for Urban Professionals & Other Skeptics in a Rush
This post also appears in the Huffington Post.
Last week a client came over for dinner with her family. She is a law firm partner, a graduate student, a mother and totally clueless in the kitchen. This post is for her and for those of you who also want some kitchen literacy, if only to be able to use it in a pinch. I promise this is all easier than you think, takes less time, and like everything else from Curated Wellness, is cherry-picked to give you maximum impact with minimal effort.
The day of the dinner had been a hectic one for us, topped off with a teething toddler who didn’t sleep much during the previous night. Work was busy, the house was a mess and I didn’t think twice about putting a gorgeous dinner on the table in under 30 minutes. I’m not Martha Stewart, but I know how to make dining a nearly effortless pleasure. In about five minutes from now, you will too.
There are no recipes here but my top 10 tips for being able to make a healthy beautiful meal easily and without going for a big shop, because who needs to add that to a busy day…
You’ve got this. Bon appetit!
Around this time of year, there is a race to that December 31 finish line. Projects to complete, targets to meet, people to see, cards to write, presents to get, holidays to organize, summer clothes to put away, winter clothes to find…the list goes on. It’s only November and already my to-do list and wine consumption have both doubled. At the same time, there is less daylight each day, and around us, hibernation abounds. We knew this when the leaves transformed into fall splendour, and yet we kept going at full pace.
Other than summer, which is rightly a religion in Canada, we pretend that we don’t have seasons. Somehow, we think, heated seats and other modern conveniences, like lightbulbs, will allow us to continue as if nothing is happening. Then the first flurry comes, and it’s undeniable. We trudge on through winter in our parkas, and try to get to Florida, or farther south. Some of us even delight in the crisp air and silvery snow, getting out into the cold to ski or take the kids out sledding. You winter people – you really live in the right place!
Our needs are different at this time of year than they were just a few short months ago, and paying attention to them can make the difference between a cozy winter and a marathon of colds and overwhelm. Vitamin D levels dip as sunshine hours are a distant memory, hydration plummets as heating use increases, and we start to really feel the weight of things in our lives that we don’t love. Targeted self-care that supports the seasonal transition is a great way to ease into winter, with grace.
This list of practices to support yourself is meant to be read like a menu; in the spirit of letting it be easy, I invite you to choose from it what you like, instead of trying to do it all.
There are a few spaces left in the YogaBe + CPD Skinny on burnout workshop happening next Wednesday! This December 3, 11am-1:30pm at YogaBe, the first yoga studio on Toronto’s PATH, located at MetroCentre, 200 Wellington Street W, PATH level. $185+HST secures your place, and includes a 45-minute yoga class led by studio director Laura Baron, a delicious vegan and gluten free lunch from Kupfert & Kim, and a 90-minute CPD-accredited workshop with yours truly about the Skinny on Burnout (1.5 Professionalism Hours for Ontario Lawyers). You can reserve your spot online right here. Please join us, and pass this information on to a lawyer in need – he or she will thank you.
Notice anything different? The updated look and feel of curatedwellness.ca is thanks to the creativity and tech savvy of development and communications expert Elyse Power. In the spirit of letting it be easy, have her create or recreate your website, a.k.a. portal to the world. For a taster (literally) of her unique brand of user-friendly what-you-didn’t-know-you-needed, try this robotic meal designer that finds recipes for the three random things in your fridge.
Enjoy! May the best of the season shine in your life.
January 16, 2014 in Healthy Eating
I’ve noticed a lot of food-related New Year’s resolutions take a hit lately, as we trudge along into winter and things like toast and tea look much better than the early morning workout and cleanse we had envisioned just a couple of short weeks ago. Fear not! These quinoa-based muffins have become a staple in our home, mostly because they are so delicious. They also pack a lot of nutrition into a very convenient package, and are easy to make. I often find that gluten-free and dairy-free baked goods are disappointing, so when these just kept getting better with every batch, I had to share them with you.
While you do have to actually bake them for them to become a quick and easy breakfast, once you’ve made a batch (or a double-batch) they freeze beatifully and you can take one out the night before to pack in your bag (for those lunch en route types) or enjoy as part of your morning routine. The quinoa-base means that they are considerably lower on the glycemic index than wheat-based baked goods, and offer a protein-rich breakfast that couldn’t be more convenient. This recipe evolved to include things like walnuts for more protein and omega-3s, molasses for iron, coconut oil instead of butter so they are moist and dairy-free, and honey to minimize processed sugar, and chocolate for fun.
This recipe makes 12 muffins and takes about 10 minutes to prepare and 25 to bake.
You will need:
For another variety that contributes to your daily 10-12 servings of vegetables, replace 1 banana with a grated zucchini, swap out the walnut pieces for magnesium-rich pumpkin seeds, and swap out the cinnamon for warming ground nutmeg.
Wishing you many good mornings.
December 2, 2013 in Healthy Eating
Vendors featured here are offering a holiday special to customers who show a screenshot of this article on their smartphone at the time of purchase, for a limited time. Scroll through for details, and enjoy!
