Chia Seeds: A Mighty Superfood

Carrot Mandarin Chia Seed Muffins Chia seeds are an ancient food that belong to the mint family and were originally grown in Mexico and Central America. However, in recent months chia has become immensely popular due to its many nutritional benefits. Chia is a nutritional powerhouse, according to Dr. Coates, professor emeritus in arid lands studies at the University of Arizona. He says the seeds are loaded with vitamins and minerals, are an excellent source of fibre, protein and antioxidants and are the richest plant source of omega-3 fatty acids. Consumption of chia seeds could also help reduce joint pain, aid in weight loss, deliver an energy boost and protect against serious ailments such as, diabetes and heart disease.

The case for adding chia seeds to your kitchen cupboard is strong. Doug Cook, a Toronto-based dietitian, agrees with claims that chia delivers protein, fiber and antioxidants. I have recently incorporated chia into my daily routine as I have found it easy to incorporate these mighty seeds a number of foods I already eat everyday. Since chia seeds have a relatively mild taste it is exceptionally easy to add this superfood to a number of recipes. For instance, try sprinkling them on yogurt or salad, adding them to smoothies or juice, or using milled seeds for baking. Tip: Try this delicious Carrot Mandarin Chia Seed Muffins from Lemon Fire Brigade.

Chia seeds can also be purchased organically. Currently my favourite brand is Holy Crap “Skinny B” Dragon’s Blend Breakfast Cereal, as it also contains organic hulled hemp hearts and organic buckwheat. This Canadian made product is perfect for sprinkling on yogurt in the morning, as it will help increase concentration, stabilize blood sugar and elevate energy levels. Who wouldn’t want that on those sluggish Monday mornings?

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Whole-Grain Apple Cinnamon Muffins

This is one of my favourite recipes, which includes sweet organic apples. This hearty but healthy snack is simple to make and easy to love. Hopefully this inspires your to incorporate organic food into your everyday diet too!

Whole-Grain Apple Cinnamon Muffins Ingredients

1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup Greek Yogurt
1 cup chopped organic apples
Directions
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with 8 muffin liners. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.In another bowl, whisk the egg. Add the honey, olive oil and vanilla. It might look a little weird at first; just keep stirring until it’s well combined, and then add the yogurt. Add the flour mix to the wet mix. It just needs to be combined, so be careful not to overmix. Then fold in the apples. Fill the liners with the batter, filling almost all the way to the top. You could get more out of these if you want to make them smaller. Just take them out a little earlier. Also try topping the muffins with a sprinkle of cinnamon, brown sugar or old fashioned oats if you would like! Bake for about 15 – 17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Makes 8 perfect muffins!

How to Eat Organic Everday

Fresh Organic Vegetables Organic food is a booming business in Canada, with sales reportedly rising 20% a year for the last decade. The market has grown so quickly that major supermarket are finding it extremely difficult to keep with demand. Consequently, it becomes quite evident that eating organic is no longer just a “lifestyle” choice amongst a select group of consumers. Even though it is slightly more expensive, consumers have begun to take their health seriously by critically examining what is in the food they eat everyday and by making a conscious decision to buy certified organic products.

In general, “organic agriculture seeks to avoid the use of chemical fertilizers, synthetic pesticides, synthetic veterinary drugs, genetically modified organisms and certain food processing and preservation substances”. There are a number of ways to incorporate organic food into your daily diet; however, it is best to start slowly. You might not be able to buy all your food organically grown, so start by eliminating the conventional produce with the highest pesticide levels.

The Environmental Working Group has identified a number of fruits and vegetables that should definitely be bought organically due to their consistently high pesticide levels. These include: peaches, strawberries, apples, domestic blueberries, nectarines, cherries, imported grapes, celery, lettuce, sweet bell peppers, potatoes, spinach, kale and collard greens.

