Summer Grillin'

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When it's hot out, I love BBQ'd veggies  Something about that grill taste that just sings summertime!  Barbequing is a great way to cook lots of veg for the next few meals.  I'm all about efficiency!  

Make it fun by choosing a variety of vegetables and fruit, then skewer them!  It looks pretty and you can even get the family involved!  Hey, again, it's all about efficiency.

Super Simple Summer Kebabs - serves 4

Ingredients

1 pint cremini or button mushrooms - halved

1 large red or sweet onion - quartered

2 zucchinis - sliced

1/4 pineapple - sliced

2 large bell peppers - cut into chunks

shrimp or chicken (opt)

avocado oil - drizzle

salt and pepper - to taste

Directions

1.  Wash, dry and cut all the ingredients.  Place everything in a large bowl and drizzle with avocado oil, salt, and pepper.  Toss.

2. Skewer the ingredients somewhat tightly.  If using bamboo skewers, soak them in water for at least 30-minutes prior to use.

3. Grill until done.  

Pro tip:  Grill extra for next day's lunches or dinners.  

The Ultimate Salad

It's summertime and I don't know about you, but I try not to heat up my house with the oven or even stovetop cooking.  So when I want to eat light, yet keep me full, I turn to my ultimate salad.  

Making a BIG salad is your solution to saving time and offering you variety.  The trick is to have all the ingredients washed, cut and prepped in containers ready to go.  So when it's time to eat (or pack your lunch), it's simply an assembly line.  This also keeps all the salad components separated and fresh.

This is my go-to ultimate salad recipe.  Switch things up by trying different proteins, greens, and salad dressings.  

Ultimate Salad

Ingredients

4 cups lettuce (green and/or red leafy, romaine), washed, spun and chopped into bite sizes

2 cups of baby spinach, washed and spun

2 carrots, peeled and grated

2 bell peppers, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half

1 cup chickpeas, rinsed and drained 

1/2 cup cucumber, chopped 

1/2 cup roasted beets, chopped (recipe below)

1/2 cup jarred artichoke hearts, chopped

1/2 cup canned hearts of palm, sliced 

1/2 cup olives, sliced in half

4 radishes, thinly sliced

1/4 cup olives, halved

avocado - sliced or diced

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sprouts (pea, broccoli)

Directions:

  1. Wash, dry, cut and place all ingredients in separate containers.  
  2. When ready to eat, assemble the salad with your choice of ingredients.
  3. Drizzle with dressing of choice (recipes below).

Alternative protein options:  cooked chicken breast, baked salmon, cooked shrimp, thinly sliced sirloin steak, tofu or tempeh,  hard-boiled eggs, lentils

Pro tip:  To keep greens fresher for longer, place a damp paper towel over washed greens.  Seal in a bowl or container and place it in the fridge.  

Roasted Beets

Ingredients

4 fresh beets (golden, red or rainbow)

avocado oil

salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375F. 
  2. Wash and pat dry beets.  Cut ends off. 
  3. Cut four pieces of foil paper (large enough for each beet).  Place beets on foil paper.
  4. Drizzle beets with avocado oil, salt and pepper.
  5. Wrap in foil paper.
  6. Place beets directly on a baking sheet and bake for 50-60 minutes.  Beets are ready when you can penetrate them easily with a fork.
  7. Allow to cool, then peel using plastic or latex gloves. 
  8. Chop into pieces for the salad.  Store in an airtight glass container.

 

Everyday Dressing

Ingredients:

    •    1 garlic clove, minced

    •    1/4 lemon, juiced

    •    1 tbsp dijon mustard

    •    1/2 tbsp champagne (or white wine) vinegar 

    •    ½ cup olive oil or avocado oil

    •    salt and pepper

Directions:

  1. In a small mixing bowl or food processor, add garlic.
  2. Add mustard, champagne vinegar, lemon juice.  Whisk.
  3. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking (or processing) quickly until combined.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Avocado Dressing

Ingredients

    •    2 medium avocados

    •    1 lemon, juiced

    •    ½ cup olive oil

    •    ½ cup water

    •    2 cloves garlic

    •    2 tsp honey

    •    2 tsp parsley (I used dried, but could use fresh)

    •    salt & pepper to taste

    •    cayenne to taste

Directions:

    1    Add all dressing ingredients into a food processor, except the olive oil and water

    2    While the food processor is running, drizzle in oil and water and mix well

Notes:  Only dress salad that will be eaten immediately.  Unused salad should be tightly sealed in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.  Store dressing in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.  Making your own dressing is easy, inexpensive and you know what goes in it.  You’ll never buy again!

Do you have your own ultimate salad recipe?  Please share!

3 Unconventional Breakfasts

Do you ever struggle with variety at breakfast?  Tired of eating the same old same old?

