Friday, September 9, 2011

Taste the Rainbow

Necessity is the mother of invention...or so the saying goes. And this week we were needing a little colour in our lives...

It turns out, even a nutritionist's kid goes on fruit and veggie strikes from time to time, I am sad to say! And yes, the last week or two my little one has been a little less enthusiastic about all of the wonderful colourful things I put on his plate. But that won't stop me!!!!

Firstly, it is thought that a child must be introduced to a food at least 17 - 20 times before you can say that they actually dislike it. So, its important to keep trying. Also, any mother knows that tastes and interest in foods changes almost daily, so offering a variety of foods is vital...even when you think they have gone on strike.

But, when the going gets tough and that little head is shaking away from you with lips locked shut... tah dah... enter the Rainbow Smoothie!

This idea came to me this week, as I say out of necessity. Along with the lack of interest in the colourful stuff, we also have a family cold. The kind that comes with a high fever and a sore throat. Smoothies help with sore throats (just like ice no excuses to give your kid ice cream here...).

I wondered if I could get something into myself and the kiddo that had all of the colours of the rainbow...and so here it is, the Rainbow Smoothie:

Red - Raspberries
Orange - frozen cubes of butternut squash
Green- a chunk of frozen spinach
Blue- blueberries, of course
Shiny Yellow- banana
Purple too- blackberries

(obviously you can use a variety of ingredients here, and also you can add yogurt etc if you want...this is just what we had on hand)

And you know what, it tastes great too!

How do you get a little one to drink a smoothie, you might ask? IKEA cups! Have you seen these things? Every kid I know is obsessed with them! So pour your smoothie in there, and enjoy it together. You take a sip, he takes a sip...and another, and another, until his tummy is full of fruits and veggies, and none of them are on the floor, or in your hair!


Oh, and ps...I know one or two adults who could use a little taste of the rainbow too...

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Happy September!!

September is my new favourite month of the year. Fall has always been my favourite season - although its really the New England fall that I grew up with, and that still lives on in my mind, that I love. The crisp air, the sunny skies and the gorgeous array of coloured leaves...ahhh!

But now I love September even more because it brings with it such happy memories. This time last year we were (impatiently) awaiting my son's arrival. And September is now the month where we celebrate both my dear hubby and my sweet little baby's birthdays!

To celebrate the start of my favourite month and season - here is one of my all time favourite snacks, with the signature autumn flavour we all love!

Pumpkin Millet Muffins
Muffins are usually not on my list of recommended foods, as they are usually high in calories, fat, refined sugar and refined carbs. Not these beauties! These muffins feature whole grain millet, pumpkin seeds and I have adapted the recipe to use more healthful ingredients.

This recipe is from the Rebar cookbook, but I modify it to include healthier fats (unrefined coconut oil instead of sunflower oil) and unrefined sugars (pureed dates instead of brown sugar), as well as whole wheat flour (feel free to try some other flour like spelt or quinoa).


Yeilds 16 large muffins or lots of little mini muffins (which I love as a quick little snack)

2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup unrefined/ extra virigin coconut oil (available in natural food stores with olive oil)
1 cup milk with 1 tbps of lemon squeezed in it
3/4 cup pureed dates (I soak the dates in warm water for a few minutes, then puree in my food processor)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I get organic pumpkin in a can...don't get 'pumpkin spice mix/ pie mix', just pumpkin)
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup millet
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg

1) Preheat oven to 350. Grease large muffin tins with butter. Set aside. Combine eggs, oil, milk, dates, vanilla, and pumpkin in a large bowl and mix together. Stir in the oats. Toast the millet in a hot dry skillet until lightly brown and fragrant. Toast pumpkin seeds and add both to the mix. Set aside.

2) In seperate bowl mix dry ingredients together. Add the dry mix to the wet mix and gently stir to combine. Do not overmix, or the muffins will be dry and rough.

3) Fill muffin cups generously with batter. Spring tops with pumpkin seeds and bake for 25 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes clean.

These muffins are really moist, and because they are made with whole foods, they only last about 3 days before beginning to mold. Keeping them in the fridge may help preserve them for up to 5 days.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Savoury Snacks Done Right

Ditch the bag of Lay's... nutrient packed savoury snacks are a cinch! Make a batch of each of these delicious nibbles and have them on hand when you get a hankering for Pringles. You will be glad you did!

Potato chips and other salty snacks that you buy in the supermarket are loaded with rancid fats, mainly in the form of cheap canola oil. This highly refined oil is causing all kinds of damage in your body, as a free-radical (disease causing agent). This is why everyone seems to be so obsessed with antioxidants, because we need all of the help we can get to combat this packaged food diet which is laced with free-radicals. So skip the chips, and make your own crunchy snacks with healthier fats and mineral rich sea salt!

Beet Chips (you can also try yams, parsnips or any other root veggie)

8 organic beets, any variety or colour
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (evoo)
Unrefined Sea salt and pepper to taste.

