Posted in Home Economics, Local, On Location, Ontario, Recipes, Special Events

It’s official – I’m a Black Box Food Challenge Winner!

So, a previous post on The Arts & Cookery Bank in West Lorne, ON did tell of the Food Fight Challenge that I was asked to enter.  I’m proud to say that my home ec teacher friend, Tiz, and I won the business category (yes for my Nutrition Bites Consulting business).  I’ll bring you through the whole process and my experience (good and bad – always honest here!) in another post.  But I thought I’d share a picture until I have time to finish my Black Box Experience post.

Our finished product was a Honey Ginger Roasted Pepper Spread.

The swag, the kitchen, the product and the home ec brains behind the winning product.
The swag, the kitchen, the product and the home ec brains behind the winning product.

I believe they are planning this event to be an annual thing – so sign us up for Food Fight 2016!  We have a title to defend!

Posted in Healthy, Home Economics, Opinions & Commentaries, Recipes

My Worst “Client” – First Episode (Juicing) in a Continuing Series

Welcome to my crazy blogging idea.  I am introducing Nutrition Bites: “My Worst Client” series.  Follow along with the frustrating and REAL struggles people have with their health, sifting through the myths of “what’s healthy?” and using my partner in crime as the basis for these examples.

I am using “Mr. R. Ginger” as my example of how frustrating behaviour change can be to me – the nutrition educator who is educated in the field as well as bio-medical sciences and home economics – yet the realistic problems our lives truly gives us to stay healthy and balancing it with family, time and the rest of a holistic life.

So it won’t be pretty, there might be some tears and definitely some laughs out of this series. It will expose the true life of a nutri-foodie, and how no one is perfect.  I’m learning from Mr. Ginger some of the best things – practical solutions with those we love and meeting in the middle at health and happiness.  I hope he has a sense of humour and no access to internet …………. kidding.  

Join us on the journey of the messiness of mixing two views on health, food and, what else, nutrition!

Let’s be clear.  I do not “juice”.  I might “jam” but I do not really find the appeal to juicing.  I hate extra machines cluttering up my kitchen.  I hate the extra cleaning of things that aren’t necessary.  And I just am lazy – if I want juice, I’d rather have it in the whole food or once in a while buy a carton.

So walk in my “worst client” – Mr. R. Ginger – my boyfriend and partner-in-crime.

Getting used to another adult in my life has been interesting and a bit challenging.  One thing is that we have different types of days: I’m the mom at home with a part time job, he’s doing shift work 6 days a week with hours of overtime.  This results in he is about convenience and I am about from scratch.  Don’t get me wrong – he loves (and can cook) healthy food but has no time for it.

Sound familiar?  Yep – everyone seems to be having this complaint – busy lives and no time to put personal health first.

One thing we definitely disagree on is juicing.  He has been juicing for years (I gathered this info through assumption only). He says it gives him lots of energy and it is a healthier option than caffeine.  I say whole foods are better (he doesn’t seem to disagree with that directly) and that he’s losing all that fiber (he juices carrots, ginger and lemon together – seems that is his only recipe) and other healthy components in the “waste”.  He doesn’t care.  AHHHHHHH! Frustration sets in with this nutrition-trained mother and educator.

So true love means that you actually love all parts of that person – even the parts that you don’t understand (or agree with).  It’s not a deal breaker in a relationship but for my career passion for wellness set me into “let’s change his mind” on this.  It turns out – I might have changed mine!  (Keep reading all you science people – I will show you the other side and explain.)

Waste not, Want not.

So I decided to take all that awesome fiber and do something with it.  I figure all these people are juicing and wasting all this good stuff – but old pioneer would do something with the “waste”.  (Science and history question: Do you know what gelatin is made of at times?  I can tell you it’s not always a vegan source. )  My solution was to make my little one’s favourite carrot muffin recipe and tweak it.

Having spent endless years in a kitchen and having food science classes, I just did my weird concoctions of liquid versus dry and trying to make it as healthy and yummy as possible.  I couldn’t believe that my first try turned out amazing (that doesn’t usually happen in a test kitchen…. just saying…. so it’s something to be super pumped about!).

