Category Archives: nutrition

Roasted Veggies And Quinoa Salad

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This is the kind of salad you can tweak around all you want, and the results are equally fantastic. Unless you add, like, Skittles or something weird like that. Please don’t add Skittles.
But really, in the mood for cheese? Sprinkle some feta on top. Wanting a dose of healthy fats? A bit of walnuts, almonds or cashews will do the trick. In the mood for a dash of hotness? Dice a jalapeno and roast it, too. Have the odd leftover veggie starting to look sad in the fridge? Toss it in, almost any vegetable works great here.
You know how roasting vegetables can take a bit of time. What I like to do is roast double the amount and save the leftovers for next day; you can even do more if you don’t mind eating the same food for a few days in a row.

 

Pair it up with a bed of leafy greens and you’re left with a nutritious powerhouse– an excellent energy source for middle of the day meal, or a protein packed light dinner.

 

 

Roasted Veggies and Quinoa Salad

3/4 C of quinoa, cooked

Yellow and red pepper

Zucchini

Red onion

Cherry tomatoes

Mushrooms

Two handfuls of leafy greens (I went with baby spinach)

Coconut oil

Balsamic vinegar, to taste

Salt and pepper, to taste

 

Preheat oven at 350 F. Prep your veggies by chopping to the shape and size you prefer and drizzling lightly with the melted coconut oil. Place them on a baking sheet and roast in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes, keeping an eye on them and moving them around once in between.
Once roasted bring them out and flavor them with the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Place a bed of leafy greens on your plate, then add the cooked quinoa (and you can drizzle some balsamic vinegar on the quinoa for added flavor). Chuck the veggies on top of it all, and scarf down with joy!

 

 

 

Still Counting Calories? At Least You’re Not Working Out To Jane Fonda. Are You?

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Fad diets come and go with the times, as did leotards and fuzzy headbands– though leg warmers seem to be making an interesting comeback. (I still don’t know what to make of that.)

But something that needs to go away already is the useless practice of calorie counting. But. BUT. You’re going to say. And I’m going to wiggle my finger in your face because Nuh huh.

The control that calorie counting offers is more of an illusion, because it allows too big a room for unhealthy practices to be justified. “I’m 300 calories short for the day! This means I get to have a slice of chocolate velvet cake deep fried in butter stuffed with lard.” You know what I mean. If at the end of one day you discover you have consumed a smaller amount of calories than what your goal is it will be easier for you to convince yourself it’s totally fine to snarf down a bag of chips, raid the leftover cake, or finish the extra big chocolate bar. And it’s not.

I honestly believe counting calories sets you up for failure, because there is no specification about the quality of said calories. Two hundred calories of cookies is not the same as 200 calories of raw veggies. You know which one is the smartest option and yet, given the chance by having “spare space” in your calorie count for the day, you’ll choose the unhealthy sugary shit. You know I’m right.

Besides, tell me the truth: Do you really want to be a slave to counting that shit every day for the rest of your life? Do you think it’s  healthy mental practice to obsess about amounts and counts of this or that? Do you honestly want to be that person that brings their motherfucking scale to parties and reunions? Please don’t be. Those people suck the fun right out of getting together with friends.

BUT. You’ll argue. That’s what they do in The Biggest Loser, and they lose a lot of weight! And you’d be correct. But what you don’t see much of in the show is the kind of food they eat. They aren’t limiting their caloric intake and still consuming crap foods. They have a team of people showing them how to eat, when to eat it, how much to eat… it’s television and it’s in the show’s best interest that these peeps lose a lot of weight, and fast. Ratings, babeh. Their meals consist mostly of fresh food. REAL FOOD. Food that is alive and in turn gives life, because that’s the food that allows the body to shed unnecessary weight.  My guess is that thorough nutritional explanations aren’t what most of the population would describe as enthralling TV entertainment, and this is what they don’t show us much of that. Seriously, if you think they lose weight by pure magic of the brutal workouts they’re subjected to, you’ll be highly disappointed. It’s been proven time and time again, you can even repeat after me: You cannot out-train unhealthy eating habits.

You cannot out-train unhealthy eating habits.

You cannot out-train unhealthy eating habits.

YOU CANNOT OUT-TRAIN UNHEALTHY EATING HABITS.

