Mother’s & Father’s Day are right around the corner. What better way to celebrate such amazing people in your life than making a delicious brunch together? What I am suggesting isn’t your typical eggs and bacon breakfast with French toast, but rather some nutritious balanced dishes that will surely satisfy your mid morning cravings and keep you energized throughout the day. Let me guide you with some of the ideas that I certainly am going to entertain on my Sunday brunch with my mother.
- What not to have—white refined bagels, breads and muffins, processed cereals
- What to have—whole grain muffins, bread made from spelt, oat, rye or brown rice flour, homemade granola
- What not to have—white pancakes with icing sugar and syrup
- What to have—Buckwheat pancakes sweetened with pure maple syrup
Refined, white carbohydrates spike blood sugar levels really fast giving a false burst of energy. Which only makes you crash. Opt for whole grains that are high in fiber, protein and nutrients.
- What not to have—Eggs Benedict, fried eggs
- What to have—organic poached or hard boiled egg, organic scrambled tofu
- What not to have—bacon, salami or other high sodium, processed deli meats
- What to have—organic grilled tempeh, marinated with maple syrup and orange juice
Organic or free-range eggs have rich yolks full of nutrients and tofu provides a hearty vegan alternative to eggs. Processed meats are high in sodium and very difficult for the body to digest. Try tempeh instead which is a whole food that is “meaty” high in enzymes and plant based protein, leaving you just as satisfied.
- What not to have—butter or margarine on white toast or muffins
- What to have—coconut butter or almond butter on sprouted spelt bread
- What not to have—cow dairy or processed cheddar cheese, cow milk
- What to have- organic goats cheese, organic sheep’s cheddar, avocado or almond milk
Commercial dairy can be hard on the body and margarine has no nutritional value and is extremely processed. Opt for natural sources of dairy from goat and sheep sources of go veggie and explore the amazing plant based rich and creamy alternatives to dairy.
- What not to have—white sugar, brown sugar, artificial sweeteners, jams
- What to have—coconut sugar, maple syrup, honey, fresh fruit
Processed sugar and chemical sweeteners are hard on the body and metabolism. Sugar spikes your blood sugar levels with empty calories, while aspartame gives you a false sense of sweetness and can have detrimental long-term effects on health. Choose natural sweeteners whether from fruit or other sources, as they carry nutritional value and taste delicious.
- What not to have—fruit juices and boxed orange juice, dessert coffees
- What to have—fresh pressed fruit and vegetable juices and smoothies, herbal teas
Many beverages are laden with sugar, fat and calories. Before you know it you have taken in more calories before you’ve even eaten anything. Opt for natural juices and smoothies that will give you a morning buzz with out the caffeine!
To put all of these tips in action, join us on June 16th for Balanced Brunch! You will get to cook and enjoy a delicious, healthy breakfast and learn tips on how to start your day with simple and fresh recipes. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day! Take a look at the menu here.
Yam Pecan Loaf
What’s In It?
1 yam (about 1 cup) cooked and mashed
1⁄2 cup grapeseed or coconut oil
3⁄4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1⁄2 cup vanilla rice milk
5 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed
3 tablespoons orange rind, grated
2 cups whole spelt flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1⁄2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1⁄2 cup dried sweetened cranberries
1⁄2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
How It’s Made
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Steam or boil yam in water in medium saucepan and cook until soft.
2. Strain the yams and mash them with a masher.
3. Add the oil, syrup, vanilla, vinegar, rice milk, orange juice and orange rind to the yams and
mash the ingredients together thoroughly.
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
5. Pour the yam mixture into the flour mixture and gently stir them together until all the flour is
incorporated into the wet mixture.
6. Fold in cranberries and pecans.
7. Scoop mixture into an oiled and floured bread pan. Place the pan in oven and bake for about
8. Use toothpick to test readiness, this loaf is done when the toothpick comes out clean. Let the
loaf cool in the bread pan on a wire rack before removing.
Kim, our Face of FNLer, is now able to accommodate her family’s different tastes and diets down to a “T”. Kim eats a plant-based diet while her children and husband do not. Kim shares some tips on how she balances making predominantly plant-based meals with the inclusion of a few “meat nights” that everyone enjoys.
