Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Indian Spinach


This dish goes really nicely with the Red Lentil Curry or as a side to any Indian meal. This is similar to the Indian dish Palak or Saag, however, I use coconut milk in place of yogurt or cream, making this a vegan dish.

Spinach is packed full of nutrition – it is loaded with antioxidants, bioflavonoids, B-Vitamins, Vitamins A, C, E, and K, and minerals like potassium, calcium, magnesium and zinc. It is also high in fibre! Here is what WHFoods had to say about Spinach: “We all know that Popeye made himself super strong by eating spinach, but you may be surprised to learn that he may also have been protecting himself against osteoporosis, heart disease, colon cancer, arthritis, and other diseases at the same time”. Awesome!

Enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • Dash cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 pound spinach, rinsed well and chopped – OR 1 package frozen chopped spinach
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup coconut milk

Directions:

Heat the oil in a large pot or saucepan over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft. Add the garlic, ginger and spices and sauté for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Stir in the spinach, coconut milk and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for another 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, allow to cool a bit. Then use a blender or food processor or hand-held blender to puree until smooth.

Return the puree to the pot and simmer another 5 minutes.

Red Lentil Curry

I eat lentils about 3 times a week, so it’s only fitting that I post another lentil recipe. When I was in Ireland, I lived on a farm for about a month. The farmer wasn’t the greatest cook, and I ended up doing most of the cooking. He did however have a handful of fantastic recipes he showed me, this being one of them.

Red lentils cook a lot faster than the green or brown varieties, and they are equally as nutritious. Their high fiber content helps to manage blood-sugar levels, and helps to keep you regular! They are packed full of nutrients, protein, and are free of fat. Indeed, one of the most perfect foods (after fruits, veggies and seaweed that is!). The best part is that dried lentils are dirt cheap. This dish goes really nicely with brown basmati rice and a side of Indian Spinach.

Enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups dried red lentils
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin cold-pressed coconut oil
  • 1 Tbsp curry paste (such as Pataks mild curry paste)
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp agave nectar
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste

Directions

Wash the lentils in cold water until the water runs clear. Put the lentils in a pot with water and simmer until lentils are tender (about 20 minutes)

While the lentils are cooking, in a large skillet or saucepan, caramelize the onions in coconut oil.

While the onions are cooking, combine the curry paste, curry powder, cumin, salt, agave, garlic, and ginger in a mixing bowl. Mix well. When the onions are cooked, add the curry mixture to the onions and cook over a high heat stirring constantly for 1 to 2 minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and reduce heat, allow the curry base to simmer until the lentils are ready.

When the lentils are tender drain them reserving a tiny bit of water. Mix the curry base into the lentils, adding the reserved water as needed if too dry, and serve!

Be Wary Of Cheap Supplements


As a holistic nutritionist, I always like to turn to food first for healing. However, sometimes there is a need to turn to supplements. For one thing, our soil is seriously depleted in nutrients, and sometimes it requires a lot of planning to ensure we’re receiving all the required vitamins and minerals. And sometimes for therapeutic purposes, large doses of specific vitamins are needed. In the end, nothing beats whole foods, eating them the way nature intended. But for those times we do turn to supplements, it is critical to ensure they are of good quality.

There are so many problems with cheap supplements. It is never a good idea to skimp out on supplements. In fact, it is even better to not take them at all than to take cheap, synthetic vitamins and minerals. It is extremely hard for our bodies to even recognize synthetic vitamins and minerals, let alone know what to do with them. For example, Calcium Carbonate – the most widely used supplemental form of Calcium, has an absorption rate of no more than 10%. But what happens with the other 90%? It can get stuck to our arteries or contribute to kidney stones. Vitamin C – one of the most popular supplements – is another one that most people should be wary of. In nature, fruit and vegetables that contain vitamin C also contain bioflavonoids, which aid in its absorption. That is why it is important to look for a Vitamin C supplement with Bioflavonoids.

Another problem with cheap supplements is that they are filled with cheap fillers. So many supplements are now filled with corn, soy and gluten – the top most allergenic foods. But they are cheap. So those seemingly innocent supplements you only paid $8 for at the drug store are not that innocent at all. Irritating your digestive tract is just the start.

So please, read labels very carefully. Make sure your supplement specifies that it is free of the top most allergenic foods.

