Friday, May 29, 2009

Beans, Beans, good for your Bones!

This may be surprising but it is true. Beans are a source of calcium! This is great news especially if you think that it is difficult to enough calcium in through your diet...well it is not. There are plenty of plant based sources of calcium that not only assimilate into the body much easier than animal sources (such as commercial dairy ) - but also have many other health promoting benefits.

So I used beans as the first example, because this was my lovely appetizer of my "Calci-Yum" cooking class last night. The theme was based around non-dairy sources of calcium that are supportive to your bones and long term health. I also wanted to highlight the cute little radish on top - because it was grown in my very own backyard organic garden - which is so very exciting.
My garden has yet to provide me with an array of wholesome organic veggies that will become the foundation of my cooking class recipes over the summer months - it doesn't get more local than that! So make sure to come to a cooking class, enjoy the recipes and check my garden out. (check back soon, as I will be writing about my organic garden in a few weeks!)

Okay, now back to calcium rich foods and recipes that were prepared last night. For starters calcium can be found in a slew of foods that usually would not come to mind for the average person. They are found in green veggies (tall dark leafy ones like: kale, collards, beet greens, chard, bok choy, spinach), nuts and seeds (almonds, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds, sesame and sunflower seeds), soy products like tempeh, miso and tofu (organic of course), carob powder, sea vegetables, tahini, avocados and quinoa. That is just a taste as these items were the foundation of the delicious menu last night, which included: Mixed Bean Salad, Arame Pomegranate Orange Salad, Steamed Greens with Scallion "Butter", Maple Marinated Tempeh, Roasted Root Veggies with Cinnamon Glaze, Red Quinoa with Broccoli and Pinenuts and Carob-Fig Frozen Fudge for dessert. Now that is what I call a healthy, calcium rich and balanced meal!

To top the night off, I had the wonderful distributors, Linda and Dale of Natural Calm (natural magnesium) attend my class last night. Which was the perfect compliment to the class. What good is calcium in the body without magnesium? Calcium absolutely needs magnesium to be assimilated into the body. For more information on the benefits of magnesium please read this page.

Learning about healthy plant sources of calcium and the power of magnesium and their natural abilities to protect, heal and support the body made for a wonderful, delicious and informative evening.

To complete this post, I will give you the recipe to make a nutritious bean salad of your own. This is a great recipes to have on hand for simple lunches, a great snack, a side dish for a dinner party or a morning brunch.

Zesty Three Bean Salad with Fresh Mint


1 can each eden canned organic black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans (you can also soak and cook all of your beans)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1 tablespoon agave nectar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½-1 teaspoon sea salt
¼ extra virgin olive oil
3 red radishes, small dice
3 scallions, minced
¼ cup parsley, minced
¼ cup fresh mint, minced


1. Rinse and drain beans in a colander until all the residue and foam is rinsed off.
2. Strain any excess water and pour beans into a large bowl.
4. Whisk together the next five ingredients and pour over beans.
5. Then toss together with radishes and fresh herbs.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

What is means to be Alkaline

Nowadays most people are concerned with their body's pH balance. I know at least four - and they all attended my "Acid-Alkaline Balance Cooking Class" last night. This is an extremely important measure of what is going on inside your body, from the size and flow of your blood cells to the quality of your skin and your digestion. This may sound extreme, but it is important for your body to find it's natural balance before a whole range of health problems and diseases creep their way into your life. The good news is, is that you have control over this. Enough control that it merely comes down to your daily diet and lifestyle choices. Of course there is the small percentage dedicated to your genes - but for the most part YOU ARE IN CONTROL!

A little background on pH:

Your body is measured on a scale of “potential hydrogen” or pH. When your pH level is low (1-6 on pH scale) your body is considered to be in an acidic state. When your pH levels are high (8-14 on pH scale) your body is considered to be more alkaline. In order to reach an optimum pH level that is considered "healthy" or neutral – you want your pH levels to be around 7.

