Friday, November 27, 2009

Dinner in a Food Court

I was on the 401 tonight crawling along around dinnertime and decided to go to Yorkdale to eat a quick dinner (ok maybe that's how I rationalized a quick shopping excursion!).

I haven't eaten in a food court in so long so I decided to have a little adventure and see what kind of healthy dinner I could find. As soon as I climbed the stairs up to the food court I saw New York Fries (banned), then Taco Villa (also banned), Mrs. Vanelli's (banned although part of my childhood shopping trips with my mom and sister!), A&W (definitely banned)....

I then spotted Cultures, Jimmy the Greek, and Teriyaki Experience. Those were the 3 I even bothered to check out their menus... where am I going to find maximum veggies? Hmmmmm....
Cultures looked liked my best bet - for $9.03 I got a bottle of water and a plate of 3 salads - beets, spinach and broccoli, and a mixed chickpea and kidney bean blend (yay protein!). They actually had 11 salads to pick from and these were definitely the most nutrient dense.

As I looked around I'm clearly in the minority with kids, teens, and adults lined up for burgers, fries, and deep fried foods. I wanted to go around and stop to talk to everyone about their meals. If I knew this was their 'once a month' little treat then I would be more likely to just look away. Something tells me these foods are being consumed a little more frequently. Ok that's my rant ....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Who Ate Better?

We just got back from a glorious walk through High Park. So sunny and beautiful for November!! We wanted to make sure we weren't nature deficient :)

I just turned on Sunday AM and there was a little blurb about who ate better and why - cavemen in the paleolithic era or us?

Consensus is: that they did. They chased down their food, getting lots of exercise and they ate things that didn't need cooking - meat, nuts, berries. Even more important to note is what they didn't eat - dairy, refined sugars, and wheat! Some food for thought!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Cast Iron Skillet

I love my cast iron skillet. In a day where most everyone uses non-stick cookware, cast iron skillets are few and far between.

Tonight, as always was Fish Fridays at our house. We had salmon fillets and a delicious stir-fry of a shallot, a red, green, and orange pepper and a handful of chopped kale with a touch of olive oil and red chili flakes, salt and pepper. We did the stir-fry in the cast iron skillet and this reminded me of when I first got the skillet.

The day I got the skillet I was so excited to use it. I asked the lady at the store about 'seasoning' the skillet as I vaguely remembered something my mom saying years ago. She explained that when I got it home I should rub some oil on the skillet and place it in a warm oven (around 300 degrees) for an hour to prevent it from rusting. She also told me never to wash the skillet with soap and water, just some hot water or a paper towel with some salt to remove any stuck-on food.

So after dinner that night Chris started washing the dishes as per usual. I came back to the kitchen 5 minutes later only to find him scrubbing the cast iron skillet with soap and water. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh......

Yes the skillet is heavy but it cooks everything very evenly and you get the added benefit of some extra iron in your diet instead of the chemicals from non-stick cookware!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nature Deficit Disorder

A new term has been identified in environmental medicine and naturopathic medicine - NDD (nature deficit disorder) instead of ADD or attention deficit disorder. It's becoming a problem in today's children (and adults!) which makes me sooooo sad.

Growing up on a farm (even though it was a tobacco farm!), my sister Angela and I were far from nature deficient. Walking around barefoot on the grass and the soil, making mudpies, being outside in the fresh air all summer long (working hard in the tobacco fields!), having a huge garden (ahhhh the rows and rows of potatoes and tomatoes that needed weeding!) and a creek in our backyard, all truly connected us with nature and kept us grounded.

In today's society, children are being shuttled from indoor activity to indoor activity, or sit in front of the tv or video games and have no connection with the Earth and nature. Meanwhile adults aren't any better ...

Try to make it a point of getting outside for at least 15 minutes every day. Not only do you get some vitamin D, but you have a chance to slow down and breathe and relax.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lead in Wine

Today was day one of the OAND (Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors) annual association conference. Fantastic line-up of keynote speakers with a conference theme of Environmental Medicine. Last night David Suzuki officially opened the convention, which I unfortunately could not attend..... however....

Most people have heard of the mercury in fish debate and the mercury in dental amalgams story. But did you know mercury is also found in high concentrations in high fructose corn syrup? If you go to the iatp website you can see a whole list of common 'grocery store' purchases that have HFCS as a first or second ingredient that have a crazy high amount of mercury - Quaker Oatmeal to Go, Jack Daniels BBQ Sauce, Hershey's Chocolate Sauce, Pop- Tarts, among others!

Another little tidbit that stunned a lot of people in the room was the amount of lead in wine! For 432 wines tested in the bottle, the lead in domestic wines ranged from 1-521 parts per billion, with an average of 41. The level in imported wines ranged from 4-673 parts per billion with an average of 94. To put this in perspective the limit for lead in drinking water is 50 parts per billion.

I'll be back tomorrow with so more interesting tidbits....

