I love soup so much, you will seldom see a meal plan of mine that doesn't include at least one dinner made up of a soup of some sort.
And the leftovers...soup leftovers make me happy too. For one thing, they seem to taste better the second or third day. And you can always pair them up with a sandwich or salad and have another dinner or hot, quick, and satisfying lunch. It freezes beautifully, too, which makes me happy because then it means I've got some meal starters in my freezer.
I love soup because it can be as fancy or simple as you'd like. Soup doesn't require a recipe, most of the time, and it's a fantastic way to use up bits and pieces of ingredients that need a meal to be useful, which also means it's an economical thing to cook at the end of the food in your fridge and pantry.
However, my family doesn't love soup. It used to be the only way I could get my second son to eat a balanced meal- if it was in soup, he'd eat it. Now, however, he's older and wiser and realizes he doesn't like soup very much. Putting soup on the meal plan twice this week is a big gamble, but I'm hopeful that because one of the soups is from my freezer and new to them it will be tolerated, the best outcome I can hope for with this family.
I've been making adjustments to my love for soup against the preferences of my family, and I have come to the realization that if I turn my favourite soup flavours into a one-pot skillet meal they will eat it. It seems to be the broth they object to. Last week I made minestrone minus all the lovely broth and both boys gobbled it up without a word of complaint. I can add as much broth as I like to make my own brothy bowl, the way I like it best. This week I aim to take the leftovers from my curry soup and turn it into a potato casserole of some kind. I will keep you posted.
How can you marry the food you love with the disdain of your family in a way that makes everyone happy? Feel free to let me know!
I'm just a message away if you're looking to make happier changes in your meal times!
Enjoy your week, friends!
The first words I hear after school are "I'm hungry, what can I eat?"
Can you relate?
Sometimes it's a simple question to answer because I'll plan for it and have snacks ready, or at least have a suggestion about what they can grab.
Other times though, not so much.
To really feel that sense of pleasure when you know the answer, you need to plan for it, and that is something that is true for everyone- no matter what kind of snacking style you're working with.
Starting with an inventory of what you already own is a great idea. It saves you time and money in the grocery store. It helps fight food waste which benefits the environment. Check your fridge, freezer, and pantry. Is there something in there that can be transformed into a snack?
I'm not saying my kids would eat all these snacks all the time, but taste buds change as we grow and I have no doubt that my picky second son will soon enjoy foods he currently turns his nose up at.
Preparing homemade snacks will, generally speaking, always be better for you then the processed snacks you can buy at the grocery store. If you can find a system that works for you, in the time you have, using your freezer to store snacks (such as muffins or cookies) or having a dedicated snack space in your fridge will go a long way to reducing or even eliminating the frustrations that come with having to prepare meals and snacks when you aren't ready to do so.
You can take these sorts of steps for your other meals, too. Spend some time thinking about what you can do with what you have. It's kind of like a puzzle to me, figuring out how to use what we've got. Sometimes it's easier than others, and remember that everyone finds themselves in an uncreative spot from time to time.
Happiness grows in tandem with planning. As uncertainty decreases and stress decrease, happiness steps in to take its place.
We're talking about Romaine lettuce this week on my Facebook page, The Meals Maven.
A long, long time ago- before we had kids and were learning how to keep guinea pigs alive- we found out that feeding romaine to guinea pigs was a good idea, and feeding them iceberg lettuce was not.
The reason you start your piggies on romaine when they're young is it's full of nutrition. It turns out that piggies love iceberg lettuce, but there's not enough nutrition in it for them and they will eat it rather than romaine if they develop a taste for it.
This might be true for people too. What do you think?
It isn't that iceberg doesn't have any nutrition, just not as much. Here's a comparison of these 2 types.
On #foodiefriday I will be releasing the recipe I cooked last night for #testkitchentuesday- a ground turkey stirfry that incorporates stir fried romaine as one of the vegetables. It's new for me and something I will continue to do. I really enjoyed eating it as something other than salad.
And to successfully use last week's failed peanut and rosemary combination made the dinner perfect.
As discussed on #marinatingmonday, romaine is wonderfully nutritious and not an energy-dense food. As such, it's tempting to think it's the perfect food to eat a lot of when you are trying to lose weight. I want to encourage you, however, to consider colour as your guide. Eat the rainbow, whether you're trying to lose weight, gain, or maintain. A diet of romaine and not much else will quickly leave you with nutritional holes and diminished health. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen.
I leave you with what I seem to say all the time but can't stress enough: Too much of a good thing is still too much.
All the best today, friends!
In the future I hope to see, people are cooking together and eating together.
People eat meals around the kitchen table and invite friends and not-yet friends to enjoy a meal with them.
Parents teach their children and children teach their friends.
