Read the Label

Plant-Based eating is riding a big wave right now. For example, recently, I purchased a product that I have been eating for years, but I noticed that now it says “Plant-Based” on the packaging. Marketers are capitalizing on a trend, so printing “Plant-Based” on the label is the new “Fat-Free” or “Sugar-Free” of days gone by. I studied marketing, so I get it, give the consumer a trendy label, and watch sales go up. I remember when Fat-Free was the rage and companies were advertising products being Fat-Free. Products that were then made with sugar and chemicals. Sugar-Free was popular too at one point, but the sugar was replaced with chemical substitutes that we now know are not good for us.

 Last month I walked into a large grocery chain, and they were promoting their Plant-Based nuggets. There was a little green leaf on the packaging, and you know if there’s a little green leaf on the label, it’s got to be healthy; I write tongue in cheek. Intrigued, I read the ingredient list, and it had a super long list of ingredients most that I couldn’t pronounce. Processed foods need stabilizers and ingredients to give them shelf life, taste and to ensure that when we cook them, they hold their form. Chemicals to nourish our bodies so it’s always better to limit or avoid them, keep foods simple and as close to whole as possible.

A great example is the Beyond Beef burger. This heavily marketed burger tastes similar to meat. Yet, it has almost 20 ingredients in it, which would qualify it as processed food. So the question most people ask then is which one is better for you meat or Beyond Beef. That’s for you to decide. I would choose the Plant-Based option but limit my intake of processed foods.

 The point of what I am trying to say is to read the label, simple is better, and truthfully no burger is going to taste like meat, without a lot of work in a lab. Experiment with some homemade options that taste different than beef, or try the beet burger at Copper Branch as it’s better quality and is very good. Don’t decide to give up meat and then stock up on processed Plant-Based foods, become a whole food eater and experiment with simple recipes that are full of nutrient-dense foods and minerals that your body recognizes as food.

The following recipe is fantastic, people love it, and it’s easy to make. It’s from Brendan Brazier, a Canadian Author, and Tri-Athlete who first inspired me to give Plant-Based eating a try.

Almonds have tons of benefits click on this link to ready more

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/9-proven-benefits-of-almonds

Ingredients (for two or three burgers)

•          2 cloves garlic

•          1 cup raw almonds (Brendan recommends soaking almonds to improve their nutrition)

•          1/2 cup ground flaxseed

•          2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (one of few alkalizing types of vinegar)

•          2 Tbsp coconut oil, hemp oil, or EFA oil blend

•          Sea salt to taste

Process all ingredients in a food processor until well blended.  Form into two or three patties.

Serve raw with salad or lightly grill on both sides.

Sheree’s Hack – Soak the almonds the night before as hard nuts require about 8 hours of soaking.

Super Soups !

For awhile it seemed like I was only sending out soup recipes and I thought people might be getting bored so I stopped. But recently, I realized that I have an amazing collection of tried and delicious plant based soup recipes, that are easy (I love easy), and super nutritious.

A few weeks ago I had what I thought I was a brilliant idea, I would try the canned organic lentil soup that Costco carries. I generally have pretty good luck with Costco products . I thought I could serve this soup over brown rice as a quick meal on those super busy days. But the soup was awful it tasted so “fake” and I thought to myself, lesson learned. For the little bit of time it takes to make soup from scratch it’s well worth the effort and it guarantees that I know exactly what is in my meal. It’s amazing how after years of eating whole foods, how discerning your taste buds become.

Soups are a great way to pack nutrition into a meal or lunch. They can be topped with a tbsp of hemp seeds (which are virtually tasteless), or some roasted chick peas to increase their protein content.  Veggie soups are packed full of micro-nutrients, which is what our bodies are craving, not sugar, fat and salt.

Kale for example is one of the most nutrient dense foods we can eat, you can boost the nutrition of most soups but throwing in a cup of chopped kale at the end. Like spinach, kale takes just a few minute too cook. However if you are planning to freeze the soup don’t add the kale until you are reheating it, kale does not freeze well.

Spinach is another great add to soups, it’s an extremely nutrient-rich vegetable. It packs high amounts of vitamin C, vitamin K, folic acid, iron, and calcium. It also freezes poorly so add it when you are reheating a frozen soup.

