Continuing on with easy changes to your health in the new year, one thing that can make a huge impact is switching your cheat snacks (like chocolate bars and chips) to eating more fruits and vegetables.
One fruit that everyone loves to snack on is undoubtedly the blueberry. Blueberries are not only a delicious treat, but they also contain many important health benefits:
Blueberries are high in antioxidants – we have stressed the importance of antioxidant in previous posts, commenting on how they are needed to boost your immune system, protect against free radicals and prevent against cancer. Blueberries contain a particular antioxidant, anthocyanin, which is responsible for all of these benefits.
They are essential to your digestive system – blueberries are high in fiber and nutrients which help reduce bloating, promote weight loss, and improve the digestive process.
Blueberries are a smart snack – not only are they high in nutrients and fiber, but they also have a high water content which is important for detoxification and hydration. Blueberries are also low in calories, making them a good snack to have without feeling like you are overindulging.
They have long term health benefits – multiple studies have shown that including more blueberries in your diet can actually aid in brain function and lower the risk of degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Featured Recipe: NO-BAKE BLUEBERRY COCONUT BARS:
To make this delicious treat, start with the crust! In a food processor, add 1 cup of pitted dates, ½ C almonds, ½ C walnuts, 1 tbsp. coconut oil and ½ tbsp. honey, and blend. Line a small baking dish with parchment paper, pack down the crust and freeze for 1 hour.
While you are waiting, add 1 can coconut milk, 1 C blueberries, 2 tbsp. honey, 1 tsp coconut oil, 1 tbsp. lemon juice to a food processor and blend until smooth. Pour onto the crust and let set in the freezer for 2-4 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy!
New year, new goals! As we step into 2019, most of us are thinking about personal resolutions and how we are going to achieve them.
In regards to your health, there are tons of small changes you can make that are easy to stick to, and can actually make a big positive impact on your overall health!:
Drink more water – Drinking more water will help you stay hydrated, increase your energy, and even promote weight loss. Having trouble sticking to it? Try setting alarms on your phone or downloading an app that provides you with daily reminders.
Support your gut – Your gut is the underlying powerhouse to your immune system! It’s where all of your nutrients from the food you eat gets absorbed and transported throughout your body. An easy way to keep it healthy is by slowing down on the refined carbs and eating more fermented foods. This includes yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut.
Improve your digestion – When your digestion is working optimally, you don’t need to worry about weight gain or bloating. This can be done by eating more fiber and leafy greens in your diet, eating smaller, more frequent portions, and chewing your food more!
More meal prep, less eating out – Eating at restaurants frequently can lead you to having more calories, more unhealthy foods, and less money! Try budgeting these meals, or keeping yourself accountable by only going out once or twice a week.
The holiday season is right around the corner – have you finished your shopping for friends and relatives?
Not to worry! Mike & Mike’s has some awesome – and easy! – gift ideas that will have everyone baking up a storm in the new year. Recipes with dry ingredients in a jar is a great personalized present that everyone will enjoy, and it gives them a chance to create in the kitchen.
How to set up each jar:
HOT CHOCOLATE MIX:
Mix in a medium or small jar raw cacao powder, coconut sugar and cinnamon to taste. Make sure to note that they can add the amount to a cup of milk to taste (once heated). Put some marshmallows on top and seal the lid.
Add 1/3 C coconut shreds, 1 C of oats, 5-6 pitted dates, 1/3 C M&M organic dried cranberries, 1/3 C dark chocolate pieces in layers. The only direction is to blend in a food processor and roll the mixture in to little balls and refridgerate.
Add 1 C whole wheat flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, pinch of salt, 3 tbsp. raw cacao or cocoa powder, ½ C coconut sugar and a handful of dark chocolate chips. For the ingredient sheet, let them know to mix in 2 eggs and 1 C milk and to mix well, heat at 350 for 25 min and enjoy!
Add 1/3 C raw cacao or cocoa powder, 1 C M&M raw cashews, 1/3 C dark chocolate chips in layers to a jar. Make note to add all the ingredients to a food processor, with 1 C almond milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 3 tbsp. honey or maple syrup, and 1 tsp. peppermint extract or mint leaves, and blend. Pour into moulds and freeze until firm, and enjoy!
As we are headed into the winter season (yikes!), it’s time to prepare for the cold weather, as well as the lack of motivation and energy that tends to comes along with it.
