Do you like Quinoa? Power-up Your Recipes with Quinoa Powder!

Staff picks (4)

Who doesn’t love quinoa? It’s nutty healthy texture that is as good warm in a pilaf, part of a soup or cold in a salad. This week we tried out Organika®’s Organic Quinoa Powder. This product is a no brainer. It has a neutral taste and can easily be added to dishes without suspicion. We liked that it is so versatile.

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What we liked about it:

  • We boosted a morning smoothie’s nutrition power with it
  • Easily can be hidden in foods for picky children
  • We made this ‘bread‘ recipe and used it to reduce the crumbly nature. BTW this is a delicious recipe that you have to try.
  • It is a digestible protein that is easy to add into food for kids and seniors
  • It contains L-lysine which is an immune booster

Organika points out that it is:

  • Great source of amino acids for muscle growth and repair, without high saturated fat content.
  • Chalk full of vitamins and minerals as co-factors for good health maintenance.
  • Gelatinized, powdered form makes for a versatile product that can be used in smoothies, baked goods, etc.

Take a look at this nutrient profile!

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You can buy Organika®’s Organic Quinoa Powder here

 

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Celebrate Rhubarb Season with this Gluten-free Cobbler

rhubarb

We have been picking a cleaning rhubarb all day as we have a ton of it growing next to our shed.  As a kid I would pick it and spend the rest of the day taking nibbles out of it enjoying the lip puckering sourness. As a treat we decided to make a rhubarb cobbler using my Grandmother’s recipe but making it gluten-free.

While thinking about this post I was wondering about the health benefits of rhubarb.

Did you know rhubarb contains:

  • Fiber for ease in digestion
  • Vitamin K for healthy bone growth and neuron function in the brain (1 serving of rhubarb provides 45% of the daily value)
  • Vitamins C and A
  • Calcium

Rhubarb Facts from Mercola.com 

Rhubarb Cobbler

Ingredients

  • 4 cups Chopped Rhubarb
  • 1-1/2 cup Sugar (we used coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
  • 2 cups Kathy Smart’s Smart Flour (gluten free, top allergen free, Free of corn, soy, potato starch/flour, rice flour, xanthan gum)
  • 2 Tablespoons Sugar (we used coconut sugar)
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1/2 cup Butter
  • 1/2 cup  Milk or milk substitute
  • 1 Egg

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400′ degrees.
  2. In a bowl, combine rhubarb, sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, lemon juice, and almond extract if using. Stir and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and baking powder. Stir together. Add butter, then cut together with a pastry cutter.
  4. Beat egg and milk together. Pour into flour mixture and stir with a fork until just combined.
  5. Pour rhubarb into a buttered baking dish. Tear off pinches of dough and drop it onto the surface of the fruit, creating a “cobbled” texture. Sprinkle additional sugar over the top.
  6. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbly. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream or fresh whipped cream.
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A Marvelous Gluten & Nut free Cracker!

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This week we had a lot of fun taste testing Martin’s Marvelous Crisps. You really don’t need to ask us twice if we would like a snack! These crisps remind us of Rainforest Crisps and we say remind as we are all gluten-free and one gal here is allergic to nuts so we have seen them but never been able to eat them. We were very pleased to be try these crisps and WOW were they good. These crisps all have great flavour and unlike some crackers are hearty and substantial. They taste gourmet and feel healthy. They are made in a gluten, nut, wheat, soy, corn, sesame, egg, fish and shellfish FREE facility.

They are sold in four great flavours: Pumpkin Seed Cranberry, Rosemary Lavender, Chocolate Molé and Date and Olive Tapenade.

It is limitless what you could put on them but here are our favourite combinations.

  • Date and Olive Tapenade with hummus
  • Pumpkin Seed and Cranberry with cream cheese and bit of fruit spread
  • Rosemary Lavender with goat cheese
  • Chocolate Molé with Camenbert cheese

You can purchase Martin’s Marvelous Crisps in our on-line store here.

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Martin’s Marvelous Naturals offers good food made with local and real food ingredients (no xanthanum gum, no microcrystalline cellulose, no lab-made ingredients, ever). At the same time, everything they make has to taste great…their gluten-free foods taste marvelous (even though they are gluten-free). You can connect with them on Facebook and Twitter.  

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A Healthy Brownie Alternative made with Bananas!

Staff picks (3)

We a want heathy options and if these were easy to carry with you so that no matter where you were you could have a healthy snack, that would be be awesome! Introducing Ipanema Valley Banana Brownies.

