Monday, July 30, 2012

Healthy Breakfast Bowl - Grain Free, Gluten Free, Paleo

Last week The Captain and I spent several days with his sister and her husband in North Vancouver... they have a lovely home on Grouse Mountain and we love to visit there.  They are wonderful hosts and make us feel completely welcome and at home.

My sister-in-law has been living gluten-free for several years now and seems to have it all under control in the food department.  Since I am new to this lifestyle, I was eager to pick her brain, and experience some of the foods she has been enjoying all this time.

I was really intrigued by her breakfast choices.  Normally we eat eggs, or some kind of pancakes, or even hot oatmeal... and more lately, hot ground flax cereal.  Since I am moving away from eating grains of any kind for the most part, I was pleased to learn about a new breakfast treat, and I have been building these Breakfast Bowls for myself ever since.

Because I am still a Weight Watchers member, I don't throw caution to the wind, and I am keenly aware of the Points Plus Values of these ingredients rapidly adding up... but the beauty is that they are very nutritious, very filling, high in fibre and they keep me satisfied for hours!  A bowl that adds up to 6P+ or even 8P+ takes some time to eat, a long while to digest, and therefore keeps me full till lunch time.  They taste like dessert and that makes me very happy!

Here is an example of the first one I made last week while still in North Vancouver....

Fresh apricot, sprouted chia seeds, raisins, pecans, slivered almonds... before I added a bit of orginal unsweetened Almond Breeze.  This was 7P+ in total.

Today I made this one...

Half banana, half nectarine,  1 Tbs raisins, 1 tsp chia seeds, 1 Tbs ground flax seeds, 15g almonds...

Then 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, for a total of 6 P+

I should note that my sister in law doesn't add 'milk' to her bowls... but I think that the liquid makes the ground flax and chia seeds more palatable.  Yogurt works well, too.

The ingredient list is limited only by your imagination.

Here are some of the things I know that my sister-in-law selects, and also some things I have tried, or intend to try soon.

  • almonds
  • walnuts
  • pecans
  • cashews
  • hazelnuts
  • coconut
  • pumpkin
  • sunflower
  • chia
  • ground flax
  • hemp
Dried Fruit
  • raisins
  • cranberries
  • cherries
  • blueberries
  • goji berries
  • goldenberries
  • pineapple
  • apple
  • mango
  • papaya
  • strawberry
Fresh Fruit
  • banana
  • apricot
  • nectarine
  • mango
  • berries of all kinds
  • pear
  • papaya
  • grapes
  • fig
  • unsweetened cocao nibs
  • agave nectar
  • honey
  • nut butters
  • cinnamon and other spices

And another great thing about this Breakfast Bowl style of eating, is that it can be different every day, just by varying an ingredient or two.

What do you think?  Is this something that you might try for yourself?

I would love to hear about any different or particularly tasty add-ins that you come up with!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

#loveCDNbeef What is YOUR Burger Personality?

The Captain and I both grew up in Southern Alberta... that is cattle country, my friends. 

We ate Canadian Beef in my house 2 or 3 times a week.  My Mother was a pretty adventurous cook and she would make Swiss Steak, or Salisbury Steak, or meatloaf... we had lots of beef roasts at our Sunday dinner tables too, as well as the occasional steak.

But our favorite way to have Canadian Beef, was to turn dinner over to my Father, and have him light the barbecue!  We would mix some ground beef with chopped onions and salt and pepper, a bit of egg and perhaps some bread crumbs... and make patties that my Dad slapped on the grill and cooked till they were well done.... you could smell the aroma for blocks around and the neighbors always wished they had been invited to dinner.

Everyone had their own favorite ways to dress them up... but not me.  I am a NATURALIST when it comes to my burgers... I just want the beef!  No bun for me.... and perhaps only a bit of salt and pepper sprinkled on the top.

The Naturalist

This past week,  The Captain and I were guests at the home of his sister and her husband, and much to our delight, Sunday dinner was burgers on the BBQ. 