These are just some of my favourite soup recipes.

From the amazing blog ohsheglows.com comes this Spiced Red lentil tomato soup, it’s packed with nutrition and very easy to make.

Butternut Squash Soup

From the Book – Whole Foods To Thrive, comes this Brendan Brazier, Butternut squash soup recipe.

  • 2 Butternut Squash
  • 28oz Coconut Milk (unsweetened)
  • Sea Salt

Trim the ends of the squash, slice lengthwise and place skin up on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake at 325 degrees, until soft.

Let squash cool to room temperature, then scoop out insides and discard skin.

Place squash and coconut milk into a soup pot and bring to boil, simmer for about 20 mins.

Using your immersion blender, blend squash and coconut milk until smooth, or place soup in blender and blend at high speed.

Salt to taste.

Fresh Tomato Soup

(Sorry I can’t remember the source of this recipe.)

Serves 4

Fresh tomato soup is easy to make with a hand-held blender. This version is bursting with flavor. If you don’t have an immersion blender, simply transfer the soup to blender or food processor instead.

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • ¾ cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano or basil
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme or ¼ tsp. dried
  • 5 cups diced fresh tomatoes (2 lb.)
  • 1 ½ cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 ½ Tbs. tomato paste
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • Fresh herb sprigs for garnish

In large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, oregano or basil and thyme and cook, stirring often, until onion begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Stir in broth, tomato paste and sugar. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes. Using immersion blender, process until smooth. be super careful when blending hot soups. Do so in small batches.

Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with a tbsp of hemp seeds or chick pea croutons.

Farm Boy’s Mushroom Kale Soup (I sometimes just buy this soup)

  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) finely chopped Spanish or other sweet onion
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) finely chopped, peeled carrots
  • 3/4 cup (180 mL) finely chopped celery
  • 1 lb (454 g) button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 large Yukon Gold or other yellow-fleshed potato, peeled, diced
  • 1 tbsp (15 mL) minced garlic
  • 3 cups (750 mL) water + more if needed for thinning
  • 14-oz (400-mL) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 4 cups (1L) packed, chopped kale (stems and large veins removed)
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) kosher salt
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) freshly ground black pepper

In large pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add onions, carrots and celery. Cook,  stirring for about 5 minutes. Add mushrooms, potato and garlic. Cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Raise heat to high. Add 3 cups (750 mL) water and coconut milk. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low. Simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in kale. Cook until wilted, about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

In 3 batches in a blender, purée soup on high until smooth. If needed, thin with additional water.

Makes about 8 cups (2L)

High Protein Super Salads

When I was newly Plant-Based I found lunch the hardest meal of the day, I can’t really remember why now, but I can remember complaining about it to friends. Salads are a common lunch item, but I’m not the kind of person who can eat just an “old school” salad for lunch, I would be super hungry later on. That is, until I started to explore super salads made with mixed greens, which I then loaded with brown rice, beans, seeds, and more.

Super salads pack a ton of nutrition. Leafy greens are full of micro-nutrients (vitamins and minerals), and many of them, such as kale and spinach, have a higher protein content than iceberg or romaine lettuce. You can put anything you want in a salad there are no rules other than watch the calorie and fat content if weight loss is your goal Seeds and nuts are very calorific and should be used sparingly if you are trying to lose weight. There’s a myth that being plant-based will mean you are slim, this is not the case, many plant-based foods can be high fat and/or calorie, so choose carefully.

There’s another huge myth that you can’t get enough protein on a plant-based diet, and this has been proven to be incorrect a long time ago, but the topic still comes up here and there. You can get enough protein from plant sources unless you are not eating enough calories. You do not need to eat a complete protein in every meal, as the many different types of proteins are utilized by your body. There are many complete proteins in the plant-based world. Including soy (tofu, edamame), quinoa, hemp seeds, and more.

The week before Christmas, I binge purchased vegetables at Farmboy, I bought an insane amount. Their vegetable section gets me every time. I then had the daunting task of ensuring nothing went to waste. I cooked 2 or 3 veggies at every meal, and whatever was leftover, I tossed into salads. Farmboy carries very fresh vegetables.  I’m often surprised at how long they stay fresh in my refrigerator. I’ve done things like thought, “oh poop,” I forgot about that cauliflower I bought ages ago, pulled it out, and it was still good to go.

