Any way you spell it, it’s Delicious…

 

ras el hanout

Chick peas have been cultivated for thousands of years and evidence of hummus recipes exist from the middle ages. They are a infinite source niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, B6 and are rich in fiber and all important complex carbohydrate (which, by the way, is not your enemy…) These nutrients are super important for normal growth and building body tissues. The powerhouse chick pea contains more potassium than bananas!

This particular houmous recipe also has the added bonus of butternut squash which packs an amazing nutritional punch all on it’s own…high in antioxidants, vitamins C, E, B6, folate and potassium, helping to boost the immune system and decrease inflammation.

This recipe is a broad departure from the pasty, tasteless hommus of grocery store fame or many of the rather bland recipes that you may have tried. Make the ras el hanout spice blend yourself or buy in store (much better if you make it yourself though) and use the left over pungent and warm blend to toss and roast veggies, or as a rub for chicken, or in soups or stews!

With props to Gordon Ramsay…

ras el hanout spice blend

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp whole clove

1 Tbsp corander seeds

1/2 Tbsp fenugreek seeds

1/2 Tbsp fennel seeds

1 Tbsp mustard seeds

1/2 Tbsp Cumin seeds

1 tsp paprika

Break the cinnamon stick into pieces. Place in a dry pan with the cloves and seeds, toast over medium heat for 1 minute, gently shaking the pan and spices to prevent them from burning, until aromatic and seeds are popping.

Remove from heat and add in paprika. Place spices in a blender (or spice grinder, if you have one) or mortar and grind until the mixture is a powder-sift if necessary. Store spice blend in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

veg for hummus

Roasted Squash Hummus

Preheat your oven to 350F.

1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed, around 850g, 1 pound-ish, or approximately 3 and a half to 4 cups cubed

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

3cm piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and finely chopped

olive oil

1 Tbsp tahini

1 tin of chick peas, drained and rinsed

juice of one lemon

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In a large bowl, mix the cubed squash, garlic and ginger with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil and 1 Tbsp of the ras el hanout spice blend. Season with salt and pepper and roast in a single layer on a cookie sheet for approximately 30 minutes until tender.

To a blender or food processor, add the squash, garlic, tahini, chick peas, lemon juice along with 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasoning to your personal preference…I always add more lemon juice and salt!

Serve hummus warm in your container of choice and sprinkle with a little of ras el hanout spice blend and drizzle with some more olive oil. Serve with warm pita, your favourite crackers, with multiple veggies for dipping…eating veg with your veg…

win win

hummus and veg

 

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Just Veggin’ Out…

veg blog prep

 

With all the chit chat going on about the new Canada Food Guide, do you think it will influence your lifestyle at all?? Long used as a tool by dieticians to “guide” (and I use that term loosely) those with disease, the accuracy and information has been called into question with the increase of modern nutritional science. Hurray science! I always used to say that if the guide actually worked, we wouldn’t have such high levels of diabetes and cardiovascular-related diseases such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. While I still believe this to be true, the guide is a necessary tool to help various levels of the population deemed “at risk” of nutrition-related diseases, including teens, young families, and seniors who may have not been exposed to good nutrition earlier in life. It does indeed provide guidelines for “basic” (read:survival)  nutritional intake.

However, keep in mind, one size does NOT fit all…nutritional science, in spite of what the government publishes, is telling us to increase our daily intake of vegetables and fruits. A mainly plant based diet is linked to healthier weight, longer life, less inflammation in the body, lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol, stable blood sugar, lower rates of the occurance of cancer, better sleep…ummmm, there seems to be NO downside here! 

