All posts by Allison Day

Allison Day is currently working on her 3rd cookbook, Modern Lunch (Appetite by Random House), the Taste Canada award winning blogger of YummyBeet.com, a nutritionist (R.H.N.) and food photographer. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, SHAPE, Chicago Tribune and more.

3 Fun Ways to Spice up Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Save the pumpkin seeds from your Jack ‘O Lantern this fall and bake up a crunchy, high-protein snack that you’ll be eager to add on top of soups, salads — even ice cream! Including garlic honey mustard,  maple bacon, and chocolate pumpkin spice, we’ve got three fantastic flavour combos for tasty snacks that will satisfy you all week long.

Roasted-Pumpkin-Seeds

Note: One sugar (pie) pumpkin yields approximately 1/2 cup of seeds.

Prep time: 5 minutes (per recipe)
Cook time: 30 minutes (per recipe)
Makes: 1/2 cup (per recipe)

Garlic Honey Mustard Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:
Seeds from 1 sugar pumpkin, approximately 1/2 cup, pumpkin flesh removed, rinsed, and dried well, or 1/2 cup raw, unsalted green pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp dried mustard powder
1/4 tsp granulated garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1/8 tsp salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine honey, mustard powder, garlic and salt; stir in pumpkin seeds.
3. Add coated seeds to prepared baking sheet, tossing well to combine. Spread into a single layer.
4. Roast for 25–30 minutes if using sugar (pie) pumpkin seeds or 10–15 minutes if using green pumpkin seeds, until brown and beginning to pop.
5. Cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Roasted-Pumpkin-Seeds-Baking-Sheet

Maple-Bacon Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:
Seeds from 1 sugar pumpkin, approximately 1/2 cup, pumpkin flesh removed, rinsed, and dried well, or 1/2 cup raw, unsalted green pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp bacon fat, melted
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/8 tsp salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine maple syrup, bacon fat, smoked paprika and salt; stir in pumpkin seeds.
3. Add coated seeds to prepared baking sheet, tossing well to combine. Spread into a single layer.
4. Roast for 25–30 minutes if using sugar (pie) pumpkin seeds or 10–15 minutes if using green pumpkin seeds, until brown and beginning to pop.
5. Cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Chocolate Pumpkin Spice Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Ingredients:
Seeds from 1 sugar pumpkin, approximately 1/2 cup, pumpkin flesh removed, rinsed, and dried well, or 1/2 cup raw, unsalted green pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 tsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
Pinch of salt

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, combine maple syrup, coconut oil, pumpkin spice and salt; stir in pumpkin seeds.
3. Add coated seeds to prepared baking sheet, tossing well to combine. Spread into a single layer.
4. Roast for 25–30 minutes if using sugar (pie) pumpkin seeds or 10–15 minutes if using green pumpkin seeds, until brown and beginning to pop.
5. Cool completely. Store airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Bacon-Wrapped Cheesy Jalapeño Ghouls

The thrill of stuffed jalapeños is that you never know how spicy a pepper will be — a true trick or treat! A fun twist on Halloween mummies, these crowd-pleasing ghoulish appetizers are stuffed with a creamy filling of sharp Parmesan cheese, yogurt, mustard and thyme. The ghouls are then wrapped in smoky bacon, and gain vision with diced black olives.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Serves: 4 to 8

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Ingredients:

For Filling:
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
1 tsp grainy mustard
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp dried thyme

For Assembly:
4 large jalapeños, cut lengthwise, seeds and veins removed
4 strips bacon, cut lengthwise into thin strips
2 pitted black olives, cut into small dice (for “eyes”)
Food colouring gel or melted dark chocolate (for “eyes”)

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Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line a large baking sheet with foil and add jalapeños, cut side-up.
2. In a small bowl, combine filling ingredients. Divide evenly between jalapeños and smooth out top.
3. Wrap thin strips of bacon around jalapeños, leaving a small gap near the stem for the eyes. Up to this point (precooked), you can cover and refrigerate the mummies for up to 1 day.
4. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until bacon is crispy and cheese is bubbling. Cool for 5 minutes.
5. Place two pieces of diced olive on each jalapeno (the “eyes”) in the small gap near the stem. Serve warm.

mummy pops

Spooky No-Bake Mummy Pops

No Halloween party is complete without some sweets. Pass on those classic peanut butter cups and wow your guest with homemade Halloween pops. Each bite of these yummy mummies will fill your mouth with sweet white chocolate, peanut butter and the addictive fall flavour: pumpkin spice!

Mummy Pops

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Serves: 12

Ingredients:

For the Filling
2/3 cup natural peanut butter (unsalted, unsweetened)
2 Tbsp sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pumpkin spice
1/4 tsp salt

For the Coating
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 Tbsp coconut oil

For the Mummy Eyes
Food colouring gel

Directions:

Filling
1. In a medium bowl with a spatula or spoon, vigorously stir together the filling ingredients until mixture seizes into a thick dough. Roll into 1 Tbsp-sized balls and form around wooden sticks. Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill while preparing coating.

Coating
1. In a double boiler, melt chocolate and coconut oil until liquified. Remove from heat.

