10 Amazing & Healthy Recipes to Celebrate Pancake Tuesday

Pancakes are a favourite in my house. The kids are strangely subdued when I bust out a new Green Smoothie recipe (some might say grim actually) but they are guaranteed to jump for joy when pancakes are on the menu. And really – what’s not to love? Hot fluffy buttery cakes piled high on a plate drowning in sweet maple syrup…..heavenly!

pancakes 3

But if you know me you also know that I am always trying to revamp recipes to make them healthier. And to be honest – sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I have made my fair share of lumpy, sticky and tasteless pancakes in an attempt to eschew the traditional boxed pancake mixes.

In honour of “Pancake Tuesday” I thought I’d spare you one of my so-so recipes and instead share 10 sure-fire recipes that were developed by other very talented health-conscious bloggers. I have made and devoured a batch of each of these recipes and I can personally vouch for their amazingness so pick the one that appeals to your taste buds and get flipping:

1. Hormonal Balance Blueberry Pancakes by Meghan Telpner

2.  Gluten-Free Whole Grain Chia Pancakes by Dreena Burton of Plant-Powered Kitchen

3. Strawberry Shortcake Stacked Pancakes by Angela Liddon of Oh She Glows

4. Chocolate Chip Buckwheat Pancakes by Sondi Bruner

pancake 4

*Photo Credit: Sondi Bruner

5. My Favourite Vegan Pancakes by Amanda Maguire of Pickles & Honey

6. Loveliest Lemon Vegan Pancakes by Kathy Patalsky of Healthy Happy Life

lemon pancakes

*Photo Credit: Kathy Patalsky, Healthy Happy Life

7. Peach Pancakes by Thug Kitchen

8. 7-Ingredient Vegan Gluten-Free Waffles by John and Dana at Minimalist Baker

9. Even Better Potato Pancakes by Deb Perelman at Smitten Kitchen

10. Coconut Flour Banana Pancakes by Joy McCarthy of Joyous Health

So get out the maple syrup and whip up a stack of delicious and healthy pancakes. And for inspiration check out my latest batch – not half bad tasting and as my daughter pointed out “look mom – this one is pooping a heart!” I took that as a good sign ; ) Happy Pancake Tuesday everyone!

pancake heart

Spicy Chia Chili

Ch-ch-ch-Chia! Honestly, I think that jingle has got to go down in history as one of the most successful marketing campaigns of all times. I can’t even open a bag of chia seeds without humming the tune in my head.

chia pet 1Little did I know back in the 80’s while I was coveting my own sprouting pet that the little seeds were actually nutritional powerhouses. Chia is an amazing source of fiber, protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, manganese and phosphorus. Not bad for tiny beads that we used to slather on ceramic animals for decoration!

chia

I was inspired to make this chili after watching Dr. Ali Zentner on the Steven and Chris Show (I love those guys btw). Dr. Ali has a recipe in her book for a Chia Chili but I decided to freestyle and make up my own creation based on the ingredients that I enjoy. And that is the beauty of this recipe – you can add your favourite things (cubed potato, squash, celery, yams….whatever) and dial-up or ease off on the spices to make it just to your liking. I prepared mine in a large stock pot on the stove but I’m thinking you could also fire up your crock pot, toss in the ingredients and let them simmer all day long. Then you grab a baguette on your way home from work, breeze in the door with dinner all prepared and look like a total rock star!

Spicy Chia Chili (inspired by Dr. Ali Zentner)

chia chili

1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of chili powder
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 cups of sliced mushrooms
1 red pepper, diced
2 vegetable or mushroom bouillon cubes dissolved in 3 cups of hot water
1 can organic kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can organic black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can organic chick peas, rinsed and drained
1 28 oz can organic crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz can organic diced tomatoes (with juices)
1 cup frozen organic shelled edamame beans
1 cup frozen organic sweet corn kernels
3/4 cup chia seeds
1 small jalapeno pepper, finely diced
1 tablespoon of hot sauce (I used green tabasco)
I zucchini, cubed
1 cup fresh spinach or kale leaves, finely chopped

Heat oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms and red pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes longer.

Add in water/bouillon mixture, both cans of tomatoes, all cans of beans, edamame, corn, chili powder, hot sauce, jalapeno and chia seeds. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring frequently then reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about an hour. Stir the mixture a few times and add more water if it seems to be getting too thick.

Toss in the zucchini and spinach (or kale) leaves and stir to combine. Cook for 15 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Enjoy!

