Almond Salted Chocolate Brittle

Did you know that almonds are good for wrinkles?  In a study of postmenopausal women, those who were given 20% of their daily calories as almonds had less wrinkle severity and less wrinkle width after a study time of just 16 weeks.  

Almonds are full of good fats and protein along with vitamins and minerals.  They are a great snack, and also good for wrinkles it seems!

I eat almonds all the time, usually as almond butter for breakfast or a snack. Here though is a recipe you can’t turn down.  Although perhaps not the healthiest way to eat almonds, it is certainly one of the most delicious.  And we all need something sweet sometimes so we might as well make it as healthy as we can.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips (really good quality ones. I like the organic 70% cocoa ones from Honest to Goodness)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup almonds (smashed)
  • 2 cups rice puffs

Method

  1. Put the chocolate chips, coconut oil and salt in a bowl.  Put in the microwave until chocolate starts to melt.  Stir occasionally.  Keep heating until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir until all mixed together.
  2. Smash up the almonds.  I like to put them in a silicone bag and smash them with a rolling pin.
  3. Add the almonds and rice puffs to the chocolate.
  4. Spread the mixture out onto a non-stick mat to desired thickness.
  5. Leave the mixture to sit for about an hour or until it is completely hard.  The length of time needed will depend on room temperature.
  6. Once hard, break up by hand or cut with a knife.
  7. Store in an air-tight container.
  8. Enjoy!

Here is a link to the study abstract if you are interested:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31576607/

Cheaters Healthy Spaghetti Recipe

My kids love spaghetti.  It is one of the few dinners where everyone is excited and there are never any complaints.  To be honest though, I really don’t have time to make my own sauce.  Would it be healthier if I made my own?  For sure! Will that ever happen?  Unlikely! Sometimes we have to make compromises that result in healthier options for everyone.  

My sauce is loaded with vegetables.  There is loads of colour in there that everyone happily eats.  Then I add a couple jars of Macro organic pasta sauce.  It contains all real ingredients with no chemicals.  I can read every single word in the ingredients list! I’m sure I could make this slightly healthier myself with a bit less sugar, but there really isn’t much in this sauce and given that everyone happily eats a couple servings of vegetables for dinner, I consider this a win.  

To make it even healthier you could use zucchini noodles instead of pasta.  I haven’t personally tried this, but others say it is great.  

Making home-made dinners doesn’t always have to be hard and time consuming.  Some store-bought sauces contain all-natural ingredients and will ensure that everyone is getting the benefits of super nutritious vegetables.  If this is something that is holding you back from making home-made dinners, don’t stress.  Buy some sauce and mix it with a load of vegetables.  You are definitely winning.

Ingredients

2 Tbsp coconut oil

1 large clove garlic (cut fine)

½ large onion

2 large carrots

1 large zucchini

1 head of broccoli

1 red capsicum (pepper)

500g Organic beef mince (ground beef)

2 jars Macro organic tomato, garlic and basil chunky pasta sauce

Method

  1. Cut up the vegetables to bite sized pieces
  2. Put the coconut oil in the pan with the vegetables and cook for a few minutes
  3. Add the beef and cook until meat is browned, and the vegetables are cooked through
  4. Add the sauce and heat until warmed through
  5. Put over wheat spaghetti or zucchini pasta as desired
  6. Enjoy!

*These are my preferred vegetables, but really any will do.  Just load it up with lots of colour.

Dairy and Snot Connection

Is there a connection between dairy consumption and nasal secretions? (we’re talking snot here people).

There is much controversy around dairy and its health benefits versus drawbacks. I’m not going to get into the whole thing today. I just want to talk about nasal congestion and dairy. Many people will try to say that no matter what you should always consume dairy for its calcium content. There have been studies in the past, but I found a recent one clearly showing that drinking dairy increases nasal secretions.

