Growing your own garden has so many benefits and is an amazing way to get fresh organic vegetables and fruits! One of our favourite urban farmers is Young Urban Farmers – a Toronto-based company that helps people grow their own fresh produce.
Here are 5 benefits of growing your own veggies. Plus, it’s an easy and fun activity!
- High in Nutrition: Organically local grown food has been shown to have a much higher mineral and vitamin content than store bought food treated with pesticides. Foods laced with pesticides have also been linked to a higher incidence of disease, including various cancers.
- Fresh Taste: Foods that are free of pesticides and harvested straight from the garden are fresher and taste better!
- Cost-Effective: Growing your own vegetables significantly reduces food costs. It also saves you less time at the grocery store and more time in your garden!
- Helps the Environment: Home gardening will lower your carbon footprint by helping to prevent soil erosion, improve water and air quality, save energy and reduce transportation costs.
- Provides Fun, Knowledge and Beauty: This can be a fun and satisfying learning experience for individuals, families and children! It also helps create a beautiful personal space.
To learn how to seed the foundation to your garden, join us in the studio next Tuesday, June 18 for a workshop with Young Urban Farmers. Chris will show you how to start off your garden so that you can bring seeds that you plant here home and watch your veggies grow. Marni will be creating delicious recipes which will include veggies from her garden. Find out more information and register here!
Kim, our Face of FNL was determined to run a half marathon 4 years ago. So she did! And she is ready to start training for another one. She shares her motivation for running and her favourite recipes that help fuel her vigorous training.
Just a Mommy…. One day when my daughter was a toddler, we were discussing what various people did for a living, she looked at me and said “but you’re just a Mommy”. OUCH! Of course I don’t expect a child to understand or appreciate the dozens of different hats one wears to keep a household running. But that comment still left a mark. I wasn’t always “just” a Mommy. I had a successful corporate life before children. But after my second was born, and medical problems secured the fact that there would be no more, I felt more than ever that I didn’t want to miss a single milestone.
I’ve been an on-again, off-again runner all my life to keep my weight in check. I think my daughter’s comment is part of what spurred me to finally set some running goals in my mid-30’s. Taking off my Mommy hat to train for something that was just for me felt good. Part of me missed that outside validation of my efforts that used to be so tangibly quantified by promotions, raises or bonuses. Having the race volunteer put that medal around my neck after my first half marathon was very gratifying. And I loved the example it set for my kids of working hard to achieve a personal fitness goal. Suddenly, for that day, I wasn’t just a Mommy. I was an athlete and a competitor.
It’s been 4 years since my last race. And that desire for hardware (medals) is starting to rear its head again. One of my goals in working with Marni was to improve my energy levels on a plant based diet to make room for training again. After a few false starts this winter, I have started running again. I went waaaayyyy back to the beginning, running 1 minute, and walking 1 minute. I’ve progressed to 6 and 1 so far without injury, and I hope to continue and get at least a 10K under my belt by fall. And I’m certain there’s another half marathon looming in my not too distant future. Just a Mommy? No way!
To achieve this, I’ll need the proper fuel. One of my favorites before a run is Marni’s soaked oats with goji berries, cinnamon and almond milk. It takes just a couple of minutes to prepare before bed so it is ready in the morning. I also had the privilege to attend Marni’s Fit and Fabulous cooking class the other day. I received a lot of great information about pre and post workout fueling, not to mention some amazing VEGA swag!! My favourite recipe of the night was hands down the spinach almond patties. Can’t wait to try them out on my family.
That’s all for now. Keep on running!
Kristy, one of our Face of FNLers, is a hot yoga junkie and has a very active lifestyle. This month she is sharing some of her favourite foods and products that help fuel her sweaty yoga sessions for optimal performance and recovery.
It’s taken me a long time to find an exercise niche that I could really get into, but now that I’ve discovered this strange, sweaty workout it has become my obsession. My studio Iam Yoga has a wide variety of classes that range from ab-destroying core workouts to restorative Yin mediation. Finding activities that don’t feel like a chore is so key, for some people that may be running, or a pilates class, or learning weird YouTube dance choreography with your best friend in your living room (I very much suggest this one. Nothing bonds two people like the mortifying experience of trying to learn how to “booty pop” in front of each other). I still try to fit in some additional cardio, and living downtown I walk everywhere, but Yoga has become my exercise of choice. In February I did 30 days of Hot Yoga in a row which was insane but really great, and really taught me the importance of properly fueling my body.
Tailoring your nutrition to your lifestyle is important and not that hard. Do you exercise all the time? If so, make sure you’re getting enough protein and iron, and have an extra green smoothie after your run. Marni has introduced me to some amazing products that have really amped up my nutrition.
I was lucky enough to receive an AMAZING Vega Thrive Forward Starter Kit and now I am addicted to their whole foods approach to nutrition on the go. Seriously, I’ve been scheming ways to become a Vega ambassador and I will not be stopped.
Here are a few products that I have absolutely fallen in love with:
1.Vega Electrolyte Hydrator
This has rocked my sweaty little yoga world. A naturally flavored powder meant to replace the electrolytes you are sweating out, pouring a little packet of this into my water bottle makes a world of difference when you are sweating out massive amounts of fluids. Even if I was super hydrated sometimes I would leave particularly intense heated classes feeling lightheaded or nauseous, and this little gem has completely eliminated that.