Assembly
1. Dip end tip of stick into melted white chocolate and spear 1 peanut butter ball with the coated end. Dip peanut butter balls (on stick) into melted chocolate, rolling to coat. Place on cake pop rack. Repeat with remaining peanut butter balls. Chill for 30 minutes.
2. Once chilled, remove peanut butter balls from fridge. Return chocolate to heat over a double boiler. Using a spoon or fork, drizzle over chocolate to create thin mummy “bandages.” Chill for 30 minutes longer.
3. Create eyes by dotting food colouring with a toothpick. Serve. Store leftovers lightly covered in refrigerator for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

Alternative Ways to Make Coffee Shop Drinks at Home

Making your favourite coffee shop drinks at home is a great way to satisfy those in-between cafe trips. And if you’re searching for dairy milk alternatives in coffee shops due to allergies, intolerances or just to explore a range of new flavours, you may have a hard time finding exactly what you want. Here, we break down the best lactose-free milks and the popular café beverages they pair best with.

almond-milk

Lactose-Free Milks

Nut Milk: Popularly made with almonds, but trendy new varieties such as hazelnut and macadamia are equally available. Homemade nut milk is simple, but won’t be as stable when heating for beverage recipes. Look for nut milk fresh or in shelf-stable tetra packs in your local grocery store. Many cafés and even some larger chain coffee shops are now beginning to carry nut milks as a second dairy-free option along with soy milk.

Soy Milk: One of the first lactose-free, dairy-free milks to sweep the café seen, soy milk is thick, creamy and sweet. Choose unsweetened, plain varieties (or you’re getting a ton of added sugar) when purchasing for homemade coffee shop drinks. Soy milk has the most protein of all non-dairy milks, but many people avoid it due to its high amounts of phytoestrogens, which can disrupt hormone balance in both women and men.

Coconut Milk: Coconut milk is popular with larger coffee shop chains as a soy alternative because it’s not actually a nut, but a fruit. Creamy, sweet and floral, coconut milk (usually the thin beverage is used as opposed to thick canned types) compliments everything from espresso to chocolate, and heats well without curdling.

Rice Milk: Offering little in the way of nutrition, rice milk is usually purchased by those who are seeking something slightly creamy, but are allergic to nut, soy, dairy and coconut milks. Very thin, it’s not the best non-dairy milk to use for coffee shop beverages, but will still give a “milky” appearance. Other grain milks appearing on the market include oat milk and quinoa milk, which have more nutrients and a touch more creaminess (though they are more expensive).

Lactose-Free Milk: This milk is an animal product (dairy) that has had the lactose taken out of it. If you have lactose intolerance but still love the taste of dairy milk, choose this for your coffee when out and at home. Some baristas say that this milk tastes a touch sweeter than regular dairy variety. If you’re concerned about sugar, go for whole milk varieties because when it comes to dairy, the higher the milk fat percentage, the lower the sugar/carbohydrate content.

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Coffee Shop Drinks and Lactose-Free Milk Pairings

The flavours of alternative milks go wonderfully with coffee, lending sweet, nutty notes to your drinks. Here are some ideas to get your started in the flavour department.

Drink: Latte
Best With: almond milk, coconut milk beverage, soy milk or lactose-free milk.
Try this recipe for Allison Day’s Classic Pumpkin Spice Latte

Drink: Americano (Hot or Iced)
Best With: thick canned coconut milk.

Drink: Frappuccino
Best With: thick canned coconut milk.
Try this recipe for a Light Frappuccino

Drink: Macchiato
Best With: thick canned coconut milk or soy milk.

Drink: Chai Latte
Best With: coconut milk beverage, almond milk, rice milk, lactose-free milk.
Try this recipe for Bal Arneson’s Chai Latte

Drink: Cortado
Best With: soy milk, macadamia nut milk, lactose-free milk.

Drink: Cold Brew Coffee
Best With: thick canned coconut milk, soy milk.
Try this recipe for Ashley Tomlinson’s Cold Brew Coffee

Drink: Flat White
Best with: almond milk, hazelnut milk or soy milk.

Drink: Hot Chocolate
Best With: hazelnut milk (for a “nutella” flavour), almond milk, macadamia nut milk, soy milk, or thick canned coconut milk (for extra-rich hot chocolate).
Try this recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate

Drink: Cappuccino
Best With: almond milk, oat milk, soy milk, macadamia nut milk.

How to Decode Food Labels Like a Pro

There are dozens of unregulated, meaningless terms that pop up on food packaging. It’s not just convenience and processed foods that have hard-to-decipher nutrition labels and buzzwords — whole grains, eggs, milk and more display this industry slang — leaving many consumers confused about what they’re actually eating.

We’re constantly wooed by food packaging, with terms like “superfood” and “fresh” catching our eye, which is exactly what they’re designed to do. Even if you know better (for the most part), it’s easy to be swayed into purchasing something (expensive or unhealthy) that you don’t actually need.

Consider this your back pocket guide to deciphering food buzzwords like a pro.

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Food Packaging Terms:

Natural/All-Natural
Natural and all-natural labels are unregulated terms that mean absolutely nothing, and are frequently used in the wellness sphere. Packages will often showcase pastoral images of grass and farms, while keeping the colour palette in “natural” pastels. Skip anything that’s parading this label around, and look at the ingredient list — the briefer, the better.

Superfood
Another unregulated term that doesn’t legally mean anything. Superfoods often include things like cacao nibs and goji berries, which are nutrient-dense ingredients, but they won’t make you healthier per se. Eating foods rich in nutrients, like fresh vegetables and berries, is a tastier, more economical way to enjoy superfoods. Of course, if you love the taste of cacao nibs and goji berries, go ahead and eat them in moderation as part of a balanced, whole food diet.

Organic/Certified Organic
This term is very tricky and differs in Canada and the U.S. In Canada, by law, foods displaying the organic claim need to contain at least 70 per cent or more organic ingredients (grown according to organic standards), and must also mention who certified it. Foods that voluntarily stamp on the Organic Canada logo must contain at least 95 per cent organic ingredients, all of which are certified by the Organic Canada Regime. The organic ingredients in these products must be produced in accordance with Canadian Organic Standards. Imported products, from the U.S. and beyond, that claim to be organic and display the Organic Canada logo, must include the words “Product of” with the country of origin or state that it was “Imported.”

Finally, “organic” does not mean a product is healthy. A box of organic cookies and non-organic cookies will be identical in terms of sugar, fat and calories — the organic version is just more expensive.