So Mr. R. Ginger juices a 3 lb bag of carrots, 1/4 of a lemon and about a 1.5 inch piece of fresh ginger. (There are two reasons I picked that name!).

Juicing carrots, ginger and lemon.
Juicing carrots, ginger and lemon.

And this is what is left when I’m done juicing for him (remember he works shift work, and I’m a team player! Namaste = The spirit in me honours the spirit in you.).

Carrot Juicing waste Carrot juice &

Who would want to throw that out, or even keep putting this in my composter sometimes 3 times a week?!  NO WAY!

Resourceful and frugal Sandra to the rescue.  Save the fiber!!!!*

The original carrot cake recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks, The Essential Baking Cookbook by Bay Books.  On page 57 is a Carrot Cake recipe.  We use it for muffins as well.  It is scrumptious and begged for her First Communion cake (instead of store bought!) by my little one who is 8.  But what I realized was is that this recipe was not going to stand up to the dry leftovers from the juicing machine. So here comes Professional Home Economist and recipe developer extraordinaire – Sandra Venneri aka Nutrition Bites.

Here is MY original recipe. It is notably different from the recipe I used for the cake.  So it was a starting point, and then my creativity took over:  I made carrot fibre muffins from Mr. Ginger’s juicing “waste”*. Perfect for a take-along to a BBQ potluck or family picnic!

“Morning Glory” Carrot Ginger Fibre Muffins

(AKA – Juicing-Waste Carrot, Ginger & Lemon High-Fibre Muffins)



  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (or 1 tsp cinnamon plus 1 tsp of poudre douce)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg (optional)


  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar (optional if using molasses!)
  • 1/3 cup of molasses (alternative is 1/3 cup of golden corn syrup)
  • 1/2 cup of apple juice
  • 104 ml (or 1 single serve cup) of apple sauce, unsweetened
  • 4 eggs


  • 2 1/2 cups of carrot juice leftovers
  • 1/2 cup of nuts and/or seeds (pecans, walnuts, hemp hearts, chia seeds, etc) (optional)

(Note: approximately 2-3 lbs of carrots, 2 inch piece of fresh ginger & 1/4 of a lemon makes 500 mL of juice and 3-5 cups of “waste” or fresh fibre)


  1. Preheat oven to 315 F or 160 C
  2. Spray or wipe muffin trays with extra oil (or use muffin liners).
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and make a well in the center.
  4. Combine all the wet ingredients in a second bowl and blend well.  Then add to the dry ingredients and mix together.
  5. Add carrot juice “waste”/fibre to the batter.  Add nuts and/or seeds if desired.
  6. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for 22-25 minutes.  Check first at 20 minutes for done-ness with a toothpick.  If it comes out completely clean – they are done!

Servings: 24 small muffins


  • So I have tried variations.  And sometimes they do not come out perfect.  This is more due to the lack of moisture – so it can get a little tricky (and sticky) when the balance of liquid vs. dry ingredients isn’t perfect due to different juicers and the amount of liquid needing to be replaced in this recipe.  Tinker with the amount of apple juice used if this is ever an issue and you think you need more liquid.
  • Molasses use can allow for reduction or elimination of the brown sugar.  Using molasses instead of corn syrup will definitely add to the flavour but it can be an acquired taste.  My older daughter wasn’t too pleased with this variation, yet my younger one prefers this one because she actually found it sweeter and I didn’t use ANY brown sugar!

The Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting that is in the cookbook is a great pairing for but I tweaked it for my taste buds as well as to reduce waste and be more health conscious for serving sizes:

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting 


  • 4 oz (or half a brick 125 g) of softened, cream cheese
  • 2 oz (or 60g) of softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cup of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp of lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon (optional).


  1. Cream cheese and butter together.
  2. Add icing sugar to butter and cream cheese.  Blend well.
  3. Add vanilla, lemon juice and zest and mix together.

