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Celebrate Heart Month with Spice Crusted Salmon & Beets

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Celebrate Heart MonthDid you know that heart disease is the second leading cause of death for both men and women in Canada? February is Heart Month. It is “a time to raise awareness about the importance of cardiovascular health and an opportunity to focus on what we can do to improve our heart health” says The Public Health Agency of Canada. According to the World Health Organization, “the most important behavioural risk factors of heart disease and stroke are unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, tobacco use and harmful use of alcohol.”

So in honour of Heart Month, this recipe for Spice Crusted Salmon & Beets serves up a heaping helping of heart-healthy nutrients. And if you are time-pressed or don’t know your way around a kitchen, take heart, because it’s super simple to prepare!

To make this dish even more heart-healthy, serve it with farro either on the side or mixed in with the beets. The high fibre content of this whole grain helps reduce LDL cholesterol in your blood, lowering your risk of heart disease. You can read more about the many health benefits of farro in this previous post of mine (and here’s the link to view the recipe it features: Farro & Beet Salad).

Sign up to my newsletter today to receive the recipe for Spice Crusted Salmon & Beets. And read on to find out more about how including salmon and beets in your diet can help keep your heart in tip-top shape.

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Peri-Peri Picante Chicken Thighs, Chickpeas & Collard Greens

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Peri-Peri PIcanteI’ve had a penchant lately for anything peri-peri picante. Perhaps it was my friend enthusing about the delicioso food she ate in Portugal. Or maybe my daily dose of DuoLingo Spanish (porque espero visitar España en mis vacaciones) has piqued my interest in food that is muy picante.

Whatever the reason, this month I have chosen to share a recipe for Peri Peri Chicken Thighs, Chickpeas & Collard Greens. Not only does the spicy heat appeal to me in winter, this dish exemplifies what I love about all my favourite recipes. Namely:

  • it’s a one-pan, all-in-one dish (no need to make anything on the side and less to clean up),
  • using a pre-made spice blend gives maximum flavour for minimum fuss,
  • it’s flexible (swap the chicken for fish/shellfish, or use only chickpeas to make it vegetarian/vegan),
  • you can easily alter the flavour profile (use a Cajun, Moroccan, Mexican, Indian or Italian spice blend in place of peri-peri, for example),
  • it’s quick enough for a workaday dinner but also interesting enough for company,
  • it includes legumes which have a whole host of health benefits (more on that in this post) and
  • it makes great leftovers for lunch (or even breakfast)!

Sign up to my newsletter today to receive the recipe for Peri Peri Chicken Thighs, Chickpeas & Collard Greens. For those keen to make their own Peri-Peri spice blend, I have included a recipe for that as well. Or you can simply procure some (suggestions below).  And I invite you to read on, too, if right now you are thinking “What the heck is Peri-Peri?

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Festive Fixings

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Festive FixingsThe countdown to Christmas is on. It’s just over a week away! Are you feeling the (time) crunch? I wish I could say my to-do list was ta-done leaving me free to ease into feeling festive. But it isn’t. And I imagine I’m not the only one in holiday-hustle mode, so I’ll get straight to the point.

This month’s missive is a collection of Festive Fixings. These recipes offer fast fixes to the dilemma of what to serve alongside the centerpiece of your holiday feast, be it turkey, ham or what have you. I’ve included a few suggestions each for appetizers, salads and yummy vegetable side dishes. I hope that one or more of these Festive Fixings finds a place on your holiday table! Sign up to my newsletter to receive my Festive Fixings recipe collection and all recipes to come. And read on for some re-gifts from last year.

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Dishing It Up on Being a Cozy Cat

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail on Being a Cozy Cat

Everyone wants to be a cool cat, right? But what about being a cozy cat? We would do well to embrace more of a feline approach to life. Like cats, relish your moments of solitude and nurture your independence. Practice self-care unapologetically. Bask in the sunshine. Approach each day with a playful spirit and find joy in the simple things. Above all, take strategic cat-naps when you need to re-energize.

