Archive for whole food

no bloat spaghetti boat

Spaghetti squash and kale pesto . www.nu-roots.com

Spaghetti squash is perhaps one of the best pasta subs out there. Not only is it gluten free, but this recipe is entirely grain free! The beauty of a grain free pasta is the zero bloat and no heavy feeling post consumption. Feel free to sport your extra skinny jeans during this meal, you wont even have to undo the top button!

Now the long list of ingredients and lengthy looking recipe below is deceiving, do not be intimidated! Just pop the squash in the oven and get the food processor out. The kale pesto is ready in minutes and you can sit back, relax and wait for the squash. This is not a difficult dish whatsoever, I’m by no means an extravagant cook!

Step 1. Cook Spaghetti Squash

  • Spaghetti squash, 1/2 per adult
  • 1 tsp coconut oil per ½ squash

Preheat the oven to 350 F

Cut the spaghetti squash lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Rub a tsp of coconut oil on each ½ squash. Place face down on a cookie sheet and bake for about 45 minutes or until soft. You can add some water to the cookie sheet to steam it up a bit faster, just be careful not to spill the water and burn yourself!

Step 2. Prep Kale Pesto

  • ½ bunch kale (washed and off the spine)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil (or hemp, walnut, flax oil)
  • ½ cup hemp seeds (or pine nuts, or cashews)
  • 1 tbsp dry basil (or 3 tbsp fresh)
  • 1 tsp dry oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh)
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • ½ tsp sea salt

Optional – but extra delish

  • 2 tsp        bragg soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup    nutritional yeast (a Parmesan cheese substitute)

Place all ingredients in a food processor and mix until smooth.

Step 3 – Additional goodies per 1/2 squash

  • 1/4 cup cannellini beans (cooked or canned), rinsed
  • 2 tbsp chopped kalamata olives (press with the palm of your hand to get the pit out)
  • 4  chopped grape tomatoes

Step 4 – put it all together

Place the cannellini beans into the bowl of the squash. Add a couple of scoops of kale pesto (to your taste), and top with grape tomatoes and kalamata olives.

Step 5 – eat to your hearts content!

Scrape the sides of the squash with your fork to pull the spaghetti squash from the skin. We found it quite filling, with lots of leftovers.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did! Even my 10 month old got in on the action.

On another note, we are finally getting settled into our new Oakville life and I am keen to get the biz up and rocking once again. If you have any recommendations on what you’d like to see online or in town (if you’re in Oakville), please comment below or feel free to send me an email!

Much love,

Sam

what is holistic nutrition?

Healthy nutrition - young woman with fruits
I originally wrote this post for an awesome blog by 4 ND’s called An Avocado A Day, but I figured you may want to read it here too :) Here’s what we’re all about!
What is holistic nutrition anyway?
Perhaps you’ve heard of or ‘met’ a few of us online, but aren’t quite sure what we’re all about. Who are these crazy holistic nutritionists and what can they do for me?

First off I will introduce myself, my name is Samantha Peris and I’m a (proud) holistic nutritionist–not a nutritionalist (these don’t exist), or a registered dietician. Before you build an image of a hippie witch doctor waving around a magic carrot, please, let me explain.

Let’s break it down:
Holistic
  •  Characterized by comprehension of the parts of something as intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole.
  • Characterized by the treatment of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the physical.
Nutritionist
  • A person who studies or is an expert in nutrition.
I’m a nutrition savvy, passionate natural health advocate who loves to share my knowledge in this field, hoping to improve the lives of others. My medicine of choice: food. Healthy, whole, nutrient dense food that comes from the earth that has been minimally interfered with by man.
I literally stumbled across this career path as a result of my own food allergies. In 2007 I discovered gluten (the main protein in wheat) and I just aren’t meant to get along. During this discovery my health sky rocketed from a tired, bloated, stimulant (coffee and sugar) abuser, to an energetic, life loving, superfoodie who needed to share my new findings with the world.
What can we do for you?
First off, we start by listening. Listening to you, listen to your own body. It literally talks, sometimes screams at you, the trick is figuring out what it’s trying to say. So often I hear (and used to tell myself), well that is “normal for me”. But is it “normal” (for lack of a better word) to be constipated, bloated, uncomfortable, overweight, tired….etc. We can help you determine if what you are experiencing are symptoms of an underlying problem related to diet, digestion, elimination, detoxification, nutrient deficiencies, or hormonal imbalances, just by listening to you talk about your own body. You, as a whole person – physically, mentally, socially, spiritually.
After listening, we work with you in pursuit of the ever so desirable “optimal health”. We do this by strengthening the digestive system, teaching you which foods would be best suited for you and your personal goals, manage portions, and emphasize the importance of the quality of foods you choose to chew.
We can provide you with personalized nutrition plans, meal plans, take you on a tour of the grocery, or health foods store, raid your kitchen, tear up the pantry and teach you how to restock it, teach cooking classes, recommend nutritional supplements and work with you one-on-one until you feel confident you have the tools you need to continue on your journey.
But I have an ND, do I need a holistic nutritionist?
Perhaps! Holistic nutritionists and naturopathic doctors are a dynamite combo. We both have our specialties and our limitations. For example your ND may have you do an IgG Food Sensitivity test, when you receive your results, a Holistic Nutritionist can use these to build a nutrition plan and teach you to use foods specific to your unique needs and restrictions. Often times this includes ancient whole grains and superfoods many people are unaware of, or haven’t used in their kitchens before.
Personally, I have an ND as a sister (lucky me) and we often use each other as a resource for our clients and patients. It is our dream to eventually combine forces and tackle the natural health world as a duo. In our experience, clients and patients who work with both an ND and holistic nutritionist begin to see results at an accelerated pace.

