Protein-rich superfood seed bread

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My son has been off all week. The lethargy and lack of appetite makes it hard to stuff him with the healing foods he needs to get back on his feet. But he doesn’t need an appetite to eat fresh homemade bread – so I filled this bread with everything his body needs. If he crashes before dinner today, I know he’s had at least one solid meal – even if it was just a piece of buttered bread!

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This bread is stuffed with seeds: pumpkin, sesame, flax, sunflower, hemp and quinoa. And yet it’s light and delicious. I let it rise at room temperature for a few hours and baked it on a hot pizza stone so the crust is crunchy and the inside is fluffy.

I had my daughter’s help measuring the ingredients. It’s good for her to practice her fractions with measuring cups and to learn about the ingredients in the foods we eat. Bread making is a great craft to hand down – it’s my hope that she knows her way around her kitchen when she has her own place (we have a few years to get there!). Making bread reminds me of my grandmother – the bread I make is different but her bread was something I always looked forward to when we would visit.

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Protein-rich superfood seed bread

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 2 Tbsp ground flaxseeds
  • 3/4 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 hump seeds
  • 2 Tbsp pumpkin seeds
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup vital wheat gluten
  • 3 cups very warm water
  • 1/2 maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup canola oil

Combine the dry ingredients in stand mixer. Add the wet ingredients and stir to combine (but don’t bother kneading – just make sure there’s no more dry ingredients). Let it sit in room temperature for 2 hours covered (I cover my mixing bowl with a plate – you don’t want it airtight). Don’t punch it down.

Preheat the oven to 450 F with a pizza stone inside to heat too. Prepare a flat surface with cornmeal (like a cutting board). With floured hands, grab a ball of dough about the size of a cantaloupe. Pull it into a ball, tucking the sides underneath. Let it rest while the oven heats up (20 minutes is good).

When the oven is hot and the dough ball has rested 20 minutes, brush the top with water, slice it with a knife and top it with more seeds. Slide it from the cutting board onto the hot pizza stone and bake for 30 minutes.

Once the bread is done, let it cool for about 15 minutes – I know this is hard but if you cut into it right away, it won’t keep its nice shape. Enjoy!

Savoury pumpkin seed spread

Vegan pumpkin seed spread

Merry Christmas to you! I hope you’re sharing your holidays with loved ones and spending your time doing activities you love as well.

Here’s a spread that will go well on a cheese plate and can be enjoyed by people with nut allergies. Aside from the time required to soak the pumpkin seeds, it only takes a minute to make. Unlike the last dip, this spread is kid-approved.

Savoury pumpkin seed spread

  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 Tbsp dehydrated onions
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 3 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 Tbsp miso paste
  • 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Combine the pumpkin seeds, onion and water in a bowl and cover it. Let it soak for at least 30 minutes.

Pour the soaked seeds (with the water and onion), nutritional yeast, miso and vinegar into a high speed blender and blend on high until smooth. Top with freshly ground pepper, if desired.

Serve with crackers or fresh bread. Enjoy! Happy holidays!

Easy, unprocessed plant-based meals for kids and adults

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Here’s my secret to getting lots of vegetables on the table that the kids will eat. I’m often asked by people who are shifting to more plant-based meals – what do I make for dinner? We all know that we should be eating more whole grains, legumes (beans and lentils), fruit and vegetables but the question is how to get started.

When you go to restaurants and look at the kids’ menus, usually the options are limited. There may be burgers and fries, hot dogs and fries, pizza, chicken fingers and fries and grilled cheese sandwiches. You’d be lucky to get a carrot or celery stick on the side of the plate.

If this is what our kids are used to eating, they’re not getting the fruits and vegetables their bodies need to grow strong and healthy.

Some kids genuinely don’t like vegetables. I get it. I find it hard to imagine anyone turning down a fresh cut mango but I guess some kids aren’t fans of fruit either. But I’m an optimist and I think they may not have tasted the fruit and vegetables that they like yet.

When my son was in Kindergarten, his class had Fruity Fridays. One of his teachers would bring in a different kind of fruit each Friday for the kids to try. She cut them all up and had huge garbage cans in the middle of the room. The rule was they had to try it. They didn’t have to like it and they could spit it out but they had to taste a new fruit each week.

That teacher did those kids a huge favour by teaching them to experiment and try new foods. The strides that were made on Fruity Fridays were noticeable at home too. He applied the same rule to dinner as he did to tasting fruit – that he had to give it a try.

My son would be excited in the grocery store produce aisle pointing out fruit we’d never tried but he knew them. At the end of the year, he brought home a book that he had made to chronicle all the different fruit he tried. And for each fruit, he circled a happy face, straight face or sad face.

