morning lemon – feeling sick? take a sniff.

809442_dog_nose.jpgSo I have been waiting to post this topic for weeks, but I couldn’t until now. I have recently found out that among all the other amazing qualities of the lemon, it is also effective in reducing nausea. Feeling queasy? Just the scent of a cut lemon may be enough to calm those butterflies. Personally, I found that the scent helped, but lemon water was even better. You see, I have been nauseas off and on for about the last 3 months. You probably know that there really is only one explanation for that prolonged a period of nausea – yes, I’m pregnant!

Nutrition is obviously a very important topic for me personally right now, and I will share tips, recipes, and experiences related to pregnancy that I accumulate on this fascinating 9 month journey. I can say that I have already experienced moments where I just needed to eat, no matter what was around, which reinforced the importance of balance to me. Sure, we can do our best 80% of the time, but I don’t want to worry about the 20%. Worrying = stress and that is even more detrimental to health than an extra teaspoon of sugar.

So here’s a question – for anyone out there who has been pregnant, what did you do to calm the nausea? I have tried ginger, and it worked for awhile, but then I just didn’t want it. Sometimes just eating anything helps, and recently cold fruit has been good. I’d love to hear your experience and advice!

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morning lemon – lemon inspiration

fooddrink.jpgOne of my favorite places to look for inspiration when it comes to recipes is the LCBO Food & Drink magazine. Many of you may be familiar with it – it comes out 6 times a year, and the Christmas issue tends to be so popular, that I frequently find myself hunting down my copy by hitting LCBOs which are definitely not in my neighborhood.
These babies get snatched pretty quick, and it is no surprise – the photography is stunning, and the recipes modern, timely and fairly health-conscious. The latest issue (summer 2007) has lots of great ideas including easy salad dressings, a whole section dedicated to limes, and lo and behold – stone fruit trifle with lemon balm cream in a no-cook dinner section. Talk about timely, since I just bought my lemon balm plant 2 weeks ago! I am definitely inspired now.

3 peaches
3 apricots
2 black plums
1 tbsp anisette or pernod to taste (something non-alcoholic would be fine)
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup mascarpone
1/4 cup yogurt
2 tbsp chopped lemon balm (or lemon verbena, or 2 tsp lemon rind)
garnish – sprigs lemon balm, lemon verbena, or mint

– Peel peaches, remove pits and slice into bowl. Pit and slice apricots and plums
and add to bowl. Toss fruit with anisette and 2 tbsp sugar.

– Whip mascarpone and yogurt together with lemon balm and remaining
2 tbsp sugar. Layer fruit in a glass bowl or individual wine glasses and top
with cream. Garnish with a sprig of lemon balm. Serves 4.

(Food & Drink summer 2007, pg. 60)

I think adding a little crunch to this might be nice – toasted almonds or other nuts? What do you think?

If any of you have a lemon balm recipe, I’d love to hear about it. I am on a lemon balm mission!
PS: Sacred Suzie gave me a great lemon balm tip: it can also soothe upset tummies for those who cannot stomach fennel tea! Thanks Suzie!

sunshiney breakfast

banpinesmoothie1.jpgI felt like having a smoothie today, and in my kitchen I had banana, pineapple chunks, and vanilla yogurt (I’m all about local fruit, but the strawbs are gone, and I haven’t been to the market this week yet for the new stars-raspberries and blueberries!) Less than 10 minutes later, I had a fresh, fruity smoothie, the perfect partner to a slice of whole grain toast. This breakfast gives you protein, potassium, complex carbs and a couple of your fruit servings, not to mention fun, energy, digestive enzymes, heart disease prevention, and happiness. Plain yogurt would work fine, as would soy, rice or cow’s milk. You could add flaxseeds or oats for fibre. A splash of coconut milk would be yummy. The possibilities are endless – open your fridge and raid your cupboard!

Update: forgot to mention, for those of you who receive my newsletter, you would have seen a recipe for another favorite, and more daring smoothie of mine, the kale-banana smoothie! People really respond to this one (either by thinking I’m crazy, or by jumping right on that bright green bandwagon), including my friend Mary Luz at suite101.com who has included the recipe in an article she did recently about kale. And she also gives a mention to one of my other favorite things, Camros Organic Eatery. Thanks Mary Luz!

