Posted in Healthy, Home Economics, Kid Friendly, Opinions & Commentaries, Recipes

Meal Preps aren’t just for Gym Junkies

So I think everyone talks about how there is “no time” to eat healthy, home cooked meals. 

Really? (Ok, no guilt trip here about time management pitfalls in life.)

Solution: Meal Preps

The problem is I don’t see families doing it enough unless someone is a regimented gym go-er with some “fitness” or weight goals. (No lecture either on healthy body image here…. today anyways.)

So how about a three hour family party cooking on a weekend?

And if one week, Emma has to go to dance and Martin is at hockey – start scheduling a time or swapping meal prep weekends into your iPhone or Google calendar – putting it in their makes it more likely to do it. And “inviting” people (even roommates or friends) makes you more likely and accountable to do it. (Everyone seems to have a fitness buddy, why not have a healthy meal prep buddy too!?)

The more members participating the more hands to help and the more recipes that can be made. 

The idea is, cook once, eat twice (or even 4 times)!

 

Turn one big recipe into…

 
7 individual meals to eat later.
  

And once you start seeing the ease of reheating frozen meals YOU MADE, you will keep with your values of a healthy lifestyle when time runs away from you. 

Meal preps are just as good for single adults and retired or widowed folks. Imagine you creating your own “meals on wheels” program for yourself and others (share/exchange with friends). 

 Just make a double batch (for families especially) and divide into reusable containers to freeze as individual meals.  The more recipes you make, the more selection you have. If using a smaller recipe or living alone, immediately serve one portion into a container when putting some on a plate for yourself. 

Being that I can be alone at dinner sometimes when the kids are with the ex and Mr Ginger is working, I tend to not value cooking for little, ol’ me. It’s not healthy, so these are care packages I make myself so that I get an amazing home cooked dinner when sometimes I don’t feel like I’m worth the effort. (I know, I know…..I’m getting better at it but successes are along the journey not just the final destination/goal, so I’m celebrating my advances). 

I also find this handy for when everyone wants something different for dinner:

Mary wants pasta (yes cooked pasta and sauce can be frozen!),

Emily wants pulled pork (usually matched up with a whole wheat bun),

Mr R Ginger loves my chilli,

And sometimes I feel like homemade chicken soup (bone broth, veggies & meat with or without noodles). 

Round your meal out with extra vegetables and everyone is happy with no one stressing with the question “What’s for dinner?”.

Benefits:

  • Saves time
  • Healthier eating
  • More time during busy periods in your schedule 
  • Less stress/arguments
  • Goals/values are easier to achieve
  • Family time
  • Trying new recipes (especially if exchanging with friends or other families)
  • Perfect way to use up bulk store purchases
  • Saving money by making something with sale or discounted items
  • Emergency meals when budget gets tight or an unexpected event happens (someone gets sick, extra meeting/appointment)

Cons:

  • 2-3 hours a week is required
  • Freezer space is needed
  • Requires patience and team work when allowing all family members (young, old, less skilled) to help

Great Recipes to Split:

  • Chilli
  • Pasta sauce – homemade
  • Soups/broths made from previous roasted chicken or turkey dinner
  • Stirfries
  • Crockpot meals
  • Roast and veggies 
  • Hot appetizer dips

Any meal you can think of that would be great to make ahead?

Don’t forget that the bonus is you’ll already have a meal for that night as well! Or maybe a buffet!

Make home cooking a reality by scheduling it into your calendar for next weekend (and grocery shop accordingly – plan 2 to do) right now!  Go ahead, I’ll wait…..

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Posted in Healthy, Home Economics, Kid Friendly, Opinions & Commentaries, Recipes

Time Management: In the kitchen?

Transferable skills taught at home? 

Do you think that it’s only in school and jobs that teach them? Time management in the kitchen can translate into more than you think. 

Home economics and recipes teach this widely sought after resume-listed skill? Yes. Absolutely. I’m not kidding.  And you can teach an 8 year old the rules of physics and chemistry while you are at it. Just let them cook on their own at home. The first time they burn something, they have just learned a lesson about timing and attention to detail. 

