Spring Has Sprung…Spotlight on Asparagus

asparagus

Hello there, it’s been a while hasn’t it. I’ve been busy getting the Vitality Kitchen up and running; to say it took longer than I anticipated would be grossly understated. But alas, it’s done, the last thing is waiting for mister inspector to give the final thumbs up…I intend to turn on the charm. I may not be the best painter or handy whatsoever, but charming I am!

But I digress.

While I had my head buried in getting The Vitality Kitchen up to snuff, spring happened; and if you follow me on instagram, then you know that I’ve already had my first patio day- it was glorious. And with spring comes an abundance of new produce to enjoy. I love spring, it’s the time when plants come alive and the bounty of mother nature makes itself available to us.

Over the next couple of weeks I will be highlighting some spring produce, starting with asparagus. I paid a visit this morning to CTV morning live to discuss spring foods, and although my growing region may be very different from where you live, this next few posts will serve a guide for you to explore mother natures bounty!

The beauty of asparagus and most spring and summer foods, is that they lend themselves so well to raw applications; and asparagus’ unique, soft, grassy flavour is beautiful au naturel. I LOVE to shave asparagus; it looks chic and makes the raw-ness of it less raw tasting.

Today I made a shaved asparagus and mushroom salad, as an homage to what’s coming in spring foods. This recipe is amazing and can be enjoyed hot or cold!

Herbed Shaved Asparagus Salad with Mushrooms and Goat’s Milk Feta

1 bunch asparagus, shaved with a peeler
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 tbsp mint, chopped
1 tbsp parsley, chopped
1 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp goat’s milk feta, crumbled

In a saute pan on medium heat melt the butter, add the mushrooms and parsley and cook for 5 minutes; add the shaved asparagus, mint and salt and pepper, and cook an additional 3 minutes. Remove from heat and toss with feta. Serve hot or cold.

Although this salad is a gem, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy asparagus.

ROAST
Coat asparagus spears with camelina oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast at 425F for 7 minutes until crisp tender. To avoid burning the tips, cover them with foil.

SAUTE
Chopped asparagus sautéed with sesame oil for 5 minutes until crisp-tender; and seasoned with lime and tamari, makes for an impressive side dish that comes to together in minutes!

It’s good to be back and it’s GREAT to have a space to call the Vitality Kitchen- I literally smile everyday when I walk in; I promise a tour soon…all the technical aspects are completed, now its time to decorate!



Balanced Electrolytes For Hot Yoga

hot yoga electrolytes

If you follow me on Instagram or Twitter then you are well aware of my reignited love for yoga. You see, I’ve always dabbled in yoga, but for whatever reason I would fall out of the habit; but when my mom completed her yoga designation, I was introduced to yoga through my mothers eyes, and things changed. But when when it came to hot yoga, our relationship has always run hot and cold; whenever I would practice I would get either a raging headache or slow burning pressure point headache that would persist throughout the day. Of course I knew this had to do with hydration, but I hydrate- LOTS; and still, headaches.

But I didn’t want to give up. With the Polar Vortex, there’s nothing better than yoga in a hot room to escape; so I did what I always do, I researched. Turns out there are HEAPS of tips out there that can help you, me and anyone who wants to enjoy hot yoga, but can’t seem to shake the headaches.

Boost Your Water
It’s said time and time again, you must hydrate if you plan on doing hot yoga- 32 ounces per day; but if you’re like me, you sweat a lot, and thus lose water quickly, so no matter how much water you drink, you are left feeling depleted, it’s time to boost your water. Salts and other electrolytes are lost when we sweat, so it essential to replenish them to bring balance back to the body.

Foods like cucumber and celery have adequate salt content and are fantastic options for maintaining salt balance. Prepare the following recipe at the start of the week and enjoy before yoga class all week long; the reason that you want to consume this drink BEFORE class, is that the salt content will help the body retain some of the water you’ve been chugging- in this case, water retention is good!

  • 1 cucumber
  • 3 ribs celery
  • 2 lemons, peeled
  • 1 pear
  • 2 cups distilled water

Juice the cucumber, celery, lemon and pear; combine the juice with water and refrigerate for up to one week.

Fall In Love with Coconut
I cannot say enough about coconut, I really can’t; but in this case, my fawning praise is warranted. When it comes to replenishing lost electrolytes, coconut water is TOPS!

You often hear people recommend sports drinks to replenish electrolytes, but I want to caution you against this; sports drinks are full of sugar, in such large amounts that it completely negates the benefits of consuming them. Also, sports drinks only replenish up to 2 of the body’s 5 key electrolytes, while coconut water replenishes all 5. It’s a no brainer!

