Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nutrient-Packed Granola

by Lisa Batson, CNP

2 cups organic oats
¼ cup pumpkin seeds
¼ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup currants/dried cranberries/raisins/chopped dates
½ cup almonds, chopped
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/3 cup shredded unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)
½ cup buckwheat (optional)
½ cup organic honey (melt on oven to soften)
¼ cup coconut oil (optional) (melt over stove if needed to mix)


Preheat oven to 325c. Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl, and pour on melted honey and coconut oil. Place on a cookie sheet ½ inch thick. Bake for approx 30-40 minutes, mixing a couple times until lightly browned. Let cool on cookie sheet to let granola become crunchy. Enjoy!

Macrobiotic Miso Minestrone

by Lisa Batson, CNP

1 ½ cups red kidney beans
1 bag brown rice macaroni
3 cups collard greens, chopped
2 cups butternut squash, thinly chopped
3 carrots, thinly chopped
3 stalks celery, thinly chopped
1 medium onion, thinly chopped
¼ cup white miso
1 piece kombu
2 bay leaves
10-12 cups water
4 cloves garlic, minced,
2 tbsp ginger, minced
¼ cup grapeseed oil


In large pot, sautee grapeseed oil and onion for a couple minutes. Add onion, garlic, ginger, butternut squash, celery and carrot and cook on medium to 7-10 minutes.

In a separate pot, bring water to a boil, add macaroni and reduce heat until lightly cooked. Drain and set aside noodles.

Add water to large pot with sautéed vegetables, increase heat to medium-high. Add kombu, bay leaves, and miso when water is close to boiling. Let simmer for 20-30 minutes. After this time, add collard greens, kidney beans and macaroni and simmer for anther 10-15 minutes. Serve hot, chill and re-serve, or freeze for keeping.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Nutty Patty

by Yvette Rochelle Pritchard, CNP, NNCP 

½ cup coarsely ground walnuts
¼ cup coarsely ground almonds
½ cup coarsely ground pecans
2 tbs pumpkin seeds
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
¼ cup minced red pepper
¼ cup minced onion
¼ cup finely chopped celery
½ cup chopped mushroom
½ tsp basil (I use fresh)
½ tsp oregano
2 tbs olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

Bring ½ cup water to a boil, add ¼ cup of the oats, dash sea salt – return to boil, reduce heat to low, cook 7 minutes

In a big bowl add minced vegetables, ground nuts, seeds, cooked oats, dry oats, herbs, sea salt and pepper
Mix well
Form into patties
Heat oil over medium heat and cook patties until golden brown on each side – 5 minutes on one side (do not flip before 5 minutes), 3-4 minutes on the other side
You can add a bun, lettuce, slice avocado, tomato, cheese…you decide!
Serve with fresh salad

Nutritional Facts:

Pecans: good source of protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, B vitamins, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
Walnuts: good source of protein, fiber, B vitamins, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese, omega 3 and 6 fatty acids
Almonds: good source of vitamin E, B2, B3, folate, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, manganese,
calcium, omega 6 fatty acids
Pumpkin Seeds: good source of protein, iron, magnesium, potassium, omega 6 fatty acids
Oats: good source of protein, fiber, B1, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, selenium
Red Pepper: good source of fiber, vitamin A, C, B6, folate
Onion: good source of fiber, vitamin B6, C, folate, potassium, manganese, sulphur
Celery: good source of B6, B5, B2, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin A, C, K, folate, manganese, potassium
Mushroom: good source of fiber, protein, vitamin C, D, Bs, folate, iron, zinc, manganese, phorphorus, potassium, selenium, copper

Friday, March 18, 2011

Mood Food

by Yvette Rochelle Pritchard, CNP, NNCP

Balancing and maintaining mood through food choices is not only possible, it is advantageous.  Understanding the mechanical workings of the human body as well as which nutrients each system needs in order to thrive is the key.

