New Site

I am very excited to announce that as of tomorrow I will be unveiling my brand new website! I have found another hosting platform that allows me to more easily create the site I’ve envisioned since I first launched my blog. I will no longer be on WordPress, however my domain name will remain the same (www.juliettelacroix.com). In addition, I will have a fancy shmancy new email newsletter, which I am pretty psyched about.

Please check back tomorrow for the new site, and thanks so much for all of your support to date!!

Juliette

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Midnight Miso & Kinpira

Midnight Miso

Just when I thought spring was upon us with its corresponding smoothie and salad cravings, a Newfoundland style Sheila’s Brush descended with a cold, wet and bleary day more reminiscent of November than March. As a result, I found myself reaching back in the fridge for my grounding root vegetables and miso paste.

When it comes to late night snacking, I have been know to reach for a lovely bar of dark chocolate, especially if it happens to come from The Chocolate Project. But more often than not, during the fall and winter months I find myself preparing a warm and nourishing bowl of what I lovingly refer to as “Midnight Miso” instead. One of my intentions for this year was to give myself the gift of rest by going to bed earlier. A good night’s sleep happens more often than it has in the past, but I still find myself stirring a pot of miso goodness during the wee hours more often than I would like to admit. But when it comes to late night snacking you could definitely do a lot worse than miso soup!

This recipe is flexible and can be made with whatever veg and protein you happen to have on hand. I love using grounding root veggies, like Burdock, Daikon and Carrots, and I often pair this soup with Kinpira, a delicious macrobiotic dish first introduced to me by my good friend Jessica Sodor-Duncan. Her blog, The Dainty Pig contains an abundance of wonderful recipes and information on all things Macrobiotic related. You can find her fantastic recipe for Kinpira here. As I mentioned, it pairs beautifully with Midnight Miso, especially since both dishes take a mere 20ish minutes, plus chopping time to prepare. Sounds like a wonderful anytime snack/meal to me!

Midnight Miso

Ingredients:

3″ piece carrot, finely diced
3″ piece of burdock, peeled and finely diced
3″ piece of daikon, peeled and finely diced
Handful organic shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1″ piece of ginger, grated
1 350 g package organic tofu, cubed (or protein of choice) and/or 1 cup edamame
6 cups filtered water or Nourishing Vegetable Broth
2 tsp 5 Mushroom Dual Extract Powder (optional)
1 Tbsp Sea Veg Blend (or seaweed of choice)
1/8 cup tamari, plus more to taste
3 tbsp miso paste (organic chickpea or soy)
1 package rice noodles or rice ramen (I love the Lotus Brand Organic Millet & Brown Rice Ramen)

Directions

Combine all ingredients except the miso paste and tamari in a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Let simmer for 15 minutes, to allow flavours to integrate.
Remove from heat and add Tamari, whisking to combine.
Ladle some of the broth into a bowl and whisk in the miso until no chunks remain.
Add the miso/broth mixture back into the soup pot and stir to combine.
Serve immediately, with some thinly sliced green onions and sesame oil (chili infused sesame oil is even better!)

What is your favourite late night snack?


Tackling Nutritional Overwhelm

Tackling Nutritional Overwhelm

Generally speaking, I am happy with how we eat. We follow a whole foods, plant based approach because this is what we’ve found works best for us. I incorporate lots of superfoods, as a nutritional boost, and follow the latest news in health and nutrition to keep abreast of what is new and exciting in the field. Are there things we can do differently? Of course. There are definitely  things I would like to do better, but I generally feel good about where we’re at. I also am aware of perfectionist tendencies within myself, and try to keep tabs on how much I am indulging them where nutrition is concerned, as I know it can be a dangerous road that leads right to orthorexia (aka an unhealthy obsession with eating foods that are perceived to be healthy).

Last week I found myself challenged, in a really big way. I picked up a gorgeous new cookbook, full of amazing and exciting information about a way of eating that is pretty far removed from where we are at. I started out feeling really inspired, but the more I read, the more I felt doubt creeping in. Is this what we really “should” be doing? Am I not doing enough? What about where my kids are concerned? There were aspects of the book that were in complete contradiction to what I believe is healthy (it was anti-fermented foods, no mushrooms), but that didn’t seem to matter, I still felt the ugly seeds of doubt seeping their way in.

My intention was to make this fabulous new book the basis of our weekly meal plan, but instead I found myself sitting at the table in a bit of a daze, leafing through jaw droopingly beautiful pictures for the next half hour. I felt at a loss as to how to fit this brand new and shiny philosophy into our current lifestyle. We’ve found a food approach that works for us, that accommodates the fact that we have young children, a strict food budget and a crazy busy homeschooling lifestyle. The vast majority of the food we eat is made from scratch out of whole foods. I felt really good about all of this, until I started leafing through my new cookbook. I put the new book aside and went on with my weekly meal planning, feeling all the while that I was somehow falling short of the mark.

