Author Archives: juliaiman

Yummy Healthy Kid Friendly Snack Recipes with Julia

The holidays are over and the kids are back to school! Early mornings are back, schedules are getting more hectic and after schools snackers are on the prowl. Kids function much better with a healthy diet, so now is the perfect time to start thinking about how to make your kid’s school snacks healthier.  After school is an important snacking time as well. Imagine if your kids could prepare their own healthy snacks! Some basic healthy snack guidelines include low sugar, whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and home-made items. Healthy food is not as complicated as some people believe. Just eat REAL food; nothing packaged, processed or refined! Here are a few snack ideas to consider:

Nut Free Granola

Ingredients: 2 cups rolled or steel cut oats (not instant), 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/4 cup toasted sunflower seeds, 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries, 1/2 cup dried apples (I recommend using broken-up apple chips), 1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup honey, brown rice syrup or dark maple syrup

Directions: 1) Toss all ingredients together until evenly coated and then pour out into a baking pan. I use a large roasting pan, as it keeps everything contained. A cookie sheet with a lip also works, but you will have to stir more carefully. 2) Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, turning it with a spatula every ten minutes or so. The granola is finished when it is an even golden brown.

Note: You can store this granola for approximately 1 week. This is a great breakfast or snack option.  Just add yogurt and fruit.


Ingredients: 1 avocado (mashed), 1 tomato (chopped), ½ red onion (chopped), Sea salt and pepper (to taste), Juice of ¼ lemon.


Mix all ingredients together and eat with brown rice chips or tortilla chips, or as a topping for tacos or fajitas.

Spinach Hummus:

Ingredients: 1-2 cloves of garlic (based on preference), 1.5 cups of prepared chickpeas (or 14oz can if necessary), 5tbsp olive oil, 3tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed, 2tbsp tahini (optional), 1cup fresh spinach, Sea Salt (to taste).

Directions: Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until creamy and smooth. If you are having trouble blending, add more olive oil. Taste and modify if need be by adding more lemon juice, salt or olive oil.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies:

Ingredients: 2 cups rolled oats, (not instant), 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour, 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp salt, ¾ cup unsalted butter, softened, 1 cup raw cane sugar, 2 large organic, free range eggs, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1 cup dark chocolate chips, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions: 1) Preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or grease. 2) Whisk oats, whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside. 3) In a separate bowl, beat butter in with an electric mixer until blended into a paste. Add cane sugar; continue beating until well combined. Beat in egg, then vanilla. Stir in the oat mixture with a wooden spoon until just moistened. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts. 4) With damp hands, roll 1 tablespoon of the batter into a ball, place it on a prepared baking sheet and flatten. Continue with the remaining batter, spacing the flattened balls 2 inches apart. 5) Bake the cookies until golden brown, about 16 minutes. Cool on the pans for 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Fruit Kabobs:

Ingredients: An assortment of fruit cut into bite sized cubes (melon, pineapple, strawberry, grapes, banana etc.), Organic, probiotic yogurt, Granola.

Directions: 1) Wash and cut fruit, 2) Spear fruit on skewers, alternating types of fruit evenly     3) Drizzle yogurt on top, 4) Coat in granola

Banana Blueberry or Raspberry Muffins:

Ingredients: 2 -3 bananas, mashed, 4 tbsp butter, softened, ½ cup raw cane sugar, 1 free-range, organic egg, 1 tsp vanilla, 1 cup whole wheat flour, ½ cup white flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 cup raspberries or blueberries, fresh or frozen

Directions: 1) Mash bananas and add butter, and sugar.  Beat well until mixed. 2) Add egg, vanilla and beat again 3) Mix dry ingredients together in a separate bowl 4) Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix well 5) Add berries and stir gently 6) Spoon the batter into the muffin pan, filling each cup to just below the rim 7) Bake the muffins for ~20 minutes at 350°F, or until a dry tooth-pick check.

Dream Bars:

Crust Ingredients: 1 cup whole wheat or whole spelt flour, ½ cup butter, 2 tbsp cane sugar

Topping Ingredients: 1 cup brown rice syrup, ½ cup of whole rolled oats (uncooked), ½ cup shredded coconut, ½ cup raisins and/or dried cranberries, ½ cup chopped almonds (raw preferably), ¼ cup sunflower seeds, ½ cup dark chocolate, 3 eggs, beaten, 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Directions: 1) Preheat oven to 350° (F) 2) In a small bowl, use a fork to combine the crust ingredients and press the mixture into the bottom of a lightly oiled square or round baking dish.  Bake for 15 minutes 3) Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine all the topping ingredients and mix them well 4) Pour the mixture over the partially baked crust and bake for another 15-20 minutes 5) Allow it to cool completely before cutting into bars.

Baba Ghanouj:


Ingredients: 1 eggplant, cubed and baked, 1/4 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup tahini (optional), 2 cloves garlic, minced, salt and pepper to taste, 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil.