Here’s how to create a protein-packed salad, whose protein content will shock you. As well, these slow-burning carbs will fuel your afternoon, making you energized and less likely to need that sugary snack.

Salad Base 

  • 2 to 3 cups Baby Kale (a cup of kale has 2.2 grains of protein)
  • 2 to 3 cups Baby Spinach
  • 2 to 3 cups Super greens

Topping #1 

  • topping will make your salad more filling and sustain you)
  • ½ cup Brown Rice (one cup has 5 grams of protein)
  • ½ cup Quinoa (One cup has 5 to 8 grams of complete protein)

Salad Topping #3

  • ½ cup Chickpeas (one cup has 15 grams of protein)
  • ½ cup Your favorite beans (beans average 13 to 17 grams of protein, edamame is a complete protein)

Topping #4

(Anything goes at this stage, pick your favorite, peas, broccoli, and mushrooms are higher in protein)

  • Peas (one cup has 9 grains of protein)
  • Broccoli (one cup has 9 grains of protein)
  • Mushrooms (one cup has 9 grains of protein)
  • Sprouts
  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Your favorite veggie

A very comprehensive list of the protein content of many vegetables and grains.

Topping #5

Seeds are the “bomb”, you can top your salads with them, and some have minimal flavor, but full of good fats and protein. Seeds can be high calorie when used in large amounts, so if weight loss is a goal, use only a tablespoon or so, you can mix them up a bit and use a variety.

  • Pumpkin (Complete protein, 2 tbsp has 3.5 grams of protein)
  • Chia (2 tbsp has 6 grams of protein)
  • Hemp (2 tbsp has 4 grams of protein)

Finally, the salad dressing, many bottled dressings are high in sugar, use honey, or have too many chemicals in them to increase their shelf life. Look around for better brands or make your own. I prefer homemade salad dressings, and they are super easy to make

  • An all-time favorite is this hummus dressing created by food blogger Dreena Burton, I’ve made it countless times, and while it takes a bit longer than some, it’s well worth it.

This quick and easy hemp seed salad dressing is also great and can be mixed up in minutes with very little preparation. It thickens well in the refrigerator.

Hemp seed dressing

  • 1/2 cup hulled hemp seeds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, to taste

This dressing can become quite creamy. Nutritional yeast does have a sharper flavor, and it’s often used as a cheese substitute. If you find the taste of nutritional yeast overpowering, cut back to 1 tablespoon of the yeast and reduce your water by about the same.

To sum it up, try super salads for lunch to increase your micro-nutrients, maintain better energy and reduce your dependence on a later afternoon sugary snack or coffee. Your body with thank you for it.

Five days of Plant-Based High Protein Breakfasts

For me, breakfast is an important meal. In fact, I eat two breakfasts. My first breakfast is as soon as I wake up, and then I have a second one a few hours later, after I’ve worked out. Recently I have been splitting my meals into smaller portions, spread out over the day, and have found more consistent energy; I snack less and have lost some weight. Last year I lost 18 lbs and then seemed to be stalled in my weight loss, I didn’t want to eat less, as I was eating about 1700 calories a day, nor did exercising more interest me. I work out 5 to 6 days week, and on run club days, I might do a run and a 20-minute workout. This fall, I was listening to a bodybuilding podcast, and the host mentioned that she eats 5 to 6 meals a day, she’s also vegan, and I thought hmmm let’s try this. Since eating this way, I have found I’m less likely to reach for snacks, which can be calorific, and my energy flows are smoother throughout the day. I’m actually eating more calories, and I’ve also lost 5 more lbs, which brings me closer to my goal of losing 30lbs.  We all seem to be different, so what works for me may not work for you.

