Weighing In

Recently, a fitness instructor said to me, “ the saddest thing to see is a woman in her 60s who thinks that she needs to lose 10 lbs in order to be happy”.

Elderly Woman Smiling Wearing a Swimming Cap in a Swimming PoolI think about the women who have nourished their children, built them a home, financed their dreams, traveled across oceans and earned PhDs. They have run businesses and marathons, raised the roof and jumped over the bar.  These women quietly conduct the show, steering ships and turning tides. I stand in awe of their hips, wide from birthing nations. Their soft bellies and breasts were the safe cleft in the rock, the refuge for tiny hands and tender hearts.

They have come through all of this. They’ve stayed up night after night and have given beyond giving. They’ve been a lover, a mother, a leader, a servant. How could 10 lbs change what they see?

I agree, this is a sad place to be.

I am just at the beginning, streaks of grey here, softer curves there. My back clenches from reaching downward, my nights broken by hungry little hands. Will I remember all of this when I am that triumphant woman? Will I treasure all I have become to bring another through this world? Will I see myself with a silver lining?

I want the answer to be “yes” for me and for every woman, and this is what has inspired me to start talking about weight.

As a holistic health practitioner who is decidedly for the enjoyment of food, I feel it’s time for me to finally weigh in on what seems to be one of the most talked about taboos of our time.

Weight is a serious health issue in our culture, one that needs to be healed. But, I don’t think anything is going to change by introducing another diet program. Our health and weight will change, when we change our vision. Only then can we change the habits and choices that have brought us to this place.

My vision is that we will truly enjoy every morsel of delicious food we bring into our bodies; that it will be prepared lovingly and with appreciation for every being whose life helped bring it to our plates. We will give to ourselves with an intimate knowledge of just what we need and not want more.  We will feel full with the greatness of life and all we have accomplished.

So how do we get there? This is what I want to discuss. Please Join me for a lively discussion about food, weight control and vitality. Enjoy scrumptious snacks and the opportunity to ask questions that are important to you. 

Beyond Dieting
A nourishing approach to improved health and weight control.  

September 18th 2017
7:00 pm

Swanone Pilates Studio
353 Main St. Kentville
Above Valley Stove and Cycle

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Getting healthy is easy… in theory.

Most people could drastically improve their health by simply eating more fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking more water and avoiding processed food.

So why is it so hard in reality?

Why does eating good food seem like an inconvenient chore?

What if you could get to the bottom of these questions and make lasting change?

I look at your real life situation to find lasting solutions.

I look at what you’re eating and what you wish you were eating, your schedule, life circumstances, budget, family situation and your health. Together we make a plan. I’ll draw on my food nerd super powers to help you with the hard parts and before you know it, you’ll be eating beautiful, delicious, crunchy food that will make you feel

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I make eating healthy, delicious food, achievable… in real life.

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Tender Nettle Spring Tease

Stinging nettles bravely pierce through the early morning mist, an omen of the fertile unfurling to come. Chilly bones rise to greet the sun, shivering as shadows pass, still hopeful, anticipating sweet sun kisses. Creamy roasted roots thether emerald nettle tops; melting stiff lips that whisper like lovers, the promises of spring.

Creamy Nettle Soup
With roasted potatoes and parsnips

Yields 4-6 servings.

Ingredients:
2 medium onions (approx 2.5 cups chopped in half-moon shapes)
6 medium- large potatoes (approx 8 cups chopped in bite sized pieces)
2.5 cups parsnips cut into bite sized chunks
8 cups nettle leaves (cleaned with stalks removed)
A handful of arugula greens for topping

3 tbsp butter or oil
1.5 tsp sea salt
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (or 1/2 cup white wine)
3 cups of liquid (water or real chicken broth to taste)

Equipment needed:

  • Soup pot
  • Steamer, double boiler or a sieve on a pot
  • Roasting pan
  • Emerson blender, or food processor

