Canada Day’s Strawberry Maple Panna Cotta

Happy 150th birthday Canada!

Indulgent, simple and 150% Canadian-approved, this patriotic dessert features fresh seasonal strawberries and sweet local syrup.

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No matter where in the world you are, Canada is likely infused into your daily cuisine.

Supplying around 91% of the world’s population of Maple syrup that drizzles its way over your sizzling Sunday pancakes and 90% of the world’s blueberries which boost your daily antioxidant intake. And then, from the humble origins of coastal P.E.I., comes Canada’s own “Lentil Hunter”chef Micheal Smith (yes, truly! 🙂 ), who travels the globe scouting the most delicious lentil dishes knowing that Saskatchewan is the largest exporter of lentils in the world.

From breakfast to dinner, all across the globe, there is reason to LOVE this country (and every excuse to celebrate!). 

Currently in Canada.. it’s strawberry season! And the inspiration for this bright, light and creamy panna cotta.

HOLISTIC HIGHLIGHTS [Canadian edition]

  • Seasonal Strawberries – June-July.
  • Local maple syrup
  • Vegan
  • Paleo
  • Refined sugar-free (with syrup-free option :: see notes)

Most strawberry varieties will only be harvested to the end of the weekend. It’s the optimal time to make use of this vibrant red berry. But as blueberries come into their peak in July (and the need to replicate the Canadian flag is no longer a necessity) blueberries will make for a great topping too!

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RECIPE

~ CANADIAN STRAWBERRY MAPLE PANNA COTTA ~

Strawberry Layer

*** Note : this recipe represents the bottom layer. Double the recipe for a top layer of strawberries or simply slice fresh berries for presentation.

  • 1 tsp gelatin
  • 1 TBSP water
  • 3/4 cup sliced strawberries

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Creamy Vanilla Panna Cotta

  • 1 15 oz can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 ½ tsp grass fed gelatin
  • 1-2 TBSP maple syrup (or setvia to taste)
  • 1 pinch sea salt
  • 1 tsp alcohol-free vanilla extract

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Strawberry layer ::
    • In a saucepan over low heat, warm the water and sliced strawberries until they soften and form a “sauce”. Remove from heat, stir in gelatin until dissolved. Add to the base of your ramekins and let sit one hour.
  • Panna Cotta ::
    • Whisk together coconut milk +  gelatin and let sit (to “bloom”) for five minutes.
    • Add vanilla, syrup, sea salt and whisk on medium heat until the gelatin is fully dissolved. Note: do not boil here.
    • Allow to cool (about 10-15 mins), pour over the set strawberry mixture and leave it to set in the fridge. This should take a minimum3-4 hours.
    • Add an additional strawberry layer or top with freshly sliced berries.

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Notes:

  • Coconut milk is quite sweet on its own. If you wish to make a sugar-free version, simply add a pinch or a few drops of stevia to taste in place of the maple syrup.

Here’s to a new month, new post (the first of the year!) and a brand new favourite “go-to”.

While we take off for strawberry picking (the last of the season) and tonight’s vineyard festivities of food and fireworks, one thing’s for sure: today will be a day dedicated to ALL the red & white foods. Cue on the strawberries, coconut and panna cotta 🙂

In our truly Canadian way, happy Canada d[EH] !
Suzanne Eden

5 Unconventional Fast Foods For Travelers And Scholars

Whether you’re hitting the road or cracking the books, such times call for quick, clean, perfectly packable snacks and meals!

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A few weekends ago we stuffed our duffle bags and departed for cottage country in Lake of Bays Muskoka. With a drive a few hours long at the peak of lunch hour, we found ourselves in a hunger pinch and took a road side stop to the organic section of a Superstore. So while some of the following unconventional snacks entail a specialty stop to a health food department, others can be snagged just about anywhere you may find yourself. Never will you have to drive yourself into excuses and all will enhance concentration, energy levels and brain power.

This is what we snacked on in Muskoka as a cheat sheet to a few quick and affordable fast foods!

 DRINK

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Chaga Tea

 Not to be fooled by the cup: my friend brewed this tea for me of medicinal mushrooms for the drive up to Muskoka (you can see why we’re friends 😉 ).

  • Native to the birch forests of the northern hemisphere, Chaga mushrooms have become well known for boosting the immune system. Yet, being an adatogen, it also helps us to cope and adapt to the stresses of university studies.
  • Bonus: Chaga is a natural source of melanin to help provide protection against solar UV rays. An added boost of cottage sunscreen in a cup!
  • Note: While this is a quick and easy brew, it is not readily available. At coffee shops, opt for a hydrating herbal tea (I personally love the perk of peppermint). Use stevia and/or non-dairy milk if desired.

