A foolproof way to stop stressing and save money on food

Meal Plan

The Food Marketing Institute has recently reported that 71% of us are cooking at home more often these days. That means more people are sitting in their cars, their desks or at the kitchen table rummaging through their cupboards and fridge in their minds, trying to figure out what’s for dinner.

Naturally, home cooking has fewer calories and more nutritional value than restaurant meals but are you maximizing your savings or adding to your stress when you eat at home?

The average household wastes 14% of the food they buy due to poor planning and wastage. If you spend $100 a week on groceries, 14% is the equivalent of three homemade gourmet lunches.

By planning your meals you only shop for the items you need for the week, so you’re reducing wastage and worry. Any extra portions of meat can be frozen as can pre-made meals just make sure you label them with what it is and the date and frozen right after you make them so they avoid becoming funky experiments in the back of the fridge. There have been a few times that I have put meals in containers in the freezer and then when I’ve gone to pull them out a few weeks later I’ve completely forgotten what they are so it ends up being a surprise meal (hopefully a good surprise.)

When you plan meals, make sure to include enough foods from each food group, with special attention to fresh vegetables and fruits for every meal as well as snacks. Always keep an eye out for sales on grain products like rice, pasta and oats or other products like canned tomatoes, pasta sauce, beans and lentils so you can stock up and have them as staples for every meal.

Frozen fish, frozen vegetables and even frozen fruit are also good to keep on hand for quick entrees, side dishes and smoothies when you haven’t had a chance to buy fresh ingredients.  I use frozen vegetables a lot during the winter months and they tend to be my go to for quick additions to meals or at the end of the week when the fridge is looking a little empty.

Meat is definitely the most costly mealtime staple but re-thinking how you use it can be better for your wallet and your waistline. With books like In Defence of Food by Micheal Pollan, it’s becoming increasingly popular to think of meat as a side dish for vegetables as opposed to the meal’s main feature. Remember half your plate should be vegetables! Try having meatless meals once or twice a week and swap out the meat for lentils and beans instead.

Soups, casseroles and salads are all great ways to pepper in a little meat instead of serving it in one big chunk. Pull out the slow cooker, this is a great way to use cheaper cuts of meat and is such a good feeling when you come home, dinner is practically done and the house smells like you’ve been in the kitchen all day.  If you are in need of some slow cooker recipes, click here to get your copy of my Slow Cooker Ebook ‘Welcome Home To Dinner, Nutritionist Approved Crockpot Recipes’ it’s only $3 for 26 awesome, real food recipes, I have included one of my personal favourites  at the end of this post for you to try – Chicken Tikka Masala.

The benefits of meal planning are numerous and getting started is surprisingly simple. All you need to do is jot down your meals before you go grocery shopping, know what you already have at home and write out your shopping list so you buy only what you need.  If this is an area you struggle in consider enlisting the help of professional menu planners (aka your friendly nutritionist – me 🙂 ) who can take the planning off your plate while teaching you the basics. Email me at melanieg@wowweightloss.ca to set up an appointment or call the Better Health Clinic at 519-415-2266.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Serves 4 to 6

 

1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 to 2 tablespoons garam masala
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream or coconut milk
Fresh cilantro, chopped
2 cups cooked rice, to serve

Cut the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and transfer them to a 3-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, 1 tablespoon of garam masala, paprika, and kosher salt until the chicken is evenly covered with spices. Stir in the diced tomatoes with their juices.

Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the heavy cream. If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave the slow cooker uncovered for the last 15 minutes. Taste and add more garam masala or salt to taste.

Serve over rice with fresh cilantro sprinkled over the top of each serving. The tikka masala can be refrigerated for 3 to 4 days or frozen for 3 to 4 months.

[1] http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-slow-cooker-chicken-tikka-masala-recipes-from-the-kitchn-211284

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Natural Remedies For Colds & Flu

Family Having Flu

There`s snow on the ground, Christmas is over so we are well and truly into cold and flu season. On average, adults can expect 2-3 colds per year and kids as many as 8-10. Those most likely to get sick are the people that have underdeveloped or compromised immune systems such as infants and seniors or the chronically ill but there are not many of us that can escape the winter season without getting at least one cold.

No matter how much we would like to, we can’t shield ourselves from every germ out there so if you or your family gets hit with a cold it’s important to know how to deal with it, naturally. If you do come down with a cold or the flu, your body’s natural defense system will kick in and it`s important that we allow our body to do what it`s supposed to but that doesn`t mean we can`t give it some extra support.