The name is a little misleading. They look like brownies but are a whole food, vegan source of nutrition! What are they you wonder? They are a uniquely processed fruit bar made with banana. That’s it! Just banana and depending on which bar you choose another fruit and banana. WOW! That is just 1 or 2 ingredients! We like that!

 

They taste like rich moist dried fruit and feel pretty decadent. If you are avoiding chocolate or don’t care for it these would make a delicious dessert! They taste like a treat but are much, much more.

 
What we really liked about them:
  • Easy to carry in your bag, purse or knapsack
  • Satisfy sweet cravings
  • Paired with some nuts or seeds they make a great post work-out fuel
  • They go great in kid or adult lunch boxes
  • Gluten-free
  • Non GMO
  • Zero sugar added
  • No Herbicides or Pesticides
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They come in these delicious combinations: Banana, Banana-Guava and Banana-Pineapple. They are available here.

 

Ipanema Valley makes a unique, quality health food product that wows your taste buds, provides you with the nutrients and tastes like a dessert! Connect with them on Facebook
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Do you struggle to Bake Gluten-Free? Tips & Tricks

Gluten-free! Baking

The thought of gluten free (GF) baking used to send me into a panic.  When going GF 20 years ago there were no resources and no Google, so I had to completely give up ever enjoying a cake or cookie again.  Now, I enjoy them but I also look at them differently. I think about what they are made of, are they low in sugar, higher in fibre etc. And here is a new key part of my new thinking, how do I feel when I eat them? Do I feel good, satisfied or do I feel that hit of refined carbs that leaves me feeling drained and yucky.

I have improved my skills at gluten-free baking, making recipes that fool my family and friends. I have also made my recipes healthier which makes me feel better. 

Here are a few tips to help you out if you are new to GF baking or if you are just so darned frustrated you have given up.

Breads

  • First don’t despair if your bread had turned out dry and crumbly.  Throw it in the food processor, break it up then toast the crumbs to make bread crumbs, I have lots of bread crumbs I totally meant to make ‘wink, wink!’
  • Croutons are another way to use that ‘disaster loaf’.  Cut it in cubes, brush with olive oil mixes with your favorite herbs and spices and toast.  Voila, perfect croutons!
  • Use higher protein flours when making bread as they tend to have more structure which is needed in making bread
  • Starch to flour ratio should be about 30:70 meaning 30% starch to 70% flour
  • Adding 1 tsp of gum, gelatin, or agar-agar per cup of GF flour will help to add elasticity to your bread
  • Give up the expectation of baking a bread that is identical to Wonder™ Bread, this is just not going to happen.

Baked goods

  • GF flours have come a long way! Cakes, cookies and muffins can be made to be tasty and closely resemble their gluten-loaded cousins. They are far easier to make than breads too!
  • Lower protein flours work well in baked goods that are more delicate than bread
  • Adding about 25% more baking soda or powder will help cakes rise a bit more as GF flours tend to be slightly heavier than wheat flour (multiply by 1.25 is the easiest way of figuring out how much you will need)
  • Gums are what helps to hold things together and mimics the gluiness of gluten.  Love them or hate them they can be essential as to whether your baking turns out or not.  Rule of thumb is Add 1/2 teaspoon gum, gelatin, or agar-agar per cup of gluten-free flour used. 

Cup per cup flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour is a great alternative to blending your own. Typically they have been tested for best results.  Many new all-purpose flours don’t require the use of gums so if you are gum-shy try Kathy Smart’s new Smart Flour, our favourite around here. It is awesome for any baked goods, coating mixes and batters.  Breads are a bit more difficult but then again GF bread has been my nemesis for many years. There are gluten-free bread flour mixes out there (Bob’s Red Mill comes to mind) but if you are trying to eat clean and low glycemic they can be problematic. You may want to consider learning to like denser ‘breads’ that are whole grain/seed/nut. I have been enjoying a recipe called Life Changing Bread by My New Roots. It is delicious toasted for breakfast or used as the bread under healthy open-faced lunch sandwiches.  It makes a delicious afternoon snack too! Happy Baking!

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How are you Starting your Day? How about a Smart Start?

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Do you eat breakfast? Sometimes, but probably skip it too often. Kathy Smart’s Smart Starts can solve your problems. These little instant breakfast cups are a great choice for breakfast, or even a quick snack! Need a little second breakfast at work? Keep these in your desk drawer and when low blood sugar hits you have a nutritious food in minutes.

Smart Starts come in three delicious flavours: Mega Maca Energy, Maple Metabolism Booster and Awesome Apple Cinnamon.

