Want to include more healthy foods and snacks in your diet, but don’t quite trust the store-bought options? Maybe you’re unsure of the nutrient content of foods after they’ve been processed, boxed and then left on the store shelf for who knows how many months – or years. And then there is the high cost of the many so-called “health foods” available at the store!
If you thought this whole healthy eating thing was out of reach for you and your family, think again. There is a simpler and more economical way to get the highest quality, healthiest foods into your diet… and it’s easier than you think.
For the past four years I have been making many commonly store-bought “health foods” and snacks from scratch for my family and saving money doing so. Oh, and did I mention, it’s fun too! It’s also the best way to ensure your meals and snacks are prepared with fresh, high quality ingredients, and without additives.
I would like to share three of my favorite recipes that I have been making with my family for years. You’ll see just how easy it is to do it too and you’ll wonder why you never tried.
Sprouts are extremely healthy, but pricey little powerhouses sold at most health food stores and some grocery stores. The reason sprouts pack such a nutritional punch is because they contain their very own live enzymes that are ready and waiting to assist your body with digestion, thus easing the burden on our bodies’ overworked digestive system. I like to call it B.Y.O.E (Bring Your Own Enzymes). Thank you sprouts!
In addition to containing digestive enzymes, sprouting seeds, nuts, beans and grains make their nutrients more readily available to our bodies thus supplying us with a ton of vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber and antioxidants. Some of my favorite things to sprout are alfalfa (rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, K and many minerals), mung beans (rich in vitamin C and high in iron and potassium) and almonds (rich in vitamins B and E and high in calcium and protein).
Sprouting is extremely simple and costs just pennies. You can purchase little packs of sprouting seeds at health food stores for a few dollars or buy beans, seeds, nuts or grains from the grocery store or in bulk. You will also need a big, wide mouthed glass jar (make sure the whole jar is the same width to prevent water from pooling), jay cloths or cheesecloth (both can be purchased at the dollar store) and a strong elastic band. Place 2 to 4 tablespoons of seeds in a fine mesh sieve and rinse under running water. Return the seeds to the jar and soak in water for 8 to 12 hours (I leave them overnight), then drain and rinse once more. Return seeds to the jar, cover the opening with the jay cloth and secure tightly with the elastic band. Place the jar upside down at about a 45-degree angle so any excess water can continue to drain. I place mine in a rectangular Tupperware container lined with a towel. Keep sprouts wet by adding and straining water (through the jay cloth) twice a day and watch them as they grow tails. Sprouts are ready when they have a 0.5 – 2-centimeter long tail, which takes 1 to 4 days.
Add sprouts to salads, sandwiches or anything you desire – the possibilities are endless. One of my personal favorites is to top a baked sweet potato with sautéed veggies, chopped almonds and a handful of mung bean sprouts. Delish!
Do-It-Yourself Seedy Cereal
Store-bought conventional cereals are loaded with sugar and a number of chemical preservatives that help keep them “fresh” for years. Although so-called healthy cereals may contain more nutritious ingredients, they often contain similar chemical additives as well as sweeteners. Why not try your hand at making your own 100% natural cereal made with nuts, seeds, grains and dried fruit, and without the unnecessary extras? Well you can, and I can tell you how.
My healthy cereals are loaded with protein, healthy fats, complex carbohydrates and fiber. They are high in many vitamins such as A, B, C, E and K and a variety of important minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. They also contain dried fruit to add just the right touch of sweetness, eliminating the need for added sweeteners.
To make your own healthy Seedy Cereal, combine the following ingredients in a glass jar and shake gently to combine. All ingredients can be found at the Bulk Barn or at any health food store:
- 4 tbsp. buckwheat groats
- 4 tbsp. rolled oats
- 4 tbsp. unsweetened shredded coconut
- 4 tbsp. pumpkin seeds
- 4 tbsp. hemp hearts
- 4 tbsp. chia seeds
- 4 tbsp. chopped walnuts
- 5 tbsp. raisins
Add ¼ cup of Seedy Cereal to milk, yoghurt or your favorite non-dairy milk 5 to 10 minutes before breakfast, or soak overnight and start your day with a nutrient packed breakfast that will leave you feeling satisfied for hours. Experiment with other combinations of nuts, seeds and dried fruit and feel free to top with fresh fruit or drizzle with maple syrup or honey if you prefer a sweeter cereal.
Healthy Blueberry Banana Muffins
Do you ever buy a muffin at a coffee shop between meals and think you’re getting a healthy snack? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but a typical coffee shop muffin is usually no healthier than a donut. On the bright side, my Blueberry Banana Muffins contain no added sugar or fat, are good for you and taste great. Satisfy that mid-afternoon sweet craving at a fraction of the cost with one of these scrumptious snacks.
- 2 cups whole wheat or spelt flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ¼ tsp. sea salt
- 4 overripe bananas, mashed (about 1½ cups)
- ¾ cup yoghurt
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and generously grease a muffin tin (avoid using muffin cups since there is no added oil causing muffins to stick)
-Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk until well combined
-Combine wet ingredients (except blueberries) in a medium sized bowl and whisk until well combined
-Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix until just combined (don’t over-mix if using spelt flour). Add blueberries and mix gently
-Pour batter into muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean
I challenge you to take your health into your own hands and experiment with some of these healthy recipes. You may be surprised at just how easy and economical it is to include healthier foods and snacks into your day.