Victoria BC Dietitian (Nutritionist) Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD Shares Her Favourite Recipe for Cauliflower: Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin and Ginger. Easy, Healthy, Delicious.Read More
This is a delicious way to include lentils in your diet. I mean, who doesn't like pizza?!
Note that if you have picky kids, don't call this pizza. Because while the crust is delicious, it does taste different than regular pizza crust. So, use a different term than "pizza". Such as "flatbreads". This way picky kiddos won't expect pizza and they'll be open to this new dish that's called "flatbread".
Also, note that you need to soak the lentils the night before you plan to make this dish.
Lentil Crust Flatbread (Pizza) - Crust Ingredients
2 cups of soaked red lentils (24hr then pureed)
1/2 cup water
1-3 garlic cloves (as per your taste preference)
1 TBSP dried basil
1 TBSP dried oregano
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 TBSP olive oil
Lentil Crust Flatbread (Pizza) - Toppings
1 can of tomato puree/sauce
1/2 cup of shredded white mozzarella cheese or feta
Vegetables/protein of your choice
Lentil Crust Flatbread (Pizza) - Directions
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Rinse and drain lentils and transfer into the food processor.
- Add 3 garlic cloves, dried basil, dried oregano, sea salt, baking powder and ½ cup of water for consistency.
- Puree all the ingredients until smooth.
- Heat a heavy-bottom frying pan over medium heat. Use ~1 tbsp of olive oil to grease the pre-heated pan and pour in the batter. Smooth the batter out with a spoon, it will look like a mini pancake. Make sure the batter is THIN.
- Repeat this step (should make about 8 mini crusts)
- Cook 2-3 minutes on each side. Then, transfer your flatbreads to a baking tray covered with parchment paper.
- Add your tomato sauce, cheese and toppings.
- Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until cheese is bubbling and brown.
Love the flavour of pumpkin spice and pumpkin pie? But looking for a healthy way to enjoy it? Look no further. This mousse is seriously delicious.
I admit that I'm lazy so I make it without the crust. And it's still fantastic! I find that the pumpkin mousse tastes best when refrigerated overnight.
This recipe is a great way to include some more veggies (for picky kids and us adults who can use to eat more veggies too). Pumpkin rocks the vitamin A and has good fibre too.
Baby Food Version: Make this recipe without the crust and omit the maple syrup.
Healthy Pumpkin Mousse Ingredients:
1 cup of full fat coconut milk (put in fridge overnight)
1 can of pumpkin puree
1/4 cup of black chia seeds
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
- 3 dates
- 1 cup of raw nuts (e.g. walnuts and pecans)
- 1/4 cup of oats
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
Healthy Pumpkin Mousse Directions:
- In a food processor, mixer or blender, add all the ingredients. Start with low speed and work your way up to high speed.
- Once all the coconut chunks are pureed set aside in a bowl.
- For the “crust”, mix together dates, raw nuts, cinnamon, oats, and nutmeg in a food processor until the dates have broken down.
- Take a spoonful of the “crust” into a parfait cup and add the pumpkin mousse.
Looking for a healthy snack?
Need something kid-friendly?
This recipe is nut-free, dairy-free, vegan, gluten-free, and no-sugar-added.
It contains fibre-packed, protein-packed lentils and pumpkin seeds.
Oh, and it's delicious!
They're perfect for packed-lunches for kids. And, as an afternoon snack for us adults too.
Need a finger-food version for your baby? Simply cut them into smaller pieces. Easy.
Lentil Coconut Energy Bites Ingredients:
- ½ cup cooked green lentils (or lentils from a can)
- ½ cup of pureed pumpkin seeds
- ⅓ cup of dry oats
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 4 dates
- ¼ cup of chocolate chips (optional)
- ¼ cup of coconut flakes unsweetened (to roll in)
Lentil Coconut Energy Bites Steps:
- Cook the lentils in a pot with water for ~25-30 minutes on medium heat
- In the meantime, puree ½ cup of pumpkin seeds in a food processor until smooth
- Add in fresh dates and continue to puree
- Once you reach a paste-like consistency, add in dry oats, cinnamon, vanilla extract and cooked lentils.
