Maple Molasses Quinoa Granola

The past 5 years have involved more dietary changes than I can count to try and get my digestive system happy again. I’ve eaten dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free, grain-free. I’ve followed a Candida diet, vegan diet, SCD diet, and FODMAPs diet. It’s been a challenge but I’ve most definitely benefited.

FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides And Polyols. The FODMAP diet eliminates these 3 types of carbohydrates and polyols (a sugar alcohol) from the diet. These molecules are easily fermentable and poorly absorbed in the gut, and thus have been linked to multiple symptoms seen in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). If you want to learn more, this article published in Alive magazine provides a good summary.

Along the way I’ve struggled with the concept of labelling my diet. The labels we stamp on diets put restrictions on our bodies and pressure on our minds. Much anxiety can stem from trying not to break the “rules”. My belief (and I should clarify, this whole post is solely a personal opinion) is that to achieve optimal digestive health we need to become aware of, and listen to what our bodies are telling us. Instead of thinking of that mid-morning bloat and those lunchtime pains as annoyances, pull out your pen and take note of the foods that are giving you these helpful signs.

To some this post may sound hypocritical, as I personally have followed very restrictive diets. And being in the healthcare field I do know that for some people these diets offer amazing health benefits. Really, my challenge to you is to ponder what it is that you are eating and what items you are not. Do you have a reason for these choices? There’s no diet that is perfect for everyone. Pay attention to your food choices. Pay attention to your body. Everything in moderation. Enjoy what you are eating and be happy with the choices that you make.

Moving forward…

While re-introducing foods I had cut out in one of my diets this year I found my body didn’t seem to like was oats (didn’t matter if they were gluten free or not). This presented a problem to an oatmeal and granola fiend like me. The inspiration for this recipe came from this problem, and I’d say it’s a pretty tasty fix.

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Maple Molasses Quinoa Granola
Makes a generous 8 cups
(OR enough for at least 2 weeks – unless you snack on it liberally like me…)
Inspired by this recipe
  • 1 cup quinoa flakes
  • 1 cup buckwheat groats
  • 1/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 3/4 cup raw almonds, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup raw walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 6 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp unsulphured molasses
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

Directions:
1. In a large mixing bowl combine the first 5 ingredients
2. Add all remaining dry ingredients (ie. nuts, seeds, dried fruit, spices).
3. Melt coconut oil (15 seconds in the microwave should do it) and it and the molasses and maple syrup to the dry ingredients.
4. Stir it all up really good!
5. Spread mix onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
6. Bake at 250ºF for 60min. Check every 30min or so to make sure the nuts aren’t browning too quickly. If this is the case you can turn the oven temp down to 225ºF. Don’t mix it up or you’ll lose all your bunches!
7. Let the granola cool on the baking sheet and then transfer to an airtight container.

February Foodie PenPals

The Lean Green Bean

Think back to elementary school. Remember that pen pal you had in Grade 3? Remember how exciting it was to get letters from them? That friend you never actually met, but cherished their handwritten tales. A fond childhood memory of mine.

Needless to say I was thrilled when a friend of mine introduced me to Foodie PenPals. The concept is the exact same as my beloved grade school pen pals, but instead of letters you exchange FOOD! What could be better.

If you’re interested in checking it out, the program is run by Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean.

For the month of February I was paired up with Deborah from Gourmet Mom. We both seemed to have similar tastes in food so I was excited to see what she had packed up for me. The timing of the box arrival could not have been better. 3 days before midterm season started. Excitement and sustenance for the week ahead. Thanks Deborah!

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Almost all the items in the box were completely new to me. What a great way to discover new foods and products. I received:

-   Natural Sins Beetroot Chips
-   Minutka Lemon-Lime Green Tea
-   Jalapeño-stuffed Green Olives
-   Smoked Paprika
-   Green Chili Sea Salt
-   Cocoacara Orange & Chili Dark Chocolate
-   Homemade GF/DF cookies !

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The first items to go were the cookies and chocolate. Definitely brain food… If you’re interested in the recipe for the cookies check out Deborah’s blog, I would highly recommend them! The beet chips made for a great study snack, and the green tea was perfect for a midday caffeine boost. I haven’t tried the spices yet, but I’m sure they will be making an appearance in a recipe soon. They both smell ahhmazing!