You may have tried this way of eating before and found the opposite; including insulin spikes, and lows, however, this was probably due to not eating low Glycemic Index foods. High sugar foods spike and crash you all day long. In my late 30’s, I was diagnosed as Hypoglycemic, which I realized I had been having symptoms of since my late teens. Some of the symptoms of Hypoglycemia are experiencing “dumping” spells, shakes, and weird “dumpos” in energy, followed by shaking and sometimes the sweats. Since being diagnosed, I have found watching the Glycemic Index (GI) of my food really helps. Eating a lower GI diet basically means lower sugar, slower-burning carbs, and not too much-processed foods. Since switching to this type of diet, I have been able to manage my low blood sugar and eliminate the crashes. Often I would experience “dumping” when I was running and they made me incapable of running home, I sometimes had to call my husband to pick me up or sit on a curb for 20 minutes while it passed and then walk back. I soon learned to carry a sugary gel with me as the sugar would lift me just enough sometimes to get home. If you think you may be Hypoglycemic, talk to your doctor about it, as changing my food changed my life.

 Here’s more information on Hypoglycemia. https://universityhealthnews.com/daily/diabetes/fatigue-and-other-low-blood-sugar-symptoms-may-be-prediabetes-warning/

Being Hypoglycemic means that breakfast is an essential meal for me as it re-sets my blood sugar and helps me to feel energized after a sleeping, which really is an overnight fast. I have a smoothie with some fruit in the morning as it helps kick start my blood sugar. 

1) Breakfast Smoothie

My first breakfast is generally a smoothie, this is my go to smoothie recipe, you can change the fruit or the flavour of the protein powder.

  • I scoop organic vanilla protein powder (message me if you need some high quality protein powder).
  • Half a frozen banana
  • A cup of frozen cherries
  • Any sugar free nut milk (maybe a cup to a cup and a half)
  • A teaspoon of matcha powder
  • Half a cup frozen kale (don’t buy frozen kale, click here for my frozen kale video). If using fresh kale blend the kale and nut milk first and then add the other ingredients and blend again.

Blend until smooth, you can add more milk if the shake is too creamy or less if it’s watery. I like the shake to be creamy and cold like a “milkshake”.

2) Easy Oatmeal

For my second breakfast I usually have Oatmeal

  • I cup quick cooking oats (if using Steele cut oats, use the recipe on the side of the bag)
  • 1 cup water.

Bring the water to a boil add the oats, cover, turn off the burner and set to the side while the oats soak up the water, this should take 5 minutes.

Top the oatmeal with berries, hemp seeds, coconut sugar or maple syrup (if you want some sweetness) or even some walnuts. Literally 90% of the time I top my oatmeal with frozen blueberries. Frozen blueberries and frozen cherries are my go to fruits. I eat them almost every day.

I take my oatmeal with me to work J , in a little plastic container or mason jar.

3) Toast and Peanut Butter

Another favourite breakfast of mine is a toasted Ezekiel English Muffin with natural peanut butter and half a banana. Freeze the other half of your banana for smoothies.

  • Defrost and toast an Ezekiel English Muffin
  • Spread one tbsp natural peanut butter on both sides (don’t go overkill on the peanut butter if you are trying to lose weight).
  • Sprinkle with hemp seeds
  • Slice ½ a banana and place banana slices on both halves.

Both hemp seeds and the Ezekiel English Muffin are complete proteins in that they have all 9 essential amino acids.

4) Breakfast Burrito

https://www.emilieeatso.com/freezer-vegan-breakfast-burrito/

Over Christmas I had lots of down time so I made and prepared these breakfast burritos and they are yummy, I have 6 of them frozen for use this winter on busy mornings. I skipped adding the kale / spinach as I find they get a bit slimy after being frozen. Use organic extra firm tofu.

5) Avocado Toast

  • Toasted Ezekiel Bread/English Muffin (or other high quality bread)
  • Half a ripe avocado mashed
  • One tablespoon nutritional yeast

Toast the Ezekiel bread and spread with the mashed avocado, only use half an avocado if weight loss is your goal. Sprinkle the nutritional yeast over the avocado toast. Both the Ezekiel bread and the nutritional yeast are complete proteins. I first got this idea from Lil Organic Kitchen in Whitby, I dropped in there one morning after teaching a spinning class at the YMCA .  I was super hungry, had rushed out without breakfast. Copper Branch in Brooklin also serves Avocado Toast that is fantastic. I portion it into two breakfasts. I love the bread they use for their Avocado Toast.

