Carbs can be healthy! Image by: Getty Images
No matter your craving—pizza, pasta, chocolate—we've got a healthy carb substitute that's good for you.Low-carb diets affect our mood and energy for a reason—carbohydrates are the most important source of energy for our bodies. But our carb carvings aren’t just biological, they’re a learned response in the brain, says Christy Brissette, a Toronto-based registered dietitian and president of 80 Twenty Nutrition. "Research has shown that when we give in to our cravings over and over we map an automatic response in the brain." The good news is you can create a new, healthier pathway with nutritious alternatives that satisfy your carb cravings without any negative side effects like low energy or weight gain. Here are a few handy suggestions.
Make a homemade veggie pizza using whole wheat pita and low-fat mozzarella or ricotta cheese. "It's already personal size so there's no chance of overeating," says Brissette. Spread tomato sauce on your pita (if desired), and top with finely diced veggies and cheese. Bake until crisp, melted and irresistible. Carb-curving bonus: Eating whole wheat carbs can lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease. Try this recipe: Double Mozzarella and Spinach Pita Pizzas.
Chocolate chia pudding couldn't be easier to make. "Just add skim milk or a milk alternative, cocoa powder and your choice of sweetener to chia seed, stir it up and put it in the fridge," says Brissette. The chia seeds absorb all the liquid, take on the cocoa flavour and gel into pudding consistency, she adds. Carb-curving bonus: Chia seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids and protein, which will help keep you feeling fuller longer. Find out more about chia seeds.
Prepare your own sweet potato fries. Cut up sweet potatoes, toss in olive oil, add a dash of salt and bake until crispy, says Brissette. The salty, sweet, rich treat will more than satisfy your fix. Carb-curving bonus: Sweet potatoes contain more fibre and fewer total carbs than white potatoes. Try this recipe: Baked Herb Sweet Potato Fries.
"My latest obsession is 'nice cream'," says Brissette. "Take a frozen fruit, bananas work well, and add skim milk or a milk alternative like almond milk until the drink is the consistency of ice cream. It really helps kick sweet cravings." Carb-curving bonus:Fresh fruit is fibre-rich, which provides "bulk", slowing digestion and making you feel full longer. Try this recipe: Pineapple Berry Smoothie.
Spaghetti squash makes a great substitute for pasta noodles, says Brissette. Just steam, separate the strands with a fork, and add your favourite pasta sauce. Carb-curving bonus:You'll get a host of vitamins from the squash, including vitamin A, vitamin C and beta-carotene. "If you're craving lasagna, I use sliced zucchini in place of the noodle," adds Brissette. Try this recipe: Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes.
Make your own popcorn with olive oil spray and sprinkle with salt and herbs, or, for a cheesy hit, add nutritional yeast. "You can buy nutritional yeast in bulk stores and health food stores," says Brissette. "It's just like sprinkling Parmesan cheese flakes onto your popcorn." Carb-curving bonus:Nutritional yeast is rich in B vitamins such as riboflavin and niacin. "Plus, it gives you a ton of flavour without a ton of fat," adds Brissette. Find out how to make popcorn the old-fashioned way.
Eat a handful of your favourite nuts along with one or two squares of dark chocolate. Nuts won't trigger the same serotonin release that carbs do, says Brissette, but they will keep you satisfied. "Just make sure you stick to a handful because nuts are high in calories." Carb-curving bonus: The natural fats in the nuts and protein will curb your appetite while the dark chocolate will satisfy your sweet craving. Find out everything you need to know about nuts.
Photography by Davina Choy Image by: Photography by Davina Choy
Put your slow cooker to work and save time with these 20 easy and satisfying recipes.
Serve this saucy pulled pork as sandwiches: piled high on buns, with bowls of garnishes, such as pickled jalapeños, sour cream, shredded cheese and thinly shredded red cabbage (or better yet, red cabbage slaw), and let guests build their own sandwiches.
This recipe can easily be left to simmer away in a slow cooker for eight hours before adding the chicken. It yields a large quantity of sauce that freezes well if you're feeding a smaller group. Serve over hot steamed basmati rice.
This roast, inspired by a classic Belgian stew, is juicy and tender over mashed potatoes, and the leftovers make the ultimate hot sandwich. Cook the bacon and onion mixture the night before so it's ready to add to the slow cooker in the morning without a lot of fuss.
This beanless regional specialty is a point of pride in Cincinnati, where fierce loyalty divides the city over which restaurant serves the best version. Cooked low and slow, with the distinguishing flavours of cinnamon and cocoa, the meaty, saucy chili is served over spaghetti.
This mild, sweet curry has all the comforting flavours of a curry without too much spice, making it a great choice for the entire family. Serve over steamed rice or with warmed naan bread.
You won't believe how tasty and easy it is to make this classic dish in your slow cooker. A piping bag - or plastic bag - makes easy work of stuffing the manicotti. Serve with a tossed salad and garlic bread for an easy family-style dinner.
