Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bringing You Back To Life - An Amazing Weekend RE-Treat!

Have you ever just wanted to get away for a weekend to reconnect, rejuvenate and re-energize your whole being? Who doesn't? We often don't get the opportunity to take a mini vacation and escape to nature and explore what really matters in our life. We get so caught up in our busy day to day lives and don't take enough time for ourselves. Well I if I told you that I had an opportunity for you to break away for a weekend mini vacation- to restore your body and your mind - would you do it? ...I hope so!

Here's what I got - I am part of an amazing group of people -organized through Evergreen Adventures and together we are creating a healthy living weekend just for you. A weekend where you can connect with nature and participate in a whole range of activities that are geared towards rejuvenating and rewarding yourself, by bringing your soul back to life!

Can you think of a better way to spend 3 days at the end of the summer? This is for everyone and anyone who is interested experiencing a relaxing weekend that will guide you towards a path of healthy living!

This amazing weekend starts on Friday August 28- Sunday August 30th 2009

And this weekend includes...

4 yoga classes (active hatha and vinyasa flow)
2 interactive healthy living cooking classes (taught by me!)
lessons in canoeing and kayaking
tea tasting and so much more...

So come and experience the 150 acres beautiful waterfront Muskoka property and stay in our 5000 square foot lodge for a weekend of relaxation, fun, and worthwhile activities.

If you are interested in participating in the amazing weekend please click here or call 416.843.6421 or email as spots are filling up fast!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Better than Timbits!

Of course these are better than timbits, because timbits are not even food. So really there is no comparison.(For those of you that don't live in Canada - Timbits are donut holes!) I really should have titled this post "GREAT Balls of Bliss" - because the second you let one of these little gems break apart and melt into your mouth, there is no turning back-you are in bliss. But don't have too many or you will be left with a tummy ache. Each little ball is so power packed full of nutrition - that you only need one or two to satisfy that sweet tooth or give you that much needed burst of energy. Just in case you didn't know, timbits or donuts only do the opposite - they make you tired and sluggish - not to mention there isn't one useful calorie in a donut. As they are filled with empty calories - meaning they contain refined white flour and white sugar and usually some low quality oils. Just for the record each "Bliss" ball is loaded with calcium, protein, fibre, iron, b vitamins, healthy fats and give you long lasting energy and make you feel great! So why not make something that looks just like it, is better for you and has a taste that is out of this world? Really there is not reason not to!

These little guys are so easy to make that all you need a food processor and some basic ingredients. What is also so much fun about making these, is that they are simple and they are not baked or heated. You can also sub in other ingredients and get creative every time you make them. If you or your child has nut allergies, you can use a seed based butter instead of almond butter or just just use pureed dates or figs. You also have the option of putting in all kinds of super foods like goji berries, spirulina powder, raw cacao etc... or you can just keep it to the basics like I did.

Chocolate Coconut-Almond Bliss Balls

3/4 cup almond butter
1/4 cup tahini
1/2 cup maple syrup
3/4 cup sesame seeds
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 cup oat bran
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1 cup coconut flakes


1. Add nut butter, tahini, and maple syrup to a bowl or food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Add sesame seeds, cocoa powder, oat bran and quinoa flakes and blend until mixture becomes like dough.
3. Scrape down sides of food processor as necessary. Spread coconut on a plate.
4. Rolled mixture into 1-inch balls and rolls in shredded coconut.
5. Cover and store in refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Get Composted

In the "not so" lovely land of Toronto these days...garbage is piling up, garbage is piling up high! Because nothing is being picked up. Our garbage is accumulating and our recycling is accumulating and we have so much food waste that we don't know what to do with. But I do have one small solution, there is one small thing that you can do to make some head way and get some things accomplished - START COMPOSTING! It is up to you to make a small difference - even if it is just for you and your family. This could then extend to your neighbors or other surrounding communities. Whether you can find a local resource to take your compost to or you can build or buy your own, that is the best way to get rid of some of this excess food waste. Not only that, but you will have some amazing fertilizer for your garden next season. Based on a previous post Garden of Eatin', I encouraged my readers to get started with a simple garden in their back or front yard.

So to build a compost - whether you have the luxury of a loved one in your family to build one for you :) or have to hire out help from a reliable resource, it is well worth your while - especially in this desperate and "smelly" time of need! Whether it is piling up in your backyard or down your street it has got to be decomposing somewhere and it may as well be on your own property! If you are using organic produce - which I hope you are if you are a reader of my blog then you know that I encourage you to buy only the best quality organic ingredients (especially fruits and veggies ) and in that case you will have the best quality- high nutrient soil that you garden will just soak up! When these ingredients break will be on your way to some good sourced organic and high nutrient fertilizer.