Hopefully you now understand what it is we mean by “holistic nutritionist” and are intrigued to give us a try! We’ll be waiting for your call, magic carrots in hand ;)

new recipe september

quinoa lentil soup - nu roots nutrition

September is here! The month I have been patiently awaiting since my arrival in the Netherlands. The month that changes my life forever, it’s the month when I become a mama. With less than three weeks until my due date my nesting instincts have begun to kick in. I must make sure the house is spotless, baby’s clothes are washed and ready to wear, and to stock my freezer full of healthy soups and stews so that I don’t have to worry about cooking when the little one arrives.

Since I imagine it will be a rather busy month, I figured this was the perfect timing to introduce many of my clients favorite recommendation, one new recipe per week, an incredibly manageable request for even the busiest of people.

Changing over to a whole foods diet can be overwhelming, especially if you are just learning to cook, and trying to make every meal and snack from scratch. My advice is to start slow and integrate these changes into your life at a manageable pace.

If you’ve been following my blog this year, you’ll know we’ve been taking on a challenge (or resolution rather) every month. So this month your challenge is simple:

Make one new *healthy* whole food recipe (that you’ve never tried before) per week.

This challenge is great for those of you who are just getting into a whole foods diet, or anyone who is just stuck in a rut making the same meals over and over…which is kind of where I am at these days. Even those of us that love to cook can get in the occasional rut (perhaps it’s because my mind is all baby, all the time). It’s time to add some excitement to my kitchen, I hope you join me!

I will do my best at sharing the new recipes I try via Facebook, Twitter, or right here on my blog.

I’m going to start you off with the one I tried this week. It was inspired by a Barley Lentil Soup, but I needed to make it gluten free. It turned out awesome and is on it’s way to the freezer to await babe’s arrival.

Quinoa Lentil Soup

1 cup quinoa
2 tbsp virgin coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
6 cups soup stock (ideally homemade chicken or vegetable stock, or you can just use water)
1 cup green lentils
1 cup broccoli, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp tamari  (gluten free if needed)
3 celery stalks, diced
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 teaspoon each: basil, oregano, thyme, sea salt
1/4 cup fresh dill
1/4 tsp cayenne (or more if you like extra spicy)

Directions

  • Soak quinoa for at least 15 minutes in a glass bowl
  • Soak lentils for at least 15 minutes in a separate glass bowl
  • In a large pot, heat coconut oil over low heat. Add onion, saute until translucent
  • Add stock and bring to a boil
  • Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer, add them to the pot
  • Strain and rinse lentils, add them to the pot
  • Reduce heat and let simmer for 20 minutes
  • Once quinoa and lentils are cooked, add the vegetables, herbs and spices and simmer for an additional 10 minutes
  • Add more water if needed to thin soup
  • Freezes well

All the best,

from the extremely excited (superfood) mama to be :)

banana baked oatmeal

banana baked oatmeal - nu roots nutrition

Today’s post is going to be short and sweet, literally. I’m guessing many of you are out of the warm breakfast season, but I still love a great bowl of oats for breaky, no matter the season. Plus, I even eat the leftovers of this recipe cold, and it is still super yum!