At this stage in my life, I consider myself vegan. Do I quiz the waitress about whether or not my salad dressing has honey in it, or if there is egg in that veggie burger? No. So I know I’m not perfect. But for the most part, I avoid animal products in all areas of my life. I was not always this way. For the first 39 years of my life I ate the “standard” diet. But a particularly bad stretch of poor health sent me searching for a change. That is when I decided to give plant based eating a try; a particularly tricky feat considering that my husband, children, family and friends do not share my way of eating. So, what does this mean for making healthy meals for my family?
This is a tricky topic for me. I tend to go back and forth on it. Some days I want to cut all the animal products and processed foods out of our lives completely. And as the Mom, I know that my kids’ nutrition is primarily my responsibility. However, my husband is their parent too, and while supportive of my choices, he has not chosen to take this journey with me. My solution so far is to strive for balance and moderation. So what does that translate to at meal times? Well, I would say about 3 nights a week, we all eat a vegan supper. Veggies stir fried over brown rice, whole grain or rice pastas with Italian or Thai inspired sauces, soups, chili, stews and salads are the most common. And I can honestly say that my husband and daughter really enjoy these meals. My 6-year old fussy son is another story. Other nights, I still make a vegan side (which I eat as my main), and I prepare an animal protein to go with it for the other members of the family. Any baking I do now is vegan, and I have replaced dairy milk with almond in cooking and smoothies for everyone. So, I have not converted them to my way of eating, but I have greatly reduced the animal products they consume.
April being Earth month also has me thinking about the ways in which our eating habits effect the environment. Again, there is room for improvement. But some of the things that we do to reduce our footprint include:
- Eating fewer animal products (veg proteins take far less water to produce and create far less pollution than their animal counterparts)
- Shopping for produce at the local farmer’s market from May to October.
- Baking lunch box snacks (like Marni’s Blueberry Banana Spelt muffins!), thereby purchasing less packaged goods.
- Packing drinks in reusable metal water bottles.
- Using more Tupperware and less plastic wrap.
- Walking to school instead of driving when the weather is nice.
- And most obviously, recycling.
How do you strive to keep yourselves, your family and your planet healthy? We would love to hear your tips and tricks.
People eat plant-based diets for a number of different reasons; health benefits, not supporting animal cruelty, food sensitivities, and of course, environmental reasons.
Helping the planet is a huge part of the reason I stopped eating meat, and why I strive towards a more whole foods, local approach to nutrition.
The amount of resources that go into meat production is astronomical, as well as in the shipment of food across the world. Trying to find local farmers and food producers is a big part of reducing the carbon footprint on your plate. Go to a farmers market, sign up for a produce delivery box service, visit smaller grocery stores that offer local, organic produce. Try to take note of what’s in season in your area and make the most of it. I stayed with a family in England a few years ago, who were living almost entirely independently, off-the grid. From using a woodstove for heat and cooking to growing their own quinoa and vegetables in their backyard, they made the most of every resource available. It was a really amazing learning experience and eye opening in terms of sustainability. While I can’t plant a garden in my apartment, there are may things I (and my urban dwelling neighbors) can do to make a difference.
Another huge waste, and something I tend to be quite guilty of partaking in, is take-out containers. There is so much unnecessary waste involved with ordering food. There’s a super cool project dedicated to reducing take out waste called Takeout Without. It really forces you to think about all of the paper and plastic garbage you use without thinking about. Check out their website and think of some ways you can start implementing changes in your own life.
Eating plant based foods is an area that I still have a long way to go on, and one that I feel really passionate about. There are so many small things we can do to make a difference, with regards to the food that we eat. Even incorporating a serving of veggies and fruits into our diet everyday contributes to earth-friendly activities. I’m looking forward to learning new plant-based recipes at Fit and Fabulous next month so that I can eat to stay active and improve the earth. Check out the class here if you’re interested in joining the class (I’ll be there!)
Earth Day and Earth Month are a great time to implement small changes in your life that can make a significant impact. Start composting, eat more plant based meals, recycle everything. I’d love to hear about things you have done to make your lifestyle for sustainable and eco-friendly.
