It's not a cold.
If you haven't had the flu, it's impossible to imagine that you can feel that bad. And I've had the flu before, but I'd forgotten just how bad.
Having just gone through the worst of it and coming out the other side, I can tell you it is really awful. There's no way you can have the flu and not know it.
I'm sure each strain is a little different and effects everyone a little differently, but mine started with a headache. I kept it at bay for several days but after a sleepless night it came roaring in...congestion, whole body aches, and then the fever- that fever that just kept going up and up, and stayed there. I spent literally an entire day in bed, and then most of the next as well. Today's day 5 of symptoms, and I'm still not well enough to go to work or do much housework of any kind. This illness requires time and rest to recover. We'll see how long that process takes.
For a complete discussion on the Flu, check out this article.
In the meantime, I wanted to share some practical real-life tips for meal planning and cooking ahead. Doing that helped us survive the flu, because there was literally no way I could have cooked beyond pushing a button on the microwave.
1. Double your Meals.
Some foods are meant to be pulled out of the freezer and used in a pinch, and these are the ones to double. Think versatile.
My favourite one this time was meatloaf. I haven't been hungry, but since everyone got sick at different times, there were hungry people needing food. The best part about meatloaf is you can slice it into sandwiches or chunk it to be eaten with steamed vegetables and toast or tossed into a bowl of broth- the versatility that doesn't require a lot of effort earned it a gold star from me this time around.
2. Don't forget the Soup.
So here's the thing...I had no soup in the freezer. I had tons of stock, but no soup made already, and that was entirely too much effort for me. I had people wish me well and say things like "good thing you know how to make good soup!"- which I do, but the irony of getting this sick is the inability to put a meal together. A simple soup was simply too much. When you make soup try to put some aside in easy-to-thaw containers in small portions so you can just push a button on the microwave and have something nourishing to eat.
3. Batch Cook Proteins.
If you cook a roast- beef, pork, turkey, whatever- keep some meat aside in portions that are easily used and sliced exactly as we did with the meatloaf. It may be a simple thing to pull a bag of cooked chicken out of the freezer and eat it like that but at least it's food, and a nutritious one at that.
4. Score points with Casseroles.
I had a brick of shepherds pie frozen for just such a time, and I didn't pull it out the night before or have any sort of pre-thought about it at all. Instead, the oven got turned on to 350*F, it got covered with foil and sat on a cookie sheet in the oven. Eventually it warmed all the way through and got hot enough to eat, and it was big enough there was enough of that for 2 days of meals.
5. Order in.
Normally eating out is not the most nutritious food, especially when you're sick. But if you need to, just do it. And don't feel guilty. We ordered pizza last night, having exhausted all our frozen food. And I picked up a big batch of that Pacific Rim soup from OJ's when my husband was fevered so he had some hot soup to eat in between fever spikes.
6. Ask for help- and if it's offered, accept it.
A new friend asked me if she could make me some congee. I've never had it, but I was happy to say yes. It was such a sweet gesture and a welcome gift. And she made muffins for my family, too, and added a huge bag of citrus fruit for us as well. I'm eternally grateful.
Do what you can when you are well to help yourself when you aren't. Because I had no idea I'd be too sick to even make soup- it's hard to fathom being that unwell when you feel fine.
Until next time, friends, enjoy your day and stay warm...and well.
This week I'm playing with the Thai Basil that I am growing in my herb garden. We're going to run a late #testkitchen this week (today rather than yesterday if all goes well!), making Thai salad rolls for dinner tonight and a Vietnamese noodle soup with chicken and vegetables for dinner tomorrow.
But why bother? Why change to a different kind of basil? Why not stick with the old one that is known and loved?
Over the years I've observed there are 2 basic kinds of eaters in the world: people who can eat the same thing all the time and be perfectly content, and people who want to eat different things all the time and rarely eat the same thing twice. I don't think either extreme is healthy or sustainable. In our family, we encourage a bit of both for a few different reasons:
By now you all are used to me talking about incorporating a variety of different colours into your food but we don't usually emphasize reasons for different flavours. I'm going to hone in on one reason this morning: "...waking up your taste buds".
Raising a family of picky children with a husband who came pretty picky himself has been a journey for us. At the beginning of parenting small children I was completely unprepared for picky eaters. The idea of it was as foreign to me as living in full darkness half a year. When I was a child, if my mom put food in front of me, I ate it. To be suddenly faced with gagging, vomiting, tears, and the rest was bewildering.
However, I firmly believe food should not be a fight. Ever. We determine what foods go on the table so we fully control what response we will get. We can talk more about this a different day.
