A Year Of Me

This post is getting real; revealing some truths that some of you may not know, my personal revelation regarding 2017 and some new things I’m putting into out into the universe to accomplish this year!

I find every year social media gets crazy in December with people reflecting on their year, what they’ve learned about themselves, their accomplishments and what they want for the new year ahead. This year was the first year I decided not to share anything, I also decided I wouldn’t set goals for 2017 that didn’t feel 100% true to myself and I also didn’t want to reflect on 2016 (at the time.)

However, after last week’s unfortunate health episode, I had too much time to think, process and understand what I did actually want for 2017 and needing to let go of 2016.

Many people on social media are too quick to discuss and flash only the good, making themselves seem invincible and like they have it together all the time. However, it’s not their fault, that’s just the way social media is designed. It’s designed for selling, capturing, telling the good, the glam, the pretty, the “gains” etc. As someone in the health industry, there is also this expectation of us to eat a certain way, post a certain way and to always seem to have it together.

However, what I truly believe is if you preach authenticity then you should also live it because even us health professionals go through slumps in life and health.

Needless to say, 2016 was the biggest wake up call I could have received. It was a year that really didn’t bring me much happiness, excitement or fulfillment. I did too many things that made me unhappy because I felt like I “had too”, drowned myself in work for a job that really made me miserable now that I look back. I was sick all the time, my hormones fell apart from stress, I got pneumonia, didn’t enjoy enough life experiences and frankly didn’t enjoy my life at all. Pretty negative right?

My best memory of 2016, was going to Italy, led by an amazing chef and incredible yoga instructor that really helped me awaken my internal energy and say WHAT THE F*** AM I DOING??? I spent all my time dwelling, obsessing and hustling for a company that really didn’t show the respect or appreciation back until I reached my breaking point of just being done. It wasn’t until I left that everything started to become clear, however the stress still pained away because I was so angry. I let stress literally take over my life and wellbeing, I didn’t even know who I was anymore other then this unmotivated person which was totally not me.

Last week I was waking up in a hospital room, after a horrific health experience (I’m going to stop there) and everything hit me like a tone of bricks. All of sudden I knew what I wanted 2017 to be for me, I was willing to let go of 2016 and everything that came with it, and I was really ready for change.

What I learned from 2016:

  • I didn’t take enough time for self care
  • I stopped doing what I loved, my one life long passion of cooking became so disconnected
  • I didn’t really live
  • I stopped listening to my gut
  • I didn’t take the time to engage in my other passions
  • I lost my spiritual connection
  • I didn’t ever really put myself first

This post is for those of you who may have found yourself in a similar situation or feelings as I did, for those of you that are not afraid of change, and for those of you who are ready to invest in yourself more. Maybe you’re not ready to share it out load, but you’re ready to internally recognize it. I no longer dwell on the shit that came with 2016 but thank it, I thank it because it’s fuelled my fire to do beyond great things and make 2017 one hell of a bass ass year.

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My 2017 goal is to have A Year Of Me so let me break down what this means for “me”:

  • Travel more, not just for work but for fun
  • Read more, if I can read 10 whole books I will literally be a ninja (AND not just health books or cookbooks.)
  • Restore my health to the fullest and achieve an optimal state of living
  • Understand and practice mediation
  • Learn and develop new skills: in any area I choose
  • Get over my handstand fear
  • Say yes to things and opportunities that truly only bring me joy and not out of obligation
  • Be more fearless
  • Finish my business plan

Whatever your goals are for 2017, make sure they truly allow you to thrive and make sure you do take some time to embrace YOU just a little more. Use bad memories, experiences or situations to propel you forward and unleash a side of you, you didn’t think existed.

You’ll be seeing this hashtag on all my social media posts, #ayearofme and I encourage you to chime in, use it and share what you’re experiencing and what you’re doing for yourself: whether it’s sleeping in on a Saturday or going to India – it’s worth embracing!

You know that saying, “You do you girl”…. That’s exactly what I’ll be doing!