Multigrain
Most shelf-stable bread is full of sugar and preservatives, with “multigrain” varieties rarely being the healthiest option. Many whole wheat, whole grain and multigrain varieties often have food colouring added to make them appear browner. Multigrain doesn’t always mean that the product is made with the whole grain or whole grains. Words such as “bran,” “wheat germ” and “enriched flour” may sound healthy, but they’re never used to describe whole grains.

Instead of shelf-stable varieties of bread, go for a local, naturally fermented sourdough. It’s tastier, easier to digest and won’t leave you looking for a post-carb nap. This bread can be sliced and frozen as it won’t keep on the counter for more than a day due to (thankfully) lack of preservatives.

Reduced Fat
Food product labels claiming to be “reduced fat” often have more calories, additives and stabilizers than their original version. This is most prevalent in peanut butter and cookies, with reduced fat products delivering more calories, sugar, carbohydrates and chemicals than your body knows what to do with. We suggest making your own cookies and choosing a one-ingredient peanut butter.

Immune Boosting
You can’t actually boost your immune system, so back away from any food claiming to do so. You can certainly support your immune system with a healthy diet rich in vitamins, minerals and probiotics, like these fun (label-free) Strawberry Kiwi Greek Yogurt Popsicles.

Gluten-Free
Those with celiac disease must avoid all gluten-containing grains, making the popularity of this food trend a good thing for improved accessibility and awareness. However, with only 1 per cent of the population having celiac disease, it’s likely more of a marketing move to make consumers reach for it as the “healthier” option. Like organic cookies being equally as unhealthy as the non-organic version, gluten-free foods can be more refined, sugary and chemical-laden than their gluten-containing counterparts. Head to the produce aisle for honestly gluten-free foods like kale, bananas and beets.

Fresh
When you see the word “fresh” on a food label, which is unregulated and means nothing in terms of nutrition, put it back on the shelf. For truly “fresh” foods, shop the perimeter of the grocery store, choosing foods such as vegetables, fruit, fish, meat, eggs and dairy.

Next time you head to the store, arm yourself with this cheat sheet and choose more wholesome ingredients to cook from scratch. Luckily, we have hundreds of delicious recipes to get you started with this — and that’s a statement you can trust.

Cauliflower Pizza

The Best Cauliflower Crust Rainbow Pizza

You can roast it, rice it, steam it or purée it, but our new favourite way to enjoy seasonal cauliflower is pizza. Quicker than making your own pizza dough from scratch, you’ll love this crispy, chewy cauliflower crust that serves as a sneaky way to eat more veggies.

Once you have the base down, you can customize your toppings based on the season. Use up those last few end-of-summer tomatoes with fresh basil, or pair roast squash with creamy Gorgonzola cheese. Try shredded, roast Brussels sprouts with pomegranate seeds for a comforting cool-weather dinner. Get creative with the toppings and turn this recipe into a satisfying, veggie meal for you and your family.

Cauliflower Pizza

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 4 (makes 2 pizzas)

Ingredients:

Cauliflower Crust:
1 1/2 lbs (1/2 large) cauliflower, broken into small florets
3 large eggs
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup light spelt flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp psyllium powder
1 tsp salt

Toppings:
1 cup diced yellow pepper
1 cup shredded radicchio or red cabbage
1/2 cup tomato sauce or 2 fresh tomatoes, sliced
1/2 cup thinly sliced fresh basil or ¼ cup broccoli
1/4 cup red onion
1 large carrot, julienned or shredded
1 Tbsp balsamic reduction (balsamic glaze), for drizzling

Rainbow Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Directions:
1. Arrange oven racks to accommodate 2 trays. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a food processor, pulse cauliflower until finely chopped. Add eggs and cheese; blend until combined. Transfer mixture to a large mixing bowl. Add flour, psyllium and salt; blend until combine. Place dough onto baking sheet and spread into 8-inch circle or rectangle. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. Arrange fresh toppings into any pattern you desire (get creative!). Slice and serve with a drizzle of balsamic reduction.

pizettes

3 Weeknight Dinner-Worthy Pizzettes

These decadent flatbreads will make you feel like you’re dining at a trendy gastro pub. Simple and quick enough to make on a busy weeknight, you can customize each pizzette to the diner’s taste with just a few ingredients.

Serve as an elegant appetizer or a simple main course with a side salad as the perfect way to enjoy those end-of-summer garden flavours.

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California Club Pizzette

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
1 small soft flatbread or pita or naan bread
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp berry jam (raspberry, blackberry, blueberry, etc.)
1/2 avocado pitted, peeled and sliced
2 strips cooked bacon, crumbled into large pieces
3 Tbsp shaved aged white cheddar

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place flatbread or pita or naan on a baking sheet and brush with oil. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp. Remove from oven.
2. While crust is still warm, spread with jam. Top with avocado, bacon and cheddar. Slice and serve immediately.

Apple, Prosciutto Pizzette

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:
1 small soft flatbread or pita or naan bread
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp goat cheese
1/2 apple, any variety, cored and thinly sliced
2 slices prosciutto
Small handful arugula

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place flatbread or pita or naan on a baking sheet and brush with oil. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp. Remove from oven.
1. While crust is still warm, sprinkle with goat cheese. Top with apple, prosciutto and arugula. Slice and serve immediately.

pizettes

Garden Vegetable Pizzette

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 1

Ingredients:

For the Spiced Hummus:
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/3 cup tahini
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tsp za’atar or baharat or curry powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1 (19 oz.) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp to 1/4 cup water

For the Pizzette:
1 small soft flatbread or pita or naan bread
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 carrot, shaved
1 watermelon radish, shaved or thinly sliced
Small handful salad greens such as baby kale
2 tsp balsamic reduction

Directions:

Spiced Hummus:
1. In a food processor, pulse garlic until minced. Add tahini, lemon juice, za’atar or baharat or curry powder, cumin and salt. Blend until smooth.
1. Add chickpeas and blend until combined. Add water, to thin, beginning with 2 Tbsp and adding until desired consistency. Use immediately or refrigerate airtight for up to 1 week.

