5 Halloween Inspired Superfoods To Unwrap More Treat Than Trick

Happy Halloween Readers!

For the holiday dedicated to the ghastly, the ghouly, the cringe-worthy and creepy crawly, the most frightening things are always those that come in sweet little packages..

Preying on the fears of all Holistic Nutritionists comes the supermarket aisles of chocolate covered candies, greasy bags of deep-fried chips and the once acclaimed “holy grail houses” dishing out full-sized candy bars and BPA cans of pop!!

But to truly understand this tradition, here’s a little taste of what’s lurking beneath that shiny, alluring packaging…

  • Artificial food dyes:
    • Often derivatives of petroleum products, these have been linked to behavioural problems such as hyperactivity (as if the sugar rush wasn’t enough, right?). In fact, following Halloween in 1950,  Halloween candy containing Orange No. 1 dye, was banned by the FDA after many children became ill from its consumption.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS):
    • A highly refined artificial sweetener plaguing processed foods that has been linked to obesity, tooth decay, heart disease and more. An environmental Health 2009 study found that it is often contaminated with mercury(!) because of the use of chlor-alkali products in its manufactoring. NOTE: the article also mentions the use of this product in the manufacturing of citric acid and  sodium benzoate, both commonly found in soda pop and/or candy.
    • How to spot it: with consumer awareness on the rise, HFCS is now often labeled as it’s more inconspicuous “glucose-fructose” on Canadian food labels.
  • SUGAR! :
    • Laden with heavily processed and refined sugars, Halloween evokes nightmares to nutritionists and dentists alike. Sugar wreaks havoc on blood sugar levels to cause rapid spikes and subsequent crashes, creating high inflammation in the body and a feast for your cavities.
 If you have your own children or have ventured into a classroom the day after, you’d absolutely agree that trick or treating the way we carry out the tradition today, is far more trick than treat. Then again, there are us savvy nutritionists and health enthusiasts eager to pass out bags of kale chips, cans of coconut water, and the jackpot of chia seeds!!
As Halloween creeps up on us, these are foods to add to the dinner table. Some creepy, yet loaded with health boosting wonders, while others simply evoke the spirit of the holiday and all are true superfoods to skip the trick and snag the treat!

 

chia parfait

Chia seeds

Carrots

  • Unless you get the organic or homegrown carrots that look like miniature people, these don’t generally conjure up the connotation of creepy food. But they can be! What’s Halloween like about these foods is something called carotenodermia which is the perfect, toxic paint-free way to come out in an authentic carrot costume for Halloween!
  • This condition is where the skin is discoloured a yellow-orange hue and may be caused due to excessive consumption of beta carotene or the improper conversion of this antioxidant in the body. Though generally considered harmless, this puts carrots and other orange hued veggies on our list!

pumpkin

Pumpkins

  • So I didn’t turn orange from carotenodermia but I did become a pumpkin back in the age when “turn that frown upside-down” was a verse regularly rehersed to me by strangers in supermarket lines. Couldn’t tell you why… but what did get me smiling was carving out our pumpkins, rich in beta-caroteine for healthy skin, tryptophan for deep sleep and elevated moods and vitamin A for eye sight. We always separate the slimy interior from the seeds to roast the pumpkin seeds later (in coconut oil with Himalayan sea salt).

Garlic

  • Vampires and unsuspecting family members beware. It really is a shame for vampires. Perhaps they are not pale from lack of sun so much as being perpetually sick without the antibacterial, antifungal and anti-viral properties of garlic to ward of the season’s colds and flus but you, on the other hand, can reap all of these benefits! To do so: crush a clove of garlic with a spoon, before eating it to stimulate the formation of allicin.

tomato juice

Tomato Juice

  • This was something I was not expecting. On Thanksgiving, a time when we are typically offered fresh pressed cider, water or organic juice, us grandchildren were offered tomato juice! Just like that. My mother and aunt didn’t even “bat” an eyelash.
  • The benefits stem from its source of lycopene which becomes more bioavailable upon the heat processing usually used to make the juice. This powerful antioxidant is “fang”-tastic for skin health.. (I couldn’t help myself!), but be sure to buy only organic, pure tomato juice or better yet; juice them yourself.

