Pad Thai  is hearty meal made with a base of rice noodles, bean sprouts, and tofu, is rich in protein and fibre.  It’s very flavourful with a sweet, sour, and salty combination of flavours.

I served this to my kids last night for dinner and they loved it. Very excited – I’m going to add this to my arsenal of family friendly meals.

INGREDIENTS

Sauce Ingredients
1/3 cup date paste
1/3 cup tamari
2 TBSP lime juice
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp chili pepper flakes, optional

Everything Else Ingredients
1 14 oz. bag of thick rice noodles
1 block of tofu drained from liquid, squeeze out water gently with a paper towel, then cut into 1/2″ cubes
6 spring onions, diced
1 bag of bean sprouts
pitcher of water or date water

1/4 cup cilantro leaves
l lime cut into wedges
1/4 cup roasted organic peanuts
chili pepper flakes, optional, to taste

  1. Make the sauce: Place the tamari, lime juice, garlic in a small sauce pan and heat on medium for 5 minutes until garlic is cooked. Add date paste.  Continue cooking for another 5 minutes.  Remove from heat.
  2. Make the noodles: Soak the noodles in boiling water for 8-10 minutes.  They should be completely covered by water.
  3. In a large sauté pan place a small amount of water and begin to sauce tofu. Goal is to brown it on all sides.  Add tiny amounts of water as needed to prevent sticking.
  4. Once tofu is browned add spring onions, beans sprouts and sauce.  Toss well.
  5. Drain noodles well, then add to the tofu mixture.  Toss well.
  6. Transfer to a large serving bowl.
  7. Garnish with cilantro leaves, lime wedges, roasted organic peanuts, and chili flakes for added spice.
  8. Serve immediately.

It’s salad time.

Let’s do this.

And let’s do it right.

You need your salad to be 3 things:
1. Delicious – You just aren’t going to eat it if it’s not delicious.  And food is meant to be enjoyed, so your salads need to be mouther-wateringly delicious.
2. Satisfying – If you’re going to make your salad a meal, then it’s needs to leave feeling satisfied. You need to be feeling energized after that salad.
3. Nutritious – This is pretty to easy to do by making sure to focus on variety and always starting with a base of leafy greens.

This salad serves 4-6 as a side dish and 1 as a main dish meal.

INGREDIENTS

4 cups baby spinach
1 small avocado, diced
1 small apple, any variety you have on hand
2 whole small cooked beets, diced
1 cup chickpeas
4 walnut halves, chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste

Toss spinach, avocado and lemon juice together really well.  This allows the avocado to cling to the spinach leaves.  Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well again.  Dig in enjoy!

My son doesn’t like vegetables.  Many kids don’t like vegetables.  One of the ways around this is to provide vegetables in a way that is palatable to your child.  Smoothies are a great vehicle for making vegetables palatable.

Today I made my son this smoothie and as I presented it to him, I said “here is love in a glass” as it was my expression of love for him – a nutrient-rich smoothie that he would enjoy.

I like using baby spinach as it blends up very nicely and has a very neutral taste.

If you don’t yet have a blender or are on the market for a new blender, I highly recommend splurging on a high-speed blender if you can.  Something like a Vitamix or a Blendtec.  I have a Breville Boss, which is similar to those 2 brands, however I believe they’ve discontinued this model.  A powerful blender really pulverizes your greens so you end up with a smoothie that has a similar mouth-feel to a milkshake – with the right ingredients of course!

This recipe serves 1 really large glass, 2 medium sized glasses, or 3 small glasses.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup almond milk
1 medium frozen banana (skin removed before freezing)
1 cup frozen mango
1 cup baby spinach or more or less depending on how fussy your non-veggie lover is
3 tablespoons hemp seeds/hearts
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon raw honey

Place milk and spinach in blender first, followed by the rest of the ingredients.  Blend up until it’s smooth and creamy – about a minute.

This versatile dressing is both sweet and tangy.  Great over a crunchy Asian-style salad, or steamed green beans, or as a marinade.

1/2 cup tamari sauce

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/2 cup water

4 medjool dates (pits removed)

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp wasabi powder

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds* (see below for directions on how to toast sesame seeds)

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, reserved to be added to dressing after blending

 

Blend all the ingredients except the last tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds in your high speed blender about one minute until smooth. Transfer to a glass bottle and add 1tablespoon of sesame seeds. Shake well before serving.

 

HOW TO TOAST SESAME SEEDS

 

My preferred method is with a dry pan. Place sesame seeds in a dry pan on medium heat. Move around with a wooden spoon until golden brown – about 3-5 minutes. I like to do 1/2 a cup or a cup at a time, and then I store them in an airtight container. They can be used to garnish salads, vegetables, grains, etc.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, a leader in the plant-based nutrition movement.  From Dr. Furman’s website:”G-BOMBS” is an acronym that you can use to remember the best anti-cancer, health-promoting foods on the planet. These are the foods that you should eat every day, making up a significant proportion of your diet. They are extremely effective at preventing chronic disease, including cancer and promoting health and longevity.

G = greens
B = beans
O = onions
M = mushrooms
B = berries
S = seeds

I would add cruciferous vegetables to this list… but that would alter the lovely acronym.

Here is a super delicious G-BOMBS salad + cruciferous vegetable.

Serves 1 as a large meal or 4-6 as a side dish

4 cups chopped Romaine lettuce (G=greens)
1 cup shredded white or purple cabbage (cruciferous vegetable)
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms (M=mushrooms)
1/4 cup blueberries (B=blueberries)
1/4 cup sliced red onion (O=onions)
1/2 red bell pepper thinly sliced
2 cloves of minced garlic
1 cup cooked or canned navy beans, drained (B=beans)
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds (S=seeds)

CREAMY FLAX & WALNUT DRESSING

1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
2 tablespoons walnut pieces

Blend in blender for about a minute until smooth and creamy. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons over your salad, then toss it an enjoy.

INTRODUCING SMOOTHIE PIE

A DESSERT THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

AS SEEN ON KOSHER TANK

MADE FROM 100% WHOLE FOODS

IT'S GOOD FOR YOU AND IT'S ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS

Order by texting or What'sApping 416.271.3136
Payment by email money transfer at time of order
carolyn@freedomwellness.ca

THE SMOOTHIE PIE
The perfect dessert AND the perfect weekday treat.

9 inch frozen pie
12 pieces

AVAILABLE IN 4 VARIETIES:
MANGO
PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE
CHOCOLATE CHERRY
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT

COR - KOSHER

THE BEST DESSERT EVER!
SMOOTHIE PIES ARE:

Sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious

Nutrient rich

No added sugar

No added oil

100% whole food ingredients

No artificial anything

Introductory Price: $22

Order by texting or What'sApping 416.271.3136
Payment by email money transfer at time of order
carolyn@freedomwellness.ca

Stay tuned in coming weeks for more smoothie pies available at a store near you!

Ingredients:
MANGO SMOOTHIE PIE: Mango, banana, dates, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, vanilla, Himalayan salt
PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE: Banana, peanut butter, dates, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, cocoa powder, Himalayan salt
CHOCOLATE CHERRY: Cherries, banana, dates, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, vanilla, cocoa powder, Himalayan saltHimalayan salt
CHOCOLATE HAZELNUT: Banana, dates, hazelnuts, almond butter, coconut, cocoa powder, Himalayan salt

I simply love making soups in the winter.  Our bodies crave warming foods in the winter and soup is a wonderful way to warm up.  Plus they are an AMAZING  way to load up on veggies.  It’s also important to mention that many soups, like this one, are a great weight loss tool because you are loading up on fibre and water.  A soup like this one fills you up, leaving you satisfied without it being calorically dense.

My kids will often eat veggies via soup that may not otherwise eat. I try to have a soup ready when they get home.  The soup serves as their after school snack.  And with this recipe that’s easy to do because it’s been cooking all day and is ready by the time they get home.

2 onions, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
4 carrots, diced
1 large potato, diced
3 medium zucchini, diced
1 large sweet potato, diced

1 cup red lentils
1/2 cup short grain brown rice

2 bay leaves
1 tbsp dried dill
salt and pepper to taste

8 cups water
Plus water or vegetable broth for sautéing

DIRECTIONS

  • Sauté onions until they begin to brown in vegetable broth or water, about 5 minutes.  Then add celery and sauté another five minutes.
  • Place the sautéd onions and celery in your crockpot along with all the other vegetables, lentils, rice, bay leaves, dill and 8 cups of water.
  • Set your crockpot on high for 6 hours.
  • Simply open the lid, and stir up the contents.  Add salt and pepper to your taste.

When you take on a whole food plant strong diet one of the secrets to success is having some whole starches ready and available in your fridge.  Starches like sweet potatoes, potatoes, rice, oats, and quinoa can all be the base for any meal of the day.

Starches are satiating!  They are rich in fibre!  Carbohydrates are your body’s preferred source of fuel. And starches are versatile.  Please don’t be afraid of including WHOLE FOOD starches in your day.

This was a super yummy and easy breakfast bowl to throw together. And of course, rich in nutrients.

INGREDIENTS
1 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 pear, diced
1 cup blueberries
1/2 banana, sliced
1 tbsp almond butter
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1 kale leaf, finely chopped
2 mint leaves, finely chopped (optional)

Toss everything together well in a large bowl.  The almond butter requires some good tossing around.  Then pour into a smaller serving bowl.  Dig in and enjoy!

A spin on the classical Brazilian dish.  This black bean stew has carrots and spinach added to boost it’s nutritional value.

I love this recipe because:
– It’s VERY quick and easy to make.
– It’s super healthy with fibre, protein, vitamins, and minerals.
– It’s yummy and satisfying.
– It’s costs practically nothing to make.
Plant based eating doesn’t need to be expensive.

INGREDIENTS

2 onions, diced

6 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups sliced carrots

4 cups black beans, soaked over night

2 tsp salt, or to taste

4 cups packed spinach

Bay leave

Water

Lemon wedges

Hot sauce

Using your Instant pot water sauté the onions and garlic until they begin to brown. Add carrots, beans, salt, bay leave and enough water to cover the beans plus one inch.

Set your instant pot to manual for 30 minutes.

Let the steam release naturally.

Before serving, add the spinach and mix well.  It will wilt in the hot stew.

Serve with hot sauce and a squeeze of fresh lemon.

 

Serve this recipe with a side of brown rice and a steamed green vegetable and you’ve got yourself the perfect meal.

When clients ask me what their “go-to” snack should be, one of my top choices is hummus with vegetable crudités (aka sliced vegetables for dipping).  This makes the top of the list because it has everything you want in a satisfying, healthy snack – fibre, protein, and a little bit of fat.

I also love having a batch of homemade hummus in my fridge because it makes for a great creamy salad dressing.  This recipes make the perfect hummus to toss into a salad – it’s thick but not too thick.  If your hummus is thick, then you can dilute with a little water.

While traditional hummus made with chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and little cumin is super delicious and easy to make, the sky is the limit with variations.  Try this variation: Cilantro Beet Hummus.

I was in the cilantro lime mood this afternoon, and the result is this super flavourful, not to mention beautiful rendition of hummus.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups cooked or canned chick peas (drain and reserve liquid)

1/4 cup tahini

2 cloves garlic

Zest from twos limes

Juice from twos lime

1 bunch cilantro – about 1 cup packed

1/2 cup chickpea cooking liquid or water

1 tsp salt

 

Place all the ingredients in your high speed blender or food processor fitted with an s-blade and blend until smooth and creamy.

Perfect way to get some good quality WHOLE FOOD FAT into your diet. Walnuts are a great source of omega 3 fat, plus they also contain some protein and fibre.

This is enough for about 4 servings of salad.

2 dates
2-4 cloves garlic (more or less, depending on how much you love garlic)
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup water
4 frozen basil cubes

Place all ingredients in high speed blender. Blend for 2 minutes until thick and creamy.

 

A super easy, versatile, side dish to any meal.

1 vidalia onion, diced
water for water sautéeing
2 cups brown basmati rice, uncooked
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
5 collard greens leaves, chopped small or 1/2 bag of frozen chopped kale
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp Herbamare, or iodized Himalayan salt
2 tsp garlic powder
3 cups water

  • Using the sauté setting, water sauté the onion for 5 minutes.
  • Add other vegetables and continue to sauté for another 5 minutes.
  • Add rice, water and spices, mix, and close Instant Pot.
  • Cancel sauté setting and set to Manual for 22 minutes.
  • Once cooking complete, allow the pressure to release naturally.

Serve with a big bowl of steamed veggies, and Curried Sweet Potato Chickpea Patties.

 

This one takes me back to the days of Carribean rotis – soft chickpeas and sweet potatoes with that savoury curry flavour.

This recipe was super quick and easy to make, however it did require that I have a few things ready to go in the fridge.

Makes 12 patties

1 398ml can chick peas, drained
I used the organic ones from Costco

2 cups mashed (organic) white sweet potatoes with skins
These were previously steamed whole in my Instant Pot, so were already soft and ready to use.
I just love the white fleshed, white skinned sweet potatoes.  I like that they are soft when cooked, but not mushy.  Texture is more similar to a regular baked potato.
I bought these at Organic Garage.

1 cup whole intact grains – raw oats, cooked brown rice, cooked quinoa, cooked spelt kernerls, cooked whole wheat kernels – you can choose one, or a combination
I used 1/2 cup of cooked spelt kernels, and 1/2 cup of cooked brown basmati rice.  The spelt kernels added a nice chewy texture to the patties

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tbsp curry powder

1 tsp salt

  • Preheat oven to 375, and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  • Mash the sweet potatoes first. Mash with the skin.  The skin is fibre-rich and also adds some texture.
  • Then mash the chickpeas.  You want them pretty mashed, but small chunks remaining are okay.  These add texture.
  • Mix the mashed sweet potatoes with the mashed chickpeas and the whole grains.
  • Add the seasonings and mix together very well.
  • With your hands form into 12 patties, each is about 3/4″ thick and about 2 1/2″ in diameter, and place on prepared cookie sheet.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, then very gently flip over using a spatula.  It’s important to be gentle as they may fall apart, which is okay… but then they are not longer patties.  They still taste great.
  • Bake another 20 minutes.  At this point they are pretty well set and tend to hold together.

Serve this alongside a side or a vegetable dish.  Makes a great filling for wraps, pitas, or collard wraps.  Delicious hot, cold, or room temperature.

FRUITY SPELT BREAKFAST BOWL

My new favourite breakfast!

Simple.

Easy.

Yummy.

Healthy (tons of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, plus some fat and protein!).

This one checks all the boxes 🙂

Enjoy this fruity spelt breakfast bowl!

 

Everything you put into your body, creates your body… so choose healthy, whole foods. I can show you how by giving you knowledge, strategies, ands support.

 

1/2 cup cooked spelt kernels

1/2 banana cut into thin slices

2 kiwis, cut into small chunks

1/4 cup fresh blueberries

4 walnut halves, chopped

sprinkle of cinnamon

 

Place each of the first three ingredients side-by-side in a breakfast bowl. Then place blueberries in the middle. Sprinkle with chopped walnut halves and cinnamon.

Serves 4-6 people

6 collard greens, tips of stems removed so they are round

1/2 cup oil free hummus (see recipe provided in first session)

3-4 green onions, diced

1 cup shredded carrot

1 cup shredded purple cabbage

2 cups snow peas

1 crispy apple, like honey crisp, or Ambrosia variety, cut into thin slices

 

Lightly steam the collard leaves in a shallow pan of water for 10 seconds per side. Flatten out the steamed greens on a clean dish towel and dry both sides. Place one collard on a cutting board and coat the center spine thickly with hummus.

Along the center strip of hummus, add the green onions, carrot, cabbage, snow peas, and apple slices. Roll up each collard green so each looks like a thick green cigar, tucking in the ends near as you begin rolling. Then slice in half on the diagonal, and serve.

 

Serves 2 as a meal, or 6 as a side dish

1 cup cooked brown rice

1 cup shelled edamame

2 cups of baby spinach, shredded (chopped finely)

4 finely chopped green onions

1 cup diced mango (~ 2 ataulfo mangos)

1 small avocado diced

1 carrot, shredded, optional

1 small red pepper, julienned, optional

2 tbsp soya sauce, or more to desired taste

about 5 nori sheets cut in half

pinch of wasabi powder or hot sauce of your choice

2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

 

Mix together all of the above ingredients. Roll half piece of nori into a cone shape and fill with sushi mixture. Or simply serve in salad bowls and sprinkle a crumbled sheet of nori over each serving.

 

Serve with wasabi and pickled ginger.

 

Spelt berries have a nice chewy texture, and like all whole grains, are full of fibre. They also contain protein, iron, magnesium, vitamin B3, phosphorus and zinc.

This breakfast can be eaten hot, or cold. It’s delicious either way. It can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.