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Greens Powder Pouch

  • Perhaps you need a mid day boost  without the caffeine or didn’t consume the most optimal meal. The solution? Crack open one of these pouches, shake into a bottle of water, and drink. Not only does it have a pleasant flavor from the green apple, but greens powders provide an instant boost of energy to both the body and brain.
  • Didn’t squeeze in a nutritious breakfast this morning? Greens will realklinaze the body to counteract some of the negative effects of an unbalanced meal.

EAT

Perfectly Packable Chia Pods

  • With the simple base of chia seeds and coconut milk, you can easily and affordably whip this up yourself in any number of flavours. But when in a pinch, Chia Pods can be purchased from local health food stores in compact cups with a built-in spoon.
  • High in omega-3 fatty acids for brain health, these compact packs are loaded with fiber to keep you feeling full through to your next meal making them ideal for on-the-go student studies and thrifty travelers alike.

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Watermelon

If you are what you eat, we were bound to become walking, talking watermelons by the time we were homebound!

  • Not ideal for long road trips or lectures as they consist of 92% water and are a natural diuretic, but don’t toss this idea yet!
  • Watermelons make a delicious way to eat yourself hydrated on a hot day and are packed with natural sugars that your brain uses to run efficiently. Its high vitamin C content assists in counteracting the stress on students and boosts the immune system while the high fiber reduces blood sugar spikes (that can lead to brain fog) and promotes good digestion when traveling.

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Other pre-packaged Fruit

  • Equipped with their own containers, fruit such as apples, bananas, grapes, and mandarin oranges, etc. all make perfect grab-and-go snacks.
  • We snatched these up for a canoe ride on the lake along with coconut that we had freshly cracked. Coconuts are loaded with brain boosting fats that will satisfy your hunger and the MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) present in coconuts have been shown to enhance cognitive performance as they can be turned to ketones and used as fuel for the brain.

We really loved  Muskoka. It was magical. And perhaps the most magical part came from laying beneath the stars with ginger teas and a mountain of melon beside us. I can’t imagine how beautiful it will be in a few weeks with the first fall of snow. But until we make it back again (perhaps for a winterized version of this food guide??), we’ll be savouring our stress-free snacking!

Suzanne Eden

 

4 Ways Your Pumpkin & Chai Spiced Autumn Addiction Is Boosting Your Health

As Autumn arrives, everything turns to spice!

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ABOVE: Dairy-free, gluten-free, pumpkin spice scone from Kelly’s Bake Shoppe.

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Its seems the moment fall fell upon us, the air turned crisp and pumpkin emerged from its slumber. From smoothies, to lattes (with coconut milk of course!), from cookies to chili’s, pumpkin slips its orange carotenoids into just about everything.

While my favourite fall produce remains forever faithful to the apples of our backyard and aromatic notes of chai, this year I decided it was high time to snag some squash and plunge into the popular world of pumpkin spice! After all, who could go wrong when cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves are involved?!

Whether a chai girl such as myself, or with pumpkin spice as your vice, these are 4 ways to validate your autumn addiction!

1) They spice Up The Season

  • As the weather cools, spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg are thermogenic foods that boost your internal body temperature and raise your metabolism. This is one reason why we intuitively crave pumpkin spice and chai when the temperature drops.

2) Enhances Digestion

  • According to Ayurveda, spices heat up our digestive “fire” (otherwise known as Agni) to enhance energy, increase digestion, reduce bloating etc. Adding warming spices to your foods is like wrapping your digestive system in a winter parka so that it can comfortably and efficiently continue doing what it needs to do!

3) Daily Detox

  • The spices found in traditional pumpkin spice and chai are equipped with both natural detoxifying and anti-inflammatory agents.
  • Take ceylon cinnamon, for example, used prominently in Chinese Medicine for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, and blood purification properties. Cinnamon is the base to both spice blends and a powerhouse at that!

4) Immunity

  • Just in time for cold and flu season!
  • And as the famous French biochemist Francois Beauchamp once said: “The terrain is everything.” By keeping your internal systems working efficiently, we effectively keep our immune system strong, and spices, through all of the wonderful benefits listed above, assist in doing just that!

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Your favourite fall brew may just be the perfect medicinal boost in a mug. But of course, when aiming for the therapeutic effects of these spices, look to quality and potent sources. Making your own blend is the best way to ensure the quality of the product but if ordering out, search for those made without syrups -you want the real deal! At coffee shops, I ask for unsweetened, coconut/almond milk chai tea lattes brewed with the tea bag instead of syrup.

