I’m sort of known as the soup lady. I love soup, it’s my go-to meal any time of year. It’s perfect for those little bits of leftovers, the last few vegetables in the crisper, the little bits of proteins that didn’t get eaten.
But what’s the secret to a great pot of soup?
First, to make a great soup, you need a great base of flavour.
The yummiest soups always have the most flavourful broths as the backbone. Lately I’ve been using frozen bones from my freezer and cooking up a pot of bone broth as I’m prepping all the vegetables and using that broth, fresh and hot from the pot, to create an amazing flavourful base.
Second, sweat your aromatic vegetables in oil before adding the other ingredients- I like to use flavoured olive oil to add more flavour, and if that isn’t available, I’ll add some of the more robust herbs and spices to add their essence to the pot- it gets enhanced when released into oil. Spices such as cumin seeds, fennel seeds, freshly grated black pepper or peppercorns, and so on work well for this.
Third, add your vegetables and grain. I love brightly coloured, tender-crisp vegetables and “just done” pasta- mushy doesn’t do it for me. By adding them at the same time the whole soup will come together at the same time.
When it comes to proteins: if already cooked, add them just before serving to heat them through in the soup. If you’re cooking meat as part of your soup, add it after the aromatics.
Questions? Reach out!
These days, the dog days of summer in the midst of Covid-19, healthy eating does not always follow the same path I used to plan. These days, meal planning is pretty much restricted to just a few days in advance, rather than a week.
These days I try to maintain some sort of normalcy in meals but allow for more “rescue meals”. I allow for ordering pizza, picking up a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store, pulling something out of the freezer that I made a few months ago, or opting for super simple, like grilled cheese with soup or a can of tuna. Or hotdogs and potato chips.
These days are really driven by self-awareness. How am I feeling? What am I thinking about? Do I need to reach out to talk to someone? Take a nap? Write? Do I have enough energy left to make complicated side dishes, or is a plate of raw carrots and steamed peas enough to compliment the easy chicken and rice I’m cooking? Am I even hungry enough to eat?
Some days I just really want to eat chocolate. Others, I can’t eat enough vegetables. Still others, I crave solid, heavy complex carbs and rich fatty nuts. I typically eat what I want. This is a time for grace.
That’s my eating strategy for this summer, in a nutshell. How does yours look? I’d love to hear about it. Feel free to comment here or check in on my Facebook page.
Be well, friends
Stress is hands-down my definitive adjective for 2020. I just can’t wrap my head around it. One thing after another in our globally connected world makes each groundhog day feel just that much more difficult. Even the groundhog days themselves are beginning to put a strain on my coping skills.
16 weeks ago I started writing Morning Pages each morning. It’s been a touchstone for me to begin to cope with all the external and internal triggers that are exerting force against me. This morning I asked myself what I can do right now to improve my quality of life- in spite of everything. Because giving myself a better quality of life right now will improve my internal stress struggles, and that will, in-turn, address my ability to cope with external triggers. As usual, my pages helped solidify things for me. If you haven’t heard of them or tried them yet, let me highly recommend them. Check out The Artists Way by Julia Cameron. It’s been life-changing for me.
Quality of Life Gifts for Myself:
Some of the shifts in my diet and lifestyle account for that- there has been a lot of Netflix binge watching, junk-food fueled movie nights, and copious amounts of coffee.
Water, vegetables, and fruit are my closest allies, so I’m intentionally adding them in to each meal and snack.
This list might NOT be right for you- but I’d love you to think about what you can do to give yourself more quality of life. Be patient- I certainly haven’t incorporated all of these all the time yet, because it takes time to build a habit.
To weigh in on your top 5, I'd love you to hop over to Facebook, "like" my page, and share your thoughts on this post!
I look forward to hearing about it.
Be well, friends,
I would never have thought I’d wake up in a world where I live in anticipation of how much of my grocery order gets deleted.
I would never have thought I’d live to see the day when bread and meat shelves are empty.
I know I’m privileged to live here in Alberta, Canada where food availability, overall, is something we can count on. And yet, Covid-19 has upended all of this.
It’s hard to meal plan when you aren’t sure if you can get the food you plan on, so meal planning needs adjusting. It’s learning to cook with what you can find, rather than finding what you want and cooking with that. It’s adjusting your menu to use everything you’ve got, every last little piece, because food waste takes on a new meaning now, in this time.
