I’ve moved

It was a good time, not a long time!

I haven’t stopped the blog, but I wanted to have it’s own domain. So while the wordpress.com got me going, I’m now moving.

Please click the link below to get to the new site. All the old content is still there, and I’ve got new posts already!

VISIT ME HERE

Sweet Potato Mash

I don’t know about you, but I’m always having a hard time with side dishes. The meat I’ve got down (pretty much). But the same old boring steamed green beans was getting me down. And now with drastically reducing grains (ie. eating them once in the last 3 1/2 weeks), sometimes I want to add something a little starchier to my meals.

I’ve searched so many times for a recipe for a sweet potato mash. I love sweet potatoes, love the texture of a mash, but every one I saw had sugar and other crap in the recipe. So I made my own.

It’s quick, easy, and best of all, healthy. So if you like sweet potatoes, I’m sure you’ll like my mash.

Sweet Potato Mash

Ingredients:

2-3 sweet potatoes (you can alter the number you use, based on how many people you’re feeding, and if you want leftovers, which I always do!)

1 c. chicken stock (I have been making my own, believe it or not!)

butter to taste

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Peel and chop sweet potatoes. Add chicken stock in a pot, and fill with water until it covers about 3/4 of the sweet potatoes. Boil until sweet potatoes are tender (I just check with a fork).

Drain sweet potatoes – BUT THIS IS THE IMPORTANT PART. Save the cooking liquid in a heat proof container.

Return the sweet potatoes to the pot and mash. Add enough cooking liquid until they are at the desired consistency and runniness. Add butter, salt and pepper to taste. Serve.

I serve sweet potato mash with chicken, lamb, beef – it can go well with any type of meat. Let me know how you like it!

Roasted Curry Vegetables

Tired of steamed vegetables and salad? Here’s a different way to get your veggies in, and the roasting gives them a sweeter flavour.

I will include one of my favourite combinations of veggies but feel free to get creative and make up your own (I got a tip today on the small turnips, so I’m going to try that one). I’m also going to test it out on the BBQ, so I can make it a summer favourite (when it’s too hot to turn on the oven), not just a winter one. I’ll let you know how that goes!

Roast Curry Vegetables
Ingredients:

1 c. cauliflower

1c. broccoli

1 red pepper

1 small onion (or 1/2 large onion)

1 sweet potato

1/2 mushrooms

1 c. carrots

olive oil

1 tsp curry powder (or to taste)

1 tsp cumin powder (or to taste)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop veggies and put in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil, curry powder and cumin (or any combination of spices that you love). Transfer into a 9 x 13 pan (large enough so veggies aren’t layered). Bake in oven for about 45 minutes, or until veggies are tender.

That’s it, that’s all! So easy, so delicious and a great way to eat your veggies!

Green your dog – simplify his (and your) life

As many of you know, I spend a lot of time with dogs. Not just mine, but other people’s! It’s such a blast, and being able to watch and learn from these amazing animals has really made a difference in my life.

I’m in the process of starting a dog blog, but in the meantime, I wanted to share my thoughts on making our dogs’ lives more green. And I’m looking at it not only for the impact on the environment, but I truly feel I can help you make a difference in your wallet as well (and save you having all the crap in your house).

To me, there isn’t anything more “green” than nature. By having dogs in my house (I have 2 dogs), I live with nature every day, even in downtown Toronto. We are on a very dangerous trend, in my opinion. The trend of the explosion of human products adopted for dogs. Dog owners spend billions on these things every year, and I find it all unnecessary. I’m the first one to make sure I have quality stuff for my dogs, but the excesses and the things that they don’t need really boggle my mind. Dog strollers are the first thing that come to mind. Ugh!! You can even paint your dog’s toenails.

Take a look at your dog. His needs are really quite simple. Sleep, exercise, play, food, buddies. And time with you. Quality time is the most precious thing we can give to our dogs, and it costs nothing. What do you think – is the popularity of all of these dog products covering the guilt that owners have because they don’t spend enough time with their dog? Definitely a possibility.

Sleep

My dogs love their dog beds and that’s their place to chill and relax. A comfortable dog bed that fits your dog is key. Look for eco-friendly dog beds if you can.

Exercise

Get out and walk with your dog every day. Take your dog to as many places as you can. Use benches, trees and poles to make your own obstacle and agility course and give your dog mental stimulation. Mentally stimulated exercise is the best way to exercise your dog – much better than an hour in a dog park.

Play

Get on the ground and play with your dog. Play with your dog without toys. Play with your dog with safe toys. Keep away from tennis balls (they will file down your dog’s teeth), stuffed toys that come apart easily, balls that are easily chewed. Keep toys simple. Choose eco friendly toys to make sure that the materials and stuffing is safe.

