Cranberry Orange Muffins

Supporting Immune Function during Training

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Increasing physical activity is generally associated with improved immune function and a decreased risk of upper respiratory tract infections (URTI’s). However, during times of intense training or increased stress, greater amounts of exercise can temporarily impair immune function and place athletes at higher risk for URTI’s and other illnesses.¹ It is not uncommon for athletes to experience symptoms of illness or infection around times of physical stress such as competitions.² This is a major concern as even minor illnesses can impact performance.

To maintain optimum immune competence, athletes are encouraged to eat balanced meals that are adequate in protein and energy. Diets should also have sufficient amounts of iron, zinc, and vitamins A, D, E, B6, and B12 as these micronutrients have been identified as being of particular importance in the maintenance of good immune function.³ Athletes should also consider introducing foods that contain plant polyphenols like fruits, whole grains, and legumes as well as foods that contain probiotics, such as yogurt, as they might have positive effects on immune function.²

In addition to the nutritional strategies already mentioned athletes should also practice good hand hygiene, follow basic food safe principles, avoid sharing equipment and personal items such as water bottles, get adequate sleep, and try to minimize stress.² Additional information for food safety can be found at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/securit/kitchen-cuisine/index-eng.php

Vegetarian Food Sources Of…

Iron: Spinach, Tomato puree, Edamame, Hot/Cold Cereals, Tofu, Lentils, Legumes, Molasses, Pumpkin seeds, Raisins, Dates

Zinc: Wheat germ, Bran, Pumpkin seeds, Baked beans, Oats

Vitamin A: Sweet potato, Pumpkin, Carrots, Winter squash

Vitamin D: Fortified juice and dairy or dairy alternative products

Vitamin E: Spinach, Wheat germ, Egg,  Almonds, Sunflower seeds, Hazelnuts

Vitamin B6: Banana, Sweet potato, Avocado, Wheat bran, Chickpeas, Soybeans, Pistachios, Sunflower seeds

Vitamin B12: Milk, Cheese, Yogurt, Soy beverage, Nutritional yeast

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 Cranberry Orange Muffins

Makes 12

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • zest of 2 oranges
  • 1 cup whole grain flour
  • 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons fortified orange juice
  • 2 Tablespoons low fat milk
  • 1 and 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries (if frozen, do not thaw)

Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Grease a 12-count muffin pan. Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl mix oil with the granulated and brown sugars. Beat on high until creamed, about 2 full minutes.
  3. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and uniform in texture.
  4. Beat in the orange zest until combined.
  5. In  large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
  6. Add dry ingredients to wet and mix until just combined.
  7. Fold in cranberries.
  8. Spoon batter into prepared muffin tin.
  9. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Recipe adapted from: http://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/11/06/cranberry-orange-muffins/

References:

  1. Couto, M., Silva, D., Delgado, L., & Moreira, A. (2013). Exercise and airway injury in athletes.Acta Medica Portuguesa, 26(1), 56-60.
  2. Gleeson, M. (2013). Nutritional support to maintain proper immune status during intense training. Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop series, 75, 85-97. doi: 10.1159/000345822.
  3. Gleeson, M., & Williams, C. (2013). Intense exercise training and immune function. Nestle Nutrition Institute Workshop Series, 76, 39-50. doi: 10.1159/000350254.

 

Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

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Many individuals might feel that eating healthfully means that there isn’t any room in your diet for treats or desserts. Unfortunately, when people follow very restrictive diets it can often be counter productive. Overly limited meal plans can cause individuals to become preoccupied with food and increases the likely-hood of binge eating (which may lead to weight gain). When I talk to individuals about healthy eating, I often suggest that they try the 80/20 diet guideline. Following an 80/20 diet means that you choose healthy foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low fat dairy products 80 percent of the time, but you are allowed to indulge in a few favorite treats 20 percent of the time.

That being said, there is no reason you can’t try and make your treats as healthy as possible. Using sweeter vegetables like beets and carrots is a great way to increase quality nutrients in your desserts while reducing fat and added sugars. These chocolate beet cupcakes, although denser than your average cupcake, are moist and delicious. Options for topping them could be icing sugar (as shown in the picture above), frozen yogurt and fruit, or a small amount of whipping cream or icing (there are recipes for beet icing!).

