It's a classic December tale: the extra glass of eggnog, the second serving of dessert "all in the name of the holidays," and then suddenly, without warning, January materializes out of nowhere. Everyone you know and love is on a green juice cleanse, and you're wondering if you should start one, too. But hopping on a detox diet isn't the only solution; instead, why not start smaller by simply substituting the major food culprits behind that post-holiday bloat with their more nutritious counterparts? Swapping out dairy and white, processed flour from your diet can be an easy, lasting way to improve your overall health without compromising on flavour. Below, we've assembled some pantry improvement tips courtesy of one of Canada's pioneers of alternative baking for dietary restrictions and allergies, Joanna Schultz, the owner of British Columbia bakery Pikanik.
Pikanik, based out of South Surrey in BC, recently won Innovator of the Year from the Canadian Bakers Journal. Its products are all gluten free, nut free, soy free and dairy free, but what keeps Schultz's customers coming back is that her goodies all taste fantastic. She had always been a passionate baker, but she conceived of Pikanik when her daughter was diagnosed with dairy and wheat allergies. Frustrated with the limited (and often flavourless) options on the market, Schultz began experimenting with allergen-free baking. Five years later, business is still booming! Here are some tips and tricks from the expert on building a better pantry in the new year, as well as her sugar cookie recipe:
-Commercial sauces and salad dressings are often loaded down with starches, thickeners, and hard-to-identify sources of gluten. Make your own and freeze the leftover sauce for future use. Homemade salad dressings will keep for weeks in the fridge
-Swap out your usual pasta for a gluten-free blend made with quinoa and rice flour, such as GoGo Quinoa's spaghetti. (Gluten-free pasta is now widely available at your local grocery store in the gluten-free section, as well as any health food store!) The flavour and texture is comparable, but now you'll enjoy the benefits of additional protein and fibre.
-Going gluten-free doesn't mean having to give up on pancakes! You can order the Pikanik custom pancake mix from their online store here.
-There are plenty of gluten-free flour blends on the market these days, but they're each composed of different ingredients and ratios, so don't assume that they will all behave the same way when baking. Test out a few brands until you get comfortable with them.
Dairy and egg substitutions
-Your butter alternatives will depend on how the butter is being used in your recipe. If it's being melted, coconut oil works well in its place; if it's being creamed, try a soy-free margarine.
-Milk can be swapped out with rice milk, which has an unobtrusive flavour. In place of cream, try coconut cream instead.
-Egg substitutions also depend on the recipe for context. For a single egg substitution with a chewy texture (usually desired in bread baking), mix together 1 tbsp ground flax with 3 tbsp water and allow to rest for 10 minutes before using. For tender cakes and muffins, swap in a 1/4 cup mixture of fruit puree (applesauce or pureed pumpkin work well) and 1/2 tsp baking powder per egg. Non-dairy yogurt also works well in muffins; just swap in 2 Tbsp of yoghurt per egg.
PIKANIK ORANGE SUGAR COOKIES
Servings: 65 cookies
Hands on time: 20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
For the cookies
2 cups margarine, softened at room temperature
2 cups sugar
4 tsp orange extract
1/2 cup applesauce plus 1 tsp baking powder, mixed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 2/3 cups brown rice flour
1 1/3 cups tapioca starch
1 1/3 cups potato starch
3 tsp xanthan gum
zest of one small orange
For the glaze
1 cup icing sugar
1 1/2 tbsp orange juice
In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat softened margarine and sugar until fluffy. Add orange extract and apple sauce/baking powder mixture. Add salt, baking powder, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, xantham gum, and mix thoroughly. Let dough rest 20 minutes or refrigerate for later use.
Scoop the dough into 1-oz balls, flattened slightly. Place on a parchment-lined cookie sheet about 2 to 3 inches apart. (Make-ahead tip: freeze any dough balls you don't want to bake for future use.) Bake in an oven heated to 350F for 8-10 minutes. Cool completely.
Whisk together the icing sugar and orange juice together until smooth. Add more icing sugar and/or orange juice until you reach your desired consistency. Drizzle glaze on cooled cookies and let rest until glaze has set up.
