5 Trail Approved Snacks To Raise The (Granola) Bar

You never know when hiking hunger might strike and if you are anything like myself, direction impairment and the longing for new paths may find you stranded in the woods for hours. Though foraging is a breeze in the season of black caps, whose bushes line our local trails, with these berries gone for another year, scavenging in the wilderness may not be as easy and so we never hit the paths without a few stashed snacks!
Mounstburg
Yesterday my mother and brother and I packed up a lunch and hit the road for a day trip to Mountsberg conservation area. Home to wilderness walks, raptor shows and my favourite birds; Bald Eagles!! Approximately 80% of the birds found in the sanctuary are rescued from across Ontario and well looked after in captivity as they can no longer survive in the wild. It was just our luck that as I had to sneak another peek at these majestic creatures before we flew the grounds, it was their feeding time and we watched as they ran and flew around their spacious cages and feasted on the fresh meat.
bald eagle
We, ourselves, feasted on a picnic of egg salad sandwiches. I made mine using avocado instead of mayo and wrapped it with fresh spinach in a gluten-free rice wrap. For dessert we had my Raw  Cranberry Chocolate Macaroons: https://lifeofeden.com/2014/07/11/raw-cranberry-chocolate-macaroons/
dessert
And then came the snacks!
  • The criteria; quick, light, easy and energizing.
  • The common contender; grab and go granola bars. But is this the healthiest option?
The next time you go to grab a box of these from your local market, give the nutrition a once over. What has long been promoted as a healthy food option sporting refined oats and roasted (oxidized) nuts and seeds may have a little more unwrapping to do behind its shiny, enticing packaging. Conventional granola bars are hidden sources of sneaky sugars, preservatives and other less than ideal ingredients that counteract much of the beneficial health properties a walk in nature provides.
Instead? Take a cue from nature’s finest and come back to 5 real, whole foods that meet all of our hiking needs; quick, light, easy and energizing!
1) Trail mix / Nuts / Seeds
  • Pack raw, unsalted nuts and seeds which provide high nutrient density, protein, complex carbohydrates and energizing fats to keep you satiated and boost your stamina. Yesterday I packed a few raw brazil nuts, a more expensive option but one of my favourites with the selenium being praised for giving you a subtle skin glow and improving its elasticity. Though high in calories, you will only need a few to reap the selenium benefits and satisfy you for the remainder of your hike.
  •  Always combine your own trail mix to control what goes into it. To do so, simply mix nuts and seeds together with dried, crunchy coconut chunks and perhaps a few pieces of dark chocolate or gogi berries for a sweeter treat.
Brail nuts 
2) Veggies
  • Carrot sticks, sweet red peppers, snap peas etc. Eat plain or pack a mini container with humus or pure nutbutters for a more satiating snack.
  • NOTE: Support organic as much as possible here. One of the major factors responsible for the decline in Bald Eagle populations was the use of pesticides such as DDT. Since the use of these pesticides has been banned and/or restricted, the populations are recovering but they are still a concern for these birds and supporting organic growers helps to ensure these chemicals aren’t used to grow your fruits and vegetables and that equates to happy birds 🙂
3) Fruit
  • Locally grown grapes were my personal favourite yesterday! Fruit is both hydrating on long hikes and hot summer days (though yesterday was anything but hot). Bananas, apples, pears, etc. are all fantastic grab-and-go options.
grape snacks

4) Crunchy crackers & kale chips

  • Craving a crunchy snack? Look for gluten-free brown rice crackers or nut and seed crackers such as Mary’s brand.
    • Holistic Life Hacks: depending on where you go, one box of Mary’s crackers averages around $6-9, which is a bit of a pricy snack to munch on. However, packed with fibre and wholesome, less refined ingredients, these are my go to and can be much cheaper when bought from bulk food stores.
5) Granola
  • The typical graNOla packs around 15-20 grams of sugar in the average bag and is mixed with gluten and preservatives. Unlike granola bars that use sweeteners (honey, maple syrup, dates etc.) as partial binding agents, granola can go without it, the key is to find the right brand. Look for one that’s unsweetened or very lightly sweetened and made with all wholesome ingredients. You’ll be able to bypass much of the sugars this way and can add your own fixings of nuts, seeds or coconut chunks as you please. Better yet? Make your own!