A good example of this is supplemental fibre. There is a popular fibre on the market now – you may know the one, maybe you’ve seen a commercial for it – it dissolves clear in water, has no odor, no taste, but provides you with all the fibre you need, and is fairly cheap. It can be found at most drug stores and grocery stores. There is also another fibre supplement that is mainly found at health food stores – this one made by Renew Life and has the exact same claims and benefits as the cheaper brand – but costs significantly more. So why not save some bucks and go for the cheaper brand? Because the cheaper brand is made of wheat dextrin – that’s right, wheat! Wheat is so cheap, so this brand can sell their supplemental fibre at a fraction of the cost. Renew Life uses 100% organic Acacia Fibre (made from the Acacia Tree). And the label on it specifies that it “Does Not Contain: GMO, yeast, wheat, corn, rye, soy, gluten, salt, sugar, dairy, animal products, binders, fillers, preservatives, or artificial ingredients”. It is definitely worth paying more for it. I still strongly believe ground flax seeds are the best source of fibre, but that’s a whole other article! Bottom line, don’t cheap out on supplements, and always read the labels!

As promised, another gluten-free recipe! This is one I’ve been working on and tweaking for some time to come up with a gluten-free baked good that no one can tell is gluten free. And after a few taste-tests, I think I’ve managed to find a muffin that beats it’s gluten counterparts.

When it comes to gluten-free baking, a very important ingredient to have on hand is Xanthan Gum. This acts as the ‘gluten’ – the binding agent. This ensures that the product doesn’t crumble and can hold it’s shape well. It can be found at some grocery stores like Loblaws, some Metro’s carry the Rob’s Red Mill, and at all health food stores. It may seem kinda pricey when purchasing a bag, but you only need a tiny amount, so a bag will go a long, long way. And as mentioned before, ground flax seeds make an excellent egg replacer. One tablespoon of ground flax seeds mixed with 3 tablespoons of water equals one egg.

As for chocolate chips, I have finally discovered a brand that is free of dairy and soy. It has only 3 ingredients, but still tastes like regular chocolate chips! The brand is ‘Enjoy Life’, I found it at the organic area of Loblaws. They make a whole line of products that are free of the top most allergenic ingredients such as gluten, dairy, nuts, soy, eggs, and sulfites.

Enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 1 ½ cups rice flour
  • 4 Tbsp arrowroot or tapioca starch
  • 3/4 cups cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 4 Tbsp ground flax seeds mixed with 6 Tbsp water (or 4 free-range eggs for a non-vegan recipe)
  • 1 cup almond milk, rice milk or organic soy milk
  • 3/4 – 1 cup agave nectar (depending on how sweet you like ’em)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup good oil such as coconut
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a bowl, mix all wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, combine all dry ingredients, slowly add to wet. Mix until well combined. Pour into lined muffin pan. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out dry.

Why Gluten-Free?

Since starting this blog, I’ve been getting asked a lot of questions as to why I choose to eat gluten-free and why all my recipes are gluten-free, so I felt it was time to address this issue. A heads up – this post will be a long one.

So what’s the deal with gluten? The health claims are popping up everywhere: lose weight, feel more energized, eliminate arthritis, etc. Grocery stores and restaurant chains are hopping on the bandwagon, too. But, what is the real story behind gluten?

Gluten is a type of protein found particularly in wheat, rye and barley, as well as in lesser amounts in kamut and spelt. Gluten is highly elastic and strong, making it the core of bread dough because it is the gluten in dough that allows it to be kneaded and risen. It also keeps baked goods from crumbling.

So why is it so bad? To start off, much research substantiates wheat as a highly inflammatory food. Even in non-Celiacs, wheat is very irritating to the digestive tract, and interferes with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. Gluten consumption has been linked to menstrual and fertility issues, autoimmune diseases, nervous and endocrine system disturbances, mood disorders, and chronic pain. Gluten literally clogs our lymphatic system, hindering its ability to function as the bodies drainage system. Gluten has also been implicated in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and a recent study has uncovered that a gluten-free diet can reduce IBD. It has been stated by many health-care professionals that the gluten protein molecules found in wheat are simply not digested well by humans

An argument which many people have with me is that humans have been consuming wheat and gluten for hundreds of years without any adverse reactions. I always point out that there is a lot of evidence which shows that gluten content has risen in the past century. Even the bread our grandparents ate contained much less gluten. From a manufacturers point of view, it makes sense to want to breed and use wheat with a higher gluten content. Higher gluten content in wheat yields higher quality breads, rolls and baked goods. Gluten’s elastic nature also helps increase loaf volume and enables breads to retain their shape better while baking.