4-6 servings

1 cup whole uncooked spelt berries (aka spelt groat or spelt kernels) – this is whole grain spelt
3 cups water
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup diced pineapple
1/2 cup pomegranate arils (aka pomegranate seeds)
Optional: nut pieces, seeds
Optional: cinnamon

• Place spelt berries and water in a pot, bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook approximately one hour. Alternatively, place spelt berries in Instant Pot, and set to 30 minutes on manual setting. Wait until pressure releases naturally, or manually release it.
• Drain spelt from water, and place in a bowl. You decide if you want to enjoy it hot, or if you want to eat it cold.
• Add the fruit and toss together well. Serve into bowls, and sprinkle with nuts, seeds, and cinnamon if using.

Note: Fresh or defrosted frozen fruit can be used.

So easy, you’ll be asking yourself “why didn’t I make this before?”

Not only easy, but really good for you.  Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, known for it’s anti-Cancer properties. Rich in fibre, b-vitamins, and other plant nutrients cauliflower should be regular fare on every table.  Plus it’s super low in calorie density, so if you’re trying to lose weight, make sure to include cauliflower.

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
water or broth
salt to taste

  • Using the coarse shredder on your food processor, place the florets into the feeder tube, and shred until all cauliflower is shredded. It will look like grains of white rice.
  • In a large wok add a small amount of water or broth and heat on high heat until bubbling.
  • Add cauliflower rice and stir-fry until cooked through and slightly browned. This will take about 7-10 minutes.  You will need to add small amounts of water to prevent sticking.
  • Add salt to taste.
  • Use in place of rice – e.g. rice and beans, or stir-fry on a bed of rice.

Who doesn’t love potatoes? These oil free potato stacks are easy to make and delicious. “But Carolyn aren’t potatoes to be avoided if I want to lose weight”. As I’ve said before, potatoes are not the problem it’s what we do to them that’s a problem! These potatoes AREN’T doused in oil, and they’re not covered in cheese. Potatoes can part of a well rounded whole food approach to eating that promotes weight loss.

2 large sweet potatoes, washed and cut into 3/4” slices

3 large Yukon gold potatoes, washed and cut into 3/4” slices

3 large red-skinned potatoes, washed and cut into 3/4” slices

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp garlic powder

1 tbsp onion powder

1 cup water

salt and pepper, to taste

~ 6 green onions, diced

 

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Toss all ingredients except for green onions together very well.
  • Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Place the potatoes in a single layer on the cookie sheets.
  • Bake for 60 minutes, switching the position of the sheets half way through cooking, so the bottom sheet is moved  to the top and the top sheet is moved to the bottom.
  • Once cooked, stack the potatoes into piles of 3.  Each stack has one slice of Yukon Gold potato, one slice of red potato, and one slice of sweet potato.
  • Garnish with chopped green onions.

This recipe is adapted from a recipe by Susie Fishbein’s “Kosher By Design”.

 

 

These tomatoes are ridiculously easy to make and are very versatile:
– Snack on them
– Toss them into a salad
– Eat with bread, or bread and hummus- Serve as an appetizer
– Blend them into a sauce
– Mix with balsamic vinegar and blend into a salad dressing

Prep time is about 5 minutes and the results are gourmet!  Plus you will wake up to the heavenly smell of slow roasted garlic melding with tomatoes.

20 Roma (aka plum) tomatoes
1 head garlic, minced or use a heaping tablespoon of no-oil jarred minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to the lowest temperature – on my oven it’s 170 degrees.

Cut tomatoes in half length wise and place in a large bowl.  Toss well with minced garlic, salt and pepper.

Lay cut-side-up on a parchment lined baking sheet and place in oven overnight.  Bake for approximately 12 hours until the tomatoes are well-shrivelled.  You can leave them in longer for a sundried-tomato texture, or less time for a juicer texture.

The Smoothie Pie

INTRODUCING A DESSERT THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!

MADE FROM 100% WHOLE FOODS

IT’S GOOD FOR YOU AND IT’S ABSOLUTELY DELICIOUS

 

THE SMOOTHIE PIEThe perfect Shabbos dessert AND the perfect weekday treat.

9 inch frozen pie12-14 pieces

AVAILABLE IN 5 VARIETIES:MANGOPEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATECHOCOLATE CHERRYKEY LIMEPINEAPPLE

All  ingredients are COR and OU, pareve, made usin

g pareve utensils. This is a raw dessert, so no baking is involved.Contains nuts. See ingredient list below.

THE BEST DESSERT EVER!SMOOTHIE PIES ARE:

Sweet, creamy, and absolutely delicious

Nutrient rich

No added sugar

No added oil

100% whole food ingredients

No artificial anything

Introductory Price: $22

Orders must be placed by Sunday, September 22

Order by texting or What’sApping 416.271.3136
Payment by email money transfer at time of ordercarolyn@freedomwellness.ca

Stay tuned in coming weeks for more smoothie pies!

Ingredients:
MANGO SMOOTHIE PIE: Mango, banana, dates, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, vanilla, Himalayan salt
PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE: Banana, peanut butter, dates, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, cocoa powder, Himalayan salt
CHOCOLATE CHERRY: Cherries, banana, dates, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, vanilla, cocoa powder, Himalayan saltHimalayan salt
KEY LIME: Banana, avocado, lime, dates, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, vanilla, Himalayan salt
TROPICAL PINEAPPLE SMOOTHIE PIE: Pineapple, banana, dates, walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, coconut, vanilla, Himalayan salt

4 cups baby spinach

1/2 pink lady apple diced

1/2 Danjou pear diced

1/2 cup shredded carrot

1/2 cup shredded purple cabbage

1/2 small red onion sliced

1/2 cup sweet potato croutons

1/3 cup homemade no-oil hummus

4 walnut half broken into small pieces

About 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

 

Place all the vegetable in a large bowl and toss.  Dollop the hummus over the salad. Sprinkle walnut pieces.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

 

Fridays are always a super busy day.  There never seems to be enough time to get everything done, and often we don’t take time to look after ourselves. While I’m not always successful, I try hard to take a few minutes to eat a good lunch that will fuel me through the hectic afternoon.

Check out this simple, delicious, and healthy salad that I threw together in about 5 minutes:

  • I started out with these stunning organic vine tomatoes that I picked up at Ambrosia this morning and they had these stunning. I picked them up and knew that they would be the centre of my lunch.
  • Next I added some chick peas.  Every Friday morning I cook up a batch of chickpeas in my InstantPot, so I used some of those.
  • Then I pulled out some already washed and checked Romaine lettuce and tossed that in.
  • Finally I added sundried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, fresh cracked pepper and some avocado.  It’s always important to have a little fat with your salad to help your bottom absorb the fat soluble vitamins.

So satisfying, and I promise you will feel light and energetic after this salad.  Well fueled to tackle the rest of the day.

1 cup cooked or canned chickpeas
2 vine ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
2 cups chopped Romaine lettuce
2 tablespoons slivered sundried tomatoes
1/2 small avocado diced very small
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
freshly ground pepper

Toss everything together very well and enjoy.

 

This salad is reminiscent of a salad I used to have at a little vegan lunch place I frequented back in my ad agency days.  I wish I could remember the name of the place.  It was cute and quaint, and the service was great.  They had a salad menu where you could select 3 salads and they would bring you a platter of your choice of salads.  They had a stunning beet chickpea salad and this is my rendition of that lovely salad.

Aside from being beautiful, delicious and pretty east to make, this is a highly nourishing salad.  The chickpeas are a fantastic source of protein, and fibre, and the beets contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals which offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification support.

4 medium beets, cooked, peeled

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1 cup chick peas

1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

1 tbsp maple syrup

2 tbsps apple cider vinegar

2 minced garlic cloves, or 1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 small red onion, finely diced

salt and pepper to taste

  • Slice cooked beets into thin strips.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients to the beets and toss well.

This potato salad is a pleasant alternative to traditional potato salad, typically made with mayonnaise and hard boiled eggs.  Instead of calorie rich mayonnaise, this potato salad gets it’s creaminess and flavour from dijon mustard and tahini.

Despite what many fad diets, potatoes are not inherently a high calorie food.  It’s what is typically done to the potatoes that makes them high calorie, like adding loads of butter, cheese, deep frying them, etc.  Potatoes are nutritious vegetables that have a lot of versatility – think baked potato topped with salsa, air-fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, and of course a summer time and picnic favourite, potato salad.

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

20 smallish potatoes, Yukon Gold or Red or a mixture of both

2 celery stalks, finely diced

1/2 cup shredded carrots – I used the prebagged ones to save time

3 green onions, finely diced

1/4 red pepper, finely diced

2 tbsp slivered sundried tomatoes

1 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp tahini

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

  • Steam potatoes in Instant Pot.  Place potatoes on steamer rack.  Add water so that it’s level with steamer rack.  Set Instant Pot to 8 minutes on “manual”.  Alternatively you can steam them on the stove top in a regular steamer basket.
  • Once the potatoes have finished cooking, let them cool to room temperature then cut them into halves or quarters.
  • Add the remaining ingredients and toss well, yet gently so that the potatoes don’t break down too much.

After making this dish, I had to go out for a few minutes.  When I walked back into the house, it smelled heavenly.  The combination of the onion, garlic, and fennel created the perfect savoury aroma.

This makes a wonderful starter dish for those sequencing their meals, as these are all super low calorie, yet fibre rich foods.  Or it makes a lovely side dish, or a wonderful addition to pasta.

For those unfamiliar with fennel, you can eat it raw or cooked.  Fennel belongs to the Umbellifereae family and is therefore closely related to parsley, carrots, dill and coriander. Fennel’s aromatic taste is unique, strikingly reminiscent of licorice and anise, so much so that fennel is often mistakenly referred to as anise in the marketplace. Fennel’s texture is similar to that of celery, having a crunchy and striated texture. Fennel is a good source of vitamin C.

It took about 5 minutes to chop the onions and fennel, and mince the garlic.  And it took another 20 minutes to cook… so pretty quick and easy.

2 small onions

8 cloves garlic, minced

2 fennel bulbs, trimmed and cut in strips

4 cups frozen French cut green beans

2 tsps Herbamare, or iodized Himalayan salt

fresh cracked pepper, to taste

 

Water sauté onions for 3-4 minutes until they begin to soften.

Add garlic and continue to water sauté for another 3 minutes.

Add fennel strips and continue to sauté until softened, about 7-8 minutes.

Add the green beans and Herbamare, and toss well.

Continue cooking another 3-4 minutes until the green beans have softened and are hot.

 

Serve as a starter course, side dish, or over pasta.

One of the many wonderful kernels of wisdom I learned from Dr Joel Fuhrman is that for one meal a day salad should be your main dish.

When done right, a salad should be rich in nutrients, should be satisfying, look beautiful, and taste amazing.  And it doesn’t have to be difficult to throw together a salad that checks all those boxes – like this one.

Serves 2 as a meal.

1/2 small red onion, sliced into 1/4” rounds

1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

11 oz. box baby spinach

1 cup grated carrot

1 cup grapes

15-ounce can of butter/lima beans, rinsed and drained

6 walnuts in pieces

Cracked black pepper to taste

Dijon Dressing

 

Cook the onion in a skillet on high heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently and occasionally adding a few drops of water. When the slices begin to brown, stir in the molasses and 1 tablespoon water. Stir for a minute longer, until the liquid is absorbed, then remove from the heat.

Place the baby spinach in a large bowl. Arrange the carrots, grapes, beans, walnuts, and caramelized onions on top of the greens. Season with cracked pepper. Dress lightly with the dressing, and toss the ingredients together.

 

DIJON DRESSING

1/2 cup seasoned rice vinegar

1 to 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 clove garlic, minced or pressed

Whisk the ingredients together in a bowl.

 

Adapted from Rip Esselstyn’s “Engine 2 Diet”

I used to LOVE a good scoop of tuna salad over my salad, or on a bagel, or in a wrap.  Now that I eat predominantly plant based I stay away from tuna.  This chunky chick pea salad does a great job of replacing my tuna salad.  I think it does an even better job in fact!  It’s more flavourful, doesn’t smell fishy, and is full of lots of greats vitamins, minerals, and fibre (tuna doesn’t have any fibre!).

Like many of the recipes I share, it’s simple enough to make for a weekday lunch, and elegant enough for entertaining.  Try scooping some chunky chick pea salad into a romain leaf or endive leaf for a pretty presentation.

Or do as I do, and load a scoop over your leafy greens for the perfect “salad as your main dish” meal.

2 cups cooked chickpeas or one 15-ounce can, rinsed

1/2 cup celery, diced

1/2 cup carrots, diced

1/4 – 1/3 cup scallions, or red onions, or sweet vidalia onions, chopped

1/4 cup hummus or tahini – I like to do mostly hummus with a small amount of tahini

1-2 tablespoons mustard or Dijon

Dash garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice of 1 lemon optional

1 small handful of pumpkin seeds (optional)

Paprika or smoked paprika as a garnish

 

  1. Place the chickpeas in a medium bowl and mash roughly with a fork or potato masher.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. If you like a creamier consistency, add more hummus.
  3. Taste for seasoning.
  4. Sprinkle with paprika and serve over a bed of leafy greens.

 

This recipe is adapted from “The Plant-Based Solution” by Dr. Joel Kahn

 

I’ve always loved a good pudding. Thick, creamy, sweet… yum. I remember those Jell-o puddings powders in a box that my Mom would buy.  What a trip to whip one of those up!  Or the Hunts ones often found in kids lunch bags.  Just peel back the lid and you are faced with processed creamy goodness.

Wait… how can processed and goodness go together?  When it comes to our palette and tastebuds they sure can.  Food manufacturers do exactly that – they create foods that are so incredibly, irresistibly rich and delicious that they tell our brains “I need this.  This is good”.  And yet after we indulge, our brains tell us something quite different: “Why did I do that? I feel gross – both physically and emotionally”.

While this chia seed pudding fruit parfait is definitely not a Jell-0 or Hunts pudding, it still offers thick, creamy, naturally sweet goodness.  And when you finish eating it, you feel GOOD!  No emotional defeat happening here.

This parfait also wears many hats – it’s a breakfast, a dessert, a snack, or a postworkout refuel.

And like the majority of recipes I share, it’s very quick and easy to prepare.

PUDDING

1/2 cup chia seeds

2 cups almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 large Medjool dates, chopped into tiny pieces

2 organic dried apricots, chopped into tiny pieces

  • Stir together all ingredients, except peaches, in a bowl until well combined.
  • Store the pudding in an airtight glass container (with a lid) in a refrigerator overnight.
  • When ready to serve, stir pudding well follow the parfait instructions belwo.

 

FRUIT SALAD

There are no rules to making fruit salad, however I try to choose a variety of colours as it makes the salad more nutritious (more colours = more variety of nutrients) and more visually appealing.  Usually the fruit salad is comprised of what I have on hand.  This is what I used today:

1 small container blueberries

3 kiwis diced

1 pineapple, diced

1 peach, diced

2 mangos, diced

2 bananas cut into thin slices

 

MAKING THE PARFAIT

Layer 1/4 cup pudding, followed by a 1/4 cup fruit, followed by 1/4 cup pudding, followed by 1/4 cup fruit.

I’m sorry I didn’t measure the overall yield, but my guess is that it would make 8 parfaits.

I never used to be a zucchini lover. It was a boring mushy vegetable. But as I got more and more into healthy eating, and plant-focused eating, I realized that it would be a good idea to develop a relationship with zucchini.

After all, zucchini has a lot of things going for it:

  • Zucchini contains zero fat, and is high in water and fibre.
  • It contains significant amounts of vitamins B6, riboflavin, folate, C, and K, and minerals, like potassium and manganese.
  • Zucchini can be eaten cooked or raw.
  • It has a very low calorie density. You could literally eat zucchinis all day and not gain weight.
  • They are typically inexpensive, so you really load up on zucchinis for a small chunk of change.
  • They come in different varieties – green, yellow squash, and marrow, which are shorter and a greenish-grey colour.
  • Zucchini is very versatile. Try it in baked goods, soups, stir-frys, roasted, BBQ’d and in salads. They can be spiralized and used instead of pasta.

Zucchini is now a regular staple in my home. This recipe, which was inspired by a recipe from the Bais Yaakov cookbook, is regular fare once a week at our dinner table. We had a big crowd for dinner on Friday night and they devoured it!

Serves 8-10 as a side dish

4 medium-large zucchinis, cut into strips

3 peppers – 1 red, 1 orange, 1 yellow, cut into strips

1 large red onions, cut into strips

2 bulbs of garlic, peeled and minced

Zest of one lemon

Juice of one lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Preheat oven to 425.
  • Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • Cut zucchinis into long strips by first cutting zucchini in half lengthwise, and then cutting each half into 4, so each zucchini with yield about 8 strips. Evenly distribute the zucchini over the 2 cookie sheets.
  • Next cut the peppers into long strips, and scatter between the zucchini pieces
  • And then cut the onions into thin strips, and fill in the gaps on the cookie sheet with the onions.
  • Sprinkle the minced garlic and lemon zest over the vegetables. Then pour the lemon juice evenly over the vegetables. Season with salt and fresh groun pepper.
  • Bake 15 minutes, then switch positions of cookie sheets, so that each sheet has spent 15 minutes on bottom rack and 15 minutes on top rack.
  • Then place each rack under low broil for 5-7 minutes to brown.
  • Serve yourself a big helping with some rice and beans on the side.