It was time for a switch up of my regular routine so I decided to give baked oatmeal a try. I like how the eggs boost up the protein content a touch, and to me there is no greater smell than bananas baking in the oven, so this recipe was a winner in my books!

banana baked oatmeal

base ingredients

4 cups old fashioned rolled oats (gluten free if needed)
1/3 cup virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup unpastuerized honey
2-3 tbsp blackstrap molasses
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch himalayan rock salt, or sea salt

wet ingredients

2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups milk substitute

toppings

2 chopped bananas
1/4 cup cacao nibs
1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
1/4 cup coconut flakes or ribbons

before

directions

  • Preheat the oven to 350F
  • In a bowl mix together the base ingredients
  • Line a large baking dish with parchment paper
  • Pour the base ingredients into the baking dish and distribute evenly
  • In a bowl, mix together the wet ingredients
  • Pour the wet ingredients over the base ingredients in the baking dish and distribute evenly
  • Give the baking dish a light shake from side to side to help distribute the wet ingredients
  • Finish off the dish with the toppings, sprinkled or placed evenly throughout
  • Bake for 35-40 minutes
  • Serve slices warm in a bowl on it’s own or with a splash of milk substitute if you desire

Feel free to get creative and change up the fruit and nuts to your liking, Personally, I think a blueberry and macadamia nut combo would be killer as well.

after

quiche-wa

quiche-wa - a quinoa quiche : nu roots nutrition

Get it?…a quinoa (keen-wa) quiche, it’s is my best attempt at being cute & creative for today. Recently I stumbled across a delicious looking quinoa & egg dish baked in the cutest little muffin tins on Pinterest. However, I had to do my holistic nutritionist thing and I tweaked it a just touch to make it a little more wholesome and complete in my books. It was a hit at home, and even though I don’t have cute little muffin tins, nor I am by any means a photographer, I wanted to share it with you!

This dish could be breakfast, lunch, dinner or a snack! It is great to have around the house when you are needing a good dose of high quality protein, which seems to be ALL the time when you are building a mini human.

First you are going to have to learn to cook quinoa, the most amazing whole, gluten-free grain ever. It it incredibly versatile, delicious and nutrition packed. It is the only grain that is a complete protein, plus it’s got anti-stress magnesium and happiness inducing tryptophan. Here’s what you do…

How to Cook Quinoa

  • 1 cup dry quinoa (white, red or black – or a combo of all 3)
  • 2 cups water (filtered or spring, ideally)

Soak the quinoa in water for 10 min (or overnight)*, then strain in a fine wire strainer and rinse thoroughly to remove the bitter outer coating. Add rinsed quinoa to pot. Add 2 cups water, cover (no need to stir) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer for 15-20 min, until all the water is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy.

*Only do this if you have time, otherwise you can just rinse it well in a wire strainer to remove the bitter outer coating. Soaking increases quinoa’s digestibility, but is not 100% required if you are in a time crunch. One of the benefits of quinoa (over brown rice) is that it takes so little time to prepare so don’t let this discourage you.

Note: Golden quinoa cooks slightly differently, it is 1 cup rinsed golden quinoa to 1 cup water, and you let it simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on.

And now, for the main event…

Quiche-wa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa (you can cool it in the fridge or freezer to speed this up if you like)
  • 5 whole free range organic eggs, whisked
  • 1/4 cup milk substitute (or organic cow or goats milk, if well tolerated)
  • 3 cups diced veggies (any – I used broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, spinach, mushrooms)
  • 2 small or 1 large onion, diced (I sautéed mine in 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil for extra flavour)
  • 1/2 cup shredded organic cheese (I used a herbed goat cheese, dairy free cheeses will also work for this recipe)
  • about 1/4 tsp each chili flakes and cayenne pepper (or to desired spiciness)
  • 1-2 cloves pressed garlic
  • 1/2 tsp each sea (or Himalayan rock) salt and fresh cracked pepper

Directions:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 350 F.
  • Place eggs in a bowl and whisk until blended.
  • Sauté your onions in 1 tbsp virgin coconut oil (if desired), or just leave them raw.
  • Stir in veggies, spices, cheese and quinoa (all other ingredients).
  • Grease a muffin tray, or pie dish with a touch of virgin coconut oil.
  • Scoop quiche-wa mixture evenly into muffin tins or pour the whole batch in your pie dish.
  • Place in the oven and bake for about 40-50 minutes. (Sorry! All the gauges for the dials on my oven are illegible…I guessed it to be about 350F. The original recipe called for 40 minutes, mine took about 50…)
  • Remove from oven and let cool in muffin tin or pie dish.
  • Using a knife, release the edges of the quiche-wa (slice if in pie dish) and remove.
  • Serve and enjoy! It is delicious on it’s own, or you can also add chopped cherry tomatoes and sliced avocado for extra yumminess.