granola lotus

Healthy snacks are wickedly simple, delicious and leave you energized rather than depleted for the hike ahead! Finding out that this conservation area offers private tours for those who want a closer encounter with the birds, may just have me taking another trip back if Bald Eagles are involved. 🙂 And may I point out that with their bird adoptions from Pip the Kestral or Echo, Jazz and Chomper the owls, the Bald Eagle I want to adopt has to be named: Pawgwashiing Migizi! So while I wrap my tongue around that mouthful, I’ll be packing up the last of my brazil nuts to head out for another rejuvenating hike tonight.

Happy snacking!

Suzanne Eden

 

Canada Days & Camp Fires // The Holistic Swap In The Roast Of The Marshmallow 

Happy Canada Day friends!

From my birthday and that of nearly every member of my family, June has been a busy month of Gemini’s and tonight’s birthday celebrations kick-start July with fireworks over the beach and bonfires over fire pits.

When you think of campfire food, is a marshmallow one of the first things to make a “pit” stop in your mind?

If so, I have the perfect swap for you!

Pineapple.
Superior to marshmallows in just about every way.

The case? They are naturally tart and sweet (without being a slap to your sweet sensing taste buds),  caramelize in the hot embers of your fire pit (without turning into a dangerous flaming ball of sticky sugar) and retain their juicy interior so as not to leave a chalky taste in your mouth that warrants a gulping jug of water before you can proceed to speak again.

pineapple

We devoured this pineapple Friday night at the first bonfire of the season to commence the time of BBQs, campfires and today’s Canada Day celebration where this is the perfect holistic swap for a sweet and healthy treat.

So why do we have such a strong association with these sweets? Tradition. When it comes to kids and nutrition, I’m a big marshmallow and many of the things we do with food come from habits that we develop as children. In developmental psychology we call this the critical period. This is a time when development is rapid and where what we are taught is critical to forming habits we often carry through our life. This follows closely in the development of our children’s bodies and though we often think kids can get away with eating more junk food during this time (signs of nutritional deficiencies don’t show as prominently until later years) this is a period of rapid growth and development of their bones, organs etc. The early years are when we want to focus on developing healthy bodies and healthy habits alike.

 camping

I, personally, have so many fond memories being gathered around a fire in our campsites and roasting marshmallows to eat off a stick or squash between graham crackers and chocolate for s’mores. But the pineapple we roasted over Friday night was  soft, sticky and sweet but also juicy and I can only imagine that if I was brought up eating this around a campfire, I wouldn’t have wanted anything else. It’s a simple change for a new tradition and with Canadians consuming an estimated 51-53 g of sugar per person per day, according to the 2014 nutrients study, it’s a needed change.

 

 Marshmallow Vs Pineapple

  • Every 100grams of the average marshmallow contains around 58 g’s of sugar!
    • 100 g’s of pineapple contains around 10g
  • The ingredients for marshmallows include: sugar, glucose syrup (more sugar), invert sugar (even MORE sugar), artificial flavourings, colourings, dustings of corn starch (often GMOs and one of the top food allergens)
    • Pineapples are a whole food with no need for an ingredient list.

 

Random FACTS of kindness; does your tongue go numb from eating pineapple?

  • Though it’s important to rule out a food allergy, pineapple contain the natural digestive enzyme bromelain which breaks down proteins and is used in many digestive supplements. This powerful enzyme is what makes pineapple easily digestible but may also be responsible for irritating your tongue and mouth.
  • Cooking and heating deactivates these enzymes to reduce or alleviate this side effect.

 

Whether youre kids are doing the roasting or you are, instead of getting stuck with gooey fingers and crumby graham crackers,  “stick” to this new, sweet tradition for the summer with 100% pure pineapple!

 

Roasting tonight over beaches and bonfires,

Suzanne Eden

 

 

 

Suzanne Eden

On The Glow // 7 Plant Driven Snacks To Fuel Your Engines

Snacks can be a tricky one.

