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Rather Than Count Calories, Make Calories Count

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Don't Count Calories, Make Calories CountYou might not expect to hear this from a nutritionist, but I ask my clients not to count calories.  Why is that, you might wonder.  After all, isn’t consuming fewer calories than you expend the magic formula for weight loss?   Well, it isn’t quite that simple.  For one, it is very difficult to accurately measure the calories we consume and expend. But what’s more important is that counting calories puts the focus in the wrong place.  Because it isn’t so much the amount of calories in a food but what your body does with the food that counts.  And, in that respect, foods of equal calories are not necessarily equal.

Just as no two people are the same.  Two people eating exactly the same food will extract different caloric value from it.  This is due to the complex interaction between the food (and how it’s prepared or processed), the intricacies of our own body’s digestive system and processes and the composition of our gut microbes.  Even identical twins may metabolize the same foods somewhat differently, as their gut microbes may differ.  If all this intrigues you, you might enjoy reading this article.  So, rather than count calories, I’d rather focus on making calories count.

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Spring Into Summer Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Spring Into Summer MenuI recently saw this posted on Instagram…
Whoever is making cheese commercials can save their money.  We’re buying cheese and we’re never going to stop buying cheese.

I had to laugh as, for a cheese lover like me, truer words were never spoken.  And one cheese I adore is halloumi, especially once the weather warms up.  There is something about crispy-gooey-salty pan-seared or grilled halloumi that speaks to me of summer.  Maybe because it hails from warm and sunny Cyprus.  So if you try only one thing from my menu, try the Halloumi & Quinoa Fattoush Salad (and read on for more about halloumi and a few other serving suggestions).

While it isn’t summer just yet, it has certainly felt like summer in Toronto this week.  And the May long weekend tends to be the opening act for the season.  So this menu celebrates the spring bounty of asparagus, cucumbers, mint and strawberries but has a decidedly summery, Mediterranean vibe.  Enjoy the recipes and your long weekend!

To receive the recipes in my Spring Into Summer Menu, sign up here.

Spring Into Summer Menu

Main Course: One Pan Lemon Shrimp & Asparagus (this can be done on the grill too, though I recommend a grill tray/basket and cooking off-heat to avoid flareups; keep an eye on the time as it may cook more quickly if you grill it and/or or use shrimp that has already been shelled)

Side Dish: Halloumi & Quinoa Fattoush Salad (this is great with the Lemon Shrimp & Asparagus but also makes a fabulous lunch on its own, especially if you add a little extra halloumi!)

Dessert: Strawberry Banana Ice Cream (this shows just how easy it is to make fruity-licious ice cream without any of the refined sugars and unappetizing thickeners, preservatives and food colouring so often found in store-bought ice cream)

Join The Nutritional Reset community here to receive this month’s recipe collection today (as well as each month to come)!  

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Dishing It Up for May – The Spring Has Sprung Edition

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Dishing It Up The Spring Has Sprung Edition

It feels like spring has finally sprung here in Toronto.  Temperatures are trending up, the sun is shining and blossoms and blooms adorn our trees and gardens with brilliant colour.  Above all, there’s a freshness and optimism in the air.

Likewise, I feel I’m finally emerging from hibernation too.  My energy is improving along with the weather and I’m super grateful to be out running after an injury-induced hiatus.  Also, I’ve had no added sugar or alcohol in my diet for nearly three weeks now, which has helped tremendously.  As has the wonderful company I’ve had in this over the past week with the folks in my I’m Sweet Enough 7-Day No Sugar Added Challenge.  Their camaraderie and humour has made climbing back up my sugary, slippery slope way more fun.

So I dedicate this edition of Dishing It Up to new friends, new beginnings and spring!

The Spring Has Sprung Edition

  • Bitter Tastes of Spring – Refreshing Greens from Dandelion to Radicchio
  • Early Risers: 6 Recipes With Spring Ingredients
  • Spring cleaning?  See Fewer People. Take Fewer Showers.
  • Make Your Mornings Magical
  • 7 Ways to Reinvigorate Your Spring Routine Using Traditional Chinese Medicine

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I’m Sweet Enough Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail I'm Sweet Enough MenuI’ve been on a kick-sugar kick lately.  But you’ll know that, of course, from my two previous blog posts:

In fact, the recipes in this menu are from my I’m Sweet Enough 7-Day No Sugar Added Challenge (if you wish to join in, please sign up here before Friday April 30th).

By “no sugar”, I actually mean “no added sugar”.  Sugar that naturally occurs within whole foods is perfectly healthy.  And it often comes along with other healthy nutrients as well as fibre.  Berries are an excellent example.  They are brimming with health promoting phytonutrients, as well as fibre which slows their digestion and release of sugar into the blood.  But when we start mucking about by processing these foods and stripping out the fibre (in the case of fruit juice, in this example), we get into trouble.

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Join me for my I’m Sweet Enough 7-Day No Sugar Added Challenge

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Sliding Down a Sugary Slippery SlopeIf you read last week’s blog post, Sliding Down a Sugary, Slippery Slope, you’ll know that this is exactly what I have just done. Perhaps you have too. And you will also know why it is so important for your health to climb right back up.  To entice you to join me, I’ve created the I’m Sweet Enough 7-Day No Sugar Added Challenge.

I’m mounting my own expedition to do so by cutting out all added sugar for several weeks. But I’m looking for some company for the first week, which will be the most challenging.

