Ancient Grains Salad with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Golden Beets & Blood Orange Vinaigrette

ancient grains salad with blood orange vinaigrette_main

The best part about the limited variety of produce found at my neighborhood Safeway is that it requires me to make the occasional trip to Whole Foods.  (I say occasional because no matter how narrow a mission I set out on, my grocery bill is anything but lean by the time I walk out the door).

On this particular visit, the first display that caught my attention was a stunning pyramid of blood oranges. California grown and still very much in season, their soft orange skin streaked with red blush appeared like little globes of sunlight beckoning me to take them home. Some neighboring golden beets, freshly pulled from the spring soil, decided to hitch a ride and jumped into my basket too.

ancient grains salad with blood orange and golden beets

I wanted to combine the goodness of these distinctive spring jewels with the earthy, nutty flavor of ancient grains and surround them in a bed of market fresh Brussels sprouts.

The combination of greens and grains is an idea that we’ve been coming across quite a bit lately in California cuisine. We had a memorable shredded kale and quinoa salad on new year’s eve at this establishment that incorporated sunflower seeds, grapes, manchego and parmesan tossed in a lip-smacking lemon vinaigrette.  I can still taste it!

ancient grains salad with blood orange vinaigrette

Visually stunning, blood oranges derive their distinctive color from the presence of anthocyanins — a pigment that operates as an antioxidant in the body.  The flesh of the orange can vary anywhere from soft pink to brilliant red (crimson) to deep purple depending on the pigment permeation.

That means that the color of the vinaigrette will also vary depending on the pigment saturation of the oranges used. You could make this vinaigrette a hundred times and get a slightly different color each time.

ancient grains salad with blood orange vinaigrette_1

The taste also varies but generally I find blood oranges slightly less sweet and mildly tarter than conventional oranges or mandarins.

If you can’t get your hands on blood oranges for the vinaigrette, simply use whatever orange variety is available to you.  It will be every bit as delicious and if you prefer something on the sour side, just add a little fresh lemon juice to the orange to achieve desired tartness.

Same idea with the vegetables. I’ve used Brussels sprouts and golden beets in this recipe, both local and seasonal, but you can source from anything available to you (even if you’re still digging out from under the snow!) — pick what appears freshest because that will also be what tastes best and carries the greatest nutrients.

Substitute different nuts and seeds and add cheese if you wish – goat, crumpled feta and harder varieties like grated pecorino and parmesan would all be delicious here. Play around with different combinations and see what works best for you.

super foods salad_4

You can plate this salad however you wish – in layers on a singular serving tray, segmented in a large bowl, or chopped up into smaller pieces and mixed together.

Full of texture and delicious flavor, this satisfying spring salad is bursting with color and nourishing properties.


5.0 from 4 reviews
Ancient Grains Salad with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Golden Beets & Blood Orange Vinaigrette (Gluten Free, Vegan Option)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A nourishing spring salad featuring 3 ancient grains and seasonal vegetables dressed in a tangy blood orange vinaigrette.
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 4
  • For the Salad:
  • 1 cup cooked whole grains of choice (I used a combination of millet, buckwheat and white & red quinoa sold together as a 'super grains' organic blend)
  • 12 or so Brussels Sprouts (more if they are small), shaved with mandoline or knife (see Notes)
  • 4 roasted golden beets, sliced or chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced or chopped
  • 2 Tbsp pine nuts, toasted

  • For the Blood Orange Vinaigrette:
  • ½ cup blood orange juice (from 2 blood oranges) + more orange segments for the salad as desired
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp honey (or pure maple syrup for vegan version)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • good pinch of salt
  1. See prepping Notes below.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cooked (and cooled) grains and shaved Brussels sprouts, add half the vinaigrette (giving it a final whisk beforehand) and mix gently but thoroughly to combine.
  3. If you are plating on a singular tray, add sliced beats and sliced avocado and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Top with pine nuts and garnish with orange segments.
  4. If you are combining all the chopped elements together, add roasted chopped beets and avocado, drizzle with remaining vinaigrette and mix gently to integrate with grains and Brussels sprouts, taking care not to mash. Add toasted pine nuts and serve in individual bowls or plates, garnished with orange segments, as desired.
  5. Enjoy!
Harvard Study: Just as I was preparing to upload this feature, my friend Sarah over at Cooking for Kiwi and Bean posted this compelling link.
Prepping the Beets: You can roast your beets in advance and store in fridge until you are ready to assemble salad. There are many different roasting methods, one of the simplest: trim stems off beets, brush beets with a little olive oil and wrap each beet in aluminum foil. Place beets on a cooking tray in 375 F oven for 45 - 60 minutes or until cooked through. The beets will be fragrant and hot. Be sure to allow them to cool before carefully unwrapping. Once unwrapped, the skin will slide off easily and you can then slice thin (with mandoline or knife) or chop into small pieces as desired.
Prepping the Grains: The grains can also be prepped in advance. Cook the grains according to package directions, generally 2:1 water to grain ratio. I use my rice cooker ~ works like a charm. If you are buying your grains unpackaged you can use this Guide to Cooking Grains.
Prepping the Pine Nuts: The pine nuts can be toasted ahead of time. I simply use a small dry skillet set to the lowest heat and toast the nuts -- be sure to keep a close eye on them to avoid burning. It only takes a minute or two.
Prepping the Brussels Sprouts: If you have a mandoline, you will make short work of the sprouts (I have a basic hand-held model that I bought a few years ago ~ very easy to use and works well). The biggest issue with mandolines is safety (very sharp blade). If you don't have a mandoline simply use a knife and slice the sprouts as thin as possible holding the end as you go. Discard ends.
Prepping the Blood Orange Vinaigrette: simply whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl or container with fitted lid. I recommend making the dressing at least two hours in advance (ideally overnight) to allow the flavors to permeate. Be sure to taste the dressing and make any adjustments before using.

super foods salad_2

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5 dietary strategies to help combat fatigue and restore energy

In my last nutrition feature I talked about the importance of sleep and discussed dietary/lifestyle strategies for achieving it. The piece generated some good discussion in the comments section so if you haven’t had a chance to read it yet, be sure to drop by to take advantage of that information as well.

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One of the most common concerns I encounter in my nutrition practice is low energy levels and fatigue. Whether it’s difficulty getting out of bed in the morning, the classic afternoon slump, crashing early evening or low energy levels persisting throughout the day, fatigue can strongly impact our work productivity, mood, motivation and the quality of our interactions with others.

Along with regular exercise, managing stress levels and obtaining a proper night’s rest, eating the right foods at the right time can go a long way to avoiding common energy drains and restoring balance.