Higher amounts of gluten is just one aspect. Another problem is that in our culture today, most people eat some form of gluten on a daily basis, and usually many times a day. Think about it, I don’t know many people who don’t consume bread, buns, bagels, pastas or baked goods on a daily basis. And even those who don’t, gluten is now contained in so many processed products, people consume it without even realizing it.

One of my strong personal beliefs, and research is propping up everywhere now to back me up, is that gluten and wheat sensitivities have also risen due to wheat’s long history of hybridization and modifying.

According to Dr, Kalish, a renowned digestive and hormonal expert, gluten intolerance is a health problem at epidemic proportions in certain populations in the United States and remains largely unrecognized by conventional medicine. Doug Cook, a Toronto-based registered dietitian said “I think we’re finding now, especially [among those with an] eastern European background, that gluten sensitivity is probably a lot more common than we thought it was.” A research study published in the British Medical Journal in November of 1998 found that gluten intolerance is found most frequently in those with Irish, English, Scottish, Scandinavian, and other Northern European and Eastern European heritages.

Sadly it is hard to diagnose gluten sensitivity. Dr. Lieberman, author of The Gluten Connection, has been investigating gluten sensitivity for more than 20 years. In her experience, eliminating gluten can alleviate many troubling symptoms for which doctors often can’t find a cause, as well as chronic conditions for which mainstream medicine offers little hope of relief – including rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, fibromyalgia, lupus, and irritable bowel syndrome.

A lot of people are not even aware of the devastating effects gluten has on their bodies. Gluten causes an inflammatory reaction, however this goes largely unnoticed simply because it is not severe enough to cause immediate symptoms. If a gluten intolerant person eats gluten-containing foods for extended periods of time, over and over again, this low-grade inflammation can lead to a variety of problems. With long-term exposure, the results of this low-grade response to the gluten molecule can be devastating to a variety of body systems. Its effect on the digestive system is the most immediate. Dr. Kalish states that he has treated hundreds of gluten intolerant patients whose indigestion problems were misdiagnosed as heartburn or IBS, and who suffer from chronic bloating and gas.

I personally have had a high success rate with my own clients whom I advised to go gluten-free. I personally find that when I eat anything with gluten, I get really bloated. So I tend to avoid it as much as possible (which is a challenge in itself).

Another surprising finding is that along with gluten intolerance comes food cravings, and it has frequently been observed that people crave that which they are allergic to. Please take note, if you crave gluten, there is a high probability that you are gluten sensitive.

Obvious foods to avoid:

  • Wheat bread, rye bread, bagels, rolls, baguettes, buns, croissants
  • Muffins, cupcakes, cakes, cookies and most other baked goods
  • Pizza
  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  • Pastas
  • Couscous
  • Barley
  • Bulgur
  • Most breakfast cereals

The trickiest part is detecting the hidden gluten in processed foods. Gluten is often times used as a cheap filler or binding agent. Here is a list of not-so obvious foods that contain gluten:

  • Most beers and some wines
  • Soy sauce – only Tamari is OK
  • Malt vinegar
  • Prepared gravies or gravy or packages
  • Many types of soup
  • Baked beans or chili
  • Some salad dressings (Commercial salad dressing and mayonnaise containing gluten stabilizers)
  • Certain brands of sausages
  • Luncheon meat – may contain fillers
  • Stock cubes or bouillon
  • Seitan (doesn’t contain gluten, it IS gluten!)
  • Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP)
  • Most imitation meat products
  • Imitation crab meat
  • Malt, anything ‘malted’
  • Caramel color
  • Some cheaper supplements
  • Some toothpastes
  • Some lipsticks
  • Some pharmaceutical products

Again, it is very important to read the labels!

So it may seem kind of depressing trying to avoid gluten, but it really doesn’t have to be. There are so many wonderful and delicious substitutions and alternatives. A great replacement for pasta is rice pasta – I find you really can’t tell the difference and it’s available in almost every shape and size. As for cereals, there are many great cereals that are made of puffed rice, quinoa or millet. Some of the best gluten-free grains are quinoa, buckwheat, rice, millet, and amaranth; tapioca, sorghum, arrowroot and potato flours can all be used to replace wheat flour and make great thickening agents.