There are many different changes you can make in your daily life, as well as your diet, that can help eliminate the terrible winter blues and keep you going for the rest of the season:
Eat healthy fats – increasing your uptake of healthy fats, such as Omega-3’s and -6’s, can help improve your mood, focus, concentration, and even boost your energy. Foods high in healthy fats include avocados, nuts, seeds, chia, hemp, coconut oil, and more.
Always exercise when you can – working out, playing sports, or at least staying more active, can help naturally increase your level of endorphins, also known as your “feel good” hormones.
Partake in winter activities – instead of spending your time avoiding winter and wishing it were over, try taking a more positive approach! Jump in the snow, go skating, take part in holiday celebrations, or even go on a winter hike.
Indulge in some delicious, but healthy comfort food – make some hearty meals with squashes and root vegetables, or nice warm soups with healthy, organic produce that can keep you warm on those cold winter days!
Avoid the not-so-healthy comfort food – when you start to feel down and tired, it’s easy to reach for a chocolate bar or a bowl of chips. Try avoiding foods that are high in saturated or trans fats, as well as ones with refined sugars. These can promote weight gain, mood swings, lack of energy and focus.
Try this delicious cauliflower soup recipe that will provide you with plenty of nutrients while you stay nice and cozy during the cold weather:
In a sauce pan, add 2 tbsp. olive oil and sautee 1 clove of garlic (chopped) and ½ a white onion (chopped) on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add ½ a head of cauliflower flourets, salt and pepper to taste, and 2 cups of low-salt vegetable stock (or water) and allow to simmer for 25 minutes, or until cauliflower is fully cooked. Remove from heat and add 2 cups of coconut milk and 1 tbsp. butter (optional). Emulsify until it is smooth and enjoy!
As the cold weather approaches, the flu season begins to rear its ugly head.
While the knee jerk reaction for many is to cure it with over the counter meds, there actually quite a few at home remedies you can try that are totally natural, as well as some you can purchase in natural health food stores:
Antioxidants – As mentioned in previous posts, antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, are extremely important in protecting your body against harmful free radicals, bacteria and viruses. Try eating vibrantly coloured fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits like lemons, or taking a Vitamin C supplement (low in sugar and preservatives!).
Ginger – This root can actually help reduce pain and inflammation that can be induced by the flu, as well as help control nausea. It can also fight against bad bacteria in the body.
Garlic – Garlic is one of the most powerful antibacterials, antifungals, antivirals…and more! Having it in its raw form will provide the most beneficial medicinal properties when dealing with the flu, or in supplement form (the key ingredient being allicin).
Oil of oregano – This powerful, natural tincture is not pleasant to take, but has amazing antibacterial properties, and is especially helpful when dealing with a sore throat.
Bee propolis – A similar tincture to oil of oregano (although not as powerful in flavour) is bee propolis. It is a natural protective material created from bees, and is known to help with fighting bad bacteria and infections.
Honey – Another amazing product of the bees! Honey is not only sweet and delicious, but it is also an amazing viral and bacterial fighter, especially when it comes to the flu. Adding it to your tea is a great way to take in the health benefits.
Water – Stay hydrated! The more water you drink while sick, the more it helps your body flush out any germs, bacteria and toxins that are causing you to feel ill. By drinking more fluids and reducing the amount of food you eat while sick, it also preserves the energy you need to help fight your sickness (as opposed to digesting).
Sleep – The most necessary thing you can do to feel better! Our immune systems work on the highest level when we are in bed, so the more you rest when you aren’t feeling well, the quicker you will heal your sickness.
When you think about the month of November, the period where Fall slowly slips into Winter, it doesn’t stand out as a very popular harvest month for fruits. But there are actually quite a few produce selections that are popular in stores and in their prime. These foods also have health benefits of their own:
Persimmons – these peculiar fruits are a big November item, and usually come in two varieties: hachiya and fuyu. Persimmons are high in antioxidants, nutrients and fiber, and are shown to reduce inflammation, control blood sugar and ease thyroid symptoms.
PERSIMMON AND RICOTTA TOAST:
On 2 pieces of freshly toasted chia or whole grain bread, spread on ricotta cheese, add crumbled M&M raw walnuts, place a few slices of persimmons on top and drizzle with honey to taste.
Pink Lady Apples – this variety of apple (also known as “cripps pink”) is just coming into season in BC and the US, and is known to have a sweet-tart flavour. These apples, amoung others, are a fantastic source of fiber to aid in digestion and gut health, and are lower in sugar.
