There is something extra cozy about a hot bowl of soup on a cold day. It literally warms you from the inside out and can be a great way to get in extra produce when a salad just isn’t going to hit the spot.
The inspiration behind this recipe was a traditional potato chowder. Typical chowders use cream, flour and often animal fat of some sort to achieve a rich texture. This recipe is dairy free & flour free and by swapping out the potatoes for cauliflower, it is lower in carbs compared to a classic potato soup. While it may be missing some ingredients, flavour is not one of them!
Hearty Cauliflower Chowder Recipe
1 tbsp butter or avocado oil
1 medium cooking onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces, or one bag frozen
6 c organic low sodium veggie or chicken broth
4 carrots, peeled & cut into coins
2 ribs organic celery, diced
2 cups organic corn, frozen
1/4 c real bacon bits, cook ahead
1/2 c green onions, sliced
1/2 c shredded cheese (for dairy free option, try Daiya shreds)
hot sauce, optional
1. Melt the butter in a large soup pot. Sauté diced onion until translucent and almost caramelizing. Add minced garlic & sauté for another minute.
2. If using bouillon, prepare now according to directions and set aside. If using prepared broth, skip this step.
3. Add cauliflower, sea salt and broth to the pot. Bring to a boil and simmer until cauliflower is soft. If you have an electric pressure cooker, set the manual cook time to 12 minutes.
4. Using an immersion blender, puree the cauliflower, onions & garlic with the broth. Note: if you don’t have an immersion blender, a hand mixer in an over-sized pot will do. Just be careful not to splatter on yourself.
5. You now have a ‘chowder’ without the use of dairy, pork fat or flour to thicken. Add carrots, celery & corn. Bring to a boil & simmer for another 20 minutes or until veggies are softened. If you have an electric pressure cooker, set the manual cook time to 10 minutes.
6. Serve with bacon bits, shredded cheese & green onion. Need a little heat? Add some hot sauce.
7. Note: Want to up the nutrient level? Try adding a few handfuls of baby spinach or kale during the last 2 or 3 minutes of cooking.
As a dark chocolate lover, I am always happy when research confirms that in addition to bringing me joy, this decadent treat also has some added health benefits. But first, let’s start at the beginning.
Chocolate’s history dates back to at least 2000 B.C. In its earliest days, chocolate was often consumed by the Mayans as a cold & frothy spicy beverage.
In the late 1700’s this cold drink evolved into a warm cup of cozy. The spiciness was traded in for sweetness. The cold water was replaced by hot water, and then hot milk. In the late 1800’s brilliant minds, in my humble opinion, began experimenting with cocoa butter and sugar, and voila, the chocolate bar was born!
Now that we have our mini history lesson out of the way, let’s talk health benefits. There has been a great deal of research suggesting that dark chocolate is good for your heart. Given that February is heart month, this discussion seems rather timely. Dark chocolate has been linked to better circulation, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. It also happens to be a source of fibre, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc & selenium. Flavanols are a big part of why dark chocolate is good for our heart. Lose the dark, lose the flavanols & you miss out on the heart protective properties that they bring to the table.
While dark chocolate boasts several benefits, we are wise to remember that moderation and selection of good quality chocolate is important.
Dark Chocolate Tips:
• One to two small squares is typically a good serving size.
• Choose 70-80% dark chocolate to take advantage of the health benefits. Unfortunately, milk chocolate doesn’t boast the same kind of health benefits and it often contains more sugar than dark chocolate as well as additional emulsifiers and fats.
• Choose organic when possible as well to reduce the amount of extra chemicals in the finished product.
• Sensitive to caffeine? With a higher percentage of cocoa solids, comes a higher caffeine content. The average 8 oz cup of coffee contains 100-200 milligrams of caffeine. By comparison, two ounces of 70% dark chocolate contains about 50-60 mg caffeine.
• Look for fair trade chocolate to support fair economies around the world.
• Not sure you like dark chocolate? Try taking a small piece and let it slowly melt in your mouth. This change in the way we might normally eat chocolate may help you slow down your consumption and begin to appreciate a new flavour experience.
Did you know?
Ever wondered why chocolate sales are so big around Valentine’s? When we enjoy dark chocolate, our brain releases phenylethylamine and serotonin. These chemicals are similar to the chemicals that are released when we are falling in love. If you’ve got your eye on a special someone, give them chocolate to increase your chances of them feeling warm fuzzies when you are near. Pro dating advice: Make sure they eat the chocolate around you, otherwise you run the risk of them from falling for someone else!
Here is my spin on a warm cup of cocoa.
1-2 tbsp natural cocoa powder
2 tsp maple syrup
1 cup milk or unsweetened dairy alternative of your choice
February is National Heart month. It also happens to be the month that we talk a lot about love. I figured why don’t we combine the two and talk a little bit about loving your heart.
Fun fact: According to the Cleveland Clinic, your arteries, capillaries and veins are over 60,000 miles long! It is more than enough length to get you around the world twice!
Your heart’s job is to pump nutrient and oxygen rich blood to your tissues as well as take carbon dioxide and waste products away from your tissues. Your heart doesn’t take a break. Even before you entered the world, your heart was hard at work, taking good care of you. How can you return the favour? It might be simpler and more enjoyable than you think!
Eat More of This:
• Complex Carbohydrates such as vegetables – especially those leafy greens, fruit, and some whole grains such as oats & brown rice.
• Protein: beans and legumes, quinoa, chia seeds, eggs and lean meat such as chicken or turkey. Keep red meat to a minimum and try to find grass fed options.