All in all, your autumn addiction can be both nutritious and delicious with full permission to indulge… responsibly 😉

Spicing up September,

Suzanne Eden

A Student Survival Guide For Back To School Stress

It’s been a few years since my university days and without hesitation I can say : I miss it!

I loved learning and being surrounded by like-minded thinkers. I loved digging into text books and the sounds of laptop keys furiously clicking through lectures. I loved the in-betweens of classes, sneaking off into the trails, the late nights working away with friends.

And then I happened upon my friend, Denis, here in the streets of Montreal and I too remembered: the once considered mandatory exam coffees (I don’t even like coffee!), the all nighters, the deadlines, the hunched shoulders, the sugar cravings… oh yes! I remember. And while it took me a few years, by my final year I felt I had just about learned the ways of university and the most useful and practical subject I have studied: nutrition.

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Perhaps you are off to school, or simply feeling the stress of the September season. In either case, remember that the psychological key to reducing stress is not in the situation itself, but in your mindset towards it. And as a clean body equates to a clean and clear mind, these are my holistic tips (with the help of our good friend Denis) for a September that’s stress-free!

Refine Your Take On Refined Foods

  • You’re under enough stress as it is, you don’t want food to be another!
  • Refined foods are stressors to the body as they create unsteady blood sugar levels causing you to crash on the school couch, and create a rapid spike in cortisol – our stress hormone! As the icing on the cake, a junk food diet has been shown to affect your brain’s synapses, thereby impairing learning and memory.
  • Instead? Ditch the fried french fries spewed over the bench and burger bag hidden behind Denis’ shoe and opt for fast, fresh and wholesome foods instead!
  • Bananas, for example, are conveniently prepackaged, naturally sweet, and packed with stress busting nutrients such as calming magnesium, energizing vitamin B6, and components that increase the production of serotonin in your brain to promote optimal stress relief.

Kick The Coffee

  • As my professor once said “coffee is stress in a cup!”
  • But as a staple of many students’ daily routines, caffeine is often relied on to boost energy and reduce stress. The issue? This boost of energy is only short lived and unsustainable, and the coffee can actually trigger the body’s stress response.
  • Instead? Opt for green tea or matcha (concentrated green tea powder) with the amino acid L-theanine that helps to reduce stress, boost energy and enhance productivity, while promoting a sense of relaxation.
  • NOTE: In either case, caffeine should be used as a boost when needed but not as a crutch. For the everyday, opt for energizing B vitamins (a supplement that supports the adrenals, your body’s “stress glands”), and ginkgo biloba which not only works as an adaptogen to help you cope with stress, but is well known for boosting blood flow to the brain to enhance learning and memory – all without the caffeine jitters!

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Move To Manage Stress

  • While excessive sitting, on city benches or otherwise, has been proclaimed “the new smoking”, exercise has long been known for its stress busting benefits. Movement will instantly refresh and energize you while oxygenating the brain and boosting your feel-good neurotransmitters.
  • While movement is a necessity in health, vigorous exercise is a stress to the physical body, so engage predominately in light to moderate movements on a daily basis. Run the stairs at your breaks, take a hike through campus trails, and participate in group activities in between lectures such as yoga (my favourite way to de-stress on a long day!).

A+ For Denis

  • What Denis did get right? He’s taken it outside! In fact, I have a feeling he spends an awful lot of time here.
  • Fresh air and nature spaces have both been shown to dramatically reduce stress. With the last of our beautiful summer weather and fall on the horizon, it is the perfect time to soak up the sun. Bonus points for removing your shoes to harness the stress relieving benefits of earthing!
  • Can’t get outside? Bring the outdoors in with green plants and open windows.

Study these tips and you are well on your way to a healthy, happy, stress free semester!

From A(+) to Zen,

Suzanne Eden

Sticking To The Bear-Necessities Of Life

If there’s one thing learned, living out of a suitcase,

its that life becomes fuller when you stick to the bear-necessities.

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This point proven not solely by our friend the furry Mountie (and beloved Jungle Book), but in clinical studies of psychology.

So while this may entail leaving our life-sized bear-hugging buddy in Quebec city, it also requires that you live lighter, smarter and with much more happiness!

