Balance Bars

Here’s an ingredient you may never have thought to include in your baking: This ingredient has a mild flavour on it’s own and the addition of it into your baked goods will transform your baking into sources of protein and fibre that will help sustain your families through long days. They are easily hidden into recipes and picky kids will be none the wiser. Can you guess what the secret, nourishing ingredient is? BEANS are the perfect sneaky addition to your baking that will kick up your baking a notch for dense, filling treats that boast high nutritional value. There are plenty of different types of beans and recipes that you can experiment with. Including beans in your baking and snacks to provide for the kids will help keep their energy levels sustained so they can stay active and feel good!

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With Summer on it’s way, there are plenty of days in the Sun ahead. Road trips, camping trips, family getaways and the like make for long days where we want to keep our families feeling good and enjoying every moment. We can avoid the HANGRY monster that lives in all of us by choosing to eat balanced snacks that are full of protein and fibre which make beans the perfect ingredient to add to our diets.

The concept of being hangry stems from an instability with our blood sugar levels. This can occur from going too long in between having a bite to eat and the crash that is sure to follow after blood sugar spike. Our blood sugar can rapidly spike for many reasons – such as indulging in unbalanced, processed or refined snacks devoid of fibre, protein and healthy fats that help slow down the release of sugar into the blood stream. The crash that follows is what leaves us feeling irritable, grumpy, tired can contribute to anxiety and general short temperedness. The brain is dependent on glucose (the simple sugars our food is reduced to) for energy. Allowing our blood sugar to get too low will create sugar cravings and can lead to bad cycles of spikes and crashes if we are choosing the wrong foods to fuel us. Long term, this can lead to weight gain, illnesses such as insulin resistance and diabetes.

Fortunately, we have a tasty solution full of fibre and protein that will help slow down the release of the sugars into the blood keep us feeling good with lots of sustainable energy so we can make the most of Summer!

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Here is one of my favourite recipes that I make ahead and keep on hand for early mornings, long afternoons and a wholesome satisfying snack on the go:  These bars are full of fibre and protein from the beans, healthy fats and plenty of whole food goodness. They are free of common allergens so those who have sensitivities or allergies can still enjoy.

Balance Bars:
Ingredients:

1 tablespoon Chia Seeds
3 ¼ cup rolled oats – ensure they are gluten free if there is a gluten sensitivity
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ cups of cooked white navy beans, rinsed and drained – there are a few varieties and any will work. I use navy beans
¼ cup coconut oil, gently melted
¼ cup pure maple syrup
¼ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/3 cup dried cranberries or apricots (unsulfured is best if you can find it – the Sulfur Dioxide is the preservatives that keeps the colours in dried fruit bright. Unsulfured won’t look as brightly coloured but it’s better to avoid the preservative)
¼ cup high quality dark chocolate chips (optional but tasty!)
¼ cup roughly chopped almonds

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Make your chia mixture: This acts an alternative for an egg as eggs are becoming more of a common allergen. Mix the 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoon of water and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes to gelatinize.
  3. Pulse half of the oats in a high speed blender or food processor until it becomes a rough flour.
  4. Combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl: all of the oats, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.
  5. In a blender, combine the white beans with all of the wet ingredients: Coconut oil, maple syrup, unsweetened apple sauce, vanilla extract.
  6. Combine the wet and dry ingredients in the large mixing bowl and stir until everything is fully incorporated.
  7. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix until fully incorporated. You can get creative with the last three ingredients and try different combinations of dried fruit and nuts and seeds.
  8. Press firmly onto the baking sheet and cut into bar shapes, spreading out slightly so all edges of the bars can cook evenly. Cook for 15-18 minutes or until the bars turn slightly golden. These bars should be kept in the fridge in an airtight container and will last for a week. Alternatively, you can make ahead and keep them in the freezer for one month.

There are plenty of other ways you can add beans into your baking – muffins, cakes, brownies, blondies can all be done with the addition of various kinds of beans that will help enrich your baking nutritionally and stabilize blood sugars. Get creative, generally for every 1 cup of beans you can omit one cup of flour. Here’s to making the most to Summer and having the energy and good health to do so!

Chai Inspired Elixir Recipe

Elixirs seem to be popping up everywhere lately. At one point I had no idea what an “elixir” was, and although I’m not sure there is a specific definition I more or less think of them as blended drinks, usually warm, as opposed to something steeped and strained. They are usually incredibly nourishing and have healthy fats in there to help make them deliciously creamy and frothy. They are super satisfying! Whatever way you want to define them as, I’m sold.