Well, the only "rules" around breakfast are the ones we put on ourselves.  Why not have a salad with a healthy protein for breakfast?  Or perhaps lentils, rice, and avocado? Or eggs with a baked sweet potato?  

The best part is that you can prep these meals ahead of time and simply reheat in the morning for a quick, delicious and balanced breakfast that will give you lots of energy to start your day.

Here are 3 of my favourite unconventional breakfasts:

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1.  Rice bowls are a versatile breakfast.  This breakfast has become a gamechanger for our household.  It is a healthy, balanced breakfast that is oh so easy to prep in the morning.  Not to mention delicious and keeps us satiated for hours!  

Pro tip:  Cook your rice and protein ahead of time (can stay in the fridge in an airtight glass container for 3 days).  Optional to add some cooked mushrooms and/or tomatoes with broccoli sprouts for extra nutrients!  Add half an avocado before serving and a side of fresh fruit.  There you have it!  

Ingredients - serves 1

Brown rice - 1/3 cup cooked 

Lentils - 1/2 cup cooked 

1/2 avocado - sliced

Cooked mushrooms - 1/4 cup (opt)

Grape tomatoes (halved) and broccoli sprouts (opt)

1/2 cup berries

Directions

1.  Reheat the rice and lentils in the microwave.  

2. Slice the avocado.

3. Assemble everything in a serving bowl.  Add tomatoes and sprouts (if using).

chicken salad

2.  Chicken salad.  Yep, salad for breakfast.  Cook extra chicken the night before and have it for breakfast the next day on a bed of salad plus a side of fruit.  Get creative and switch up your proteins and salad choices to give you even more variety throughout the week.

Ingredients - serves 1

4 oz cooked chicken breast - sliced

garden salad - 2 hand fulls

Dressing:

    •    1 garlic clove, minced

    •    1/4 lemon, juiced

    •    1 tbsp dijon mustard

    •    1/2 tbsp champagne (or white wine) vinegar 

    •    ½ cup olive oil or avocado oil

    •    salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. In a small mixing bowl or food processor, add garlic.
  2. Add mustard, champagne vinegar, lemon juice.  Whisk.
  3. Slowly drizzle in oil, whisking (or processing) quickly until combined.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Pro tip:  Make extra dressing and keep it in an airtight glass container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

3.  Taco eggs.  Doesn't that sound amazing already?  Enough said.

Ingredients - serves 2

1 tbsp avocado oil

1/2 cup cooking onion, diced

10 ounces ground meat (beef/chicken/turkey) or firm tofu cut into small cubes

1/2 cup white or black beans, rinsed and drained (opt)

4 eggs or 8 egg whites, whisked

1 avocado, sliced

4 lettuce leaves (Boston Bibb works well), washed and dried

salsa (opt)

cilantro (opt)

Directions

1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and cook until tender (about 2 mins).  

2. Add the meat or tofu and cook until browned.  Add beans if using.  Add a tablespoon of taco seasoning.  Mix through.  

3. Add the eggs (or egg whites) and stir until cooked.  Remove from heat.

4. Scoop the egg mixture on lettuce leaves, add salsa (if using), avocado and cilantro.  Serve immediately.

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Taco Seasoning:

10 tsp hot chili powder

8 tsp smoked paprika

5 tsp onion powder

5 tsp oregano

3 tsp sea salt

3 tsp garlic powder

3 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp cayenne pepper to taste (opt)

1 tsp red chili pepper flakes to taste (opt)

Directions

Mix all the ingredients together.  Store in an air-tight container.  Keep in a dark, cool place for up to 3 months.  Use on eggs, meat, fish, veggies, tofu, tempeh.

Pro tip:  To save time, cook the protein ahead of time and keep it in an airtight glass container in the fridge.  When ready to cook, simply toss it in the skillet with the eggs!

Hope you enjoy these breakfast recipes.  Quite honestly, I would have any of these meals for lunch or dinner as well!  Do you have any unconventional breakfast ideas?  I'd love to hear them.  

How To Eat For Your Body Type

Did you know that there are three general categories of body types?  

They are called Somatotypes and the three are i) ectomorph, ii) mesomorph, and iii) endomorph.

Most people will find their natural tendencies in one of these groups, however, it's highly likely that many people won't fit perfectly into just one of the somatotypes.  Oftentimes, people will have characteristics from each type.  

One's body type may also change over time due to lifestyle choices such as nutrition and fitness.

3 Somatotypes

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Body type is more than just about looks.  Each body type has some key characteristics that determine what foods are best to eat for energy.  In general, somatotypes can provide information about the response to food intake and metabolic differences between people.

Let's look at some highlights and differences between ecto, meso, and endomorphs.