A while ago, I posted an Instagram of the regular recipe with the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting here:

Carrot Muffins with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting – Instagram @Nutritionbites


So here is the result (of just the muffins minus the frosting):

Carrot Juicing Muffins made with molasses.
Carrot Juicing Muffins made with corn syrup.
Carrot Juicing Muffins made with corn syrup.  This time I used a gifted Betty Crocker brownie “oven” instead of turning up the heat and oven during the summer.  It works well!
And here is some of the conclusions I came to after this (ongoing) experience,

  • Juicing is something that many educated people are doing
  • There is a lot of waste in juicing, that in my nutrition and frugal ways, is not good
  • So much fibre is lost by not eating whole foods
  • There is noted benefits of feeling “energy” by juicing but I would highly suggest this comes from not the vitamins and minerals (do you feel that way if you just took a multi-vitamin?) but from the quick boost of natural sugars in the juice/liquid that are absorbed quicker into our bodies when it’s not within the whole carrot/food.
    • Yet I wonder about the studies of juicing and insulin spikes after consuming these types of juices?
  • There is a way to use the “waste” or fiber that is lost in juicing to keep it in your diet – my muffin recipe!*
    • These are high in fibre so it’s a great alternative to high fibre additives like bran in bran muffins.  (Bran is one of three parts of whole wheat – bran (fibre), germ (vitamins) and endosperm (energy/carbohydrates, white/all-purpose flour))
  • Some people will hold on to their beliefs and habits even after several chats with an educated source
  • Minds can compromise and people can adapt (I call that a practice of mindfulness perhaps) to their family members.  This requires creativity and willingness to not pick on the little things that really don’t matter. It takes the bigger person to do so (um, that’s me in this case!)
  • Professionals that have to coach and help people with behaviour change/modification should be sensitive to know that success is not measured on a piece of paper – it’s measured in happiness based on the client’s goals (as long as they are not doing harm of course!).  They are the expert in their lives – so we can show statistics and science-based evidence, but if they do not want to change, or do not see it that way – perhaps the best thing to do is be empathetic and see how they want things to go, and help them on their path (not the path you saw for them or hope for them).
  • Oh, and for one last #nutritionbites comment: Mr. R. Ginger, the client, noted “lots of fibre” the muffins had after devouring a ton of them. Hint, hint.. and kind of a “ha ha, proof is in the pudding/muffin ;)” as well!. So maybe, just maybe, I might have to lead the horse to water (or fibre).  Just like those who will eat what is put in front of them (which is most people), I think Mr Ginger should be thankful for my brains, beauty and heart 😉 “A way to a man’s heart (and health) is through his stomach”….. and sometimes, in the hands of his wonderful, nutri-foodie partner in crime! 

Sign up for email notifications of my next blog post.  They include the following as well as my trips and adventures as a nutri-foodie, mom and home economist!

Next topics in the Worst “Client” series include:

  • “Cantaloupe loses too many nutrients if you do not eat it right after it is cut!”
  • Binge eating the same meals for weeks, then cold turkey changes!
  • Shift work makes it difficult to stay healthy
  • “I’d really love to learn more about mindfulness but yoga isn’t my thing” – an experiment of possible change

Thanks for reading!  Don’t forget to like, share and comment – I will respond!  And let me know how your recipe turns out!

(Using molasses was inspired by a contest by Crosby’s Molasses, so don’t forget to get creative in YOUR kitchen too with tried and true ingredients.)

*Update: New research and food companies now support my idea about using carrot waste. Here’s the link!

Another article from a Harvard blog supporting my thoughts: higher intake of calories, sugar spikes & not feeling full with juicing.

Posted in Healthy, Home Economics, Kid Friendly, Opinions & Commentaries, Product Testing

Product Review: Epicure’s Silicone Waffle Mold

I have been a customer and fan of Epicure products for over 11 years now in Ontario.  And I usually buy something when invited to a “party”.  This is the one at-home or book party that sells stuff that I can afford AND I use!  It was originally a Canadian ‘spice blend for dips’ company started in BC by a woman named Sylvie. The products have always been no or low sodium and NO MSG. And they have never used fillers – so most products can be gluten-free.  As well, many are kosher.  The products have expanded to other food products and kitchen utensils and cookware.  Pampered Chef is my go-to only for their stoneware and mini spatulas.  Everything else is Epicure!