They need to be fast food without being “fast food” and they need to satiate while boosting our energy levels. On long work days or yesterday’s road trip to an Auto show in Vaughan, snacking is a must for me when I don’t have time for a meal and I am always on the hunt for more ideas!

These are some of my top 7 plant driven favourites to fuel your engines!

lambo

 Smart Snacking Rules to Glow By:

Eat when hungry

  • A snack is meant for times when you have long gaps between meals, not as a means to satisfy boredom or ease emotions. Pay attention to your hunger cues and snack as needed to stabilize blood sugar and keep energy levels stable.

 Fill with a premium

  • Fuel yourself with only the best! Think quality, wholefoods over snack bars and packaged trail mixes etc. that are often high in sugar. Luckily it is just as easy to grab a juicy apple off of the counter as it is to grab a pre-packaged snack out of the cupboard.

Plan and prep

  • Plan ahead and have snacks handy. Take them with you on the road as it will be tricky to find them elsewhere. Utilize reusable containers (preferably glass for the environment) whenever possible and keep them with you wherever you go.

humua

 7 Premium Snacks To Rev Your Engine:

1. Veggies and hummus

  • The hummus provides both blood sugar stabilizing protein and healthy fats for satiation and energy! Making your own hummus is the best option but keeping some store-bought ones handy will keep you on track when in a pinch.
  • What to look for: dairy free, soy free and organic with as little preservatives as possible. General rule of thumb: the less ingredients on the label, the better and if you don’t recognize an ingredient as a food, your body likely won’t either.

2. Organic apples and bananas

  • Apples MUST be bought organic. They are part of the dirty dozen of the most highly contaminated fruits and vegetables. Bananas, though organic usually offers higher nutrition, do not have to be organic as they can be peeled.
  • Both provide fibre to fill you, while being a light and easily digestible snack and can be paired with cinnamon or almond butter.

 coco

3. Fresh coconut

  • For this weekends auto show in Toronto, this was my snack of choice along with bananas and carrot sticks. Fresh coconut offers a fantastic dose of healthy fats that satiated myself (my friend is not a big fan of coconut) and is utilized as energy in the body, especially when actively scouting out exotic cars for the day.

4. Quinoa

  • Quinoa is a complete protein, as it contains all essential amino acids and is an excellent source of fibre. Prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge, this  is a great grab and go with a little lemon juice or extra virgin olive oil and Himalayan salt.

kale chips

5. Kale chips

  • Better and more cost-effective when homemade but alternatively available in many health food stores. There are many, many recipes out there for kale chips and they are simple to make, light, crunchy, and a little bit salty for a perfect snack.

6. Avocado

  • Simply cut it in half (a plastic knife will do the trick), twist the halves apart and enjoy with a spoon. The fats in avocados are incredibly nutritious and beautifying but will also help you to feel full longer without feeling over-stuffed.
  • Though fats are essential, if trying to lose weight I recommend sticking to the portion size of just half an avo a day. Otherwise, a full avocado as a snack on the go is a great option! I love pairing mine with garlic powder (when not at a public event of course!), Himalayan salt and red pepper flakes or salsa.

7. Smoothies

  • This is a super simple way to eat on the go. You can blend anything you would like into your smoothies which provide compact nutrition, hydration when using coconut water, and fibre. Smoothies are filling and can utilize some of those greens that you haven’t had a chance to sit down and eat, with a fuss free cleanup.

No matter where you go, stay fueled with holistic snacks to glow.