Method: Using a mandolin, vegetable peeler or knife, cut each beet into a thin chip-like size. Place on a cookie sheet or large baking dish. Drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 300F degrees and bake for 1.5 to 2 hours. You can increase the heat if you like, but not above 350, and just keep in mind they burn easily and you don't want to burn the EVOO.

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas

15oz can chickpeas, dried and rinsed
1 tbsp EVOO
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp unrefined sea salt (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 350. Toss chickpeas with oil and spices until evenly coated. Spread on rimmed backing sheet. Roast, shaking pan ocassionally, until chickpeas are golden and crunchy, udually about 30 minutes. Let cool and store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Markets in Every Community Bringing Locally Grown Delicious Food to YOU

You are running out of excuses! This summer there are fantastic Farmer's Markets happening in basically every community in the Greater Vancouver area. There are over 125 Farmers Markets operating in BC!!! Local farmers who are using sustainable growing practices are bringing fresh, nutrient filled, delicious meat and produce TO YOU!

If you haven't been to a market yet, or in a while, get out this weekend. Take the family, enjoy the sunshine, the music, the community atmosphere and THE FOOD. This is without a doubt the best time of year to try out the markets with just about every amazing green, red, yellow, orange and even purple produce in season. You have never tasted anything quite like tomatoes, lettuce, potatoes, peas, berries, peaches, kale, onions, cherries (and the list goes on) that were picked YESTERDAY.

So take the family, have a picnic, support your local food economy and enjoy your local Farmer's Markets.

Check out this link for market locations and times in the West End, Trout Lake, Kits, Main Street, and Kerrisdale.

Check out this link for market locations and times in Lower Lonsdale, Central Lonsdale, Lynn Valley, and Deep Cove.

Here is the link to the Lonsdale Quay and Ambleside Artisan Farmers Market

And anywhere else in BC - here is your MarketFinder

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Blossoming Baby - My Son's Diet Diary

Recently I have been fortunate enough to be working with lots of fabulous Mamas as they introduce their babies to solid foods, wean their children from breast milk and or formula, and improve their toddler's diets. I love working with families in this way because starting children out on a nutritious, varied, and wholesome diet is the best way to ensure a lifetime of health and wellbeing. A lot of these Mamas ask me what I feed my here it is "A Day in the Life of the Son of a Holistic Nutritionist!"

My son Jasper (shown left with a face full of raspberries!) is 10 months old, and is a big blossoming baby. He was nearly 10lbs at birth, and is still towards the top end of the curve for his age. Therefore he puts away a lot of (healthy!) food each day. Jasper is also still breastfed, and I don't count the number of feeds, or their length any more, so sorry, no real details on that! Please bear in mind that each child is different, so please do not read this and think "oh no, my baby is not getting enough", or "oh no, I haven't introduced x yet". Each child and each family require a customized plan. This is just what it looks like in my house!

We aim to eat meals together, as a family, and recently have been doing a better job at this, I am pleased to report. It was harder in the beginning when we were introducing foods a bit more slowly due to a family history of food allergies.

Tuesday, August 2 (and most days are similar)

Early Morning 'Snack': 1 banana, 1/2 an apricot

Breakfast: Around 3/4 cup steel cut oats with cinnamon & 1 tsp unrefined coconut oil; a few cherries

Lunch: 1/4 cup baked wild salmon; 1/2 cup mixed steamed veggies (broccoli, kale, green beans), 1 roasted beet; a few slices of avocado

Afternoon Snack: large handful blueberries, 3 kamut & brown rice cakes

Dinner: a chicken thigh (See recipe) with some onions and garlic, 3 roasted purple potatoes, sauteed swiss chard and zucchini

Drinks: breast milk; 4-5 tumblers of water

*If you are interested in booking a session to create a nutrition plan for your child, please email me!*

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Blossom Real Food Challenge - Alicia's Meal Plan Week 3

I hope you found the Week 2 Meal Plan helpful, and were able to see how we cut corners in our house to put Real Food on the table every night. We cook 3-4 nights a week, but pack in nutrient dense foods that are easily re-heated on the other nights. I love cooking, but cooking a big meal every night is just too daunting for most of us who have other things to do!

This week you will see lots of leafy green veggies in the mix, as the Farmer's Markets are brimming with these nutrient-packed wonders! Check out my article in the StayFitAnywhere newsletter about the benefits of incorporating more greens into your diet. And if you still need some more ideas on what to do with all that green goodness, check out this blog post from Whole Foods Markets.

Here is our dinner meal plan for Week 3 of the Blossom Real Food Challenge:

Wednesday: Cooking for 1 - Roasted Veggies (Eggplant, Red pepper, Zucchini, Asparagus in olive oil and fresh oregano) with a little goat's Feta. Served over Sauteed Kale.

Thursday: Cooking for 1 - Smoked Salmon Spinach Scramble - scrambled biodynamic free range eggs from the farmer's market with natural wood smoked wild salmon and spinach mixed in.