I realized that I’m not SuperMom. But I have great organization and understand timing is very important. (Anyone ever dated and had that one that got away only to find a better match came along? )

I made the following tonight in 1.5 hours including me feeding three kids and sitting down to eat myself within that! 

Meat sauce with whole wheat pasta cooking.
  
Butternut squash (3 large) turned into the leaning tower of future side dishes.
  

Classic apple crisp is a great dessert, snack or breakfast.

We ended up with enough leftovers and frozen meals to eat healthy for days!

So how did I manage to make dinner before the older one’s youth group (with best friend in tow)?

Timing

Kitchen Tip: If you have a recipe down pat, and you know the timing, fit it in between regular dinner cooking. 

How? 

Cook the meal you decided on but also preheat the oven. While its cooking, prepare another recipe that requires the oven and has a similar temperature. When the dinner is done, throw in the second prepped recipe (in this case apple crisp) and sit down to eat. Put the timer on for the “oven”/second recipe. When it goes off, check to see if it’s ready. If so, remove to cool while you finish your dinner. (Or serve it, if you made a two course meal or dessert.)

My more advanced Home Economics skills (food/nutrition, time/balance, frugal/financial) allowed me to also prep the butternut squash (wash, cut, scoop) after throwing on a pot of water (for the pasta). I started the sauce on medium heat on the stovetop so I could finish prepping the squash. Then threw it in while I turned up the heat on the sauce. 

Why even bother doing this kitchen dance? 

To try saving energy costs and your valuable personal time, by using your hot oven and prepping meals ahead.  

But really, this is a lesson in time management. Possibly multi-tasking. It’s like a juggler honing their craft. Begin with one ball and work your way up to juggling two. If you can do three, you’ll be Queen/King of your kitchen. 

It’s a great thing to teach your kids too. Deadlines in school are real and teach the same thing. Why not have them learn the same skill a different way while giving them tangible cooking skills at home (sadly these aren’t taught in schools anymore)?

And if for nothing else, a kitchen lesson with them in the lead one evening might give them an appreciation for why one night their meal got burnt because you were too busy helping with their art project due the next day. 😉

*Reading a recipe or cookbook does not teach one how to cook, but it is in making messes and mistakes that one masters their kitchen, home and life. ~S.Venneri 

Posted in Home Economics, Local, On Location, Ontario, Opinions & Commentaries, Recipes, Special Events

I went to a Food Fight and won!

I was invited to participate in the Arts & Cookery Bank’s Food Fight this summer when I poked my head into their amazing heritage and social enterprise site in West Lorne, ON. (See my previous post on the tour I received.)

IMG_0504It was really a push outside my box.  Not the black box that contained the secret ingredients.  The comfort zone I had remained in.  I was asked by Coupons for Hunger to compete in a salsa competition at the Covent Garden Market the previous year.  Being a single mom, I turned down the opportunity. I usually never back down from a challenge, but after a few years of not fitting myself into any specific niche or exact career in food and nutrition, I had less than optimal confidence at the time.   It was a regret I had – I could have taken the girls along (they love these sorts of things!

So, I said yes this time.  I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and when given second chances – TAKE THEM!  Out of my shy box and into the black box I dove!

The experience was a whirlwind.  Days leading up to the anxiety increased: Would my product flop? Would my friend bail on me at the last minute?  Would I embarrass myself in front of the judges including Emily Richards, fellow P.H.Ec.?

But honestly the day came, and I was happy to just do it.  I was conquering my fears of failure and doing what I normally do: give it my best effort and have fun.  It’s not like I was doing brain surgery and someone’s life was at stake!  It was just food. And I love food, cooking and adventures! So what’s the worst that could happen? I was going to get messy and lose.  Ah well, I’ve had worse happen to me. And wasn’t West Lorne far away from London and Niagara – who would know? Except maybe my twitter followers because I tweeted it.  But who really follows me anyways? But if you are looking, you can follow me here 😉IMG_0693

So we got to the place around 6:40pm.  The first of that round of teams to arrive.  We grabbed a few pics to remember our experience.  We waited, and tried to figure out any hints.  We discussed options based on what we knew:

  • It was to focus on local ingredients but give it a new twist
  • It was to be part of the product development for a signature line of preserves for sustainability at the Arts & Cookery Bank (great idea, like YOU in London, ON)
  • It would possibly use what was in season (being near Lake Erie – I thought tomatoes, blueberries, honey)

7 pm came and we were allowed to enter the kitchen.