So let them eat cake…. in moderation.

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Chocolate Beet Cupcakes

Makes 12

Ingredients:

2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
2 cups raw beetroots, grated finely
3 large eggs
1 ½ cup all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
5 tbsp unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Prepare one muffin tin (either with muffin cups or by greasing the tin).
  2. Warm the oil in a medium size sauce pan on very low heat. Add honey and chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate is melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Add the grated beets. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl and then add them to the sauce pan.
  4. Sift flour, baking powder, cacao powder and salt together and stir into the beet mixture (be careful not to over mix).
  5. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until slightly dark
  6. Serve with a small scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt or regular yogurt and fresh fruit.

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Recipe adapted from: http://www.greenkitchenstories.com/decadent-beet-chocolate-cake/

Mini Chocolate Zucchini Loaves

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This recipe for mini chocolate zucchini loaves is moist, low in fat, and nutrient dense. I find that just the cocoa in the recipe makes the loaves chocolatey enough, but for those that want more you can fold in 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips or drizzle melted chocolate on the top of the loaf.

I love using mini loaf pans for baking as the the little loaves can make great gifts, take up less space in the freezer, and can help with portion control. As per Eat Right Ontario, one of the most important decisions we make each day about food is how much to eat. Many people struggle with judging appropriate portion sizes and often eat portions that are too large which can contribute to unintentional weight gain.

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Mini Chocolate Zucchini Loaves

Makes 2 mini loaves

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

3 large eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup sugar

1 medium banana, mashed (or 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce)

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ounce semi-sweetened chocolate, melted

2 cups grated zucchini, (1 medium) with as much moisture removed as possible

1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (optional)

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (optional)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F. Grease two mini loaf pans.
  2. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Whisk eggs, sugar, banana, oil, vanilla and melted chocolate in another large bowl until blended.
  4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.
  5. Fold in zucchini and walnuts and/or chocolate chips.
  6. Spoon the batter into the prepared pans, smoothing the tops.
  7. Bake the loaves 50 to 60 minutes, or until the tops are browned and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  8. Let cool in pans on a wire rack for ~10 minutes. Invert onto rack and cool completely.

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Recipe adapted from http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/chocolate_zucchini_bread.html

Chocolate Chip, Coconut, Oatmeal Cookies

DSC_0349Oatmeal cookies are comforting, classic, and versatile. Once you find a base recipe that you like, you can play around with different combinations of chocolate, dried fruit, and nuts to create all kinds of delicious cookies. This recipe is currently my favourite cookie recipe as I love the combination of dark chocolate, coconut, and oatmeal! These cookies are best enjoyed with a glass of low fat milk.

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Chocolate Chip, Coconut, Oatmeal Cookies

Makes about 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients:

3/4 cup rolled oats

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup unsalted butter or margarine, softened

1/4 cup canola oil

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease 1-2 baking sheets.
  2. Place oats, flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and mix together.
  3. Beat butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add oil, granulated sugar, brown sugar, egg and vanilla; beat until smooth and creamy.
  4. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients With the mixer running, beating on low speed until just combined.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips and shredded coconut.
  6. Drop the dough by tablespoons, at least 1 inch apart, onto the prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies about 15 minutes.
  7. Cool the cookies for about 2 minutes, and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/bevs_chocolate_chip_cookies.html

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Carrot Banana Muffins

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This is another great nutrient dense muffin recipe. These carrot banana muffins contain about 180 kcal, 5 grams of protein, and 3 grams of fibre. They are perfect for a breakfast on the go or a snack before a workout. What I really like about them (besides the fact that they contain a two different fruits and a vegetable) is that a lot of the sweetness comes naturally from the raisins,  bananas, and carrots. To maximize the natural sweetness use very ripe bananas or defrosted, frozen bananas and flavourful carrots. ________________________________________________________________________________________

Carrot Banana Muffins

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen muffins

Ingredients:

