All Posts Tagged ‘Wellness with Joanna

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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.

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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.

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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!

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A Healthy Vacation – Part 1 – Whistler

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Over the course of this summer, I’ve heard a lot of this:

“I’ll start eating healthy after my vacation is over.”

“It’s impossible to eat healthy on vacation.”

“It’s too hard to eat healthy while camping.”

“Whole30 is impossible on vacation.”

Of course, I took this on as a challenge to prove that it IS all possible, and that it’s not that difficult or time consuming with a little guidance and prep work. We had two short trips almost back to back, giving me two opportunities to test out my ideas. (Read Part 2 – Camping to see how we stayed healthy on our road trip to Alberta).

First, we got to spend a weekend in Whistler with our good friend and her daughter. We stayed in a lodge with a full kitchen, making this the easier of the two challenges. Still, we only had 2 nights there, and I wanted to spend as little of that time in the kitchen as possible, so I prepped almost everything ahead of time.

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Here’s a complete list of what I packed:

Green beans

Kale/Swiss chard mix, washed and torn

Yellow carrots

1 large zucchini

4 avocados

1 bunch of bananas

Cherries

Apples

1 dozen eggs, half of those hardboiled

Chicken (2 large bone-in breasts and 2 large thighs)

Homemade sausage patties

Homemade meatballs

Partially cooked diced yams

Cooked beets

Cashews

Larabars

Date/Coconut balls

Black coffee

At first glance, all that cooked food may look like a lot of prep work, but it really wasn’t. I like to keep it simple and use shortcuts.

For the chicken, I threw it all in a crockpot the night before with about 1 tbsp of rosemary, 1 tbsp of basil, 1 sliced lemon, salt and pepper, and drizzled olive oil on it. I let it cook all night on low, then let it cool in the morning and packed it away in tupperware. This took about 5 minutes of hands on time.

For the beets, I also used the crockpot. I scrubbed them, threw them in the crockpot and covered them with an inch or two of water. I cooked them on high for 2 hours. Once they cooled, I slid off the peels and then packed them in tupperware. Maximum ten minutes of hands on time.

The meatballs and sausage patties were what took the most time, and so I doubled both recipes knowing that I could use the extra for camping the next week. For the meatballs I used the Greek version of Melissa Joulwan’s meatballs. I packed half of them in a tupperware and froze the other half in a ziploc freezer bag for camping. For the sausage patties, I used my absolute favourite homemade sausage recipe from Stupid Easy Paleo, found here. I did the same as I did with the meatballs, packing half in a tupperware container and freezing the rest in a ziploc freezer bag for camping the next week. This only took about 30 minutes of hands on time the night before our trip.

While the meatballs and sausage patties cooked in the oven, I peeled and chopped about 6 small yams. I fried them in coconut oil but left them slightly hard so that they wouldn’t get mushy over the next few days. This took about 15 minutes of hands on time, and about 15 mins of frying time. 

The morning of our trip, I threw it all in a cooler and unloaded it all in the fridge once we arrived. Over the weekend, we simply ate different combinations of all these foods. Bonus, we came home with a ton of leftovers that we ate at home over the next couple of days. All of this food was Whole30 approved, and because I’m not actually doing the Whole30 challenge this month, eating this way for our 3 main meals a day left room for treats like this that I found at the Whistler Farmer’s Market:

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Apple Bacon Pie. Seriously.

Spending the small amount of time to do this ended up saving us a ton of money (dining out in Whistler is expensive!), a lot of frustration and exhaustion trying to keep our two wiggly children quiet and entertained at restaurants, and left us with so much extra time to explore and have fun. 

Try it, I know you can do it!

(Side note: I was so happy to bump into Caveman Grocer at the Whistler Farmer’s Market. Check her out!)

Kayaking in Whistler

Kayaking in Whistler

Morning run around Lost Lake, Whistler

Morning run around Lost Lake, Whistler

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Salmon and Lemon Pepper Zoodles

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This summer we’ve been enjoying so much wild salmon from the Community Supported Fishery that we are a part of. I’ve been experimenting with a bunch of different recipes (basically trying to find which one Charley will eat with the least amount of whining) and have found that this one that I have just barely adjusted from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo is simple, delicious, and great for repurposing leftovers the next day. I have a hunch that Charley might actually like it, although she would never admit it.