1. Eat Breakfast (or bring it with you) – after prolonged sleep, breaking our fast (breakfast) helps kick start metabolism and promote mental acuity. It supplies us with the energy we need to begin our day and prevents hunger from striking at a time when we are more apt to make poor dietary choices.

If lack of time or appetite is a factor, (or if you are in a long-standing habit of not eating breakfast), consider starting small and simple: a handful of nuts and seeds;  a wedge of cheese; plain yogurt; a wholesome granola bar; a hard-boiled egg or two tablespoons of peanut butter — it doesn’t get much easier than that — and the difference between any of these simple choices and no food in the morning can be significant in terms of mood, alertness and concentration.  Start small with what is tolerable for you (or the individual you are supporting), and build slowly from there. Over time, you can expand your repertoire — smoothies are another great option for reluctant breakfast eaters.

2. Include protein not only at mealtime but also when snacking — it requires more work for our bodies to break down protein and fat than carbohydrates.  By combining a quality carbohydrate (example: vegetable/fruit/whole grain of choice) with a protein and/or fat (example: nut or seed butter, guacamole, hummus, cheese, milk, yogurt) it slows down the rapid conversion of the carbohydrate to sugar, helping us feel fuller longer and preventing jags in insulin levels.  By stabilizing blood sugar in this way, we also help supply a smooth and steady release of energy over time rather than a quick burst.  This dietary strategy is not only important at meal time but also, critically, when snacking during long stretches of time between meals — for example the gap after lunch (around 1 pm) and dinner (around 7 pm or later).

3. Plan ahead to avoid large time gaps between food consumption eating irregularly or skipping meals can play havoc with blood sugar levels leaving us feeling weak, shaky and irritable.  When we wait too long to eat, our bodies naturally cue us in to consume the quickest form of energy available which is almost always those low nourishment carbohydrates (sweets and the whole gamut of refined ‘bready things”) which give us a quick boost of energy but almost as quickly leave us feeling hungry, tired and sluggish all over again (the sugar crash). If you know it’s going to be a busy day, or one spent mostly on the road, plan ahead for some simple snack options that include those vital proteins and/or fats in tandem with quality carbohydrates and experiment with different options and time frames to see what works best for you. Something as simple as a handful of trail mix can make all the difference.  Orchard Valley Harvest has a line of portioned grab-and-go snacks of this nature that I carry along when we travel.

Frequency and timing of food intake will vary according to a number of variables — age, stage of life, activity levels and the type/amount of food consumed throughout the day (6 grams of protein at lunch will not have the same staying power as 30 grams, for example).  As a very general guideline, eating every three hour to four hours for most adults (more frequently for children) can help keep blood sugar levels stable and mood balanced.

4. Make sure you’re well hydrated — we’re all familiar with the mid-afternoon slump that has our eyes watering, heads bobbing and minds fogging over.  The overwhelming desire is to curl up and take a nap (which is not always possible, practical or desirable).

Eating well-timed meals/snacks that include the vital protein/fat element will go a long way to preventing this scenario but another critical component is staying hydrated.  If you’re having one of those afternoons, and we all do, one of the very best remedies is to pour yourself a tall glass of water and gently stretch your body as you sip it (if you have the option of going outside, even momentarily, to get some fresh air or walk around the block, that can also be powerfully helpful).  The whole process will only take about 10 minutes but will do your body and mind immeasurable good.

smoothie_inspired edibles

Water is the hub of all biochemical processes in the body and even mild dehydration (1-5% loss of body water) has been shown to reduce efficiency and performance and is one of the most common causes of daytime fatigue.

How much water — water needs fluctuate depending on a number of factors: ambient temperature, activity levels, diet and general health.  Consumption of diuretics, such as caffeine and alcohol, increase urinary output requiring more water consumption to make up for this loss.  The Mayo Clinic estimates that the average adult produces 6.3 cups (about 1.5 litres) of urine a day plus an additional 4 cups of water through breathing, sweating and bowel excretion.  Food generally accounts for 20% of water intake.  By this standard, we should aim for a minimum of 8 cups of water per day (or 2 litres) to replenish lost fluids in addition to food sources (fresh fruits and vegetables are a particularly good source of water).

Ideas for enhancing taste — some delicious ways of enlivening the taste of water include adding fresh herbs, edible flowers, fruit and vegetables to your beverages. Some choices include: sliced cucumber,  lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, berries, pomegranate, mint, thyme, rosemary and lavender.  You can also enjoy herbal teas and sparkling water or add a splash of your favorite unsweetened fruit juice to water. Smoothies are another delicious way to stay hydrated (and nourished).  Have fun experimenting and coming up with your own combinations.

5. Have your vitamin/mineral levels checked - sometimes lack of energy is attributable to certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies. The most common deficiency implicated in fatigue is iron (especially for menstruating women – vegetarians and vegans are at higher risk).  Iron deficiency, even in the absence of anemia, can cause fatigue, lethargy and difficulty concentrating and is certainly worth investigating.  Another deficiency that arises on occasion is B12 (vegans and those who do not absorb B12 well are at higher risk). You can have your vitamin and mineral levels tested through your health care practitioner.

If you are living with persistent low energy levels, be sure to follow-up with your health care practitioner.  Ongoing fatigue may be indicative of other health concerns.

The information in this post is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician or other health care professional directly before beginning or changing a course of health treatment.

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Matcha Green Tea Soft Serve (vegan)

Green Tea (Matcha) Soft Serve_blog

Our youngest stumbled upon his first four-leaf clover when he was barely six years old.

We were getting out of the car and walking across a stretch of indecipherable greens when he looked down and said, “Mommy, look, it’s a four-leaf clover.”

Just like that.

Now having spent countless hours looking for four-leaf clovers in my youth (and tearing the third leaf in two to create the fourth), I knew a little something about the likelihood of this nonchalant discovery.  I smiled in that motherly kind of way thinking how sweet, he thinks he found a four-leaf clover. But before I could complete my dismissive thought, he had plucked it from the ground to reveal its perfection.

He went on to find two other four-leaf clovers, as accidentally as the first, over the next couple of years.

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It’s estimated that there is a one in 10,000 chance of finding a four-leaf clover when actively searching (I never met one I didn’t make myself).

So whether our son’s accidental discoveries are attributable to the luck of the Irish, early pattern recognition or the spirit of his Irish Grandfather cheering him on, we’re not sure. But we’ll take a little Leprechaun dust wherever we can find it.

clover! blog

Have you ever found a four-leaf clover?

No matter, today we’re all Irish — and lucky too — because I’ve got a gorgeously green, creamy delicious soft serve that you can pull together (are you ready for this?) in less than 10 minutes!  No fancy equipment required. That’s right, just using chilled whole ingredients in your every day blender.

I have to say I’m a little in love with this refreshing delight and it may have played a small part in my desire to make it every day this past week to get it just right for you.  My sacrifices are truly boundless.