Method:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 400°.
  2. Wash the parsnips and potatoes and then chop them into bite-sized pieces. Drizzle with enough oil to moisten them. Roast them in a roasting pan until tender (approx 20-30 min).
  3. While the vegetables cook, chop the onions into thin slices. In a soup pot melt the butter on low heat. Add the onions, salt and spices and let simmer until the onions are soft and translucent.
  4. While the onions cook, carefully (with rubber gloves if necessary) wash and drain the nettles. Steam them in a pan or pot until they are well cooked. They should still have a bright green color but be very soft and easy to chew.
  5. When the onions have cooked add the apple cider. Continue to gently simmer until the liquid has evaporated. (Alternatively you could use a half-cup of white wine).
  6. Combine the nettles and onions and purée with an emerson blender, or a food processor. Add a small amount of water or broth if necessary.
  7. When the potatoes and parsnips have cooked, purée half of them using water to bring them to a smooth creamy consistency. Use the other half to add as chunks to the soup.
  8. Combine everything in a pot. Stir until consistent, using any remaining broth or water to bring it to the desired thickness.
  9. Add extra salt and pepper to taste. Top with arugula just before serving.

Links:

The parsnips, potatoes and onions all came from Ben at Longspell Farm. They were remarkably tender and sweet, especially at this time of year.

The nettles were lovingly harvested by farmer extraordinaire Amy Lounder at Tap Root Farm. The tops were just starting to come up, so we have plenty of time to get acquainted and write more recipes about the mighty stinging nettle.

The arugula came from Goldfinch Farm.

The apple cider came from Boates Family Farm.

All of the farms are conveniently located close to my home in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and all except Tap Root sell at the Wolfville Farmers Market. 

Let Them Eat Cake!

This winter has been restful and nourishing. I’ve been sharing incredible meals with my house mates and community, sleeping long and well, getting weekly massages, taking beautiful walks in the snowy woods, reading books, journaling, dancing, spending quality time with friends, and making the most incredible whole food cakes. I’ve even been doing cake drops, making many mini cakes and delivering them to my friends and colleagues.

Acadia University kindly asked me to attend their Nutrition Career Fair today, where nutrition students can learn about the field of nutrition and dietetics. I know most people would expect me to go to a Nutrition Career Fair with a lovely assortment of sprouts, shoots and raw seed pates, but today I’m bringing cake. I had second thoughts about arriving with cake, I wondered if people would think I was a fraud. I only had to think about it for a few minutes though to realize that bringing cake is a gesture that in many ways sums up how I practice nutrition.

Firstly, if I’m going to ask someone to change their eating habits, I think It’s only fare to entice them with incredibly tasty and beautiful food that is even better than what they already know and love. I want my clients to see that they don’t have to make a sacrifice to give better care to themselves; what I’m asking them to do is make a lifestyle upgrade. Not only is the food I’m recommending tastier and more beautiful, you’ll also feel great afterwards. No need to sacrifice your well-being for dessert.

Secondly, food is meant to be celebrated and shared. It’s a vital part of feeling connected and supported by a community. I’ve heard a number of people bemoan the distance they feel from loved ones when they try to make healthy changes to their diet. Food is a social event and I hope it always will be. When trying to make changes for the better sometimes it means distancing yourself from social occasions that don’t support your health goals. That being said, eating with other people is one of the most life enhancing things you can do.

I like using cake to bridge the gap between lifestyle choices. Over the winter I’ve been making many variations of cheesecake style (gluten and dairy free) whole food cakes, which I have never written. People keep asking me for the recipe but unfortunately it’s just something I’ve learned to improvise with whatever nuts, seeds and whole grains (not flour!) I have on hand. One day I will get around to standardizing it, but in the meantime I’d like to share this moist crumb cake recipe. I’ve used it for years and always have great results; winning friends and influencing people wherever I take it.  There are many substitutions that can be made to account for dietary preferences and budget.