Here are some tips on how to get started....
1. Location - select a level area for your bin with good water drainage. (partially shaded is best, and keep away from walls and fences, bushes, plants and openings of your home).
2. Before you place your bin on the ground, loosen the soil so it is sitting in teh dirt.
3. Once your bin is in place, put a layer of dead plants.
4. 3 STEP SYSTEM: a) Materials (use equal parts of Green and Brown Materials)- see below. Start with browns first, then add a layer of greens. Top greens with layer of soil or finished with compost. b) Moisture: keep your pile as damp as possible c) Air: add air to you pile every 2-3 weeks. Poke holes through the pile with a garden fork.

What to compost:

- grass clippings, flowers, green plant trimmings and newly fallen leaves
-fruit and vegetable peelings
-coffee, tea or fruit or vegetable juice
-grain or pasta products (no sauces or butter)

-dried grass clipping and dried leaves
-small amounts of woodchips
-dryer lint
-thin layers of hardwood ash and sawdust

What NOT to Compost:

-dairy products
-peanut butter or oil based products
-fish, meat, bones, fat
-bbq charcoal or ash
-diseased or infested plants
-weeds with mature seeds
-treated wood products
-animal or human waste

I hope this gives you some insight and inspiration to get COMPOSTING!!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Stirring Things Up!

It's always good to stir things up every now and then. Whether it is in a salad bowl, a pot of soup, a blender or a wok - it is easy to make a nutritious meal out of a combination of great ingredients. As simple as it is to make a stir fry, I find that often people are very intimidated to "stir" things up in their own kitchen. I often get asked by my clients or participants at workshops and even in my cooking classes - "what do I put into a stir fry? how many veggies can I use? what type of protein should I use? how do I make a "healthy" Teriyaki sauce?" These are all great questions, but it is much easier than people think to make a great stir-fry. I just tell people to just get creative and have fun! What you need to get started is a wok or a large stainless steel pan. I use Titanium cookware for my pots, pans and woks- they are great quality, conduct the best heat, non coated and rarely get burned or have stuff stuck to them - so in essence perfect for a stir fry! Once you have that all set, get your stove top turned up to high heat, throw a little grapeseed oil or coconut oil in the pan (two great oils for high heat cooking) and start stirring. You need to be quick, small movements, always keep the veggies moving. Don't ever let them stay in one spot for too long. You want to cook them, but just a little - a really good stir fry will have crisp, tender and colourful veggies - that are just lightly cooked. There is nothing worse then a wilted brown, dark and soggy stir fry!
What I love about making stir fry's - is that you can get as creative as you want and just throw anything in there. You can make a different combination every time! So there really should be no stress about choosing the right vegetables. For starters it is always good to have some onions, celery and carrots, they provide a great base. Then go crazy with anything like kale, broccoli, bok choy, peppers, bean sprouts, snap peas, green beans to zucchini and even eggplant. For my delicious bowl of goodness (photo above) this week I grabbed a whole bunch of fresh veggies from my garden (kale, carrots, broccoli, snap peas) added some purple cabbage and combined them with marinated Tempeh, Spelt/Buckwheat Soba Noodles and a simple "Teriyaki" sauce (you can just make some extra sauce and use that to marinate the tempeh).
Then I topped it with homemade sprouted mung beans. This just added a little extra boost of protein and raw enzymes to my meal to keep it fresh, light and crunchy!

So next time you want to stir things up, don't be afraid! Grab some veggies, cook up some buckwheat noodles or brown rice, top it with marinated tempeh (or tofu, organic chicken, wild fish) for a change, and you will have yourself a nutritious and satisfying dinner!

Simple Teriyaki Sauce:

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1/4 cup tamari
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon of chopped ginger
juice of one orange
1-2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon brown rice syrup

Friday, July 10, 2009

StreEats of New York!

