Tis the Season to be Healthy: Gingerbread Houses

posted on December 21, 2015

Looking for a fun Holiday activity for the kids that does not involve copious amounts of sugar? Try this healthier version of a gingerbread house! (Note that I did not say “healthy” but “healthier” J).

Last night my husband had the idea that we should make gingerbread houses.  This was a Christmas tradition he really enjoyed as a child and wanted to pass it along to our girls.  But of course, mommy (aka Naturopath Mommy downer) wanted to find a creative way to engage in this fun activity without all the icing sugar and gumdrops.  After briefly looking online I combined a few ideas and decided on this version – graham cracker, peanut butter houses J.

All you need is graham cracker sheets, regular smooth peanut butter and healthy nut, seed, cereal and dried fruit toppings of your choice.  (We used coconut shavings, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and pretzels).

Heads up: PB is not nearly as structurally sound as icing.  It is sticky enough but does not harden so you may want to put the PB in the fridge before making the houses and store them in the fridge for a night after.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Sweet and Savoury Pumpkin Soup

posted on November 3, 2015

Still have pumpkin up to your ears?  Don’t throw them out.  Eat them!

Here is another idea for consuming your Halloween pumpkin.

If you are feeling pumpkined out…substitute the pumpkin for a butternut squash.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups pumpkin (or about a 4lb pumpkin) – baked
  • 4 cups water OR Vegetable stalk
  • 1 onion - coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 by 1 inch ginger root - coarsely chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup apple unsweetened sauce
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 1 tsp salt for cooking and add to taste along with black pepper

 

  1. Cook pumpkin. [Preheat oven 400F. Cut pumpkin into quarters and gut the insides. Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour or until meat is quite soft.  Scoop out meat, puree in blender and store in fridge until you are ready to make your soup]
  2. Place 4 cups of water or soup stalk into a large pot. Add salt, onion, garlic and ginger and bring to boil. Simmer for 15 mins or until ginger is soft.
  3. Add pumpkin to pot and cook for additional 5 minutes.
  4. Blend, in 2 batches, soup, coconut milk, applesauce and spices.
  5. Serve & enjoy.

Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Barley Salad

posted on November 1, 2015

Check out yet another one of my yummy recipes for fall on thenatpath.com.

Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Barley Fall Salad

Give it a try tonight!

Power up on this protein packed Green Buddha Bowl

posted on March 24, 2015

Spring has sprung and so has the need for “spring cleaning”.  Traditionally the warming weather is a perfect time for detoxing, however this year’s chilly climate has left most still craving the comforts of warming foods.  So let’s begin the detoxifying season with a subtle and warming start with this power packed Green Buddha Bowl (or Rice bowl).

Rice bowls often live in the realm of restaurant and take out food because, to most, the multiple ingredients and yummy sauces are intimidating.  As a lifetime rice lover, I have indulged in a variety of creations but this is my go-to, easy peasy recipe that I can’t get enough of!

For those of you that are vegans, you can relate to the constant need to keep up protein counts and this recipe can add a lot to your day! For those of you who are not vegan, these easy-to-digest vegetable proteins can offer you a break from heavy meats.  It also has the subtle detoxifying power of lemon juice, cilantro, kale and ginger!  Best of all it is super yummy…which is the most important piece.  So this chilly spring, warm up on this!

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

2 cups of washed uncooked brown rice

1 package of Organic firm plain tofu

1 can of chickpeas – rinsed and drained

1 red onion – chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro – de-stemmed and chopped

2.5 cups of organic kale (or one head) – chopped

1 tbsp avocado oil (or appropriate cooking oil)

4 tbsp hemp hearts

 

Sauce:

1/3 cup tahini

2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp (or 1.5 tbsp) chopped ginger

juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp water (can add more if too thick)

 

  1. Cook rice according to instructions
  2. Combine all ingredients of the sauce in a blender or mini food processor.  Blend until creamy uniform consistency.  (Add extra water for thinner consistency). Set aside.
  3. Heat avocado oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add tofu, chickpeas and red onion. Cook until onions become translucent.
  4. Turn down heat to low add kale and cilantro, over for 3-5 minutes until greens start to appear a deeper green (or leaves just starting to soften). Do not overcook greens.
  5. Serve rice, cover with stir-fry, add sauce and top with 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

Nourishing Nettles Soup

posted on June 3, 2014

So far this year our CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) has brought us an abundance of leafy greens!  One of those greens is Stinging Nettle, which can be a tricky one to work with.  As the name suggests, it “stings” you if you touch it bare handed.  So, how do you prepare this stuff in to something edible?  Cook it! (And protect your hands with the prep!)

Before I get into the recipe, there is something to be said about Nettles.  Although it has the potential to bite you, the nutrients and health benefits are well worth the risk!