Recipes take on a treasured life of their own, cultivated and shared between people to demonstrate love and commitment to the places their history intersects. They are renewed and remade to bring traditions together, and thus different versions of the same recipes make their way across generations and timelines.
In the future I hope to see, food is valued and not wasted. We practice gratefulness and appreciation. We use only what we need and give what we don’t. Food is recognized as a sacred gift that provides us with life and allows us to bless others with it. It is respected and cherished.
In the future I hope to see, the world is a place where people aren’t frantically filling their mouths because they don’t know what else to do. They aren’t eating just because they have to just to stay alive, but because it makes them the best version of themselves. There is enough food to go around no matter where you live, and no one goes hungry.
This future is important to me. I see our health and wellness at a crossroads of incredible significance. The less connected we are to recognizing the importance of the food we eat, the less nourishment we give ourselves.
We are overworked, at times both undernourished and overfed, and our society is suffering with more disease and overall unwellness than ever before. This, at a time when we know more, understand more, and research more about food than ever before.
It’s my dream to change this, from one person or family at a time to entire groups of people. I see myself speaking this vision and bringing it into fruition, helping people to understand that they can affect this change in their own lives. They are not slaves to commercialization. They can learn how to eat, what to eat, and when to eat. They can begin to view food not only as nourishment for their bodies but also for their souls.
I believe this is a future that’s possible. When my boys grow up and have families of their own, I believe the seeds of promise will have already been planted. I believe that my generation can stand up and be counted to make a difference not only in their lives but in the lives of their children and the children to come. Will you take the next step with me? Will it begin with you?
Why use Herbs and Spices?
Strictly from a food lover’s perspective, herbs and spices add life and flavour to food. You can cook a chicken breast using the same oil and the same method, but changing up the herbs and spices used creates a different meal each time. It’s a way to travel the world without even leaving your home! It keeps food exciting and new which helps us to feel satisfied.
Creating your spice blends in your own kitchen allows you to control the ingredients, right down to the last grain of salt. As you adjust the blends you’ll find different combinations that become your signature flavour. In this way you can start your family recipe traditions and/or be the best cook you know.
From an economic perspective it’s cheaper to make your own spice blends than to buy ready-made ones, from chili or burrito seasoning by Old El Paso™ to a shaker of Old Bay® seafood seasoning. And because you made them yourself you’ll never run out or worry that your child’s favourite meat sauce and pasta will taste “funny” one day when the company you buy from decides to adjust its blends.
There are a plethora of health reasons too. Herbs and spices used to be the only medicines we had to keep fever down or recover from illness. Here’s an interesting article about the health benefits.
It can seem overwhelming to start creating your own blends. But start small, taste as you go along, and experiment. Most spices are fairly inexpensive, and the end result will make you proud. You can do it!
If you want a little bit of help starting with fresh recipes and spice blends, each of my coaching clients receive 14 custom-developed recipes as part of our coaching program- you can take those spice blends as a starting base and reconfigure them to make them your own. I look forward to helping YOU find the magic in your kitchen!
Have a great day, friends.
You are enough, just the way you are.
Counting calories is NOT the best way to approach nutrition. It is only one measurement out of many.
You can count calories to lose some weight. You will definitely lose weight in some way on a calorie deficit, although it may not be the right kind of weight to lose.
For example, losing muscle rather than fat is the wrong direction to take. If you are not approaching weight loss as part of an overall goal to improve your health in general but from a place of frenzy, you will not keep the weight off. In fact, you may even gain. You will find yourself riding that roller-coaster of guilt, shame, and despair.
Friends, come close, lean in, and listen to me tell you something you need to hear because I care about you so much.
You are enough, just the way you are.
Really. Counting calories is not going to make you the person you always wanted to be. You will never be fully happy with yourself “after” you lose a bunch of weight if you aren’t there now. Trust me on this. I rode that obsessive roller-coaster for literally years, more than half my life.
It breaks my heart that the most common standard for health advertising for women is the constant promoting of weight loss. “Lose weight now” “Lose 10 lbs in 10 days” “Get that beach body now”. “Detox to Slim”
You want to know why I do what I do?
Because I’m so passionate about health. Your health. Your mom’s health. Your kids. Not just that they’re at the “ideal weight” (Don’t even get me started on BMI!), but that they are actually healthy,
Are you sick of being sick? Or tired of being tired? Eating the right foods can take you from surviving to thriving. We only get this short life- don’t you owe it to yourself to really grab on for all you’re worth? Because you are worth it.
You are worth your time and commitment to taking care of yourself. Let me help you get started on your journey. I know it’s confusing, but I’m here because it’s my passion. Let me help make it more clear for you.
Click here to book a free assessment.
This week on Facebook we are talking about Basil. Not only does it taste great in food, it’s also delicious when mixed with fresh lemon in a jug of water. Fresh flavoured water without any added extras is somewhat addictive! I highly recommend it.
