There is something about homemade seasonings. They are free from all the additives, hidden sugar, sodium and gluten that store-bought seasonings often contain. Who needs added sugar and salt? Not us.
We’ve rounded up some of our fave homemade seasonings that you can add to grilled meats, roasted veggies, fried tofu and fish. Gather up your pantry staples, open up that spice cupboard, and let’s see what you can put together today.
EVERYTHING BAGEL SPICE: A blend of sesame and poppy seeds provide major plant-based calcium and zinc. Combine these with sea salt, dried garlic and onion, and you’ve pretty much got the seasoning of your dreams. A girlfriend of mine recently made her own crackers with this seasoning and….oh, my. Two Peas and Their Pod lays out a simple recipe here.
JERK SPICE: If you’re up for dinner with a kick, this recipe is one of our faves. We’ve made this recipe with chicken thighs, but salmon, cauliflower steaks or tofu would be great vegetarian options. Try it on the bbq this summer and impress your guests (and yourself). Serve it with Caribbean rice and mango salsa to balance out the heat. Thumbs up.
CHAI SPICE: This isn’t just a warm winter cozy essential. Chai spice is packed with ingredients that are anti-inflammatory, they get blood circulating, and they boost your immune system. So, you can pretty much benefit from Chai spice on the daily. I add it to bliss balls, warm coconut milk, and overnight oats. Minimalist Baker has a beautiful, caffeine-free recipe here.
What are your go-to seasoning blends and what dishes do you use them in?
There is so much pressure around diets, diet culture, and trends. Between paleo, keto, gluten-free, vegan, grain-free, vegetarian…it’s hard to know which way to lean. And, when you “break your label”, there’s guilt and shame around it.
Humans like guidelines, structure, and rules. We like to follow plans to help us “stay on track”. But, when there is judgement, restrictions, shame and guilt around it…no thank you.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not referring to those with intolerances and allergies, likes or dislikes when it comes to food choices. I’m talking about the diets and programs that restrict healthy macros (for various reasons) and make you feel miserable and deprived.
Well, here’s my two cents. Do what feels right to you, physically, ethically, emotionally.
If you decide to “break your label”, I say congratulations because you recognize that something is not serving you.
Eat mindfully and intuitively. If a food doesn’t make you feel good, ditch it. If you need something, mindfully add it in.
If you don’t feel right eating animals and animal products, then don’t. I know some vegans who truly felt like they needed to start eating meat, so they did. But, they felt a lot of shame and guilt around it.
Nobody should influence or shame you into eating a certain way. We all have a different genetic makeup that involves vitamin absorption (or not), gluten tolerance, sweet and sour taste preferences, protein or fat breakdown, etc. We are all so different.
There should be no guilt around your choices and nobody knows what is right for your body, except you! (And your health & wellness team)
As a Nutritionist, I support you wherever you are. I know that one “diet” does not suit all. I create recipes that suit YOUR needs and that could include meat, fish or eggs.
What diet do I follow? I eat food that nourishes my body and mind, without guilt or shame.
You are what you eat isn’t just a myth. And, what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in your body. These two things we do know. Foods like sugar and trans fats, and chemicals like fragrance and parabens, all have effects internally in your body and topically on your skin.
There are certain chemicals that I always avoid in my beauty products, which is why I make my own. Not only do I get to control the consistency and texture of a product, but I also get to control exactly what goes into it. My rule is if I can eat it, then I can smear it on my skin. Your skin is your body’s largest organ, so what you put on it can be absorbed directly into your bloodstream.
Nutrition, beauty regimens and lifestyle habits all play a part in glowing skin. Here are my top dietary and lifestyle tips for healthy skin:
Exercise: As you exercise, you increase blood flow which carries oxygen and nutrients to your cells. At the same time, blood carries toxins away from your cells and out through elimination via perspiration, respiration, and elimination. Speaking of perspiration, sweat is antibacterial, so it helps to kill off unwanted germs living on your skin.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids: aka good fats. Fatty fish, flax and walnuts reinforce your cell membrane which helps to hold in water. Consuming a good ratio of both Omega 3 and Omega 6 EFAs work from the inside out by repairing the cell membrane and reducing inflammation.
