How to help your nutrition survive the holidays

Happy holidays!!

Christmas lightsChristmas lightsChristmas lights

Let me make something clear – the holidays are NOT a legitimate excuse to toss your good nutrition and solid food choices out the window and go balls-to-the-wall hard into a bowl of spinach and cheese dip, just “because it’s Christmas”. No. Unacceptable. You know better.

Christmas party celebration humorous cartoon, vector, isolatedNow I am not saying that I am perfect myself! One of my all-time favourite parts of Christmas at my house is the literal pile of deep-fried chicken or turkey schnitzels and heaping bowl of potato salad my family makes from scratch to ensure that we have enough for Christmas brunch at our place every year. (Hey, Christmas is about FAMILY and FOOD… best when served together!)

But the thing is that we are not really expected to be perfect ALL the time (no one can be in something 100% of the time… it just isn’t realistic). But the key is MODERATION! Enjoy your less healthy food choices… eat that extra slice of cake… choose scalloped potatoes over the baked ones… for a week or two. But then get right back on those weight machines at the gym and start making a conscious effort to make cleaner, healthier food choices.

That’s what New Years Resolutions are all about anyway, right? Right!

However, because I am well aware that none of us are perfect and we can all probably use a little help to stay on track this time of year, I wanted to share with you a few of my favourite tips and tricks for staying healthier during the holidays.

Christmas lightsChristmas lightsChristmas lights

Enjoy! And happy holidays!!

  • Get lots of vegetables, protein and fibre into you first thing in the morning

    • This will also help you avoid the sugar crash later on in the mid-morning that a high-sugar, high-carbohydrate breakfast would typically cause

      • Lower carb, higher protein breakfasts help to keep your blood sugar levels steady, reducing the chance of unnecessary headaches, drowsiness and mid-morning hunger

    • Doing this will boost your body’s ability to burn fat, because protein digestion boosts muscle metabolism (increased muscle metabolism encourages your body to run leaner, meaning your body burns more calories and breaks down fat faster)

    • That means that an ideal breakfast would look like some vegetables of your choice (preferably raw, but lightly steamed is also good), with a protein source like one or two hard boiled eggs. Add some raw hemp seeds or sunflower seeds for even more protein and fibre, plus a serving of healthy fats

  • Cut your sugar content in half

    • Little known fact: desserts still taste great when you cut the amount of sugar by a 1/4 to a 1/2 of what the recipe calls for

  • Add some cinnamon

    • Another trick is to add a sprinkle of cinnamon to your cooking. It enhances the sweet flavor of foods, while improving sugar metabolism

  • Go vegan with some of your dishes

    • Having vegan options on your holiday table ensures that the choices on the table won’t all be full of creams, cheeses and butters

    • It is also much harder to overeat plant-based foods because they’re so filling

  • Alternate between alcohol-based drinks and plain water with lime

    • The natural vitamin A contained in the lime will actually help your liver to process the alcohol more efficiently!

    • Also, choosing red wine instead of white will give you a range of additional phytonutrients and flavonoids

  • Try coconut-based eggnog

    • Swap out the heavy cream in your eggnog recipe and try using 1 part coconut cream and 1 part coconut milk instead

      • Coconut is full of medium chain triglycerides, a type of fat that’s more easily burned than others, so it is a healthier fat option

  • Make your pumpkin pie with almond milk and ground flaxseed

    • Substitute an equal amount of almond milk for evaporated milk

    • Also, go vegan by using an egg replacer: for each egg called for, try mixing 1 tbsp. of ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp. of warm water, then let it sit for 15 minutes. This will act as both a binder and an egg substitute

  • Choose an option with both fat and sugar for dessert, rather than one with only sugar

    • Seems counter-productive, but the fat actually helps to slow the rate of delivery of the sugars into the bloodstream (sugar spikes are what get us into trouble because the body naturally shuttles it out of the bloodstream and into the fat cells)

  • Help your body to detox the day after a big holiday meal by sipping 1 to 3 cups of Bieler Broth (see recipe below)

    • Bieler broth is a delicious soup that contains adrenal-healing herbs and vegetables, such as parsley, that help your liver process the toxins from alcohol, as well as excess sugar so that it can be burned as fuel

    • The ingredients also aid in the production of bile salts, which help break down excess fats