I happily eat leftovers every day as a way to save time in the kitchen. When you cook absolutely everything from scratch, leftovers are a necessity. With that in mind, i reheated this salmon from last night’s dinner and added some simple zucchini noodles and red pepper, and it only took about 15 minutes of my time. Enjoy!

Ingredients

For the salmon:

1 lemon, thinly sliced

1 lb wild salmon

1-2 tbsp of coconut oil

2 tbsp fresh chopped rosemary

Pinch of salt and pepper

For the zoodles:

1 large zucchini, spiralled into zoodles

5 baby bell peppers, chopped

2 tbsp Tessemae’s Lemon Chesapeake sauce

Directions

For the salmon:

1) Preheat your oven on the low broiler setting.

2) Place some tin foil on a baking sheet and grease with coconut oil.

3) Place the salmon skin side down on your baking sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4) Sprinkle the chopped rosemary on the salmon, and top the salmon with the lemon slices.

5) Broil on low for approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of your salmon.

For the zoodles:

1) Heat a large pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of Tessemae’s Lemon Pepper sauce.

2) Fry your peppers for a few minutes until they begin to soften.

3) Add your zoodles and combine with the peppers. Fry for 4-5 minutes, until they are softened to your liking.

4) Remove and place in a bowl or on a plate. Top with your leftover salmon.

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Tessemae’s sauces are Whole30 approved and a great addition to your kitchen. They make dishes like this super quick and easy! You can order them online or find them at Whole Foods.

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Potatoes with Kale and Bacon

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POTATOES. KALE. BACON. These are few of my favorite things, especially all served together. I’ve stayed away from white and red potatoes for years but have recently had some fun reintroducing them into my diet after the big Whole30 announcement saying they are now approved.

In regard to the bacon, please don’t make this dish unless you are using sugar free, nitrate free bacon. My conscience can’t let me get away without saying that in this post. Clean bacon can be difficult to find, so do your homework. Find a good butcher and quiz him on how he makes his bacon. If you can’t find it locally, check out US Wellness Meats.

This dish, paired with a few eggs, works well as a pre/post workout meal or a hearty breakfast.

Ingredients

3 cups potatoes, chopped into 1 inch pieces

3 strips of sugar free and nitrate free bacon

1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped, stems removed

Directions

1) Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Cut the bacon into 1 inch pieces and fry in the pan until cooked through. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside, to be added back in later.

2) Remove some of bacon grease from the pan, but leave about 1-2 tbsp in the pan.

3) Add the chopped potatoes to the pan and fry in the bacon grease. Turn the heat down and a little and fry until the potatoes are almost completely cooked through.

4) Turn up the heat again and add in the chopped kale. Give it a good stir and add in the cooked bacon pieces. Fry until the kale becomes slightly crispy in the pan and the potatoes are cooked through.

Serve up and dig in!

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Energy Balls

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I try not to snack unless I really need to. Over the past year I’ve been experimenting with my meal sizes in an effort to figure out just how much food I need at breakfast, lunch, and dinner to avoid getting hungry in between. That being said, sometimes there is no avoiding it. When dinner gets delayed by cranky kids or extra long outings, I like to have something available to quickly grab and tide me over until my next meal. That’s what these energy balls are for. I can also grab a couple on the way to a work out, or take them with me on a hike. There are so many different variations of these that you can make, and I’ve included a few of our favourites. Charley loves making these and I’m happy to have something to offer her instead of a store bought granola bar! Bonus: these are Whole30 approved! Here’s what we created today.

Ingredients

12 dates, pitted and chopped

10 figs, chopped

1 cup hazelnuts, chopped

1/4 cup almonds, chopped

2 tbsp raw cacao nibs

1 cup freeze dried strawberries and bananas

1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Raw Cacao Nibs

Raw Cacao Nibs

Directions

1) Mix all ingredients in a large bowl except for the coconut.

