Brilliant! (And Humble Too….)

Happy Spring! Thankfully the snow is finally melting here in Southern Ontario and we are enjoying temperatures above freezing for the first time in months.

spring 1

I am going to spend some time over the next little while really focusing on my cooking workshops and on a few writing projects that I have lined up but I also want to keep my blog “springing” forward (sorry…couldn’t resist the pun). So instead of hastily throwing together new posts, I thought I’d dig through my archives and re-blog a few oldies but goodies.

As I was going through my blog history it suddenly occurred to me that I’ve really got some freakin’ good content in there! My writing brilliance is truly one of my best qualities…right next to my modesty ; ) So please bear with me as I re-post some of my favourite recipes and ruminations over the next few weeks.

This is also a great opportunity for any of you aspiring writers to step up with a guest blog – I’m always happy to feature interesting new content. And if you live nearby and want to stay in touch – why don’t you come to my kitchen for an upcoming workshop? I’m throwing an All-Natural Kitchen Spa Party on April 12th and a Liquid Nutrition Workshop on May 31st. You can contact me directly at loriandmark@cogeco.ca for more information.

In the meantime, I hope you enjoy the throw-back posts as much as I do. It was fun to sift through and pick out a few of my personal favourites. Ok… so they might not be totally brilliant but I’m hoping some of them will at least put a little spring in your step ; )

spring 2

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Ways to Get Your Kids To Eat More Healthy Foods

I grew up eating a lot of junk food. I mean A LOT. There were a couple of convenience stores close to our house and my sister and I spent a considerable amount of time walking or biking to these treasure troves of candy for our beloved treats- potato chips, jujubes, chocolate bars, chewy big feet, ring pops, garbage pail candies, ice cream bars, hamburger shaped gum, freezies and much, much more. In fact, aside from Archie comic books and stickers, most of our money went directly to candy.

candy 1

And I mean – we are still alive and thriving. We lived to tell the tale. And I’m happy to report that we have both adopted much healthier eating habits. But I will tell you this from my perspective: making that transition was and continues to be really freakin’ hard. Honestly, it’s something that I struggle with almost every single day (if you want to test that theory just put a bag of Doritos in front of me and see how long it takes for them to disappear ; )

So what’s wrong with treating our children with junk food? As parents, we love our kids and we want them to be happy and nothing makes them happier than a gooey caramel chocolate bar right? Well, here’s the rub – the occasional treat might be okay but routinely plying our kids with goodies actually makes it much more difficult to convince them to taste and enjoy healthier foods.

When young children routinely indulge on sugar-laden foods,their taste buds become conditioned to crave sugar, creating unhealthy habits that follow them into adulthood.

Dr. David Sack

It has taken a considerable amount of effort and will-power on my part to reprogram my taste buds to embrace healthy whole foods. And because it has been such an uphill battle for me, I am passionate about instilling healthier eating habits into my own children. Yes they certainly enjoy their treats but I want to make sure that they eat a diet rich in fruits, veggies, beans, whole grains and nuts. And it’s not simply to establish healthier eating habits but also to safeguard them from the fallout of excessive junk food consumption including; obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and tooth decay. Not to mention the research that suggests sugar may be as addictive as cocaine and other drugs.

Instead of getting overwhelmed or trying to overhaul your whole diet, I recommend making a few simple changes to encourage children to eat more nutritious foods. Here are 6 suggestions:

1. One Chug or One Bite – in our house we have a “one chug” or “one bite” policy on all new foods and drinks. It can take quite a few tries for children’s’ taste buds to adapt to a new veggie, smoothie or tofu stir fry so as long as everyone at least samples something new I don’t force the issue.

2. Be a Supermodel – Do you make negative comments about your own body or eating habits? Are you open and willing to try new foods? Our children are like little sponges and they are much more likely to pay attention to our actions than our words. Instead of lecturing kids about their eating habits, model healthy eating yourself by limiting sugary desserts and processed foods in favour of more nutrient dense choices.

3. Get Cooking – my children are much more likely to try something if they’ve had a hand in preparing it. I encourage them to pick their favourite recipes from my collection of cookbooks and I get them in the kitchen to help with chopping, stirring, blending and simmering.

4. Healthify Your Favs– there are tons of great blogs and websites featuring healthier versions of classic kid-friendly dishes. Think about some of your kids favourites and do a search for equally delicious but more nutritious recipes. Here are a few goodies for Mac and Cheese, Nachos, French Fries, Veggie Burgers and Lasagna.

