Almonds are the new peanuts!

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I love almonds. From raw almonds, almond flour, almond butter, and almond milk. They’ve just been great substitutes for grains flours and dairy products – I couldn’t have done it without them!

One of my favourite treats is this almond butter cup similar to peanut butter cups but BETTER. It doesn’t contain any added preservatives, it’s refined sugar free, dairy free, vegan and wheat/gluten free. The ingredient list is simple, wholesome and yummy. Just how dessert recipes should be! These are also raw so that means no baking and you get to consume ALL of the nutrients and enzymes which foods can lose when you cook or bake them.

Almond flour (in moderation) is a great substitute for grain and/or gluten free baking. It is highly nutritious, simple to use and absolutely delicious! (Unless you’re allergic to nuts then I apologize for this post!) For those of us that watch our glycemic index, you already know that almonds are rich in protein, low in carbs and low in sugars.

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Toronto based company Grain Free JK Gourmet makes an excellent quality almond flour product that worked wonderfully for this recipe. Their soft and moist almond flour is made from whole, blanched (some say better for digestion) almonds and….that’s it! 🙂 Unlike some almond flour products (particularly Bob’s Red Mill), this one doesn’t taste processed or have a “gritty” texture so you can be sure that you’re getting the all natural real deal. The results in both raw and baked desserts were perfect!

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Okay, so now onto the cups…..

What you’ll need:

Base

1 cup of blanched almond flour (JK Gourmet brand is the best!)

1/4 cup of ground flax meal

2 tablespoons of pure roasted almond butter (or nut/seed butter of choice)

1.5 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil, melted

1/4 teaspoon of organic cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon of organic pure vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons of pure granulated xylitol (adjust to your sweet tooth – sometimes I omit it)

Topping

3 tablespoons of organic virgin coconut oil

1-2 packets of pure stevia (or adjust to your sweet tooth)

2 tablespoons of cacao powder

Combine all the base ingredients in a large bowl and break up any clumps with your fingers. Stir until thoroughly combined. The batter should be sticky like cookie dough. If it’s too wet, add a tiny bit more almond flour or if it’s too dry, add more almond butter. But you most likely you won’t need to. Line a muffin tray with paper liners or use a silicone muffin tray. Portion the dough into each cup and press down evenly until evenly firm and smooth. Put in the fridge or freezer for a few minutes while making the chocolate topping.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, sweetener, cacao powder until no clumps are to be found. If you want you can heat it up in a small saucepan for a smooth dark chocolate result but then you can’t call it raw! I actually like it a tiny bit better. Remove tray from fridge, and evenly distribute the sauce with a spoon of each cup. (Garnish with almond slices if desired.) Place in the freezer on a flat area for 30 minutes, until firm. Pop them out of the cup shells and enjoy right away! Best consumed chilled! Super easy and delicious, right? Try not to make these every other day! 😉 x

 

Weekend Love

Happy start off the week, you special human being! I hope you had a happy weekend.

This is what my Sunday looked like…

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Yummy, nutritional food with the best of friends and then neighborhood exploring with my honey. The weather wasn’t the greatest this weekend in Toronto but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the outdoors. Physical activity is always more fun when it doesn’t feel like one. Also, can you believe it’s May and I’m wearing gloves?! Mother nature is such a tease!

Even though it’s the weekend, that doesn’t mean healthy habits have to stop. One of the healthy ways you can “cheat” on the weekend is by nutritionally swapping the ingredients for your favourite comfort foods. In my case, pesto pasta is one of them! High in calories, loads of oil and if overdone, the carb count is above average. It’s not ideal for anyone to have it everyday that’s for sure. But we’re human and we crave. So you can check out my plate to see what I had that left me fully satisfied without taking me off track.

Stay healthy, my friends.

On my plate: Homemade gluten/yeast free flax flat bread, lemon green spring mix salad, kale/chickpea/red pepper salad with coconut nectar and avocado oil and kale/oregano dairy free pesto brown rice spirals with broccoli. 

Drink Me: Liquid Plumber

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And drink!! 

I love me some yummy green juice/smoothie. Healthy, nutritional, digestible and delicious. Just the way mother nature intended our food to be.