Suffice it to say, providing different flavours to ourselves and our families can allow us to enjoy different foods while we are out and about at various times in our lives. Like it or not, most of us enjoy meals at places other than home. We can't always control what's for dinner, and so it makes sense to train our taste buds.
And that is it for today, friends. If you enjoyed this post, share it! Help me grow my business by getting my name and brand known! Tune in tomorrow on Facebook for a discussion on reverse meal planning and if you haven't "liked" my page yet, please do so- I don't want you to miss anything!
All the best!
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.
To know them is to love them.
Not convinced? Let me try.
Aside from the rhyme we learn as children, beans and other legumes are not as well loved in North America as they are in other parts of the world. Legumes make up a large part of diets around the world, from Africa to Israel, and are especially useful in regions where religion or poverty play a role in the kinds of food people eat, such as India.
If you do a quick google search you will find out many reasons why you should or should not eat legumes. I leave the final decision up to you.
In my role as a nutrition coach I stand firmly behind “common sense nutrition”. I think any food in excess is detrimental to your health and well being.
Pulses are part of the legume family. Pulses refer to beans and lentils (the seed part of the plant). Common legumes are alfalfa, soy, and peanuts.
I use both pulses and legumes as a whole often in our cooking. As a family we enjoy meals that are made strictly vegetarian but also enjoy meals where legumes complement traditional meat-based meals. For example, chana masala was my latest test-kitchen dinner for a client, and that’s a vegetarian dinner. My oldest son loved it in spite of it being a new recipe for all of us, and even went for seconds. We also eat chili a couple of times a month that incorporates both beans and meat.
Lentils can be pureed and added as filler to meatballs, meatloaf, or burgers. They add bulk with nutrition so the meat goes further, and they also give an extra boost of fibre and iron. Beans can be added to salads and soups. Roasted beans are a fantastic snack to keep with you to enjoy when you’re on the run and you know you’ll be hungry. They’re packable, require no special care, and a small amount is very satisfying. My roasted bean recipe will be posted on my Facebook page this week on #foodiefriday. Come check it out!
It's almost summer. Eating meals based on legumes and pulses makes sense in the summer because they can require no real effort beyond opening a can, rinsing them, and eating them cold. When cooking a hot meal with them they really only need to be cooked long enough to heat all the way through- much less cooking time than meat.
*Important Note: Beans and legumes usually require soaking, draining, and boiling. Always follow the package instructions or they can be toxic.
One of my final reasons to eat and enjoy this variety in our diet is a financial one. You get amazing nutrition from pulses and legumes at a fraction of the cost of meat. As someone who is the grocery shopper and meal planner for the family, I know I can attest to the cost of meat on the rise. It makes sense to branch out to seek our nutrition from a variety of sources if nothing else then to stretch the grocery budget further.
Fortunately for us, it’s not a hardship to enjoy this branch of the meat and alternates food group. Do you eat legumes and pulses on a regular basis? If not, I encourage you to schedule a few meals this summer that incorporate beans or other pulses into your regular meal.
Stuck for ideas? I’m only a message away.
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.
Note: This post was updated on October 21, 2018.
Called the “Sunshine Vitamin”, Vitamin D is made by our bodies after exposure to sunlight. However, because we are so aware of sun safety (and rightfully so, I think) we tend to cover up in so many ways we can’t absorb the Vitamin D the sun puts out there, and those of us in the northern latitudes really struggle to get enough naturally occurring Vitamin D.
Over on my Facebook page this week we are talking about Steelhead Trout, an excellent source of Vitamin D. It's an easy fish to make and serve, and I'll be sharing my favourite quick way to cook this fish on #foodiefriday.
Until recently, studies on Vitamin D maintained that it helps our bodies absorb calcium and promote bone growth. As of early October 2018, this has been disproven in studies done over several years, with the exception of those who are shut-ins and cannot leave the home.
It also helps to regulate our immune and neuromuscular systems to keep them running strong. Although studies with the aim to prove Vitamin D keeps us healthy in many other ways, including protection from breast cancer to treatment of diabetes have been done, they are inconclusive in result.
Vitamin D also plays a particular importance in healthy outcomes for mother and baby. It seems to play a huge role in everything from prevention of infertility, bacterial infections, and pre-eclampsia to gestational diabetes and low birth weight.
There are some interesting studies that show Vitamin D can actually help with weight loss, and can also be an effective treatment for depression.
Vitamin D also prevents rickets, a condition that causes skeletal defects, muscle weakness, dental problems, and more. It’s not very common here in the West, but there is a resurgence. Here's another in-depth look at rickets.
Vitamin D can be overdosed on when using supplement, which is why you want to try very hard to get it from your diet. I know I’ve said it before, and 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.