• Healthy Fat: avocado, olive oil, fatty fish like salmon, lake trout, sardines, mackerel, raw nuts & seeds
• Fibre: make friends with fibre – great sources include leafy greens, apples, pears, raw nuts & seeds, prunes
And Less of That:
• Trans-fats: hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils found in peanut butter, crackers and fast food
• Sugar: leads to weight gain and reduced immune function with white sugar and glucose-fructose being the worst offenders. Hit the reset button on sweet and use honey or maple syrup sparingly. Avoid the use of artificial sweeteners & minimize the chemicals we are eating.
• Refined flours as found in white bread, crackers, cakes, pies and pastries.
Add in regular exercise, quality sleep, laughter and good stress management and you are well on your way.
Show yourself a little love and take care of your heart. Your family with thank you!
I am not a fan of trendy diets. I don’t care what celebrity has had overwhelming success with a certain way of eating. Don’t even get me started on smarmy supplement companies who prey on people’s insecurities. Over the years I too have struggled with body image issues. I’ve watched some fad diets come and go and even tried a few. In their few moments of fame, they’ve left a trail of tears, frustration and feelings of failure. Maybe for you too?
While I do discuss building a foundational healthy diet with my clients, what I am referring to couldn’t be any further from a fad diet. I’m talking about a collection of habits and foods that best support that individual’s physical, social and emotional health. My approach to diet is an personalized long term strategy to support overall wellness that allows for chocolate cake without guilt. I don’t have a bag of tricks with quick fixes. Honestly, you deserve better than that.
Often come January, we decide that we can no longer live with the extra 10 lbs we are caring around. Whether that is because we have been enjoying all the flavours of the holidays and now feel guilty about it, or media tells us that we should re-invent ourselves to be someone better come January 1st. Have you ever counted how many gym, diet and supplements ads you see, hear or scroll by in the course of a day? We can quickly become transfixed on the number on the scale while completely ignoring other numbers that are of great value to our health.
Many of us own a bathroom scale. Some step on it monthly, weekly and even daily. Let me ask you something. What is that particular number actually telling you about your overall health?
As a Nutritionist, I happen to think that there are some far more important numbers to be crunching when it comes to our overall health such as blood pressure, blood sugar levels as well as lipid levels. And while I don’t think we all need to rush out for a medical appointment to get us answers, I would suggest that perhaps knowing those numbers are of far greater significance than the number on your bathroom scale. And yet, which number gets the most attention?
Weighing yourself on a scale can give you some information, however, it is not the end all and be all of determining your health. It also should not have the power to make you feel like you are a better or worse person than who you were yesterday. Your weight has nothing to do with your value as a person. End of story.
If you are ready to stop dieting and embrace a healthy relationship with food, I am ready and waiting to be your cheerleader. It might take some time, but together we will figure out sustainable strategies to nourish your body, mind and spirit. I will help you untangle food & guilt and help you listen to your body’s cues for building a great nutritional foundation to live your life upon. Want to learn more? You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 519-503-7926.
It can be a bit of a challenge to fit enough veggies into your diet once the colder months come along. During the warmer weather, we are inclined to choose salad, dive into raw veggies and dip and make a nice cold smoothie filled with greens. Once the cooler weather blows in, those delicious options somehow lose some of their appeal. This is no reason though for veggies to take a back seat in your diet. Instead, this is the perfect opportunity to up the nutritional value on some of your favourite comfort foods. Add recipes that rely on the slow cooker to do most of the work & it is a dream come true!
One of my favourite ways to eat veggies in the colder months is to make stews, curries and chili. Cue this recipe for vegetarian chili. Using natural ingredients and a touch of maple syrup to add a little sweetness, this recipe comes out on top for nutrients and taste!
Let me start by saying that there is good value to using some fat in our cooking. While I will be the first to consider if a recipe can do with less fat or even swap some of it out with an alternative like applesauce in baking, a bit of healthy fat is really good for us. We want to be fat aware, but not fat afraid. Healthy fats provide support for our nervous system, promote hormone health and even help with brain function. In addition to adding an extra layer of flavour and richness to dishes, fat also helps us better absorb certain nutrients. Take salad for instance. There are fat soluble vitamins in salad greens and vegetables such as vitamins A, D, E and K. If we remove all fat from our salad dressing, we actually make it much more difficult for our body to effectively absorb these important fat soluble vitamins. This is not by any means a free pass to drench your salad with a store bought dressing, but it should give you reason to pause and think about ways to better absorb those fat soluble nutrients. You could try making your own simple salad dressing with olive oil – see recipe below, or add a source healthy of fat such as avocado, salmon or raw nuts & seeds.
I also use olive oil when sautéing over low to medium heat. If I need to do something over higher heat, I choose avocado or grapeseed oil. The difference in choice has to do with the smoke point of these oils. Some oils handle higher temperatures and prolonged cooking better. While olive oil has long been touted to be a very healthy option, when used to fry at high temperatures, the properties of the oils can change, causing olive oil to become less healthy for us. As such, we are better off using avocado or grapeseed oils which have a higher smoke point. With any of these oils, it is especially important to look for extra virgin, or first pressed as well as cold pressed oils.
I use butter, coconut oil or organic canola oil. These fats tend to work well in baked goods. In my house baked goods are a sometimes kind of an event, so I really want to thoroughly enjoy the experience. Even though I really appreciate the applesauce swap for oil, I have on occasion found it to take away from the taste and texture of the end product.
Please keep in mind that this is how I see fit to use various fats in my kitchen. You may find yourself in a different situation with different health issues to consider when it comes to fat intake. Do your own research and find the fats that work best for your situation.
Here is one of my favourite quick & easy salad dressings to enjoy.