Here are 5 of my favourite natural cold and flu remedies that I turn to as soon as the sniffles begin:

  1. Raw honey & lemon drink.

Lemon has natural antibacterial properties, high levels of vitamin C and acts as a strong defense against germs. Raw honey has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties and provides you with enzymes, vitamins and minerals that are destroyed through the pasteurization process of most other honeys. If anyone in my house feels a sore throat coming on, we just take a spoonful right from the jar.

Boil some water, add the juice of half a lemon and when cooled a little add a teaspoon of raw honey, drink and enjoy.

  1. Warming Sock Treatment

My husband is one of my toughest clients and unfortunately for him, he is always the first to try out my new recipes or ideas. Warming socks is something I was made aware of while I was at CSNN (Canadian School of Natural Nutrition) a few years back. To be honest I didn’t think much of it but then one day, I came down with a cold and tried it and OMG, it was amazing. My husband then tried it and he has told so many of his buddies about it and it’s the first thing he does now if he starts to get a cold.

The aim of the warming sock treatment is that it will help improve circulation and lymphatic drainage by encouraging blood flow to your feet and extremities. It can be used to clear congestion in the upper respiratory tract or lungs. I use it for colds, flu, sinus headaches and will use it every night until the symptoms have gone.

You soak a pair of cotton socks in very cold water. Wring out the socks so they are not dripping and put them on your feet. Cover the cold, wet socks completely with a large pair of wool or cotton socks. It’s important that no part of the wet sock is exposed to the air. Go to bed and sleep and when you wake in the morning, the socks will be dry.

When I tell people about this, they normally give me a weird look and say “but won’t my feet be wet and cold all night?” Yes, they may feel a little cold when you first put the socks on but after 5 minutes your body adjusts and you get used to it. It really does work, and is a great treatment to use on kids of any age.

  1. Omega Alpha Echinacea & Goldenseal

Echinacea & Goldenseal are both widely used herbal remedies that have been used traditionally for years. Echinacea has powerful immune stimulating properties and Goldenseal has antibiotic properties so they make a great combination to help treat that stubborn cold or flu especially when a secondary bacterial infection has set in.  It should be taken at the first sign of illness but for no longer than 2 weeks at a time as it will lose its effectiveness. My go to brand is Omega Alpha http://www.omegaalpha.ca/en/product/6/Echinacea_Goldenseal/ which I get in the Natural Value Section at Zehrs/Loblaws.

  1. Boiron Homeopathics

Echinacea and Goldenseal is not something I use with my kids, just the big people in the house. The products I turn to for my kids are Boiron homeopathics. They have Coryzalia which is for colds and can be used for kids aged 1 month to 6 years. If your child is suffering from nasal congestion, a runy nose or acute rhinitis then this is the one. Its super easy to use and is sugar, dye and preservative free.  They also have a cough liquid called Stodal that can be used for kids aged 1 – 11 years. I have been using their products since Ben was born and their teething product Camilla was a life saver for me!! http://www.boiron.ca/products/childrens/

  1. Honibe Lozenges

If you come down with a sore throat, don’t rush out and buy any old throat lozenge as you could be putting artificial colours, flavours, hydrogenated oils and even that nasty sweetner aspartame into your body. These are my favourite throat lozenges by a company called Honibe – http://honibe.com/honibe-honey-lozenges/. They are made from 100% pure honey and contain as few as 3 ingredients. They sell ones that also contain Echinacea, vitamin C, zinc and citrus and these are perfect to take at the first sign of a cold. You can get them in most pharmacies or natural health stores.

Bonus Tip

Chicken soup

Chicken soup is not just an old wives tale, research shows that it has an anti-inflammatory effect. Sipping on warm liquids like broths and herbal teas can help loosen mucous and clear up congestion. I always try to have some in the freezer just in case the need arises. Home-made chicken soup is SO much better than the store bought variety as less sodium, sugar and preservatives. This is my favourite recipe taken from The Family Cooks by Laurie David.

 

Chicken Noodle Soup (The Family Cooks – Laurie David)

Makes 8 servings

1 whole bone-in skin-on chicken breast (1 ½ – 2lbs), organic if you can

3 carrots, scrubbed and chopped (unpeeled if organic)

3 stalks celery, chopped

2 medium onions (or 4 leeks, white and light green parts), chopped

1 bay leaf (optional)

4 or 5 garlic cloves, finely minced (garlic is great in cold season)

8 cups chicken broth (organic if you can)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup of your favourite pasta (elbows, alphabets, stars)

3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs such as parsley, dill or chives

 

In large heavy-bottomed stockpot, combine all the ingredients except for the pasta and herbs. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cover. Reduce the heat to low and keep it at a gentle simmer.