Plant-Based Cooking Classes – http://www.marniwasserman.com
Reduce Restaurant Waste – http://www.takeoutwithout.org/
Learn why it’s green to go veggie - http://www.downtoearth.org/
My favourite way to welcome spring is to lighten up my eating habits. As the weather gets warmer, as more local vegetables become available and as I spend more time outside, I crave lighter, colder, more refreshing meals. Instead of the soups, stews and grains that warmed me in the winter, opt for more green leafy vegetables, salads, smoothies, raw soups and juices. This not only results in simpler meals to prepare but I also feel lighter, more rejuvenated and more energized!
Here are 5 key ways to lighten up your meals this spring:
- Start adding more salads to your diet. Whether for lunch or dinner, grab a big bowl and fill it up with fresh local greens. Salads help eliminate toxins, increase energy and provide a balance to your body. Learn how to naturally balance your body at Acid/Alkaline Balance on June 20th.
- Drink your dinner. This isn’t ideal all the time. But some nights when I get home and don’t feel like making a meal or eating a heavy dinner, I just pull out my blender and make a yummy blended cold soup (see the deliciously refreshing recipe below).
- Change the ratios on your plate. This is the easiest way to lighten up while sparing your body extra calories. For example, instead of taking an extra serving of grain, add more veggies, either steamed or fresh. Learn how to give your body a spring cleanse with Marni’s best-selling eBook Cleansing with Superfoods.
- Use vegetables in place of grains. In the spring, it’s fun finding veggie alternatives to whole grains. For example, grind up cauliflower instead of rice or use kelp and Zucchini noodles for basic dishes or pasta recipes. Top this up with our fave Green Goddess Salad Dressing – we will be making this recipe and more Green recipes at Green Goddess on June 10th!
- Make juice. This is the easiest way to start lightening up in the spring. Making a tall glass of vegetable juice is an easy way to load up on nutrients instead of calories. You can learn how to make Super Alkaline Juices at Raw Essentials on June 3rd.
With the days lengthening, reach for foods like green vegetables that will hydrate and refresh you. To start, try this refreshing
Green Avocado Cucumber Soup.
What’s in it:
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and roughly chopped
2 large ripe avocados
½ cup spinach or kale
2 green onions, roughly chopped
2 apples (crisp and tart apples like granny smith)
2-1/2 cups coconut milk or coconut water
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Parsley for garnish
Optional additions: garlic, ginger, cayenne, dill
How it’s made:
- In a blender, process all ingredients until smooth. Chill until ready to serve and garnish with fresh herbs.
This article was originally written for Chatelaine.
Calcium is a very important subject for me so I was to learn that this month is calcium month! A hysterectomy, shortly after my second child was born pushed me into menopause at the age of 35. Along with this came an increased risk of osteoporosis, making bone health an important consideration in my diet. Like everyone else, I had grown up believing that eating my 2-3 servings of dairy a day was the healthy way to go. I never questioned the absurdity of consuming another species’ breast milk. Through my research and my experiences with Marni to date, I have learned that dairy actually impedes my goal of strong bones by contributing to an acidic body. When this happens the body will try to reinstate an alkaline state by leaching calcium from the bones.
So, where is a girl to get her calcium? I start several days a week with a hearty dose of calcium from a smoothie made with banana, organic berries, calcium rich kale and fortified almond milk. This is a favourite of my daughter’s as well. Trust me, you can not taste the kale. Adding some ground flax seed ups the calcium even more.
While there is a long list of veg-friendly calcium sources out there, two personal favourites are edamame and sesame seeds. Edamame pods are a popular snack in our household; steamed and tossed with a bit of EVOO, salt and pepper. I also add shelled edamame to quinoa dishes, pastas, and salads. Most things I cook are finished off with a healthy sprinkle of sesame seeds as well, adding flavour, texture, and giving the food a nice presentation.