 

This recipe is one of those game changer recipes. It’s the kind of recipe that if you make it one time, you’ll be hooked.  It’s a game changer because it’s super flavourful, full of good nutrition, relatively easy, and versatile.  With our busy schedules a recipe that is versatile can make life so much easier.

How are these roasted caramelized vegetables versatile?

  • They can be eaten on their own, toasty warm right out of the oven.
  • They can be scooped on top of a warm bowl of brown rice to make a satisfying meal.
  • They can be a wonderful topping for a leafy green salad.
  • They can be served over top of a baked potato.
  • They can be mixed into your favourite hummus recipe for a chunky, savoury hummus.
  • They can be served over top some sweet potato toasts, or Ezekiel bread.
  • They can be added to a soup to enhance the flavour.

This recipe yields a big batch that will serve 6 as a side dish.

1 eggplant, diced

2 medium red onions, diced

2 medium zucchinis, diced

1 pint grape tomatoes

2 green peppers, diced

1 orange pepper, diced

6 cloves garlic, crushed

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup za’atar

salt and pepper to taste

 

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl, and toss really well.  Spread over 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.  Place one cookie sheet on lower rack of oven and one baking sheet on top rack of oven.
  • After 30 minutes of roasting, switch the position of the baking sheets, so that the one from the bottom is moved to the top, and the one from the top is moved to the bottom. Then roast another 30 minutes.  Depending on how carmalized you want your veggies, you may leave the vegetables in the oven a little longer.  The longer you leave them, the more shrivelled up and caramelized they become – this is your personal taste.
  • Serve in one of the ways as mentioned above.

Nothing quite smells like cinnamon and apples baking in the oven on a cold morning. This morning I was so thrilled to welcome my new group of Freedom Weight Loss ladies, and I served these yummy breakfast biscuits.

DUE TO POPULAR DEMAND FREEDOM WELLNESS IS NOW SELLING THESE BREAKFAST ROUNDS!
$30 per dozen.
Email carolyn@freedomwellness.ca to place your order.
Online order form coming soon.

Yeilds ~ 18 rounds

4 ripe bananas

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce

1 tbsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

1/2 tsp salt

2 apples, diced = approximately 2 cups of diced apples

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1 tsp natural vanilla extract

4 cups of whole rolled oats

1/2 cup finely chopped dates*

  • Pre-heat oven to 350.
  • Mash bananas really well.
  • Mix with the rest of ingredients so that all dry ingredients are well-coated with the banana mash and apple sauce.
  • Using your hands shape cookies into biscuits, about a 3″ diameter
  • Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet
  • Bake for 30 minutes, then gently flip over and bake for another 30 minutes or until cookies feel firm and slightly crispy.
  • For a crispier biscuit, leave them in the oven for another 15-30 minutes.  The oven has already been turned off, but it is still warm.  The biscuits will firm up and crisp up.

Store these in zip-look container/bag in the freezer and re-heat before serving.

2 biscuits is a serving for breakfast, which is just shy of 1/2 cup oats per serving

* The No Name brand (No Frills, Superstore) sells bags of chopped dates to make this step easier.  They can be found in the baking aisle.

A hearty, delicious, and highly nutritious way to enjoy brown basmati rice.

2 cups brown basmati rice

2 3/4 cups water*

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 stalks of celery, diced

3 carrots, diced

1 bag 16oz frozen chopped kale

1 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt

1 cup cooked chick peas (optional – to turn this into a meal)

  • Using the sauté setting on your InstantPot, water sauté onions until they begin wilt – about 5 minutes.
  • Add garlic and celery, and sauté until the onions begin to brown – about 7 more minutes.
  • Add the carrots, and kale, and stir well, sautéing another 5 minutes.
  • Add water, rice, turmeric, and salt.

This is yummy with Smokey Crockpot Black Beans and oven roasted veggies.

 

 It’s one of the days when you don’t have the time for anything.

(What does she mean “one of those days”? Every day is “one of those days”!!!)

I’ve got you covered with this five-minute salad. This salad relies on buying many of the ingredients already washed and cut, so most of the work is throwing everything together in a huge salad bowl.

1 3-oz box Pure Greens arugala

1 regular bag of Bodek Romaine House Salad

1/2 bag of Bodek Shredded Carrots

1/2 bag of Bodek Red Cabbage

1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

2 celery stalks, thinly sliced

1 pint grape tomatoes

Dressing

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp maple syrup

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

 

Topping

1 tbsp sliced sundried tomatoes

1 tbsp pumpkin seeds

 

Toss all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl.

Mix the dressing ingredients with a wire whisk, or place in a share and shake well until blending.

Add the dressing and toss again. Sprinkle the sundried tomatoes and pumpkins on top.

 

You’re back to work and back to school, and you need to make sure that you have healthy snacks on hand so that you can fuel yourself through the day.  Sugary snacks may give you a quick energy boost, but they will leave you crashing very soon, seeking the next sugary snack, until the next crash… and so goes the cycle.  By the end of the day you’ve consumed a bunch of non-food that causes you to gain weight, and even worse is detrimental to your health.  And by consuming this stuff, by default, you haven’t eaten real food that builds your health.

Introducing the VEGGIE BOX. This may sound simple, but it requires some planning and organizing.

Get yourself some reusable containers that are large enough to hold a decent amount of veggies.  A container that holds 10 carrot sticks isn’t going to do it.  If you’re hankering for a snack you need a snacking quantity of veggies.

I save some greens boxes and packed these veggies in these greens boxes.  They are easy to transport and provide a decent amount for snacking on throughout the day.

Pick up a variety of vegetables that you enjoy, including some that require little or no prep work like snap peas, grape tomatoes, and baby carrots.  Others that require cutting/peeling are cucumber, cauliflower, celery, peppers, radishes, green beans, and kohlrabi.

Enjoy these on their own, or bring along a dip like guacamole or hummous.

MAKE SURE YOU PLAN: Add these veggies to your shopping.  Then set aside a time to prep them.  Make it a priority because your health is a priority!

I don’t know about you, but I have a kid, okay a couple of kids, that just won’t touch leafy green vegetables, so with these kids I need to get them their leafy greens in a format where they don’t resemble leafy greens.

Sometimes I a toss a bunch into a soup or stew where they wilt and don’t really look much like leafy greens.

Sometimes I throw a bag of frozen kale into a veggies and rice dish and they blend in with the other veggies.

And sometimes I go the smoothie route. This is a great recipe for getting your kids to drink green smoothies. It’s sweet, creamy, and delicious and full of all kinds of good stuff – spinach, hemp hearts, mango, pineapple, banana.

Serves 2

1 cup almond milk

1 cup baby spinach leaves

1 frozen banana

1 cup frozen pineapple chunks

1/2 cup frozen mango chunks

1 tsp raw honey

2 tbsp hemp hearts

Blend it all up in your high speed blender and enjoy!

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Do you ever have left-over quinoa in the fridge and you wonder what you’re going to do with it? Well, here is the perfect solution: turn that quinoa into a delicious and nutritious breakfast.

I especially love this recipe because it’s super quick and easy.

Quinoa is high in protein and one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. It is also high in fiber, magnesium, B vitamins, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin E and various beneficial antioxidants. And for those who are following a gluten-free diet, quinoa is gluten-free.

This robust variety of nutrients plus thousands of other trace nutrients makes quinoa, highly nutritious. Specifically quinoa’s profile of nutrients has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-cancer, and anti-depressant effects.

Plus it’s rich in fibre so it’s beneficial for providing a sense of fullness, making it an ideal food for those trying to lose weight.

 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 date, finely chopped

10 almonds, chopped

1/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1/3 cup blueberries

pinch of cinnamon

  • Place cooked quinoa, almond milk, and cinnamon in a small pot, and mix together.
  • Heat on medium-low for 3 minutes until mixture is warmed through.
  • Remove from heat and place in a serving bowl. Top with blueberries, dates, and almonds.

Alternatively, you can enjoy this breakfast cold without heating up. Simply mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

There is SO much you can make in your crockpot for Shabbat lunch beyond traditional cholent. There are many wonderful soups, stews and chilis you can try. We love Indian flavours and this recipe delivers some fantastic flavour punch. Also is great left-over – if you have any left!

The best part of Kathmandu Cholent stew is that the you are putting stuff into your body that will BUILD YOUR HEALTH! The carrots and sweet potato are rich in a number of vitamins and minerals, in beta carotene which is a precursor to vitamin A, important for vision and eye health, immune function, and skin. The fibre in lentils helps to reduce cholesterol, promote heart health, stabilizes blood sugar, increase energy, and prevent constipation.

AND LENTILS ARE LOW IN CALORIC DENSITY!  So they fill you up and help you to slim down!

Serves 6-8 as a side dish

2 teaspoons             cumin powder

3 teaspoons             curry powder

½ teaspoon             coriander powder

½ teaspoon             turmeric powder

1 pinch                      cinnamon

2 cups                        red lentils, rinsed

1                                  medium sweet potato, diced

2                                  carrots, diced

1                                  medium red onion, diced

4 cloves                    garlic, minced

1 or 2 teaspoons    dried chilies (optional)

4 cups                        water

1 small bunch          cilantro, chopped

Sea salt or Himalayan salt

  1. Water sauté* the onions and garlic. Once browned, add the cumin powder, curry powder, coriander, turmeric, and cinnamon in a pan and mix until well-blended.
  2. Transfer onion/garlic/spice mixture to crock pot, and add the red lentils, sweet potato, carrots, onion, chilies, and 4 cups of water.
  3. Stir, cover, and set on high for 6 hours. Add salt to taste, and serve garnished with fresh cilantro.

* How to water sauté?
The trick is to use small amounts of water or broth, adding just a small amount (1 to 2 tablespoons) at a time over high heat.  Add water as often as needed to cook and brown the food, without steaming it. Also, remember to toss and stir the food frequently with a wooden spoon so that it doesn’t burn. Be careful not to add too much water or your vegetables end up being steamed rather than sautéed.

Adapted from a recipe by Moira Nordholt, The Feel Good Guru

Growing up pomegranates were a once a year treat that we’d eat as part of our new year meal. Now pomegranates can be found in abundance, especially during the late fall and early winter, and are one of the few fruits that is reasonably priced at this time of year.

Pomegranate seeds are little ruby red bursts of sweet and tart deliciousness that pack a seriously big punch of health benefits. They’re loaded with fibre, vitamin C, vitamin K and potassium. Rich in antioxidants, pomegranate seeds have been found to help in improving heart health, lowering blood pressure, reducing arthritis and joint pain, improving memory, and fighting cancer.

You find that is breakfast is almost as good as eating dessert – sweet, tart, warm, and filling.

2 servings

1 cup quick cooking steel cut oats – I used the Bob’s Red Mill variety

2 cups water

2 dates, chopped into small pieces

2 organic, sulpur-free, dried apricots, chopped into small pieces

1/2 ground ginger

pinch of salt

seeds from 1 pomegranate, about 1/2 cup

2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Add oats, pinch of salt, ginger, chopped dates, and chopped apricots.
  • Reduce heat and let simmer 7-9 minutes until the oats are close to your desired consistency.  Let stand about 2 minutes.
  • Dish out the cooked oats into 2 bowls.
  • Sprinkle each bowl with half of the pomegranate seeds, and half of the pumpkin seeds

You can’t help but feel well-taken care of after you eat this breakfast. Perfect way to practice self-care!

A while back I was experimenting with no flour, no sugar, no oil “cookies”, and made this yummy recipe for Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookies.  Since then I’ve been playing around with that recipe and making variations of it.  This week, I hit upon a winner, which blends 2 of my favourite flavours – chocolate and peanut butter.

You may have noticed that put “cookie” in quotes as none of these recipes are quite cookies.  They are the shape of cookies, but are more dense than a cookie, since instead of flour, we are using whole rolled oats.  One of these makes a perfect, satisfying snack, and one or two of these makes an awesome breakfast on the go.

I make them and freeze them, taking out one or two at a time.  While you can simply thaw them to eat them, I find them much more pleasurable to eat when they’re warm and a little crispy, so I’ll pop them into the oven or toaster oven for about 5 minutes and they are good to go.

While I mentioned that these are a lovely blend of chocolate and peanut butter, I must warn you, that these are not Reese’s Peanut Butter cups, as they don’t have the added sugar, salt, fat, and other chemicals that are added to Reese’s Peanut Butter cups – those ingredients that make them hyper-palatable, so you can’t eat just one.  This recipe blends those two flavours nicely in a way that help build your health, and make you feel good.

Yields 12 large rounds

4 bananas

1/4 cup pitted dates, finely chopped

1 cup organic applesauce

3/4 cup organic smooth peanut butter

1/2 cup cacao or cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt

3 1/2 cups whole rolled oats

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

 

  • Pre-heat oven to 350.
  • Mash bananas really well.
  • Mix apple sauce and peanut butter into mashed bananas
  • Mix with the rest of ingredients so that all dry ingredients are well-coated with the banana mash, applesauce, and peanut butter.
  • Using your hands shape cookies into thin rounds (they are roughly the size and shape of hockey pucks, but thinner)
  • Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then gently flip over and bake for another 20 minutes or until cookies feel firm and slightly crispy.
  • 2 cookies is includes roughly half a cup of oatmeal, and 1 banana

 

I really hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

 

You may be wondering why I’m suggesting steel-cut oats instead of rolled oats.  I think they are both awesome, but steel-cut oats are my preference and I’ll tell you why:

STEEL-CUT OATS ARE LESS PROCESSED

Steel-cut oats are are whole oats (AKA oat berries, oat kernerls, oat groats) that have been chopped into small pieces with steel blades.  Steel-cut oats and whole oats are the least processed forms available. The least processed is usually your best bet because your body will gain the most nutritional benefit from it.

Rolled oats, on the other hand, are made by steaming the whole oats, then rolling them, steaming them again, and, finally, toasting them resulting in the thin flakes you’re used to seeing as oatmeal. While they are minimally processed, rolled oats are still a whole grain.

STEEL-CUT OATS DIGEST SLOWER THAN ROLLED OATS

Like all other grains in whole or cracked form, steel-cut oats rank lower than rolled oats on the glycemic index (GI), which ranks carbohydrate foods on the basis of how rapidly they affect blood sugar (glucose). The reason for this difference is that it takes longer for digestive enzymes to reach the starch inside the thicker pieces, slowing down their conversion to sugar. The higher on the glycemic index a food ranks, the more likely it is to cause spikes in blood sugar.

If you’re choosing been whole rolled oats and quick-cooking oats or instant oats, choose the whole rolled oats. The quick-cooking or instant oats are further processed and are no longer whole intact grains. Many instant oats also contain added sugar, salt, oils, and artificial flavours and colours.

To check out some of the reasons I love oats, see my recipe for Blueberries & Apples Steel Cut-Cut Oats.

2-4 servings
(2 large servings, or 4 small servings)

1 cup quick cooking steel cut oats – I used the Bob’s Red Mill variety

2 cups water

2 small pitted dates, chopped into small pieces

2 organic, sulpur-free, dried apricots, chopped into small pieces

1/2 tsp allspice

pinch of salt

1 cup sliced strawberries – try to use organic;  I used from frozen and let them thaw

10 raw almonds, finely chopped

  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Add oats, pinch of salt, allspice, chopped dates, and chopped apricots.
  • Reduce heat and let simmer 7-9 minutes until the oats are close to your desired consistency.  Let stand about 2 minutes.
  • Dish out the cooked oats into 2 bowls.
  • Sprinkle each bowl with half of the strawberries and half of the almond pieces.

Another delicious, satiating, nutritious, and beautiful-looking breakfast!

Source: https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/why-steel-cut-oatmeal/

While I sometimes experiment with various breakfast creations, I find that always end up coming back to basics – good ole’ oatmeal.

There are many things I love about oatmeal:

  • It’s easy.  Easy is important when it comes to breakfast… actually it’s important when it comes to meal preparation period.
  • It’s hearty and warming.  It gets cold in Toronto in the winter, and our bodies crave foods that are warming in the cold months.  Oatmeal starts your day in a warm way.
  • It’s yummy.  There is so much you can do with oatmeal.  You can dress it with fruits, nuts, seeds, spices, or even go savoury and add veggies to your oatmeal.  Whatever you’re in the mood for, oatmeal can deliver it.
  • It’s satisfying, which means that you won’t be hunting for a snack after you’ve finished breakfast.  For most people, a good bowl of oatmeal holds them over until lunch.
  • It’s good for you!!! Wait, it’s easy, hearty and warming, yummy and good for you… well, that sounds too good to be true – but it is! Some of the health benefits are that oats can help with regulation of insulin, blood sugar, and cholesterol. Oatmeal is rich in several vitamins and minerals.