So at my new neighbour’s Epicure party, I bought the Waffle Mold, Square steamer (the pan one is amazing, so I wanted the larger one for family portions), Oh Canada! Dry BBQ Glaze, and the Chipotle, Bacon & Cheddar spice blend.
My younger daughter is in love with toaster waffles and I hate buying them: they can be expensive, the box takes up too much room in the freezer, they don’t taste fantastic and they are not very healthy.  I also did not want another appliance that only does one thing, so no to a waffle iron in this kitchen!
Even though I’m kind of a “path less traveled” girl, I followed the recipe that came with the silicone pan! (SHOCKER!) Truth be told, I didn’t have whole wheat flour in the house (I’ve been using up and cleaning out my cupboards!) – so I threw caution to the wind and followed the norm.

The recipe was super easy to make (5 minutes only!) and my oven baked them in less than the 12 minutes suggested – I’d say 11 minutes is good at 420 F in my oven.

One thing I realized is that the batter makes 12 waffles but the mold only holds enough batter for 6.  Ugh.  Based on my food science knowledge, I knew that the baking powder and rising would diminish a bit since the batter was standing around for the first 6 to bake.  (Advice: Either split the recipe in half, or buy two molds so you can be done in 11 minutes instead of 22 plus cooling time in between.)

The waffles came out a bit crispy the first time due to me following 12 minutes baking time and the 425 F suggested temperature.

I didn’t mind.  I had berries in the fridge from my stop in St Thomas the week before.  I would have used greek yogurt (it’s like my healthier alternative to whipped cream!) but my older daughter cleaned us out of that – so a drizzle of maple syrup and, POOF!, it was gone!

The second time, I reduced the temperature to 420 F and tried a bit more batter.  My little one was sick yesterday with a fever, so I thought she might not like the holes that go through the waffles (as suggested and I love!). I filled the batter with more than the suggested 1/4 cup per waffle and ta dah – no holes on one side.

This is great for those kids that love filling the holes with syrup, jam or nutella and it won’t fall through the waffle onto the plate. But low and behold, my younger one wakes up and I give her a choice.  Welcome to Parenthood: My predicted outcome was wrong!  She decided to take the one WITH the holes in it!  She loved the fluffy texture and taste, but the poor wee thing was too sick to really enjoy or finish it, and I sent her to snuggle up on the couch and rest.

Which do you prefer?

Waffles - Holes or No Holes

(Comments are always welcome, opinions make it more interesting!)

I prefer the hole-y one! Less white flour and great spots for the berries to not roll around on my plate!

Kid friendly tip: Use blueberries and raspberries to play tic tac toe with your kids or between siblings. Play with your food! (Just be sure to wash your hands first 😉 ).

Home Economics tip: The great thing that I do (and is suggested by the included recipe card) is to freeze leftovers and pop in the toaster to reheat!  A great way to have a leisurely morning breakfast one day and enjoy the baking when it’s a grab and go day (we all can’t be stay-at-home parents that scour Pinterest for new ideas every day)!

Verdict:  Yes, I would definitely recommend this product!


  • Easy to make
  • Easy to clean and store (silicone folds up and still retains it shape when you go to use it!)
  • Great basic recipe that comes with it
  • Great alternative to a heavy and expensive waffle iron
  • Can help reduce food costs if you Cook Once, Eat Twice (by freezing extras you make and retoasting later!)
  • Healthy alternative – you control the ingredients & can change the tastes (ideas on card for making waffles sweet or savoury)


  • Recipe card makes batter for two molds – suggests to buy two (business trick!)
  • You have to push the waffles out, they do not slip out like a silicone muffin tray (but now I’m trying to find negatives and complain – it wasn’t bad at all and they never broke!)

This is one company that I truly believe in and stand behind. Great tasty products, great responsible company and Canadian! 

(Edit: Since the original post I have decided to be an independent Epicure consultant. Nothing else has been edited other than the following website.). 

Visit my Epicure website ( ) for more info.  I’m sure you will see more Epicure products on my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook pages. That being said, I try to not ever limit a person to my recipes and food tips based on the products (not everyone is going to have them in their kitchen).