If you don’t receive my monthly newsletter and would like to (think news, events, nutrition tips, fun recipes – and it’s free!), leave a comment with your contact info and I will add you to the list!

morning lemon – 90s lemony goodness

Music is the universal language of mankind. ~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Outre-Mer

Sometimes, you just need some music, especially on a Monday morning.
You gotta love U2. Here is a way back play back (can you believe 13 years?) for you –
the ZooTV tour in 1994.

“She wore lemon
To colour in the cold grey night
She had heaven
And she held on so tight”

the reason

Recently, my journey through related links and sites on the internet has lead me into territory I did not expect. Death. It’s strange how reading about people I did not know suddenly leaving this earth can have such a profound impact. It’s almost as if I suddenly realized, hey wait a second – this collection of blogs and words has real life behind it. I read a collection of blogs every day, just expecting them to be there. But what if tomorrow, one of them isn’t?

Also in my environment lately I have been surrounded by deaths – in April we had to put our dog down, and in the past week there has been a dead baby bird, and dead baby mouse in our driveway. These may seem insignificant, but I know that something is trying to tell me something. Combined with my recent internet experiences, I know there is a big message here for me. And yesterday, walking home from grocery shopping in the bright warm afternoon air, it was like I got hit by a bolt of lightning.

I have been having doubts about what I am doing. Nutrition – is it really helping anyone? Is it helping me? Sometimes I think, oh what’s the point. Many times I have been presented with the argument “well so and so was obsessed with their health and diet and exercise and they died of a heart attack at 45” or “so and so drank and smoked, never ate vegetables, sat on the couch all day and lived happily until they were 90.” Combine that with inconsistent results and difficulty getting people motivated and you have a recipe for insecurity and self-doubt. Especially after going on a 2 week holiday and not being as restrictive with your eating habits.

While walking, I thought of the bloggers I read about who had recently passed. I thought about their struggle, their bodies, their health, and I realized – I am 37, I have never been seriously ill, I have a comfortable life, and I can amble to the grocery store and back in the middle of the afternoon if I want. If I give up on nutrition, if I say that there truly is no point to following a healthy lifestyle which includes eating healthy, real, honest food and challenging my body, I am insulting the people I read about. What a horrid, disgusting, insulting waste, if I am willing to disrespect my body – what about the thousands of people who are in devastating conditions every day – what would they give to be in my place? How dare I believe that taking care of myself, and educating people how they can be more respectful of their bodies is anything but the most important thing in my life. I hope no one takes what I said the wrong way, because I mean it in the most humbling, honest way possible. I have no right to think that it is ok to disrespect a healthy, thriving body when there is one person out there who’s sole wish in life would be to be healthy. I am not trying to sound better than other people – I am trying to say that I feel put in my place. (as well, of course I am aware that there are other factors beside nutrition which cause disease, but the point is – we can control the nutrition part!)

I have a renewed sense of purpose. I feel like I finally truly understand what it is I am trying to convey and what I need to do to go forward. Also, I know the main reason why I have been presented with so many deaths to ponder recently, but I will leave that for a future post…

morning lemon – lemon balm is da bomb

lemonbalm.jpgYes, it’s Wednesday, not Monday, but life got in the way of me posting this any sooner. Since I have been back from my vacation, it has been difficult to get back into my routine, but I think I am almost there. Once my real self is back, there will be no stopping me!

Before I left for the UK, I attended the Toronto Herb Fair, where I did my demo on herbal food colouring. I picked up a flyer there with some very exciting news – there will be a new 22 month herbal medicine program in Toronto starting in September at the Institute of Traditional Medicine. I don’t have the financial details yet, but for those interested, I will post details here as I get them. The program director is Diane Kent, Medical Herbalist who is President of the Ontario Herbalist Association, and was my teacher at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition. I know the program will be excellent, because she is an amazing woman!

So I have been thinking about herbs, and decided to find out a bit more about lemon balm. To my surprise, this very herb has been chosen herb of the year by the International Herb Association, and the July issue of The Herb Companion magazine has an article about it, along with some recipes. From this article I found out that lemon balm is a member of the mint family, is an effective stress reliever as a tea or essential oil, and was dispensed as a “miracle water” elixir by Carmelite nuns in the 17th century! It has a long history of medicinal and culinary use. Of course after reading all this, I had to run out and buy a lemon balm plant of my own. From glancing at the recipes in the article, the idea of salad dressing and pesto is particularly appealing.

What about you – have you used lemon balm in cooking or medicinally? I would love to hear about your experience, or any other ideas you may have for using this herb!