So to the Nutrition students I say, let them eat cake!

Chocolate Black Bean Cake

Gluten free

Yields 16 servings (1 large cake or 2 layers).

Preheat oven to 350°. Line the bottom and sides of a 10” spring form cake pan with parchment paper.

  • 4C. cooked and rinsed black beans (Soak dry beans overnight and rinse thoroughly before and after cooking)
  • 4 Tbsp. vanilla (or coffee for a darker flavor)
  • 3/4C. coconut oil (or organic butter)
  • 2 cups of pitted dates (or organic cane sugar in a pinch) (soak dates in boiling hot water for 15 minutes or until soft. Drain off all water before using)
  • 3/4C. organic Fair Trade cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. baking powder (non-GMO if possible)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1.5 tsp. sea salt
  • 10 local free range eggs
  1. In the food processor, pulse the beans and vanilla until evenly chopped. Put aside in a bowl.
  2. In the food processor blend the coconut oil and dates until smooth.
  3. In a small bowl combine the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  4. In a large bowl beat the eggs, for 2 mins, until light and fluffy.
  5. Combine everything in the large bowl and stir until uniform.
  6. Bake for at 350° for 20-45min or until a clean knife inserted comes out clean. Time depends on whether the cake is a single or double layer.

Frosting:

Enough for one cake. Double if using for filling on a double-layered cake.

  • 2 cups pitted dates
  • ½ C. Melted coconut oil or butter
  • ½ C. Organic Fair Trade cocoa powder
  • ¼ C. Boiling hot water
  • ¼ C. Raw honey
  1. Soak the dates in boiling hot water for about 15 minutes, or until soft. Strain the water off them and purée in a food processor. When more liquid is needed, add hot water and honey.
  2. Add cocoa powder. Blend till smooth then drizzle in oil. The mixture should be creamy and smooth.

 

 

Seeds of Self Care

Most people are familiar with the idea that it requires practice to become a master musician, painter, athlete or scientist. But what about those things that we all must do such as feed ourselves, sleep, breath, have fun with our bodies, make meaningful connections with others, receive affection, ? These are among the things that decide how we show up in the world, whether we are present, distracted, attentive or focused.

images-7

“Impeccability begins with a single act that has to be deliberate, precise and sustained. If that act is repeated long enough, one acquires a sense of unbendable intent, which can be applied to anything else. If that is accomplished the road is clear. One thing will lead to another until the warrior realizes his full potential”.

-Carlos Castenada

I’m guessing most of us don’t see our basic routines as something deserving of mastery. Usually we consider everything else to be much more important. Mastering our professional and academic lives usually becomes the priority for most people in our culture. What we don’t acknowledge however, is that when we jump ahead to mastering our exterior characteristics, (the ones that we celebrate in this society), we often end up with a very shallow root system. Then when challenges come our way, we have very little capacity to overcome them.

I want to live in a world where we each take time at the beginning of our lives to master self care, and cultivate a deep root system that will nourish all of our other endeavors. Self-care is a life long practice.  It’s a not a diet program, a cleanse, a pill, or a silver bullet cure for illness. It’s a way of seeing yourself as a whole person that needs nourishment, every day of your life.  It’s incorporating an understanding of your body, your health (physical. emotional and mental), and food into your continuous learning and development.

Sadly though, this isn’t something that most of us learn growing up. Even if we came from a “decent enough” family where we were provided for, we usually weren’t taught to calmly pause and reflect on what we needed in the moment, or to plan time to prepare nourishing food, eat well, sleep enough, or ask others for support when we needed it.

These missing skills are so common to most of us that we don’t even realize we’re missing integral pieces in our foundations until we’re on the verge of having everything fall apart.  (Even then, many people don’t know what is missing).

images-5I’d like to offer an opportunity for you to take 4 months out of your life to germinate some of the essential seeds of understanding that you can build on for the rest of your life. I won’t prescribe a diet, but I will teach a way of viewing your health holistically, and give you skills to help you discern and learn what you need to nourish yourself (body, mind and spirit).  I’ll provide an experience that will model a life of self-care. We’ll also eat lots of delicious food, have interesting discussions, spend time energizing in nature, and start to integrate a lifelong practice that you can adapt to your ever-changing circumstances.

