Sunday, January 31, 2010

Secret Weapon

Mmmmmm... This afternoon, as most Sunday afternoons, we were on Bloor in our neighbourhood picking up some groceries for the week. Since this past August, the Sunday outing has more often than not included a tea from David's Tea. If you've never been and live in the GTA, check it out.

There are stainless steel tins behind the counter filled with different kinds of tea. You always get a sample of their tea of the day and you can smell as many different kinds of green, white, black, oolong, mate, herbal, or aruyvedic teas as you would like.

I used to always get some kind of tasty green or white tea but this winter I've been on a rooibus kick. Understandable as green is a pretty cooling tea while rooibus is more of a warming tea. Rooibus is actually caffeine-free but it has more antioxidants than green tea! I bought a couple of my favourites for the clinic - leafjumper (rooibus with caramel bits) and tiramisu (rooibus with yogurt and coffee bits).

Today however I sampled the Secret Weapon and decided to go with that. It is a white tea with almonds, licorice, and goji berries! Delicious. Enjoyed it while I cleaned the kitchen this afternoon!

Rats, No Tahini

This is a good reminder to look for all your ingredients before you start cooking. However I am the queen of substitutions so more often than not it turns out ok like today!

After breakfast this morning I had a bit of time before going out and about, so decided to make tofu frittata for Tuesday night dinner and hummus for the week to snack on after we get home from work. I opened the can of chickpeas and put it in the food processor with a clove of garlic, the juice of half a lemon, some sea salt and pepper and some parsley and paprika. THEN I REALIZED.... I had no tahini! I usually put in about a tablespoon of tahini and then blend together with some olive oil but today I was in a bind. Now I've left out the tahini before and it's just not the same, so today I put in a teaspoon of almond butter and a teaspoon of peanut butter. Turned out great! Thicker and creamier than usual.

Next time I have to remember to look for all the ingredients before whipping things into the food processor!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Agave Nectar Sweetened Lemonade

Last night Chris and I went out to Juice for Life (JFL) for dinner. We were meeting up with a friend who is vegan so JFL was the natural pick. I had my usual - the Mega Life Salad - but was adventurous trying a new dressing. I usually get the Green dressing but last night I ordered the Tahini dressing.

Our friend ordered a lemonade and I was pleasantly surprised when I found out it was sweetened with agave nectar! It was pure lemon juice, water and agave nectar!For those that read my blog or are a Zawada Health facebook fan or read my monthly newsletters, you have definitely seen the ingredient agave nectar before. Maybe you've glanced over it thinking 'here's another crazy health-food that I'll never be able to find!'

Agave nectar is a sweetener made in Mexico from the agave plant - yes that's right - the tequila plant! It is sweeter than sugar or honey and commonly used to replace sugar in baking. Vegans commonly use agave nectar instead of honey as honey comes from bees. 1 cup of honey equals 1 cup agave when doing substitutions. For each cup of white sugar, use 2/3 of a cup of agave and reduce other liquids by 1/4 to 1/3 cup. This substitution will also work for Demerara Sugar, Turbinado Sugar, Evaporated Cane Juice, or Sucanat.

The best thing about agave nectar is that it does raise blood sugar levels as quickly as other forms of sugar. No crazy blood sugar rush!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Meditation and Goop

Goop is a weekly newsletter from Gwyneth Paltrow that I subscribe to. She has a pretty cool website with little tips and sights from her travels and adventures and people and places that have inspired her.

Last week the newsletter showcased this detox that she's done from a place in NYC called Organic Avenue. This week was on meditation. I thought I'd share a paragraph from the newsletter:

"The Buddha was more like a therapist than the founder of a religion. He saw, from his own experience, that self-awareness makes self-control possible. If we want to change what we become, the Buddha taught, we have to change the way we think. “A disciplined mind is the road to Nirvana."