With the blood-like consistency to make the garlic opposed vampires sing, true tomato juice (not the common refined vegetable cocktails), is most definitely a superfood but not something I expected to be served. I was, however, informed that this was a common tradition in our family and it states the case that the habits and traditions we develop as children, we continue with and pass along and so we need to become conscious to make healthy habits and traditions for healthier futures.

 

Armed with pomegranates (the annual Halloween treat I receive from my parents each year!) a few dark chocolate covered almonds (combining high quality chocolate with the satiating fats and blood sugar stabilizing protein of the almonds), I’m all set for Halloween tomorrow. Though this year I will be off at a wedding, I’m sure I will get a detailed account of the night’s adorable costumes and if they are anything like last year’s: all bananas and health food based costumes, win! Extra chia seeds for you 😉

 

To our healthy and holistic Halloween holidays,

Suzanne Eden

 

 

 

 

Feature Friday // Cashmere & The Barefoot Contessa’s Lentil Vegetable Soup

Whether you’re desiring to entice the entire family to the dinner table, searching for a chemical-free home fragrance, or seeking to cozy in with a cashmere sweater and a bowl of something just as comforting,

this is your fix!

There is nothing more suited to cozy sweater weather then a simmering pot of steaming stew, aromatic with herbs and spices, hearty and holistic with vegetables and lentils. For this one, we have Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa to thank!

 

 

cashmere

6 Reasons to love lentils:

  • Reduced cholesterol
    • High in soluble fibre which helps to control cholesterol levels.
  • Stable Blood Sugar
    • Say goodbye to the post lunch crash! With the soluble fibre to slow the digestion of carbohydrates (sugars), you will be keeping blood sugar levels stable. This makes lentils a great option for those with hypoglycemia and diabetes.
  • Promotes Proper Digestion
    • The insoluble fibre helps to regulate your digestive system to prevent constipation and promote proper elimination of toxins from the body.
  • Heart Health
    • Lentils are also a great source of folate to lower homocysteine levels (correlated with increased risk of heart problems) and magnesium to improve blood flow and oxygenation to the entire body.
  • Energy
    • Complex carbohydrates are metabolized slowly leading to steady and sustained energy much like a hearty bowl of steel-cut oats. Lentils are also a great source of B vitamins and iron, both essential for high energy.
  • Vegetarian protein
    • The protein source of meatless Mondays! Though I do not follow any one day, 1-2X a week I participate in eating meat free. This means that my protein is sourced from plant-based whole foods which includes lentils. Just remember to pair this with food that will make a complete protein (having a net result of all essential amino acids) such as quinoa.

 

 

Holistic Recipe Swaps:

  • Kosher salt for Himalayan:
    • You will need to season wisely here as Himalayan salt is generally a finer grind more reminiscent of table salt. This pretty pink salt offers a higher and broader range of health benefits.
  • Chicken Stock:
    • Look for a quality chicken stock. Health food stores are excellent places to prowl for your pantry. Check the ingredients list to ensure that it is all real food, free of yeast when possible. The brand I like for broth is Pacific.
  • Red Wine Vinegar:
    • Where the recipe states that red wine and the vinegar are interchangeable, I recommend staying away from the wine to avoid all possible sulfites. Opt for the red wine vinegar instead.
  • Cheese:
    • We omitted the cheese entirely. This was not only for the sake of optimal health but also for the flavours of the soup to stand out on their own, as they did.

Holistic Hacks

  • Make in large batches to enjoy through the week and freeze to thaw on late nights when you want to heat up a quick and warming soup.

 

THE RECIPE

Find the full recipe here: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/lentil-vegetable-soup-recipe.html

lentil pizza

THE SWITCH UPS

The wonderful thing about this soup is its versatility. My personal favourites:

  1. Wrap it up – Create wraps by easily separating spoonfuls of lentils and vegetables from the broth. I wrapped mine in sushi rice wraps with avocado, salsa, lettuce and olives. You could also use other gluten-free wraps, nori sheets, collard leaves, or lettuce leaves. Try it with humus or stone ground mustard or perhaps pesto, there are endless options available!
  2. Top your pizza & pasta – Using a brown rice wrap as a crust, I topped the pizza with a layer of tomato paste mashed with garden fresh tomatoes into a pizza sauce and layered the lentil mix (without the broth) on top. You could mix this soup into your next pasta sauce as well.
  3. Add it to roasted vegetables – Roast root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, parsnips and beets in the oven and add some of the soup for extra flavouring to the dish.