As an instant gratification society, many will go for the fast and easy fix when hunger strikes or when feeling the blues.  The quick fix is usually a sugar laden treat.  The normal response after ingesting sugar is a momentary ‘high’ due to rising blood sugar which affects brain chemistry.  What happens next is the crash and burn because blood sugar spikes only temporarily and what goes up must come down revealing an even more exasperated mood than before.  This pattern of unconscious eating causes uncontrollable insulin levels which leads to moods swings as well as weight gain, low energy and cravings.

A thoughtful diet will quite simply enhance ones mood.  It will also lead to an improvement in health.  Long term benefits from choosing the right foods include hormonal balance, ideal blood sugar, boosted metabolism, disappearing sugar cravings, increased energy and loss of weight.  Food has the power to push negative moods into a more positive zone with whole nutrient rich foods. 

Essential fatty acids, (EFAs) are the principle component of nearly all cell membranes of which there are approximate 100 trillion cells in the human body.  The membrane controls the movement of important substances in and out of the cell.  EFAs or omega-3 and 0mega-6 are ‘good’ fats that must be ingested for various functions besides cell membrane health.  When it comes to mood, it is important that these two are in balance with a ratio of 2:1 omega-6 to omega-3.  Sadly the North American diet has a ratio that ranges from 10:1 to 20:1.  This is due to the use of cooking oils high in omega-6 and devoid of omega-3, as well as processed foods.  Omega-3 can be found in cold water fish such as sardines, herring, salmon and mackerel.  Walnuts, flaxseeds, dark green leafy vegetables, soybeans and tofu also contain omega-3.

Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid that must be found by dietary means because the body cannot make it.  It seems to increase endorphins in the brains for a positive outlook.  It is found in protein such as seaweed, beans, sunflower seeds, poultry, beef, eggs and plain yogurt.  The body then changes phenylalanine into tyrosine (an amino acid the body makes), that is needed to make brain chemicals. These chemicals include dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine and affect mood.  One symptom of phenylalanine deficiency is depression.

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter located in the brain and is responsible for feelings of happiness by regulating mood.  Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send signals to and from and within the brain. 

Tryptophan is another essential amino acid that brings about calm and relaxed and sleepy feelings.  Tryptophan is a precursor for serotonin meaning it is able to raise serotonin levels.

Bananas can put a smile on your face because they contain tryptophan which converts into serotonin once digested. 

Everyone knows turkey makes them sleepy and that is because of the tryptophan but that big Thanksgiving dinner will also increase serotonin levels.  Tryptophan can also be found in red meat, soy beans, dairy products, shellfish and nuts and seeds. 

Whole grains are complex carbohydrates that are very important for the individual who suffers from mood disorders as they help increase serotonin.   Dieters who curb their carbohydrate intake, especially those suffering from mood disorders are doing themselves a disservice.  A steady supply of glucose to the brain as well as the rest of the body is provided by such complex carbohydrates as oatmeal (not packaged), brown and wild rice¸ spelt, quinoa, buckwheat, millet and barley.  When in doubt, just look for the word `whole`, particularly when buying bread. 

Lastly, drink pure water and lots of it because in a dehydrated state the body in its infinite wisdom will use tryptophan and tyrosine to transport waste out.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

I’ve Had The Time of My Life in a Bathing Suit

by Ilona Napravnik

Last month, an amazing opportunity fell into my lap.  I was offered an all expenses-paid 11 night Caribbean cruise for the beginning of February and it goes without saying I leapt on the opportunity thinking life was grand.  

Then reality set in when I went swimsuit shopping.  A little background, I completed a detoxification program in the fall (the program is very strict nutritionally and involves a lot of control) and as a reward I spent my holidays on a see-food diet, if I saw something remotely edible and it wasn’t nailed down, it was mine.  So my work was cut out for me in January.  Before I went into full blown panic mode I reasoned, I had a month, a treadmill and a nutrition degree, three months of excess didn’t stand a chance.

