All Posts Tagged ‘Vegetables

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Roasted Kohlrabi

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One of my favourite things about being part of a Community Supported Agriculture program is that it forces us to try new vegetables that we’ve never seen or tasted before. Last year we got some kohlrabi in our box and I had no idea what it was, and no idea how to cook it. I’ve experimented since then and it has now become one of my favourite veggies. After googling the health benefits of it and finding all good things, it has now become a regular vegetable in our house. Click HERE to read about the benefits.

No surprise, my favourite way to eat it is oven roasted. I like to mix it in with potatoes and a few other veggies to create a nice medley of flavours.

Ingredients:

-1 kohlrabi, peeled and stems/leaves removed

-2 potatoes (sweet potatoes work well also)

-1 large bell pepper

-2 cloves of garlic, diced small

-salt and pepper to taste

-1 tbsp coconut oil, approximately

Instructions:

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.

2) Rinse and chop the kohlrabi, potatoes and pepper into 1 inch chunks.

3) Toss in a bowl with the garlic and coconut oil. Spread the mixture evenly onto a lined baking sheet.

4) Roast for approximately 30 minutes or until kohlrabi and potatoes are lightly browned.

Enjoy!

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Baby Steps (When You Don’t Feel Ready for Whole30)

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In my field I hear a lot of people ask questions like:

What’s the number one thing I can do to improve my health? Going cold turkey on these foods and behaviours is too difficult, so what’s the first step?  Everything is so overwhelming. What are the basics? Where do I even begin?

It’s tempting to dive in to the 10 million little things I feel could change their lives, and I get so excited about it that I have to hold myself back from overwhelming them. Sometimes I do get clients who want to go cold turkey on their old life and dive right in to a life full of health and wellness. They see things in black and white and they make decisions this way – no moderation. But most often my clients choose the slow and steady path, beginning with the basics and slowly edging out their less healthy choices and replacing them with better ones. Although I strongly believe that a quick, short term cold turkey approach can be extremely effective and rewarding, I don’t believe in manipulation or forcing my clients to do something they don’t feel ready to do or aren’t comfortable with doing, so I’ve come up with some baby steps.

Here are five basic things you can focus on to begin improving your wellness. Tackle all five at once if you wish, or introduce one new concept each week, or each month. Listen to your body, find out what approach works best for you, and dive in.

1) Sleep

One of the most basic but life changing things you can do is sleep more, and sleep well. Everything is affected by how long, how well or how poorly you sleep: your metabolism, your weight, your ability to make decisions, your energy, your ability to focus, and so much more. As much as it is in your control, aim to go to bed at the same time every night and wake up at the same time every morning, with 8 hours of solid sleep in between. No screen time for an hour before bed. No caffeine after noon. Sleep in a completely dark room, with no digital clock or computer or light showing. To the young mothers and others who don’t have full control over your sleep habits: do the best you can with what you have. It won’t always be this way, I promise.

2) Less Sugar

Fat doesn’t make you fat. Sugar makes you fat. It also causes spikes and crashes in your energy levels, and contributes to almost every disease known to man. Sugar suppresses your immune system making it much more difficult to fight off a common cold or flu. Basically, sugar is trying to kill you. If you make only one change to your diet, cut out the sugar or cut back on it as much as you can. I advise cutting out sweeteners altogether but this is about baby steps, so try using more natural sweeteners like organic maple syrup, organic raw honey, or coconut sugar as a substitute. Be sure to read the labels on the food you buy and watch for any added sugar. You won’t believe the kind of foods they sneak it into.

3) Move Your Body

As often as you can, move your body. You don’t have to be a runner or Crossfitter. There are so many ways to move your body: swimming, walking, hiking, paddle boarding, yoga, rowing, skipping, weight lifting, kayaking, canoeing, playing sports, bootcamp, and many more.  Exercise should be enjoyable, not a form of torture, so find something that you enjoy and do it often. Outside is always best, but work with what you’ve got. Aim for at least 20 minutes per day of movement outside and you will feel an incredible increase in energy and mental alertness and you’ll sleep much deeper. The combo of fresh air and healthy movement wins every time.

