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5 Reasons Why Meal Planning will Save your Sanity

 When it comes to feeding your family, do you have troubles:
  • Finding the time and/or motivation to plan, organize, shop, prepare, clean up? This can be overwhelming especially when your baby or kids are so demanding. 
  • Getting stuck with either an empty fridge or a full fridge...but still not the right ingredients to make any recipe!
  • Often choosing fast food, processed foods or takeout that aren't exactly the ideal that you want to feed your family so often.

I think at some level we all know that it's important to be organized in the kitchen.

So then why do most of us tend to fall into the pattern of perhaps meal planning for a week or two, then quitting?

- Because we don't have the basics organized in order to make meal planning easy.

- Your recipes are all over the place. You have  few bookmarks on your computer, a few old recipe cards from your mom and a bunch of recipe books (I love cookbooks too -here are my faves!)

- You have no system to create a meal...

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Agave Nectar & "Natural" Sugars

For some reason, agave nectar still seems to have a health halo around it. My healthiest clients and friends that strive to eat whole and healthy foods often use agave instead of sugar. Yes, it sounds fancy and perhaps you have heard it has a lower glycemic index than sugar. That’s true. Even though it has the same amount of calories as sugar, it is 1.5 x sweeter than sugar, so you shouldn’t need to use as much. Which is great. But I still do not like agave. I bought some before doing any research a while back, and ended up giving it away.

Why? Yes, it is processed and it does not contain vitamins, minerals or antioxidants. And it contains more fructose that high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Sources vary, but agave can be up to 90% fructose, where as HFCS is 55%. What’s wrong with fructose? Fructose can cause decreased glucose tolerance, high triglycerides and metabolic syndrome (which can lead to heart disease, stroke and diabetes). Considering that, if you eat a...

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Coconut Palm Sugar, Xylitol & Date Syrup Reviews

Coconut Palm Sugar
Coconut products have been hugely popular lately, from coconut water to oil to milk. Coconut palm sugar is a natural sweetener alternative. It is made from the nectar from the tree flowers. The Food and Agriculture organization of the United Nations believes palm sweeteners are the most sustainable sweetener on the planet. It can be substituted 1:1 for sugar in recipes, as it is of similar sweetness to sugar. It is dark in colour and has a rich flavour, so may be a better substitute for brown sugar.

Coconut Palm sugar was given recently popularity due to a feature on the Dr OZ show, as can be seen here Dr Oz claims Coconut Palm sugar can stabilize your blood sugar and contains iron and vitamins. The blood sugar claims are an exaggeration. His chart may be accurate if you ate 100% pure coconut palm sugar vs 100% pure sugar all day. However, we eat these foods mixed in, and with other foods that effect blood sugars in different ways. For example, mixed with a latte,...

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Quinoa Bocconcini Salad

3/4 cup quinoa

1.5 cups water

1 cup diced zucchini

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/4 cup diced red onion

1/2 cup thawed frozen baby peas

1 cup diced red pepper

1/2 cup diced yellow or orange pepper

4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbsp dijon mustard

2 Tbsp chopped oregano (or 2 tsp dried oregano)

1 tsp minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

1 cup mini bocconcini cheese

1) Cook Quinoa: Rinse quinoa in a strainer. Bring to a boil with the water in a saucepan. Cover and reduce heat to simmer, cooking for 10 more minutes. Turn heat off and leave to rest for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

2) Mix together zucchini, tomato, red onion, peas, red and yellow peppers in a large bowl.

3) Mix dressing: whisk vinegar, olive oil, mustard, oregano, garlic and salt and pepper together in a small bowl.

4) Pour dressing over veggies. Add quinoa and bocconcini and mix.

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My Top 5 Favourite Cookbooks

Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals

This cookbook has a section called "Morph It." On the first day, you make a large batch of meat. Roasted Chicken with Smokey Apricot Sauce, for example. Then three "Morph Recipes" are included, all using the main dish cooked in the first day (like Chicken and Mushroom Quesadillas, Thai Chicken Salad with Peanuts and Lime and Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Tomatoes). This batch cooking saves you time most days of the week, and I find the variety to be good even though you are using the same main component. Worth a try!

Sandi Richard, Eating Forward

Sandi is Canada's meal planning guru. She has 6 kids, therefore has to be organized! Her concept of Eating Forward means knowing what you are going to have for dinner - at the beginning of the day! Her cookbooks include a weeks worth of meal plans, including shopping lists. I have tried many of the full week plans, and most of the recipes are delicious, although I do modify some to include...