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to try the antioxidant-rich Japanese jewel matcha (green tea powder) with its unparalleled taste, this might be the one for you! It seems to hit all the right notes and dovetails nicely with the arrival of spring and the sun shining warm upon our faces. Our whole family welcomed this one.

Cheers to the Irish in all of us ~

5.0 from 2 reviews
Green Tea Soft Serve (Vegan)
Prep time
Total time
Serves: Serves 4
  • 2 frozen bananas (peel the ripe bananas before freezing them for ease of use)
  • 1 large ripe avocado, chilled in the fridge overnight
  • 1 + ⅓ cup full fat coconut milk, chilled in the fridge overnight
  • 2 tsp matcha green tea powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  1. Place frozen bananas, avocado, coconut milk, matcha powder, vanilla and maple syrup in a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend the ingredients until smooth, stopping the machine to scrape down the sides as necessary.
  3. Serve immediately in individual bowls or cups.
1. Enjoy Immediately this dairy free soft serve is best eaten immediately (think of it like a smoothie). Unlike processed ice cream that contains various binders and emulsifiers, this homemade version will become rock hard if left in the freezer. Keep in mind as well that over time, the avocado oxidizes (perfectly natural process) but this will darken the color of the cream.
2. Storing Bananas if you're anything like us, overripe bananas accumulate quickly in your kitchen. Before they reach that stage, peel the bananas and pop them into a airtight freezer bag and store in the freezer for later use -- loaves, smoothies, soft serves, etc. They preserve nicely.
3. Matcha tea is made from green tea leaves that have been finely milled into a silky, radiant green powder. When you drink matcha you are benefiting from the entire green tea leaf, not just the brewed water from the leaf. Matcha is considered amongst the highest quality green teas with one of most concentrated antioxidant contents. You can find matcha at any specialty tea shop and you can also order it online.
4. Avocado not only tastes delicious, it is also endowed with gorgeous, nutritive properties. An excellent source of heart healthy monounsaturated fat, avocado is also rich in lutein, a carotenoid that operates to help protect our eyes from disease. Other health supporters found in the avocado include: fibre, folate, vitamin K, vitamin E, and vitamin B5.

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Vibrant Chili-Rubbed Salmon Bowls

chili rubbed salmon bowls

March has finally arrived and I know that comes as a great relief to many.

Spring buds, longer sunlit days and warmer temperatures on the way to caress those weary winter bones (and not a moment too soon if I’m reading the collective temperament right).

The transition has been quite noticeable here in NorCal.  Spring vegetables strutting the best version of their naked selves in markets and on shelves — rainbow carrots, multicolored miniature bell peppers, radiant radish and beets of all description.

Our backyard is also in flux.  The prolific mandarin tree that kept us well fed (and hydrated) through the winter finally delivered its last fruit and now sits bare and quiet beside the flowering apricot tree.

flowering apricot tree_blog

I know how it works but it still manages to make me sad.

To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season…

Our lemon trees continue to produce but we’re having the toughest time motivating our little lime tree. It hasn’t made much progress since we planted it last fall and clearly missed the memo on margarita hour.

baby lime tree_blog

We’re hoping the spring session will give it the boost it needs. And today, a celebration of early spring with these vibrant chili-rubbed salmon bowls.

If you’re looking for a new way to enjoy salmon, or perhaps entice another family member to feel the love, this recipe is a must-try!

Soft succulent salmon morsels enrobed in a crispy delicious chili-oregano rub. Nourishing, packed with flavor and quite possibly one of the easiest and most time efficient recipe you’ll ever come across.

chili rubbed salmon bowls_cropped

When our boys were young, I would cut salmon up into bite-sized pieces — it seemed more manageable for them and I would mix the pieces in with a grain and some chopped veggies — a big happy mess.

Of course, you don’t have to chunk off the salmon the way I’ve done in these bowls.  You can enjoy this recipe in whole fillet form with veggies on the side and skip the starch element altogether if you prefer, or serve it up however you wish.

The heat in the seasoning can also be easily adjusted to suit your taste or the taste of those you’re cooking for. More information under the Notes section of the recipe card.

Enjoy and cheers to spring (whenever it comes!)

5.0 from 2 reviews
Vibrant Chili-Rubbed Salmon Bowls
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: Serves 4
  • For the Chili-Rubbed Salmon
  • 4 medium-sized salmon fillets (4-6 ounces each) with one skinless side
  • 2 Tbsp quality chili powder of choice (see Notes)
  • 1 tsp oregano powder
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • pinch sea salt
  • Sprigs of fresh oregano for garnish

  • For the Vibrant Veggie-Quinoa
  • 1 cup of cooked quinoa (I prepare mine in the rice cooker and use 1 cup of vegetable stock + 1 cup water -- the stock adds flavor to the quinoa as it cooks)
  • 1 large or 4 miniature sweet bell peppers, diced
  • 1 head of broccoli cut into small florets
  • 1 bunch of colorful spring (!) carrots, sliced
  1. Prepare quinoa according to package directions - generally 1:2 ratio quinoa to fluid (I use 1 cup quinoa and 1 cup vegetable stock to add flavor).
  2. Combine dry seasonings in a small bowl: chili, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder and sea salt.
  3. Add a little bit of moisture (a dab of water) to the skinless side of the salmon fillets before sprinkling with seasoning - pat the seasoning down on the surface with your fingers for adherence -- I sometimes rub the sides of the fillets with seasoning too. It's as simple as that!
  4. In a greased cast iron (or other) skillet set to medium heat, place the fillets, seasoning side down, on the skillet. Being careful not to burn the surface, allow the salmon fillets to cook for about four minutes before carefully turning them over. Depending on the thickness of the fillet, allow the fish to cook for another 4 minutes or so or until it until the fillets are nicely darkened on the outside and still tender and pink on the inside (you can test this at any time after you flip the fillet).
  5. Meanwhile add veggies to cooked quinoa, if using, mixing gently to combine.
  6. Using the tip of your spatula, chunk off pieces of the fillet right in the skillet if you like (it will be very easy to do and will fall away from the skin beneath effortlessly). If you prefer, you can also keep the fillets whole.
  7. Divide veggie-quinoa among four bowls and top with chunks of salmon. Adjust seasoning to taste and garnish with sprigs of fresh oregano, as desired.
The Veggies – this recipe is a great way to use up any veggies you happen to have in the fridge or the seasonal produce that surrounds you so don't feel limited by what I happened to use.
The Chili Factor – there are many different kinds of chile/chili you can consider for this recipe and it really just depends on the type of flavour impact you are looking for. Ground chile peppers such as cayenne and habanero are amongst the hottest varieties so you will want to use these chile powders carefully and sparingly (particularly initially) – I use small pinches (1/8 or ¼ tsp) of these powders on occasion in cooking. Ancho chile is beautifully complex and warm (but not as hot as cayenne/habanero). Paprika and chipotle (smoke-dried jalapeno) are other favorites. The more generic ‘chili powder’ that you find in the supermarket is really a mixture of milder chile peppers with the addition of herbs/spices such as onion/garlic powder and salt and may be more suitable for youngsters and those who don't tolerate or enjoy heat. Chili powder of this kind would be perfectly suitable for this recipe but you could also add a pinch of ancho or chipotle in addition to it just to give it a bit more robustness. It’s really just a matter of personal taste. I encourage you to visit my friend MJ over at MJ's Kitchen aka: The Chile Queen, for some detailed information on chile varieties ~ she's my go-to source.
Mighty Omega-3s – cold water fish such as salmon (mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, rainbow trout and black cod) offer the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids EPA & DHA which research reveals helps reduce inflammation and protect us against cardiac disease. Several neuronal and cognitive functions also depend on these fats to keep the lining of the brain cells flexible and communication fluid.

