Naturally Sweet Grain Free Muffins

Last week, I wrote about my attempt to prepare a satisfying grain-free breakfast and I ended up with these delicious coconut pancakes. What I didn’t mention was that I was completely obsessed with them and proceeded to make them every day for the rest of the week.

Why you ask? Pretty simple. That high fibre, high protein, grain free meal left me totally satisfied…maybe more satisfied…than my typical overflowing bowl of oats. Gasp. Unfortunately pancakes just aren’t that practical for every day fare and by the end of the week I was pretty over all those dirty dishes. It was time for a change. I busted out the muffin tin and whipped up these equally if not more delicious (and much more convenient) breakfast beauties…

Naturally Sweet Grain-Free Coconut Muffins

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of sweet potato or buttercup squash puree (I haven’t tried other varieties of squash but my guess is they wouldn’t contain enough starch to hold these babies together)*
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 3/4 cup egg whites
  • 3 tbsp chia seeds, ground
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • OPTIONAL Stevia (2 packets/a few drops) OR 2 tbsp honey/agave**
  • shredded coconut (for garnish) 

*To make this from scratch, puree a little over a cup of of cooked sweet potato or squash flesh in a blender/food processor along with just enough hot water get it smooth but still thick (usually 3-4 tbsp). Or use this to save time.
**This recipe is naturally sweet but a little extra sweetener will help to enhance those flavours.

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl add potato or squash puree along with eggs, egg whites, banana and coconut extract. Mash and stir well until thoroughly combined. If using, add sweetener now also.
  2. In separate small bowl add your ground chia seeds and slowly pour in 3/4 cups of boiling water. Stir vigorously with a fork to remove clumps then set aside.
  3. Stir together dry ingredients.
  4. Add chia gel which will have set by now and dry ingredients to the wet mix. Stir until just combined.
  5. Use 1/4 cup measure to scoop batter into lined or well greased muffin tins. Top with shredded coconut if desired
  6. Bake at 375 for about 30 minutes. Allow to sit about 5 minutes in the pan then place on a rack to cool completely.

Yield: about 9 medium sized muffins.
Serving size is about 3 for a meal or 1.5 for a snack.  

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Top 6 Winter Workout Tips: VLOG!

Hey folks,

The weather here in Toronto has been pretty bleak lately and yesterday was especially brutal. It was grey, windy and cold and I had NO motivation to leave the house, let alone squeeze in physical activity. But I made it happen using a few strategies I developed to keep myself motivated. Since I know I’m not alone in this predicament I thought it was time that I share my Top 6 ways to Beat the Winter Workout Slump.

Sorry the video is a bit dark but at least it gives you a good sense of what it is I’m talking about 😉

OH! And one more thing REALLY IMPORTANT THING I forgot to mention in this video…

When and if these tips don’t get your butt in gear:  Please, please with a cherry on top avoid  punishing yourself! Not mentally by feeling guilty or being overly critical of yourself/your body/your “will power”/etc. And DEFINITELY not physically by restricting yummy food or treats. This is irrational and unnecessary plus it will deplete you and make it that much harder to get going the next day.

Instead, enjoy your rest and engage in some form of self care. A nice long bath, a tea date with a friend, an hour with a good book, etc. This will help you recharge for a fresh new start tomorrow!

So…do you think these tips would work for you?
What do you do to stay active and keep on track with your fitness goals even in the yucky, dark, chilly winter months?

10 Minute Korean Bulgogi Tofu

At a loss for what to serve for lunch today? Look no further. Korean bulgogi beef is usually made of finely sliced rib-eye that marinates for hours before flash frying. This dish is similar…to that last step only. I took out the meat and the hours of marinating and was left with a tasty vegetarian main dish that is highly adaptable and could be added to a rice bowl, wrap or hearty salad. Ready in less than 10 minutes so its perfect for lunch or dinner!

Simple Bulgogi Tofu

Ingredients
(For 1 serving): 

  • 1/4 block tofu, cubed
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 garlic clove, finely minced
  • 1 tsp sriracha hot sauce
  • sprinkle of fresh ginger (I usually use fresh ginger that has been frozen and grated)
  • 2 small green onions, chopped (include the white parts)
  • sprinkle of sesame seeds for garnish

Directions

  1. Pan fry plain tofu in a dry, nonstick skillet over medium high heat  until browned on all sides.
  2. While tofu is cooking prepare marinade by dissolving sugar in soy sauce and then adding sesame oil, garlic, ginger and hot sauce.
  3. Add cooked tofu and chopped mushrooms to marinade and let sit for 3-5minutes.
  4. Return tofu and marinade to the skillet pan and cook on medium heat until liquid is dissolved and mushrooms are fully cooked. Add green onions during the last minute of cooking and stir well to combine.