I was happy to see these two ingredients front and centre at Marni’s Amazing Asian cooking class earlier this month. My two favourite recipes were the Nappa Cabbage Salad, and the Arame Soba Noodle Salad. I recreated both of these dishes at an Asian-themed pot luck this past weekend to great reviews. One of my reasons for wanting to win the Fully Nourished Lifestyle prize was to be an example to those around me. I find people can be pretty sceptical of vegan cooking, so it is very heartening to bring healthy vegan fare and have it be as well received as the meat and sugar-laden foods around them. Thanks Marni!
March is calcium month and there is no better time to clarify the myths of calcium and bone strength! Despite what dairy companies lead you to believe, building strong bones is a lot more complicated than consuming calcium. There are three misconceptions when it comes to dairy, calcium and bones.
1. Building strong, healthy bones depends only on calcium
2. Your calcium intake is the only thing that matters
3. Dairy is the only good source of calcium
Let’s clarify these myths one at a time:
Clarification #1 – Calcium + Vitamins Build Strong Bones
Bone development is influenced by a number of factors, including nutrition, exposure to sunlight, hormones, and physical exercise. There’s no denying that calcium is important for bone health but bones need more than just calcium to grow and stay strong. Other important sources include Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K.
Enjoy these foods that are bursting with calcium!
- Green Leafy Veggies – kale, chard, beet tops, collards, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, dandelion, mustard greens and bok choy.
- Root Veggies – parsnip, rutabaga, sweet potatoes, squash, okra.
- Nuts and Seeds – almonds, pine nuts, hemp seeds, sesame seeds.
- Beans, Legumes and Whole grains – kidney beans, black beans, quinoa and amaranth.
- Fermented and Organic Soy – Tofu, tempeh, miso and edamame.
- Sea vegetables include arame, nori, dulse, wakame and kombu. They can be found at your local health food store or in the condiment section of your grocery store. Another great place to look is at authentic Asian markets.
- Other: carob, tahini, almond butter, cocoa, goji berries, figs and molasses.
Clarification #2 – Importance of Calcium Absorption & Retention
As we just discussed, calcium-rich foods is one source that helps build strong bones. But what you may not realize is that calcium is for more than just your bones – almost every function in our body requires calcium. Many degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis among others are a result of poor quality supplementation and an imbalanced diet. Reaping the benefits of calcium is also about how much we’re able to absorb, and retain. Factors including our dietary habits, lifestyle, and aging process all contribute to calcium absorption and retention.
- Stress impacts normal digestion and can have a negative effect on calcium absorption.
- Age also impacts calcium absorption – on average, adults absorb approximately 20% less calcium than children.
- Protein increases calcium absorption and stimulates the production of hormones that promotes new bone formation.
Clarification #3 – Avoid Dairy as a Source of Calcium
People have grown to accept that you can only get your daily intake of calcium from conventional dairy and a calcium supplement. What you need to also focus on is whole food sources that are naturally loaded with calcium. These foods don’t contain dairy, but will provide your body with the calcium it requires to function in an easy-to-assimilate way along with a whole bunch of other minerals and nutrients that are vital to good health!
So skip the dairy, eat your greens, get some sunshine and exercise regularly and enjoy all of the health benefits of a whole, natural diet! For calcium-rich, plant-based recipe inspiration join us on March 18th for Veggin’ Comfortably where you will learn some delicious calcium-rich recipes and you will receive a free copy of Marni’s best-selling eBook Veggin’ Comfortably.
Try this calcium-rich treat — Carob Fig Frozen Fudge
What’s In It?
1 cup figs, soaked
1 1/2 cups filtered water
1 tablespoon pure vanilla
1/2-1 cup nut butter (almond or sunflower)
1/2-1 cup raw carob powder
1/2 cup Manitoba Harvest hemp seeds
How it’s Made:
1. Place the figs in a bowl and cover with water and soak for about an hour, until soft. Drain reserving liquid.
2. In a blender, blend the figs, and vanilla until smooth, slowly adding soaking water as needed to form a creamy consistency.
3. Transfer the fig mixture into a large bowl, add the nut butter, and stir to combine.
4. In a separate bowl, mix the carob and hemp seeds.
5. Gradually add the dry carob mixture into the wet fig mixture. Stir well. Press evenly into a 10 by 18 inch brownie pan, 1 inch thick and freeze until firm (about 3 hours).
