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

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.

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!

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!

Success Starts Early!

Success Starts Early!

I pack a lot into my days, including time for exercise. It makes me feel healthier, stronger, and better able to deal with whatever life throws at me. So when someone asks, “How do you find time to do that?”, I tell them. I get up at 5:30 most days of the week, sometimes even on weekends.

What is really important in your life, that you can’t find time for? Is it healthy eating? Exercise? Travel? Time off with friends and family? Whatever it is, schedule it in. Not everyone’s an early riser like me. You have to know yourself. Maybe you’re better in the evening. I just know that if I leave it til later, I’m much more likely to make excuses. That means prioritizing my work, and working smarter, so I can fit in the things that I say are important. Productivity is about more than shoving more work out the door. It’s also about creating a way of working that lets you live a life that’s right for you.

Want to find out whether working with a coach can help you fit in more of what’s important to you, and less of what’s not? Fill out this contact form and I’ll get back to you. Let’s chat!

Work With What You’ve Got

Farmer’s market fresh! One thing about summertime trips to the market is that (in the words of my grandfather), your eyes can be bigger than your belly. That’s sort of what happened with the basket of fresh peaches we picked up on Tuesday. To be more specific, it was our capacity to consume them before they hit their tipping point. We’re surrounded by overripe fruit, and so there are peaches in every meal. To top it off, we had a surfeit of cheese, left with us by some departing guests. What to do?

When I have a host of items that need to be used, one of my first thoughts is always salad. It’s a go-to when vegetables are in season. This one started with a vinaigrette of homemade red wine vinegar, canola oil, and Kozlik’s Balsamic Fig and Date mustard – in equal proportions. I mixed this in a large bowl, and then began adding veg – greens from the balcony garden, cucumbers, radish, and celery – but use whatever you have, like in this Kitchen Sink Salad. Then I topped it off with some walnuts, sliced peaches, and crumbled Stilton. If you’re a vegan, omit the cheese or use some chopped smoked tofu instead.

Even though I bought too many, I never get tired of too many peaches. We love them, and all the other seasonal bounty, so I’m grateful to be able to have many delicious ideas to use them up.

Fill Yourself Up!

In an ongoing quest to be better every day, I’m always working on health as one of my priorities, and that starts with walking, and also with eating well. Filling yourself up is important – starvation, deprivation, and denial just aren’t sustainable. So instead it’s really helpful to focus on putting as many good things into a meal as possible. Empty calories are easy to banish when you choose lots of healthy vegetables, brilliant colours, lean protein – with a nod to Michael Pollan, mostly plants! This tasty salad has sweet potato, peppers, red onion, pink beans, and a tasty curry vinaigrette (equal parts Dijon, cider vinegar, canola oil, and a teaspoon or so of curry powder for each serving).

There’s more to filling yourself up to eating, though – something I have been discussing with a friend quite a bit lately.  It’s important to fill your mind with positive, helpful, forward-moving thoughts. Often when we are overwhelmed with trying to help others, we forget to take care of ourselves – but the oxygen-mask rule can help keep us on track. If you’ve ever flown on a plane, you’ll recall that they tell you to put your own mask on before helping others. That’s because if you aren’t filled up (with air), you won’t be any good to anyone. So my favourite fill-up method is to get out for a good brisk walk, early in the morning as the city is waking up, and to drink in the sights and sounds around me. Today I was particularly inspired by the sunlight filtering through the trees in Allen Gardens – just steps away from skyscrapers and streetcars. That alone has filled me up with enough gratitude to last all day.

 

Fuel Up! Keep Your Body and Mind in Shape…

When you start to think of food as fuel, instead of comfort, you re-evaluate what you eat all the time. Salty, sugar-y treats don’t look so appealing any more. But in a busy life, it can be difficult to figure out what to cook. One of my go-to dishes when I’ve had a long, stressful day is homemade pizza. We make the whole thing ourselves, starting with the crust. Here’s how:

Turn on your oven to 425F so it will be ready.

In a measuring cup, put 3/4c of warm water with 1t of maple syrup or sugar, if that’s what you have. Sprinkle with 1T of yeast and let it rest. I sit mine on the stove since that will be giving off some warmth. While that happens, relax. Have a glass of water. Check your Facebook. Read a blog. Give yourself a little neck massage. Put away some laundry. Whatever.

Next, stir the yeast mixture and pour into a medium bowl. Sprinkle in some oregano, hot sauce or smoky paprika for  flavour. If you don’t have any, no worries! It’s good plain. Add whole wheat flour, stirring in with a fork in a circular motion, a little at a time until it begins to come away from the sides of the bowl. Then sprinkle a little flour on the counter, dump the dough on that, sprinkle with a tiny bit more, and knead a couple of times to form a ball (not for ages, maybe a minute at most).

Spray the bowl with cooking spray or oil it lightly, and put your dough ball back in. Cover with a tea towel and put it in a warm place (like the top of the stove) to rise for 10 minutes.

Put a piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet or pizza pan. This will save you cleanup time! Pat the dough out to the size of the pan on the parchment, using floured hands to keep from sticking. Top lightly. For this one we used 1/2c marinara, a few sliced mushrooms, and a diced red pepper. If you eat dairy, add cheese – 2oz of feta and 2oz of manchego. That’s it! Bake for 18 minutes, cool slightly, and serve. For two, you can do 6 slices, and save 2 for breakfast. Ready in less time than to select, order, and wait for delivery. The best part? When you get up as early as this to fit in a walk the next morning…

…when you come back home for breakfast, those extra slices will be waiting. Great topped with a poached egg! Feeling grateful, hope you are as well.