Fueling on premium,

Suzanne Eden

A Country Bound Food Diary & Raw Superfood Clusters

This week I packed my things, namely piles of textbooks & notebooks and a few warm sweaters and made for the tranquility of the countryside. My grandparents own a hobby farm along the escarpment with a yellow pine house my grandfather constructed, flower gardens, trails, and my favourite of course; vegetable gardens(!) all blanketed under the winter’s snow.

into the wild

Every new year I find my way here for a couple of days to recharge. It is a time to retreat into the expanse and solitude of their property, to work a few hours with warm tea and spend the evenings chopping salads in my grandparents’ kitchen, hiking the back trails, burying myself in the snow and learning to make a fire to keep warm while teaching my grandfather how to culture sauerkraut. And in the midst of it all was a surplus of fresh produce from their garden, chopped for salads or sliced with nutbutters and a whole slew of delicious food to spoil their guest. If there’s one thing you can rely on with grandparents, it’s that you will never go hungry! And here is a taste of what became of our plates:

With the sunrise: 
  • Each morning we awoke as the sun broke across the horizon of naked trees. The fire having long died out in the night lied peacefully of ash. We first set the kettle to enjoy warm lemon water as we waited for our oats to cook over the stove top. We had set these out the night before to soak which makes them easier to digest and makes the nutrients more available to the body. We topped this with a blend of ground seeds (pumpkin, flax, chia) and spices (cayenne, turmeric, curry, ginger etc.), a splash of flax oil and basmati brown rice milk and this, to my request, was the breakfast to energize us each morning.
In solitude and left to a delicious kitchen…
  • While my grandparents were out at Tai Chi or chiropractic appointments, I would get hungry and scour their kitchen for food, of which there is plenty! Nuts and seeds, vegetables and sprouts, it’s a holistic foodies haven!
Every day I had a protein drink with MSM, L-glutamine, and so forth and mixed in detoxifying beet crystals which turn the vanilla drink a bright pink.
Others:
  • nuts and seeds
  • sprouts
  • banana
  • crackers slathered with coconut oil and nutbutter
  • Raw superfood clusters

 

raw superfood clusters

Raw Superfood Clusters

There is no exact recipe, simply mix ingredients until desired:

  • Almond butter
  • Apple sauce (for sweetness)
  • Coconut oil (to make them solid)
  • Cinnamon
  • Pinch of sea salt

Mix together almond butter, apple sauce and oil until the coconut oil is well mixed in. Then add the bulk ingredients to form clusters. You can use any nuts or seeds here, I used:

  • Unsalted, raw Pumpkin seeds (which we dried out ourselves)
  • Sprouts (my grandfather had sprouted mung beans and green lentils)

Once in little clusters, pop them in the freezer to harden, then enjoy! The healthy fats help to stabilize blood sugar, provide a fantastic source of energy and will assist in keeping you satiated to lunchtime.

Upon their return: 
Lunch time and large appetites where synonymous with my grandparents arrival home. We would set to work in the kitchen right away to prepare vegetable plates served with nut and seed butters.
veggie plate
 
Possible accompaniments:
  • Poached eggs
  • Chicken
  • Sardines (my favourite! A treat we picked up when my grandmother brought me on a special trip for my first time to Goodness Me)
  • Gluten free, dairy free, sugar-free pancakes topped with nutbutters, apple sauce, red currants and a little maple syrup (high quality)
Midday snacks:

 

dates

Dinner 
  • We usually made salads of my grandparents’ vegetables. The root veggies we had were harvested in October and stored to eat through the winter as they do not spoil when kept properly. We shredded these finely which aids digestion and used olive oil and apple cider vinegar as a dressing, topped with sprouts and served with the rest of the meal:
  • Chicken two days
  • One day we ate lightly steamed veggies with rosemary & humus as we sat around the fire

chopping salads

Post dinner: 
  • Green tea which was brewed continuously throughout the day
  • Chia seed cereal pudding from Earthly Choice
  • sprouts
  • a small dried fruit platter

I was sent home with dried apples juuuust in case I should find myself feeling a bit famished on the voyage home and was greeted with a warm hug from mom and a furry little animal (Aussie) who shared a dried apple or two with me before bed. My road trip playlist? A mix of Eddie Vedder and Matthew Good! Though I infinitely love the peace, tranquility, and rather more primitive life of the countryside, it has been wonderful to be reunited with my family, Aussie and my Vitamix once more!