chili rubbed salmon fillet_blog_1chili rubbed salmon bowls_cropped

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Chickpea Tikka Masala (Vegan, GF)

chickpea tikka masala_blog_2

I’m finding my groove after some time away in the quiet mountains of the Lake Tahoe region.

It’s a strange thing harvesting lemons from your backyard one moment, and then finding yourself at a 9000 foot elevation surrounded by snow the next.  Strange as in unfamiliar, but certainly not unwelcome.

Boundless, beautiful California — ocean, deserts, mountains, forests, lakes — you choose. Don’t mind if I do.

chickpea tikka masala_raisins

So while I daydream about our starlit nights, ski-filled days and roasted Brussels sprouts with gorgonza fondue (yup, it happened), I have a delicious and warming meatless riff on the well-loved Chicken Tikka Masala for you today — and it all happens in one pot.

I am particularly drawn to the juxtaposition of heat from the spices and the cooling nature of the cream/yogurt in tikka masala — one of the principal features that distinguishes this dish from the lovely Chana Masala.

Now clearly my chickpeas were not cooked in a tandoor and being that it is vegan recipe, the dairy element is also represented differently here with a creamy coconut milk.  I also decided to ranch things up a bit by adding apple, raisin and almond which in my view work swimmingly in this adaptation (and you thought the British version was a departure – wink to my Indian friends).

chickpea tikka masala_ingredients

I’ve selected some beautiful Indian spices with their characteristic thermogenic properties and balanced the heat off against the cooling properties of the coconut milk. The resulting sauce is luscious and full of flavor — the meal satisfying and simple enough to pull together any day of the week. I often serve it over coleslaw but on occasion rice or as pictured here, quinoa. Our whole family loves it.

As always, be sure to read the Notes in the recipe card below for best results.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Chickpea Tikka Masala (Vegan, GF)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: Serves 4-6
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves, smashed and finely chopped
  • 5 cups cooked chickpeas, thoroughly rinsed if using canned
  • ½ heaping cup plump golden raisins
  • 1 large happy apple, skin-on and diced (I used red delicious)
  • ½ cup unsalted almonds (whole or slivered as desired)
  • 8 large button mushrooms, sliced thin
  • 14 fl oz/ 400 mL unsweetened full fat coconut milk
  • 6 oz/170 g tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp ground garam masala
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ - ½ tsp (or to taste) cayenne pepper
  • 1 large nub of ginger, grated (about 1 heaping tablespoon or to taste)
  • 2 tsp coarse sugar (brown sugar is fine)
  1. In a large skillet set to medium-low heat, sauté onion, garlic and mushroom for a few minutes until the onion is translucent and the garlic fragrant.
  2. While the mixture is cooking, sprinkle the onion/garlic/mushroom with the following seasonings: garam masala; cumin; coriander; turmeric, cinnamon and cayenne pepper, tossing to coat.
  3. Add coconut milk and tomato paste to skillet and gently mix all ingredients together to integrate - making sure that the tomato paste is fully broken down and its color released in the spicy sauce.
  4. Add ginger and coarse sugar to the skillet, mixing to combine.
  5. Add chickpeas, raisin, apple and almond to the skillet, mixing to combine with the sauce.
  6. Taste the mixture and make any seasoning adjustments desired.
  7. Once mixture has heated through serve in individual bowls or plates with accompanying greens, coleslaw or grain of choice, as desired.
Why Chopsticks? although many Asian countries do not conventionally use chopsticks, I tend to use them frequently with many types of food as a way of slowing down the eating process and improving digestion. It's a wonderful technique.
Garlic: flattening garlic (smashing/crushing) is a surefire way of releasing the allium’s beneficial oils. To smash, simply use the flat side of a large knife and carefully press down on the garlic over a cutting board until it breaks/flattens somewhat. Sprinkle with sea salt (the salt absorbs beautifully into the garlic at this stage) and then chop finely.
Season to Taste: as with all recipes, seasoning is all about personal taste. If you know that heat doesn't work for you for example, ease-off on the cayenne or omit it all together. The same thing goes with ginger and garlic (or others) - experiment according to preference.
Don't soak mushrooms: mushrooms naturally contain a lot of water that gets released in the cooking process. If you soak your mushrooms in water to wash them, you will end up with a runny mess. To avoid this, use a damp cloth or brush to clean the mushrooms instead.
BPA: canned beans are always an option but try to seek out those with a Bisphenol A (BPA) free lining. BPA is a known toxin that continues to be used in the lining of many food and beverage cans. Studies have shown that this industrial plastic is absorbed by canned foods and when ingested can give rise to significant spikes in urinary levels of BPA.
Even better the next day: while this tikka masala is ready to eat from the get-go, I do find that the flavors develop even more over time. The almond remains crunchy (even on day 2 and 3), the apple mellows just enough to attenuate the high notes while still lending some sweetness and flavor and the raisins plump up and soften. In short, this dish makes awesome leftovers!

chickpea tikka masala_blog

Now, since you’re no doubt wondering about the lovely wood background you see in my photos today, here’s a closer look:

wood board_inspired edibles

It’s a cutting board! (which I have no intention of cutting on) — a beautiful gift from my boys. In addition to its ornamental use and entertainment value — I could stare at it all day — I might also use it as a food platter one day.

(The retro grocery list pad? — isn’t it the best, from one of my awesome sisters).

Bon Appétit mes chères amies/amis!

chickpea tikka masala_blog_3

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How lack of sleep may be sabotaging your weight loss efforts and what you can do about it

I’ve always been mystified by the characterization of weight management as a simple matter of ‘calories in vs. calories out’ – a reductionist approach that leaves plenty unsaid.