So go get messy in the kitchen and try something new this week – you might just find a new favourite (with or without a new product).  And perhaps it’s just the tip of freezing leftover pancakes and waffles for a later day.  (Be sure to wrap individually in wax paper or saran before storing in a freezer bag or container!)

Posted in Uncategorized

Maple Flakes 

Simple post for a simple but amazing product. 

Maple Flakes 

  • Organic, vegan and gluten free
  • Made of one ingredient – maple syrup
  • Crunchy but can “melt” into things like yogurt and marinades 
  • Natural sweetener
  • Keeps great maple taste

Perfect as a yogurt or oatmeal topping. 

Desserts like cheesecakes would do well with a sprinkle of this as well. 

Then my mind goes to glazes or even adding maple-y sweetness to homemade burgers (beef or salmon). 

I love experimenting with new products (this one was on the clearance rack at the Superstore!). 

The crunchy texture with the maple flavour was the perfect sweet pairing with Greek yogurt and blueberries. 

Do you like experimenting with new ingredients? Ever made something fabulous you keep making it? Ever have an epic fail? Share in the comments below. 

Posted in Healthy, On Location, Opinions & Commentaries

I gallivanted in West Lorne, Ontario and ended up there the whole day!

If you live anywhere in Ontario I bet you are thinking “Where?”, “Are you kidding?” or “You are lying!”

I began my trek at 9:30am by tweeting @ElginCounty where good foodie or farm places to go in between London and West Lorne. They responded with two farms that I still have yet to go to! It wasn’t because I didn’t want to, I had to let my dog out back home (my grandma would enjoy that saying -her big excuse to leave somewhere – but this time it was true!).

My purpose of going was to fill out paperwork for volunteering at a kids cooking class at West Elgin Community Health  Center. Conversations with Shelly led to my Twitter account, my tweet from the county, and low and behold another recommendation.

So off I went to Fit Workz.

It looked cheery and Shelly, who recommended it, was an amazing community person so I went in.

A hallway with many doors and openings made me peak into the first opening on the left. A small room had Steele working in it. I asked to come in and if they sold food. She welcomed me in. I took one look:

and even though it looks like not much – smaller menus can mean tried and true favourites with less waste.

I chatted with Steele who was attending university for nutrition and family studies after not choosing dietetics stream. (A post on that should be done one of these days!). She was lovely. I couldn’t decide so I picked both a salad with quinoa and the curry chickpea blend.  Not being big on smoothies I took Steeles favourite one for a spin too.


It was so nice to sit outside and eat but it went into my belly very quickly!

And yes the sign is right, a cute small stand of organic fresh fruits and veggies they have inside too!

So for three items it was $17 approximately. Not bad for quality stuff and a big green smoothie made right in front of me.  I’m not big on green smoothies in general. The cucumbers helped me out but throw a berry in it (I should have asked ) and it’d be perfect for my taste. Knowing most people though… It was fab for smoothie people.

But I wasn’t done … Walking back to the health Center (Fit Workz is super close and on Main St) I jumped into the car after posting on Facebook ( if you are looking) and started driving.

I was not 2 minutes before I saw something that had caught my eye on Twitter AND those tourist signs cities and towns put up. I drove past these buildings and yes, the awesome black flags flagged me down and in!

Welcome to one of the most unique spots I have ever been to! The Arts & Cookery Bank.

It’s a blend and connection of:

  • Two buildings – a bank and a barn.
  • Two times – the past and modern day.
  • Two types of communities – rural and big city.
  • Two types of purpose – Arts (photos, graphic design, architect) and Cooking (holy Batman I’m in love with the kitchen!)

So I walk in to see what this tweet that said something from farm to cookery and Rogers TV doing an episode there.

I walked in and above a beautiful wood and cushioned bench – the wall’s message explained it so well.

  Welcomed so warmly by a fabulous employee I was immediately asked if I wanted a full tour! YES PLEASE!