Basil is a good source of Vitamin K, the dried version more so than the fresh because it’s more highly concentrated. Getting your vitamins from your diet is the most direct way to absorb your nutrition, and is infinitely preferable to loading up on supplements.
Vitamin K helps keep our bones strong... it takes more than just calcium. Because it’s a vitamin, it also works in conjunction with vitamin D to do so. There are actually 2 types of vitamin K- K1, found in foods, and K2, produced by gut bacteria.
Vitamin K also plays a role in cancer prevention. It works with Vitamin C to weaken cancer cells and causing them to rupture.
Vitamin K keeps hearts healthy and strong by preventing calcium buildup in the arteries. There is also some really interesting work being done that suggests insulin response can be treated with Vitamin K supplementation.
Vitamin K can be overdosed on when using a supplement, and is no longer sold as one because of the high liver toxicity associated with it. This is why you must get it from your diet. I know I say it all the time but I will say it again:
The best way to maintain a healthy body in all areas is to eat a well-balanced diet of appropriate portions, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and exercise the best you can when you can.
With the opposite benefit of Vitamin E, Vitamin K causes coagulation of the blood. It exists in a delicate balance within people taking blood thinners. Some Vitamin K rich foods are required, but not too much. Do speak to your doctor about this if you have any questions.
Vitamin K deficiency is rare, and most commonly found in infants.
There are interactions associated with Vitamin K.
To summarize, Vitamin K is important to:
You can find Vitamin K in these food sources:
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, beet greens, romaine lettuce and collard greens, cucumbers, broccoli, basil (dried is the most potent), pine nuts, carrots, peas, and so much more.
For a comprehensive look at foods containing Vitamin K, check here.
We’re finally past the B-Complex, and onto my favourite vitamin- Vitamin C! On my Facebook page this week we are talking about kiwifruit, a fun fuzzy berry that originated in China but is now grown many places.
For #testkitchentuesday I experimented with the meat-tenderizing properties of kiwi, and because cooking kiwi will disrupt much of its vitamin C content we also enjoyed a fresh kiwi and pear fruit salsa with the finished roast. Recipe will be posted on Facebook #foodiefriday! Check it out and use it to inspire your own test kitchen!
Kiwi is high in Vitamin C- a serving of 2 contains even more than oranges! Vitamin C is only found naturally in fruit and vegetables, so keep this in mind and make sure you eat lots of those!
Vitamin C stimulates white blood cells and is a free-radical fighting superhero. It helps to keep our immune system running strong, although studies with the aim to prove Vitamin C keeps you from getting sick are inconclusive. Common sense would dictate though, that a diet rich in fruit and vegetables is going to make you healthier with the plethora of nutrition available, so eat up as much of that food group as you like. I'm not too fussy on limiting servings of fruit and vegetables- in our house, it's unlimited. Our bodies do not make their own Vitamin C- it must be part of our daily diet.
Vitamin C also plays a role in healthy cardiovascular function. It seems to play a role in stroke prevention, as a deficiency can be a risk factor.
There are some interesting studies that show Vitamin C can actually help prevent certain types of cancer, oral and digestive, and can also be an effective treatment for killing the cancer’s stem cells which are resistant to traditional treatments.
Vitamin C also prevents scurvy, a condition that causes bleeding gums, nosebleeds, cracked skin, poor wound healing, and ultimately death by infection or associated complications. Thankfully, there’s no need to worry about scurvy here in the West- we have Vitamin C rich foods available everywhere.
Vitamin C helps produce collagen, which aids in the renewal of skin and keeps us looking our best. It assists in renewing skin damaged by the sun and pollution.
You can get Vitamin C from many fruits and vegetables! If you name it, it’s likely got it. Here’s a pretty comprehensive list.
Vitamin C helps your body absorb iron, so here’s a tip: Pair your iron-rich meals with Vitamin C-rich foods. The best way to maintain a healthy body in all areas is to eat a well-balanced diet of appropriate portions, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and exercise the best you can when you can.
Vitamin C supplements are widely available. I actually take one every day because even though we usually eat really well, I do want to support my body for those days I make less than nutritious choices, which does happen from time to time.
However, before you take a supplement- because it’s easy to ingest too much of anything when you pop a pill, or cause side effects or drug interactions, talk to your doctor. There are several drug interactions associated with supplementation of Vitamin C.
To summarize, Vitamin C is important to:
You can find Vitamin C in these food sources:
Kiwi, oranges, grapes, guava, broccoli, cauliflower, snow peas, peppers, and more.
Children from 1 to 18 years need from need from 15-1800 mg per day, depending on age. Adults aged 19 and up need 90-120 mg per day, depending on sex and whether pregnant or breastfeeding.
For more information on Vitamin C dosing for children and adults, read this article here.