2

1 cup quick cooking steel cut oats – I used the Bob’s Red Mill variety

2 cups water2 dates, chopped into small pieces

2 organic, sulpur-free, dried apricots, chopped into small pieces

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of salt

1/2 cup bluerries

1 gala apple, diced

4 walnut halves, broken into pieces

  • Bring water to a boil.
  • Add oats, pinch of salt, cinnamon, chopped dates, and chopped apricots.
  • Reduce heat and let simmer 7-9 minutes until the oats are close to your desired consistency.  Let stand about 2 minutes.
  • Dish out the cooked oats into 2 bowls.
  • Sprinkle each bowl with half of the blueberries, half of the diced apples, and half of the walnut pieces.

Such an awesome breakfast for a cold winter morning.  I promise you feel satisfied and energized throughout the morning!

A few days ago I posted the recipe for Cashew Cream Fruit Pie.  It was a such a hit in my home and amongst my guests, I decided to create a variation of this pie for chocolate lovers.  This recipe is the result.  My husband and kids loved it!  Sweet, creamy, delicious, satisfying and nutritious.

Cashews contain zinc, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and copper – all important minerals for a multitude of bodily functions.  Plus, not only do cashews have a lower fat content than most other nuts, approximately 82% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids, plus about 66% of this unsaturated fatty acid content are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.

For those who are following the Freedom Weight Loss program the amount of cashews in one serving (about 1/16 of pie) is equal to your daily allowance of nuts/seeds… so unless you’re going to bypass nuts/seeds for the day, then you might want to skip this recipe, and try something with a lower calorie density like Chocolate Cherry Nice Cream Pie instead (it’s mostly fruit!). However if you are looking for a whole food, plant-based, unprocessed alternative to many of the sugary, oily, processed desserts then this is your dessert.

I’m very into blending flavours and this pie checked off some of my favourite flavour boxes:

  • The crust, a blend of walnuts, almond, dates, shredded coconut, and cinnamon provides the cozy feeling cinnamon imparts.
  • The cashew cream is comprised a vanilla layer (yum!) and a chocolate layer (double yum!) – definitely 2 of my favourite flavours.
  • And the date caramel is is sweet and sticky.

It’s advisable to let the pie defrost for about 10 minutes which makes it easier to cut.  But I also nibbled on some right out of the freezer and it was still really good.  I didn’t try letting it thaw beyond about 15 minutes, but my assumption is that the cream might get too soft and frozen fruit would get mushy.

I used a spring form pan, but you could also use a regular pie dish.  I like the spring form pan because it’s easy to work with, and the product looks beautiful.

CRUST

1 cup of pitted dates
1/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup shredded coconut
1/8 tsp Himalayan salt
1 tsp cinnamon

Place all ingredients in food processor fitted with an s-blade.  Blend well.  Mixture should look like a crumble.  Press crumble mixture into the bottom of springform pan.  I didn’t use any oil or parchment paper, the pie separated quite easily from the base of the pan.

FILLING

2 cups of cashews soaked for at least one hour; best to soak over night, which allows the cashews to soften
1 cup of pitted dates  soaked for at least one hour; best to soak over night, which allows the dates to soften
1/4 cup of date soaking water
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp of cocoa powder (or cacao powder) for the chocolate layer

Place all ingredients except cocoa powder in food processor fitted with an s-blade.  Blend well.  Scrape down the sides, and continue mixing.  You may need to scrape down the sides about 3-4 times to get an even texture. Mixture should be very creamy.  Pour half the filling over the crust, and smooth out with a rubber spatula. Place in freezer to begin setting.

Add cocoa powder to the remaining half of the cashew cream.  Blend well. Pour over the vanilla layer and smooth out. Place in freezer allowing the cream to set.

DATE CARAMEL TOPPING

1 cup of soaked dates
1/2 cup of reserved date soaking water.
1/8 tsp of Himalayan salt

Place all ingredients in blender or food processor and blend well.  It may require scraping down several times in order for dates to be broken down.  Pour over the chocolate layer and smooth out with a rubber spatula.  Cover and freeze.

Remove from freezer about 10-15 minutes before serving.

 

This recipe was inspired by a dessert that my new next door neighbour, Matti Blackman, brought over… and her recipe was inspired by a recipe from her friend’s website: holyhealthiness.com… so I don’t take complete credit for this!

Mine turned out really well and was a real rich and delicious treat.

For those who are following the Freedom Weight Loss program the amount of cashews in one serving (about 1/16 of pie) is equal to your daily allowance of nuts/seeds… so unless you’re going to bypass nuts/seeds for the day, then you might want to skip this recipe, and try something with a lower calorie density like Chocolate Cherry Nice Cream Pie instead (it’s mostly fruit!). However if you are looking for a whole food, plant-based, unprocessed alternative to many of the sugary, oily, processed desserts then this is your dessert.

I’m very into textures and this pie checked off some of my favourite texture boxes:

  • The crust, a blend of walnuts, dates, and shredded coconut, is kind of chewy.
  • The cashew cream… well… is creamy, kind of like a well frozen ice cream bar.
  • And the frozen fruit on top was a bit like biting into a popsicle – hard, but not too hard.

It’s advisable to let the pie defrost for about 10 minutes which makes it easier to cut.  But I also nibbled on some right out of the freezer and it was still really good.  I didn’t try letting it thaw beyond about 15 minutes, but my assumption is that the cream might get too soft and frozen fruit would get mushy.

I used a spring form pan, but my neighbour used a shallow glass dish and that was fine too.  I like the spring form pan because it’s easy to work with, and the product looks beautiful.

 

CRUST

1 cup of pitted dates
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 cup shredded coconut
1/8 tsp Himalayan salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Place all ingredients in food processor fitted with an s-blade.  Blend well.  Mixture should look like a crumble.  Press crumble mixture into the bottom of springform pan.  I didn’t use any oil or parchment paper, the pie separated quite easily from the base of the pan.

 

FILLING

2 cups of cashews soaked for at least one hour; best to soak over night, which allows the cashews to soften
1 cup of pitted dates  soaked for at least one hour; best to soak over night, which allows the dates to soften
1/4 cup of date soaking water
1/2 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in food processor fitted with an s-blade.  Blend well.  Scrape down the sides, and continue mixing.  You may need to scrape down the sides about 3-4 times to get an even texture. Mixture should be very creamy.  Pour the filling over the crust, and smooth out with a rubber spatula.

FRUIT TOPPING

Here is your carte-blanche – put whatever fruits you fancy.  If you have fresh fruit on hand, then use fresh fruit.  Keep in mind that some fruits will freeze really hard and may not be ideal, like melons, apples, pears.  Recommended fresh fruits are blueberries, pomegranate seeds, pineapple, mango, strawberries, and kiwi.

If you don’t have fresh fruit, or if you’re looking for a quicker result, then use frozen fruit as I did.  Try frozen blueberries, strawberries, mango, pineapple, cherries.

Assemble your choice of fruits in a decorative fashion by starting with the outer pie with one fruit variety, then working your way towards the middle, with each “circle” a different a fruit.  Or simply toss your frozen fruit and sprinkle them, but if you go this route, you’ll want to slightly nudge the fruit into the cream to ensure it sets in the cream.

Place completed pie in the freezer.  Remove 10-15 minutes before serving.

 

As a little girl, I would often sit with my Bubby on her sofa watching TV and eating chocolate. Sometimes she would have a box of Pot of Gold chocolates.  I liked almost all the flavours, but there is one that stands out – the chocolate with the creamy cherry filling.  Those 2 flavours combined – chocolate and cherry – take me back to my beloved Bubby’s sofa.  This new healthy take on chocolate and cherry take me back to my Bubby’s  sofa. Enjoy this creamy, sweet, and delicious dessert – completely unprocessed and good for you!

4 servings

4 frozen bananas, cut into slices

2 cups frozen cherries

2-4 tbsps cocoa powder or cacao powder (add more or less depending on how chocolately you like your ice-cream)

2  medjool dates, optional for added sweetness

date syrup or maple syrup, optional for drizzling

 

Place ingredients in bowl of food processor. Pulse several times, then scrape down sides.  Repeat pulsing and scraping until ice cream is smooth and creamy, resembling soft serve ice cream.

This can also be done in a high speed blender but you will need to add a small amount of non-dairy milk to get it moving.  You may need to stop several times to scrape down the sides.

This dessert is best when served right away as it has the mouth-feel of soft serve ice cream.  If you are not eating it right away, store in your freezer in an airtight container. Take out of freezer about 10 minutes before eating to let it soften.

Or pour into a springform pan, cover and freeze.  Slice into wedges, and drizzle with syrup, or pureed cherries.  You don’ need to let it soften with this method.  The “cake” is thin enough, that it slices quite easily right out of the freezer. Makes an elegant, healthy dessert that will satisfy your desire for sweet and creamy.

 

Sometimes the best salads are simply an amalgamation of a little bit of this and a little bit of that to create something new.

Here’s a great example.  I had some Moroccan carrots left over, as well as some cilantro beets, and mashed chickpeas.  I normally might not put these 3 things together, but when you assemble it in Buffet Bowl like this, almost anything goes.  I added some Romain, grape tomatoes, and chopped peppers… and voila, delicious, nutritious, beautiful meal.

Check out the variety of colours!  That variety of colours represents a vast array of nutrients.  Plants contain phytonutrients (plant nutrients) and every plant contains a unique cocktail of nutrients specific to that plant so by eating a variety of different vegetables and fruits, you are ensuring that your body is taking in a wide variety of nutrients, which means that your health will benefit!

I encourage you to eat a rainbow of colours, and try to change things up by adding variety.  More variety means a greater nutritional profile in your diet.

If you want to learn more about how the foods you eat can help build your health then be in touch.  I’d love to coach you and help you to become the healthiest version of yourself!

 

Don’t you love it when you make the EASIEST recipe that also happens to be healthy and delicious and your family LOVES it?

Well, this is one of those recipes!

This is apple season… and you can do so much with apples, like snacking on them alone or with almond butter, or making “Baked Apple Nice Cream”.

This weekend I made a big batch of baked apples, and my kids were diving across the table in excitement.

Only 4 simple ingredients!

And they took less than 10 minutes of preparation time!

I used a medium sized glass pyrex, about a 9″ x 13″.

INGREDIENTS

7-9 cored apples* – as many as your pyrex will fit
I used “Jonah Golds” and they were amazing – they held their shape, but were nice and soft. They had the perfect balance of sweet and tar.  They are similar to Golden Delicious.
Here is a list of good apples for baking.

Cinnamon

Maple Syrup

Water

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Place the cored apples in a glass pyrex dish.
  • Pierce each apple with a fork about 3 times
  • Fill each cavity about half way with maple syrup.
  • Generously sprinkle cinnamon over each apple.
  • Add about 1″ of water to the bottom of the pyrex.
  • Cover tightly with foil.
  • Bake for one hour.

Serve warm and enjoy this blissful apple goodness!

*The easiest most efficient way to core apples that I’ve found is to use a traditional carrot peeler.  I dig the end of the carrot peeler next to the stem of the apple, turn it so that I make a complete circle and then gentle pull it out with the core.  Sometimes you need to “scoop” it back in to remove any extra seeds.

Rosh Hashanah is around the corner, and it’s time to start thinking about preparing the various simanim – the special foods we eat at our Rosh Hashanah meals.

Growing up, my family’s custom was to simply boil the vegetable simanim – so we’d have a big platter of boiled leaks, carrots, and squash.  I actually love boiled vegetables, but not everyone in family does, so each year I try to be creative about how I prepare the simanim.

Like many of you, I have made various things with squash like butternut squash soup, squash kugel, squash loaf, and squash muffins.

This year I decided to make squash bites, which are inspired by the amazing popular and delicious Roasted Diced Sweet Potato Croutons.

This is by far less time consuming and easier than any of the other squash recipes listed above.

I will use them to serve as the simanim, and if there are any left overs I will use them to garnish a salad. I don’t expect there will be any left overs as these are really good.  Fresh out of the oven they are crispy, while leftovers are chewy – both ways are great.

I used buttercup squash, which I believe is also called kabocha squash, but I predict these can be made with any kind of squash.

Here are the ingredients:

1 buttercup squash
Splash of dairy free milk – I used almond
Pinch of salt

  • Clean the squash and cut in half down the centre.
  • Scrape out the seeds from the inside.
  • Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake at 400 for about 25-30 minutes so that the squash is soft enough to cut easily.
  • Let it cool down, then cut away the peel, and dice the squash into 1/2″ pieces.
  • Toss with almond milk and salt, then return to baking sheet, placing the cubes in a single layering.
  • Bake for another 45-55 minutes, until they look crispy.
  • Serve immediately for a crunchy texture, or store in an airtight container for a chewier texture.
  • Great served alone as a side dish, or as topping for soup or salad.

1 medium sized squash yielded about 4 cups of squash bites.

Sometimes you just want a cookie… but you don’t want the added sugar, salt and fat that most cookie recipes and packaged cookies contain – even the “healthy” ones. Those 3 ingredients – sugar, salt, and fat – make foods hyper-palatable, which means that you can’t stop eating them! You know what I mean, right? Like the bag of cookies in your pantry. You were just going to have one, but oh, it was so good. Will another one really make such a big difference? And then, before you know it, the bag of cookies is gone! Yikes! Well this recipe will satisfy your cookie craving, without those irresistible ingredients messing with your brain!

These can either serve as healthy, whole food, naturally sweetened “treat” or breakfast alternative.  And they are super-easy to make, lunch-box friendly, and good for you!

Yields 12 large “cookies”

6 ripe bananas

3 1/2 cups whole rolled oats

1/2 cup finely chopped dates

2 tbsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

1/2 cup hemp hearts

1 cup apple sauce

  • Pre-heat oven to 350.
  • Mash bananas really well.
  • Mix with the rest of ingredients so that all dry ingredients are well-coated with the banana mash and apple sauce.
  • Using your hands shape cookies into thin “hockey pucks” (they are roughly the size and shape of hockey pucks, but thinner… can you tell I’m a hockey mom? ;))
  • Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet
  • Bake for 20 minutes, then gently flip over and bake for another 20 minutes or until cookies feel firm and slightly crispy.
  • 2 cookies is includes roughly half a cup of oatmeal, and 1 banana

Delicious, hearty salads are one of the keys to building health and losing weight.

Having a variety of salad dressings available really helps to make your salads into mouth-watering, delicious meals.

This one features cilantro as the flavour base, and it’s a great creamy dressing to add to a coleslaw or a kale-based salad.

1/2 cup lemon juice – this about the 2 1/2 lemons worth of juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup tahini
2 cloves garlic
3 Medjool dates
1/2 cup cilantro

This dressing thickens up when refrigerated so you may need to add some water before serving.  (Just a little water to the jar/bottle and shake it up!)

Alternatively, you can use this dressing as a dip for veggies… but just be mindful as it does contain tahini – highly nutritious, great source of calcium, but calorie dense – so if you’re trying to lose weight, then don’t overdo the tahini!

Black beans are AWESOME in SO many ways…

You can open a can and throw some over a salad.

You can cut open a baked potato, and add some black beans and salsa for a satisfying meal.

How about black bean brownies?

Or black bean and corn salsa?

Refried black beans in a corn burrito

Or how about as the base of a stew, like this super easy recipe for smokey crockpot black beans.

Why do I love this recipe?

It’s very easy.

It has very few easy ingredients that you probably already have at home.

It’s very nutritious – beans are high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, protein.

It tastes delicious.  Leftovers are even better.

It’s versatile – you can eat it like a soup, or you can server over your favourite whole grain, or you can use leftovers as the base of a black bean burger.

Oh, and did I mention that black beans and all legumes are cheap??? This recipe which serves 8 is about $2 worth of beans!

Here’s the recipe:

Serves 8-12

3 cups dried black beans, soaked in water overnight
2 large onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced/pressed
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
water to cover black beans
hot sauce of choice to add when serving (optional)

Water sauté onions and garlic until cooked well; they will appear and taste caramelized.
Place cooked onions and garlic in crockpot.

Drain and rinse black beans, then add to crockpot.
Add salt, smoked paprika, and water.

Set crockpot to 6 hours on high.

Serve over brown rice.

“We are going back to basics” I often tell my clients.  A whole food predominantly plant-based diet does not have to be complicated or time-consuming.  When you focus on whole foods as they are found in nature, you don’t need to do too much to them, as they are naturally delicious!

This recipe for green beans and peppers with garlic is the perfect example of “going back to basics”.  It’s delicious, colourful, and easy.

