I love food and I love to eat. So you would think the whole breastfeeding-eat-all-the-food situation I’m in right now would be heaven. But let me tell you this, getting in enough calories every single day, to maintain my milk supply is really tough! Eating has become a full-time job!
Full-fat coconut milk has been a life saver – mainly in the form of smoothies but recently with quick blender puddings, like this Banana Coconut Pudding! I love it because it takes me about the same length of time to make as a smoothie, but I make a huge batch that stays in the fridge and I can eat it for days! (as long as the hubby doesn’t get to it first…which happened…words were exchanged…)
Additionally, my stomach has been a little off in the mornings – it always is when I don’t sleep well and the kiddo is teething, so clearly not sleeping well. Starting with a small bowl of pudding has been a great way to start the day with food, but not overdo it on my digestive system!
Gelatin vs. Chia – chia seeds are fun. I’ve made chia pudding before, and it’s yummy (as long as you use the full fat coconut milk and not the white-water-no-nutrition almond milk). But chia seeds are the plant-based alternative to gelatin. Which for someone like me, is counter intuitive. I’m always looking for extra ways to get gelatin (especially the grassfed kind) in for gut-healing, so I would much rather make a real pudding, instead of a chia-one. But that’s just me!
Banana Coconut Pudding
Quick blender pudding, with nourishing and satiating ingredients! Dairy-free, sugar-free, paleo and AIP!
Ah the smoothie. The breakfast that always sits on a pedestal. Even if it’s full of crappy ingredients, the word “smoothie” always brings to mind healthy, fit individuals. Is that legit? Well, in some cases maybe – so let’s sort out all the info.
Benefits of Smoothies
Can be made ahead.
Easy way to get additional fruit and veggies in.
You can sneak in super foods like collagen and any supplements you might want.
If you’re dealing with major digestive distress, smoothies can be helpful because less digestive function is required.
Helps people shift away from the traditional North American breakfasts of refined grains on sugar on pasteurized dairy.
Great for the whole family (bonus if you have a large blender, you can make everyone’s at once!).
Great to send in kids lunches (especially in lieu of crappy yogurt drinks).
Downsides of Smoothies
Some people don’t register the liquid calories in a smoothie as a meal, so it can leave them feeling hungry.
By not chewing food, you fail to start the digestion pathway. Chewing is essential in releasing amylase in your saliva and triggering the stomach to start secreting stomach acid.
Smoothies allow you to eat standing up or on the run, which does not allow you to get into proper rest and digest mode. This means you won’t digest your food properly, which can lead to nutrient malabsorption and gut problems like dysbiosis and small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.
Most people do not design them properly! I usually see smoothies fall into one of the following categories:
All fruit + water/almond milk. The problem with this is you’re getting a massive hit of sugar, with no fat or protein to sustain you. You’ll burn through that smoothie in 90 minutes or less, storing much of the sugar as body fat, and then be reaching for a snack.
Protein + water. This combination is way too low calorie to be a meal. At 100-120 calories, heck it’s barely a snack! The only time this is appropriate is if you need a post-workout protein hit. But even then, it should contain carbohydrates to replenish muscle glycogen.
Crappy protein powders. So many proteins contain fake junk. Ingredients like artificial sweeteners (aspartame, sucralose, acesulfame-potassium), food dyes and artificial flavours should be avoided at all cost. Whey protein, while ideal from a bioavailability standpoint, can cause problems in the large percentage of the population that has trouble tolerating dairy. And plant-based proteins are often primarily pea protein, which is a poor quality protein that is notorious for causing major gut irritation.
Random, unnecessary ingredients. So I pretty much added this bullet to address flax. Both the seeds and the oils are completely unnecessary and yet so many people add them to their smoothies! What’s your reasoning for adding flax? Here are the 3 common ones I hear all the time:
Omega-3’s! I hate to break it to you, but the type of omega-3 found in flax seed is ALA and unfortunately, that’s not the form our bodies need. We need EPA and DHA. Sure we can convert some ALA to the usable forms, but at the rate of 0.5-2%. So yeah, not very efficient. One bite of salmon gives you the same amount of omega-3’s as a whole whack of flax.
