But I HATE Kale! (Full Disclosure, I Don’t)

This is a refrain I hear all the time. The most “egregious” (according to its detractors) is kale. You know I’m a kale fan, but I can understand how this fibrous, unfamiliar vegetable can be challenging for some people. It doesn’t taste like peas, beans, or carrots. It can be earthy. It looks funny. And it can be tough if not prepared correctly.

So what can you do with kale? Here are some ways we like it in our house:

In smoothies. You need to pair it with something very flavourful and colourful. Try a banana, a beet, and some ginger and cinnamon, in addition to plant milk. The beet will keep it from looking green (or worse, brown). Cocoa powder is another addition that can really make a difference. Or go full-on green and instead of the beets, add an avocado.

In a delicious soup with onions, chickpeas, a little potato, and chorizo. Basically chop it and sweat it with a lot of onion (three or more, diced), then add a chopped potato, a diced chorizo, a couple of cups of cooked chickpeas, and enough water to fill a large pot (like a French or Dutch oven). Simmer until everything is tender. Thanks to the onion and chorizo it will make its own broth.

Kale chips – fans swear by these but I will fully admit I’ve eaten them but never made them at home.

In a stir-fry. Much like cabbage, sliced thinly, it will take on the flavours of the other ingredients.

Last but not least, in a salad. Chop it relatively finely. Don’t use the stems or tough ribs. And mix it with a tender lettuce (like cos or Bibb) and a watery, juicy one (like iceberg or romaine).

I hope you’ll at least give it a try. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Here are some menu plans for next week! You can see we are still using up the gallons of turkey soup I made. If you don’t have turkey soup, that’s okay – but make a homemade soup. It’ll have far less salt and be better for you, and a large pot will make several lunches worth, that you can freeze and reheat when you’re ready.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Sunday January 21st Leftover quiche EatingWell Tomato Basil Zoodle Salad Weight Watchers Barley Chicken Casserole
Monday January 22nd Beet and Kale Smoothie Cooking Light Roasted Sweet Potato and Orange Salad Jamie Oliver Sicilian Spaghetti Alla Norma
Tuesday January 23rd Granola with 1/2 banana Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter Weight Watchers Zucchini Risotto with Sundried Tomatoes
Wednesday January 24th Banana Kale Smoothie Apple Kale Salad Weight Watchers Orange Couscous with Chicken (substituting turkey) – served with green beans
Thursday January 25th Apple Nut Oatmeal Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter Weight Watchers Spaghetti with Kale and Garlic
Friday January 26th Carrot Cake Smoothie Cooking Light Fall Vegetable and Lentil Salad Weight Watchers Cod with Parsley Sauce served with steamed green beans and carrots
Saturday January 27th Granola with 1/2 banana Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter Artichoke Pizza

There’s Nothing Like Hot Soup on a Cold Day

Soup, it’s delicious, right? And a fantastic way to use up whatever has been hovering around your kitchen. There’s a scary side to soup, though, especially if you’re starting with a powdered or canned variety. It can hide a LOT of sodium. A good rule-of-thumb is to keep the milligrams of sodium equal or less than the calories. Check out any soup in your grocery store, even the “healthy menu” types, and you’ll find there’s four (or more) times the sodium in most varieties. Not so healthy, after all. Sure, in a pinch, they can work. But with an hour or two while you’re working on something else or even sitting in front of the tube, you can cook up one or two huge pots of soup, and freeze the results to last for months.

So if you’re stuck inside in the cold, and you’ve got some vegetables, an onion or two, and beans, or meat, rice, pasta, or potatoes, you can make soup. Your body will thank you. Here’s one to get you started.

Meal Planning and More…

 Just walk. Sounds simple enough, right? But as the streets get colder and icier, it can be more of a challenge. We’re lucky to have a gym in our building, so I can commune with my old friends Rower and Treadmill, but if you’re not so fortunate, here are some other places in Toronto where I can get in a walk without going into the great outdoors:

Walk the Eaton Centre (warning: if you’re instituting “no-buy January”, this can be a challenge).

Walk the PATH – it’s especially interesting during off hours when there are few workers hustling and bustling on their way.

Live in a highrise (or even a lowrise)? Take the stairs. As many as you can. Repeat.

There are lots of great apps to help you fit in exercise, too – one I’ll be trying in January is 8fit. I’ll report back, but so far, I’m enjoying the variety of exercises offered, and the app asks me to rate the difficulty, so it can adjust to suit what I need to push myself.