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But then we walked in, donned our aprons and each team was given a different black box – so no cheating off others’ ideas! We were allowed to use other ingredients around the Cookery Kitchen – onions, garlic, peppers, gooseberries, strawberries, fresh herbs, carrots, tomatoes.

I opened up the box and we had:

  1. Ground Tumeric
  2. Fresh Ginger
  3. Local Honey

I got so excited and my friend was less than impressed.  I used those ingredients all the time, her hardly ever!

We were also told we had to make an edible paste and 4 litres of the product!  What???!!! They told us they didn’t want a jam.  It had to spread using a knife, not a spoon.  Oh my!!!  This threw I think all three teams for a loop.  Oh and did I mention we had 3 hours to complete the entire task – ideas to product completed and in jars!? Glad I’m an energetic person that is a “planner” and very organized.

So we came up with a plan to do roasted peppers and make a chutney-like spread.  We asked the other teams if we could take all the 10-12 peppers in the basket. They were good with that and so away we went.

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Working as a team with a friend was different.  We both cook daily AND teach nutrition and cooking, but have never done it together!  And did I tell you that we are both Italian decent?  (Of course we were louder than the other groups and using our hands a lot more to talk 😉 Don’t pretend you weren’t thinking it! It’s true and we are culturally proud!)  She roasted the peppers on the gas grill and I began the recipe development.  I tried three tiny batches because we had super limited ingredients to make 4 litres – every piece of pepper was worth their weight in gold!  In turn we worked pretty good together, considering we have our own style and personality.

I’m a ginger lover (yes Mr. R. Ginger can attest to that in both ways 😉 ) and my friend is not.  So that meant that I had to reduce the ginger until she was not completely disagreeing with the amounts I added.  Other than that, I reduced the sweetness of honey as well – that natural sweetener really packs a punch!  Tumeric is a very easy spice to use and it’s difficult to really add way too much.  But it does stain everything yellow – so watch your apron, tea towels, finger nails and skin!

We struggled with making 4 litres and added more onions, carrots and gooseberries to the mix at times.  We used an immersion blender to blend some of the chopped roasted peppers to make a spread consistency and left some for a chunky “edible paste” – definitely not the norm.  The other two groups used the standard corn starch thickening method to try get their product to a consistency.  Hats off to the Sweets Bakery ladies who got gooseberries as a main ingredient.  They did make it LOOK good – like a bakery product with a kind of “whipped cream” topping!

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Looking a little exhausted but task completed!


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We didn’t want to change the taste so we committed to having less than 4 litres and keeping the taste better.  My idea for the product jars was to add carrot ribbons to be a part of a garnish of sorts (DYK: a “garnish” technically HAS to be edible) and make it even more visually appealing.  Topped that with parsley leaves and voila, our finished product:

Honey Ginger Roasted Pepper Spread

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We packaged them up and then found three other jars we were supposed to fill!  So we got a spoon out and started robbing Peter to pay Paul.  We made the timeline with a completed EDIBLE product!  Success!

Funny or interesting things that were part of our experience:

  • Blood, sweat and tears were put into this product development: She cut her finger (yes, even veterans do it!), we were sweating buckets and running around a lot, and I had to chop onions and cried a few tears
  • My carrot ribbons were taken as “scrap” and whisked away to be thrown out
  • We had a clean up crew that was fantastic – and now I realize why “chefs” are so lucky – they never clean up after themselves – Professional Home Economists, we do because who else it going to at home?  I was spoiled to get to use endless dishes! A big THANK YOU to those wonderful volunteers!

We had a great time doing it and all our hard work paid off:  we won the business category under my Nutrition Bites Consulting business!  We were not in attendance, but Grace made sure to hold on to our gift bags/prizes.  We received two cookbooks from the judges Jill Wilcox from Jill’s Table in London, ON and Emily Richards new cookbook coming out in the fall.  We also enjoyed Forrat’s chocolates and other kitchen stuff including an awesome heavy duty Foodland Ontario apron as well.  I’m sorry we missed out on the final event that Saturday, including Fresh Air Media’s Andrew Campbell, who is an educated young farmer in the area who is a great public speaker and media host.