I like the spirit of discovery and adventure that was fostered in Kindergarten. Try it at home. Encourage your kids to eat more vegetables and try new ones without putting a lot of pressure on them and turning meals into nightmares.

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Here’s my method. Make a whole grain – something your kids will eat (I have used brown rice but it doesn’t matter what you use). While your rice is cooking, slice some vegetables into thick slices or chunks (I’ve sliced eggplant, sweet potato, broccoli, onion, mushrooms and carrots).

Make sure you’ve included vegetables you know your kids will eat and include some they may not eat. Toss them in olive oil and bake them at 425 until they’re done, flipping once. It takes about 20-30 minutes depending on the size of the slices and chunks. They’ll probably be done at the same time.

Spoon the rice in a bowl for each person and arrange the vegetables on a large platter in the middle of the table. Make sure you have a few vegetables you know your kids will eat. Cucumbers are often an easy win. The point is to have a variety on display. My kids like olives so they’re included.

Open a can of chickpeas or other beans and rinse them. Add them to the platter. When the kids come to the table, let them choose what they want. Encourage them to try a bite of anything new.

Have something on the table for them to sprinkle over their meal – if I put seeds on the table, the kids will use them. Hemp seeds, for example, don’t have much noticeable flavour but they’re another source of vitamins, minerals, protein and healthy fats. Nutritional yeast is another flavour enhancer that my kids love.

For the grown ups, it helps to have a nice sauce or two. I topped my meal with a tahini sauce and hot sauce and it was delicious.

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Tahini sauce

  • 1/2 cup tahini
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend well. It will keep in the fridge for a few days.

If you’re always eating delicious vegetables in front of your kids, they’ll see you enjoying nutritious food. It might take time for them to become interested in their vegetables but don’t give up. Keep eating them in front of your kids.

Tell them about the benefits of eating nutritious foods. Talk to them about eating a rainbow. Teach them about the importance of eating well-balanced meals. Give them the opportunity to surprise you – they will.

That’s my secret. I eat delicious, nutritious meals in front of my kids every day. They see me enjoy my vegetables. And they know it makes me really happy to see them enjoy theirs.

Seed and kidney bean loaf with carrot and parsnip sticks

carrot and parsnip sticks with olive oil and sea salt

It’s a cool fall day so I considered making soup. But leftover soup doesn’t work well for lunches so I’m doing the next best thing – a veggie loaf made with sunflower and pumpkin seeds (nuts aren’t allowed at school) and some roasted parsnips and carrots from my garden.

Loafs and parsnips don’t usually go over well with the kids but there are four of us in this family and we all take turns having our favourite foods for dinner. Plus, with the brussels sprouts and squash successes I’ve had lately, I’m willing to take another risk. But I threw in some trusty carrots just in case the parsnips are still on the yucky list.

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These are on my yummy list.

Seed and kidney bean loaf

Veggie loaves are great – they can be made with whatever ingredients are on hand and personalized to match any preferences. You can start with The Magical Loaf Studio’s handy recipe maker¬†for a dependable loaf or find a recipe in a book. The options are endless. The loaf I made today was made on the fly with seeds and beans to make a filling, tasty and nutritious meal. I avoided using any ingredients that would put my kids on the defensive (like onions or celery).

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1 can of red kidney beans
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 carrot, chopped finely
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 cup oats – blended into a flour
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
  • salt to taste

Blend the seeds into a powder and put them in a large bowl with the drained and rinsed beans. Mash them together with a fork or potato masher. Add the remaining ingredients and put them in a greased loaf pan. Bake at 400 F for an hour.

Pumpkin seed, sunflower seed and kidney bean loaf
Seed and kidney bean loaf

While the loaf was baking, I sliced the carrots and parsnips and coated them in olive oil and placed them on a roasting sheet with a bit of sea salt. These went in the oven with the loaf for about 40 minutes, turning once.

carrot and parsnip sticks with olive oil and sea salt
Carrot and parsnip sticks with olive oil and sea salt

The kids loved the carrots and parsnips – there were no leftovers for lunch. The loaf went over well with my daughter but my son complained he didn’t like it. He ended up eating a fair portion of his loaf with a bit of urging so it went better than I expected. I thought the loaf was delicious.

About lunch…

Despite making it nut free, this dinner won’t fly for the kids lunches. The loaf would look strange to the other kids who are used to more traditional Canadian meals. So I won’t embarrass my daughter by packing it for her even though she liked it a lot. My son will have a hummus sandwich with cucumber slices on whole wheat bread and my daughter will have a vegan ham sandwich. I’d pack the carrot and parsnip sticks if I had any leftovers. They’d have no problem with that!

I’d love to know what other vegan moms pack their kids for lunch. Do you worry about other kids teasing your kids if you pack them something like a veggie loaf?