To find a Copper Branch location near you click here https://eatcopperbranch.com/locations/

Tips to make your Christmas Dinner “vegan” friendly.



If you have those “pain in the butt,” Vegetarians and worse yet, Vegans (LOL),  in the family, here are a few simple ways to easily make your meal “vegan” friendly. Just to be clear, Vegans don’t eat; meat, fish, seafood, fowl, dairy, eggs and honey, whew!! What do we eat you are thinking? Vegetarians eat dairy, eggs, and honey.

First off, don’t worry about protein, it’s a meat-eating way of thinking, there’s protein in everything, and it doesn’t have to come from one source. As well, missing a strong protein source at one meal is not going to cause any harm. You may buy a fake Turkey if you wish, I personally don’t like the taste of them, and they tend to be full of stuff I’m unsure of, but decide for yourself. The Super Centre carries the Tofurky brand of “fake turkeys.” 

If you are buying commercial veggie trays, they generally come with a dairy-based dip, so grab some hummus or other dairy-free dips to go with it. I buy my hummus, although it is crazy easy to make. Right now, I am loving the organic beet hummus from Farmboy.

My favourite crackers are sold at Costco; they are the RV Garcia brand. These crackers are vegan, non-GMO, Gluten-free, etc… and taste amazing. The Lentil / Turmeric ones and the Sweet Beet crackers are both tasty, although I like the lentil/turmeric ones the best. They are on a shelf right beside the brand of crackers called Mary’s, which offer the same health benefits, but taste… um, not so great.

Being gluten-free and vegan are two different things, I’ve had relatives go to considerable expense to serve me gluten-free bread and buns. I eat gluten. It’s the protein in wheat, so, therefore, plant-based. If you have people who are avoiding gluten, due to Celiac disease. Try Cup of Tea Bakery, in Whitby, they make gluten-free bread and desserts.

Just before you add butter and cream to your potato’s take a few out. You can serve the unbuttered potatoes with a vegan margarine or butter substitute such as Earth Balance. If you pre-butter, all your veggies just place some on the side for your vegan family members. Vegetarians eat butter, which makes life easier for the cook.

Serving a cheese and cracker board? Hands down, I love the cashew cheese brand called Nuts for Cheese. It’s made locally and delicious. Last year I served two of their flavors to family and had to tell them it wasn’t cheese. They preferred it to the regular cheeses I was serving. Locally, Farmboy carries this brand.

I”m a whole food plant-based Vegan, which basically means I avoid processed vegans foods. I don’t mind eating processed foods once in a while if it makes it easy for friends and family. I noticed the Super Centre now carries some plant-based “cheese” cakes and cookie dough. I haven’t’ tried them yet, but may at Christmas. You can “veganise” regular cookie recipes, but if this is going to stress you out, try some of the commercial brands. Christmas is stressful enough. As well Copper Branch in Brooklin carries a Raw, Vegan, Christmas log, that I’ve heard it is really really good. I have one in my freezer for Christmas day.

Want to go all out and make some really cool things, here are two Blogs I love that offer a wide variety of recipes, Oh She Glows and The Minimalist Baker. 

Ask your Vegan friend or family member to bring a main dish, I love doing this. It’s my chance to contribute and to showcase how great tasting plant-based foods can be.
Have fun, and try to remember that it’s our differences that make life interesting. I don’t think I’m better than anyone else because I don’t eat meat. It’s a lifestyle choice. People often challenge my decision ( especially after they’ve had a few drinks), and I just shrug and say “to each his own,” I, for one, avoid all confrontations around this topic. However, if you are really interested and asking for the right intentions, I’m happy to share my “why” around giving up animal products.

After all, we are all on this journey called a human experience, so lets be compassionate and opened minded.
Have a Merry Christmas and if you need menu suggestions feel free to email me. sheree@livewithspirit.ca
calle

Serve this Yummy Salad !

All hail the king !!

Spicy Peanut Ginger Kale Salad

I found this great tasting recipes through a google search one day when I had tons of kale and was looking for something new. Check out this link and the blog at https://healthyhappylife.com/spicy-peanut-ginger-kale-salad/ This salad is delicious and Kale is the king of greens. So enjoy it.

