Monthly Archives of: August 2014

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Almond Zucchini Muffins

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We are loving zucchini season! We’ve been using it in everything we can. It doesn’t have a strong flavour so I’ve been able to hide it in some foods for my picky kids to eat. A friend turned me on to Danielle Walker’s Almond Flour Zucchini Bread recipe from Against All Grain and with just a couple of tweaks, Charley and I made it into our own muffins. I had made them to take camping with us the following day but the whole dozen were eaten before we left in the morning! 

muffin2

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour

2 tsp Epicure’s Fruit Crumble spice (cinnamon would work well here also, I just happened to be out of it)

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

3 tbsp hazelnut butter (any nut butter will work)

3 tbsp raw honey

3 eggs, beaten

1 ripe banana

1 cup shredded zucchini

1/3 cup Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (optional)

Directions

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2) Combine all your dry ingredients in a small mixing bowl.

3) Place the wet ingredients in a large bowl and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes.

4) Add the zucchini and beat until combined.

5) Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, keeping the mixer going.

6) Add the chocolate chips and mix until combined.

7) Pour into lined muffin tins and bake for approximately 30 minutes.

8) Let cool before slicing in half and slathering with grass fed butter. Enjoy!

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Life After Whole30

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So you’ve completed the Whole30 challenge, but now what? How do you make this work in real life? After some trial and error and multiple Whole30 challenges, I’ve found what works for me, and I think this process will help you find what works for you too. 

Step 1: Reintroduction

I really messed this part up after my first Whole30 challenge. If I remember correctly, I ended my challenge with a binge meal at Olive Garden of all places. In a single large meal I reintroduced dairy, gluten, alcohol and sugar. Trust me, this is NOT the way to celebrate! Needless to say I ended up on the toilet pretty soon after my meal, but I had no idea which one of those things caused it.

A lot of people miss this incredibly important step of the process: reintroducing the food groups that you have cut out for 30 days. You’ve successfully cleansed your body from all potentially harmful food, and now is your chance to see what kind of reaction your body will have to each of these foods, telling you whether or not you should eliminate them completely.

While still keeping your diet Whole30 compliant, reintroduce a food group, one at a time, and wait three days before reintroducing the next previously restricted food group. During those three days, be in tune with your body and keep a close watch for any changes. Watch for all kinds of reactions, ranging from sluggishness, bloating, or pimples, to diarrhea, constipation, or stomach cramps. After 3 days, while still keeping your diet Whole30 compliant, reintroduce another food group. Watch for changes in how you feel. Repeat this process until you’ve reintroduced all of the food groups that you feel like you missed out on during your Whole30 challenge. Don’t bother reintroducing foods that you did not miss and are not interested in including in your diet.

It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig goes into a more detailed description of how to do this and I highly recommend buying it. You can also find their complete reintroduction plan on their website, Whole30.

Here is a sample schedule of how you could reintroduce food. This is just the order I chose to reintroduce foods into my every day diet but you can alter it to your preferences and needs.

Day 1 (Day 31 of Whole30): Reintroduce dairy. Throughout the day, add some cheese, milk or yogurt to your regular meals. Watch for signs of intolerance. Many people get stomach cramps, pimples, a runny nose and congestion from dairy products. Decide how you feel and if it is “worth it” to add dairy back to your regular diet. For myself, dairy gives me dark circles under my eyes, a runny nose the next day, and a general feeling of tiredness. Because of this, I keep it out of my regular diet. However, because it doesn’t send me running to the toilet or give me intense stomach cramps, I have no problem indulging in some dairy as a treat once in while at a birthday party or similar situation. I know I won’t feel my best the day after, but it’s not going to make me extremely ill.

Day 4 (Day 35 of Whole30): Reintroduce grains/gluten. Have a bagel or some toast, some crackers and maybe some rice throughout the day. Just as you did with the dairy, pay attention to any reactions you may have. For myself, bread make me constipated and sluggish. I hate how I feel for 24 hours after I eat it and so I avoid it as much as possible. Some grains bother me less than others but almost all make me feel sluggish and so I keep them out of my regular diet.

Day 7 (Day 39 of Whole30): Reintroduce sugar. This was such an eye opener for me. I had no idea how sensitive I am to sugar until I did this reintroduction. Just a handful of M&M’s can give me a major sugar crash about 20 minutes after indulging. With the exception of high quality very dark chocolate, I reserve sugar for special occasions. I rarely sweeten things in my regular diet, but if I do then I use organic raw honey or organic maple syrup in small quantities.  Pay special attention during this evaluation as the signs may not be as physical and obvious as they can be with gluten or dairy.

