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.


Starting the Day with Intention!

This morning, a friend’s social media post (thanks, Rick Nason!) reminded me about why I love living an intentional life. I get up in the morning, glad to face the day, whatever it’s bringing. First up: exercise – because I know it will set me up for a fantastic feeling all day. All the way along today’s 5km walk, I could feel inspiration for the day ahead, and I even got a small reminder of what I don’t want, when we passed Sugar Beach and the Redpath elevators. A giant sugar freighter was unloading, and though you’d think being surrounded by the smell of sugar, the taste of it in the air, would be lovely…it wasn’t. But it was an excellent reminder to take with me through the day. Here are some snaps I took along the way; remember to do your best today, and do all you do, on purpose.

Love it when a plan comes together 

It’s great to see that holiday weight coming off – and three things are responsible: planning, effort, and patience. The planning part is twofold: meal plans, and scheduling daily exercise into the routine (and pushing that with extra weights and stretching). Those who know me already know that I am an avid walker, daily, but I may forget to include weights…but then I saw a photo of how great my arms looked a couple of years ago!

Meal planning is truly the centre of it all. It keeps me from buying what I don’t need, and I double-check for things that are key to health: calories, fibre, low sugar, low sodium. This no-salt vegetarian pea soup is a great example. Breakfasts are similar most days: smoothies, oatmeal, homemade granola, and sometimes eggs. Lunch? Leftovers, soup, or salad.

Here’s the dinner menu we’ve been eating this past week – the tofu is a new try from Vegetarian Times. It’s important to incorporate new choices that fit your new lifestyle, but wholesale swings to an unfamiliar diet are frequently a recipe for disaster. Take your time, and make good changes every day.

Bok Choy with Spicy Tofu Triangles

Lentil and mushroom vegan shepherd’s pie

Black bean, corn, and zucchini enchiladas

Mom’s burger casserole

Country captain chicken 

Cashew cream pad Thai

Miso glazed salmon and bok choy

We are not vegetarians, nor vegans, but we recognize that a plant-based diet is the way to better health, better use of the Earth’s resources, and it’s absolutely better for the animals. We have slowly migrated from one vegetarian day a week to alternate days, and planning four plant based dinners helps keep us on track.

While I have your attention, don’t forget that #BellLetsTalk day is this week – let’s be sure to make time for self care on the mental health front everyday also – and please reach out to someone today and let them know you’re there for them.

What changes have you made for better physical and mental health in 2017?  

When Should You Walk?

You know my initial response to this question is, “as often as possible”, or “whenever you want”. But there’s more to my question than that. 20161114_115006187_iosLast night I had the privilege of attending a series of presentations by social entrepreneurs from all across Toronto at the Centre for Social Innovation. These women (mostly) and men were focused on how we build healthier communities, and the solutions were as diverse as the presenters. At the event, I was discussing a rule-of-thumb I learned from a Parisienne acquaintance of mine: it’s the one kilometre rule. It works like this: if your errand or appointment is one kilometre or less from where you are, walk. No cab, no bike, no streetcar or metro. Just use your feet.

Sure, you say, that sounds great, but how do I know if it’s a kilometre? Won’t it take long? I’m a busy person! At a brisk pace, but by no means race-walking, a kilometre will take you about ten minutes. So if you walk to the store and back, you’ve gained twenty minutes of exercise that you wouldn’t have done otherwise. How long did you spend waiting for your last public transit, or looking for a parking spot?

It’s worth it for your health and a longer lifespan – instead standing around checking your smartphone, or circling around looking for a parking spot, invest that ten minutes in yourself. Your stronger heart and your clearer head will thank you.

Good Habits Die Hard!


For the first day in what seems like ages, we aren’t getting our exercise by chucking hundreds of kilos of snow and ice around. But all that “necessary exercise” has made us feel fitter and more able to push ourselves during our regular workouts, as we return to normal. Not only that, but local spring veg (albeit indoor-grown) are making an appearance to give us hope. This morning, homemade whole grain bread topped with local cream cheese, sliced tomato and cucumber, a poached egg, and a little chipotle powder to wake up the taste buds.

Thanks to Denise MacLean pottery for making the beautiful mug!

It's World Food Day. Do You Know Where Your Food Came From?

We love being lucky enough to walk out in our neighbourhood to buy food. Sometimes it’s from small shops where we know the proprietors and they know the source of the food they’re selling. Other times, we’re lucky enough to get it direct from the farmers. Even luckier, is that we’re never truly hungry.

Today groups around the world are celebrating World Food Day. We’ll be giving thanks for the food we have, and doing our part to support our local food bank. We hope you will, too.

Albacore Tuna Marinara

A couple of weeks ago we were down at Hooked and they had a delicious-looking slab of sustainably-caught albacore tuna. It was just the thing we were looking for, to be tossed with some homemade marinara and whole-wheat spaghettini. Tasty, fast, and healthy – the perfect Friday night supper.

Spicy Squash Soup is Hot!

This sumptuous soup started with some spicy roasted squash, adapted from a Jamie Oliver recipe. We took a hubbard squash and cut it into wedges, rubbing them with a mixture of olive oil and some delicious spicy peppers (pureed) from the farmer’s market and a bit of ground fennel and coriander. Roasted for about an hour at 400F, or until soft, we used some of them for dinner and chilled the leftovers in the fridge.

The next day, we took some of our homemade veggie broth from the fridge, and blanched half an onion and a carrot. Then we tipped in the remaining squash and let it simmer til the veg were tender, about 10 minutes. A quick blend with an immersion blender (or a potato masher will do, not quite as smoothly, in a pinch) and it was nearly ready. A cup or so of milk (we used 1% – choose your fat according to your preference) lent a creamier colour. Then we drizzled with a little fat-free Greek yogurt, and decorated with some chopped garlic chives from the urban farm. It warmed us through and through.

Thank you Jamie Oliver

What a great day it was when we learned to make this delicious tomato salad from a Jamie Oliver cookbook! The farmer’s markets (or if you’re lucky, your back yards) are full of them now. Of course we’ve made it often enough we keep adapting it, so it’s not exactly as it was. In this case we used some red onion from the market, the usual dried oregano, balsamic, EVOO, and pepper. Then a chiffonade of basil from the urban farm, to top it off. Goes with anything, or itself. Mmmm.

Corniest Meal of the Week

It’s corn season! There’s corn at all the small veg shops in the walkable neighbourhood, and at farmstands around the outskirts of the city. We boiled up a few delicious cobs (a little butter, and you’re good to go!)

Dinner last night also featured a great green salad, and some Chili Lemon Chicken.