The best part of the entire experience: I survived a personal and public challenge and am better for it.  And it had to do with food.  When can things ever go wrong from pushing your limits?  It definitely made me more confident in my abilities, even though deep down I know that I shouldn’t really be that hard on myself.  I learned to have faith in what I know is there, but the world might not know yet.

Hello World, I’m out of the box now and happy to face my next challenge!

The swag, the kitchen, the product and the home ec brains behind the winning product.
The swag, the kitchen, the product and the home ec brains behind the winning product.
Posted in Home Economics, Local, On Location, Ontario, Recipes, Special Events

It’s official – I’m a Black Box Food Challenge Winner!

So, a previous post on The Arts & Cookery Bank in West Lorne, ON did tell of the Food Fight Challenge that I was asked to enter.  I’m proud to say that my home ec teacher friend, Tiz, and I won the business category (yes for my Nutrition Bites Consulting business).  I’ll bring you through the whole process and my experience (good and bad – always honest here!) in another post.  But I thought I’d share a picture until I have time to finish my Black Box Experience post.

Our finished product was a Honey Ginger Roasted Pepper Spread.

The swag, the kitchen, the product and the home ec brains behind the winning product.
The swag, the kitchen, the product and the home ec brains behind the winning product.

I believe they are planning this event to be an annual thing – so sign us up for Food Fight 2016!  We have a title to defend!

Posted in Healthy, Home Economics, Opinions & Commentaries, Recipes

My Worst “Client” – First Episode (Juicing) in a Continuing Series

Welcome to my crazy blogging idea.  I am introducing Nutrition Bites: “My Worst Client” series.  Follow along with the frustrating and REAL struggles people have with their health, sifting through the myths of “what’s healthy?” and using my partner in crime as the basis for these examples.

I am using “Mr. R. Ginger” as my example of how frustrating behaviour change can be to me – the nutrition educator who is educated in the field as well as bio-medical sciences and home economics – yet the realistic problems our lives truly gives us to stay healthy and balancing it with family, time and the rest of a holistic life.

So it won’t be pretty, there might be some tears and definitely some laughs out of this series. It will expose the true life of a nutri-foodie, and how no one is perfect.  I’m learning from Mr. Ginger some of the best things – practical solutions with those we love and meeting in the middle at health and happiness.  I hope he has a sense of humour and no access to internet …………. kidding.  

Join us on the journey of the messiness of mixing two views on health, food and, what else, nutrition!

Let’s be clear.  I do not “juice”.  I might “jam” but I do not really find the appeal to juicing.  I hate extra machines cluttering up my kitchen.  I hate the extra cleaning of things that aren’t necessary.  And I just am lazy – if I want juice, I’d rather have it in the whole food or once in a while buy a carton.

So walk in my “worst client” – Mr. R. Ginger – my boyfriend and partner-in-crime.

Getting used to another adult in my life has been interesting and a bit challenging.  One thing is that we have different types of days: I’m the mom at home with a part time job, he’s doing shift work 6 days a week with hours of overtime.  This results in he is about convenience and I am about from scratch.  Don’t get me wrong – he loves (and can cook) healthy food but has no time for it.

Sound familiar?  Yep – everyone seems to be having this complaint – busy lives and no time to put personal health first.

One thing we definitely disagree on is juicing.  He has been juicing for years (I gathered this info through assumption only). He says it gives him lots of energy and it is a healthier option than caffeine.  I say whole foods are better (he doesn’t seem to disagree with that directly) and that he’s losing all that fiber (he juices carrots, ginger and lemon together – seems that is his only recipe) and other healthy components in the “waste”.  He doesn’t care.  AHHHHHHH! Frustration sets in with this nutrition-trained mother and educator.

So true love means that you actually love all parts of that person – even the parts that you don’t understand (or agree with).  It’s not a deal breaker in a relationship but for my career passion for wellness set me into “let’s change his mind” on this.  It turns out – I might have changed mine!  (Keep reading all you science people – I will show you the other side and explain.)

Waste not, Want not.