The participants had no allergy nor intolerance to dairy, and all had a history of persistent nasal mucous secretions. All participants went completely dairy free for 6 days and then after that had either a dairy smoothie or soy smoothie each day for 4 days. All participants had less secretions during the initial stage. The dairy smoothie group had significantly increased nasal secretions compared to the soy group. This was a double blinded study meaning that neither the researchers nor the participants knew who drank the dairy and who drank the soy.

So, if you have persistent nasal secretions (or lots of snot), or have a cold, it might be worth taking dairy out of your diet for a few days and see what happens.

Here is the study if you would like to take a read: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30178886/

For more information, give me a shout!

www.natactive.com.au

Naturally Active Naturopathic Clinic – Natural Family Healthcare

Emily’s Healthy Muffin Recipe (the one I sell:)

Healthy Delicious Zucchini Banana Muffins

So here it is.  This is the recipe that I use to make muffins to sell.  These are healthy, delicious, dairy-free, sugar-free and lunchbox friendly.  They are super versatile as you can make the base and then add whatever flavourings you want.  You can easily make several different muffin types in one batch.

 

 

In these muffins there is no sugar (unless you add the chocolate chips) no dairy (as long as you use dairy-free chocolate chips) and no nuts. They do contain plenty of fruit, whole grains, healthy fats and even a vegetable! Everyone in the family loves the berry and apple versions, but my daughter is a bit of a chocolate fiend, so I make some chocolate chip for everyone as well.

I like to make muffins that are on the smaller side to go into lunch boxes for my little people, so this recipe usually makes about 36 muffins. They freeze really well and can be pulled out when you are in a rush. I hope your family enjoys them as much as mine does!

Ingredients

Wet:

  • 2/3 cups melted coconut oil
  • 4 eggs, preferably at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup (the real stuff from Canada)
  • 3/4 cups apple sauce
  • 1.5 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3 cups packed mashed ripe bananas (about 6 bananas)*
  • 1 grated zucchini (about 1.5 cups)

Dry:

  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 4 cups wholemeal flour

This makes the base.  Then you can add whatever flavourings you feel like.  Some ideas are:

  • 2 cups dark chocolate chips or chunks (I often cut up a Green & Black’s 70% organic dark chocolate bar)
  • 6 medium apples cut into small chunks
  • 2 cups mixed berries (I defrost some frozen ones)
  • 1 cup cacao powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius fan forced (380 degrees Fahrenheit). Grease muffin tray with coconut oil if necessary. I use a silicone tray that does not require it.
  2. Melt the coconut oil in a large bowl if it is solid. Beat in the eggs, applesauce, maple syrup and vanilla until it is all mixed. I find the stand mixer works best for this.
  3. Add the mashed banana and grated zucchini. 
  4. If the coconut oils gets cold it can separate.  If this happens, put your bowl into the sink surrounded by warm water and gently stir until the oil melts and mixes back in.
  5. Mix all the dry ingredients together in another bowl. If you can, get ‘help’ like I did.
  6. Stir the wet and dry ingredients together.
  7. If you are going to make different flavours, now is the time to split the mixture into separate bowls.  
  8. Add chocolate chips, apple pieces or berries to each bowl and stir until mixed.
  9. Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each cup about two-thirds full. Bake muffins for 16-18 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Place the muffin tin on a cooling rack to cool. You might need to run a butter knife along the outer edge of the muffins to loosen them from the pan. Enjoy now or freeze some for later. Oh and remember not to feel guilty about eating them, because they are actually healthy!

Notes

*I find it best to use previously frozen bananas. Freezing them seems to break down the cell walls and makes the muffins moister.

Let’s make some SMART Goals

SMART is an acronym.  It stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based.  This is a great way to set goals for anything, but particularly good for health goals.  

Specific goals are clear and detailed.  You want them to be measurable so that you know when you have reached your goal.  Make sure your goals are actually attainable.  If you don’t run, you probably won’t be doing a marathon in 6 weeks.  Be realistic so that you can achieve your goals. Once this goal is achieved, we can always set new ones. Make sure your goals are relevant.  They need to be important to you, not someone else.  And give yourself a time by which you want to achieve your goal.  Open ended goals make motivation difficult.