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Receptionist Position Available

Well Alexis is leaving.... :(

She has a great opportunity to move to LA so she is outta here - just in the nick of time as the Canadian winter approaches!

I need a part-time receptionist; so if anyone out there knows someone who is organized, loves people and multi-tasking, and has an interest in the health and wellness field tell them to send me their resume!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Chocolate Brownies - A Hit This Weekend.

Saturday my in-laws came over for a little lunch-time feast and this was dessert. I just served a large square of it with a handful of fresh raspberries and it was a hit! Of course I played my little game of 'guess what's in this' and as always my audience was surprised! I got it off a raw vegan blog a few weeks ago and knew I'd want to try it sometime in the future so I kept it in my 'must try' recipe file. I didn't use the almond extract but I had some ground almonds left over from something else so I put 1 tbsp in the mixture instead. I also didn't have medjool dates so I used regular dates.

1 cup raw walnuts

3/4 cup raw pecans

1 3/4 cups (packed) pitted medjool dates (see note)

1/4 cup dried organic pitted cherries

1/3 cup + 1 tbsp raw cocoa powder (or regular cocoa if you prefer)

1 vanilla bean (see note)

¼ tsp sea salt

½ tsp almond extract (optional)

In a food processor, first add walnuts and pecans. Pulse through until fine and crumbly, then add dates and cherries and pulse through again to partially combine (mixture should be crumbly, but not yet coming together). Then, add cocoa powder, salt, and almond extract, and pulse through. With a sharp tip knife, slice the vanilla bean down the outer side to open up the bean. Using a blunt (butter) knife, scrape out all the tiny seeds from the bean on both sides, and add them to the processor. Process again, along with the almond extract if using (almond extract enhances cherry flavor). Process until the mixture starts to come together but do not overmix so that the nuts release their oils (see note). Then remove the mixture and press into a brownie pan (8” x 8”) lined with parchment paper. Use a small piece of the parchment to help press and flatten the mixture evenly into the pan. Refrigerate for a couple of hours, and then cut into squares. You can also freeze the squares after cutting, and enjoy them out of the freezer!


  1. You can substitute 1 – 1 ½ tsp of pure vanilla extract for the vanilla bean seeds.
  2. If your dates are on the dry side, you can add 1-2 tbsp of water to the mixture to help assist the pureeing and the mixture easily coming together. Or, you can presoak (then drain) the dates to soften before pureeing. Also, if you use presoaked nuts, the mixture will puree easier (though presoaking is not a must).
  3. If you process the mixture too long, the heat generated by the food processor will bring the oils out of the nuts. If this happens, the brownies won’t be ruined necessarily, but they will have an oily appearance and be oily to the touch. So, process minimally to begin, rather than over processing the nuts at the outset.
  4. If you don’t have the pitted cherries, you can substitute another dried fruit or simply add another 3 or 4 dates to the mixture.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Royals Going Vegan?

Ok so I have the Royals on my mind.... Prince Charles and the Duchess Camilla are in Canada this week and I had the opportunity to meet them both last Wednesday night at a reception. They were warm and gracious and surprisingly 'less stuffy' than I thought they would be. The Duchess even said to my friend and I that she was jet-lagged and tired. Darn! I should have told her I'm a naturopathic doctor and offered her melatonin!!!

So today I find out that Prince Philip, hosted 200 people in Windsor Castle, for a "Celebration of Faiths and the Environment" and did a vegan feast! Yes meat-less and dairy-free! For a gathering that included Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus among others it was almost necessary because of all the dietary restrictions - Halal, Kosher, vegetarian etc. How do you make vegan glamourous? You can't just give the Prince tempeh and quinoa and some butternut squash and call it a day right? Apparently one of the dishes was a pearl barley risotto with a portobello mushroom stuffed weith artichokes with a sprinkle of lemon zest and parsley on top!

If anyone wants an 'elegant' vegan cookbook one of my favourites is called Voluptous Vegan. It is entertaining based in that there are meals put together with 3 or 4 dishes that are thoughtfully combined. The recipes do have many steps and aren't ideal for a quick meal but can easily be made on a weekend to be enjoyed later in the week! The shepherds pie is delicious - it was one of my first vegan dishes 8 years ago!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Brussel Sprouts

I know, I know.... no one likes these little trees. I never liked them either but one day last year I bought them, (because I know how good of a cruciferous vegetable they are for my liver and hormones!) and decide to roast them. We both love dijon mustard so I slathered the brussels with dijon, salt and pepper and olive oil and roasted them at 450 for 20 minutes. I've never looked back since - delicious!

Now we have them this way every couple of weeks. I especially love the little crispy leaves that fall off during the roasting process.... mmmmmmm.... they're what we pick at while everything else is cooking!

I'm picking right now while I'm waiting for the cauliflower to steam and Chris is BBQing our fresh tuna steaks!

If you want to disquise brussel sprouts even more take a look at Zawada Health's October newsletter for my shredded pecan brussel sprouts recipe!