The actress and activist chats with us from the Cannes Film Festival about beauty and aging.
Perhaps you were first introduced to Susan Sarandon as scene-stealing Janet in The Rocky Horror Picture Show or as half of one of the greatest on-screen female duos ever in Thelma & Louise. Or maybe you're most familiar with Sarandon's activism around issues of climate change, the death penalty and economic inequality. Whatever the reason you took notice, the megastar and brand ambassador for L'Oréal Paris is fascinating. She spoke with us about life as an actor, her beauty routine and how to age gracefully.
What are your favourite roles to take on?
I like to play characters who are reaching out in some way to another human—it's the bravest thing you can go. I'm interested in those stories, whether it's the relationship between a nun and a convict, a love story between two women or the connection between a woman and a child. I try to not repeat myself. Even if I've played other mothers, they're all different.
L'Oreal Age Perfect
How is the perception of women over the age of 50 changing?
Being 50, 60 or 70 doesn't mean the same thing as it did when I was 20. There are a lot of great gals who are working, who are fun, sassy and beautiful, and who happen to be over 60. They're great-looking and full of energy, and they're living longer—and there's a lot of us!
What made you want to work with L'Oréal Paris?
I love the ethnic and age diversity that L'Oréal has shown in its choice of brand ambassadors. And the idea—do it for yourself because you're worth it—was a huge breakthrough. I really respect that kind of thinking.
What beauty routine do you follow?
I don't smoke cigarettes, I drink lots of water, I exercise. Everything else, I do moderately. I don't really drink, I try to always take my makeup off at night and I use moisturizer, sunscreen and a little dab of lip balm. That's about it.
As you've gotten older, how have your views on beauty and aging changed?
I think you have to spend your time on, and worry about, more important things. Gravity exists; there's no way around it. As you get older, you have to look at aging differently because comparisons and criticisms are suddenly thrown in your face. There are a lot of people who are aging quire gracefully; I think it's about putting the emphasis on what's inside.
Over 50 and fabulous? Our guide to aging gracefully helps you choose the skincare, hair and makeup products that are right for you.
Re Lauri Patterson/Getty Images Image by: Re Lauri Patterson/Getty Images
Ginger may not be the first spice you think of to incorporate in your snacks, salads and dinners but it's one of the healthiest on the planet! Here's why:
1. It's healthy for your heart.
Research has shown that ginger may lower cholesterol and help prevent blood clotting, which could, in turn, help prevent blood vessel blockages that can lead to heart attacks or strokes.
A recent study out of Pennsylvania State University found that a meal made with a spice blend that included ginger (along with garlic, rosemary, oregano, cinnamon, cloves, paprika, turmeric and black pepper) reduced levels of triglycerides by 30 percent when compared to an identical non-spiced meal.
2. It helps your tummy!
Ginger has long been associated with relieving nausea and morning sickness, motion sickness, and even menstrual pain, as it's original use was for pain relief. A 2012 study shored up that wisdom, showing that ginger can reduce nausea after chemotherapy when taken as a supplement.
3. It can help you breathe easy.
Ginger tea is a classic remedy purported to ease cough and cold symptoms. And it turns out, there’s some science to its soothing powers when you’re sick. In 2013, research out of Columbia University found that ginger might help asthma patients breathe more easily.
4. It has anti-inflammatory effects.
Osteoarthritis causes joint pain and stiffness, but the anti-inflammatory effects of ginger can help that. In a trial done by the National Centre for Biotechnology Information, participants who took ginger extract had less pain and needed less pain medication than those who didn't.
*Although rare, too much ginger can cause heartburn, diarrhea and irritation of the mouth, according to the University of Maryland. There can also be interactions with medications, such as acetylsalicylic acid.
But most of us can indulge in ginger for its flavour and health benefits. Try it in:
Apple Cran-Curry Salsa
Apricot Almond Energy Bars
Asparagus and Orange Salad With Ginger Dressing
Broiled Tofu With No-Cook Peanut Sauce