Friday: Quick & Tasty Mexican Mush - Onion, Yellow pepper, zucchini and a TON of collard greens sauteed together. Mix in 1 can of Amy's Organic Refried pinto Beans. Garnish with a few slices of avocado and some really hot Mama Nelly's (find her at the Farmer's Market) salsa. This is a 10 minute recipe that looks like gross mush, but is delicious and nutritious!

Saturday: BBQ at a friend's house - we are bringing a MASSIVE summer salad with farm fresh arugala, mustard greens, boston lettuce, beet greens, red target beets, kohlrabi, cucumber, strawberries and pumpkin seeds.

Sunday: Father's Day... Wild Card... Hubbs get's to pick whatever he wants for dinner. My bet - he wants Fish & Chips! If so, we will be having "mushy peas" (split peas), sweet corn and some broccoli with it.

Monday: Lentil Curry (staple in our house!) with farm fresh peppers, spring onions, collard greens, garlic scapes and beet greens (using Masala Spice Mix). With quick cooking quinoa. There will be enough for leftovers which I will have for lunch in the week!

Tuesday: Organic Turkey Breast (from this farm), smothered in Golda's Artichoke Pesto (both available at the Vancouver Farmers Markets), with baby broccoli and kale.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Blossom Real Food Challenge - Alicia's Meal Plan, Week 2

Here is our dinner meal plan for the week. We aim to cook 4-5 nights per week, and have leftovers 2-3 times. Everything must be simple, quick, delicious and nutrient dense. I do not anticipate any of these meals taking more than 30 minutes to prepare. This may surprise you, that a nutritionist does not spend hours in the kitchen....and I would love to...but we are a busy young family too! I don't spend my day making my own yogurt, or saurkraut, perfecting the latest raw, vegan recipe...I spend it playing with and caring for my 8 month old. Some moms are able to do both...not me. I work a few nights a week, and that is just enough for now! So we prepare our own food, and eat well, but time is absolutely a priority. I hope hearing this, and seeing my meal plan will help you to see that we are just regular people - so you can eat Real Food just like us!

Wednesday: "Taco" night (black beans, organic grass-fed beef, peppers, onions and lots of greens cooked up in the Simply Organic brand taco mix. Served over brown rice. Garnish with salsa & avocado. (leftovers for lunch the next day).

Thursday: Lentil Curry with eggplant and kale. We don't use a recipe - we just wing it. See my post on Masala Mix! But you can find great lentil curry recipes here. If you don't have all of the spices on hand, sub them out for a masala mix or curry powder to save money and time. It will still work.

Friday: Leftover lentil curry

Saturday: Wild Sole panfried in olive oil, sea salt, pepper and dried herbs. Asparagus and a greens salad.

Sunday: Salmon with Pumpkin Maple Crust (this is a new favourite!), kale and green beans

Monday: Leftover salmon, greens salad with walnuts, strawberries and goat's cheese.

Tuesday: Quick veggie omlette.

Blossom Real Food Challenge Week 2 - Alicia's Food Log

Day 1, Week 2

Breakfast: Terra Breads Aritisan Granola, Organic, full fat yogurt, organic strawberries

Snack: an Apple

Lunch: Smoked Salmon with capers and a squeeze of lemon on FitFigure Multigrain cakes with avocado and spinach.

Dinner: My go-to "Taco" Night. I make black beans, grass-fed organic ground beef, peppers, onions, swiss card and collard greens all cooked up with a Simply Organic brand taco seasoning. Then I serve this over brown rice or millet (tonight wound up being brown rice), and we garnish with salsa and avocados. Mexican flavour, lots of greens, high quality meat and whole grains... way better then the ld El Paso version of taco night!

Snack: A couple of organic strawberries (I am eating tons of strawberries right now, but these California ones really aren't that nice. I can't wait for BC strawberries to be in season!!! mmmmm!)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A day in the life...of a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (week 1)

Day 1 of the Blossom Real Food Challenge!!!

I promised to share my personal food diary with you this month, so here we are... Day 1.

Breakfast: Very quick Vega smoothie between teething screeches from the kiddo!

1 cup of frozen mixed blueberries, blackberries and raspberries; 1/2 cup full fat organic yogurt; 2 scoops of Vega Whole Food Smoothie Infusion (mix of sprouted flax, hemp, and a whole lotta amazing greens....technically a processed product, but made from high quality whole foods); and about 1 cup of water. I put it all in the magic bullet, and viola...a quick breakfast that ticks all of the boxes.

Snack: a small handful of walnuts, 4 organic strawberries

Dinner: Salmon with Pumpkin Maple Crust; steamed asparagus and swiss chard sauteed with a little olive oil and salt & pepper. LOVED this recipe. Super quick, and delicious!

Drinks: 5-6 glasses of water.

Activity: Hike with a friend, carried the 22lb napping bambino on my back.

