Healthier Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

In my opinion, traditional desserts cannot be “replaced” with healthier versions.  Sure, you can lighten them up and choose alternative ingredients, but they just aren’t the same.  Nothing can ever replace the yummy, gooey, crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside-ness of a freshly baked Chocolate Chip Cookie.  With that being said, I bring you a healthier take on said Chocolate Chip cookie.  I was really craving cookies and was unsure if I should go for a healthier version or stick with the classic.  My heart was saying go with the classic.  My head was saying go with the healthier option. Long story short, I went with my head and fortunately enough, the healthier option did the trick and fed my craving!

I used a 1-to-1 gluten free flour blend from Bulk Barn.  It is made primarily of rice flour.  Rice flour is a little gritty and at first can be a turn-off but once you get used to the texture, you won’t even notice the difference.  You do not need to use a gluten free flour for this recipe and can stick with your favourite (gluten free or not gluten free) flour.  The main thing here is that this recipe has very little refined sugar in it, with the only refined sugar being in the chocolate chips (which you could omit, add more PB and you have PB cookies!!).  Such a small amount of pure maple syrup was used instead of 1-2 cups of sugar. This recipe can also easily be made vegan.  Since there is no butter or eggs in this recipe, all you would need to do is swap the milk chocolate chips for a dairy-free alternative.  If you need to avoid peanut products, you can even swap the PB for almond butter or sunflower seed butter.

Ingredients:

  • 1tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 3tbsp water
  • 1/4c coconut oil
  • 1/3-1/2c natural peanut butter
  • 1/4-1/3c pure maple syrup (adjust to your taste)
  • 1tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2tsp each  baking soda and baking powder
  • 2c flour of your choice (I used a 1-to-1 GF flour from Bulk Barn)
  • 1/2c (or more!!) chocolate chips of your choice

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2) In a small bowl, combine flax and water to make a flax egg. Let sit at least 5 minutes.

3) In a large bowl beat together oil and peanut butter until combined. Add maple syrup and vanilla and mix. Then mix in flax egg.

4) One by one, add in baking soda, baking powder and flour. The dough should be slightly sticky. If it is dry, add a tiny bit of milk of your choice and mix.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

5) Shape dough into small balls (approx. 1-inch) and line up on cookie sheet. Some types of flour will spread more than others while baking. I pressed my cookies down a bit.

6) Bake on center oven  rack for 12-14 minutes. (Some types of flour will cook faster than others so keep an eye on the cookies especially starting around the 8 minute mark!). Let cool for a few minutes then move to a cooling rack. Then eat!

Enjoy,

Shannon

cookies

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Moroccan Turkey Meatballs with Couscous

I think that it is quite fitting that my first recipe in about three years happens to be one that I made at 9 o’clock at night.  It was supposed to be for dinner, but someone (me!) forgot to take the ground turkey out of the freezer that morning.  Oops! This also explains why there is no picture of this recipe plated…

These turkey meatballs were inspired by a post in my Nutrition Coaching certification’s Facebook group page. I love that this recipe involves a few spices that I generally do not use in my cooking. I don’t know about you but I get bored eating the same recipes and flavours over and over again.  The couscous was added to stick with the Moroccan theme. Couscous is also super easy and quick to make and is a great alternative to the traditional rice and quinoa that I typically rotate through.

To amp up the amount of veggies in the recipe (there is already a few!), I added some steamed broccoli as a side dish.  If you’d like, you can do the same, but any veggie that is added, whether it is steamed, roasted, sautéed etc., is a good choice!

Moroccan Turkey Meatballs

Ingredients:

  • 450g ground turkey (or any other meat should do)
  • 3 green onions, chopped finely
  • 1/4c fresh coriander/cilantro, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 whole egg
  • 3tbsp oats (this will help keep the turkey moist)
  • 1/4c chopped raisins (you can also use cranberries or dates)
  • Following spices – approx. 1/2tsp of each, all ground (you can adjust according to your own preferences): Cumin, coriander, ginger, turmeric, and cayenne pepper
  • 1-2tbsp olive oil
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes plus 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2tsp cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper, as desired
  • Half a bag of spinach (approx. 4-5 handfuls, I used a kale/spinach mix)

Directions:

Combine turkey, cilantro, garlic, green onions, egg, oats, raisins and spices in a bowl. Shape into meatballs.

Put the olive oil in a pot or large pan and heat on medium. Once heated add shallots and cook until fragrant. Then add turkey meatballs and cook until the outsides of the meatballs are cooked and there is no raw meat showing. Add the can of diced tomatoes and the chopped whole tomatoes.  Season with salt, pepper and cinnamon. Add spinach.

