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, March 26, 2010

Recipe of the Week

The recipe this week was suggested to me by my friend Kate...these brownies are super easy to make, and not only yummy, but have a great fudge-y, chewy texture...even though their main ingredient is black beans!

Flourless Brownies (courtesy of Whole Foods)

(Makes 16)


  • 1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup melted butter, more for the baking dish
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoon
  • gluten-free vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts


Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8-inch baking pan. Place the black beans, eggs, melted butter, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla extract and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and blend until smooth. Remove the blade and gently stir in the chocolate chips and walnuts. Transfer mixture to the prepared pan. Bake the brownies for 30 to 35 minutes, or until just set in the center. Cool before cutting into squares.

And you can definitely replace the butter with coconut oil, chocolate chips for vegan and add some unsweetened coconut -- if you want to make them dairy free!


Per serving (1 brownie/about 2oz/60g-wt.): 160 calories (80 from fat), 9g total fat, 4g saturated fat, 50mg cholesterol, 35mg sodium, 17g total carbohydrate (2g dietary fiber, 12g sugar), 4g protein



Local or Organic???

This is a question I hear a lot...and if you're lucky to live in an area that has lots of local, organic veg and fruit, then it's not really an issue for you. But, most of us are faced with this decision; especially once summer arrives. To begin with, it's important to know that not all organic food is local and not all locally grown food is organic.

Numerous studies show that organically produced foods (produce, dairy, meat) have a higher nutritional content than foods conventionally produced. So what is organic? Well, it's more than just the elimination of synthetic chemicals; organic farmers use practices that ensure the land is being treated in a way that continually improves soil fertility by using the tools that nature provides, instead of synthetic chemicals. It is certified by a third party that it meets their standards and ensures that the farm is following certain practices.

One of the major downsides to purchasing organic is that most of the produce is coming from out of country - avocado's from Mexico, apples from New Zealand, mangos from Equador...the further your produce travels, the less fresh it is and the greater impact is has on the environment (think about the CO2 emissions).

For these reasons, a lot of people are trying to purchase local products when available. The 100 Mile diet has made eating local a new, food trend in the past couple of years, although many people have been eating only produce that is local and in season for many years. Eating locally not only supports your community, but gives you the chance to meet your local farmers and seeing first hand how your food is being grown. Also, many smaller farmers avoid the tools of industrialized conventional agriculture and may be producing food that meets many of the organic requirements, but these farmers often chose not to become certified.

Another movement that has risen in popularity in the past years is the Slow Food movement - slow foodies believe in sustaining Heirloom varieties of produce; preserving and promoting local food products; small scale processing; and educating consumers. Check out their website; http://www.slowfood.ca/about.php for more information!

So the question still remains...local or organic? Well, I think that if you don't know the farm and their growing methods personally, then organic is your best bet. But, it definitely comes down to your own personal principles.

In good health,

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Finding Balance in our Lives

"If nothing else, my life has taught me one thing: The mind and body that I have are the only mind and body that I have. They deserve my attention. And when I give it, I receive so much more in return." -- Matthew Sanford

I think that it is important to all of us to find our inner calm...while our lives might get chaotic and stressful, we need to make sure that we have balance. The mind body connection is strong and if your stressed, anxious or upset, your body will try to tell you that something is wrong (for example; stomach ulcers can occur after an especially stressful event). Other physical signs may occur due to stress, including; insomnia, change in appetite, high blood pressure, back pain and upset stomach; just to name a few. Not to mention the fact that stress can lower your immune system, which can result in sickness and infections.

So, what can we do to bring balance into our busy lives?

  • Get outside. Even just 5 minutes on your back porch will do you wonders.
  • Take a breathe. Close your eyes, take a deep breathe....then take another. Easy. Refreshing.
  • Repeat your mantra. If you don't have a mantra, you should. Just a phrase or quote that makes you feel good.
  • Dance. Turn on some music and take 5 minutes to get up and move.
  • Touch your toes. Stand up, stretch. Get the blood moving.
  • Write. I often find putting some words on paper that reflect how I'm feeling, will help declutter my brain.
"Learn to pause...or nothing worthwhile will catch up to you" -- Doug King

Obviously, meditating, exercising, grabbing coffee with friends, playing with our kids and vegging out with a good book, will all help too; but the other ideas are great suggestions for when we find our plates over flowing with work and we don't feel we have time to take a break.

