Raw Protein Nib Bars [Vegan, Sugar Free, Grain Free]

But where do you get your protein?” is one the many commonly asked questions when I’m talking to someone about my plant based diet and lifestyle. Whatever “diet” you may be on be it vegan, vegetarian or the funny named flexitarian, if you care about a healthy one, want to increase your muscle mass, or gain/lose/maintain weight, then you know that a clean, full and sustainable protein source is vital. My answer to the question: protein is a non issue for me as high quality protein is quite abundant in a lot of plant foods!

How much protein do we need on a daily basis? Well, the RDA recommends 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram or 0.36 grams per pound. This can fluctuate base on your activity levels and desire to gain more muscle mass. Our bodies use sufficient protein to support optimal tissue health, immunity function, growth and maintenance of lean body mass during activity, muscle recovery and overall vital body preservation.

So we all know the importance of adequate protein as well as good fats and vitamins and minerals sourced from plant based foods. However, having an active lifestyle while living in a very fast paced society, it can be a challenge to prepare healthy smoothies, juices, complete meals and snacks to fuel my days. Let’s face it guys – counting your calories and carbs, making sure you’re getting the proper amounts of protein and vitamins can be a pain and time consuming! Especially if you’re a vegan/vegetarian since we’re often told to be more mindful of our protein intake. But regularly consuming a variety of whole foods and nutritious snacks, you won’t need to play diet mathematician! Though there aren’t many plant based friendly, sugar free/low sugar products catered towards protein density on the market (yet), the best option is to always make your own! All you need are the best of the best ingredients, a set time during the week and a little bit of arm work. It’s definitely worth it and you’ll feel more at ease knowing exactly what you’re putting into your body.

So when Raw Green Organics provided me with their RAWJUVENATE Organic Vegan Protein powder in vanilla for an original recipe on my blog, I knew I could not just make an easy peasy smoothie. Of course, it’s definitely delicious enough to throw in smoothies and other energy beverages or even just milk – that is how it is mainly used, yes? But variety is the spice of life and there are many yummy and fun ways to incorporate protein into your everyday ritual. Like these moist, luscious good-for-you bars I’m about to share with you. One of the best parts about these bars is that you don’t feel like you’re eating anything “healthy” – they’re that good! It’s as if you’re eating raw cookie dough but without the added nasties. There’s also no need for unnecessary protein supplements because these bars have you covered! Thanks to my new favourite vegan protein powder, they’re naturally rich in protein, high in healthy Omega 3-6-9 fatty acids and certified organic! A perfect base to the protein bars and actually, they make em taste….better! I’ve found that many commercial protein powders contain a whack load of refined additives, added sugar and sometimes make my recipes taste dry and chalky. This was especially apparent in some brown rice protein powders I’ve tried as well. But Raw Green Organics locally sources all of their organic ingredients so that we are compensated with only high quality tasting products.

Their Organic Vegan Protein powder is naturally derived and made with organic yellow peas, organic sacha inchi protein, organic hemp protein and organic flaxseeds. The formula was carefully formulated to appeal to those on the vegan diet as well as those with the common food allergies and is 100% free from lactose, dairy, whey, gluten, wheat, sugar and soy. Each serving (about 2 tbsps) provides about 15 grams of protein and supplies a balanced fatty acid and complete branched-chain amino acid profile. These serve as important fuel sources for our muscles during times of stress and exercise.

Hold up! What is organic sacha inchi? Also known as the Savi Seed, sacha inchi is a plant that’s grown in mountainous regions of South America like Peru. It’s been used for thousands of years but you will most likely start to see this popping up more and being developed for commercial purposes and benefits for health products like this protein powder! Nutritionally, it’s impressive profile is very similar to hemp in that the plant offers a wide variety of EFA’s and high complementary or standalone protein content. There are sources that state sacha inchi is one of the most nutritionally complete foods you can include in your diet because of its vast beneficial benefits because the seeds are rich digestible protein content and contain about 25% of Omega 3’s by weight alone. Like chia seeds and maca powder, sacha inchi is definitely another “superfood” we can benefit from particularly if the indigenous peoples have been consuming it for energy for centuries! Another naturally vegan plant based protein source we can add to our list which also gives the extra health boost needed in these protein bars! Mmmm.