Day 2

Breakfast: Met a long, lost friend from North Carolina for breakfast at Giovanni's in the Fairmont Pacific Rim. YUM! Had "Breakfast Bruchetta", which was two perfectly poached eggs, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil atop an artisan foccacia bread. DELICIOUS. I was planning (and am still planning) to avoid bread and other processed grains and flours for the month, but when you are out and about, you have to do your best. And I certainly did considering the cases of gorgeous baked goods that line the cafe.

Check out this site to learn more about why eggs are a superfood in their own right - providing much needed choline. Eggs can also promote weight loss, and despite the misleading propaganda in the 90s, eggs are actually good for heart health! And look here for an explanation of free range vs free run vs organic vs 'normal'. I recommend free range, organic eggs if you are shopping at a supermarket. At the Farmer's Market we go for eggs from chickens which are free range and have lots of time to pasture - they are more nutritious because they eat a more natural diet. The orange yolk = lots of great nutrients. The yellow yolk...not so much.

Lunch: Mixed greens salad with radishes, cucumber, avocado and 2 slices of smoked salmon.

We get our greens at the Farmer's Market at this time of year, and they are fresh and flavourful! We are so excited that the West End market opens this weekend! Are you getting enough greens? Check out my article in the May edition of the StayFitAnywhere newsletter to learn more about seasonal greens, why you need to add more to your diet, where you can find them, and what to do with them!

Dinner: Channa Masala ala Alicia. I whipped up my go-to chickpea curry recipe for a couple of girlfriends who came over this evening, and it went over really well!

I use diced onions, fried in extra virgin coconut oil until translucent. Then I add about 1/4-1/2 a packet of the Indian Fusion brand Channa Masala spice packet (nothing but delicious Indian spices, no preservatives or additives). Next goes in whatever veggies I have on hand - tonight it was red peppers, a few mushrooms, and kale. Its nice with a few tomatoes too, although I didn't have any tonight. Next add in the chickpeas (canned for convenience, dried if you have time to pre-soak overnight). Let it simmer about 10 minutes.

Tonight I served this with quinoa, which is a favourite since it cooks up in 15 minutes. This recipe is also nice with boiled new potatoes, or cauliflower.

The Indian Fusion spice packets are available at Save on Foods, in the ethnic food aisle.

Day 3 - Real Food on the Road

Today we took a family road trip to the US to look at some properties. This meant packing up the bambino and enough diapers and food to last him a full day in the car. It also meant packing up enough food to last us in the car because we new options for real food would be limited...although we didn't realize quite how limited! Turns out the area where we were touring has a Bob's Burgers and Brew & a Tony's Pizzeria. That's it! Good thing we went prepared!

Breakfast: Grabbed a couple of Egg Cups from the fridge, which I made a few days ago for days ago for a quick and easy breakfast. Check out my article in the April edition of the StayFitAnywhere newsletter for more make-ahead breakfast ideas!

Snack: an apple

Lunch: We packed up some simple things and had a picnic by the lake while the baby slept. Smoked Salmon (look at the ingredients, and make sure its wild salmon with natural wood smoke, no added sugars, preservatives or synthetic smoking agents); avocado smeared on some rice cake type things, topped with capers and a squeeze of a lemon. The rice cakes were Multigrain Cakes by Fit Figure. They are pretty handy, and they are whole grain rice, wheat, rye, corn, and spelt. We also had a Farro, asparagus, sundried tomato and feta salad which we picked up at Whole Foods from the prepared food counter on our way out of town (we only stopped because of course the baby had to be changed just 5 minutes into the journey!).

Snack: an apricot (not really in season yet, not so yummy)

Dinner: Leftover Channa Masala. Leftovers are my hero.

Day 4 - Real Food on the Town

My best friend from college came to visit for the weekend with her new boyfriend. The sun wwas shining, and it was opening day at the West End Vancouver Farmer's Market. A great day, all in all!

Breakfast: Plain, full-fat yogurt with Terra Breads brand granola and cut up strawberries. This is the only granola I buy - its made from whole grains, nuts and fruit and is only sweetened with honey. Check out the ingredients on your granola, I bet sugar, cane juice or brown rice syrup is one of the first ingredients...not a health food!

Lunch: We actually managed to get a seat at The Mill on the seawall on the sunniest and warmest day of the year. Amazing! The food...not so amazing. I had "Drunken prawns" which were basically farmed bog-standard prawns in a garlic butter sauce (which didnt really taste of either), and a house green salad. The salad was totally lame - just lettuce, shredded carrot and a couple of tomato slices. Still, nothing processed...

"Snack": Iced decaf coffee with milk (yes, I drink coffee! but I also have a baby who basically never sleeps, so since I am breastfeeding, I go with can't risk these things!)

Dinner: Since it was a sunny day, we had a BBQ with our friends. On the menu was bison sausages which we bought at the Vancouver Farmer's Market with horseraddish mustard on an organic baguette from A Bread Affair (also purchased at the market, but widely available). The sausages were great because they were bison, pork, allspice and salt...only. Supermarket sausages are loaded with nitrates, preservatives, addditives and colouring, not to mention they are made from less then healthy animals, raised in poor conditions.
We had this with a gorgeous salad with mixed greens, purchased from several different vendors at the market, avocado, cucumber, tomato and pumpkin seeds with a homemade olive oil, red wine vinegar and mustard dressing.