Cook until meatballs are done and the spinach has wilted.

Moroccan Couscous

Recipe adapted from: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/105045/moroccan-couscous/

Ingredients:

  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/4tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4tsp ground allspice
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 zucchini, halved lengthwise and chopped
  • 1/2c raisins, chopped
  • 1tsp salt, if desired
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 1/2c chicken broth
  • 1/2c orange juice
  • 1 1/2c couscous
  • 3tbsp chopped fresh mint

Directions:

Combine all seasonings up to olive oil in a pot. Sautee on medium heat to toast the spices slightly. Add olive oil and red onion. Cook until fragrant then add bell pepper and zucchini. Let cook until vegetables begin to soften. Add raisins, chickpeas and salt. Let cook for a few minutes.

Then add chicken broth and orange juice. Bring to a boil. Add couscous and immediately remove from heat. Let sit covered for 5 minutes to cook the couscous.

Remove lid, fluff couscous with a fork and gently stir in fresh mint.

Serve warm or cold. Enjoy!

 

What is Osteopathy and Why Did I Choose to Study it?

“The work of the Osteopath is to adjust the body from the abnormal to the normal; then the abnormal condition gives place to the normal and health is the result of the normal condition.”

– Dr. A.T. Still, Osteopathy Research and Practice, Eastland Press, 1992

Osteopathy is a form of manual therapy that was founded and created by Dr. Andrew Taylor Still in Missouri in 1874 (National Academy of Osteopathy, Osteopathy History).  Dr. Still believed that by treating the musculoskeletal system, you could treat a variety of diseases and conditions without the use of drugs or surgery. This would also spare patients from the negative side effects of these modalities.  Dr. Still also believed that the body has the ability to heal itself and it is the practitioner’s duty is to simply treat the factors that inhibit health to help restore the body to its optimal function.  Osteopathy is derived from the Greek words “osteo” (bone) and “pathos” (suffering).

Osteopathy is based on the following principles: 1) The human body is a dynamic unit of function.  It is intrinsic and works together. 2) Structure governs function. 3) Auto-regulation – the body is self-healing and regulating. 4) Treatment is based on the first three principles.

Osteopathy takes a holistic approach to healing as it focuses on the body as a whole – bones, joints, muscles, and organs.  Manual Osteopaths also emphasize the importance of proper nutrition, exercise and lifestyle choices as being key components to achieving maximum wellness and health.  Manual Osteopaths treat musculoskeletal disorders through the mobilization of bones and joints. They also use a variety of techniques to help restore function to the body such as muscle energy techniques (METs), soft tissue therapy, cranial sacral therapy and visceral manipulation. Other techniques that may be used include, but are not limited to, trigger point therapy, myofascial release, ultrasound and laser therapy (if trained).

Osteopathy has been shown to be an effective treatment for chronic and certain types of acute pain.  Some conditions that can be treated by osteopathy and Manual Osteopaths include: headaches and migraines, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis elbow, sciatica, plantar fasciitis, low back pain, shoulder injuries, constipation, patella-femoral pain/achy knees, infertility/PMS, TMJ pain and so much more.

In conclusion, osteopathy is a hands on manual therapy that takes a holistic and interrelated approach to treating a variety of conditions without the use of drugs or surgery.  A treatment plan from a Manual Osteopath may include exercise prescription, nutrition recommendations and lifestyle changes in conjunction with the hands on treatment received by the patient.

Growing up I was active in many sports.  During high school I began to fall in love with fitness and nutrition.  This passion led me to Humber College where I received my diploma in Fitness and Health Promotion.  After graduation, I began working as a Personal Trainer and continued teaching Group Fitness classes.  After several years of working, I began looking into other opportunities to advance my career. I had been interested in studying a manual therapy for some time and after doing some research I was drawn to Osteopathy.  This is when I heard of the National Academy of Osteopathy (NAO).  I was immediately intrigued!  I loved the idea that Manual Osteopaths treat the body as a whole and do not just focus on the location of pain.  This made so much sense to me.

Choosing to study at NAO has to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.  The hands on classes and the online videos have allowed me to practice and study at my own pace and get help when I need it. I have learned so much in my time at NAO and I am excited to go to class each day.

The professors are all very knowledgeable, passionate and personable.  It has been an incredible experience to learn from them.  The experience that I am also gaining in the clinical component has been amazing.  Aside from the lectures on osteopathy, exercise, biomechanics and more, the business lectures are second to none.  Each lecture provides you with many valuable tips that you can use to help build your dream business after graduation – I cannot wait to start using them!

