Today is my birthday - so let's talk about CAKE! :)
When you are trying to lead a healthy lifestyle and making food choices that are best suited for your own body, special life events like Feast days and Birthdays can be difficult when it comes to food. Often people are met with “oh it’s just one day, here have some cake”. But what appears to be “once in a while” can quickly turn into, once a month or every weekend in some households. Most social gatherings (religious or otherwise) always include food. So do you have to give up cake on your birthday? What about Grandma’s Holiday Pudding? I’m happy to say Yes! - you can have your cake and eat it too! Here are my 2 simple solutions when it comes to family feasts.
Two Simple Solutions when it comes to Family Feasts
Call me sister of substitutions, but this is one of the most effective ways of keeping traditional foods in your family. Most of my family doesn’t realize that the traditional recipes I create are not so traditional. Take my Grandmother’s Holiday Pudding (aka Carrot Pudding) for example. I replaced the brown sugar with small amount of maple syrup, the suet with butter or coconut milk and increased some of the spices to keep it full flavor. Grandma herself said “Best Pudding Ever” this year when I presented it.
I have made a pumpkin cheesecake (with tofu and maple syrup) and it was a hit! Last month I also made a Sugar-free diabetic cake for a friend. The challenge was the icing, but an easy substitution for icing sugar was cornstarch & stevia powder.
The trick? Don’t label your food (vegan/sugar free/healthy), just present healthier options full of flavor and substitute with ingredients that work for you.
"Don’t label your food, just present healthier options for you and your family and enjoy it!"
2) TRY SOMETHING NEW!
Family celebrations are also a great time to simple try something new! For my nieces 1st Birthday, we avoided cake completely – not only for the sugar, but she wasn’t eating foods with that texture yet. So I made her a watermelon fruit cake! She LOVED the cake we made and still had her “bash cake” moment when she plunged her full face into the center of the juicy watermelon! Happiest kid ever, and we didn’t have to worry about getting icing in her eyes (have hear horror stories of screaming kids with icing in their eyes). I made a larger version (seen below) for the adults with coconut whipped cream and it was a hit all around!
We have enjoyed many desserts, so here is one that I will enjoy on my Birthday! Chocolate Mint Cheesecake (dairy free, sugar free, gluten free). YUMMM!
Whether you tweak your family recipes with creative substitutions, or serve up a new tradition, remember: You can have your cake and eat it too!
CHOCOLATE MINT CHEESECAKE
(dairy free, sugar free, gluten free)
Create crumble in food processor
*Puree in blender*
To half cheesecake mixture add:
To half cheesecake mixture add:
Set in freezer until firm (minimum 1 hour).
*Top with fruit, mint leaves or chocolate chips etc.
Remove from Freezer 15-20 minutes before serving.
*Recipe Modified by Jennifer Levitan from www.onegreenplanet.org *
Let’s face it: Without being too dramatic about it – we live in a pretty toxic world. We consume toxins in our food, in our workplace, in our environment…even our thoughts can be toxic!
All this toxicity can be hard on our body and mind and sometimes the accumulation of toxins is so gradual that we hardly even notice. Feeling a little bit (or a lot) horrible every day becomes our new normal.
That’s why it’s a good idea to take time out of our regular routine every now and then to allow our digestive system some time to rest and for our bodies to undergo a little cleaning and fine-tuning. The change of season is a great time to do this and I will usually schedule in 2-3 cleanses each year to coincide with Spring, Fall and the New Year.
So, do you need to detox? This informal quiz will help you get a sense of whether your body may be functioning a bit less than optimally these days. And for many of us, that’s putting it mildly!
**The Detox Quiz is not intended to diagnose any disease or illness, nor is it meant to replace any advice that you may have received from your doctor or other health professional. **
My intention with this quiz and always, is to help you become more conscious about your overall health and wellness and to highlight how, before any disease sets in, you may experience any number of symptoms. By better supporting your body in a more preventative way and addressing any symptoms as they arise, my hope is that you can enjoy lasting good health and avoid many of the diet-related diseases which affect so many people these days.
