Walnut Coconut Power Balls

If you like these as much as we do, you may want to plan a heavy workout before you make them!  Since they are sweetened using dates, each ball has approximately 6g of sugar, making them perfect post-soccer snacks, but not something you would want to take to the couch as you pound back a 6-pack!

Speaking of sugar, I don’t know about you, but I would rather eat my treats any day than drink them. One can of soda has approximately 33g of sugar! I can’t even fathom how I used to drink that stuff regularly. It makes me cringe now. The next time you feel the need for a soda, try adding the juice of half a lemon and a tbsp of apple cider vinegar to a glass of Perrier. It’s the best invention ever. I’m pretty sure I learned about that drink from Food Matters, so props to them for that one!

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Walnut Coconut Power Balls

  • 2 cups walnuts
  • 1 cup Medjool dates (about 12, pitted)
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • Shredded coconut for covering.

Place walnuts in a food processor and pulse until fine.

Add the dates, almond flour, shredded coconut, cocoa powder, coconut oil, and sea salt. Pulse until thoroughly combined.

Roll into golf ball sized balls and roll in shredded coconut.

Store in the fridge.

Going Gluten Free with Ease: Week 1

It’s been a week since I decided it was time to fully commit to the gluten free lifestyle.  We don’t bring it into the house except for the odd pizza anyway, so our pantry and fridge haven’t seen gluten in a few years.  I’m pretty sure pizza was the only thing really holding us back.  That, and restaurants, but I’ve successfully eaten at 2 restaurants this week and it was actually really easy.  You just have to be sure to ask the right questions!  If you’re not sure, always ask.  Here are my ramblings from week one:

Soups, Sauces, and Salad Dressing. 

Always ask if they’re gluten free.  I ordered eggs benedict without the English muffin, which many would assume made the meal gluten free.  But, I asked about the sauce, which turned out to be made with wheat.  Traditionally it is made from egg yolks, water, lemon juice, and butter, but a lot of lower scale restaurants rely on a dry “just add water” mix.  Gross.  If you want to make it at home, here is a traditional Hollandaise Sauce recipe!

Bread.

Obviously, bread and other obvious wheat containing items are no longer options.  But instead of focusing on “I can’t have it,” focus instead on all of the things that you CAN eat.  Where attention goes, energy flows.  Put your energy into energizing foods such as salads, proteins, and vegetables.  If you find yourself sulking about what you can no longer eat, then it’s time to change your focus!  Think about how your pants are starting to fit looser, or how much energy you have now that you’ve given up grains. Sometimes I just think about chocolate and how grateful I am that my favourite treat is gluten free!

Environment is Everything.

It may be time to change a few of your current hang outs.  If you’ve always gone to a coffee shop and ordered coffee and a doughnut, the habitual energy of that establishment may pull you back in and you may find it hard to cope – unless your motivation is extremely high.  Some people can do it, because their reason WHY they’ve gone gluten free is so strong.  If you’re finding it difficult, it is important to put yourself in situations where you can thrive.  Most cafes in Urban areas have gluten free options, but if you find yourself in Tim Horton’s country like I am, my advice is to stay far, far away!

“Gluten Free” Doesn’t Mean Healthy

Just because the label says gluten free doesn’t mean that food is fit for human consumption.  Many large companies are jumping on the gluten free bandwagon and their foods are not pretty.  Many packaged items contain corn, oats, and rice, which are all inflammatory foods that will spike your blood sugar higher than table sugar.  There is really nothing redeeming about packaged foods!  They’re likely high in sugar and rancid oils as well.  It’s always best to make your own at home.

Drink Plenty of Water.

I have been incredibly dehydrated this week and I know it’s because I’m not getting enough water!  When you give up grains your body releases a lot of water, and since our bodies are 75-80% water, it’s important to stay dehydrated so the body can perform its trillions of daily tasks.  The easiest way to tell if you’re getting enough water is to keep track of your urine.  If it’s deep orange, you’re in trouble.  It should be almost clear!

What I’ve Been Eating

I’ve been eating lots of eggs, meat, salads, homemade pate, smoothies, green juice, and chocolate!  I went to The Beet in Toronto yesterday which is an “organic restaurant that focuses on sourcing local, organic and sustainable ingredients.” I had a green juice and a steak sandwich in a gluten free wrap.  It was amazing.  Restaurants like The Beet make going gluten free very easy when eating out.  I hope you all have amazing restaurants like it available to you!

