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Mondo Mint

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Mondo MintMy mom always warned me never to plant mint directly in my garden or it would take over. She was a fantastic gardener so I listened to her sage advice about mint and dutifully planted it in pots. However, over time (and admittedly due to some neglect this summer), my mint has jumped the pot and run rampant. And so my small garden is now in a state best described as mondo mint. I could invite every neighbour on my street for mojitos and I would still have great bunches of mint left over.

What, oh what, to do? Well, eat mint for breakfast, lunch and dinner, that’s what!

So this month I have included recipes to help do just that, plus a (non-mojito) libation…

  • Nigella’s Corsican Omelette (the recipe is Nigella Lawson’s but, due to copyright, the photo is mine; as you might expect, Nigella’s omelette, just like Nigella, is more attractive)
  • Beet, Grapefruit & Mint Salad (just add grilled chicken or your protein of choice and this makes a wonderfully satisfying lunch)
  • Cold Noodles with Pork & Cucumber (most Asian-inspired dishes are elevated by the addition of fresh mint and/or basil; both herbs are from the same family, Lamiaceae, also known as Labiatae)
  • Blackberry Smash Cocktail (I love blackberries as they are delicious, dramatic and not too sweet; this is a mocktail but I won’t tell if you add vodka or gin to it)

Sign up to my newsletter today to receive the recipes. And then read on for more about my favourite ways to use mint and some of its benefits.  I  hope you enjoy how mint adds a refreshing flourish to each of these dishes!

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Dishing It Up for Autumn

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Dishing It Up for AutumnSummer sure seemed to zoom by pretty quickly, didn’t it?  Though it was marvellous to have such summery weather right through September 7 this year. As I write this, however, the mercury has decidedly dipped and the trees are showing hints of autumn colour. Yes, autumn is imminent with the autumn equinox arriving on September 23.

So my lead story in Dishing It Up for Autumn is about beating “autumn anxiety” for those, like me, who lament summer’s passing.  Enjoy!



This month in Dishing It Up for Autumn

  • Eight ways to beat autumn anxiety
  • New Research Reveals Why You Shouldn’t Add a Banana to Your Smoothies
  • 5 nutrition “rules” runners can forget
  • Boost Your Mood with These Healthy Snacks
  • Live to 100: Secrets of the Blue Zones

Read on for a bite-sized summary and links for each story …

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Lemony Baked Cod with Zucchini & Mini Potatoes

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Lemony Baked Cod with Zucchini

Summer is in full swing. We want to be outdoors enjoying the sun, not slaving over a hot stove. I get it. But salads every night can get boring. That’s why I love this Lemony Baked Cod with Zucchini & Mini Potatoes. Just pop everything into a baking dish and it practically cooks itself. And it’s a delicious way to enjoy summer’s bounty of locally grown zucchini.

This recipe is easy enough for a simple weeknight dinner. You can use lemon juice only (as per the recipe, and I admit one of my time-savers is to use organic lemon juice from a bottle, like this Sicilian one). But when I want a more rustic, colourful presentation, I’ll add in some thin slices of whole lemon before baking. In fact, if I want a really quick meal, I’ll often do just that and skip the capers and dill altogether (as shown in the photo here).

But when you prepare the recipe as written, it is sophisticated enough to serve to guests, especially if you use a mix of colours of mini potatoes, include yellow zucchini (or a mix of yellow and green) and bake it in an attractive casserole dish that you can bring right to your (preferably al fresco) dining table. The combination of olive oil, fish, herbs, capers and zucchini has a sunny Mediterranean vibe and would pair beautifully with a crisp, cool sauvignon blanc or Chablis. 😉

Sign up to my newsletter today to receive the recipe for Lemony Baked Cod with Zucchini & Mini Potatoes. And read on for more about the health benefits of zucchini as well as for a simply refreshing (yet refreshingly simple) dessert suggestion!

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Grilled Chicken & Chickpea Kale Salad

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Grilled Chicken & Chickpea Kale Salad

I love a gorgeous salad in summer. Fresh and crisp, they are super nutritious, easy to put together and leftovers make a great meal the next day (just don’t add the dressing until you serve it). The key is to include a variety of tastes and textures and enough protein to make it a meal. This Grilled Chicken & Chickpea Kale Salad is a fantastic example, with nearly 50 grams of protein!

I chose it because it highlights the humble radish and Ontario-grown radishes are abundant now. I recently received a beautiful bunch of French breakfast radishes in my local food box and this salad was their destiny. That said, salads make great canvasses for all manner of veggies. No radishes on hand? Just use whatever you do have. As long as it’s colourful and crunchy, you can’t go wrong!

And I encourage you to shop your local Farmers’ Market where you will find a variety of stunning radishes that will transform every salad into a work of art!

Sign up to my newsletter today to receive the recipe for my Grilled Chicken & Chickpea Kale Salad and read on for more about what’s ravishing about radishes!

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Dishing It Up – Timing is Everything

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Timing Is EverythingSince time immemorial, volumes have been written about how long to sleep and what to eat and how much exercise to get and so on. But it’s been only relatively recently that the focus has turned to when to do these things. The goal is to ascertain whether the timing of these activities makes a difference to our health. And, if so, to determine what timing is more (or less) auspicious when it comes to going to bed, waking up, eating our meals and exercising. In this month’s Dishing It Up – Timing is Everything, we’ll look at some recent articles on this timely topic. When it comes to optimal health, is timing everything or just one piece of the puzzle?