Our brother-in-law cooked the Canadian Beef burgers on the barbecue and then kept them hot in the oven while we assembled a few toppings and sliced some buns.

Can you tell which one is going to be mine?

Yes, there were lots of salads

 and condiments

to go alongside... but for me, that is the point - alongside,  not on top!  I just love the flavor of good ole Canadian Beef.

What's your Canadian Beef Burger personality?

Check out the Facebook Page and get in on the Twitter Chat on
Tuesday, August 7th at 7 pm Eastern. 

You could win a $500 burger prize pack.
RSVP here and then follow the hashtag #loveCDNbeef

Monday, July 23, 2012

Hot Ground Flax 'Cereal' Bowl

I am not sure what to call this... Hot Ground Flax 'Cereal'....or Paleo 'Cereal' Bowl  ... but I do know that it is really good, very high in protein, filling and quite delightful! I recently made it for our breakfast and we both liked it a lot... I will be making it often and tweaking the ingredients, no doubt.

It is also gluten and grain free.

If you are following the Paleo Diet, where you eat no grains and no dairy, this would work very well for you.... just leave out the yogurt topping and add only fruit as a topping or fruit and some nuts. 


Grain-Free Hot Flax 'Cereal'
Makes 2 hearty servings.
  • 1 banana, peeled and mashed
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 2 Tbs ground flax seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze
  1. Mash banana in a large bowl and then add the rest of the ingredients and stir till combined.
  2. Pour mixture into a small saucepan.
  3. Set over MEDIUM heat and stir until the mixture thickens and doubles in volume - about 7 or 8 minutes.
  4. Divide between 2 bowls and top with your favorites to serve... yogurt, berries or other fruit.
Per serving not including toppings
Weight Watchers P+ = 3.
Calories 126; Protein 20g; Carbohydrate 4g; Fat 4g; Fibre 2g.

Mash the banana but don't liquify it!

Pour mixture into saucepan and set over MEDIUM heat and stir constantly so it doesn't burn on the bottom of the pan.

It will thicken and plump considerably as the egg whites cook.

Place in serving bowl and top with fruit and/or yogurt.  Lovely!

Printable Recipe

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Flourless Whey Protein Pancakes

This post was written for a guest appearance on a blog I love and read regularly called Family Fitness Food.  Carrie was going on vacation and asked me to do a breakfast recipe for her blog while she was going to be away.  I was happy to do it as I was just working on this post for my own blog so gave it to her instead.

But I decided to share it with my own readers, too.  It is a really easy and quick recipe to put together, and for more and more of my friends who are giving up grains, it is a nice way to get some pancakes on the breakfast table.

You know I absolutely love pancakes but I am not a fan of the flour that most recipes contain...even whole wheat, or rather, ESPECIALLY whole wheat now that I am in the throes of my wheat-free experiment.  So I decided to make up a batch with some whey based protein powder recently and am really happy with the results.

At the last minute I added a bit of baking powder and it really did make the cakes more fluffy, like a flour-based cake.  Use it or not, it is up to you.

If you like, use fat free milk and add a dash of vanilla instead of using the Almond Breeze. It will not change the N.I. by much.  Coconut Milk would be nice too, I think.

Flourless Whey Protein Pancakes
Makes 2 servings
  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1/2 cup egg whites
  • 2 Tbs vanilla unsweetened Almond Breeze
  • 2 Tbs ground flax seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 banana, mashed
  1. In a medium bowl, mix the protein powder, egg whites, Almond Breeze, flax seeds and cinnamon.
  2. Mash the banana in a separate, small bowl, then mix into the other ingredients. Stir until well combined. The mixture should not be too thick... add a tsp or 2 of water if it is.
  3. Coat a saucepan with non-stick spray and set over MEDIUM heat. Pour 1/4 of the mixture into the warm pan and spread till it is a circle about 4 - 5 inches in diameter.
  4. Let cook several minutes. You will see a bit of bubbling from underneath and the batter should lose its shine as it cooks. Leave till most the shine is gone and then gently flip over. Cook a couple of minutes more.
  5. Remove pancake to a plate and cover to keep warm.
  6. Cook the rest of the pancakes in the same manner.
  7. Top with fruit of your choice or syrup to serve.
Per serving of 2 pancakes, without toppings.
Weight Watchers P+ = 6.
Calories 233; Protein 32g; Carbohydrate 19g; Fat 5g; Fibre 4g.