So HOW in the heck do you eat a minimum of 7 to 10 servings a day of fruits and vegetables?!? Here are a just few suggestions to give you a running start…

…and stay tuned for an amazing recipe to help you eat veg with your veg…

PREP  PREP PREP

Pick half an hour, afternoon, morning….evening….whatever….DO the grunt work. (best time is when you get home from grocery shopping) This is absolutely THE most important thing to do to change your eating habits and improve your health/lose weight, or whatever your goal might be for changing those eating patterns!!! A little prep goes a long way to take the guess work out of breakfast, lunch and dinner, and therefore protect you from binge eating while you make dinner!

Prep those Veggies!!

Prep 3 or 4 days worth of veggies at once to have on hand for salad veggies, snack veggies and dinner veggies. You can also use these veggies to make a quick soup!! I always have a container of bite-sized broccoli, carrot, red pepper, red onion in a container ready to go. You can change up this mix with the seasons too.

Batch Roast those veggies!

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, and roast off your favourite veggies like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, mushrooms, butternut squash, kale and sweet potatoes…or whatever floats your boat. This small step will help ensure healthy eating during the week. Toss roasted veg on a salad, in an omelet or breakfast scramble, serve on the side of grilled chicken, or with rice or quinoa, or in a wrap. To roast vegetables, preheat oven to 425 degrees,  toss in olive oil, line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, arrange veg on baking sheet not to overcrowd the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake checking often for 25-45 minutes, depending on toughness of the veggies, until vegetables begin to turn brown and crisp. This is a bullet-proof recipe and always delicious! Flavour, flavour, flavour like a boss!!!

Prep that Fruit!

If you’re not prepared, making a smoothie can turn into a 15-minute production! Prep all the fruits and greens you use in your smoothies, and freeze individual serving sizes in freezer bags.

Freeze Your Greens

Tired of tossing greens week after week? This hack will help you out.  You can puree them in a food processor or blender (or puree them together), adding a little water to yield a smooth consistency. Pour the puree into ice cube trays. Once the cubes are frozen,  pop them out into gallon-sized freezer bags. When you’re ready to make your smoothie, just grab a few, and throw them in your blender — it’s a great time saver. (Freeze fresh herbs and sauces this way too!!)

Fresh Salad Dressing…all the time

Ditch that shitty store bought salad dressing—and all crap that they contain. I make a DIY version instead: You just mix balsamic vinegar or lemon juice, olive oil,salt, pepper, a little dijon, a touch of honey or maple syrup and some fresh herbs (choose the kind depending on what you like best). That’s seriously all you need! (use a 2 fats to 1 acid ratio). Add ingredients to a small mason jar and shake! Adjust flavours to your liking. This is NOT rocket science people…

Store

Always wash, dry and refrigerate your greens and veggies…especially the “dry”…this will make things last much longer and you will be getting better bang for your buck!!!

Stock up!!

No, I don’t mean buy in bulk…I mean dust off the crock pot, or get yourself an Instant Pot (I LOVE my Instant Pot!!!), and make some stock/bone broth! Single handedly the most nutritious, useful and tasty ingredient in the kitchen! Sip on it, use it for sauces or for that veggie soup I mentioned above…

Start where you are…

You don’t need to change all of your eating habits/patterns at once…that’s a sure recipe for failure!!! YOU are who you are, and if you are even a little bit like me, you need to do baby steps. Change one or two habits each week. Try one new ingredient that you have never tried before, or a new recipe as often as possible. Be brave! Be bold! Gradual changes become “habitual” and positive, healthy habits are what you are aiming to develop.  Be gentle with yourself and start when you are ready, because if you’re not ready to install new habits, it won’t work.

And for goodness sake, enjoy food…eat the damn cake/cookie/chips and move on…life is too short to guilt yourself into misery! Live a little to live longer!!!

Michael Pollan, author of “The Ominvore’s Dilemma” and several other must read books, says “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. That is your prescription for health and wellness. Seven words. Eating doesn’t have to be so complicated. Food is about nutrition, food is about health. It’s also very much about community, family, pleasure and sharing…

Eat like your life depends on it…

Bread like a Boss…

 

 

bread 5

 

Almost April and the ongoing crappy weather makes me crave comfort food…soups, braises, but mostly bread. Good bread. Real bread. I want bread.