Blending an end to another delicious week,

Suzanne Eden

Your Holistic Guide to Healthy Snacking at the Theatre & my Chocolate, Cashew Drizzled Popcorn

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

~ The Imitation Game

These past few days have found me enchanted by elves and hobbits and mystified by the mind of Alan Turing as all good movies seemed to pop their way into theatres just in time for the winter chill (in which I rather fittingly become much like a hobbit myself).
~*~
Now just think: movie theatre food, and what is likely the first thing to pop into your mind? The beloved popcorn of course! But what is lurking in that seemingly bottomless bag of buttery kernels? I did a little digging and found some sticky facts on one of Canada’s favourite movie treats and created a better than butter alternative to satisfy all of your popcorn popping indulgences.

 

Popping up some facts:
  • Popcorn MUST be purchased organic. Non-organic corn is heavily sprayed in pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers which wreak havoc on our health and the health of our environment.
According to the Globe and Mail published in 2011:
  • a large Cineplex popcorn unbuttered is the calorie and fat content equivalent of two McDonald’s Big Macs
  • The same bag having nearly a day’s worth of sodium intake

 

and that’s without butter.

According to Cineplex Entertainment’s Nutrition and Allergen guide, their liquid margarine contains these ingredients (plus a few others):

  • Soybean Oil
  • Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
  • Salt
  • Soy Protein,
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Potassium Sorbate
  • Mono & Diglycerides
  • Artificial Flavour

 

This ingredient list is high in processed soy and oils which alters their chemical composition causing them to be toxic to our bodies. Also present are artificial flavourings, preservatives and, once again, salt. Its shelf life: a minimum of three months! Real food rots. If it does not go bad, what exactly are we eating?

 

A few tips to snacking during a flick:
  • Eat when you are hungry

A movie snack is a cultural habit. Food is meant to be enjoyed when we are hungry. If you are not hungry, skip the snack and just enjoy the film.

 
  • Be a delinquent and bring your own food & drinks
  • Eat mindfully : if eating, eat BEFORE the movies

Eat during the opening credits and pay attention to the taste and flavour. You’ll be satisfied faster, longer and enjoy your food more.

  • Don’t eat during or even before a suspense, thriller or horror film.

The stress you feel in these movies actually puts our body into the “fight or flight” mode. This state activates our
sympathetic nervous system which tells the body to stop digesting so that you have more energy to flee. Of course, you’re not going anywhere but your body doesn’t know that and your digestion is compromised as a result.

  • Make healthier versions.

 A better than butter alternative popped up in my kitchen for Monday night’s movie ventures, though it was admittingly gone before I had even left for the theatre!

popcorn

 
  • Better Than Butter Popcorn:
Organic homepopped Popcorn (NOT microwaveable!)
Coconut oil
Sprinkling of Himalayan salt
Simply mix some coconut oil into your warm popcorn, tossing it around so that it melts and coats your popcorn as would butter. Sprinkle a little sea salt in and enjoy!
~*~
  • Chocolate, Cashew Drizzled Popcorn

Organic, homepopped Popcorn (again, NEVER microwaveable)

Raw, vegan dark chocolate

Raw cashews

Himalayan salt

Simply melt your chocolate in a bowl over a pot of boiling water. This will prevent it from burning and keep the delicate cocoa oils from denaturing. Lay popcorn flat on a sheet of wax paper and drizzle the warm chocolate over top, sprinkle with sea salt and pop into the fridge before enjoying. Keep cool.

Popping out of the hobbit hole for a movie date treat,

Suzanne Eden

Sprout Your Way to Wellness with Live Buckwheat Granola!

Liven up your kitchen this month with sprouting! It’s simple, you don’t need anything fancy (though a sprouter will be on my Christmas wish list this year) and it’s a fantastic way to turn your favourite foods into superfoods. This simple and delicious recipe for raw sprouted buckwheat granola is the perfect way to sprout your way into this wholesome habit. Buck up and try it!
Brunch
From Food to Superfood
When you sprout a seed, you activate it to begin growing into a plant. Buckwheat, by the way, is not a grain at all but a seed and though named buckwheat, it is entirely gluten-free. Just think, taking a dormant food that’s been sitting on a shelf and sprouting it to life? That’s bound to be good for you! And you’re right, sprouting:
  • Activates the enzymes

The more enzymes in the food, the easier it is for your body to digest and the less energy spent digesting means all the more energy for you!