Day 5 - Being the Tour Guide

Breakfast: Took friends to Deep Cove to enjoy the view and the sunshine. Although we planned a hike, they saw the kayaks and wanted to jump into a boat when we got there. But first, no trip to Deep Cove is complete without a visit to Honey's! I resisted all temptation to get a hot, fresh donut, although my friends had to have them - their one shot at the world famous fried dough. Instead, I had two eggs, poached; brown bread with butter and some homefries. At least nothing was too processed, although the bread didn't seem like it was very high quality.

Snack: half a banana, the baby ate the other half!

Lunch: Leftover bison sausage & big leftover salad

Dinner: Its not easy taking a baby to a restaurant, and we really don't do it frequently enough that he copes all that well. So, with our friends in town, who probably would have liked going out, we compromised and ordered in. Vedas, a nearby Indian restaurant makes amazing curries, so we ordered a wide variety and shared them all. We had an eggplant curry, a halibut curry, and a lentil and spinach dahl. The disappointing thing was that we got white rice (NOT real food...). But still, it was delicious, and most of it was real, hand made food prepared with traditional recipes, and I didnt have to cook for 4 while getting the baby off to bed.

So...all in all, not the healthiest of days, but as you know, its hard when you are eating out of the house to get high quality ingredients. All you can do is try to make positive choices wherever you are, enjoy the splurges, and get back to eating well at the next meal.

Day 6 - Sunshine with the Mamas

Another gorgeous day in Vancouver! I enjoyed a long walk in the sun on the seawall with some mama friends and their babies (one is still 'cooking' too!). We spent basically the whole day walking and talking, and we stopped for lunch at a place I had never been, the Bakehouse in West Vancouver.

Breakfast: Terra Breads Artisan Granola with Strawberries (all out of yogurt!)

Snack: an apple

Lunch: Roasted veggie panini, made with in house roasted artichokes, tomatoes, zuchini and eggplant, paired with a small amount of feta, on an in house made foccacia bread.

"Snack": A decaf misto

Dinner: Two eggs scrambled with spinach. A bowl of strawberries. (this was a very quick, make-shift dinner which I pulled together while getting ready for work!)

Snack: a decaf misto; a banana

Day 7

Breakfast: Terra Breads Artisan Granola with Strawberries (still all out of yogurt!)

Lunch: Happy Planet Brazillian Black Bean Soup - I keep a couple of bags of the Happy Planet soups on hand for lunches on days (like most days lately) where I don't have much time to make something for myself. Their soups are great because they are made from all natural, organic, whole foods and spices. You can feel good about it, and its convenient. Its not cheap though (although cheaper then going out for lunch!

Snack: An apple

Dinner: 15 minute Roasted Veggies with Feta - I chopped up bell peppers, asparagus, a handful; of cherry tomatoes and a few artichoke hearts, put them in a baking pan and tossed with a couple gluggs of extra virgin olive oil, and some fresh ground pepper. Put it in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, and viola! I served this up with some feta mixed in. Ideally I would have had this with a whole grain - like wheat berries, but I was only whipping something up for one last night, so I didn't bother. I just had 3 slices of smoked salmon with it and called it a night. As it was all vegetables, I ate quite a bit of them before feeling full, but hey - nothing wrong with eating a lot of veggies!

Reflections on Week 1 of the Blossom Real Food Challenge

Well, considering this challenge was my idea...I went into it rather unprepared! I am going to be totally honest, I didn't plan my meals this week (something I tell clients is a must), and it shows. There was quite a lot of scrambling for something quick, and as a result it wasn't the best of weeks. Sure, everything I ate was real food, and I enjoyed most meals, but it wasn't a normal week for me. Having company visit and working 3 nights this week also contributed. But hey - that is what life is like...right?! So we do our best, learn from our reflections, and strive to do better.

In week 2 I hope to share a meal plan with you along with some recipes so that you have some ideas that you can put to work in your kitchen.

How did you do this week?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Blossom Real Food Challenge

Do you want to improve your health? Get more energy? Lose the last 10lbs?

Join me for the month of June in the Blossom Real Food Challenge!

Kick the processed junk out of your life, get motivation, support and new ideas to eat your way to a healthier, happier you! Get the accountability you need to make a change!

During the Real Food Challenge, I will be posting meal planning tips and great recipes to help keep you on track. I will also be sharing my personal food diary so that I am accountable to you - and you can see what a Holistic Nutritionist eats! Challenge participants are asked to send me their own food diaries each week to help keep you on track!

All participants who join the challenge, work to cut out processed foods, and send me their food diaries each week will win 2 FREE HOLISITIC NUTRITION SESSIONS!