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BTV clip: Nutrition Month 2016 wrap-up

Nutrition Month 2016 has come to a close. How did your 100 Meal Journey go? I was more conscious to try and include a veggie with each lunch, which was my pledge for the month! And just because April is no longer nutrition month doesn't mean you can't make a new goal! Practice your small goal over the entire month, and by end of the month it should be a new and healthy habit. So much better than going on and off of crash diets!

Check out my clip from BTV taking about making your pledge and sticking with it. We made a Garden Buddah Veggie Bowl from the Dietitian's of Canada Cookspiration App. Yummm.

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Which is the Healthier Oil: Coconut Oil vs Avocado Oil

Fat is necessary for many body functions, including absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, healthy hair, and skin. Fat also improves taste of foods and satisfies and keeps us full for longer. Today I am comparing two popular oils that I both have in my pantry: coconut oil and avocado oil.


Avocado oil on table close-up

Unlike most oils that come from seeds, avocado oil is pressed from the fruit of an avocado. Avocados produce mild flavoured oil, which varies in colour from light yellow to a deeper emerald green.

Avocado oil has an even higher percentage (76%) of healthy monounsaturated fats than olive oil. Monounsaturated fat was made famous by the Mediterranean Diet and promotes heart health by decreasing “bad” LDL blood cholesterol. Another reason why oils high in monounsaturated fats are healthy is that they are, by default, lower in omega-6 polyunsaturated fats unlike most vegetable oils. High amounts of omega-6 fats can promote inflammation, which is...

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Top 3 Sugar Alternatives

With new lower sugar recommendations from the World Health Organization (less that 5% of total energy intake - or 25g/6 tsp sugar per day) and more scary sugar documentaries being released, are you trying to decrease your sugar intake? Here are three of my favourite alternatives to regular (or "organic," or "natural") cane or beet sugar.

  1. Erythritol sweetener with MonkFruit

This is a new one to me. The main sweetener in Lakanto's Monkfruit sweetener is erythritol, which is a sugar alcohol. Sugar alcohols have been approved for use in Canada and many other countries.Sugar alcohols are called non-nutritive sweeteners because they aren't used by the body so don't provide any calories. Erythritol is made from corn or wheat starch, which is broken down, fermented and dried into crystals.

Erythritol may have some side effects in larger doses. One study found that 50 g (about 4 Tbsp) of erythritol resulted in increased reports of nausea. Sugar alcohols can also be hard to...

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Arsenic in Rice: How to decrease your Intake

Is arsenic in rice a concern when feeding your baby? What about older kids and adults; should you worry about the amount of rice you eat? Generally, I don't like to fear monger or make you think our food is "toxic", but I wanted to dig into this a little further today, since it's such a common question.

Watch the video, or read on:

What is Arsenic?

Arsenic is an element naturally found in the air, water and soil. The natural arsenic in animals and plants is called organic arsenic and we're not worried about that. Inorganic arsenic is the concern. It's also found in soil or water, but is more dangerous. And levels of organic arsenic have been increasing, due to pollution due to industrial manufacturing.

Arsenic is listed as one of the World Health Organization’s 10 chemicals of major public health concern. But this is mostly in areas such as Bangladesh where the water is contaminated and thousands have died.

In terms of inorganic arsenic in the food we eat, rice...

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6 Tips to Make Family Mealtimes Easier

If there was something easy that you could do to provide your children with a more nutritious diet, lower their chances of developing an eating disorder and decrease their risk that they will be involved in violence or drug abuse, would you? Of course! And what is this "easy thing?" Eating together as a family!

Sure, it sounds easy. But throw in odd work schedules, kids activities every night of the week and teens that would rather hang out with their friends and it becomes more challenging!

Here are a few tips to make a family meal routine work for you, at least a few times per week:

  1. It doesn't have to be dinner! You can have breakfast or lunch together, if that fits with your schedule best.
  2. It doesn't have to be at home, or around the kitchen table. If you're off to watch a kids baseball game, you can bring sandwiches or food in thermoses & throw down a picnic blanket.
  3. Make meals distraction-free. I'm as addicted to my phone as anymore (maybe more-so!). But still have a hard...
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