Mash the banana till the biggest lumps are gone.

Combine the rest of the ingredients together in a medium bowl, then add the banana and mix.

Serve with berries and a bit of syrup... Mmmm.

Just an added note... I recently made these with chocolate protein powder and they were wonderful.... AND I also made a batch, leaving out the mashed banana and they turned out pretty well.  So, if you don't have a banana on hand, go ahead and try them anway.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Irish Wheat-Free Potato Bread

Since my experiment in giving up wheat began just over 2 weeks ago, I have not had a single slice of bread!

I have had a few rice cakes, a few rye crackers, and a few corn chips, and I have enjoyed several kinds of protein pancakes, some banana loaf made with almond flour, and even some grain-free crepes made with coconut flour and ground flax seeds... but not a bagel, or a wrap or an English muffin.

I have been scouring the internet looking at blogs that feature gluten-free and wheat-free recipes, looking for a bread recipe.

I found one on a site called Wheat Free Recipes From Ireland that uses mashed potatoes as the base, and some non-wheat flour... actually combinations of several of your own choosing... so decided to try it.

It tastes very good and will likely fit the bill for now as I can spread La Creme Cow or Laughing Cow cheese on it... or a bit of jam and butter if I like... but it doesn't rise like real bread.  It is quite coarse and I think it would make a nice muffin actually.

Here is how I made it up.  Next time, I am going to add some baking powder to see if that lightens it up a bit.

Irish Wheat-Free Potato Bread
makes 1 loaf cut into 16 slices
  • 3 oz mashed potato
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup fat free milk
  • 2 Tbs olive oil 
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar (optional)
  • 2 oz brown rice flour
  • 4 oz oat flour
  1. Preheat the oven to 430° F.
  2. Prepare a loaf pan by lining it with parchment paper and then coating the 2 ends with a non-stick spray.
  3. Mix all the ingredients together well and then place batter in prepared loaf pan.
  4. Bake for 40 minutes.
  5. Allow to cool for a few minutes then lift loaf out of pan with the parchment paper, set aside and let loaf cool before cutting into 16 slices.
Per serving of 1 slice.
Weight Wathers P+ = 2.
Calories 71; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 9g; Fat 3g; Fibre 1g.

Stir all the ingredients together till well-blended.

Place dough in loaf tin lined with parchment paper for easy removal.

Cut into slices after cooling for about half an hour.

Printable Recipe

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Mango Jicama Chicken Salad on Spinach Leaves

This seems like an odd combination of ingredients... mango, jicama, and chicken... but it is delicious and the dressing is really unique and tasty.  I hope you will try it!

You all know that I have been a lifetimer with Weight Watchers for many many years... recently they decided to reward continuing lifetime members by giving us free access to e-tools on their web site.  I am not used to having access to it yet so don't think to look at the recipe listings very often.

However, this past week I had a mango that I wanted do do something special with, so I access the recipe section of the Weight Watchers site and found a recipe called Tropical Mango-Jicama Chicken Salad... well I just happened to have a jicama on hand, too, and some chicken breasts... so I based this dinner on that recipe.  I chose to serve it on a bed of spinach leaves to give it some added bulk to make it dinner-worthy. 

I was thrilled to find yet another dish to add cilantro to... we have a huge pot of it growing on the balcony!

I will present this recipes as I made it up, but if you want the original, just google the title... you will find several instances of it on various sites. It calls for lime juice and I didn't have any on hand, but if you do, use it in place of the lemon juice... it would be even better, I think.

