Let them eat cake! …at 2pm

I don’t know what kind of cake/pie this is….but I’m all in!

We all eat dessert, most of us love it and some of us LOOOOOOVE it, either way we are eating it.

I don’t let my kids eat sugary ice creams (vegan of course), cake, pie, and other decadent treats after supper. Of course there are special occasions like birthdays that allow for rule breaking but on the regular, this is not the time we have dessert.

Why not? …you might ask.

If you think of it, we eat dessert after supper because that is the tradition, that is what restaurants promote and that is what we grew up with and never gave it a second thought…. well I have arrived to provide thought and ruin your dessert! LOL

Would you eat or feed your child a few teaspoons of sugar after supper or before bed, maybe as a bedtime snack? This is literally what is happening with evening desserts. Of course I’m not talking about giving your kids a piece of fruit or maybe a toast with peanut butter and banana if they didn’t eat much supper. I’m talking about real dessert, the kind with ice cream, or chocolate, or whip cream or strawberry cake with pretzels…did you see that amazing picture?!?!

EVERYTHING we put into our body and our kids body needs to be cleaned and used or stored in some way.

My daughter asked me the other day, why we don’t eat dessert? I told her that we do eat dessert, we just eat it in the middle of the afternoon. See I’m the best mom ever! Dessert before supper!

(Insert 8 year old eye roll)

If we have something special we have it as an afternoon snack, after our lunch. This way our body has time to burn calories, it has a healthy dinner on the way to help with the clean up and plenty of time to finish digestion before we are in relax and recovery mode.

While we sleep our body is recovering from the assault that is suffered at our hands throughout the day. It is essentially cleaning up our mess and getting prepared for the day ahead.

I told my daughter, “imagine if I kissed you goodnight and then said now just mop the floor and then relax and I’ll see you in the morning”. She was like, “whaaaattt I can’t mop the floor at bedtime? I’ll be awake and it will be hard to fall asleep and then I won’t get enough sleep and I’ll be tired in the morning”. “Exactly my love, this is why we have dessert in the afternoon!”

We can’t make a mess late in the evening and expect our body to quickly clean it up, relax and recover….it just can’t do it.

You have the knowledge, it makes sense, you’re not taking anything away from yourself or anyone else. You have the choice and the power to follow blindly in the path of tradition and cultural norms or you can take this knowledge and apply it to your life and your kids life (if you have kids) and create a new path, a new tradition, a norm that promotes health, promotes relaxation in the body, promotes restful sleep and promotes recovery (our body’s natural state while we sleep).

A quick video chat…

This was actually from last year, but this is still true today, still how I feel and still a fact 🙂

Car seats and hot dogs

Recently I was part of a discussion regarding car seats, obviously I am all for car seats, it was more regarding the rules, regulations and safety ratings. Saying I was part of the discussion is overstating my role and involvement, I simply asked a question. But by engaging I was able to read the passion and knowledge that many women had regarding this subject. And why wouldn’t they?! If there was ever something to become passionate about it is the safety of our children. There is nothing that we as parents hold more dear to us than our kids and we want to protect them as best we can.

Something else that stood out for me was the education regarding car seats that these women had sought out. When we become parents we have so much to learn and this particular group of women had not only done some of their own research they had reached out to a professional in the field of car seats for consultations and advice. Brilliant! (I didn’t even know this was a profession)

We buckle our kids in religiously without fail and without exception, we buy the appropriate buckle system for their height and weight because the consequences of not doing it every single time we get in the car is just too great to live with. These consequences are easy to fear because they will happen immediately, our child could become injured, disabled or worse (I can’t even think of it). But would we have the same diligence and zero tolerance for exceptions if the consequences were 20 or 30 years down the road?

If this isn’t the first time you’ve read a blog post from me you might be drawing the connection I am about to make…

We are in charge of that seat belt getting buckled just like we are in charge of breakfast, lunch and supper. We can’t be expected to know everything about everything and this is exactly why those parents in the car seat discussion had done some research and consulted a professional.

Food has changed since we were kids and continues to change, the marketing industry has made sure of that. They have created confusion between cute food, beautiful food, healthy food, convenient food, quick food, etc. The lines are blurry and it can feel overwhelming and frustrating to know which exceptions are ok to make and which foods require a zero tolerance attitude.

I want to be really clear here that I am in no way parent shaming, I am simply pointing out that when we know how to protect our kids from danger we do it fiercely and unquestioningly. When it comes to food, so many parents just don’t have the information. There are a number of TOXIC cancer causing, diabetes creating, heart disease promoting foods out there that are being marketed to children. The consequences of feeding our kids these foods are 100% going to happen…we just wont see those consequences for 20-30 years.

Accidents are the 4th leading cause of death in Canada and when you break it down further vehicular accidents are actually the 9th leading cause of death in Canada. I’ll give you 3 guesses as the the top 3 causes….