4) Make Space for Veggies

It’s truly crazy how much bread the average North American consumes in a day. Bread, rice and pasta take up so much space on our plates. Rather than cutting out gluten altogether (baby steps), try replacing bread, pasta and rice with vegetables as often as possible. Try wrapping your hamburger in lettuce, try eating your sandwich fillings on a salad. Skip toast in the morning and have eggs instead. Have roasted yams with your chicken dinner instead of rice. It feels strange and unfamiliar at first, but after awhile you won’t miss it, and you’ll love the affect it will have on your waistline. You’re killing two birds with one stone: taking in more much needed nutrients from the vegetables and skipping out on the extra sugar and intestinal inflammation from the gluten. Watch your stomach bloating go down (you may not even have noticed it until it’s gone), and feel your energy level rise. (A little tip: roasting vegetables makes them taste so much better than eating them just raw or steamed plain. Basically any vegetable tastes fantastic tossed in coconut oil, salt and pepper and roasted in the oven. Even brussels sprouts.)

5) Hydrate

It’s pretty straight forward and you’ve heard it a million times: your body is made of water and needs water to function properly. Less wine, more water. Less coffee, more water. Less juice, more water. Less soda, more water. Find a water bottle that you really like and that you feel comfortable drinking out of (maybe you prefer a straw versus a wide mouthed bottle) and carry it around everywhere with you. Every time you have a craving or feel like wine, coffee, soda, or whatever else you’re wanting, stop and make yourself drink 8oz of water first, and then decide if you still want that other drink. Try squeezing some lemon in your water or fresh fruit. If you stay properly hydrated you will have more energy, less cravings, and increased mental awareness. Gulp, gulp, gulp!

Good luck with your baby steps, and as always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you’d like me to coach you through these one on one!

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Meatloaf with Whipped Yams

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I made this last night and my husband ate more than half of the loaf in one sitting because he enjoyed it so much! As always, there’s as many vegetables as I can fit in a meal without it falling apart and without my kids noticing too much.

shrooms

This recipe is large and yields three meatloaves. One for you, one for a friend who needs a pick-me-up, and one for your freezer. It does take some time (about 1 hour and 40 minutes cooking time) so be aware of that before you start.

Ingredients:

-3 lbs grass fed ground beef

-2 eggs

-1 large sweet onion, diced small

-6 cloves of garlic, divided, diced small (4 for meatloaves, 2 for yam topping)

-4 strips of pastured, sugar free bacon, diced

-2 large bell peppers, any colour, diced small

-6 large crimini mushrooms, diced small

-3/4 cup of kale, diced small

-4 large yams, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces

-2 tbsp sugar free dijon mustard (I really like the Organic Simply Natural brand)

-1 tbsp gluten free Worcestershire sauce (omit for Whole30 unless you can find a brand without any sweeteners)

-2 tbsp tomato paste

-1/4 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp pepper

Directions:

1) Preheat your oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.

2) Fry your diced bacon in a pan over medium heat. Once it’s cooked through, remove the bacon and set it aside.

3) Scoop out the leftover bacon fat from the pan and toss it with the chopped yams and 2 of the diced garlic cloves in a large bowl.

4) Spread your yams out onto a lined cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Place in the oven and roast for approximately 40 minutes, or until yams are soft when pierced with a fork. Once they are soft, remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Leave your oven on at 400 degrees.

5) While the yams are roasting, mix your ground beef, bacon pieces, eggs, onion, garlic, mushrooms, kale, and peppers in a large bowl. It is best to do this with your hands to get everything fully combined and mixed well.

6) Add the tomato paste, dijon mustard, and Worcestershire sauce and mix again with your hands.

7) When everything is mixed well, divide the meatloaf mixture evenly into 3 loaf pans.

One for you, one for a friend, and one for your freezer.

One for you, one for a friend, and one for your freezer.

8) Once the yams have cooled, take them from the pan and blend them in a blender, NutriBullet, Vitamix, or whatever machine you have. You may need to do this in two batches to make sure everything gets whipped smoothly enough.

9) Evenly spread the whipped yams over top of your meatloaves. (In my photo, I only put the yams on two of the meatloaves and left the freezer loaf bare. I haven’t tried freezing whipped yams yet so wasn’t sure how well it would work, plus I was short on yams anyway.)

10) Place two of your meatloaves into the oven and bake for approximately 1 hour. Wrap the remaining loaf in tinfoil or saran wrap and place in the freezer.