2) Working in batches (approximately 2 cups at a time), blend in a Vitamix (or similar food processor) on low speed until the mixture starts to stick together. Scrape the sides and blend for a few more seconds until it becomes it mouldable.

3) Scrape the sticky mixture out (I use a knife to work around the blade. It’s a sticky mess!) into a separate bowl and repeat with the remaining mixture until all of the mixture is combined. You may need to add a tablespoon of water, depending on how moist your dates and figs are.

4) Scrub your hands and remove any jewellery. Leave your hands wet and roll the sticky mixture into balls, approximately 1 inch in size. Press them pretty tightly to ensure they stay together. Keeping your hands wet will allow you to roll them easily without everything sticking to your fingers.

5) Roll the energy balls in the shredded coconut. You should have approximately 15 energy balls, depending on the size. Enjoy!

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Variations

Replace the hazelnuts and almonds with cashews or macadamia nuts.

Use fresh fruit. This makes the process messier but is absolutely delicious! One of my favourite combinations is fresh chopped cherries and 1 tbsp fresh lime juice.

Add spices like cinnamon, nutmeg or cloves. Add 1 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice.

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Lemon Pepper Spaghetti Squash with Scallops and Kale

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I absolutely love scallops! They are a quick and easy source of protein and completely versatile when it comes to flavour. This is one of my favourite lunches to eat post workout.

Ingredients

1 spaghetti squash, cooked and threaded into ‘noodles’

8-10 scallops, ocean wise

1 bunch of kale, washed and chopped, stems removed

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1/8 cup of Tessemae’s Lemon Pepper sauce, approximately

Directions

1) Heat a large sauce pan over medium heat.

2) Pour into the pan about half of the Tessemae’s Lemon Pepper sauce

3) Place your scallops in the pan, leaving lots of wiggle room between them. Leave them to cook for 3-5 minutes.

4) Flip over your scallops and allow them to cook for another few minutes.

5) Add your red pepper and stir to combine with the scallops. Let cook for a minute.

6) Add your kale and the rest of your Tessemae’s sauce. Mix everything and fry until kale is softened and scallops are completely cooked through.

7) Remove from pan and serve over spaghetti squash noodles. Enjoy!

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Paleo Chocolate Banana Muffins with Charley

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I’ve really never been a fan of Paleo baking. For the most part, I rarely find it to be on par with regular baking and I find it easier to just cut baked goods out altogether, or reserve them for special moments like birthdays or Christmas. 

However, baking is one of the sneaky ways that I can trick my kids into eating fruit. (Yes, the goal is to not have to sneak or trick them into it, but we’re not at that point yet). Charley gags on a bite of banana by itself but doesn’t notice if it’s pureed into muffins or pancakes, so we’ve been experimenting together. She waited all week for the bunch of bananas in our fruit bowl to turn brown so we could bake today. I think her favourite part was peeling them!

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I based the recipe off of the Cinnamon Chocolate Swirl Banana Bread recipe from The Paleo Kitchen cookbook by Juli Bauer and George Bryant (aka Paleomg and Civilized Caveman). All I did was make it more kid friendly and baked it into muffins instead of a loaf. Muffins are so much easier to take with us to the park or on a playdate. Enjoy!

Ingredients

12 cupcake liners

4 ripe bananas

4 large eggs

1/4 cup grass fed butter, melted

1/2 cup almond butter

1/2 cup coconut flour 

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp vanilla extract 

1/2 cup chocolate chips

pinch of salt

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.

2) Combine the bananas, eggs, butter and almond butter in a bowl and mix until well blended.

3) Add the coconut flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla and salt and mix until all the ingredients are well combined.

4) Stir in the chocolate chips until evenly distributed. 

5) Pour into the muffin pan lined with cupcake liners.

6) Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Remove from the oven and let cool for 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy with a big chunk of grass fed butter!

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Italian Sausage and Zoodles

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If you don’t have a vegetable spiralizer yet, you need to go get yourself one. Right now we are squeezing our little family into a basement suite and my kitchen is tiny, so I was thrilled when I found this little hand held one for $10 at Ross last week.