So I decided to take all that awesome fiber and do something with it.  I figure all these people are juicing and wasting all this good stuff – but old pioneer would do something with the “waste”.  (Science and history question: Do you know what gelatin is made of at times?  I can tell you it’s not always a vegan source. )  My solution was to make my little one’s favourite carrot muffin recipe and tweak it.

Having spent endless years in a kitchen and having food science classes, I just did my weird concoctions of liquid versus dry and trying to make it as healthy and yummy as possible.  I couldn’t believe that my first try turned out amazing (that doesn’t usually happen in a test kitchen…. just saying…. so it’s something to be super pumped about!).

So Mr. R. Ginger juices a 3 lb bag of carrots, 1/4 of a lemon and about a 1.5 inch piece of fresh ginger. (There are two reasons I picked that name!).

Juicing carrots, ginger and lemon.
Juicing carrots, ginger and lemon.

And this is what is left when I’m done juicing for him (remember he works shift work, and I’m a team player! Namaste = The spirit in me honours the spirit in you.).

Carrot Juicing waste Carrot juice &

Who would want to throw that out, or even keep putting this in my composter sometimes 3 times a week?!  NO WAY!

Resourceful and frugal Sandra to the rescue.  Save the fiber!!!!*

The original carrot cake recipe is from one of my favourite cookbooks, The Essential Baking Cookbook by Bay Books.  On page 57 is a Carrot Cake recipe.  We use it for muffins as well.  It is scrumptious and begged for her First Communion cake (instead of store bought!) by my little one who is 8.  But what I realized was is that this recipe was not going to stand up to the dry leftovers from the juicing machine. So here comes Professional Home Economist and recipe developer extraordinaire – Sandra Venneri aka Nutrition Bites.

Here is MY original recipe. It is notably different from the recipe I used for the cake.  So it was a starting point, and then my creativity took over:  I made carrot fibre muffins from Mr. Ginger’s juicing “waste”*. Perfect for a take-along to a BBQ potluck or family picnic!

“Morning Glory” Carrot Ginger Fibre Muffins

(AKA – Juicing-Waste Carrot, Ginger & Lemon High-Fibre Muffins)

Ingredients:

Dry

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon (or 1 tsp cinnamon plus 1 tsp of poudre douce)
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp of nutmeg (optional)

Wet

  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/2 cup of brown sugar (optional if using molasses!)
  • 1/3 cup of molasses (alternative is 1/3 cup of golden corn syrup)
  • 1/2 cup of apple juice
  • 104 ml (or 1 single serve cup) of apple sauce, unsweetened
  • 4 eggs

Plus

  • 2 1/2 cups of carrot juice leftovers
  • 1/2 cup of nuts and/or seeds (pecans, walnuts, hemp hearts, chia seeds, etc) (optional)

(Note: approximately 2-3 lbs of carrots, 2 inch piece of fresh ginger & 1/4 of a lemon makes 500 mL of juice and 3-5 cups of “waste” or fresh fibre)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 315 F or 160 C
  2. Spray or wipe muffin trays with extra oil (or use muffin liners).
  3. Combine all the dry ingredients in one bowl and make a well in the center.
  4. Combine all the wet ingredients in a second bowl and blend well.  Then add to the dry ingredients and mix together.
  5. Add carrot juice “waste”/fibre to the batter.  Add nuts and/or seeds if desired.
  6. Fill muffin tins 3/4 full and bake for 22-25 minutes.  Check first at 20 minutes for done-ness with a toothpick.  If it comes out completely clean – they are done!

Servings: 24 small muffins

Notes:

  • So I have tried variations.  And sometimes they do not come out perfect.  This is more due to the lack of moisture – so it can get a little tricky (and sticky) when the balance of liquid vs. dry ingredients isn’t perfect due to different juicers and the amount of liquid needing to be replaced in this recipe.  Tinker with the amount of apple juice used if this is ever an issue and you think you need more liquid.
  • Molasses use can allow for reduction or elimination of the brown sugar.  Using molasses instead of corn syrup will definitely add to the flavour but it can be an acquired taste.  My older daughter wasn’t too pleased with this variation, yet my younger one prefers this one because she actually found it sweeter and I didn’t use ANY brown sugar!

The Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting that is in the cookbook is a great pairing for but I tweaked it for my taste buds as well as to reduce waste and be more health conscious for serving sizes:

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting 

Ingredients:

  • 4 oz (or half a brick 125 g) of softened, cream cheese
  • 2 oz (or 60g) of softened butter
  • 1 1/2 cup of icing sugar
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp of lemon juice
  • zest of one lemon (optional).

Instructions:

  1. Cream cheese and butter together.
  2. Add icing sugar to butter and cream cheese.  Blend well.
  3. Add vanilla, lemon juice and zest and mix together.

A while ago, I posted an Instagram of the regular recipe with the Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting here:

Carrot Muffins with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting – Instagram @Nutritionbites

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So here is the result (of just the muffins minus the frosting):

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Carrot Juicing Muffins made with molasses.
Carrot Juicing Muffins made with corn syrup.
Carrot Juicing Muffins made with corn syrup.  This time I used a gifted Betty Crocker brownie “oven” instead of turning up the heat and oven during the summer.  It works well!
And here is some of the conclusions I came to after this (ongoing) experience,

  • Juicing is something that many educated people are doing
  • There is a lot of waste in juicing, that in my nutrition and frugal ways, is not good
  • So much fibre is lost by not eating whole foods
  • There is noted benefits of feeling “energy” by juicing but I would highly suggest this comes from not the vitamins and minerals (do you feel that way if you just took a multi-vitamin?) but from the quick boost of natural sugars in the juice/liquid that are absorbed quicker into our bodies when it’s not within the whole carrot/food.
    • Yet I wonder about the studies of juicing and insulin spikes after consuming these types of juices?
  • There is a way to use the “waste” or fiber that is lost in juicing to keep it in your diet – my muffin recipe!*
    • These are high in fibre so it’s a great alternative to high fibre additives like bran in bran muffins.  (Bran is one of three parts of whole wheat – bran (fibre), germ (vitamins) and endosperm (energy/carbohydrates, white/all-purpose flour))
  • Some people will hold on to their beliefs and habits even after several chats with an educated source
  • Minds can compromise and people can adapt (I call that a practice of mindfulness perhaps) to their family members.  This requires creativity and willingness to not pick on the little things that really don’t matter. It takes the bigger person to do so (um, that’s me in this case!)
  • Professionals that have to coach and help people with behaviour change/modification should be sensitive to know that success is not measured on a piece of paper – it’s measured in happiness based on the client’s goals (as long as they are not doing harm of course!).  They are the expert in their lives – so we can show statistics and science-based evidence, but if they do not want to change, or do not see it that way – perhaps the best thing to do is be empathetic and see how they want things to go, and help them on their path (not the path you saw for them or hope for them).
  • Oh, and for one last #nutritionbites comment: Mr. R. Ginger, the client, noted “lots of fibre” the muffins had after devouring a ton of them. Hint, hint.. and kind of a “ha ha, proof is in the pudding/muffin ;)” as well!. So maybe, just maybe, I might have to lead the horse to water (or fibre).  Just like those who will eat what is put in front of them (which is most people), I think Mr Ginger should be thankful for my brains, beauty and heart 😉 “A way to a man’s heart (and health) is through his stomach”….. and sometimes, in the hands of his wonderful, nutri-foodie partner in crime! 

Sign up for email notifications of my next blog post.  They include the following as well as my trips and adventures as a nutri-foodie, mom and home economist!

Next topics in the Worst “Client” series include:

  • “Cantaloupe loses too many nutrients if you do not eat it right after it is cut!”
  • Binge eating the same meals for weeks, then cold turkey changes!
  • Shift work makes it difficult to stay healthy
  • “I’d really love to learn more about mindfulness but yoga isn’t my thing” – an experiment of possible change

Thanks for reading!  Don’t forget to like, share and comment – I will respond!  And let me know how your recipe turns out!

(Using molasses was inspired by a contest by Crosby’s Molasses, so don’t forget to get creative in YOUR kitchen too with tried and true ingredients.)

