Quick Nutritional Fixes for the Kitchen Weary

When there’s an increase in stressful events, it’s easy to find yourself on the edge of a health neglect catastrophe. When I feel the threat of stress coming on and my energy dwindling, meal planning and grocery shopping fall to the wayside. For a quick nutritional fix with minimal prep, I usually turn to one of these easy options:

  • Can of tuna or hummus or goat cheese with rice crackers
  • Rice cake with almond butter and banana (or avocado)
  • Miso soup (all you need is boiling water, miso paste, green onion, and tofu)
  • Green smoothies (great for breakfast or with a light meal)
  • Baked, whole sweet potato or sweet potato fries
  • Boiled eggs or veggie and goat cheese omelettes
  • Rice cooker recipes (throw brown rice, veggies, and seasoning into the rice cooker and voila!)
  • Veggie pizza with goat cheese on a rice wrap
  • Lots of fruits, veggies, seeds and nuts as sides or snacks (no prep required!)

I’ve been feasting on these fast foods quite a bit lately, slowly inching myself towards my cookbooks and grocery lists. As I leisurely complete that journey, I will leave you with a quote from my yin yoga instructor: “Discomfort allows for growth.” I suppose the challenge of finding and sustaining health is very much like holding an excruciatingly long yin yoga pose – you breathe, you modify, and you don’t give up.

Curry, Cauliflower, Cranberries & The Golden Rule

It’s the first really cold night of the season and I’m keeping myself warm with an oven full of curried cauliflower with cranberries.  Who knew that particular C-combination would be sooo delicious?  I popped it in the oven late tonight to pack for Monday’s lunch and it’s been a challenge to hold back from eating it all! Check out Choosing Raw’s super easy recipe here.

The change in weather and the upcoming Christmas season have unleashed the hacking and flu-ridden, bone chilling, Raynaud’s inducing temperatures, and tempting seasonal goodies and drinks (the kinds that are more likely to encourage Lupus than keep it at bay). I need to be careful, especially with my white blood cell count dipping back down to 1.5. This time around, my rheumatologist seems unconcerned, so much so that there’s been no talk of increasing my meds. I’m pleased with this of course, but it has left me very confused.  Why so laid back the second time and so panicked the first? I’m not sure how concerned I should be, if at all!  I will email my rheumatology nurse this week, but in the meantime, I’ll follow what I’ve learned is the golden rule when it comes to these matters: When in doubt, REST.

So, a peaceful rest to you, my friends, and a happy, cozy week ahead.  :)

Finding Take-Out Within

There are days when you need to get take-out.  The fridge and the cupboards are bare, the store is closed, and you have no choice but to venture out for that vermicelli bowl down the street or the sushi two blocks away or even the veggie burger across the bridge.  For me, the reality is that most times, my cupboards are full of beans, lentils, and brown rice, sweet potatoes and acorn squash sit in a wicker basket atop my toaster oven, and kale, spinach and tomatoes lie in wait in my fridge.  That was the very case tonight as I sat glumly (and lazily) in my apartment, trying to convince myself that there was NOTHING to eat.  I scanned my “healthy” take-out options online, trying to ignore the inner voice asking, “these are basic recipes… why the heck aren’t I just making this myself?”  Tonight, my will power won out and I was able to find take-out within by creating a simple rice noodle dish with garlic, onion, sweet peppers, shrimp, almond chilli sauce and crushed, raw cashews on top. My schedule and family events as of late have upped my restaurant food intake quite a bit, so hopefully tonight’s success will carry me through to a more balanced week in the kitchen!

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Cooking for the Wolf: Quick, Easy, & Supercharged Oatmeal To Go

It’s official: I’m addicted to oatmeal.  It’s quick, it’s easy, it’s healthy (lowers cholesterol, boosts the immune system, has special anti-oxidants for heart protection, stabilizes blood sugar, lowers risk of diabetes, prevents breast cancer), and there’s nothing more comforting during those dark, colder months when you’re up before the sun. I have to admit, I was never an oatmeal fan.  I’d buy an assorted box of oatmeal packets, intent on reaping the health benefits, but they’d collect dust in my cupboards. It was either too bland or too sugary. I couldn’t find the happy medium, so I gave up all together.  This past summer, while on vacation for my cousin’s wedding, I was forced to make peace with oatmeal as we hotel hopped on our post-wedding family road trip.  The free breakfasts that came with our stay were always gluten packed and/or sugary items, leaving only oatmeal and fruit as my options.  Most had “build your own oatmeal” stations, which inspired me to make my own quick, easy, and superfood infused oatmeal packets.  No time in the morning? I bring the pre-mixed ingredients with me. No kettle where I’m going?  I pre-boil the water and put it in my tea thermos to add later (and bring a tea bag to use with the remaining hot water, as well!).

There are some really amazing oatmeal recipes that take a little extra time on the stove like this peanut butter oatmeal recipe from “ohsheglows” that I’ve enjoyed on leisurely Sunday mornings, but if you are looking for something quick and satisfying with an added superfood punch, check out my simple mix:

1/2 cup gluten-free oats (I use wheat-free “Only Oats” brand)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground flax

1 teaspoon chia seed

Handful of dried fruit of choice (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, etc.)

Add 1 cup of boiling water, mix, and voila!  A healthy, gluten-free, sugar-free, protein and fibre packed bowl of oatmeal.  The chia seed is not only a nutritious addition, but also thickens the oatmeal, which I enjoy.  By putting the dried fruit in with the hot water, the hydration makes them plump and juicy.  The dried fruit provides just the right amount of sweetness, but if you feel you need an extra dose, a drizzle of honey or maple syrup should do the trick.  Some of my favourite toppings are: slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and fresh fruit. Unless you enjoy a salty kick to your oatmeal, try to stick to the healthier choice of raw/unsalted seeds and nuts.  A splash of almond milk is also a great option and provides an extra nutritional boost.

I’m almost through my 2nd large bag of gluten-free oats this month.  I can’t seem to start my day without it!