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However, someday when we are living in a bigger space with a bigger kitchen, I’m going to order this bad boy. But for right now I’m happy with my little one and it’s doing the job just fine. Look at these beautiful zoodles!

photo copy 2Zoodles are quick, easy, delicious, and a great substitute for pasta, which is what I used them for last night. This recipe makes enough for about 3 people. Enjoy!

Ingredients

5-6 large zucchini, spiralized into zoodles

1-2 tbsp olive oil

1 lb Italian sausage (pastured pork and sugar free)

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 carrot, diced

2 garlic scapes, diced

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1-2 tbsp fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1 jar of your favourite sugar free pasta sauce (I usually just blend fresh tomatoes with some Italian herbs rather than buying pasta sauce)

Directions

1) Heat a large pan over medium heat and pour approximately 1 tbsp of olive oil into it. Once heated, crumble the Italian sausage into the pan and add the bell pepper, carrot, onion and garlic scapes. Fry until the meat is cooked through and no longer pink.

2) Add the jar of pasta sauce and mix to combine. Lower the heat, put the lid on, and allow to simmer while you make your zoodles.

3) Heat another large pan over medium heat and pour approximately 1 tbsp of olive oil into it. Working in batches, fry your zoodles in the olive oil for 3-5 minutes or until softened.

4) Once all of your zoodles are softened, serve them with the sauce on top and sprinkled with fresh parsley. Enjoy!

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Spaghetti Pie with Charley

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IMG_9710If you aren’t already addicted to PaleOMG yet, you need to go check it out NOW. Juli, the creator, is hilarious, down to earth, and all of her recipes have been a big hit in our household. We very slightly tweaked her recipe Almost 5 Ingredient Spaghetti Pie just buy adding some extra vegetables. All credit goes to Paleomg. She’s a genius!

Ingredients

1 large spaghetti squash, cooked and threaded into noodles

1 pound of Italian sausage (pastured pork and sugar free)

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 cup of pizza sauce (sugar free)

1 tsp of dried basil

3 eggs, whisked

1 green pepper, diced

5 mushrooms, chopped

1 cup spinach

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.

2) Heat a large pan over medium heat and fry the sausage, onions, and green pepper until sausage is cooked through and no longer pink.

3) Add the pizza sauce, basil, mushrooms and spinach and stir well.

4) Combine the entire mixture with the spaghetti squash threads in an 8×8 baking dish.

5) Mix in the whisked eggs until the eggs are no longer visible.

6) Place in the preheated oven and bake for approximately one hour, or until set in the middle. Let it rest a few minutes before serving.

Charley had a great time making this with me, but made sure to pick out anything green once it came time to eat it. Baby steps, right?

 

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Lemon Garlic Chicken on Zoodles and Kale

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I love repurposing leftover chicken! For this recipe I used an extra FlavorGod chicken breast that I had baked the night before, making it a quick and easy recipe for lunch the next day. The amounts of seasoning are suited to my taste, so feel free to adjust them to suit yourself. Enjoy!

Ingredients

1 cooked chicken breast, sliced (mine was rubbed in coconut oil and about 3/4 tbsp of FlavorGod’s Lemon Garlic seasoning, and then baked the night before)

1 bunch of kale, washed, chopped and ribs removed

1-2 zucchini (I used yellow but any kind will do)

1/8 cup of Tessemae’s Lemon Chesapeake sauce

1/2 tbsp of fresh parsley, washed and chopped

Directions

Using a vegetable spiralizer, spiralize your zucchini into zoodles.

Heat a large frying pan to medium high. Pour about half of the Tessemae’s sauce into the pan, and then fry the zoodles in the sauce for a few minutes, until they start to soften.

Add the chopped kale and the rest of the Tessemae’s sauce and stir to combine. Put a lid on the pan, turn the heat down to medium, and let the kale soften.

Once the kale has softened, place your zoodle and kale mixture on your plate and topped with the sliced chicken breast. Sprinkle with fresh parsley and enjoy!

PS. If you haven’t discovered Flavor God spices or Tessemae’s sauces yet, you’re missing out! Check them out at http://www.flavorgod.com and http://www.tessemaes.com. Most, if not all, are Whole30 approved!