If you’re curious and want to learn more about the practice click here.

If you’re interested in reading on your own to learn more about your body and mind and how it all works together, then check out this book, Eating Alive, written by Naturopath,  Dr. John Matsen.

Until next time,

Selah

All I Want

Meandering through the Gaspereau Valley, memories of France and falling in love with food for the first time mingle with the uncertainty of starting a new chapter. Everything is unknown and new again, that’s how it goes. New chapters stimulate growth, a larger capacity for tenderness and a different lens for perceiving life. I circle back around to what seems like the same passage repeating, yet each time just a little further up the mountain path. Even though the scenery is strikingly similar, I’m still the same. I still want the same things; connection with nature, internal stillness, pure food, a simple spacious life, rich relationships and a community to share it with.

Radish & Apple Salad
1 bunch of purple mild radish
1 bunch long red mild radish
1 bunch regular red mild radish
1 bunch white hakurai turnip
2 med sized crunchy sweet apples (jonagold are nice)

* Various radish colors, shapes and flavors are available at The Hutten Family Farm stand at the Historic Farmers Market in Halifax.

Dressing:
3 tbsp olive oil (or other good quality cold pressed oil)
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp honey
dash of sea salt

Optional:
1 tsp chopped fresh mint (I happened to have some coming up in the garden)
a handful of pea shoots ( I happened to have a small forest of them growing on my kitchen table)

  1. Chop the radishes and turnips into quarters
  2. Chop the apples into bite sized chunks.
  3. Mix the dressing ingredients together and toss everything except for the pea shoots together. Top with the pea shoots and serve.

That’s Just How I Roll

No matter how many cooks and farmers have come before me, I will always discover something new based on the season, my region, my health and the song I happen to be listening to at the time. We need to eat and we need to create, so there will never be an end. The more we create the more we want to create and explore and expand our minds to all the possibilities for beauty. If feeding yourself healthy, delicious food seems like a chore, I suggest you give your head a shake and reflect on how very privileged you are that you can even have that thought. Rather then feeling guilty about it, rouse your inner child, cancel ridiculous obligations that you don’t give a damn about, smash your TV, call in well, turn up the music and get messy in your kitchen.

Spring Salad Rolls with Tahini Dip

Rice papers
Green or purple cabbage cut into fine strands
Carrots shredded or in match sticks
Sprouts
Apples cut into match sticks and tossed with lemon juice
Spinach or any greens cut into long strands
Chinese radishes
Chopped basil, mint or cilantro
Basically any seasonal vegetable that strike your fancy, cut into ribbons or match sticks.

Optional ingredients to add UMPH:
Cooked tofu or tempeh
Avocado
Slices of an omlette
Seaweed
Soaked sunflower seeds

  1. Instructions for rice paper rolls are usually on the package. They are found in the imported or Asian food section of the grocery store.  (Avoid rice products from the US of A as they have been known to dump lots of arsenic in their water).
  2. Stack up all the yummy pre-cut vegetables, roll them up in the rice paper, slice in half and then double dip them in the tahini sauce. If anyone says anything about double dipping give them the stink eye and say “suck it” yup that’s right “suck it”. It’s purely culinary.

Tahini Dip
Yields about 1 cup

4 tbsp Tahini
2 tbsp Honey
2 tbsp Apple cider vinegar
2 tbsp Tamari (or to taste. I was using homemade tamari which is more mild then the store bought kind)
½ tsp Minced garlic
1 tsp Lemon juice

  1. Mix all the ingredients together with a fork until smooth.
  2. That’s it.
  3. Eat it.
  4. Or suck it….off the salad roll.