If you are not a baker, making bread can be a nightmarish challenge. I remember way back, I was afraid of bread, the fear of the dough not rising was real. With some great advice (my Sis, my hero) and lots of practice, and I mean lots…it turned out that dough is really nothing to fear!

Back in my restaurant days, I baked fresh focaccia and baguette every single day. Like a boss.  Well, because I was the boss…

Something about the warm water and the yeast, fed with sugar to help the bloom, the weighing of the flour, the salt for control, (we baked large quantities…no hand kneading here!!) and watching it turn from mere individual ingredients to a spank-worthy dough…but I digress.

Bread is simple, delicious and something worth baking and savouring, slathered in good butter while it’s still warm.

Sure, bread is an enemy for some, vilified by many health experts…and rightly so in the case of auto-immune issues like celiac, gluten intolerance and sensitivites. For most though, it’s really an issue of eating too much bread…and pasta…and cookies…and, well, you get my drift. Our standard north american diet is very much refined flour-centric…bread for breakfast, lunch and dinner…Celiac disease triggers an immune response that damages the intestines and interferes with nutrient absorption. There is also a strong statistical association between gluten and other auto-immune such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes and Hashimotos thyroiditis.

For those of us able to tolerate gluten, there is still the issue of anti nutrients, such as phytic acid, lectins, protease inhibitors and tannins, which are naturally occurring compounds in the whole grain that can interfere with nutrient absorption and cause bloating, diarrhea, gas, joint sensitivity….hmmmm and you thought that it was normal to feel that way after eating? Pfffft. Maybe it’s that mass-produced, great Canadian price fix scandal, spongy, full of preservatives and chemicals crap bread you’re buying at the grocery store….just saying!

This easy recipe is for those of you who may be intimidated by bread but would love to try…it takes absolutely no time, no special skills or equipment plus it incorporates a time honoured way to help reduce those nasty anti nutrients and increase your intake of lacto-fermented foods, that are actually better for your gut…imagine starting off your day with fresh-baked bread…this recipe is a win win. Just short of a sour-dough, in which naturally occurring bacteria and yeast, by way of a “starter”, begin to digest and break down the grain, this recipe is a “No-Knead Overnight” bang on every time successful way to bake and eat something equally comforting, satisfying and a lot healthier than store bought!

In my humble world, really good bread is part of something greater, a way to connect with your kitchen soul. Good food brings people together, to “break bread” means to “make peace”, to share a meal, and to be together with others…

Miracle No-Knead Bread…with serious props to #pinchofyum

bread 1

Ingredients

3 cups organic all purpose flour, white or whole wheat

(if you have a favourite gluten free flour mix, this recipe will work well)

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1/2 teaspoon instant yeast

1 1/2 cups room temperature filtered spring water

In a large mixing bowl, whisk flour, salt and yeast together until combined. Stir in water until a shaggy dough forms. If it needs a little more water, add one tablespoon at a time until the dough is wet through. It’s going to look scrappy and weird…trust me, this will work. Cover the bowl tightly with saran wrap, drape with a tea towel and let it rest for 12 to 18 hours at room temperature. Overnight is ideal!!!!

bread 2

When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 450F and place a 6 quart enamel coated dutch oven, or cast iron dutch oven and heat for 30 minutes. Remember this will be friggin hot when you take it out oven!!!! At this point the dough will be big and puffy and pretty loose, with lots of bubbles in it. Gently scrape the dough onto a well floured 15 x 15 sheet of parchment paper. Gently shape dough into a ball with flour on the outside…no squeezing or kneading here…and cover with saran wrap while waiting for pan to heat up.

