52 weeks of good health....

every week I will share with you a tip to improve your eating habits or lifestyle to help you reach maximum energy levels and increase overall physical and emotional health.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Love the Ones You're With!

There's more to maintaining a healthy body besides the food you eat (or don't eat!). It's also important to nourish your soul...one way to do this is to develop and nurture your support network.

We all have a network of people that we can help us problem solve when we need it (and if you don't you should really keep reading!), this may include family, friends or work associates. But, most of us probably take for granted that we have those people in place.

The majority of my family lives on the other side of the country, so I've really had to get used to relying on friends, as my support...I was amazed last week when I had so many of those people offering to help me out when I was in need of last minute child care. But, then I realized that these people have become my support group over the past year and I am very grateful to have them.

I think that it's very important to be grateful and show your gratitude to people in your network and that is part of "nurturing" them...pay it forward, give it back...how ever you want to do it. It could be through babysitting, going for coffee/tea, giving a gift certificate for dinner out, or even simply listening when they need support. I think that most of us will agree that it feels just as good to support, as it does to be supported.

So, remember to maintain these meaningful relationships with family and friends. These relationships nourish our heart, body and soul.

In good health,

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Recipe of the Week

So, this weeks recipe is another non-meat recipe (for those who asked) and one that my 14 month old daughter loves (also for those who asked!)
(the pic shows it with a sweet mango salsa, that I haven't made, but it sure looks good!)

It involves sweet potatoes, chickpeas and peanut butter...yum!

It's again from the Eat, Drink, Be Vegan cookbook...I've been working my way through her book since Christmas and have yet to be disappointed (for those of you looking for a good veg cookbook...she's vegan too, so good for people that can't have dairy either).

Pureed Spicy Sweet Potato & Peanut Stew with Chickpeas

  • 1-1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 1/2 - 6 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cups onions, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3 - 3 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 - 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I just add these at the end, b/c it gets too spicy for little one)
  • 2 cups veg stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 5 tbsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 tbsp natural peanut butter
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas
  • 3-4 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • lime wedges (garnish)
  • fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (garnish)
  1. In a large pot on med heat, add oil, sweet potatoes, onion, celery, garlic, salt, cumin seeds, ground coriander, paprika, and red pepper flakes and stir to combine.
  2. Cover and cook for 5-7 min, stirring once or twice.
  3. Add stock, water and 1/2 of the ginger (reserving the other half). Stir to combine and increase heat to bring mixture to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer 15-18 min or longer, until sweet potatoes have completely softened.
  5. Stir in remaining ginger and peanut butter.
  6. With a hand blender, briefly puree soup until it is just smooth but keeping some texture.
  7. Stir in chickpeas and lime juice, and serve with additional wedges and fresh cilantro.
I serve this over brown rice, but you could use quinoa or another grain...I also steamed some broccoli and threw that into the mix for some extra veg!

This recipe makes alot, so if you're not into freezing meals, just make half and expect to still have leftovers!


Thursday, January 21, 2010

It's All About Balance

My last two posts have been about what you should eat less of (meat and animal products) and what you should try to consume more of (vegetables and fruits). This week, I'm going to give you another reason why you might want to try to make those changes!

Have you ever heard the phrase, "you are what you eat"? Well, most of us consume a lot of animal products, which are very acidic in the body and too few alkaline producing foods, such as fresh veggies. Did you know that disease can only live in an acidic body? The acidity and alkalinity are measured according to the pH...

I'll admit freely, that I am not very good at science...so bear with me, while I try to explain how the body's pH levels work;
  • pH is the measure of alkaline or acidity in a solution, it is measured on a scale of 0-14 (the lower the pH, the more acidic the solution; the higher the pH, the more alkaline). A solution is considered neutral, if the pH balance is 7. The body is always trying to balance the pH, in the body's fluids and tissues (the stomach is a different matter).
  • an acidic pH can occur when we consume too many acid forming foods (as I mentioned above...check the link below to see which foods are the most acidic), from emotional stress or from an overload of toxins.
So, why should we care if our bodies become too acidic? Well, it decreases the body's ability to absorb minerals and other nutrients; it decreases it's ability to repair damaged cells; it decreases it's ability to detoxify heavy metals; and it makes us more susceptible to fatigue and illness.