It keeps me regular! Then you have a GI issue that you need to work on. If flax seeds are keeping you regular, it might be that you’re not getting enough fibre. Add spinach, berries, apples, pears, pumpkin, sweet potato etc. to your diet and get back to me! Not working? Likely there’s something that is causing constipation (a food allergy, gut overgrowth, poor digestive function).
They’re so healthy! Well that’s debatable. They’re not a great source of omega-3’s, the fibre can be irritating to the gut in some cases, and most importantly, they’re highly estrogenic. So if there are any hormonal imbalances that need to be addressed, flax shouldn’t be consumed on a regular basis.
So to sum up, if drinking a smoothie is going to prevent you from swinging through Tim’s for a bagel with cream cheese, go for it! Just make sure it’s properly designed (see below). Also, make sure to give yourself 10 minutes to sit, relax and actually enjoy your smoothie – to aid in digestion!
Creating an Awesome Smoothie
So how do you make a smoothie that’s good for you and an actual meal?
Use the following equation:
fruit and starchy veggies
pumpkin puree (for pumpkin pie!)
baby spinach (my preference because it blends easily and doesn’t add any flavour)
cucumber, fresh herbs, kale, celery etc.
Grassfed/organic whey protein is the best from a bioavailability standpoint (Prairie Naturals Organic Whey, or New Zealand Whey are my favs).
If you don’t tolerate dairy, my other favourites are Manitoba Harvest Hemp Pro, Brown Rice Protein by Prairie Naturals or Sun Warrior and Pumpkin Seed Protein by Omega Alpha.
If you are on an autoimmune protocol, there aren’t any great options for complete proteins. However you can use the Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. It’s not a complete protein, but 2 scoops gives you 18g of protein AND gut/joint healing awesomeness. So just make sure you eat other quality proteins during the day to balance it out!
Key to keeping you full! Yes protein helps keep you full, but fat does a much better job.
Plus the body likes to burn fat as fuel, if you let it.
¼ cup canned coconut milk (full fat!)
1-2 tbsp almond butter or other nut butter
¼ cup cashews
don’t waste your money on almond milk, it’s just expensive white water with no nutritional value, synthetic crappy vitamins and some gut irritants (carrageenan, guar gum)
cocoa powder (carob powder for AIP)
spices (cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice)
chilled coffee or tea
scoop of kefir (coconut or dairy if tolerated)
collagen protein (not just for the autoimmune protocol! I add a scoop to every smoothie to support my gut & joints. Not to mention support my skin, hair and nails!)
Chocolate Smoothie (with hidden spinach!)
This is one of my favourite recipes for sneaking veggies into kids’ breakfasts. Ok if I’m being honest, I fully use this with adults too since many people are weirded out by a green-coloured smoothie (get over it people!). Cocoa covers up the green colour beautifully!
A dairy-free, well-designed meal that is delicious and manages to hide some veggies!
1. This can be made ahead and refrigerated or sent in a lunch box with an ice pack.
2. Protein powder options are (a) grassfed/organic whey, if dairy is tolerated (b) hemp seed, pumpkin seed or brown rice protein for plant-based options and (c) 2 scoops of Vital Proteins collagen peptides for a super gentle & healing protein or AIP option
3. Try not to add additional sweetener to this smoothie. It's not a super sweet, chocolatey milkshake, but the flavour is rich. If your kid refuses to eat it, add 1-2 of raw honey or real maple syrup, and over a few weeks reduce the amount until you're not putting in any.
I used to LOVE pancakes. Seriously love them. I mean come on, refined carbs + sugar + maple syrup – what’s not to love? Interestingly, as I’ve changed how I nourish my body, my palate has also changed pretty dramatically (I say this as I type away while snacking on liver pate…geez, who am I?). Sweet breakfasts simply don’t satisfy me in the mornings anymore. Give me savoury every morning and I’m happy! Well maybe not every morning….