- Transfer into a bowl and add chocolate chips
- Roll into small balls (should make about 9-10)
- On some parchment paper, sprinkle ¼ cup of coconut flakes and roll in the lentil coconut bites
Reducing food waste is the ultimate win-win. It reduces our environmental impact by allowing less to go to waste. And, by using more of what we buy, it saves us money. So, I've been exploring recipes that use ingredients that normally you'd throw away. Today, student Hanna has perfected a pesto recipe made from the green leaves and stems of carrots instead of the commonly-used basil. Voila - carrot-top pesto! Perfect timing before our local carrots start to pop up in farmers' markets and produce stores. Thanks Hanna! That's Hanna's handiwork with the camera too :)
Carrot-Top Pesto Ingredients
4-5 carrot top leaves
1/2 cup of olive oil
2 garlic cloves
2 tbsp toasted pinenuts (or walnuts or macadamias or almonds)
1/4 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
Carrot-Top Pesto Directions
- To toast pine nuts: Lay out pine nuts on a baking sheet or aluminum foil for 200C for 5 minutes, watching them so they don't burn. This can also work with a nonstick pan constantly stirring the pine nuts.
- In a food processor, combine carrot tops, garlic, salt and pepper until smooth. Begin to add the olive oil until desired consistency is reached.
Check out more healthy recipes.
P.S. This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, and vegan.
Banana lentil muffins. Yes, you read that right - banana LENTIL muffins. Lentils can be used in baking.
Including lentils in baking is a fantastic way to reduce the amount of refined flour we eat and get more iron, fibre, and protein. Take note parents of picky eater kiddos who don't like most protein or iron-rich foods. Tip: Serve the muffins with a source of vitamin C (such as berries) to maximize absorption of that iron.
We made this recipe for mini muffins, so that they're a good size for little hands (and tummies). Us big kids can choose to eat 2 - 3 of them in the place of a regular-size muffin. Or bake yours in a regular-size muffin tray and adjust the baking time. We didn't test the baking time for regular-size muffins so I don't have a time to give you (sorry). Keep a close eye on them and use the ever-trusty toothpick-in-the-centre test.
Banana Lentil Muffins Ingredients
- 1 cup of ripe bananas (or 2 ripe medium bananas)
- 1 cup red or green lentil puree (1 cup of lentils boiled in water for 40-45 minutes, drained then pureed)
- 1 Egg
- ¼ cup of maple syrup
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup of oat flour (blended old fashioned oats)
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup oil (vegetable, avocado, canola or olive)
- 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (optional)
- 1/4 cup of crushed walnuts (optional)
Banana Lentil Muffins Directions
- Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C).
- In a bowl, combine all wet ingredients (egg, oil, maple syrup, bananas, lentil purée and vanilla. Mix well.
- In a separate bowl, mix all the dry ingredients together (flour, oat flour, baking soda, baking powder, walnuts and chocolate chips).
- Stir into the egg mixture until mixed.
- Grease the muffin tins with oil.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes.
Check out more healthy kid-friendly recipes.
Mint chocolate is one of my all-time favourite flavours. The beauty of this recipe is that you can satisfy that mint-chocolate craving without any of the added sugar. I know because that's exactly the situation that created this recipe. I was aiming for a smoothie but the result was more of a mousse in texture. A rich, creamy, decadent, intensely minty chocolatey mousse. YUM! Sometimes the best inventions are discovered by accident.
1 big serving or 2 smaller servings.
Mint Chocolate Whip Ingredients
- 3 dates (pits removed)
- 2 tbsp cacao nibs
- 1.5 tbsp cocoa powder
- 2 tbsp ground flaxseeds
- ⅓ cup of coconut milk (with the fat)
- ½ cup milk or plant-based milk alternative of your choice
- 2 drops of peppermint oil
- ⅛ of an avocado (very ripe)
Mint Chocolate Whip Directions
- Blend thoroughly and enjoy immediately!
Looking for more healthy recipes featuring mint? Check out this recipe for pistachio-mint smoothies.
All I can say is chocolate chia pudding ... yum!
Healthy eating is all about eating good fuel for your body AND eating for pleasure. This delicious treat fits both categories. It's chocolatey goodness that's made with chia seeds. Chia seeds are rich in protein, iron and fibre. The result is a gelatinous or pudding-like consistency similar to tapioca pudding. It's also quite low in sugar.
Feel free to play with the recipe. The richest version is made with the canned coconut milk (coconut and chocolate - awesome!). I love orange chocolate and mint chocolate so sometimes I add a drop or two of mint extract or orange blossom water.
Chocolate Chia Pudding Ingredients
3 TBSP chia seeds
1 cup milk (dairy, plant-based alternative, canned coconut milk is especially delicious)
1 TBSP cocoa powder
1.5 tsp sugar
Chocolate Chia Pudding Directions
- Combine all ingredients in a container with a lid.