Assembly:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Place flatbread or pita or naan on a baking sheet and brush with oil. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until crisp. Remove from oven.
1. While crust is still warm, spread with hummus. Top with shaved vegetables, greens and balsamic reduction. Slice and serve immediately.

11 Easy Tips for Eating Healthy on a Budget

When you’re off to college or university for the first time, you have to take care of a few things, like tuition and books. But don’t forget to take care of yourself when it comes to a healthy diet. Eating nutrient-dense foods also means better brain health, so you’ll be able to ace those exams with your eyes closed. Of course, eating wholesome, nutritious foods can be quite expensive — unless you follow these nutritionist-approved tips.

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1. Make a Meal Plan
Sketching out a meal plan for the week is essential for focused, affordable grocery shopping. If you don’t have a plan of what you’re going to make for dinner and pack for lunches, you’ll likely run out for convenience food, which costs far more than a homemade meal. If you have roommates or housemates, get them involved as well; this will make the task more fun and you can split the grocery bill.

2. Embrace Plant-Based Protein
Meat and seafood can be expensive to eat every night, so rely on canned beans and dry lentils, both wildly affordable, for a plant-based source of protein a few times a week. Canned beans can be enjoyed in a salad, dressed up with a bit of spice for a salsa or mashed as a quesadilla filling. Lentils cook up in less than 30 minutes, and can cost less than $5 for a large bag at the grocery store.

3. Make Coffee At Home
Make coffee at home throughout the week and save your café-going for weekends and exam season. Depending on your order, you could be saving about $20 per week. You don’t even need a bulky coffee machine, just a kettle and French press. This guide from Detour Coffee shows you how to make a French press coffee at home (or in a dorm room). Pack in a travel mug and you’re all set for that early morning lecture.

4. Cook Once, Eat Twice
Make a double batch of your dinner and stop paying upwards of $8 for lunch tomorrow. Though I’ve been out of university for many years now, I’ve kept to this this habit in my working life. I make a large stew, like this Spicy Red Lentil Vegetable Stew (serves 8!) on Sunday to eat for lunch the following week.

5. Invest in Locking Glass Containers
These can cost a bit more than plastic containers up front, but unless you break the glass (which is very hard to do), you don’t have to replace them as often, if ever. I’ve been using my glass containers for many years and continue to pack them up with homemade meals for affordable days out and about. Pack yogurt, fruit and granola in them for breakfast, grain salads, sandwiches or leftovers for lunch, or snacks for late night cram sessions.

6. Stick to Classic Superfoods
Healthy ingredients like broccoli, bananas, beets, onions, sunflower seeds, raisins, eggs, lentils, black beans and plain yogurt aren’t expensive, and remain some of the most wholesome foods you can eat. You don’t have to eat all those hyped-up superfoods to be healthy, so keep it simple with the classics.

7. Skip the Pre-Packaged and Prepared Foods
You can make a salad yourself for about $1 (maybe even less) and skip the $8-plus pre-made salad from the store. Buy a large pack of lettuce to last the week and garnish with hardboiled eggs, chopped cucumber, sunflower seeds and dried fruit. Olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a bit of salt are all the ingredients you need to dress it up. Some salads, like this hearty Kale and Quinoa salad from Valerie Bertinelli, can be kept pre-made in the refrigerator all week long.

8. Visit the Bulk Food Store
I love getting spices from a bulk food store or bulk bins at the grocery store. I can purchase very small quantities if I know I’m not going to use it very often or I’m just looking to “sample” it in a new recipe. Small quantities of spices, which can really add a load of flavour to a meal, can cost under a dollar, compared to jarred spices, which can run you $5 or more per jar.

9. Your New Favourite Snack
Apples and peanut butter are where it’s at. Go for natural, unsalted peanut butter, and season it yourself. If you have it handy, a sprinkle of cinnamon makes this feel gourmet. Protein, fibre, healthy fats and a bit of salty-sweet crunch make apples and peanut butter a snack that almost feels like dessert.

10. Eat Seasonally
Eat produce that’s in season and local in your area. In-season foods, like apples appearing in fall, for instance, are often more affordable than out-of-season produce or produce flown from across the world.

11. Student Discount Days
Often, university and college towns and cities will have days of the week (usually a weekday), where students are offered a discount. Though you’ll likely face a crowd, this savings can really pay off on your final bill.

vegan churro donuts

Drool-Worthy Vegan Churro Donuts

There’s nothing like biting into a fresh, still-warm donut. But you don’t need to be at the coffee shop at the crack of dawn to enjoy this heavenly treat.

Fresh donuts at home (hold the deep fryer) can be yours in under an hour with this chocolate-filled recipe. This version provides the same warm, cinnamon flavours (and requisite chocolate pairing) as traditional churros, but in a healthier package.

Bonus: This tasty version of the popular cinnamon treat has no eggs or milk, meaning vegans and non-vegans alike can relish in this delicious homemade dessert.

churro donuts

Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 32 minutes
Makes: 12 donuts

Ingredients:

For the Vegan Churro Donuts:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp psyllium powder or ground flax meal
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk or water
1/4 cup grapeseed oil or olive oil (not extra-virgin), plus more for pan
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

For the Cinnamon Sugar:
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 tsp cinnamon

For the Dark Chocolate Glaze:
1/3 cup finely chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips
2 tsp coconut oil

For the White Chocolate Glaze:
1/3 cup finely chopped white chocolate or white chocolate chips
2 tsp coconut oil

churro vegan donuts

Directions:

Vegan Churro Donuts:
1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Lightly grease a 12-count non-stick mini donut pan with oil. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, psyllium powder, salt, baking powder and cinnamon. Stir in almond milk or water, oil and vinegar.
3. Spoon batter into prepared donut pan, filling all the way to the top.
4. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until donut are puffed and bounce back when touched. Cool for 5 minutes.