Remove the pan from the oven…remember this is HOT…so is the lid. Remove the plastic wrap from the dough. Lift the dough and parchment together into the pan so the parchment lines the bottom of the hot pan. Cover and bake, for approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake another 10 to 15 minutes to get the exterior nice and golden brown, crispy and chewy! Remove and cool on a wire rack.bread 4

Smooth(ie) Operator

blog 5 pic

So look at you…you’re busy. Busier than you’ve ever been. The holidays are over. You are so focussed on those New Years Resolutions. You’re balancing a career, friends, family maybe. You are exercising, like a badass. You’re eating well…you’ve got this! You’re a rock star. In fact you are so busy, balanced and focussed, you’ve decided to skip a meal here and there and just add in a “smoothie”…

…cue needle scratching across record…

Nope. No. Nyet.

But why, you ask? Smoothies are healthy, you make them with fruit, you say. Every fitness and nutrition expert says to drink smoothies… proof. There are thousands of recipes on the Google…you say.

Smoothies are a great addition to a healthy diet, and yes, they can be good for you.

But you’re not doing it right.

Yes, but you’re in a hurry, you say…you can’t possibly eat that much fruit during the day so why not blend it up and go. It fills you up and you don’t need to eat a whole meal. Right? You’re replacing a meal with blended superfoods, right?

Wrong.

While they can be delicious and healthy, replacing a meal with a smoothie just doesn’t make sense, unless you can make a smoothie that is nutritionally balanced with healthy fats, good carbs and protein. Does your smoothie fit the criteria? Probably not.

Smoothies in the general sense involve lots of fruit and are usually dairy based, with added juices and sweeteners, which will lead to a huge sugar rush increasing your blood sugar, telling your body to release insulin to try and balance your blood sugar and increasing cortisol…that’s the lovely hormone that helps you hold on to that spare tire around your middle and leaves you tired and hangry shortly after you drink it.

Store bought and fast food smoothies are obviously even worse than a bad homemade smoothie. (I’m talkin’ to you Tim Ho’s!) A medium sized smoothie that weighs in at 17 and a half ounces contains a whopping 43 grams of sugar. A pop the same size contains 53 grams of sugar. Ya, and then you want another one…

The body does not require extra sugar for survival. In fact, research has shown that sugar is in fact worse than fat, responsible for unstable blood sugar, making you tired and hungry and can contribute to weight gain!

You can, however, help to balance the sugar load and make that smoothie great with a few  nutritional adjustments….

Make your smoothie smaller and pack in nutrient dense foods along with fruits. One cup of fruit maximum. Mix up those berries with melon, banana or apple. Add in greens such as spinach, kale or even cucumber. Adding greens balances out the nutrients,adds vitamins A,C plus calcium and iron, and helps control those blood sugar dips. A handful will do!

Add in some healthy fats such as half an avocado, almond butter or a tablespoon of coconut oil. These fats help you stay fuller longer and they are necessary for important hormone production and brain function. It also helps your body to absorb the nutrients that you are packing into your smoothie.

Use cinnamon, fresh ginger and turmeric with a bit of ground black pepper, or a pinch of cayenne in your smoothies for an added anti-inflammatory kick…and they taste good too!!

Try using almond, cashew, flax or coconut milk and avoid adding milk or yogurt to avoid the dairy sugars and saturated fats.

Add chia, flax, hemp seeds or unsweetened protein powder to balance the nutritional value of your smoothie keeping you satiated, and blood sugar balanced.

Avoid prepackaged shakes and smoothies which can contain up to 60 grams of sugar, or more, and contain too many additives, preservatives and fractured nutrients. 

When the weather is cold, it’s good to nourish the body with warming foods and some of you may feel better drinking warm smoothies during the winter and saving the icy cold ones for warmer weather. Warmies, or warm smoothies, are great to get that toasty warm feeling from feeding your body healthy superfood smoothies that are loaded with antioxidants, nutrients and immune-boosting benefits!

