What better way to nourish your kids and harness their endless energy than getting them into the kitchen with you making energy balls! As most parents know, the time between 3 and 6pm can often be chaotic, as kids are worn out and overstimulated from school, but dinner still needs to get made, homework done and often there is some other activity that needs to be attended to, like gymnastics or soccer. Not to mention they are hungry after school and they need to eat something that will give them some immediate fuel but also not fill them up too much before dinner.

Well on a day that doesn't involve chauffeuring them around and the spring rain is falling and preventing you from getting outside, find a kitchen activity to create and harness energy in one fell swoop! This recipe is so straightforward that the kids can do it without much adult supervision as there is no use of the oven or any sharp utensils. Plus it has chocolate in it so you know they're going to buy in to helping! It's also incredibly adaptable to what you have on hand in your pantry (or if your family has an allergy to contend with).

Getting kids cooking is so key to helping them develop a connection to their food and gain essential skills to carry them through life. And you can start at any age!

Check out these videos to see my 2 year old helping make muffins and frittata:

She was cracking eggs, stirring, pouring and tearing leaves at age 2. Now that she's 8 years old, she uses a knife safely, flips pancakes like a pro, presses her own tortillas and even makes a couple signature dishes...deviled eggs and kale chips! And I've let her take over my Tofu 101 recipe (see my earlier post) as she is mostly vegetarian and sometimes needs her own protein source for a family meal. She literally takes work off my plate! Maybe she'll even do a guest blog one day...

And a quick aside--this contest is just getting underway for this year! We've had so much fun doing it as a family and even won the popular vote in 2014! I highly recommend entering a video or at least supporting with your votes!

Anyway, back to the ball of son Max! He's a little harder to wrangle in the kitchen but he can focus in when he wants to. And does he ever need these kinds of snacks in the freezer. He's just like his dad...wakes up hungry and doesn't stop eating until his head hits the pillow! Nuts and seeds are absolutely essential for us to have on hand for their nutrient density, portability and because they can fill you up fast.

We pack a lot of protein into these by using hemp hearts but if those aren't on hand, any other nut or seed will do. You just might need to pulse them a bit first to make sure they aren't too chunky. The sweetness of these energy balls come from nutritious, high-fibre and mineral-rich dates. Nature's candy! Pitted, soaked and pureed dates can be the sweet base for so many recipes in place of refined sugar and then you can feel so good about eating a sweet treat. These are not only great for kids--they are a good post-workout snack or mid-afternoon pick-me-up.


Makes 24 balls


1 cup pitted dates

1 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup cocoa

1 cup hemp hearts

1 cup coconut

1 cup natural peanut butter

1/2 cup chocolate chips


Place dates in a heat-proof bowl and pour boiling water over top, covering by an inch. Place a lid over and let soak 15 minutes or longer. Drain but reserve 1/2 cup liquid.

In a food processor, puree dates until smooth, adding liquid as necessary to form a paste. Add in remaining ingredients and pulse until a thick, sticky dough is formed. You may need to add the rest of the date liquid.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper then scoop approximately 1.5 tablespoons of dough for each ball. You can roll them by hand into balls or leave them more roughly shaped from the scoop.

Place in freezer for minimum 2 hours. Defrost slightly before eating. They should be stored in the freezer and can keep for up to 3 months.

Nutrients (per ball): 210 Calories; 14 g Fat; 18 g Carbs; 4.5 g Fibre; 10 g Sugar; 8 g Protein.





Golden Milk Oatmeal with Sunflower Seed Brittle

Golden Milk Oatmeal with Sunflower Seed Brittle

The morning routine can be a whirlwind: walking the dog, ironing the shirt, getting the family up and out the door, and finding time for breakfast can be a challenge. And I am right there caught in the whirlwind most mornings.  So I do breakfast prep in big batches in the evening when I’m making dinner. 

Steel cut oats are a busy morning person’s best friend, because you can make enough to last all week, then pack up portions in canning jars in the fridge for each day. Steel cut oats reheat much better than rolled or quick oats, because they have a firmer texture. Plus they are loaded with soluble fibre which helps to keep stools soft and easy to pass, and can help to keep cholesterol levels at healthy levels - especially when eaten along with a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, beans, and almonds. A 1/4 cup serving of steel cut oats will dish up 5 grams of fibre, with 1.6g soluble fibre, plus 10% of your daily iron needs, and 7grams of protein. 

This breakfast is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse.  Low levels of inflammation through the body is a side effect of normal metabolism. A small amount of this inflammation is nothing to fear, but high stress and low sleep lifestyles, and highly processed food choices can lead to higher levels of inflammation. This chronic inflammation is linked to the development of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, and Alzheimers.  Dishing up anti-inflammatory foods daily can help to quell this inflammatory process. 

