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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!

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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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Farro & Beet Salad

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Farro & Beet Salad

I can’t seem to get enough of this Farro & Beet Salad! It’s a deliciously satisfying combo of earthy roasted beets and garlic tossed with nutty, chewy farro and simply dressed with extra virgin olive oil, fresh lemon and dill. The flurry of microgreens adds colour and boosts nutrition. Even better, microgreens make me think of spring right around the corner. So close, you can taste it!

You may recall from last month’s recipe post that broccoli sprouts are powerhouses of sulforaphane, a compound that acts against the formation of cancer at the molecular level. Broccoli microgreens are the next best thing. Living Earth Farm grows broccoli microgreens as well as several other varieties right here in Toronto. I’ve also made this salad using their basil microgreens and their cilantro microgreens (I told you I can’t seem to get enough of this salad) and each worked beautifully.

If your beets have greens that are as gorgeous as the ones in the photo, chiffonade them into the salad as well as (or instead of) the microgreens. Other bitter greens like arugula, dandelion or radicchio are also fantastic additions.

This Farro & Beet Salad is wonderful warm or at room temperature and can easily be made ahead. Feel free to scale up the recipe to serve a crowd. I like to crumble feta or goat cheese over top and sprinkle it with toasted pumpkins seeds. And it plays well with just about anything, roasted chicken and salmon being my current favourites. For a meatless meal, add about a cup of cooked chickpeas per serving.

Sign up to my newsletter today to receive the recipe for this scrumptious Farro & Beet Salad. And read on for more about why I’ve been craving this salad and the bevy of benefits from feasting on farro and beets

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February Blahs Busters

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail February Blahs BustersIs anyone else feeling the February blahs? It’s not uncommon to battle the blues mid-winter, so I thought I’d offer up some February blahs busters, as well as invite you to contribute yours. You won’t be surprised that they are related to diet and exercise. But that’s not only because of my profession (and passion). It’s because they truly work.

I recently watched a documentary on Netflix called Stutz, made by actor Jonah Hill about his therapist, Phil Stutz. He wanted the wider world, particularly those who did not have access to therapy themselves, to have the tools that Dr. Stutz gave him to manage his own mental health issues. The first thing Dr. Stutz asks people to do is work on connecting with their Life Force. He represented this as a pyramid of three layers of relationships: with the physical body, with other people and with yourself.

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail February Blahs BustersThe first layer of this is to get your physical body working, in terms of proper diet, exercise and sleep. What really caught my attention was Stutz saying that improving these three things can account for 85% of the initial improvements in mental health. I repeat, 85%! And what is so empowering about this is that beneficial changes in these areas are well within our grasp.

Below are some of my favourite February blahs busters in each area. They may seem obvious but you’d be surprised how few people actually do them. And I invite you to add your favourite February blahs busters to the blog comments.

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Spicy Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Spicy Chicken & Broccoli Casserole

Broccoli is my husband’s favourite vegetable. He could happily munch on it nightly. So I try to cook up interesting ways to include it at mealtime because, let’s face it, steamed broccoli can get boring. And broccoli that has been over-steamed is beyond boring, it is blech. And also the reason why many people don’t like broccoli, because overcooking it turns it into unpalatable, sulfurous mush.

Roasting it is much tastier. Especially if you first toss it with paprika- and hot sauce-spiked avocado oil along with mini-potatoes, prosciutto and sautéed chicken breast, as in this Spicy Chicken & Broccoli Casserole. Try it and I think you will agree. Read on for more about the benefits of broccoli and a bonus recipe.

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Eat anything you want. Just cook it yourself.

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Eat Anything You Want Just Cook It YourselfHappy New Year! As holiday feasting has come to a close along with 2022, thoughts have likely turned toward New Year’s resolutions to be healthier and/or lose weight in 2023. The plethora of diets out there (Mediterranean, DASH, Paleo, Keto, Low FODMAP, Vegan, Low Carb-High Fat, Low Fat-High Carb, MIND, Weight Watchers and many more) can easily have you calorie counting, confused and stressing over micro-managing your macro-nutrients (“gee, how many grams of fat, protein and carbs should I eat?“).