    • Adding a handful of whole peppercorns adds different benefits as well. Peppercorns (Piper nigrum) come from a flowering vine in the family Piperacea. They are widely believed to the most commonly used culinary spice in the entire world, and have been used throughout history in herbal medicine and to preserve food

Christmas lightsChristmas lightsChristmas lights

Try this recipe for a soup that is so healing to your body, that you can maybe make a couple of bad food decisions over the holidays and still survive…

Bieler BrothBieler Broth:

  • 4 medium zucchini or yellow summer squash, sliced

  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut in half

  • 2 stalks celery, chopped

  • 2 big bunches parsley, stems removed and roughly chopped

  • 1 sprig each of rosemary, thyme and tarragon

  • 1 quart spring water

  • 1/2 to 1 tsp. whole peppercorns

  • Sea salt (to taste)

  1. Place water, vegetables and herbs in a pot and bring to a boil

  2. Once it boils, cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes

  3. Remove herbs before serving and eat as is or puree in a blender

 

 

References: https://furthermore.equinox.com/articles/2014/12/pro-holiday-tips

Original recipe inspiration: https://furthermore.equinox.com/articles/2014/12/bieler-broth

 

 

 

Advertisements
How to help your nutrition survive the holidays

Baking date!

I have a friend coming over tomorrow to bake cookies! We met in nutrition school and are graduating together in a few months. We have been trying to set up a baking date for a few months now, but it is finally happening! So tomorrow, there shall be cookies.

We had to make sure that these cookies fit within her dietary restrictions, but that was no problem! She told me that they need to be wheat-free (gluten-free), and for me I prefer to make my baked stuff high fibre. We both wanted them to be incredibly tasty though! So I did a bit of searching, and I really like what I came up with.

These gluten-free cookies (recipe inspired by the Sprouted Kitchen Cookbook) have little bits of dark chocolate, shredded coconut and a delicious, crunchy almond meal. There is around 30 grams of protein (in the whole recipe) from the almond meal (almond flour) alone, plus more protein from 2 eggs. Even the coconut has a little bit of protein! The other total bonus that these cookies offer is that there is a ton of healthy fibre found in nearly all of the ingredients, so these will help to clear out your system and help keep your tummy happier.

The best part about these cookies is that they are an incredibly yummy way to get all of these healthy things! Proof that eating healthy is totally yummy and something you can make your family love.

These are going to be absolutely incredible served with cashew milk chai tea tomorrow as we bake! Best thing to do at Christmastime is to spend quality time with the people you love and who matter in your life.

My challenge for you for the rest of this week and coming weekend: reconnect with people in your life. Get real with them. Do things together. Tell them that you care. Arrange times to just get together and be friends! You may be amazed with how much this can change absolutely everything…

Almond Flour Cookies with Coconut & Chocolate Chips:

  • 1 1/4 cups almond meal
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup chopped dairy-free dark chocolate chips (I like to use cacao nibs or even carob chips)
  • 1/4 cup ground flaxseed (you can use less if you want less fibre)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
  • 1 vanilla bean pod (you can use 1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract if you don’t have real vanilla beans)

Almond Flour Cookies with Coconut & Chocolate Chips

  1. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the almond meal, coconut, chocolate chips, flaxseed, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar

  2. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs until stiff peaks form and it is about doubled in volume

  3. Whisk the coconut oil and vanilla into the eggs, then add to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Chill in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or overnight

  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 C)

  5. Roll the dough into 1” balls and line up on a baking sheet (leave about a 1 1/2 inch space in between each). Press down on the tops slightly to flatten the cookies just a bit

  6. Bake until the edges begin to brown (about 7 to 10 minutes)

  7. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving

(The inspiration for these delicious cookies came from The Minimalist Baker blog)

Baking date!

‘Tis a shrubbery!

Literally. That’s what I am talking about today – my favourite shrubbery! Known as Rosmarinus officinalis, rosemary is an evergreen shrub with a woody aroma and leaves shaped like needles. It is typically known as a seasoning for food, but it is also one of the most popular aromatic and medicinal plants in the world.

Interesting fact: despite its name, this is not a true oil (as it does not contain fat)!