Directions: Blend all ingredients together in blender or food processor.

Corn or Whole Wheat Tortilla Pizzas:

Ingredients: Whole wheat or corn tortillas, 1 tbsp mild salsa per tortilla, handful of grated cheese per tortilla.

Directions: Assemble tortillas and place on a baking sheet. Bake 350°F until cheese is melted. Broil for 1 minute to finish.

Apple “Sandwiches”:

Ingredients: 1-2 apples cut into rings, nut or seed butter, dark chocolate chips, home-made granola.

Directions: Spread nut or seed butter on one apple ring and place chocolate chips on top of butter. Sprinkle with granola and top with a second apple ring to make a “sandwich.”


How to Pack a Healthy Lunch with Julia

A day in the life of an elementary school child is pretty demanding! Hours of learning new information and important life skills, playing sports and running around the school grounds, socializing with friends, etc. In order for these demands to be met, a child, just like a car, needs fuel to run. The best fuel for the human body is healthy food. See below for some techniques to enhance the nutritional value of your child’s lunch box. Elyse and I like to tell kids that a healthy lunch need not be void of treats – treats are healthier if homemade and/or can be balanced if the rest of the foods in the lunch box are healthy. Remember the importance of using re-usable containers too! Cut down on ziplocks, juice boxes, packaged foods and disposable lunch bags to help out our environment!

Elyse and I recently tried out some lunch ideas with the grade one and two classes at Tennyson. They tried celery sticks with cream cheese and dried cranberries and veggie wraps in a whole grain tortilla with guacamole, red pepper strips, diced tomatoes and lettuce. The feedback? Delicious!!

Foods to Increase in the Lunch Box:

  • Whole grain breads, wraps and/or pitas
  • Low sugar snacks – yogurt, fresh fruit, dried fruit, hummus, veggies sticks, brown rice chips, cheese and crackers, unsweetened apple sauce,
  • Vegetables – in sandwiches, wraps, or with dip.
  • Healthy drinks – water, watered-down juice, smoothies, homemade lemonade, homemade herbal iced tea.
  • Homemade baked goods – muffins, cookies, granola bars.

Foods to Decrease in the Lunch Box:

  • Refined breads, wraps and/or pitas (white flour)
  • Sugary snacks – store-bought granola bars, candy, cookies, some brands of yogurt, pop-tarts, fruit roll-ups, graham crackers, kid’s cereals.
  • Foods made with bad fats and oils – deep-fried chips, cookies, crackers or other products made with hydrogenated fats.
  • Sugary drinks – fruit juice, pop, iced tea.
  • Luncheon Meats – you can buy organic deli meats, however, most conventional sliced meat is highly processed and full of additives and preservatives.
  • Store-bought baked goods – packaged muffins, cookies, granola bars (look for multiple sugars listed in the first few ingredients of a list and high fructose corn syrup).

Examples of a Healthy Lunch:

Hummus with veggies for dipping, an apple or orange slices, a home-made oatmeal chocolate chip cookie and veggie wrap (whole grain flour tortilla, avocado slices, diced tomato, shredded cheese, and red pepper strips).

Brown rice chips, celery sticks with pumpkin seed butter or cream cheese and raisins or dried cranberries, a whole grain pita filled with chicken salad or vegetables and cheese, and vanilla yogurt with sliced bananas.

Homemade raspberry-banana muffin, a fruit smoothie, cheese slices with crackers, whole grain spaghetti with tomato sauce and apple chips.

Appreciation for the Amazing Apple with Julia

It’s apple season! Those of us living in BC are so lucky to share our home with the many many varieties of apples that are grown here. Apples have become such a common food in North America that their unique qualities and health benefits have come to fly under the radar. I’m here to remind you of benefits of this amazing fruit!

Apples contain a long list of phytonutrients that function as antioxidants and support our heart health and prevent free-radical damage. To take full advantage of these powerful plant nutrients, leave the skin on your apples! Apples also contain a high percentage of fibre, both soluble and insoluble, and combination that both keeps us regular and lowers LDL (the “bad” cholesterol). Many studies have suggested that apples are specifically preventative of certain types of cancer, including breast, colon and lung. In fact, apples have stood out amongst other fruits when it comes to general support of lung function and lung health. For those of you with asthma or related symptoms, this fruit can have some protective functions.

Despite these amazing properties, there is a down-side to apples. When grown non-organically, farmers spray 25 types of pesticides on growing apples, making them the most heavily sprayed factory farmed fruit in North America. The good news is there’s a simple solution: buy organic apples. There you have it, you can have your apple and eat it too.