I had been pretty obsessed with making a simple chaga tea elixir, but felt like switching it up a bit when I was reading about the amazing benefits of warming spices such as cinnamon, ginger, cloves, cardamom, etc in Julie Daniluk’s new book Hot Detox that I picked up from chapters. I’m a big fan of chai tea and I knew with the addition of some of my favourite Artisana coconut butter and a base of chaga tea I could create a deliciously creamy and frothy chai tea that is such a great alternative to you typical chain coffee shop where they load them up with sugar, allergenic dairy and unnecessary artificial junk.

Full Recipe:

Ingredients:
1 cup of steeped chaga tea or tea of you choice (roobios or black tea will work too!)
1 tsp – 1.5 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
.5-1 tsp ground cloves
1 small whole pod cardamom or .5 tsp ground cardamom
1 big spoonful of coconut butter (my favourite brand is Artisana)
2-3 small dates or 1 bigger medjool date (or more if you prefer sweeter)

Add all the ingredients into a blender and blend on high for approximately a minutes. This will allow the drink to become smooth and amazingly creamy and frothy! Pour into your favourite cup, sip & enjoy

xo


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3 fermented food recipes (for people who don’t like fermented foods)

Yesterday afternoon I had the pleasure of speaking to a group about nutrition and at one point in the conversation, we got on the topic of our microbiome and the importance of fermented foods.

One lady spoke up to say she didn’t like fermented foods. She was totally turned off by kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha etc and I totally get it! They are acquired tastes and despite all of the health benefits, they aren’t going to appeal to everybody. That said, they are such an important addition to our overall health that it’s important to find a way to enjoy them. Our bodies will thank us.

Adding new foods to your diet can seem daunting and overwhelming especially when your first impression of them is not so great. The truth is is that consuming fermented foods is a very traditional way of eating and we need to bring it back

When it comes to our health, our gut and digestion is at the core of it all. The gut has even been nicknamed the second brain because it dictates so many responses in our bodies, right down to the foods we crave! I’ve said this in a previous blog post, but 2000 years ago Hippocrates famously said “All disease begins in the gut”, and all this time later we are finding out just how true that really is. The addition of fermented foods benefit us in so many ways. Here a few of my favourite key benefits:

-Supports our immune system. Did you know 2/3’s of our bodies immune system lives in the gut?
-Supports healthy and proper digestion. A friend of mine recently said in a blog “you are what you absorb, not what you eat” which is so true! We want our bodies to efficiently be breaking foods down so we can actually make use of their nutritional benefits. The healthy bacteria release enzymes that in turn help us break down our foods much easier.
-Helps us stay regular. No it’s not glamorous, but what goes on in the bathroom is a huge indication of our health! If you are irregular, try the addition of these foods and chances are they’ll help you out.
-The gut is where we synthesize various different vitamins including mood supporting B Vitamins, the healthy bacteria in our system play a key role in this
-Help combat leaky gut and maintains the integrity of the gut lining.
-Help combat chronic inflammation which is thought to be at the root of most disease

On the Go Gut Loving Smoothie:

When I need something quick, whether its for breakfast, a snack or even a late night dinner, a smoothie is my go to and I am loving this good-for-my-gut combo:

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This smoothie features two fermented good for your gut ingredients: Genuine Health’s Fermented Vanilla Protein powder and organic kefir. The fermentation of the protein powder and dairy are much easier for digestion as compared to an unfermented protein powder and dairy product.

To recreate this smoothie: Genuine Health’s Fermented Vanilla Protein, organic kefir, organic blueberries, banana 1 tbsp milled flax seed, cinnamon, optional topping of extra berries and bee pollen!

Tempeh Brunch Bowl:

This can be thrown together so quickly as tempeh is super easy to cook. This is a perfect addition to a brunch spread or for a satisfying lunch.

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Tempeh is a complete protein source made from fermented soy beans. (When it comes to soy foods in general, I recommend they’re consumed fermented for easier digestion) It’s a great source of plant based protein and a great alternative for meat.

To recreate this bowl: organic roasted sweet potato, baked marinated organic tempeh, avocado and hardboiled or poached egg. Top with black pepper, sea salt and chopped green onion

Creamy Coconut Miso Veggie Soup:

It’s grey and dreary out today where I’m from and I can’t wait to warm some of this up for dinner. I’m always mindful not to bring miso to a full boil, just gently warm it to maintain full benefits.

