AUTUMN OVERNIGHT OATS

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Oh, autumn. What a whirlwind of a season it has been.

I recently published a blog post “How-To: Grow Your Own Sprouts” rather nonchalantly in hopes that no one would notice my lack of content over these last transitory months. The air now crisp, the trees a burnt orange, and the thermostat turned on high; fall is in full swing. During this time of change, it seems I’ve made some changes too. Change in the sense of letting go. More specifically, being detached from my thoughts. I often find myself feeling frustrated and negative when in a creative rut or when I choose to take time for myself instead of work. Learning to let go of these feelings and taking a step back has helped me to be comfortable with, simply, what is. Because at the end of the day, through it all, only we know what’s best for us. But how do we learn to acknowledge this? By being alone.

Back in September, I went on three-week journey to Europe. Solo. There were many circumstances in which I had to step out of my comfort zone and learn to be alone, and comfortably alone {not to get confused with being lonely}. Now, this most often comes naturally for me, being an only child… and I knowww there’s generally a negative connotation with that, but hear me out: selfishness is not always a bad thing. Imagine no set schedule and no compromising; do what you want, when you want. On my trip this meant starting the morning with a good book and leftover pizza in bed, late-afternoon naps in the sun with sea air twirling around me, meeting and spending time with some beautiful souls whom I never would have got the chance to meet had I not put myself on this particular path, and of course, relying on and following my intuition in each and every situation.

Our intuition directly correlates with our nutrition.

Turns out the more we tune-in, the more we will discover about ourselves. Knowing that each and every decision I made while on my trip was mine and mine only, made me realize that I experience the direct outcome of my actions at all times. Now being back at home, I understand how easy it is to fall back into “busy” but I truly believe that it is essential for us to make the time to really tune-in to how we feel. Our bodies are designed to send signals {fullness, fatigue, cold, stress, etc.} and we owe it to ourselves to just listen. Travelling alone really taught me how to listen to myself in each way; I became more clear and more able to understand what truly nourishes my mind, body, and soul.

And a bowl of hearty oats does just that. It’s wonderfully nourishing and equally as comforting. I recently learned that soaking oats overnight have quite a different texture than cooked oats; they’re still whole and deliciously chewy as opposed to the porridge-like texture that cooked oats have. I adore my new-found fall breaky but are there any nutritional benefits to eating soaked oats? But of course there are. A major benefit to soaking is that you’re allowing the oats to stay alive with all of their enzymes and eventually breaking down, which in turn allows them to be more easily digested. Not to mention whole, unprocessed oats are rich in fibre, iron, and protein.

As the great writer, F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” And what better way to start new than with a renewed sense of health.

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The Ingredients {Yield: 1-2 servings Prep Time: 10 minutes Total Time: 8hrs}

  • 1/2 cup whole rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup filtered water {with juice of 1 lemon wedge}
  • 1/2 cup hemp milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • pinch cardamom
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • pinch of salt

The Directions

1. Measure your oats and place in a large bowl and cover with water and lemon to soak overnight

2. The following morning, if you want your oats raw, add in remaining ingredients and enjoy right away

3. If you prefer your oats slightly warm, place all ingredients in a pot, add a touch of hemp milk {or almond/rice milk} and stir in other toppings. Cook for 5 minutes then serve

*Other toppings to consider include goji berries, pumpkin seeds, cacao nibs, and chia seeds

HOW-TO: GROW YOUR OWN SPROUTS

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Rich in B vitamins, fibre, and protein, these little guys are considered to be one of the most vitally alive and nourishing foods we can eat. All you really need is a jar! They’re perfect to boost a salad, top a sandwich, or garnish just about anything your heart desires. Who knew it would be so easy to get our daily dose of enzymes, vitamins, minerals?

You Will Need…

  • mason jar {or germinating jar}
  • 2-3 tbsp sprouting seeds or beans {I used: radish seeds}
  • cheese cloth
  • elastic

What To Do…

  1. Cut cheese cloth to fit slightly larger than the lid of the jar
  2. If you have a germinating jar, skip step 1
  3. Add in seeds/beans to the jar
  4. Fill jar with water 3-5 cm above seeds/beans, cover with cheese cloth and let soak overnight. Empty in the morning by letting water pour through cheese cloth/germinating jar lid
  5. Place jar in indirect sunlight and prop upside down {in a bowl} to make sure all the water is drained. Rinse seeds/beans every 8-12 hours
  6. In 2-4 days you should have sprouts!

AVOCADO LIME ICE POPS

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I succumbed to a food fad, you guys. I hopped on the popsicle/ice pop/just-about-anything-frozen-on-a-stick bandwagon, and with gusto. Why? Because, avocado, that’s why.