Here’s another week of meal plans for you, starting next week. That should leave you time to shop. How are you doing with your healthy eating? After starting the year with a week of visitors, it’s good to keep focused with a plan.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Sunday January 14th Pizza Egg – 1 slice of leftover pizza topped with a poached egg. Otherwise, a poached egg with 1 toast and a sliced tomato Cooking Light Cashew, Coconut and Cabbage Slaw Veggie Chili – I’ll make enough for 3 meals, including one with Turkey
Monday January 15th Banana Kale Smoothie Apple Kale Salad Tofu Stir Fry
Tuesday January 16th Apple Nut Oatmeal Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter Veggie Chili
Wednesday January 17th Carrot Cake Smoothie EatingWell Vegetarian Taco Salad Weight Watchers Vegetable Quesadillas, plus cheese
Thursday January 18th Apple Nut Oatmeal Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter EatingWell Turkey Curry
Friday January 19th Beet Kale Smoothie EatingWell Stetson Chopped Salad Weight Watchers “Fried” Catfish with Potato Sticks

I had a note from a reader this week, looking for bread recipes. To see my own recipes, check the EAT tab on the blog.

Have a healthy week!

It’s a Whole New Year!

What I love best about New Year’s Day is that everyone sees the potential for a fresh start. My resolution for 2018? To help as many people as possible understand that we have that potential every single day.  No matter what’s happened before, we can be better from here on in.

Yesterday I began posting January Meal plans, which I’ll continue for you here. I hope they’ll help inspire you to be your best, healthiest self this year.

Breakfast Lunch Dinner
Sunday January 7th Granola with 1/2 banana EatingWell Tomato Basil Zoodle Salad Jamie Oliver Sicilian Spaghetti Alla Norma
Monday January 8th Beet and Kale Smoothie Cooking Light Roasted Sweet Potato and Orange Salad Cooking Light Turkey & Swiss Sloppy Joes
Tuesday January 9th Granola with 1/2 banana Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter Jamie Oliver Hungover Noodles
Wednesday January 10th Banana Kale Smoothie Apple Kale Salad Jamie Oliver Smokin’ Chicken Chowder (substituting leftover turkey)
Thursday January 11th Apple Nut Oatmeal Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 whole grain bread and 5ml butter EatingWell Savory Carrot and Tarragon Tart
Friday January 12th Carrot Cake Smoothie Cooking Light Fall Vegetable and Lentil Salad Jamie Oliver Carbonara of Smoked Mackerel

Before you go, here are some tools that help me keep track of meals, make grocery lists, and remind myself to stay fit and drink water:

Paprika Recipe App, good for either Kindle, iOS, or Android. It lets me download recipes, organize them as I like, share them, and create grocery lists for my meal plans.

My Fitness Pal – I love this for figuring out the nutritional content of recipes, and seeing whether I’m missing key nutrients.

And I’m rarely without my trusty FitBit, so I can keep track of steps. I also have UnderArmour’s UA Record, so I can log exercise that isn’t walking.

What are your favourite tools for healthy living?

Happy 2018!

 

Planning for Success! Meal Plans for January

 If you’re like many people, you may be planning to improve your diet in 2018. One of the most effective ways to make sure we are eating healthily at our house, is to make a meal plan. It works for three reasons:

It lets us see the big picture and identify patterns (such as eating too many bad fats, or dividing dishes into extra large portions instead of making less).  We get to think about seasonality and what’s available in stores, which some meal plans miss, especially if they are formulated in warm weather climates where salad greens and other vegetables are readily available year-round. It also lets us be mindful of what we have on hand, so we can use it and not waste it.

I’ve decided to share my January meal plan with you, so you can adapt it with some of your own favourites. Many of the food items are from websites, so I’ve put the links in also. Enjoy! Stay tuned for additional weeks…

January 1st

Breakfast – Banana Kale Smoothie

Lunch – Apple Kale Salad

Dinner – EatingWell Vegetarian Spinach Enchiladas

January 2nd

Breakfast – Apple Nut Oatmeal

Lunch – Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 slice bread and 5ml butter

Dinner – Eating Well Baked Tofu Stir Fry with Cabbage and Shiitakes

January 3rd

Breakfast – Carrot Cake Smoothie

Lunch – EatingWell Vegetarian Taco Salad

Dinner – Eating Well Spaghetti Squash Lasagna with Broccolini

January 4th

Breakfast – Apple Nut Oatmeal

Lunch – Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 slice bread and 5ml butter