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A while back I was in Victoria, BC with one of my best friends and went to Bliss Cafe. I had theeee most amazing coconut miso veggie soup that I have been dreaming of ever since. It was incredibly delicious. I did my best to pull from memory what this soup consisted of and fortunately I was completely happy with how this turned out. Miso is fermented paste of soybeans. Most people know it as a soup but it’s actually fairly versatile! There are many different varieties which have different flavours and lend to different things: you can create sauces, soups, salad dressings, dips etc with it.

To recreate this soup: Genmai miso, full fat coconut milk, organic low sodium vegetable broth, veggies of choice: I used radish, green bean, portobello mushroom, carrot, zucchini. Top with seaweeds: I used a blend of wakame, dulse and sea lettuce and nori. This addition may be easily overlooked if you choose to recreate this recipe but I highly recommend adding them! They are a fantastic source of vitamin and minerals.

There are plenty of different foods and ways to the enjoy the incredible powerful fermented foods. They may take some time to get used to but keep at it. They are amazingly flavourful but most importantly so vital to our overall health. In fact, the bacteria in our body outnumber the amount of human cells we have! Have you tried fermented foods?

Peach Quinoa Mint Summer Salad

Peach has always been one of my favourite flavours. Without fail every summer they become one of most reached for items at the grocery store. It wasn’t until this summer however that I discovered just how delicious this sweet addition is in my salad. This makes an ordinary boring salad burst with summer flavour and I especially love the flavour combo of the mint and peach. I’ve wanted to share this delicious salad combo for a while now but overtime I make it I end up eating it before I can take a good photo of it to share with you.

What I love about salads (beyond how nutritious they are) is how they’re so easy and require very little time and effort. There’s no real recipe required, just throw together a bunch of good quality healthy foods and you’ve got yourself an easy lunch or dinner. They’re the ultimate opportunity to get creative. You may just stumble upon a combination of flavours that you LOVE and keep coming back to over and over again, kind of like what’s happened to me with this salad.

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I love this salad when it’s hot out and I don’t feel like standing around in a hot kitchen and cooking. I can whip this salad up in hardly any time at all and then sit on my balcony and enjoy the evening sun.

With a base of spinach, I created this salad using quinoa, roughly chopped almonds, roughly chopped mint, one chopped up fig, a bit of crumbled goat feta and 3/4 of a peach, sliced. I saved the remaining 1/4 of the peach to create the easiest peach vinaigrette:

Easy Peach Vinaigrette:
Chop up the remaining 1/4 of the peach
In a blender, add a couple tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and cold pressed organic extra virgin olive oil. I typically aim for a 1:2 ratio of vinegar to oil
Add a bit of water. Don’t add too much water, but enough to thin out the dressing to a nice consistency and to help blend it all together

If you want to make it a bit fancier, throw in a fig or add a tiny bit of ginger

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I always make my own salad dressings. Like anything, once you’ve done it enough times it becomes second nature and doesn’t take much time or effort at all. I find them way more delicious and satisfying this way. And of course, it goes without mentioning that creating your own is the healthier route too. Bottled store bought dressings are often full of junk and added sugars which just isn’t necessary when they are so easy to make

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What’s your go to meal when it’s too hot to cook?

what I ate today

I recently got back from spending a couple of weeks travelling Europe. I got to revisit some places I had been before but never really had the proper time to explore the first go round as well as plenty of new places that had been on my ever growing list of places to visit for quite some time. As much as I love travelling, it’s pretty much a given that by the end of my trip the one thing that is really pulling me home is that I’m eager to get back into my own kitchen and have the ability to eat the way that makes me feel the best.

Don’t get me wrong – as I mentioned in my previous post, I aim to stay consistent with how I eat even while travelling. I think it’s very much possible to have some semblance of health whilst travelling, it just may take a bit more effort to seek out the places that are align with how you want to fuel your body and a bit of preparation in advance. Despite best efforts, it’s never quite the same and given that I am someone who loves to cook and happen to live in a wonderful places with abundant options of health and fresh food, there’s always a piece of me that is ready to come home and get back into my usual routine, no matter how much I may love a place.

Now that I am back, here is a look at what I ate today now that I am back in my routine.

Breakfast: 7 am

 

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I usually like to start my day off with some sort of drink be it a tea or lemon water. Lately my go to has been combining holy basil tea with peppermint. I picked up the holy basil tea from a local super food shop as I’ve heard many people sing praises about it. I liked that it is an adaptogen (anti-stress agents), helps balance hormones and is beneficial for our blood sugar. If you want to learn more about it, Dr. Josh Axe does a great job of talking about the benefits: https://draxe.com/holy-basil-benefits/

While drinking the tea, I whipped up a green smoothie that I had been craving. This is my typical green smoothie: 1/2 avocado, 1 banana, pineapple, leafy greens (I used kale today), cucumber, parsley, fresh squeeze of lemon juice and some chia seeds. I add spirulina which is why the smoothie is a deeper green. Together the chia seeds and spirulina add a bit of protein and therefore this smoothie tides me over a bit longer. I blend with water and ice. It was easy to whip up, nutritious and hit the spot.