Your dog doesn’t need 100 toys – he only needs a few. Keep a couple in a basket and leave 3 toys out. Rotate the toys and it’s like your dog has a new toy!

Don’t believe that your dog only needs a few toys? Try this experiment. Take your dog to a park, and bring a ball. Now put the ball on the ground next to a stick and see which one he prefers. If he’s like mine, he’ll choose the stick any day! Something doesn’t have to be expensive or fancy for your dog to have fun!

Food

We’ve just come to my hot button. Feed your dog a good quality dog food. If you buy it from the grocery store, vet store or big box store (there may be the odd high quality food there), it’s not a good quality dog food. Don’t believe me? Check the Dog Food Analysis website which ranks dog food quality. Most small companies use higher quality meats and less filler in their foods. Orijen and Acana are two of my favourite.

But, for the highest quality food you can give your dog, feed raw. That’s what I feed my dogs (before I switched from Orijen). Feeding raw is one of the best things you can do for your dog’s health, in my opinion. I will be getting into details of a raw diet on my blog, so will save them for later. In the meantime, if you have any questions about raw, please feel free to contact me.

Notice that I did not mention treats. Your dog doesn’t need treats. Used to be when you wanted a treat for your dog, Milkbones were about your only option. But in the past couple of years the treat market has exploded and the options are endless – there’s even “energy bars” for dogs. You feel guilty when you’re in the pet store thinking your dog needs a treat. Well, he doesn’t.  Look at how many FAT and unhealthy dogs there are! There aren’t treats in nature, and there aren’t fat dogs in nature. You don’t need treats to train your dog either.

I give my dog raw bones every once in a while for recreational chewing – that’s helping their teeth, jaws and mind. Keep the dental sticks and dental flossies in the store and save your money. Find the beef bones in the grocery store (usually for $1 or $2) and let them chew away. Hours of fun!

Buddies

Dogs need socialization, just like we need socialization. So use the dog park to meet your dog’s social needs. Educate your dog on how to meet and be with other dogs properly. When you find a dog that your dog just clicks with, make play dates. Go on hikes with your dog and find other dog owners to go with you. Hiking and moving is a great way for the dogs to bond. If you’re in the Toronto area and looking for owners to hike with, please contact me. I go hiking with my clients pretty regularly. Sometimes trail hikes, and sometimes fun little urban hikes!

Dogs learn from other dogs, so keeping your dog away from other dogs is stunting their growth and development. Start socializing puppies right away – they learn more from their furry buddies!

Diesel, my older dog, has a boyfriend (an Akita) that we meet up with regularly. Jake is like the Walmart greeter in the dog park, and must meet as many dogs as possible. I have to get them out and socialized regularly to keep them happy and balanced. I have the added advantage of my classes and can bring my dogs along where they mix and mingle with my clients’ dogs (and teach them a few things!).

Time

Dogs are pack animals, and love nothing more than spending time with their pack.  Find ways to incorporate your dog into your everyday life. The more different experiences you can expose your dog to, the more well adjusted he will become and the stronger your bond will be. Your dog should be your best buddy. Imagine having a dog that you can take anywhere! How amazing would that be!

Take time to understand your dog. Observe your dog. Find out what he loves (and what he doesn’t!). When I ask that question in class, most owners have no clue. Or give me a self serving answer. Every dog has something that really turns their crank, so spend time figuring out what that is and find creative ways to incorporate it into your dog’s life.

Training is so important here. Notice I didn’t put training as a separate category. Training should just be part of your everyday life with your dog. Everything you do is an opportunity for training. To me (and not because I’m a trainer), training is the one area that you should invest in your dog. Go to a trainer that helps you understand your dog and helps you develop that bond. That is going to pay back in a lifetime of love and companionship with your dog. I have a stronger bond now with my dogs than I ever did. They trust me, and I trust them. They know that I get them, and know I am looking out for them. They really are special animals.


Of course they also have a leash and collar (and I use high quality Martingale collar and 6′ leash). But as you can see, their needs are pretty basic. And my dogs are having the time of their life!

So the next time you’re in a pet store and see those cute baubles, t-shirts, toys, ask yourself if your dog will really be happier by having them (and be honest). And then go home and spend an uninterrupted hour with your dog. Bet he loves that more!

Take one small step for Earth Day

I’m not your stereotypical “save the earth” kind of girl. You may not be either. In fact, I bet that most of my friends and family don’t even realize that I have an interest in eco-friendly and green items, let alone enough passion to blog about them.

