Try it today: Cauliflower bread

Photo credit: The Iron You
Photo credit: The Iron You

A co-worker of mine (whom I do a weekly cooking group with), suggested we try making cauliflower bread with our group. Unfortunately we never got around to it as our kitchen’s blender maxed out and is now in blender heaven. However, after he told me about it, I went on a search for a recipe to try at home. And voila! Oozy cheesy goodness 🙂 Check out this recipe from The Iron You, a great way to sneak veggies into a classic favourite.

Cauliflower is a pretty understated vegetable. It’s personally not one of my top picks, however I’m trying to include it more! Here are some of the benefits*:

– High in Vitamin C, folate, calcium, potassium, selenium

-Ridiculously low in calories (13 calories per 1/2 cup)

-High concentration of cancer-fighting chemicals called glucosinolates

Give it a try, let me know how it goes! xo

* Information courtesy of Leslie Beck, RD

Product review: Kellogg’s Pop Tarts®

I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a creeper at the grocery store. While waiting in line, I like to casually check out the carts of others, just to see what the hot items are. Creepy? Yes. Judgemental? Possibly. Interesting? Of course! My career is based on food, and sometimes I feel like I’m never “off duty”.

Today after work I went to the store for a few things. I was behind a small family who were loading their items on the belt. Apparently there was a Pop Tart sale, as they were buying at least 8 boxes (that I was able to stealthily count). It made me realize that I haven’t really had a Pop Tart since I was very young, and I remember them tasting like cardboard. I wondered to myself, has anything really changed? I also recently tried a recipe that I found off one of my favourite blogs, the Minimalist Baker. It was a DIY Pop Tarts from scratch, using only 7 ingredients. With a few substitutions (I used butter instead of Earth Balance and made a strawberry rhubarb compote as rhubarb was in season) I completed the recipe with success and the result was AMAZING. Here is a link to the recipe (FYI they also freeze very well!)

Here is the nutritional information for the DIY Pop Tarts (found at the bottom of the recipe):

Serving size: 1 pop tart w/out glaze Calories: 335 Fat: 8 g Saturated fat: 5 g Carbohydrates: 35 g Sugar: 3.5 g Fiber: 1.5 g Protein: 4.5 g

No one said it was going to be health food :). But, I would treat this more like a dessert and you can definitely customize the size of the tart to smaller if you want it for a lighter snack/dessert. The thing I like most about these are the minimal ingredients and lower sugar content. Speaking of sugar, let’s compare to our old friend, Kellogg’s Pop Tart:

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Look at the strawberries on the front! Here is the product description, from the Kellogg’s website: “A delicious pastry with real fruit filling and topped in icing. As a source of 4 essential vitamins and minerals, Strawberry Frosted Pop Tarts toaster pastries are a fast and fun way to snack”. Wow. No wonder parents and kids love this product. For the kids, the box is colourful, they are sweet, delicious and you can easily take one en route to school. For the parents, they are quick to eat, apparently have real fruit, and a whopping 4 essential vitamins and minerals. Hmmm….

Ingredients (from Kellogg’s website): Wheat flour, sugar/glucose-fructose, dextrose, vegetable shortening (contains palm oil), icing sugar, crackermeal, modified wheat starch, salt, dried strawberries, dried pears, dried apples, baking powder, citric acid, natural flavour, corn cereal, gelatin, modified corn starch, xanthan gum, soy lecithin, calcium phosphate, colour.

I counted 21 ingredients. Companies are required to list their ingredients by weight, so the majority of the Pop Tart is made of: flour (not whole grain), sugar, sugar, shortening (fat), more sugar, refined grain, refined grain, salt and FINALLY some fruit.

885118_PT_St_8ct.pdf

The Government of Canada defines “source of” as “at least 5% of recommended daily intake“. So I guess these Pop Tarts are a “source of” iron, niacin, folate and thiamin. Unfortunately Kellogg  forgot to point out that 1 Pop Tart has absolutely no protein, very little fibre (2 things that help keep us satisfied and prevent subsequent sugar crashes) but is a fantastic source of sugar (18g, equal to 4.5 teaspoons of sugar).

The verdict

Parents should save their money and pass on the Pop Tarts. Worried about the 4 essential nutrients you might miss from the Pop Tarts? Have a piece of fruit (like fresh orange) with a slice of whole-grain bread and natural peanut butter. The bread and fruit are both loaded with B vitamins such as folate, niacin and thiamin. The peanut butter has some iron, and the vitamin C from the orange will help your body absorb the iron better. Plus, with all that fibre from the food, you will feel satisfied for longer! If you are looking for a treat, I suggest trying the DIY Pop Tarts. They are obviously a bit more of a time investment than purchasing Pop Tarts in the box, but well worth it and you cut out 14 ingredients!