Ectomorphs

  • typically thin individuals with thinner bone structure (e.g. models, marathon runners, Gwyneth Paltrow)
  • fast metabolism
  • higher carbohydrate tolerance 

Diet

  • ectomorphs can tolerate (and need) more carbs than the other somatotypes; 
  • at each meal, ectomorph women should eat protein (1 palm), veggies (1 fist), carb dense foods (2 cupped handfuls), and healthy fats (1/2 thumb)

 

Mesomorphs 

  • typically medium bone structure (e.g.  gymnasts, sprinters, Madonna)
  • propensity to gain lean muscle mass and maintain low body fat if active

Diet

  • a balanced diet of protein, carbs and healthy fats work best for mesomorphs; 
  • at each meal, mesomorph women should eat protein (1 palm), veggies (1 fist), carb dense foods (1 cupped handful), and healthy fats (1 thumb)

 

Endomorphs 

  • typically larger bone structure and curvaceous (e.g. Beyonce, Ashley Graham, powerlifters)
  • higher amounts of total body mass and fat mass 
  • generally not as efficient at burning off excess calories
  • lower carbohydrate tolerance 

Diet

  • endomorphs have less tolerance for carbs (and needs) than other somatotypes;
  • at each meal, endomorph women should eat protein (1 palm), veggies (1 fist), carb dense foods (1/2 cupped handful), and healthy fats (2 thumbs)

In general, physical activity will increase your tolerance for your macronutrient intake regardless of your somatotype.

As well, our bodies will (and have) changed as we move through life or with lifestyle changes.  So the nutritional strategies we adopt may change over time.  

In general, experiment with different approaches to find what works best for you.  These are simply general guidelines for the various body types.

Detox From The Inside Out

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10 Tips on Detoxing

In today's blog, I'll present 10 tips on detoxing from the inside out to help you decide if doing a detox is right for you, plus I'll bust some common myths.

What is (internal) detoxification? 

Detoxification is about getting rid of toxins in the body and cleansing our organs from environmental pollutants, food waste, harmful bacteria and other substances such as alcohol, medications, and parasites. 

So, how do you know when it’s time for a detox?  Some common symptoms are:

    •    Unexplained fatigue/sluggish

    •    Brain fog

    •    Skin irritations

    •    Allergies

    •    Menstrual issues

    •    Slow bowel movement

The most common reasons I hear why people feel the need to detox are a) they want to "cleanse" after overeating/drinking, b) they're always feeling tired and think detoxing will give them an energy boost, and/or c) they want to lose weight. 

Here are 10 tips to help you detoxify your body without having to go through a detox diet.

Tip #1 - Include natural detox choices in your daily life.

Many people think that a “cleanse” or “detox” will undo the damage from over-indulging and rid toxins from our bodies.  This is somewhat false because a detox may help you feel cleansed in the short-term, but once off the detox plan, there needs to be a sustainable long-term plan, otherwise, one may go back to old ways and over-indulge, gain weight back, etc.

The truth is, the human body is a natural detoxification machine!  It's designed to constantly get rid of waste.

The colon and kidneys are key organs to help eliminate waste through urination or bowel movements.  The kidneys are key players in removing waste from the blood and regulating the water fluid levels.

The lungs filter out toxins in the air we breathe and expels it as carbon dioxide.

The liver is a complex organ that has many functions including helping the body get rid of waste, toxins, and other substances. 

The skin is our largest organ and allows toxins to be eliminated through sweating.  Often when the other detoxifying organs are compromised, toxins will begin to come through the skin as acne, rashes, blemishes, pimples or sores.

The lymphatic system consists of lymph fluid which contains white blood cells that flow through the body, and its job is to collect unwanted "debris" such as fats, bacteria and other harmful materials.  The debris is filtered through the lymph nodes which act as filters and capillaries.  Through our daily movement, the debris gets eliminated through our body's natural detoxification processes such as bowel movement/urination, sweating, and breathing.

So you can see that the human body has its own natural cleansing process, which can be boosted with regular detox practices.  Which is why my best advice for detoxing is to include natural detox choices in your daily life (rather than doing short-term detox programs).  

Tip #2:  ADD more foods into your diet vs eliminating foods

No one likes deprivation right?  Can I get a here here?  

Many people believe that detox equates to dieting.  In other words, eliminating various foods and sipping on green juice all day!  This is false.

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Detox doesn’t mean deprivation.  Instead, think about detoxing as adding more plant foods to your diet that will help alleviate that stuffed feeling from overeating/drinking.  Add in veggies and fruit that stimulate your body’s natural detoxification system, such as cruciferous vegetables (bok choy, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, rapini, watercress, etc) and berries.  

Eat more plant-based proteins such as whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.  Have less or no animal protein which lessens your exposure to hormones and potential chemicals or pharmaceuticals.  Try to go organic when possible to further minimize exposure to potential toxins.