Not only that all the ingredients are highly nutritious:
– Green beans offer a wide assortment of vitamins and minerals and like other legumes they have been repeatedly shown to reduce the chances of chronic diseases.
– Bell peppers are rich in several nutrients, including vitamin C which has many health protective benefits like boosting the immune system, lowering inflammation in the arteries that leads to heart disease, diabetes, and cholesterol build up, and scavenges harmful free radicals from the body.
– Onions and garlic have many healing properties, like lowering high blood pressure and reducing high cholesterol.

For those practicing food sequencing this makes a fantastic starter course.  And those who aren’t, this is a great side dish to a bean burger, or a stew.

3 cloves garlic
2 small onions, chopped
2 cups green beans
1 red bell pepper cut into thick strips
1 orange bell pepper cut into thick strips
salt to taste
water for sautéing

Water sauté onions and garlic 3 minutes.
Add green beans and sauté another 3 minutes.
Add bell peppers and sauté another 3 minutes.
Cooking is complete when green beans and peppers are al dente.

Add salt to taste.

 

My family loves soup any time of the year… and I love soup because generally it’s quite easy to put together, inexpensive to make, and delicious.  But the best part is that some of my kids are picky eaters, and while they may not eat zucchini and broccoli if they are on the table, they’ll eat them when they are part of a soup!  So… soup is a great way to increase your kids’ and your nutrient intake.

On another note, I have talked with my clients and group participants about “food sequencing” and the weight loss benefits.  Starting your meal with soup is a great way to sequence your meal and consumer fewer calories.

Today I had 2 massive zucchinis from my garden, so I decided to make a zucchini based soup.

Broccoli, an amazing cruciferous vegetable is wonderful to incorporate into soups.  It has some amazing health benefits: it contains anti-cancer compounds, it’s anti-inflammatory, it provides cardiovascular support, digestive support, it contains protein and omega 3, and the list goes on.  Basically, make to sure to include broccoli in your diet frequently!

4 small onions, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 bunch broccoli, coarsely chopped
2 extra large zucchini, coarsely chopped (4 medium zucchini)
2 small Yukon gold potatoes, coarsely chopped
leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme, discard stalk
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
water

Water sauté onions, garlic, and celery until translucent – about 5-6 minutes.

Add broccoli, zucchini, potatoes, thyme leaves and salt.
Note – the vegetables can be thrown in as chunk, since you will be pureeing soup.

Fill with enough water to just cover vegetables, and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes, until all the vegetables are tender.

Allow soup to cool.  Using immersion blender, puree soup until smooth and creamy.  Taste and add more salt if need, and add pepper if desired.

Serve into bowls and garnish with extra thyme sprigs, or other herbs.

 

 

I just picked up Chef AJ’s new book – “The Secrets to Ultimate Weight Loss”.

Chef AJ is a leader in the whole-food plant based approach to health and weight loss.

She talks a lot about the addictive qualities of processed foods.

From page 7 – a message to parents:

“If you are a parent reading this, please understand that once you start feeding your kids unhealthy, disease-promoting foods like animal products, especially dairy, and processed food (particularly sugar and refined grains), you are planting the seeds for predisposing them to a refined food addiction by rewiring their delicate brain chemistry in an unfavourable way and adulterating their palate so that they are disinclined to enjoy the taste of healthy, whole, natural food. Processed foods like these are engineered to be addictive; they hijack our taste buds and our brain chemistry. Getting your family to eat healthy foods after they have been habitually eating these highly addictive foods will be an uphill battle, so please heal yourself from these addictions and stabilize your own brain chemistry first.  The best strategy is not to feed your kids these poisons in the first place.”

Yes, we are fighting an uphill battle – processed food is literally everywhere:
– School –  I’m working on changing this at my childrens’ private school
– At our places of worship – there’s the candy man, and candy at every celebratory event
– Grandparents – This is one of their ways of showing love, and I appreciate that. But there are many whole foods that my kids love more than processed treats.  My kids think pistachios are a treat, or a big bag of jumbo cherries.  If given a choice, I think they would choose one of these over a cookie covered in icing.
– Friends – I have the best friends!  I love them!  And I fully know they are doing the best with the knowledge they have.  Like grandparents, they want to show their kids and my kids a good time, and so they have junk food to do this.  I totally get this… but let’s work on finding whole foods that kids love and will build their health.

Still, my children get a clear message at home: we want to choose yummy, delicious whole foods that will make us feel good, help us be focused in school, allow us to sleep well, and promote our health and well-being.

I read The China Study a few years ago.

It was one of the books that sparked my interest in nutrition and a whole food plant based diet.

The China Study sources more than 800 references proving that eating right can save your life = less cancer, less heart disease, fewer strokes, less obesity, less diabetes, less autoimmune disease, less osteoporosis, less Alzheimer’s, fewer kidney stones, and less blindness.

I just started re-reading this book, and I came across this:

“Contrary to popular belief, cancer is not a natural event. Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle can prevent a sizeable number of cancers in the United States. Old age can and should be graceful and peaceful”.

I always thought that we are SUPPOSED to get sick as we age. That this is the normal course of life… but Dr. Campbells’ clearly dispel this myth!

For more on diet and aging read The Blue Zones by Dan Buettner and Healthy at 100 by John Robbins.

Nutrition and lifestyle practices are the keys to aging gracefully.

How do you want to age?

You can book a free 15-minute consultation to learn more about how I can help you.

Raphael and I went down to Florida for a couple of days to celebrate my good friend’s son’s wedding.  It was the first time since we’ve had kids (so more than 14 years) that we’ve had a get-away.  It was amazing – I hope to write about it another time.  Today I wanted to share with you a little lesson that I learned from Anniko – Raphael’s 93-year old great aunt.  We went to visit Anniko in Boca Raton and spent a couple of hours chatting with Anniko.

Anniko lives in a beautiful gated community on a golf course in a two-storey condo building.  Those who live on the second storey must go up and down the stairs every time they leave their condo.  There are no elevators – after all it’s just a two-storey building.

In my wonderful conversation with Anniko I asked her how she transported her groceries up to her condo.  I was thinking, she’s 93.  It must be difficult shlepping stuff up those stairs. She looked at me incredulously. “How do you think I get my groceries up those stairs?  I carry them myself!”, she responded.  “Well isn’t that hard for you?”, I asked.

And here’s what she told me:
She could have moved to a main floor apartment many times, but she chose to stay here.  She believes it’s because she lives on the second floor that she can easily go up and down the stairs several times per day.  If she had moved to a first floor apartment, she is sure that she could not do stairs so easily any more.

She understood that by having the regular movement of going up and down the stairs several times a day she was enabling herself continue to be mobile and agile.  Wow! I loved hearing this from Anniko – that basically by moving her body, she was prolonging her youthfulness!

When you and I are faced with movement choices, what do we choose?

Do you drive to the local market to pick up a few quick groceries, or do you walk there?

Do you circle around the parking lot until you find the closest parking spot or do you park farther away, allowing a little more movement into your day?

Do you drive to the library, or do you ride your bike?

I learned from Anniko that having regular movement in my day is one of the keys to aging gracefully. Thank you Anniko!

 

We had half-heartedly planted a vegetable garden in the past, but it didn’t yeild very much.  I think it may have been the wrong spot in my backyard, or maybe the soil wasn’t rich enough, or maybe I just didn’t show it the same kind of love as I’m showing our new vegetable garden.  It was kind of disappointing, and for several years we didn’t plant any vegetables in our garden.

My husband has since built me a proper vegetable garden, and on the other side of the backyard, and so far it is it totally thriving – I’m sure largely due to the love and attention my seven-year old daughter gives it. The two of us went together on Mother’s Day (just over 2 months) ago to a local nursery and we purchased potted plants of zucchini, yellow squash, 2 varieties of tomatoes, 3 varieties of peppers, green beans, strawberries, and basil.  So far, 2 months later we have already enjoyed some cherry tomatoes, jalepeno peppers, gypsy peppers, basil, zucchini and yellow squash.

It has been a incredible joy watching these vegetables appear from practically nothing!  And then eating vegetables straight from the garden is a totally different experience than eating vegetables picked from a big bin at No Frills.  With the garden vegetables, you get a much clearer picture that Someone else is running the world as you witness the miracle of the vegetables appearing from nowhere, and turning into something nourishing and sustaining.

And for my 7-year old – she gets to see the fruit of her labour partnered with the help of Someone else making it all happen behind the scenes.

These zucchinis and yellow squash were picked yesterday and then eaten for dinner. They were simply steamed with some fresh cilantro, and a sprinkling of Himalayan salt.  So simple and so delicious.

 

Cold, sweet, creamy, inexpensive, delicious frozen treat!

Yields 3-4 cups of nicecream

3 frozen bananas

2 cups frozen mango chunks, thawed for 5-7 minutes to make blending easier

Using s-blade in food processor blend frozen bananas and mangos. You will need to stop the food processor about 4-5 times to scrape down the sides.  Continue blending until smooth and creamy with the consistency of soft serve ice cream.

The best way to eat this is right away because you get that soft-serve mouth-feel – you know what I’m talking about 🙂 The next best way is to store in an airtight container in the freezer.  Remove from the freezer 10-15 minutes before serving so that it’s scoopable.  (Right out of the freezer it’s too hard to scoop).

Enjoy!

Amazing, crispy, delicious roast potatoes without oil!  You gotta try these!

12 small yellow flesh potatoes, organic if possible, cut into 1” chunks, with skin

Cloves from one head of garlic, peeled

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

salt and pepper to taste

splash of plant milk

  • Boil water in a pot. Place steamer basket in pot with potatoes and garlic.  Lower heat to medium-low, so that water is simmering. Steam potatoes until just cooked, this will take about 15 minutes.
  • Alternatively this can be done with an Instant Pot using the steamer basket, set on manual mode for 10 minutes.
  • Once potatoes are cooked toss with plant milk, and spices and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  • Set oven broil. Broil for 5 minutes, then toss potatoes around and broil for another 5 minutes until they are crispy and browned.

 

I love the versatility of chia seed pudding.  Like me, it wears many hats! It can be a wonderfully satisfying breakfast, an afternoon snack to get me through until dinner, or a refreshing dessert. Now that we are launching into peach season, I just love mixing my chia seed pudding with fresh peaches.

Chia seeds are a great source of Omega 3 fats, and they also pack in a lot of fibre, making them ideal to include as part of a whole food plant based weight loss approach to eating.

Makes 3 breakfast servings or 6 dessert servings

1/2 cup chia seeds

2 cups almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 large Medjool dates, chopped into tiny pieces

2 organic dried apricots, chopped into tiny pieces

3 peaches diced – 1 peach per serving

 

  1. Stir together all ingredients, except peaches, in a bowl until well combined.
  2. Store the pudding in an airtight glass container (with a lid) in a refrigerator overnight.
  3. When ready to serve, stir pudding well and spoon into a bowl. Top each serving with one diced peach

I served this salad to my husband today, and asked him to name it for me. Without batting an eyelash he said “this is Kung Fu salad”. He said that it’s an Asian flavour explosion! So now I share with you Kung Fu Salad.

Serves 2 as a meal

1.5 cups cooked beans of choice – I used a mixture of chickpeas and adzuki beans
1 cup of sweet potato croutons
1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
6 cups blend of baby spinach and arugala
1/2 vidalia onion thinly sliced (if you like onion! If not, then omit)
1 cup alfalfa sprouts (optional), adds a nice light crunch!

Bean Marinade:
1 tbsp lime zest
1 clove garlic crushed
1 tbsp grated ginger or ginger puree/paste
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro
2 tbsp tamari sauce
1 tbsp rice vinegar

– Mix together bean marinade ingredients. Toss beans with marinade and let sit for one hour, or overnight.
– Assemble the remaining salad ingredients in a large salad bowl.
– Add marinated beans along with any marinade remaining in the bowl, and toss together.
– Divide into salad bowls, and enjoy.

G_d bless my Mom.  She is the BEST Mom and such a loving, giving Bubby.

Like many people, one of her ways of showing love is through food.

But not just any food.

Generally speaking it has to be something with loads of sugar and fat.  She wants her loved ones to really enjoy it!

Think ice cream.  Think Oreo cookies.  Think Cracker Jacks. Think chocolate bars. Think donuts.

Yesterday she brought this treat over – “Caramel Apple Danishes” from the Sobeys bakery.  She knows my eldest son loves apple crumble, baked apples, etc. so she thought this would be a treat for him.

What she didn’t realize that every time she brings those kinds of foods into my house, that it’s a temptation for me.

I grew up on those sweet pastries, and I love them.

Yet, I do not bring those foods into my house for 2 main reasons:

(1) I don’t want anyone eating them.  They are NOT healthy by any stretch of the imagination.  Just because there a few pieces of apple does not make up for all the health-deteriorating stuff in there – the loads of sugar, refined white flour, pr0cessed oil, and salt.

(2) I don’t want to be tempted to eat them.  On an intellectual level, I know that I don’t want to put that into my body, but my emotions are a whole other thing.  If I’m feeling agitated, tired, frusterated, etc. I may end up eating one, and I definitely don’t want to eat one! And then there’s the whole internal dialogue that can become exhausting – “no, you don’t want to eat… oh, but it’s just one danish”.  I have enough decisions to make in my day that I don’t need to be bogged with yet another decision! This is why I always tell my clients that the best way to be successful when making dietary changes is to make sure you’re environment is set up for success.  Part of that is not having foods available that will derail you.

So this morning when those danishes were staring me down, I decided that I would show them who’s boss – ME!

I snapped a photo of them, then chucked them in the garbage where they belong!

Then, I made myself a way better version of caramel and apples – this Caramel Apple Oatmeal.  This is full of only good stuff – organic oats, an organic apple, some cinnnamon, chopped walnuts, and for the caramel a drizzle of organic date syrup.  Delicious and full of so many nutrients that will fuel my body, keep me satiated, and help balance my blood sugar through the morning.

Here’s the recipe:

1/2 cup quick cook oats*
1 cup water
1 small royal gala apple
4 walnut halves, broken into small pieces
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp date syrup for drizzling – optional (I actually found this too sweet); I use the Lior brand – it’s organic and no sugar added

Add oatmeal and water to a microwave safe bowl and cook for 2 minutes.

Once cooked add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix it up, and enjoy.

*Please note, cooked whole rolled oats or steel cut oats are more nutritious than using instant oats, so if you have the time, I encourage you to use those.  Today, I just didn’t have the time.  It is one of those busy summer mornings with loads of work to do and I’m running my son’s round robin camp this afternoon!  I’d much rather cut corners here by having instant oats, than indulging in those danishes that are loaded with sugar, refined flour, and oil.

 

We live in very close proximity to Chabad Gate plaza where there is a Circle K. It was Macs until recently. Circle K is the go-to after school/camp destination for many kids and families because it’s the closest place where you can buy a cold, slushy, delicious soft-drink slurpee. What would summers be without slurpees? Yes, they are a welcome reprieve from the summer heat, but we need to think a little more about our slurpee habit.

I’m deeply concerned with the prevalence which many of our children are consuming slurpees. For many it’s almost a daily expectation – “the camp day is done, therefore it’s time for a slurpee”.

Slurpees are frozen soft drinks. SUGARY DRINKS INCREASE THE RISK OF TYPE 2 DIABETES, HEART DISEASE, AND OTHER CHRONIC CONDITIONS. Did you read that??? There are studies upon studies that all point to the fact that regular consumption of sugary drinks increase ones chances of developing serious diseases.

I’m not trying to be a kill-joy, but taking our kids for slurpees is not the same thing as taking them to the park. Both are fun outings, but one is dangerous to their health and one is promoting their health (promotes physical activity, creative play, etc.)

I’m not saying that my kids never get slurpees. I personally refuse to take them, but sometimes they go with friends, or my older kids may go on their own. I do my best to educate them about the health dangers, and I entice them with delicious home-made smoothies, which they often tell me are “way better” than those sugary frozen beverages.

And I’m not judging anyone – G_d forbid. I just want to share with you what I have learned so that you are empowered to make healthy decisions for your family. Making changes isn’t easy, but maybe this post will help you get started: “Instead of our regular X slurpees this week, we will go X times”. You fill in what’s realistic for you, keeping in mind that we should be somewhat uncomfortable as we make little changes.

Tell me what you think.

My kids were out for dinner last night, and I was looking for an easy dinner to throw together for Raphael and I.  I love “Buddha” bowls that are brimming with all sorts tastes, textures.  Here is what we had last night. It was SO good, and SO fun to eat together at our in-house date night. It took about 10-15 minutes to assemble.

Serves 2

2 cups cooked quinoa
1 cup thawed, shelled edamame
1 sliced royal gala apple
1 small red pepper
1 small yellow pepper
1/2 sliced English cucumber
2 cups baby spinach, already washed and checked
2-3 green onions, diced
1 shredded carrot

Dressing
2 small avocados
juice from 1 lemon
zest from 1 lemon
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup water
salt to taste

Black sesame seeds to garnish

Place all of the ingredients from the first list side by side in a big open bowl.  It should appear as if there are little piles of each ingredient next to each other.