If you are visiting this page from the Brooklin Town Crier, welcome. I hope to post local specials and places of interest, so check back periodically or sign up for notifications.

2 large bunches of kale (or 3 small)
1 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup peanuts – fold in
1 Tbsp pickled ginger, chopped

Spicy Ginger Peanut Sauce:
2 Tbsp creamy salted peanut butter
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp tahini
1 tsp sesame oil
1 Tbsp pickled ginger, chopped
1 tsp fresh ginger, peeled/chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2-3 tsp tamari

2 Tbsp rice vinegar (yuzu flavored or add 1 tsp lemon juice)
2 tsp agave syrup ( I use maple syrup)
5 dashes cayenne
fine black pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Place a large soup pot over med-high heat on your stove top. Add all the sauce ingredients and stir briskly until they melt and blend together. Reduce heat to medium and simmer/stir for about two minutes. Turn heat to low.

2. Pull the leaves in bits from the thick stalks of your kale. Wash if needed. Add the kale leaves (toss thick stems) – add kale to the pot until filled to the brim. Fold the kale into the hot sauce. Fold well. The hot sauce will wilt the kale.

3. Turn off heat and add the remaining amount of kale. Also add in the pickled ginger, peanuts and red onion. Fold the kale salad well for about a minute – until all the kale has wilted and the leaves and onion mixed with the sauce.

4. Serve warm or place in fridge – covered – to chill and serve cold. Will keep well for up to a few days.

Notes: Add more cayenne and raw ginger for a spicier salad. If you want a thicker dressed salad – double the sauce recipe and fold as much as you’d like into the kale. You may also want to double the sauce recipe if using more kale and making a larger batch of salad. Really an awesome make-ahead dish!

Also: If using organic kale you may not need to wash, but rather simply lightly rinse. Your call. Washed kale should be dried well before adding to pot – otherwise ‘wet’ kale will water down your sauce significantly. (If using wet kale, you can reduce the water in the sauce recipe a bit)

A huge thank you to all the recipe creators who tirelessly create and share recipes.

Avocado bliss :)

A favorite fruit of mine is the avocado. It’s not sweet like other fruits but in many ways could be considered a super food, because of its many health benefits.  It’s higher in protein than most fruits and is lower in sugar and carbs having only about 2 net carbs in a small avocado. It’s linked to heart health as the avocado is full of heart-healthy monounsaturated fatty acids; it’s also high in fiber. 

 In the old days of low-fat diets, they were a big no-no due to their higher fat content, but newer research has demonstrated that there are healthy fats. According to an article in Harvard Health Publishing, good fats from avocado’s, seeds, and nuts are a major source of energy and helps you to absorb some vitamins and minerals. Fat is needed to build cell membranes, the vital exterior of each cell, and the sheaths surrounding nerves. It is also essential for blood clotting, muscle movement, and inflammation.

The most common usage for avocados is in guacamole but I also use them in sandwiches, in place of mayo on a vegetable burger and in smoothies.

Last year I was sitting in this trendy little restaurant in Tofino BC and one of the toppings I could order for my veggie bowl was grilled avocado, and it was delicious, I had never considered grilling them.

The day after I returned from my holiday, I looked up “grilled avocado” recipes on Google and found the one below. You can use the grilled avocados in guacamole, on toast, tossed in a salad or on a grilled vegetable platter. Grilling enhances their flavour and leaves attractive grill marks on the sections.

A ripe avocado is not too hard or not too soft. If you are buying them in bulk store some in the refrigerator to slow down the ripening process. They tend to go from ripe to overripe super fast.  If you need them to ripen quickly store them with your bananas as bananas release a gaseous plant hormone known as ethylene, which ripens other fruit.

Be careful when removing the seed, if they are ripe enough to eat the seed will scoop out with a spoon, no need to use a sharp

knife.

For the grilled avocados:

1.    Heat up your BBQ or grill-pan to medium-high heat and spray with non-stick spray.

2.    Cut avocados in half and remove pits.

3.    Brush inside half of each avocado lightly with olive oil.

4.    Place face down on BBQ or grill-pan for about 5 minutes (BBQ temps vary). Press down occasionally to ensure grill marks are created and heat penetrates.