Snack: 10:45 am

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These homemade bars have been my go to lately. They include beans in them which may sound totally bizarre, but the beans add lots of fibre and protein to the bars to help stabilize blood sugars and keep me satiated for a long time. Beans themselves are very mild flavoured and it’s likely you’d be none the wiser if you gave these bars a try. I wrote a blog post for Wymbin Yoga for Kids with more information and the recipe. Click here to read

Lunch: 2:00

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Since I returned home I’ve gotten my first batch of produce from the CSA I signed up for which I had been eagerly awaiting since signing up a few months prior. Basically the CSA is  helping fund a farm which allows you to later reap the benefits of when their crops come in and you get a share of their produce. A giant salad is my go to lunch anyways so it was nice to be able to include fresh, organic and local veg directly from my farmer for todays lunch. Todays salad included: Sprouted mixed lentils, green and red leafy lettuce (from CSA), baby cucumbers, fresh dill and parsley, scallions (from CSA).I topped it with a squeeze of fresh lemon, drizzle of cold pressed organic olive oil and a bit of sea salt. I always make homemade salad dressing. It is not something I buy and you won’t find a single bottle of it in my fridge! In my opinion it’s so much tastier (and obviously healthier) to make your own.

Snack: 4:15

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A piece of fruit and a small handful of almonds or walnuts is a very typical snack for me. It takes virtually no time to prepare and is usually just what I need to tie me over between lunch and dinner. Eating the fruit in its whole food form with all of the fibre and nutrients intact as well as pairing the fruit with a healthy fat such as the nuts helps avoid spiking my blood sugar by slowing down the release of sugars from the fruit into the blood stream. The crash that follows a spike as well as well going to long between meals leads to some serious hangriness which is why I always try to have healthy, balanced snacks like this on hand. In the background you may notice my S’well bottle making a guest appearance. Best water bottle ever! I pack a big water bottle every day with me and this is hands down the best bottle I own.

Dinner: 8:00 pm

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Despite what I said at the beginning of this post about loving to cook, it’s inevitable that some days I get home from work and it’s the very last thing I feel like doing. As such tonights dinner felt pretty uninspired but I tried to push through my feelings of laziness and throw something healthy and tasty together without much effort. Using a bed of the same green leafy lettuce I had used in my lunch that I received from my CSA, I topped it with a bunch of shredded carrots, roasted cauliflower and curried chickpeas that I simply just warmed up on the stove with some spices. Typically I would have made a turmeric-lemony-creamy-garlic sauce for this but as I’ve just come back from Europe I haven’t done a proper grocery shop and didn’t have what I needed to throw much of any kind of sauce together.

It feels great to be back in the swing of things with my routine and regardless of tired uninspired dinners, I’m happy to be back in my kitchen whipping up healthy dishes again. This was a pretty typical day for me. What do you miss the most when you are on vacation? What does a typical day of eating look like for you?

 

will travel for food: Victoria

I recently got back from Victoria on Vancouver Island where I spent a few days with a good friend of mine. Every time I’m in Victoria I fall in love with it a little bit more. I absolutely love how lush and green everything is and of course that there is an abundance of cute places to grab amazing, nutritious food! Vacation or not I still like to maintain a healthy diet and it’s much more fun when you have plenty of places that deliver on both flavour and health. Eating well is by no means any sort of punishment and I don’t feel like I ever need a break from it the way that some people may justify their vacation diet. To each their own, but personally I love eating well and as such my vacation diet tends to not deviate too much from what I would eat on a regular basis.

Victoria seems to be a bit more progressive than the city I am from when it comes to healthy lifestyles and we definitely took advantage of getting our fill from their plentiful restaurant and cafe options and fortunately we didn’t even make it through them all so there is plenty of reason to go back.

Here are some of the places we indulged in during our trip. If you find yourself in Victoria, make it a point to stop in at one (or all!) of these places!

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Cafe Bliss was the perfect little stop downtown to grab a yummy bowl, drink or treat. We stopped in here twice and I even grabbed something for the plane ride home the night before we left. I’m still craving their food!