From our suitcase living, to small cabin bunking, these are 3 ways to stick to the bear-necessities:

Weigh Your Baggage

  • Every travel luggage has its limit. Thus preventing you from cramming in the entire contents of your closet, forcing you to evaluate the necessity of each item and become resourceful with your belongings.
  • While it’s okay to own more than a suit-case worth of items, it begs the question: how much of it do we actually need? And is our stuff owning us more than we own it?
  • When it comes to your home, weigh how much each item means to you, how often you use it, if it is a true necessity, and should you find it weighing you down rather than creating a lighter load upon your shoulders, leave it behind!
  • Donate it, discard it, release it. You will feel a lot lighter in doing so and what’s more? You will gain back the average 3,680 hours or 153 days spent searching for misplaced items in a lifetime of losing approximately 9 items a day, according to the Daily Mail. That equals a whole lot more time to explore!

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Make It Multipurpose

  • When I travel, coming with me are all my own soaps, moisturizers etc. And while I highly recommend doing so to ensure the quality of  ingredients and integrity of the products, it’s extra to pack. To get around this, I use multipurpose items such as Green Beaver soap that triples as a body wash, hand soap and facial cleanser.
  • This tip can be easily utilized at home with beauty care, furniture, such as our cruise room couch that pulled into a bed, and all-in-one agents like our beloved  coconut oil.
  • What’s more? Going multipurpose significantly reduces the 14.3 million tonnes of waste Canadian households produced in 2012, reported by stats can.

Shop Smart – Bear Without Your Mountie

“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.” 

—Jackie French Koller

  • Teaming with adorable shops in every stop, the temptation of coastal trinkets is very alluring. And while we picked up some souvenirs on our trip, all were things that I use virtually everyday (a ring from Maine, a lanyard from Peggy’s cove etc.).
  • Knowing you have limited space, in suitcases or otherwise, you’ll spend less and spend smarter. By being more intentional and contemplative with your purchases, you can save for higher quality items that will last and sustain you much longer.

The perks of living the minimalist way are endless! You spend less, clean less, stress less, lose less, define yourself less and free up time to do more and go explore!

Leaving a bounty of furry Quebec Mounties,

Suzanne Eden

Three Healthy Minded Restaurants On The Streets Of Montreal

Home to smoked meat sandwiches and french poutine, Montreal is fit for a foodie. But how does a wellness enthusiast navigate the city of cultural cuisine?

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While I’ve always been one to plan vacations around food, this travel tour was packed with sightseeing and left little in the way of food planning. Thus posing the presumptuous predicament of where a holistic foodie can eat in a city populated by fried potatoes, gravy, and cheese curds.

You can image my relief in happening upon a hub of holistically tailored dinning options in every city that we visited. And for the two days that we spent in the metropolis of Montreal, this is where and what we ate!

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 1. Pizzeria Bros

Location: 13 Rue Notre-Dame O, Montréal, QC

In our quest for lunch, we wandered the streets of local shops and stumbled upon the menu of this popular pizzeria.

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  • This humble nook of Old Montreal has a little something for everyone. Kneading the traditional dough by hand, they also offer gluten-free pizza crusts, homemade tomato sauce, the option to forgo the cheese, and a whole host of unique toppings including anchovies and capers, making this the perfect stop for conventional and holistic foodies alike.

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How to make it holistic:

  • 1) Opt for gluten-free crust:
    • Bypassing the uncomfortable side effects many experience from gluten, this thin crust doesn’t overpower the toppings which enhances the flavour of your pizza.
    • NOTE: Do be aware that there is an additional charge of $1 to do so. For those with celiac disease, there may be a chance of cross-contamination, though the man who made mine was exceptionally careful and diligent not to touch the dough with his floured gloves. Merci monsieur! 🙂
  • 2) Omit the cheese:
    • Cheese stimulates our opiate receptors which induces the post-lunch sleepy sensation. Because it is so difficult for our bodies to breakdown, your energy is directed to digestion and leaves little for you to carry on with your day.
    • NOTE: You can substitute the cheese for an additional topping of your choosing!

Follow these two rules and your delicious pizza will leave you satiated and energized for your adventures ahead!

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2. Délices Érable et Cie

Location: 84 Rue Saint Paul E, Montréal, QC

  • A quaint cafe along one of my favourite streets of Montreal that sings of Europe with its unique french flair. As it was rainy and overcast, I sought after a warm tea.
  • Initially drawn in by the samples, this cute cafe is teaming with the maple syrup staple of Quebec. You can sample it in tapioca balls, crystals, or my personal favourite of whipped maple butter with course sea salt!
  • They also serve dairy-free gelato which I tasted but left for a warmer day. Opting for a peppermint green tea as an antioxidant boost and sweetened with maple syrup crystals. Come rain or shine, this is a must stop shop for all maple syrup enthusiasts!