When my husband got home, I had a long discussion with him. He kindly asked me if I felt so uncertain about how we eat that I would allow this to drastically get in the way of my confidence. He also reflected that the author had found their “niche market”, which was an important reminder to me that this is just one way of eating, not the ultimate, “right” way. It is simply another approach. One of the most important things I took away from IIN is that there are a billion and one different ways of eating out there and that each of those approaches can sound very convincing, but at the end of the day it is about what works best for your individual client. Or in this case, for us. Meghan Telpner often says “labels are for tin cans”, which is another reminder that it is not the label you attach that matters (gluten free, vegan, alkaline, paleo) but rather finding a label-free way of eating that works for you, ideally within the parameters of making healthy choices. Stress is a huge factor in healthy digestion (and a healthy life in general), which makes stressing out about what you are eating pretty much the worst thing you could do.

It is also important to keep in mind that the very idea of what constitutes “healthy” will shift and change over time. Kale is a superstar one week, the next it is demonized because of a new study that has emerged in main stream media. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, right? Maybe, but apparently only if you eat the right kind of apple, paired with the right foods to avoid a blood sugar spike. The sky is the limit when it comes to food philosophies and studies touting what is healthy and what is not. So much comes down to the philosophy of the person writing the article, and the outcome of a very specific, targeted trial that focuses on one outcome and may not take into account a wide range of different factors. Not to mention the industries funding these studies, who may very well have their own agenda propelling the research. At the end of the day we are all unique human beings, with our own unique combination of requirements when it comes to food intake. It is up to us to determine what that combination should be.

After a lot of reflection, I realized that it is not about being “perfect”, within the context of yourself or someone else. It is about finding what works best for you, at this point in time. There are so many considerations to take into account, food sensitivities, family food preferences, time availability, budget, geographical location, food supply and emotional attachment to specific foods. I have found my way around the latter by recreating foods that I used to love in a healthier context. Does that mean they are perfect? Probably not, but nor do they need to be.

Will I be donating this shiny new cookbook at my earliest convenience? Surprisingly, no. When I finally dug myself out of my cavern of doubt, I realized that we can easily incorporate some of these wonderful recipes into what we are already doing. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. We are doing the best we can, and that is enough.

What are some of your biggest challenges when it comes to health and nutrition? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

* As a footnote, there is a webinar happening tomorrow night on this very subject, entitled “Jude Blereau on food culture, food guilt and stress!” Jude Blereau is the author of some excellent whole food cookbooks, and also has a fantastic website:
http://wholefoodcooking.com.au. You can find a link for the webinar here.


Vanilla Citrus Explosion Smoothie

Vanilla Citrus Explosion Smoothie

Cherry blossoms, green sprouts and warmer temperatures abound here in Victoria, making it clear to me that we are moving out of the rainy season and into spring! The recent shift in weather has led to a shift in our eating patterns. I like to try and follow the seasons (guided by fresh local produce availability) and chose to embrace the new lightness we are all feeling with a creamy and delicious citrus smoothie.

Over the last few weeks we have ordered a mixed fruit box from Spud.ca along with our food order, and this week’s selection came with a lot of delicious organic oranges. They are a big hit with my kids, they happily eat them raw, and we also mix things up by creating sparkling orange juice (thank you glass bottled Soda Stream!) and other delicious concoctions. One of these creations just happened to be the Vanilla Citrus Explosion smoothie we thoroughly enjoyed this morning.

I absolutely LOVE smoothies, because they facilitate the intake of high levels of nutrient dense foods in a small and easily consumable format. My kids are still in what I like to call a “selective phase”, which makes smoothies especially appealing as I can be sure to have the majority of their nutrient bases covered in one go, just in case a usual favourites don’t fly later on in the day.

I have included a bunch of protein and fibre rich superstars, including ground flax, sesame, sunflower and hemp seeds. I paired this with Vitamin C rich goji berries, camu camu & acerola cherry powders and fresh squeezed organic orange juice. I rounded this off with a bit of Vitamineral Green powder, as citrus and green leafy veg work brilliantly together to maximize nutrient absorption. The final touches were some antimicrobial and enzyme rich raw honey and some gorgeous vanilla bean powder. The tangy citrusy deliciousness could have included a creamsicle tag, however I have a sneaky suspicion that’s been done before, and besides, how often do you get to use the word “explosion” in a good context?

Vanilla Citrus Explosion Smoothie

Ingredients

3 cups filtered water
4 oranges, juiced (makes about 3/4 cup)
2 tbsp goji berries
2 tbsp fresh ground flax seeds
1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp sunflower seeds
1 tsp camu camu powder
1 tsp acerola cherry powder
1 tsp vanilla bean powder
2 tsp Vitamineral Green powder
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 tbsp coconut manna
2 tbsp Honey (or whole food sweetener of choice)
5 drops tangerine essential oil (optional)

Directions

Combine ingredients in a high speed blender and process until smooth.