- Stir well to thoroughly combine.
- Leave at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow gel to start.
- Refrigerate overnight.
You asked for a healthier alternative to the famous (and delicious) chocolate hazelnut spread (you know which one). Today I'm sharing not just one, but 4 alternatives. All are much lower in sugar and have no palm oil. Just in time for back-to-school. I mention back-to-school because you'll not only be looking for packed lunch ideas, but also breakfast ideas for rushed mornings and quick after school snack ideas.
All of these contain nuts or seeds. That's the foundation of this foodstuff afterall. Some preschools and schools are nut and seed-free, some are nut-free (i.e. seeds are okay), and some are peanut-free (i.e. nuts and seeds are okay). Always check with your individual facility to find out exactly what is and what isn't allowed.
An important note, especially if you are introducing these to picky eaters who already are familiar with the famous chocolate hazelnut spread, none of these taste exactly the same. So, don't try to pull a fast one on your little one and swap one for the other. They'll notice the difference - kids have keen observation skills with their food. Call this spread by a different name. This way they will be expecting something different.
A huge THANK YOU to student volunteer Carla for her help with these recipes!
Healthy Nut-Free Chocolate Spread
- 2 cups toasted sunflower seeds
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- 4 tbsp icing sugar
- 1/2 cup milk (optional)
- ¼ to ½ cup canola oil
- In a pan over medium-high heat, toast the sunflower seeds until light brown and fragrant, about 3-4 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Using a food processor, process the sunflower seeds until powdery. Scrape the sides.
- Add the cocoa powder, icing sugar, milk (optional), and canola oil. Blend until smooth.
Homemade Chocolate Hazelnut Spread
- 2 cups hazelnuts
- 3 tbsp icing sugar
- ½ cup milk (optional)
- ½ cup cocoa powder
- ¼ to ½ cup canola oil
- In a pan over medium-high heat, toast the whole hazelnuts with their peels on for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Once the whole hazelnuts are cool, rub them in between a kitchen towel to loosen and remove the skin.
Habibi's Chocolate Tahini and Powerplant's Chocolate Sprouted Seed Spread
(Note: In the spirit of being fully transparent, both of these were given to me for free. I did not receive payment to review either. I'm super picky about what foods I'll share with you in my reviews.)
I brought both of these to my co-working space last week so that everyone could try them. Yes, there are perks to having dietitians as friends and co-workers! Both received very positive reviews. Some people preferred one and an equal number preferred the other. Both products have a short ingredient list with only recognizable foods. They're made with nuts or seeds, providing healthy fats (and no palm oil). Each has just a touch of sugar/sweetener. Check each product's websites for a listing of what stores you can find them in.
Powerplant's spread has an intense chocolate taste for you dark chocolate lovers. It has a chunkier texture but smooth mouthfeel. So it's perfect for spreading on a cracker but not on soft bread. It totally screams to be included in your next smoothie.
Habibi's Chocolate Tahini has a milder chocolate taste. A few people found the tahini and chocolate flavours fought eath other. Most of us thought it was delicious (me included). This spread is the more classically kid-friendly of the two.
I’ve talked previously about how being adequately hydrated is a NGC. But drinking plain water day after day can become boring. A solution is to mix it up – to reignite your interest with flavoured water (a.k.a. spa water). When I mention flavouring water, your mind likely jumps to lemon water. Here are 2 warnings when choosing flavoured waters.
Acid & Tooth Enamel Now don’t get me started on how there is no evidence that lemon water is the miracle cure that it’s touted to be all over the internet. Unfortunately there is a downfall from all the attention that lemon water is getting. The natural acid that’s in citrus fruits (e.g. lemon, lime, orange) can cause weakening of your tooth enamel, especially if you sip on them all day, day after day. Kiwi and pineapple are also quite high in acid. To save your tooth enamel, mix it up. Choose non-citrus options more often and choose citrus options only occasionally.
Hidden Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners The other common downfall to avoid is that many flavoured waters that you can buy contain hidden sugar and/or artificial sweeteners. I’m not against the occasional use of artificial sweeteners, afterall, officially they are approved as safe for use in Canada. However, one of the overarching truths in which I believe when it comes to nutrition is: “food closest to the way nature made them are the healthiest choice”. Artificial sweeteners are far from nature. Therefore, stick with drinks that are close to nature for your day in and day out water consumption.