PINK LADY APPLE AND OAT PANCAKES:
In a food processor, blend 1 C oats until it becomes a flour-like texture. Add ½ C almond flour, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste and mix. Then add 1 tsp vanilla, 1 egg, 1 C milk (or until desired consistency is achieved), 2 tbsp. maple syrup and blend. Mix in finely chopped pink lady apples. Cook in a pan on medium heat on each side for 3-4 minutes and enjoy with some maple syrup!
Pomegranates – known for their deep ruby red colour, pomegranates are another fruit that’s extremely high in antioxidants and can boost your immune system.
POMEGRANATE AND RASPBERRY SMOOTHIE:
In a blender, add 1 banana, a small handful of raspberries and strawberries, ½ C pomegranate seeds, ½ C Greek (or vegan) yogurt, 1 ½ C coconut milk, 1 tbsp. hemp hearts, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional) and 1 tbsp. honey. Blend and enjoy.
Protein is an essential portion of our diet – and for good reason! The health benefits of protein are endless, and we would not be able to function properly without it:
There are many common sources of protein you can choose from, but the best lean sources include:
There are also plenty of vegan or vegetarian options!:
Try this Fall-inspired, protein-packed smoothie at home!
APPLE CRUMBLE SMOOTHIE:
Blend half an organic apple, 1 tbsp. hemp hearts, ½ C oats, 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. nutmeg, 1 tsp. ginger, 1 tbsp. maple syrup, 1 scoop protein powder (of your choice – vanilla flavour works well), 1 tbsp. Greek yogurt (optional) and 1 ½ C almond milk.
As children, we were always hounded from our parents to eat our broccoli at dinner – and for good reason! Broccoli, amoung other cruciferous vegetables such as cauliflower, arugula, kale, cabbage, bok choy and Brussels sprouts, are very beneficial to our health overall:
Here are some recipe ideas that incorporate some of these delicious vegetables:
Chop half a head of organic cauliflower into florets. On a baking sheet with foil, coat cauliflower with smoky paprika, sea salt, pepper, garlic powder and olive oil, and bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes. Add as a side dish and enjoy!
Chop florets of organic broccoli (about 2 C worth) and steam until cooked. Add to a food processor with ¼ C M& M raw almonds, ½ C olive oil, 2 cloves garlic, sea salt, Parmesan cheese and black pepper and mix until smooth (add more oil if necessary). Serve with your favourite organic pasta dish!
PAN FRIED GARLIC BRUSSELS SPROUTS:
Halve 2 handfuls of organic Brussels sprouts and add to a pan with 1 tbsp. olive oil and butter to taste. On medium heat, fry Brussel sprouts on each side until slightly browned. Add sea salt, black pepper, 2 chopped garlic cloves and 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese while cooking. Serve warm and enjoy!
Every year during Halloween season, kids look forward to wearing spooky costumes, decorating their porches, trick or treating, and of course, getting candy!
Even though candies and chips that we normally give out on Halloween are delicious, they tend to be full of refined sugars, preservatives, chemicals, and Trans fats. If you are looking to celebrate Halloween with your children, but want to hold off on the store bought treats in favour of healthier options, there are plenty of great alternatives to try:
Trade in chocolate bars for the homemade stuff – try making your own at home! In a double boiler, add 2 tbsp. almond butter, 3 tbsp. cocoa or raw cacao powder, 1 tbsp. coconut oil, 2 tbsp. honey and 1 tsp. vanilla extract, and mix well until melted. Pour into your favourite Halloween mould and add some fruit, crushed nuts or cinnamon to spice it up, and freeze until firm. Then enjoy!
Trade in store bought potato chips for sweet potato chips – not only are these a healthier option with less Trans fats, but they keep the Halloween theme with their orange colour! Slice a sweet potato into thin pieces, add sea salt and olive oil and place onto a baking sheet. Bake at 375 for 15 minutes or until crispy. Alternatively, you can have organic popcorn popped fresh at home, and add toppings like paprika, pepper, parmesan cheese or garlic powder to spice it up.
Trade in candy for dehydrated organic fruit – you can pick your favourite fruits (dehydrated strawberries taste the most like candy!) and dehydrate them at home in the oven at a low temperature, or dehydrator. You can also purchase them at the store, but make sure they are good quality with no added sugars, sulfites, or preservatives.