Step 2: Eating Well for Your Body

So now you know which foods irritate your body and which foods make you feel great. You’ve decided which foods are worth adding back into your regular diet either consistently (every day), moderately (2-3x per week), or rarely, for special occasions. Now you get to practice this in your life and get comfortable with your new way of eating. Learning to meal plan and meal prep takes time at first, but with practice it becomes quicker and simpler. It used to take me a few hours each week to make my meal plan, write out the corresponding grocery list, and chop/prepare my food for the week ahead, but now I spend approximately 20-30 minutes making my meal plan and shopping list and maybe another 30 minutes preparing food.

Every Sunday I receive an email from my CSA group letting me know what veggies I will be receiving on the following Tuesday. Once I’ve skimmed the email and got an idea of the contents, I sit down and make my meal plan. I thumb through my favourite cookbooks (Against All Grain, The Paleo Kitchen, Well Fed 1&2, Practical Paleo, Nom Nom Paleo, etc) and find recipes that use the produce I will be receiving. I choose 7 dinners and 3 or 4 smaller meals for breakfast and lunch. As I write down the title of the meal and page number of the cookbook it’s from, I jot down any extra ingredients that I will need to buy on a separate piece of paper, and that is my grocery list for the week. (With more and more practice and exploring, I’m aiming to make this extra ingredients list as small as possible so that I am using only what comes in my CSA box.)

When I receive my CSA box on Tuesday, I wash and chop most of my vegetables and separate them into produce bags or glass containers. If I know that I have an exceptionally busy week ahead, I will chop and partially cook any yams, potatoes or beets. You can partially steam any dense vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, or you can also pre-shred your zucchini and yams for Breakfast Hash. If I have any vegetables left by the end of the week, I throw them all together in a Breakfast Skillet.

Each week I visit my local butcher shop and get just enough meat for the week, corresponding with the meals I have planned for. I ask them to wrap it all separately for each individual meal so it defrosts quicker on the day I need it. In Well Fed 1 and 2, Melissa Joulwan lays out a detailed description of how to cook and prep your meat for the week. I have the time to cook mine fresh each day, so I don’t follow her plan, but I know others who do and find it extremely helpful.

I cook once and eat two or three times from that meal. I love leftovers and never let any food go to waste. I often eat leftover dinner for breakfast, and leftover breakfast for lunch.

Why?

Where do I even begin? Because I’ve never felt so strong as I do now, after about 1.5 years of consistently eating this way. Because I no longer have any guilt related to my food choices. Because by choosing to live this way, I can keep up with my 3 year old and 1 year old and still have energy to spare. Because I’m free from the anxiety and confusion surrounding my food choices. Because I’m showing my children that this lifestyle is a real, attainable and sustainable way to live.

Read more about why and how Whole30 Changed My Life and helped me recover from years of disordered eating.

Some of my favourite meal planning resources:

Nom Nom Paleo

The Clothes Make the Girl

Against All Grain

PaleOmg

Civilized Caveman

Photograph by the incredibly talented Vanessa Voth Photography.

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Cooking adventure with my little cubs : Rainbow Fruitsicles

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Re blogged from a Super Mom friend of mine. Don’t these look delicious? Enjoy!

Featherandmane

I saw these on Pinterest and thought “I can do that!” so I did. It doesn’t happen often that I even try something off Pinterest let alone “Nail it”. I did not even use a recipe I just made it up. The picture explains it all. But here is what I did to let the children be involved.

Gibsons 3 -august 17th 626

I pre-cut all the fruit and washed all the berries and organized everything before even telling the children we were doing something. I wanted to avoid having those little hands trying to grab everything as I prepared it all. So, I let them play and surprised them with a fun hands on cooking experiment!

I love using words like “adventure” and “experiment”. It gets those cute little imaginations going and allows me to have more control of them as they hang on my every word.

Gibsons 3 -august 17th 628

For the juice I got each one…

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On Sustainability – And Doing the Best You Can

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I’ve hesitated to write this post for awhile now, because I really don’t want to write something that makes you, the reader, feel guilty. I want to inspire you to explore the topic of sustainability; I don’t want to beat you over the head with facts about pesticides that will scare you into buying organic. No one I know has this completely figured out. No one I know is living a 100% sustainable lifestyle. What I want to focus on is how to do the best you can with what you have. This has been my motto of late: to consistently move toward a more sustainable lifestyle, to cause as little harm to the earth, to others, and to myself as possible. 