Power up… and do it right!

blog 5 pic 2

Warm Apple Smoothie

Into a blender, add:

1 cup hot Rooibos Chai tea

2 Handsful baby spinach

1 Apple, peeled, cored and roughly chopped (feel free to use pear!)

1 Tablespoon grated fresh Ginger

1 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon Tumeric

pinch Cayenne pepper and black pepper

pinch Cardamom

1/4 lemon, squeezed

1/4 cup almond milk (substitute cashew, or coconut, or flax!)

Blend, taste and adjust taste if necessary!

Enjoy!

Grains…the Good, the Bad and the Ugly… Part 1

IMG_6095

Grains, grains the magic fruit…whoops, wrong food! From Amaranth to whole wheat…what’s the fuss, most people wonder.

Grains have been part of the human diet as long as there have been appetites to be fed. In fact, grains are the seeds of various grasses, and evidence of said seeds has be unearthed by archaeo botanists in Israel dated to approximately 23,000 years ago. Sites in Northern Syria, China and Central America show physical evidence that seeds were collected, farmed and stored, leading to the creation of modern agriculture as we know it. However, many cultures didn’t adopt a grain-centric diet until about 1000 years ago…and thus began the quest for the perfect cinnamon bun!

(disclaimer-this post is NOT anti or pro gluten…I am a firm believer that YOU need to educate yourself to find out what supports YOUR body and works for YOU in terms of food. Finding out what works means not getting your nutritional information from random Facebook posts, but seeking out science-based factual nutritional resources and nutritionists. HINT: Government guidelines do not work…if they did, we would not have the huge prevalence of diabetes, heart disease and metabolic syndrome. Everyone is bio chemically different and the body is always in a state of change. One size does not fit all! Your current eating style may work for you now, and maybe in 6 months or a year that will change. Learn to listen to the messages your body is giving you. Learn to be in tune with your body!)

Some grains can contain a protein called gluten, which is actually a mixture of two proteins called gliadin and gluten, and is responsible for that lovely elastic texture of dough…think pizza dough…mmmmmmm.

However, those diagnosed with Celiac disease, in which the body’s immunological intolerance to gluten causes malabsorption of nutrients, diarrhea and weight loss, must absolutely avoid grains containing gluten at all costs. Those with Irritable Bowel Syndrome, or any kind of gluten intolerance or sensitivity should also avoid grains. True gluten, often thought to be only wheat, is also present in rye, barley, triticale and various other cross-breeds of grains. There is correlating archaeological evidence of a decrease in dental health and bone structural abnormalities in some cultures that had a high consumption of grains. Many brain disorders respond well to a gluten-free diet, including autism, schizophrenia and some forms of epilepsy.

There have been anecdotal studies in the past which have concluded that wheat gluten is addictive, although this has not been scientifically proven through clinical trials. Experiments have shown that when gluten is broken down in a test tube, the proteins formed can activate opioid receptors in the brain. Some researchers believe that these proteins find their way to the brain and cause unnatural cravings for gluten.

This might explain why when I go to my favourite cafe (where there are fresh baked croissants and danishes…at eye level, no less), I begin to salivate…uncontrollably…

We’ve also created our whole system of eating around gluten containing foods. Our diets have become “grain-centric”. Cereal and toast for breakfast, bagels, donuts and muffins for snack, wraps, buns, pasta, pizza for lunch and dinner…we really eat too much of the damn stuff. Wheat is ground, fluffed, puffed, enriched and vitaminized into a pseudo-food, with little or no nutritional value left when the end product is revealed. Caramel colouring and, what is jokingly referred to as “whole grain” is added to try and greenwash wheat products to make us think it’s good for us. Guess what? It’s not. At least not in the amounts we consume, which is why when people remove wheat containing products from their daily diet, they lose weight! We eat too much!

Processed wheat products like breads, cereals and pasta’s create a fast, sharp surge in blood sugar that creates all sorts of bio chemical reactions in the body, including a surge in insulin and cortisol, thus over time contributing to a myriad of disease including diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease. Wheat products can also create an acidic environment in the body, wreaking havoc on those with osteoarthritis and joint injuries.

