world blog day – explore some new blogs

Blog Day 2007 So I just found out this morning (from reading other blogs!) that today is the 3rd annual Blog Day. From the website blogday.org: “BlogDay was created with the belief that bloggers should have one day dedicated to getting to know other bloggers from other countries and areas of interest. On that day Bloggers will recommend other blogs to their blog visitors. With the goal in mind, on this day every blogger will post a recommendation of 5 new blogs. This way, all blog readers will find themselves leaping around and discovering new, previously unknown blogs.”

I was going to update my blogroll soon with more blogs that I read on a regular basis, so figured this was the perfect time to do it, and introduce them to you.
Here are 5 blogs you should check out:

Healthy Dialoguethe blog of CityNews Health Specialist Laura DiBattista
Those of you in Toronto are probably familiar with Laura, and most definitely CityNews. Laura uses her blog to discuss topics which she reports on for CityNews, and gives it a personal twist. It is always informative, and often sparks interesting discussions. Anyone who is interested in their health and likes to keep abreast of local news will definitely want to bookmark this site!

Elastic Waist
As described on their home page: “Rants and musings on weight, body image, celebrities, fitness, food and other fixations.” They deliver all this and more. Pretty much everything you think you want to know about is on this site. There are instructional recipe videos, celebrity gossip roundups, interviews, highlights from other blogs about weight loss, and it just goes on. I always find something that gets my attention every day. Definitely worth a daily visit.

Back in Skinny Jeans
Stephanie Quilao is just like you and me. She embodies the every-woman who struggles with the pressures society has put on us to be thin, look great, be cool, etc. Through her own personal stories, inspirational quotes, links to interesting news stories, and the record of her own personal weight loss (including dietary, exercise and emotional tracking) she has created a blog where we can all feel at home, and know that we are not the only ones. You know what I mean. I am positive that most of you will be able to relate to her posts.

Cupcakes Take The Cake
What can I say – I like to look at pictures of cupcakes. But these are no ordinary pictures. They are handpicked by Rachel Kramer Bussel from the submissions to the Cupcakes Take The Cake flickr pool (and many of them are what can only be described as works of art). In addition to the pics, there are often interviews with bakers, notice of cool products, and other cupcake related information. Plus the photos are posted all throughout the day, so whenever you have a spare minute, you can check for a new piece of cupcake porn to get you through!

Baking and Books
The first thing I loved about this blog was the design. The food photos are amazing, and the overall design, including the font, layout, etc is so sleek and compact. But the real value is in the content. Ariela posts mouthwatering recipes from a plethora of cookbooks, and also reviews many of them (as well as reviewing non-food related books). There is the occasional interview with a chef, baker, food writer, etc, as well as her own personal stories scattered throughout the posts. You get drawn in by her openness and beautiful photography, not to mention the cute little extras like the factoids at the top of the page, and her personal workout and daily activity logs. A great place to find out about cookbooks and recipes you may never had heard of.

Hope you enjoy exploring these blogs, and stay tuned for juicy new content right here on The Urban Nutritionist!

have you been to Bulk Barn lately?

flax.jpgI remember a time when I used to go to Bulk Barn to buy sour gummis and chocolate almonds. I also remember that the store was kind of grungy and seemed uncool. Maybe you have similar memories, and haven’t been there in ages. Well, I’m here to tell you that my recent visits have been quite different (except for the chocolate almonds :)).

It seems to me that somehow over the years Bulk Barn has cleaned up and changed its image a bit. I frequent the one at Shopper’s World Danforth (Vic Park/Danforth) and it is very tidy and has good staff. I also noticed a new one opened up recently at 2422 Kingston Road (sorry don’t know the major cross street!) and it also looks sparkly and inviting. Aside from the fact that they don’t seem as grungy anymore, the real treat is the products that I never realized they had. Pretty much anything you need to keep your natural/healthy pantry stocked is there – we’re talking oats, flax seeds (buy the whole seeds, and grind yourself to ensure freshness), organic quinoa, brown rice, unbleached flour, organic cane sugar, multigrain pasta, etc. They also have a nice line of herbal supplements, gluten-free mixes, as well as soy and rice milks. For bakers, there is wide range of supplies, including tons of frosting tips, and cardboard cake boxes. Basically, if you need something, Bulk Barn is a good place to look.

Buying bulk dry goods is a great way to cut down on excess packaging, and usually save yourself some money. Also, I hate it when I am baking something and I only need a bit of say, brown sugar, and a grocery store forces me to buy a whole bag which will inevitably end up getting hard as a rock in my cupboard. I say, thank you Bulk Barn for giving me a choice.

What is your favorite indulgence at Bulk Barn? Come on, I told you about my chocolate almonds…

morning lemon – vanilla lemon cupcake

vanillalemon.jpgThis is the last remaining cupcake after I filled my first official cupcake order yesterday. It’s a vanilla cupcake with lemon buttercream frosting. I made sure to use an organic lemon, as I used the zest as well as the juice. Non-organic lemons will likely contain pesticide residue in their peel, so organic is the way to go if you’re zesting (organic means pesticide-free, but nothing in life is 100% – we do our best). And organic lemons are not that much more expensive, which is great.