Place dressing ingredients in high speed blender and blend until smooth and creamy.  Add salt to taste, and more water if needed to achieve desired consistency.

Pour dressing over assembled Buddha bowl.  Sprinkle with black sesame seeds.  Dig in and enjoy!

 

In my previous life I lived in downtown Toronto and explored foods from a variety of cultures.  I tried Ethiopian food.  I frequented the Italian restaurants on College Street.  Juice for Life on Bloor was my real introduction to delicious, nutritious and beautiful vegan food.  And then when I met Raphael I got into sushi big time.  Raphael also introduced me to Nataraj, his favourite Indian restaurant.  I was instantly hooked by the deep aromatic Indian flavours, beautifully intense yellows and reds, and the intoxicating fragrance of the slow cooked dishes.

For many years I have made Shaby Heltay’s Tandoori Chicken.

I call it my “shalom bayit” (peace in the home) chicken because it’s Raphael’s favourite.  Over the years it has been my kids’ favourite also.

When I went plant-based a few years ago, I recalled all those delicious vegetarian dishes I enjoyed at Nataraj (I was vegetarian for most of my 20s), and decided it was time to bring them into my kitchen.

Making delicious plant-based, oil-free Indian food is surprisingly easy and very cheap to make. Here was my dinner last night.

I started my meal with about 2 cups of steamed green beans – for Freedom Weight Loss participants, this is a great example of food sequencing.  I followed the green beans with a small-medium sized plate of brown basmati rice topped with red lentil daal, and curried cauliflower & potatoes.

Red Lentil Daal

Serves 4

1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp Himalayan salt
2 cups dried red lentils
2 1/2 cups water, plus more as needed

Water sauté onions for about 5 minutes on high heat.  Once they begin to brown, add garlic, and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes. Add spices and mix well.  Then add water and lentils and reduce to medium-low.  Simmer for 45 minutes until lentils are falling apart and creamy.  You may need to add a little water to achieve the desired consistency.  Serve over brown basmati rice.

Curried Cauliflower & Potatoes

Serves 4

1 onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1″ piece of ginger, grated
1 medium cauliflower, washed and checked, cut into small pieces
2 large organic cooked potatoes, cut into 1″ chunks
2 tbsp curry powder
1/2 cup water or date water* or more as needed
1/2 tsp salt

Water sauté onions for about 5 minutes on high heat.  Once they begin to brown, add garlic and ginger, and continue to sauté for about 3 minutes. Add curry and mix well. Add water, cauliflower, and potato chunks and mix well.  Reduce heat to medium low and cover.  Mix every 4-5 minutes until cauliflower is cooked.  This should take about 15 minutes.  Serve over brown basmati rice.

*This is reserved water from soaking dates.  Many Freedom recipes call for soaked dates.  This is the reserved liquid from soaked dates.

 

Oatmeal is the go-to breakfast I suggest to many of my clients. Oats are an excellent source of manganese and molybdenum. They are also a very good source of phosphorus as well as a good source of copper, biotin, vitamin B1, magnesium, dietary fibre, chromium, zinc and protein.

And you can add a variety of fruits, nuts, seeds, and even vegetables to boost the nutrient content, flavour profile, and satiety.

Today I made this delicious oatmeal after my morning walk.  It’s my morning fuel.

Serves 1

1/2 cup organic quick cooking oatmeal*
1 cup water
4 walnuts halves chopped
1 tbsp ground flax seeds
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 small kiwis, diced
1 small peach, diced

Add oatmeal and water to a microwave safe bowl and cook for 2 minutes.

Once cooked add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix it up, and enjoy.

*Please note, cooked whole rolled oats or steel cut oats are more nutritious than using instant oats, so if you have the time, I encourage you to use those.  Today, I just didn’t have the time.  It is one of those busy Fridays.  I’d much rather cut corners here by having instant oats, than stopping at the bakery down the street and picking up a danish or a muffin loaded with sugar, refined flour, and oil.

This dish has entered my weekly rotation.  It is super quick and easy, and very flexible.  While I can’t take credit for the recipe, I can take credit for making it different every time I make it.  I try different herbs and spices, and different blends of veggies.

While it may look like a typical dinner meal, I have enjoyed this for breakfast or lunch as well. I can be served hot, cold or at room temperature.  And is easily packable in a lunchbox container.

Serves 4

1 cup               quinoa, rinsed

1 1/2 cups       cooked chickpeas

1 1/2 cups       vegetable broth or mix 1 1/2 tsp of homemade instant soup powder with water – recipe for soup powder is below

3 cups             mixed veggies, like zucchini, red bell pepper, carrots, green bean – can be fresh or frozen

2 tsp                basil

1 tsp                oregano

1/4 tsp            salt

1/8 tsp           black pepper

 

  • Preheat oven to 400 F.
  • Mix all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl, then pour into the prepared casserole dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed. Mix well and serve.
  • Leftovers are great over a leafy green salad the next day.

Use this recipe for a ton of easy quinoa dinners. Instead of Italian spices, try Mexican spices like cumin and chili powder.  Or make it Indian by using garam masala and coriander.

Adapted from recipe by Kathy Hester, The Easy Vegan Cookbook

 

HOMEMADE INSTANT SOUP POWDER

Adapted from sherigraham.com

  • 1 1/3 cups nutritional yeast flakes
  • 3 Tablespoons onion powder
  • 7 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons garlic granules or powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  1. Blend all the ingredients in a small food processor until powdery and mixed well. Store in a dry, airtight container. Or just shake up in jar – soup mix will be coarser this way. I use a pint jar with a lid and it works perfectly!
  2. Use 1 level teaspoon per cup of boiling water.
  3. Yield: 1 1/2 cups of bouillon powder

Don’t you just love breakfast recipes that could also double as dessert recipes? Well, this is one of those! It’s a simple, creamy, chia seed pudding that can simply be enjoyed as a quick, easy and delicious breakfast, or you can serve it up as a cold, refreshing dessert after an elegant meal.  You decide!

I like this as a breakfast option because I can mix up the ingredients at night, and then it’s ready to eat in the morning with no fuss and no mess.

I love chia seeds because they are rich in healthy omega 3 fats, and have lots of fibre.  Good quality, whole food forms of fibre have tons of health benefits, including prevention of several types of cancer, particularly colon cancer. This chia seed pudding is delicious, and health-protective!

 

Serves 2, generous portions

 

1/2 cup chia seeds

2 cups vanilla almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 large medjool dates, chopped into tiny pieces

1 cup berries (can use frozen blueberries)

Dash of cinnamon

 

  1. Stir together all ingredients, except berries, in a bowl until well combined.
  2. Store the pudding in an airtight glass container (with a lid) in a refrigerator overnight.
  3. When ready to serve, stir pudding well and spoon into a bowl. Top with berries and enjoy.

This recipe is adapted from “The 22 Revolution Cookbook”, by Marco Borges

 

These are more like bars in the shape of muffins.

These make a wonderful breakfast on the go or an easy and satisfying pick-me up snack in the afternoon. You can make these nut-free by omitting the walnuts and adding sunflower seeds instead.

Yields 12 “Muffins”

5 cups            rolled oats

2 1/2 cups     over-ripe mashed banana measured after mashing

1 tsp               Himalayan salt

5                     Medjool dates, chopped into small pieces

1/4 cup          cacao nibs

1/4 cup          gogi berries

1/4 cup          chia seeds

1/4 cup          hemp seeds

1/4 cup          chopped walnuts

2 1/3 cups     water

3/4 cup          apple sauce

2 1/2 tsp        pure vanilla extract

1 tsp               cinnamon

Optional add-ins:shredded coconut, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, ground flax or wheat germ, chopped apples, blueberries, raisins or other dried fruit, etc.

  • Preheat oven to 375 F, and line 12 cupcake tins.
  • Mix all ingredients together well.
  • Using your hands make tennis ball sized balls and place into muffin compartments.  Each will bulging out from the top.
  •  I also like to then broil for 1-2 minutes, but it’s optional. If you let them cool overnight, they’ll no longer stick to the tins, or line them with muffin liners.
  • These oatmeal “muffins” can be eaten right away, or they can be frozen and reheated for an instant breakfast or snack on a busy day. I like them best popped in the toaster oven as the outside becomes crispy.

This may be the easiest and most delicious dinner so far.  If you have a baked potato already cooked you can throw this together in less than 2 minutes.

1 large baked potato, already baked

1/2 cup cooked kidney beans

1/2 cup salsa, I like the Que Pasa brand (no sugar, no oil added)

cilantro leaves for garnish

sprinkling of nutritional yeast

dash of hot sauce, optional

2 tablespoons of guacamole, optional

Slice your potato in half, and then pile on the kindey beans, and salsa.  Heat up in oven for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with nutritional yeast and garnish with cilantro leaves.  Top with guacamole and hot sauce.

This recipe was inspired by a recipe by Mary McDougall.

 

This is probably my favourite dessert recipe.

These date nut truffles just as good, if not better than chocolate truffles, and they are made with whole food plant based ingredients.

I still caution those who are a weight-loss journey that these are calorie dense, and so they are a treat for special occasions. Sticking with 1 or 2 make them a treat that won’t derail any weight-loss efforts. And since these are quite rich, you will find that you are satisfied with having just 1 or 2.

These make for a beautiful dessert presentation. I promise that your guests will be impressed.

This batch you see here in the photo were made together with my Freedom Weight-loss Monday night group of beautiful ladies. We rolled them in flaked coconut, cocoa powder, and chia seeds.

This batch yields about 4 dozen mini truffle balls.
If that’s too much for you, you can half the recipe.

3 cups Baking dates, plus water for soaking
¼ cup cocoa powder
¾ cup ground nuts – hazelnuts, almonds, or walnuts
½ cup nuts
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
½ tsp sea salt

For rolling:
Ground nuts
Ground pumpkin seeds or pistachio – to give green colour
Shredded coconut
Cocoa powder
Chia seeds
Sesame seeds

Soak dates in hot water for at least half an hour or overnight.

Drain dates well*. If you don’t drain them well, your date nut mixture may be too loose for rolling. If you have this problem, you can either add some more nuts and/or put in the fridge for about an hour to firm up.

Place drained dates and other ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, and blend until it is a thick smooth paste.

Form 1” balls and roll in: ground nuts, ground pumpkin seeds or pistachios, shredded coconut, cocoa powder, chia seeds, sesame seeds

Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze.

Once frozen you can remove them and store them in an airtight container in the freezer.

They are best served when frozen or slightly thawed.

* I like to save the water the dates soaked it and then use for other recipes. It can be used instead of water or broth for water-sauteeing, or used instead of a water in a smoothie.

About 7 years ago I was visiting my brother-in-law and sister-in-law in the Old City of Jerusalem.
My sister-in-law is great cook and is very health conscious. She served a salad with a salad dressing that they named “Benihana”. It was an Asian flavoured dressing with soya sauce, ginger, garlic, and teriyaki. It was unbelievably delicious! As soon as I returned home, I made a batch of this dressing, and have been making it ever since. There is always a batch in my fridge. I have used it as a marinade, stir-fry sauce, dipping sauce, and salad dressing.

There is only one problem with this dressing about half of it is oil. Over the last few years I have transitioned to a low-fat whole food plant based diet. I believe for most people this is the way to eat to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight, but also to feel amazing, and build optimal health.

So I personally have not enjoyed the “Benihana” dressing because the processed oil is not consistent with my way of eating. But I have missed it. When the last batch ran out before Passover I decided that I would not make it again for my family, but instead would try to “copy” it by making it low-fat and without processed oil.

What you have here is my new rendition of “Benihana” that I call “Samurai” dressing 🙂

I think it tastes just as good, and I’m so happy to be able to share it with you. I hope you enjoy it.

Let me know what you think.

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Medjool dates
1 small piece ginger, about 1″ x 1″
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp tahini

Place all of the ingredients in your blender and process until the dates, garlic, and ginger are blended.

This recipe was inspired by my dear friend and client, Jennifer Mualem. Jennifer is following a whole food plant based diet that is free of processed oils. Since fat is an essential macronutrient, Jennifer uses a small amount of 100% natural almond butter in her stir-fry to add some healthy fat.

I gave it a try and it was really good. And really easy.

Here’s what I used, but feel free to use the vegetables you have on hand.

1 bunch of asparagus, trimmed* and chopped into 1.5″ pieces
1 large onion, cut into chunks
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 carrot, diced
1 green pepper, slivered
1 red pepper, slivered
2 celery stalks, diced
1 tablespoon 100% almond butter
1 tablespoon tamari

Water sautee** onions and garlic until they are browned.

Then add remaining vegetables and stir-fry until they are just cooked, but not soft.

Add almond butter and tamari and stir-fry for another 2 minutes.

Serve over brown rice or quinoa.

* I removed the leafy tops and side spikes from the asparagus to get rid of any hidden insects.

** Here’s how to water sautee:
The trick is to use small amounts of water or broth, adding just a small amount (1 to 2 tablespoons) at a time. Do this as often as needed to cook and brown the food, without steaming it. Also, remember to toss and stir the food periodically with a wooden spoon so that it doesn’t burn.

Check out our group program: Freedom Weight Loss – next group starting June 3/4, 2018

“Salad is the main dish” is one of the many message from Dr. Joel Fuhrman that has stuck with me, and that I in turn share with my clients. At least one meal a day should be a very large salad to ensure adequate intake of leafy green vegetables – our secret weapon to building health, and achieving long term sustainable weight loss.

I often find making salads are a wonderful exercise in creativity for me – what foods go well together, how do I craft a nutritional punch by combining various foods, and what can I assemble that will be both visually and culinarily appealing.

This is the salad I came up with today. And it was delicious, and boasted a wonderful nutritional profile – healthy fat, antioxidants, fibre, vitamins, minerals, and protein.

2 Romaine hearts, cleaned, and cut into bite-sized pieces
6 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 cup sprouts – I used 1/4 cup of mung bean sprouts and 1/4 cup alfalfa sprouts
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 green pepper cut into thin strips
1 large beet, cooked and cut into strips
1 small avocado cubed
1/2 sliced red onion (optional – I love onions on almost everything)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Using a large shallow salad bowl, place the Romaine on the bottom. Place the mushrooms around the base of the greens so the mushrooms appear as a boarder to the salad. Next layer the peppers over the greens. Then stack the beet strips in the centre. Sprinkle sprouts around the beets. Finally distribute the avocado chunks all around. If using onions, distribute the onions around.

Add lemon juice just before serving.

Check out our group program: Freedom Weight Loss – next group starting June 3/4, 2018

Join us for Freedom Weight Loss, a 6 week program where you will lose weight, and gain health!

Some days a smoothie hits the spot for breakfast.

Maybe I’m in a hurry and don’t have the time to sit for breakfast.

Or maybe I’m at my computer working, and need something that’s easy that won’t make a mess.

Or maybe I’m just craving something smooth and creamy, like this Blueberry Ginger “Green” Smoothie. I put “Green” in quotes because the smoothie has plenty of baby spinach, but when mixed with blueberries, you can’t see the green in the smoothie.

The colour is a deep purple colour, thanks to the mixture of the gorgeous blue pigments from the blueberries, and the bright green pigments in the spinach. Those beautiful colours represent and array of phytonutrients – plant nutrients – that offer many health benefits including reducing inflammation and lowering blood pressure.

This is what I put in my smoothie today:
1 cup of organic, unsweetened almond milk
2 cups of baby, spinach, packed well
1/2″ chunk of fresh ginger
1 cup of organic frozen blueberries
1 frozen banana
3 tablespoons hemp protein powder – I used Manitoba Harvest

– Pour the almond milk into your high speed blender, followed by the spinach, followed by the other ingredients
– Set your blender to the “green smoothie” setting
– You may need to use the tamper at first to get everything blending nicely

Remember to chew your smoothie.

Yes, that’s right, I recommend chewing your smoothie.

Sounds strange because it’s a beverage, but chewing it is important.

Why?

It will stimulate production of saliva to start the digestion process in your mouth, which is where digestion is supposed to start.

And by chewing you, you won’t chug your smoothy to quickly. You will drink it slowly, and notice when your body starts feeling full, and you are feeling satisfied.

Join us for Freedom Weight Loss, a 6 week program where you will lose weight, and gain health!


Nutella could be my biggest weakness. Chocolate and hazelnuts together is a mouthwatering combination. I’m sure I don’t have to convince you, after all you clicked on this page. It’s been years since we’ve had Nutella in my house, but I haven’t forgotten how delicious it tastes. I can’t wait to share this healthy rendition of Nutella with my guests this weekend. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

1 cup of dates soaked overnight in 1 cup of water
1 cup hazelnuts
1/2 cup premium quality cocoa powder
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 300. Place hazelnuts on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Roast for 15 minutes.  Monitor carefully as you don’t want them to burn.  Skins start to flake off when they are ready.  Remove from oven and let cool.

