Healthy Meals and Snacks!

Thank you so much for allowing me this opportunity to do a guest post for you all! I feel very privileged and honoured to have been asked!
 So, my topic is healthy meals and snacks. While I am definitely not a health expert, I am very interested and passionate about health and wellness! I love reading about it, talking about it, hearing about it, researching it… get the idea!
I think many of us have something like a love/hate relationship with health. We love the idea. We love the changes it brings to our lives and our waistlines, but we sometimes hate it because it’s hard, and can be overwhelming and not always fun. It takes effort, diligence, consistency, self-control……And many take on the attitude that ignorance is bliss.” What I don’t know won’t hurt me. I’d rather not research healthier ways of eating because I might learn of some changes I need to make and then, if I don’t make those changes, my conscience won’t let me rest, but the truth of the matter is, I DON’T WANT TO CHANGE!” Sound familiar? I’ve been there! I know it’s hard! Even now, it’s a daily battle. A daily choice to say no to foods that will hinder me and to say yes to foods that will nourish and heal me.  Do I always make the best choices? No! But I get up and continue on! That’s the most important thing…..continue on! Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep reaching forward to your goal! I also want to say that as Christians, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Ghost. We are not our own. We belong to Him. Our bodies belong to Him. It would not be good stewardship to have the “ignorance is bliss attitude” and neglect learning and researching because we don’t want to make any changes. We cannot separate this area of health and taking care of our bodies, from our spiritual lives. We are to love God with all our strength and I believe this is part of it!

My journey to better health began probably around the time we had our first child. I (as most parents) wanted the best for my child. I was determined to feed him healthy, wholesome foods. So I began researching different things and it didn’t take long for me to feel very overwhelmed! So many different opinions and viewpoints! And everyone is so sure their way of eating is right! Vegetarian, vegan, paleo, raw food only, high fat diet, low fat diet, on and on it goes. Who’s right? Who do you listen to? So many times I would make a change in our diet only to read an article awhile later that stated the complete opposite! It was very frustrating and many times I felt like “What’s the point? Why even try?” But, I also knew I couldn’t just let it go. I knew our health was important and, to me, what I fed my children and taught them about health was just as important as teaching them life lessons in any other area of their lives. Over time, my husband and I began to see several things all these different diets and fads did have in common. Though they all disagreed in many areas, there were at least three they did agree on.
  1. Stay away from processed foods.
  2. Stay away from refined sugars and flours.
  3. Stay away from bad oils and fats.
And so, this became our starting point. Slowly, bit by bit, I learned how to cook healthier meals that did not include these ingredients. I learned how to bake using whole wheat flour and healthier sweeteners such as honey, maple syrup and stevia. I learned how to incorporate oils such as coconut and olive into my meals. And I learned to make more things at home, from scratch, instead of buying them in cans. That’s not to say that I never  use/eat these other foods (I know some other crunchy mamas would gasp should they see some of the items in my pantry and fridgeJ), but we limit them and are much more conscious of what we are putting into our bodies. And so, I would encourage you, too, to begin here.  Cut back or even eliminate what you can. Think about what you are putting into your grocery cart. Put together a new collection of recipes with healthier alternatives! But remember, food is meant to be enjoyed! Your food does not have to be bland or strange. Tweak your recipes until you and your family are satisfied…..with the flavour and with the health benefits it has. Yes, you will need to retrain your taste buds and  there will be some things you and your family will have to acquire the taste for (kombucha tea being the newest one for us!) , but in general you should be looking forward to meal times and enjoying the food you eat! I also want to add here to please make sure your husband is on board with you! Don’t forge ahead without his blessing! If there’s changes you want to make but he’s not quite there yet, sit down and talk about it together. Share your desires and concerns. Share with him what you’ve been learning and why you want to implement these changes. And then, wait and pray. Our ultimate goal is not to live a healthy lifestyle, but rather, to glorify God in all we do! If, in the midst of your passion and drive to make healthy choices, you trample on your husband and dishonour him, it is done in vain. It is not worth it. Move forward together! Go on this journey together! Learn together! You might have to wait a few years longer than you would like, but it will be much more enjoyable and honourable if you can do it together!!!!!
                Please remember, this is a journey. Don’t try to change your entire way of eating overnight! Take baby steps and make goals that are doable for YOU! Be reasonable and practical with yourself.  Don’t worry about what others are doing or what they will say if you continue to eat such and such. Or that you’re not as far as so and so is. Or you’re not as knowledgeable. This is your journey and it will look different than anyone else’s. The point is that you are moving FORWARD! Even if you only make one change a year, you are moving forward! So don’t allow this to overwhelm you or discourage you and don’t go the other extreme where it becomes an obsession. Be moderate and balanced in all you do. And have fun! Don’t feel you have to stop with the above three suggestions. There is a whole new, fascinating world out there waiting to be explored!
                I’m now going to share some recipes/ideas for snacks and desserts that our family has come to enjoy. Well, a few are some only I have come to enjoy J
The first is a healthier version of a Reece’s peanut butter cup. It took me awhile to make it because the base is made of chickpeas, but when I finally tried it, I was pleasantly surprised.

  • 1 ½ cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • Up to ¼ cup milk
  • Sweetener of choice (amt. will depend on which sweetener you choose)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips
Add all ingredients in food processor, process until very smooth. Mix in chocolate chips. Spoon into paper lined muffin tins. Top with melted chocolate and freeze until firm. Eat immediately upon taking out of freezer, otherwise they get very messy!

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ plus 1/8 tsp stevia
  • 6 large eggs
  • ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 6 tbsp butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350. Mix dry ingredients. In separate bowl, beat eggs and mix in remaining wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and whisk until there are no lumps. Pour into cupcake liners. Bake for 15-20 minutes. Add topping of your choice.

  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • ½ cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup coconut
  • ½ cup ground flax
  • 3 cups oatmeal
Mix together and form into balls. Refrigerate. Experiment with other add ins! Sometimes I’ll add in cocoa powder for chocolaty balls. Other ones I’ve done: cinnamon, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, different nuts….

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 ½ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup gluten free flour mix
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
Melt coconut oil in warm pan. Whisk first four ingredients together in a bowl. Slowly pour in coconut oil, whisking together.  Mix dry ingredients and add to wet ingredients until just combined. Cook on greased griddle, adding nuts or blueberries if desired.

I could go on and on! You need not despair. There are soooo many recipes out there with healthy alternatives! Just be willing to take time to search for them and brave enough to try them out! One more recipe and then I’m done. This is one of the newer ones I’ve tried. I’ve been gluten free for about 5 months now and that has brought my journey to a whole new level! The following is a keeper for me!

  • 1 large head cauliflower ( process in food processor until it resembles rice)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups cheese ( I did a combination of mozzarella and marble)
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
Cook cauliflower, salt and water 5-6 minutes, until soft. Cool completely. Squeeze out ALL water using a dish towel. Mix in cheese and eggs. Add other spices, if desired. Line pizza pan with parchment paper (NOT optional!). Spread out crust with fingers (makes 2). Bake 30-40 minutes, until lightly browned. Add toppings of choice and return to oven and broil until cheese is melted.

That’s it! Give these recipes a try and let me know in the comments how it went!   
Enjoy your journey to health and wellness!!!!

Helen Penner

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