The Rules:
  • Aim for a diet based on whole, unrefined, natural foods
  • Avoid refined sugars, flours and processed meats and dairy
  • Balance is key, so if you normally have a lot of bread, move to a 100% whole grain bread this month instead. Try to cut out foods that come packaged in a box or a bag, and choose whole foods instead. If you currently go out to eat most nights of the week, aim to cook at home more frequently. Set your own goals, and work to incorporate more REAL FOOD!
  • Send Alicia your goals and your food diary each week, and you will win 2 free holisitic nutrition sessions!
  • Follow the Blossom Facebook posts all month long for tips, recipes, and Alicia's personal diet diary

Monday, May 2, 2011

Mother's Day Special ~ 50% off !!!

In Honour of Mother's Day, I am offering 50% off all packages for mamas-to-be, new moms, young families and packages that are given as a gift to any wonderful mama in your life!

Book any of the following packages THIS WEEK and get 50% off!!!

Blossoming Belly - a four session package for just $200!
New Mama Nourishment - a four session package for just $200!
The Nourished Nest - a four session package for the whole family for just $250!
Bountiful Baby- a three session, baby focussed package for just $150!

Contact Alicia to book your session NOW!!


Quote the Mother's Day Offer in your email. Offer expires at midnight on Sunday, May 8th, 2011. Distance- based consultations offered via skype, price further reduced.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Masala Mix - the new hamburger helper

In my house healthy meals must be prepared quickly. We aim to be in bed by 9, since the little one is up at 5 (oh, and at 1, 2, 3 and 4). So, in order to put the baby to bed, make and eat dinner, and have a few minutes of down time before bed - things need to happen fast.

Back in the day, I remember eating meals prepared with 'Hamburger Helper' at my friends' houses. I think this product probably still exsists, but I hope none of you are using it!!! Anyway = HH was a spice mix type thing that you could basically add to meat and make into a quick "tasty" meal. I think some of them came with noodles too. Beef, noodles, trans fats and msg. Yum.

Anyway, in our house, we have a spice mix (made of actual spices - chilli, coriander, cumin, garlic, ginger and tumeric) called Masala Mix which we use multiple times a week. Ok, you have to like Indian food, but you get the picture here...find some flavour you like and run with it. These spice mixes come in just about every permutation - so go for mexican and use black beans if you prefer...

Lately we have been subbing in beans, chickpeas and lentils where meat used to appear on our plates. Adding legumes to your diet is always a good idea as they are packed full of fibre, protein and a wide variety of vitamins and minerals. While I prefer to buy dried beans (you get 3x the beans for the price of canned, and no sodium or preservatives), sometimes you gotta take a few short cuts, so do what works for you.

Here is my 15 minute go-to healthy meal using the Dan-D-Pak Masala Mix:
1 Can chickpeas (or lentils)
2 tbsp (or to your taste) masala mix
1 chopped onion
chopped up veggies - we use whatever is on hand, but mainly:
spinach, kale, chard or cabbage

1) Rinse and Boil Quinoa (or reheat leftovers... I always make at least enough for two meals at once)
2)Fry onion in olive oil or coconut oil until translucent. Add masala mix and stir
3) Add chopped veggies and stir fry
4) When all is cooked, add beans and cook for another 2 minutes

Serve and Enjoy! A little spoonful of plain yogurt is also a nice garnish here.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

WWJE? Re-framing postpartum weight-loss

My goal for the month is to bring more of myself into the tblog. Posts are more authentic when I write about things that I personally do to keep myself and my family healthy, and I hope that you are able to better connect and find useful tips this way.

Remember those bracelets and bumper stickers - WWJD - What would Jesus Do?

Well, I have decided that my new mantra is WWJE - What would Jasper Eat? That is, What Would I Feed Jasper...

As you know, I don't just specialize in young family nutrition - I live it. My little baby is 4 months old, and I feel like I have still yet to come up for air. So when
clients ask me about postpartum weight loss, I can certainly speak from experience and offer advice that I put to practice on a daily basis.

I put on quite a bit of weight in my pregnancy. I didn't do this by eating oreos for breakfast and cold pizza during midnight cravings, like many other moms. I did this eating healthy, whole foods, paying particular attention to all of the specific nutrients I knew that my baby and I needed. My strategy worked --- I had a beautiful, healthy, and BIG baby boy! Jasper was a very well nourished 9lbs 10oz, and I can proudly say that we had a completely natural birth.

I may have packed on some extra pounds with my diet of nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, salmon, greens and organic meats, but I also know that my pregnancy was easier (I didn't get morning sickness, and had very little discomfort, given my size and Jasper's size!), and myrecovery from his birth much quicker.

Now that we are 4 months in, and breastfeeding continues to be our number one challenge (my milk supply has never caught up to Jasper's needs...but that is another post in the making!), I am still holding on to some of my baby weight, like many other moms out there.

Its hard, finding time to take shower, let alone cook 3 healthy meals a day for yourself when you have a little one. But my husband and I do our best! In fact we have only been out to dinner twice since Jasper was born!