 

With a few swaps, this recipe became one the whole family enjoyed with the Barefoot Contessa to thank! Though they quickly regretted my ability to eat it as the leftovers mysteriously vanished (Oops! 😉 ), I think this stew will be making a comeback to the table again very soon.

To your cozy cashmere Fridays,

Suzanne Eden

 

 

 

 

 

6 Ways Thanksgiving Just Made You Healthier!

Fragrant free-range roast turkeys, gluten-free stuffing, golden yams, potato casseroles and fresh pressed cider adorned the table for our Thanksgiving feast. What wasn’t on the menu? Guilt!

Whether you felt weighted down this week or brimming with post-festivity energy, your celebrations aren’t over yet, as we round out the ways this past weekend just made you healthier!

Autumn hike

1. You KNOW the power of proper food combining 

One of the biggest road blocks for optimal health is a disconnection with how our food directly impacts our bodies. Not anymore! After years of testament to this from your thanksgiving festivities, you are now better equipped for feasts of the future.

  • You know for instance;
    • Turkey + stuffing + potatoes = tired & sluggish 
      • This effect we owe to the heavy combinations of concentrated proteins and starches which utilize different enzymes to breakdown. Protein needs the enzyme pepsin and an acidic environment in the stomach while starches require ptyalin (salivary amylase) which functions optimally in an alkaline environment. Paired together, the acid and alkaline states neutralize each other and this difficult-to-digest combination drains our energy.

Prescription For Wellness; 

  • Keep concentrated proteins (meats in particular) and concentrated starches (rice, sweet potatoes, quinoa etc.) to separate meals of the day for optimal digestion and increased energy!

 

2. You’ll leave the stuffing to the turkey

After witnessing first hand what the turkey feels like, you’ll no longer stuff yourself! Both, everyday where we may eat a little too much and at holidays and parties, we’ll be more savvy when interpreting our need for seconds.
Prescription For Wellness;
 thanksgiving

3. You’ll now start your meals with vegetables

Never again will you forgo the ability of vegetables to entice the hungry guests and impress your family’s health enthusiasts. Each year, as we await the turkey, we feast on platters of vibrant vegetables from the garden, juilienned in unique shapes, and served with healthy homemade dips.
 
Prescription For Wellness:
Begin every meal with raw, enzyme enhancing vegetables with either veggie sticks or a salad.
  • Enzymes: vegetables and leafy greens contain the natural enzymes we need to breakdown our food to boost digestion.
  • Alkalizing: our bodies thrive on alkaline foods (raw fruits and vegetables) that promote blood alkalinity and help counteract the effects of acidic waste production from metabolism.
  • Filling:  Loaded with fibre, vegetables will help to satiate you before the meal without stuffing you for the main course.

 4. You’ll utilize one of the healthiest superfoods of the season!

Move over kale (though we still love you): bone broth is the superfood of 2016 and we can get a head start with the leftover bones of our turkeys!
Prescription For Wellness:
  • Save the bones from your turkey and buy whole chickens to bake or visit your local butcher to purchase (some places will give them away for free) the otherwise discarded bones and make your own bone broth. It is simple to do and stuffed with health benefits including:
    • Digestive healing
    • Growth of new collagen, repair of damaged joints and pain reduction from the high levels of glucosamine
    • Encourages hair growth, glowing skin and strong nails as it is rich in collagen
    • Supports bone growth and repair, being high in calcium, magnesium and phosphorus.

vegetable tray

5. You’ll avoid gobbling down your meal

The universal sign of a good feast: silence, as everyone slows down to taste the long-awaited meal, savour the flavours and enjoy every last forkful of turkey.

Prescription for Wellness:

 

 

6. You’ll take the time to anticipate your meals

It is my grandparent’s strategic tradition of fresh cider pressing to keep the family outside and away from the kitchen, fragrant with succulent turkey. It is a genius plan as the aromas warrant the wandering of guests, scouring the kitchen for any scrap of food they can manage to sneak. Though tempting, this anticipation of the meal is accompanied with a big health boost!

Phase 1 of digestion is the cephalic phase which occurs even before we begin to eat. It involves the brain signals of seeing, smelling and anticipating food which creates a catalyst of bodily reactions to prep us for the upcoming meal.

