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Island Dreams Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Island Dreams Menu I may not be able to travel anywhere right now but I can dream about it.  And I have.  Perhaps because of the extreme cold snaps Toronto’s been having, I’ve been dreaming of the tropics.  Or possibly it’s because it feels like forever since I’ve ambled along a sandy beach caressed by warm, salty ocean breezes.

Like dreams, food can also magically transport us to other places.  In this spirit, I have created my Island Dreams Menu.  I invite you to turn up the tunes (reggae? calypso? salsa? soca?) and the heat.  Not just the heat in your home but spicy heat.

I’ve kept the recipes fairly mild as not everyone is a chili-head like I am.  But if you are, now’s the time to shake it up with your favourite hot sauce.  I have several.  My brother added to my collection by giving me this one as a stocking stuffer: the mango and habanero-based  Hotel Oscar Tango Sauce.  Get it?  HOT sauce.  Hotel Oscar Tango spells out HOT in the phonetic alphabet.  As airline pilots use the phonetic alphabet extensively, it seemed ideal for this menu inspired by virtual travel.  Especially as it is locally made here in Toronto by Damien.  As Damien’s website says, “Blandness is cold, cold, treachery.  Step out of the cold forever with Damien.”

I started the menu off with a mocktail for those of you joining me in forgoing alcohol this month.  Even if you didn’t Ring in the New Year with Dry January, it is never too late to take a trip down sobriety lane and enjoy the benefits of taking a break from alcohol.

I hope my Island Dreams Menu takes you to a warm, happy and healthy place!  Sign up here to receive the recipes.

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Festive Feast For Four

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Festive Feast for FourI am a believer in the 80% rule.  As in, eat healthily 80% of the time and you may indulge a bit the other 20%.  Another 80% rule to keep in mind over the holidays is the Japanese principle of hara hachi bu, which roughly translates to eating until you are 80% full.

One indulgent meal is unlikely to have a lasting effect on weight or fat mass.  While you may notice an extra pound or two on the scale the next morning, this is typically due to water retention as a result of a higher than usual intake of carbohydrate and sodium-rich foods.  And it will resolve itself within the next day or so.  Unless, of course, you continue to eat carbohydrate and sodium-rich meals.

Which is what we often do during the holidays.  Sometimes this is due to the “what-the-hell-effect” (i.e., I’ve already blown my healthy eating pattern out of the water so why stop now?).  But often it’s because we have copious quantities of food left over which we feel we must consume as quickly as possible.

One way to avoid this is to send leftovers home with your guests.  Another is to simply make less food in the first place.  The pandemic has meant smaller gatherings for many of us.  So this month I’ve offered up a Festive Feast for Four.  Not only is cooking a turkey breast simpler and faster than a whole bird, it means far fewer leftovers.

I hope you enjoy this flurry of festive foods, flavours and colours!

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Slowvember Slow Food Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Slowvember Slow Food MenuMy last blog post, Go With the Slow, discussed how it is natural to crave not only more food but more calorically dense food as the outside temperature drops. This is because your body requires more energy just to keep its core temperature where it should be. And it wants to prepare itself for winter by adding a little protective, insulating fat. The traditional winter diet for those of us living in Northern climates is rich with starchy root vegetables, proteins and fats for these reasons but also because things like leafy greens simply were not available at this time of year.

I favour local, seasonal eating as much as possible. The food is fresher. After all, it hasn’t had to travel crazy distances to get to our table. I like to support our local farmers and food businesses. I advocate home-cooked food too.

These concepts are all embraced within the Slow Food movement, first created in Italy in 1986 to promote alternatives to fast food. So I designed my Slowvember Slow Food Menu to encourage you to Go With the Slow and embrace these Slow Food concepts.

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Gourds & Goblins Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Gourds & Goblins MenuMy 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.

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Betteraves Beets Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Betteraves Beets MenuThis month’s menu, Betteraves Beets, is both a play on words and a nod to my pal in Paris who told me he was motivated to start running by my previous post, It’s Never Too Late…to Exercise.  Betteraves is French for beets and, as the “s” is silent, it sounds un petit peu like “better ‘ave” (yes, I’m stretching it a wee bit).  And if you are a runner, or doing any exercise really, then you’d better have your beets.  See below for more on why.