What we love about them:

  • nutrient dense and super clean ingredient label
  • gluten-free
  • endlessly adaptable
  • easy to take with you

We took these babies for a few dest drives and here are a few tips to make your Smart Start cup all your own:

  • Make with warm milk, water or your favourite milk substitute
  • add fresh fruit, our favourite was berries
  • add a bit more maple syrup or other sweetener if you like
  • sprinkle with your favourite spices or a little cocoa powder
  • add a little crunch with chia seeds, nuts, seeds or a bit of granola
  • add some dried fruit: gogi berries, raisons, cranberries…

 

Created by Holistic Nutritionist & Chef Kathy Smart, Smart Starts Cereal is a power-packed, nutrient-dense superfood for the celiac or gluten-free person on-the-go. Made with wholesome, organic ingredients and nutritionally dense, Smart Starts Cereal is a low glycemic, high protein instant hot cereal made from the goodness of quinoa flakes that you can enjoy right from the container! Enjoy Smart Starts Cereal for a healthy breakfast or delicious snack. Connect with Kathy on Twitter.

 

 

 

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It’s All About the Crunch and the Cheese!

Staff picks (2)

I read a study recently that said wine drinkers choose less junk food and instead head for other savoury treats like olives. That really resonated with me as I like red wine and don’t like the taste of most cheesy snacks because they taste fake. They are heavy on salt and is it just me but my tongue doesn’t taste anything properly for at least an hour afterward!

Introducing Neal Brothers Organic Cheese Twists the cheesy snack for discerning adults and children. This was tasted by our mother-son team on a recent Friday night. It was given an immediate 2 thumbs up but lets give these crunchy twists a few more words. They had a satisfying crunch and actually taste like cheddar cheese!  They were salted but not overly, so you could taste the cheese and unlike many similar snacks the last one tasted as good as the first one! They were a hit.

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Neal Brothers Organic Cheese Twists are:

  • Organic
  • Wheat free
  • gluten free
  • Have no artificial flavours or colours
  • Baked

You can buy them here (113g bag)

Since 1988, Neal Brothers Foods has provided families all over Canada with better for you snack options. Using whole and natural ingredients you can pronounce, they offer a variety of delicious snack food items and condiments that have the ability to bring family and friends together. With a creative approach to flavour and food they dare to be different! You can connect with them on Facebook.

 

 

 

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What’s the Deal? Best Before Dates vs. Expiry Dates

BEST BEFORE vs EXPIRY (1)

 

Best Before Dates VS Expiry Dates

What is the difference before best before dates and expiry dates?  It is a confusing question but with a little explanation we can all save a bit of money and know if a food is safe to eat or not.

The most important thing to know is the best before date has nothing to do with food safety and everything to do with the freshness of the product. Whereas the expiry date tells us the last day the product is safe to eat.

The best before date indicates freshness.

The expiry date indicates the last date to safely eat the product

There are 5 food categories that have expiry dates; everything else will have a best before dates.  So simply if a product has reached the expiry date, don’t eat it.  If it has reached the best before date, you are safe to consume it.

The five foods that are required by The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to be labelled with an expiration date are:

  • Baby formula and other human milk substitutes.
  • Nutritional supplements.
  • Meal replacements.
  • Pharmacist-sold foods for very low-energy diets.
  • Formulated liquid diets.

Best before dates are required on foods that will only stay fresh for 90 days or less. However many companies that manufacture dry goods that are fresher longer will opt into providing a best before date.  This is because consumers expect to see best before dates on food products and become suspicious if they don’t see one but it is not required by the CFIA.  Things like dried pasta and baking mixes will remain consumable for extended periods of time as long as they are un-open and have been stored properly.

Best before dates will guarantee freshness and taste. If a product has surpassed the best before date you will first notice the taste may be off, it is more crumbly and in the case of eggs (as long as shell has no cracks) you will notice when broken open you will notice the yolk spreads more and may break, where a fresh egg’s yolk will stay firm and together.  This doesn’t mean you will get food poisoning from that egg it just means it is not as fresh. 

If you find a baking mix in the back of your cupboard that has not been opened and stored at room temperature but may be a year past the best before date it is most likely okay to consume.  Open the package and take a sniff first, does it smell like a baking mix or do you get a hint of rancidity?  Some flours can go rancid and there may be other ingredients that can go rancid as well but if it has not been open then it should be fine. With baking mixes the first thing that will go off or become inactive is the baking soda/baking powder. To compensate I will add  a ½ to 1 tsp of baking soda if a mix is more than a year past the best before date to ensure it rises properly. Dry goods kept un-opened and at room temperatures again are generally safe.