Potent Superfood Add-Ins For Your Smoothie

Green smoothies are a staple in my house and you can hear the whir of the Vitamix coming from the kitchen pretty much every single morning. And although at least one of the kids will inevitably complain bitterly, we all chug down our green goodness to kick-start the day.

The greens, veggies and fruits are the stars of the show but I also like to slip in some potent superfoods to get a bit more bang for my buck. These are definitely optional and some of them are down-right decadent judging by the price tag but if you have the inclination and the extra cash, you might want to try a few of my favourites:

SPIRALINA– This blue-green algae comes from the sea and is a superior source of protein. It’s a powder so it requires very little energy to digest and is amazingly rich in chlorophyll a phytochemical that comes straight from the sun’s energy. It also helps detoxify and nourish the blood and every cell of the body. Spiralina can add a bit of a fishy taste to your smoothie so start with a half a teaspoon in the beginning and amp up the honey or dates to cover the sea  flavor. It will also make your smoothie a brilliant green colour!

spirulina

CHLORELLA– I recently purchased Vega chlorella tablets to add to smoothies and for my son to take after particularly grueling soccer practices and matches. This green algae is roughly 65% protein and also contains all of the essential amino acids and tons of chlorophyll. According to nutritionist Kimberly Snyder, “it can be helpful in warding off energy slumps and thanks to its high protein content, it’s useful for active athletes.” Be warned though – a bottle containing 300 tablets set me back $70.

chlorella

CHIA SEEDS– I love chia seeds for their amazing amino acid profile and omega 3 essential fatty acids.  Just 2 tablespoon added to a smoothie contains five times the omega-3 content of a 1/4 cup serving of walnuts, twice the iron and magnesium of a cup of spinach, as much calcium as a half-cup of milk, as much potassium as a third of a banana and more than twice the fiber of a cup of oatmeal. And it’s loaded with antioxidants. One note though – if you are adding chia to your smoothie it’s best to drink it right away. The seeds swell over time and will make your smoothie thick and clumpy if you let it sit.

chia

SUNWARRIOR PROTEIN POWDER– I have tried several protein powders and this one is definitely my favourite. It’s not chalky or grainy, tastes pretty good and it’s easy to digest. This whole grain brown rice protein powder is 85% protein, soy-free, raw, sprouted, and vegan. It is naturally rich in vitamins and minerals and contains high amounts of antioxidants. It also contains other essential nutrients such as thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, phosphorous, iron, and potassium. But again – it’s not cheap at $65.99 a bag.

sun-warrior-protein

IRISH MOSS– I first learned about this superfood at a course with Meghan Telpner and I’ve been hooked ever since. Now brace yourself – it’s kind of a weird one but the health benefits are truly amazing. According to Meghan, this sea vegetable is “nature’s only plant-based source of thyroid hormones, is abundant in potassium which can significantly improve behavior and mental functioning and is also very helpful for fibromyalgia,  moodiness, agitation, depression and anxiety disorders. It is highly concentrated in iodine and abundant in selenium which is a necessary factor in thyroid hormone production and if that wasn’t enough Sea Moss contains Algin. This phytonutrient has magical therapeutic value as a heavy metal detoxifying agent- meaning it helps pull heavy metals out of the tissues of our bodies.  Additionally this food is a healing agent to all mucous membranes.” Wow! Irish Moss comes in a bag looking like a weed you might pull off the beach so follow this link to see how to prepare the moss before you add it to your smoothie- http://meghantelpner.com/blog/the-mystery-revealed-how-to-prepare-irish-moss-sea-moss/

irish moss

MSM POWDER – Raw food expert and author David Wolfe speaks passionately about the benefits of this naturally occurring form of dietary sulfur found in fresh raw foods that are involved in the cycle of rain. “MSM is deficient in foods grown in greenhouses or in foods grown through irrigation. MSM is volatile and destroyed by cooking. In the body, MSM builds collagen and maintains healthy joints. This is also why MSM increases flexibility, hastens recovery time from sore muscles, and is excellent for recovery from athletic injuries. Because of its collagen-building properties, MSM creates smooth skin, thick lustrous hair, and strong nails.” I love Omica Organics 100% Pure Plant MSM Crystals that are derived from natural wood pulp. And if I don’t put a scoop in my morning smoothie, I’ll stir a 1/2 teaspoon into a glass of water later in the day.