When making health goals I want them to have meaning to you.  I don’t want you to say you to just say will lose xx kilograms, or xx inches.  Losing weight may be needed in order to achieve your goal, but what do you want to do.  Give your goal meaning.

Some examples could be:

In 6 weeks I want to be able to walk up the stairs without getting out of breath.

In 6 months I want to be able to run 5km.

In 3 months I want to be able to bike ride with my child.

In 6 months I want to be able to carry around my new born grandchild.

In 3 months I want to wake up happy and full of energy

Make your goals something that will make you happy.  Something that will change your life.

Make yourself 3 health goals following the below structure:

In _____________________________________ (time in weeks or months), I will be able to:

___________________________________________________________________________

Healthy Lemon Chia Muffins

Usually we go home to Canada in July which is just when my lemon tree in Australia is ripening. I end up picking them all before I leave and handing them out to friends. But things being what they are this year, we didn’t go anywhere. So trying to find the silver lining (if you really want to see it!), I have been baking lots of lemon recipes. My family loves muffins, so lemon muffins was an obvious choice. So without any further ado, here is my healthy lemon chia muffin recipe!

Lemon Chia Muffins

4 Tbsp chia seeds

1 cup lemon juice (juice from 3-4 lemons)

2.5 cups self-raising flour (whole wheat preferably)

¼ tsp salt

½ cup maple syrup (the real stuff from Canada)

1/3 cup coconut oil melted

1 cup milk (I used macadamia, but you could also you almond or dairy)

½ tsp almond extract

Method

  1. Mix the chia seeds with the lemon juice in a small bowl and set aside for 10 minutes
  2. Preheat oven to 180C
  3. In another large bowl, mix the salt and the flour.
  4. Add the maple, coconut oil, milk and almond extract to the flour and mix well.
  5. Add in the lemon and chia mix.
  6. Divide out into muffin trays.

Depending on how big you make your muffins, cook between 12-16 minutes.

Add blueberries, raspberries or other fruit to mix it up.

Enjoy!

How do you get Incidental Exercise?

Do you take the stairs at work?

There are two different kinds of exercise – incidental and planned.  Planned is when you go out to just do exercise.  When you go for a run, to the gym, for a bike ride, boot camp etc.  Incidental exercise is all the exercise that you get through your day-to-day activities: walking to the train, walking to school, walking around the office, running after the kids in the backyard.

Planned or structured exercise is great, but this doesn’t always fit into the day. One of the barriers to exercise is that people often don’t feel like they have time to go to the gym for an hour.  Whereas planned exercise takes time, incidental exercise is often done while doing other things and it can be really helpful for our health as we do it more often.  Any amount of exercise is beneficial and lots of short spurts of exercise can have the same effect on your health as a longer session.

Several years ago

I like to turn planned exercise into incidental.  Don’t get me wrong, I love to just go for a bike ride or walk the dog.  But I also like to go out with purpose. I have a bike trailer that I used to use with the kids but now I take it to the shops to get groceries instead of driving.  And the kicker is no matter how tired I might be; I have to make it back.  Really this only adds about 10 minutes each way, but now I have incorporated exercising into shopping.

Now

The kids’ school is about 10 minutes away.  If I walk there and back that’s 20 minutes.   If I do that twice a day, at least 3 days a week I’ve done 60 minutes of walking!  So I’ve made a big dent into my 150-minute goal and I haven’t even gotten started on my planned exercise yet.  

Some other ways you can add incidental exercise into your day are parking further from the train and adding a 10-minute walk there and back each day. Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator. Do squats while brushing your teeth – 2 minutes per brush, 2 brushes per day times 7 days equals 28 minutes of exercise and you haven’t taken time away from anything else in your day.