The Oscars and a Freestyle Mexican Dip

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Last year I went all out for the Oscars.  We ordered pizza.  I ate 2 slices and washed it down with some Barq’s Root Beer.  Then I proceeded to push out a 9 lb baby in our bathroom 5 hours later 😉  Glad I won’t be doing that again!  3 boys and done!

This year I decided to keep it simple.  Some freestyle Mexican inspired dip: refried black beans, minced beef, and some delicious guacamole.

There will be no more Oscars and pizza nights in our house since I’ve finally made the leap into being 100% gluten free.  I’ve been wanting to do it for years but I never tried hard enough because I was scared to let go of some much loved favourites: pain au chocolat, really good bread, and wood oven pizza (specifically Cremini Mushroom Pizza at Pizzeria Libretto if you’re a Torontonian. Yum!).  But as I continue on this health journey I couldn’t deny my body what it needed, and that’s a very clean diet.

Thankfully it’s not a very big leap from our current diet since our kitchen has been 100% gluten free for years.  We saved the gluten for the occasional pizza, wings, or restaurants.  I’m super excited to see the me I can be without gluten!

Alright, here’s what was on tonight’s menu:

Refried Black Beans

I’m not entirely sure this is the Mexican way, but it’s my way, and it’s delicious!

  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 3 tbsp butter (or coconut oil)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock
  • 1 1/2 tsp sea salt

Place onion, garlic, and butter in a large pan and cook over medium/low heat until translucent, about 10 minutes.

Add the black beans and mash with a potato masher.  Add the cumin, sea salt, and chicken stock, and mash once again.  Once they’re as mashed as they’re going to get – you’re done!

Mexican Minced Beef

  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes (with liquid)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle pepper (more if you like spice)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Brown the beef and add the rest of the ingredients.  Cook over medium heat 5-10 minutes to boil off some of the tomato water.

Guacamole (this amazing version not pictured because I was also watching an overtired and crying baby while preparing dinner)

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • 1/4 small red onion, minced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 avocados, mashed with a fork
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • optional: 1 handful of cilantro, roughly chopped

Mash avocados with a fork and then add the rest of the ingredients.  If it doesn’t taste amazing, then there are 2 things you have to play with: the amount of sea salt and the amount of lime juice.  Play with these until this is the best guacamole you’ve ever tasted.

Other potential players:

  • tortilla chips (non-GMO)
  • diced tomatoes
  • organic old cheddar cheese
  • olives
  • hot sauce
  • jalapenos
  • whatever else you want to eat with your delicious freestyle Mexican dinner!

A shout out to Yuri for taking the beautiful photo while I wrestled the food to the table for our 3 little boys!

I put the dishes in individual serving bowls and let the kids assemble their dinner as they wished, which meant that Oscar ate a bowlful of guacamole and Luca ate 2 tortilla chips after filling his plate with them, declaring “I done!” and running away to play with a truck puzzle.  While they ate, I put Arlo out of his misery by giving him a bottle and then put him to bed.  And then I finally got to eat!  Dinner as usual in our house!

 

German Chocolate Cupcakes

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These babies have been a long time in the making.  I’ve been working on the recipe on and off forever, making them now and then but never really getting excited about them – until now!

I’m really glad I didn’t post them earlier because I’m on a low carbohydrate mission in all of my recipes these days.  There is so much unnecessary sugar in modern day food – it drives me crazy.  I had a muffin last week in a moment of weakness and I went into a sugar coma immediately after.  No wonder I was a walking zombie every day in high school, having delicious sugar-rich cookies every. single. day.  I literally lived off of sugar!  I do not want my kids suffering the same fate, but I also don’t want to deprive them of treats.

I made so many cupcakes testing this recipe that we had them for breakfast the next day along with 2 pints of blueberries.  No sugar crash.  No mommy guilt.  And very happy kids.

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German Chocolate Cupcakes

  • 2 cups almond flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa
  • 1 ripe banana, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • 16 drops stevia (I use Now’s French Vanilla)
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin pan with 12 silicone cups individually greased with coconut oil.

Mash up the banana very well, then add the eggs, almond milk, maple syrup, vanilla, and stevia.

Combine almond flour, cocoa, sea salt, and baking soda, and add the dry ingredients to the wet.  Stir well.

Divide the batter between the 12 muffin cups.

Bake 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (dry).

Let cool in the pan at least 20 minutes.  Hollow out the middle with a tsp.  Ice liberally with the chocolate ganache (careful not to fill the hole) and fill with the coconut filling!