  1. Cancer – related to the food we eat
  2. Heart Disease – related to the food we eat
  3. Stroke – related to the food we eat

Again I am an advocate for seatbelts and appropriately sized car seats. I am also an advocate for protecting the long term health of our children.

We need to learn how to protect the inside of their little bodies as fiercely as we protect the outside!

Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

actual picture of a motivated “old dog” 🙂

My answer to this is, “It depends on the motivation of the dog.”

Recently my father suffered a heart attack, actually he was told that he was living in a state of mild heart attack. He had lost the ability to enjoy the simple pleasures of his retirement such as walking his dog and working in his wood-working shop. The stairs in his 2-story home were were becoming an unsurmountable obstacle and his constant chest pain was not only worrying him but also depriving him of sleep.

Like any responsible person breathless from chest pain, he went to the hospital where he was given the terrible news of the progression of his heart condition and the even more terrible news of the open-heart surgery that was to follow. I am not about to say anything good about COVID-19 but it has provided a silver lining, a window in which I was asked to step in and create change! The surgery despite being deemed “necessary” by the cardiologist will have to wait its turn on the backlogged list.

Now, you might ask yourself how does the father of a plant-based nutritionist get himself into this heart attack situation in the first place… you’ll have to wait for the book to come out to get that answer! But seriously you can’t MAKE someone change, you can’t MAKE someone listen, all you can do is share the knowledge the best way you know how and it is up to them what to do with it.

Trust me I didn’t figure that out right away…

After many years of skepticism and my words falling on deaf ears I was being asked for help, of course I will help!

My father, the son of an artist and chicken butcher, at 71 years old, put his life in my hands and in the food that we ate together for 3 weeks. He is a 20 year diabetic, 11 of those years have been insulin dependent. He has experienced almost every diabetic disease progression that you read about in the text books. The man has suffered at the hands of his physicians and the bounty of pharmaceuticals prescribed to him. He has tried to advocate for himself, and only through his own voice has he found a balance between having some kind of quality of life and trying not succumb to the diseases that ravage his body. Never in the past 20 years of doctor appointments, specialist consultations and surgeries has he been told about the power of food to either contribute to or arrest the progression of these diseases he has been suffering from.

Until he was confronted with this news of open-heart surgery he was among the majority believing a plant-based diet to be extreme. He was worried for his grandchildren, wondering if they would grow healthy and strong as this way of eating was nothing like how he had been raised or how he raised me. What now feels extreme to him, is having his chest cracked open and if the food on his plate can prevent that then he was willing to give it a try.

I am writing this with 43 days of plant-based eating under my dad’s belt! I am EXTREMELY proud of my mom and him for jumping in with both feet! I taught them how to cook the kinds of foods that will not only fight this disease but in time reverse it and give my dad back the joys of his retirement that were slipping away. Change is hard for anyone and this kind of change and the trust the he put in me was momentous!

And he was hitting all the milestones!

He started to lose weight.

After just 8 days of plant-based eating his insulin was reduced by half (his call, not mine)( as a reminder, that is after 11 years of increased insulin use)

After about 15 days he walked his dog.

After 25 days he was working about 4-5 hours a day in his wood-working shop, walking up and down the stairs for lunch.

(Everyone is different and their body will heal and regenerate at a different rate, if you are taking medication you should always consult your doctor regarding any change in dosages and keep your doctor informed of your dietary changes. If you change your food, the body that they have prescribed the medication to, has changed.)

My dad still has a long way to go, he isn’t out of the woods yet. He may go forward with the surgery and he may not, that will be his personal decision to make as we should all be free to make our own life and death decisions. You know what would be nice though, is if we could trust the people in “health care” to give us the full picture. Give us all the information and then we can make an informed decision. This unfortunately isn’t the case.

My dad like many others is confused. Confused as to how his doctor doesn’t have this powerful information regarding diet. Confused why he wasn’t presented with this option, never mind now in the face of major surgery, but years ago before the disease had progressed to this point. He is unnerved by the willingness of doctors to medicate and then cut. He has felt the power of food and seen the scientific results on his very own machine that calculates his blood-sugar. This isn’t theoretical to him, this is real.

It can be real for you too. Food has the power you give it. You either choose the food that fuels and heals your body or you choose the food that will direct you towards pharmaceuticals and the operating table. I recommend taking a serious look at your dinner table before the stroke, before the heart attack, before the loss of vision, before the nerve damage, before the cancer, before the type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

But if you decide to wait until after, I will be here. I will be here with information that will give you the power to heal yourself… if you’re lucky enough to get that second chance.

So old dog… what’s your motivation???

Plant-based/Vegan

do not try this at home!