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3. Reubens Deli

Location : 1116 Rue Sainte-Catherine, Montréal, QC

 How to feel like a fish in a fish bowl: take a window seat at Reubens on the inner city strip with a smoked meat sandwich (hold the bread), vinegar based coleslaw and substitute the french fries for an alkalizing salad with balsamic vinaigrette on the side. A MUST!

This was one of my favourite meals on the trip. So much so that I hardly noticed the attention we drew of passersby through the window. Shy? Ask for an inner table as I guarantee you will have intrigued and envious eyes upon you.

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How to make it holistic:

  • They have an array of salads but if you want to experience Montreal’s staple smoked meat, ask for the basic smoked meat sandwich without the bread. It will come in a stacked pile and is so tender, it disintegrates as you transfer it to garnish your salad.
  • The coleslaw is not based in mayo, but rather vinegar which makes an ideal side.
  • Omit the fried french fries and opt for the salad. This is at an additional cost but well worth it! A light salad balances the meal leaving you feeling full without feeling stuffed.

NOTE: It is a popular joint and for good reason, so check in and enjoy a walk through the neighboring shops while you anticipate a delicious meal.

Bon appeptit,

Suzanne Eden

Seasonal Sundays || Peachy Keen

“An apple is an excellent thing – until you have tasted a peach.”

George du Maurier

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Juicy with tips, tricks and holistic life hacks, this is the guide to one of our most beloved seasonal summer fruits: peaches!

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Life gets even sweeter with these juicy superfoods. But as any peach enthusiast would preach: you haven’t tasted a peach until you’ve tasted one in season and locally grown.

This Monday I did my weekly produce overhaul at Overholt Farms and happened upon a display of perfectly plump peaches freshly picked from the orchard. Sweet and fragrant (and admittedly the golden colour of our yard), these stone fruits are guaranteed to be staples of my counter-top through the upcoming months and sneak their humble way into most of our dishes.

As we dash to our local farmer’s market, here are my top tips and tricks to get the most out of a season that’s just … peachy!

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 Grow/Pick Your Own

  • As a child, we used to have a peach tree in our backyard that one year filled our kitchen, overflowed into the garage and trickled down into the basement with boxes bursting with these sweet fruits. I would run outside, stand on my tip toes and grasp the branch, plucking one loose and take a big, organic, mouthful of the juiciest, most flavourful peaches I have ever tasted!
  •  As with all fruits, they are sweetest when picked ripe off the tree. And though this tree is long gone, we reside in the fruit belt of Niagara which is bursting with local peach trees this time of the year.
  • Holistic Life Hacks: It is wonderful to visit the local farms for peaches, but going to the orchard to pick them yourself is best. Picking them fully ripened means there’s no wait to eat them (the most challenging part of any overhaul) and yields the juiciest, most flavourful and also the most nutritious fruit!

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Opt For Seconds

  • This is not in the sense of treating yourself to a second helping, though I am in full support of that too. “Seconds” are the peaches that don’t make the cut. They may have a small bruise, or indent and therefore won’t be found on display at the fruit stand. However, these peaches are just as juicy and delicious and are sold for much cheaper!
  • HLH: Ask for seconds at the fruit stand. They may be hidden behind the counter or you may have to take a mini drive/walk to pick them up.

Sift Through The Seasons

  • Peaches are my all time favourite fruit, but I won’t dare purchase one in the winter. When consumed in season, as nature intended, these fruits with have significantly higher antioxidant contents, are at their peak of flavour and texture and may have up to three times the nutritional content of their out-of-season counterpart!
  • HLH: The best peaches are found during the middle of peak season. If you do get ones with a taste of texture that seems “off,”(particularly near the beginning or end of the season), don’t toss them! These are perfect to freeze and throw into a shake or make a baked good or peach applesauce.
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Peach Sorbet : Frozen local peaches | Frozen sweet banana | A generous squeeze of lemon juice & blend.

Get Dirty Or Go Clean

  • As part of the dirty dozen, peaches are highly sprayed with chemical pesticides. Though we live in the fruit belt, tracking down a local, organic grower isn’t easy pickings. If your produce is conventional, remove the skins to eliminate the contamination of the outer layers of pesticides that cling to the fuzzy exterior.

What’s In A Label?

  • To become organically certified is an expensive endeavour. For this reason,many small, locally run farms skip the certification, even though they don’t follow conventional practices. Though they cannot say that they are officially organic, you can get around this by asking if they spray their produce with pesticides and if they try to abide by organic standards of growing.

Fast Track The Ripening

  • Though an optimal opportunity to exercise our patience, peaches will ripen quicker in a paper bag. Add an apple which emits ethylene gases and you’re well on your way to a perfectly ripe peach!

To our peachy keen seasonal Sundays,

Suzanne Eden