San Diego in Pictures

What better time for a Christmas recap than 1 month post the momentous occasion. (Sorry for the delay!) As mentioned in the last post, family Christmas was spent in San Diego this year. Winter was swapped for summer, snow was replaced by sand, spruce trees by palm trees, and skiing by surfing. Despite this, Christmas cheer was not hard to find.

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We stayed in the Ocean Beach neighbourhood of San Diego. It’s a small beachfront community that’s populated by those who prefer wetsuits and surfboards to business suits and offices. The laid back attitude brought on instant relaxation.

The downtown of OB is centred around the Ocean Beach pier, the longest concrete pier on the West coast.

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We spent a day at the Torrey Pines Natural State Reserve, within the northern limits of San Diego. It’s a gorgeous preserved area that has hikes along the cliffs, through forested areas, and on the beach.

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On Christmas Eve day was set out to explore the downtown core of the city. Height restrictions placed on the downtown buildings (because of the proximity of the airport) made the city centre a far cry from the skyscrapers of Toronto. The relaxed beach vibe was maintained as we perused the USS Midway, Gaslamp district, and the historic Hotel Coronado (complete with ice rink on the beach).

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Not surprisingly, the highlight of the trip was the day we spent touring the vineyards in the San Pasqual and Ramona valleys. Tasty wines and stunning scenery.

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We were blessed with beautiful sunsets each night from the deck of our condo.

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And there were ocean views every direction you looked.

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I know I’ll be seeing you again San Diego!

Winter Comfort

It’s been a weird winter here in Toronto weather wise. Snow, rain, -27ºC, +12ºC, ice, LOTS of ice. I was lucky enough to escape to Southern California on the eve of the ice storm that devastated much of the city and the GTA. I spent the week with the sun on my face, sand between my toes, and drink in hand. Needless to say the subzero temperature was not a welcome part of returning home. So I set to the kitchen. Embracing my Northern Ontario roots, I knew what needed to be done to combat the internal chill.

Comfort food. More specifically, chicken pot pie.

This recipe will warm the kitchen and nourish the soul. It includes all the creamy, hearty goodness that you crave, but without the dairy, gluten or FODMAPs (somewhat). It’s a good recipe if you’re looking to clean the fridge out. Add whatever veggies you have/want. I used the lonely vegetables left behind after a week of cooking and it turned out just deeelish.

The almond flour crust lends a lovely nutty flavour to the dish and it’s sturdy texture prevents the dreaded soggy crust when leftovers are heated up!

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Let the dough chill out in the fridge while you prepare the filling. It gives the butter a chance to firm up and will make your life easier when you roll it out later.

All the ingredients laid out makes the cooking process much more enjoyable. And also helps prevent that sinking feeling that you may having forgotten something. Like the chicken in the chicken pot pie… It happens to the best of us.

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The key is to cook the veggies ALMOST to the doneness you would like in the final product. Crisp veg into the oven will likely lead to crisp veg coming out of the oven.

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When the liquids have been added and you reach that coveted creamy texture it’s time to fill the chosen dish. If you’re worried about what size of dish to use it’s better to err on the side of too big rather than too small. Dirty ovens may result with the latter.

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The crust is placed on top of the filling and then let the creative mind go wild. Get fancy with your edges or let out your inner artist when cutting out steam vents. Or simply rely on standard knife slits to get the pie baking as fast as possible like me!

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It may not be the prettiest of dinners, but I promise the taste will remedy your winter blues.

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Chicken Pot Pie
Serves 6-8
Crust:
Adapted from this recipe
2 ½ cups of almond flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
2 eggs
¼ cup butter, softened
1 tbsp maple syrup
  1. Combine all dry ingredients and blend well with a fork.
  2. Whisk together wet ingredients and combine with dry ingredients. Blend well with a fork.
  3. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (while preparing filling).

Filling:
Adapted from this recipe

3 cups of shredded chicken
2 ½ cups of chicken stock
1 tbsp garlic oil
2 tbsp butter
2 carrots, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 medium white potato, diced
½ head of broccoli, chopped
½ cup of green beans, chopped
¼ cup of parsley, chopped
¾ cup of green peas, fresh or frozen (I used frozen)
½ cup of all-purpose flour (I used this GF flour)
½ cups of milk of choice (I used this almond milk)
½ tsp of dried thyme
¼ cup of wine (I used red, but would assume a dry white would work just as well)
1 tsp salt
½ tsp of fresh ground black pepper