Every now and then, skim the scum (gray foamy stuff) from the surface with a large flat spook or soup strainer.

After 30 minutes, take the chicken out with tongs. When cool enough to handle, discard the skin, and pull the meat off the bones and chop or tear into bite-size pieces.

Add the pasta to the pot and simmer until it is tender, 8-10 minutes. Return the chicken to the pot and add the herbs.

Taste to make sure it has enough seasonings. Serve and feel well

Did you know that everything wrong with our body starts in the gut?

Pregnant woman pregnancy concept heart on stomach. Hands forming

Did you know that everything wrong with our body starts in the gut?  It’s true.  The digestive system starts at the mouth and ends at the anus.  The in between parts are often taken for granted until…. the symptoms start to mount up.

It could go something like this:

  • Indigestion 2 to 3 hours after meals
  • Bloating discomfort after eating
  • Full, tired feeling, especially after eating meat
  • Excessive gas, belching, or burping after meals
  • Burning sensation in stomach, heartburn
  • Heavy, tired feeling after eating
  • Constipation
  • Stools poorly formed, pale, greasy, floating
  • Undigested food particles in stools
  • Ridges on fingernails, slow growing nails

Then it is commonly, misdiagnosed as too much stomach acid and you are prescribed an antacid.  The truth is, if you are experiencing these symptoms the cause is most likely LOW Stomach acid.

What does TOO MUCH stomach acid look like?

  • Stomach pain 5 or 6 hours after eating usually at night
  • Stomach pain relieved by eating or by drinking milk
  • Stomach pain aggravated by worry or tension

If we are not digesting our food properly, we then do not absorb the nutrients from our food.

  • Greasy foul-smelling stools
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Undigested food in stools
  • Mucus in stools
  • Foul-smelling intestinal gas

This is called mal-absorption.

After years of faulty digestion, the liver has to do some extra work to pick up the slack.  This takes away from the liver’s vital processes of clearing out toxins.

Symptoms start to mount up like those listed below:

  • Skin oily on nose and forehead
  • Dark circles or bags under eyes
  • Fats/greasy foods cause nausea, headaches
  • Stool appears yellow, clay coloured, foul odoured
  • Pale, greasy stools that float
  • Foul smelling bowel gas
  • Bad breath/bad taste in mouth, excess body odour
  • Pain on inside of right shoulder blade
  • Consistent gas and bloating from most foods and especially from onions, cabbage, radishes and cucumbers.

The lack of digestive enzymes in the gut will lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria.  We have billions of good and bad bacteria present in the body at any given time.  If our digestion is not working optimally, we are guaranteed to have an overgrowth of yeast and parasites that can lessen our quality of life.

Again, symptoms can look like this:

  • Indigestion, bloating after meals
  • Intestinal gas, especially after sugary foods
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Yeast infections, candida
  • Cold sores, canker sores

The following is a summary of guidelines that help to create the optimum conditions for digestion.  By following these steps, you will be allowing your own processes of digestion, absorption, elimination and intestinal immunity to work as efficiently as possible.

Timing

  • Eat only when genuinely hungry
  • Have the largest meal in the middle of the day
  • Spend at least 30 minutes eating each meal
  • Allow no more than 3.5 hours between main meals
  • Have 3 main meals and 2 snacks each day
  • Consume nothing after 9:00pm

 

Setting the Mood

  • Do not eat when angry, anxious, upset, bored or overtired
  • Eat with congenial company in pleasant conversation or eat alone in contemplative silence or with pleasant music
  • Avoid reading, watching TV or arguing while eating

 

Awareness

  • Eat slowly, chewing food thoroughly
  • Take time to enjoy the taste, texture, and aromas of the food
  • Swallow only when each mouthful has turned to paste
  • Eat only enough to feel good.  Never stuff yourself

 

Food Selection

  • Drink two litres of purified water daily
  • Be sure to consume 30-35 grams of fibre each day
  • Avoid processed foods, refined sugars and flours
  • Consume alcohol and caffeine sparingly, if at all
  • Suspect allergy/intolerance to any food to which one has addictive cravings or to any that produces excess mucus, or gastrointestinal stress of any kind.
  • Observe your body’s reactions to lactose, gluten and wheat
  • Do not drink liquids during meals, as they can dilute stomach acids.  Drink at the end of the meal only.