What’s your favourite type of apple? If you’re not sure, visit this year’s apple festival at UBC and choose from over 60 varieties

Providing Calcium without Dairy with Julia O’Loughlin

More and more children are developing allergies and sensitivities to dairy causing concern among parents that their children will have trouble receiving enough dietary calcium. Indeed, the quantity of calcium in dairy products is high, but the quality is questionable. How much calcium do we really absorb from milk? Not as much as most people think. Remember, we are what we absorb, not what we eat! Thankfully, there are many foods which, though contain a lower quantity of calcium, have calcium that is much more available to the body. These foods include:

  • Beans and nuts (particularly almonds, Brazil nuts, and walnuts)
  • Greens, especially broccoli, collards, chard, kale, parsley, watercress, spinach, and dandelion greens.
  • Okra
  • Sesame seeds and tahini
  • Soup made from a bone broth (be sure to add 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar to draw the calcium out of bones to make it available in the broth)
  • Seaweeds (particularly Wakame, Kombu and Hiziki)

For kids with dairy sensitivities or signs that an allergy is in a beginning stage, consider switching to goat’s milk dairy products. Goat’s milk is much closer to mother’s milk and has a significantly smaller chain of lactose then cow’s milk, making it easier for the body to breakdown, absorb and assimilate.

In addition to eating food sources with bioavailable calcium, it is also important to limit foods that negatively affect calcium balance in the body. These include:

  • Concentrated sugars (including honey)
  • Nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, and peppers)
  • Citrus fruits and juices
  • Vinegar (except apple cider vinegar)

How to Avoid Eating GMO Foods with Julia O’Loughlin, RHN

How to Avoid Eating GMO Foods:

The concern regarding GMO foods is increasing rapidly. More and more people are becoming aware of the high rate at which our foods are being genetically engineered and the potential negative impact these foods are having on our health. Many assume that these foods have been extensively tested, leading them to believe that GMO foods are safe. Tested for efficacy, yes; tested for human safety, no. I have heard the introduction of GMO foods be referred to as “the largest experiment to be done on mankind.” We are the guinea pigs! It is very difficult to determine whether you are purchasing and eating GMO foods as there is no labeling required. See below for a list of ways to enhance your consumer awareness to avoid purchasing GMO foods:

  • Avoid refined and packaged foods. Besides being poor for your health, they likely contain genetically modified ingredients.
  • Buy and eat organically grown foods and locally grown foods whenever possible.
  • Download “How to Avoid Genetically Engineered Food: A Greenpeace Shoppers Guide”
  • Buy products that are labeled “Non-GMO”
  • Soy, canola, corn and cotton are the largest GMO crops and should be avoided.
  • Involve yourself in the campaign to have GMO foods labeled. Demand from your government that GMO foods are labeled, join an activist organization, write a letter to your local newspaper, become informed and inform others!

Healthy Snacks for Back to School with Julia O’Loughlin, RHN

Back to school is around the corner! Mornings will get earlier, schedules will be more hectic and after schools snackers will be on the prowl. Kids function much better with a healthy diet, so now is the perfect time to start thinking about how to make your kid’s school snacks healthier.  Here are a few snack ideas to consider:

  • Homemade, nut-free granola with fruit and yogurt
  • Whole grain pita pocket stuffed with veggies, cheese and guacamole
  • Cut up veggie sticks with spinach hummus for dipping
  • Homemade oatmeal chocolate chip cookies
  • Pumpkinseed butter and apple butter cracker sandwiches
  • Homemade banana blueberry muffins
  • Homemade granola bars or “dream bars”
  • Brown rice chips with Baba Ghanouj

12 Tips to Healthier Eating

Nutrition Tips with Julia O’Loughlin, RHN

  • Eat natural foods in their whole form – Honour the synergistic combinations of vitamins and minerals that naturally occur in whole foods
  • Eat organic foods – to avoid herbacides and pesticides
  • Eat seasonal foods – These foods are fresh, local and appropriate for seasonal requirements of the body
  • Eat fresh foods – nutrient levels peak at the time of harvest; fresher foods are more nutrient-rich
  • Eat a variety of foods and rotate them – to ensure all nutrients are acquired
  • Eat in moderation – smaller meals more frequently are preferable to 3 large meals per day as this is easier on the digestive system and increases metabolism
  • Don’t eat rushed, under stressful conditions, or in front of the television – we do not properly digest food under stressful conditions and thus, nutrients are not sufficiently absorbed
  • Participate in the preparation of your food as much as possible – get acquainted with the food you eat and connect with it
  • Avoid processed, refined, and “enriched” foods – these foods are nutrient deficient and lead to nutrient debt
  • Avoid foods cooked at very high temperatures (BBQ) – damages the nutrient quality of foods and produces free radicals
  • Use plenty of beneficial oils and avoid hazardous oils – Consume organic, cold-pressed, unrefined oils (coconut, olive, and flax are particularly useful), and avoid processed, hydrogenated oils, particularly those that have been heated at high temperatures (deep fried foods).  (Never heat polyunsaturated oils – flax oil, borage oil, corn oil, safflower oil, sesame oil, sunflower oil, and evening primrose oil)
  • Chew food thoroughly – digestion for carbohydrates begins in the mouth