My Mango Jicama Chicken Salad on Spinach Leaves
Makes 2 dinner-size servings
  • few slices of sweet onion
  • 1Tbs lemon juice
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • few dashes of cumin
  • dash of hot pepper sauce
  • 2 small chicken breasts, cooked, cooled and cut into chunks
  • 1/2 fresh mango, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1-1/2 cups jicama, peeled and shredded
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach leaves, washed and dried
  1. Combine the onion, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin and hot pepper sauce in a large bowl.
  2. Let it stand for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure onion is coated well.
  3. Add the chicken, mango, jicama, and cilantro.  Toss and mix well.
  4. Divide the spinach leaves between 2 plates
  5. Divide and serve the salad mixture over the top of the spinach.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 6.
Calories 242; Protein 23g; Carbohydrate 20g; Fat 8g; Fibre 7g.

So easy... just combine and serve on plated greens.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Delicious Grain-Free Protein Crepes

A couple of weeks ago I found this great looking Grain-Free Protein Crepes recipe that calls for coconut flour and ground flax seed in place of any grain flour.  I was a bit skeptical as I hadn't done any baking with coconut flour and supposed that they would be heavy and doughy.

I don't know why I thought that, because they are anything but!

And if you are a Weight Watcher, like I am, you may be afraid that coconut flour is very high in P+.  I was too, and thankfully, it is not!  Keep reading....

These crepes are soft and easy to roll up, and because they are not sweet, are really versatile. I made them for breakfast and served them with a sauce made from a mixture of protein powder, peanut butter and unsweetened almond milk... but you could top them with fruit, yogurt, syrup, and nuts, and they would be wonderful.  You could even do them with whipped cream or icecream for a real treat!

This recipe makes 4 crepes, and the day I made them, The Captain and I had 2 each for breakfast... and never even thought about lunch till well past our normal time... I think the next time I make them I will halve the ingredients and just make one each for us.  With toppings it will be enough I am sure.

I was a bit nervous about the crepe method because I had never made any before, but I did get the hang of it fairly quickly... you will too.  And if they don't look perfect, who cares?  If you are going to make them for guests, you may want to practise once beforehand ... but otherwise, roll up what you make and top and enjoy!

The recipe can be found at Gabby's Gluten-Free.  I didn't change a thing!  And Gabby gives you very good instructions on forming the crepe in the pan too.  The only thing I would add is to make sure that the crepe is loose in the pan before you try to flip it.

Spread the batter evenly over the bottom of your pan.

The first one didn't quite hit the centre when I flipped it!  But it turned out all right anyway.

Keep them warm till they are all cooked... then roll them up and top as you like!

The N.I. that I calculated is so very close to Gabby's that I am going to share hers with you.

Per serving of 2 cakes (half the recipe).
Weight Watchers P+ = 4.
Calories 189; Protein 14g; Carbohydrate 13g; Fat 9g; Fibre 8g.

That is almost unbelievable for such a large and filling serving of crepes!  And if you put fruit on top and a bit of yogurt, it will only 'cost' you another P+ or 2 for toppings. 

I made these a second time before I got this post published and wanted to update it...

These are topped with peach Chobani Greek yogurt and few slices of fresh mango.  I can hardly wait tot make them again!

You have GOT to give these a try!  And do check out the rest of the recipes on Gabby's Gluten-Free too - I have seen a few other things that I am going to be trying out very soon.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Gluten-Free Almond Flour Banana Loaf

I have been dipping my toes into the world of gluten-free and wheat-free and trying some recipes using almond flour, or almond meal.  This gluten-free almond flour banana loaf is my first attenmpt at altering a given recipe, and it is baking in the oven, smelling wonderful as I type this post.

I have been experimenting with eliminating wheat from my diet this past week.... after reading a book called WHEAT BELLY, written by a cardiologist named William Davis, that really spoke to me.  I won't go into all the details but there was enough of  'me' in that book to give up wheat, at least on a trial basis.