Pressed for time? My top 5 freezer foods

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Le sigh. This week has been unusually busy for me. I’ve been “go go go” since Monday and it’s only Thursday! My goal of blogging 5 days a week went out the window. Hair was in a ponytail every day, I even tried to open my apartment door with my work swipe card.

Being busy and exhausted makes my October Unprocessed month even more challenging. The lure of fast, processed food is EVERYWHERE. Thankfully my freezer stash of homemade, prepared foods has saved my buns on numerous occasions this week. Taking the time to prep and make larger batches of food when you DO have the time is such a great investment. I thought I would share with you all my top 5 meals/foods that I try and keep in my freezer, so I have healthy food fast when I’m in a time crunch.

1) Chili 

Oh chili, how many ways can I say I love you? L’amour? Ich liebe dich? Chili is a great staple meal for the freezer. It is liquid enough to freeze well, it is cheap and filling, there are endless combinations/recipes out there and you can pair it with lots of things in your pantry. Last week I made a vegan chili with vegetables, canned kidney beans and leftover roasted acorn squash. I froze the leftovers and paired them with a 10 minute basmati rice for quick lunches this week. Hearty, nutritious, tasty, filling, easy.

2) Slow cooker soups/stews

This year before my knee surgery I bought a Crockpot for 30$ at Costco. It was the best investment of my life. Freezer Crockpot meals got me through months when I couldn’t stand for more than a few minutes. Now they are getting me through busy work weeks because I can make huge batches at once and freeze in smaller portions. My favourite crockpot meals are beef stew, chicken/turkey soup and potato/leek soup (I blitz the potato/leek soup with an immersion blender before freezing it). My go-to beef stew recipe actually comes from Today’s Parent (haha), I adapt it slightly by taking out the tomatoes and adding a few cups of sliced mushroom (personal preference).

3) Slow cooker meats

Cooking meat tends to take the most investment of my time in the kitchen. I started making meat in my Crockpot because 1) I can buy cheaper cuts and slow cooking helps tenderize, 2) I can do batch cooking while at work 3) Having liquid with the meat helps it freeze better. My 2 favourite meats to do in the Crockpot are shredded chicken and pulled pork. Here are my 2 favourite, tried, tested and true recipes:

4) Frozen vegetables and fruits

Nothing says “easy” like using already washed and chopped produce. I always have the following in my freezer: Frozen organic wild blueberries, mango, banana (chopped and whole), spinach, edamame. Here is what I use them for:

  • Blueberries: Smoothies, in plain greek yogurt (I put them in frozen and they are thawed by lunch!), muffins, compote for pancakes, oatmeal. Endless possibilities!
  • Mango: Smoothies, ice cubes for water, eaten right out of the bag as a snack 🙂
  • Banana: Smoothies (peeled and pre-cut in a Ziploc bag), muffins, pancakes, oatmeal
  • Spinach: Smoothies, added to curries, minestrone soup
  • Edamame: Stir fries, coleslaw, salads

5) Muffins

During my October Unprocessed challenge, I was finding it difficult to abstain from processed snacks. Especially when the 2pm crash hits and I’m craving sugar like a madwoman. My freezer stash of baked oatmeal muffins has saved me countless times, and really hits the spot when I’m craving something sweet. These muffins (and others) freeze so well, and are thawed to the perfect texture by the afternoon. Here is my recipe, adapted through trial and error until I found the one I loved the most. Feel free to adapt it yourself by adding or taking out any ingredients!

Banana chocolate chip baked oatmeal muffins

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons milled flaxseed
  • 1 cup unsweetened milk of choice (I use unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 3 medium bananas, VERY ripe (I use my freezer stash of ripe bananas)
  • 1/4 cup- 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)

Directions:

  • Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.
  • In a bowl, mash bananas together with a fork until soft.
  • Add the remaining ingredients (except chocolate chips) and stir with a wooden spoon until combined.
  • Line a muffin tin with muffin liners (I haven’t tried them without the liners but I suspect they would stick).
  • Add chocolate chips to the muffin mix.
  • Divide batter into muffin tins. Depending on how much you fill, this recipe will yield 12-15 muffins. They won’t rise, so fill them to the top!
  • Bake for 25 minutes on the centre rack. Try to eat once cooled (I know, so hard) as the muffin tends to stick to the liner when hot. ENJOY!