This month in Dishing It Up …

  • What is Your Chronotype & Why Does it Matter?
  • How Changing the Timing of When You Eat Can Make You Healthier
  • There is a best time of day to exercise and it may lead to better results
  • Unlocking Your Body’s Clock: A Saliva-Based Personalized Circadian Profiling

Lastly, while not related to chronotype or circadian rhythms, I thought I’d include this informative article on a topic where timing really is everything, and that is hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

  • Clearing the air on hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Read on for a bite-sized summary and links for each story …

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Spicy Shrimp & Black Bean Quinoa Bowl

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Spicy Shrimp & Black Bean Quinoa Bowl

Raise your hand if you like spending hours in the kitchen, especially once summer rolls around. Your hand isn’t up? Well, neither is mine. I’m all about healthy meals that are quick. Not to mention easy to scale up to serve as leftovers for my lunch (or even breakfast) the next day to minimize my time in the kitchen. This Spicy Shrimp & Black Bean Quinoa Bowl ticks a lot of boxes. As well as being quick to prepare, this recipe:

  • relies on staples I always have on hand (quinoa, canned beans, frozen shrimp),
  • uses a pre-made spice blend (read on for ideas) and
  • is high in protein and fibre (which most of us don’t get enough of) to keep you energized for hours.

It’s also super adaptable. Don’t like shrimp? Just sub in chicken, beef or pork. Or make it with tempeh for a vegetarian version.

And while it is simply delicious as is, you can layer on easy extras if you want to gussy it up. Read on for some inspired ideas and more on the beauty of black beans. I recommend serving this with an ice cold Partake Beer. It’s non-alcoholic but tastes just like the real deal. In summer, I love their Peach Gose! Enjoy!

Sign up to my newsletter today to receive the recipe for my Spicy Shrimp & Black Bean Quinoa Bowl.

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Invest in Exercise for a Healthy Retirement

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Invest for Your Retirement ExerciseIn my former career, I worked in companies that managed investments for institutional pension funds. So I’m well aware of the importance of investing for retirement. It’s something I’m sure we all agree on. The idea is to save money (making wise investments to grow that money) so, when the time comes to retire, you have enough invested that you can live the way you want. Save money now so you have the money you want in retirement. Simple. Well, the same is true for your health. Invest in your health now, so you have the health you want in retirement.

And we all want the most bang for our buck, right? Well, in terms of return on investment, there’s not much that can beat regular exercise. So my advice is to invest in exercise for a healthy retirement. And just as any amount of nutritious, home-cooked food is an improvement on a junk food diet, any amount of exercise is better than sitting all day.

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A Duo of Soba Salads

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail A Duo of Soba Salads

Briefly (teasingly) we had salad weather here in Toronto. It was glorious and, even though the temperatures dipped back down again, it’s reassuring to know that salad days are (almost) here again. I love salads because they are so versatile. Not to mention forgiving. No need to worry about timing things just right so everything’s hot on the table at the same time. In fact, you can often do the prep in stages and then toss everything together at the last minute. Working from home makes this easy. When I need a break from my desk, I pop on over to the kitchen and dice a little of this or that or add some whole grains to the Instant Pot to save time later. With these soba salads, you can even make the noodles ahead of time!

I like to make salads that are all-in-one affairs. They include high quality protein, complex carbs (like whole grains, legumes/pulses or pasta), lots of vegetables (and sometimes fruit) and often nuts or seeds. I’m a big fan of Asian flavours, too, which inspired me to post this Duo of Soba Salads:

Both salads are simple yet super flavourful, with ginger, citrus, hoisin and miso accents. Locally grown romaine and carrots add delectable crunch to the first salad while spring asparagus features in the second. Super-nutritious, 100% buckwheat soba is at the heart of both. I hope you enjoy them!

Sign up to my newsletter today to receive the recipes for this Duo of Soba Salads. And read on to learn more about why soba is as healthy as it is tasty.

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Dishing It Up on Fads & Foolishness

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Dishing It Up on Fads & FoolishnessAs today is April Fool’s Day, let’s foray into some fads and foolishness in the world of wellness. I hope you enjoy these stories! Though please take them with the proverbial grain of salt.

And remember that the best route to optimal health is to make long term, sustainable changes to your lifestyle, rather than pandering to fads. It is the distinctly un-faddish things – things like eating whole, unprocessed foods, more fruits and vegetables, moving your body throughout the day, getting your heart rate up regularly and sleeping well – that will make you healthier and happier. There are no quick fixes. Yes, it takes work. The rewards, however, are well worth it.

This month in Dishing It Up on Fads & Foolishness …

  • Heinz Launches New Hot Cross Bun Mayonnaise this Easter
  • Giant meatball with woolly mammoth DNA unveiled by cultured meat startup
  • Compostable takeout bowls contain ‘forever chemicals,’ study finds
  • Wellmania on Netflix
  • WeightWatchers going into prescription weight loss business with telehealth provider acquisition

Read on for a bite-sized summary and links for each story …

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