5.    Using tongs remove from grill and set aside until ready to eat.

https://www.thehealthymaven.com/2015/07/how-to-grill-avocados.html

Sheree’s Hack; never waste overripe avocados again. Peel, de-seed and press your overripe avocados into ice cube trays. Once frozen transfer them to a plastic freezer bag or dish. Add the avocado cubes to smoothies and protein shakes for a creamy texture.

Keen-Wah (Quinoa)

Cooked Quinoa

Quinoa pronounced Keen-Wah, is a versatile seed that is used as a grain. It can be used to replace rice, oatmeal, couscous, and more. It’s gluten-free, and also is a complete protein, in that it has all the essential amino acids that our body can’t make. This super versatile food like most grain type foods picks up the flavour of the broth or seasoning’s it’s cooked in, on its own kind of bland. With twice the protein content of rice or barley, quinoa is also an excellent source of calcium, magnesium, and manganese, it even decent levels of several B vitamins, vitamin E and its high in dietary fibre. It’s one of the least allergenic of all the “grains,” making it a great wheat-free choice.

“Never eat ingredients you can’t pronounce. Expect Quinoa. Eat Quinoa!”

Unknown source

Quinoa has an interesting history in that the Inca Emperor would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using gold instruments; the United Nations has declared it a super food and NASA has fed it to crews on space travel.

I’ve used it in salads, chili, and as a breakfast cereal. I’ve had some pretty good success cooking with it. If you are interested in trying it out before buying it, the Farmboy kitchen has a good quinoa chili, and also some great quinoa salads. I’ve had the quinoa breakfast bowl at Copper Branch a chain of plant powered restaurants and loved it. Don’t be afraid to buy Quinoa in bulk it has many uses and keep indefinitely.

I found this recipe while googling quinoa chili recipes and it’s an easy great tasting dish that freezes well.

SWEET POTATO & QUINOA CHILLI Ingredients (serves 6) • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed • 1 can (15 oz) kidney beans, drained and rinsed • 1 can (15 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes or 1 1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste • 1 large sweet potato, diced (with or without the skin…I leave the skin on) • 1 cup dry quinoa • 1 onion, diced • 5 – 6 garlic cloves, minced • 1 tablespoon olive oil • 1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder • 1 tablespoon cumin • 1 teaspoon dried oregano • A few dashes of garlic powder • A few dashes of onion powder • salt to taste • 4 cups (32 oz) water or vegetable broth, + more as needed Garnish with avocado, cilantro, lime (optional)

In large pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions, cook until soft and they start to turn brown (about 7 – 10 minutes). Add garlic, cook for another minute or so. Add the tomato paste, chili powder, cumin, oregano, garlic powder and onion powder, cook for 2 more minutes stirring constantly. Add tomatoes, liquids, beans and sweet potato, stir until combined. Add quinoa, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover slightly ajar and cook for 30 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Chili is ready when sweet potatoes are tender. Add additional water if chili is too thick for your liking. Notes: As with all recipes, adjust seasoning to taste. Recipe from http://www.onegreenplanet.org

The Power of Greens

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Someone recently asked me how long it had been since I’d eaten meat or dairy. When I replied almost 9 years, they jokingly said, “And you are still alive?” Its funny how many misconceptions there are around plant-based eating. Since becoming plant-based, I have better energy than I ever remember having. In my world, of plant-based food, many top athletes are switching to a plant-based diet to aid in their recovery and provide better fuel for their races and competitions, yet people still equate meat with strength.

On average, I run two to three times a week and work out with kettlebells at least once more; I do indoor cycling once a week and try to do a yoga class a few times a week or at least do yoga at home. I work in the fitness industry, so this may seem excessive to some people. But my point is that if eating plant-based is bad for me, I wouldn’t be able to maintain such a pace.

