Summer Heat Relief with Raw Food

raw food

It’s summer in Edmonton and she’s still sweatin’ hard- like too hot for clothes hot; but I know that in 5 months time when we are in a deep freeze I will long for these days, so I’m keeping my kvetching to a minimum.

This morning I woke up at the crack of dawn to extol the virtues of raw food on Breakfast Television Edmonton, because when it’s hot out cooking is the last thing on my mind- and I’m sure it’s the last thing you want to do too.

I covered all the basics of raw food basics, because despite what you may think, raw food isn’t just rabbit food that lacks flavour and depth- oh no! Raw food is dynamic, flavourful and healthy when done right.

Housekeeping
It’s important to note that eating raw food comes with some housekeeping rules. Because raw food generally is a plant based way of eating, it’s important that you meet your protein requirements, so foods like hemp seeds, chia seeds and nuts are an essential part of a raw diet; and FYI fruits and vegetables do bear a little bit of protein, so if you consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, in addition to seeds and nuts, then you’re good!

The idea behind raw food is that eating cooked food means that we are eating nutritionally inferior food than if it was raw; because the heat of cooking kills off vitamins and nutrients. I will, however, refute some of that logic, because foods like tomatoes are best eaten cooked, when the lycopene can be released and absorbed by the body; but alas, there are sacrifices to be made.

What is Raw Food?
Well, to be considered raw food nothing can be heated above 118F, so food can still be warm but not piping hot; so raw foodies must become SUPER familiar with blending, dehydrating and food processing. So, yes, raw food can be simple, but in a great many ways it requires more work from you- but at least you aren’t heating up the house.

Pregnant? Consider Cooking Your Food
It’s also of utmost importance that food is washed thoroughly because no heat is being applied and tasked with killing some foodborne pathogens; washing food and being sure that cross contamination hasn’t occurred is key. This is also why I don’t suggest pregnant women do solely raw food; I have other reasons why I believe pregnant women should avoid a 100% raw food diet, but potential pathogens is number one.

My Opinion
I believe that a raw food diet has a place and time. In 30+ degree weather raw food is welcome to most, because the diet is cooling and hydrating, due to the large volume of fruits and vegetables. However, in the winter when temperatures dip significantly, I think cooked food offers a level of grounding in the system; which is why I believe that everyone must listen to their bodies. Trying new things is always a suggestion of mine, but don’t be pigeon held into a certain way of eating; mix and match certain principles and find what works for you.

She’s Sweatin’- Let’s Have Salad!
Today I prepared a lovely summer salad that is raw, cooling and oh so delicious. If you’re a hot child in the city like me, then this salad is for you.

 

Green Salad with Sesame Miso Dressing

  • Cucumber, washed and peeled with vegetable peeler
  • Arugula, washed

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp tahini (or soaked and sprouted raw sesame seeds)
  • 1 ½ tsp tamari sauce
  • water, as needed

Combine the cucumber and arugula in a bowl and set aside.

In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the dressing; blend until smooth and toss with the salad. Enjoy!

Postpartum Nutrition

postpartum
Today I celebrated my birthday by waking up at the crack of dawn to share what I know about postpartum nutrition and wellness on CTV Edmonton.

Having a baby is a HUGE effort that must be carried out by the female body and with this large task comes extra nutritional requirements.By neglecting nutrition, new moms can feel tired, listless and even increase their chances of postpartum depression; besides, who would pass up an opportunity to eat MORE food?

New mothers are healing from labour and delivery and breastfeeding mothers are not only healing, but making nourishment for their babies; and an undernourished mother cannot fully nourish her baby.

The following information is for the mama’s to be and new mama’s out there!

  • Protein

Protein is essential to all cellular development, it’s what our bodies use to regenerate and rebuild cells; and since you are building a human being at the cellular level, taking in adequate sources of protein is essential.

  • Complex Carbohydrates

Complex carbohydrates are the body’s energy source; as we burn calories retrieved from complex carbohydrates we give our bodies the energy it needs to thrive. And as you enter into your third trimester and beyond, energy is ever so important

  • Healthy Fats

There was once a time when all fat was labeled bad, but now we are coming to understand that not all fat is made equal; high quality sources of fat, such as avocado, coconut oil and olive oil, help with the development of cells

Healthy fats are also important for brain development, and as your baby is growing a brain inside of you, giving your unborn baby the tools to effectively develop is essential.

  • Water

Water is important for everyone, not just those gestating; and when we are dehydrated our blood gets thick and viscous; making it far more challenging to carry nutrients and oxygen throughout the body. You blood is carry life giving nutrients to your baby and if you are under hydrated then your body isn’t able to effectively transport the nutrients your baby needs. Drink water, and lots of it- end of story.

Smoothies are the best because they are a fantastic way to infuse lots of nutrients into your body without a whole lot of effort. PLUS smoothies can boast all the aforementioned nutritional components; such as healthy fats, protein, complex carbohydrates and water.