Vitamin C: Antioxidants, especially vitamin C, are important for collagen production. Collagen is the most abundant protein in our body, helping to strengthen and support our tissues. Try adding vitamin C-packed berries and citrus fruits to your water, smoothies or healthy baking.
Avoid these chemicals: I started investigating ingredients in skin care products after the birth of my first baby. Not only are babies born with chemicals already in their system, their little organs are not quite ready to process and eliminate toxins. These chemicals that I discovered and still choose to avoid today, are fragrance, parabens, talc, colour, sodium lauryl sulfate, dioxin, and more. Many I cannot pronounce, and those are the ones I really stay clear of. Worse, most of these chemicals are considered toxic because they can cause cancer (carcinogenic), destroy tissue, cause dermatitis, irritation, are hormone disruptors, and worse. Many are added as fillers, foaming agents, for texture, or smell. Do your skin a favour and use pure, natural ingredients that you would feel comfortable eating.
Exfoliate: Skin cells rejuvinate quickly, which means the dead cells have to be sloughed off. Dry brushing helps, and weekly exfoliation with a mild sugar scrub or mask works. Lactic acid in yogurt naturally dissolves dead skin cells, and sugar plus coconut oil luxuriously sloughs off dead skin. It is important not to over exfoliate. The skin produces oil to protect itself. The more oil you remove, the more oil your skin has to produce. This can result in an over-production of oil, or dry flaky skin. Your diet and other factors will determine this.
Sleep: During REM sleep, your body secretes HGH, or Human Growth Hormone. HGH promotes cell turnover, is responsible for metabolism, skin health, collagen synthesis, muscle strength, bone healing, and more. HGH deficiency shows as many different symptoms, but relating to the skin, you might see dryness and wrinkles. Our HGH levels start to decline with age, so keep your sleep at a quality level.
Herbs: Tinctures are my favourite way to get wonderful plant constituents into my system. Herbs like horsetail, nettles, gotu kola (aka Fountain of Youth), oatstraw and alfalfa keep skin supple, nails strong, hair shiny and connective tissue building. Topically, Calendula, or marigold, which you might have in your garden, is healing and makes a great herbal-infused oil for daily moisturizing, especially on problematic skin.
Facial Steam: Steaming your skin with flowers and essential oils allows the toxins to release and the aromatic benefits of the flowers enter your pores and do their magic. Flowers like chamomile and calendula are soothing and anti-inflammatory, lavender and rose petals are calming and healing and rosemary and citrus oils are uplifting and invigorating. Steaming your skin weekly will help to remove bacteria, clear up skin conditions and leave it glowing, hydrate, help you relax and stimulate circulation.
Choose your flowers, boil water and prepare to relax your mind, body and spirit.
Boil water and add it to a heat safe bowl with about 1 cup of flower petals. Add 5 drops of essential oil to either soothe, relax or uplift. Place a large towel over your head and tent yourself over the bowl of steaming flowers. Don’t get too close or you may burn your skin. If you already have very sensitive skin or broken capillaries, avoid steams or do them with cooler water. Allow your skin to steam for about 5 minutes, then take a break, then repeat. Remember to breathe deeply to receive all the benefits of relaxation and aromatherapy. Repeat 3 times.
After steaming, this is a good time to exfoliate while dead skin cells can be easily sloughed off. Rinse skin with cool water to close pores and moisturize skin while it is still damp for better absorption. Apply a light layer of pure coconut oil or jojoba oil, which is closest to the skin’s natural sebum, or try other edible oils that you might have in your pantry.
As facial steams are a treatment, they should only be done once per week or twice per month. Avoid certain essential oils if pregnant, epileptic or nursing. Consult your healthcare practitioner prior to using any herbal remedy, if you have a medical condition.
Be sure to do a patch test before trying any remedy or treatment. Should you experience any irritations or negative effects of a food, internally or topically, discontinue use.