As you wait for your meal to be served, what happens? You start to salivate! This anticipation for our meal, signals to our body that food is coming which stimulates our entire digestive system. The greater the anticipation, the more effective this phase will be and ultimately, the better your digestion!

Prescription For Wellness:

  • Take a minute before eating to anticipate your meal by focussing on the sight and smell, for optimal digestion.

So there we go! Whether you channeled your inner stuffed turkey or navigated the feast like a seasoned pro, rest assured that this past weekend just made you that little bit healthier 🙂

 Off to steep bone broth,

Suzanne Eden

3 Ways To Strike A Homerun With Homemade Pizza

Golden, flavourful and highly addictive, these effortlessly healthy pizzas are guaranteed to knock it out of the ballpark!

 

homemade pizza

Much like myself, cheering on both teams at the recent baseball game,  this is pizza that plays the field as both a holistically healthy meal and sinfully addictive dish.

Before we take a swing at this one, however, there were a few lessons learned in the name of striking out at a sports game…

  • Firstly: do not to attempt to attend the Blue Jays game in Toronto as a New York Yankees fan (more accurately a New York Yankees logo fan with the desire to sport a baseball cap at a baseball game).
    • For the record, I assure you I’m team Toronto Maple Leafs, if only to create a loving family rivalry with my uncle’s team being the Ottawa Senators!
Needless to say I was now left with three goals:
  1. Catch a Yankees game.
  2. Avoid getting beaten up by Jays fans before making it to Yankees game.
  3. Spot a fellow Yankees fans in the sold out crowd of white and blue. (we spotted 7 between the concession stands, walking from the stadium and standing at the train station… 8 if you want to include me!).

Baseball game

So I struck out on that one but we did come fully prepared for our final goal as we stashed a couple double chocolate chip vegan protein bars as an easily packable, filling treat to offset the tempting scents wafting their way through the stands.

  • Goal #4: remain unseduced by the alluring aromas that had us craving our latest obsession of make-your-own-pizzas.

Seeing as hotdogs that warranted their own seat by the size of them, greasy pizzas more slippery than the batter’s hard hats, and trails of butter popcorn, strike out faster than you can say Yankees fan, I waited to satisfy my craving until I was in the comfort of my own kitchen…

Genuine health
 Fresh, wholesome pizza on golden, crispy thin crust! These take minimal time to make, are loaded with vegetables (it’s basically salad), effortless and in no need of cheese (but I will still give you options!).

With this, allow me to pitch to you my top 3 tips to hit a home run  on your next pizza!

1: First – Base

The Strike Out:
  • Classic pizza crusts consist of  processed grains, devoid of fibre, which break down to sugar in the body, thus promoting unstable blood sugar and insulin levels, and encourage inflammation.
  • Whole grain pizza crusts and pita breads are no better as these, too, contain glutenous grains which have been heavily refined.

The Holistic Swap:

  • Opt for wraps as the perfect base to your thin crust pizza! Choose between gluten-free brown rice wraps or Ezekiel (a sprouted grain) if you can tolerate gluten.
  • They become soft in the middle from the sauce and crispy around the edges. Being thin and mild in flavour, you will taste more of the toppings rather than the starchy breads and have my full nutritionist-approved-permission to eat the whole pizza!
 

2. Second base- the sauces

The Strike Out
  • Have a look at the ingredients of your favourite tomato sauce. Many are loaded with added sugars, dairy, soy and preservatives.
  • One cup of tomato sauce can add up to 20 grams of sugar!

The Holistic Swap:

  • Ideally we would be making our own pizza sauces. I do this year round by freezing our excess of homegrown tomatoes in the freezer to defrost and make sauces through the winter. By making your own, you control the quality of ingredients and can ensure that there are no added sugars being incorporated.
  • Alternative options:
    • Use tomato paste as the base. Look for tomato paste that comes in a glass jar instead of a can which leaches BPA’s and other harmful chemicals.
    • Use pasta sauces. Look carefully at the label. These sauces will be more flavourful but should be mixed with tomato paste/puree to reduce the sugar content.
    • Create a pesto pizza using a dairy-free pesto spread across the crust.

3. Top it off

The Strike Out
  • Greasy pools of pepperoni and cheese are about as far out in left field as we can come with low-grade meat and dairy.