There are just so many things to love about this perfect fruit. First of all, it tastes amazing, we all know that! But did you know it’s a source of HDL cholesterol – the good kind – that lowers the bad kind, LDL cholesterol, making it a fantastic food to eat for those with hypoglycemia and diabetes. It’s also known to be high in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, potassium, vitamin B9 and folic acid. In this recipe, the lime cuts the creaminess of the avocado for a lighter, more citrus taste making it all the more refreshing, helping you beat the summertime heat. And by using a refined white sugar substitute like coconut palm sugar, you’re looking at a low-glycemic index alternative that is higher in vital phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals {meaning it still contains some nutrients, whereas white sugar has zilch}. Other sweeteners to try that are low on the glycemic index are sucanat, raw honey, agave, and maple syrup.

Call me crazy but I also added a handful of kale. Initially this was only to enhance the once green, booger-like colour of the mixture but this also upped the nutritional value. I know what you’re thinking… “but will I be able to taste it?” and my answer to this is, yes and no. For all of you kale connoisseurs out there, you likely will not be able to taste it as, if like me, you add it to almost every smoothie, side dish, and salad. For those who don’t use it as much, don’t fret, it is not overpowering in the slightest. I recently watched a TED talk from one of my favourite healthy food bloggers, Sarah Britton {you may know her as My New Roots}. She speaks on making one change in the kitchen, to change your entire life; and after watching, I couldn’t agree more. So go on, add a handful of greens to your already healthy recipe!

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“With every bite of food we take, we are voting for the way we will look, the way we will think, and of course, the way we will feel. Our food becomes us.”

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Summer is truly the best season to eat avocado. Of course, they’re not local to Canada however, it’s still possible to buy them organic. When it comes to the local vs. organic debate, I often say both is best, but this is not always possible. Last week, I had the pleasure of chatting with culinary nutritionist, Marni Wasserman, who explains “when you have to make the choice between local non-organic or organic from across the world, it may be in your best interest to choose local. When food travels long distances, it loses its enzymes, nutrients, and life force, so you’re left with an organic strawberry from South America that may have ripened on a truck, train, or plane. This means that unnatural gases and methods have been used to artificially stimulate the growth process.” With that said, we just need to do the best we can to make healthful choices when it comes to our food. In this case, the organic avocado from Mexico will do the trick.

Should you find yourself with some leftover avo lingering on the brink of their one-day-too-late state of edibility, what do you do? Make guacamole, of course! Be sure to check out Marni’s new book Plant-Based Diet for Dummies for the most summerlicious Sweet Pea Guacamole recipe. To.Die.For.

The Ingredients {Yield: 6 ice pops Total Time: 5 hours}

  • 2 small ripe avocados
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1/3 cup coconut palm sugar
  • pinch of salt

The Directions

1. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan and cook over med-high heat, stirring until mixture comes to a boil. Let cool to room temperature

2. While mixture cools, cut avocados in half, lengthwise. Remove pits and scoop flesh into a blender or food processor, along with cooled syrup and salt

3. Blend until smooth, scraping sides when needed. Add lime juice and blend until combined

4. Divide mixture among the molds. Snap on lid, and freeze until solid, about 5 hours. If using unconventional molds, freeze until pops begin to set {approx. half hour}, insert sticks, and freeze until solid

*Recipe adapted from Paletas: Authentic Recipes for Mexican Ice Pops, Shaved Iced & Aguas Frescas

DIY WINDOWSILL HERB GARDEN

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Over the years, my {very talented} friend Ned and I have recognized and bonded over our many similarities, from photography and foraging, to travel and hiking. However, our lives couldn’t be further from similar at the moment; with me living in the heart of the city and him in a small town surrounded by wilderness. With that in mind, we decided to collaborate, creating a DIY fit for foodies in the city and health seekers in small towns alike.

We both agree that nothing beats fresh herbs and garnishes, especially those grown right at home that can be picked on a whim. Though many are still under the impression that eating “healthy” tastes bland but this is simply not true. Not when you have contenders like basil, oregano, cumin, parsley, rosemary and lavender… to name a few. All unique in their own way, they truly make dishes come to life and are also full of nutrients and enzymes.

I have this dream where I will one day be able to tend to a full garden in the backyard but in the meantime, a windowsill herb garden in my city apartment will do just fine.