PS – Do you pin? If so, follow me on Pinterest! What a fabulous way to organize all the great things you stumble across on the world wide web!

to supplement or not to supplement?

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Is it necessary? If so, what do you recommend and why?

These are the supplement questions most commonly asked, and often debated by clients, friends, family and the like. Here is my attempt to answer them to the best of my ability, of course in my own opinion. I hope that you can take this information and decide what is best for you and your family, but please do your own research. We must take health into our own hands and learn how to decipher through the copious amounts of conflicting information.

To simplify, yes, I do believe supplementation is necessary and highly recommended. Now I know you are going to want more information than that…so here’s how I came to this conclusion.

Why do we need to supplement? Don’t we get what we need from food?

To begin this convo I need to dig deep, right down into the soil! You see we get nutrients from food, yes, but the food needs to get them from somewhere – the soil. Therefore soil quality is incredibly important, and we are extremely dependent on the soil. Let’s take a look at the “ideal” world vs. reality today as far food and soil quality are concerned.

An Ideal World

  • We have several feet of top soil
  • We rotate our crops as to not deplete the soil of the same nutrients year after year
  • Each year the soil is replenished with compost and manure to ensure nutrients are being returned to the soil
  • The soil retains all 50+ minerals required to maintain healthy plants (food) and therefore a properly functioning human body
  • Plants are healthy, not requiring too much human intervention
  • Crops are grown organically (without chemical fertilizers and pesticides)
  • Food is picked when ripened by the sun
  • Food is eaten just after being picked
  • Food does not undergo heavy processing or too much heat
  • Food scraps go back into the compost pile
  • Our bodies are satisfied having received the nutrients it requires, we are healthy
  • The cycle continues…

Reality Today

  • We have a mere 6” of top soil
  • Most industrial farms use mono-cropping (one crop, year after year), which depletes the same nutrients from the soil, without rotation or replenishment
  • We use chemical fertilizers to “replenish” soil, unfortunately they mostly only contain Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium…only 3 of the 50+ minerals that plants and humans need to be strong and healthy
  • Plants become weak without proper nutrients to allow them to grow
  • Bugs come and attack
  • We use chemical pesticides to attack the bugs
  • Often times we use genetic modification so we can use more chemical pesticides
  • Food is picked before it is ripe
  • Food is often ripened artificially with chemicals during transit
  • Food travels hundreds or thousands of miles to get to the grocery store
  • Food is processed (stripped of what little nutrition remains), packaged, then more chemicals are added to preserve
  • Food sits in grocery store waiting to be purchased
  • Food sits on our counters or in our fridge before consumed
  • We eat nutrient depleted, chemical infused food
  • We are still hungry, our bodies having not been nourished with the vitamins and minerals they require
  • We eat more nutrient depleted, chemical infused food
  • The cycle continues…
  • Eventually we become overweight, under nourished and sick

Wowza, that was quite the depressing road I just took you down! Okay, you may think this is an extreme version of reality today, but really – is it that far off?

Very few of us (if any) can realistically live in the “ideal world” scenario I described, perhaps unless you are living solely off your own land (ahh, the dream…one day). Even if we are eating 100% organic food, how far has it travelled to get to you? Was it from a small scale farm where crops are rotated or is it “big box organic”? Was it ripened in the sun? Do you eat it right away? You see how there are SO many factors to consider the nutrient quality of modern day food…it’s really enough to make your head spin.

Top nutrition scientists and Naturopathic Doctors featured in the movie Food Matters (a highly recommended must watch) say that if you have sub optimal nutrient levels you can eat raw veggies all day, but you still wont replenish nutrient deficiencies from the past. Therefore in the case of sub optimal nutrient levels (reality today), or worse – deficiencies, supplementation is required.

This brings about a whole new point….can we get by on “sub optimal” nutrition?

Many nutritionists and other natural healers believe that the deficiency of nutrients can contribute (or cause) disease, therefore replenishing these nutrients (among other treatments) can bring the body back into balance and sometimes can even reverse disease. The body is quite amazing at continuing to function with sub optimal conditions for an extended period of time, but in reality this is just setting the stage for disease as we grow weaker.