I have been looking at wheat-free and gluten-free recipes on the internet and today went searching for a banana bread recipe.  I found some ripe bananas on sale this morning at a local market for 39 cents a pound and couldn't resist buying a few.

The banana bread recipe I found is on a blog called Comfy Belly.  I read through the ingredients, and found that I had most of them in my cupboard, or good substitutions.  And, I read all the reviews, too.  Do you do that when you are thinking of trying a new or unusual recipe?  I always like to see what other people have to say about it... which is why it is so nice for you to comment on my recipes if you have tried them.

Anyway, I didn't want the sugar in the syrup it called for, and I wanted a bit less fat... so I am going to give you the recipe as I made it up, but do check out Comfy Belly.  There are lots of great ideas there and it is nicely organized and presented, too.

Gluten-Free Almond-Flour Banana Loaf
  • 2 Tbs sugar free syrup
  • 2 Tbs coconut oil, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2-1/2 cups almond flour
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  1. Preheat the oven to 310° F.
  2. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper and coat with non-stick spray.
  3. Peel the bananas and mash them in a large bowl.
  4. Add the eggs to the bananas and beat with a spoon till frothy.
  5. Add the syrup and oil to the banana mixture and stir till combined.
  6. Mix the almond flour, salt, and baking soda together in another large bowl. Set aside a few of the chocolate chips for topping and then stir the remainder into the dry ingredients.
  7. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and spread it evenly.
  9. Then sprinkle the reserved chocolated chips over the top.
  10. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  11. Let cool in pan for a bout 20 minutes, then turn out and let cool completely before slicing.
The whole recipe has an intimidating N.I. when viewed with the eye of a Weight Watcher:
2181 Calories; Protein 75g; Carbohydrate 113g; Fat 179g; Fibre 35g.  That is a whopping 62 P+!

But, taking a deep breath, I realize that the number of P+ per serving is going to depend upon how many slices are cut.

Here are a couple examples to guide you.

Each of 16 slices:
136 Calories; Protein 5g; Carbohydrate 7g; Fat 11g; Fibre 2g.
WW P+ = 4.

Each of 12 slices:
182 Calories; Protein 6g; Carbohydrate 9g; Fat 15g; Fibre 3g.
WW P+ = 5.

So it is up to me and to you as to how many P+ we need to budget for this treat.

After taking the loaf out of the oven and letting it rest in its pan for the full 20 minutes... I had to go for a little walk... I lifted the edges of the parchment paper and it came right out of the pan.  What a good idea that is...  and after cutting it in half and then those in half again, I realized that 1/16th would be a generous treat. 

Naturally I shared with The Captain and we both ended up eating 2 of them each while they were still warm.  Lovely!  And no sugary 'let's eat the whole thing' cravings ensued.  Hurray!

The rest went into the freezer for another day... but you can bet I will be making this again and doing some more tinkering with the recipe and ingredients to add berries and perhaps some nuts.

Mash bananas in a large bowl.

Add eggs and beat till frothy, then add the rest of the wet inredients and mix well.

Combine the dry ingredients, setting aside a few chocolate chips for the top.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix well.

Place batter into prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the reserved chocolate chips over the top.

Bake for 45 minutes... the kitchen smelled wonderful!

Let the loaf rest for 20 minutes in the pan, then remove to cooling rack and allow to cool a bit longer to make it easier to slice... if you can wait!

It is soft and crumbly and a bit hard to slice while still warm.

I like the outside edge the best!  I am a big crust fan.  So tasty, but not too sweet.

Printable Recipe

Have you baked with almond flour or almond meal?  Any good tips or ideas to pass along?

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Beautiful Bok Choy Stir Fry

I put this bok choy stir fry together for dinner recently when I needed something quick! We have been having incredibly busy days lately... still furnishing and decorating our new apartment, and organizing, and also spending time at the marina getting the Spring cleaning done on the sloop.  We are driving back and forth and all over the city and meal prep is taking a back seat.