So, the next time you find yourself overworked or overstressed...breathe....

In good health,

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Recipe of the Week

This weeks Recipe is one of my new favourites...in fact, I made it two nights in a row this week. (although the second time I made it with a few modifications)...

Baked Goat Cheese and Roasted Winter Squash over Garlicky Fettuccine
(taken from Best of Cooking Light, April 2007)

  • 6 cups cubed, peeled kabocha or butternut squash (about 2 1/2 lbs)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 (4oz) pkgs of goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup dried breadcrumbs
  • 1 lb uncooked fettucine (I used kamut linguine)
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (I roasted and used a whole bulb of garlic)
  • rosemary sprigs (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 425degrees
  2. Place squash and red bell pepper in a large bowl. Add 1 tbsp oil and toss well. Arrange veg in a single layer on a jelly roll pan coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt, rosemary, and black pepper. Bake for 40 min., stirring once.
  3. Place goat cheese in freezer for 10 min. Cut cheese crosswise into 8 equal rounds. Place breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Dredge each round in breadcrumbs, place on a baking sheet. Bake for 6 min. (the second time I made this, I skipped this step and just crumbled the goat cheese over the finished pasta...this was faster and still pretty good!)
  4. Cook pasta according to directions. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking water. Return pasta to pan, add reserved pasta cooking water, remaining 1 1/2 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp salt, red pepper, and garlic, tossing to coat. Place 1 1/4 cups pasta in each of 8 shallow bowls; top each serving with about 1/2 cup squash mixture and 1 goat cheese round. Garnish with rosemary springs, if desired.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Beans, beans are good for your heart....

It seems to me that people are getting more interested in eating vegetarian, at least one night a week. So, here's another good reason to forgo meat and replace it with another protein source - beans...they can actually help you lose weight!

New research from a study in Medical News Today has proven that on average, people who eat beans weigh less than people who don't eat beans, on a regular basis. On top of that, those bean eaters are eating approximately 200 calories more than non-bean eaters!

So, why is this? Well, it could be for a couple of reasons; it could just be because people who try to eat vegetarian occasionally (meaning - eat more beans) are more health conscious, therefore are healthier all around (eat better, exercise more), or it could have to do with the high fibre content of the beans. Fibre is known to keep you full longer, thus leaving you more satisfied and less likely to over eat.

Beans of course have other benefits; studies have shown that eating beans on a regular basis can reduce the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, as well as, obesity. They are a source of ready energy that your body can use quickly and effectively, and they boost energy levels.

So, it can't hurt to add a bean dish to your dining repertoire; your waistline just may thank you for it!

In good health,

Recipe of the Week

Since I'm doing a talk at the end of the month on healthy, kids snacks, I've been trying out all kinds of recipes...here's one that's super quick and definitely satisfies the sweet tooth!

Lemony "Pudding"


1 cup pitted dates
1 avocado
Juice of three lemons
Agave or honey to sweeten as desired


Blend into pudding like consistency and sprinkle chopped nuts on top for a pie like feel.

I would imagine it would also taste great, if you let it set on this crust (taken from the Mothering.com website)...

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

To make crust:

  1. Combine oats, flour, pecans, cinnamon, and a pinch of salt in a food processor. Pulse until mixture becomes a coarse meal.

  2. Move ingredients to a medium-sized mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together oil and maple syrup.

  3. Then add the syrup mix to the dry ingredients, and mix to form a soft dough.

  4. Place the dough in pie pan, and gently press into pan, crimping the edges.

  5. Bake for ten minutes at 375 degrees, and set aside to cool.

Sorry there's no picture this week...we ate it before I had the chance to take one!


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Fighting Allergies with Nutrition

Since Spring appears to be upon us, I have already started hearing people complain about their allergies. I am lucky enough to not be bothered by them, but thought I would share some nutritional tips that can help, for those who are...