This is not a menu so much as a selection of recipes to showcase ways you can beet-ify your meals.  I’m often too lazy to cook beets so I usually eat them raw in salads, shaved very thinly or julienned as in the Apple, Beet & Carrot Slaw.  But if you take the time to roast your beets, you will be well rewarded when you taste the Beet & Lentil Salad or the Kale, Salmon & Beet Salad.

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Ice Cream Parlour Menu – A Second Scoop

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Ice Cream Parlour MenuIt feels to me like summer is whizzing by far too fast.  Especially when, for a week there, we dipped into fall temperatures.  But thankfully summer is sizzling once again!  So I thought I’d roll back the clock and serve up a second scoop of my Ice Cream Parlour Menu from two years ago.  It got raves when it first came out.  For those new to The Nutritional Reset community since August 2019, these healthy ice creams will be both frosty and fresh to you.  And for those seeing this as a second scoop, I hope you are again taste-tempted by my favourite frozen treats.

Enjoying ice cream is a rite of summer but most commercial products wreak havoc with our health.  Whereas my ice ‘creams’ have all the great taste but no artificial ingredients or sweeteners other than natural whole fruit (with the exception of a wee bit of maple syrup in the Raspberry Avocado Ice Cream).  They are dairy-free, so anyone with a dairy allergy or lactose intolerance can also enjoy them.  And you can whip them up super-quick with a high speed blender or food processor. I use my mini food processor to make double scoops in a snap.  The first recipe has 5 ingredients and the others have 3 or fewer (okay, the Pina Colada Ice Cream technically has 4 if you add the optional rum).  And the best part is you actually know what the ingredients are!

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Summer on a Stick for Six

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Summer on a Stick for SixIt’s summertime and the livin’ (and cookin’) is easy!  Flavourful salads paired with grilled meats or fish are staples of my summer meals and perfect for entertaining (which I think I have forgotten how to do, it’s been so long).  Now that the pandemic is under better control and life is starting to return to some semblance of normalcy, you might be itching to have a few friends over.  So this Middle Eastern-inspired kabob menu serves six and can easily be scaled up or down.

For anyone who might be disappointed (given the title) that my menu doesn’t include a popsicle recipe, you may wish to try these Honey, Lime & Mint Popsicles.  Tasting like “a mojito on a stick, minus the booze”, they would be a sublime finale (pun intended)!  As always, I hope you enjoy these recipes and share them (and the food) with your family and friends!

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Summer on a Stick for Six

Appetizer: Spiced Halloumi Kabobs (I may be developing a halloumi habit but the za’atar makes these extra special – read on for more about this Middle Eastern spice blend)

Main: Mango Chickpea Salad with Grilled Chicken Kabobs (this is a wonderful combo of fresh flavours, textures and temperatures; make extra lemon tahini dressing to use on salads and slaws all summer long)

Dessert: Fruit Kabobs (these are wonderful as is but you can fancy them up by drizzling with some dark chocolate or serving with a yogurt and honey dip; use any fruit you wish but I love fresh summer berries right now – read on below for why)

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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Make Calories Count Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Make Calories Count MenuIn my last blog post, Rather Than Count Calories, Make Calories Count, I discussed how calories are not all created equal in their effects on your body.  Your body survives and thrives off the nutrients provided by your food.  That’s why it is so important to get as much nutrient bang for your calorie buck as you can – so your meals will optimize your health and energy.

In the same post, I linked to the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) to show how many popular foods stack up in terms of micronutrient density per calorie.  It is no surprise that the majority of the highest ranking foods are vegetables and fruits.  And dark leafy greens reign supreme.

But please don’t bog yourself down with all the numbers.  A simple way to ensure you get a full complement of micronutrients in your diet is to “eat the rainbow”, including dark leafy greens, daily.  Challenge yourself to consume as many colourful foods as you can each day.  My Make Calories Count Menu covers off red, orange, yellow, green, purple, brown and white.  Add some blueberries with breakfast and you are golden!  I hope you enjoy this technicolour menu and share it with your family and friends!

To receive the recipes in my Make Calories Count Menu, sign up here.

Make Calories Count Menu

Breakfast: Asian Veggie Omelet  (see below for the benefits of bok choy for breakfast)

Lunch: Mango, Edamame & Cabbage Salad with Peanut Sauce (full of flavour, colour and crunch, this salad is high in protein and fibre and keeps 3-4 days in the fridge)

Dinner: Kale Greek Salad with Steak (perfect on a sultry summer evening, the steak and red peppers can be grilled on the BBQ or roasted in the oven; use pre-washed, organic baby kale to save time if you wish)

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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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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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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