One of the most common concerns I hear about is how to eat well when you’re busy. Rushing out the door before getting a chance to eat breakfast, skipping lunch or finding a healthy dinner when you’re at the office are all common challenges. So too is having low blood sugar by noon, which triggers cravings for sugar and simple carbohydrates. Then comes that dreaded January day when you realize your clothes are snugger than they used to be, and you have a chocolate hangover (at least).
As we launch into the holidays, rife with parties, too little sleep, year-end deadlines and even some of the negative nutritional side-effects of vacation – help is just outside the door. Or in this case, just under the door, in the PATH that connects so much of Toronto’s financial district.
Here you’ll find easy ways to nourish yourself on Bay Street, and holiday deals to make doing so even sweeter. The vendors selected here offer a terrific range of healthy options to suit any diet, whether you’re doing a raw vegan-style detox, looking for warming omnivorous options, or just want to try something new. One of my favorite things about these vendors is that so many of them were started by corporate types who were inspired to make available food that they personally wanted to enjoy where they worked. All dishes come with a hearty dose of entrepreneurial spirit and vision.
Boost your immunity
Did you know that your gut is a key player in immunity? Making sure your digestive tract is populated with good bacteria is an easy way to boost immunity, maintain energy, avoid winter colds, and stay away from digestive upset that can accompany the mountain of chocolates, wine and cheese you may indulge in. deKEFIR in the Bay Adelaide Centre offers a delicious way to enjoy these good bacteria, offering a pure form of Eastern European health food made with just two ingredients: cow’s milk and kefir culture. Many lactose intolerant people are able to consume fermented dairy products because the bacterial culture has already broken down the lactose for them, so it’s ok that they don’t have the enzyme to do the work. deKefir also offers some creative ways to dress up this simple food. Toppings for this breakfast or afternoon snack include home-made granola, figs, pomegranate, wild Ontario currants, lychee, pomelo, persimmon – and any number of fresh seasonal ingredients. Enjoy free additional toppings for any Kefir Parfait or Frozen Kefir purchase through December 6.
Relax your muscles, sleep better, and de-stress
So there is just about zero chance that you are eating enough vegetables. Try counting 10-12 servings a day, and see how far you get! Plant-based diets have incredible health benefits, and while they’re not for everyone, eating more vegetables will do your body good. Dark leafy greens in particular are rich in magnesium, a nutrient that 65% of Canadians show deficiency in. Getting enough magnesium contributes to decreased muscle tension, lower stress and better sleep. When it comes to making vegetable consumption easy and delicious, there are some excellent options on the Street.
Wheatless, meatless First Canadian Place newcomer Kupfert & Kim offers unique combinations of plant-based (100% vegan) and mostly organic foods that draw inspiration from an impressive range of culinary traditions with spectacular results. Flavours like cashew cream and almond chili kefir lime sauce remind me of the very best in NYC gourmet foodtrucks, and their green smoothie will convert even the most skeptical taster. You may forget this is a healthy meal, unless you’ve already figured out that those are the best kind. Enjoy a meal and smoothie combo for $15 after 2pm through December 6.
Many credit Freshii with changing the game when it comes to healthy food options in Toronto. Started by Winnipeg-born entrepreneur Matthew Corrin, Freshii offers a creative range of pre-designed or do-it-yourself wraps, salads, bowls and soups that feature fresh produce, great protein options, and superfoods – as featured in their new superfood dressings like zesty avocado and miso sesame. Their popular Thai Green Wrap is wrapped in a collard green, offering a delicious option if you want to cut out processed carbs and add another vegetable serving to your nutrient-packed day. Enjoy 15% off at the Exchange and TD locations through December 6.
In addition to offering creative combinations of healthy grains (brown rice, quinoa), lean proteins (roasted chicken, harissa-rubbed chick peas) and fresh vegetables (daikon, avocado, and fresh herbs like cilantro and mint) iQ Food Co. in the TD Centre and at Brookfield Place had me at breakfast. Toast-eaters can enjoy it topped with avocado or a smoked trout combination called “tartine”, and those looking for an omega-rich, vegan protein breakfast that is terrific for digestion will find it with chia seed pudding. Enjoy a free energy ball – not even on the menu yet! – through December 6 with any purchase.
Get that “home-cooked” meal
Remember those days when you could go home for lunch? A family owned Canadian company since 1956, Longos prides itself on prepared food at its downtown locations that rivals the best home-cooked food. Or better, depending on your cooking skills. Options include a popular kale salad, a wide selection of lean proteins like fish and chicken (always made from fresh, not frozen ingredients), and cooked vegetables. They also offer hearty warm breakfast options and a full salad bar. Enjoy a free apple with any purchase until December 6 at the Bay Street and Brookfield place locations.