Whole foods are the key to energy and health as they contain micronutrients, which are substances such as vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy growth and development. Micronutrients are required in small quantities, but a deficiency can be the cause of severe problems as every bodily system needs them to function optimally. Fruits, vegetables and leafy greens are dense in micronutrients per calorie, with extremely high levels of them. They are also low calorie and high in fiber. That’s why I’m such a fan of leafy greens like kale, spinach, and romaine. They supply me with so much of what my body needs – and I have incredible energy. There must have been a reason Popeye the Sailor Man ate a can of spinach before a heroic feat. You can eat your leafy greens raw or cooked or blend them in a healthy smoothie, but try hard to get them.

A green smoothie is an easy way to drink your greens, and the basic green smoothie recipe is;

  • Two cups greens such as kale, spinach or romaine.
  • Two cups liquid such as water, unsweetened nut, or coconut milk.
  • 3 cups fruit such as pineapple, mango or berries. (Use frozen fruit to chill the smoothie or a frozen banana to make it creamy).

Instructions;

Blend the greens in the liquid until they are broken down then add the fruit and blend until smooth. Use milder tasting greens if you are new to green smoothies. If you need to sweeten it, try maple syrup rather than processed sugar. You can boost your smoothie with chia or hemp seeds, which are complete proteins, or some hemp or pea protein powder. The flavour combinations are endless.

It’s essential to follow the above mixture as too many greens will make a bitter smoothie. If you don’t blend the greens alone, you could be picking green bits out of your teeth. Try freezing your greens so they blend quicker and dissolve in your smoothie. Green smoothies are a fantastic way to boost your energy in the morning so that you are not snoozing at your desk later in the day.

Sheree’s hack: Freeze any fruit or greens that are a little too ripe or not being eaten fast enough for smoothies. My freezer is full of small freezer bags of fruit and greens.

Is eating a plant based diet expensive ?

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In the past few weeks quite a few people have mentioned to me that plant-based eating is too expensive, and I think that statement is the one of the myths around plant based eating, and there are, a lot of misconceptions. . Absolutely, eating healthy is more expensive than eating highly processes packaged foods like soup and rice mixes. If you compare the price of a can of soup to one of Farm Boy’s great store made soups, the better quality food comes in far more expensive. But you get what you pay for.  Canned condensed soups are laden with salt and monosodium glutamate and are basically poor quality over processed food.

Eating plant-based costs less if you stay away from processed “mock” meats and cheeses and expensive pre-made frozen vegan meals. These processed vegan foods will have your grocery bill soaring in no time.

To keep your costs down buy items such as brown rice and quinoa in bulk, I buy mine at Costco for a much better price than local stores. Organic vegetable co-ops are great if you like to buy organic. Dried legumes can cut down the price of canned ones, just cook up a large batch and freeze them in smaller batches for chili, soups and hummus.

Eat home cooked foods as often as possible, buy in bulk and enjoy seasonal fruits and veggies. Freeze whatever you can for soups, smoothies and vegetable broth’s. Not only will you save money but you will have a better connection to your food. The whole farm to table movement is about knowing the source of your food and being grateful for it.

My favorite thing to freeze is overripe banana’s they make a great ice cream like dessert and also when added to a smoothie or protein shake make it thick and creamy.

Here’s an amazing smoothie recipe that has hemp seeds in it, they are a great source of perfect protein and contain a 3:1 balance of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.

I like to make these types of smoothies for breakfast or a post work out snack, and it’s significantly less expensive than buying protein powders or heading into the local smoothie shop after a workout. I make them the night before and store them in mason jars for a fast breakfast or snack.

I lot of people tell me they like to chew their food so avoid making smoothies, I get that ! Smoothies can also be high in sugar and calories, however they do serve a role in your week. They are fast and easy for those days you are rushed, I also load mine up with nutrients, like greens, and a few supplements I take. I don’t recommend replacing a ton your meals with smoothies, as eating can become a mindful activity in your life and help you connect with the source of your food. While smoothies tend to be a “fast food” alternative.

 

Hemp Seed Smoothie

1 frozen Banana

1 chopped orange

3 tbsp hemp seeds

5 raw (unsalted) cashews (check out my hack below).

¾ cup water (or skip the 5 raw cashews and replace the water with ¾ unsweetened nut milk)

Pinch of cinnamon

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Place all the ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until creamy.

Sheree’s Hack; Soak your nuts for a less grainy texture in your smoothie. Soak and then freeze and use when needed.