Category Archives: healthy eating

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!

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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!

Does Healthy cure all?

Can being healthy cure all?

I’ve been asking myself this quite a bit this week. You see, I started this whole thing because I’ve felt like crap for the past few months. And I’ll lay it on the table. I got laid off from my job a month and a half ago, and ate junk for the first 3 weeks (see my Mini Egg fiasco). Until I couldn’t take it anymore. I was tired of feeling crappy, tired and fat.

I had a thought – maybe if I made myself eat healthier, I’d feel better and be more motivated to do something about my work situation.

My first instinct was that for me to be successful, I should get other people on board for support. Hence the blog.

And the results? I am quite happy with how (relatively) easy it’s been for me to eat healthy over the last 2 weeks (which is inspiring me to help others find it easy too). I’ve stayed on track and have enjoyed some absolutely fabulous meals. But my problem has never been eating healthy for a short period of time. I can get myself to do anything for a few weeks (even the juice/soup detox I did last year for over 3 weeks). It’s the long term commitment.

I’ve even felt better physically over the past week – more energy, no crashes, better sleep. I haven’t been doing a lot of working out, other than my walks two times a day with my dogs.

But I haven’t felt better mentally. I’m still beating myself up other things, getting discouraged. Not sure what to do. Maybe feeling healthy will set me up for feeling better mentally soon. If the physical is there, the mental part has to come soon.

Doesn’t it?

I guess I’ll find out soon how much of an impact being healthy can have. And don’t worry – I’ll share…

9 Tips to make Healthy Easy

Why is healthy not easier?

For the most part, it takes work. Planning, shopping, cooking, chopping. (Hey that rhymes!)

And isn’t UNhealthy totally easy? Just dial 967-11-11. Stop at one of the 6,000 fast food places on the way home and pick something up for dinner. Aisles of convenience food in the grocery store (most of which contains chemicals and preservatives that aren’t good for us, not to mention the high-fructose corn syrup that lurks on so many convenience foods). Heck – you can even buy pre-cut potatoes in a bag. We don’t have time to peel and cut potatoes anymore??? (I have to admit I was disgusted the first time I saw the commercial.)

By the way, is it just me or is pretty much every convenience item made of wheat?? (Except fruit of course!) That rules that out!

So exactly how can it be easier?

I’m not gonna lie – planning has made it easier for me. Planning does take time, but saves in the overall scheme of things. And I’m working on some ideas to make planning easier too!

I’ve put together 9 tips to make eating healthy easier. Keep in mind that I’m also trying to keep the budget under control.

  1. Plan each week’s meals before the week starts. You can’t eat healthy if you don’t have healthy food on hand. I use a meal planning template, and input each day’s meals and snacks. I put all of the week’s recipes on my meal plan as well so I don’t have to go searching for them each day.
  2. Plan leftovers into your meal plan. And if you have more leftovers than you planned, you can skip one of your meals. Yay!
  3. Make your grocery list from your meal plan. When you go grocery shopping, stick to it! Stray from your list if one of your staples is on sale, but otherwise, limit the impulse shopping.
  4. Cut up your veggies as you unpack your groceries. When I get home from grocery shopping, I cut up veggies and put them in baggies in the fridge. So broccoli, peppers, cauliflower – anything that needs to be cut up can be so much easier if you do it before you put it in the fridge. I even wash lettuce and put in the salad spinner, then into a bag. During the week, reach in the bags and pull out what you need. The hard work’s already done!
  5. Plan the time consuming meals for the weekend. Plan quicker meals for the week. That way it’s easier to come home and throw dinner together. 20 Minute Supper Club is a great resource for those evening meals. Pick through and you can find lots of gluten,sugar and dairy free meals.
  6. Make sure when you cook on the weekend you have lots of leftovers! That way you can get through much of the week’s lunches just using up your leftovers. Many people recommend using the weekends to cook meals for the week and freeze them, but I can never find enough time on the weekend to do that. If you can, that’s awesome.
  7. Be flexible with your week. Even though I have meals planned by day, I move them around all the time, based on how I feel on a specific day, how much time I have (in which case I may cook a quicker meal).
  8. Include non-cooking meals into your plan. Salads, wraps (with lettuce if you’re gluten-free). Eggs are a really quick meal option (although technically cooking, I suppose). And there’s lots of great ways to cook eggs.
  9. In the summer, BBQ makes healthy meals so easy. Throw on some meat (which you could marinate in the morning). Grill veggies on the grill, or wrap in foil and throw in some coconut oil and spices. Serve with a side salad. And you have a delicious meal! For winter, we have a deluxe Foreman Grill (which also doubles as a griddle) and we cook most nights on it – easy and fast!