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A good quality protein bar can be convenient fuel, whether it’s post strength training workouts, during long hikes with friends or for easy breakfast morning grabs. Making these raw high protein bars is an excellent snack option that will keep you satisfied and help maintain your healthy regime. These bad boys are raw so baking is not required here. This definitely helps to cut down time while giving you more time to enjoy your happy, active life!

These homemade protein bars are raw, vegan, dairy free, soy free, corn free, grain free, wheat free, yeast free, preservative free, sugar free and packed with vitamins and minerals!

Keep them individually wrapped and cool in the fridge for a convenient way to grab, go and nourish!

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What you’ll need: 

2 tbsp of organic virgin coconut oil

3 tbsp of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or other non dairy milk of choice)

1/4 cup of granulated xylitol (or raw coconut sugar but it won’t be sugar free!)

1 tbsp of non alcohol vanilla extract

3/4 cup of Organic Vegan Protein Powder (Vanilla flavor is my favourite!)

3/4 cup of 100 % almond flour or almond meal (to make it nut free but still grain free, try coconut flour or buckwheat flour – taste will differ a bit)

1/3 cup to 1/2 cup of raw organic cacao nibs

1 tsp of organic cinnamon powder

Optional: 1 tsp of maca powder, carob powder or chia seeds for an extra kick!

Melt the coconut oil in a small pan or bowl. Whisk in almond milk, vanilla, sweetener, and cinnamon until well combined. Add the dry ingredients. Taste and adjust the sweetness if necessary. If it’s a little too dry, add a tiny bit more oil or 1 tsp of nut butter! Do not add more coconut flour or protein powder as they set and dry out when chilled. Fold in cacao nibs and mix.

Using your hands, grab mixture and press down on parchment paper. Shape into a 1/2 inch thick rectangle. Place in fridge to set. Cut into bars, eat and conquer the day!

 

No Bake Protein Thin Mint Cookies – Homemade + Healthy

Remember back in the good ol’ days when we used to go out and sell goodies in order to raise money for our school? Candy bars, chocolate covered almonds and my favourite, those thin mint scout cookies!

But as a kid, I didn’t have the knowledge of food that I appreciatively have today and never did I ever think twice about eating a whole box of cookies to myself in one sitting. I was a kid with a major junk food addiction. And a box of thin mint cookies was my antidote. Funny enough, my generous grandma bought 1/3 of my sales because of my ridiculous sweet tooth; actually, she’d have no choice sometimes because I was an impatient little bugger. (Thanks grandma!)

So the other day, I randomly had a hankering for them and for most dishes, I prefer whipping up alternatives that are much healthier yet still satisfying and comforting. Because, let’s face it gang, those original thin mint cookies we all used to love never loved us back!

These are the “ingredients” gathered from their website: Enriched flour (wheat flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid), sugar, vegetable shortening (palm and/or partially hydrogenated palm kernel oils), cocoa (processed with alkali), caramel color (WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?), contains less than 2% of: high fructose corn syrup (GROSS), salt, baking soda, soy lecithin, natural and artificial flavor (?), peppermint oil. Also, 4 itty bitty cookies has about 11 grams of sugars – the bad kind too! So fast forward to an empty box of those bad boys, that’s, well, A LOT of sugar!

Da-dun-dun-da….that’s why I’m here, your convenient bohemian. We still need our cookies, but without all of those so called ingredients and added bad stuff. And to put a spin to it, add protein and green superfoods (the good stuff), just to make it even more beneficial and that much more awesome!

For protein, I used 100% hemp powder from Gold Top Organics, a plant based protein, which is cold milled (so no heat added), organic and made from whole hemp seeds. It gives the cookies an interesting taste and texture but you can opt for sprouted brown rice protein powder which will work just as well. Personally, I think the taste of hemp powder by itself isn’t consumable but I found a way to enjoy it so I’m definitely going to be using in future goodies.