Chef Steph

 

 

 

Cinnamon Dandy Blend Fuel + Quitting the Coffee

Before you continue reading, let me assure you this is a not a coffee bashing, stop drinking, coffee is the root of all disease’ kind of post.  This is also not a post advising you to sub your coffee for green juice, because hell, it just doesn’t work that easily.

Fun news, I’ve been off coffee for about 2 weeks now, and the plan to stick with this 100% for another 4 weeks!

My relationship with coffee has always been a little bit of a rollercoaster; sometimes I drink way to much, sometimes I don’t need any at all and sometimes it I’m a raging maniac with out it.  

A few years ago, I felt like my relationship with coffee was at it greatest point, I could enjoy it in moderation and not feel like I “needed it.” Well, then came my role as an Executive Chef with 3 am wake up calls, and the coffee maniac came out once again.

After my trip to Italy, I knew I needed a break from caffeine (espresso all day….literally), I truly believe if you listen closely enough – your body will really tell what it needs and doesn’t.  Also I’m in the midst of working on some hormonal and digestive correction, and coffee doesn’t bode well for either.

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Here’s the problem, I’m one of those people who truly loves the taste of coffee and the whole coffee culture. A cup of coffee with 35% grass fed cream OR fresh cashew milk, is swoon worthy for me. I grew up in a family that surrounds every social gathering with espresso and a father who treats his espresso machine like someone would treat their Ferrari.  I love making nut milk lattes and sipping them during my morning routine, or going to different coffee shops and experience the way they embrace coffee brewing.

There are a couple of reasons why I think ditching the caffeine or at least taking a break from it might be a good idea.

** When caffeine controls you and you don’t control the caffeine that’s big red flag. If your day physically can’t start without coffee, then you’ve surpassed dependency.
**  Also, it’s very freeing to not have any addictions to any food or beverages. For example, when I stopped competing I worked really hard to break any addictions I had towards certain habits or food: obsessive/overtraining, peanut butter, oatmeal, meal timing, counting macros and over or under eating. After a lot of work trying to regain normalcy around food and eating I was able to work through any addictions I was facing.  Addictions lead to a constant cycle of anxiety, tension and obsessive behaviour. Without even realizing it,  coffee can throw you right in this cycle.

Withdrawal
I’m not even going to sugar coat it, the first 7 days will be terrible, and you’ll want to give up many times. Giving up coffee comes with a whole load of symptoms during that first week that you should be braced for, I’ve listen the most common below:
 – Headache/Migraine
 – Fatigue/sleepiness
 – Decreased energy
 – Decreased alertness
 – Difficulty concentrating or thinking
 – Depressive like moods
  –  Irritability
 – Impaired cognitive function all together

Most people don’t realize how caffeine really affects them until they deal with a hormonal imbalance. This is when they really need to reconsider their Grande Americano, double shot. The problems occur when you are dealing with decreased adrenal function and coffee can yes, make that problem worse. Caffeine forces your glands to secrete and push harder when they don’t have much left to give,  which puts you into overdrive, making you more tired over time. Eventually this, among many factors, can put you into adrenal depletion. 

The idea is to make this a slow and progressive process so that your symptoms are lessened and perhaps more manageable.

On the plus, there are some amazing feelings that come with giving up the coffee, once you pass the dreaded first 7 days:

        – Deeper and more sound sleeps
– Feeling rested and attentive upon rising
– Absolute ZERO 3pm crash
– Reduced sugar cravings
– Better control of your mood
– The body is much more hydrated
– Less digestive upset and less digestive dependency

Will I ever have coffee again? Yes of course, however I will probably swap it for a high quality decaf and develop a much better relationship with it!

In the meantime, here is the recipe of the morning drink I’ve been making instead to still provide comfort, natural energy and stimulate digestion:

CINNAMON DANDY BLEND FUEL
Yields 1 Cup
{Paleo, Gluten Free, Vegan}

INGREDIENTS
1 ½ cup boiling water
1 heap tablespoon of dandy blend
1/8 tsp cinnamon (or to your liking)
1 Tbsp coconut oil
Stevia or honey if you wish – I went with stevia

METHOD

1) Place everything in blender and blend on high speed until smooth and frothy.
2) Pour and enjoy!