Place all ingredients in food processor fitted with an s-blade. The soaking water from the dates should be included. Blend well until hazelnuts are broken down into crumb-size pieces.

This is an adaptation of my Grandmother Stella’s charoseth recipe. My grandmother would make these charoseth “truffles” back in Tangier, Morocco, and then she continued to make them when she moved to Toronto. When I started making my own seders about 15 years ago, I continued my grandmother’s tradition by making her charoseth recipe.

The charoseth paste is rolled into little cinnamon balls, which makes for an attractive presentation. At the seder a few of the balls are mashed with wine or grape juice to make it dip-able or spreadable, depending on your custom.

I like to make some extra charoseth balls to serve as dessert or enjoy as a snack over the holiday.

1 cup pitted dates, soaked for about an hour to soften slightly
1 apple, diced
3/4 cup ground walnuts
cinnamon for rolling

Place the dates, apple, and walnuts into your food processor and blend until it becomes a thick paste. You made to stop it several times to scrape down the sides.

Form golf ball sized balls and roll in cinnamon. Store in an airtight container until you are ready to serve.

A dessert made with healthy whole food ingredients.  Learn about our upcoming Freedom Weight Loss program where you will learn to make recipes that are not only good for you, but also taste great.

I adapted this recipe from ohsheglows.com.
Here is the original recipe.

I wanted a sugar-free, oil-free recipe so  I made some changes to the original recipe which included maple syrup and coconut oil.  Instead I used date spread/paste and I added one additional banana to add some sweetness. I also doubled the original recipe so that there would be enough for a big crowd.

Yields 24 macaroons

  • 3 small very ripe bananas, finely mashed
  • 1 cup date spread/paste
  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut, large flakes
  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, small flakessmall pinch of fine grain sea salt, to taste

Mash the bananas very well, or blend up in food processor so that they are very creamy.  Mix in date paste, and cocoa powder.  Once well blended, mix in coconut.

Place spoonfuls on a parchment lined cookie sheet, and freeze until firm.  Transfer to an airtight container and store in freezer until you're ready to serve.

A dessert made with healthy whole food ingredients.  Learn about our upcoming Freedom Weight Loss program where you will learn to make recipes that are not only good for you, but also taste great.

 

Kale is the superfood the decade. The bright green colour is just screaming "I have tons of amazing vitamins and minerals! Eat me!" I like to use baby kale because it has a milder taste, so for those who are new to eating kale, baby kale is a great way to start.

Serves 1 as a main dish, or 2 as a side dish

1 small box of baby kale or 1 small bunch of kale, cut into bit-sized pieces
1 medium avocado, diced into cubes
Juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes
1/2 cup roasted diced sweet potato croutons - see recipe above
salt and pepper to taste

- Place kale and avocado cubes into a bowl.
- Using your hands massage the kale and avocado so that the avocado cubes get mushed up. They will end up sticking to the kale leaves.
- Once the avocado is broken down and clinging to the kale leaves, add the rest of ingredients and toss very well.

This is a wonderful way to add sweetness without adding processed ingredients.  Find out why processed foods are sabotaging your weight loss efforts by joining our group weight loss program - Freedom Weight Loss.


This is one of those kitchen staples that is useful all year round. I like having some on hand when I want to add a little bit of sweetness to a recipe, but don't want to add refined sugar. It can be added to salad dressings, marinades, oatmeal, desserts, and smoothies. It also makes a great spread on whole grain mazta as an alternative to jam.

Yeilds: About 2 cups

1 cup baking dates (these tend to be the cheaper dates and are perfectly good to use here)
1 cup boiling water

- Place dates in a medium sized bowl.
- Pour boing water over dates so that all the dates are covered.
- Let the dates soak over night. This allows them to become really soft and really easy to puree.
- Pour the date-water mixture into your food processor fitted with an s-blade, or your high speed blender. I have a Breville "Boss" which is a high-speed blender in the same class as a Vitamix. I used my "Boss" to puree the dates.
- Store in an airtight in the container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

This is a wonderful way to add sweetness without adding processed ingredients.  Find out why processed foods are sabotaging your weight loss efforts by joining our group weight loss program - Freedom Weight Loss.

This recipe contains cashews - are nuts a good source of fat?  Join us for our group weight loss program, Freedom Weight Loss, beginning on April 15 to learn all about healthy fats and their role in weight loss.

Many creamy salad dressings use mayonnaise to make them creamy. Mayonnaise typically contains GMO oil, sugar, and food preservatives. And on Passover, generally mayonnaise contains cottonseed oil, which poses 2 concerns: (1) It is high in saturated fat. (2) Since cotton is not classified as a food crop farmers use many chemicals when growing it, so there is also concern that it may have high levels of pesticide residues.

This salad dressing gets it's creaminess from cashews, which are great source of healthy monounsaturated fat. Plus they are a good source of several minerals.

1/2 cup water
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 clove garlic
8 mint leaves
6 baking dates

- Put all the ingredients in high speed blender, and blend for about a minute, until smooth and creamy.
- The dressing will naturally thicken after blending.
- For an even creamier dressing, soak the cashews and dates over night in water. Discard the water, and blend per the instructions above.

This recipe contains cashews - are nuts a good source of fat?  Join us for our group weight loss program, Freedom Weight Loss, beginning on April 15 to learn all about healthy fats and their role in weight loss.

We share recipes like this one - great for weight loss, and delicious - at our group nutrition program Freedom Weight Loss.


Spiralized zucchini, also called zoodles have changed my life. One of my kids who doesn't normally like zucchini, snacks on sprialized zucchini plain! Spiralized zucchini lends itself to many recipes, and can often be used in place of regular noodles. This recipe is easy, pretty, tasty, and of course nutritious.

2 large zucchinis, spiralized
1 pint, grape tomatoes
1 ripe medium avocado, cut in halves
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 clove crushed garlic
2 tsps minced fresh basil - or use 2 frozen herb cubes
1 tsbps toasted pine nuts
salt and peper to taste
water, if need to thin avocado mixture

- Place avocado, lemon juice, garlic, and basil in a bowl. Mash avocado well, making sure to incorporate the other ingredients. If you want the avocado mixture a little thinner, add a small amount of water until you achieve the desired consistency.
- Toss avocado mixture with the spiralized zucchini.
- Add half the tomatoes and toss again.
- Garnish with the remaining tomatoes and toasted pine nuts.

We share recipes like this one - great for weight loss, and delicious - at our group nutrition program Freedom Weight Loss.

Join us at our group nutrition program Freedom Weight Loss to get more recipes like this one that will help you lose weight and feel great!

This soup is mild and creamy - perfect for picky little eaters! It's easy to make and freezes well. Make a double batch. Serve some now and freeze some for a quick meal later.

2 large parsnip, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 large zucchini, cut into large chunks
2 large Yukon gold potatos, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 medium onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
1/2 bunch cilantro
1 tbsp salt
Pepper to taste
Water
Optional Garnishing: Sweet Potato Croutons ) recipe above

- Place all the ingredients in a medium soup pot
- Cover with water so that there is about 2 inches of water above vegetables
- Bring to a boil, then let simmer for 1/2 hour
- Using an immersion blender, blend until creamy
- If using sweet potato croutons, sprinkle on just before serving

If you have an Instant Pot, you can place all the ingredients in Instant Pot and set to Manual for 12 minutes. Once Instant Pot has naturally released the pressure, use an immersion blender to blend until creamy.

Join us at our group nutrition program Freedom Weight Loss to get more recipes like this one that will help you lose weight and feel great!

I will be sharing recipes like this one, plus tons of tips on how to increase the nutrition value of your meals and lose weight at my group program Freedom Weight Loss. 

This has got to be my favourite salad topper! These yummy croutons are sweet, slightly chewy, and add a whopping nutritional punch to your salad. They also happen to be super easy to make.

Yields about 4 cups

4 large sweet potatoes, diced into 1/4” chunks
1/4 cup nut milk or non-dairy milk
1 tbsp tahini (omit on Pesach if you don't use kitniyot)
Salt and pepper to taste

- Preheat oven to 400 degrees
- Toss all ingredients very well in a large bowl so that vegetables are coated with non-dairy milk and tahini.
- Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Spread sweet potatoes in a SINGLE layer over the cookie sheets.
- Bake 1/2 hour, then switch position of cookie sheets, moving the one that was on the bottom to the top and the one that was on the top to the bottom.
- Bake for another 1/2 hour.
- Sweet potatoes should be roasted and have reduced in volume.
- Store in airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

I will be sharing recipes like this one, plus tons of tips on how to increase the nutrition value of your meals and lose weight at my group program Freedom Weight Loss. 

I will admit it. I love everything about Pesach. I love the cleaning. I love the planning. I love the preparation. I love the cooking.

Yes, it is a lot of work, but there is something so wonderfully satisfying about reaching the goal, about the process of getting there. That feeling of sitting (finally) at the beautiful seder table, and knowing that you did it. One by one you checked off all those tasks on your to-do list to get you there. It’s a sense of accomplishment, and a sense of pride.

Planning, shopping and preparing food for our festive meals is a big part of getting to that seder table.

Making food for Pesach doesn’t have to be difficult, nor does it have to compromise on taste, and it certainly doesn’t have to be unhealthy. In fact for some, Pesach is almost like a spring detox, where they have the custom of not using any processed foods. Everything is homemade. Well… that sounds a lot like the way of eating that I promote all year round!

In the next few posts you will find a few of my favourite recipes that I use throughout the year, that are also wonderful to make on Pesach.

Roasted Diced Sweet Potato Croutons

Zucchini Parsnip Soup – coming soon

Kale Avocado Lemon Salad – coming soon

Spiralized Zucchini Salad with Basil and Grape Tomatoes

Date Spread/Paste

This is one of those kitchen staples that is useful all year round. I like having some on hand when I want to a little bit of sweetness to a recipe, but don’t want to add refined sugar. It can be added to salad dressings, marinades, oatmeal, desserts, and smoothies. It also makes a great spread on whole grain mazta as an alternative to jam.

Yeilds: About 2 cups

1 cup baking dates (these tend to be the cheaper dates and are perfectly good to use here)
1 cup boiling water

– Place dates in a medium sized bowl.
– Pour boing water over dates so that all the dates are covered.
– Let the dates soak over night. This allows them to become really soft and really easy to puree.
– Pour the date-water mixture into your food processor fitted with an s-blade, or your high speed blender. I have a Breville “Boss” which is a high-speed blender in the same class as a Vitamix. I used my “Boss” to puree the dates.
– Store in an airtight in the container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Did I end up eating the peanut butter cup. No, I didn’t. But I was very close. Very close.

Why didn’t I eat it? I didn’t have permission, and if I did have permission, what message would I have given to my son – that it’s okay to talk the talk but not walk, the walk, that I can say one thing and do something else. On this day, I didn’t want to give him that message. I’m not perfect and there have been days when he has gotten an inconsistent message from me, but on this day I decided I didn’t want to give him that message.

But how did I overcome that desperate craving for chocolate? Did I get in my car drive over to Macs and buy my own Reese peanut butter cups? No, I didn’t. Very few of us are that desperate that we will get in the car and go buy our trigger food(s) of choice. However having that trigger food readily available to us in our home is a whole different story.

How I overcame this craving, was by drawing on my inventory of healthy, delicious treats. My most favourite one has got to be chocolate cherry nicecream. So I made myself a bowl chocolate cherry nicecream instead. It hit the spot. It fulfilled my desire for something chocolaty, sweet and creamy. And it avoided those hyper-palatable ingredients the Reese peanut butter cup has, namely added sugar, salt, and fat. Those hyper-palatable ingredients make it almost impossible to stop – that’s why you can’t have just one peanut butter cup even if that was your intention. Most of us will always eat the whole package. But my chocolate cherry nicecream isn’t hyper-palatable, so I ate it, enjoyed it, and I was done. My craving was satisfied by something that could help build my health, and is line with philosophy of focusing on whole, unprocessed foods.

While my environment wasn’t 100% perfect, I set myself for success because my environment had everything I needed to enjoy a healthy treat instead.

In an upcoming post, we’ll talk about strategies for setting up your environment for success.

On April 15, Freedom Wellness will be launching Freedom Weight Loss. Check out the details here.

 

I needed chocolate.

I generally don’t keep chocolate in my house because I know when I’m having one of those need chocolate moments I will eat the chocolate, and without question too much of it. I will lose control. I hate the feeling of losing control. I don’t want to eat the chocolate because I don’t want to lose control and that’s why I don’t keep it in my house. We can talk about real authentic dark chocolate another time, but I didn’t have any of that either.

I was desperate. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I went rummaging through my teenage son’s desk. He usually has some sort of chocolate bar in there. And there it was a Reese peanut butter cup – without a doubt my favourite. The combination of chocolate and peanut butter, in my opinion, is divine. Although, this was white chocolate – not as divine, but still very tempting. He bought it in Florida. I don’t think we have white chocolate peanut butter cups in Canada. Regardless, I’m sure it would still have done the trick for my chocolate craving.

But then I stopped. If I ate this without asking him, he would notice it was gone. It was the last one he had. Would that be considered stealing if I took him from his desk? What would I tell him when he noticed it was gone? I realized that I couldn’t just take it. He wasn’t home, so I couldn’t ask him if I could have it. He for sure would have given it to me, but it would have come with a bunch of questions and comments like, “I thought you don’t want to eat chocolate”, or “You always tell us that processed sugar, along with salt and poor quality fat (all cleverly placed in a Reese peanut butter cup) are not good for us, so why are you eating it?”, or “Are you going to tell your clients that you had this?”.

So you’re probably wondering if I ate the peanut butter cup, right?  I’m going to leave you hanging.  You’ll have to check out part 2 of this blog series.

My point in sharing this little story with you is to illustrate how critically important it is that our environment is set up for us to succeed. In anything we choose to do. You want to get dinner on the table when it’s dinner time, then you need to have the kitchen utensils and food to do that. You want to get a good night’s sleep, then you need to make sure your bedroom is dark, the temperature is right, etc. You want to cut sugar out of diet – whether it’s for your health or weight loss or both – then you want to keep sugary treats, like chocolate out of your house. You must, must, must, set up your environment so that you have the best chance for success.

Many of us have foods that trigger us to lose control. For me chocolate is at the top of my list. This is why I try not to have chocolate in my house. What are your trigger foods? Stay tuned through this series of blog posts and we will continue to talk about how to set up your environment for success by getting rid of your trigger foods and strategies for dealing with those trigger food cravings.

On April 15, Freedom Wellness will be launching Freedom Weight Loss. Check out the details here.

This dip is not only nutritious and delicious, but is a stunning purplish-reddish colour. It will make any veggie platter or salad stand out.

Beets are one of my favourite foods.  They often satisfy my desire for something sweet. They are bursting with nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, and several B vitamins. They naturally have a cleansing effect on the liver and aid digestion. They combat anemia, and build red blood cells.

2 cups            chickpeas, cooked or canned

1                      large beet, cooked

3                      cloves garlic

1/2 bunch     cilantro

Juice from 1/2 lemon

Pinch of salt to taste

 

Place all ingredients in the large bowl of food processor. Using s-blade, blend until smooth. Enjoy as a dip, or as a salad dressing.

CROCKPOT SPLIT PEA SOUP
Adapted from Norene Gilletz “Healthy Helpings”

With 5 kids it’s often hard to find something that everyone likes. Here is one of those recipes that I know all of us with enjoy. I find that offering my kids a hot soup when they get home from school is a great way to satisfy their after school hunger, and sustain them until dinner is ready, especially during the cold winter months.

12 servings
3 cups split peas, can be yellow or green or combination, remove any bad ones, rinse, and drain
12 cups water
2 bay leaves
¼ cup dried dill
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced or can use frozen cubes for ease
salt and pepper to taste

Put all of the ingredients in your crockpot in the morning, set on high for 6 hours and enjoy a hot, warming soup at the end of the day.

Freeze extras or use for lunch the next day.

“Don’t worry. I don’t eat carbs”, my new clients often say.

Thanks to popular low carb diets like Atkins and South Beach, carbohydrates have been vilified. A common belief is that carbs are the cause of weight gain.

I would like to say for the record – CARBS ARE NOT EVIL.

Spinach is a carb. Blueberries are carbs. An apple is a carb. Sweet potatoes are carbs. Beets are carbs. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. Carbohydrates are our main source of energy, and are one of the 4 macronutrients that our bodies need. The other 3 are protein, fat and water. Carbs are not evil; they are a critical part of a healthy diet.

Carbs can, however, turn evil when they are processed into refined foods. Take beets for example. They naturally have a cleansing effect on the liver and aid digestion. They combat anemia, and build red blood cells. They are bursting with nutrients like calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, manganese, vitamin C, and several B vitamins.