Nettle leaves are known to be rich in vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, manganese and iron.  It is especially high in vitamin K (a very important vitamin for bone health and blood clotting).  Many would call it a nutritive plant because of its nutrition profile.

Nettle is also quite the healing herb.  Its historical use for health conditions ranges widely and includes anemia, fatigue, allergy relief, arthritis and inflammation, digestive disorders, skin conditions and tonification of female organs.

Our farm provided a wonderful recipe for a nettle soup adapted from www.foragerchef.com.  I have adapted that recipe even more to make it more accessible for my family.  Give it a try!  Kids love it too!

 

Nourishing Nettles Soup

Ingredients: (As always, try to use organic)

3c of nettle leaves (if you have a high powered blender you can try it with stems)

3-4c of baby spinach

1 large or 2 small russet potato, diced

1 large white onion, diced

2 clove garlic, chopped

4c homemade, chicken or vegetable stock

2 tbsp coconut oil or unsalted butter

sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

DIrections:

  1. Sautee onion and garlic in the coconut oil with a pinch of sea salt for a few minutes or until translucent.
  2. Add stock and simmer.
  3. Add potatoes and simmer until soft.
  4. At the same time bring large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the nettles and spinach by dropping them in water for 30 seconds and then remove, placing them in a bowl of ice water. (this brightens the greens and preserves the nutrients).
  5. Once potatoes are soft add simmering potatoes with broth and greens to high-powered blender and process until smooth.

Enjoy!!

Recipe for the month: Kamut pasta with greens and creamy sauce

posted on April 24, 2014

Who says you can’t have creamy decedent sauces while watching your waistline?  Well, the vegan Naturopath says you can!

I was looking for something comforting while detoxing and this creation definitely fit the bill.   It is hearty, full of nutrient dense foods and, most importantly, delicious!

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did.

Ingredients:

-       kamut pasta (Great vegan source of protein. I used tricolor)

-       ½ head of organic kale – washed and coarsely chopped

-       1.5c mushrooms – sliced

-       1 medium sized onion – sliced

-       1 tsp thyme

-       1 tbsp avocado oil

Sauce:

-       ½ head cauliflower – cut into large florets

-       1c cilantro

-       1 can coconut milk

-       ½-1tsp of salt and pepper (or to taste)

 

  1. Cook Kamut pasta.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Boil water and add cauliflower. Cook until cauliflower is soft – approx. 7-10 mins.
  3. Heat pan with avocado oil.  Add kale, onion, mushroom and thyme.  Cook until veggies are just soft.  Turn heat on low and add the pasta.  Mix to warm.
  4. Place cooked cauliflower in a blender.  Add cilantro and coconut milk.  Add water to thin out if necessary.  Add salt and pepper.
  5. Serve the pasta with greens and cover with the creamy cauliflower sauce.
  6. Enjoy!

Spring Cleansing

posted on March 31, 2014

It has been a long and bitter winter and, at last, the season of change is upon us.  No better way to give your body a break from those hearty winter comfort foods than to embark on a spring detox!

 

When most people think of detox diets they think of restriction…avoid this, avoid that.  And although this is important to cleanse the body, what is equally important is what you do eat!

 

Here are a few fabulously detoxifying foods that you can enjoy in plentiful quantities to help restore and boost your immune and detoxification systems.

 

The GREEN goodies:

  • Asparagus – Ahh, the perfect side veg! It boosts your liver function and is protective for many chronic diseases.
  • Kale – high in antioxidants and wonderfully anti-inflammatory.  Excellent for your kidneys.
  • Broccoli – increases liver metabolism and protects the liver
  • Artichoke – increases bile to purge toxins.
  • Avocado – Worried about the fat? Don’t.  This fruit is packed with monounsaturated fats…the good stuff!
  • Dandelion greens – powerful liver tonic and can be sued to treat liver conditions
  • Green Tea – loaded with antioxidants, called catechins, and nutrients galore.  Studies show it is protective for heart disease and cancer and can aid weight loss.  Want a super charged green tea?  Try Matcha powder.

 

Nothing is more awakening for the body than CITRUS:

  • Lemon – helps flush out toxins and aids digestion
  • Grapefruit – thrust the liver into action mode for super detoxification

 

Get to the ROOT:

  • Ginger – cleanses the body by stimulating digestion, blood flow and sweat
  • Garlic – rich with sulfur, it can push heavy toxins out of the body
  • Turmeric – one of the most studied herbs for its powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Promoting of all detoxification systems

 

Looking for a great detoxifying start to your day?  Try this breakfast smoothie

 

The Green Get-Up

Ingredients: (try for organic if you can)

  1. 1.5 leaves of kale
  2. 1 tbsp shaved ginger (if you have a high powered blender, just put a 1 inch cube in)
  3. 2 tbsp Hemp hearts
  4. 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  5. ¼ avacado
  6. ½ apple or banana to sweeten
  7. 2-3 ice cubes
  8. cover with water or half water half hemp or almond milk

Optional – 2 tsp of real maple syrup, matcha powder instead of avacado

If one of these ingredients doesn’t appeal to, just leave it out J

 

Blend to oblivion and enjoy!