It is the essential oil in the rosemary plant which possess its essence, and it is this oil that is extracted and sold in bottles. Due to rosemary oil’s use in folk medicine for so many centuries, many scientists are now testing its potential health benefits for the public. Though most of this research is just beginning, it supports some traditional uses of the oil and illustrates possible new uses

Today I want to share my favourite uses and health benefits of rosemary (mostly these apply to the essential oil, but for many you can use the whole plant)… my garden is STILL giving me a ton of herbs (lemon balm, sage and rosemary clear into the winter months? Yes please! THIS is one of the reasons why I garden…), and so I am always looking for new ways to use them. This week’s project? Go get some really amazing extra-virgin olive oil and make some rosemary-and-lemon-balm infused olive oil!

So here are some uses for you all to try! What’s your favourite?

  • Rosemary may improve your brain function

    • The ancient Greeks and Romans theorized that rosemary strengthened one’s memory. In more recent years, studies have shown that inhaling rosemary oil helps to prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine, a brain chemical that is important for thinking, concentration and memory

      • Interesting fact: rosemary’s healing compounds can enter your body through breathing alone, so it is very easy to administer as a therapeutic option

  • Rosemary may help increase your circulation (this may also aid in boosting brain function)

    • Poor circulation is a very common complaint. Many people notice it most in their hands and feet. If you experience cold fingers and toes (even in relatively warm temperatures), then rosemary oil is probably worth considering

    • One way to use it is to massage your hands with a rosemary oil blend. Many people who tried this found that it helped warm their fingers more than a neutral oil alone (this is especially effective for people suffering from Raynaud’s disease, which impairs circulation. If you have Raynaud’s disease, blood vessels in your fingers and toes constrict when you’re cold or stressed, causing them to lose their colour and turn cold. Rosemary oil may help this because if expands your blood vessels, therefore warming your blood so that it reaches your fingers and toes more easily

  • Rosemary may help ease stress

    • Inhaling the scent of rosemary oil can reduce pulse rates by about 9% in times of stress and anxiety. Because increased pulse rates reflect short-term stress and anxiety, rosemary oil may naturally help to reduce stress

  • Rosemary may help with pain relief

    • In folk medicine, rosemary was used as a mild pain reliever, which led to studied in recent years where stroke survivors with shoulder pain received a rosemary oil blend applied through acupressure for 20 minutes twice daily. Those receiving the treatment experienced up to a 30% reduction in pain (those who received only acupressure had a 15% reduction in pain)

    • There have also been animal studies which showed that rosemary oil was slightly more effective for pain relief than acetaminophen, a common over-the-counter pain medication

  • Rosemary may stimulate hair growth

    • Did you know that male pattern baldness (also known as androgenetic alopecia) can also affect females? It’s true! And because I know very few women who want to lose their hair, I wanted to share the littlle-known secret that rosemary oil can be used to treat androgenetic alopecia by preventing a byproduct of testosterone from attacking your hair follicles, which is the cause of this condition in the first place

      • Want to try it? Try massaging diluted rosemary oil into your scalp twice daily for six months (dilute it with a carrier oil, like jojoba or grapeseed). Many who try this experienced the same increase in hair thickness as those who used minoxidil (Rogaine, a common hair regrowth treatment)

    • Other research has indicated that rosemary oil may fight patchy hair loss, which affects up to half the population below age 21 and about 20% of people above 40 (44% of people with alopecia areata who rubbed a rosemary essential oil blend into their scalp each day for seven months showed improvement in their hair loss compared to only 15% in the control group, who used the neutral oils jojoba and grapeseed

  • Rosemary is a natural, healthier energy drink

    • Since the days of folk medicine, rosemary oil has been commonly used for mental strain and fatigue

    • Studies showed that healthy young adults who inhaled rosemary oil reported feeling about 30% more mentally refreshed and about 25% less drowsy compared to smelling a placebo oil. This increase in alertness corresponded to changes in brain waves and increases in heart rate, breathing and blood pressure

    • You can also try applying diluted rosemary oil to your skin, as it may provide similar benefits (the healing compounds in the oil can also reach your brain via this route)

RosemarySo because I love rosemary so much, and because my boyfriend Alex loves eating lamb so much (seriously, it’s delicious… he got me hooked), I wanted to make a point of sharing this recipe that I am making him and I over the holiday break – Leg of Lamb with Garlic & Rosemary. I like this recipe because lamb is actually a super healthy meat choice (richer in iron than both chicken and fish, and full of high-quality protein and many vitamins and minerals).