1 cup raisins

1 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup rolled oats

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground allspice

2 large eggs

2/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup mashed bananas, (2 medium bananas)

1/2 cup skim milk

1/4 cup canola oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups shredded carrots, (4 medium carrots)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat 18 standard-size muffin cups with cooking spray.
  2. Place raisins in a small bowl and cover with hot water; let soak for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  3. Whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and allspice in a large mixing bowl.
  4. Beat eggs in a medium bowl until frothy. Add brown sugar and whisk until it has dissolved. Mix in bananas, milk, oil and vanilla.
  5. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the wet ingredients; stir until just combined. Gently stir in carrots and the drained raisins. Scoop the batter into the prepared pan and sprinkle with nuts.
  6. Bake about 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes.

Recipe adapted from: http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/carrot_banana_muffins.html

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

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This is a fairly simple peanut butter cookie recipe. I like them because they are very low in sodium, contain protein and whole grains, and combine peanut butter and chocolate chips. To be honest it’s that last part that is my favourite. Delicious! For maximal enjoyment I recommend that you enjoy these cookies with a glass of cold milk.

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Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Cookies

Ingredients:

1/2 cup salt free margarine or butter

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/4  cup white sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 large egg

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F and grease a baking sheet
  2. Cream together margarine, peanut butter, white sugar, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla.
  3. Mix in whole wheat flour and baking soda.
  4. Stir in chocolate chips
  5. Scoop dough using a tablespoon, and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Use a fork to flatten down the dough.
  6. Bake for 12-15minutes. Allow cookies to cool slight on the baking sheet before moving to a cooling rack. (They can be a bit crumbly when hot)

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Double Chocolate Kale Muffins

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This is another tasty muffin recipe that involves two of my favourite things: vegetables and chocolate. I wouldn’t normally think to combine kale with chocolate, but I am glad I found this recipe. These muffins are dense and moist with a rich chocolatey taste. If you want to try this recipe but don’t happen to have any kale, you could easily substitute with another leafy green vegetable like spinach or swiss chard.

Side-note: I was so excited for these muffins that I had to eat one before I could even take a picture of them. (Oops!)

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Double Chocolate Kale Muffins

Ingredients:

2 cups kale leaves, washed and chopped
1 cup whole wheat flour
¾ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
1 ¼ cups buttermilk or sour-milk (1 cup low-fat milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice)
¼ cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
¾ cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup chopped walnuts
Directions:
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and prepare a 12 cup muffin tin.
  2. Wash the kale and chop leaves into small pieces; discard the large stalks.
  3. Place the kale into a steamer basket over a pot of boiling water and cook for~  5-7 minutes or until the kale is wilted.
  4. Set aside kale until it is cool enough to handle.
  5. Place the kale into a food processor and pulse until the kale has been broken down into very small pieces. Set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, whisk together the flours, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, oil and vanilla.
  8. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the kale, chocolate chips, and nuts.
  9. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each cup about three quarters full of batter.
  10. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool.
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Banana-Bran Muffins

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These tasty banana muffins are a great nutrient dense choice for breakfast or for a snack. They are just under 200 kcals and contain about 4g of fibre and 5g of protein per muffin. Although North Americans usually manage to eat more than enough protein, fibre tends to be a nutrient that many people struggle to get enough of. Health Canada currently recommends that individuals try for about 14g/1000 kcal/day. What does this translate (approximately) to for you?

38 g/d for men 19-50,           30 g/d for men 51 and older

25 g/d for women 19-50,       21 g/d for women 51 and older.

DSC_0209What I liked about this recipe was that even though it contains wheat bran it still produced a relatively light tasting muffin. For extra fibre and omega 3’s you can add ground flax seeds.

* Remember that whenever you increase your fibre intake you always want to increase your fluid intake!