Creamy Cauliflower Cilantro Soup *vegan

posted on February 10, 2014

My apologies...I have been blogless for almost a year!! Wow!  A year goes fast...

2013 just flew by as I have been busy with the new love of my life, my sweet little daughter!  She is now 6 months and starting foods!  I can't believe it.  Inspired by her purees, I made this flavourful and warming cauliflower soup.  Yummmm... Comforting and soo healthy all in one bowl.

2014 has brought us heaps of snowy weather so get cozy and warm up with a hearty bowl of soup!

 

 

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower

1 onion med to large size

1 parsnip (peeled)

4 cloves garlic peeled

1 tsp rosemary

1/2c chopped fresh cilantro

1 can coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste

 

  • Chop cauliflower, onion and parsnip into large pieces
  • Add it plus garlic cloves and rosemary to large pot.
  • Cover veggies with water (approx. 5c)
  • Bring to a boil
  • Cook for approx. 15-20 mins or until veggies are soft
  • Scoop cooked veg into blender (may have to do in 2 batches)
  • Add fresh cilantro, salt and pepper
  • Add 1/2c water from pot and ½ can of coconut milk – repeat with second batch.  Add more water to reach smooth creamy consistency
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

SHAKE up your morning...and add some GREEN energy!

posted on April 23, 2012

Don’t have time for a healthy breakfast?  How about a one minute wonderful drink that is commuter approved?!
My go-to breakfast fruit shake has been saving this “most important meal” for the 2 most common classes of breakfast people – the over carb-ers and the skippers.
As all of my patients know, I am keen on a great nutritional start to the day.  If you have a blender and about 60 seconds you can make a healthy breakfast! And it includes a serving of veggies that you won’t even know is there – I promise!
Although I would rather you eat your breakfast in a peaceful place overlooking the sunrise, I know this isn’t possible for most of us...so throw this breakfast into a commuter cup and take it on the go if you have to.  I approve.
This is my tried, tested and true solution to achieving great nutrition and a satisfying flavour in your breakfast.
The Breakfast Shake:
The basics:
  • ½c frozen Berries (I like variety – strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries but any berry will suffice)
  • ½ or whole banana (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • ¾ c Almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • Add water to just cover the fruit
  • One handful of organic baby spinach
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
The options:
Feel free to add any of the following...
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (vegan or whey)
  • 2 tsp nut butter
  • ¼- ½ avocado
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 scoop of greens powder
  • Switch up the fruit from time to time – freeze some oranges, tangerines, pineapple slices, peaches, mangos etc and add frozen to shake
I challenge you to try this and not love it!  Step aside bacon, fruit coming through!

Recipe: Delightful Dobi, A New Winter Classic!

posted on February 1, 2012

For Christmas this year I received the wonderful gift of good food – a cookbook.  The author, Troth Wells takes you on a global vegetarian journey in his book, “One World Vegetarian Cookbook”.  The other night my husband picked a definite tummy pleaser that we gave 5 stars!  It was super easy, quick, extremely nutritious and DELICIOUS!

Dobi is a staple veggie dish from Zimbabwe usually served with maize (or ugali – a corn based meal).  Even if you are not a huge fan of veggies, the addition of a small scoop of peanut butter makes this dish truly savoury and full of flavour! We enjoyed it atop brown rice (as ugali is something I only experienced in Kenya).

I have adapted the recipe to our liking.  It is definitely worth a try!  Great pick hunny!

Dobi – Spinach and Tomato

Serves 2; Prep 10 mins; Cooking 10 mins

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

8-10 mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

4-6 fresh tomatoes chopped (or 1 can of tomatoes)

1 tsp Thyme

1 tsp basil

1 tsp Rosemary

½ fresh green chilli de-seeded and chopped (OR a great trick is to use ½ jar of spicy salsa for the zip!)

3 cups of spinach (can substitute chard) chopped

1-2 tbsp natural peanut butter (smooth)

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Fry the chopped onion and mushrooms in a cooking oil until soft
  2. Add tomatoes, garlic, herbs and season to taste.  Add the chilli or salsa.  Simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Add spinach.  Simmer until tender.
  4. Add peanut butter (start with 1 tbsp and then add more to your taste).  Stir until PB is evenly mixed.
  5. Serve over brown rice or quinoa.

ENJOY!