As a nutritionist the first attack was to my diet.  I eliminated all allergens; wheat, dairy, soy, citrus and corn from my diet.  If anyone is following my recommendation, along with this remove all known “bad” foods: sugar, alcohol and caffeine.  This ensures any weight gain attributed to food sensitivities, bloating and distension, would be removed.

Then I got on the treadmill every day after work, even if it was only for 15 minutes or half an hour.  Exercising for a short time every day is more advantageous than exercising excessively once a week.  And also, it takes three weeks to create a habit, so taking a night off in that three week period will make it a much harder habit to return to.  It is far too easy to let an exercise program go by the wayside unless you are diligent and stick to it.  The instant energy boost was also great for all the shopping I had to do in the lead up to going away.  

And lastly and most importantly were exercises to strengthen the core muscles.  I have been doing yoga a couple of times a week for many years and find this very helpful.  Pilates is also another core strengthener without much effort.  And most simply is the act of pulling in your stomach muscles which helps to train them to be flat.  And during my month of hardship, a friend mentioned her favourite stomach exercise which is the “plank”.  This exercise basically involves raising your body on your toes and forearms and to hold this position for a minimum of a minute.  Your body takes on the appearance of a wooden plank and hence the name.  This might sound easy but I dare you to get down on the floor right now and try it, my first attempt ended in 45 seconds.  I realized it’s also a great way to make time seemingly stop.  

That was all that was needed for one month to give myself the svelte body I had prior to the Christmas cheer.*  Bottom line, I looked great on the cruise, up until the first four course dinner but that’s another story without the happy ending.  And I had a great time.

*Results will vary depending on your level of intensity and your starting weight*  

Monday, March 14, 2011

Creamy Asian Tahini Noodles… Nom Nom Nom!

by Hayley Shwaizer, CNP

The ultimate vegan comfort food! I’ve made this dish for a few dinner guests now and I’ve gotten rave reviews. There are a few steps to this recipe, but they’re well worth it. You can buy soba noodles and dried seaweeds in the health food sections of a quality supermarket, online or at your local health food store. Tahini or sesame paste can also be found at the aforementioned shops or at specialty Middle Eastern shops.
1                      250g packet of brown rice soba noodles (king soba is my favourite brand), cooked as per package instructions
2 cloves                       garlic, diced
1”                     piece of ginger, grated or finely diced
½ tsp               dried red chili flakes
½ cup              tahini (sesame paste)
¼ cup              tamari/soy sauce
1  cup              dried arame sea vegetable
¼ cup              pine nuts, toasted (approx. 5-10 minutes – medium-low heat on the stovetop)
Vegetables      Whatever you have on hand that you might add to a stir fry such as: onion, celery, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini, bell peppers, mushrooms, green beans, bean sprouts, dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, bok choy, or all of the above!

  1. Wash and chop up your vegetables, soak the arame in filtered cold water, drain after 5-10 minutes, and set aside (note – you can use the discarded seaweed water to cook with for added nutrients!)
  2. Bring a pot of filtered water to a boil and cook you noodles as per package instructions, rinse noodles in cold water, drain and set aside
  3. In a separate pot add a little water (instead of any cooking oils) to your garlic, ginger, onion, carrots and dried red chili flakes and put on a medium heat for 5 minutes (note – if you want to use a cooking oil I suggest coconut oil)
  4. Give it a stir, then add your other vegetables EXCEPT for the leafy greens, cook for 5-8 minutes
  5. Turn off the heat, then add a touch more water, the tamari/soy sauce, tahini, leafy greens, pine nuts, and noodles, stir it up and cover for 5 minutes then serve!

Additional touches
For even more protein, add hemp hearts at the end (they should not be cooked). You could also add some toasted sesame oil, hot sauce, kelp/dulse flakes, sea salt and/or pepper at the table for additional flavours.