Soon this cupcake will be gone (into someone’s tummy), so I thought I would give it a last shining moment as today’s morning lemon.

oh my god I made soup

kaleandpotatosoup.jpgLet me tell you a little bit about my journey on the way to making soup. I grew up in a household where soup was made from scratch at least once a week. When I went to school for nutrition, home made organic soup was served every day. My friend recently made an amazing split-pea soup, and one of my fellow Torontoist writers posted a yummy-sounding soup recipe on her facebook page a few weeks ago. Let’s not forget that soup is a highly nutritious, economical meal-in-a-bowl, which would definitely be recommended by nutritionists everywhere. It seems that my whole life, I have been literally surrounded by soup.

I have never made soup.

Until today – and now I want to shout it from the rooftops – I made soup! I guess somehow my brain couldn’t process the fact that it is EASY to make soup. I had seen a recipe on epicurious for kale and chickpea soup, and was determined to make it. I am on a kale kick right now, since I want all those lovely dark green nutrients to build my baby well. Plus, what with saving money for said baby, I am currently on the lookout for cheap but healthy meals I can make in a flash.

This soup tastes GOOD. I followed the recipe except I omitted the sausage, and put a few squirts of sriracha chili sauce instead. Also, after skimming through the recipe reviews (I highly recommend this when taking recipes off the internet – you can get some valuable tips to make your end result even better), I decided to puree it a bit with my stick blender to give it a creamy texture.

So I’m hooked. I’ve got a bag of red lentils in the cupboard ready for action.
What is your favorite soup to make?

morning lemon – dress your salad with lemon

Do you have these ingredients in your kitchen? I bet you do – or at least things that are pretty close. In that case, why not make your own salad dressing, instead of buying a bottle from the store? You can control your ingredients (your kind of fat, no added sugar, no yucky additives), you will save money over time, it’s fast, and it tastes great. By using lemon instead of vinegar, you are cutting down on the acidity – great for people who have been told they are “acidic” and need to eat more “alkalinizing” foods, and helpful in case of candida. And besides, balsamic vinegar is great, but variety keeps things interesting.

Here is a recipe you can follow, and once you have made it a few times, experiment away with your own additions!

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 clove garlic finely grated or pressed
sea salt
pepper
dried herbs
1 tbsp flaxseed oil (optional, great addition to get those omega 3s)
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Whisk together lemon juice, mustard, garlic,
salt, pepper and herbs.
Slowly add oils to first mixture while whisking.
Pour over salad.

I would love to hear what interesting ingredients or substitutions you like to put in your salad dressing!

a bowl full of soul

A lot of people ask me where I get food ideas and recipes. There are several recipe websites I turn to, and countless blogs and magazine articles I come across, but I find a lot of the time I get inspiration from memories, friends, and by getting off my butt and looking around my kitchen.

lauriestomatoes.jpgA few days ago I got a wonderful gift of vegetables from my good friend’s garden. We had a lot of fun harvesting the little gems in the backyard of her new house. The tomatoes and cucumbers have been feeding me well. When I was thinking about what to have for lunch today, I knew I would use them again.

Recently, I have reconnected with a friend I had been out of touch with for years. I have a lot of food memories tied to her – from her making me toast each morning when I picked her up for work, to an amazing tuna pasta salad she used to make.

So, when I spied a can of tuna on top of my fridge, I knew it was going to be tuna pasta salad today. Two cups of brown rice pasta plus my lovely tomatoes and cucumbers, a little pickle for salty goodness (my friend’s salad had green olives, which I prefer, but sadly missing from my fridge), a small can of light tuna, and a homemade balsamic vinaigrette – under 30 mins for a hearty, yummy meal. A bowl filled with memories, heart and soul, nutrients, vibrant life. No recipe required.

For those who would like to take a peek at some great recipes, here are some of my favorite links (and thanks to yet another friend who asked me for recipe ideas yesterday and basically inspired this whole post):

Whole Foods Market
The World’s Healthiest Foods
Mothering magazine
101 Cookbooks

morning lemon – lemon in my belly

I know it’s Friday, not Monday, but you’re going to have to give the pregnant lady a break. To make things less stressful (stress is one of the worst things for your health!), I am changing the weekly lemon feature to just “morning lemon” so that life’s little unexpected circumstances don’t get in the way as much. Watch out for it any day of the week!
lemonface.jpg So I was checking out the highlights of pregnancy at week 14 and this is what I found:
Head to bottom, your baby is 3 1/2 inches long — about the length of a lemon…
So this gave me a fun visual image – I have a lemon in my belly!

Only 4 weeks to go until I can see what the baby really looks like, and hopefully find out if it is a boy or a girl. I am officially entering my second trimester, and am hoping the all-day on and off nausea subsides, and I can truly enjoy food again. At the moment, food is a bit more like a tool than a pleasure.

What were your favorite foods during pregnancy? Recently, I have been thinking about pasta a lot, and the other day, I just had to have chocolate milk (hadn’t had that in years). I would love to hear your experience, as I am sure I have yet to find out my true pregnancy craving!