RDA’s (Recommended Daily Allowances)

But this glass of orange juice says I am getting 100% of my daily requirements for Vitamin C, why would I need more?

RDA’s were designed to help prevent diseases of nutrient deficiency. For example the RDA of Vitamin C is 60mg/day, therefore if we were to receive at least 60mg of Vitamin C/day we should prevent scurvy (the Vitamin C deficiency disease).

Us nutritionists look at these RDA’s as the MINIMUM WAGE OF NUTRITION. Personally, I don’t want to earn minimum wage, nor do I think my body deserves the bare minimum. Early hunter gatherers are believed to have consumed at least 640mg (10x or current RDA) of Vitamin C/day, and many believe we need much more than that to achieve optimal levels. Some Naturopathic Doctors have used upwards of 100,000mg (1667x the RDA) of intravenous Vitamin C for cancer treatments.

As far as I am concerned, when it comes to myself and my family, I’m aiming for OPTIMAL NUTRITION (or as close as I can get). Therefore we do what we can to ensure we consume high quality, local, organic food that is minimally processed AND we still supplement what I would call “the essentials”. (Check out an Optimal Daily Allowance guide)

What supplements do you recommend and why?

My basic supplement regime or “the essentials” that I often recommend to clients (and take myself, even during pregnancy) looks a little something like this:

Note: these are all taken DAILY for maximum effect.

A high potency multivitamin & mineral (during pre-conception, pregnancy and lactation this would be a high quality prenatal vitamin) – We just aren’t getting enough from our food, did I make that point clear yet? :P A good quality, hi-potency multi usually consists of any where from 2-8 pills/day, not 1. It is impossible to get even the bare minimum from a one-a-day.

I often recommend professional line (or health food store) products, as drug store and grocery store brands are cheap for a reason. They usually contain forms of vitamins and minerals that are synthetic or poorly absorbed (low bio-availability), for example Calcium Carbonate is a cheap source of Calcium with a low bio-availability, meaning we don’t absorb it well (if at all). Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite (MCHC) is a more expensive, but much more easily absorbed form of Calcium. Each vitamin and mineral can come in a variety of forms making it oh so difficult to determine the quality of a good multi, but worth the time and effort, it’s your money, your health.

Probiotics – These are the good bacteria that literally build our immune system. They help us to absorb nutrients and can even help us make vitamins! Many of us have taken antibiotics in the past without having replenished the good stuff, nor do most of us eat enough fermented foods. These are especially important during conception, pregnancy, and lactation because baby’s gut (and even brain) health depends on mommy’s gut health. 10-20 billion cfu/day from a high quality source that is kept in the fridge.

Vitamin D – The “anti-cancer” nutrient almost NONE of us are getting enough of. Years ago even I was shocked to find out my levels were sub optimal and I’m a sun loving, non sunscreen wearing (luckily I don’t burn), whole food eating nutritionist! At least 2000 IU/day is recommended for most, during pregnancy as well.

Omega 3’s (preferably from fish oil) – We aren’t getting enough in the typical western diet (are you noticing a theme here?). If you are eating lots of packaged foods then you are likely consuming a diet high in Omega 6’s. Unless you eat a lot of wild, cold water (ideally low mercury) fish, then you probably get very little omega 3’s to balance out the 6’s. Fats are a really complex topic that deserve a post all on it’s own. Bottom line, many of us are omega 3 depleted and they are SO important for health (blood pressure lowering, anti-inflammatory etc.) that supplementation is highly recommended. The bonus is you will see the effects in your skin and hair almost immediately. 1 tsp – 1 tbsp per day of a high quality fish oil (again you get what you pay for here) ensure it is tested for mercury and processed minimally.

What about ALL the other supplements on the market?

There are SO MANY amazing supplements on the market (and conversely, some crappy ones too), many in which I use or have used in the past, but each and every one of us is different. We require different supplements, for different purposes, in different doses from different companies. This is when you need to seek out your favorite holistic nutritionist, Naturopathic Doctor or other open minded natural health care practitioner to develop a supplement regime that is unique to you. (PS – I’m more than happy to help! And offering 20% off if you book in May or June, 2012)

I hope this helps you get started in your journey towards optimal health! I would love to hear your thoughts, questions and comments below. I will do my best to answer, but I cannot answer individual health questions without having done a proper intake (of course you are always welcome to book a private session).

