Monthly Archives: July 2012

Recipe: Simple Sauteed Collard Greens

My first recollection of eating collard greens was at a Vancouver barbecue joint called Memphis Blues 5 years ago. We ordered something called the Elvis platter, which is every meat that they serve at the restaurant. I ordered a side of collard greens to complement the vast quantities of meat. It was too much food, but I recall that I quite enjoyed the collard greens. It has taken me a few attempts over the years to cook collard greens to a taste and texture I enjoy. Here is the recipe, try it whenever you need some leafy greens (which we recommend is all the time!). Collard greens provide vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, and various healthy phytonutrients.

2-3 slices of pancetta or bacon

1 bunch organic collard greens, cut finely, crosswise, tough talks removed

dash of hot sauce

In a large pan over medium heat, brown pancetta until almost crisp. Add cut collard greens to pan and saute for 2-3 minutes. Depending on how tender the greens are, cover the pan for 2-3 minutes until the greens are tender, but still bright green in colour. Season with hot sauce to taste. Serve with turkey, lamb, chicken or enjoy the greens on their own.

Recipe: Healthy Granola

Granola is a food that most of us enjoy for the taste and texture, but consider to be a food that is too high in calories to enjoy regularly. However, the source of the ‘high calories’ is very important to consider. This recipe is wheat free and contains various sources of fibre and healthy fats that we could all use in our diet. The soluble fibre in the oats can help lower blood cholesterol. The pumpkin, sunflower and chia seeds provide healthy fats and vitamin E in addition to fibre. The coconut oil provides flavour and medium chain fatty acids, which help your cells absorb nutrients amongst other benefits.  I like to have granola for breakfast with non dairy milk, such as Coconut Dream, and fresh berries. I find it to be a great source of steady energy that tastes great at the same time. Many friends that have tried this granola just love to eat it out of hand as a quick snack.

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats

1/2 cup shredded coconut

1/4 cup ground flaxseed

1/4 cup oat bran

1/4 cup whole chia seeds

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1tsp ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 cup honey or maple syrup or combination

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together oats, coconut, ground flaxseed, oat bran,  chia seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and cinnamon. In a small sauce pan, melt together honey and/or maple syrup, coconut oil and vanilla extract. Pour liquid honey mixture over the oat mixture and toss to coat evenly. Spread mixture evenly on shallow rimmed baking sheet. Bake for 15 min, remove from oven, use a spatula to stir the mixture to ensure even browning. Bake a another 15-20 minutes until granola is crunchy and browned to your desired level.  Add 1/2 cup of your favourite dried fruits after the granola cools, if desired. Store in an airtight container. Try a 1/3-3/4 cup serving size to see what amount fits your energy needs.

Wheat Belly-A Practical Application

Wheat Belly, the book, blog and general term for a distended abdomen caused by wheat consumption coined by Dr William Davis was a thought provoking read and has also been an influence on my lifestyle. I read the book on a sunny pool deck in March. Please see my initial review:

The idea of wheat as a food that causes inflammation and other health issues is not a new concept. Many natural health practitioners and nutritionists advocate and prescribe diets that eliminate wheat and dairy to many of their clients. Eliminating wheat has health benefits which Dr Davis makes great claims for in his book. I found his patient examples of the recoveries they experienced from eliminating wheat in the book to be most convincing.
Wheat elimination is great in theory. However, in my observation of the normal population (myself included), it is very difficult to maintain a diet that is completely free of wheat, as it is a food that is everywhere and most of us have foods derived from wheat that we love. For me, the thought of eliminating pizza for life sounds incredibly painful.
The information that Dr Davis provides on the effects of wheat and its modern genetically modified permutation that is consumed excessively is thought provoking. He suggests eliminating wheat entirely and immediately. I did manage to try eliminating wheat for one day after reading the book. I measured my waist the day before and after. Incredibly, I shrank by an inch within that one day and I have never experienced any wheat intolerance symptoms. I have repeated the experiment on quite a few more days and found the same result. To be clear, I simply chose to eat wheat free foods for one single day at a time. Even with this small adaptation, I have noticed that I have diminished sweet tooth inclinations. Having a wheat free day is quite doable, so I’ve been able to incorporate this habit into my lifestyle and so have my clients to positive results.
Changing lifestyle and dietary habits is a challenging task. Therefore, making small highly ‘doable’, almost easy changes is the key to long term success in my opinion. Check out this condensed interview with Dr Davis to get a short, but informative presentation of the book:

If the video or the book piques your interest or healthy eating inclinations, try having a wheat free day first and perhaps more wheat free days will follow from the positive effects you may feel. I suggest choosing foods such as brown rice, potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat, sweet potato, brown rice pasta, millet, barley, polenta, and oats to replace the carbohydrate that you are accustomed to eating in your diet when eliminating wheat for a day. Changing the variety of foods you eat is always a good idea, as it increases the range of nutrients you ingest and it is simply more fun.