Together to compliment the hemp protein powder, comes my secret ingredient! (I guess not so secret anymore, right?) SunFood formulated a handy and potent green powder that boasts an incredible array of nutrient dense, mineral and vitamin rich elements. Their vegan Sun is Shining Green Superfood is a robust combination of some of the best like whole leaf barley grass, wheat grass, dandelion leaf, alfalfa leaf, spinach juice powder, broccoli juice powder, ginger root, spirulina, kelp, chlorella, enzymes like protease and various probiotics. It can be easily used in juices, smoothies, salads, breakfast bowls and in my case, cookies! A great way to get sneak an extra boost of energy in your day! …and having cookies!! 🙂

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These heavenly rounds are highly addictive and easy to make so it is much recommended that one must stock up on the recipe’s ingredients stat! It only takes a few minutes out of your day to throw together, so going back to make seconds is most likely going to happen…

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It’s a delectable way to get your protein and dark leafy greens in your day if you’re not in the mood for a protein shake or bar. Plus, it tastes like dessert so you’ll forget they’re even “healthy.”

See, the H word can be a yummy thing too!

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Low carb, grain free, sugar free, vegan, gluten and wheat free, preservative free, soy free and nostalgic! 

What you’ll need:

1/2 cup of pure hemp protein powder

1 teaspoon of SunFood’s Sun is Shining Green Superfood 

1/2 teaspoon of maca powder (omittable)

1/4 cup plus two teaspoons of unsweetened carob powder (can use raw cacao powder but you’ll need to adjust the sweetener because carob is naturally more sweeter than cacao) Or you can do half carob and half cacao too!

Note: I like chocolate but I don’t like to overdo it with caffeine (found in cacao) and carob is a delicious substitute for it! 

1 tsp of vanilla (no alcohol)

1/2 tsp of liquid stevia or 1 tbsp of xylitol (adjust to your preference)

1 tsp of peppermint extract

8-9 tbsp of organic cold pressed virgin coconut oil, liquid

Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl.  Stir well. Scoop onto parchment paper or cookie sheet and shape into balls then flatten into cookie shapes. If the mixture is too wet to hold, chill for a few minutes in the fridge or add  a little bit more protein or carob powder (not too much!) You want the dough to be hard to touch so they’re edible. Keep refrigerated or store in freezer. Enjoy! x

Super Granol-Oat Nut Butter Bars [Love Grown Foods Style]

Do you love the taste and texture of granola bars but tired of seeing an abundant amount of sugars and refined carbs? Me too, guys, me too.  It frustrates me when I see health bars on shelves that call themselves healthy and nutritious only to read the label/contents and discover it was purely a marketing ploy.  Unfortunately, 99% of the granola bars that my grandma used to give to me for school, ’cause she thought they were better snack options, fall under this category. Some bars contain just as much sugar as chocolate bars! This makes snacking healthy challenging but when in doubt, make your own! I cannot stress this enough.

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I made these soft, chewy, vegan, gluten/wheat free, protein and fiber rich, healthier-for-you DIY bars in less than 15 minutes. There’s no baking required so makes it easier and faster to go right into our tummies!

One of the main ingredients in this homemade granola bar are the oats. Aka granol-oat! Oats, in moderation, is a low calorie grain that helps our bodies stay full longer and aids in sugar cravings by stabilizing blood sugars. They provide high levels of fiber and protein, generally lower in fat and contain unique antioxidants called beta glucans that reduce cholesterol and boosts defenses of the immune system against bacteria, viruses and parasites.

I had the pleasure of receiving a wonderful care package from Love Grown Foods which contained so many delicious and healthy products, one being their Super Oats Chia Nuts and Seeds! Now these oats aren’t like the other traditional oats out there. The nutritional benefits don’t just stop at simply the oats. The super stands for all of the superfood ingredients its loaded with: chia seeds, almonds, quinoa, amaranth, pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds and walnuts. They’re also uncontaminated which makes them certified gluten and wheat free making it appropriate for those with celiac disease to safely enjoy them too!

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From the minute you open the accessible package, you will see and smell the difference. A clean product that not only tastes fresh but also certified non GMO. No sugar or salt added (which makes me the happiest girl) makes it conveniently customizable and versatile for anyone.

Remember those sugary, not really good for you, granola bars we were just talking about? Well, here’s an easy peasy recipe that’s hearty, supercharged and can kick any granola bar’s butt to the curb!