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Sliding Down a Sugary, Slippery Slope

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Sliding Down a Sugary Slippery SlopeAre you sliding down a sugary, slippery slope?  You know the one I mean.  The one that begins innocently enough in the fall with a slice (or two) of Thanksgiving pecan or pumpkin pie and then a wee bit of Hallowe’en candy a few weeks later.  You gain momentum with heaping helpings of holiday treats followed by boxes of Valentine’s chocolate.  Before you know it, you’re gathering and gobbling the Easter bunny’s chocolate eggs (not to mention, if you love them as much as I do, hot cross buns).  Suddenly, you find yourself awash in sugar.  You have more of a sweet tooth than you used to and sugary treats have become a daily ritual, not just a holiday indulgence.

Does this sound familiar?  If so, you’ve just slid down a sugary, slippery slope.  I know I have.  Read on for more about how easy it is to do this and why you really, really want to climb back up.

And I hope you’ll join me for my I’m Sweet Enough 7-day No Sugar Added Challenge (more on this at the end of this post).

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Dishing It Up for March 2021 – The Afternoon Tea Edition

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Dishing it Up The Afternoon Tea Edition

I happen to be enjoying my afternoon cup of tea as I write this, which inspired me to create an Afternoon Tea Edition of Dishing It Up this month.  My afternoon tea ritual involves:

  • tea (obviously and always),
  • a treat (on occasion, though I seem to be finding more occasions as the pandemic wears on)
  • and usually some food porn (either in print or on video) to spark kitchen creativity.

Rarely, it evolves into an afternoon nap.  So, with my ritual as my guide, please sip, savour (and hopefully don’t snooze through) this Afternoon Tea Edition of Dishing It Up.

The Afternoon Tea Edition

  • Science Reveals Why Tea Is Good for Your Heart
  • Bake like it’s 1869 with Grainstorm
  • ‘Buttergate’ goes viral
  • Cook, Eat, Repeat
  • The science of siestas

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Gobble Your Greens Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Gobble Your Greens MenuIf there’s one thing that nutrition science agrees upon, it’s that vegetables and fruits are unequivocally good for our health.  Yet most of us still don’t eat enough of them each day.  And that’s why I chose to encourage you to gobble your greens for the March page of my 12 Healthy Habits Calendar.

Cooking with dark, leafy greens is one of my fave, fast ways to boost my daily veggie intake.  I use them in everything and anything (from salads and smoothies to soups, stir-fries, curries and more) and I’ll happily gobble them at every meal of the day.  If I’m short on time, pre-washed organic greens make things super-speedy.

Each recipe in this menu serves two and calls for the equivalent of a 142 gram /5 ounce container of pre-washed organic leafy greens (kale at breakfast, arugula at lunch and spinach at dinner).  Along with the other veggies in the recipes and adding in two fruits, you’ll consume roughly eight servings of fruits and veggies for the day.

Why gobble your greens?

Because greens are good for:

  1. blood sugar balance,
  2. digestion,
  3. brain health and mood,
  4. stress relief,
  5. strong bones,
  6. detoxification,
  7. reducing inflammation,
  8. your immune system,
  9. glowing skin and
  10. healthy aging!

Ten terrific reasons to gobble your greens, I’d say.  Scroll on down for more about a few of the phytonutrients responsible for some of these health-promoting effects.  And I hope this gives you the green light to go ahead and gobble your greens!

Sign up here to receive the recipes for my Gobble Your Greens Menu.

Gobble Your Greens Menu

Breakfast: Kale & Kimchi Scrambled Eggs (this protein, probiotic and plant filled breakfast will power up your morning)

Lunch: Warm Carrot, Sweet Potato & Arugula Salad (warm salads are a tasty way to transition from winter to spring eating)

Dinner: Seared Cod, Lemony Spinach & White Beans (this dish is simple, flavourful and satisfying; if you don’t have fresh cherry tomatoes, diced canned tomatoes work well too)

Join The Nutritional Reset community here to receive this month’s recipe collection today (as well as each month to come)!  

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Top 10 Time-Savers in the Kitchen

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Top 10 Time-savers in the Kitchen“But I don’t have time to cook.”  I hear this pretty much every time I suggest to my clients that preparing their own food is one of the most powerful things they can do to improve their health.  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing though.  Because it is hard to find the time to cook from scratch every morsel you put in your mouth.  But there are strategies and shortcuts you can employ to increase the proportion of home-cooked food you eat.  And, by doing so, take control over your plate, palate and portion size for prime health.

I have sprinkled many of these tips throughout previous posts.  But I figured it was high time to gather them in one place.  So, without taking up any more of your time, here are my top 10 time-savers in the kitchen.

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A Flash in One Pan Dinners

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail A Flash in One Pan DinnersFebruary is upon us.  The groundhogs all agree that we are in for an early spring.  This is something to be grateful for.  And that is the focus for the February page of my 12 Healthy Habits Calendar.  A good way to bid farewell to the February Blahs is to focus each day on a few things that went well in your day.  And then reflect on what these tell you about your world.

One thing I am grateful for each day is being able to whip up a tasty and healthy dinner with a minimum of fuss or cleanup.  I am always on the lookout for quick one pan, one pot or tray bake style dinners.  Dinners like the Sausage & Apple Tray Bake from January’s Dishing it Up post, for example.  They are a cinch to assemble, generally quick to cook and super fast to clean up!

Of the three dinners here, the first requires a large tray and the other two need pots with tight-fitting lids.  For the Lemon Turkey Quinoa Skillet, I like to use my wide but deep Le Creuset 3.6L Sauté Pan, as the broader base and domed lid works well when adding a lot of leafy greens (in fact, I use this pan almost daily, it is so versatile).  Tight-fitting lids are important as these last two recipes feature quinoa.  I love quinoa for quick dinners as it is high in fibre like a whole grain but cooks in only fifteen minutes or so.

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