Cinnamon Sugar:
1. In a small bowl, combine sugar and cinnamon.
2. Tap out donuts from pan and roll in cinnamon sugar while still warm (there will be extra, which is used to garnish later). Place donuts on a plate.

Dark and White Chocolate Glaze:
1. Melt dark chocolate and coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat or briefly (20 to 30 seconds) in the microwave. Follow the same instruction for white chocolate.

Assembly:
1. Using a spoon, drizzle either dark or white (or both) glaze over donuts. Sprinkle with remaining cinnamon sugar. Serve immediately or let chocolate set. Store leftovers airtight at room temperature.

Cauliflower Bites with Turmeric Yogurt

Bright and Bold Moroccan-Spiced Cauliflower Bites

Turn a head of cauliflower into a flavourful and healthy appetizer in less than 30 minutes.

This meat-free “wing-style” dish will entice even the most discerning carnivore with its full flavour profile. Turmeric gives this dish it’s bright yellow hue, combined with cinnamon, pepper, cumin and thyme, for a fragrant spice combo you’ll want to use on more veggies. Serve as a quick party appetizer or as part of a larger meal as a tempting veggie side dish.

Cauliflower Bites
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 4 to 6

Ingredients:

Moroccan-Spiced Cauliflower Bites:
1 head cauliflower, cored and cut into bite-size florets
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Turmeric Yogurt Dip:
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 clove garlic, minced

To Serve:
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or diced green onion

Directions:

Moroccan-Spiced Cauliflower Bites:
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF.
2. In a large bowl, toss all cauliflower ingredients until florets are evenly coated. Spread on a baking sheet.
3. Roast for 18 to 20 minutes until cauliflower is tender and beginning to brown on the bottom.

Turmeric Yogurt Dip:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk all dip ingredients until uniformly yellow. 2. Transfer to a serving bowl. Use immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Stir before serving.

To Serve:
1. Arrange cauliflower on a platter, sprinkle with cilantro or green onion, and serve warm or room temperature alongside dip.

Quick and Easy Greek Pita Pizzas

These bright, flavourful and healthy Greek-inspired pita pizzas are a great meatless meal. Whole wheat pitas are topped with a zippy whipped feta made with Greek yogurt, and a refreshing cucumber-tomato salad.

The perfect size for a light lunch or dinner, these healthy pizza rounds could also be served as a tasty appetizer; instead of making individual pizzas, serve the whipped feta topped with cucumber salad in a bowl for dipping. There’s no wrong way to enjoy this fresh bite!

greek-pita-pizzas-1

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 4

Ingredients:
Pitas:
4 whole-wheat pitas
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Whipped Feta:
4 oz. feta, roughly crumbled
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
2 tsp lemon juice or white wine

Tomato Cucumber Salad:
1 English cucumber, diced
2 roma or plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp chili flakes
1/4 tsp salt

Serving:
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
2 Tbsp toasted pine nuts or chopped toasted walnuts

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Directions:

Cucumber Salad:
Toss all Tomato Cucumber Salad ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside.

Whipped Feta:
1. Add feta, yogurt and lemon juice (or wine) to a food processor or high-speed blender. Puree until smooth and creamy.
2. Transfer to a bowl, cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Pitas:
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Place pitas on a large baking sheet. Brush with olive oil.
3. Bake in oven for 10 minutes, until crispy.

Assembly:
1. Spread each pita with a thick layer of whipped feta and top with cucumber salad, pine nuts or walnuts and oregano.
2. Slice into wedges and serve immediately.

Beet Hummus

Bright and Beautiful Beet Hummus

Brighten up your summer nights with this vibrant hummus. The punchy dip gets a natural fuchsia face-lift with the help of a sweet summertime staple: beets!

If you’ve been to the farmer’s market lately, you’ve likely seen the deep garnet beauties piled high, ready for roasting, sauteing and spiralizing. But before you pop those colourful gems into the oven, consider this tasty snack. The beets require no pre-cooking, but can be roasted if you prefer. Enjoyed with pita wedges, on toast, with vegetables and so much more, you’ll keep finding a home for this addictive dip in your kitchen.

Beet Hummus

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:

Hummus:
1 raw beet, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed if using canned
¼ cup tahini
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (preferably aged)
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp salt

Serving:
Whole wheat pita bread
Thinly sliced radishes
Sesame seeds
Fresh herbs of choice

Directions:

Hummus:
1. Pulse beet and garlic in a food processor until finely minced. Add remaining hummus ingredients and puree until smooth.
2. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Assembly:
1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Place pitas on a baking tray and warm for approximately 7 minutes, or until desired temperature.
3. Remove from oven and slice into wedges.
4. Serve with hummus, garnished with radishes, sesame seeds and herbs.

10 Pantry Staples This Nutritionist Can’t Live Without

Keeping a well-stocked pantry is always a top priority — menu planning and impromptu meals are made easy when I have what I need at hand. Building a healthy pantry takes time and can be overwhelming to shop for in one go, so start small. Go for one or two of the following recommendations and before you know it, a treasure trove of healthy cooking goodies will be at your disposal. The bulk food store is your best friend in the case for many of these goods, so stock up.

From canned beans to oils to grains to natural sweeteners, here’s a list of nutrient-filled pantry stars you should bring into your kitchen today.