I will continually post gluten-free recipes! With a little effort and imagination, the transition away from gluten doesn’t have to be a difficult one. And luckily now there is such a wide variety of gluten-free products on the market!

Luscious Lemon

I really love lemons. They add some fantastic flavor to so many dishes; they can be used as medicine, for healing, for cosmetic purposes, for cleaning, and even as insect repellent! I’ll give as brief a run down as I can on the many uses of this little ball of sunshine.

They were considered by the Romans as an antidote for many poisons and in folk medicine, they have always been a popular remedy for feverish chills and coughs. In modern Italy eating fresh lemons is believed, by many, to combat major epidemic infections.

Lemon can help relieve many digestion problems. Due to the digestive qualities of lemon, symptoms of indigestion such as heartburn, bloating and belching are relieved. By drinking lemon water regularly, the bowels are aided in eliminating waste more efficiently. Lemon acts as a blood purifier and as a cleanser. It helps to tonify the heart and blood vessels. The intake of lemon water ensures smooth bowel movements thereby eliminating constipation and diarrhea. I love starting the day with a glass of purified room temperature water with half a fresh squeezed lemon added to it. It is the best mini-detox, helping to flush out toxins and give a fresh start to the day!

Lemon is also one of the best liver supports. Most people can use that, since our livers are one of the most overworked organs. A sluggish liver leads to digestive, skin and hormonal disorders.

Lemons are very rich in vitamins and minerals including potassium, vitamins B1, B2 and B3, carotene (pro-vitamin A) and of course Vitamin C. Studies have repeatedly shown Vitamins C’s ability to boost the immune system, that’s why it’s so effective against colds and the flu.

For a sore throat, lemon mixed with warm water makes an excellent gargle.

Used topically, lemon can be effective as a natural antiseptic; the juice of lemon will destroy harmful bacteria found in cuts and other areas of infection. It also effectively relieves insect stings, and can be used to ease sunburn and skin rashes.

I personally love using lemon juice on my face. I squeeze some fresh lemon on a cotton pad, and wipe my face with it. I leave the juice on for a few minutes and then I rinse it off with water. Lemon contains enzymes which help to cleanse the skin of dead cells.

Lemon is also popular in traditional beauty treatments to whiten the skin and teeth, and to encourage freckles to fade.

Lemons are fantastic cleaning agents. They add such a nice, clean, fresh scent, are non-toxic, cheap and actually work really well. Lemon juice can be used on countertops, for bleaching purposes and for disinfecting. It can be used to dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. Lemon is also a great substance to clean and shine brass and copper.

And finally, rotten lemons can be used to repel ants from the house or garden. Amazing!

My favorite lemon salad dressing:

  • 1/4 cup cold pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • ½ tsp agave nectar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp dried herbs such as basil, oregano, or thyme
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients, keeps in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Yummiest Millet Salad

I just adore Millet. Sadly most people have never even heard of it. Millet is one of the oldest foods known to humans. It is mentioned in the Bible, and was used during those times to make bread. Millet has been used in Africa and India as a staple food for thousands of years and it was grown as early as 2700 BC in China.

Millet is tasty, with a mildly sweet, nut-like flavor and contains a whole range of beneficial nutrients. It is high in protein and fiber, contains B-complex vitamins including niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin, and it is particularly high in the minerals iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium.

It is considered to be one of the least allergenic and most digestible grains available and it is a warming grain so will help to heat the body in cold or rainy seasons and climates. My favorite part about millet is that it is the only grain that is not acid-forming (although quinoa and buckwheat are only slightly acid-forming).

To cook millet, bring 2 cups of water to a boil, add 1 cup of millet (rinsed first in cold water), cover and reduce to a simmer. It is ready when all the water is absorbed. It is a quick cooking grain, and takes only about 20 minutes to cook. For this recipe, you can easily substitute quinoa for the millet.

Enjoy!

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups cooked millet (or quinoa)
  • 3/4 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup chopped red peppers
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 2 Tbsp Lime Juice
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp Agave nectar or honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 Tbsp cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • chopped green onion (optional)

Directions:

In a large bowl, combine millet with chickpeas, peppers, cranberries and walnuts.

To make the dressing, whisk the olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, agave or honey, salt and garlic in a small bowl. Pour over the millet mixture and toss to coat. Sprinkle with chopped green onion if desired.