I served mine over steamed broccoli and kale tossed in a liberal amount of flax oil (this is my favourite combo) and then mixed with saurkraut (my in-a-pinch substitute for kimchi). Then I paired it with some leftover Japanese pumpkin (kabocha squash).

Delicious.

Get to Know a Healthy Hipster: Shawna

Today I’ll be starting a new profile series here on the blog. In it, you’ll have the opportunity to meet Healthy Hipsters from different cities and all walks of life. I’m really excited to get rolling but first a brief word of explanation…

I started The Healthy Hipster because I felt really happy and positive about the changes I’d made in my life but I also felt a little…alone. I still considered myself to be an artist, an activist, an academic and even a bit of a scene queen, but I no longer identified with the lifestyle of the Pabst-swilling trustafarians rolling their eyes through indie rockshows and ironic bingo games every night of the week. That said, I certainly didn’t feel at home with the manicured/pedicured yoga moms at my Sunday morning bikram class either. So I branched out. I started writing. And what I found was a community of inspiring, supportive, likeminded people who couldn’t wait to share their lives with me! Sometimes I found that these people were right in front of me all along…

So while you get a chance to see the elements that comprise my definition of a healthy lifestyle every day, I thought it was about time I put the folks who inspire me in the spotlight too.

And who better to start with than a gal who has literally inspired me since the day I was born? That’s right, the gorgeous woman you’re about to meet also happens to be my big sister.

Name: Shawna
Occupation: PhD Student
Location: Portland, Oregon

How would you describe your style of eating?
Vegan
What are some of the must haves in your fridge/pantry?
Oatmeal, almond milk, almond butter, apples, chia seeds, avocados, bananas, quinoa, beans, tofu, hummus, tahini, Ezekiel bread, Mary’s crackers, kale, garlic, lemons, limes, buckwheat soba noodles, apple cider vinegar, bragg’s, sriracha.
Best local bar/venue/party to go to on a night off?
Central, Holocene, The Sweet Hereafter

Ratatat @ Holocene in Portland, OR

Favourite ways to get active?

  • Core Power Yoga
  • Eliptical Machine
  • Lifting Weights
  • Going for Walks
Who were you in high school? (Cool kid? Art freak? Raver? D & D Master?)
A bit like the Breakfast Club all mixed together…Priss + Freak+ Nerd (Minus the Jock)
Best place to caffeinate/hydrate?
Barista
Greatest hero of fiction?
Hamlet (**Did I mention my sister’s doing a PhD in English Lit? 😉 )
Style Icons:
Kate Lanphear, Isabella Blow, Little Edie, Louise Brooks

Little Edie’s derelict debutante style in Grey Gardens

source: Who What Wear

You’re on death row, what’s your last supper?
Coconut Bliss Malted Milkshake, Flourless Chocolate Cake, Raspberry Cheesecake and a Pumpkin Pie.
Most played song on your ipod?
Kate Bush – Hounds of Love
Are you a Healthy Hipster? Or do you know someone who is?
Send your story to healthyhipster@gmail.com and I might just feature you in a future post!

Grain Free Coconut Cinnamon Pancakes

When I was in university I ate a toasted everything bagel for breakfast just about every day. Sure it wasn’t the most balanced meal but it gave me with the energy I needed to focus on important things like semiotics and French feminist theory rather than my grumbling stomach. Plus, did you know that your brain requires 15 times more energy when you’re thinking  hard than when you’re zombified/watching project runway? Its true!
These days I am still a creature of habit when it comes to my morning meal and while I prefer a bowl of oatmeal or Ezekiel toast over refined white flour, I definitely choose a grain-based breakfast 9 times out of 10….
Not that there’s anything wrong with that!
But in keeping with my current plan of eating more variety I was on a mission today to create a filling, fibre-rich breakfast that was heavy on the protein and healthy fats and a little less grain-centric. To my suprise I ended up creating something totally grain-free, gluten-free, refined sugar-free and dairy-free. I know what you’re thinking and yes the secret ingredient is sawdust!
I kid, I kid. These are an absolutely delicious alternative to traditional pancakes! C’mon, have I ever led you astray? 😉
Grain-Free Coconut Cinnamon Pancakes
Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp ground chia or flax
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup squash or yam, cooked and mashed**
  • 3/4 cup almond milk
  • 1 whole egg, separated
  • 2 tsp maple syrup or a few drops of stevia
  • 1/8 tsp coconut extract (optional, can sub for vanilla)
  • 1/4 cup egg whites