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF
  2. Heat butter and garlic oil over medium heat in a large frying pan (big enough to eventually fit all filling ingredients)
  3. Add potato, carrot, celery, broccoli, and green beans to the pan. Cook for 10 minutes or until veggies have softened and are no longer crisp.
  4. Add the flour to the pan and mix well.
  5. Stir in chicken stock and milk. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring often.
  6. Add chicken, green peas, parsley, thyme, wine, salt and pepper. Mix well and then remove from heat.
  7. Scoop filling into casserole dish. (Dish should be 1.5-2 quarts in size, if in doubt err on the side of larger rather than smaller)
  8. Remove prepared dough from the fridge.
  9. Flour a flat surface and roll the dough out to approximately 1 cm thick. Make sure you roll the dough to match the shape of your casserole dish.
  10. Transfer dough onto the top of the pie filling. (If your dough is slightly crumbly, as mine was, use a cutting board to help with the transfer – slide a thin cutting board slowly under the dough and then slowly slide it off the board on top of the filling)
  11. Press dough lightly down onto the top of the filling. Cut off excess dough, leaving 1cm around the edges of the dish.
  12. Fold lip of dough under and press edges into the side of the dish with fingers to create a crimped edge. Use a knife to cut a few slits into the middle of the crust so that there is an escape route for the steam.
  13. Place a baking sheet with tinfoil on to the bottom rack of the oven to catch any drips if the pie bubbles over.
  14. Place the pie in the centre of the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until crust has turned golden and filling is bubbling. Serve warm.

New Year, New Blog

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I’ve never been one for new years resolutions. I can’t actually remember the last time I decided on a realistic resolution. Even in grade school I was that kid the teacher was forced to nag to come up with a few simple goals for the semester. But it’s never too late to change old habits, and a new blog seems like the perfect platform to share some resolutions with you.

Now even though i’m a resolution newbie I know the rules: you’re supposed to come up with personal goals that are specific and achievable throughout the year. BUT, I thought it would be a little more fun to share some general “resolutions” that are often floating around in my mind, and then hey maybe you can add them to your list too!

1) Devote one day every week to cooking something new.
I’ve been in kind of a cooking slump for the past year. A shared kitchen combined with long days at school has resulted in a loss of culinary inspiration. Recently I found that passion for cooking again. Faced with strict dietary limitations I needed to get creative if I didn’t want to eat chicken and steamed broccoli every day for 6 weeks. Now that I’m back in my groove I want to continue. I’m going to designate Sunday as my cooking day andstart chipping away at the 100’s of recipes I’ve pinned on Pinterest. It’s an easy goal for anyone to do. Get in the kitchen and discover something new; a new cuisine, vegetable, cookbook, whatever your heart desires.

2) Pick a skin care product to swap out for a “greener” alternative.
This is something that I’ve been focusing on my attention on for the past few months.  Most people are consciously aware, or at least try to be, of the types of food that they put IN their body, but they lack that awareness when it comes to what they are put ON theirbody.  Despite this lack of the attention the skin gets, it is actually the largest organ in the body and loves to absorb what we put on it. I bet if you took a look at the ingredients in your the beauty products sitting on your shelf you’d be surprised to see how few of the components you recognize, let alone can pronounce the names of. Iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, anyone? Try a new face wash, moisturizer or body scrub and give your skin some love.

I’m currently enjoying this Green Beaver face wash and this Alba Botanica face cream.

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3) Disconnect from technology an hour before bedtime.
We live in a world that thrives on electronics and social media. I’ll admit, I’m just as much of addict as the next person, but I think there comes a time in which we need to pull away, nighttime in particular. Technology tempts us to stay up later at night (I’m definitely guilty of the “Oh what’s the harm in one more episode?”). And the bright light that our electronics emit disrupts our natural circadian rhythm that controls our sleep cycle. So read a book at night instead of watching a TV show or buy an actual alarm clock so you’re not tempted by that phone on your night stand!

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Happy new years to everyone!

P.S. I’ve got a delicious FODMAP-friendly chicken pot pie recipe coming later this week!

The First Post

Welcome to my blog!

I hope you enjoy reading, and maybe learn a little something too. My goal is for this blog to become a space to share my passions with you. A place to post delicious whole foods recipes, explore nutrition tips and myths, and delve into my personal experience with food sensitivities and dietary changes.

If you want to read more about me there’s a short bio under the “about emily” tab. Check out the “naturopathic medicine” tab as well for a summary of the profession and scope of practice.

Stay tuned for many posts to come!