turns out you’re still there. Every time I sneeze or laugh, I painfully remember where you are. I braved another yoga class last Saturday afternoon – 1 hour and 15 minutes of […]

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My Journey to Becoming a Yogi…started last night

November 3, 2017

I almost didn’t go. It was cold and rainy outside. I had had a long day with the boys, and the thought of curling up on the couch with my favorite jogging pants, a glass of red wine and Ray Donovan was very appealing. But, maybe doing something different; physically leaving the house and moving […]

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Checking IN…

May 29, 2017

Wow. This is the first time I’ve logged in since January 28th, and the only reason is because I decided not to prep dinner tonight or get groceries; thank goodness for my mother-in-law’s frozen chicken soup. The last 4 months has flown by, but it’s so fun taking care of both my boys. Jack is […]

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Super Easy Veggie Chia Seed Slow Cooker Lasagna

January 28, 2017

Photo Credit For those of you that follow my blog on a regular basis, I probably sound like a broken record by now, but I’m always looking for ways to make not-so-healthy favourites (like lasagna!) healthy, delicious and easy. It’s pretty much one of my main goals in life. So when my sister-in-law gave me the idea […]

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Celebrate National Soup Month with my Coconut Curry Pumpkin Soup!

January 16, 2017

January is National Soup Month, and to celebrate; it’s time to change the way we think of soup! It’s no longer just a starter or a side-dish; it can be a complete meal! Having soup as a main opens up a world of possibilities, and because most soups can be prepared ahead of time; it takes some […]

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