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So we may have gone to Be Love 3 times in just over 24 hours. No shame, it’s that good. We both fell in love with their Shawarma which is picture at the top of the above photo. Although it hardly resembles a traditional shawarma, both of us kept craving it over and over again and I had to resist the urge to order it multiple times because I wanted to keep trying something new. One of the first things when I did when I got home was dash to the grocery store to try to come up with something that had a similar feel to it as the yam Shawarma and despite it being totally different in flavours and ingredients, it was a winner and I think we even had it twice in one week. I love that I left this trip feeling inspired to get home and try something new.

Jusu Bar: There are a few locations of Jusu Bar around Victoria. We walked over to the Oak  Bay location and thought we were just grabbing a quick drink on our walk. We both spontaneously ended up getting their Classic Tacos and despite us walking in with zero expectations, we both agreed that they may have just been the yummiest thing we had all trip. The shell of the taco was made from leftover beet pulp from making the juice which was so cool! I loved that they had found a use for the leftover bits from juicing.

Nourish Restaurant and Cafe:

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This place was recommended to us by a friend/my friends sister (Thanks Krista Bear) and I’m so glad we deviated from Be Love for our last breakfast outing to try it out. I loved this atmosphere this place had. It was super quaint and the perfect cozy spot for an overcast morning.

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They had lots of yummy drink options that deviated from the normal latte and teas regularly served, including this delicious drink called Imperial Sunrise which had turmeric, herbal chai tea, steamed almond milk and honey. I definitely need to try to recreate this one at home.

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If you don’t have time to pop in for an actual meal, you can still grab a drink to go from their cafe side. They have plenty of cool take away items including their in house dairy-free hollandaise and their homemade water kefir.

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I love that all of these places offer not only healthy food but are extremely accommodating for people with different food preferences, sensitivities and allergies. It’s always nice to go somewhere where everyone can enjoy the food and doesn’t feel like a pain in the servers butt by having to try and make special requests whilst ordering so they can enjoy the food.

I am always keeping a running list of all a bunch of must try restaurants no matter where they are, so I have to know: What’s your favourite spot to grab a meal that delivers on both flavour and health?

elevate your snacking

Popcorn is easily one of my favourite go to snacks. It has been since I’ve been young. I think we’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t like popcorn.

A lot of my snacking preferences have changed over the years, but when it comes to popcorn not much has changed on that front. One exception, perhaps is things are getting a little bit fancier in my kitchen as my general love (and knowledge) of food and cooking grows. Popcorn can really go so many ways which makes it the perfect snack to experiment on with flavours. Of course, all of my flavour combinations are made mindfully with the underlying goal of finding delicious snacks that double up a nutritious with nourishing components.

Whether it’s a snack or a hostess gift for an upcoming holiday party, here are my favourite go to flavour combinations as of lately.

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Organic Butter / Dill / Pink Himalayan Sea Salt / Nutritional Yeast

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This is definitely my most common combination: gently melted organic butter, topped with pink himalayan sea salt to taste, topped with dried dill and a generous share of nutritional yeast that lends a cheesy flavour and is a source of Vitamin B12.

Olive Oil / Rosemary / Pink himalayan seat salt / Garlic Powder

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Popcorn is a fast acting carbohydrate, so even though it is entirely possible to consume a huge bowl before the movie actually starts (I’m sure I’m not the only one), moderation should be applied even with air popped, healthily seasoned popcorn for the sake of our blood sugar. Adding a healthy fat like olive oil could potentially help slow down the release of glucose into the blood, but given the ratios between the carb and fat is this scenario it’s a safer bet to add another snacking element to your movie night like almonds or walnuts to eat alongside the popcorn and help slow things down, and of course practice moderation. Popcorn is probably one of the easier snacks to mindlessly devour.

Coconut Oil / Coconut Sugar or Stevia / Cinnamon

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Growing up one of my favourite ways to eat popcorn was carmel popcorn. Of course it’s delicious, but a total assault to our blood sugar levels. Coconut sugar has a slightly carmel like flavour, and is significantly lower on the glycemic index than your regular white or brown sugar. This is a lightly sweetened version that is reminiscent to the carmel corn I loved as a child.  Using coconut oil helps provide a bit of flavour already on its on, so a scant sprinkling of the coconut sugar / stevia is all required to help satisfy the sweet tooth that occasionally surfaces.

Beyond adding great flavour, studies show cinnamon helps stabilize blood sugar which makes it the perfect addition to this sweet popcorn option. Alternatively, you could choose to completely omit the coconut sugar and just opt for the coconut oil and cinnamon instead. Still delicious!

I would love to know if you have a favourite way of seasoning your pop corn or if you decide to try any of these out!

Happy (and healthy) Snacking!