nature’s fat, round 2

20131114-132235.jpgSo last week I posted a picture of avocado being used in tuna salad instead of mayo. Some of you may be wondering why it’s a big deal. Well, to me, a jar of mayo represents some negative things: Processed food with added sugar, salt, artificial colour, and waste. Yes, you can make your own mayo. As a Mom, although I like to create in the kitchen with my kid (we made the egg salad pictured together) I appreciate some convenience so making mayo just isn’t high on my list of foodie priorities right now. And yes, I do have other condiments in my fridge. The dreaded ketchup is there, and mustard. But I was committed from the beginning to teaching (enforcing) good eating habits to my son, so the ketchup rarely gets used. The mustard I consider a lesser evil because there is no added sugar and the colour boost comes from turmeric (my fav!). So I really don’t need another jar, especially when there is an alternative that I don’t have to make, comes straight from nature, and has nutritional benefits.

I only used mayo as a sandwich spread, in egg salad/deviled eggs and tuna salad. You can use avocado for all of that. And guess what? You can even use avocado in smoothies, pasta sauces and cupcake frosting! And geez, I almost forgot GUACAMOLE. So seriously less waste, you know you’re gonna use up your avocados somehow.

When my son was a baby, I’d buy an avocado, cut it open and feed it to him as a snack in the park. Your body needs fat, it’s great for your brain, and this is the best way to get it. Avocados are loaded with good fats including omega-3s that help lower cholesterol and promote brain health. They are also full of fibre, potassium and vitamins. Yes they are high in calories: That’s what makes them a great snack on their own, not just as an additive in recipes. Really I could go on and on for days about all the great nutrients in avocados, but I like to sum it up like this – grab it, slice it, go. You really cannot go wrong with an avocado.

If you want to know even more about avocados, I have a link (over there, on the right!) to a great website, The World’s Healthiest Foods. They have all sorts of interesting history, benefits and recipes for so many foods. Green food rocks! Just tell your kid it’s monster food. 🙂

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orange you glad you had some carrots

carrot muffinIt’s getting cold here in Toronto, and when it gets cold, I can’t help but bake. I especially like to bake when I have ingredients to use up in my fridge, like carrots. I tweaked a great carrot cake recipe I got from my sister-in-law to create these muffins, using whole wheat flour, shredded carrots and crushed pineapple. They are perfectly naturally orangey coloured. Muffins like this are a great way to get more fruit and veg into your kids. Great for school snacks! Also great for Mommy’s breakfast with a sneaky swipe of butter…

pumpkin everything

pumpkinI know “pumpkin spice” has turned into some kind of cruel joke but when Autumn hits, I’m still gonna do the pumpkin thing, oh yeah. I love the synergy of the nutrition and the seasonality, and of course the vibrant colour. I get such a good feeling preparing multiple recipes using this versatile food. From one pie pumpkin I made a pie, pumpkin mac and cheese, pancakes, and muffins. That’s a whole lot of pumpkin fun. I got it out of my system. Until next autumn.

Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart…


In an interesting turn of events, as we walked into the drugstore to get my little man a new toothbrush, he noticed and demanded to hold this tube of brightly coloured jelly beans. Once he was distracted by the toothbrushes I took a closer look and noticed my favourite line “no artificial colours or flavours” on the tube making it an official purchase “for baking” (as opposed to “for immediate stuffing in the mouth”). Upon even closer inspection it turns out that these beans are made in Ireland, and they somehow ended up on a random shelf in a Canadian drugstore, and to top off the weirdness of the situation, they scanned at 26 cents – ? I love finding new naturally coloured products and sharing the information about these progressive companies who “get it” and manage to create something fun and better for you. Take a minute to look at thejellybeanfactory.com and if a tube ends up in your or your little person’s hand, relish those lovely natural colours!

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…

morning lemon – easy peasy green tea lemonade

Another successful copycat beverage – green tea lemonade. The natural foods store around the corner from me is having an awesome sale on Santa Cruz lemonade (regular and raspberry which is highly addictive) $1.99 a bottle – you should check your local natural store!

I brewed up green tea (I like Yogi brand) – 2 tea bags in approx 2 cups just-before-boiling water – and put into an empty lemonade bottle, which filled it up about halfway. I topped it up with lemonade, gave it a good shake and popped it in the fridge. A bit later over ice it was perfect.

almo(st) mochaccino

It was big news when Starbucks opened in my neighborhood, which is made up of mostly small independent shops and cafes. Of course it had to open near the end of my pregnancy, when I was desperately craving chocolatey/milky things daily. My husband and I got a bit too used to the 2 minute walk around the corner and also chose to ignore the significant amount of money flying out of our wallets. Well, now that baby is out, we have cut back significantly. A big reason for me besides spending too much is that too much dairy consumption by me noticeably affects my boy – in a spit up way! Not that it is causing him discomfort, but I was getting a bit sick of changing my/his clothes a couple of times a day.

Taking all this into account, I decided I still needed a daily treat (trust me, when you are taking care of a newborn, you need this) but I didn’t want to spend lots of money, and I didn’t want to have dairy or soymilk. So, I decided to invest in a thermo-cup and create my own version of a mochaccino – 1/2 instant coffee, 1/2 chocolate almond milk. Of course it doesn’t taste like a Starbucks mocha, but more money in the bank and less laundry makes it worth it. Besides, I love almond milk, and it does taste pretty dang good.

If you don’t like to have too much dairy and you have never tried almond milk, I highly recommend it. It has a nice consistency – thinner than soy milk but not as thin as rice milk, and it tastes great (not too almondy like you would think). I use the original unsweetened on cereal, have used the vanilla for baking (makes cupcakes extra moist!) and the chocolate is good straight up in a glass.

Stay tuned for another faux Starbucks drink attempt soon – green tea lemonade!