I have to admit, the variety of amazing healthy, organic and vegan food in new york it out of this world. Whether you want to dine in style or dine casually, are there a number of options (especially for vegetarians, vegans and raw foodies!).
So I was in New York for a fabulously beautiful 4th of July weekend. The weather was perfect and I got to visit and stay with a great friend from the culinary school I went to last year - The Natural Gourmet. I literally took advantage of the weekend and lived it up with some really good food.
It all started with an amazing lunch at One Lucky Duck- an incredible little vegan cafe that has the best salads, smoothies, juices and tasty desserts. It is the takeout and more casually version of the restaurant Pure Food and Wine which I will get to later in this post. I had the most amazing salad, filled with greens, hemp seeds, avocado and their amazing rosemary almond crackers and sweet miso dressing. I also ordered their amazing lemonade (ginger+lemon+agave and sea salt)

Then we took a walk down to the east village for some much anticipating vegan "ice cream". This little place called STOGO has it all! A variety of different flavours and toppings- all vegan - Yup that means no dairy, sugar or other hidden junk like artificial binders, food colouring and hydrogenated fats!
I ordered simple for my first trip there, as I really just wanted to taste the pureness of the ice cream - so I landed with coconut- chocolate and my friend has coconut vanilla bean! They were both amazing! If you live in NY or are going there soon, please drop by and have a treat!

We were a little unsure of what to have for dinner that night because we saw an off-Broadway show around dinner time Fuerza Bruta (crazy!). So we opted for late meal.Which generally I don't like to do, but when on vacation in New York - you've got to give somewhere! We landed at this little place called Hummus Kitchen - where they make hummus from organic chickpeas. It really was the best Hummus in NYC!! Now because I don't eat wheat - that means no white or whole wheat pita bread - I went to Whole Foods beforehand and grabbed a bag of spelt wraps. (Yes I bring my own food into restaurants!) That way I can enjoy the whole meal!!

So on Saturday July 4th - we headed to Brooklyn. Didn't really spend too much time there back when I lived in New York - so it was nice to go back. It is like Manhatten but simpler, more spread out and there is some green there- meaning lots of trees! (Actually they are also very GREEN as well, lots of amazing little eco shops!)
So we went to this little veg place in Brooklyn called the V Spot - and I had the most delicious open faced corn tortilla with black beans, kale and avocado! It was soo good and so simple! I have got to make these more often at home!

For dinner, I had the extreme pleasure of being invited over to one of my chef teachers from the natural gourmet's home. I have to say that we cooked up a meal (more like a feast) that was better than anything you would find at any vegetarian restaurant! Herb infused red quinoa, roasted yams, braised tempeh, sauteed rainbow chard and asparagus and a local greens salad with a homemade lemon vanilla vinaigrette and a peach berry crumble for dessert with coconut "ice cream"! Again, so simple and so delicious!

The next morning we were still so full - from the meal that all we could handle for breakfast was a giant green juice! Lunch, we ate in central park - just packed up a couple of spelt wraps filled with hummus, veggies and sprouts and we were good to go!
Now dinner was the absolute highlight of the trip. We dined at Pure Food and Wine where I not only did a one month internship following the chef training progam at NGI, but it is also the sexiest, most delicious raw vegan food you will ever eat. The plates are gorgeous, the portions are good and they are extremely creative! For an appetizer we had king oyster mushrooms topped with cashew cheese and black garlic with baby greens. The main courses looked so good at first glance-that I only noticed after the meal, that I forgot to take pictures!
One always knows to save room at Pure Food as their desserts are truly like no other. They have the absolute best "ice cream" made from cashew milk. It is so creamy and rich, that I promise you wouldn't notice a difference. The only difference you would notice is that your stomach isn't gurgling and that there isn't a sugary/milky coating left in your mouth!
I had my all time favourite - the chocolate chip mint sundae and my friend had an Indian spiced sampler plate!

As you can see, I ate very well in New York. It is hard not to with so many amazing restaurants. Even on my last day there, I spoiled myself all over again and went to Quintessence, back to Stogo, back to One Lucky Duck and then to the Union Square green market to take home some goodies!
So if you haven't been to New York yet, I encourage you to go, get some culinary inspiration or at least just infuse your palate with some originality and unique tastes. For me it is a treat, it just makes me that much more eager to create some new innovative dishes!
So get out there and hit those streEATS of New York and treat yourself!!

Improve Peach Berry Crisp!

1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup spelt flour
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp melted coconut oil
pinch of sea salt

2 peaches
2 nectarines
1/2 cup each blueberries, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries
2 tbsp lemon juice

1. mix topping ingredients in a bowl, set aside
2. slice up the peaches and nectarines and toss in a bowl with berries, lemon juice and cinnamon
3. place the fruit in a large baking dish, top with oat crumble - until evenly distributed
4. bake at 350 F for about an hour

Serve with vanilla coconut ice cream!