Today I’m spotlighting Vitamin B12. On my Facebook page this week we are talking about eggs, an amazing protein that is readily available, offers good quality for cost, and is super good for you in many ways, though not as high in Vitamin B12 as other sources.
Vitamin B12 is only found naturally in animal products, the best being beef liver or salmon. I went with eggs this week. It’s sad to me that neither of my boys like eggs, but I keep trying!
Eggs are versatile and quick to prepare. They are satisfying and nutritious and can be eaten in many different ways. I didn’t reinvent the wheel this week on #testkitchentuesday, but stuck with a tried and true egg salad sandwich. However, I did switch out the mayo for hummus, and of course use my own spices and herbs to flavour the eggs, so I will post that recipe on #foodiefriday. I’d love to hear what you do with eggs!
Vitamin B12 plays a role in maintaining energy levels and helping prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s. It helps the nervous system run smoothly, regulating stress and emotion responses. Like other B vitamins, it helps with heart health, keeping skin and hair healthy, and an efficient digestive system. Vitamin B12 also plays a role in helping to prevent anemia and promoting a healthy pregnancy.
You can get Vitamin B12 from many animal food sources as well as an artificial form added to other foods and, as discussed before, supplements. Animal sources are best absorbed. Eggs only contain about 9% of the absorbable Vitamin B12, for example, and foods enjoyed by vegetarians or vegans don’t contain B12 that can be used by the human body, with the possible exception of fortified products that have had a synthetic version added.
People with digestive disorders such as Celiac or Crohn’s disease are also at a high risk of B12 deficiency.
A deficiency of Vitamin B12 can be common in the western world. Symptoms to watch for are, unfortunately, pretty common symptoms of many health issues such as joint pain and fatigue, which can be unrelated to B12 deficiency, as can anxiety, dizziness, or poor concentration. And Vitamin B9 can mask a B12 deficiency, which further complicates matters.
For more information on B12 deficiency, read this article.
There are several drug interactions associated with supplementation of Vitamin B12.
The best way to confirm your numbers is to see your doctor for a blood test, and the best way to maintain a healthy body in all areas is to eat a well-balanced diet of appropriate portions, drink lots of water, get enough sleep, and exercise the best you can when you can.
To summarize, Vitamin B12 is important to:
You can find Vitamin B12 in these food sources:
Animal proteins such as beef liver, trout, sardines, lamb, tuna, salmon, eggs, dairy, and fortified products.
Children from 4 to 13 years need from need from 1.2-1.8 mcg per day, depending on age. Adults aged 19 and up need 2.4-2.8 mcg per day, depending on sex and whether pregnant or breastfeeding.
For more information on children and senior B12 supplementation, please read these articles:
General Information on Vitamin B12
It wasn't until I was an adult that I tried both avocado and kiwi; the former because I didn't know avocado was a food (more on that to follow), the latter because the fuzzy brown skin, bright green fruit, and tiny little seeds were a little too odd for me to move past.
In both cases, my mom was the cause behind both the food avoidance and acceptance.
As parents and caregivers, we model so much more than how to balance a bank account, fold bath towels, or make beds. The way we approach food becomes deeply ingrained in our children as well. The more we model an open acceptance to try new things, including food, the more our children will move into their own adulthood with a spirit of adventure.
When I was a child, my mom had the most amazing green thumb. She had houseplants flourishing in every corner and on every table. She was particularly fond of avocado plants and always had them rooting and growing in glasses of water on the kitchen counter.
I didn't know avocados were food! My mom would buy one, toss the meat, and root a plant. It wasn't until I was 21 years old and out for dinner with a friend that I found out what that green stuff was when I ordered a taco salad and he told me to eat it.
My mom enjoys eating avocados now! But it took a few years for her to develop a taste for them.
When I was not quite as old, around 18, she forced me to eat a kiwi. She described the taste as a cross between a strawberry and something else, which was a good enough description at the time. She told me I was old enough to try it and made me eat some with my eyes closed so the appearance of it wouldn't put me off. Of course she was right. They are delicious. But I wouldn't have tried it if she hadn't made it happen.
We're the great influencers of the people around us. Food is a journey for all of us and we don't all have to like the same things. But I want to encourage you to try new foods and expose your family to new foods, spices, flavours, and presentations. The more variety in our diet, the healthier we will be. No one food group can satisfy our body's nutritional needs any more than a single bar of soap can support a lifetime of personal hygiene.
It might help to have a routine in place to bring new foods into the house. Perhaps a "new month, new food" tradition- the first day of each month a new food comes home to be tasted. To help foster ownership, try having everyone in the household take turns picking the new food to try. Perhaps a recipe search or a call for suggestions on Facebook will help. Whatever you choose to do, it's never too late to adopt a more adventurous palate. Your health, and the health of the people around you, can only benefit.
Enjoy your day, friends.