Luckily, I had a pork loin cooked and chilling in the refrigerator and The Captain sliced it up for me while I cut some bok choy from our container garden, and got some other ingredients ready.

This Asian-flavored dish turned out really well... I love sesame oil and the smokiness it brings to any stir fry dish or salad dressing.  I don't cook with it, but add it at the end just to heat it up.

Of course you could lighten it up by using fewer cashews or even less oil, but don't forget that we need healthy oils along with our veggies to help absorb the antioxidants they provide.

I hope this will inspire you to ty some bok choy in your own kitchen soon.  It is so nutritious!

Beautiful Bok  Choy Stir Fry
Makes 2 servings
  • 6 ounces pork loin, cooked, chilled and cut into narrow slivers
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 3 bunches bok choy, washed and separated
  • 1/4 cup onions, sliced
  • 3 medium mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, slivered
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed, and minced
  • 2 Tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Few red pepper flakes
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 1 ounce salted cashews
  1. Prepare bok choy by cutting the white stems into 1/2 to 3/4 inch lengths, and the leaves in half.
  2. Mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, red pepper flakes, lemon juice and ginger together in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Heat 2 tsp vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok on MEDIUM.
  4. Add sliced onion and cook till tender, about 3 or 4 minutes.
  5. Add the chunks of white bok choy stems, the mushroom and pepper slices, and the minced garlic.
  6. Cook, stirring frequently till tender, about 3 or 4 minutes.
  7. Add the bok choy leaves  and cook another minute till leaves have wilted.
  8. Add pork slivers and stir so they warm through.
  9. Add the soy sauce mixture and stir well.
  10. Remove from heat and divide between 2 plates.
  11. Top each plate with 1/2 ounce of cashews.
  12. Serve while hot.
Per serving.
Weight Watchers P+ = 10.
Calories 363; Protein 31g; Carbohydrate 18g; Fat 20g; Fibre 4g.

Add bok choy leaves after the other veggies are cooked...

and stir to combine.

Stir in pork and sauce and heat through.  Beautiful!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

#CanadaDay Frozen Vanilla Protein Pops

Happy Canada Day!

Canada is turning 145 today!  And Canadians across the country and around the world will be decked out in red and white to celebrate!

And we will be eating red and white foods too… angel cake with strawberries was always a family favorite to top off a barbecue or picnic.

I am not eating wheat right now, so no angel cake for me, but I did make some Frozen Vanilla Protein Pops… red and white, and so tasty.   A lovely cold and guilt-free treat for a warm Summer day.  Do give them a try.

My 6 frozen pop moulds have a volume of about 2 cups… measure yours by filling them with water and then emptying them into a measuring container to find out the volume and then alter the ingredients accordingly.

Frozen Vanilla Protein Pops
Makes 2 cups total – in 6 frozen moulds
  • 2 scoops vanilla protein powder
  • 2 cups unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze
  • 1/2 cup fat free plain yogurt
  • Dash of Stevia or Splenda (optional)
  • 4 – 6 small fresh strawberries, washed and hulled
  1. Blend the protein powder, Almond Breeze, yogurt, and sweetener, if using.  
  2. Pour the mixture into the moulds till each is about half full.  
  3. Cut the strawberries into slivers and place the pieces into the moulds.  
  4. Add the remaining liquid to each mould. If any are not completely full, top off with a bit more Almond Breeze.  
  5. Freeze the moulds for several hours.
Per serving, 1/6th of whole recipe.
Weight Watchers P+ = 1.
Calories 57; Protein 9g; Carbohydrate 3g; Fat 1g; Fibre0 g.

June 30 Canada Day pops 001
Fill the moulds and then place them in the freezer for several hours

June 30 Canada Day pops 002

June 30 Canada Day pops 003
To eat, remove from the base … you may need to put them in a bit of tepid water for a minute or two to loosen.

June 30 Canada Day pops 006
After a few bites, pieces of frozen strawberry become apparent… this is a really tasty treat!