Do you have a favourite home remedy or DIY skin care recipe? Share it with us and maybe we can try it on our Instagram Live segments, #nextbitecookingclub
In our recent online Nutrition and Fitness class, we touched on the effects of stress eating. If you missed the class, in short, chronic stress can lead to all kinds of issues around digestion, lowered immunity, disturbed sleep cycle, weight gain and depression. Enter cortisol to get us through.
We actually need cortisol to survive. This hormone gets us through quick, tough situations like being late for a meeting, or having to do a nerve-wracking presentation. Prolonged stressful situations, like being isolated and quarantined during the Covid-19 pandemic, is where cortisol remains high and begins to suppress other hormones in the body that are responsible for metabolism, blood sugar regulation, sleep-wake cycles and mood. In particular, serotonin and dopamine, our happy, feel-good, gratification hormones.
We cannot get serotonin from food, but we can get an essential amino acid, tryptophan, from food. Tryptophan triggers the production of our happiness hormone, and it is found in foods like poultry, salmon, cashews, chia seeds, spinach, and oats. Dopamine is manufactured in the body by vitamin D and another amino acid called Tyrosine, which we also find in poultry, eggs, soy, spirulina and dairy products . Our body can also magically make Tyrosine from another essential amino acid, phenylalanine. So, you can see how eating a balanced diet is important to get in all the components that help trigger hormones, and neurotransmitters that keep us feeling good.
Since eating cookies makes us feel good, and so do these particular amino acids, why not combine them into a healthy snack? That is exactly what I did here with these “Feel Good Cookies” to give that serotonin and dopamine a little kickstart.
1 C raw, unsalted cashews
1/2 C rolled oats
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 C almond butter
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp honey
1 egg or flax egg for a vegan option
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/4 C dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350F. Spread cashews on to a baking sheet and toast for 5 minutes. Allow to cool, then coarsley grind them in a food processor or blender. Add these to a bowl, along with all other ingredients except chia seeds and chocolate chips. Once all ingredients are combined, then add the chia and chocolate chips. Form 15 cookies onto the baking sheet and bake for 9 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Let cool before serving. Cookies keep in the fridge for 3-5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Us humans are creatures of habit. The structure and discipline of a routine helps to reduce stress, because we know what is coming next, day after day. A routine around bed time, also known as sleep hygiene, is proven to promote better sleep.. Children and pets crave routine, as it creates a safe, comfortable and familiar environment that they can trust.
According to NorthwestMedicine.org, a lack of routine can result in poor sleep, poor diet, increased stress and ineffective use of time. All of these can then accumulate to result in weight gain, nutrient deficiencies, sugar cravings, and lack of motivation.
So, during a crisis, like the world being on isolation during the Covid-19 outbreak, we are forced to be home. We are trying to work from home, care for our kids, pets, and ourselves, while maintaining our normal routine. As a work-at-home mother for many years, I realized the importance of creating a routine around work/life/motherhood, just so I could have some balance and not end up working around the clock. For me, this meant getting dressed for work, even though I was at home, and setting work hours. It was important to I know when my work day began and when it ended.
While we are at home during this social isolation period, which is for an indefinite amount of time at this moment, we must try to create routine so we can ease back into our old routine once we are given the ok, and so we can stay calm, healthy and feel a sense of normalcy while we are in isolation.
Creating a routine might look like you literally writing out a schedule for yourself. What do you want your day to look like? Include wake/sleep times, meals, exercise, socializing (via FaceTime or phone), work time, and self care rituals like meditation, deep breathing and reflection.
Set an alarm to wake up and go to bed at the same time you would normally wake and sleep pre-covid days. Sleeping the day away, or staying up till the wee hours, might result in boredom, ineffective use of time, and maybe even depression. It might feel like you have all the time in the world right now, but think about all the things you could be doing to stay healthy (mentally and physically) if you had more hours in the day to be productive. Think of how many days it takes to shift your sleep cycle in and out of daylight savings twice a year, and that’s just a one hour difference!