6. To serve, cut into 1 inch squares.
Kim Thompson, one of our Face of FNLers shares her excitement about heart health month and our goal for her of increasing her legume intake this month! She also shares her progress thus far since starting the program and the baby steps that she is successfully achieving on her journey. Way to go Kim!
When I learned that February is heart health month and we that I should be focusing on incorporating more legumes in my diet, I had one problem. Where to start? I must say, I had not eaten very many beans in my pre-vegan days. With the exception of a few kidney beans in my chili, beans and legumes were just not something that I had grown up eating very often. I’ve read that as you change your eating habits, your tastes change as well. That must be true for me because in the past three years, I haven’t met a bean I haven’t liked.
My current go-to dishes for a heart-healthy blast of protein include a spicy Indian inspired lentil soup, an Ethiopian lentil stew, homemade hummus, channa masala served over wilted greens, and one of my favourite quickie lunches which is chick peas mashed with avocado, green onion, lime juice S & P and cilantro spread high on Ezekiel toast. Yum! I also love Black Bean Burgers. Marni has a great recipe for them and they are really easy too!
Often people ask me about eating out. How can you possibly find anything to eat? And yes, it is a bit of a challenge and something I have had to work on. But beans and legumes are more and more common at both fast food places, and sit down restaurants. Mucho Burrito has a whole wheat burrito that you can customize with black beans, pinto beans, veggies, salsa, cilantro and guacamole. While I’m sure it is not all organic ingredients, when it comes to nutrition per calorie it sure beats the heck out of a burger and fries. And recently I was hunting high and low on a chain restaurant menu for something more interesting than salad. I spoke with the waitress, and she was happy to accommodate me, having the cook prepare a vegetable curry, replacing the animal protein with a hearty helping of chick peas. Ask and you shall receive….
On the Fully Nourished Lifestyle journey front, last month I talked about adding in more nutritious items. This month I was working on taking out some of the nasties. Am I there yet? A resounding NO. Am I making progress? Definitely. A big first step has been cutting my coffee consumption in half so far. I am still having my morning cuppa, but have replaced my afternoon one with herbal tea. Baby steps. This coming month I’m going to try to pull out the juicer from the back of the dark cupboard and see if I can start replacing my morning caffeine jolt with a jolt of fresh green juice instead. Just typing that here is a bit unnerving, but I’m willing to try. I heard something really helpful about giving up addictions (and yes, for me coffee is just that…an addiction). In order to maintain your willingness to change, you need to set an intention every day. You wake up and say to yourself “I am willing to let this go today”. Don’t worry about tomorrow or next week. Just focus on today. I will keep that in mind as I move forward.
With the help of Marni and the Fully Nourished Lifestyle Program, Kristy LaPointe is hoping to make 2013 her healthiest year yet, and she is excited to be sharing the journey! She is an actress, comedian and writer based out of Toronto.
In honor of heart-health month, Kristy is sharing with us the legume that holds a very special place in her heart and her favourite ways to prepare it.
Chickpeas For A Healthy, Romantic Heart
Chickpeas (or Garbanzo beans, as my father often insists on calling them) are versatile, healthy, and so delicious. A lot of people are familiar with Hummus, but these magical little beans can be used for so much more. Plain chickpeas are amazing in salads. They can be mushed up into a kind of tuna spread alternative for sandwiches. Falafel. Soups. Salads. The possibilities are endless. One of my favorite things to do with chickpeas is roast them in the oven or fry them in a pan with a small amount of seasoning. These roasted chickpeas make a great snack on their own, or in a salad.
This week I made a nice, fresh salad with a mound of wasabi roasted chickpeas on top, and it was so satisfying! See the recipe below. I’ve also been experimenting with different varieties of hummus, from roasted garlic to lemon to red pepper.
Wasabi Chickpea Salad
This month as I continue on my FNL journey, my biggest struggle has been with moderation. I tend to adopt an “all or nothing” attitude when it comes to health. This is great when it’s in full swing, and I’m consuming 4 bowls of Kale and going to yoga every day.
