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Cultivating Resilience

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Cultivating ResilienceI want to chat a bit today about resilience. Or to use a sailing metaphor, since I am learning to sail, keeping on an even keel in rough waters.  It’s something we tend not to think much about until we realize it’s lacking.  But it is hugely important to focus on and cultivate resilience each and every day.  I chose the world cultivate carefully as it means to develop a quality but also to prepare ground for sowing or planting.  Cultivating is careful tending to facilitate growth.  And isn’t that what life is all about?

This summer certainly didn’t shape up to be what I expected.  Nor did spring for that matter and I imagine autumn will follow suit.  In fact, the biggest belly laugh I had lately came in response to one of those coronavirus jokes circulating on the internet.  I’m paraphrasing here but it was something along the lines of “anyone who was asked in 2015 ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’ was wrong”.  How true!

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Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot MenuSometimes I am just too hot to cook.  And I don’t mean sexy.  I mean hot as in temperature hot.  When the mercury rises like this and I’m feeling hot, hot, hot, that song of the same name runs through my head and I’d rather be dancing around my kitchen than cooking in it.

This no-cooking-required menu is perfect for these sultry summer nights, showing you can still eat well without feeling hot, hot, hot.  And the hibiscus iced tea (a little like Jamaican sorrel), will keep you refreshed while bopping along to this Calypso classic!  Here’s a YouTube link to Arrow performing it live in Montreal with a happy crowd dancing along…back when crowds were still permitted.

Are you feeling hot, hot, hot?  Sign up here to receive the recipes.  Stay cool, stay well and, as always, I hope you enjoy the recipes and share them with family and friends!

Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot Menu

BeverageHibiscus Iced Tea (deliciously refreshing before, during or after your meal)

Soup: Corn & White Bean Gazpacho (keep your cool and use canned white beans and frozen corn – though cooked and crumbled bacon would be an inspired garnish)

Salad:  Shrimp & Avocado Salad (if you buy the shrimp already cooked then the only heat you’ll need comes from the hot sauce; chicken breast also works well here)

Dessert: No Bake Chocolate Cookies (these would be extra-cool with a little vanilla ice cream on top)

Join The Nutritional Reset community here to receive this month’s menu today (as well as each month to come)!  And read on for some nutritional tidbits about a few foods featured in the recipes…

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My McHappy Meal

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail My McHappy MealI don’t know about you but lately I have been feeling a bit blue and rather nostalgic for happier times.  It is tempting when you feel this way to turn to junk food to “treat” yourself, especially foods you munched on as a kid.  But in my experience, no matter how much I might enjoy it at the time, I generally feel pretty sluggish after I eat these highly processed foods.  Healthy food, however, has the power to heal both body and mind.  So instead I prepare delicious yet more nutritious versions of these fun treats.  These do wonders for my mood and they energize me.

So in this spirit I share with you my own McHappy Meal combo including drink, burger, “special sauce”, fries and ice cream.  The “Mc” in this case of course refers to McPhail (wink wink…).  And, being my type of meal, it’s full of Mediterranean flavours.  Think Mickey D’s by way of Greece!  Read on to find out more about the Mediterranean diet and mood.

Sign up here to receive the recipes.  I hope this menu makes you and those you love happy too!

My McHappy Meal

Drink: Classic Virgin Mojito (and if you want “the real thing”, by all means go for it…just skip the unlimited refills)

Burger: Greek Chicken Burgers (I like to serve these zesty burgers in a grilled whole grain pita; this serves 4 hungry people so I suggest making 2 mini-burgers each instead of one large burger for faster cooking)

“Special Sauce”: Tzatziki (not necessary given the Greek salsa in the burger recipe but a nice touch – also great on any grilled pork, chicken or fish)

Fries: Sweet Potato Fries (soaking in cold water, then coating in tapioca flour and salting them only after roasting makes them crispier)

Ice Cream: Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream (better than a McFlurry any day!)

Join The Nutritional Reset community here to receive this month’s menu today (as well as each month to come)!  And read on for some nutritional tidbits about a few foods featured in the recipes…

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Keep Calm & Get Your Grill On Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Keep Calm & Get Your Grill On MenuI was inspired to create this menu during last Saturday’s Skype-fest/Transatlantic Brunch-Dinner Party with family in the UK.  My brother was BBQing and was running a bit late so aimed his camera at the BBQ while he finished things up.  It was sunny and 24 degrees Celsius there.  Here in Toronto it was snowing.  My husband joked that it was like watching that video Relaxing Fireplace with Crackling Fire Sounds that mimics the experience of sitting beside a roaring fire.  Only this time we were immersing ourselves in Summer Grilling in a British Garden while our so-called-spring weather outside was more like winter.