Vitamin D is an interesting vitamin. Around the world, there are different recommendations for how much is enough. As recently as 2010, Health Canada has adjusted the recommended daily allowance of Vitamin D. It’s an interesting read.
Infants to children aged 8, recommended minimum intake is 400-600 IU, children 9-adults 600-800 IU. However, the tolerable daily upper limit is significantly higher, so check out that chart (link posted above for Health Canada)
Consider how supplementation can interact with other vitamins and minerals. The human body is a delicate balance, and everything you put into your mouth will have an effect on something.
If you’re on long-term medication, check with your doctor about Vitamin D supplementation. There are several drug interactions associated with of Vitamin D.
To summarize, Vitamin D is important to:
You can find Vitamin D in these food sources:
Fatty Fish (tuna, salmon, trout), fortified foods (dairy, orange juice, etc), cheese, egg yolks, mushrooms, and beef liver.
This is my passion, and I’m so grateful I get to share it with you!
“How are you doing that?” my oldest son asked, leaning against the counter and watching me. I was grabbing random jars of spices and herbs from the pantry, taking their lids off, sniffing them, and keeping some out while putting others back.
He’d been watching me for a couple of minutes while I measured random amounts of spices, adding them to my prep bowl and tasting or smelling as I went along. It was a test-kitchen day, and I was working on a new recipe.
“I don’t know,” I answered after considering for a minute. “I just do it. I was born to do this”. And it’s true, I realized.
Before I cooked, and long before it was trendy, I played with essential oils. I used to blend perfumes and massage oils, bath salts and bath bombs. I devoured books and studied everything I could about beneficial properties of different oils, the best oils that worked together, and the different ways to use them.
I remember just “knowing” what scents would work well together, which ones would help when I had a chest cold, which ones would soothe sadness or a headache, which ones would wake me up during a mid-day slump at my boring office job.
Spices and herbs contain essential oils, and recipe development comes naturally to me. I truly was born with this ability, and it’s all I want to do. There are days where I’m desperate to start working on a project that’s been growing in the back of my mind, but I can’t because I don’t have the time. Those days frustrate me because all I really want to do is cook. Then there are the days where I get to spend the whole day in my kitchen, and those are the days that light me up.
This is my passion, and I’m so grateful I get to share it with you!
Please follow me Facebook and sign up for my newsletters, and copy my free spice blend resource, shared with this post on Facebook. I can’t teach you how to blend your spices the same way I do, but there are some great suggestions on which spices and herbs work well with which foods.
If you need a hand figuring out how to make food and nutrition work for you, give me a call. We can chat for a few minutes to see if I can help. Sometimes you can't figure it out on your own, and if you're at the point where you know you're done trying it on your own, hiring me might be your next step.
Enjoy your week, friends!
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
Today I’m spotlighting Vitamin B7.
On my Facebook page this week we are talking about walnuts, a tree nut that provides a good dose of your daily Vitamin B7. It’s one of my favourite nuts to toast and use in baking and cooking.
Toasting walnuts brings out the most amazing flavour, and adding them to your next salad (if you add dried fruit and nuts to your salad!) will definitely not disappoint you. I’ll be sharing the recipe I created for a Moroccan-inspired pizza on #testkitchentuesday that uses walnuts as one of the pizza toppings on #foodiefriday. I can’t wait to hear how you like it! Please feel free to comment on my recipes and let me know what you think.
Vitamin B7 plays a role in the metabolizing of fats and carbohydrates in your diet. It’s also instrumental in helping us keep healthy hair and nails, and that is why it’s sometimes called Vitamin H (for hair). It’s important in the proper development of the fetus- in fact, babies, pregnant, and breastfeeding women are likely to have a biotin deficiency- for infants, cradle cap is one of the signs. There is some evidence from a study done in 1990 that suggests it may help with peripheral neuropathy in people with diabetes, but I haven’t seen more recent research.
You can get Vitamin B7 from some food sources, though not as many as the other B-vitamins. In spite of this, supplements are not usually required. A deficiency of Vitamin B7 will look like brittle hair and nails, skin problems such as dermatitis, dry eyes, fatigue, lips cracked in the corners, and anemia. Remember, 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.
To summarize, Vitamin B7 is important to:
You can find Vitamin B7 in these food sources:
Bananas, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Raw cauliflower, yeast, avocado, cooked eggs (raw egg white will inhibit biotin absorption), liver, salmon, and sardines.
Children from birth to 18 years need from need from 5-25 mcg per day, depending on age. Adults aged 19 and up need 30 mcg per day. Breastfeeding women need 35 mcg.
For general information on Vitamin B7, please check here.