As I am sure all of you who are reading this know, I am a practicing nutritionist. This means that I see clients and offer nutritional assessments, counselling and coaching. I am intensely passionate about nutrition and the value that each meal adds or subtracts from our health and our life.

Questioning what you are eating is a GREAT first step that many people don’t take. People take the power of food for granted and often only give the food they eat the credit of tasting good or satisfying a craving. For those of you that have connected the food you eat to your health BIG HIGH FIVE for giving food the credit it deserves.

I am a plant-based nutritionist for a reason, I have named myself “Plant Based Jenny” for a reason… and that reason is because when I studied nutrition no matter which book I read, “Eating Alive”, “The End of Food”, “The China Study”, “Healthy at 100”, “New Optimum Nutrition for the Mind”, and many more, it always came down to the same evidence based science. The human body is the healthiest, lives the longest, and maintains the most faculties on a plant-based low fat diet.

Let’s change gears for an example because people can get a bit sensitive when it comes to their food choices, habits and the consequences of their actions.

You have a HUGE bruise on your knee… you go to your doctor.

You: “Doc this bruise on my knee is killing me, I”m in pain all the time please help me!”

Doctor: “I’d love to help, it looks like you have been hitting your knee on the coffee table. Does that sound about right?”

You: “Yup, I hit it about 3 times a day.”

Doctor: “If you want the bruise to go away you need to stop hitting your knee on the coffee table.”

You: “Can I just hit is less maybe, hitting my knee is my favourite thing.”

Doctor: “Sure, but expect to still have a bruise on your knee, it will be smaller but it will never heal and you could possibly lose feeling in the rest of your leg.”

You: “But I came to you so that you could make the bruise go away. Can’t you do that?”

Doctor: “Nope, I can only guide you into making decisions that will allow the bruise to heal and not return. Only you can decide whether or not you will hit your knee again.”

As a nutritionist I’ve been trying to walk this line where people come to me because something is wrong, they feel crappy, they are tired, they have a food born illness such as diabetes mellitus, poor cardio vascular health, cancer, or are overweight BUT they don’t want to eat plant-based. People are convinced that diseases like these run in their family, but you know what runs in families… recipes, meals, food habits, tradition!

I’ve seen this movie and I’m pretty sure he isn’t giving the finger here!

I am a plant-based nutritionist because the ONLY diet that has been scientifically proven to prevent and reverse disease in humans is a plant-based diet! I am not that interested in helping people keep small bruises on their knees. I am VERY interested in helping, guiding and coaching people to live a life free from bruised knees. I especially want children to not have bruised knees. Let’s start a new tradition, a tradition of knowledge and of healing and of health as we age.

I can’t say this enough…

Every time we eat and drink we are either feeding disease or fighting it. Our top 3 leading causes of death in Canada are PREVENTABLE food born illnesses!

Whole food plant-based eating can change this statistic. Stop hitting your knee, pay attention and start helping your body fight disease with every bite you take.

A Twist On Miso Soup

This soup is so fast to make, dinner will be ready in 15 mins! Miso is fermented soy beans.  The fermentation process makes it great for healing the gut and aiding in digestion. The fermented soy, despite tasting quite salty, doesn’t increase your blood pressure and in fact is very hearty healthy.  

Prep: 5 mins Cook: 10 mins

Ingredients: miso paste, nutritional yeast, onions, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, leafy greens, sprouted mung beans (a source of plant-based protein)  

You will have to taste this one to get it to your personal liking but I will give you the proportions I use for 2 people. 

  • 1 onion chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves chopped or crushed 
  • 1 tbsp turmeric + a dash of black pepper (you need the black pepper for the turmeric to be properly absorbed, you won’t even taste it in the soup) 
  • 2 tbsp miso paste
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast 

Directions: In your soup pot add about 1/8 cup of water. Fry the onions, garlic, turmeric and black pepper until the onions are clear. Add into the pot 2 heaping tbsp of miso paste, about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast and 5 cups of water. Whisk until the miso paste is dissolved. Heat until boiling then simmer until you are ready to eat it. 

This time I added a load of fresh greens and my sprouted mung beans into the bowl and then poured the soup over top. In the past I’ve added rice, noodles, buckwheat, potatoes… Be creative and enjoy! 

TIP: If you add closer to 1 cup of nutritional yeast the soup takes on a cheesy flavour.  

I hope you enjoy energizing your body with these nutritious plant-based meals!

~~HAPPY CANADA DAY~~

I was thinking that to be patriotic I will post about some kind of red and white food… first thing that came to mind are beets! So I’ll just talk about red food because I’m not in the mood to yell at you about sugar (white) right now and although beets (red) and cauliflower (white) are both great for you they aren’t really in business together when it comes to the functions they serve.