 

Veganism – A Naturopath’s journey to kind eating

posted on October 21, 2011

As a Naturopathic Doctor my idea of a healthy diet always involves a balance of nutrition and enjoyment. Food is such a big part of our lives that enjoyment is not only necessary but key to long-lasting diet improvements.  Over the years I have come to realize that, for me, enjoying food goes beyond nutrition and flavour, it starts with food production.  This has fuelled my recent efforts to embark on a vegan lifestyle.

Veganism is described as a lifestyle that abstains from the use of animal products.  You may be thinking that, as a Naturopath, it must be natural to be vegan for the health benefits.  It is true that vegans, with a very high vegetable diet, reduce their risk of many conditions and diseases.  A vegetable-rich diet has long been known to manage a healthy weight, and lower the risk of almost all major causes of disease including heart disease and cancer.  Vegetables provide a great source of fibre, antioxidants and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Also, by consuming less meat, you may be reducing your saturated fat intake, and decreasing your exposure to a number of toxins, hormones and traces of pharmaceuticals.  Sounds good right? Well, in addition to benefitting your own health, changing to a vegan lifestyle can also benefit the health of our earth.  Raising animals for food, dairy and eggs has quite the impact on our earth.  Although this ecological impact has been threatening us for years, public awareness is becoming more prominent.  A recent publication put out by The Environmental Working Group (EWG) along with CleanMetrics Research exposes the heavy “footprint” that animal farming creates in terms of greenhouse gases. As our earth gains in population and our individual demands increase (especially in North America), a major shift in how we look at food is necessary. [FYI Check out “Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change and Health” - www.ewg.org/meateatersguide]. 

With all of that being said, I still haven’t gotten to why I decided to become vegan – to pay homage to all the creatures that walk this earth with us.  Being an animal lover my whole life, I have always gone out of my way to create distance between animal meats for consumption and animals that roam the land or sleep in our beds.  I chose not to think about what happened before those pleasantly packaged meats showed up on our store shelves because I could not stand the thought of a suffering animal or critter or the fact that I may be supporting it. (My mother would verify this with a story about the ant log we set on fire while camping when I was a child...My screams as the ants came running out of their smoking ant holes still concerns her to this day).  The more pets I had, the more I became aware of their emotions.  Although some may say that I humanize these emotions, what is undeniable to any dog owner is the pep in their step when they hear the word “walk” or the solemn look on their face with the word “no”.  This got me thinking about farm animals...and with the onslaught documentaries specifically on factory farming in the past decade, I didn’t need my imagination to understand that animals are indeed suffering. 

For me, this was enough to educate myself on veganism.  After much reading I realized that this was a new and potentially challenging lifestyle, but one that I could be on board with while aligning my values and eating habits.  I have found joy in believing in something and following through on it every day.

Understand, I am not against the consumption of meat nor do I want meat-lovers to shy away from becoming informed. I respect the natural food chain and in fact, I am hoping that recent movements will promote a more natural farming industry.  I am a strong supporter of the ethical farming movement. 

However, as a Naturopath I do believe that many of us consume more meat than necessary – driving the increases in meat production.  So I challenge you to find joy in trying new food selections of the vegetarian/vegan variety.  Whether you agree with veganism or not, increasing your veggie intake can benefit your health and our earth!

Here is a veg recipe that I love.  Feel free to try it or make your own delicious version to help kick-start this challenge in your life:

QUINOA TABOULEH – Michelle’s yummy favourite!

A wonderfully healthy dish – full of colour, flavour and fabulous nutrients!  Eat as a side salad or add cooked beans and/or tofu to make it a hearty meal.  One of my new favourite dishes everyday; and while on detox. 

What you will need:

  • 1c organic quinoa
  • 2c water
  • ½ English cucumber – diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes seeded and diced
  • ½ small red onion - minced
  • 3 stalks of green onion – chopped
  • 1 ½ c loosely packed minced fresh parsley
  • 1c minced fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon rind
  • 1/3c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or add to taste)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or add to taste)

To make:

  1. Wash quinoa thoroughly to remove bitter white coating, then rinse and drain
  2. Cook quinoa
  3. Rice cooker (easier!) – add washed quinoa and water to rice cooker and turn on!
  4. Stove-top – bring water to a boil in medium pot. Add quinoa nad reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all water absorbed (leave lid on as much as possible - about 20 minutes).
  5. Place quinoa in a large bowl and set aside to cool and dry (put in fridge or freezer if wanting to cool faster – that way you can skip step 6 if wanting to serve immediately). 
  6. Add to bowl: cucumber, tomatoes, onions, parsley and cilantro.
  7. To make dressing: whisk together oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Pour dressing over salad and toss well to combine.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
  9. Serve chilled.

Enjoy!