Sustainability is a huge topic and can be very intimidating. When I started to research it, I became overwhelmed with all the things I’ve been doing ‘wrong’, and started to panic and try to fix everything at once. This became disastrous and made me wish I never had started looking into it in the first place! I’ve dialled back a bit and I’m now trying to adjust one section of my life at a time. Here are the three sections of my food intake that I have recently committed to sustainable practices only.

Meat/Eggs/Fish

One of the biggest criticisms of the Paleo lifestyle is the increased amount of meat intake. If you are buying your meat at Superstore, Walmart, or many other large grocery store chains, then yes, I have to agree with this criticism. We’ve all heard the rumours of what goes on in those factory farms. If the Pink Slime incident doesn’t disturb you, maybe the treatment of the animals on those farms will. Maybe the rumour of arsenic being fed to chickens might cause you to think twice. Don’t care about animals? You might care about the way it affects the earth, you know, that same earth your children and your children’s children have to live on.

In the past year, we have slowly made the transition from buying our meat at Costco to buying our meat from a local butcher shop. Everything in the store is nitrate free, almost everything is sugar free, and as locally sourced as possible. There are no hormones or antibiotics fed to the animals. They are free to roam in the pastures and eat grass. The animals are not abused in any way. Yes, this kind of meat costs more than factory farmed meat. In the beginning, this was a difficult choice for our family to make, as we keep to a very strict budget. However, the more I researched, the more my conscience would not allow me to wane from this decision. For those of you who can’t afford this kind of meat, this is one of those areas where I urge you to do the best you can with what you have. When you can and as often as you can, choose humanely treated, grass fed, hormone free meat.

One of the ways we are cutting back on meat costs this year is investing in a 1/4 share of a cow. Information on the company we are using can be found here, but there are many other farms doing the same thing. Find one that works for your budget and your family.

For eggs, we currently buy two dozen eggs per week from a local farmer in our neighbourhood who allows his chickens to range free. They cost half the price of the organic, cage free eggs from the store, and when we go pick them up in the morning, the eggs are still warm and fresh, rather than having sat in a warehouse for weeks. It’s one of Charley’s favourite things to do and I love that she gets to see the chickens and learn where her food comes from. Ask around your community or go online to find a local farmer who sells eggs. I found this farm by posting the question on Facebook.

eegs

For fish, we have a share in a CSF – Community Supported Fishery. Huge thanks to my talented friend Liz Johnson who invited us to be a part of it. We have been so thrilled with this program. Previously I found it difficult to justify the cost of wild fish, but this program has made it possible for us to enjoy fresh, wild salmon two or three times a week (seasonally). We’ve also had a lot of fun as a family learning about where our fish comes from and learning how to eat it. It’s been a great experience for Charley and she now eats salmon with minimal complaints, which is nothing short of a miracle in our household. Click here to check out the program we are a part of.

Charley helping fillet our fresh, wild and sustainably caught pink salmon.

Charley helping fillet our fresh, wild and sustainably caught pink salmon.

Produce

For produce, I focus on buying seasonally, local and organic whenever possible. This can get expensive if you are not careful. I did some research and shopped around to find the best prices, and have found that in my surrounding area, Two Ee’s Market is one of the best places to buy.

This year we signed up with a CSA program – Community Supported Agriculture. I googled ‘CSA Langley’ and after looking through a bunch of options that came up, I chose Glen Valley Organic Farm. Each week they deliver a huge box of local, seasonal, organic produce right to my doorstep. With careful meal planning, I only need to pick up 2 or 3 things at the market each week in addition to what comes in our box. We are saving 20-30 dollars a week with this program! There are many options and farms to choose from, depending of course on where you are located.

This is one week's delivery, at my door step.

This is one week’s delivery, at my door step.

If a CSA program is not possible for you and if you are concerned about the prices of local/organic produce, check out this list to help you decide where to spend your money in the produce section of your grocery store.

