Dark Chocolate Blood Orange Tart with Avocado Ganache.

I made this raw, vegan dessert for my wonderful friend Jane and her brilliant daughter Bea. I’d seen the bags of blood oranges on sale at my local grocery store and was immediately inspired! This recipe consists of nutritious whole-food ingredients: almonds, dates, orange, and avocados, making it a healthy and nutritious dessert that you can feel good about enjoying as a special treat!

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The Ultimate Plant-Based Protein Energy Bars.

I designed this recipe for my plant-based athlete clients, to provide them with a whole-food based, nutrient-dense, protein-rich energy bar. These bars are not only healthy but are delicious! offering a nice balance of sweet & salty, chewy and crunchy. Unlike most packaged commercial bars that have added sugars, oils, preservatives or processed/refined ingredients, these bars use strictly natural, organic ingredients.

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Glazed Tempeh, Roasted Asparagus & Toasted Buckwheat.

This dish was my attempt at bringing spring to my table, despite the fact that it is far from springlike here in Montreal. After exhausting root veggies all winter, I’ve been craving a change and I am looking forward to eating more light, spring vegetables. While asparagus is only in season from May to July in Quebec, there were some beautiful bunches on sale at my local grocery store, which was the inspiration for this meal!

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Miso & Kombu Soup with Tofu Noodles.

This warming and nourishing soup provides a quick and flavoursome winter ‘meal in a bowl’. I prepared this dish for my parents who came over for dinner in celebration of their 29th year wedding anniversary. We enjoyed slurping the broth at the end, after all, a family that slurps together stay together!

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Food MythBusters. Industrial VS. Sustainable Agriculture.

This  comprehensive and accessible video explains the differences between large-scale conventional agriculture vs. small-scale organic agriculture,  helping dispel the myth that industrial agriculture is necessary to feed the world. Understanding where our food comes from and how the agricultural industry works (or doesn’t work) allows us to make healthier, more environmentally-friendly choices as consumers each day.  We can choose to support a more equitable and sustainable food system by purchasing local, organic or small-scale produced food as well as adopting a plant-based diet, low in animal products-which have the highest eco-footprint. We can also be mindful of buying direct or fair trade speciality items like coffee, tea, and dark chocolate that are grown in accordance with sustainable practices. Considering these factors is part of a holistically-healthy diet and life!

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Thai Red Curry Tofu & Mushroom Cakes.

This recipe was inspired by Thai fish cakes (Tod Mun Pla) that were commonly prepared in Southern Thailand, where I spent time living & working a few years ago. To create a plant-based version of this dish, I used tofu and mushrooms to replicate the soft, moist texture of the ground fish. Seeing as tofu is a blank canvas, it sponged up the intense flavour of the red curry paste and miso paste, producing a mighty tasty bite! Tofu also acts as a sticky binder when blended up in a food processor, allowing the cakes to hold together. While Thai cakes are traditionally deep fried, baking these tofu cakes resulted in a lighter, crispier exterior and overall healthier dish! You could serve these thai cakes with an asian slaw, brown rice, stir-fried veggies or even as a Thai-style ‘veggie burger’ wrapped in a lettuce leaf! You could also roll the mixture into ‘meatballs’ and enjoy with rice-noodles or as an hors d’oeuvre alongside the dipping sauce. If you (or your kids) are not a fan of spicy food, you could use the base recipe (tofu, sauteed mushrooms and onions) and customize it by adding whatever seasonings you prefer!

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Vitamin D | The Winter Supplement.

All essential vitamins can be obtained through a balanced, whole-foods diet, with the exception of vitamin D, which our bodies produce from the sun. Once synthesized in the skin, vitamin D is transported to the liver and kidneys where it gets converted into the hormonally-active form called Calcitriol (6). As a result of this biological process, vitamin D is technically a hormone rather than a vitamin (6). During the warmer, sunnier months we can get our daily dose of vitamin D from 15 minutes of sun exposure. However, research shows that it is nearly impossible to get sufficient vitamin D during the darker winter months when our skin is covered up and the sun’s rays are weak. A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people living in the Northern hemisphere could not produce much, if any, vitamin D from the sun during the winter (2). Furthermore, about 32% of Canadians are deficient in Vitamin D, according to Statistics Canada (3).

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Roasted Butternut squash, Fig & Fennel Warm Salad.

I made this light yet flavourful and satisfying dish for some friends who were over for dinner. Seeing as it is still cold and wintery here in Montreal, I’ve been enjoying warm salads like this made with cooked vegetables over raw ingredients. This nutritious dish offers a variety of different types of  vegetables including: root vegetable (squash), nightshade vegetable (eggplant), alliums (scallion/garlic), green leafy vegetable (herbs) and fennel (same family as parsley, dill and coriander). The chickpeas add a serving of plant-based protein, and the almonds & olive oil are a source of healthy monounsaturated fat. The spices used are rich in antioxidants and provide plenty of flavour. I encourage you to experiment using spices when preparing vegetables, as a way to boost flavour without adding more salt/sugar/fat. Try making your own spice blend, like the Middle-Eastern-inspired mix I made for this recipe. You will be excited to eat a plate of roasted vegetables like this if you season them with your favourite spices!

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Michael Stone on Paying Attention.

I was inspired by this brilliant video by Michael Stone talking about the simple yet powerful experience of ‘paying attention’. By paying attention, you can tune in to yourself and your environment, helping you see what aspects of your life are working and which may not be serving you best. As Michael mentioned, we are often distracted – by technology, our never-ending ‘to-do list’, by our habitual thoughts. This distraction can hinder us from paying attention to our immediate experience, both internal and external. Paying attention is central to the process of adopting healthier diet & lifestyle habits. As you stand back and become a greater witness to your habits, there is more space and opportunity to intervene in the cycle of behaviour and make healthier choices. Being that we are all bio-individually unique, the idea that one diet or lifestyle can suit everyone is inherently flawed. By observing the ways in which you are affected by your daily choices – paying attention to your thoughts, body sensations, relationships and environment, you can gain a better understanding of what optimal health means for you. Try paying attention from an observational stance, without self-judgement, just getting comfortable in being more aware of your moment-to-moment experience.

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Making Nacatamales in Nicaragua.

I spent the last month travelling in Nicaragua and had the opportunity to learn about the local cuisine and food culture. On the gorgeous island of Ometepe, I stayed at Hacienda Merida, an amazing place offering accommodations and a sustainably-constructed English school. Their lovely staff generously guided me through the day-long process of making nacatamales. From harvesting the banana (plantain) leaves, to grinding the maize, I enjoyed participating in the creation of this special traditional dish. After the day of prep, the final result was memorably delicious! the creamy, polenta-like maize, spiced mixed root vegetables, sweet/acidic tomato and aromatic mint all wrapped in banana leaf made for a perfect mouthful. While I may not be able to reproduce this recipe exactly the same here in Canada, I am grateful for having had the experience of making and eating this beautiful dish in Nicaragua!

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