~ Detox Quiz ~
#1. Are you tired a lot of the time? (Especially early-morning and/or mid-afternoon?)
#2. Do you lack concentration or find it difficult to stay focused?
#3. Do you get sick frequently (i.e. common cold or flu)?
#4. Do you have bad breath?
#5. Do you often feel congested?
#6. Do you often experience bloating, gas or indigestion after meals?
#7. Do you have less than one bowel movement a day?
#8. Do you have dark circles under your eyes?
#9. Do you have allergies or food sensitivities?
#10. Do you have skin problems (acne, eczema or psoriasis)?
#11. Do you drink less than 5 glasses of water daily?
#12. Do you crave lots of salty or sugary foods?
#13. Do you sleep poorly (difficulty falling asleep or waking up at night)?
#14. Do you have frequent mood swings or lack patience?
I’m going to suggest we look at the Detox Quiz Results from two perspectives – mine and yours. As with everything in life, there are usually no black & white answers. But my feeling is that everyone can benefit from eating more healthily and making a conscious effort to reduce toxic overload on a regular basis. It only makes sense that this will help your body to better maintain overall health & wellness.
So, in terms of the Detox Quiz Results, here’s my take on things:
So, could YOU benefit from a short detox? I’ll leave that for you to answer and that’s where the second perspective comes in when it comes to analyzing your results.
I’d like to ask you one question: HOW DO YOU FEEL?
That’s the most important question for you to ask yourself and I really encourage you to check in with yourself on a regular basis because your body will give you clues when it’s not doing great but sometimes those clues can be subtle and easy to ignore at first. Perhaps joint pain has set in – mild at first but getting worse. Or instead you get a headache every now and then but over time they become more frequent. Or maybe you feel tired and impatient and lose your temper more often than you’d like. For each person the symptoms can be very different.
The important thing is to catch your symptoms before they turn into disease!
"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."
Who Shouldn't Detox? Anyone suffering from, or diagnosed with the following should not consider detoxing until their conditions are addressed: chronic fatigue, low immunity, heart problems, low blood pressure, cardiac arrhythmias, cancer, peptic ulcers, diabetes / hypoglycaemia. Also, women should never detox during pregnancy or while nursing.
If you’d like to chat more about whether a detox is right for you, please contact me.
This week, I am starting to think about our own new Spring Menu! I always find that after our spring detox, we have reset our habits and taste buds enough to jump into our new seasonal menu.
Later this week I will be launching my online 7 Day Detox Program – Stay Tuned!
So, what is seasonal eating?
First of all, seasonal eating is not a new fad diet. People have eaten this way for thousands of years. Before the dawn of refrigeration and mass transit of foods across the world, people ate what they grew and raised locally. This is a way of considering how you eat that directly reflects what is able to grow right outside your door (whether you grow it, or a local farmer does!). Blessings from nature are yours to experience as it provides the most vital and tastiest of foods. Remember the best nutrition comes from staying close to the Garden of Life. Seasonal eating essentially includes little or no already prepared or pre-packaged foods. It is all about eating Real-Whole-Food, which has numerous health advantages including therapeutic qualities for a variety of food-generated health issues, such as digestive problems.
Hubby and I have been seasonal eating at some level for most of our lives. With our agricultural backgrounds (me growing up on a farm in southern Ontario and Hubby lived on a sheep & horse farm) we have participated in our four seasons and gained awareness to them.
Each new season brings a new set of foods available but also puts new demands on our bodies. Here in Northern Ontario, we live in a place that has four extremely different seasons with extreme weather condition! We can stretch from nearly -40C in the winter to +40C in the summer! This climate affects our lifestyle in many ways including physical activities, hours of sunlight, social events and the food we eat. You may be reading this from a place where you don’t get such extreme weather, but I’m sure you still have a life cycle of foods in your area, so discover what it is for you and your family! Let’s take a look at a few thoughts for each of our 4 Seasons.