So let’s cut straight to today’s pearl of dietary wisdom, expressed so eloquently by New York Times bestselling author Michael Pollan and captured succinctly in this 3-minute videoEat anything you want. Just cook it yourself. Seriously, people overcomplicate matters. I promise you that this single step of cooking your own food will advance you leaps and bounds toward a healthier you.

And I want to help. Members of The Nutritional Reset community receive delicious, nutritious and simple recipes throughout the year to inspire home cooking. So if you aren’t already a member, sign up here for free. And then, go ahead and eat anything you want. Just cook it yourself. Read on for more about why this is so important and for my special offer: invite your friends to join The Nutritional Reset Community and I will send each of you my Big Batches for Buddies recipe collection to inspire you in the kitchen.

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The Greatest Gift

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail The Greatest GiftWe’re in the bell lap of 2022 and the holiday season is officially in top gear. A few years ago I offered up some timeless tips on how to Feast Festively Without Piling on the Pounds, which you may wish to revisit. This year, however, I thought I’d do something different and jumpstart the season with some holiday wisdom by way of analogy. During the gift-giving season, I think this analogy really drives home the point that a healthy body is truly the greatest gift of all.

I hope the perspective it offers will help you navigate the holidays as you make choices about what you eat and how you spend your time. Staying healthy has a lot to do with eating nutritiously, yes. But it also involves prioritizing exercise, rest/recovery and mental health. And if there is one thing I’m discovering as the years tick by, it’s that my body is less forgiving than it used to be. It is far better to avoid the “potholes” in the first place! Because, truly, the gift of a healthy body is the greatest gift you can give yourself this holiday season! And be sure to read to the end of the post for my personal gift to you – my collection of Healthy Holiday Recipes.

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Moroccan Carrot, Chickpea & Halloumi Salad

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Moroccan Carrot, Chickpea & Halloumi Salad

One of the best things we can do for our health is to amp up our vegetable intake and replace simple carbohydrates with more complex ones. An easy way to accomplish this is to have a repertoire of simple yet tasty recipes that do just that. This Moroccan Carrot, Chickpea & Halloumi Salad is one of those recipes. It’s super simple, super delicious and super versatile.

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Pumpkin Spice Latte…Deconstructed

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Pumpkin Spice Latte

It’s hard to believe it’s October already. Yet the mornings are getting chillier and there’s an autumnal vibe about. We are coming into comfort food climate. With October hosting both Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en, thoughts turn to pumpkins and spice and all things nice. And who hasn’t been tempted at one time, or many, by a steamy Pumpkin Spice Latte on a cool fall afternoon?

While we know these concoctions aren’t exactly nutritious, it’s hard to say no. So I hope my recipe and what I’ve written below will convince you that making your own is a far better way to treat yourself. Sign up to my newsletter today to receive the recipe for my Pumpkin Spice Latte.

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Fennel & Arugula Salad with Chicken…Deconstructed

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Fennel and Arugula Salad with Chicken

In my last blog post, Tips for a Hot Bod, I mentioned dining out on salads and using your BBQ to avoid turning on your oven in the heat of sizzling summer. This Fennel & Arugula Salad with Chicken is a perfect example. It was a particular favourite of a recent client, too, so I thought I’d share it with you.

If you don’t have a BBQ or are too hot to use it, simply buy a rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast from your grocer. Of course, if you are cooking chicken for another recipe, it’s a no-brainer to make extra so you can serve this salad for a subsequent lunch or dinner. Prefer a meatless meal? You can make this with white beans, chickpeas or tofu instead. If you eat seafood, poached salmon or shrimp work well here too.

Fennel is not the most attractive of vegetables so it often gets overlooked. And it’s Latin name, Foeniculum vulgare, isn’t much of an advertisement. The bulbs we buy are a variety called Florence fennel, which sounds far more pleasing. Read on for why this vegetable is more versatile than vulgar.

This salad makes for easy entertaining as you can prepare everything through Step 1 ahead of time. Then all you need to do just prior to serving is toss in pre-washed arugula and top it with slices of cooked chicken and a sprinkle of chopped pistachios. My client took it to a pot-luck book club event and she said it was a hit. It’s also great for picnics or to whip up while on a cottage vacation.

Speaking of which, I’ll be taking the remainder of the month off for my annual “no-blog Aug” vacation. 😉  I wish you a rollicking good rest of summer and see you in September!

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