Trade in party mix with trail mix – not only will your homemade mix of nuts, seeds and dried fruit have less sodium, chemicals, refined sugars than store bought chip mixes, but it will be delicious and beneficial for your health.
Keep an eye on our Recipe page for updates on kid-friendly, healthy treats and meals!
Now that we have entered the heart of the Fall season, many varieties of root vegetables and squashes are ready to eat! Not only are they delicious and a great source of comfort food, but they are also packed with health benefits as well:
With the abundance of these vegetables emerging at this time of the year, there are plenty of recipes you can try!
SPAGHETTI SQUASH DINNER:
Cut your squash in half and remove the seeds. Add olive oil, sea salt and pepper to the flesh side and bake them (skin side up) at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Scrape out the flesh with a fork and place into a bowl. Add ½ C chopped almonds, olive oil (or melted butter), maple syrup, a handful of chopped spinach, garlic, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!
PUMPKIN OVERNIGHT OATS:
In a mason jar, fill ½ the jar with organic oats. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, your choice of protein powder (1/2 scoop), hemp hearts and chia seeds, and mix well. Add 1/3 C yogurt, ½ tbsp. maple syrup, and enough almond (or other nut alternative) milk to submerge the oat mixture. Stir well, leave in the fridge overnight, and enjoy the next day!
Peel and roughly chop medium sized beets. Coat with olive oil, sea salt, thyme and black pepper, and place on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Bake for 30-40 minutes at 400 degrees, or until you can pierce with a fork with no resistance. Once cooled, you can add them to a fall salad with arugula, goat cheese, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and balsamic dressing.
Nowadays, everyone has heard of the term “antioxidants” and how important they are for our health…but what do they do exactly?
Antioxidants are vital in the protection against free radical damage to our bodies. Free radicals can enter our bodies through the food we eat if it contains pesticides, as well as alcohol, cigarettes, radiation, pollution, and more. Once in, they can cause oxidative damage to our organs, even potentially causing cancer cells to grow. Antioxidants can actually help destroy these free radicals, leading to less harm on your body and boosting your overall health.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, which explains why we are always told to take it when we get the flu! Foods containing vitamin C and other antioxidants include:
Interesting tip – fruits and vegetables that usually have a deep, intense coloring such as oranges, purples, reds, blues and greens, usually mean that they have a high amount of antioxidants!
If you are looking to increase your antioxidant intake, check out these tasty recipes you can try at home!:
BEET AND CARROT SMOOTHIE:
Add ½ a medium sized organic beet (peeled), 2 medium organic carrots, 1 tbsp honey, 1 handful organic spinach, ½ an organic banana and your choice of almond milk or water to a blender, and blend until smooth. Poor into a glass and enjoy!
Mix together 1 C each of Mike & Mike’s snack almonds, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, ½ C goji berries, ¼ C coconut flakes and add to a mason jar to snack on for the week!
SUPER GREEN SALAD:
Mix a handful of organic kale, a handful of organic spinach, ¼ C walnuts, ¼ C dried cranberries, ¼ C pumpkin seeds, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, black pepper in a bowl and serve as a side salad or add a lean protein to make it an easy lunch!
Usually when it comes to eating healthy, we tend to avoid fats, thinking that it’s a big contributor to weight gain. But this is not the case! There are a lot of positive benefits to eating healthy fats, especially unsaturated fatty acids. These usually include oils and plant-based fats.
Some examples of healthy fat food sources are:
Looking for recipes to incorporate your healthy fats? Try one of these:
In a blender or food processor, blend 1 avocado, 1 banana, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp. raw cacao or cocoa powder, 1 ½ C almond milk, and an optional 1 tbsp. of maple syrup, until smooth. Serve in a bowl and enjoy!
Did you know chia is also high in Omega-3’s? Try adding 1/3 cup to 1 C almond or coconut milk with vanilla extract and honey to taste, mix well, and let set in the fridge for 5 hours. When the chia has soaked up the milk, it turns into a thick pudding texture! Add mixed fruits or purees for flavour.
COCONUT OIL ENERGY BALLS:
Add 1 C oats, ½ C nut butter of your choice, cinnamon to taste, 1 tbsp. honey, ¼ C chocolate chips (or cacao nibs) and 1 tbsp. coconut oil to a food processor and blend until all ingredients are well incorporated. Roll into 2 inch balls and keep in fridge until serving!