But the biggest challenge I face, and perhaps others will sympathize, is the increased hunger from breastfeeding. Its difficult to be hungry all the time, and not crave all of the wrong things.

BUT- now we get to the WWJE...

A new strategy that I am deploying, now that I am thinking about starting Jasper on solids in just two months, is WWJE?
Would I feed this to my baby? If not - then why would I feed it to myself?

Its too easy as a mom to put the health of your family as a top priority, while your health is a mere afterthought. So - when you are planning your meals for your children - make enough for 2, or for the whole family. This way you are eating as well as your child, and taking the whole family's healthy into consideration. This will also allow you to set a good example for your baby as he grows. The last thing we want is to have to explain to our kids why we get to eat cookies while they are eating green beans!

So...there is my postpartum weight-loss tip of the day. Re-frame things -- WWJE?
And know that I am soldiering on right beside you!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Foods for Fertility

Question of the Day: "My husband and I have been trying to conceive for about 7 months. We have improved our diets by adding more whole grains and leafy greens. Are there any specific foods that can boost fertility?"

While fertility is a complex thing, studies do show a positive link between good nutrition and successful conception. However, each of these recommendations are aimed at achieving overall balance and harmony in the body. Optimal fertility is achieved when hormones are in balance, and functioning well. As the hormonal system is complex, it is important to understand that things like sleep, stress and sugar intake are all very key components.

So the biggest lifestyle and diet factors to address for both the man and the woman are:
  • Try to get enough sleep
  • Reduce stress in your life, and practice breathing on a daily basis
  • Exercise regularly
  • Reduce intake of refined sugars and refined carbohydrates to balance blood sugar

There are several specific foods which are thought to boost fertility, and others which studies show may negatively effect chances of becoming pregnant, particularly in the woman's diet.

Oysters are a well known aphrodisiac, and for the same reason they top the list for fertility enhancing foods! Oysters are extremely high in zinc, a nutrient which is essential in testosterone production and transportation in men, and also aids the ovulation process in women. Zinc can also be obtained in chicken, crab, beef and turkey. Just remember - quality meats, raised on organic pastures have more nutrients.

Omega 3s
We live in a time where omega 3 fatty acids are touted to be the miracle nutrient for just about every ailment. Much of this is due to the resources that have been put into studying this healthful fat in the last 5 years. At any rate, it is thought that omega 3s, found in oily fish like salmon and sardines, nuts and seeds, increases fertility. The science behind this makes sense. Hormones travel on fats in the body, therefore quality fats are needed for hormone transportation and communication. So increase your intake with quality fish oil supplements, or by eating more salmon and flax seeds.

Full- Fat Dairy
This Newsweek article details the importance of full-fat diary for fertility, based on a Harvard study. Check it out, its very interesting. I always recommend organic, full-fat dairy in any case, as it is the least processed and the most healthful option.

It is also likely helpful for both of you to be taking a quality multi-vitamin supplement. This will help make up for any vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and help get the body in better working order. I recommend brands which use whole-food bases, rather than synthetic vitamins created in a lab. You get more bang for your buck as the nutrients are more likely to be absorbed, and do their job.

Foods to avoid:

Caffeine & sugar
Foods containing caffeine and refined sugars will destabilize your hormonal system, at a time where you want to be working towards a healthy, balanced, functioning system. Sugar and caffeine create chemical stress in the body, which negatively impacts fertility hormones in both men and women.

Particularly in women, studies show that alcohol consumption (even in small amounts) can reduce fertility by up to 50%. So, its best not to drink much, or often.

Good luck, and remember - stress is not your friend, so try to kick back, relax, and enjoy the process.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Daily Detox

Question of the day: "Would you recommend that I go on a cleanse? Would this be a good way to clear out my system, and get more energy?"

Just about every magazine on the shelf advertises the latest 'cleanse', especially around the new year. And while most of us could use a little internal house keeping, I do not generally recommend clients go on a full blown cleanse. These cleanses, many of which involve just juice or water for a few days, can be a real shock to the system, and not everyone is in a state of health where this would be recommended. If your immune system is already taxed, you are lacking energy, and you are generally depleted, a cleanse is not a good idea as it will further deplete you.

As most diets are lacking in essential nutrients, I would be more likely to recommend that we 'build', instead of 'cleanse'. At this time of year, particularly, most people will not benefit from a full blown cleanse.

That said, almost everyone can benefit from these mild daily detoxifying practices:

The daily detox involves two things:
1) Lemon Water
2) Dry Skin Brushing

Drinking the lemon water helps the body to eliminate waste efficiently, and acts as a mild detoxifier. Lemon water acts as a liver tonic and helps you to digest food by stimulating the production of bile. Clients who incorporate this daily practice find that it wakes up their digestive system and keeps things moving, gently cleansing the system on a daily basis.