*Update: New research and food companies now support my idea about using carrot waste. Here’s the link! http://www.fooddive.com/news/carrot-byproduct-may-be-the-next-big-fiber/424215/

Another article from a Harvard blog supporting my thoughts: higher intake of calories, sugar spikes & not feeling full with juicing. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/fresh-juice-drinks-healthy-seem-2016072910044

Posted in Healthy, Opinions & Commentaries, Recipes

My Opinion to “Juicing”

Juicing has been in the media for a couple of weeks now.  My 8-year- old daughter (a mini me in the making – God help the world :)), comes home and says “Did you know? They are getting rid of juices in the Food Guide.”  And yes it was stated like that – a fact.  I smiled and corrected her so that she could understand it was a debate right now.

So myself and Deb from ‘NSTEP discussed juicing a year ago (us grassroots charity people tend to be in-the-know and on the ground to know the trends earlier than what mass media can express).  It was definitely a one-sided conversation (no wonder I like working with her!).

I teach with ‘NSTEP in schools and I even tweaked lessons to be used at a local girls camp held at a university in town.  What do I teach – whole foods are way better than parts of it.  We use language like “healthier” instead of “bad” and “good” – it’s called positive reinforcement.

My problem with our North American society right now is that we are starting to classify even whole foods that come from nature.  One day a new “super food” is being promoted, and the next day we are villainizing another.

Learn from this old gal and goes along with a presenter at the Southern Ontario DC Conference this year – we do not know EVERYTHING!  I worked for Agriculture & AgriFood Canada for many summers and as well at 3 different locations across Ontario.  One fall, I was in a chemistry lab trying to discover the phytochemicals in strawberries in the late 1990s.

Strawberry in hand

We “know” now that a component in red wine (resveratrol) and healthy fats (olive oil) can possibly help with heart disease as we look to a Mediterranean diet (my dad is Italian and I can tell you this is not always the case when you live in Canada and your diet changes).

We “know” that blueberries are full of antioxidants that help prevent cancer to a point – but really who studied the blueberries and not the chemistry they are made up with?  (Petri dish vs pills/nutraceuticals vs whole foods)  We don’t know what combinations exist in nature to split everything up and give praise or blame to one part.

We “know” so many things that we didn’t “know” before.  Why do I put it like this – because like the presenter at the conference said (I’m paraphrasing here)- even if we don’t know something now, we cannot ignore the fact that we might not have discovered the health benefits of some food or diet – even if science cannot back it up at the moment.

Advice – Take everything with a grain of salt – good or bad.

I’m a huge believe in scientific studies as I have helped with enough in my days.  I believe that there is so much proof about many things we do actually “know”.  But there is a business behind publishing studies that the public might not know – many studies never get published…. this is based many times on how any magazine would publish things including public interest, funders, the people reviewing the studies as well as if the study came back with NO significant results.

I think the best approach to reading mass media in this over-information age is to stick with tried and true.  Whole foods have many health benefits.  A peach (Niagara native here), cheese, eggs, beef, wheat – why put one on a pedestal (or ditch completely) because of the one study a popular newspaper or the Dr Oz-of-the-day goes on about.

So here’s what I teach – an orange is better than the juice itself.  It has all that fiber that you are missing by having the juice. This helps to slow the digestion of all the components in the orange making less (natural) sugar spikes as well as keeping you fuller for longer. Nature made things more “perfect” in my opinion than whatever concoction we can come up with in a lab or factory or with a (juicing) machine.  And juice is better than an orange “drink” or “beverage” or “snack” that is not 100% juice.

image

We live in a world where there is convenience and products being marketed to us constantly.  I don’t see fig trees promoting themselves as the new best thing – they grow, they exist, they are not the only food in the world.  They have great things in them even if there isn’t enough funding for massive studies, promoting the figs themselves or assisting the farmers to, or we haven’t discovered yet or “know” what beautiful benefits nature has in those juicy, sweet and delicious treats this Canadian-Italian girl has stolen from the ants in her dad’s garden after the mulberries were snatched before the birds ravished the tree’s harvest.

Figs Fig tree

Listen to your body.  Eat whole foods.  Let’s get back to the basics.  Back to nature.  And oddly enough, we might have to do a bit of cooking as well along the way. Everything that is old is new again (and I don’t mean Kraft Dinner 😉 ).

Me & Mulberries

Stay tuned for my solution to “juicing” leftovers with my “worst client” 🙂  Post coming this week!

(For more info on ‘NSTEP please visit http://www.nstep.ca)