11) When meatloaves are cooked through, remove them from the oven and allow them to rest for 5 minutes before slicing. Enjoy!

meatloaffinished


I’m big on community and loving each other. You’ll probably hear (or read) me talk about my “village” a lot. When my children were born early and in the NICU for weeks, our community showered us with love by regularly bringing us meals to help get us through the rough time. I can still remember how incredibly loved and taken care of we felt, and I strive to pass that on now. If you know someone who could use a hand, drop this meal off for them. They will never forget it.

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Perfectionism

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2015EWGLIST

The EWG (Environmental Working Group) recently released the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen chart for 2015, and I’m thrilled. For those that don’t know, the Dirty Dozen are the fruits and vegetables that are sprayed with the most pesticides and should be bought organic if at all possible. The Clean Fifteen are the fifteen fruits and vegetables that are sprayed with the least amount of pesticides, which makes them less harmful and at a lower priority for buying organic.

This chart is a practical tool and it represents something that I’m passionate about: you don’t have to have perfect health to be healthy. You don’t need to do it all, buy it all, eat it all, and engage in every single exercise regime. You do need to do the best you can with what you have.

Perfectionism runs rampant in the world of health and fitness and I believe it causes a lot of damage. I follow a lot of popular health bloggers on Instagram and many of them present their world as perfectly healthy. Their Instagram feeds are filled with photos of perfect meals, perfect abs (more on why you won’t find that on my Instagram feed later), and a perfect life. There is nothing wrong with presenting the best parts of your life to the world of social media, and I do appreciate the positive messages they are sending out to the world. I appreciate them as role models. But I want to present something different here, in my space that I’m creating for you.

In my space, my blog, my sessions with clients and my Instagram feed, I want you to find inspiration for living a healthy, balanced life. I want to show you and my clients that you can have a healthy lifestyle with work, family, and all the stress life throws at us. I want to prove to you that my way of living doesn’t have to be difficult or tedious, and that I don’t miss out on things. It doesn’t have to be everything and it doesn’t have to swallow up things you enjoy. It doesn’t need to be all consuming. If it is all consuming, you are striving too hard for perfectionism, and that is a dangerous path. It doesn’t need to be perfect.

Don’t look to me for perfection, because you will not find it. I gave up that goal years ago, after torturing myself to get there and never quite making it.

Food

I’ll be very honest with you. It is a struggle for me to let go of not always eating perfect food. For awhile, I would often want to avoid certain situations where the food wasn’t deemed “perfect” in my mind. If it were up to me, if I lived alone, and if I had all the time and money in the world, then I would probably strive to eat perfectly, all the time. I naturally gravitate to that, from years of disordered eating. But you know what? I wasn’t created to live that way and you weren’t either.

Sometimes moments in our lives are more important than the food that goes into our mouths. We are hardwired to connect with each other. We crave it and we need it in our lives. And often, these connections happen around food. Family get togethers, birthdays, inviting people over to your house to share a meal, famous recipes handed down through generations. These all have food involved, and if you want to be part of it, you’re going to have to give up your goal of perfection.

I have a small group of really really really close girl friends. We’ve been friends our entire lives and we share everything with each other. Every couple of months we get together for an evening and we drink wine, eat chocolate and talk for hours. One of us is a fabulous baker and she often brings something delicious for us to nibble on. This is a really important ritual of ours and one that brings us closer and closer every time. I participate wholeheartedly and treasure our time together. I certainly don’t consume alcohol, chocolate and fresh baking every day, therefore I enjoy it when I do have it. I do the best I can in my every day life to feed my body all the nutrients it needs to run at it’s best, and then, when certain situations arise like those times with my close friends, I relax and value my real life connection with them over the food I am putting in my mouth and over my ideas of perfection in food. I honour the fact that food is not first in my life. (By the way, I didn’t wake up one day and just figure out how to do this. Finding that balance took years and part of what I do is help my clients find their balance.)

I have an incredible daughter. She’s almost 4, full of life and ice cream brings her so much joy. I often opt out of ice cream as it’s not a favourite of mine. But this past summer we escaped for a family trip to Whistler and when she looked at me and asked me to have some ice cream with her, I could see in her eyes that this moment was important to her. She wanted to have a special moment with her mommy, sitting outside, licking our melting and dripping ice cream and giggling together. I really didn’t want any, but you bet I said yes and enjoyed every bit of it with her. No, I won’t do that every weekend. I won’t say yes every time she wants ice cream. But that day, I honoured the moment with my daughter over my idea of perfect food and perfect health.

