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Vegetable and Barley Soup



Once you have your stock made; any soup is an option. I have a few soups listed under Recipes or there are a few hundred million listed online to choose from.

By the way, while I’m here, I’ve discovered something about Pinterest. Pinterest is incredibly wonderful for some things but not good for food. From time to time, I’ve found something interesting on Pinterest that I want to make and it never works out. I realize that’s because people are pinning things to try; they aren’t tried and tested recipes. Maybe I’m a bit late to the game but I thought I’d share my “duh” moment with you. Food52.com is a great site that is way more reliable. As is allrecipes.com and epicurious.com.

A vegetable and barley soup is a hearty meal that will boost your immune system and keep you satiated. It has beans in it, making it a complete protein; you can add in some whole grain bread to soak up the bowl. Add a little butter and you have a delicious meal.

Vegetable and Barley Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, diced
4 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery with leaves, diced (reserve leaves separately)
3 bay leaves
½ tsp dried thyme
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
28oz can plum tomatoes, with juice
¾ cup pot barley
3 cups thinly sliced kale or spinach (optional)
19oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
Dash hot sauce
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper(to taste)


Heat oil in heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables are soft and golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add bay leaves, thyme, stock, tomatoes with juices and barley. Stir, breaking up tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

If using, stir in kale or spinach and simmer for a further 10 minutes, or until leaves have wilted. Stir in beans, celery leaves, hot sauce and seasoning.

Discard bay leaves and thin soup if necessary with more stock or water. Raise heat to high and cook for about 2 minutes or until beans are warmed through.

Recipe adapted from The Toronto Star


Happy March 1st!


It’s finally here. March is finally here. Just one more week until we “spring forward”. Now there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Although this is welcome news, we still have a long way to go and getting through the Spring we need to ensure that our immune system is up to scratch to protect from those Springtime bugs that come up with the flowers as the temperature rises.

The best way to improve the the immune system is to eat whole foods and avoid processed foods. Garlic, onions, mushrooms, ginger and honey are all fabulous. As well, some spices such as oregano, cinnamon, cloves and turmeric.

How to incorporate as many of these as possible is to make a soup, perfect for this time of year. Using your own stock is even better and will fix up any sniffles over the next few weeks.

Start a day earlier by roasting a chicken. A whole lot easier than it sounds. In a baking dish, drizzle the bottom with olive oil and place the chicken on top. In the cavity, put in some salt, pepper, lemon quarters and whole garlic cloves. On the outside, rub some salt, pepper and extra-virgin olive oil under the skin and on top of the skin. Cover with foil and place in a preheated oven (350ºF) for 1 hour. Remove foil and cook for a further 15 minutes until the chicken is browned and the juices run clear.

Save all the bones from the roast chicken. If you are not making the stock right away, save the bones in the fridge. When you are ready, place the bones in a pot and add in a carrot, roughly chopped onion, garlic cloves, salt and pepper and whole sprigs of parsley. Cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for one hour. Cool and strain into a jar and keep in the fridge.

This is the best stock you can use for soup, a guaranteed flavourful soup full of immune boosting nutrients.

Top up your immunity further by taking a good quality probiotic in the morning, a drop of vitamin D (1000IU) and a teaspoon of pharmaceutical grade fish oil.

Then. Get Ready for Spring!

Winterize Your Greens


I think I can safely say that summer is behind us. Fall is almost behind us. It’s time to adjust our diets to cater to the colder months. According to traditional healing systems, such as Chinese and Ayuervedic medicine, our bodies need cooling foods in the hot months and warming foods in the colder months. Realistically, we often eat the same foods year round but when you think of these cooling and warming foods, it makes a lot of sense.

Cooling foods are more of the raw fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits and leafy, crunchy vegetables. Warming foods require more cooking or preservation. Tomato sauces, lentils, winter squash, cabbage and dried fruits are all warming foods. Garlic and Ginger are both warming while curry is cooling. That seems counter-intuitive but if you ever eat a curry in mid-winter and then go outside, you will soon realize that you aren’t as warm as you were before you ate the curry.

Meat, dairy, eggs and heavier foods such as butter, cream, chocolate and whole grains such as barley lend themselves much better to the winter months but vegetables are just as important and shouldn’t be neglected. It’s just a matter of switching. For example, a staple in the summer, salad, can become cooked winter greens so there is no excuse to give-up the greens in the winter months. The nutrients they provide are all the more important to fend of the cold and flu bugs.

Although, lettuce doesn’t lend itself well to being cooked, kale, swiss chard and bok choy does. Very well. Steamed kale with a drizzle of tamari and olive oil is delicious. Sauteed bok choy is super simple and probably easier – and quicker – to put together than a salad in the summer.

bok choy low res

Warmed greens in minutes. Bok choy is sauteed in butter and drizzled with tamari and olive oil.





School Snacks


Do a google search for packed lunches or school snacks and there are always a ton of great suggestions for peanut butter. I’m not sure where these “peanut-friendly” schools are, but they certainly aren’t around me. The schools I know of, either my local ones or schools where my friends’ kids go are completely nut-free.

Now my little one’s nursery school is taking it one step further. A child at this school is severely allergic to milk and eggs. Since we are talking about 3 year olds who can’t be trusted to wash their hands meticulously and clean up after themselves meticulously (actually I’d just take clean up after themselves), it’s safer to keep all dairy out of the classroom.

So we end up with a selection that are nut-free and dairy free. Oh ya? What exactly are these snacks?