But I understand how some people find the taste off putting- I did too; so I found a way to accommodate. Just add chocolate; when given the opportunity, I ALWAYS add chocolate!

  • 2 cups coconut water, not from concentrate
  • 1 tbsp raw cacao powder
  • 1 drop stevia liquid

In a blender combine all the ingredients; pour the combined liquid through a fine mesh sieve, lined with cheesecloth, to filter out any cacao crumbs. Keep refrigerated for up 4 days.

Eat Your Electrolytes
All this liquid talk makes it seem like electrolytes are only delivered via beverages, but that’s not the case. Cucumber, celery and many other balancing foods can and SHOULD be eaten as well; I personally find that drinking my electrolytes pre yoga and eating them post yoga is the best method- but everyone is different, so find what works for you.

A delicious post yoga salad is a Vitality Kitchen favourite, Pomegranate, Mint and Cucumber Salad; it’s got bite, crunch, sweet and salt- it’s the perfect post yoga treat, that’s does the body good!

I hope these tips help you get your glow on and help you get your hot yoga groove back!



Healthy Meal Planning Basics

meal planning

The one complaint I hear from people in regards to eating healthy meals is this “I simply don’t have the time”; and, although, in some rare cases this is true, lack of time is, generally, due to a lack of preparation.

Planning healthy meals, is just that, an exercise in planning; and the old adage very often rings true “ those who fail to plan, plan to fail”.

The following are my tips for effective meal planning, and by putting even one or two of these tips into action can help bring you one step closer to becoming friends with your kitchen again!

Set Aside Time Each Week to Look Through Recipes
Browse blogs, purchase cookbooks, ask friends and colleagues for links to recipes you may like, which fit into what you want to achieve. Although perusing beautifully photographed cookbooks and blogs may seem like an indulgent waste of time, I promise you that this is the first step in effective meal planning.

Check the Weather Forecast
This may seem weird, but imagine you plan a week of cooling salads, the mercury dips suddenly and all you want it soup. You know yourself and your family better than anyone, so you know what you feel like eating when the weather is hot, or when it’s sweltering outside; plan your meals according to the weather, or at the very least, have a contingency plan in case the weather changes and the meal you have planned no longer feels suitable.

Start a Meal Calendar
Just as the week’s work and social obligations getting marked in a calendar, the week’s meals should be treated with the same respect. For those with kids in the house, this also makes for easier meal times- no complaints, because they KNEW it was coming. This is also serves as a visual reminder for you, in regards to what final prep needs to be done that particular day or the day before to make meal time go more smoothly.

Set Aside One Day to Grocery Shop and One Day to Prep
This can be the same day if you like, but there is no avoiding a prep day. By setting aside one dedicated shopping day per week, you can ensure that you are ready to hit the market by being prepared- you know the weather, what food to eat on which days etc.

There is no avoiding the prep day; meal planning is all about preparation and planning, so set aside 2-3 hours on said prep day and do all the tasks that can be done ahead of time. Par boil pasta, cook quinoa, make the dressing, marinate the meat, peel and chop the vegetables- you get the idea; do all the tasks that feel tedious in the week, so that when it comes time to make dinner, all the time you need is 20-30 minutes and VOILA dinner!

Makes List and Don’t Shop Hungry
These are fairly common meal planning tips, but they always bear repeating. ALWAYS shop with a list. The grocery store is designed to entice you into buying things you don’t need; if you have a list and you buy only what’s on the list, you win!

But a list only works if you aren’t hungry. There’s a reason why when you enter most grocery stores via the baked goods section- ah the smell; and no list, no matter how well put together, can calm belly growls when you’re hungry and they’re conveniently sampling cinnamon buns. Shop after a decent meal to ensure that your hunger doesn’t lead to ill advised, and sure to be regretted, food purchases.

Plan For Leftovers
Make enough of your meals to ensure that lunch is taken care of for the next day; salmon with quinoa pilaf makes for a lovely salmon salad for lunch the following day. Always make more than you think you will eat and watch as your colleagues envy your healthy lunch creations!

Lastly, Keep a Well Stocked Pantry and A Refrigerator that is Clean
Knowing what you have in your pantry is essential; if you have beans, quinoa, pasta, nuts, seeds and the like to boost your meals, you’re golden. Always have a running tally of what is in your pantry; whether you have a list on your phone that you add to, or a pad of paper, keep a list- this avoids having 4 half opened boxes of quinoa pasta.