I bet you're now wondering how you can find out what your body's pH level is and what you can do to change it, if it's too acidic.....

Testing your pH is actually super easy! All you need is to do is:
  • purchase saliva test strips at your local health food store.
  • test first thing in the morning (before brushing your teeth, since toothpaste causes a very alkaline reading) and before you eat or drink anything...even water, or 2 hours after you've eaten anything.
  • test a couple times through out the day, since your reading can change and take an average of the readings.
  • before testing, fill your mouth with saliva then swallow. This will rinse your mouth of any acidic bacteria that might be lurking.
The main thing you can do to improve your pH balance is to take a good look at your diet. In general, alkaline forming foods include: most fruits, green veg, peas, beans, lentils, spices and herbs, seeds and nuts (although there are some exceptions).
Acidic forming foods include: meat, fish, poultry, eggs and legumes. Check out this link: http://www.essense-of-life.com/moreinfo/foodcharts.htm for food charts.

Now, this isn't to say that you should avoid all acidic foods...just everything in moderation! Approximately, 70% of our diet should come from alkaline foods and 30% acidic in order to maintain a balance (some say, 25/75...others say, 40/60...you'll find what's best for you). Eat veggies throughout the day, take a green supplement (a green drink a day has so many health benefits!), and avoid acid forming and acidic foods and your body's pH level will gradually be balanced. When pH balance is achieved, your body will start to restore it's overall health.

In good health,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Recipe of the Week

So, in light of the Eat More Veggie's post, I thought I'd post the veggie wrap that I've been eating daily for lunch. It's super easy and is yummy and filling....

Veggie Wrap

  • 1 red (or yellow or orange) pepper, chopped
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped (or you can use cherry tom's cut in half)
  • 1/2 cup cucumber, chopped
  • 2 avocado's, chopped
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
Toss veggies with your favourite salad dressing (I'll post mine below). Spread hummous down the centre of a tortilla, top with greens and veggies. Sometimes I'll even through a little goat cheese in the mix. Roll and enjoy! You'll definitely have some filling left over, since I have to make extra of everything to share with my little one!

I have 2 different dressing that I love to use, depending on my mood. The first is a balsamic vinegrette, the second is a curried honey.

Maple Balsamic Dressing (from the Whitewater cookbook)
  • 2 tbsp balsamic
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (unrefined)
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
Shake to combine.

Honey-Curry Dressing
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp tumeric
  • 1/4 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil (unrefined)
Whisk ingredients together (or place in a jar and shake until combined.)


Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Bushel of Reasons to Eat Your Fruits and Vegetables

Lets talk fruits and vegetables...did you know that most people should aim for at least 9 servings of fruits and veggie's a day? Does that sound impossible to do? In this weeks tip, I will give you reasons why you should try to meet that goal and how you can do it, easily.

Try to go for a variety of kinds and colours of fruits and veg, to make sure your body gets the nutrients it needs. Your best bets are dark leafy greens, and anything that's rich yellow, orange, or red in colour; the more brightly coloured the vegetable, the more protective the health benefits.

For your health:
  • they are low fat, low calorie, high fibre, and high in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients.
  • protection against heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, and gastrointestinal troubles.
  • the antioxidants can help ward off the effects of aging.
  • they help your body maintain a proper ph balance (more about your body's ph balance, and acidic and alkaline foods in next week post!)
  • they help with weight control
  • blue and purple fruits and veg give you extra protection against some types of cancer and urinary tract infections.
  • green fruits and veg help lower cancer risk, improve eye health and keep bones and teeth strong.
  • white/tan/brown veg help you maintain healthy cholesterol levels.
  • yellow, orange and red fruits and veg help promote heart and vision health and a healthy immune system.
So what's in a serving?