If you are still having problems after trying these suggestions, it is time to book an appointment with your friendly Holistic Nutritionist (that would be me 🙂 ) Email me at melanieg@wowweightloss.ca or call the Better Health Clinic at 519-415-2266 to set up an appointment. 

Chicken soup isn’t just good for the soul: there’s a reason that it’s great to have when you’re not feeling well. All bone broths – beef, chicken, fish, lamb and more are staples in the traditional diets of every culture.

Bone broth can help heal and seal your gut and promotes healthy digestion and it’s very easy to make at home. Try the recipe below.

Bone Broth

Bones from poultry, fish, beef, lamb, shellfish or whole chicken or whole carcass (remove meat when cooked – about 1 hour)

8-10 cups of water

1–2 Tbsp of lemon juice or vinegar

1–2 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

2 Carrots

1 onion

2 stalks celery

½ c. fresh Parsley chopped or 2 tbsp dried parsley

1-2 tsp sage

1-2 tsp rosemary

1-2 tsp thyme

2-3  bay leaves

2 Tbsp raw apple cider vinegar or 1 lemon

  • Put all ingredients into pot. Bring to boil.
  • Let simmer on low for several hours (4–24) or in crock pot on low.
  • Remove bones and skim off fat.

Use the broth as a stock for soup, drink as a warm beverage, use the fat for gravy or use the cooking liquid for vegetables and grains.

Gas, Bloating, Burping: Always Uncomfortable?

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We all suffer from gas (toots, farts, breaking wind, flatulence, intestinal gas) occasionally and most of us try to make light of it so as not be embarrassed but continual bloating, farting and/or burping is not the norm.

The average person farts 14 times every day and the amount of actual gas released ranges from as little to one cup to as much as a half-gallon per day!!!

Gas occurs when a food does not break down properly in the stomach and small intestine. As a result, the food makes it into the large intestine undigested. Bacteria then ferments these undigested foods producing gases such as hydrogen, carbon dioxide and methane that eventually escape!

The good news is that it’s completely avoidable. Diets high in junk and processed foods, too much sugar, wheat and dairy make the problem worse as do:

  • Eating the wrong foods at the wrong time or in the wrong combination
  • Eating too much salt and not drinking enough water
  • Food intolerances, these can cause water retention. Wheat and dairy are often culprits
  • Stress leads to poor digestive function meaning food will sit in the gut for longer than it should, this then ferments and gas is produced!
  • Not chewing your food properly can result in an increase of bacteria and yeast, which produce gas
  • Strenuous exercise straight after a meal

Follow these 5 tips to improve your digestion and help avoid those unwelcome arrivals!

#1 Drink 1 ½ – 2 litres of room temperature water daily. Ice cold water can give you gas. You need to drink more not less if you have water retention and bloating to help your body dilute the salt in your tissues remove it from your body.

#2 Include the following foods in your diet which contain the nutrients you need to improve your digestion: celery, chicory, miso, raw sauerkraut, brown rice, millet, ground flax seed (1 tablespoon per day), fennel, dill, mint, ginger.

#3 Avoid refined carbohydrates (white rice, bread, pasta, cookies etc), alcohol, sugar, wheat, dairy, carbonated drinks, caffeine, salt, processed or packaged foods.

#4 Eat fruit alone, wait 30 minutes after eating fruit before you eat any other food.

#5 Chew thoroughly until food becomes mush in your mouth – remember your stomach doesn’t have teeth, your mouth does!

Try out my Miso Soup recipe below to help ban the bloat!

 

Miso Soup

Serves 6

 

2 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, halved and sliced in thin half moons

2 medium carrots, sliced

4-8 medium shitake mushrooms, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp grated fresh ginger root

 

  • Heat the oil in a soup pot on medium-high. Add the onion and saute for about 8 minutes, until translucent. Add the carrots and saute
  • for another 6 minutes, until carrots begin to soften.
  • Add the mushrooms, garlic, and ginger, stir, and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring continually (add a small amount of water to prevent
  • sticking if needed). Toss in the kale and / or bok choy and / or snow peas, and pour in the water and tamari. Reduce heat to simmer
  • for about 10 minutes. Throw in the scallions.
  • Turn off heat. Use a mug to scoop out some liquid to mix with the miso, then pour back into soup and stir to combine.