So first she took me into the huge barn turned into kitchen.  What you can’t see is the amazing Pony Stalls on the left with the original sliding barn doors – 3 of them!  Behind them is where student interns and many computers reside.  They are big on photography as an art.
  They were doing a planning session for their Food Fight coming up in July!  Saturday, July 18th it is open to the public 3-8pm for demonstrations, lots of goodies and awarding the best product made during the week of Food Fights.   Fellow OHEA member and P.H.Ec., Emily Richards (cookbook author), will be one of the guest judges. And Fresh Air Media, Andrew Campbell, will be speaking on the Saturday – he’s very well-spoke and a riot.  I met him at a Dietitians of Canada conference two years ago and we sat beside each other at a Canada Beef/Dairy Farmers informal dinner.  Great local farmer to be speaking.

This event is highly recommending you make your way down on Saturday, July 18th for this very well put together fundraiser (and for you it’s free!). For more info:

Ok so I need to continue the tour…. in between the barn and the bank is the entrance I originally walked into. It was recently built (did she say 2004?) to connect the two donated buildings.  And then you walk into The Vault.  On one side it says this:  Wow – I hope you read that to the bottom.  (Read again if you missed it.  Go ahead.  I will wait.)

The other side is what they were talking about – prints.  I love it – not hand prints but finger prints as in breaking into the bank!  Adorable.  Those who live in the community can do this.  Amazing.
  Remember, that wherever you live – especially if it is a big city – you might feel like you can’t be a part of your community.  Whether you think you affect your community or not, I challenge you to think – when was the last time you saw a neighbour helping a neighbour.  When was the last time you volunteered your time?  When was the last time you dragged their garbage and recycling cans in, just so they didn’t have to when they came home from work after you?  All those small things actually do help and are appreciated.

Be good.  Do good.

That will always leave a mark on your community for the better.  BE & DO!  It doesn’t work if you do nothing or don’t include good and positive.  We are afraid of going out of our way for neighbours and strangers.  When I have done things to help, or ask someone if they need something – they always look in shock.  Community is connections.  And sometimes it starts by smiling, opening a door and genuinely asking how they are or how you can help.

So into the bank we go.  A beautiful hanging dividers with photography art.  Around the room are all the historic families that contributed to West Lorne.  Imagine all the research it took.  I’m so happy someone preserved all those documents and photos.  Then, the art of the architecture and design.  Look at those ceilings!  Look at the windows.  And love the fireplace (how else would they warm the building?).

We went upstairs to what would be the Banker’s apartment.  That would be some good security if a person was always above the bank!  Upstairs has many resources to pick up and maps so you can pick different trails (driving mostly) to discover towns, history (quilt art trail) and southwestern ontario culinary day trips.  As well, there are meeting rooms, more computers for photo editing (upstairs is the Mac behind that wall).  I think they should have a Christmas historic bash with a live band and appetizer stations set up throughout the whole place.  That would be amazing party I would attend!

And that’s not all…

If you were watching my instagram ( or twitter ( you will know that somehow I said yes to entering the Food Fight on the Wednesday night!  They still have openings for you to compete against other organizations and companies (think team building!).

  I will be representing ‘NSTEP – the charity I work with.  We teach nutrition and physical activity to children with the mission of eliminating childhood obesity and all the health concerns that go with it.  (More info on that or contacts please visit  Unfortunately, my co-workers have other part time jobs and I’m still left without a partner.  My mom was my next go to, but she has bummed out her knee.  So still looking for a partner in crime for this event.  If not, I’m going to be on my own!  Ah well, I’ll still be trying and supporting a great cause AND getting messy in a kitchen – yes please!!!

So I’m inviting you to take a Sunday, or Saturday (July 18th) drive to West Lorne.  It was less than an hour from my Northwest London home.

Definitely hit up Fit Workz for lunch

Stop into The Arts & Cookery Bank for a historic, artistic and yummy destination. A high-end non-profit is a great blend of a museum, community centre and local art & food education centre.

And next time I’m there, I’m going to take Elgin County’s advice and try out those farms: Great Lakes Farms & Empire Market.  If you go first, let me know how it is:  Comment below or tweet me at @nutritionbites8 .

Who can really love Canadian history, food, art and community and not stop in here?  Like Paul Brandt would sing, Small Town, Big Dreams.  And did they ever dream big and make it a reality!