5. Make It Fun – depending on the age of your children, new foods can become much more appealing if they are cut into fun shapes or given interesting names (“Green Monster Smoothie” or “Power Athlete Chocolate Almond Milk”). I’ve also had good luck with these funky straws and food games like “vote for your favourite colour of grape” or “blindfolded taste tests”.

6. Eat Together – Although our busy schedules do not allow for us to eat together as a family every night of the week, we do try to sit down together for dinner as much as possible. This gives me an opportunity to try out new dishes and to model healthier eating habits for my kiddos. And I try to refrain from making separate “child-friendly” meals because studies have also shown that children who eat the same foods as their parents actually have much healthier diets.

Most importantly of all – don’t get stressed out! There is enough stress in our lives that we don’t need the added burden of monitoring every bite that goes into our children’s mouths. Stock up your fridge and pantry with lots of healthy choices, offer up a variety of nutritious foods at meal times and do your best to embrace healthy eating habits for your children to model.

I keep reminding myself that if I do my best to encourage nutritious foods then perhaps my own children won’t suffer from the same internal strife every time they pass by the chocolate bar display at the drug store or walk through the chip aisle at the grocery store. It’s an uphill battle but I’m winning goddamit! (Curse you all-dressed chips!)

Check Me Out On Tuja Wellness!

The good folks at the online health publication Tuja Wellness ran a Nutrition Rockstar contest back in the summer and I was the lucky winner!  Thanks to the generosity of Meghan Telpner and the Tuja peeps- I have been happily soaking in an abundance of knowledge from the Academy of Culinary Nutrition via their Culinary Nutrition Expert Program.

Another wonderful bonus to winning the contest is that I get the opportunity to write a column for Tuja. How freakin lucky am I?! If you haven’t heard of Tuja then make a beeline for their site and sign up already! It’s an amazing online resource for anyone interested in enjoying a healthy, balanced and happy life.

And of course they only use the most brilliant writers ; ) My first contribution for Tuja went up on their site on Saturday so hop on over and check out my 6 Worry-Free Tricks To Keep Your Family Healthy Through The Holidays”.

I hope you enjoy a wonderful and healthy holiday season! And thank you Tuja Wellness for this early Christmas present.

Over Halfway through! My Top 5 “A-Ha’s” From the CNE Course So Far

Hey there – Nutrition Rockstar here! As we head into mid-November,  I’m now over halfway through the Meghan Telpner Culinary Nutrition Expert Program. My brain is literally spilling over with information and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to participate in this powerful and positive life-changing endeavour.

This program has offered me everything I had hoped for and more. Within each comprehensive module, I’m learning about the power of food, how to prepare healthful and delicious meals, the science of healthy eating, how to avoid the pitfalls of healthwashing and “bad”vertising, how to extract medicine from food, how to live a healthy, balanced life and how to have fun and enjoy the process. And the best part is that I’m able to do the entire course from the comfort of my own home! I get the kids off to school, whip up a Dandy Latte, fire up my computer and settle in to learn from Meghan and her amazing team of experts.

Before I share my top 5 list from the first half of the course, I want to let you know that Meghan will be running this program again next fall and she has just opened up a limited time registration with the option of a 10-month payment plan. Trust me -if you are at all interested in learning more about nutrition or perhaps becoming a Culinary Nutrution Expert yourself – this is a gift that you simply must give to yourself. Just click on the CNE banner above or below to find out all about the program. And you can always contact me directly if you’d like more information about my experience (or if you’d like me to whip you up a superfood concoction with my newly acquired culinary skills ; )

And now onto my list! It was really freakin’ hard to narrow it down to just 5 things because my notebooks are literally filled to the brim with life-changing information, research and recipes. But after careful consideration, here are my Top 5 “A-Ha” Lessons from the first half of the CNE Course:

1. Preparation is Key – life is busy, busy, busy and it’s often easier to just hit up a drive-thru or order a pizza than to think about making dinner. But if you can spare an hour or 2 a week to plan out your meals and prep your ingredients – you’ll save time and money and your entire family will reap the myriad benefits of eating healthy, nutrient dense food.

2. Stop Counting Calories! – Ok seriously – this is one trend that I could never fully get behind. There’s just something about counting calories (and counting steps for that matter) that really seems like a surefire way to suck all of the joy and fun out of life. I’ve learned from Meghan that all calories are not created equally (thus the epidemic of people who are overfed and undernourished) and that it’s much more important to focus on nutrient load by eating whole, fresh, unprocessed foods than to worry about each and every bite.