Basically this means you can kill yourself in the gym, on the treadmill, or run your dog to the ground, and the changes in your body will likely remain insignificant for as long as you keep eating the same shit you’re still eating.

And this brings us back to the calorie conundrum. You’re right in that there are amounts of nutrients the body needs for optimal functioning, so how can we know how much to have of what? I’m glad you asked.
Enter the Calorie Control Guide, from the geniuses at Precision Nutrition.

FOR THE GUYS:

                                     FOR THE LADIES:

Click on either picture to be taken to the full article, with more reasons why counting calories sucks and to access printable versions of this guide. It’s very simple to remember! Everything you need is… wait for it… in the palm of your hand. Ba dum tss.

It’s “Steakhouse Good”, The Husband Said: Grilled Marinated Shiitake

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Is it still grilling weather in your region? You can say so if it is. I won’t be jealous nor will I wish torrential rains upon you. Promise.

During this past summer something was decidedly off with my cooking: I managed to ruin entire meals on the grill, on the stove, and in the toaster oven. Husbando was rooting for me to break the record and char something in the microwave already. Har har.

With this dish I finally got it right, though. A grilled shiitake mushroom so juicy and flavorful that, in the hubs’ words “it’s really good. It’s, like, steakhouse good.” Now if only I could get the kid to overcome her aversion of edible fungi.

And why shiitake, you ask? Because they are a fabulous! Regarded as medicinal by the Chinese for thousands of years, these humble looking ‘shrooms pack an amazing amount of iron, B-vitamins, and minerals. They also support cardiovascular health and they help our immune system. Add to this that an estimated 100 compounds in the shiitake mushroom work together as anti-tumors, and we have a winner.

I chose to serve my mushroom accompanied by the veggies I would add to a burger (lettuce, tomato, red onion) but I skipped the buns, and grilled asparagus and fresh baby carrots completed the meal. Shiitakes are fleshy in a very meat-like way, which makes them excellent stand ins for burger patties or steaks.

Grilled Marinated Shiitake

4 Shiitake mushrooms, de-stemmed and clean

Asparagus

Baby carrots

Any veggies you want for accompanying your mushroom: lettuce, tomato, onion, zucchini, peppers, etc.

Soy sauce

Sea salt to taste

For the mushroom marinade:

1/4 C of Extra virgin olive oil

1/4 C of freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice

3 garlic cloves, crushed

1 tsp dry rosemary

salt and pepper to taste

Mix up your marinade and place the clean mushrooms in it. Leave them there for 30 minutes to an hour, making sure you flip the mushrooms once so they soak equally on both sides.

In the meanwhile, prepare your asparagus by cutting off the lower ends and shaving off the tougher stems. Place them in tin foil and drizzle lightly with a bit of soy sauce and sprinkle with sea salt. Wrap up the tin foil.

You may want to put the asparagus on the grill a few minutes before you add the mushrooms, since we want to make sure everything cooks at the same time. The mushrooms will need no wrapping, just place them directly on the grill.  The ‘shrooms will cook very quickly, needing at most maybe 3 minutes on each side; you don’t want to overcook them and thus cancel out the nutrients!

Since it goes so fast, be vigilant. Be very, very vigilant. Unless you want to end up like me, cussing like a sailor because you managed to burn dinner again.

Cranberry Walnut Salad With Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

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You may have noticed a lack of posts lately and all I can do is blame the summer. It’s busy and hot and I’m pregnant and hot which means I don’t want to even look at the stove, let alone have to cook on it.

There has been a lot of grilling going on but I suck at grilling and end up burning half the shit, so no blog-worthy pictures there.

BUT today it hit me that I haven’t shared with you the salad that has been my main mid-day sustenance for the past few weeks. It’s fresh, flavorful, filling… and fucking fantastic (so many ‘f’s. I just had to.)

I was introduced to this salad a couple of months ago at a breastfeeding course with fellow doula friends. It was a potluck get together with lots of good stuff to eat, and we all at some point swarmed this salad until it was gone. I even tried pulling my I’m pregnant so you should totally leave that for me card with no success: The salad was gone before I could go back for (ahem) fourths. Bitches.

So of course I had to email my friend and ask her what this yummy greenness was all about. Today I ate an entire head of romaine lettuce by myself in this salad. I’m waiting to start growing roots on my feet any moment now.