I’m doing ok. But I’m grieving. This isn’t going to last forever. I’m confident at some point we’ll achieve enough herd immunity and vaccine or other related medical treatments. But I’m grieving the loss of what was. My faith in the system that has been in place since I was born has been broken.
Around the world as the tsunami of this illness reaches every country and touches every person in some way, we’re experiencing a collective global grief. It’s not so bad yet, in Alberta. But we’re holding our breath just the same, because we know it will touch us personally. And then our grief will shift again. This ebb and flow will continue around the globe because we've never collectively experienced this before. I just needed to write tonight to let you know we're in this together. I'm here with you, and if you need to talk, I'm here to listen.
Hop over to my facebook page and like me, follow me. Let's get through this together.
I’m doing ok, today. Are you?
Be well, friends.
Covid-19 is certainly something remarkable to bear witness to!
If you're here for ideas to help your picky kids stay happy and well throughout this unbelievable time of history, click here to find this content on Picky Kid Mom, my sister site.
Eat well, sleep well, and be well, my friends.
What does “nutritious” and “healthy” mean to you, and how has it changed over the years?
When I was in high school, “healthy” meant skinny- at all costs. And “nutritious” meant anything that was low-fat and bland. It meant food restriction and calorie counting and tasteless, boring meals and snacks. But if it led to being “healthy”- ie. skinny- then that was all that mattered.
As an adult they both meant the same- until my first son, at a very young age, verbalized my unspoken definitions and started applying it to the world around him, first on me and then toward himself.
I haven’t blogged in a while, but my life continues to revolve around food. Now with 2 older kids- 10 and 16- and a business into it’s 6th year, I feel myself pulled closer to nutritious and healthy as a lifestyle description rather than a means to a specific weight or body type. Skinny doesn’t matter. The number on the scale doesn’t matter. What matters is that I feel good about the skin I’m in. I’m confident enough to wear what I want to wear. And I’m capable enough to do what I want to do.
Nutritious and healthy food is food that is colourful. It’s food that I want to eat. It’s a meal that I want to sit down and savour and enjoy every bite, and it’s food that challenges my taste buds and delights my eyes and tickles my nose. Nutritious and healthy food is food that supports my body- in its entirety- it makes me feel energetic and strong. It gives me momentum or brings me quietness. It’s crunchy, smooth, grainy, cold, hot, bright, tempting, spicy, salty, sweet, sour, vibrant, and delicious.
Nutritious and healthy food is food that knows no bounds. It can be prepared or enjoyed in any way I desire. It can be served with whatever side dishes I choose. It can be eaten as breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snack. It works for me and supports me- it doesn’t dictate how I live, what I do, or where I do it. But it gives me freedom for all those things in my life.
This is the definition of food freedom for me. I’m not stuck in an endless loop of angst and worry, of anxiety and stress. I eat what I want to eat because I want to eat it. I eat what I want to eat because I enjoy it. And I eat what I want to eat because it makes me feel good.
I’ll never be “skinny”- I never have been- but my body is just fine in its own curvy way. I love that it sheltered and grew 2 amazing children. I love that it has helped me travel the world and explore my country. I love that I can get up in the morning and enjoy every single thing I eat over the course of the day. I love that I’m aging gracefully and celebrate that I feel really good while I’m doing it.
And most of all I love that food is my whole life. I love that I can help my kids internalize this stronger definition of what “healthy” and “nutritious” mean, and that I can share that lifestyle description with everyone around me- my clients at the non-profit I work with, my business clients, my friends, my family.
And you. Thanks for reading to the end, for sticking around with me over the years. I would love to hear what you think of “nutritious” and “healthy”. Feel free to find me on Facebook- “like” me if you haven’t already- message me in messenger or send me an email or join my mailing list- whatever works for you- I’m here to read your thoughts and reply to them as well.
Enjoy your day, friends! May it be delicious…
Over the years, you've watched me stock up my freezer. I've written about why to stock it up, what a different it makes, and preached endlessly on the virtues of a stocked fridge and freezer.
And here's the perfect reason why. On our first night of family vacation, my husband got very sick. He ended up being airlifted back to Edmonton.