What causes high acid levels:

- stress, tension
- poor sleep habits
- environmental toxins
- household chemicals and cleaners

- coffee
- alcohol
- red meat or a high protein diet
- refined
- dairy
- processed foods and refined carbohydrates
- eating to few fruits and vegetables

What does an acidic state lead to:

- low energy
- poor health
- weight gain
- toxicity
- osteoporosis
- bladder infections
- kidney stones
- lethargy
- colds/flu
- infections (weak immune system)
- poor skin, hair and nails
- poor concentration
- diabetes
- mood swings

Choosing an Alkaline based diet means:
- drinking more filtered water daily (have 1-2 glasses of lemon water every morning: 1 wedge of lemon squeezed into warm water)
- consuming more fruits and vegetables ( juices, smoothies, whole fruits and whole vegetables)
- drinking herbal teas
- eating a more plant based diet
- eating whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, cold pressed vegetable oils, avocados

What lifestyle habits can help:
- going to bed at a regular time
- eating breakfast everyday
- clearing your environment or your home of toxic chemicals
- taking deep breaths (belly breathing)
- having warm baths with Epsom salts and essential oils like lavender, mint, eucalyptus or lemon
- taking time to walk outside and enjoy nature
- taking time for yourself (journaling, reading, singing, yoga, pilates...whatever makes you happy!)

As you can see there are so many things that YOU can do to counteract high acid levels in your body. When it comes to diet especially, it is extremely important to make the right choices and choose foods that contribute to a more alkaline state (which means for the most part a plant based diet). That does not mean that you can't eat any foods that are considered acidic (even grains and nuts are considered to be acidic)- it just means that for the most part you should focus on consuming more raw or steamed green veggies, big colourful salads, fresh raw, ripe organic fruits, smoothies, juices etc...!

So here is a simple recipe to get you going!

Green Beans Almondine


1 cup of water
1 cup almonds, chopped (and lightly toasted or raw)
2 lbs. organic green beans, ends trimmed, and strings removed
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tsp grapeseed or olive oil
1 Tablespoon Bragg’s or Tamari
1 T. toasted sesame oil

1. Place the green beans in a large steamer basket and steam for 3-5 minutes or until tender - but still crispy. Place under cool running water to halt the cooking and maintain a bright green colour. Transfer the steamed green beans to a large bowl.
2. Season the green beans to taste with salt and pepper, toss gently, and set aside.
3. In a non-stick skillet, warm the olive oil or grapeseed on medium heat and add the green beans and sauté for 3-5 minutes. Add the tamari and sesame oil.
4. Remove the skillet from the heat, and stir well to combine. Sprinkle the toasted or raw almonds over the green beans and toss well to thoroughly coat the beans with the mixture.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Become Your own Green Goddess!

What does it mean to become a green goddess you ask...well let me tell you!

I had four lovely goddesses join in on my "GREEN GODDESS" cooking class last night. We teamed up and cooked up a storm of delicious and nutritious green dominant recipes. It was a great night, everyone learned about different greens and how to use them in simple and tasty recipes.

If you are not yet acquainted with the array of greens that exist, I am going to give you a bit of an introduction and some reasoning behind why consuming green veggies on a daily basis is absolutely crucial to your health and well being. That way you can also learn how to make delicious recipes and become a green goddess in the kitchen!

Here are some reasons why you need to consume greens everyday...