Our weight may be influenced by a myriad of factors including metabolism, hormones, medication, sleep patterns and stress.  And while none of these factors absolve us of personal responsibility for our health, they may mean that the picture is more complicated than we are often led to believe.

lack of sleep and weight gain

◊ Sleep Function

On a practical level, we all understand the importance of sleep and how it can facilitate or undermine our mental acuity, work productivity and the quality of our interactions with peers and loved ones.

Sleep is critical for restoration (growth, repair and rejuvenation), learning, memory consolidation, mental wellness, hormone function and immune defense.

There is also a mounting body of evidence to suggest that sleep deprivation increases our risk of obesity by altering brain function and disrupting the delicate balance of hormones that regulate our appetite, stress levels and glucose metabolism (more below).

◊ How much Sleep

The number of hours of sleep needed to maintain ideal balance will vary depending on our age, lifestyle, health and biochemical individuality.  For adults, somewhere between seven and nine hours of sleep is generally regarded as ideal.

◊ Sleep Deprivation & Weight Gain

Lack of sleep often leaves us feeling physically and mentally weaker and less motivated.  In addition to making it more likely for us to skip our exercise regimens (or be unable to workout as productively as we might otherwise), studies also indicate that sleep deprivation makes us more inclined to eat greater quantities of higher-calorie, lower nutrient foods. This may be to make up for the energy deficit or, as another study suggests, because something fundamentally changes in our sleep deprived brain that makes us vulnerable to these dietary choices.

Sleep deprivation also appears to trigger powerful hormonal changes in our bodies:

  • Numerous studies show that lack of sleep is associated with elevated ghrelin levels (a hunger stimulating hormone) and lower leptin levels (an appetite-suppressing hormone). The result is that we end up with more chemical messengers signaling us to keep eating than those alerting us to stop.
  • Lack of sleep also gives rise to higher levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) that, when in balance, operates to regulate important body functions. However, elevated and prolonged cortisol has been associated with a number of negative health effects including: impaired blood sugar control, high blood pressure, lowered immunity and abdominal obesity.
  • A recent study also showed that just one night of total sleep deprivation was enough to significantly reduce resting metabolic rate (our body’s ability to burn calories at rest) in adult men in comparison to those obtaining 8 hours of sleep. Resting metabolic rate is the energy required to perform our vital body functions (breathing and heart beating for example) while at rest. Since up to 75% of the calories we consume during the day are used by our bodies for this purpose, this is not an insignificant finding.

◊ Dietary & Lifestyle Strategies for Improving Sleep Quality

If it were as easy as lying in bed for seven hours to achieve blissful, restorative sleep, we would all be doing it. According to recent statistics, close to 40% of North Americans report sleeping less than seven hours a night with many experiencing recurrent sleep trouble.

With this in mind, some dietary and lifestyle tips to help promote a good night’s rest:

  • Room Climate – a comfortable mattress/bedding and a cool and dark room are essential to a good night’s rest. If you have furry friends who are sleeping with you, no matter how much you may love them, now is a good time to think about recreating the sleeping boundaries and moving your pets into a different room during the sleeping hours. If you find that you are waking from your partner’s movements, consider split mattresses in a singular frame which can reduce motion transfer or, depending on the circumstances, separate beds close by.
  • Avoid Stimulants — If you are not already doing so, consider limiting caffeine to the morning (or phasing it out 6-8 hours before you plan on sleeping). Caffeine is a stimulant that mimics the effects of adrenaline in the body and increases blood pressure.  Caffeine can also interfere with the brain’s production of a sleep-inducing chemical called adenosine.  Studies show that caffeine not only makes it difficult to fall asleep, it can also shorten the duration of sleep. Keep in mind as well that stimulation comes in many forms.  Turning off your computer, phone and television monitors several hours before bed can be an excellent way of decompressing the nervous system and preparing for rest.  You can ask anyone in my family how ruthlessly I apply this practice in my own life — I have found it to be enormously helpful.
  • Alcohol — There is a common misconception that alcohol assists in getting a good night’s rest.  While it’s true that alcohol may help us fall asleep faster (it is a depressant that slows motor and brain function), it’s also true that it disrupts the second half of the sleep cycle and interferes with critical REM sleep.
  • Evening Meals — Large meals at the end of the day put a heavy burden on our digestive system at a time when our bodies should be focusing on rest and repair. While there will always be exceptions, try to keep your evening meals reasonable portioned and as clean (close to nature) as possible. If you know that certain foods cause you digestive upset (even though you may enjoy them) such as spicy foods for example, consider moving them over to your lunchtime meal instead of the evening.
  • Tart Cherries and Almighty Melatonin — You may have heard of the importance of sleeping in a dark room.  This is because the production of the powerful sleep-regulating hormone melatonin is stimulated by darkness and inhibited by light. What you may not know however, is that tart cherries are a bioactive dietary source of melatonin. A compelling study recently published in the European Journal of Nutrition showed that consuming tart cherry juice twice a day gave rise to significantly higher levels of melatonin in participants who experienced substantive increases in sleep time and sleep efficiency over the control group. Benefits in sleep duration and sleep quality were observed in both men and women.
  • Consider a Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock — Have you ever noticed how much better you feel when you are allowed to wake up naturally (based on your own sleep cycle) vs. being woken up by a set time alarm clock or someone/something else? Sleep cycle alarm clocks claim to monitor the phases of your sleep by monitoring your movement and targeting the best time to wake you accordingly (you set the time range). And while there is no hard science behind their effectiveness, Apple’s sleep cycle alarm clock, for example, remains one of the company’s most popular apps and continues to receive top user reviews. If it works for you, it works for you.
  • Taming the Monkey Mind – One of the toughest opponents we will encounter to a good night’s rest is our overactive brain.  Calming our bodies in preparation for the more difficult work of calming our minds can be a highly effective tool in achieving a good night’s rest.  The formula will be different for each of us, but here are some ideas to experiment with.  Many of these techniques can be useful not only for falling asleep initially but also for falling back to sleep when we wake in the night:

♦ Daytime exercise (it is generally best to reserve higher intensity/aerobic exercise for earlier in the day) ♦ A relaxing evening walk in the fresh air ♦ Progressive Muscle Relaxation ♦ Breathing Exercises ♦ Meditation ♦ Yoga ♦ Journaling ♦ Visualization ♦ Music (a wonderful free source: ♦ Soothing Herbal Teas (such as valerian root and chamomile) ♦ Essential oils (lavender and jasmine are notably helpful in connection with sleep though my personal favorite in the winter is frankincense — dab a little on your wrist and/or pillow case or add a few drops to your evening bath water or bedroom humidifier).

The information in this post is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician or other health care professional directly before beginning or changing a course of health treatment.