The possibilities are endless.  You just have to be creative and see what fits into your lifestyle.  So, what are some ways that you get incidental exercise?

The lemons are ripening! Yay!

As the lemons start ripening on my lemon tree, I thought it would be timely to write about them.

I’m sure you have all heard of drinking lemon water.  It can actually be quite helpful. I don’t suggest only drinking lemon water (seriously if you ever see something telling you to only do one thing, run don’t walk away!), but a glass of lemon water in the morning can be great.

Lemons are acidic.  If you drink a glass in the morning it can help stimulate your digestive juices and get them ready for digesting breakfast.

Lemon water can help with constipation.  The combination of lemon and warm water can help to get things moving in the morning.

Lemons are loaded with antioxidants and flavonoids.  This means they can help boost your immune system and decrease inflammation.

Lemon water can help with kidney stones.  This is due to their high citrate content. If you have kidney stones though, seek professional health advice.  Don’t just drink lemon water and hope they go away.  Talk to your naturopath to see if this is appropriate for you.

Drinking a glass of water in the morning will help you stay hydrated.  Over night we don’t drink anything and can become dehydrated.  Drinking water in the morning can get us going on the right path.

You want to drink this in the morning, ideally half an hour before eating breakfast.  Consistency is best for seeing results.  

  1. Squeeze half a lemon of juice into a mug (real never artificial).
  2. Add hot water
  3. Drink
  4. Feel great;)

Teriyaki Chicken and Veggies with Rice Noodles

I love this recipe! It is so easy to make and super delicious. And 2/3 of the kids will eat it! Ok not ideal, but if I only shared recipes they would all eat, you wouldn’t have much to read. You can easily scale this up or down depending on how many people are eating and the leftovers are awesome! Experiment with how strong you (or the kids) like it. I am always adding different veggies depending on what is in the fridge, so don’t focus too much on the specific veggies I use, just add some and enjoy!

  • 1 small onion
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • ¼ head of cauliflower 
  • Ginger – depends on how strong you want this to be.  I use about an inch long piece.  This gives a mild-medium ginger flavour.  Good if feeding kids.
  • 2 Tbsp of coconut oil
  • 400-500g chicken thighs cut into pieces
  • 2-3 Tbps of soy sauce – You may want more or less for your taste.  Experiment here.
  • 2 Tbsp honey – a big squirt of honey
  • 200g Rice vermicelli noodles

Cut up all the veggies into bite sized pieces.  Cut up the garlic and ginger until it is super tiny.

Stir-fry all the veggies, garlic and ginger in the pan with some coconut oil. Once these are about half cooked add the chicken.  Once the chicken is cooked, add the soy sauce and honey.

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the rice noodles as per the instructions.  I just pop mine into boiling water for 2 minutes and then strain.

Mix the rice noodles in with the veggie chicken mix.  Only put a small amount in at a time to make it easier to mix around.

All done! Enjoy!

Healthy Chia Pudding

Super Easy Chia Pudding

Chis Pudding Ingredients

My daughter loves to eat this for breakfast but it can be used as a treat during the day as well.  Chia seeds are mostly known for their great omega-3 content, but they also contain protein, fibre, iron and calcium. This recipe is sweet but contains no sugar.  So enjoy!

½ cup chia seeds

¾ cup coconut cream

1 ¼ cups Lyke Milk (or other milk alternative such as almond, oat or macadamia)

Mix together all the ingredients and stir for about 30 seconds to make sure the chia seeds are mixed around.  If you don’t mix right away, then they clump together and don’t soak up the liquid. Leave in a sealed container overnight on the counter or in the fridge (definitely the fridge if you have used cow milk).

In the morning, it can be eaten as is or mixed with berries or muesli.  We like to make a chocolate version by adding:

1/3 cup cacao powder

1-2 ripe bananas mashed well

Store in the fridge for 3-4 days.

I make this recipe dairy free, but you could use cow’s milk if you wish.  

Let me know what you mix with your chia pudding in the comments!