3. Organics All the WayMeghan’s equally brilliant husband Josh Gitalis led us through a comprehensive module on “The Fundamentals of Nutrition“. I literally took notes until my fingers ached as he taught about the importance of healthy soil, fresh water, organic plants and the key macro and micro nutrients in our diet. One of the biggest “ahas” from this section of the course for me was learning about the difference between organic and inorganic farming. Did you know that the following things are prohibited from organic farming (but are often used on conventional farms): GMO’s, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, fertilizer, sewage sludge, drugs and radiation. Yeesh! Whenever possible – try to support farmers who are committed to organic farming principles so that you can enjoy the most potent nutrient rich food.

4. Don’t Fear the Fat – I was a teenager when the whole “low-fat” craze really took hold. I remember happily chowing down bags of candy and thinking I was following a perfectly healthy low-fat diet. Doh! There are tons of misconceptions about fats and sadly as a result of misleading advertising and healthwashing, many of us have become fat-phobic. But the truth is that our bodies need healthy fats for energy and optimal health (did you know our brains are 60% fat?) So don’t be afraid to incorporate healthy fats into your diet – nuts, avocados and raw, cold-pressed oils are a great place to start.

5. It’s Not Just About The Food– although the food we put in our bodies is a key to enjoying optimal health, there are also other factors that contribute to overall wellbeing. Meghan recently wrote a blog post about “Vitamin G” – the gratitude vitamin! Taking the time to feel grateful for the blessings in your life can have a major impact on your health and happiness. Also things like reducing stress (why not give meditation a try?), getting out into nature, finding a form of exercise you love, cultivating supportive and nurturing friendships and finding ways to be creative and have fun will all contribute to a joy-filled life.

Culinary Nutrition Expert ProgramI could literally go on and on about the lessons I’ve learned from the CNE course so far. Things like; why we should eat more plants, the importance of regulating blood sugar, how to use food as medicine and the straight poop on foods like dairy/meat/gluten/and white sugar. And I promise I’ll share more tidbits of wisdom in an upcoming post. But for now, I’ve got to get back to my studies! It’s not easy being a rockstar…but it sure is a lot of fun ; )

An Imperfect Rockstar

A few weeks back, I wrote a post about an amazing contest that was being run by Tuja Wellness with the prize of a scholarship to Meghan Telpner’s School of Culinary Nutrition. They were looking for a “Nutrition Rockstar” – and I am thrilled and humbled to announce that I am the very lucky winner. I am beyond excited to dive headfirst into the learning that is jam-packed into this incredible course.

Actually, “Rockstar” is quite a fitting moniker for a gal like me given that I already like to think of myself as a young, fun-loving, cool, plant-eating vegetarian hipster. Something of a “green smoothie goddess” if you will. A veritable whiz kid in the kitchen – my family gobbling up my kale and quinoa-laden dishes just like they were candy.

Ok yes – the reality might not be quite so rosy. Actually, I’m just a 40-something mom- neither as young or cool as I used to pretend to be who’s mostly just trying to keep my family healthy and well-fed. And by “healthy” I mean getting them to ingest their green smoothies without gagging or complaining bitterly. And by “fed” I mean with as much humour, taste and nutrient-rich plant foods that I can reasonably achieve and afford.

Funnily enough, our first assignment in this course is to craft our very own food philosophy. Something along the lines of the brilliant Michael Pollan who wrote:

“Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

In Defense of Food

So I started wondering about  my own personal credo and I’m thinking that maybe something simple like my lofty goal of keeping myself and my family healthy and well-fed might be a good place to start.:

“Feeding a family of meat-free, animal-loving, plant-munching, green-drink guzzling hipsters.”

Lori Wilson

That sounds pretty darn  good! I’ll start with my own clan and then branch out and hopefully my honest approach to cooking and eating will inspire a few others along the way. My goal is that in addition to my own growth and learning, I will also share the ups and downs of this educational journey with all of you.

Yep – I’m going to pick up that “Rockstar” title and run with it goddamit! Thank you to Tuja Wellness and Meghan Telpner for taking a chance on me – a decidedly imperfect rockstar. I am dancing around my kitchen, belting out a tune and strumming my wooden spoon air guitar as I get set to cook up some culinary magic. Let the fun and learning begin!

 

 

How You Can Be 10% Happier

“What a bunch of hippy dippy baloney!”

– Lord Business (Will Ferrell) from The Lego Movie

I have always been attracted to the self-help movement. I have gone to countless lectures and read tons of books promising to help me love myself, stop worrying, solve all of my physical and mental woes, find the career of my dreams, become an amazing parent and on and on and on. Although I’ve learned lots of valuable information….to be perfectly honest – sometimes I really struggle to wrap my head around the concepts. And often there is an underlying feeling that tugs at the back of my mind – could all of this just be a bunch of crap wrapped up in fancy language?