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Banana-Bran Muffins

Ingredients:

2 large eggs

1/2 cup packed light brown sugar

1 cup mashed ripe bananas, (~2 medium)

1 cup buttermilk, or sour milk (1 cup milk + 1 tbsp lemon juice)

1 cup unprocessed wheat bran

1/4 cup canola oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup whole-wheat flour

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/3 cup chopped walnuts,

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a 12 cup muffin tray.
  2. Whisk eggs and brown sugar in a medium bowl until smooth.
  3. Whisk in bananas, buttermilk, wheat bran, canola oil and vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl, whisk whole-wheat flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add the wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups (they’ll be quite full). Sprinkle with walnuts.
  6. Bake the muffins until the tops are golden brown ~ 15 to 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Loosen edges and turn muffins out onto a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.

Recipe adapted from EatingWell.com

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Gingerbread Biscotti

DSC_0192I love baking over the holidays, but I find it’s really easy to over do it with too many sweet things. These gingerbread biscotti are a nice alternative to traditional Christmas baking as they are not overly sweet and contain some wholesome ingredients. I made these cookies with toasted hazelnuts and dark raisins, but you can substitute pecans or walnuts for the hazelnuts and dried cranberries for the raisins.

When baking these biscotti, make sure that you use large eggs. I tried this recipe a few times and accidentally used medium sized eggs on one occasion. The result was a very dry and crumbly dough that was difficult to form into a log.

These biscotti make nice mini gifts and they will keep for several weeks if stored in an air tight container. I gave a few packages out to friends and had great feedback. You can find food gift bags and festive ribbon at craft stores. I purchased mine at Michaels. ______________________________________________________________________________________

Ingredients:

3/4 cup hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

1 cup rolled oats, divided

1 3/4 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

2 large eggs 

1/4 cup fancy molasses

2 tbsp canola oil

1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup raisins

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  2. Place hazelnuts on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 10 minutes or until they begin to brown. Remove from oven, place the warm hazelnuts in a clean dish towel, roll it up, and leave for about five minutes. Briskly rub the nuts in the towel to remove most of their skins. Set aside to let the nuts cool and then coarsely chop.
  3. In a food processor, process 1/2 cup of the rolled oats until finely ground.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the 1/2 cup of finely ground oats, the remaining 1/2 cup of rolled oats, flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and spices.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, molasses, oil, and vanilla extract.
  6. Slowly add the egg mixture to the dry ingredients, and beat until combined. Mix in the chopped hazelnuts and raisins and beat just until incorporated.
  7. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and divide in half. Take each half of dough and form it into a log, about 30 cm long and 5 cm wide. Transfer the logs to the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake for about 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack.
  9. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F. 
  10. Transfer the logs to a cutting board and cut into 2 cm slices, on the diagonal.  Place the biscotti, cut side down, on the baking sheet. Bake for about 6-8 minutes, turn slices over, and bake for another 6-8 minutes. The cookies should be dry and firm.
  11. Remove from oven and let cool.
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Chocolate Cut Out Cookies

Happy Halloween! Try these chewy chocolate cookies with a glass of milk this Halloween as a treat. If you are feeling creative decorate these cookies with royal icing (see recipe below). The white icing really stands out against the dark cookie, but feel free to use coloured icing. I made these dog bone shaped cookies for the opening of a friend’s doggie daycare, and they were a success. The dough can become quite sticky as you roll it out so make sure to use enough flour.

*Chocolate has been the focus of many studies this year, and the evidence suggests that a small amount of dark chocolate daily could be beneficial to both your physical and mental health : ) _______________________________________________________________________________________

Chocolate Cut Out Cookies
Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/4 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

3/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

1 cup white sugar

1 egg

Directions:

  1. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the egg.
  3. Gradually stir in the sifted ingredients to form a soft dough. Kneed dough a few times to create a ball. Divide dough into 2 pieces, flatten and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 2 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 375° F. On a lightly floured surface, roll out one ball of dough at a time to 1/8 inch in thickness. Cut into desired shapes with cookie cutters.
  5. Place cookies 1 1/2 inches apart onto cookie sheets. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

Recipe adapted from http://allrecipes.com/recipe/best-ever-chocolate-cutout-cookies/

Royal Icing (Optional)

Ingredients:

1 cup icing sugar

1 tbsp milk

1/4 tsp vanilla or almond extract

Directions:

  1. In a small bowl, beat together icing sugar and milk until smooth. Beat in vanilla or almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy. If icing is too thick, add more milk.

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