Whole grains ,when eaten in their WHOLE form, are incredibly nutritious and contain protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, B vitamins and a whole slew of other minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fibre to boot! Eaten in conjunction with vegetables, fruit and healthy fats, whole grains can lower cholesterol too!

Sure, a nice piece of artisan sour dough bread is nice every once in a while, but not at every meal…too many grains! A balanced meal of protein, complex carbohydrates and healthy fats sans bread is much, much healthier! We’ve been led to believe that some wheat is ok, but if what you are looking for is to maintain the health you have, then by all means, continue eating large amounts and you’ll continue to have level of health, and weight, you currently have. If you want to improve your health, cut way back or stop eating processed wheat products all together. You will notice improvements in your health…and your weight. Wheat is a habit, one best marginalized or eliminated from your daily food intake! If you, like me, enjoy really great, well made bread, pastries and pastas, then pick homemade, artisanal, made with real sour dough starter (more on that later!) and organic flour and make it a treat…savour and enjoy. 

Up next…the problem with whole grains…and the fix…the wonders of sourdough and fermented, soaked, sprouted grains!! Part 2 coming soon…

IMG_6094

Cinnamon Rolls

These are the best cinnamon rolls ever…at least that’s what they tell me! Use the best available ingredients you can get…organic flour, sugars and butter!!!

Makes 12.

For the Rolls…

1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

1 cup warm milk

1/2 cup white sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

1 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

4 cups all purpose flour

Ooey Gooey Insides…

1 cup brown sugar, packed

2 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon

1/8 cup flour

1/3 cup butter, softened

Cream Cheese Icing…

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 1/2 cups icing sugar

1/4 cup cream cheese, softened

1/2 to 1 teaspoon vanilla (we like more!)

1/8 teaspoon salt

Place yeast and warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment.

Allow yeast to bloom…about 5 minutes.

Add sugar, butter, salt, eggs and flour. Mix medium-low speed until dough forms and is beginning to climb hook. (Note: above steps are easily done by hand if you don’t have a stand mixer…just a little upper body exercise while you knead the dough!!!)

Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface, until it is approximately 20 inches long by 15 inches wide. Aim for about 1/4 of an inch thickness.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Combine brown sugar and cinnamon and flour in a small bowl and spread the butter over the complete surface of the dough. Sprinkle sugar, cinnamon, flour mixture evenly over the dough.

Working carefully, from the upper long edge, roll the dough down to the bottom edge.

Cut the dough in half, then in half again. Continue to cut in half until you have 12 equal rolls.

Place the rolls in a lightly buttered 9 X 13 baking dish or place individual rolls into buttered muffin tin.

(At this point, you can cover and refrigerate over night. In the morning, remove from fridge and allow to proof for about an hour.

Allow to rise again for about half an hour.

Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until light golden brown.

While the rolls are baking, combine the icing ingredients and beat well with a mixer.

Allow rolls to cool and spread generously with icing.

Be Awesome…

Don’t aspire to mediocrity. Even if you fail, try to be awesome. At something. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Just try to be awesome.” – Anthony Bourdain

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My friend, Ms. Marcie enjoying some crack(er)!!

Go big, or go home. The “catchphrase”you’ve heard a thousand times. The battle cry of the motivated, the over-enthusiastic…the already thin and healthy…also the battleground for failure in the weight loss department. Consistent and varied consumption of nutritious foods over time is the only way to be healthy and….dun dun dun…lose weight.