Spa Water Ideas: Here are some low-acid, low-sugar and artificial sugar-free spa water options. The herbs have the lowest natural acids (i.e. none). The fruits all have a little bit of acid. But don’t focus on what these drinks don’t have, instead focus on what they do have – fantastic flavour! I call them “spa water” – doesn’t that sound luxurious? Feel free to bring out your inner mixologist to create your favourite flavour combinations.
• Mint • Rosemary • Lemon Verbena • Sage • Basil • Cucumber • Watermelon • Berries such as strawberries, blackberries, blueberries • Iced green tea • Iced herbal tea • Kombutcha • Concord or coronation grapes
*A Nutrition Game Changer (NGC) is a food or habit that has made a big impact on the nutritional health of clients I’ve worked with. And, in my life too. Some may call these nutrition hacks. But I'm not a fan of that phrase. I share one NGC each month.
It's back, my annual home-made ice pop recipe collection. Some may call these homemade popsicles or paletas. Or, frozen smoothies. Whatever you call them they're a delicious summer treat. I want to give a big shout out to Carla, the dietetic student who is volunteering with me for creating these recipes. My directions for her: the recipes need to be simple, include no added sugar, include fruit and even veggies, and only include easy-to-find ingredients. Oh, and of course, that they needed to be delicious. She sure delivered.
The directions for each recipe are the same:
- Combine all ingredients in a blender.
- Blend until smooth.
- Pour into molds.
Enjoy her work!
P.S. For more delicious, healthy frozen recipes, check out these links:
Inspired by: http://www.kiipfit.com/spinach-kiwi-popsicles/
Packed with fruit and leafy greens, the vibrant green color of these popsicles comes from blending both kiwi and spinach.
- 1/3 cup spinach
- 1 kiwi
- 2 drops lemon juice
- 1/3 cup water
Inspired by: http://revisfoodography.com/2015/04/mango-lassi/
Inspired from a classic Indian cold drink, mango lassi is a blend of yogurt, fruit and spice. Not a fan of cardamom? Simply omit the spice and you can still enjoy it as a mango-yogurt blend.
- 1 mango
- 160 ml greek yogurt
- 1 small pinch cardamom (to taste)
This very simple and refreshing recipe allows you to use ripe or extra ripe cantaloupes. No added sugar necessary.
- ¾ cup cantaloupe
- ¼ cup water
Get more healthy home-made ice pop recipes here:
Full-meal salads are my absolute go-to during the summer months. And, with the growing trend of salads-in-a-jar, I can see that others are catching on. The secret to a perfectly balanced, full-meal salad (that will actually fill you up) is to include whole grains, protein, and healthy fats along with all those veggies. I also like to include a sweet note (such as fresh or dried fruit) and something crunchy for texture. Often foods will do double duty, such as chopped nuts providing protein, healthy fat, and crunch.
Baby- and Kid-Friendly Version: Serve each salad component “deconstructed”, in it’s own little pile. Serve a small dish (ramekin) of the dressing on the side. Or, do a make-your-own salad bar with the ingredients. There is no extra work for baby-friendly, finger-foods – just place pieces on your baby’s tray.
Protein Food Ideas:
- Beans and lentils, canned or cooked from dry
- Tofu cut into cubes or fingers
- Grated or cubed cheese
- Leftover meat and poultry, e.g. shredded chicken, sliced steak
- Chopped or slivered nuts
- Seeds, e.g. pumpkin seeds, hemp hearts
- Hard boiled eggs
Whole Grain Ideas (Starch Foods):
- Cooked and cooled pasta
- Buckwheat (soba) noodles
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Pot barley
- Cooked and cubed sweet potatoes
For inspiration, here are two of my favourite full-meal salads. You’ll notice that there aren’t amounts listed for the salad ingredients – make as much or as little as you want.
Black Bean Salad
Bell pepper (red, yellow, or orange)
Corn (cooked from frozen or cut off the cob)
1 TBSP Vegetable oil (I particularly like avocado oil)
1 TBSP White wine vinegar
2 TBSP Lime juice
1/4 tsp Ground cumin
1/8 tsp Cayenne pepper (optional)
Farro, cooked and cooled
Green lentils*, cooked and cooled
Kale, cut into thin ribbons and massaged with a dash of oil, vinegar and salt
1 TBSP Good, extra virgin olive oil
3 TBSP Balsamic vinegar
Fresh cracked pepper
* Do you have difficulty digesting beans? Give lentils a try, they’re less “musical”, and check out my tips for making beans and lentils less gassy.