1. Coconut Oil

The virgin variety of coconut oil, known for its luscious tropical taste, is heat-stable up to 350°F. I like to use this in place of butter for dairy-free baking, in smoothies, to sauté vegetables and as a foundation for coconut milk-based curries by toasting the spices in it. Coconut oil is one of my favourite ways to incorporate some healthy fats into my daily diet.

Try coconut oil in place of butter in pastry: Vegan Sweet Potato and Kale Galette with Pistachio Parmesan

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2. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

EVOO contains anti-inflammatory monounsaturated fats and cell-protecting antioxidants. I use the extra-virgin variety for salad dressings, to garnish soups and grains, and even bake with it. More refined “light” olive oils are better for high-temperature roasting (325°F plus) as they’re less likely to oxidize.

Try baking with EVOO: Zucchini Olive Oil Cake with Mandarin Orange Glaze and Walnut Olive Brittle

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3. Apple Cider Vinegar

I keep apple cider vinegar handy to perk up just about any savoury meal. It goes especially well in salad dressings, and can brighten up a bean soup without added salt. “Raw” unpasteurized apple cider vinegar contains probiotics for a healthy immune system, making it a pantry must-have.

Use apple cider vinegar to brighten up a whole grain salad: Quinoa, Roasted Eggplant and Apple Salad with Cumin Vinaigrette

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4. Raw Nuts and Seeds

I keep raw chia, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin and hemp seeds in my refrigerator for quick nutrient boosters for any meal, whether it’s a bowl of oats or addition to a salad. Nuts such as almonds, walnuts and cashews get a workout in my homemade granolas, trail mix and homemade nut butters. Nuts and seeds are rich in healthy fats, protein and minerals, so I make sure to have at least a handful (all unsalted) every day.

Turn chia seeds into a creamy, dairy-free dessert: Berry Chia Seed Pudding

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5. Chickpeas

If I don’t have beans and legumes in my cupboard, I may go into full-on panic mode. I buy canned chickpeas (and cook my own when I’m feeling ambitious) for quick soups, stews, salads, vegan “fudge” and homemade hummus. Instead of egg or chicken, I mash chickpeas with mayonnaise and lemon for a chickpea salad to add between whole grain bread or tuck inside a wrap – it’s a quick, make-ahead lunch.

Have chickpeas this weekend for brunch: Smoky Chickpeas on Grilled Toast with Poached Eggs & Zahtar

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6. Whole Grains

I buy whole grains in bulk so I can try a small portion of each one. Millet, quinoa, short-grain brown rice and large-flake oats are my top picks, all delivering a unique nutritional profile. If you have a blender, you can grind your own gluten-free and whole grain flours for baking (for this, I recommend oats, millet or quinoa). Build a grain bowl, make a porridge or pudding, bake a cake, toss a salad, stir into a soup or stew — the sky’s the limit with whole grains.

Replace white rice with whole grain millet in risotto: Millet, Kale and Lemon Risotto 

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7. Whole Grain Pasta

Sometimes, only pasta will do. I buy spelt, kamut or gluten-free brown rice noodles in every shape and size available (I really love pasta!). To watch portion size, I’ll enjoy 2 to 3 ounces (dry weight) and fill it out with plenty of low-starch vegetables and some protein, like a fried or poached egg — and probably some cheese on top.

Bulk up whole grain pasta with lean greens and meaty mushrooms: Whole Grain Spaghetti With Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms

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8. Maple Syrup

I have a moderate sweet tooth and usually try to satiate it with fresh fruit (apples or bananas with peanut butter is my afternoon go-to). However, I always keep real maple syrup, preferably grade B “medium” for its full-bodied taste, in my kitchen. It is a great addition to granola, sweetening up Greek yogurt, baking, stir-fry sauces, beverages, as well as an obligatory topper for whole grain spelt pancakes and waffles.

Enhance your healthy comfort food dinner sides with maple syrup (and EVOO!): Maple Mashed Sweet Potatoes

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9. Dried Herbs & Spices

If I want to add flavour to any meal and also bump up the nutritional prowess, I head on over to my spice cabinet. Like whole grains, I buy small portions of dried herbs and spices in bulk, for the most variety and best price. Dried herbs and spices contain lesser-known antioxidants that support good health. Cinnamon is great for sweet treats or Moroccan-inspired savoury dishes, cumin is always added to hummus, dried thyme tastes wonderful in roasted potatoes and chili powder helps to build a flavour-packed chili.

Give omega-3-packed salmon a hit of smoky, earthy spice: Blackened Salmon

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10. Sea Salt

I choose unrefined sea salt for its mineral profile and clean, crisp taste. Fine-grain sea salt goes well in baking and flaky salt adds texture to just about any food, both savoury and sweet.

Skip store-bought trail mix and make your own sweet and salty, heart-healthy walnut version: Maple-Glazed Walnuts with Sea Salt

maple-glazed-walnuts-with-sea-salt

Want more pantry staple ideas? Check out 18 Staples You Should Always Have in Your Pantry and 11 Clever Ways to Use Pantry Staples

Why Sap Water is the New Drink Craze

Coconut water had its moment, but now it’s time to add some new, plant-extracted thirst-quenchers to the mix: birch water and maple water. Unlike coconut, birch and maple water provide a much smaller environmental impact, with some companies making them right here in Canada. And both birch and maple water are far lower in sugar than coconut water — something the tropical drink is often scrutinized for. Before you tap into this health trend, here are some nutrition facts and faults to see if there’s a clear winner.

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Health Benefits of Birch Water

Birch water, also known as birch sap, is derived from tapping birch trees to release their liquid. Over the winter, birch trees store a great deal of nutrition, which is released in their sap (or water) once mild, springtime temperatures begin to thaw the frost.