Filling:

  • 1 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups shredded coconut
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup coconut cream (solid mass in a can of full fat coconut milk)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 16 drops liquid stevia

Place egg yolks and 1 tbsp water in a large bowl.  Place the bowl over an inch of  barely simmering water, and whisk until the eggs thicken, about 5 minutes. Add coconut cream and stir until melted. Remove the bowl from the heat and mix in pecans, shredded coconut, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and stevia. Set aside.

Ganache:

  • 8 oz good quality 70% cacao chocolate
  • 2 tbsp coconut cream
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Once the chocolate has melted, remove from the heat source and add the coconut cream. Stir to melt the cream. The coconut cream brings down the heat of the chocolate. The mixture will thicken and you can immediately ice the cupcakes (after they have cooled a little).

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Guilt Free Hot Chocolate

When I started this journey into healthy eating it became apparent straight away that I was addicted to sugar.  While my eating habits have changed completely over the past 10 years, the sugar monster remains at some level.  My sugar of choice has always been chocolate, and although I eat the healthiest form of it, I am still guilty of eating too much of it sometimes.

Taming the monster.

The best defense is a good offense, so traditional candy doesn’t make it into the house.  But I do have a healthy stock of organic, fair trade, 70% or more cocoa chocolate bars, chocolate chips, and chocolate chunks.  Under normal conditions, I don’t reach for them.  But as soon as you add the stress of parenting 3 young boys, I can eat an entire 100g chocolate bar in just a few minutes!

Wanting to dive into the chocolate this morning in a fit of stress, I decided that I would only have a little piece.  And this time, I knew that’s all I would have.  Usually a little bit turns into a lot of little bits, but this time was different because I had a plan.

This hot chocolate is the best defense I’ve had in awhile.  I didn’t add any sweetener at all – just whatever is in the 70% chocolate itself, but you may add a little stevia, erythritol, or honey if you wish.  Though, I challenge you to drink it as written – without any added sweetener.  I liked it immediately and didn’t need any sugar, but of course, I am motivated to limit my sugar intake in the name of health.  This just may be the sword that slays my inner sugar monster for good.

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Guilt Free Hot Chocolate

  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 0.5 oz 70% cocoa chocolate (amount pictured above)
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Place all ingredients in a sauce pan over low heat and whisk until both combined and desired temperature is reached.

 

 

Lamb Zucchini Boats

Lamb, rosemary, and mint.  The perfect combination to sail away in a zucchini boat!

Yes, it is a little annoying to hollow out the boats, but I love the presentation of it and it really doesn’t take that long.  If you aren’t partial to boats you can just chop up the zucchini and add it to the pot with the lamb mixture.  I won’t take it personally.

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Lamb Zucchini Boats

  • 4 medium zucchinis
  • 1 lb ground lamb
  • 1 tbsp butter or coconut oil
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 4 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Wash and cut the stalk end off of the zucchinis.  Cut them in half and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.  Place the zucchini on a baking tray and set aside.

Set oven to 400 F.

In a pot over low/medium heat, cook the onion until translucent.  Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes.

Add the ground lamb and cook until no longer pink.

Add the mint, rosemary, lemon juice, spinach, salt and pepper, and cook until the spinach wilts.

Carefully spoon the lamb mixture into the zucchini.

Cook at 400 F for 20 minutes.

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Here is my go-to recipe for snack day at my kids’ school.  It’s simple enough that you can make it even when a baby is crying for a bottle, and up to two other kids are driving you nuts – and you need to get them all in a car 20 minutes from now. GO!

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Roasted Garlic Hummus

  • 5 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil for frying
  • 1 can chick peas (19 oz), liquid reserved
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • ½ tsp salt
  • olive oil to garnish

Put the garlic cloves and coconut oil in a pan over low heat and cook until fragrant but not burned. About 5 minutes

Place garlic, chick peas, lemon juice, tahini, and salt in a high speed blender with about 1/4 cup of the chick pea liquid to get the blender moving.  Blend until smooth, using the temper as much as needed to push the blending mixture around.

Add as much or as little liquid as you would like to get the thickness you desire. Pour into a serving dish and garnish with a good quality olive oil.

How to Succeed

Today has been a stellar day, but it didn’t start out that way!  I was wide awake half of the night, finally falling asleep around 3am, and up again before 7am with the 3 little clones.  I gave Arlo a bottle, made the big kids oatmeal, and finished making enough snacks for 33 kids since I had double snack day duty, and somehow managed to get the big guys to school on time for the first time in awhile!