Enjoy a glass of warm water with ¼ to ½ a lemon squeezed in it every morning when you wake up. This should be the first thing you do, and breakfast should follow, with at least a 15 - 30 minute wait before eating. It is important to use a real lemon, not lemon juice from a bottle. Alternatively you can use 1 teaspoon of unpasteurized, unrefined apple cider vinegar in a glass of warm water. Both will have the same effect, so whatever is easier/ preferred is what you should do. If you experience heart burn or a burning sensation, drink milk and discontinue this practice. This is very unlikely to occur.

Dry Skin Brushing
 Stimulates blood and lymph flow
 Helps eliminate toxins from the body
 Removes dead skin cells
 Encourages cells to regenerate
 Stimulates production of sebum
 Helps combat cellulite
 Results in smooth glowing skin

The Skin is an organ of elimination, just like the kidneys, the liver and the colon, and more than one pound of waste products are discharged through the skin every day! If the Skin becomes inactive with the pores choked by millions of dead cells, then impurities will remain within the body. In such cases, other eliminative organs, mainly the kidneys and liver, will have to increase their labour and will eventually become overworked. Therefore, by dry skin brushing you can actually alleviate some stress from the liver and kidneys, and support your body's natural detoxification cycles.

Brush the dry skin starting at the soles of your feet and working your way up your legs, your front (belly & breasts) and your back. Brush gently, and always work towards the heart. Then do your hands and up your arms. Focus the brush strokes towards the heart, again. Skip your face but give the back of your neck and your scalp (hair permitting) a good go! For hygiene reasons use a separate brush for each member of the family and of course wash the brush every couple of weeks.

Brushing your whole body in this way should take you between three and five minutes, depending on how many strokes you give to each area. Try to keep a rhythm going and brush for up to five minutes every day and preferably immediately before you have a bath or shower so that the dead cells are washed away.

Finally, moving to a diet which is centred around whole foods - fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, unrefined grains and quality meat and dairy products is essentially cleansing. By focusing your diet on unprocessed foods, you will be cleansing out all of the additives, chemicals and artificial products in your diet.

This, combined with what I call the daily detox would benefit most people looking to improve their overall health.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Top Tips & Strategies for Getting it Right


QUESTION OF THE DAY: What are your top tips and strategies for eating well, even though you have a million other things to do?

GREAT question. This is where most people get hung up, but the good news is that with these strategies put into place, it runs like clock work after a few weeks! Here is my Top Ten!

  1. Plan, plan, plan. Every Saturday my husband and I take 10 minutes to sit down and plan out our meals for the week. We do this before we go shopping, so that we only buy food that we know we will use - saves money too! While planning we always take into consideration nights we have other things going on, and try to plan to only cook 3-4 times in a week, although we will eat dinner at home every night. I also try to plan out my lunches if possible - because I find with the baby at home its hard to figure out what to have, and make time to make it and eat it all within a 45 minute nap time!
  2. Avoid the grocery store. Its full of junk! Try to do most of your shopping at smaller produce shops or at the Farmer's Market. This way you don't even see all of the packaged, processed foods, so they won't make their way to your cupboard. Hit the grocery store once a month for essentials that you can't find elsewhere.
  3. Aim for the 80/20 rule. This means you don't have the be a martar. You are more likely to be successful if you don't deny yourself things you love. So aim to eat really well 80% of the time, and allow for the occasional slip ups.
  4. Double Up. I almost never cook dinner for one night. If I am going to take the time to cook, I will always make double the amount so that we have dinner another night in the week (or lunches for a few days) already made. We also do this with breakfast - make a big pot of steel cut oats on Sunday night and re-heat throughout the week. Time savers are key.
  5. Big up on Breakfast! A bowl of cereal doesn't do it. Not to mention cereal is just refined corn or wheat and no matter what the brand, or what the box claims - it is not a health food. Go for whole grains like steel cut oats or quinoa porridge, or cook up eggs whatever way you like 'em. With breakfast, aim to really fill yourself up with healthy food. It makes the rest of the day easier.
  6. Keep healthy snacks on hand. Fruit is an easy one, as is veggies and hummus, or a handful of nuts. Make sure you have these things at all times. And in a pinch, keep a Larabar in your bag/ desk. They are made with dates and nuts...that's it! So they make a good on- the-go choice.
  7. Chuck in some GREEN. Anything you can find that is green...chuck it in to your dinner. In all likelihood you will barely taste it, but it will up your vitamin and mineral intake for the day!
  8. Make soups and stews. Once a week try to make a soup or stew. They freeze well for later dinners, or can be eaten throughout the week for a quick, filling lunch.
  9. Find a good bakery. We go to Artisan bakery on Lonsdale. If you find a high quality baker you can feel good about getting quality, whole grain breads. Also, if you do want to indulge in a treat, cookies and cakes from the bakery are the way to go. These are made with real ingredients - like butter, eggs, milk etc. If you pick up a banana bread at starbucks instead, the ingredient list is at least 35 items try to splurge wisely.
  10. Take it in turns. Share cooking and shopping responsibilities with your partner, roomate or even just a friend. Taking turns will make things feel like less of a burden, plus - you will be surprised with new meals a few times a week!