Man, woman, child- regardless of where you are at in life, cool down, and fuel up with smoothies this summer:)

Avocado Berry Smoothie
Serves 1

1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 small avocado
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1 handful spinach
1 1/3 cup almond milk (or coconut water)

Blend all ingredients till smooth, and serve.

Summer Recipes ~ Chimichurri

chimichurri

Summer has arrived. Although in Edmonton calling summer is a dangerous game, as one minute the sun is shining and the next menacing clouds ruin your picnic. Regardless, I’m saying, SUMMER IS HERE; and with summer comes summer recipes.

Summer is an exciting time to get to know your food, because summer recipes tend to be easy, non committal and delicious; because who wants to slave away in a kitchen when summer is ever so brief?

One of my favourite summer recipes is chimichurri, which is just a looong word for herb sauce; which by definition is a green herb sauce used for garnishing meats. Now, chimichurri hails from Argentina, which explains it being used for meat garnishing, but in the Vitality Kitchen, chimichurri is used for EVERYTHING. From salad dressing, to, yes, garnishing meat, chimichurri is in high rotation in the kitchen right now.

The reason being is that this green sauce made of herbs comes to life during the summer when Mother Nature blesses us with a beautiful array of herbs that blend so nicely to create chimichurri. But don’t let the season box you in; because herbs can be grown all year round- inside in the winter, outside in the summer- chimichurri can and should be a recipe for all seasons. In the cool winter months you can create an earthy chimi (kitchen lingo for chimichurri) made with rosemary and thyme; but right now my chimichurri endeavours play to what I can find at the market.

You will also note that some chimichurri’s are spicy, while others boast a zing from lemon, this is the essence of chimichurri; because it is whatever you want it to be- you are the author of your own chimi, so play around!

I won’t keep you, because it is summer…

Summer Chimichurri
small bunch basil, roughly chopped
small bunch mint, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp chilli flakes
2½ tbsp olive oil
juice ½ lemon
2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp salt

To make the chimichurri, blitz the herbs, garlic and chilli flakes in a food processor or use a mortar and pestle. Add 2 tbsp of the olive oil, the lemon juice, vinegar and salt, and pulse to combine everything to a saucy consistency.

And just like that, sauce!



Summer Appetizer ~ Watermelon Pizza

easy appetizer

Summer has official graced us with her presence and with the arrival of summer comes a whole host of joyous summer activities, namely, the BARBECUE.

I love summer barbecues more than anything; and this past weekend my friends and I opened the season strong with an epic potluck bbq.

I always call upon my salad making skills when it comes to my contribution to any potluck; but being that the sun was shining, I decided to do something different with the easiest appetizer you may ever make.

From start to finish, this easy appetizer is 15 minutes of preparation. Cutting the watermelon is by far the most time consuming component of this watermelon “pizza”.

But the quality of your ingredients is paramount in a dish this uncomplicated; since every single ingredient is on display, it important to focus on quality. Goat’s milk feta cheese offers a creamy tartness to balance the sweetness of the watermelon; while the herbs can be completely bespoke- any combination of herbs is likely to taste divine. I chose to use mint and basil, because there’s nothing that says summer to me, quite like basil and mint.

The easiest appetizer you will ever make, that will dazzle your guest with it’s aesthetic and OMG deliciousness, The Watermelon Pizza.

Easy Appetizer Watermelon Pizza

1 small watermelon
3/4 cup goat’s milk feta cheese, crumbled
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Slice the watermelon into pizza shaped slices by cutting it in half lengthwise, and then again lengthwise; and finally into  triangle shapes.

Lay the slices flat, sprinkle the feta, mint, basil and pepper; and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

And VOILA, a summer appetizer that is sure to please!



Spring has Sprung…Spotlight on Baby Beets!

beets

If you live in Edmonton, you are likely very well acquainted with beets, as it’s one of the only vegetables available during the looooong winter months.

But I love beets, and for good reason; sweet and earthy, baby beets have a natural affinity with other ingredients and they play very nicely with many other flavours- not to mention the vibrant colours of these little baubles looks delightful on a plate.

TOPS
I so often see people discard beet greens, but you are throwing away gold- GOLD! Beet tops are super tops and can be used in smoothies, but when sautéed with coconut oil, salt, garlic and crushed red pepper and wilted make for a deeelish addition to salads or even to top your favourite protein. Do me a solid and never toss your beat greens again.

SHAVE
When I tell people they can eat beets raw, they look at me like I have two heads, but when shaved thinly and tossed into salads, raw beets add a crunchy and colourful dynamic to dishes.

JUICE
When combined with orange and ginger, beets make for a classic and uber detoxifying juice. Blood cleansing and delicious- what’s not to love!

Beet Coconut Ginger Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger
3 large red beets, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
5 cups vegetable stock, divided
1 can (14.5 ounces) coconut milk
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Parsley (optional)

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté onion for 5 minutes. Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring often, 5 minutes. Add beets and 4 cups stock; bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until beets are fork-tender, 20 minutes. With an immersion or regular blender, puree soup, adding remaining 1 cup stock as needed to reach desired consistency. Stir in milk, salt and pepper. Garnish with parsley and julienned beets and serve with bread, if desired.