For the Base – You’ll need: 

1/2 cup + 2 tbsp of organic pure unsweetened peanut butter or almond butter

6 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 1/4 cup of Love Grown Foods Super Oats

1/2 cup of crispy brown rice cereal (can omit and add more oats or use ground flax seeds or coconut flakes!)

1/4 cup of ground flax seeds

2 teaspoons of alcohol free vanilla

1 teaspoon of organic cinnamon

2 tablespoons of unsweetened almond milk

Optional: add in chopped almonds or seeds of choice, vegan carob chips, cacao nibs

Melt the nut butter, almond milk and coconut oil on medium low heat in a sauce pan and stir into a creamy batter. Remove immediately from the heat after melted! In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and vanilla extract and mix thoroughly. If you don’t want your bars too chewy, you can blend or ground the oats into a flour. Pour the melted nut butter mixture onto the dry mixture and combine well.

Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper. Press the mixture down onto the pan with your fingers or a spoon. Put in the frige for about 5 minutes until firm. In the meantime, move onto the topping….

For the Topping – You’ll need: 

1/4 cup of organic coconut oil (melted)

1/4 cup of unsweetened toasted carob powder (or raw cacao)

If your coconut oil is not in liquid form, melt it on low heat. This won’t take long! Stir in carob powder and mix well until topping sauce is made.

Remove the base batter from the fridge. Pour topping sauce making sure it’s evenly distributed. Refrigerate for half an hour or so until firmed up. Cut into desired squares. Best served at room temperature. Keep in an air tight container or individually wrap them in aluminum foil or cling wrap to have as on the go snacks! Keep refrigerated for a week or frozen for up to 2 months.

Alternatively you have the option to bake the base at 300 degrees for 20 minutes. 

 

Hearty Chia Seed Pudding

Happy weekend everyone! 🙂

It’s a beautiful day in Toronto. The sun is shining, the sky is deliciously clear and the wave of summer vibes is here to stay! One of the best things about summer is feeling good about waking up in the mornings. Warm and sunny mornings allow you to start your day right, wouldn’t you agree?

And what’s the best thing you can do for yourself in the morning? Eating a healthy and scrumptious breakfast. It’s easy to grab a bowl of sugary cereal or oatmeal with some full fat milk but in my opinion, there are optimal and more nutritional meals you can have instead. If you want to start your summer day off right, you should eat right. Plain and simple. So after I have my glass of water and warm lemon water to wake my insides up from a good night’s rest, I opt for a chia seed pudding with hearty add-ons.

The recipe I’m about to share with you is vegan and free of yucky ingredients that we definitely don’t want in our breakfast. It’s also low in sugar, wheat and gluten free, high in anti-oxidants, rich in protein,  contains healthy fats and filling!

As you probably know, chia seeds are considered to be one of the many amazing super foods that Mother Nature has to offer to us. Despite their size, chia seeds are among the most nutritious foods on the planet. They are loaded with fiber, protein and omega 3 fatty acids. It’s easy to use and consume – sprinkle them in salads, bake with them, add them to smoothies and juices and my favourite way: puddin-nize ’em! (I made that word up btw!)

Here are some fast food facts about chia seeds and why they should be a staple part of your everyday diet…

  • Provides a massive amount of nutrients with very few calories! Excellent for someone trying to lose or maintain their weight. It’s unique way of gelling with liquid helps to keep you full for hours. It’s also an excellent low carb food as most of the grams is fiber!
  • Ideal food to help balance blood sugar. It’s great combination of soluble and insoluble fiber combine to slow down your body’s conversion of starches into sugars. Eating chia with a meal or as a meal will help you turn your food into a constant, ready energy and fuel your body rather than giving you the ups and down cravings that weigh you down.
  • Chia is the richest plant source of Omega 3 fatty acids. By weight and gram per gram, chia has more omega than salmon!
  • Rich in anti oxidants (more than blueberries) and contains good quality protein!

So whether you want to lower your cholesterol or blood sugars, properly lose weight or have more nutritional foods in your everyday diet, chia seeds will help you do all of that. Did I mention they’re also gluten/wheat free and vegan? 😉

If you don’t like the taste of gelatinized chia seed (chia seeds with liquid), you can sneak them in your smoothies or juices for added nutrients. But seriously, you should try making a chia seed pudding! It’s perfect for a filling breakfast, mid day snack or even dessert!