Proper storage is key. Refrigerate-after-opening-products that are kept in the fridge and have not been left out for prolonged periods of time are generally safe, you may notice as said before taste is a bit off and perhaps colour.   

Food products like meats (especially ground) are ok a couple of days past the best before date, however anyone with a compromised system should always be cautious as they may be more susceptible to illness.  When in doubt-throw out is the best rule of thumb when it comes to these types of products. Cheeses and dairy products are easy ones to spot.  Milk will sour and you will know it is bad just by the smell. It was once thought cheeses,  yogurts and bread that have developed mould can just have that mould scraped or cut off but now we know that even the areas that don’t look affected can contain mould spores so it is best to throw those products out.

Fresh products that have been frozen at least 2 days before their best before date can safely be used for 2 days after they have been thawed.

Nutritional claims may no longer apply after a best before date or if the product isn’t properly stored, says Cathy Paroschy Harris, a dietitian and spokeswoman for Dietitian’s of Canada. Orange juice may not provide as much Vitamin C and milk less riboflavin past the best before date. So always keep that in mind.

An important thing to remember; best before dates are for un-opened packages.  Once a product is opened it is exposed to air and possible cross contamination.  Drinking milk directly from the carton will definitely affect best before dates. Dipping your finger into the peanut butter jar or cleaning up the ketchup top with your fingers introduces bacteria into the container so proper food handling is of upmost importance.

The Canadian Partnership for Consumer Food Safety Education has a great chart to refer to if you want some more information regarding safe food storage. Check it out here

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A Spicy Snack that Satisfies

Staff picks (1)

Simply Protein Chips – Spicy Chilli by Wellness Foods

These spicy chips have 15g protein,11g of carbohydrate, 1g fibre and 2g sugar in a 33g snack bag. They are made with pea protein, potato and seasonings.

This week we had a mom and son (9 years old) team review our product. 

Mom review: What I liked was a small snack bag really hit the spot!  The high protein content really helped curb my craving and when I was finished the bag I did not have that crazy craving feelings like I needed a whole lot more. You know how you think you can just eat a few chips for that salty craving but them BAMN the bag is gone and you want more! This did not happen with these chips. These were very satisfying with a firm crunch with a clean spicy hit. They were lightly salted with a hint of sweetness that complimented the heat. I really liked them.

Kid review: I really like these. They are very crunchy and spicy. I am not sure if all kids would like them because they are spicy. (Mom note: when I wasn’t paying attention he grabbed another bag and ate them and he would have eaten more!)

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You can buy Simply Protein Chips – Spicy Chilli (12 x 33g bags in a case) here.

Wellness Foods is a small Canadian, female owned and managed company that was started in 2002 by Cathy Richards, Founder and CEO (Chief Enthusiasm Officer), and has been “an overnight success” in 10 years!  “Our mission is to make healthy snacks for busy people,” says Cathy. You can connect with them on Facebook.

 

 

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Tropically Sourced Organic Skin Care that Works!

Staff picks

Cocoa Shea Olive Oil By Eli’s Body Shop

This unique combination of Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Shea Oil, Olive Oil & Baobab Oil is deeply  moisturizing and can be used for dry skin, rough skin and skin rashes.
It can be used for:
  • Soothing dry skin
  • Sun burns
  • Scars
  • Rough skin like elbows and knees
  • Rashes
Sometimes a flashy label will make you think a product works when it might not. And vice versa a humble label will not inspire confidence. However, when a product works, it works and you want to tell everyone. That is the case with the Cocoa, Shea, Olive Oil from Eli’s. I used to get rashes on my arms and now they do not feel as soft as they used to and have fine scars from itching. After applying this product for a week I am finding the scars on my arm are fading! My skin on my face is often irritated and red and that is also reducing. I am in love with this stuff!

 

It is very light going on and smells faintly of coconut and a hint of vanilla. It absorbs quickly and lasts for hours.

 

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Just a note, I got burned on Saturday while gardening.  I slathered on the oil (you need a very small amount to go a long way).  It almost immediately took the sting out and by the next morning a lot of the redness was gone!
You can buy Eli’s Body Shop Cocoa Shea Olive Oil here

 

Bio: Eli’s Body Shop believes in providing organic beauty and wellness products using ingredients from the tropics. They have created the finest hair/scalp, facial and body care products, which have intrinsic therapeutic properties. There are no synthetics or chemicals added to the products; they use the purest and finest ingredients. You can connect with Eli’s Body Shop on Facebook or Pinterest.
 
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