Recipe: Quinoa with sesame, grapefruit and mint

This a light refreshing summer dish that I have adapted over the years from the Silver Palate Cookbook. It’s great as a side dish for a barbecue or on it’s own for lunch at a picnic. If you don’t like grapefruit, orange works equally well. The original recipe called for canned mandarin orange segments, which is even more convenient if need be. However, I find there is more zest and nutrition with fresh orange or grapefruit.

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 grapefruit, peeled and segmented into small pieces

2 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup mint, finely chopped

2 tablespoons sesame oil

1/4 cup walnuts, pine nuts or sunflower seeds

Cook quinoa in 2 cups of water, add salt to taste at the end of cooking and allow to cool to room temperature. In a large bowl, mix together quinoa, sesame oil and green onions. Add grapefruit (be sure to add any grapefruit juice that remains on the cutting board for extra flavour) and nuts, mix gently. Serve at room temperature.


Book Recommendation: Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink

Mindless Eating is a book a friend at the gym recommended to me as the most influential book about eating and nutrition she had read. I just finished the book and I found it to be a great read that was humourous, enjoyable and full of great tips on how to eat better that any normal person could use. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn some new ideas on how to eat better, based Brian Wansink’s research on how people eat more than they think.

I laughed out loud when I read about the bottomless soup bowl experiment. Could you imagine sitting at a table eating out of a soup bowl that was rigged to magically refill as you ate without your knowledge? How much would you eat? For me, it would depend how much I liked the soup. Another experiment was with chicken wings and how much more or less people would eat if the bones from the wings were cleared from the table or not. We can guess that a person might eat fewer chicken wings if they had a way to count how many they ate or chose how many to eat before they are served. The title of the book is Mindless Eating, but what I learned was some new ways to be more aware of how easily the environment surrounding us affects our eating choices.

Mindless Eating comes with a eating plan that is a diet that ‘you don’t even know you’re on’, which you design yourself with goals you can easily accomplish.  Making small ‘mindless’ changes to your eating habits can shave off 100-200 calories per day without a lot of thinking or deprivation. This is a concept that I wholeheartedly agree with. I advise clients to make small changes that are sustainable over the long term, so their lifestyle changes slowly and permanently. Brian Wansink makes a great analogy in the book for weight loss. You can run and get there fast, but walking and taking one step at a time is much more effective and enjoyable.  The book is well worth reading,  their website is informative and also has daily goal sheets that can be downloaded:




Fat Loss Tip: Enjoy the weather and relax by a pool

This is actually a general health and fitness tip, but most of us have goals of losing fat and this tip applies. I enjoyed a couple hours of sunshine by a pool this afternoon with a good friend. We both commented on how it was an exceptionally pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Most people that we work with experience fairly high levels of stress in their modern lives. Relaxation is always on the list of lifestyle habits that we advise for general health, well being and fat loss. However, this is much easier said than done. One idea to make more time to relax and enjoy life is to make a plan with a friend, much like the way you would if you’re trying to get more active. Most of us have difficulty taking time out for ourselves to unwind, myself included.

Why is relaxation a lifestyle habit that we advise? When we run around all day to accomplish our ever growing to do list, we stimulate our sympathetic nervous system. That is our high gear, flight or fight side. Our bodies need equal stimulus in addition to sleep to rest, relax and rejuvenate, which is what our parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for. When our nervous system is in better balance, we are in better health and everything in our bodies including our minds functions more optimally. When our bodies are functioning in an optimal way, fat loss becomes a natural consequence of exercising, eating well and enjoying life (to put is simplistically).

Enjoying good weather, swimming and relaxing is an activity that simply feels good and is good for you on many levels. Here is a photo of one of my favourite pools that I have experienced some relaxation at for a little inspiration to take some time out for yourself.



Recipe: White Bean and Feta Dip

I received a recipe for a black bean and feta dip from a client yesterday. She had tried the dip at a party and loved the flavours of feta and mint. I happened to have only cooked white beans on hand, as I prefer not to use canned beans, so I adapted the recipe. I really enjoyed these flavours as well. This dip is a great way to eat some raw veggies.

2 cups or 1 can of cooked white beans (black beans if you prefer)

1 shallot finely minced

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese (greek, sheep’s milk is good)

1/2 cup chopped fresh mint

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Salt and black pepper to taste

In a food processor, pulse beans and shallot until pureed. Add feta, mint and lemon juice, pulse until well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.


The Best Honey Ever

I attended the Terroir hospitality symposium in Toronto this April. Terroir is an exceptional one day event where I learn many new and interesting ideas about food. One of the sessions I attended was about food innovation in a presentation given by Societe Orignal

During the session, some original concepts in food production were presented and of course, there was tasting of various items the company sources and produces. Their raw honey was unbelievably delicious, as it tasted of caramel, flowers and a hint of marshmallows as well. The bees that produce the honey are treated nicely to a diet of whatever they wish to eat, which I imagine influences the great taste.

I finally got my hands on this honey today and I love it!