it can be done…

Wow, long time no post. I guess this is just what happens when you have a baby, and they take up more and more of your time as they grow. My son is 8.5 months now, and very demanding! Am taking the opportunity during nap time to tell you all that I am moving to the UK at the end of this month. We are going for a year and are excited and nervous about our big adventure. I had all these plans of blogging about what I’ll miss about Toronto, but that never came to pass. So, I am going to talk a bit about something I am NOT going to miss about Toronto, but that I look forward to in the UK – more foods made without artificial colours.

The other day I picked up some UK smarties (made without artificial colour) at a candy store and thought I would compare them to their North American counterparts, which use artificial colour.

Well, you tell me – is the difference so much that you or any kid you know is going to be heartbroken if they have to eat the ones coloured naturally? It’s crazy. I actually like the way some of the naturally coloured ones look better. And of course, the taste is the same, as far as I can tell.

So the big question is, why does Nestle in the UK make candy using natural colours, but cannot do the same thing in North America? Yes, I know the answer ($$$?), but I’d like to really know the answer they would give if I wrote a letter and asked them.

I feel lucky that I am going to be making my 1 year old’s first birthday cupcake in a country where I will have more options for going wild with the decorative toppings, along with my own naturally coloured frosting. Fun should not have to be artificial…

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get your ABCs naturally at bulk barn

Bulk Barn is one of my favorite stores. What is not to like about a place where you can get all sorts of baking supplies, whole grains, organic ingredients and british candy all under one roof with the added benefit of buying in bulk? As I have mentioned before, my trips years ago to the Bulk Barn used to be all about the candy, and the rows of brightly coloured goodies are still mighty tempting, but now I see them in a different light. Most of the stuff is artificially coloured and flavoured, not to mention other yucky things like preservatives, high fructose corn syrup, etc. So, the other day I thought I’d see if I could find any candy that was relatively “natural” which I could use as fun toppings on my cupcakes. Well, the interesting thing was there was a small section of “natural” candies which were made with real fruit juice, but only ONE of the candies had ONLY natural colour and flavour – alphabet gummies. My only problem was after scooping out quite a few, I ended up with not a great variety of letters, much like a frustrating game of scrabble. I will have to go back and take a closer look at the letters in the bin – it would be nice to be able to spell something!

Oh and yes, they taste and feel like real gummy candies. Nice to know I can get something like this close to home rather than making the trek to a large natural foods store…

cupcake hero brought me back

Hello! Wow – it has been a long 4 months since my last post. For those who don’t know my baby boy was born naturally at home Feb 9 with no complications. It was an amazing birth, and life is going along here with lots of love and little sleep! It is hard to adjust to someone else’s needs and wants coming first, but I have managed to squeeze in a few moments to think about nutrition, scope out new products, and of course, make cupcakes – ha! These are all things I will need to do for my little guy anyway once he gets those chompers.
There is a blog called quirky cupcake that has a cupcake contest every month based on a theme ingredient – May’s ingredient was cocoa powder. I absolutely had to participate, seeing as I love to make chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting using organic fairtrade cocoa powder (my brand of choice right now is cocoa camino). To make it even more about the cocoa, I topped them with natural chocolate sprinkles and shasha bread company cocoa snap hearts, which are both also made with cocoa powder. I call these cupcakes – cocoa loco!

product newsflash – naturally coloured candy canes

candycanes.jpgI have to interrupt the silence of December views to let you know about a great product – naturally coloured and flavoured candy canes made by Pure Fun, who have made an appearance on this blog before. I took a special trip to Whole Foods the other day, and was rewarded when I turned the corner into the salad bar section and saw a huge display of these beauties. I was so excited to try them – they taste great. It’s so nice to know you can eat something fun and sweet this time of year and not worry about the artificial colouring. And the price is not bad – $2.99 for a pack of 12 is definitely worth it to me. So I thought I’d share this photo of cupcakes I made for our neighbours using the candy canes as a topping on peppermint frosting. Unfortunately I did not get to taste one of these lovelies this time around, but have been told they were yummy!

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morning lemon – vanilla lemon cupcake

vanillalemon.jpgThis is the last remaining cupcake after I filled my first official cupcake order yesterday. It’s a vanilla cupcake with lemon buttercream frosting. I made sure to use an organic lemon, as I used the zest as well as the juice. Non-organic lemons will likely contain pesticide residue in their peel, so organic is the way to go if you’re zesting (organic means pesticide-free, but nothing in life is 100% – we do our best). And organic lemons are not that much more expensive, which is great.

Soon this cupcake will be gone (into someone’s tummy), so I thought I would give it a last shining moment as today’s morning lemon.

wishing you a colourful Easter, naturally!

I have fond memories of Easter as a child, most notably of chocolate egg-hunting in the backyard with my Father. He would walk alongside me, drop an egg behind a bush when I wasn’t looking and then excitedly say “Oh look, there’s one!” Thanks Dad.

People who know me know that I am still like a kid at heart. I love to have fun, enjoy treats, and celebrate. As a nutritionist, that can be difficult to rationalize, but I have been working on ways to indulge, and feel good about it. I love to bake, and have been experimenting with natural ingredients, including herbal food colouring. Now that Easter is here, it’s the perfect time to have some more fun with this.

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We’ve all seen them, the little mini-cupcakes in the grocery store’s bakery section, topped with colourful frosting, just begging to be eaten up. Unfortunately, commercial food colouring has been linked to many unpleasant things like allergies, ADHD, and even cancer. As good as they look, I would much rather make my own cupcakes , with high quality natural ingredients, and top them with naturally-coloured frosting. Why take a chance with artificial dyes, when herbs can look just as good, and give you nice things like enhanced immunity, pain-relief and protection from cancer? Just look at how cute they are! And there’s no funky herbal taste either. The yellow cupcakes are flavoured with lemon juice and zest, while the pink were supposed to be grapefruit, but need some more work (they still taste good!)

By using ingredients like unbleached flour, organic cane sugar, and aluminum-free baking powder, you can control the quality of your cupcake, decreasing the potential harm this little treat could do to your body. Turmeric and beetroot, the herbs I used for colouring, are readily available, so do not feel intimidated. Just mix some herb powder with water and add a little bit to your frosting, and watch the colour develop. It’s a lot of fun, and you will feel great using natural ingredients.

As a side note, you can also use foods to dye eggs for Easter. There is a lot of info available online about this, and trying it out was really interesting. I learned that eggs boiled with beet, but then rinsed in water actually turn beige, and eggs boiled with red cabbage turn blue. Who knew?

eggbowl.jpg If you have any recipe questions, or tips on cupcakes or egg-dying, please leave me a comment, or email me.

Happy Easter!

Don’t forget, spring is a great time to make changes in your life, and your diet. I offer a free introductory consultation if you are thinking of working with a nutritionist. Please visit www.lemonholistic.com.