The trouble is, without balance, it’s very hard to sustain a healthy lifestyle. I get burnt out on plain oatmeal for breakfast, and then instead of spicing it up, I want to have a bagel and a cinnamon roll. A lot of my cravings have to do with carbs and sweets, so I’ve been trying to add healthier versions to my meals. The best sweet replacement I’ve come up with this month is frozen bananas. At the beginning of the week I sliced up a bunch of bananas, and separated them into small, freezable containers. Now whenever my sweet tooth strikes, I can go to the freezer and find a delicious, frozen treat. I still have chocolate and baked goods occasionally, but this has definitely helped me cut down.
If you haven’t heard the exciting news, I have just signed a lease for a new commercial space – Toronto’s first plant based cooking studio – 510 Eglinton avenue to be exact!
As you can imagine this is a big undertaking. I am over flowing with pure positive emotion right now as I get the chance to do more of what I am doing while reaching more people. The best part is that this new “home” to my classes will help you to get inspired and create delicious, simple plant-based recipes and meals. The new studio will act as a place to connect with food first hand and the impact good nutrition has on your health.
My new cooking studio will also be a place to meet health-focused foodies, discover new tastes and truly explore the depths of what it means to be fully nourished!
It has taken me five years to reach this incredible milestone and I am honoured that nourishing people with delicious food and education has made a huge impact on the community in Toronto. I am looking forward to continue to do so on a much larger scale.
This not only means more of my amazing cultural and health focused cooking classes in the evenings, but daytime classes, weekend classes, and specialty workshops with local like-minded businesses will also be introduced. Additionally, the new cooking studio will be a venue for hosting private parties, events and other special gatherings. I will even be offering the studio to rent to those looking for a fully equipped space in which to teach classes and workshops.
In staying consistent with my philosophy, this new studio will be constructed from the ground up keeping your utmost health and comfort in mind. The studio will be green, sustainable, fresh while remaining cozy, intimate and inspiring. You will also be able to buy your favourite superfoods, appliances and eco products, from green cream to glass straws and so much more.
There are so many class packages and programs to take advantage of before the price of my offerings increases when we move to the new studio. Be sure to check out the many available options here.
I want to also sincerely thank Borden Communications, Sustainable TO, Blendtec, Navitas Naturals, Salad Master, and Urban Cultivator for being an integral part of this project. I am looking forward to working with the many companies and individuals that will also jump on board for sponsorship and support the creative and exciting development of this new cooking studio.
Thanks to all of you for your continued support!
Thanks to all of our fabulous FNL applicants!
We were absolutely blown away by the number of fabulous entries that we received for the Face of FNL contest. Originally we had intended to find one winner. We were so overwhelmed with the inspiring submissions that we couldn’t narrow down our choice to a single face of FNL. Which means that we have decided to have not one, but two faces of FNL!!
We are so happy to welcome Kristy and Kim to be our two faces of FNL! We are looking forward to helping you both achieve your health and nutrition goals over this next year!
Meet Kim & Kristy – our two inspiring faces of FNL.
Kim is a stay at home mother of two. She started following a plant based diet about 3 years ago. Kim’s plant based diet has been leaving her unsatisfied, and without energy. Kim is hoping that upon participating in the FNL program, she will learn how to eat a more balanced plant-based diet. She hopes to finally reach a healthy and maintainable weight, achieve her fitness goals, and be a great role model to her children and family. Check out Kim’s inspiring story!
Kristy is an actress, and writer. In the past 3 years she has started following a plant-based diet, given up her microwave (too many toxins!) and started practicing yoga. Kristy has been battling with her sweet tooth, and has been struggling to eat healthy on a budget. Kristy’s goals for FNL is to help her conquer these battles, along with incorporating more exercise in her daily routine, and being more aware of nutritious, whole foods. Check out Kristy’s motivating story!
We are so looking forward to helping Kim and Kristy reach their goals! We will be documenting their transformation throughout this exciting journey including their challenges, improvements, and progress. Stay tuned for some motivation and inspiration from these two fabulous women!
Yours in good health,
-Marni Wasserman & Team