Treats – Chocolate and Coffee

I recently read an eye opening article on how some of our food choices are unintentionally promoting child slavery and other horrible things on a great blog called Sustainable Dish. (Read the article here.) I have yet to tackle the banana issue, but am now striving to only buy fair trade or direct trade chocolate and coffee. I drink one cup of coffee every morning, and I love dark chocolate for a treat now and then. These are areas that are easier to take on sustainably, if you’re not drinking multiple pots of coffee per day or consuming multiple chocolate bars a day. One of my favourite brands of chocolate is Green & Black’s. Their chocolate is  a truly ‘guilt free’ treat.  For coffee, there are a lot of options out there. A couple of my favourites are Kicking Horse and Ethical Bean, but do some taste testing and find your own favourite.

I could talk with you for hours about these things and discuss so many more reasons behind it all. If you want to delve deeper into this or if you have questions, please leave a comment or email me at wellness@wellnesswithjoanna.com.

If you’re feeling guilty or overwhelmed, relax. Remember, do the best you can with what you have. When you can, make the best choice for you, for the earth and for others. Be intentional in your choices and where you spend your dollar.

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The Meal That Started It All – Breakfast Hash

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This month marks my 2 year Whole30-versary!

Two years ago, a close friend of mine posted an Instagram photo of her zucchini and yam hash for breakfast with the hashtag ‘Whole30’. I asked her about it, and she gave me the Whole30 rundown. I completed the Whole30 challenge, and have been on a journey of health ever since. 

(Side note: The friend happens to be a beautiful writer and very talented photographer. Check out her blog here.)

This meal is still one of my favourites for breakfast, or post workout. I’ve seen variations of the recipe on several different food blogs and I have no idea where it originated, but here’s the gist of it.

Ingredients

1 zucchini

1 yam

1 sweet onion, peeled and chopped

1 tsp sage

2 eggs

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp coconut oil

Directions

1) Using a food processor or cheese grater, shred your yam and zucchini. 

2) Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and melt your coconut oil in it. 

3) Place your shredded yam and zucchini and your chopped onion in your pan and mix to combine. 

4) Sprinkle with sage and mix again.

5) Allow the yam and zucchini to cook until you start to see some crunchy brown parts starting to brown, about 10-15 minutes.

6) Remove your hash from the pan when it is cooked to your liking and cover to keep it warm.

7) Fry your eggs in the same pan, however you desire. My favourite way is to gently crack them into the pan, pop the lid on, and leave them to cook for 3-5 minutes until the whites are cooked through and the yolks are still runny.

8) Carefully slide your eggs out of the pan and on top of your hash. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and enjoy!

hash2

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End of the Week Breakfast Skillet

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breakfastskillet

 

Every Tuesday we get a big box of produce delivered through our CSA program. It’s enough to completely fill our fridge and then some, so every Monday I clear out whatever is left from the previous week and fry it up for breakfast. This is a quick and simple meal that is ever changing, and really doesn’t require a recipe. Here are a few steps for any newbies in the kitchen, but those of you who already have been cooking for awhile, just go for it and see what delicious combinations you come up with!

Ingredients

1 tbsp coconut oil

1 sweet onion, peeled and diced

1 apple, washed and diced

Any vegetables you have left in your fridge, washed and chopped to uniform size

Some form of protein (a meal is not a meal without protein the size of your palm!). For example: two fried eggs, nitrate free/sugar free farmer’s sausage, chorizo sausage, etc. Experiment with whatever you have in your fridge.

Directions

1) Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and melt coconut oil in it.

2) Fry your onion and whatever meat you have chosen until cooked through.

3) Add in your vegetables, starting with the hardest vegetables (yam or potato), and then adding the softer ones a few minutes later so they don’t get soggy. 

4) Combine and fry until cooked through. Simple and delicious!

Some of my favourite combinations are: 

Chorizo, yam, leek, apple, bell peppers, and kale.

Farmer’s sausage, potato, apple, bell peppers, swiss chard, and sauerkraut.

Ground pork, zucchini, peppers, fennel, and apple.

Pictured: Farmer’s sausage, red potato, swiss chard and apple.

I would love to hear what delicious comments you come up with or suggest! Leave a comment and share your insight. 

 

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A Healthy Vacation – Part 2 – Camping

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I’ve had an on again, off again relationship with camping my whole life. My (brave) parents took all four of us kids camping every single summer for as long as I can remember. And I’m not talking weekend camping, I’m talking 2-3 weeks at a time with no showers, no flushing toilets, no fancy RV. I loved it as a young kid, hated it as a moody teenager, and now I’m back to loving it as an adult. Looking back, I’m so incredibly grateful to them for giving us those amazing, natural, old school, get-outside-and-breathe-that-fresh-air kind of experiences. Just don’t tell them I said that.