I must apologize for the lack of photo editing. My laptop got sent back for fixing and I’m barred from installing any software into my husband’s computer. Like, infect the man’s laptop with a virus ONCE and suddenly your downloading privileges are nonexistent. Sheesh.

Cranberry Walnut Salad With Sweet Balsamic Vinaigrette

Salad greens (spring mix or all lettuce. I used romaine.)

Feta cheese

Apple chunks (optional. I didn’t have any, but I highly recommend you add some)

Dried cranberries

Walnuts (toasted or raw)

Dressing
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3/4 cup olive oil
Shake together in small mason jar.
Do I really need to tell you how to assemble this? I figured. Just toss it all together and enjoy the goodness.

Almond Couscous And Persian Salad

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I hadn’t tried couscous until I moved to Canada and I like it because it’s a wonderful stand in for staple grains such as rice. Not in vain has it remained key to the diet of Morocco’s people, as well as in other North African countries. Make sure you get whole wheat couscous though, because like with any other grain the white version is far too refined to be recommendable. The addition of protein in the form of almonds and in combination with the Persian and green salads makes of this a full dirt cheap! meal. Alternatively, instead of almonds you can use chickpeas, cashews or black-eyes beans.

As for the Persian salad, this is one I had for the first time a year ago when an Iranian client took us to a restaurant specialized in traditional foods from his country, in Toronto. In that same place I fell in love with Basmatti rice so you can imagine it was an evening of flavorful discoveries for me. Cool and refreshing, this salad makes a perfect side dish in the hot summer months.

One thing I keep noticing over and over in my desire to eat well is that it is extremely helpful to venture out of our customs, traditions and meal preparing habits. Ethnic food offers a wide array of delicious options that have worked wonders for centuries for other civilizations, and very often they are quite easy and cheap to prepare (and if you ask me, easy, cheap and healthy are the trifecta that describes an excellent meal.)

Also –and this has to be said– when we see the global trends to discover that North America stands among the unhealthiest, largest, most inactive populations… that’s got to make things click. Something is obviously very, very wrong. Apparently today 50% of the people in the U.S. are at real risk of suffering a disease linked directly to their eating habits. That’s half the population of the entire country getting sick and/or dying just because of what they choose to put in their mouths. It’s ridiculous! I’ll pass on that thankyouverymuch, and I’ll stick to eating what people in healthier countries eat.

Almond Couscous and Persian Salad

1 C whole wheat couscous

3/4 C almonds

chopped veggies, as many as you like. I used:

Green bell pepper

Orange bell pepper

Red onion

Minced ginger root

1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Turmeric, cumin, salt, cinnamon, to taste

boiling water

Green onion or cilantro, for garnish

Place the dry couscous in a glass bowl and mix in all the spices and chopped vegetables. Drizzle with the olive oil. Now add enough boiling water to cover 1 cm. over the couscous, stir a couple of times gently, cover and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Garnish with green onion or cilantro.

For the Persian salad you’ll need:

1 English cucumber

1 tomato

1/4 red onion

juice of 1 lime

salt to taste

Make sure the cucumber, tomato and red onion are diced very finely. Bathe in lime juice and salt to taste. It’s better if made at least 1 hour beforehand and left to chill in the fridge.

 

Thai, Japanese, Indian, Moroccan, Ethiopian food… we sure have a world of flavors to discover! I’M ON IT.

 

The Perfect Hangover Breakfast. I Mean… Mexican Brunch. Yeah.

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It’s been a week of running around, fixing up the house, hosting parties, celebrating birthdays, cleaning up… and we’re not finished yet. I’m tired.

Also, I’m now officially thirty years old, which I’m sure grants me additional bitching advantages.

Even though I can’t drink, what with the baby producin’ going on in here, you can’t blame me for not thinking of those of you who can and do (you bastards), so I bring you the perfect solution for your hangover mornings. Though this is a health and fitness blog, so what I really mean to say is did you know alcohol can be a major contributing factor in trumping weight loss goals? Now you do. Hey, if I can’t enjoy a drink no one should.

Back to cooking.

Tomatoes, onion and peppers are the three staples to accompany almost any dish in Mexican cooking. This brunch isn’t the exception.