The chia seeds provide anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats. The naturally occurring fats in the combined nuts, seeds, and coconut milk help the body to absorb the anti-inflammatory benefits of the curcumin in the turmeric. A little added black pepper boosts the curcumin absorption by up to 300 times, and don’t worry you won’t end up with a peppery oatmeal. Most importantly this recipe is delicious, the perfect blend of warming spices for a cold morning. 

If you make this recipe in advance, add the brittle just before eating it or it could become soggy. If you don’t have the time to make the brittle part, simply add 2 tablespoons of the nut and seed mixture. 

Recipe adapted from Feed me Phoebe 

Golden Milk Oatmeal with Pumpkin Seed Brittle
Serves 6



  • One 15-ounce can full fat coconut milk (2 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp fresh turmeric, grated 
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 6 grinds fresh black pepper
  • 1 cup steel cut oats


  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, crushed
  • 1 Tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 Tbsp black sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt



  1. In a medium pot, combine coconut milk, water, maple syrup, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and black pepper. Bring to a simmer and whisk to emulsify. 
  2. Once simmering, add oats and reduce heat to medium low and cover. Let cook for 15-20 minutes. Texture will be el dente.
  3. Serve with 2 Tbsp brittle mixture on top, and reheat oats with a little added water through the week for quick breakfasts.


  1. Preheat oven at 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat (silicone baking liner).
  2. In a medium bowl combine all the brittle ingredients, and mix to combine. 
  3. Spread on lined baking sheet, and bake 15 minutes, check after 5 minutes and stir. 
  4. Allow brittle to cool, and keep in airtight container for up to 5 days.

Nutrition Facts (per serving):
Calories: 420, Total Carbohydrates: 33g, Fibre 7g, Sugar 8g, Protein 11g

-- Shannon Smith, RD

Bean Queen

Lovely Legumes! Yellow split peas, French black & red lentils, mung & black beans...

Lovely Legumes! Yellow split peas, French black & red lentils, mung & black beans...

I am a huge advocate for a more sustainable food system and an improved diet for my community. One of the platforms I promote most fervently is the need for more legumes in our diets. I've been trying to nickname myself the Bean Queen--I haven't quite got it to catch on yet.

Beans, peas and lentils are the most sustainable and affordable protein on our planet but in North America, compared to most other places in the world, these superfoods are almost completely absent from the average diet. They come in so many colours and shapes and absorb flavour so well. 2016 was named the Year of the Pulse by the United Nations in an effort to give more recognition to this food group and to encourage their consumption over red meat--one of the largest contributors to the greenhouse gas emissions that are causing global warming. You may have a hard time driving or flying less, taking shorter showers and hanging your clothes rather than using the dryer, but everyone can eat at least one meatless meal each week.

You may have heard of Meatless Monday--well every week you can tune in for inspiration on cooking an amazing meatless meal for any day of the week (and learn the embarrassing bean-related nicknames I have for my husband!).

Not only are legumes incredibly affordable, but they are packed with protein, fibre, B vitamins and key minerals like iron, magnesium and potassium, which are deficient in many people's diets. In fact one serving of this recipes has 15 grams of fibre--about half of your daily need--and 20% of the iron you need each day.

Eating legumes should be joyful, instead of feeling like you're missing out. Like this recipe, adapted from How To Cook Everything by Mark Bittman (this book is the best all-purpose recipe reference book around!) His Braised Lentils are so simple to prepare and taste absolutely delicious. They are a weekly staple in my house and the kids just gobble them up for dinner and take leftovers in a thermos for lunch the next day. I often double the recipe because they freeze nicely too.

I love using a French lentil because they retain their shape and don't turn to mush (which you would want for a dish like Dal but not in this meal). Lentils also don't have to be soaked like a larger bean so you can make them when you're a little more crunched for time. Serve this comforting dish over quinoa or brown rice with a side of sauteed greens.

Braised Lentils
Serves 4


  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup French lentils
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Chopped parsley for garnish


  1. Put the oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. A minute later, add the onion, celery and carrot then cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  2. Add the bay leaf, wine, stock, lentils and salt and bring to a boil. Adjust the heat so the mixture bubbles gently, cover partially, and cook, stirring occasionally and adding water if necessary, until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
  3. Add pepper and keep cooking to the desired tenderness. The lentils should be saucy but not soupy. Taste, adjust the seasoning and remove the bay leaf.
  4. Sprinkle with parsley before serving.

--by Nicole Fetterly, RD and Bean Queen