2.Vega One Chocolate Protein Powder
This stuff is so good mixed with Almond Milk and a little ice. After a yoga class, this is my go-to treat to make sure I’m getting all the nutrients I need while feeling like I’m drinking a milkshake. Sweetened with stevia, it is so freaking good. Seriously Vega, I have a huge crush on you. They also now have a new Vega One bar which has all of the essential nutrients formed into one convenient and delicious bar!
3.Sunwarrior Vanilla Protein Powder
Frozen Bananas+ Ice + Spinach+ Coconut Milk +This powder = A delicious green smoothie.
This month I was also lucky enough to take Marni’s Raw Made Easy cooking class which was amazing. She showed us a ton of simple, raw recipes to add huge bursts of plant powered nutrition into our days. We made these phenomenal little nori rolls that I’m going to make for my in-laws at the cottage this weekend and the most amazing raw pizza that our whole class could not get enough of.
Seriously, sundried tomato tapenade and raw “caRAWmelized” onions and mushrooms – it was glorious.
To maintain a balanced lifestyle, it is important to stay active in whatever way works for you, and to eat plant based foods to support a healthy and active lifestyle!
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.
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.
I must admit, I do LOVE Vega products – it’s that simple! And when I heard about Vega’s new Vega One Bars I was keen to try their new creation! Of course I am a fan of making my own homemade protein bars or energy whenever I can. As you may or may not know, there are a lot of “really bad bars” out there that have many low quality and filler ingredients. But Vega knows what they are doing, and their products truly reflect that.
If you haven’t yet been acquainted with this delicious, nutrient dense bar, you’ll definitely want to try one (side note: see how you can score a free box of Vega One bars below). These bars are a power packed snack or meal replacement (if necessary) with all of the essential nutrients needed for optimal energy and nourishment and they are delicious too!
Everything I love about the Vega One Nutritional Shake is now conveniently packaged in the first ever, all-in-one nutrition bar. In addition to making a delicious Vega One Smoothie every morning…
…you can also have the convenience of grabbing and enjoying a Vega One Bar! These are perfect to put in your bag on the go or for traveling.
Each bar has a balanced combination of essential vitamins and minerals and antioxidants and contains:
- 15 grams of complete protein
- 6 grams of fiber
- 1.5 grams of Omega-3
- A full serving of greens
- 1 billion dairy-free probiotics per bar.
The Vega One Bar is gluten free and contains no artificial flavors, colors or sweeteners. It comes in three delicious flavours: Chocolate Almond, Chocolate Cherry and Double Chocolate flavors.
And to top it off, this nutritionally complete, plant-based bar is dipped in chocolate. =)
For a chance to win a box of these delicious bars, tell @NourishedFully and @VegaTeam how this bar will benefit you. Make sure to include the hashtag #VegaOneBar or #1ofaKind. The contest ends on April 17th!
And come sample the Vega One Bar at Weekday Meal Planning on April 15th!
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!
When you eat a plant based diet, people never tire of demanding you’re not getting enough protein. I have literally never had anyone ask me about my calcium intake.
I have a pretty hectic schedule that is constantly changing. One day I may be taking acting classes and running to Hot Yoga class, the next I’m auditioning for commercials and then babysitting the world’s cutest toddler. As much as I love cooking, I don’t always have time to micro-manage every single aspect of my daily diet. This means it’s so important to have a well-rounded diet that includes lots of Calcium rich foods.
One resource that I’ve found invaluable is CalciYum!, a vegetarian calcium based cookbook by David & Rachelle Bronfman. Marni gave me this book at my first consultation, and it has a ton of great recipes along with information about Calcium dense plant foods. This has helped me to consider Calcium in addition to protein when I’m choosing different ingredients for my meals. I love beans, tempeh, and tofu which are great sources of Calcium. Incorporating leafy greens into my everyday life has made a big difference. I put kale, spinach, and collards, into my soups, salads, stir-fries, and baking. You get countless benefits from consuming leafy greens, and there are so many to choose from and experiment with. The other high calcium food that I try to eat everyday is Almonds, I am a huge Almond lover. I like to have a little container of almonds with me or a Lara bar on hand as an emergency snack.
A great part of living in Toronto is the plethora of Vegetarian stores and restaurants at our fingertips. Last fall I was doing a class at Second City, and I would often have to rush to another audition, appointment or class, right after. Thankfully I could stop at Fresh on Spadina for a quick nutritious pick-me-up. Smoothies are an awesome way to get some extra Calcium into your diet! The Date Almond Smoothie and Tropic Thunder at Fresh are two of the most delicious beverages I’ve ever had. They both have Almond Butter, and the Date-Almond Smoothie can also have Almond milk in it, and you can add Kale to any juice or smoothie!
I also participated in my first cooking class with Marni this month called Grain Goodness. She showed us just how versatile vegetables and grains can really be. All of the dishes we made were so delicious, and I will definitely be recreating them all at home.What about you? Do you give much thought to the Calcium in your diet?
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.