You Will Need…

  • worn wood block, as thin as possible
  • small spikes {ex. chopsticks}
  • chop saw, jigsaw, or handsaw to chop blocks
  • drill & bit the size of the small spike
  • dremel with light sanding wheel
  • hot glue gun
  • paint
  • french onion soup bowls
  • rocks and potting soil
  • seeds of your choice
  • a loving attitude

What To Do…

1. Gather all equipment and pieces

2. Chop the 1.5 cm blocks for labels

3. Using the dremel, sand the edges of the block, leaving a bit of age on the wood

4. Drill holes in bottom of the block

5. Use the hot glue gun to fill drill holes and stick spike into place

6. Paint herb name on the block

7. Put a handful of rocks at bottom of each planter {aka french onion soup bowls} to allow for water to sit in case of over watering

8. Topsoil too

9. Add seeds

10. Watch them grow!

PS. Be sure to check out more of Ned’s amazing work, here

“COOKIE DOUGH” PROTEIN BITES

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Maybe it’s just me, but I find that summer brings more opportunity for spontaneity. Whether it be travelling to a city you’ve never been, to meet someone you’ve never met, or, a last minute road trip to a new and unexplored dot on the map, there’s always an adventure waiting to happen. Though, over time I’ve found that it’s in my nature to take comfort in the exact opposite; being prepared. There is something special about having a balance of both impromptu and deliberate occasions. You see, being prepared comes in handy, especially if, like me, you experience “hangry” symptoms when your body is in need of sustenance. Sluggishness and irritability just won’t cut it when you’re on the road to adventure. This is where I welcome the balance of both worlds. One day a week, I’ll whip up a big batch of hippie healthy snacks so that when spontaneity strikes, I will be prepared.

Proteins are not only needed to keep your energy levels high and tummy feeling fuller longer, they are made up of amino acids, which are critical in just about every element of our cells’ structure and function. Aside from protein, these bites are also full of iron, magnesium, and vitamins E & B6.

Typically, for recipes like this, I tend to throw a mishmash of ingredients into a bowl and hope for the best. In this case, I ended up creating a divine recipe that, once slightly tweaked, had to be shared. I encourage you to experiment and have fun in the kitchen; try using recipes as a template or guideline instead of strictly following each ingredient and step. I initially made this recipe without placing all ingredients in the food processor and although the taste was there, the texture wasn’t so much and only by experimenting did I find the missing piece to my recipe puzzle. Want to add pumpkin seeds in lieu of sunflower seeds? Go for it! Dates instead of almond butter? By all means! Be spontaneous; play around and find what combination works best for you.

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The Ingredients {Yield: 15 protein bites Total Time: 15 minutes}

  • 1 cup raw almond butter
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup hemp hearts
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey or substitute coconut sugar, maple syrup, or agave nectar
  • 1 dark chocolate bar {I used: Camino Caramel Crunch dark chocolate bar}
  • handful chia seeds
  • 1 teaspoon flax oil {optional}

The Directions

1. Coarsely chop your chocolate bar into chocolate chip-size pieces and put aside

2. Add all dry ingredients – excluding dark chocolate – into a food processor or blender and pulse for 10-15 seconds, until all ingredients are finely ground

3. Place chocolate, dry ingredients, and wet ingredients in a mixing bowl and using your hands, kneed the “dough”

4. Once completely combined, roll into golf ball-sized balls and place on a plate to set in the refrigerator for 15 minutes

CALIFORNIA COLLARD WRAP

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Summer is just around the corner and with it brings some of my favourite things; picnics in the park, beach days, and road trips. All wouldn’t be right if they didn’t share an essential common denominator. Food! Okay, sunshine too.  Good snacks, light meals, and sparkling drinks are crucial to have on hand when the occasion strikes.

To me, this recipe is the epitome of summer. Light, crisp, and refreshing, like a cold beer straight out of the cooler. The wraps are full of flavour and filling after eating a few. Finish off with a slice of juicy watermelon for dessert and you have yourself the perfect summertime meal. The raw ranch dressing can be kept in the refrigerator for up to three days and goes hand in hand with raw veggies, too.

The Ingredients {Yield: 4 wraps Total Time: 15 minutes}

Wraps

  • 4 collard leaves, washed
  • 1 carrot, shaved
  • 1/2 cucumber, cubed
  • 1/2 apple, sliced
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • handful hemp seeds {optional}

Dressing

  • 1 1/4 cups cashews
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried dill
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 2 cloves garlic

The Directions

1. Throw all dressing ingredients into a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy

2. Trim stem off collard leaves and set them aside on serving platter

3. If leaves are too coarse for your liking, as an optional step, blanch by placing in boiling water for 1 minute, remove and place in ice-cold water and dry before assembling

4. Spoon a hearty dollop of dressing on to each collard leaf and assemble remaining ingredients as you would a regular wrap

5. Tuck-and-roll your wrap like a burrito or simply fold in half and eat like a taco

*Raw ranch dressing recipe adapted from The Rawtarian

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