A brisket needs to be cooked slowly, so using a slow cooker makes perfect sense. Ensure tender slices by cutting the brisket thinly across the grain.
Inspired by Portuguese caldo verde, this hearty, richly flavoured soup is a yummy way to use up an entire bunch of kale in one go. It freezes well, so leftovers make quick and easy lunches all week. The soup thickens as it stands; thin with water and adjust the seasonings as desired when you reheat it.
My mother, Shu-Lai Fong, makes famous pressure-cooked black bean spareribs. They're the inspiration for this recipe, which is just as delicious but uses a slow cooker. You'll find bite-size bone-in pork spareribs at most Asian grocery stores, or you can order them at your butcher's counter.
This hearty sauce is best served over a short pasta with lots of nooks and crannies it can tuck into and cling to. This ragu also makes a delicious lasagna filling when layered with sheets of fresh pasta and ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Cost: $2.15/cup
There are few things more comforting than a bowl of rich, creamy seafood chowder. Sweet, licorice-like fennel naturally complements the seafood. Serve with oyster crackers or crusty bread and a simple green salad for a complete meal.
Chorizo sausage and flavourful spices make this chili a real treat to come home to. Stirring in chopped herbs at the end adds a welcome touch of freshness.
Slow-cooked then quickly finished on the grill, sweet and sticky glazed ribs are guaranteed to impress your guests. Pork side ribs are also called St. Louis–style ribs, but back ribs are equally delicious.
Finally a flavourful risotto that doesn't need any stirring! Dried mushrooms work perfectly to create an earthy aroma, we've used dried porcinis here as they're readily available, but any dried mushroom will do. Hearty pot barley makes adds a healthful twist and doesn't become overly mushy - even after 8 hours.
Sweet honey and tender shallots mellow the typically strong flavour of lamb shoulder. Serve with roasted potatoes and steamed greens for a complete meal.
We've swapped beef broth for chicken broth and onions for tender leeks but kept all the flavour in this lighter version of classic French onion soup. When you get home, just toast the baguette, broil the cheese and enjoy!
This veggie-loaded chili is so hearty that even meat lovers will ask for seconds. To freeze it, cook as directed, but don't add the mushrooms. Cook them separately and add to the chili after reheating it. Serve with crusty bread to soak up every bit of sauce.
Inspired by the traditional Mexican tacos served with spicy thin pork slices and pineapple, this slow cooker version features pork shoulder broken into tender bite size chunks. If you don't want to serve these as tacos, try serving the pork on top of steamed white rice instead.
This all-in-one meal is a roast version of classic beef and barley soup. The barley thickens the cooking liquid to make a delicious gravy.
Using stewing beef instead of ground meat adds delicious bulk to this otherwise classic chili. Serve as is or use it as a topping for baked potatoes.
Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins
Photography by Mark Burstyn Image by: Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins <br /> Photography by Mark Burstyn
Classic, healthy and savoury muffin recipes to bake fresh or made in advance and frozen.
Whip up a dozen moist muffins on a leisurely Sunday morning. Or better yet, set out the muffin recipe ingredients the night before and let the first person up bake a batch for everyone. Most of these muffin recipes can be made in advance and frozen.
Before you start baking your favourite muffins, take a few tips from The Canadian Living Test Kitchen about muffin recipe dos and don'ts in this article: Muffin know how.
Classic muffin recipes
These classic muffin recipes are designed for maximum taste and pleasure for minimum effort.
Banana Pecan Muffins
Crunchy-Top Blueberry Muffins (pictured above)
Morning Sunshine Muffins
Streusel Apple Raisin Muffins
Mini Carrot Cranberry Muffins
Peach Poppy Seed Muffins
Pear Upside Down Muffins
Blueberry Streusel Muffins
Morning Glory Muffins
Apricot Orange Muffins
Cranberry Pear Upside Down Muffins
Apricot Orange Yogurt Muffins
Anything Goes Muffins
Rhubarb Muffins or Loaves
Blueberry Yogurt Muffins
Ginger Pear Muffins
Oat and Apple Crumble Top Muffins
Pumpkin, Orange and Raisin Muffins
Healthy muffin recipes
These muffin recipes contain more good-for-you fibre. Reducing the amount of sugar will further boost the health benefits of these recipes.
Honey Oat Muffins
Apple-Orange Oat Bran Muffins
Apricot Oat and Bran Muffins
Cranberry Flax Muffins
Date Bran Muffins
Prairie Honey Oatmeal Muffins
Applesauce Bran Muffins
Fruity Oatmeal Muffins
Bran Flaxseed Cranberry Muffins
Savoury muffin recipes
Not all muffins need to be sweet! Satisfy your savoury tooth with these 5 muffin recipes - great for breakfast, snacks or a side-dish for dinner.
Red Pepper Corn Bread Muffins
Corn Muffins with Green Onions
Mashed Potato Muffins
Cheddar Bacon Muffins