Share your tips in the comments below. I’d love to hear them!

The evolution of snacking…and some ideas (plus one recipe!)

Did we snack when we were young? There were no 100 calorie “snack packs” to buy. Most snack (ie. junk) foods only came in the larger size (think, chips). Heck, even pop wasn’t easy back then as you had to open it with a can opener (remind me to tell you of the time at the hunting camp that my cousins and I tried to open cans of pop with screwdrivers while dad and the other uncles slept).

(I was hoping not to show my age with this post, but think I might have blown that!)

I don’t remember “snacking”. Some days, mom would have fresh baked chocolate chip cookies made when we got home from school. But it wasn’t part of our culture as it is today. Convenience is king.
I do remember eating proper meals – a great breakfast that got you off to a great start, a hearty lunch and dinner. Of course our lifestyles have changed since then – we’re busier, on the go and as a result, time starved. Not  only does that mean that we look for convenience in our food, but it also means that we don’t have time (or don’t MAKE time) to prepare and eat proper meals.

So we snack.

I have realized over the past week that in having the time to make all 3 meals (have I made anyone jealous yet??), I have done a lot less snacking. Even in the afternoon.

I started off the first few days with snacks, but not so much lately. I didn’t even eat lunch yesterday.

I attribute that to 3 things:

1) As I mentioned, eating a larger breakfast and lunch than I’m used to (but definitely healthy)

2) NOT EATING GRAINS! I don’t feel hungry after eating, and rarely even feel full. Just feel satisfied.

3) No caffeine, so I don’t have the afternoon dip, meaning I don’t go reaching for a sugary snack to lift me up.

And one bonus…..

4) I am at home so if I am a little tired, I nap instead of eat! Although I have to admit that I’ve only done this 2 or 3 times in the past 6 weeks. But at least it’s an option.

There are lots of diet plans that recommend you eat 6 small meals a day, and honestly, that’s never really worked for me over the long term. But I have often been guilty of not eating enough for breakfast and lunch, which hasn’t helped my cause. And god help me if I ever missed a meal – I got MEAN!

I truly believe that by trying to better regulate my insulin levels by eating mostly protein, fruits, veggies and nuts has helped me reduce my snacking. Let’s see if it continues – I know, one week isn’t enough to say this is long term success!

But since the title of my post is “and some ideas” there is a convenience factor, and often time people are on the run so there is longer time between meals, or just don’t have the time for a hearty meal. So here is the idea part…

Keep in mind that all of my snack ideas will be gluten, sugar and dairy free! I also like to have protein where possible with my snack.

  • Hardboiled egg with veggies (carrots, red pepper)
  • Hummus with carrots
  • Black bean dip with veggies. For black bean dip, mash a cup of black beans, add tomato, lime juice, cilantro, cumin and chile powder. Delicious!
  • Apple with almond butter
  • Tuna (with a bit of mayo, lime juice and cilantro), and put in a lettuce leaf for a wrap
  • Chicken, salsa, cumin and chile powder in a lettuce leaf wrap
  • Almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews – with a little dried fruit (make sure nuts are raw and unsweetened. And as my friend Laurie pointed out, with no oil)

Here is a fantastic recipe for Energy Balls that I got from Mark’s Daily Apple. I made them today, and they’re great. Not sweet. But a bit chocolate-y (don’t worry, I added unsweetened cocoa powder – it’s allowed!).

Here’s the recipe:

“Energy Balls” from Mark’s Daily Apple

1/2 cup each:

  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Pecan nuts
  • Hazel nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • 3-6 dates
  • 2-4 tablespoons virgin coconut oil

To taste:

  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Freshly ground coffee
  • Shredded coconut

Instructions:

Run the nuts and pumpkin seeds in a food processor until ground into a fine flour.