Popular since the late 1990’s Seinfeld import of New York’s fictional International Soup Kitchen, the Soup Nutsy is a favorite place to find gourmet, hearty soups downtown. The approximately fifteen varieties made fresh daily include heartier classics like chunky chicken noodle, and vegan options like vegetable miracle diet. Soup meals include fresh baked bread, fresh fruit or vegetables, and can also be combined with sandwiches or salads. TD and Richmond-Adelaide Centre locations are offering a free bottle or water or an extra piece of fruit with purchase of any soup meal until December 6. Not joking, though Elaine would.
Please remember to have the screen shot of this article handy at time of purchase, and enjoy a healthy holiday season. The offers have no cash value, and no substitutions are allowed.
A version of this article also appears in the Canadian Bar Association’s online magazine.
February 4, 2013 in Healthy Eating
The smoothie fad has taken off, and with good reason. Drinking a smoothie custom-made for what your body needs is an easy way to get a hearty dose of vitamins, nutrients – and ultimately energy – that will help you feel great. Eating whole foods, and mostly plants (a la Michael Pollan) feels good and is great for your health. It would take me the better part of an hour to eat all of the fruits and vegetables that go into my morning concoction, and I’d never eat the superfoods I throw in there alone. Ever munched on chia or hemp? Not fun. Blending them into a smoothie is a practical and delicious way to get ahead of my 10-12 servings of veggies a day, plus protein and whatever special ingredients I need to support myself that day. Count your vegetable servings for one day, and you’ll see what I mean!
Now, not all smoothies are created equal. Many of the ones most readily available are packed with sugar in the form of fruit and fruit concentrates, and not much else. Popular juice bars like Booster Juice use frozen non-organic fruit, sugary frozen yogurt, highly-processed whey protein, and fruit drink (yes, something like Tang). Pre-packaged brands generally have a lot of fruit, and while fruit is great, it’s high in sugars and has lost a lot of the nutrients that make it good for you while it sits on the shelf in a bottle waiting for you to buy it. Even making an all-fruit smoothie at home isn’t great. Even natural sugar picks you up and drops you. Do not sugar alone. That is not how you want to start your day. Come 11 am, you will be hungry, hangry, unfocused, or reaching for a caffeinated beverage in an effort to increase your energy. This is all because your blood sugar isn’t stable, which can lead to a whole host of things like weight gain, low energy, and even diabetes.
So back to why my smoothie is brown. Remember painting as a kid? Mix enough colours together, and you get…brown! Every time. My multi-coloured ingredients do the same thing, and it goes like this:
Insert the following into your blender…
Blend and enjoy! I like using a Vitamix because I can put anything in there and it comes out perfectly smooth with maximum nutrient bio-availability, but any blender will do. Stock smoothie ingredients in your kitchen, and put them in the blender the night before if you’re rushed in the morning. Your breakfast will be convenient and nourishing, and that 11am slump will be a memory.
For more on protein and good fats, and why I recommend eating both of them, stay tuned.
January 30, 2013 in Healthy Eating
There’s a lot of hype about cleansing, and for good reason. It’s sparked real optimism about our ability to heal ourselves with something as nourishing as real food. It’s fed the notion that “wellness” has become trendy and full of quackery. It’s also ignited fierce debates about eating disorders disguised as healthy or “detoxifying” practices.
I’ve done both the home-made cleanses and the “expert” delivery versions for the last ten years. Some have felt terrific, others really depleting. One I did in university involved large green pills that made me smell like a jungle. That one ended quite quickly. Live and learn! I even started a group cleanse routine at the office of a large bank I worked at in New York. Yes, I would like a high five for that last one. There is nothing like a committed group of skeptics on a juice cleanse!
Three to five day juice-only “feasts” are intended to help you release toxins built up in your system from poor diet and environmental pollutants, to give your digestive system a bit of a breather, and to kick-start a healthier diet. Many find that a good cleanse improves digestion, increases energy, improves mood, mental focus, and sleep issues, and eliminates cravings for things like caffeine and sugar (which overstimulate your adrenals and cause inflammation, respectively). Not to mention producing the dewy youthful glow raw food enthusiasts are famous for.
Like anything else, the only way to know if something is going to work for you is to try it and pay attention to how you feel.
These practices are perfect if you don’t want to do a full cleanse right now, but want to support your body to do what it does best – heal itself.
This is so easy and you get a lot of mileage for very little time or money. It stimulates digestion gently – kind of like waking up to a nice gong alarm clock or a gentle sunrise, instead of a slap in the face (a.k.a. coffee, cereal, or nothing). Your skin will thank you, and so will your liver. Consider it a very cheap facial.
If you find it hard to start or maintain any of these practices, ask yourself why. What are you doing instead? What would it mean if you cared for yourself this well? What might you release if your body wasn’t weighed down with suboptimal nutrition?
Your body is the one you have for life. It’s smarter than “you” are, and if it’s clogged with environmental toxins and addicted to caffeine, processed foods and sugar, you’re not going to be able to tune into the wisdom you’re embodying right now. You are so wise. Choose a few or all of these practices, and give yourself the support you deserve.
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