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Anyways, I’m almost at week 3! Super excited about it, to be honest. 

Have an amazing snowy day guys!

-Chefanie xo

 

 

 

Tucci Goes to Italy: Recap Part 2

Happy Saturday Guys!

I hope you guys enjoyed my part 1 recap in my last post, and now I’m back with part 2, where I’m going to dive into Eating in Italy, Gluten and Local Foods.

Also, hold up, can you believe it’s October today– but seriously it’s pumpkin and chai everything right now so I’m not complaining. Speaking of which, I’m currently sitting in my most FAV café, Tamp Coffee out in Burlington sipping on a coconut milk Chai latte – it’s such a treat!

Alright so the #1 question I got prior to my trip was “Are you ACTUALLY going to eat Gluten?” …it’s hilarious because people ask that question as if I’m committing fraud and might go to jail.

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To be clear….yes – I ate ALL the gluten. I didn’t purposely seek it out but going on this trip I wanted to embrace all local foods that were available. I wanted to respect the process of how real food was made there. I simply wanted to respect tradition. Also I have a new found appreciation for the term Slow Food now – which is exactly how food is prepared and enjoyed Italy: slow, with love and enjoyed together as a family. I didn’t want to be a total spaz and I wanted to use this time to loosen any residual food rules I may have had.

I don’t have celiac but I went gluten free for other health reasons many years ago – which you can read about in my personal story. However, no one ever really lived without a little risk right?? 😉

 

 

 

I also had a pretty rude awakening at a truffle farm after a chat with one of the owners: We were lucky enough to spend the day on a truffle farm, where we got to go truffle hunting and experience a beautiful homemade meal by the wife/co owner of the farm. Francesca. During the hike, he asked me about health trends in Toronto, so I started to chat about the various “health food” trends. He literally look at me like I was crazy, I then actually started to feel a little crazy ha! He then said, why aren’t people just focused on eating real food like we do here……and you know what – he was 100% right. This really stuck with me, if we really stopped obessing over all the “health trends” and “health rules” we’d probably live better, live happier and probably feel healthier.

With all the trends, books, articles and products – we have forgotten about the notion of slow food, real food and eating food the way nature indented. This was my largest take away from my travels in Umbria.

Now, I can’t lie – towards the end of the week I wasn’t feeling all so well however what I really think this was attributed too was the overconsumption of food in general and not the type of food.

Our meals each day, were fantastic and very lush. Both Chef Rob and Chef Pia (she was the local chef of Locanda Del Gallo) really wanted to showcase as much as they could of what the local lands offered. There was a lot of pride taken into the preparation of each meal, therefor I wanted to savour every bite. No regrets, because the food experience I had was unforgettable – especially as a chef.

 

Now being home, one thing I really want to do is expand the types of food I make and expand even further into the ingredients I plan to use. In the health realm, especially, it’s easy to stick to the same foods and not veer to far from them. I’m guilty of doing that too at times, however this is something I plan to change – it brings more excitement and more diverse nutrition into your daily routine.

Sometimes we just need to listen to our own gut and go with what feels right to us! I’m feeling re-inspired and re-energized with food and being in the kitchen, without limitations or rules that aren’t always necessary!

Speaking of which, I’m off to go do some baking – I have some really nice sprouted millet flour that I’d like to make into cinnamon scones, I live large on Saturday nights obviously .

Ciao for now

-Chef Steph

 

Tucci Goes to Italy: Recap Part 1

Hey Hey Gang!

The Italian is back, and trying to get back into action – key word “trying.”

So I’ve returned from my Italian Retreat and literally I’m not sure I could have dreamt up a better experience. I wanted to do a recap of my travels because I have loads to share, so I’m going to split it up into a 3 part mini series so this doesn’t get to long.

This is Part 1 of Tucci Goes To Italy: My purpose, Travel Snacks and Supplements, Movement/Staying Active!

As I mentioned in my last post, prior to me leaving- I attended the L’anima Yoga and Culinary Retreat in Umbria lead by Chef Rob Gentile and his Wife Audrey Gentile (Yoga Instructor Extraordinaire.) We stayed at the beautiful Locanda Del Gallo, and honestly pictures cannot do justice. This country house was so charming, cozy and serviced such fantastic food with views I’ll never be able to fully describe.