For all of my patients and friends that are doing detoxes right now or have been struggling to lose weight remember this little paragraph. A lot of the time we are not aware of what we are thinking so we can't be in control. We just live through our immediate reactions: if we eat something sweet, we want more of it even though we are full. Anyway that's enough deep thoughts for tonight.

Memories of Cutting Green Beans

Childhood memories!

I'm making a quinoa chickpea pilaf for dinner. This is definitely one of those standard dinners at our house. Chris likes it because he doesn't feel like he's just having beans and quinoa - it's more hearty and casserole like.... and since I don't do creamy casseroles this is a hit for both of us.

It has steamed green beans in it and if my sister Angela is reading this I can see her cringe already. Our childhood was filled with picking the green beans from mom's ridiculously large garden every summer in big baskets. The green beans would then get dumped on a picnic table where Ang and I would sit and cut the ends off the beans and then cut them in half for what seemed like hours on end. Mom would then blanche and freeze the green beans.

Here's the recipe:
1 ½ cups quinoa
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ tsp red chili flakes
1, 19-ounce can of chickpeas
1 large sweet potato, diced
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp sea salt
1 cup green beans, steamed
¼ cup sunflower seeds
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley or 1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 450 F.
2. Rinse the quinoa to get rid of soapy outer covering, drain and set aside.
3. Drizzle the diced sweet potato with olive oil and sea salt and roast in oven on a baking sheet for 30 minutes.
4. Bring the stock to the boil in a large saucepan or stockpot, add the quinoa and garlic and red chili flakes, cover and let simmer for approximately 15 minutes until most of the water is absorbed and the quinoa is soft but a little ‘al dente’.
5. Uncover and add in the chickpeas, green beans, sweet potato, and sunflower seeds, and stir through until heated well, approximately 5 minutes.
6. Stir the parsley and freshly ground black pepper through just before serving.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Nutrition Action Health Letter

I'm impressed. Several patients have told me in the last year about this little newsletter and how I should get a subscription for the clinic. I remember checking it out and putting it on my never-ending to-do list for the clinic but never got around to subscribing. A nice little surprise after the holidays was waiting for me - one of my patients purchased the subscription for me as a gift! Thanks SS!

So in the Dec 2009 issue there was a comparison on movie popcorn - Cineplex, Empire, and AMC. Quick fact: cineplex pops in non-hydrogenated canola oil and a regular size has 780 calories and a large size has 1120 calories (half of what most people should consume in a day!).

There was also a page devoted to a summary of a few studies. One recent study concluded people with higher blood levels of vitamin B6 had a lower risk of colorectal cancer. Healthy foods that are rich in B6 include beans, bananas, avocados, and sunflower seeds.

The special feature was entitled "Seven facts you may not know about Exercise". Each fact was backed by at least one research study that was referenced.

Definitely a winning publication - good work CSPI (Centre for Science in the Public Interest)!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year!

Well it's been awhile since my last post. The Christmas holidays were filled with perogies and kapusta and beets as always and this year they were also filled with pain au chocolat and baguettes as Chris and I travelled to Paris for a little getaway.

Paris was beautiful. It really is one of the great cities of the world where you can fill your day with outings to museums and galleries but you can also just randomly walk around and soak in the Parisian way of life. Taking our time having breakfast (yes I had to have a cafe creme), walking through the streets stopping for a baguette, enjoying the lights on the Champs Elysses..... ahhhh Paris! As my friends and colleagues Andrea and Arnel reminded me, it's probably one of the only cities in the world that you can have as much wheat and dairy and wine and coffee and there are no consequences.

Nonetheless I am happy to be home, cooking in my kitchen, and seeing patients at Zawada Health. It's already been a busy few days back at work with many people wanting to start fresh in 2010 and make health a priority. If you have a chance, take a look at January's newsletter; it has a fresh new look and ZH has another naturopathic doctor starting on Thursdays - Claire Girgis.

Have a wonderful year filled with health and happiness!