**can sub for 1 medium mashed banana for a yummy banana coconut variation!

Directions

  1. Stir dry ingredients together in a medium sized bowl.
  2. Mash squash, egg yolk, sweetener and extract into the dry mix. It should be crumbly at this point. Stir until well combined. Slowly stir in almond milk.
  3. Beat remaining egg whites (1/4 cup + the remainder from the whole egg) for a minute or two, until white and foamy. Fold egg whites into the pancake batter.
  4. Heat a griddle or nonstick pan and add a little oil or cooking spray (I like this coconut oil spray)
  5. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until batter looks dry and bubbly, flip and cook for an additional minute.

Makes 1 substantial serving. Feel free to double the batch and save the leftovers for on-the-go snack or tomorrow’s breakfast! 

Are you a creature of habit in the mornings?

Do you favour a protein-rich, grain-based or balanced breakfast? 

The Right Demographic

A word of warning…if you could care less about shopping or interior design feel free to breeze on past this post.

Alright so you know how sometimes a new film/product/store comes out that is so transparently targeted to your demographic its embarrassing? If you’re struggling to think of an example, just look at the the following ad campaign produced by everybody’s favourite Soybean Oil and High Fructose Corn Syrup-based mayonnaise alternative…Miracle Whip:

 Jeez Miracle Whip is so much like me! I mean when I’m in a panini or crostini…you definitely know it! Ahem…

The only thing more embarrassing than a failed attempt at capturing the hearts and minds of young people (or, more specifically, hipsters) is when it totally works. When your advanced liberal arts degree makes you completely aware of the marketing ploys being used to capture your attention, but you still can’t help becoming obsessed with it? Like how I felt about that movie Garden State back when I was in college, or Miranda July movies now. American Apparel Henleys. The New Yorker App for Ipads. Fjällräven Backpacks. Portlandia. Jason Schwartzman…just generally.

Well this afternoon I had the opportunity to check out CB2, the DJ-on-the-weekends-but-mostly-just-freelancing younger brother store of the Crate & Barrel franchise and the newest addition to Toronto’s Queen St. West neighborhood.

The building was recently converted from a dirty bar we used to call The Big Bop.

Before:

(Source)

After:

(Source)

Suffice it to say this store had my number.

Allow me to demonstrate using this visual checklist of Stuff Toronto Hipsters Like. Starting with (of course)…

Vegan Food

Ironic T-Shirts 

Vintage Toronto Nostalgia AND Dirty Bars (2 for 1!) 
That’s right, they preserved the original Big Bop sign and displayed it in-store.

Canadiana, Racially Insensitive “Native” Themed

Canadiana, Sports & Mountie Themed.

Needless to say I’ll be returning to this place as soon as I have the money/time/space/patience to redecorate. So basically when I’m in my 30s and no longer find this stuff cute. Siggggh.

Does interior design make you drool or do you still store your records and clothes in milkcrates?
Are there any products/marketing campaigns you hate to buy into…but just can’t resist

DIY: Lightened Up Almond Cheese

A quick note about Nut Cheese.

While the name itself might not sound very appetizing I am a big fan of these non-dairy cheeses. Unlike the processed vegan soy cheese you buy at the store, nut cheese is typically just ground up and sometimes fermented nuts (cashews, almonds, walnuts, etc). It is very versatile and can be eaten as a savoury sandwich spread or a ridiculously indulgent dessert. However, much like dairy cheese, nut cheese is quite nutrient-dense and high in (healthy) fats so you don’t need much to reap all those tasty benefits. Choosing Raw has loads of quick and easy recipes for various raw vegan cheeses and I encourage you try them out!