Dinner – Eating Well Curried Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Leeks

January 5th

Breakfast – Beet Kale Smoothie

Lunch – EatingWell Stetson Chopped Salad

Dinner – EatingWell Kale and Gruyere Panini

January 6th

Breakfast – Poached Egg Avocado Toast

Lunch – Homemade Turkey Soup with 1 slice bread and 5ml butter

Dinner – Men’s Health Salmon Hobo Packets

 

January 7th

Breakfast – Granola with Banana

Lunch – EatingWell Tomato Basil Zoodle Salad 

Dinner – Jamie Oliver Sicilian Spaghetti Alla Norma

My smoothies follow a recipe something like this, for two:

Two beets, or a carrot, or a handful of kale

5ml cinnamon or grated ginger

60ml nuts or seeds

A banana or 250ml of berries or for carrot cake smoothie, pineapple

750ml unsweetened low-sodium non GMO soy milk (try Natur-A, they are all Canadian and the best plant milk I have tried).

Stay tuned for additional weeks, and please share widely. Thanks to all of you who have visited my site, and wishing you a healthy, happy 2018.

Forward is the Only Way

Wherever you’re headed, the only way to get there is to move forward. If you have a dream, a goal, or a plan, you can’t get there by going back in time. Oh, you can revisit the past. You can consider what you’ve learned and incorporate that into your wayfinding plan. You can understand if you’ve had patterns of behaviour that have been holding you back. Getting stuck or weighed down by your mistakes, though? That’s no use to you at all.

Deal with what you must deal with. Maybe you need to grow, or find a coach to help you through issues you have to face. Perhaps you have amends to make. Don’t delay, just get those over with, too. People may or may not accept  your apology – remember that your timeline is not the same as theirs. Do the work, and trust that it will play out as it should. Once you’ve done that, move forward with confidence. Second-guessing is simply allowing our old friends fear and doubt to cloud your perfectly-good judgement. For the most part, you’ll be presented with multiple opportunities for course correction. So start, and take that first step. The sooner you do, the sooner you’ll be on your way.

 

No fuss, no muss, and a whole lot of fibre…

Last night I made a batch of one of my easiest homemade breads. It’s more of a method than a recipe, although the proportions have been worked out after much experimentation. (In the EAT section of my site, you’ll find other recipes, including other breads).

There’s nothing like homemade bread for breakfast, or a sandwich, or just as a snack – but I’m always trying to sneak in some more healthy goodness. One of my tricks is always to add some chickpea flour, for extra protein. This one also benefits from whole wheat flour, and whole grain rolled oats. It is a bit time-consuming (you’ll want to start a day ahead, or first thing in the morning to bake for dinnertime), but it’s worth the wait, and doesn’t require any kneading at all.

Enjoy!

Building Community: From DIY to DIWO

Today I had the great pleasure of meeting with some interesting, inspiring business-builders in my neighbourhood. Our community is in the midst of a big change, and we came together to share and learn how we can help each other’s businesses grow and thrive. We left our unofficial “launch” with an attitude of gratitude, and on reflection, I know what it is that I’m most grateful for: that we’ve moved from DIY to DIWO.

What’s that, you ask? It starts with an idea, any idea, you may have to strengthen the bonds with your community. Taking a step into action, any step, however small, means you’ve moved to “DIY”, or do-it-yourself. Encourage even one other person to join you, and your movement will suddenly become “DIWO” – do-it-with-others. That’s where community happens, and there’s nowhere to go but up!

No Skipping Allowed!

Breakfast: for me, it’s still the most important meal of the day. I know there are plenty of trends promoting fasting, or other approaches to weight loss or maintenance, but for me, exercise and breakfast are “must-haves” for a good start to any day. And it’s more about feeling great and having lots of energy to face life’s challenges, than about weight.

Our breakfast rotation doesn’t vary a whole lot – all year, one of the options is a smoothie; in winter, another is oatmeal (granola in warmer weather), and occasionally an egg (with or without leftover pizza). This particular version features one of my favourite smoothie ingredients: a beet. Along with that, there was a carrot, some kale, ginger, cinnamon, a few berries, sunflower seeds and soy milk. Creamy, delicious, and fast!

Get Ready for the Dark and the Deep Freeze!

If you’re an early morning walker, it’s getting darker, colder, and more hazardous to your health. Visit this page for some tips to make sure you’re making your way safely as you venture out into the (to steal a tagline from CBC’s Louise Renault) “dark and early”.