  • 1 medium piece of fruit
  • 1 cup cut up or cooked fruit
  • 1 large banana
  • 1 cup berries or grapes
  • 1 cup raw or cooked vegetables
  • 2 cups raw leafy green vegetables
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 1 cup cooked or canned beans or peas
Looking for ways to get more in your diet?
  • make smoothies for breakfast, include a banana, some berries, hempseeds and a handful of spinach or other greens
  • keep precut veggies in your fridge for easy access, or make a big fruit salad to snack on during the day.
  • have a big salad or a veggie wrap for lunch.
  • grate carrots and zucchini into sauces or baked goods (like muffins).
  • instead of having a starch with your protein and vegetable at dinner, have 2 vegetables.
  • commit to trying a vegetable once a month, then use it in a different recipe each week for the remainder of the month. (if you don't like it the first time you make it, try it a different way, before you write it off completely).
  • get juicing!
In good health,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

So I am posting 2 recipes this week...the first one is this super yummy cookie recipe that people were asking for and they're really easy to make...they definitely satisfy the sweet tooth craving! My husband says they don't really qualify as cookies, but I disagree!

Pecan Spice Delight Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups pecans
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, shredded dried coconut
  • Pinch Himalayan crystal salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 10 dates, pitted

Process all of the ingredients, except for the raisins and dates, in a food processor fitted with the S-blade, until coarsely ground. Add the raisins and dates and continue processing until the mixture begins to stick together when pressed between your fingers. Roll and form into desired shapes and sizes.

The second one I'm posting is a vegan entree...it's from Eat, Drink, Be Vegan; which I've been getting a lot of really good recipes out of lately.

Walnut, White Bean & Spinach Phyllo Rolls


2 ½ tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 tbsp tamari

2 medium cloves of garlic, chopped

¼ tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

3 cups (packed) fresh spinach, roughly chopped

½ cup (packed) fresh basil leaves

1 tsp fresh thyme (omit if you don’t have fresh)

½ cup whole walnuts, toasted

1 can cannellini beans (14oz) drained and rinsed

¼ cup to 1/3 cup toasted walnuts, lightly crushed or chopped

½ cup roasted red peppers, drained, patted dried and chopped

15 – 18 sheets phyllo pastry

3 tbsp olive oil (to brush on phyllo)


In a food processor, combine lemon juice, tamari, garlic, salt and pepper and puree. Add spinach, basil, thyme, whole walnuts, and half the beans and pulse, keeping some texture. Remove the blade from the processor and stir in crushed or chopped walnuts, remaining beans and roasted red pepper.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking dish with parchment paper.

Place a lightly dampened dish towel over phyllo sheets to keep them moist. Lightly brush the top of 1 sheet with oil. Stack another sheet on top, and brush with oil. Top with 3rd sheet, so not brush with oil.

Spread 1/3 – ½ cup of the filling down the centre of the sheet, leaving 1 – 2 inches (2 ½ - 5cm) space from edges. Fold edge over the filling and roll up, tucking sides in as you go. Brush tops and sides with oil and place in baking dish.

Repeat the process until all the filling is used, making 5-6 rolls, leave a small space between each roll, so they don’t stick.

Bake for 24 – 28 min, until golden brown.

I drizzled this with a balsamic reduction...yummy!!



Saturday, January 9, 2010

Consider going veg...

At least one night a week! Vegetarianism definitely isn't for everyone, but we can all benefit from consuming less meat. And when I say vegetarian, I mean proper vegetarian...not just a meal that doesn't include meat, but one that includes a complete protein (for example, beans and rice are a complete protein...supplying all the essential amino acids).

There are lots of great reasons to reduce your consumption of meat and here are just a few:

  • reduces your consumption of saturated fat, which helps improve your cardiovascular health.
  • increases your fiber intake; veggies, fruits, beans and whole grains are all high in fibre and are the basis of a vegetarian diet.
  • help cut cholesterol; by eliminating food that comes from animals, you will be cutting cholesterol. Just remember, all cholesterol isn't bad, the saturated fats in meat can increase your bad cholesterol (LDL) levels (see reason #1)
  • environmental reasons; conserves natural resources, reduces deforestation, reduces pollution.
  • also, it will help cut your grocery bill! Lentils and beans are far cheaper than meat.
I am not a vegetarian, I mostly eat only chicken, turkey and fish and limit my consumption of red meat or pork to maybe once a month. I also try to make two of our dinners each week, vegetarian. I like the variety it adds (eating chicken all the time can get pretty boring) and it saves us money. I also find that it is quicker to whip up a veg meal...no defrosting meat, or cooking it...