This recipe would work best served and shared among friends with a younger, more fruit-driven wine such as a younger red Bordeaux, Cabernet or Cabernet/Merlot blend, a Rioja reserva, a Chianti Classico or a northern Rhône red. Bon appetit!

Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary:

  • 1 (7 lb.) semi-boneless leg of lamb, aitchbone removed, fat trimmed to 1/4” thick, lamb tied

  • 3 cloves of garlic

  • 1 tbsp. Himalayan pink salt

  • 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup dry red wine or beef broth

  1. Pound the garlic and pink salt into a paste using a mortar and pestle. Stir together with the rosemary and pepper

  2. Pat the lamb dry and score the fat by making shallow cuts all over with tip of a sharp small knife. Put the lamb in a lightly oiled roasting pan, then rub the rosemary paste all over the lamb. Let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes

  3. Preheat the oven to 350°F

  4. Roast the lamb in middle of oven until the thickest part of meat registers 130°F (this should take about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours). Transfer to a cutting board and let stand 15 to 25 minutes (internal temperature will rise to about 140°F for medium-rare)

  5. Add the wine to the pan and deglaze by boiling over moderately high heat, stirring and scraping up brown bits (about 1 minute). Season the pan juices with salt and pepper and serve with the lamb

Leg of Lamb with Garlic and Rosemary
Delicious… this makes an amazing Christmas meal to share with your loved ones!

 

 

 

References:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/rosemary-oil-benefits#section10

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/lamb

https://www.matchingfoodandwine.com/news/pairings/top-wine-pairings-for-lamb/

 

‘Tis a shrubbery!

Getting into the fall

I love the veggies that come out in the fall! It’s my favourite thing about the season. So today, as I had conference calls all morning and didn’t have  much time to think about lunch until 1:30pm, I decided that it seemed like a great day to make a quick, easy and delicious squash dish for lunch. My mom has a friend who has a small farm just north of the city, and she was kind enough to share a few of her delicious squash with us.

So I was prepping it, getting everything all ready, when it hit me – garlic makes everything better! Wouldn’t it make THIS dish better too?

Absolutely. No question in my mind.

So 5 cloves of garlic and a whole bunch of extra-virgin olive oil later, and I had this beauty – a dish so simple it’s crazy. Acorn squash, halved and rubbed down with extra-virgin olive oil, so much garlic, Himalayan pink salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Baked for literally half an hour, and you end up with something so yummy it will blow your mind.

Lunch, done the right way: quick, cheap, easy, healthy, and delicious! acorn squash

Garlic Acorn Squash:

  • 1 acorn squash, seeded
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • Himalayan pink salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. Cut the garlic up and combine with extra-virgin olive oil
  3. Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Rub the fleshy area down with olive oil, then drizzle with garlic-oil mixture. Sprinkle with Himalayan pink salt and pepper
  4. Bake for 30 minutes or until done to your liking
  5. Dice the squash up into bite-sized cubes and serve! This makes a great addition to any meat-based meal, or can serve as a small main course on its own

 

Getting into the fall

Discussions of granola bars had me wanting some

quinoa granola barsI started talking about homemade baked goodies with some of my friends at school today… which may not have been a good thing per say, as now I want nothing more than to bake stuff! But that’s ok – tomorrow can be spent creating magic in the kitchen. 

I’m thinking of making these Homemade Quinoa Granola Bars, just because they are so very, VERY yummy and really quite good for you too. Plus, anything that combines Turkish figs with peanut butter and quinoa sounds just crazy enough to work and is totally ok in my books.

Quinoa Granola Bars:

  • 1 cup dried Turkish figs
  • 1/2 cup organic creamy peanut butter
  • 3 to 4 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 to 4 tbsp. water
  • 1 1/2 cups quinoa flakes
  • 3/4 cup assorted nuts
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a square baking dish (either 8 x 8 or 9 x 9) with parchment paper and set die
  2. Add figs to a food processor and process until they are broken down and resemble small crumbles. Add peanut butter and maple syrup (for for 4 tbsp. if you want them more on the sweet side) and process again until a dough begins to form into a large ball
  3. Add water, 1 tbsp. at a time until the dough loosens from the ball and spreads out inside the bowl
  4. Add quinoa flakes and pulse to combine
  5. Transfer dough into prepared baking dish and press down firmly with your hands. You want the dough to be as uniform as possible in terms of the thickness so they bake evenly
  6. Bake bars on center rack for 25 to 30 minutes until the edges begin to brown and they are no longer sticky
  7. Remove and let cool completely in the pan. Transfer to a cutting board, carefully (gently) slice them into bars and transfer to a wire rack until bars have firmed up
  8. Store bars in an airtight container in the fridge for ultimate freshness
Discussions of granola bars had me wanting some