 

Use an iron skillet for additional iron in your food. That’s right, cooking in iron pots and pans increases the iron content of your yums, as explained in this article published in the Journal of Food Science. Plus iron skillets give that old time ranch, wild west, pioneer feel to your kitchen. I’m sure that enhances the flavor.

With a side of black beans an avocado this brunch is a sure powerhouse of awesomeness. Heart-protecting, fiber-giving, anti-inflammatory, cancer-fighting awesomeness.

 

Mexican Brunch

2 farm eggs

1 jalapeno pepper

1 tomato

1 small onion

1/2 avocado

1 slice whole wheat bread

refried black beans

salsa

chipotle powder (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tbs oil (I used coconut)

Heat the oil and saute the sliced onion and jalapeno in the skillet. After about 8 minutes, add the tomato slices. Once the veggies are cooked, crack the eggs on top of them and flavor with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the skillet if you like your yolks to cook instead of staying runny.

Toast your whole wheat bread and slice the avocado on it. Heat the beans and sprinkle with chipotle powder, if using. Take the veggies with the cooked eggs on top and pass them to your plate; cover in salsa.

 

Ideally I would have used two corn tortillas instead of the bread, but I didn’t have any at hand this time. Using corn tortillas in lieu of would also turn this into a gluten-free meal, if that’s something you need to watch.

Eat while promising yourself never to drink like that again.

 

An Exotic Korma (It’s *SO* Easy. Sshh.)

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Feeling like impressing people with a savory, enticing dish from mysterious lands? Oh you, show off you.

This is the perfect recipe to venture out of routine because it’s creamy, thick, filling and oh-so-good while remaining an extremely simple meal to prepare. And also? Way healthy, peeps.

Take a look at ginger root and try to deny that shit’s anything short of miraculous. It brings gastrointestinal relief to all sorts of ailments of the gut, including nausea and morning/ motion sickness. It is a very powerful anti-inflammatory which– as we’ve discussed before– is an extremely important attribute to include in an athlete’s diet. Ginger also has immune-busting properties and promotes healthy sweating which is very helpful in fighting off colds and infection. Also, it protects against several forms of cancer, including cancer of the colon and ovaries. So, hello ginger!

And what about coconut milk and coconut oil? Read and gasp, people. I’ll tell you in a nutshell that they help ward off tons and tons of diseases and maladies, including (but not limited to) throat infections, cavities, influenza, candidiasis, athlete’s foot, osteoporosis, colitis, kidney stones, cancer, liver disease… and the list goes on and on. Very worth it, right?

So let’s get on it. Sometimes I crave texture, if that makes any sense. Like, I’ll crave something crunchy or crispy. Or I desperately want something rich and velvety without having to resort to gooploads (yes, that’s a word) of melted cheese and heavy cream. This creamy Korma is the answer to my prayers.

To be honest I have no idea how authentically Indian this meal is, which is my way of saying Indian people, please forgive me if I’m butchering a traditional meal of yours. Feel free to send me gifts of authentic Indian cookbooks, k? Don’t just stand there, educate me.

Creamy Vegetarian Korma (a.k.a. Really kickass easy to make exotique extraordinaire)

1 C basmatti rice (can use regular rice)

1 potato, diced

1 small onion, diced

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 green bell pepper, diced

1 carrot, diced

1/3 C frozen peas

1 tsp ginger root, grated

2 Tbs unsalted cashews (can use unsalted peanuts)

1 tsp red chilli flakes

1 Tbs cooking oil (I used coconut)

1 C coconut milk

1/2 Tbs curry powder

1 tsp turmeric

salt to taste

cilantro

Cook the Basmatti rice as you would any other rice. Set aside.

Heat the oil on a skillet and cook the onions until tender, then add the garlic and ginger root; move around and lower heat so they don’t burn. Mix in the carrot, potato, cashews and red chilli flakes, flavor with salt, turmeric and curry powder. I added a tiny bit of water and covered to let the veggies cook for about 10 minutes. Once they’re done, add in the red and green peppers, peas and coconut milk and leave it at low heat for other 10 minutes. Serve over rice with cilantro on top, and enjoy!

If you’ve ever wondered if a vegetarian dish can truly leave you satisfied, try this korma. The coconut milk is so rich in dietary fiber that it really fills you up good– without that Oh God Why Did I Eat So Much Now I Want To Die feeling. Treat your exotic side today.