I, however, am not posting a recipe for a traditional nut cheese today but rather presenting you with my own little spin. Because while moderation is all well and good, I wanted to create a dairy-free cheesy spread that could be used more..well…liberally. I also wanted to create with a recipe that was quick, easy and didn’t involve a vitamix, elaborate straining, the use of cheesecloth or any kind of fermentation. And VOILA! I am already a little obsessed…

Lightened Up Curry-Style Almond Cheese
Based on this method

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1 1/2 cups water, divided
  • 3 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/2 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 3/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup cooked winter squash or sweet potato (pumpkin would okay but I would add a little honey to make up for the lack of sweetness)
  • 2-3 dashes of hot pepper sauce

Directions

  1. Blanch almonds by boiling a couple inches of water in small saucepan, adding the almonds and cooking for 1 minute or so. Remove saucepan from heat and set aside for 3 minutes to cool. Optional: Remove almond skins by squeezing them between your thumb and forefinger. Pat dry.
  2. Place the almonds in a blender or food processor and process for 1-2 minutes to finely grind them. Scrape down the sides of the container. Add 1/2 cup water and process for 1 minute to combine. Add the remaining water, cornstarch, lemon juice, nutritional yeast flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt, and continue to process the mixture an additional 1-2 minutes or until very smooth and creamy.
  3. Transfer the mixture back to a small saucepan and place it over medium heat. Cook and whisk together for about 3-5 minutes, until it becomes very thick. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
  4. Pour cheese mixture into a 2-cup container, cover, and chill for several hours or until firm.
  5. Unmold the cheese and use slices on sandwiches or as a spread with crackers, breads, or fruit. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

Yields: One 2-cup container of non-dairy cheese or about 8 large servings.

I don’t usually calculate the nutritional info of my recipes but this time I was just interested…and boy was I impressed! Thank you nutritional yeast & almonds for being so high in all those healthy vitamins!

Obviously I went with a curry-style version but you’re welcome to experiment with loads of different flavours or mix-ins (olives, sundried tomatoes, hot peppers, cumin, etc.). I’d love to hear how different flavours turn out! 🙂

Hope you’re enjoying a relaxing Sunday afternoon!

Saturday Brunch vs. Saturday Blahs.

I get intimidated by Saturdays. This is probably because I usually spend most of the morning obsessing over which item on my never-ending to-do list I should tackle. Laundry? Cleaning? Seeing some random I acquaintance I have nothing in common with for coffee? Making a 5 year plan? Teaching myself how to play squash? Etc. And then the afternoon often fills up with various methods of procrastination followed by a feeling disappointment for squandering the sense of limitless possibility I had when I woke up in the morning.

This is why I am thankful for brunch.

Brunch does a lovely  job of breaking up my Saturday Blahs by structuring my day and dividing it into two much more manageable halves. Suddenly the things you accomplish in the morning hours feel like a total bonus because they’ve happened before your day has really gotten started. For me, who works extremely early on Saturday mornings, this especially satisfying. Then, by the time you would feel your your mid-afternoon slump setting in, BRUNCH has come along and filled you with delicious food and a  bottomless-coffee-induced sense of ambition!

Despite my appreciation for the midday weekend meal, I am no brunch stickler. I don’t have a “regular spot” or a “standard order.” I like this approach since it encourages me to try new things and eat a greater diversity of food!

Exhibit A)

Vegan brunch at Fresh that included hummus and cornbread, salad & black bean chili and a side of tempeh bacon. Notice how everything is on the side? Ahem…

Exhibit B)

Spinach and Egg White Omelette, Multigrain Toast, Fruit & Greens at a pretty standard breakfast chain. I may have doused this whole meal in hot sauce. I hold Texas accountable

Exhibit C)

Coffee. In all its forms. Sometimes fancy as heck and filled to the brim with organic, lightly sweetened almond milk. However I will also accept any brown sludge you put in front of me

So what do you think? Do you love the way brunch dates break up your days and centre them around food and socializing? Or do you find this distracts from all the other items on life’s neverending to-do list?

Spicy Tuna Rice Rolls

I am not normally very ambitious when it comes to my midday meal. I graze all morning and then when lunchtime hits I just grab every vegetable I have in my fridge, pile it into a wrap, sandwich or salad bowl then top it leftovers from last nights dinner. So I’m not entirely sure what inspired my creativity and…dare I say it…vegetable restraint when I was whipping up my lunch today. Perhaps it was my lack of leftovers? Or the low sodium skipjack tuna I recently stockpiled after swearing off the unsustainable, high mercury stuff I get tempted by at the discount grocery store?