But here we are on Earth Day. Now, without the help of my trusty Google, I’m going to confess that I have no bloody idea what Earth Day means, or why today is any different than any other day (and my curiosity will cause me to look that up later!). At least it’s an opportunity to raise awareness of the steps we can take to set ourselves on a better path than what we’re on.

So I thought I would do my part. After all, it’s my belief that by being healthier, we are already taking a positive step towards greening our lives.

First of all, we can all take steps to green our lives. Evolution, not revolution people (and anyone who’s ever worked with me has probably heard me say this a lot!). A bunch of little steps can sure add up, and are much easier to implement in our everyday lives than huge changes. Of course, some things have more impact than others…..but I’m not going there today. Remember, my job is to help you make it easier.

Here are my suggestions for some simple steps you can take today.

  1. Only buy what you need. Sounds easy, right? Not so much. Think about how much food you throw out in a week, and how that adds up over time. The easiest way to only buy what you need is to plan your meals, make your list, and shop to your list. I haven’t thrown out any food in over 3 weeks (and my veggies were ALWAYS going bad)!
  2. Reduce your use of pre-packaged and processed foods. Packaging and processing takes energy – eating whole foods still takes energy, but has less waste and less processing. For example, instead of buying pre-packaged lettuce (which always goes bad before I can eat it), buy a head of lettuce, spend 10 minutes putting it through a salad spinner and store in a plastic container in the fridge. You’ll have salad for a week, and I guarantee it will last longer than the pre-packaged stuff. And after the report of what’s in those bags, just looking at them grosses me out! Seriously, if you want to stop buying them, click on the link. Blech.
  3. Buy local when you can. I love the idea of the 100 mile diet but that sounds time consuming! At least buy local when you can and include a seasonal fruit and vegetable in your weekly meal plan. Here’s a list of what’s in season in Ontario.
  4. Visit farmer’s markets. It’s almost that time! I love the farmer’s market, and there are a couple of really great ones near me. The food tastes so much better when it’s fresh from the farm! Here’s a list of the local Toronto farmer’s markets.
  5. We use a toaster oven instead of the oven quite frequently for smaller dishes. A toaster oven takes less energy, so you save.
  6. BBQ. Summer is almost here, and you can cook a whole meal, complete with veggies on the BBQ. I’m going to have to get busy and explore some new BBQ recipes!
  7. Walk more. When you can, leave the car at home and use your feet. Plus it’s great exercise!
  8. Let’s face it, there are days where you don’t have time to cook. Why not visit your local restaurant for take-out rather than getting delivery? Many restaurants offer discounts on take-out, and charge delivery fees. So it’s cheaper too! Walk there and get even more benefit!
  9. Those produce bags at the grocery store seem like such a waste to me. I always throw them out as soon as we get home as I find food spoils in them easily. These Credo mesh bags are reusable, so no more plastic bags. Yes, they do cost money, but this is one place where I don’t mind.

I’m just about to go out to Pure + Simple to buy my skin cream. Everything there is all natural, and I have been using their products for over a year. They have a promo on today – if you get to their store in an eco-friendly way (walk, bike, TTC), you get 25% off their products. I’ve been out of moisturizer and waiting for over a week to go!

Then I’m going to add a post on how to green your dog (not literally).

What did you do today for the planet?

Make your Salad Epic

It sure isn’t easy to eat healthy if your food tastes like crap, is it?

One of the biggest hurdles to eating healthy is picturing days on end of eating carrot sticks, celery, and oh god, not another salad. Healthy is boring to many people. So why stick to it.

If you’re watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution (and you should be, it’s fabulous!), the local station DJ made a similar comment to Jamie about not wanting to eat lettuce to be healthy. In reality (as Jamie’s trying to show), there are so many great tasting recipes out there that aren’t salads, but still healthy.

Let’s call a spade a spade. A salad can be an easy and healthy part of a healthy diet, and most healthy people eat a lot of salad. Not all salads are healthy – there are plenty of unhealthy salads out there too – some have as much fat as a quarter pounder. Think taco salad, caesar salad, anything with a really creamy dressing.

And if you’re picturing your salad the typical iceberg lettuce, carrot, maybe tomato with Kraft salad dressing, forget it. That’s not a salad to me.

My point is if you’re going to make yourself a salad, make it EPIC. Make it memorable. Make it so delicious that you actually crave that salad the next day. Make it so epic you forget that it’s healthy – it’s just good food.

So, what makes a salad epic?