Holistic fact: experts say there may be up to 100x more enzymes in sprouts than raw fruits and veggies!
  • Makes the nutrients more bioavailable 
A fancy way of saying your body will obtain more nutrients from sprouted buckwheat than non sprouted. And supplying our body with the most nutrients possible is the key to our health.
  • Power up the protein!

Already a fantastic source of protein (being a complete protein like its cousin quinoa),  sprouting enhances this protein profile! In fact, lysine (one of the proteins most abundant in buckwheat) is significantly increased and this protein boosts the immune system making it a powerhouse as we head into winter. Note: the same happens for the vitamin and fibre content too!

  • Incredibly alkalizing to the body

This will significantly reduce inflammation; the underlying cause of most pain and illnesses.

Want to feel energised and alive? Eat live foods!
buckwheat granola
Where to begin: 3 Steps to Get Going and Get Growing!
Step one: Something to Groat About
The search begins in your local health food store where you’ll find organic buckwheat groats. These will be light in colour as opposed to brown which means they have been toasted, this is Kasha and won’t sprout.
Holistic life hacks: finding them in bulk will save you money and time running to get more when you become addicted to the granola! (I admittingly have to hide it from myself to avoid going through an entire batch in one day)
Step two: From Seeds to Sea Monkeys
Now you’re home and ready to take those  gluten-free seeds and bring them to life!
Simply submerge your seeds in water for an hour, then drain them, rinse them, and set them in a strainer with a plate underneath to catch any water, covering the strainer with a nut cloth so they can breathe. Don’t own a nut cloth? Use a thin dish rag, cover the entire top, but leave a side exposed so that they can breathe without drying out.
Now watch the magic happen!
What to look for? They sprout little tails ( just like growing a plant) and start to resemble something along the lines of sea monkeys. It’s a proud moment.. and then you eat them.
Sea Monkeys
Step 3: TLC
A couple of times a day, rinse your buckwheat as the seeds will get slimy and to keep them from drying out. In about 48 hours you will have beautifully sprouted live buckwheat ready to dehydrate! Don’t own a dehydrator? Neither do I (and though I’d LOVE to have this on my wish list, they are very expensive) so I’ll show you how I use my oven to dehydrate instead.
Why not bake them? 
Cooking kills your live food, destroying the enzymes and nutrient value you just cultivated. Dehydrating keeps all it’s benefits alive!
granola
Live buckwheat granola 
This recipe is low glycemic and a fantastic blood sugar stabilizer. It has the sweet, cinnamon spice taste and wholesome crunch of regular granola while being :
Dairy free
Gluten free
Refined sugar-free
Vegan
and wholesomely energizing
Recipe
Ingredients
3 cups sprouted buckwheat
1/4 c coconut nectar
1 tsp maple syrup
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp alcohol free vanilla extract
Sprinkling of Himalayan salt
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to the lowest setting possible
  2. Mix all ingredients together and adjust flavours as desired.
  3. Spread mixture out evenly on a sheet of parchment paper.
  4. Pop in the oven and prop the door open with a wad of tin foil. Note: setting a fan up in front of the door for circulation will better mimic a dehydrater but isn’t necessary.
  5. Leave to dehydrate for 2-3 hours. This depends on the temperature your oven is set to, how open the door is, etc. Flip them gently with a spatula about every half hour, give or take, to ensure even dehydration.
  6. Remove while golden and crunchy but not entirely brown, you don’t want to keep them in there so long that they cook. Allow 5 minutes to cool (if you can) and enjoy!
The switch up: 
I wanted to give you a super basic recipe with as few ingredients as possible but you can customize this recipe in all sorts of wholesome ways:
  • apples
  • different spices including ginger
  • some carob or raw cacao for chocolate granola
  • soaked nuts and seeds (most only need to be soaked overnight)
  • berries
Enjoy with almond milk, over smoothies, as a salad garnish or in a trail mix (a superfood indeed!)
You name it! So many possibilities to enjoy!
Happy sprouting and wholesome crunching,
Suzanne Eden