After my casting today, I popped by a brand new health store on Dupont, Innate Wellness, where they carried one of my favourite Toronto vegan restaurant’s fresh juices. Live Organic offers a delicious selection of gourmet healthy dishes, desserts and juices that are gluten free, sugar free, preservative free, organic and vegan! They have 2 restaurant locations in the city and also have brought their exciting goodies to retail (Live Organic Raw) in select health shops. And one of the most popular products from their line are their fresh, organic juices. Unpasteurized and containing only natural ingredients, these juices are great for an on the go healthy option. I generally juice and blend my greens myself but sometimes when you’re on the run, your body just needs that extra pick me up.

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They’re fresh pressed meaning they come straight from the juicer and not manufactured from some toxic factory. Most commercialized “100% juice” products (most from concentrate) are loaded with a ton of sugar and preservatives and contain only a small portion of vegetables. You’d might as well grab a can of soda!

The best part about them? You can taste that they’re made with the genuine intent to live a healthy and optimal lifestyle! They care. 😉

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Here are some fast facts on the benefits of juicing:

Juices help you absorb all the nutrients from the vegetables and fruits. They rapidly go straight into your blood stream! Your body doesn’t have to work as hard to break down the food.

Juicing allows you to consume an optimum amount of vegetables in an efficient manner. Who has time to eat numerous pounds of greens anyway?

Fresh juices offer a wonderful resource of enzymes! It’s fresh. It’s raw. And given that vegetables and fruits are juiced uncooked, the enzymes are all there and not lost or damaged through any processing.

Vegetable juices are great for detoxifying and cleansing, but keep in mind that they are not complete meals as they lack fat and protein that your body needs as well. I have them as snacks and pair them up with my plant based protein dishes. But either way, you can enjoy them at any time of the day and feel good about it. Happy juicing!

Click here to read the difference between juicing and blending and why you should do both!

 

Keep calm and grab life by the bars!

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My favourite snacks to have in between castings are the ones that are healthy, naturally energizing and locally made! Toronto health and fitness expert, Justyna Kozlowska of JBars did just that.

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She found a way to my tummy (and many others) by creating an all natural protein snack bar that has an impressive resume:

Gluten free, vegan, refined sugar free, peanut free, dairy free, egg free, soy free, low sodium, low calorie, non GMO, low fat, low carb, free of artificial preservatives, additives and sweeteners, high in antioxidants and protein (about 14 grams per bar) and non processed.

I’ve found that most marketed ”healthy” protein snacks aren’t enjoyable. Some of them have that unpleasant gummy texture which usually takes me a few minutes to get through one bite. Then when I’m done, I’m stuck with a funky chemical aftertaste. But because the bars are locally made with just a food processor and a dehydrator, all you’re left with is a chewy yet delectable texture with a nourishing aftertaste.

The ingredient list is also worth swooning over. It’s a tasty bar that’s compacted with wholesome ingredients and raw superfoods such as: organic cacao, sprouted brown rice, hemp protein, quinoa, goji beeries, lemons, unsweetened coconut, sprouted flaxseeds and almonds. They’re naturally sweetened with prunes, apricots, coconut nectar and a tiny bit of stevia so your sweet tooth is satisfied but your insulin levels aren’t compromised.

With the health benefits of a protein bar and the appetizing taste of a brownie, JBars are the perfect ‘on the go’ snack that’s nutritionally balanced and delicious at the same time.

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Suitable for all ages. Even great for kids school snacks! You can find them fresh in the aisles of various local health stores throughout the GTA and Toronto health conventions: www.jbars.ca

There are 4 amazing flavours to chose from! Exciting new flavours to come along with a brand spankin’ new look. Follow them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/jbarsproteinsnack and try not to drool while you’re there. 

I love me some green juice!

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I finally smell springtime in Toronto.

One of my favourite everyday activities to do is to take really long walks in the city. It’s a great way to exercise and also a fantastic way to check out new hot spots in different neighbourhoods.

I found this little organic cafe in the heart of the Junction. The Beet serves an array of healthy dishes from soups, salads, stews, and bowls which many of them are either gluten free, vegan or vegetarian. (They have organic meat as well.) I decided to pick myself and my boyfriend up some fresh juices to keep us hydrated and nourished for our walk to High Park. They were delicious.

I love me some green juice! An excellent way to get your veggies in. Someone buy me a juicer for my birthday, please! 🙂

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