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Vanessa

Chocolate cherry smoothie bowl

Chocolate cherry smoothie bowl

By: Vanessa Perrone MS RD
Guest post from Motive Nutrition www.motivenutrition.com

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This is a guest post from registered dietitian nutritionist Vanessa Perrone, owner of Motive Nutrition. For more of her delicious recipes and an abundance of great information about nutrition, cooking and lifestyle please check out her website at www.motivenutrition.com


I can’t seem to get enough of smoothie bowls.  

I don’t know whether it’s the different textures, the fact that they remind me of my time in Maui or because they force me to savour each bite with a spoon, but I urge you to jump on the smoothie bowl band wagon if you haven’t already. I posted a video recipe last year that you can watch here in case you missed it.

Today’s recipe is a chocolate cherry smoothie bowl that is guaranteed to become a staple on your spring-summer smoothie rotation. And let’s be honest: we could all use a little bit more chocolate in our lives!

Remind me…what makes chocolate healthy? 

It’s all about the cocoa flavanols. These powerful plant compounds also found in foods like green tea and red wine improve what’s known as endothelial function, the inner lining of our blood vessels. Essentially, cocoa flavanols help keep our blood vessels nice and flexible which results in improved blood flow. 

Keep in mind that good blood flow is not only important for your heart, but for delivering oxygen and key nutrients to your brain, skin, muscles and any other organ you can think of.

What are the best sources of cacao?  

Cocoa flavanols are sensitive compounds! In fact, processing can cause them to drop by 90% from cocoa bean to chocolate bar.  So to reap the most health benefits from this fabulous fruit, enjoy it low on the processing chain. Here are some examples:

Cocoa nibs: Once the cocoa bean is fermented, dried, roasted then cracked you wind up with cocoa nibs. No sugar has been added, so the taste is quite bitter but the crunchy texture is great in sweet and savoury dishes. They’re a great addition to a smoothie bowl.

Raw cacao powder: The key here is to look for raw cacao, not a dutch processed cocoa (the kind  typically found in the baking aisle) since this process dramatically reduces cocoa-flavanol content.

The recipe below showcases two chocolate derived foods that I highly recommend: cocoa nibs and raw cacao. Since many of you struggle with building these foods into your diet, I hope that this recipe will become your antioxidant go-to. Bon appétit!

Chocolate cherry smoothie bowl

Serves 1

Smoothie base

  • 1 cup frozen pitted dark cherries
  • 1/2 ripe frozen banana
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • 1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt

Smoothie toppings

  • 1/2 banana, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa nibs
  • Other options: granola cereal, fresh fruit, drizzle of honey

Instructions

  1. In a power blender, combing all smoothie base ingredients and process until smooth.
  2. Pour smoothie mixture into a bowl and top with sliced banana, cocoa nibs and any other toppings of your choosing.
  3. Serve and enjoy immediately.

Vanessa Perrone is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and owner of Motive Nutrition, in Montreal, Quebec.


Sweet and Spicy Roasted Acorn Squash

Sweet and Spicy Roasted Acorn Squash

By: Vanessa Perrone MS RD
Guest post from Motive Nutrition www.motivenutrition.com

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This is a guest post from registered dietitian nutritionist Vanessa Perrone, owner of Motive Nutrition. For more of her delicious recipes and an abundance of great information about nutrition, cooking and lifestyle please check out her website at www.motivenutrition.com


Tired of the same-old sides?

When planning our weekly menu, I typically start by jotting down our favourite proteins. Then, drawing inspiration from weekly flyers and seasonal fare, I head out and pick-up the starches and vegetables I like. I rarely plan sides in advance, since I enjoy improvising and having fun in the kitchen. (And often, this fun turns into recipes for you!)

But when I'm drawing a blank or just need to get a meal going, I make sure to keep ingredients on hand that pair well with most proteins. The current side staple? Squash.

Winter squash are a budget-friendly side that deserve to be on your weekly rotation. New territory? No problem. You'll appreciate acorn squash since it is the least laborious of the bunch, with its no-need-to-peel-me factor, making this side ready for the oven in under 30.

This vegetable is loaded with fibre to keep GI health in check and the brightly-coloured flesh packs antioxidant power as one of top food sources of beta-carotene. Sweet, creamy and slightly nutty, acorn squash pairs beautifully with almost any fish or meat and is divine layered on a bed of baby greens, balsamic dressing and goat's cheese.

Sounding good? Go ahead and spruce-up your weeknight meals with this simple seasonal side. 

Enjoy!

SWEET AND SPICY ACORN SQUASH

Serves 4

Ingredients

1 acorn squash (approximately 1 1/4 lbs)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Method

Heat the oven to 425 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Cut the acorn squash in half, from top to tip and with a spoon, remove the seeds.

Lay the squash face down on a cutting board and cut 1/4" slices (keeping the skin).

In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, maple syrup, paprika, cumin, nutmeg and cayenne

Add the squash slices to the bowl and toss with your hands.

Lay the slices on the baking sheet spread evenly.

Sprinkle with sea salt and bake 25-28 minutes, until golden and tender.


Vanessa Perrone is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, and owner of Motive Nutrition, in Montreal, Quebec.