And now that “Cozy Cardio” is the latest TikTok trend to go viral (see the first story below), being a cozy cat makes you a cool cat too! I hope you enjoy these stories on being a cozy cat, as well as the simple recipes I’ve provided for a day’s worth of carbo-licious Cozy Comfort Food.

This month in Dishing It Up on Being a Cozy Cat

  • ‘Cozy Cardio’—Plus Everything You Need To Get Started
  • The 56 Best Cozy Gifts
  • Sleep regularity is a stronger predictor of mortality risk than sleep duration
  • Nutritionists reveal the 5 best (and worst) foods for sleep
  • A carbo-licious day of Cozy Comfort Food

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

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Gourds & Goblins Menu … exhumed

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Gourds & Goblins Menu

I first posted my Gourds & Goblins Menu two years ago and my readers back then deemed it a treat. I’ve exhumed it this Hallowe’en in the hope that my newer subscribers will also find it a scream. If you are seeing this again, think of it as Hallowe’en and Groundhog Day all rolled into one.

My Gourds & Goblins Menu is a Jekyll & Hyde character.

The Jekyll version is served pretty much as described in the recipes. It’s a heaping harvest helping of carbo-comfort foods featuring a gaggle of gourds (namely pumpkin, butternut squash and zucchini). But with some sleight of hand and the spooky styling suggestions at blog-bottom, you can turn it ins-Hyde-out into a fiendish feast for your ghoul-friends! It’s double, double the fun without too much toil or trouble.

Served either way, my Gourds & Goblins Menu is devilishly good at disguising veggies.

Gourds & Goblins Menu

Apéritif: Classic Virgin Sangria (Served per the recipe, it is a harmless harvest cranberry cocktail. But we musn’t forget the word sangria means bloodletting in Spanish, so take a boo at the sinister sip tips below.)

Soup: Spider Web Pumpkin Soup (I’ve dusted the cobwebs off this one from a menu I put out in pre-pandemic times. For the harvest version, omit the spiderweb. But feel free to add curry powder or cayenne if you like it hellishly hot.)

Pasta: Vegan Mac n’ ‘Cheese’ (This is devilishly good served with a tempest-tossed “blood red radicchio and endive of the world salad”. The bitter leaves are a killer counterpoint to the richness of the pasta.)

Dessert: Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes (For some, the thought of zucchini in cupcakes is scary enough. But if you dig the demonic decorating ideas down below you can make these double chocolate delights even darker. If you wish to spike the suggested whipped cream topper, I recommend heavenly Frangelico or the Devil’s rum.)

Whether cooking up the Jekyll or Hyde version, feel free to reach out if you have any questions, comments or grave concerns. I hope you enjoy goblin’ these recipes up!

Join The Nutritional Reset Community here to receive the recipes in the Gourds & Goblins Menu (as well as the recipes to come).

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Habit Change – Your Personal Tour de France

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Habit Change - Your Personal Tour de FranceRecently I got hooked by a Netflix documentary called Tour de France: Unchained. It struck me as I watched it that the Tour de France is a great analogy for habit change. Analogies resonate with people. That’s why I used the analogy of climbing Everest in my post Sliding Down a Sugary, Slippery Slope.

The only thing I knew about the Tour de France beforehand was that the winner got to wear the famous yellow jersey. What I didn’t know was that different cyclists don the yellow jersey after each of the 21 stages in the Tour. The winner of the first stage dons the yellow jersey to wear in the next day’s stage. At the end of the second stage, the yellow jersey goes to the cyclist with the fastest time over the two stages. And then over three stages and so on, until, at the end of the 21st stage, it goes to the overall winner, the rider with the fastest cumulative time over all 21 stages. You might say they use a combination of strategy, strength and steely resolve to develop a yellow jersey-wearing habit.

So I thought it would be fun to apply some of the learnings from the Tour de France to habit change. Then why not think of something you want to change in your life and make it into your own 21-day personal Tour de France to win?

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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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