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Back to the EWG list. I appreciate lists like the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen because it leaves room for differences in priority, lifestyle, income, etc. Yes, we would all love to be able to buy everything fresh, perfect and organic, but some of us cannot. This list represents a movement toward doing the best you can, but leaving room for imperfection.

Exercise

I love working out. I really do. I’m one of those weirdos that loves the feeling of sore muscles and I love challenging my body to do things I never thought it could do. I love feeling strong and I love being able to keep up with my energetic kids. However, my workouts are not everything. They do not come first and they do not take priority over my sanity and my overall health. Because I have two children and a part time job, right now my only option for gym time is to wake up and leave my house at 5:30 AM to be home in time for my husband to leave for work. Because that is SO early (and I’m not a morning person!), I have a rule that I only go if I have had adequate sleep the night before. If I’m not asleep by 10 PM the night before, then I will most often skip the early morning gym time. I believe proper sleep is one of the most important factors in our overall health, so therefore it takes priority over my early morning gym time. I have a “perfect” workout schedule that I aim for each week, but LIFE happens and I just do my best.

Struggling to force yourself into a perfect exercise routine can be daunting, frustrating, and make you feel like you want to quit. I enjoy working with  my clients to find a way to incorporate exercise into their lives regularly without it needing to be perfect and without it having it completely take over their lives. We are aiming for practical, enjoyable, sustainable exercise. We are not aiming for extreme and all consuming.

Exceptions

I want to be clear that I believe there are some limited times when perfection can be attained and can be a positive thing. For example, the Whole 30 program. Following the program requires a very strict way of eating for thirty days, so you can empty your body of all the junk in it, give your hormones a chance to balance out, and kick some strong cravings to the curb. In this case, relaxing on the rules is not beneficial and is actually quite detrimental to your progress and outcome. However, this program is limited to thirty days. It is not promoted as a way to eat forever without any room for special events or special moments in our lives where food is often the common thread bringing us together with our loved ones.

In a similar way, some people find that following a strict and “perfect” program for a certain amount of time (often thirty days) is very beneficial to them. Often this can help someone create a good habit and then they are able to eventually make exercise a priority in their life, but not necessarily the top priority, taking over everything else.

If this is the kind of lifestyle you’re looking for, then I’m here for you. Find me on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, or send me an email. I promise to share my positive but imperfect lifestyle with you, and that includes the good, bad and in-between. If you’re looking for individual coaching,  please contact me and I would love to help you find a way to live a life that is full of health and wellness; exercise and good food, but also sleep, stress management, enjoyment and balance. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

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Shepherd’s Pie

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I think Shepherd’s Pie is one of the ultimate comfort foods. It reminds me of my childhood and especially church potlucks. The mashed potatoes were of course the best part, right?

I’ve tried a few paleo versions of Shepherd’s Pie and finally tweaked enough until I’ve got one that I’ll stick with. The main difference for me is in preparing the mashed cauliflower (faux mashed potatoes). Most recipes call for you to steam the cauliflower before mashing it, but I always find that this makes mine too runny and not close enough to the texture of real mashed potatoes. This time I tried roasting the cauliflower instead and the texture was perfect!

My little guy was shoving this into his mouth by the messy handful and Charley managed to swallow five bites, so I am definitely considering this a picky toddler approved recipe. (She did, however, refer to it as the Pie of Bravery, and suggested that maybe next time I should call Nana and ask for her recipe).

Ingredients:

-1-2 tbsp coconut oil

-2 lbs ground beef

-1 onion, diced

-3 cloves of garlic, minced

-3 large carrots, diced (about 1 cup)

-1 head of broccoli, chopped into small pieces

-3 tbsp tomato paste

-3 tsp coconut aminos

-2 tsp rosemary

-2 tsp thyme

-1.5 tsp paprika, divided

-1 cup beef broth

-salt and pepper to taste

-1 large head of cauliflower or 2 small heads

Directions:

1) Heat a large pan over medium heat and add coconut oil.