Remove the nut flour and grind the dates and shredded coconut in the food processor until smooth.

Mix these ingredients together with coffee and cocoa powder according to taste.

Finally, add the coconut oil and mix it all together by hand. Roll the paste into small nibbly balls and sprinkle them in shredded coconut.

Here’s another bonus recipe which was also great. They have melted chocolate, which as long as it’s over 70% cocoa is fine…but I’m saving that for after the first 4 weeks.

Gluten Free Almond Power Bars – Elana’s Pantry

2 cups almonds (raw)

½ cup flax meal (flax seeds ground in a vita-mix)

½ cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)

½ cup unsalted creamy roasted almond butter

½ teaspoon celtic sea salt

½ cup coconut oil

4 drops stevia

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup dark chocolate 73% (optional)

  1. Place almonds, flax meal, shredded coconut, almond butter and salt in a food processor
  2. Pulse briefly, about 10 seconds
  3. In a small sauce pan, melt coconut oil over very low heat
  4. Remove coconut oil from stove, stir stevia, agave and vanilla into oil
  5. Add coconut oil mixture to food processor and pulse until ingredients form a coarse paste
  6. Press mixture into an 8 x 8 glass baking dish
  7. Chill in refrigerator for 1 hour, until mixture hardens
  8. In a small saucepan, melt chocolate over very low heat, stirring continuously
  9. Spread melted chocolate over bars; return to refrigerator for 30 minutes, until chocolate hardens
  10. Remove from refrigerator, cut into bars and serve
Would love any more snack ideas you have! Leave them in the comments!

“Spaghetti” and meat sauce…yes I said spaghetti

I just didn’t say what kind of spaghetti…

I had the most delicious dinner. “Spaghetti” and tomato meat sauce. Spaghetti squash that is. I’ve heard people for years recommend spaghetti squash as a replacement, and thought “ya, right”. Tonight, I tried it. Delicious. And I didn’t get a full feeling afterward. It was delicious and filling, but not too filling. The best part is I have leftovers for tomorrow. Woohoo!
Here is the recipe for the sauce, courtesy of Mark’s Daily Apple.

Tomato Sauce for pasta

Ingredients:
1 lb. ground beef
1 medium white onion, diced
1 red and yellow bell pepper,  diced
2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced
1 tbs. rosemary chopped
1 tsp. thyme chopped
1 can 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
1 can 28 oz. diced tomatoes
1 can  6 oz. tomato paste
½ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1 cup red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp. chili pepper flakes
1 bay leaf

Optional add-ins:
Mushrooms, zucchini or spinach

Method:
Coat pan with olive oil and add ground beef, onions, bell peppers, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Saute until ground beef turns brown.  Add remaining ingredients and let simmer. With a dish like this, patience is a virtue – the longer it simmers, the longer it gives the ingredients to mingle, creating a more robust, flavorful sauce.

I let it simmer for an hour and a half, and it was wonderful.

Spaghetti Squash

Cut squash in half and spoon out the seeds and “guts”. Place the squash on a cooking tray, cut side down. Place in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. I cooked mine in a toaster oven, and it took about an hour and 15 minutes. When tender, scrape the flesh and it will come out as strands, similar to spaghetti. Serve with sauce on top.

I know – if you look at the Detox plan you’ll notice that I did add ground beef, but have made a decision that I’m going to follow the Primal Blueprint more than the detox. And the only difference in the short term is adding red meat and cutting out grains entirely. I want to eat as clean as possible for the first 4 weeks, and then I will add back some of the red wine and dark chocolate that’s allowed on the Primal Blueprint!

I feel better this week than I have in a long time. More energy, less fog. Still don’t have that 100% clarity, but I feel great. I sleep well at night, and wake up without an alarm clock (doesn’t hurt that I don’t have to be anywhere early in the morning).

But the biggest thing? I’M NOT HUNGRY!! I can’t tell you how huge that is in light of how I would eat after dinner – for much of my life. I’m pretty sure that simple carbs have been the problem all along. Because in the evening I would get into crackers, ice cream, bread…of course, not healthy stuff. For the past week, I haven’t eaten anything after dinner. The only thing I may have is chamomile tea, and that hardly counts!

Of course, it’s only been one week. So let’s see how this goes.