Getting real with your schedule

too busyI know a lot of people lately who have been telling me that the reason why they don’t really eat healthy is because they do not have the time. I get that, as it’s the 21st century after all, and we are all busy! But too busy to eat? If you are going to skip any of your priorities, food should not be one of them!!!

But how to fit it all in??

It’s actually quite simple. Take the following framework, and then schedule it right into your days. Write these things into your calendar or day planner, because I promise you that if you do that, it WILL get easier to follow and things WILL begin to change!

Trust me. It works!

Suggestions for how to structure your days:

  • Upon Rising: As soon as you wake up, and before you do anything else, we suggest you drink at least ½ to 1 litre of lemon water made by squeezing ½ a lemon into your water. This will re-hydrate your system after sleeping, start the detoxification process by stimulating the liver and bowels, and kick-start your body in general

  • Breakfast: Try to consume your breakfast within 1 hour of waking up. If you’d like to go for a gentle walk or do some easy yoga before breakfast, feel free to do so

  • Optional Morning Boost: Eat a snack of some fresh fruit or veggies if you feel hungry in the morning. If you sleep in you may not need a snack. Listening to your body is the most important thing!

  • Lunch: Eat your lunch when you feel that your breakfast and morning snack have fully digested and left your stomach. Eat mindfully – try to avoid checking emails, talking on the phone, watching TV or otherwise distracting yourself

  • Afternoon Boost: Eat your afternoon snack when and if you are hungry again in the afternoon

  • Dinner: Try to finish your dinner at least 2 to 3 hours before going to bed. This way you will not be busy digesting food while you sleep. Sleep is a state in which your body should be resting and healing, not digesting food. Remember that your body will prioritize digestion above most other bodily processes, so if you are able to go to bed without a full stomach, your body will have more energy to focus on restoration

    • Drink a glass of herbal tea in the evening if you have cravings or “need something”

Getting real with your schedule

Bliss

Sigh… if only!

garden

There are so many benefits to having a garden as well…

veg.jpg

  • Fresh and nutritious fruits and vegetables. Fruits and vegetables from your own garden are higher in nutrients than the ones that have traveled several thousands miles to get to your grocery store
  • Having your children assist you in the garden can increase the chance that they will eat more of the fruits and vegetables they have helped to grow
  • Growing your own fruits and vegetables can offer you the opportunity to reduce the amount of pesticides that you use in your garden, making them healthier
  • Growing your own fruits and vegetables will save your money at the grocery store
  • Gardening increases physical activity. It is a great way to engage the whole family in physical activity and lets them help to take responsibility for the garden
  • The fruits and vegetables grown in your garden will promote health because they are rich in nutrients, especially in phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate
  • Gardening may stimulate many new interests. You may want to learn more about botany, landscape architecture, photography, nutrition, and farmer’s markets
  • Gardening gives you the opportunity to give back. If you have an abundant garden, you might give some of your produce to the local soup kitchen or food bank
  • Your garden can lead to new skills, and knowledge for you and your family, your child may have a new found interest to become a chef
  • Gardens can foster a great sense of community through parent to parent connections, teacher to student or student to student
  • Schools and community may decide to build a community or school garden. This is a tremendous learning tool for all involved as well a providing a source of nutritious fruits and vegetables
    • A community/school garden can help to foster and motivate future leaders (think after school programs)
  • Tall fruit trees provide shade
  • You can use less pesticides or use natural pesticides and this will be less contamination to the environment
  • Produce peels and waste can create a lot of green waste and takes up a lot of space in the garbage can. Recycle them to make your own compost. It is less expensive than buying fertilizers
  • Turn unsightly lands into attractive landscapes
  • Get creative! There is a potential to grow an innovative gardens like futuristic horticulture gardens that are very cost-effective and require substantially less space
Bliss