And one of the most important tips is to keep your fridge clean. In North America, the amount of food we toss out per year is STAGGERING, and this translates into throwing money away. Before shopping and making a list, clean out your fridge, see what you can carry over into next week’s meal. And operate your kitchen like a restaurant would. When you bring home new food items, put them behind the old ones, so you use the old ones first- FIFO, first in first out.

Meal planning with efficacy comes down to just that, planning; not even the best chef or home cook in the world gets away with not planning. Do your budget, your health and your sanity a HUGE favour and follow the aforementioned tips for cooking success!

Quinoa Pasta with Tomato, Spinach and Parmesan Cheese

½ box quinoa pasta, par boiled
½ BPA Free can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 tbsp coconut/olive oil
1 cup fresh spinach
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

Boil a pot of salted water, once boiling add the par boiled pasta and cook for 2 minutes, to finish cooking the pasta.

Meanwhile in a pan on medium high heat, melt the coconut/olive oil mixture; add the tomatoes and cook for 3 minutes, until the liquid begins to evaporate. Add the spinach and toss to wilt about 1 minute, season with salt and pepper. Using tongs, remove the pasta from the water and place directly in the pan with tomatoes and spinach- the starchy water will allow the sauce to adhere to the pasta.

Remove from heat and garnish with grated Parmesan. A complete meal in less than 15 minutes.



Heart Healthy Raw Chocolate Pudding

heart healthy chocolate pudding

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, and I felt this was the perfect excuse to celebrate all matters of the heart; so why not have chocolate pudding?!

All chocolate pudding is not created equal, but those made with legitimate ingredients like cashews and coconut can protect your heart; perfect for Valentine’s Day.

Check out my Raw Chocolate Pudding YouTube video- it’s a goody; click here for the delicious visual goodness and , of course, the recipe!



Cranberry Coconut Almond Granola

cranberry coconut almond granola

Breakfast? Do you eat it? Although I’m about to sound like the broken record of all broken records, here goes; breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When we eat breakfast we give our digestive system the cue to get ready and optimize for a day of nutrient assimilation. But we’ve all been guilty of skipping this essential morning ritual- hey, even I’m guilty of it!

Breakfast is a good time to eat a nice balance of food; fibre to keep you regular, protein to sustain you and carbohydrates to give you the energy you need to conquer your day.

Buckwheat- Your Friend in Health
Althoug buckwheat is not a true cereal, it always finds a place in my granola; but you will be surprised to know that buckwheat is closer to sorrel and rhubarb than it is to the granola mainstay of oats. Both soluble and insoluble fibres lower bad cholesterol, balance blood sugar levels (read: no mid morning crash) and it works to keep our gut healthy. This Vitality Kitchen Granola mainstay is rich in flavanoids that protect the heart and because it’s gluten free- don’t let the wheat in the name fool you- it’s ideal for those adhering to a gluten free lifestyle!

Make Mornings Easier, Make Granola
Each week in the Vitality Kitchen I create yummy smoothies, nut milks and granola as a part of the Breakfast Pack, which is designed for those who understand the importance of breakfast but making time for it slips through the cracks. This week I made a raw, high protein granola to whet my Vitality Kitchen clients appetites, because in my kitchen breakfast is so not boring.

This granola is dehydrated, which preserves the nutrients in all the seeds,nuts and buckwheat; but if you’re thinking, “I don’t have a dehydrator, nor do I want to buy one”, fear not you can dehydrate in your oven- there’s a link to the video below.

With that, I’ll say make love, not war; eat breakfast, make granola.

Raw Cranberry Coconut Almond Granola
1/2 cups raw buckwheat groats, soaked at least 1 hour
1/2 cup raw slivered almonds
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1/2 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
3 tbsp organic maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried, unsweetened cranberries

Soak the buckwheat groats for 1 hour and then drain, rinsing them well; and then allow them to drain again. Transfer to a bowl.

In a bowl, toss the almonds, hemps seeds, chia seeds, coconut, orange juice, orange zest, maple syrup,cinnamon, and vanilla until well coated. Pour this mixture over the buckwheat and mix well.

Spread the batter evenly between two Teflex-lined dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 115°F for about 12 hours (or until they are dry enough to flip over), flip them over and remove the Teflex sheet. Continue dehydrating another 5 hours, or until the granola is dry and crunchy. Remove from the dehydrator and use your hands to crumble the sheets into a mixing bowl. Don’t have a dehydrator? Check out this video and learn how to dehydrate without one!

Add the cranberries and mix well. Store in an airtight glass container either at a cool room temperature, or in the refrigerator.