- Greens are cleansing, they are alkaline forming, purify your liver and aid in detoxification
- Greens regulate bowel movements and clean out the intestine and prevent constipation
- Greens provide good amounts of calcium, protein, magnesium, zinc and antioxidants that are essential to good health such as vitamin c, magnesium, folic acid and beta carotene
- Greens give you boundless amounts of energy – just try it! Start your day with a fresh pressed vegetable juice and you will see the amount of abundant energy you have for the rest of the day
- A healthy intake of green leafy vegetables reduces your cravings for sugar (and help to regulate blood sugar), fried foods and processed foods, coffee and alcohol
- Greens are and excellent source of fibre
- Greens remove toxins from the body and bloodstream and prevent diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer- greens are excellent to consume as part of cancer therapy and treatment!
- Greens strengthen the immune system for overall health

- Just remember that a meal isn’t a meal without a portion of greens, just make sure that you are getting in your daily dose

There are many ways to incorporate greens into your life and become your own Green Goddess- I have even mentioned a few options before in previous blog posts - such as juicing or masking them in smoothies (for the fussy ones)!
Otherwise- a simple salad will do - but make sure to use dark greens such as arugula, spinach, spring mix or romaine. You can also steam, saute, braise or stir fry greens such as kale, collards, bok choy, green beans, broccoli, swiss chard, beet greens the list goes on. Just be sure not to overcook them or you will loose their precious nutrients. A great resource for getting started and learning about the different greens that exist out there and how to prepare them - is a book called "Greens Glorious Greens" by Johnna Albi & Catherine Walthers. They introduce greens in a fabulous way that is not intimidating but rather encouraging and exciting! In the is a simple recipe to get your inner green goddess going:

Green Goddess Salad Dressing

1-3 cups of mixed salad greens (arugula, baby spinach, spring mix)

1 medium avocado
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
1/8 cup cold pressed sunflower oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp rice syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 pinch cayenne
1/2 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1/8 cup parsley
1/8 cup green onion
1/4 cup spinach

Cut the avocado in half, remove the pit, scoop the flesh into the blender, add everything else and blend very thoroughly- until you have creamy and thick dressing.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Get Juiced...

If you aren't juicing are truly missing out on the powerhouse of nutrients one glass of fresh vegetable juice has to offer. I am not talking about getting some pre-made concoction at the grocery store that claims that it is all natural - I am talking about making your own organic, whole vegetable juice in the comfort of your own kitchen!

Juicing is key to vitality and an overall sense of well being. It is even a great part of a good cleansing regime. Juices are a great addition to any diet. Even if it is just as simple as apple juice...I am encouraging you to make them!

You can go as basic as you would like with juicers, they range in price from $150 - $500. So pick and choose what works for your lifestyle and your budget. But remember, the more expensive juicers give you more juice and more nutrients and enzymes. (This is due to the way the juice is extracted from the vegetables.)

Check out online resources and other places in your area that may sell juicers and ask around to other people you may know - which juicer they use and if they like it!

If you are not ready for a juicer yet...

At the very least start your day by making a cup of lemon juice! You don't even need a juicer for that! Squeeze a half of a lemon into some warm or cool water and drink on an empty stomach.
Another excellent way to cleanse your body (and flush your kidneys) and get your metabolism going for the day.

If you have a blender or a vita-mix you can make all kinds of concoctions and pour your juice through a sieve and capture all the pulp - or you can make a vegetable smoothie with the pulp (see the Simply Smooth posting below!)

But if you do get a juicer and you want a recipe to crack in your new it is!

Revitalizing (Salad) Juice

I call this a salad juice because instead of making a salad for lunch you can juice it! But don't do this all the time as you don't get any of the beneficial fibre from the vegetables. This is a great recipe for days when you don't really feel like eating or when you are cleansing!

2 Carrots
Handful of Sunflower sprouts
2 small (really small) Beets
1 or 2 apples (Granny smith work nice)
2 stalks of Celery
1 inch piece of Ginger
1/2 Lemon
handful of Collard green or kale
small handful of Romaine lettuce

Place everything into you juicer according to to do one vegetable at a time and finish off with lemons because it cleans the juicer at the end!


