Failing At Stuff

I was born a perfectionist. Alright, “perfectionist” is the word I use for it. My family, friends and coworkers have used other words like “fussy” or “stubborn,” none of which are inaccurate.  When I was young, my mom tried to help me grow out of it. While some of those aggressive edges have rounded a bit, parenthood being a contributing factor, the need to do everything to perfection is still waiting for an opportunity to hound me for even minor failures.

This week in the Culinary Nutrition Expert program, I was tasked with creating my very own recipe. Because our classes are all about cooking for health, I needed the recipe to be fibre-rich and allergen free. I hummed and hawed about the perfect recipe. I wanted to showcase my incredible cooking abilities and the depth of my nutrition knowledge. I decided on a muffin recipe. More specifically, a gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free blueberry muffin recipe. Further, I decided they were going to be the best damn gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free blueberry muffins that I had ever, ever had. I made a colossal mess in the kitchen. I ground the flour myself from wholegrain brown rice and steel cut oats (that should’ve been my first clue) and tried my hand at some long division and organic chemistry to determine how much baking soda and lemon juice could be subbed for baking powder. As you may have guessed, my first batch was terrible. They were oily, heavy, and repulsive. As is evidenced by this photo:

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I was so disappointed, but I knew I could figure it out. I was certain that my second batch would be spectacular! My confidence high, I pulled my second attempt from the oven to find that they were very slightly less oily, heavy, and repulsive, but by a very narrow margin. At this point, I had a decision to make: keep striving for the perfect muffin or go back to the drawing board with something else and accept that maybe today wasn’t the day for the best damn gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free blueberry muffins.  

And you know what? I called it quits on the muffins. And I moved on to try something new, which turned out awesome (Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower with Cilantro-Caper Chutney coming soon!).

As evidenced by this post, this whole situation got me thinking about perfection. When I try something new, I want to be great at it already. I don’t want to have to practice to get better. Unfortunately, that isn’t how things work, especially health-related things. Shifting our food choices, exercise habits, and responses to our own emotions can be really difficult and take years to develop. Just when we think we have a skill mastered, something new pops up and we have to start all over again. That said, don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. Don’t wait to try something new just because you won’t be perfect yet. Don’t wait to make better life choices just because you don’t have the best one figured out yet. Finally, for goodness sake, don’t throw out all the muffins because they aren’t perfect.  


Roasted Yam Wedges For Everyone (and a little bit on feeding babies, too)

I have a sweet little six month old now and she is devouring every single thing I feed her. For my first daughter, I followed the baby-led weaning method when starting solids. To make sure she got enough iron, I also spoon fed her fortified rice cereal. Now that I know more about nutrition and digestive development in babies, however, I know that feeding her well raised, grass-fed meat is a better alternative to feeding her grains (like fortified rice cereal) because her body can’t easily digest grains yet. So this time around, I am spoon-feeding her locally raised, grass-fed beef mixed with homemade bone broth (I’ll do another post on making that later!). But, I still love baby-led weaning because she absolutely wants to grab the spoon and wrestle food into her own mouth, and baby-led weaning encourages that! Plus,  I don’t really love standing there spoon feeding her, either.

But, I digress! In addition to giving her good quality beef ‘porridge’, I also feed her lots of food that we eat too because it is so much simpler than making meals for everyone individually. One of her (and my!) favourites is roasted yams. I use organic yams because those of us with lots of teeth will be eating the skin (I will peel them for the babe until she has enough teeth to chew them effectively, but peeling after cooking is much easier!).  Cooking them with the skin on is also a sure fire way to get extra fibre, beta-carotene, potassium, and iron – all kinds of good-for-you stuff! Once they are good and scrubbed, I drizzle them with avocado oil and sprinkle them with spices before roasting them until they are soft enough to gum :). This time around, I had some leftover 10 spice powder from Oh She Glows that I sprinkled on top. She’s gonna love them! And hopefully you do too!

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Roasted Yam Wedges

Crispy, salty-sweet, yam wedges sure to delight everyone!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 jewel yams (cut into quarters, legthwise)
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil
  • 2 tbsp 10 spice powder from Oh She Glows

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees

  2. Line your biggest baking sheet with parchment paper

  3. Put yams on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Drizzle them with oil and sprinkle them with spices.

  4. Using your hands, coat each wedge with the oil/spice mixture until they are well coated.

  5. Bake for 40 minutes!

  6. Let them cool slightly. Then stand at the counter and eat them. Or share them with your kids if you don't eat them all first!


7 Reasons To See A Nutritionist

Are you a little confused about what a nutritionist does, but don’t really want to ask? The question “when should I see a nutritionist?” has come up a lot in conversations lately, and I thought I would provide some clarification.

A nutritionist’s profession is food and its effects on the body. Many of the ailments that affect us, even things that we have written off as inevitable, can be alleviated and sometimes cured completely by our diet, and working with a nutritionist can help in finding those solutions that are unique to you.