Birch trees are commonly found in Canada, Russia and Scandinavia— and the water has been used as an energy tonic centuries prior to it becoming the health food we know today. As the spring thawing commences, the birch water in Canada begins to run, so now is the time to get your fix.

Related: Sensational Canadian Cocktails

The sugar produced by birch trees, xylitol, is used as a natural, low-calorie sweetener in chewing gum and other candies. This is what is naturally sweetens birch water, satisfying your sweet tooth without being overwhelming. Because xylitol is low in calories, birch water is a much less caloric drink option than many other natural waters on the market. With only two to three grams of sugar per cup, it beats maple water in this regard. Minerals found in birch water appear in trace amounts, though it does deliver several phytochemicals (plant nutrients) and amino acids that may be beneficial to your health.

What Does Birch Water Taste Like?

With a gentle, sweet taste (when purchased “pure”), many find birch water a refreshing, crisper-tasting option to plain water.

Where to Buy Birch Water

In Canada, birch water can be purchased directly from the company producing it (online or in-person). A leader in the Canadian birch water producers is 52º North, located in British Columbia. 52º North has flavoured birch waters, but a natural option without flavouring (and added sugar) should be your go-to for the most nutritious option. Due to the delicate, seasonal nature of birch water’s extraction, it’s a pretty pricy beverage.

Related: Sweet Maple Recipes to Celebrate Syrup Season

Health Benefits of Maple Water

Like birch, maple water is the liquid that’s extracted when a maple tree is tapped. Boiling this liquid down results in something we’re all familiar with: maple syrup. Maple water is far more sustainable than other natural waters, with a minimal environmental footprint (if consumed where it’s produced — like Canada, for instance).

As maple trees store nutrition over the winter during their sleepy hibernation, the sap that results from the springtime thaw is loaded with nutrition, but in small amounts. Maple water is higher in bioactive compounds than birch water, but is slightly higher in sugar, with three to five grams per cup. And, maple water has a richer electrolyte profile, making it a lower-sugar sports recovery drink option if you’re exercising for extended amounts of time, or recovering from the flu.

According to Canadian maple water company SEVA, maple water contains 46 bioactive nutrients, including minerals, amino acids and organic acids. Maple water contains abscisic acid (ABA), a plant hormone that may help plants adapt to stress. In humans, ABA may help to balance blood sugar. As this is a fairly new, buzzed-about product, more studies need to be done before it’s established as a cure-all.

What Does Maple Water Taste Like?

Maple water has a soft, maple flavour and delicate sweetness. It’s crisp, clean and refreshing. Many find maple water far more palatable than coconut water, both in taste and texture.

Where to Buy Maple Water

Unlike birch water, maple water is becoming far more common in the everyday grocery store. Look for it in the natural food aisle, right next to the coconut water. Online retailers are also getting in on the trend, with giants like Amazon carrying this trendy new drink.

How to Drink Birch Water and Maple Water

Beyond sipping it straight from the carton, birch and maple waters can be used to make coffee, tea, smoothies or cocktails. You can also try cooking oatmeal or other grains in the waters for a fun twist. As minerals aren’t destroyed by heat, warming the water won’t kill its nutritional properties.

Related: Recipes That Pair Maple and Bacon Perfectly

The Healthier Choice: Birch Water or Maple Water?

Both birch and maple waters will provide trace amounts of nutrition, but like all beverages, it’s best to limit your intake due to their sugar content. Additionally, natural waters and juices are devoid of fibre, so they won’t fill you up. However, they’re both far better for the environment compared to coconut water, as birch and maple waters can be harvested sustainably. This means the trees can provide a source of income to companies and farmers without deforestation.

Both beverages remain a lower-sugar, sustainable alternative to coconut water, which is reason enough to give them a try. So, next time you break a sweat, see which option you like best. Enjoying either birch or maple water in moderation won’t hurt — but the verdict is still up in the air on whether they really help.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

The 10 Healthiest Whole Grains and How to Cook Them

Whole grains come in all shapes, sizes, tastes and textures. With a myriad of B vitamins, fibre, iron, plant-based protein and minerals, each tiny grain delivers a hefty nutritional punch. A whole grain has its natural bran, endosperm and germ intact, which hold a good portion of its nutritional value.

The complex carbohydrates present in whole grains digest more slowly than refined versions, keeping blood sugar levels (and cravings) regulated for sustained energy. They’ve also been shown to reduce LDL (“bad” cholesterol), help to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, as well as lower heart disease and diabetes risk.

With whole grains, you’ve got many options not only in variety, but versatility in the kitchen, too. From breakfast to dinner and everything in between, there’s a grain out there for every time constraint, cooking level and craving. Here are the 10 most nutritious whole grains with tasty ways to add them to your daily diet.

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Warm Brown Rice and Wheat Berry Salad Bowl

Millet
Not just for the birds, millet is a gluten-free whole grain containing amino acids, complex carbohydrates, fibre and a range of minerals. Its tiny, bead-like appearance makes it a whole grain alternative to couscous (refined white pasta), can be ground in your blender to make gluten-free flour for baked goods, and can be turned into a creamy grain main like this Millet, Lemon and Kale “Risotto.”

Quinoa
Quinoa’s superfood status is reputable, with complete plant-based protein containing all essential amino acids, fibre, iron and slow-digesting carbohydrates. The original fast-food, quinoa cooks up in 15 minutes and can be used in lieu of oats in porridge, tossed in a leafy salad, served as a simple side dish or as the main such as this cozy Avocado, Kale and Quinoa Salad.

Oats
Bran, rolled, steel-cut and whole groats are all the same grain presented in different ways. They’re high in soluble fibre, helping to lower cholesterol, improve digestion, help manage a healthy weight, reduce risk of cardiovascular disease and more. An everyday pantry staple that makes not only a fantastic warm breakfast cereal with rolled oats, but also risotto with steel-cut or pilaf with whole groats. They’re also star players in desserts, like this healthier recipe for Honey Oat Roasted Pears.