Beets come in a range of colours from yellow to orange to red and into purple. They are beautiful, sweet, delicious and best of all nutritious! Nothing beats a beet when it comes to cleaning out your organs! Toxins get into our bodies every time we eat, drink and breath and we rely primarily on our liver and kidneys to filter them out and keep us clean but what keeps our liver and kidneys clean? BEETS! …and dandelion and milk thistle but that’s another post.

Beets are a great detox food and if eaten on a regular basis they work well to keep our liver and kidneys healthy and functioning at the top of their game, not to mention giving us great skin and healthier arteries. There are a variety of ways to eat beets: boiled; steamed; pickled; fried; baked; grilled; in soup; in a drink; and any other way you might want to try! Of course some methods of preparing them are healthier than others but definitely eating them is healthier than not eating them 🙂

Beets and Carrots

So at your Canada Day socially distanced family BBQ don’t forget your beets on the side of whatever celebratory choices you are making today!

Heart Healthy Stuffed Portobello

Cooking a heart healthy meal means NO OIL! Prevention is always the best medicine but often times it takes a fairly serious health scare to grab your attention. Once you have suffered a cardiac event the time for moderation is over, the time for limiting, calculating and finding balance has passed you by. Now it’s time for you to be ALL IN!

Using food as medicine is the BEST way to improve your quality of life and to extend it as well (not to mention keeping you from going under the knife). Fat is an essential part of our diet but once you have spent a lifetime over consuming fats you have to eliminate them as much as possible in order to stop the progression and reverse your heart disease.

Below is a recipe to begin the healing process, basically if you are cooking whole foods without oil, eliminating nuts, seeds and avocado, and you aren’t eating anything with a mother or a face you are on the healing path.

Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms & Greens
  • Wild rice
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Beans
  • Italian parsley
  • Mango (optional)
  • Stuffed in a portobello mushroom
  • Bake for 15-20 mins at 400℉
  • Broccoli with nutritional yeast (balsamic vinegar)

Taco Night!

Ok, ok, so I know that I have posted about Taco’s before but it was over a year ago so I thought they deserve some spotlight again!

Besides, they look and taste different every time I make them. This is one of the things I love about it!

Jerk sweet pepper tacos with garden greens!

See! How could I keep that beautiful taco pic to myself?? (yup I said it, you can giggle)

I learned to make these delicious homemade tortillas at a ladies night hosted by a friend originally from Mexico. Of course I had to ask, “what is in an authentic Mexican taco?” The answer was music to my ears, “you can put anything in a taco!” she said! YES!!! I love this so much because dish gives my husband and I an opportunity to eat some spicy food that is otherwise tricky to fit into the cooking rotation with kids.

a little of everything

Having all of the options separated makes it not only a fun, “build your own” kind of meal but also lets us enjoy the individual flavours we all like.

(Of course I am bossy pants mom and make them have at least two with the rice and lentil mix…but it always works out because then they realize that even though it’s mushy and brownish in colour it actually tastes delicious)

Get creative, or ask your kids what they might like to have and enjoy some tiny tacos! …my youngest even finished up the shells with peanut butter and jam as a late night snack 🙂

Health Is Our Top Priority

“Our health is our top priority” sounds like a no-brainer statement. But I’m sure many of us would agree that it’s become far too easy for that statement not to be true. We have commitments, goals, jobs, sports, careers, loved ones…all of these have been made a priority and with good reason. The commitments we make fill us up somehow, otherwise we wouldn’t commit to them; the goals we set make us feel like we are successfully progressing through this one life that we get; our job provides stability and means; sports bring us joy and keep us young at heart; careers provide self esteem and financial gain; our loved ones provide support, love and spiritual fulfilment.

Now make a list of of what we have if we don’t have our health…

I can’t think of anything, can you?

This isn’t meant to be a guilt trip, I simply want to point out that typically as a society we take our health for granted. Often prioritizing things that without our health we would not have or be able to enjoy.

The good news is it’s only partially our fault!

Mass media and marketing has given us all permission to:

  1. eat on the go
  2. eat anywhere
  3. eat anything if we are “busy” and “on the go”
  4. grab a quick snack
  5. grab a quick coffee

snack, grab, grab, snack, take-out, take-out, frozen dinner!

If you are a busy professional, if you are a parent with multiple children, if you are a single parent, if you are a student, if you work on the road, if you are breathing in and out you have been given permission by popular culture to only consider your health once it is failing you.

We all have a minimum of 3 chances each day to determine whether we are feeding or fighting disease. We silently depend on our health to be there for us and our busy schedules. COVID-19 has brought us time. Time to re-prioritize and to drown out the marketing and the loud noise of popular culture. We have slowed down. We can see more clearly than ever that we need to make our health a priority so that we can enjoy the things that fill our bucket.

Stay home, choose your noise, and eat real food that take a bit of time to prepare. Food that goes bad in a week, food that will be the ounce of prevention that we all need right now because currently we don’t have the pound of cure.