Take heart that warmer sunny days will soon be upon us!  In the meantime, in the British spirit of Keep Calm & Carry On, I have created this BBQ menu for Victoria Day long weekend.  It’s a fun and easy menu that imports flavours from sunny places to warm our hearts.  No grill?  No worries.  Everything can be done in the oven as well.  I hope you enjoy it!  And while you may not be able to share this food at the same table with family and friends this weekend, you are welcome to share the recipes!

So Keep Calm & Get Your Grill On!  Sign up here to receive the recipes.  I recommend a dry and fruity rosé wine with this menu as we could all benefit from seeing the world through rosé-coloured glasses right now.  And I wish you a healthy and happy May long weekend!

Keep Calm & Get Your Grill On Menu

Appetizer: Pineapple Coconut Shrimp (these grill up super fast and are much healthier than the deep fried coconut shrimp you see everywhere – read on about the benefits of pineapple, below)

Veggie Main (& yummy side): Cauliflower Tacos with Lime Crema (do toast up the tortillas on the grill and you can also roast the cauliflower on the grill with a veggie grilling basket if you wish)

Main: Chili Lime Chicken Drumsticks with Zucchini (note that this requires some marinating time for best flavour so plan accordingly)

Dessert: Blood Orange & Pistachio Chia Pudding (chia seeds…not just for breakfast anymore – this one also needs to be prepped in advance so it thickens, but it comes together in minutes and makes a refreshing and summery pudding for dessert)

Join The Nutritional Reset community here to receive this month’s menu today (as well as each month to come)!  And read on for some nutritional tidbits about a few foods featured in the recipes…

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Pantry Raid Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Pantry Raid MenuSo how’s life in “lockdown”?  I imagine many of you are cooking a lot more than ever before and looking for quick and easy meals to make from all that food you stockpiled in your pantry, no?  So I thought I’d offer up a Pantry Raid Menu this month.  But first, a story…

You all know how I like to pun.  Well, one of my puns actually made it into print, as the title of a cookbook no less.  Back in 2002, a friend was telling me that his friend, Dana McCauley, was writing a cookbook.  It was about cooking from the pantry so I joked that she should call it Pantry Raid.  As it turned out, she thought it was pretty funny and asked me if she could use it as the title.

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Pantry Raid Menu Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Pantry Raid Menu
Just so you know I am not making this up, I have attached a photo of both the book cover and the section of the Acknowledgments page where Dana kindly credits me.

So I’m hoping Dana won’t mind me borrowing the title back.

Now let’s serve up this month’s menu.  My Pantry Raid Menu makes liberal use of pantry (and frozen) staples, is leftover-friendly and embraces both simplicity and the beauty of the one-pot meal.  While these are not Dana’s recipes, they are similar in spirit.  And I recommend you check out her book for further inspiration as well.

Sign up here to receive the recipes.  I hope you enjoy this month’s Pantry Raid Menu and share it with your family and friends!

Pantry Raid Menu

Breakfast:  Peanut Butter Breakfast Quinoa (if you are finding oats in short supply, consider quinoa for breakfast – it is higher in protein and super delicious – top with bananas and crumbled bacon if you want the Elvis-approved version)

Lunch:  Spring Salad (use frozen peas here, feel free to swap in soon-to-be-in-season asparagus for the snap peas or canned wild salmon in place of tuna and don’t hesitate to use any leafy green in place of spinach)

Afternoon Pick-Me-Up:  Cinnamon Ginger Energy Balls (awesome with a cup of tea, the cinnamon helps with blood sugar metabolism and ginger does wonders for digestion)

Dinner: One Pot Taco Pasta (taco night was a blast when I was a kid, and still is, especially when margaritas are involved – this is a much healthier take on it which works better for leftovers)

Join The Nutritional Reset community here to receive this month’s menu today (as well as each month to come)!  And read on for some nutritional tidbits about a few foods featured in the recipes…

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COVID-Coping Sustenance for Your Soul

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail COVID CopingAs the calendar flips over to April, so begins another month of social-distancing in this new world of ours.  While coping with COVID-19 has been challenging, it has been heartening to see the outpouring of generosity, kindness and humour in our local and global communities.  People worldwide are providing and sharing COVID-coping sustenance for the soul.  Together we get more resilient every day.  The quote at left was something I saw posted on Instagram by yoga teacher, author and lecturer Eddie Stern in New York City.  It exemplifies the fighting spirit we are seeing there and around the world.