Saturday, May 2, 2009

Simply Smooth

Making up a blended batch of smooth and creamy goodness is just the absolute simplest and best way to get whole food nutrition in, extremely fast!
Creating a daily smoothie is an amazing first step in taking charge of your health. It is an easy way to digest a whole slew of vitamins and minerals - along with complex carbohydrates, protein and essential fats all in one shot! Especially if you are pressed for time in the morning, a smoothie to take with you on the go is the best thing you can do for your body and your energy. Just make sure you don't add too many ingredients or you will be left with a stomach ache and a really high calorie drink!
Smoothies are also a great way to sneak in some green veggies or powders that you may not be inclined to take with water alone - at least with a smoothie you can mask the earthy or bitter flavour (which I happen to like!). This means you can even add a bunch of spinach, collards or kale into your blueberry banana morning smoothie. Go figure! It really is that easy. That way you can at least say that you got your dose of greens in for the day!

So let me help you out and get your started with a few ideas and recipes to get some liquid nutrition running through your body.
It is important to make a smoothie that compliments what you are looking for or what your body needs - if it is a breakfast smoothie you may want just fruits, or maybe add some sheep's yogurt, soy yogurt or coconut oil, rice milk and honey/agave or if it's a post workout smoothie - you want a higher protein content from a plant based protein powder such as Vega, Hemp or Sun Warrior (my newly discovered RAW and VEGAN brown rice based powder that is incredibly high in protein - easy to absorb and delicious!).
Or maybe your smoothie is just for a snack in the middle of the afternoon in which case you can use some cacao or carob powder, banana, almond butter, coconut oil and cinnamon to hit that sweet craving and replenish your energy for the rest of the day!

Other than that here are some more ideas to get you started...

All you need is a good blender or if you want to take it to the next level...a Vita Mix - which is the goddess of all blenders. It is a high powered machine that will emulsify all of your ingredients into the perfect blend of whatever you put into it!

So let's start simple.
First off - make sure you are using high quality organic fruits and vegetables. You can pick anything under the sun that makes you feel good.

Fruits: Banana, Blueberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Mango, Pineapple, Coconut, Kiwi, Peaches, Apple, Pear, Grapes, Acai

Vegetables (sometimes it is better to juice your veggies first and use the juice as the base of a smoothie): Carrots, Celery, Kale, Collards, Beets, Spinach - if you want all green you can just use a veggie juice base and add green vegetables, an avocado and spirulina ( I call this the liquid lunch smoothie!)

Green Supplements: Kelp, Spirulina, Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Smoothie Infusion (Vega), Vitamineral Green, Nu Greens, Progressive Greens

Protein: Vega, Hemp, Rice Protein , Sun Warrior, Hemp Seeds, Almonds or Almond Butter, Sheep's Milk Yogurt

Liquid: Filtered water, 100% Fruit juice, Rice milk, Almond milk, Hemp milk, Coconut milk

Sweeteners: Agave nectar, Honey, Maple syrup, Stevia, Dates or Figs

Healthy Fats: Flax oil, Flaxseeds, Coconut oil, Coconut shreds, Chia seeds, Avocado

Other: Carob powder, Cocoa powder, Cinnamon, Non GMO soy- lecithin, maca root, Green or red tea powder, Activated barley and the list goes on....

So here is a sample recipe to get you started....

Scrumptious Coco Shake (a perfect midday snack shake!)

2 Cups almond milk
2 scoops sun warrior chocolate protein powder + 1 tsp raw cacao powder (for extra chocolate)
1 tablespoon soy lecithin
1 tablespoon almond butter
1 banana
1 tsp agave nectar (optional)
1 tablespoon coconut oil (optional)
1 tsp cinnamon

Place all ingredients in blend and blend on high speed for 1 minute. Pour into two glasses and drink immediately!

And this is my typical Breakfast:

Berry Blast Smoothie

1 1/2 cup rice milk
1/2 cup frozen blueberries or 1 packet of Acai Pulp
1/2 frozen banana
1 teaspoon raw honey
1 tablespoon soy lecithin
1 scoop of vega's smoothie infusion
1 tablespoon sprouted chia/flax
dash of cinnamon

Place all ingredients in blend and blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes. Pour into one or two glasses and drink immediately with a glass straw if preferred!