Don’t underestimate tiny things!

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Here’s my yummy basic go-to recipe which can be easily customized to your liking:

1 1/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond milk (homemade if you have!)

1/4 cup of organic chia seeds

1/2 teaspoon of organic vanilla extract, flavouring or bean pod (alcohol free please!)

1 teaspoon of xylitol or some stevia (optional)

Add all of the ingredients in a glass jar or bowl. Give it a quick stir. If using a jar, cover with a lid and shake like crazy to mix it all up. If using a bowl, let sit in the fridge and stir occasionally. Refrigerate until it becomes very thick and pudding like. You can do this for a few hours or overnight. For me, 20 minutes does the trick; plus my stomach is impatient.

Top with super essentials: tons of organic blueberries (I like them frozen!), raspberries, raw almonds and half a teaspoon of organic cinnamon. If I want to satisfy my sweet tooth, adding unsweetened coconut flakes, carob/cacao powder or chips and coconut milk does the trick! Enjoy! x

Superfood Almond Brownie Cupcake

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#WHATHEALTHYMODELSEAT

Gluten free, vegan, sugar free and model friendly. 

Skinny-ing up my desserts is what I love doing. That way, I have an excuse to eat more than one! One of the perfect comfort foods to have with a cup of tea is a good ol’ chocolate brownie. The problem with a lot of brownies is that there is absolutely nothing nutritional about it. You can justify that chocolate is good for you all you want but the reality is that the main ingredients are ones that should be avoided: wheat, sugar, butter and milk chocolate. They taste great but they offer nothing but a sugar high and a bargain with your waistline.

I’d like to share with you a satisfying brownie cupcake using an amazing gluten free flour product I found at Fiesta Farms. Living Intentions‘s Sprouted Flour Super Flour is an all around amazing flour to bake goods with and even delicious enough to eat raw! During a few baking sessions, I caught myself eating it by the spoonful. That good.

In my last post, I listed a few benefits of eating sprouted grains and seeds. Unlike other refined flours, Living Intentions only uses raw sprouted ingredients. Which is why it has a granulated texture (kind of like raw coconut sugar) that’s a lot more rough compared to other soft gluten free flours that have been refined and processed. Thus making it harder for me not to eat it directly of the bag! 😉

There’s a reason why they call this flour a “super flour” because of the list of super food ingredients: sprouted buckwheat flour, sprouted almond flour, organic mesquite pod powder, white chia seed powder and organic agave inulin. Refined sugar free, gluten/wheat free, vegan, raw and high in protein and fiber; it’s the ideal all purpose flour for those with food allergies and for those who want a healthier alternative. Did I mention how delicious the flour was? And so, in honour of this super duper product, I decided to make it into a super food almond brownie in the form of a cupcake. Just for fun. 🙂

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What you’ll need:

2 tablespoons of softened room temperature coconut oil (virgin, cold pressed and organic)

1/2 cup of granulated of xylitol

1 flax egg (1 tablespoon of ground flax + 2.5 tablespoons of filtered water…let sit for a bit to form an “eggy” like texture)

1/4 cup of unsweetened organic almond milk (Try not to get brands that contain tapioca starch or added preservatives)

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

1 cup of Living Intentions Sprouted Super Flour

1/4 cup of organic raw cacao powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1/4 cup of sliced natural almonds + some for garnishing

1/4 cup of unsweetened vegan chocolate chips (I use my homemade chocolate chunks which contain 3 ingredients: raw cacao, stevia and coconut oil)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cream together coconut oil and granulated xylitol in a bowl. Add in flax egg. Blend in almond milk and vanilla extract. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda and cacao powder. Add to wet mixture and stir until fully combined. Fold in sliced almonds and chocolate chips/chunks.

Distribute batter evenly into a 6 muffin tin. About 3/4 full for each cup. Bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and refrain from eating right away. (I didn’t and burned my mouth – yikes!) Allow to cool slightly before removing from tin. Garnish with more sliced almonds – raw or roasted with coconut oil. Super brownies for the win!

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