  • Start with your base of lettuce. Combining types of lettuce makes it interesting and adds different flavours. Mine right now has red lettuce and spinach. I love the buttery texture of the red lettuce. And I bought if for only ¢63. Not bad!
  • Add protein. Here’s a chance to make your protein rock. Leftover roast chicken. Chicken or turkey bacon. Hardboiled egg. Sliced flank steak. Leftover roast. The more flavourful, the more it adds to your salad. I often use 2 proteins – chicken and 1 hardboiled egg. Yum.
  • Lots of veggies. But only veggies you like, because really, who wants to pick veggies out of your own salad.
  • Sprouts on top. I love a good sprout – it gives the salad texture and a nutty flavour.
  • Nuts – sliced almonds, walnuts, whatever goes with your flavours.
  • Something warm – don’t underestimate the impact of warm food on your cold ingredients. Either I heat up my protein, or I will add steamed green beans, or other steamed veggies.
  • Something sweet. I don’t always do this, but if you want to kick it up a notch, add some dried cranberries or dried cherries for a little punch. Edit: Cut up fruit, such as apples or pears also add some sweetness with less sugar than dried fruit. (Thanks Carmen for your comment – I hadn’t included fruit!)
  • Something tart. I use goat cheese (since I’m non-dairy, it’s the only cheese I can eat). The goat cheese gives it a creamy texture, but also a little tartness. If you don’t like goat cheese (really??), you can get tart from the salad dressing as well. Plus, with the something warm (see above 2 steps), the goat cheese melts a bit.
  • Last but not least, the dressing. The dressing is THE most important part of any salad, I think. Which is why I’ve given up store bought salad dressings. They taste HORRIBLE after you’ve made your own, and it takes about as long to make your own as it takes to walk down the aisle and pull one of those nasty bottles off the shelf. I’ve put a number of my favourite on this site, and love to hear new recipes. So please, don’t be selfish, SHARE! Here’s a list of mine (click for the recipe):

Apple Cider Dressing

Green Dressing (on my salad right now!)

House Dressing

Asian Dressing

The one mistake that I often make is putting too much salad dressing on my salad. But I’m trying to curb that habit!

I’m eating lunch while I’m writing, and my salad is EPIC! I even remembered to take a picture (woohoo!) so the image you see is actually my salad. I only have egg in it, and some chicken would have made it even better. I had leftovers from last night’s dinner in the fridge, and I craved a salad instead.

And just so you don’t think I’m blowing smoke, last week I offered to make one of my salad dressings for a dinner party with friends. And I got compliments on my salad dressing, yes I did.

So here’s my call out to all of you. To my friends. I want to prove to you how epic my salads are, so please, send me an email and I will have you over for lunch to experience one of my salads. Yes, I said “experience”, cause that’s what it is. I expect my lunch calendar to be full soon!

Lemongrass Flank steak and roast beet salad

Had the most delicious dinner tonight. (I’m starting to think I’m over using the word “delicious”, but everything else sounds corny!)

Today was grocery shopping day. It’s moved from Sunday afternoon to Monday morning. It’s much quieter on Monday morning! Just me and the old people….

It’s much quicker now to shop as well, as most of my shopping is done in the produce and meat departments, with the occasional foray to find oil, vinegar or some other accompaniment.

For tonight’s meal, I made Flank steak marinated in a lime and lemongrass marinade (thanks Craig fo the recipe!), with leftover sweet potato mash and roasted beet salad. Scrumptious!

Lemongrass Flank Steak

Ingredients:

1 flank steak

lemongrass

1 clove of garlic

1 1/2″ piece of ginger

2 tbsp chopped basil

juice of 2 limes

Directions:

Take a 1″ piece of lemongrass and soften using a mortar and pestle. Add a clove of garlic and ginger and continue to blend. Add basil.

Juice limes and mix with lemongrass mixture. Pour into a ziploc bag and add the flank steak. Massage the bag so the marinade covers the steak. Place in the fridge for 3-4 hours (or longer).

Take steak out 20 minutes before grilling. Grill on BBQ or indoor grill.

Roast beet salad

Ingredients

1 bunch of beets

Sea salt

olive oil

thyme

Arugula

juice of an orange (I used 1/2 clementine)

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets and remove tops.  Line a 8 x 12 dish with foil. Cut beets in quarters or halves (depending on size) and place in foil covered dish. Throw some salt, basil, and olive oil over the beets. Roast for 45 minutes – 50 minutes (until beets are tender – which always takes longer for me!).

Slice beets once cooled. Line a plate with the arugula and place cooled beets on top. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Drizzle the orange juice over the beets and sprinkle with salt. Serve and enjoy!