Every so often I still get a craving for pancakes, and since I eat incredibly nourishing food most of the time, I totally give in and enjoy! I’ve tried my fair share of gluten-free and paleo pancake recipes and have a few thoughts about them…
The whole “just mash 1 banana with 2 eggs and fry it – it tastes just like a pancake!” is a flat out lie. It does not taste like a pancake. It tastes like banana-y eggs.
Just because something is gluten-free, does not make it healthy. In fact, when I see “gluten-free” on a packaged product, I run the other direction. Simply using a gluten-free flour in your standard recipe will remove the major gut-irritant (or allergen for some), but it’s still a refined-carb-laden food. You’ll get a massive blood sugar spike, subsequent insulin spike and 1.5 hours later you’ll be starving and/or completely lethargic and ready for a nap. No thanks.
There are many “grain-free” or “paleo” pancake recipes that use lots of arrowroot or tapioca flour. And while these are definitely grain-free, they are still just white flours. I sometimes use these flour, but in very moderate amounts. Not as the main ingredient in a recipe. Again, just because something is “grain-free” does not make it healthy.
Now I’m not saying you can’t enjoy pancakes or waffles with maple syrup! Just know if/how it’s going to impact your body. Flooding my body with refined carbs is not a good scene for me. It results in stomach aches, fatigue and crazy hunger/carb cravings. Not worth it.
So how do I enjoy pancakes then? Well I make sure to use a real food as the main ingredient! There are lots of recipes out there that use pumpkin or sweet potato as the base – which are good – but I love using ripe plantain. The consistency of the pancakes is so similar to what I remember (disclaimer – it has been over 5 years since I’ve had a real pancake, so I may not remember exactly correct…) and the flavour is on point with just a hint of banana.
I usually just use real maple syrup on top and the hubby uses goat butter and maple syrup. However, occasionally I get fancy and make a quick berry-reduction to top the pancakes. Bonus is it further decreases the sugar!
Plantain Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup (optional)
1. I love this recipe because it uses real ingredients. The main ingredients are plantains, eggs and coconut. So really it’s just like having eggs and plantains fried in coconut oil! But seriously, real food results in satiety, energy, nutrients, gut-supporting fibre…this list goes on and on!
2. This is what a ripe plantain looks like:
3. This is how you peel a plantain:
4. Patience is key for this recipe. Don’t try to flip too early! There’s no gluten to hold the batter together before it’s cooked, so let it cook! You want it almost fully cooked through before flipping it.
5. Also, don’t increase the heat to have them cook faster. It doesn’t work and they will just burn.
6. Egg-Free option. I have made this recipe using 3 “gelatin-eggs” to be AIP compliant, and it does work pretty well. The consistency isn’t quite right, but it’s still delicious. To make this with gelatin eggs, do the following:
Combine all main ingredients (except for eggs) and blend well.
Mix 3 tbsp gelatin with 3 tbsp luke warm water.
Then add in 6 tbsp boiling water and whisk vigorously.
Add to batter, blend immediately and start cooking!
A grain-free, dairy-free pancake recipe that uses real food as the main ingredients!
In a high-powered blender or food processor, blend all ingredients.
Heat a heavy pan over medium heat (medium low if your stove top runs hot!). Add cooking fat if necessary.
If making blueberry syrup, combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat over medium for 15 minutes or until reduced. Stir occasionally.
Pour the batter directly on to the pan, keeping pancakes relatively small - max 3" in diameter!
Wait 3-5 minutes before flipping. You want to cook them most of the way before flipping.
Flip and cook for another 2 minutes or so.
Keep warm in the oven at 250F until the entire batch is done.
1. Patience is key. Don't try to flip too early! Also, don't increase the heat to have them cook faster. It doesn't work and they will just burn.
2. Egg-Free option. I have made this recipe using 3 "gelatin-eggs" to be AIP compliant, and it does work pretty well. The consistency isn't quite right, but they are still delicious. To make this with gelatin eggs, do the following: combine all main ingredients (except for eggs) and blend well. Mix 3 tbsp gelatin with 3 tbsp luke warm water. Then add in 6 tbsp boiling water and whisk vigorously. Add to batter, blend immediately and get cooking!