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Broken Heart Mint Chocolate Truffles (vegan)

broken heart mint chocolate truffles_blog_a

I knew as soon as I unmolded these little hearts that they were ruined.

Rough edges, jagged lines, cracks, crevasses, chips and divots.  You name it, they wouldn’t make the cut. I’ve been operating in the blogging world long enough to know this is not what people want to see.

No big deal, I’m well accustomed to redos. Besides, the fix was easy enough.  The mixture was too thick to form properly into the crevasses of the mold — a simple matter of adding a different type of chocolate better suited to melt and pour.  I’d have these little truffles smoothed out in no time.

broken heart mint chocolate truffles_blog_d

And then something funny happened on my way to fixing them.

The more I looked at these tattered little hearts, the more I fell in love with them and the perversion of covering them up split me down the middle.

How many times had I done this, seen this, felt this.

dusted mint cacao truffles

Our collective desire to hide, cover, smother for the sake of something brighter, smoother, straighter (for the record, I also miss the occasional crooked tooth — where did they all go?). We don’t tolerate flaws very well.

But if the heart symbol represents the center of our emotional and spiritual selves, could I not just let that be what it is? The sum of our love and losses, our wounds, our scars, our strengths and our weaknesses.  Many bold and beautiful things but surely not perfection.

broken heart mint chocolate truffles_blog_c

These vegan truffles are made from raw cacao powder and coconut butter.  They are silky, rich and delicious — I also happen to think they’re quite beautiful.

The resulting mixture is thick and somewhat sticky so it doesn’t pour like some other fluid chocolates do.  If you prefer smooth truffles, you can either shape the mixture into little balls (quite common with raw cacao) or, if you want to go with smooth little hearts, let’s call them new-to-the-world hearts, you can melt dark chocolate (raw cacao is available in bars as well).  Also, be sure to read the notes on melting coconut butter in the recipe below. 

I added a splash of mint because I like the touch of freshness it adds to these rich delights but you could omit in favor of pure chocolate or your own extract of choice.

Finish with a dusting of cacao, cinnamon, nutmeg, matcha or vanilla powder, as desired (the possibilities are endless).

Here’s to your happy, healthy, vibrant hearts!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Broken Heart Mint Chocolate Truffles (vegan)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: makes about 13 one ounce chocolate truffles
  • 1 cup raw cacao powder
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp pure mint extract (or to taste)
  • 3 Tbsp pure maple syrup (or to taste)
  • ⅓ cup coconut butter or slightly more, melted
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Place raw cacao powder in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add vanilla extract, mint extract (if using), maple syrup, melted coconut butter and sea salt.
  3. Whisk ingredients together until smooth (adding slightly more butter if needed). The truffle mixture should be smooth but fairly thick.
  4. Taste the truffle mixture and make any desired adjustments (extracts, syrup, etc).
  5. Use a spoon to scoop out the thick truffle mixture and place it into the silicone heart molds pushing the chocolate down (compressing it) as you go along. Use a spreader or knife to smooth out the back.
  6. Place heart mold/s in the fridge for approximately one hour to allow the hearts to firm up. (You could also place in freezer for about 20 minutes but be careful not to freeze/burn).
  7. Gently unmold the hearts.
  8. These chocolate truffle hearts do best stored in the fridge.
1) You will need a silicone heart mold to make these truffles (unless you are adept at spinning hearts out of air in which case I am very jealous). I bought mine many years ago at IKEA (sold as an ice cube tray). You can find these molds easily online - Amazon has many to choose from.
2) In their pure form, cacao and cocoa powder are used interchangeably to refer to the basic powder made from whole, roasted cacao beans that have been ground up. The powder itself contains very little fat and no added sugar. This is not to be confused with the more common commercial cocoa powder used to make hot chocolate which is processed and sweetened. You can find natural cacao and cocoa powder at health food stores and many large grocery stores.
3) If you are new to coconut butter, it is the pureed pulp/meat of the coconut - unlike coconut oil (which is extracted and separated from the pulp of the coconut), the butter retains its native fiber content.
4) Coconut butter, like all saturated fats, is generally solid at room temperature. Coconut butter is a little trickier than coconut oil to melt. The butter's texture varies considerably and it also burns easily. I do not recommend melting coconut butter in the microwave. The water bath method (double-boiler) is a gentler method (a warm but not hot oven might also do the trick). If you wish to keep these truffles 'raw' you can simply heat the coconut oil over a bowl of hot water (using the double-boiler method) and gently coax it along until it melts -- as opposed to heating more rigorously (and at a higher temperature) on the stove top.
5) I prefer chocolate (and desserts generally) on the mildly sweet side - the vanilla and mint add wonderful taste but you can also modify the maple syrup quantity to suit your taste.

dusted mint chocolate truffles_blog_8

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Caribbean Spiced Sweet Potato-Carrot Soup {wannabe Potage Crécy}

dairy free sweet potato & carrot soup_blog

Love the definition of Potage Crécy I recently came across: “French for it’s cold outside — you need some creamy carrot soup.”

Creamy carrot soup it is.


Last week, while I was posting ‘lean and clean’ spring chicken on my facebook page (what an oops that was), the rest of the world was posting comfort and warmth.

Just as it was occurring to sleepy me that the better part of North America was in a deep freeze, (the three hour time difference doesn’t help), my brother emailed a picture of his co-worker’s husky dog curled up in the fetal position outside in the snow (when a husky’s seeking comfort from the cold… you know it ain’t pretty). It was -35 C /-31 F at home that day.

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There are plenty of things I miss about Canada but frozen eyelash weather isn’t generally one of them.

Still, I do think about the northern winters often enough.

I miss the fresh fallen snow and the feeling of burying myself deep in the forest.  Those sacred places where you can feel your mind quiet and hear your heart beat against the stillness of nature.

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On those snow heavy days when the landscape was covered white, we would spend the better part of the daylight hours skiing through the back-trails of the Gatineau Hills, and often recover with a bone warming pot of soup at the Chelsea Pub.


image courtesy of Le Pub Chelsea

It’s hard to beat the charisma of soup on a cold winter’s day.

While I can’t say that the carrots used in this potage were sourced from the Crécy region of France (reputed to be among the best tasting carrots in the world and who doesn’t love saying the words potage Crécy), we did find our organic California grown carrots to be a perfectly delicious stand-in.