Although it would be wonderful to have our own little vegetable garden – lets be realistic here. This is an implausible dream for most Londoners, but especially for students living in a high-rise apartment buildings like myself! Unfortunately, most people today do not have the time to care of a garden and grow their own organic fruits and vegetables. That’s why I think it is such a fantastic idea to join an organization like The London Food Co-operative. The London Food Co-operative is a non-for-profit, member-owned, natural food store that provides its members with organic and sustainably produced products at fair prices.

Fresh Organic Fruit Those that are interested can become a trail member or can become a full member by purchasing shares in the co-operative, which is done by paying a $10.00 loan each quarter. I think this is a small price to pay for organically grown and produced fruits, vegetables, meat, dairy and a number of other natural products. Additionally, The London Food Co-operative gives members more than the ability to buy good food; it also allows them to become part of an active community of people who care about what kind of food they eat as well!

Ultimately, I believe this is a wonderful option for students or other individuals who are looking to incorporate organic food into their daily diet. If you still think you aren’t ready to take the plunge and join a co-operative, try to attend The Covent Garden Market’s annual Farmers’ Market, which offers wonderfully fresh, organic and local food twice a week outside on the square from May to November. For more information on how to incorporate organic food into your diet, check out The Organic Food Blog for some additional tips and tricks!

Avocado and Chickpea Salad With Halibut

To accompany the post below, here is a delicious recipe that incorporates avocado, one of my favourite superfoods of all time. I often make this is simple, yet savory salad on weekends for a special treat in between studying.

Avacado and Chickpea Salad With Halibut Ingredients

4  pieces of cooked halibut
kosher salt and black pepper
1/4  cup olive oil
1  tablespoon lemon juice
1  tablespoon Dijon mustard
2  tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
8  cups organic mixed greens
1  ounce can chickpeas, rinsed
1  organic avocado, sliced
1/2  small red onion, sliced
Directions
Season the fish with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Place in a large skillet with enough water to reach halfway up the sides of the fish. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook the fish, covered, until opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the fish to a plate and refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes. Using a fork, flake the fish into large pieces. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, mustard, cilantro, ½ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Toss the dressing with the mixed greens, chickpeas, avocado, and onion. Divide among plates and top with the fish.

Healthy and Organic Superfoods

As the days become shorter and the air becomes colder, we all start to feel the winter blues sooner or later. Although a number of beloved fruit and veggies are not in season right now, there are still a number of delicious food options out there to supercharge our health and fight off those pesky winter colds! I have compiled a list of five healthy superfoods that are all organically available (fresh or frozen) at Sunripe here in London.

Greek Yogurt with Frozen Berries Greek Yogurt: More powerful than regular yogurt, Greek Yogurt is packed full of immune-boosting bacteria and contains twice the protein. This is a perfect morning meal since it keeps you feeling full until lunch, while also giving you the energy you need to start your day. Here’s a tip, try sprinkling frozen blueberries and crushed almonds on top your yogurt to give it some added flavour!

Avocados: This deliciously smooth food contains heart-protective compounds, such as soluble fiber, vitamin E, folate, and potassium, as well as number of other key nutrients. Fortunately, avocados are readily available this time of year and can be incorporated into a number of dishes. Since avocados are high in calories, it is best to use them in place of another high-fat food or condiment, such as cheese or mayo.

Sweet Potatoes: This mighty root vegetable is one of the best ways to get vitamin A, which is an an essential nutrient that protects and maintains eyes, skin and the linings of our respiratory, urinary and intestinal tracts. And the best part is, this hearty superfood tastes delicious no matter how you cook it!

Roasted Salmon with Spicy Califlower

Salmon: Not only is salmon a light and refreshing meal, it is also a rich source of both vitamin D and omega-3. These essential fatty acids have a wide range of impressive health benefits—from preventing heart disease to smoothing your skin and aiding weight loss to boosting your mood and minimizing the effects of arthritis. Although a pricey meal option, salmon is sure to boost your health during these gloomy winter months!

Edamame: Edamame beans may be small, but their packed full of essential nutrients. This premature soybean is best served steamed or boiled and sprinkled with a touch of salt just before serving. This superfood helps fight heart disease by slashing saturated fat intake, making it a healthy food option anytime of year!