With this in mind, let’s look at seven common complaints that could be traced back to your diet. If you are feeling any of these things, chances are, I can help:

  1. You wake up feeling like you’ve been dragged around the block by a bus. If you find yourself constantly hitting the snooze button, hobbling into the bathroom because your whole body feels stiff, or fighting through a daze for the first part of your day, your diet might be to blame. Nutritionists can help increase the quality of your sleep! However, if you aren’t sleeping because have a six month old, there’s not much I can do about that. If you find out, let me know 🙂
  2. You experience bloating, gas, or heartburn after eating. Those things aren’t normal and are signs that your digestion is compromised.
  3. Your joints ache or are stiff after sitting for periods of time.
  4. You aren’t delivering ‘foot long floaters’. Yes, I’m talking about poop. Your poo is an indicator of gut health. If you go less than once a day, if you are straining at all, or if you have explosions or chronic diarrhea, your guts are out of balance. These types of compromises in your digestion can lead to some pretty serious health problems if they aren’t normalized. For more on what your poo should look like, check out this fun chart https://www.continence.org.au/pages/bristol-stool-chart.html.
  5. Your energy fluctuates throughout the day or you find you’re always reaching for a 3pm snack to get you to dinner. Energy levels are definitely linked with the foods we eat and constant fluctuations are rough on your waistline AND your overall health.
  6. You keep trying new diets, but always seem to be losing the same 10 pounds. Weight loss (or gain) is closely linked with hormones, blood sugar stability, and gut health. Regulating those will help you lose those 10 pounds for good.
  7. Your skin has always driven you nuts. Steroids have helped you manage flare-ups in the past (dry skin, acne, eczema, psoriasis) but it never lasts. Skin is our largest organ and its health reflects the state of your digestive system. Nutritionists can help you bring your digestion back into balance and the “glow” back into your skin.

These are the most common difficulties that can almost always be traced back to your diet, however, there are dozens of other issues with which nutritionists can help. If you are suffering with chronic illness or irritations, or just want to feel your best, contact me or any other Registered Holistic Nutritionist right away!


Crispy, Delicious Roasted Sweet Potato Bites

I decided a while back that this should be the year that I learn to love sweet potatoes. To be completely honest, I’ve never really liked them, mostly because I really love regular potatoes and given any opportunity to chose between the two, I always pick a good old spud. But once I was in nutrition school, I learned all about the nutritional benefits of varying your veggie intake and knew that I should give sweet potatoes a chance. Further, all of my healthy school mates love them and I wanted to be cool like them. And finally, they are high in beta-carotene (the precursor to vitamin A), vitamin C, and fibre (to keep you regular!).

So, to help me fall in love with them, I started roasting them which is a sure fire way to fall in love with most vegetables. I quickly peeled them, chopped them into bite size bits, tossed them in avocado oil (stable at higher heat cooking!), sprinkled them with spices, and roasted them. They turned out perfectly sweet and salty, and could even be spicy (if you’re into that ;)). Once these came out of the oven, I stood at the counter and munched on these tasty treats for a full 5 minutes. Then decided they needed a garlicky counterpart. A zesty chimichurri turned out to be the perfect accompaniment, not only in taste, but in health benefits as well. The parsley and garlic have powerful anti-inflammatory properties and lemon helps our bodies detoxify. Win-win!

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Crispy, Delicious Roasted Sweet Potato Bites

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped (I used GIANT ones)
  • 3 tbsp avocado oil (use enough to generously coat the sweet potato chunks)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (if you like it spicy)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350.

  2. Line the biggest baking sheet you own with parchment paper.

  3. Dump sweet potato chunks onto the parchment lined baking sheet.

  4. Drizzle the sweet potatoes with avocado oil and sprinkle them with salt and spices. Use your hands to rub the oil and spices into the potatoes, ensuring they are well coated. 

  5. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until the sweet potato begins to brown. Then stir them around and bake for another 20 minutes. The goal is to get them golden brown. You may have to cook them a bit shorter or longer depending on how large your potatoes were to begin with. That said, you want lots of browned bits because they are the most delicious.

  6. Let them cool quite a bit before you eat them so that they crisp up!

  7. Sprinkle with a little more salt and if you are feeling fancy, serve with a basic chimichurri sauce (recipe follows). You won't be sorry!

Super Basic Chimichurri

Don't let the fancy name stop you from making this garlicky dipping sauce!

Prep Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup good quality, extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp fresh parsley (finely chopped)
  • 1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 clove minced garlic (or grated on a microplane!)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt (more to taste)

Instructions

  1. Shake everything together in a mason jar!

  2. Enjoy!

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Toddler (and Mama!) Approved Hot Chocolate

We start talking about hot chocolate at my house as soon as the days get cooler . I’ve tried all kinds of whole foods versions with fancy nut butters,  but I like mine the best. It is simple, quick (a must!), and absolutely delicious.

I usually use Organic Traditions cacao powder and vanilla powder because they are additive-free and super tasty. Cacao (yes, I spelled that right ;)) powder is the raw form of cocoa, which means that it is chocolate with its antioxidants, minerals, and other nutrients still in tact. This is essential, because while I try and cram as many good foods into my toddler as possible, she still has a penchant for rice and butter, goldfish crackers, and other processed delights. One of my tricks for keeping her nourished is using good quality, whole ingredients like cacao and creating fun, “normal” things like hot chocolate.

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Toddler (and Mama!) Approved Hot Chocolate

Nutritious hot chocolate made from whole food ingredients.

Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • 2 cups hot water
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk (or other milk of choice!)
  • 1 tbsp cacao powder
  • 2 tsp maple syrup (the real stuff, obvi)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla powder

Instructions

  1. Place everything in the blender.

  2. Blend!

  3. Pour into mugs.

  4. Enjoy!