Bold, aromatic, thick and satisfying, we loved this bowl of goodness.  The gingered broth in tandem with the banana and coconut lend a distinctively Caribbean touch to this winter curry and I’m thinking a taste of island sunshine might be welcome right about now.

caribbean spiced sweet potato carrot soup_revise

5.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Sweet Potato & Carrot Soup (Dairy Free/Vegan Option)
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: yields about 6 cups
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • ¾ tsp ground garam masala
  • ¾ tsp ground cumin
  • ¾ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • pinch ground cayenne pepper, it's hot so use accordingly
  • 1 large nub of ginger, finely grated (I used about 2 Tbsp)
  • 1 pound (450 g) carrots (about 4 cups), chopped or simply use baby carrots
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed (you could microwave to soften if easier - see notes)
  • 1 banana, peeled and chopped (substitute ½ cup apple sauce or 2 tsp brown sugar)
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable broth (I used chicken)
  • 1 cup (or more) coconut milk
  • dash cinnamon or nutmeg for topping
  1. In a large skillet, sauté onion and garlic in a little bit of olive over low-medium heat until the onion becomes translucent.
  2. Sprinkle dry seasonings (garam masala, cumin, coriander, turmeric and cayenne) over the onion and garlic as they cook, mixing with a wooden spoon to integrate the flavors.
  3. Add chicken or vegetable broth and coconut milk to the skillet with seasoned onion/garlic
  4. Add carrots, sweet potato and banana to the skillet (the liquid should mostly cover the vegetables/fruit) if it doesn't simply add a little coconut milk (or fluid of choice)
  5. Allow carrots, sweet potato and banana to simmer for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are barely soft (al dente)
  6. Add ginger to the skillet and mix to combine
  7. When vegetables are al dente, remove skillet from heat and allow it to cool somewhat before carefully transferring contents into a blender/food processor to purée to desired consistency. You can do this in batches if easier. Work carefully as the fluid will still be warm.
  8. If the consistency of the mixture is too thick after blending, simply add some chicken/veg stock or coconut milk to dilute. You could also add water or milk beverage of choice if preferred.
  9. Be sure to taste the soup to make any seasoning adjustments.
  10. Once desired consistency is achieved, carefully transfer the puréed soup back to the skillet to serve in individual bowls topped with a sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg (as desired) or cool fully before storing in a covered container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
1) This soup is intended to be thick but you can easily dilute to suit your preference with stock, water or milk of choice.
2) The ginger and cayenne bring distinctive flavor and heat to the soup -- I find them delicious and welcome but you can reduce the quantity or omit as desired.
3) If you find it difficult to cube an uncooked sweet potato (they can be quite hard), simply soften it in the microwave. (You can leave the peel on for this - that too will be easier to shed once softened).
Nutrition Highlights:
1) Sweet potatoes are a rich source of vitamin C and fiber and they also lead the vegetable pack with their concentration of beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant. In tandem with carrots in this recipe, they bring a whopping concentration of beta-carotene which studies suggest can help guard against certain cancers and heart disease.
2) Curcumin, the active bright yellow pigment found in turmeric, is revered for its potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Turmeric is thought to protect against cancer by inhibiting tumor formation and cell growth.

Inspired Edibles_ski adventures

carribean spiced sweet potato and carrot soup

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5 strategies to help reduce sugar cravings and restore balance

5 strategies to reduce sugar_lemon_blog

If you’re coming out of the holiday season feeling like you need to take a little break from the sweet life but aren’t having the easiest time shaking it, you’re not alone.

Sugar has a very powerful effect on the reward center of our brain.  There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the chemistry underlying sugar addiction is virtually identical to the chemistry underlying drug addiction in that both are driven by dopamine – the neurotransmitter that controls the brain’s pleasure reward circuit.

When we consume sugar it stimulates the release of dopamine and we experience a sensation of pleasure. We get cued by sights, sounds and smells that evoke powerful memories of pleasure and keep us coming back for more.  Every time we succumb to addictive foods we reinforce the circuit of desire and reward further, making it harder for us to break the pleasure cycle. In short, the more we eat sugar the more we want to eat sugar, and vice versa.  Some of us may have inherited a biochemistry that makes us especially vulnerable to this cycle.

The good news is that there are strategies we can put in place to help lay new tracks and diminish those persistent sugar cravings. Today I’m sharing some of my top tips for hitting the reset button and restoring balance.

1. Enjoy fresh lemon juice in tepid water and on food — I can’t say enough about the benefits of the humble lemon. Beyond acting as a potent antioxidant during cold and flu season (vitamin C) and adrenal gland supporter (important during times of stress), the citric acid in lemon juice also helps cleanse both the palate and invigorate the digestive system.  This action alone can be powerfully helpful for moving things along and changing the taste and direction of food choices we make throughout the day — nothing like the sharp taste of lemon to blunt sugar cravings and snap us out of lasagna mode.  Hydrating and delicious, you can enjoy a glass of lemon water first thing in the morning (a great way to start the day) and/or before meals — simply squeeze fresh lemon juice into tepid water. A cautionary note, if you start drinking lemon water with any degree of frequency, you may wish to start using a straw to limit the exposure of acid on your teeth (prevent the erosion of tooth enamel). Lemon juice can also help prevent fluctuations in blood sugar levels by reducing a food’s overall glycemic index (the acid in lemon helps slow the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar).  Consider adding fresh squeezed lemon to fruits and vegetables and side salads that accompany your meal.

2. Make sure you’re getting enough protein in your diet — protein helps prevent jags in blood sugar levels that can promote cravings. Unlike carbohydrates that are metabolized relatively quickly into sugar in the body, protein requires more work for our bodies to break down and metabolize.  This improves our sense of fullness and satisfaction and also assists in keeping our blood sugar levels stable (which can also be very helpful for mood and concentration).

Conversely, when blood sugar levels are fluctuating and start to drop, our brain naturally cues us in to seek the quickest form of energy available to correct the imbalance, a carbohydrate/sugar. This is a normal, adaptive response but the result is that we end up jumping from one sugar to the next. To overcome this response, we need to avail ourselves of sufficient protein throughout the day to prevent the sugar loop (this is also an excellent strategy for avoiding insulin fatigue/type 2 diabetes).  Be sure to include a protein source not only with your meals but also your snacks – a strategy that holds true for adults and children alike.

3. focus on natural sugars — the initial stages of reducing sugar can be really difficult, especially when coming off the holidays surrounded by the heavier hitting desserts. When the urge strikes, seek out natural sources of sugar to satisfy desire without fueling cravings.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • fresh fruit salad ~ make a large batch, squeeze some fresh lemon juice over the fruit (to delay oxidization, extend life and benefit from the acid) and keep it stored in a covered container in the fridge. I think sometimes we forget just how gorgeous and appealing fruit salad can be;
  • frozen fruit: place fresh fruit such as: blueberries, grapes or sliced bananas on a parchment lined baking sheet – freeze until solid and then transfer to a freezer bag and keep stored in the freezer.  It takes longer to eat frozen fruit which prolongs the duration and enjoyment of the snack. You can also blend frozen fruit to create a delicious smoothie or ice cream (banana works especially well for this).
  • dark chocolate: opt for 75% cocoa or higher (the higher the cocoa content the lower the sugar) – one or two squares when the urge strikes is a great way to meet desire without fanning the flames – dark chocolate is also antioxidant rich.  I enjoy making chocolate clusters – a simple combination of melted dark chocolate with nuts/seeds and dried fruit.  But my current fave is frozen sliced banana dipped in dark chocolate which I keep stored in the freezer – beyond simple and perfect for satisfying without priming the pump. Coming soon to the blog!