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Kid-Friendly Snack: Roasted Garlic Hummus and Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Since I’ve been battling insomnia for a couple of weeks I came home and laid down to take a well deserved nap.  An hour and no sandman later, I got up and drove to the forest for some well needed clarity.  I walked for 2 hours while listening to an audiobook, while walking amongst the raining leaves.  Why sit at home and read when you can enjoy this?:IMG_8693.JPG

My fitness goal is set.  I’m just as persistent now as when I initially set the intention.  I take daily action, eat well, and my success is written in the stars.  However, I have yet to set a concrete goal with respect to my career.  I’ve found myself floating in an ocean of possibilities, slowly moving along.  So I started narrowing down my goals today while walking in the fresh misty air.  I’m already getting really excited about working toward them each and every day.  I can’t wait to wake up tomorrow and start learning, writing, and plugging away at a book that I’ve officially taken out of the “someday” pile and placed on the top of my goal list. The audiobook I listened to was called “How to completely change your life in 30 seconds” by Earl Nightingale, and it was the perfect walking companion.  I had heard it all before, but this time it really got my attention.IMG_8688.JPG

One of my favourite lessons is this: as long as you keep working toward your goals, you cannot fail.  You may fall – that’s ok.  Falling isn’t failing.  As long as you get up, you’re still in the game.  You’re successful.  Momentary setbacks cannot harm you.  Even if you’re in the lowest possible place you have ever been, a year from now, it will be just a distant memory, and you will be one year closer to your goals!  If you set a clear goal and work toward its fruition every single day, the universe has no choice but to grow the seeds into future success.  Our minds are extremely fertile, and whatever we plant in our minds will grow.  Positive or negative the mind cannot discern the difference.  It’s up to you to plant the seeds you want to cultivate.  It’s easier to be negative.  But know that your returns will be in direct proportion to what you focus on.  Replace any fearful thoughts with a positive goal worthy of your time.

There is no need to worry about how something will come about.  Worry is one of the lowest vibrations that we can find ourselves in.  There is no sense worrying about something you cannot control, nor is there any sense in worrying about something that happened in the past, or things that most likely won’t come to pass.  There is very little that we need to really worry about.  Most worries are situations that we create in our own minds.  It’s been said that 92% of things we worry about are in the aforementioned categories.  Only 8% of our worries are legitimate.

I know I was always afraid of failing.  What I really should have been worried about was my inaction.  My fears that held me back.  You cannot fail if you don’t give up, but you certainly can fail if you never do anything to shape the life you want.  Most people are caught in a stage of quiet mediocrity.  They want success, but they don’t want to work for it.  They get distracted by 1000s of things and never really get anywhere.  What do you want?

Don’t let events hold you back.  Don’t give away your power by making excuses.  It’s not what happens in life, but how you react to events that determine the result.  A famous psychiatrist interviewed the sons of an alcoholic man, and when asked how they came to be on their current paths, they both answered something like this:  “What would you expect having had an alcoholic father?”  One of the men was what you would call a success.  The other, an alcoholic like his father.

Traditional Greek Salad

I LOVE Greek salad.  What I don’t love is ordering it in a restaurant and being incredibly disappointed pretty much every time.  Greek salad doesn’t have lettuce in it.  It’s full of chunky vegetables and kalamata olives!  They should be the star of the show, and not just a garnish atop iceberg lettuce!  Rant over.  Here’s how to make a simple Greek salad that surely won’t disappoint!

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Greek Salad

  • 4 tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 cucumber, cut into chunks
  • 1 green pepper, cut into chunks
  • 1 red pepper, cut into chunks
  • 5 oz goat’s milk feta cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup kalamata olives, pitted and halved
  • ¼ cup sliced red onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix. Serve immediately.

If serving a large number of people, you can cut up all of the vegetables ahead of time.  Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, black pepper, and garlic in a separate bowl and set aside.  Mix in the dressing just before serving.

Salted Caramel Sauce

This happened today, and I can’t keep it to myself.  It’s probably my most favourite recipe ever.

I have always loved caramel.  I still sneak a few of those little square caramels every Halloween, even though I know they’re going to make me feel sick. Last year I even attempted making my own caramel covered candy apples – from scratch.  Don’t do it.  It’s painstakingly annoying and health destroying.

The alternative?  This caramel concoction that takes about 2 minutes to make. It’s like apples were made to be dipped in it.  No more fighting with plastic to open little caramels, and no more caramel sauce filled with dairy.  I’ll be dipping apple slices in this from now on!  And obviously, it’s kid approved.

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Salted Caramel Sauce

  • 1/2 cup almond butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp vanilla powder
  • 1/4 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend!  Done.

Now cut up an apple, dip it in the caramel sauce, and eat it.

You’re welcome.