Between back and forth from home to hospital, I found myself at first stressing out about what to feed the kids, and how. I didn't want us to live on fast food for the week but I didn't have a lot of time to cook either. However, I remembered I had stocked my freezer for fall before we went on vacation. This made all the difference in the world for us. A need is a need, whether it's a busy autumn or an unexpected illness. We were able to eat healthy food under pressure and as a result weathered the unknowns with grace and wellness.
Over the years I've found that the first thing to get dropped under unexpected curveballs is our meal planning. We eat whatever we can find whenever and wherever we can find it. This has been true for everyone I've asked. Unfortunately, eating like this adds further stress to our complications- less healthy food equals less healthy outcomes. When we are under stress and fighting to bring our lives back to normal, we need that nutritional backbone to support us. If you haven't started stocking your freezer, let me encourage you that now is the time. Make it your intentional priority as you cook. Plan for meals that are easily doubled or broken down into starters- slice meat for sandwiches, soups, and stir frys. Double up on chili or meat sauce. Make an extra meatloaf, and put away your leftover small bits for breakfasts or lunches that can serve you when you need it.
Having eggs and oatmeal ready to eat made my daily dashes out the door so much easier. Having lasagna, chili, and meatloaf to reheat for the kids made dinners doable. When I knew I had an hour at home I hardboiled eggs and roasted sheet pans full of vegetables. You know what you like to eat, so it's ok if my suggestions don't land for you. The important thing is to pick what works for you and make it happen.
All the best, friends,
We all have that sort of day where cooking is hard, and that day for me was yesterday.
As a meal planning coach I preach the art of cooking and planning ahead, and so it happened to work out in our favour last night, and I wanted to share a couple of tips to help make sure it works out most of the time for you too. Because it's unrealistic to assume that we will always feel like cooking. Am I right?
Convenience will always win over intention. We can have the best intentions ever but still find it hard to make them happen when we're *that* exhausted. Here are a couple of food rules I live by:
Consider what you can do to make life easier for yourself tomorrow, and start doing it. One baby step at a time will completely change your life.
Have a great day, friends!
You may also like:
Freezer Meals- Getting Started
In our fast-paced lifestyle, eating a traditional meal of "real food" seems to have been left behind. We're simply too busy, too tired, too overwhelmed, too overextended to get it done. We are shown ads constantly (just watch for it the next time you're watching live TV- you'll be amazed) about how wonderful it is to be eating out instead of cooking at home. There are ads for junk food, diet food, weight loss programs that include the food, and fast food. The themes continue in sitcoms and books. Cooking at home is a dying art.
Our recent Canada Food Guide, unveiled in January, places a high importance on eating with others, enjoying whole foods, limiting processed foods, and so on. But there's not a lot of awareness put into the "how" of home cooking. In fact, it's laughable, and it's exactly the kind of information I found when I was a new mom and trying to sort out meal planning for my life with a squalling infant, no sleep, no energy, and healing a post-partum body. It didn't translate then, and it doesn't translate now.
How do you implement it when you are literally away from home more hours than you sleep? When you've got a household to run and a million things on your "to do" list?
The thing is, it's complicated and different for everyone. No two people share the exact same meal planning complications. But here are a few ideas to start you thinking, and I'm just a phone call away if you want to get serious about cooking at home.
For more information on meal planning that suits your life, let's talk.
All the best, friends! Stay warm!
I remember a few years ago having a text conversation with someone while I was cooking dinner. I was having a rough day, mentally and emotionally speaking, and was trying to explain to my friend why cooking dinner was helping. "It's my therapy," I finally wrote. "I find it helps to settle my mind, the repetition of chopping and measuring, stirring and mixing calms me down and makes me feel better. It puts my head in a more settled state. I can make clearer decisions".
This statement probably won't resonate if you're not a cook, if putting dinner on the table is a chore right up there with scrubbing toilets or mirrors, and that's ok. But for those of you out there who "get" me, those of you who find a simmering pot of something savoury a comforting and peaceful thing to enjoy making, know that we are not alone in this.
There have been studies done to confirm why this is so, apparently. And it boils down to something called "behavioral activation", according to this article.
The next time you're having a rough day and find yourself cooking something to settle your mind, know that you're not alone. I'm probably doing the same thing, too.
Until next time, friends!