First of all, what is an allergy? Well, simply put; it's an exaggeration of the body's natural immune defenses. It's an abnormal reaction by a person's immune system, against a normally harmless substance. It's much easier to either avoid an allergen or treat the symptoms early, then to deal with them after they've gotten out of control.

So, what can you do?
  • Take Quercetin; it's a plant-derived flavanoid that helps reduce allergy symptoms. Apples contain quercetin, so follow the "apple a day" guideline.
  • avoid dairy foods; a lot of people have trouble digesting dairy and dairy can contribute to extra mucous.
  • take a high quality Probiotic daily...they provide good bacteria to your intestinal tract, which in turn boosts your immune system.
  • eat your veggies! Especially cruciferous vegetables; broccoli, cauliflower, kale...it is thought that a compound called sulforaphane might ease the inflammation that causes allergies.
  • eat avocados (cause they're yummy!) and because they help cleanse the liver and reduces the risk of allergenic inflammation.
  • eliminate processed foods from your diet, if you haven't already. They abuse our immune system, making it difficult to fight off allergies or illness.
Besides taking care of our bodies nutritionally, we can also turn to herbal remedies, homeopathic remedies or using a neti pot. Get outside and enjoy the sunshine...I know I am!

In good health,

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Recipe of the Week

My daughter likes to eat. She eats a lot. I am always trying to come up with healthy food to feed her, that I can make in batches, so I'm not always in the kitchen cooking for her when the whining starts! I find muffins are excellent to have on hand for this exact reason...

Zucchini Spelt Muffins
(taken from Eat, Drink, Be Vegan)

  • 2 tbsp flax meal
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp plain or vanilla non-dairy milk
  • 1 cup overripe banana
  • 1 cup zucchini
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp canola oil (I use coconut oil)
  • 2 cups spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup unrefined sugar
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350degrees F
  2. In a bowl, combine flax meal and non-dairy milk and set aside.
  3. mash banana and grate zucchini, and combine with flax meal mixture. Add syrup, vanilla and oil and stir to combine.
  4. In a separate large bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients, sift in baking powder and baking soda, and stir until well combined.
  5. Add wet mixture to dry, gently folding until just combined (do not overmix).
  6. Fit a muffin pan with muffin liners. Spoon batter into liners.
  7. Bake for 21-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in centre comes out clean.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Spring is in the Air....

or at least out here in BC it is! And you know what I think of when spring is just around the corner? Farmer's market's and fresh veggies! We have a little farmer's market here in town, it's pretty small at the beginning of the season, but grows considerably by the end of summer. It's a fantastic place to buy local and organic fruits and veg...and kettle corn (or as we fondly call it, "crack" corn, because it's quite addicting!).

But, this year I have decided although it's nice to go down on a Saturday and mingle with the locals, I am going to grow my own. Properly. This isn't the first year I have attempted my own veg garden (last year I had about 6 tomatoes and 3 red peppers), but this is the first year I am going to do it right. My husbands been preparing the soil since last fall (we have a compost in our yard, which is excellent) and I have been reading; my sister in law gave me a great book for Christmas called, The Gardener's Table.

So, you're probably wondering what I will be growing...well, here's the plan:
  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • carrots
  • squash (zucchini, acorn & butternut)
  • beans
  • beets
  • onions
  • lettuce (I haven't decided on which varieties yet)
  • kale
  • broccoli
  • strawberries
That's my wish list anyways! It's still early, so I have a lot of time for planning, but I am getting quite excited...it must be the nice weather! I also love the fact that I will know where my food is coming from. Check out this site: http://usc-canada.org/storyoffood/ and watch the short movie on the Story of Food, if you have the time. I think it's something we all need to think more about. In fact, check your area for a local, organic food delivery company...there are lots of them around, we actually just started ordering our food from, www.spud.ca (thanks for the tip, Deanna!). Believe me when I say, local fresh and organic really does just taste better.

Hopefully, this will get your wheels turning...even if you don't have the space, time or energy to cultivate a garden, you can always plant a few pots!

In Good Health,