Whatever it was I decided today was the day to bust out those rice paper rolls that have been collecting dust in my pantry for about three months now. This is what became of them.

Spicy Tuna, Avocado & Collard Green Rice Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 4 small rice paper rolls or 2 large ones
  • 1 can of skipjack tuna (often labeled flaked light)
    **Vegans/Vegetarians could easily sub for tofu salad
  • 1 tsp sesame oil 
  • 1 tsp siracha
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp seasoned rice vinegar
  • 3-4 large collard leaves, sliced thinly into strips
  • 1/2 an avocado, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup dry roasted wasabi edamame OR wasabi peas (optional, but I liked the added crunch and spice)

Directions

  1. Soak your rice paper rolls according to package instructions. Make sure to pat off any excess liquid before assembling.
  2. Combine tuna, sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce and siracha in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Carefully lay out 1 rice paper roll and add your avocado, greens, tuna & wasabi fillings. Make sure not to overfill each one and leave at least a few inches of room at the top and bottom.
  4. Finish off by folding over the top and bottom of the roll first, followed by the sides. Slice in half with a sharp knife and serve with extra soy sauce, black bean sauce, etc.

Serves 1 as a meal or 2 as an appetizer or snack. 

Strength, Stretching & Snacking

Was it just me or was today an absolute whirlwind? I have been so busy since getting back from Texas the days have started to blur and the fact that Wednesday is almost over blows my mind.

After waking up way too early to hit the gym I discovered I was out of both almond milk and coffee. BLERGH. Fortunately I prepped my breakfast yesterday so I didn’t need milk – it was basically a repeat of this not-so-pretty bowl of oats from Monday except I skipped the smoothie and just stirred  Sun Warrior Protein Blend into my oats along with a hefty scoop of peanut butter and berries. Sounds weird but it worked in a pinch. To get in my caffeine hit I sucked back some disturbingly strong Irish breakfast tea mixed with a little stevia. Again, I worked with what I had… Cause I’m zen like that 😉

Okay onto the good stuff: today I wanted to speak very briefly about stretching. It is no secret that I am a big advocate of strength training on the blog, in whatever form that might look like for you. Whether its weights, yoga or pilates…dog walking, baby carrying or grocery hauling…I just love to see strong ladies (and gentleman) using their muscles. But if you want to see and feel your best you need to remember to fit in stretches before and after your workouts.

It might seem like a pain at first but trust me the real pain happens when you don’t stretch.

Here are some of the stretches I do every day, workout or no…

Back Stretch

Leg Stretch: Step on your Hands!

Shoulder Stretch: Give Yourself a Pat on the Back

My workout this morning looked a little something like this:

20 mins cardio
Treadmill: 1 min run/1 min incline walk, about 15 minutes
Track: 5 minutes very random interval running. Sprints, jogs, walks, etc. Closest thing I can get to outdoor running in the chilly winter months.

20 mins strength
I loosely based my workout on Julie’s Legs and Ab Circuit only she is a machine and I am not. So I tweaked it a bit for myself. Ended up looking like this:

10 pushups
50 squats (with a 6lb weight)
50 bridges (with a 6 lb weight)
10 pushups
30 side lunges (15/side)
30 side plank hip lifts (15/side)
50 bicycle crunches
20 mountain climbers
10 push-ups
50 seconds plank hold
30 squat jumps
30 jumping jacks
20 sit-ups (with 6 lb weight overhead)
10 pushups

It’s been a while since I’ve done a full circuit workout like that and OOF is all there is to say. Glad I fit it in though since I have a busy week ahead and may or may not have quality gym time to spare.

My food today was a bit all over the place – a big snacking plate of salad dressed in flax seed oil and balsamic, sweet baby carrots, sauteed chicken breast, Mary’s flax crackers, light cow cheese and 1/2 an avocado doused in sea salt…

PLUS 2 big bowls of crunchy millet rice cereal topped with almond milk and about a zillion blueberries and raspberries…
Neither the first bowl or the refill lasted long enough to have its picture taken. 🙂

 And in case you’re worried about me, I finally squeezed in a coffee today…around NOON (eegads!)

Do you stretch try to stretch every time you work out?  Once and a while? Or avoid it completely?