For most of my life I've been constrained by food rules. Do you know what I mean? Some foods are good, some are bad, don't eat after dinner, skip breakfast, avoid the carbs, eat the carbs, low fat, no fat, full fat, sugar alternatives, calorie restricted, etc. This is why our food-obsessed culture still struggles with body image, weight related, lifestyle diseases. We put so much emphasis on rules but not enough on individual needs. The majority of our healthcare system treats symptoms but not the root causes, so we end up in this spiral of temporary fixes. I love nothing more than hearing about doctors and naturopaths who work with their clients to treat the causes of these physical symptoms. My hope is that more and more medical professionals will incorporate this sort of holistic treatment going forward.
Over the last few years, and especially in the last few months, I've been taking back control. It's my body- and my needs. No one else can really tell you what you should and should not do with your relationship with food. This intuitive self-awareness is a skill that takes practice. I'm asking myself what I actually want to eat rather than eating just because it's time to eat- does that make sense? The beauty in this is that our bodies are always changing- our needs shift from day to day, and forcing ourselves to follow rules that don't serve our needs may end up doing more harm than good. Here's a wonderful article that communicates exactly what I mean.
Right now it's practiced daily with my lunch salads- what do I want to eat, and how do I want to top it? I'm giving myself free reign to eat what I feel like I need, and it's a refreshing place to be. By stocking my fridge with nutritious choices I know that no matter what I choose my body will be served, nourished, and satisfied. There are no "right" and "wrong" choices here, and that is so freeing and amazing.
Some of my clients are working with their doctors and naturopaths to help sort out and find what food needs they have, with the training to set you on the path you need to go, and I am a partner with them to help you along that journey.
No matter where you are in your journey with food and nutrition, you need to know that you can have that freedom too. If you're ready to eat for yourself, for your health, and to learn to trust yourself one baby step at a time, I'm here to have that conversation with you. With a variety of packages and services to choose from, we can talk about what foods to buy and how to use them, how to build meals based on nutrition and time/budget constraints, and how to make yourself feel amazing. We can cook together, develop recipes specifically for you, or clean out your pantry by doing a kitchen audit. There is no overnight quick fix in the world that actually works, but steady and consistent nutrition will change your life.
Enjoy your day, friends! I look forward to meeting you,
Over the years I've observed that I have a well-stocked pantry compared to many people, and I'm often surprised by what's NOT in people's pantry's. Let's chat about a well-stocked kitchen over the next few blog posts and see what all the fuss is about!
Keeping a well-stocked pantry can be the difference between whipping something up for a meal and ordering in (or going out). It's not a big deal if you don't think it is, but if you feel guilt, shame, or regret every time you go out when you would rather not, this is one of those things you can do to take control and find some satisfaction and happiness in your kitchen.
Keeping your pantry stocked enables you to run a more efficient and organized kitchen. It makes your meal planning and grocery shopping easier and quicker, and by keeping everything organized and knowing what you have means less time and money is wasted. It's so important, in fact, that I offer pantry audits as one of my services, because it's one of those places in our homes that seems to encourage chaos. I encourage you to do your own pantry audit before you run out to shop for your staples- you may find things in there you forgot you had!
We'll go over fridge and freezer stocking another time, and at the end of it all we'll put together a list of a few ideas of meals you can throw together with what you have.
Some standard pantry staples:
My stocked pantry includes items most people would probably not consider as basics, but we don't let ourselves run out. These items include all of these above plus:
There are overlaps, of course, between fridge and pantry. If we open the salsa, for example, it lives in the fridge. And we keep our ketchup in the fridge too, though I hear it's shelf-stable and refrigeration isn't required.
Here's a recipe using basic pantry ingredients to create baked beans in the slow cooker- a perfect recipe for the weather we are enjoying today in Fort Saskatchewan!
Have a comment? Want to tell me what I missed (or added) that makes my stocked pantry different than yours? Feel free to leave a note for us here or hop over to my Facebook page and start the conversation there.
Have a great week, friends!
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.