The Holistic Swap:

  • For toppings:
    • Veggie overload: lightly stir-fry the vegetables first to soften them as the pizza won’t be in the oven for long.
    • My favourites: red pepper, artichokes, broccoli, green olives, cherry tomatoes and mushrooms.
  • Creamy cheese substitutes:
    • If you are adamant on cheese, look for goat’s or sheep cheese which are more easily digestible and use sparingly.
    • Avocado is my favourite swap being creamy in texture, mild and complimentary in flavour.
    • Nutritional yeast: This adds a nutty, almost cheesy flavour when sprinkled on top and melts over your freshly baked pizza.
  • Additional:
    • I’m slightly obsessed with garlic powder and it gets sprinkled generously over my pizzas creating a 3 foot radius between myself and fellow diners. It adds a delicious boost of flavour without overpowering the slice.
    • Add fresh leaves of basil, tabasco for heat, etc. Get creative!
The switch up: making these with kids? Remember that they are wraps and you can roll them into pizza wraps to avoid a mess of toppling toppings.
~*~
 I have been obsessed with pizzas in all different varieties. Having long texting conversations of the copious amount of combinations we could try (Mexican, Mediterranean, sushi pizza), I’ll admit I’ve even dreamt about them and I would love to hear what you cook up!
Though the Yankees won that night 6-4 (and you can bet I sported that hat in pride the whole game through),  the Blue Jays played an incredible game and might have officially swung me to their side… and yes, that Blue Jay logo is pretty darn cute too 😉
Be-it baseball or our upcoming hockey season, no matter the team you’re cheering on, this pizza is sure to score you a homerun even if your team strikes out!
Stepping up to the holistic plate,
Suzanne Eden

 

 

The Autumn Issue // Turning Over A New Leaf With October’s Sneak Peak

“Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall”

~ F. Scott. Fitzgerald

Summer stretched its way well into September this year, but with picnics transforming into festive feasts, fruit stands to farmers markets and the last harvest of our heirloom tomatoes giving way to crisp green apples on our tree, autumn has officially arrived!

transformation

With fall’s striking colour palate and vibrant superfoods, it is the embodiment of transformation, intensified by the weekend’s blood moon and is the perfect time for us to undergo a personal renewal in health.

  • Whether you follow astrology or not, the message in the overturn of seasons and recent lunar eclipse is this: changing, shifting, transforming.  Something that I couldn’t deny if I tried, as I concluded one job the day of the eclipse and began a fresh one the day after. If there can be one thing for sure: October is calling for change!
This season we’re inspired by the comforts of fall as we revive our cozy sweaters, steep warming teas and venture along the escarpment as it transforms itself into an easel of energetic reds, yellows and greens. This is your sneak peek into what’s to come!
fall hike

While fall is a favourite month for many, those of us who would thrive in an eternal summer, may need a little boost as we embrace this season which is precisely what I’ve set out to do. To soothe our summer spirits with true comfort foods that nourish the soul AND body with plenty served up through the coming weeks. From thin crust pizzas to hearty soups and rustic sweet potato fries, we’ll fall in love with fall all over again. I guarantee it!

pumpkin muffins

As a taste of the fall flavours to come, I whipped up these pumpkin spice muffins for a morning indulgence to welcome the first day of autumn. Topped with coconut oil and spread with pumpkin seed butter, these aromatic muffins filled the kitchen with an intoxicating scent of the season.

I adapted Jesse Lane’s recipe to make it gluten-free using a mixture of oat and brown rice flour, swapping the honey for its more heat stable counterpart; maple syrup and adding cloves and nutmeg to spice them up. For the topping I sprinkled raw, unsalted sunflower and pumpkin seeds and dusted them in cinnamon. As baked goods are a treat (especially for breakfast) I made just half the recipe to enjoy through the week and you can find it all here:

Apple Cinnamon Muffins

~*~

Of course, we can’t forego all of the festivities as we celebrate the season by dishing up a healthy dose of Thanksgiving and Halloween posts and all things autumn inspired!

Whether you’re clinging to every last bite of summer or are graciously welcoming in the new season of plump pumpkins and sizzling ciders, embrace the change both in season and your own diet and lifestyle! It’s change, after all, that creates transformation.
Falling for our first day of autumn,
Suzanne Eden