Links and Resources

Supplement companies I like:

*again I stress the importance of individuality, but I just KNOW you are going to ask which companies I recommend often

Professional (see your ND’s or nutritionists for these ones)

Health Foods Store

Other Great Resources

going organic

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Health savvy moms have you gone organic? Have you felt unsure of why or what it is that you actually get when you purchase something organic? Well you are not alone so we thought we should enlighten you on the matter.  The definition of organic foods are foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers, they do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives (Wikipedia).  Meaning that there is less ‘stuff’ in your produce, they typically contain more nutrients and taste a whole lot better. Plus did you know 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides, and 30% of insecticides are known carcinogens (cancer causing)?

Genetically modified foods are becoming more and more prevalent in our grocery stores.  The definition of a genetically modified food is organism whose genetic material has been modified by genetic engineering. For example it’s like inserting a gene from Arctic Char (a fish) into a strawberry so that it doesn’t freeze in the winter (hmm, our bodies aren’t used to fish with our strawberries, perhaps this isn’t such a good idea!). Common foods that predominately come GMO are corn, soy, canola, rice and cotton seed oil and unless otherwise specified (ie: labelled organic or non GMO) are probably GMO. Going organic is a way to ensure that what you are eating has not been genetically modified in any way. If the thought of this makes you uneasy, perhaps it is time to contact your MP and start demanding mandatory GMO labeling.

So what are the Canadian standards on what is considered at Organic product or produce? Here is an outline on organic product from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

  • Only products with organic content that is greater than or equal to 95% may be labelled as: “Organic” or bear the organic logo.
  • Multi-ingredient products with 70-95% organic content may have the declaration: “contains x% organic ingredients.” These products may not use the organic logo and/or the claim “Organic”.
  • Multi-ingredient products with less than 70% organic content may only contain organic claims in the product’s ingredient list. These products may not use the organic logo.

The fact of the matter is that organic farms have stricter guidelines then non-organic which ensure that health remains a top priority.  Organic farms are also far more sustainable making this an environmentally friendly decision. Protecting the quality, and volume of our top soil means protecting our life on this earth. Sadly, soil is diminishing at an alarming rate and we must do all we can to prevent this situation from getting worse. Eating organic also usually means we are helping to support smaller, local farms, and protecting the health of our farmers.

So what are the benefits? Organic produce tends to be higher in nutrients due to the quality of the soil they are grown. Most chemical fertilizers contain only nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The elemental composition of the human body contains 26 minerals and unless we are taking supplements we need to get these minerals from food! Organics also tend to have higher anti-oxidant content such as flavonoids and polyphenols.  We need high levels of antioxidants in our diets to help combat all the free radical stress that our body endures, thus organic food helps our body heal more effectively.  Not only that, but organic produce tastes better, those nutrients give the food we eat flavour.

A study conducted looking at children who consumed a higher diet of non-organic versus organic that they had six times higher amounts of Organophosphorus (OP).  It has been indicated in other studies that chronic exposure to this pesticide may affect neurological functioning, neurodevelopment, and growth in children.

For those who want to go organic but feel it may be expensive here are a few rules for you to ease into the organic food world:

  • Follow the dirty dozen and clean fifteen rule.  These are lists that have been developed to identify which fruits and veggies are the safest to buy non-organic and those that absolutely should be organic as they are susceptible to the most contamination.  We have included these lists for you in case you were unaware however a good rule of thumb is that if you eat the skin or the produce in its entirety then it should probably be organic.  If it has a hard or thick casing then the chemical agents are less likely to penetrate the food making them a safer non- organic purchase.
  • If there are certain foods that you and your family eat all the time then these are the ones that you should consider making organic first.
  • If it is good enough for your children it’s good enough for you.  We have had so many moms tell us that they have a separate menu then that of their children because they are so passionate about giving their children the very best but fail to do that for themselves.  Lead by example of what a healthy diet is, they are watching what you are eating and how you are treating yourself.  Eat well, you deserve it!