 I have nothing but positive things to say about NAO.  Each class my passion for my new profession grows.  I would recommend Osteopathy and NAO to anyone who is interested in a career in the health and wellness industry, I guarantee you will not be disappointed!

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WHAT’S COOKING: Moroccan Lentil and Veggie Soup

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Moroccan Lentil and Veggie Soup 🍲

“Mmm mmm good” is how I would describe this soup! It is so tasty, colourful and flavourful. It’s also vegan and perfect for Meatless Monday or you can make it ahead of time in a slow cooker 🍜

Ingredients
– 1-2 tbsp olive oil
– 4 cloves garlic, mimced
– 1 medium onion, chopped
– 4 stalks celery, chopped
– 1/2 tbsp ground cumin
– 1 tsp tumeric
-1 tsp cinnamon
– 1/2 tbsp cayenne pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
– 1 19oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
– 1 28oz can diced tomatoes
– small/medium bag frozen cauliflower florets
– 6 cups vegetable broth
– 1 cup lentils

Steps
1) Sauté onion and garlic in oil in a large pot over med-high heat. Once they are slightly softened add celery and sauté for several minutes.

2) Add in spices and cook for a few more minutes.

3) Add diced tomatoes, chickpeas and cauliflower and stir until well mixed.

4) Add the vegetable broth. Turn heat up to high and let boil. Then add the lentils.  Stir and bring pot back to a boil. Once the pot is boiling, turn heat down to med-low and let simmer for 30 minutes, or until lentils are soft.

5) Remove from heat and serve!

Voila! There you have it….a nice, quick and healthy soup waiting to be gobbled up!

Recipe adapted from Budget Bytes

TUESDAY TREAT-DAY: Protein Chickpea Blondies

Low sugar, high protein, flourless and low calorie. Oh wait, they are also delicious and no, you can’t taste the chickpeas! Simple to make too!
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Ingredients:

  • 1 can chickpeas (approx. 400 grams), rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup vanilla protein powder
  • 1/3 cup nut butter (almond or PB – I used PB)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup or sugar-free maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (if desired)
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp natural sweetener, to taste
  • Handful of sugar-free or regular chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8×8 pan with parchment paper
  • Mix all ingredients in a food processor or a high powered blender until smooth
  • Pour batter into pan and spread evenly
  • Top with chocolate chips. Tip: Lightly press chocolate chips into the batter so they stick
  • Bake 15-20 minutes depending on your oven

Makes 16 medium size blondies. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from @missk_j6 on instagram!

MEATLESS MONDAY: Southwestern Quinoa with Roasted Butternut Squash

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This recipe is full of veggies, fibre and protein – plus it`s vegan, perfect for Meatless Monday! Designed to keep you full and energized!

Ingredients

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, for seasoning
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (rinse before cooking)
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth or water
  • ½ cup to ¾ cup uncooked lentils
  • 1 – 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 4 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp chili powder or southwestern seasoning
  • Avocado, cubed (to go on top of dish)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Toss cubed squash with olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread on a cookie sheet. Bake in oven for 30 minutes, or until squash is soft.
  2. Meanwhile, cook lentils in one pot and quinoa and broth (or water) in another. Bring quinoa to a boil and then lower the temperature to me-high and simmer for approximately 15 minutes. Cook lentils until soft, about 25 minutes.
  3. To make the salad combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss until mixed. Serve warm or chilled with avocado on top!

*Recipe adapted from My Fitness Pal blog*

SNACK OF THE WEEK: Chocolate Avocado Pudding

One thing I love about baking is using healthy ingredients to turn indulgent desserts into nutritious, guilt-free recipes. On that note, this Chocolate Avocado Pudding is indulgent, yet healthy. Packed full of healthy fats, vitamins and fiber, this is the ultimate snack or dessert! The avocados give this pudding a nice creamy texture, and you can’t even taste them. Avocados can be used in many recipes to replace butter, oil and other unhealthy fats. This recipe is super easy to make – just throw everything into a food processor or blender and mix. Will help curb chocolate cravings. Could it get any better? No to mention, it tastes just like chocolate pudding, you won’t even know the difference!

Ingredients:

– 2 avocados, peeled and pit removed

– ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

– ¼ cup honey or agave (or maple syrup)

– 3 tbsp. plain Greek Yogurt

– ½ cup milk of choice

– 2 tsp of vanilla

Instructions:

Place all ingredients into a food processor or blender and mix until smooth. Cover and refrigerate leftover portions. One ½ cup serving is around 130 calories (most of which are healthy fat from the avocado).

*Pairs perfectly with fresh fruit*

**Recipe adapted from http://www.eat-yourself-skinny.com**