You see, detoxing is not about cleaning your body, but rather re-nourishing your body by adding the right kind of nutrients to help your body convert toxins to a water-soluble form for excretion through bowel movements and urination.

Tip #3:  Eat moderate amounts of food and listen to your body. 

Eating too much accumulates more toxins in your body.  Tune into your hunger and satiety cues. Simply eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re comfortably full (and not stuffed).   

Sometimes we simply eat because it's supposedly time to (e.g. lunch is at noon, dinner at 6:30 pm).  However, I'd like to challenge you to eat when your stomach tells you to.  Wait for the little tummy grumbling, which is your body telling you it's time to eat and not the clock.

Tip #4:  Drink water to keep you hydrated and your skin looking healthy.   

The kidneys are major players in toxin elimination, so keep them clean by drinking enough water to stay hydrated.  If you're thirsty, you're already dehydrated.  Try not to get to that point.  

Get into the habit of carrying around a water bottle.  Drink at least half your body weight in water ounces per day.  E.g. Drink 75 ounces if you're 150 lbs.  You may need a bit more if you exercise, engage in physical activity or live in a humid climate. 

Water  keeps you hydrated, and your skin looking healthy.  Plus, if you're trying to lose weight, drink water first when you feel the hunger pangs.  Sometimes you're not really hungry, you're just thirsty.

Tip #5:  Drink sugar-free, dairy-free, decaffeinated drinks.  

Herbal teas are a good choice.  Take a break from inflammatory foods like sugar, dairy, gluten, caffeine, and alcohol.  

Tip #6: Limit or eliminate sugary snacks and refined carbs.

Limit your exposure to low-nutrient and inflammatory foods such as chips, cookies, pastries, and muffins.  Ever feel like you can go through a bag of chips or cookies, yet still feel hungry?  That's because these foods are empty calories and you're not getting the best bang for your buck.    These hyper-palatable foods don't fill you up (yet you're consuming the high calories), so you may end up eating more than necessary.  

Replace these snacks with more nutrient-dense foods that will give you energy and keep you satiated longer.  Try apple slices with nut butter, veggie sticks + hummus or guacamole, nuts and seeds, berries or green smoothies.  

Tip #7:  Get regular exercise and/or movement.

Regular exercise helps remove toxins from your body and shed fat.  There are toxins in subcutaneous fat (fat you can pinch), and exercise can help shed that fat.  

A common myth is that detox diets help shed fat.  This is false.  You may lose weight, but not fat.  Detoxing rids water weight and muscle mass.

So if you want to lose weight and keep lean muscle, eating well and exercising is your solution versus detoxing.  

Here are some of the ways exercising helps detoxify the body:

  1. You sweat. The skin is cleansed from the inside out through perspiration. Many toxins can be eliminated through the skin by sweating.
  2. Moving the body forces heavier breathing, circulation, stretching, and sweating - all which speed up detoxification.  Plus by drinking more water, your body can flush out toxins, fats and waste even more effectively.
  3. Moving the body helps to circulate both blood and lymph. The more they circulate, the more the liver and lymph nodes can do the job of cleansing and purify the blood and lymph.
  4. Exercise improves digestion and bowel movement.
  5. Exercise strengthens the heart and helps the lungs increase their capacity to expel carbon dioxide as a waste product.
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If you can't fit in regular exercise, then at the very least, move often in your daily life.  Get up and walk around frequently, stand up vs sitting too much, take the stairs, park further away, do chores vigorously, walk the dog...really anything that moves your body and increases your heart rate is better than being sedentary.

Tip #8:  Stop eating after dinner.  Try and give your body a 12-14 hour fasting window.  This gives the body a break from food and digestion.  Sleep may be improved as well if you don’t have a full stomach as you’re trying to sleep.

Tip #9:  Get 7-8 hours of quality sleep.

The glymphatic system is the body's natural waste disposal system for the brain.  It acts similarly to the body's lymphatic system, but is managed by brain cells.  

The glymphatic system clears away toxins or waste products that's implicated in brain diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and other neurological disorders.

Studies indicate that the glymphatic system is nearly 10 times more active during sleep.  Meaning, the sleeping brain removes significantly more plaque in the brain than the waking brain.  

So it’s important for adults to get 7-8 hours of quality sleep each night to allow the body to properly remove the plaque and leave you feeling refreshed when you wake up!

Tip #10:  Get outside for sunlight and fresh air.  

This is one of the best natural ways to detox.  You’ll get an instant energy boost from vitamin D and by breathing in fresh air.  Studies have shown that if you get just 20 minutes of sunshine per day, your body starts producing over 200 antimicrobials to help kill off bad bacteria, funguses, viruses, and parasites throughout your body.  So go for a device-free 20-30 minute walk outside everyday! 

So there you go, 10 things you can do immediately to help your body boost its natural detoxification process.  

Do you have any other natural detox tips?  Please leave a comment.