Farro (Spelt)
A popular grain in Italy long before it appeared on the everyday North American table, farro is an ancient wheat with a chewy, rice-like appearance that comes in three varieties; farro piccolo (einkorn), farro medio (emmer) and farro grande (spelt). Its ability to stay intact makes it the perfect pasta substitute in cold salads, like this veggie-packed Farro Salad with Radishes, Arugula and Feta.

Freekeh
A whole grain with a funny name, freekeh is a low-glycemic, naturally low-carbohydrate popular for its earthy taste and stellar nutritional profile. With four times the fibre of the same amount of brown rice, freekeh keeps you fuller for longer. It’s roasted, allowing it to work as a bold base for hearty pilafs. Try freekeh in a substantial bowl of greens and grains like this Carrot, Spinach and Freekeh Salad with Miso Vinaigrette.

Corn
Not often thought of as a whole grain, corn’s bad-boy health persona should be limited to the refined versions of itself (i.e. high-fructose corn syrup). Its standout nutritional features are lutein and zeaxanthin, carotenoids that help eyesight. As a whole food, corn is a unique grain in that it’s eaten fresh from the cob, as well as dried in the form of cornmeal and flour. For an elegant and healthy vegetarian entrée with corn, try this Veggie Ragu on Blue Cheese Polenta.

Brown Rice
Whole grain brown rice is a low-allergen, gluten-free whole grain high in B vitamins, selenium, fibre and slow-digesting carbohydrates. Many varieties of white rice can be readily found in whole grain brown rice such as basmati, short grain and long grain. Combined with a legume or bean, brown rice turns into a complete plant-based protein, as showcased in this recipe for Goat Cheese, Lentil and Brown Rice Rolls.

Black Rice
Inky-black with a slightly sweet, grapey taste, this dark-coloured whole grain is one of the highest sources of antioxidants in any food, even more so than most fruits and vegetables. It’s excellent as a side dish, used as a bed for curries or made into a healthy dessert like this Black Rice Pudding with Mango, Lime, Passion Fruit and Coconut.

Barley
Nutty, tender barley is best known for its role in wholesome soups and stews. Containing high amounts of B vitamins, magnesium, selenium and fibre, barley is an everyday, economical pantry staple. As it’s not gluten-free, barley isn’t suitable for those with celiac disease. Employ this pleasingly chewy whole grain as a complete-meal like this simple Slow-Cooker Bean and Barley Soup.

Wheat Berries
Unrefined whole wheat (used to make whole wheat flour) makes up wheat berries, which have a fruity, delicate flavour and a texture similar to barley. This slow-digesting, energy-boosting grain delivers a host of B vitamins, as well as fibre and magnesium. Use as a cold or warm breakfast cereal served with fruit and almond milk, or try this superfood-packed, double-grain Warm Brown Rice and Wheat Berry Salad Bowl.

10 Healthy Ways to Use Greek Yogurt

Greek yogurt is a staple in healthy eating, stepping in as a lean, creamy alternative for breakfast and dessert, as well as a nutritious swap for mayo in savoury dishes. Along with its delicious tangy flavour, Greek yogurt provides protein to keep you fuller longer, calcium and vitamin D for strong bones and teeth, and probiotics for immune support, nutrient absorption and enhanced digestion.

When buying, choose plain, no-sugar added varieties without thickeners (like cornstarch), and a fat percentage that aligns with your personal diet. If you’re looking to get more Greek yogurt into your daily regimen, look no further than these fresh, wholesome recipes.

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1. Smoky Tomato-Greek Yogurt Crema
Capitalizing on Greek yogurt’s blank canvas persona, this healthy salsa and yogurt sauce pairs perfectly with grilled vegetables and fish.

2. Waffles with Greek Yogurt
If you’re looking for a new way to eat yogurt in the morning, give these soft, fluffy waffles a try. A protein-packed stack to carry you through until lunchtime.

3. Healthy Chocolate Muffins
Instead of a muffin with loads of oil, Greek yogurt stands in its place for a rich, moist and chocolatey breakfast on the go that will satisfy even the biggest chocoholic.

4. Banana and Matcha Green Tea Smoothie
Antioxidant-loaded matcha gets the smoothie treatment. Here, it’s combined with Greek yogurt for a protein-loaded breakfast or snack that tastes like a milkshake.

5. Strawberry Kiwi Greek Yogurt Popsicles
Tasting like the most decadent vanilla ice cream and enhanced with vitamin C-rich fruit, these Greek yogurt popsicles make the ultimate after school (or work) snack.

6. Roasted Carrots, Spanish Spices, Yogurt, Harissa
There’s nothing plain about this Greek yogurt recipe. Sweet roasted carrots receive the star treatment with a punchy yogurt cream sauce (hold the cream) bursting with bold spices and fiery harissa.

7. Grilled Vegetables with Cilantro-Yogurt Dressing
A raw veggies and dip makeover, leftovers will be a thing of the past when this lean, mayo-free Greek yogurt dressing comes into play.

8. Souvlaki-Style Nachos with Greek Yogurt Feta Sauce
Greek yogurt contributes a cooling component in lieu of traditional sour cream in these nouveau nachos. Use whole grain pita chips for an even healthier dish.

9. Valerie Bertinelli’s Herbed Mashed Cauliflower
Mashed potatoes are lightened up with cruciferous cauliflower in the humble spud’s place. Instead of tons of cream, Greek yogurt is used for a side dish that won’t weigh you down.

10. Strawberry Rhubarb Greek Yogurt Fool
A tangy treat that skips the saturated fat, this recipe employs Greek yogurt instead of whipped heavy cream. Use frozen fruit when fresh isn’t in season as the health benefits are the same.