"Blessings from nature are yours to
experience as it provides the
most vital and
tastiest of foods"
How to Guide to Seasonal Eating
SPRING – We begin the transition into spring with a Clean-Eating Detox or Juice Fast (or both!). This helps cleanse our bodies from the cold winter and refreshes our energy. Our spring menu focuses on fresh fruits and vegetables, herbs that support energy and detoxifying. We eat more of a vegetarian diet in this season with a balance of warm and cold foods (cooked & raw veg). We also incorporate sprouts and lots of nutrient dense living foods into our diet. In the garden, you’ll notice that the dark leafy greens (spinach, lettuce etc.) are some of the first things ready to eat.
SUMMER – By the time the hot days of summer arrive, you could label us as raw vegans! We are eating primarily fresh produce from our own garden and travelling to the local farmers market. Fresh fruit and veggies are nutrient dense but also high in water content. Our bodies require greater amounts of water during the hot days of summer, so we need to get water from every source that we can! Hot weather also slows our digestion, so high animal protein and fat meals are more difficult to digest. We also often mono-meal during this season as well - Yes, you will find me eat an entire meal of fresh strawberries at least once!
AUTUMN – Similarly to the transition into Spring, we begin Autumn with a Clean-Eating Detox or Juice Fast. When I plan our Fall menu, I always notice how the colours change too! Foods ready in the garden include the roots vegetables, which are orange(carrots), red(beets) & yellow(parsnips). Warming colours and warming foods prepare us for the transition into the cold weather to come. These foods will sustain us into winter and contain highly amounts of carbohydrates. I also find it interesting that the cabbages are ready, and that our kale(member of cabbage family) is the last green leafy veg to stand tall against the frost. Wonderful soups and stews are ideal for this season. We continue to enjoy primarily plant-focussed meals, but there is a greater presence of fish, poultry and meat during this season.
WINTER – The first thing we do in the winter is consume warmed or cooked foods. We still enjoy a fresh salad, but not as often. I find myself craving warm foods on cold winter days and we need it! Our bodies are using extra energy to stay warm and protect our internal organs from the cold (kidneys especially don’t like being cold). So don’t be surprised if you gain a few extra pounds during this time of year. You can certainly continue to be vegetarian or vegan, but I find it interesting that the best sources of Vitamin D are found from animals. Plants do not have cholesterol, the initial building block for Vit D3, instead they produce D2 but it doesn’t not appear to have all the same functions as Vit D3. Supplementation is often needed as this is our lowest time of year for sunlight hours. So we eat our fish, eggs, butter and meat mostly in the winter.
I hope this inspires you to consider a seasonal change in your eating plan this coming seasons!
If you are looking for any more information regarding this topic or how nutrition can impact your life, contact me today!
Back to Basics Food Shopping List
By Jennifer Levitan
Inspired by “Staying Healthy with Nutrition” by Elson M. Haas, MD
Are you an organized food shopping list person?
Or do you just go to the store and buy what you feel like eating that day?
I am mostly an organized list person, but once I’m in the store, I do allow myself to buy a few “extra” items that appeal to me that day – especially if it’s a seasonal produce item.
There are many different ways of creating a weekly menu and shopping list. Sometimes I have specific meals in mind and buy ingredients for those meals. But I find this isn’t always the most economical way of purchasing as my ingredients might not be on sale or in season.
Hubby & I both enjoy the challenge of putting together a meal with what we have on hand. So often I look to the amount of food we have one hand in each macronutrient category - Proteins, Fats & Carbohydrates. Below is a simple list to get you started – it is not long and there are many extra foods you can add as well!
With foods in your home from this Basic List, you can put together a healthy, well-balanced meal in a half hour with a few fresh ingredients and without having to give up taste or resort to lifeless, chemical, or processed foods.
**Proportions will vary based on your nutritional needs**
Back to Basics Whole Food Shopping List
Vegetables & Fruits
Other (items used in small amounts)
Jennifer Levitan, C.H.N.C. is a Northern Ontario based Holistic Nutritional Consultant specializing in a simplified approach to healthy eating. With a focus on delicious, whole, local and sustainable foods, Jennifer empowers her clients to make practical nutrition choices for optimal health and a life of JoyFull Eating!