What??? You are already on the Sexy-caveman-booty-body-hot-pepper-lemon-high protein-high fat-low-carb-detox-shake-diet?? And you’re losing weight? Sorry to burst your bubble…that lost weight WILL most likely find you again and in the meantime you are causing long term damage to your metabolism…and if anyone tells you otherwise, they are presenting evidence tweaked in their favour. They want to sell you something…

There are mountains of evidence to support plant-based whole foods to improve health, cognition, and be slim and trim. The association between depression, cognitive decline, Alzheimers, metabolic syndrome and the Standard North American diet of processed foods, added sugar, added salt, deep fried foods clear and mainstream…we just don’t wanna hear it. We want a fast fix that tastes good and hits all of our fat, salt and sugar receptors.

Sorry, no tater-tot-french-onion-soup-mix-store-bought-cinnamon-roll-ranch-dressing-topped- with-3-cheeses-and-bacon-bits-made-in-a-crock-pot-while-you-snack-on-a-rainbow-bagel- recipes here folks…hold the rope…move along.

So back to “go big or go home”. At the beginning of every year, a rallying cry goes out…”this is the year, I’m going to lose weight, get fit”. People try and make ridiculou huge changes all at once, you know, join the gym, or the latest fitness craze (with the staff who took a weekend course in nutritition and provide you with a meal plan with barely enough nutrients to keep a bird alive..wth??) They throw out all the food in their cupboards vowing “tomorrow I go on a diet”! Yeah, you’ve all been there, you know it. Before the third week is up, you are a hangry, dizzy, sore all over crazed version of your former self. By the fourth week, you are snacking and guilting the hell out of yourself claiming injury, or the all too familiar, I’m too busy and don’t have time to diet, or it’s too expensive to buy organic, healthy food (I call BS on that excuse). It’s ok, really. It. Is. Ok. We have all been there before…me included.

Here is the key to really changing your health and your body. Are you ready? Small and sustainable changes. That’s it.  Really. Focus on ONE dietary change in your routine every week. ONE. Not 5 or 10, change ONE thing that goes in your mouth. Make a habit of this new change. Switch out that pop (you shouldn’t drink that $hit..even for a treat!!!) for a kombucha, or better yet, filtered water! Stop eating meat every day! You do not need meat. No you don’t. You can get all the protein and nutrients your body needs from a plant-based whole foods diet. Nutritional science says so. Ok, I get it, you LIKE meat…me too. If you are going to eat meat, eat the best you can afford. Treat yourself, but for gawdsake, don’t put it in a crock pot and put cheese on it? Be involved with your food…plan your meals, it’s so much better for you…besides, all that lovely fatty liquid you pour down the drain that your meat cooked in has all the nutrients in it…the meat left has the consistency and nutritional value of particle board…same taste too. Stop eating cereal…that $hit is the sawdust of food. It literally has such low nutritional value that manufacturers have to ADD vitamins and minerals into it so you will THINK it is actually good for you. (this is called “greenwashing”…and it’s everywhere in the grocery store. Don’t replace your cereal with toast either…see previous sentence!) Cook a damn egg! Make a smoothie! …participate in your health! Replace lettuce with real greens…nope, lettuce is pretty but mostly water. Eat spinach, kale, chard, bok choy…these contain protein, magnesium which can help boost serotonin levels and boost your mood and help you feel better about these little changes you are making. Eat an apple instead of a bag of Miss Vickies…(or better yet, snack on the awesome cracker recipe below!)

You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, create upheaval and chaos in your life…just take small steps towards being a better version of you. Be awesome at the baby steps you’re taking. Over time, those awesome petite changes you make will support your health AND mind. Be awesome at the small stuff and acknowledge yourself every week and then make another change…be awesome at that too.

Just be awesome…at something…like Anthony says.

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Seedy Oat Crackers-adapted from Bon Appetit

This recipe features a variety of seeds, all of which are super healthy, high in essential fatty acids, complex carbs, protein, fibre, calcium and iron…just to name a few of the benefits!!! By the way, oats are capable of normalizing blood glucose, a benefit to people with diabetes and are also good for a sluggish thyroid. It can also lower cholesterol. Oh, and they are gluten free too…just sayin’! They are delicious and sturdy!