In times like these, it is just as important to sustain your soul as your body.  The limit is your creativity as you can virtually do anything!  Here are some of my favourite examples of COVID-coping sustenance for your soul.  And I hope you will share your favourites in the comments section.  So without further ado, here they are, from the sublime to the cerebral to the (sometimes or somewhat) ridiculous…

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The Anti-Viral Anti-Anxiety Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Anti-Viral, Anti-Anxiety MenuI had originally planned to post a “Put a Spring in Your Step Menu” next weekend to celebrate the official advent of spring March 19.  But with the spread of coronavirus and the stock market in free fall, it just didn’t seem appropriate.  It is hard not to be anxious in times like these. So I looked back at the article I posted in my most recent Dishing It Up blog post, Feeling Anxious About the Coronavirus and the Flu? Eat This and, instead, created this Anti-Viral Anti-Anxiety Menu from these foods.

I challenged myself to include all the recommended foods in a single day’s menu.  And I’m happy to report that I succeeded.  Well, sort of…instead of cherry juice I used whole cherries.  I’m guessing you weren’t expecting dark chocolate and cherries making an appearance at breakfast or blueberries and yogurt as dessert!

I hope you enjoy the recipes.  Remember to always wash your hands thoroughly before preparing food and before eating.  And please feel free to share this menu with your family and friends (while keeping two metres away from them for the time being).  Stay healthy and don’t forget to breathe – ideally outside in the fresh air!  Exercise is a great stress-reducer and it’s fantastic for lung health.  Sign up here to receive the recipes and see you in April!

Anti-Viral, Anti-Anxiety Menu

Breakfast:  Cherry Chocolate Buckwheat Porridge (chocolate contains theobromine, an immune-boosting antioxidant, and it makes me happy)

Lunch:  Slow Cooker Chicken Soup (the Greek physician Galen recommended chicken soup as a cure for fever, among other things, in the second century AD – read on about its immune boosting properties below; I always add a few handfuls of dark leafy greens to soup)

Afternoon Tonic:  Warm Citrus, Maple & Ginger Tonic (the throat-soothing honey in this drink may help with a cough and has anti-viral properties, as does the ginger)

Dinner: Coconut Chickpea Curry (this contains three foods from the list, including broccoli for vitamin C, ginger, and red onions – see below)

Dessert: Blueberry Almond Frozen Yogurt (this is super simple to make and elicits happy thoughts of warmer weather to come)

Join The Nutritional Reset community here to receive this month’s menu today (as well as each month to come)!  And read on for some nutritional tidbits about a few foods featured in the recipes…

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Under Pressure Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Under Pressure MenuIn my last post, Top 10 Reasons to Love Your Leftovers, I blogged about how leftovers are the BFF of any busy person wanting to eat healthily.  A pressure cooker (or slow cooker for that matter) is an indispensable tool for the busy cook.  Why?  Because:

  • it’s fantastic for cooking big batches,
  • the recipes that work best in it are usually suitable for freezing,
  • it requires very little supervision while working it’s magic,
  • and the “delay start” and “keep warm” functions give you a lot of flexibility around preparation and serving times.

So for the cook who is short on time and under pressure, here is my Under Pressure Menu, a day’s worth of delectable recipes made in a pressure cooker.  And you can easily adapt them for a slow cooker if you prefer.  All the dishes keep for up to four days in the fridge or you can freeze them for future use.

I hope these recipes spur those of you who have an Instant Pot languishing on your shelf to whip up a batch of yummy chocolate oatmeal, wild rice & mushroom soup or Thai chicken curry.  Feel free to share the recipes with your family and friends.  Better still, I encourage you to recruit two friends and each of you whip up one dish and then swap.  You’ll get three meals for the effort of one!  Sign up here to receive the recipes – it’s time to thrive under pressure!

Under Pressure Menu

Breakfast: Pressure Cooker Chocolate Steel Cut Oats (cacao is a natural mood booster and helps regulate appetite – what better way to start your day?) 

Lunch:  Pressure Cooker Wild Rice & Mushroom Soup (I serve this up with some baby spinach or kale stirred in just before serving – it’s a great way to amp up your intake of dark, leafy greens)

Dinner: Pressure Cooker Thai Chicken and Vegetables (this curry is vibrant with colourful veggies – if you like it spicy like I do, some organic Sriracha, like this one by Simply Natural, is a must)

Join The Nutritional Reset community here to receive this month’s menu today (as well as each month to come)!  And read on for some nutritional tidbits about a few foods featured in the recipes…

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