Meal plan as usual. We have all run out to stock our shelves and freezers with all the things we think we might need for weeks or months during this isolation period. The problem is that, because we have all these amazing snacks in our house, we eat them. Most of this is related to stress eating and boredom. Write out your plan for your meals and snacks and try to stick just to those each day. I went through my pantry, fridge and freezer and wrote out all the meals and snacks I could possibly make with the groceries I have purchased. As I run out of those items, I cross that meal off my list. It gives a bit of control over eating habits and patterns, plus I see what items I need to replace instead of buying random carts of groceries.
Above all, embrace this time to care for yourself. Use this time to strengthen relationships, have gratitude for what really matters, and focus on keeping yourself, and your loved ones, safe.
During this time of social distancing, or physical distancing, all of my appointments have been moved to an online format. Book in for our usual 1 hour consults, and choose how you would like to visit. Options are Skype, Zoom, FaceTime or phone call.
I am compiling this list for you, but mostly me, so I can always have something to refer to when I feel like I am losing it. We are officially ordered to socially isolate, avoid going to restaurants, gatherings, movies, and anywhere groups might gather. What a weird time this is! We have never seen anything like this and I hope we don’t again….although we might be a little more prepared if we do.
Some things are still not banned and I have added a few good handfuls of them here:
Make a playlist, or a few, of your fave tunes and have a kitchen dance party
Get out the cards and board games and refresh your memory. Better yet, create your own!
Puzzles. They’ll keep you (and the kids) busy for hours
Make a photo book online. Click, order and have it delivered
Start working on homemade gifts, like family calendars, or create recipes for homemade skin care
Try meal planning! Gather ideas 3-5 main meals, a couple snacks, and make a plan for the week using the ingredients you have on hand. There will be much less food waste when you plan ahead
Plant some herbs and veggies
Make a mini business plan for that side hustle that you’ve been fantasizing about but never had the time to put your thoughts to paper
Make a recipe binder of your fave muffin, bliss ball, dinner and salad dressing recipes
If you see sun, get outside. Large, open spaces are still safe and we need the vitamin D for our mental well-being
Spend quality time with your pets. I don’t know about you, but my dog is thrilled that I’m home all day now
Find some ways to keep moving. YouTube and many fitness websites are taking their classes online. Exercise reduces stress and keeps us calm
Start a gratitude journal. Write down at least one thing you were grateful for each day. This will keep us feeling positive and smiling
Write a poem. Research different styles of poetry and find one that suits your creative flow
Make a craft station and get out all your paper, paints, glue, beads…Maybe you enjoy making jewellery, maybe you’re a Picasso and you never knew it
Create a vision board for the rest of 2020. Get out your old magazines, photos, scissors, markers and glue. Arrange pictures, sayings, and words, anything that inspires you, on the board. Think, “what do I want in 2020?”. Include travel destinations, relationship goals, quotes, professional and personal dreams
Organize a virtual dinner party. Invite your friends and family to have dinner with you. Set up your laptop, log on to Skype, WhatsApp, FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or any platform that you can meet as a group
Make a financial budget and get yourself organized. Many of us are out of work for the time being. Many of us will suffer from financial hardships because of this global health crisis and shutdown. To reduce stress, write out your new budget based on what your finances are looking like for the next couple of months. Where can you cut corners to compensate for losses?
Call your neighbour and check in
Organize your spice cupboard. Might not sound fun, but it will feel really great once it’s done
Start a meditation practice. Maybe it’s every morning before you get out of bed, maybe it’s every night before you go to sleep, even a few minutes to clear the mind will help keep you grounded and more calm
Go through your bookshelf and start that book you’ve been keeping for your next beach vacay
Set time boundaries. If you are working from home, make sure you punch in and out, get out of your pj’s, and make it a real work day, with breaks!
Bring the outdoors in. Plants, flowers, open windows will all help you feel less cooped up
Learn something new. Online courses offer languages, health and wellness, painting techniques, even a style of cooking you’ve always wanted to learn
Whatever you choose, I believe it’s important to keep a routine, and keep smiling. We’ve got this.