So, maybe this week give it a try....switch up one of your meat meals for legumes, veg and whole grains...your body will thank you for it!

In good health,

Friday, January 8, 2010

Recipe of the Week

I decided since everyone is always asking me for recipes, that I would also share one of my favourite recipes each week...since I have such a sweet tooth, they will probably be mostly dessert recipes, but I'll try to mix it up!
I don't really create my own recipes, I just alter ones that I love to suit my family. This past year has been interesting trying to alter recipes to make them dairy free for my daughter...especially dessert ones!

Sources I frequently turn to for recipes that are always good are: Clean Eating magazine, 101cookbooks.com, Mothering.com and Eat, Drink,Be Vegan (she has a few cookbooks, this is the only one I have, but I'm sure they're all good!).

Here's a recipe for Pumpkin Pie that I made for Boxing Day (courtesy of Mothering.com)...super yummy and good reviews!

Ingredients to make crust:

3/4 cup pecan halves

3/4 cup rolled oats

3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 pinch salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

3 tablespoons real maple syrup

Ingredients to make filling:

1 cup soy milk (I use rice milk)

1/4 cup arrowroot powder

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves


Preheat oven to 375 degrees Farenheit. Set rack in the middle of the oven, and lightly grease a 9-inch pie pan.

Spread the pecans out over a baking sheet and bake for seven to ten minutes, or until the aroma fills the kitchen. Set aside 16 pieces for garnish.

To make crust:

Combine oats, flour, pecans, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Pulse until mixture becomes a coarse meal. Move ingredients to a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together oil and maple syrup. Then add the syrup mix to the dry ingredients, and mix to form a soft dough. Place the dough in pie pan, and gently press into pan, crimping the edges. Bake for ten minutes, and set aside to cool.

To make filling:

Now blend the soy milk and the arrowroot in the food processor for 15 seconds, or until the arrowroot is completely dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Add the pumpkin, maple syrup, ginger, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and cloves. Thoroughly blend all ingredients. Pour the filling into the crust, and smooth with a spatula.

Bake pie for about 35 minutes, or until the crust is lightly browned and the outside inch of the filling is set. If the center is still soft, it will firm when cooled. Set the pie on a wire rack to cool. Gently press remaining pecan halves into hot filling, forming two concentric circles. Cool to room temperature, and then chill until set, about three hours. This pie can be served chilled or at room temperature



Saturday, January 2, 2010

52 weeks of good health....

This blog will be all about healthy eating. For each week, I will give you a tip on how to improve your eating habits or lifestyle to create a happier, healthier you in 2010!!

This week's tip is simple enough -- drink more water! I know you've probably heard this one over and over, but it really is the easiest way to start on your road to good health. Every cell of your body needs water; in fact the adult body is at least 60% water. On average, we need to drink about 8 cups of water daily to stay hydrated.

Easy ways to start drinking more water:
  • Start your day off with a glass of room temperature water with half a lemon. This will help wake up your digestive tract and flush out toxins.
  • bring water with you wherever you go...this way you won't find yourself thirsty with nothing on hand.
  • if you're going to be sitting for a long time (at your desk or watching a movie), make sure to have a glass with you and make sure to sip on it!
  • add lemon, limes or mint leaves if you don't like plain water.
  • drink some if you are feeling snacky...sometimes our hunger is thirst, masquerading as hunger.

And remember, you'll know that you are properly hydrated if your urine is running clear. Keeping hydrated will not only help with your digestion, it will keep your skin looking fresh and moisturized, help flush out toxins and leave you feeling energized!!

In good health,