Here are the dirty dozen, our additional “must buy organics” and pretty clean fifteen:

Dirty Dozen

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Imported Nectarines
  • Imported Grapes
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Blueberries
  • Domestic Potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Kale/ Collard greens

Our important additions to the dirty dozen

  • Animal meats, eggs and dairy products – Organic meats are free from antibiotics, pesticides and hormones.  The animal is not fed genetically modified grain and are never fed animal by-products.  Also these animals have freedom to be outside making this a more humane (and cleanly) practice.
  • Baby food – Infants are more sensitive to pesticides due to the vulnerability of their nervous and immune systems.
  • Coffee – It is one of the most heavily pesticided crops on the planet, buy fair trade & organic if possible.
  • Tomatoes – As many as 30 different chemicals are sprayed on tomatoes, not to mention they are often genetically modified as well.
  • Soybeans & other soy products (milk, tempeh, tofu, miso, lecithin) – Almost always genetically modified.
  • Wheat – Often genetically modified. Also note that up to 75% of the germ may be removed from items labeled as “whole wheat” in Canada.
  • Canola – Often genetically modified.
  • Peanuts & Peanut butter – Peanuts absorb a large amount of toxins from the soil and can contain a mold called aflatoxin, a dangerous carcinogen (Goodbye Kraft, Jiffy and any other non-organic PB’s, plus these usually contain sugar and hydrogenated fats, the worst of the worst!!)
  • Bananas – Try to find fair trade organic bananas instead, as they are often shipped from long distances and sprayed with chemicals along the way to help them ripen.
  • Rice – Since many tend to eat so much of it, it is important to buy rice organically grown. Buy in bulk at health foods stores to save on packaging and cost.

Pretty Clean 15

  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapple
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Sweet peas
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplants
  • Domestic Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms

Going organic is an important step in improving our health and food quality.  The food that we eat can be healing, as food is medicine, but we need to ensure that the food we eat is what nature intended.  We know that a common concern is its cost, but if you look around the grocery stores these days a growing number of organic foods available are very close in price to the non-organic option.  Furthermore, their are other costs that one must factor in such as your health, and the health of the planet. “Those who do not make health a priority now will have to make time for disease tomorrow” ~Unknown.  Food is healthy or harmful and small changes that you make today can impact your health and well-being positively in the years to come.

In great health & happiness,

Dr. Michelle Peris ND and Samantha Peris, Holistic Nutritionist

convenience veg + a protein packed lunch

convenience kale

Every time I go to a new country I am always curious to see how the grocery stores are different from back home. One of the biggest differences here in the Netherlands is the size of the produce department in comparison to the rest of the grocery store. More accurately – there are less processed food aisles. You all know the rule right? Shop only on the perimeter of the grocery store! (Check this video from Michael Pollan).

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a fair share of junky fast foods in the Netherlands…(um have you heard about fast food from the wall?). Yeah…don’t ask, don’t try…I made that mistake 5 years ago on my first visit to the Netherlands (before I knew anything about healthy food).One of the main things I noticed in the relatively large produce departments is that a significant section is dedicated to what I call “convenience vegetables”. You know, pre-washed greens, pre-chopped broccoli, mini carrots, those kinds of things. In fact, it is rare to buy kale here in it’s whole big leaves, thick stem “normal” form. Occasionally they offer it this way at the farmers market, but most often it comes pre-washed, de-veined, chopped into tiny little bits, and ready to eat. I am most definitely not complaining, I do believe whole and as natural as possible is best, but since discovering ‘convenience kale’ I have to say my consumption has at least doubled. I kid you not, I have been scarfing that stuff straight from the bag…and it is damn good (for real). I must add that kale is an incredible source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, iron, calcium, and fibre…it’s basically every nutritionist’s favorite leafy green. (Have you seen “Shit Nutritionists Say”?)

Making your own convenience veggies is something I have always recommended to my clients. Buy fresh, local, organic produce (whenever possible), bring it home, wash and chop it so that it is ready to eat when you are hungry. If you come home starving and making a salad means you wont be eating for 15-20 minutes, then chips and dip are going to be all that much more appealing. On the other hand, if you have veggies and convenience kale all ready to go, your salad is in your mouth within minutes. Or you can dip your convenience veggies into hummus, or kale pesto (recipe coming). This makes achieving the seemingly unachievable 5-10 cups of veggies a day a breeze.

Now, don’t go whining about how your veggies aren’t going to last. Buy what you need for a few days, eat them fast (and you will if they are ready to go!), then go back to the grocery store to re-stock.

Marinated Tempeh & Portobello Mushrooms Salad

Now here is one of my favorite convenience kale recipes for your eating pleasure. Ever since I taught a raw pie making class with the lovely Lindsey from Tasty Living, I have fallen in love with a new snack – marinated portobello mushrooms (it was a raw pizza pie – ew can you imagine them in a dessert pie?). I have since turned this snack and my oh so handy dandy convenience veggies, into one of my favorite high protein lunches.