It’s not as hard as it seems to come up with ideas. I have some suggestions but bear in mind that there are a great deal of alternatives available for existing recipes. Nuts do not include seeds so you can substitute seed butters and non-dairy milks.

1. How to Adapt an Existing Recipe:

– Milk can always be replaced with a dairy free alternative. For baking, coconut milk works really well and if you choose the unsweetened kind, you won’t affect the sweetness.

– Butter can be replaced with coconut oil or a vegan alternative such as Earth Balance.

– Eggs are trickier but my go-to substitutions are either mashed banana or ground flax seed. Both work as binders. For each egg, use a 1/2 mashed banana (about a 1/4 cup).  Or mix 1 tbsp flax seed with 3 tbsp water. Let it stand and once it starts to gel, add it to the recipe.

2. Resources for a Vegan Recipe:

Angela Liddon from Oh She Glows is nothing short of genius. She’s just published a book (and had a baby) but still keeps her blog going. She recently wrote a post on school snacks and offers alternatives to any nuts that are in a recipe. Since this post, I’ve been using a lot more sunflower butter (with a dash of sweetener added) to replace almond butter.
Click here for the post “21 Portable Allergy-Friendly Snack Recipes”.

The resource section of my blog also includes other options, including Jae Steele’s Get It Ripe cookbook and Sweet Freedom by Ricki Heller.

3. Some easy ideas:

– Top dollar size cold pancakes with applesauce and cinnamon.

– Cut a banana into bite sized pieces. Dip in fruit juice and roll in wheatgerm.

– Carrot sticks dipped in hummus.

– Stack apple pieces and pineapple chunks on a toothpick.

– Top a wholegrain cracker with apple butter. Add a chunk of banana on top.

4. Wraps are a great idea that doesn’t have to mean a main meal. A wholegrain wrap can be made savoury using hummus, ham slices and slices of red pepper. Or a sweet version using sunflower seed butter and apple butter.

5. Smoothies are something I love doing for kids snacks and it’s often popular as well.  Start with 1 cup coconut water and 1-2 bananas. Follow up with whatever fruit you have on hand. I often keep a stack of mango, strawberries and a selection of other berries in the freezer when the season runs low. You can also add a dollop of soy yogurt, pumpkin seed butter or a tablespoon of hemp seeds for some added protein. Sneak in a handful of washed spinach if you dare!


6. Purchased snacks. Enjoy Life is a brand that offers snacks that are free from the top 12 allergens in Canada.  They also have recipe ideas on their website enjoylifefoods.com.
Check the ingredients list on anything else that you purchase. An ingredients list that includes any of the following will NOT be safe for a milk allergy:

  • Beta-lactoglobulin
  • Casein, rennet casein
  • Caseinate (ammonium caseinate, calcium caseinate, magnesium caseinate, potassium caseinate, and sodium caseinate)
  • Delactosed or demineralized whey
  • Hydrolyzed casein
  • Lactalbumin and lactalbumin phosphate
  • Lactoferrin, lactoglobulin
  • Whey and whey protein concentrate

And the following ingredients indicate presence of egg:

  • Albumin, albumen
  • Conalbumin
  • Egg substitutes, for example, Egg Beaters
  • Globulin
  • Livetin
  • Lysozyme
  • Ovo (means egg), for example, ovalbumin, ovomucin, ovotransferrin
  • Silico-albuminate
  • Vitellin

* Information sourced from Health Canada.

I will leave you with 3 recipes that fit the criteria of nut-free, dairy-free and egg-free without losing any of the taste!


Applesauce Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


1/2 cup coconut or soy milk
1 cup applesauce
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp ground flax seed
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tbsp lemon zest
1 cup raisins or currants (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a 12 cup muffin pan or two 12 cup mini-muffin pan or line with paper liners.

Mix wet ingredients and flax seeds, set aside.

Combine dry ingredients and then add wet ingredients.

Add raisins if using. Fold together until just combined. Do not over mix.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan(s), filling each cup approximately 3/4 full. Bake unit la toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean (20 to 25 minutes for large muffins, 12 to 15 minutes for mini-muffins).

Let the muffins cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

Recipe from from Caroline Dupont Enlightened Eating

Crispy Oat Squares
(adapted from Angela Liddon’s Granola Bar)

1.5 cups rolled oats (not quick)
1 cup rice crisp cereal
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
6 tbsp brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup non-dairy mini chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life brand, optional)


Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper, one going each way so it’s easy to lift out.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, rice crisp cereal, sunflower seeds, coconut, and chia seeds.


In a medium pot over low heat, melt the coconut oil. Remove from heat and stir in the sunflower seed butter, brown rice syrup and vanilla, until smooth.

Pour wet mixture over dry and stir well until thoroughly combined. Add a pinch of salt to taste and stir again.


Spoon mixture into the pan and roughly spread out (but don’t pack down yet). Sprinkle on the chocolate chips in an even layer. Wet hands lightly and then press down the mixture until even. Use a pastry roller to roll it out and pack it in even more.


Transfer pan to the freezer for about 10 minutes until firm. Slice into bars, wrap, and store in the fridge or freezer.

Note: It’s not recommended swapping the brown rice syrup for any other liquid sweetener. Other sweeteners won’t be sticky enough to bind the bars.

Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2014/05/23/no-bake-almond-joy-granola-bars/#ixzz3FZ7aP1jK

Banana Cookies

  • Servings: 15 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3 ripe bananas
2 cups rolled oats (not quick)
1 cup pitted dates or figs, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mash the bananas and stir in the oats, dates, oil and vanilla. Mix well and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

A final note, this doesn’t just have to be for kids. Any of these snacks are perfect for the office too!