Case in point – I’ll never forget the frenzy surrounding Gary Zukav’s  book The Seat of the Soul” after his appearance on Oprah back in the 90’s. I pretty much ran to the bookstore to buy his book and after slogging through the first chapter I grimly realized that I wasn’t going to understand a single word. No matter how many times I tried to persevere – it simply didn’t make any sense to me. Same damn thing with Eckhart Tolle – and I even took Oprah’s online course to help me out. Nothing. All I felt was very jealous of the people around me who seemed transfixed and transformed by “A New Earth“.

More recently, based on glowing recommendations from good friends, I signed up for newsletters from a few new-age self-help gurus. And you know what? Over half of the stuff I receive makes me scratch my head in confusion. Gems of wisdom like: “Only the mind decides on what it would receive and give.” “You can’t fear your way into Love, only with trust does Love blossom” and “Enjoy the in between what was and what will be.” Say what?!

But I am excited to share that I have stumbled upon quite possibly the best “self-help” book I’ve ever read. It was a stroke of good luck that I just happened to watch a video of ABC news reporter Dan Harris talking about how his on air panic attack set in motion a series of events that led him to discovering a way to become “10% Happier”. I was immediately drawn to Dan’s down to earth manner, his irreverent and hilarious skepticism and his brutal honesty about his own journey. I could relate to his struggles understanding “spirituality” and “self-help” and I liked his humorous approach to a subject matter that often takes itself far too seriously.

Click link below to watch the video: (email subscribers you may need to go to my site at http://www.lorileighwilson.com to view)

http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-14350/why-i-embraced-meditation-after-having-a-panic-attack-on-live-tv-dan-harris.html

So just like my dash to the store for “Seat of the Soul“, after watching Dan’s video I made a beeline for Chapters to pick up his new book 10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story”    

dan harris

Honestly – I read the entire book in 2 days! And I can say as a person who has flown through more self-help tomes than you could shake a stick at – this is definitely worth the read. It’s like having a conversation with an intelligent and witty friend as Dan shares the story of his stressful and competitive career, his ensuing drug use and his struggles with depression and anxiety. He then goes on to interview and report on the top guns in the “spirituality” industry and starts untangling their confusing and often conflicting theories. I won’t give too much away but I will share that as a result of his research, he proposes a very easy and actionable plan that has been scientifically proven to make us less stressed and happier. And it takes 5 minutes a day.

So if you are interested in becoming 10 % happier (not a bad return on investment right?) – then grab a copy of Dan’s book. I would rate it a 10 out of 10. And I promise – there’s no frilly language, hard to understand theories….or hippy dippy baloney in sight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ruby Red Smoothie

I make a smoothie pretty much every single morning. Greens, banana, pineapple, superfood add-ins, frozen berries- blend and repeat. And although I know the ingredients are colourful and healthy – more often than not the resulting drink has more of a greeny-brownish hue. Not the most visually appealing (in fact the other day my youngest told me that his smoothie looked like diarrhea…..sigh)

My friend Lisa always says that the experience of eating (or drinking) begins with your eyes. And if that’s the case then perhaps a cup of poop coloured smoothie isn’t how my family wants to start their day. Fair enough. So I started tinkering with my smoothies to make them more eye catching.

I recently enjoyed a weekend away with a good pal and she gave me an awesome suggestion for a wonderful bright red vegetable that I’ve been overlooking in my smoothie recipes. This particular veggie has been proven to lower blood pressure, alleviate depression, boost stamina, fight inflammation, detox the body and is rich in vitamins and minerals. What magical ingredient did I find that not only makes my smoothie look beautifully ruby-red but also ups the health factor? Beets! These gorgeous and often unappreciated gems of the vegetable kingdom add brilliant redness and a subtle sweetness to a smoothie that is not at all overpowering.

beets

So kick those brown drinks to the curb and add a burst of colour to your next smoothie! And if you want to get extra fancy – try slicing a strawberry to pop on the side of the glass. Voila – beautiful and nutritious.

Ruby Red Smoothie

beet smoothie

4-6 cups packed spinach
1 banana
1 small beet (or 1/2 a medium beet)
1 2-inch ring of pineapple
1 -2 cups frozen strawberries (or raspberries)
Superfood add-ins (optional)

Place all ingredients in a high-powered blender and whir for 1 minute. Drink up the goodness!

Oh and one thing to keep in mind if you decide to add beets – you need to brace yourself because they will actually turn your poop just as red as your smoothie (believe it or not – this is actually a pretty effective selling feature for kids ; )