Tempeh is a fermented soybean product, I want to say “like tofu” but it is really much different, actually better, in consistency, taste, texture and nutritional profile (personally, I am not a big fan of tofu – I much prefer superior fermented soy). To find tempeh you will likely have to visit your local health foods store. You must marinate tempeh, like you would meat, and it will be incredible (cooked or raw). If not, you probably aren’t going to like it. The marinade below is so quick, easy, and delicious.

Fermented soy, like miso and tempeh, has the added benefit of adding good bacteria to your gut, it is higher in protein than non fermented soy, and is easier to digest. Remember, soy is often genetically modified, so you must buy it organic!

Marinated Portobello Mushrooms & Tempeh

1 block tempeh, chopped into 1-2 cm cubes
2 portobello mushrooms
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (acv)
2 tbsp GF tamari (or Bragg – but I cant find it in the Netherlands :( )
1 – 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
2 tsp dried basil
1-2 cloves raw garlic, chopped (optional but delightful and bad bacteria killing)

Mix together in a stainless steel or glass bowl and let sit for 8-12 hours.

….and the rest of the salad

1 pint cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 red or other bell pepper, chopped
2-4 cups kale – or “convenience kale”

Add the rest of the ingredients, toss and use the left over marinade as a dressing (add more evoo, acv, and tamari if needed).

best ever weekend breakfast

pancakes

This actually may be one of my favorite recipes of all time. It has become somewhat of a weekend tradition in my house, and if you can teach your brother-in-law to make them even better than you, then you can forever get out of breakfast duties on Saturday ;) Not only are these pancakes gluten-free, but they are whole grain, fluffy and can be made totally flour free! We have recently discovered they are easily turned into the most delicious waffles ever if you have a waffle maker (or a friend with one – thank you Kristen for trying this out and sharing in the goods). Our family favorite combo is quinoa/buckwheat with banana. Just remember to soak the grains the night before you want to make this recipe!

Blender Pancakes

  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed well
  • 2/3 cup buckwheat (or brown rice, millet)

Soak the grains with water in separate bowls overnight. Add 1 tbsp kefir (a fermented dairy drink full of good bacteria and yeast for the gut), or lemon juice (anything acidic will do to break down natural enzyme inhibitors in grains).

Next morning rinse the grains in colander and place in blender.

  • ¾ cup milk substitute (or organic milk, yogurt, kefir)
  • 1 egg (or substitute like 1 tbsp chia seed with 1/4 cup water)
  • 1 tbsp melted ghee (clarified butter), coconut oil, olive oil, or organic butter
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp shredded coconut or brown rice flour
  • Optional add 1-2 bananas, a ripe pear, or ¾ cup berries.

Preheat pan (325-350, or med-low), add milk substitute to blender with grains and blend until smooth. Open lid and break egg into running blender, add coconut, oil (or butter), and salt. Sprinkle baking soda while still running and then stop the blender.

Cook pancakes on preheated griddle or pan, use some coconut oil, ghee or butter for the first batch.

Serve with maple syrup and flax oil mix (1/3 flax oil 2/3 maple syrup). This is a great way to add some omega 3 fatty acids and cuts the sweetness of maple syrup. This also helps to prevent spiking blood sugar!

Freeze left over pancakes and defrost in the toaster later.

Then come back and tell me what you think!! Best ever?…I think so!

pumpkin hummus

pumpkin

Okay, so maybe it is a tad too late to bring this to your thanksgiving parties, but ‘tis the season for pumpkin so I thought it’s never too late to share a great recipe. I am a huge fan of hummus, it is one of my very favorite snacks, but the same old same old can get boring after a while. I was intrigued to find this recipe and pleasantly surprised by the result.

Pumpkin Hummus
The Eat Clean Diet: Tosca Reno

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp/30 mL tahini (try to find brown sesame seed butter – it is LOADED in Calcium)
  • 2 Tbsp/30 mL fresh lemon juice (yes, just juice the lemon, it takes maybe 20 seconds)
  • 1 tsp/5 mL ground cumin
  • 1 tsp/5 mL pumpkin oil (I used extra virgin olive oil, still good!)
  • 3/4 tsp/~4 mL sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp/~0.5 mL ground pepper
  • 15 oz/420 g pumpkin, baked or canned (organic is best)
  • 4 cloves garlic, passed through a garlic press (or 2 mammoth Russian garlic cloves like the ones we get in our farm box)
  • 2 Tbsp/30 mL cilantro (fresh)

Preparation
1. Place all ingredients in a food processor. Process until smooth.
2. Spoon into a decorative stoneware serving bowl and serve chilled.