I’ve been hearing all summer from people that it’s impossible or just too difficult to stay healthy on vacation, and especially while camping. I decided to try and prove them wrong. (Read Part 1 to see a detailed explanation of how we stayed healthy in Whistler here.) 

You CAN eat healthy and keep up with your balanced lifestyle while camping with minimal preparation, and still leave room for some treats here and there. My husband and I just finished a 5 day road trip to Banff and Jasper, British Columbia, and I promise you we didn’t climb mountains with hot dogs and muffins in our bellies.

Hiking around Lake Louise

Hiking around Lake Louise

Here’s what I packed and how we enjoyed our adventures, completely guilt free.

In an electric cooler I packed:

1 batch of frozen homemade meatballs (previously made and frozen before our Whistler trip), separated into ziploc freezer bags of 5 for quick defrost

1 batch of frozen homemade sausage patties (previously made and frozen before our Whistler trip), separated into ziploc freezer bags of 4 for quick defrost

6 hardboiled eggs

1 pound of frozen grass fed beef stew meat, cut into 1 inch chunks

1 frozen farmer sausage 

4 bell peppers, chopped

3 sweet onions, peeled and chopped

Approximately 20 mushrooms, washed

2 large zucchini, chopped

5 red potatoes, scrubbed 

4 apples

1 bunch of bananas

A big bag of carrots

3 packs (about 350g total) of sugar free, nitrate free beef jerky

4 Larabars

1 glass container of our leftover breakfast from the morning we left (a skillet mixture of chicken sun dried tomato sausage, kale, swiss chard, peppers, potatoes, onion and apple)

A sealed glass container of coconut oil

For cooking supplies I packed:

2 plastic plates

2 forks and 2 knives

1 sharp knife

Heavy duty aluminum foil

1 cutting board

1 frying pan

Propane stove (with propane and matches)

Garlic Salt

Pepper

We dropped our kids off with my parents and left late in the afternoon and drove straight to Golden, BC. We ate before we left and then snacked on veggies, hard boiled eggs, and meatballs for a quick dinner in the car. The next morning we left early to finish our drive and had a similar meal for breakfast in the morning, eating the sausage patties instead of meatballs. (Because I separated the meatballs and sausage patties into ziploc freezer bags, I was able to pull them out of the cooler and let them defrost for 10-15 minutes before eating them). 

For the next three nights we camped in Jasper National Park. We spent each day exploring and adventuring around Jasper and Banff and spent as little time as possible at our actual campground, so here are some of the quick combination meals I came up with for dinner each day. I made a little extra each night to warm up in a pan on the propane stove for breakfast in the morning. Lunch was always a mixture of eggs, veggies, jerky, Larabars, meatballs and sausage patties.

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Tinfoil Steak Dinner

I piled half of the stew meat on 2 large torn pieces of layered tinfoil. I sprinkled it with garlic salt and pepper, then added the diced potatoes, peppers, mushrooms, and zucchini. I wrapped it in the tinfoil and sealed it tightly at the top, and cooked it on a grate on top of the campfire for approximately 20-30 minutes. Depending on the size of your stew meat chunks and vegetables, check on it every 15 minutes or so until it’s cooked to your liking. We ate it right out of the tinfoil to save dish washing time.

Some possible variations: throw in a splash of balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or steak spice.

dinnerfire

Tinfoil Farmer Sausage Dinner

I did the same thing as the Steak Dinner, just replaced the stew meat with sliced farmer’s sausage. Farmer’s sausage usually has a high salt content, so skip the salt on this one and add chopped apple to balance the flavours. This cooks much quicker, so check every 10 minutes or so for doneness. 

If we had stayed longer, I would’ve done the same thing with a cut up chicken breast, pineapple, red onion and more vegetables. By making different combinations, you can have different flavours each night, all healthy and satisfying.

steakdinner

Eating this way gave us lots of energy for all of our hiking and canoeing adventures, and left room for treats in the cute little town of Banff, at the Lake Agnes Teahouse, and the occasional S’more. If you skip the extra treats, the whole road trip and camping trip could easily be Whole30 approved.

We are hoping to squeeze in another short camping trip before the summer is over, so leave a comment with some of your healthy camping ideas. I’d love to try them out!