When sugar beets are processed into refined sugar the nutrients, fibre, and water are removed. What remains is a refined carbohydrate completely stripped of its nutritional value. Just 2 teaspoons of sugar changes the blood chemistry so that the body is no longer in homeostasis – the balanced state where it functions best.

Natural carbs are not evil; they are a critical part of a healthy diet. It’s processed carbs that are evil and should be weaned away from your pantry. Enjoy your carbs in their whole unprocessed form, live healthy, and lose weight.

This article is will be printed in the January 2018 edition of the Jewish Local in Toronto.

Candles burning, kids playing dreidle, family get-togethers, and of course, hot crispy latkes. There may be jelly donuts everywhere you turn, but the 5 tips below will help you eat healthy this Chanukah.

Make a healthier version of your favourite latkes
Yes, latkes, fried in oil are mouth-watering delicious, but have you tried oven baked latkes? They are also super delicious and you aren’t consuming copious amounts of oil. Not only that, there’s much less of a mess to clean up!

Enjoy healthy latke toppings
In my house growing up, we sprinkled sugar on our latkes. There are many reasons to stay away from processed sugar – it is full of empty calories with no nutrition, it’s pro-inflammatory, causes tooth decay, and promotes disease. Choose unsweetened apple sauce instead for something sweet, or go for a savoury topping like water sautéed caramelized onions.

Load up on veggies, and salads
Focus on the vegetable dishes, and salads at this year’s parties. Choose the fruit platter instead of jelly donuts for dessert. You will enjoy yourself more knowing that you nurtured your well-being.

It’s an eight-night holiday so pace yourself
Have a plan. If you know that you have 3 Chanukah parties, then plan accordingly, by pacing yourself. Try one latke at each party instead of one plate of latkes at each party. And if you overdo it, don’t beat yourself up. Tomorrow is new day with a brand new opportunity to get back on track.

Offer to make something
None of us plan to fail, but rather we often fail to plan. If we are invited out to a party and are doubtful there will be the kinds of foods we want to eat, then offer to make something. You will be helping your host by reducing her workload, and you are ensuring that you will have something you will be happy to eat and enjoy. It’s a win-win.

Recipes for oven-baked latkes and water sautéed caramelized onions can be found at my website, freedomwellness.ca.

This article was printed in the November 2017 edition of the Jewish Local in Toronto.

From the “Mommy, get up now!” alarm clock, to a hectic breakfast, to getting kids off to school, to arriving at work on time, mornings can be a mad rush which set the tone for stressful day.

Some “me” time first thing in the morning can set you up for a smoother day. Here are four ways to get your day started:

(1) Wake up 30 minutes earlier. This will mean going to bed 30 minutes earlier – we can talk about your bedtime routine another time. By doing this, you have just created 30 minutes just for yourself. Make this quality time. Do not look at your phone.

(2) Drink a glass of water (warm or room temperature) and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. This no-caffeine “wake-up” drink aids digestion, boosts immunity with vitamin C, cleans your system of toxins, and reduces hunger cravings.

(3) Start with gratitude. Recognizing the things you are grateful for will help you to start with a positive perspective. Say morning blessings with care. Today is a new day, an opportunity to be seized.

(4) Simplify your routine. Mornings are rushed. Do what you can the night before. Set out clothes for the next day, pack lunches, and set out the breakfast table. The common multi-tasking that most of us are accustomed to can create stress and anxiety before the day has even really started. By getting some of these things done the day before, your morning has a much better chance of running smoothly.

Each day is a precious gift. By making some small changes to your morning routine, you can help embrace this gift and get your day off to a great start!

This article is was printed in the November 2017 edition of the Jewish Local in Toronto.

How much water you drink can make a huge difference in how you feel, how you look, your energy levels, and drinking enough water can even help you achieve your weight loss goals.

The average person requires about 2-3 litres of water per day (about 8-12 cups).

There are many of benefits to being properly hydrated. Here are just a few:
• Maintains blood pressure level
• Sweeps away toxins (beneficial for weight loss)
• Reduces pain
• Improves digestion
• Increases energy
• Facilitates building and maintaining lean muscle, which speeds up metabolism

Often we get lazy or bored when it comes to making sure we’re drinking enough through the day. Here are some quick tips on how to make sure you stay hydrated all day:
– Carry a water bottle with you; make it easy and convenient to drink any time.
– Try drinking herbal teas. There are many yummy flavours to choose from, and they are great hot and cold.
– Sip on soups and broths. Broths are rich in minerals and add warmth as the colder weather approaches.
– Add some bubbles by making your own carbonated water with a home sparkling water machine like SodaStream.

It’s health-giving, refreshing, energizing, and readily available – enjoy a glass of water now!

This article was printed in the October 2017 edition of the Jewish Local in Toronto.

Carolyn Rostenne is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and owner of Freedom Wellness. Carolyn has successfully helped her clients lose weight, reduce blood sugar, blood pressure, migraines, GERD, acne, stress/anxiety, while improving sleep, energy, and wellbeing – all through diet and lifestyle changes. Contact Carolyn for a free 15-minute phone consult: carolyn@freedomwellness.ca, 416.271.3136, freedomwellness.ca

As my life has shifted over the last few years towards a healthier way of eating, I have found it relatively easy to replace my white flour with whole grain flours, my pasteurized honey with raw honey, and store bought goodies with home-made ones. There are many little changes I’ve made in my kitchen that I believe have positively benefitted my family and myself.

But there is one change that poses a challenge for me: should I be buying organically grown or conventionally grown produce?

Why wouldn’t I choose organic? After all it’s very clear that conventionally grown produce is exposed to pesticides, which can be absorbed in fruits and vegetables, and leave trace residues. Studies have linked pesticide consumption with various cancers and other diseases. Research also indicates that organically grown produce has a higher nutrient value with significantly more antioxidants and phytonutrients. Not only that, but organic produce is clearly better for the environment.

That’s a pretty powerful list of reasons why I should be buying organic, and that list only scratches the surface.

I have five kids, and I want to give them food that nourishes them, that enables them to learn well, that facilitates their healthy growth and development, but most of all I don’t want to take the chances of feeding them food that contains harmful pollutants, and yet, I still haven’t reached the point where I buy exclusively organic food.

Like others in my shoes, taking care of a large family is a costly endeavour. Just buying conventional groceries can put a huge dent in one’s wallet. Oftentimes organic produce is two or three times more than conventional produce.

What are people like me to do? We want to feed our families and ourselves with organic foods. We know it’s best.

Here are fresh produce suggestions for the “not-ready to go 100% organic” crowd:

  • Use the “Dirty Dozen” and “Clean Fifteen” lists when grocery shopping, by refraining from buying conventional items on the dirty dozen list, and buying conventional items from the clean fifteen.
  • Visit local farmers markets, and buy local produce as often as possible because it’s more likely that local farmers may be employing some organic practices, and it’s better for the environment.
  • Plant a vegetable garden where during the summer months organic vegetables can be grown.
  • Join a community shared agriculture group to get organic food prices at better prices.
  • Shop around and compare prices on organic food. Know who sells what for how much. For example there is a little shop called SunLong market in my neighbourhood where I often find select organic items at a comparable price to conventional items. I am also on email distribution lists for several of the local organic grocery stores, so I know what is on sale. This week I picked up Braeburn apples for $1.47/lb, red peppers for $1.97/lb and cauliflower for $1.97/each at Organic Garage – all amazing deals for organic, and I knew about those great prices from their e-flyer.
  • When buying conventional make sure to peel and/or clean the fruits and vegetables very well.

The government should be doing more to make it possible for the masses to eat organic food. Conventional crops are heavily subsidized by the government, which makes them artificially inexpensive (Source: eartheasy.com; organicfoodee.com). It’s time that organic crops are also subsidized, which would lower the cost, and make them more accessible.

I am optimistic that as the demand continues to increase, the time soon will come, when the prices of organic food will drop to a price point when we can all afford as much organic food as we want. When that happens I will be the first in line.

When I meet with clients, in addition to filling out a nutritional assessment form, I ask them to provide me with a food journal of their previous week. The food journal can be very useful as it tells me about their eating habits – what foods they typically eat, how they feel when they eat certain foods, when they eat, how much they eat, etc.

Shabbos dietary habits are particularly challenging for many. People struggle with how to approach eating on Shabbos. They are conflicted. It’s Shabbos – time to enjoy the beautiful foods Hashem provides. We sit at the table, often for hours, singing zmiros, speaking words of Torah, enjoying our family, and during it all, we graze on the foods on the table. Even if we’ve eaten enough, the food is still there, it’s delicious, it’s inviting, and we continue to eat. By the time Shabbos is over, we are elevated – both spiritually and on the scale. We may also feel bloated or feel down on ourselves for not exercising sufficient self-control.

We promise ourselves that next Shabbos will be different: “I will have only one helping, not three” or “I won’t overdo it with the kugel and cake”. There are many ways to tackle Shabbos eating, such as: what we eat, how much we eat, when we eat, where we eat, who we eat with, etc.

Today let’s discuss the secret superstar of the Shabbos table, the humble salad. Salad is an often-overlooked dish, but nutritionally it is the hero, packing in a load of essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Often nibbled on as a side, it’s the salad that could leave you feeling cheerful and ready to go for a stroll rather than slump on the sofa for a nap.

As your Shabbos lunch superstar, it would be beneficial to share with you some salad-building tips to make your salad, or salads, both nutritious and delicious.

  • Start off your salad with some leafy greens like romaine lettuce, or baby spinach. You can add in some cabbage for the crunch and the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables. They have powerful antioxidants which research has shown protect against several types of cancer (breast, colon, prostate), and help lower LDL (“bad cholesterol”) in the blood that can build up in arteries and cause heart disease. I like the purple cabbage for it’s vibrant colour.
  • Add raw vegetables of your choice. Some ideas are tomatoes, peppers, radish, carrots, cucumber, snap peas, celery, avocado, and beets. While cooking beets enhances their minerals, they lose most of their vitamin A, vitamin C, and B-complex when cooked, so in addition to eating cooked beets, use them raw in your salads. Beets are known to have a cleansing effect on the liver, aid in digestion, and can help combat general weakness.
  • You may want to add some cooked vegetables, such as steamed green beans, oven baked red onions, baked sweet potato or grilled red peppers and Portobello mushrooms. As you are selecting your raw and cooked vegetables consider their colours. A salad with a rainbow of colours is more appetizing, and indicative of a vast array of nutrients.
  • For added sweetness, colour, and nutrients, you can add some fresh fruit to your salad. Try pomegranate seeds, blueberries, sliced mangos, pears, apples, peaches, or grapefruit and orange sections.
  • To make the humble salad into a centerpiece of your meal, add protein, like baked wild salmon fillet, grilled chicken breast or hard-boiled eggs. Alternatively, the protein could come from plant sources like a mixture chickpeas and brown rice or kidney beans and millet.
  • Nuts and seeds add crunch and enhance the nutritional content as they contain healthy fats. The Journal of American College Nutrition found that those who ate nuts gained numerous benefits compared to non-nut eaters including a decreased prevalence of selected risk factors for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Try sliced almonds, walnuts, pecans, cashews, sesame seeds (both white and black), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, or hemp hearts. Combine your favourites to create your own salad topping.
  • Most people will agree that the dressing is key – it can make or break the salad. Avoid bottled dressings as they often contain poor quality oils, excessive sugar and preservatives. Try making your own dressing. A great base is olive oil and lemon juice. This can be a dressing on it’s own, or you can add any herbs of your choice, fresh garlic or minced onion. Or use our Samurai dressing below for an Asian-inspired flavour.

A hearty salad full of nutrients will leave you satiated without feeling like you overdid it. Be creative with your salad. There are endless possibilities for creating a nourishing salad to enjoy for Shabbos lunch. If you’re not quite ready to create your own salad masterpiece yet, follow the Samurai Salad recipe below – it’s crunchy, sweet, flavourful and satisfying. Your family, guests, and body will thank you. To learn more about how you can improve the way you eat on Shabbos, and the rest of the week, contact Carolyn Rostenne at Freedom Wellness – Family Nutrition.

Carolyn Rostenne is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and owner of Freedom Wellness – Family Nutrition where she empowers and educates her clients to improve their health with the use of nutrient rich foods, natural supplements and lifestyle recommendations. Freedom Wellness offers individual nutritional consultations and group nutritional education. Call Carolyn for a free 15-minute phone consultation. Carolyn can be reached at carolyn@freedomwellness.ca or 416.271.3136.

Sources: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/05/11/eating-nuts.aspx http://foodfacts.mercola.com/cabbage.html Prescription for Dietary Wellness, Phyllis A. Balch

I have always LOVED ice cream.

What’s not love about ice cream? It’s cold, creamy, sweet, and delicious!

Eating ice cream is simply blissful.

Yet… it’s full of stuff that I’d rather not put in my body: processed sugar, saturated fat, cholesterol and dairy.

What’s an ice cream loving girl to do?

MAKE NICECREAM!!!

Nicecream does the trick – it’s cold, creamy, sweet and delicious AND  good for you!

Here is a recipe for nicecream that’s dairy-free, refined sugar-free, and contains no saturated fat or cholesterol!

It makes an elegant, delicious and nutritious Rosh Hashanah dessert, or a refreshing treat for any time of the year.

Ingredients:

2 frozen bananas, cut into 1” chunks

2 Basic Baked Apples with skin and bottom removed (see below for Basic Baked Apples recipe)

¼ teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon maple syrup

Pinch of sea salt

Place ingredients in the bowl of your food processor, and process using S-blade until completely blended. The texture should be smooth, resembling soft serve ice cream. Store it in the freezer in an airtight container. Serve it plain or top with finely chopped apples, walnuts, a sprinkle of cinnamon, or a drizzle of honey.

 

Basic Baked Apples Recipe

Ingredients:

2 medium-sized baking apples, like Cortland or Empire

Maple syrup

Cinnamon

Water

Carefully cut out stem and core of apple, removing the seeds and leaving the bottom intact. Fill the empty cavity with maple syrup. Sprinkle cinnamon on top. Pierce the skin of the apple in several places. Cover the bottom of a small glass baking dish with water, and place the apples inside. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour, or until flesh of apple is tender.

 

This is one of my favourite times of year – the leaves are changing colour, there is still that last feeling of summer in the air, and it’s Elul, the time we prepare ourselves for the Yomim Noraim. As someone who loves preparing healthy dishes for my family and friends, this is a time when I get to go crazy with one of my favourite fruits – crunchy, delicious apples!

I love apples because:

  • Apples are one of the most convenient snack foods Hashem ever created. No light box, no soaking, no packages, and no hard inedible peel. Just give them a good wash and they are ready to eat. You can throw an apple in your purse, lunch box, or gym bag. It doesn’t get easier than that! If you happen to be cutting your apples before you grab and go, toss them with a small amount of lemon juice. This will prevent them from browning too quickly.
  • There are over 100 commercially grown varieties in North America. Try Granny Smith or Braeburn apples if you like a tart taste, and Royal Gala or Fuji if you like sweet, or the pricier Honeycrisp with it’s explosive crispness, distinct juiciness, and sweet taste.
  • Apples have an amazing versatility. They can be used in soups, salads, cakes, fruit crumbles, side dishes, and even ice cream! Check out the baked apple ice cream post.
  • Apple juice can also be fermented (like beer) and turned into apple cider vinegar. Fermented foods contain probiotics which are essential to the health of our large intestine
  • Have you ever stopped to think about the amazing variety of colours that Hashem used in His fruit-painting palette? Apples are no exception – they come in a rainbow of colours, including red, pink, green, yellow, and even brown. Rich colours in fruit and vegetables are a sign of rich nutrients and help ensure that we get a balanced diet.
  • Apple skins are a great source of antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals that can damage the cells and cell tissue in our bodies. The apple’s high antioxidant concentration helps decrease the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and asthma.
  • When eaten with the skin, a whole apple has about 3.6 grams of fibre, nearly 17 percent of the daily dietary fibre This is enough to contribute substantially to colon health if eaten on a regular basis.
  • Apples are a satisfying, low calorie sweet treat. For those trying to shed some weight, reach for an apple when you feel the hankering for something sweet instead of that cookie, or bowl of ice cream.
  • Last but not least, we get to dip them in honey on Rosh Hashanah – perhaps one of the biggest treats of the year!

It is important to note that conventionally grown apples have one of the highest amounts of pesticides residue of any fruit or vegetable, so if possible, buy your apples organic. Most supermarkets now carry organic apples. I recently took my kids recently to a lovely little orchard in Markham called Organics Family Farm. We picked two varieties of organic apples – Vista Bella, and Sunrise – at half the cost of organic apples found in the supermarket.

When you bite into an apple this Rosh Hashanah think for a moment about the amazing qualities of this beautiful fruit. Wishing you a sweet and healthy year!

Sources:

  • Prescription for Dietary Wellness, Phyllis A. Balch, 2003
  • com – http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/10/28/apple-health-benefits.aspx