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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!

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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!

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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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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!

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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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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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Feed on Fermented Foods Menu

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Feed on Fermented Foods MenuYou may be wondering why I chose to focus on fermented foods to kick off my 2021 menus and for the January page of my 12 Healthy Habits Calendar.  Well, there are two reasons:

  • First, we tend to do a number on our gut bugs (aka gut flora or microbiota) in December.  This is because our traditional holiday diet shifts markedly to more refined carbs, added sugars and alcohol.  And the holidays can be psychologically stressful, which may also have a detrimental impact.  Fermented foods add beneficial live bacteria (probiotics) to our diets and give our gut microbiota a helping hand.
  • Second, it’s a pretty simple healthy habit to adopt.  And when we succeed at an initial change, it encourages and empowers us to take on another.

So why is feeding on fermented foods so easy to do?  Because this is one of the few “prepared food” groups I’d recommend.  While we certainly can ferment our own foods (and some do), it is not always practical.  As a result, there are a number of high quality producers out there to meet demand.

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Holly Jolly Brain Candy

Toronto Holistic Nutritionist Laurie McPhail Holly Jolly Brain CandyMy Holly Jolly Brain Candy collection of confections is unapologetically chocolate-centric.  I’m a card-carrying chocoholic and, hey, if ever there was a time when we could use more chocolate, this is it!!  It’s natural to turn to sweet treats to cheer ourselves up in times of stress and holidays are often focused around feasting.  But as you know from my Food For Thought post, excess sugar (particularly refined sugar) leads to inflammation in the brain, not to mention the rest of you.  So rather than reach for commercially prepared, processed candies and confections, why not make your own?

These are all quite simple to make.  And instead of gobbling heaping helpings of refined sugars and poor quality ingredients, you feast on high quality dark chocolate and natural sugars like dates and maple syrup.  And they contain fibre and healthy fats.  Fibre is food for our gut microbes, which are involved in brain health and behaviour, including our reactions to stress and anxiety.  And both fibre and fat slow the digestion and absorption of sugar which helps keep your blood sugar stable.  And when it comes to the absorption of sugar into the blood, slow and steady wins the race!

Let’s compare Turtles and may the slowest Turtle win

Compare my Dark Chocolate Turtles to Nestlé TURTLES Classic Recipe, for example:

My Dark Chocolate Turtles:  Dark chocolate, dates, pecans.

Nestlé TURTLES Classic Recipe: Milk chocolate (sugar, modified milk ingredients, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, soy lecithin, natural vanilla flavour, salt), caramel (glucose, sugar, modified milk ingredients, water, modified palm oil, salt, natural vanilla flavour), pecans.  May contain peanuts and other tree nuts.

My turtle is an entirely different species.  Each one of my turtles has two grams of fibre where there is zero fibre in Nestlé TURTLES Classic Recipe.  And with mine there’s not a “modified” anything in sight.  Yes, they require a little more work than opening up a box, but not much more.  And that’s a good thing as you are less likely to mass produce them and binge.

These treats contain brain-boosting antioxidants, fibre, phytoestrogens and healthy fats from dark chocolate, dates, oats, chickpeas and nuts.  Read on for more about the brain-healthy benefits of dark chocolate and dates.

And if you don’t feel like cooking, simply serve up a spread of some of your finest dark chocolate, clementines and a bowl of whole nuts and get some exercise in with a nutcracker.  Decorate your platter with a few sprigs of holiday evergreenery and you have a quick, nutritious and festive treat!

I generally don’t encourage a lot of sweets because even natural sugars are still sugar.  But at this time of year, everyone indulges.  So I hope you choose instead to enjoy these healthier treats (in moderation of course, just as you would alcohol) so you don’t do your head in…or your waistline.  😉

Happy holidays to you and yours and wishing you all a healthy New Year!

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Holly Jolly Brain Candy

Dark Chocolate Turtles (I prefer these to Nestlé’s version as I can use superior quality dark chocolate and they are more nutritious; have some fun playing with the variations suggested in the notes or create your own classic recipe)

No Bake Dark Chocolate Coconut Cookies (nothing but yummy chocolate, oats, coconut, vanilla and sea salt; make sure your vanilla doesn’t contain water or your melted chocolate will seize when you add it)

Coconut Chickpea Blondies (chickpeas, almond butter, maple syrup and cinnamon star in these scrumptious squares, making them higher in protein and fibre than in sugar; and if you don’t tell about the chickpeas, no one will ever guess, trust me)

Pistachio Pomegranate Bark (back by popular demand from my 2018 Holiday Collection, the ruby red pomegranate seeds, green pistachios and dusting of shredded coconut adorning this dark chocolate bark make a very festive presentation; and pistachios are one of the most vitamin B6-rich foods around, important for regulating mood; if you buy them in-shell you are less likely to overindulge)

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

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