These crackers have a lovely combination of colours and textures, but you can use fewer types—just make sure total volume stays the same!

Ingredients

8-ish servings

1 cup old-fashioned oats

3/4 cup pepitas (raw pumpkin seeds)

1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds

1/3 cup sesame seeds

3 Tablespoons chia seeds

3 Tablespoons poppy seeds

1 teaspoon chunky sea salt plus more for sprinkling later

1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon melted coconut oil, or olive oil

1Tablespoon pure maple syrup

3/4 cup warm water

Prep

Preheat your oven to 375F. Mix oats and all seeds in a large bowl. Stir oil, maple syrup into warm water and pour liquid over oat/seed mixture and toss until completely soaked. Let sit 10 minutes. The mixture will absorb water and thicken.

Form oat mixture into a ball and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Press a second sheet of parchment directly on top and using a rolling pin, flatten to a 1/8” thickness as best you can. The shape is not important. (note-a flat cookie sheet is easier to roll out crackers than one with sides) Remove top layer of parchment.

Bake cracker until golden brown around edges, 15 to 20 minutes.

Remove from oven. Place a fresh sheet of parchment on top of crackers, and using the same size cookie sheet, carefully placed on crackers, flip and remove original parchment. Return crackers to oven and finish baking until firm and golden brown, watching carefully. 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool on baking sheet and break into pieces with your hands.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature!

Just Eat

daddylonglegs

Today I broke the egg yolk. Deep sigh. Hand on hip. Whacked the egg several times with the flipper. Cuss.

It is going to be one of those days…

You know, the one where you start out with the best of intentions and then things spiral downward into the devil’s armpit and you end the day with a half a bag of doritos and a handful of chocolate chips  you found hidden in the bottom of the pantry shelf that have been there so long they’re white from bloom.

Sometimes these days are salvageable. Unless you find a spider in your water bottle. The one you’ve been drinking out of for an hour. Sometimes that day in particular isn’t worth saving. That’s another story altogether.

If you’ve had enough sleep, maybe. The kind of sleep that is peaceful and you wake up feeling rested, and you didn’t lay awake for hours wondering why the neighbour doesn’t like you or plotting revenge on your fifth grade boyfriend who dumped you.

I always put such superstitious stock in what happens early in my day. Inevitably the broken egg yolk leads to a slippery slope of errors in the kitchen. The split sauce, running out of the one ingredient I swore I had enough of to finish all the meals I’m cooking for clients, the bread that didn’t rise quite the way I’d hoped.

Oh those wonderful days where the eggs do cooperate! I have all the ingredients I need, the sauce is the perfect amount of both rich and tangy, and the bread rises just right. Those days happen more often than not, and yet I seem to focus so much on the broken yolk days.

Seems the same with eating. I invest of time organizing and prepping so that there are plenty of healthy whole food choices in my refrigerator. At any given time there are fresh prepped veggies for salad, stirfrys, snacking, bone broth for sipping, and using the aforementioned veggies for 5 minute soup, cooked chicken and beans…there is no reason for me to eat 4 week old doritos and chocolate that resembles bunny droppings. None.

Some days when the yolk breaks though, I’m okay. I can get through the day without bingeing on the stale crackers from christmas. I know that even though the yolk broke, I have choices and I’m not perfect. I eat well because I feel better…and sleep better. I look better. I function better. I work better. It’s all positive stuff.

Don’t let the little things distract you from the path. Honour the whims that take you off the path for a moment, let the mood pass. Eat the cookie, drink the wine. The journey is not about the perfection, it’s about the trip…the crazy-drunken-monkey- everyday-is-different-this-isn’t-what-I-signed-up-for journey through life. Get back up, brush yourself off, eat and honour, nourish and respect your body because it ain’t about the quantity of life you have, it’s about the quality. It isn’t about perfection… let the damn egg yolk break.