4.  Be aware of other sugars that may be sabotaging your efforts - there are obvious sources of sugar that we all recognize in dessert foods and then there are the other pleasure producing foods we don’t always associate with re-enforcing our sugar cravings such as pasta, bread and alcohol.  Keep in mind that alcohol is a sugar with powerful altering effects on blood sugar and mood.  It can be very difficult to reduce sugar consumption in food while simultaneously consuming it in liquid form – alcohol or other beverages. When you do wish to eat bread and/or pasta, consider whole grain sources (fibre does help slow the conversion of carbohydrates to sugar modestly in addition to its other health benefits) but more critically, include a protein with these carbohydrate sources to help mitigate the rapid conversion to sugar in the body.

5. Create new habitsif you find yourself craving sugar around the same time every day, consider initiating new habits. For instance, the evening (following dinner) is commonly a time when dessert cravings set-in. Establishing new routines such as making a warm pot of flavored herbal tea or going for a walk following dinner can be really helpful for changing the palate, shifting focus and laying tracks for new habits and routines.  At first, the herbal tea will seem like a small (and possibly annoying) consolation prize but give it one week of consistent application and you’ll be seeking it out with pleasure and not punishment.  You might even find yourself craving peppermint tea!

The information in this post is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician or other health care professional directly before beginning or changing a course of health treatment.

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Matcha Green Tea Rejuvenating Smoothie

green tea smoothie_blog

I did something completely different on the culinary front for Christmas this year.

I invited the family to vote on Christmas dinner.  I went about it by creating a menu with three categories: appetizer, main dish and dessert and listed three food options within each category.  The menu was circulated electronically and the boys were asked to vote quietly on their top food choice in each category (they would only find out on Christmas day which selections won).  In the event of a three-way tie in any category, mom would get the deciding vote, otherwise, majority rule.

I thought it would be a fun way to mark our first Christmas in the new home. In the end, it was also well worth the effort.  I will admit to some intermittent anxiety — that moment when you wake up at 2 am and think: did I really say that I was going to make herbed mushroom, garlic & onion cradled in a pillow of sour cream and served on miniature pancakes? Was I fully baked at the time?

green tea smoothie_blog_1_update

To make the process interesting for yours truly, I offered up suggestions that I’d been wanting to make for some time now.  A mix of classics and curious inventions.  I kept food photography out of it so I could relax and just enjoy the actual cooking process (and Christmas day!).

In case you’re curious, here’s a little summary of the winning selections: the chosen appetizer was indeed as described above: pan-seared herbed mushrooms, garlic & onion cradled in a pillow of sour cream and served on warm miniature  pancakes.  I survived it and I’m glad I did. This was a delectable little creation that was inspired in part by a conversation with a girlfriend, in part by this post, and in part by my meddling noggin. This is definitely one that I will blog about in the future.

green tea smoothie_blog

The winning main dish was this classic.  I’m so glad I made it!  It’s the funniest recipe though — have you made it?  It’s quite unconventional (old fashioned?) in its construction and maybe mildly convoluted. I found myself reading it several times to get a handle on it and also wondered about the wisdom of some of the seemingly arbitrary steps — but who am I to argue with the famed dish and its creator.  So, I followed the instructions as closely as I can ever bring myself to and in the end, it was a mouth-watering meal that was loved by all (phew!) — I served it with wild rice, julienned carrots and seared baby onions.  Not a drop left on anyone’s plate.

Dessert was this obscenity.  Even with half the sugar it was divine (and seemingly still quite sweet).  Silk on the tongue.  But beware, very rich, a sliver will do y’a.  Next time I make it I will focus on the crust which was somewhat lackluster in my version – walnut perhaps.

I hope you all had some fun kitchen adventures as well!

Today, I’m recharging with this antioxidant-rich rejuvenating green tea smoothie… so delicious and full of beautiful ingredients.  Versatile too — don’t forget, there are always options, so feel free to make this lovely your own.

Oh, one last thing… Inspired Edibles returns in the New Year with a new Nutrition Series! I’m excited to offer you some focused nutrition information in addition to recipes, photography and life stories.

Until then, be well and have a joyous new year’s celebration!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Matcha Green Tea Rejuvenating Smoothie (vegan)
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Beverage, Snack
Serves: serves 2
  • 1 cup almond milk or milk/water beverage of choice (see notes)
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 frozen banana, chopped
  • 1 green apple, skin-on, chopped
  • ½ avocado
  • handful walnuts or nut/seed of choice
  • 2 heaping tsp matcha (green tea powder)
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • splash of fresh lemon juice to taste
  1. Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor.
  2. Blend until ingredients are broken down and well integrated.
  3. Add more fluid as necessary to achieve desired consistency.
1. If you are new to matcha, you may find it slightly bitter initially - to offset, you can start with 2 level tsp of matcha powder and flavor with additional fruit or slightly more sweetener, as desired.
2. I enjoy a fairly dilute smoothie (I find it easier to drink), but if you prefer something thicker simply reduce the fluid at the outset.
3. You can use any milk beverage of choice or water (coconut water is also lovely).
4. Feel free to use whatever fruit and/or dark leafy greens you have on hand for this recipe. Smoothies are versatile and generally quite forgiving :) so have fun with it and taste test as you go along to achieve desired result.
5. Matcha tea is made from green tea leaves that have been finely milled into a silky, radiant green powder. When you drink matcha you are benefiting from the entire green tea leaf, not just the brewed water from the leaf. Matcha is considered amongst the highest quality green teas with one of most concentrated antioxidant contents.
6. Avocado not only tastes delicious, it is also endowed with gorgeous, nutritive properties. An excellent source of heart healthy monounsaturated fat, avocado is also rich in lutein, a carotenoid that operates to help protect our eyes from disease. Other health supporters found in the avocado include: fibre, folate, vitamin K, vitamin E, and vitamin B5.
7. Dark Leafies! Studies continue to link spinach, and other dark leafy vegetables, to a lower risk of cancer, heart disease and osteoporosis. The vitamin E content in dark leafy vegetables is also said to protect our brain cells against oxidative damage, helping keep our minds healthy as we age.


green tea smoothie_blog_3_update

You just never know who’s going to jump in your drink ~ magical things can happen during the holidays
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