msm

FREEZE DRIED ACAI BERRY POWDER– this powder derived from the acai berry contains significant amounts of omega-3 fatty acids which protect the heart and circulatory system while promoting tissue growth development. Acai’s high antioxidant content has been shown to slow down the effects of aging and prevent the development of certain cancers. I throw in 1 teaspoon as a potent antioxidant smoothie addition.

acai

 MACA– this root grows in some of the hardiest terrain in the world on top of the Peruvian mountains. Because it’s so durable, it is called an “adaptagen” which means it helps us cope and better manage stress. As a result, it can also boost our libido, improve hormonal balance, and stabilize our mood and energy. Remember – a little maca powder goes a long way so start with a 1/2 tsp in your smoothie and build up to 1/2 a tablespoon.

maca

These are just a few of the amazing superfoods that I keep stocked in my pantry and I’ll toss 1 or 2 into my smoothie each morning as the mood strikes me. I also love to add a tablespoon of coconut oil, a pinch of Celtic sea salt, a couple of Vitamin C capsules, a teaspoon of cinnamon and/or turmeric powder and 2 tablespoons of hemp seeds. Don’t feel like you need to rush out and buy a whole arsenal of new products – just try a few and experiment with adding them to your smoothie until you come up with a few new yummy and healthy drinks.

Happy blending!

Cleanse Day # 8 – Dining Out and Not Starving

I’m often asked how I can survive this 3 week cleanse (and how I can be a vegan for that matter) and not starve. Trust me, it’s can be done and it’s not even all that hard. It can however get a bit tricky when I am away from home- especially during cleanse time. When I’m separated from my kitchen and my beloved vitamix I have to be prepared.

Actually, I had to be out 3 nights last week and I was fairly sure that vegan/gluten-free options would be in short supply. So I armed myself with snacks, drinks and creative ideas for finding something to eat that wouldn’t compromise my 21-day clean eating plan.

nuts and seeds   larabar

I always keep a container of nuts and seeds and a couple of Larabars in my purse for emergencies. I also lug along a big container of water or my new favourite refreshing/energy boosting drink: Chia Fresca. I got this recipe from Oh She Glows and it is a neat one. The drink itself is simply made with water, fresh lemon juice, agave and chia seeds and is a very popular beverage in Mexico and Central America. Chia seeds are considered a superfood because of their incredibly high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, calcium, protein and fiber. They are also a mucilaginous seed which means that they get gel-like when wet and pull toxins out of your body as they travel through your system. The texture of this drink is really different so it’s not going to be for everyone- but give it a try and see what you think.

Chia Fresca (adapted from OhSheGlows.com)

chia fresca

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 cups water or coconut water
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Sweetener, to taste (I used 1 tsp agave nectar)

Add chia and water into a jar or glass and stir very well to combine. Let  sit for 10 minutes to allow the chia seeds to swell up. I like to use a jar with  a lid so I can shake it up really well and break up the clumps of chia.
Add lemon juice and sweetener to taste. Stir (or shake) well to  combine and enjoy!

So what did I do in addition to my snacks and Chia Fresca on those 3 nights? Well, on night #1 I hit up Mucho Burrito for a veggie salad bowl (minus the tortilla shell bowl) and ended up with a delicious dinner of chopped romaine lettuce, rice, grilled veggies, black beans, fresh tomato salsa, guacamole and cilantro all topped with a light vinaigrette. Not bad eh?

Night #2 I was off to Toronto for an evening voiceover gig so I packed a dinner to take along. Here is my quick on-the-go creation that left me full and satisfied:

leftover salad

2 cups of leftover rice
1/2 a can of organic mixed beans, rinsed and drained
Handful of chopped cilantro
1 chopped mini cucumber
Handful of raw sunflower seeds
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp gluten-free tamari
Salt and pepper

I’m going to be honest and tell you that night #3 was the toughest and it had nothing to do with the food. My husband and I were out at a local restaurant with friends and I really, really, really wanted to enjoy a cocktail! It was so tough when everyone else was sipping wine and beer to sit there like a teetotaler with my water and lemon. I did it though and by the end of the night I was happy to just watch the crazy drinkers and thank my lucky stars that I wouldn’t be feeling like them the next morning ; )

Bottom line – as a (mostly) vegan, I’ve had to learn to be adaptable to ensure that I can enjoy something to eat and drink in all situations without being too much of a pain in the butt. It has taken some work, some exploring, some mistakes, some research and some frank discussions with friends and family but most of the time things work out just fine. Do I always get it right? Not a chance! But hey, I’m sure not starving in the process.