2) Throw in your onions, garlic, carrots and broccoli and fry for approximately 5 mins or until they begin to soften.

3) Crumble your meat into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 5-10 minutes or until browned and cooked through. (My pan isn’t very large, so I actually had to scoop out some of the vegetables to make enough space for the meat to cook evenly. Once the meat was cooked through, I add the vegetables back in).

4) While the meat is cooking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Chop or slice your cauliflower (I slice the cauliflower into about 1 cm thickness so it will roast faster) and spread it on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and olive oil or coconut oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. For a little extra kick you could sprinkle with some minced garlic as well.  Roast at 400 degrees for approximately 25 minutes or until the cauliflower just begins to brown. Remove when roasted but leave the oven set at 400 degrees.

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5) Once the meat is cooked through and is no longer pink, add your beef broth, tomato paste, coconut aminos, rosemary, thyme and 1tsp of paprika. Taste and add salt if necessary.

6) Bring the mixture to a boil and then let it simmer while some of the excess liquid dissolves and the flavours meld.

7) While the meat and vegetables are simmering, puree your roasted cauliflower in your food processor, Vitamix, or blender. I did not need to add any liquid to mine, but if it seems to dry then add some bone broth, water, or coconut milk, just a tablespoon at a time. I prefer it on the dry, fluffy side.

8) Remove your meat and vegetable mixture from the pan and press it into a 9×11 baking dish. Spread the mashed cauliflower on top, and sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 tsp of paprika.

9) Bake it for about 25 minutes or until the top is nice and browned. Enjoy!

*This recipe is paleo and Whole30 approved.

shepherdspie

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Chorizo Egg Muffins

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I’m always on the hunt for quick protein fixes, especially when I get home from the gym and want to fill my belly right away. In It Starts With Food by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, they advise to eat protein 15 minutes after a workout. I try really hard to make sure that happens and sometimes it’s difficult because I’m really not into shakes or fancy drinks. These egg muffins are perfect! You can pack them to take to the gym with you and eat cold, or pop them in the microwave for 30 seconds when you get home. There are all kinds of variations you could do with these: ground beef and salsa, bacon and veggies, ham and raw cheese, etc.

Ingredients:

-10 eggs

=3 chorizo sausage links

=1 tbsp coconut oil

-1 red bell pepper, diced

-half of a leek, diced

-1 small yam, diced

Directions:

1) Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

2) Melt the coconut oil in a large pan over medium heat.

3) Remove the casing from the chorizo sausage and crumble into the pan. Fry until cooked through.

4) Add your veggies to the sausage in the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes, and then remove your sausage and veggies from the pan and let cool. (If you cook them too long they will become mushy when baking in the oven.)

5) Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk them until well blended.

6) Add in your sausage and veggies and mix well.

7) Pour into a lined or well greased muffin tin and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean and dry. This recipe yielded 15 muffins.

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Whole 30 – Week 2 – Meal Plan

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Hey there! Wow, this no caffeine thing has been ROUGH. For the first 3 days I had a non stop pounding headache, was exhausted during the day, and awake in the middle of the night. By day 4 I was feeling way better though, and I’m excited to see how things improve even more over the next few weeks.

Here’s my meal plan for this week. A few breakfasts that I will double, and leftovers for lunch every day. 

Breakfast:

Yams and Eggs (There isn’t much to this “recipe” but it’s one of my favourites. I chop the yams into cubes and fry them in coconut oil and steak spice until cooked through. I remove them from the pan and cover them to keep them hot. Then I quickly fry 2 eggs and put them on top of the yams. You could partially boil the yams at the beginning of the week to make them quick and easy to fry up in the morning.)

Sweet Potato Breakfast Skillet

Potatoes with Kale and Bacon

Crustless Quiche

Dinner:

Mexican Meatza

Chocolate Chili on spaghetti squash

Spicy Coconut Shrimp Bisque (skip the corn)

Sweet Pineapple Ginger Meatballs 

Lemon Garlic Chicken on Zoodles and Kale

Italian Sausage and Zoodles

Moroccan Spiced Salmon

I suggest tripling the Chocolate Chili and Spicy Coconut Shrimp Bisque and freezing them for Whole30 emergencies. Those are two of my favourite recipes…you won’t be sorry!

Enjoy!