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This trip was very personal to me and it literally came at the most perfect time – funny how the universe just knows. There were few reasons I went:

  • I wanted to gain a deeper connection with my culture
  • I wanted to explore yoga, something I’ve always shied away from
  • I was looking for some inspiration and to “restart/re-iginte” my brain if you will.
  • I needed a break – period.

I learned so much about myself on this trip, good and bad – which was both scary and refreshing and came back with a notebook bursting with information, scribbles and food sketches. I also learned that hanging out with a group of strangers for a week is fantastic and really allows you to get outside of your comfort zone.

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Obviously, eating copious amounts of food was a solid theme of this trip (more on that in Part 2) so I planned ahead with the type of supplements and snacks I was going to bring, and made sure to incorporate some sort of extra movement in the day to keep burning off the pasta J

Travel Snacks:

Between flights, trains, shuttles and hikes – there was a lot of traveling around. So I knew that I needed to be prepared to prevent a hangry traveller which would of lead to copious amounts of gelato stops ha! (But really that would have happened.)

I choose snacks that were main more caloric dense and high fat to keep me satiated longer:

  • Lara bars (The chocolate chip and blueberry bars are my 2 favs)
  • Buff Bakes Nut Butter on the Go Packs – literally open and squeeze. This brand contains protein powder and no sugar alcohols so I new it would be digestion friendly.
  • Dried Banana Chips – I love these, especially when I’m craving sweets. Also, as I learned on this trip, they are fantastic for dealing with motion/car sickness. Keep some in your purse to keep nausea at bay.
  • Dried Golden Berries – I adore these, no sugar added and super tart. Also super great for keeping my energy levels up, high concentrated amounts of antioxidants.
  • Raw Almonds and Cashews

Essentially I’m grateful no one had a nut allergy in our group!

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Supplements:

So I didn’t go crazy here, just the essentials:

  • Probiotics
  • Digestive Enzymes – literally life savers
  • Andrenomend: Adrenal support, I started a new protocol when I got back but I brought these to kick start my plan while I was there

Exercise and Movement:

Firstly, I should mention I did not obsess about this AT ALL while I was away; the same goes for my eating routine. I didn’t exercise because I was forced or guilted myself into it, I did it because it’s part of my daily routine here at home – so if I had the chance to stay active at some point in the day then why not do it!

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We started every day, with a 7am 15min guided meditation, followed by a 90-minute vinyasa yoga class. Both of which, I’ve never done. It took me 2 days to feel more comfortable with the movements and the mediation part, and at that point I really started to understand why people practice yoga. The only time I’ve ever tried yoga, was about 2 years ago and it was an awful experience – I shall not say where. I learned that it really comes down to the teacher and style, both have to sing to you. I found the classes super challenging, but I loved it because I could apply my strength gained from the gym, in a whole new way.

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Aside from yoga, I did 2 intense sprint circuit workouts during the week. We were literally staying mountain side, so the hills were epic.
Circuit
1 hill sprint, 15 push ups, 15 dips, 15 mountain climbers x 10 rounds

The scenery was amazing, so I also completed 2, 6 km runs. I’m also not a runner, but when you have views like this – you are more then happy to keep running. Also the air is so clear and fresh, so it makes cardiovascular training much more enjoyable.

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Along with the runs, at least once a day my roomies and I  would go on killer hike, only if there was no group activity, tour, or traveling that day. I can’t tell you how long the hikes were exactly in terms of kilometres, but they involved trespassing, mud, crossing rivers, hills, slopes and rocks – so you get the picture.

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Allowing time in for some movement really helped, especially because I was eating much differently and drinking more wine then I ever consume (again, more on the in part 2.)

One of my goals returning home is to continue my yoga practice, I’m currently on the hunt of a studio that fits what I’m looking for: If anyone is North of Toronto and has great places to suggest please pass them along!

Anyways guys, that’s my recap part 1 – I hope you enjoyed.

Stay tuned for Part 2: Eating in Italy, Gluten, Local Food

Ciao for now xo

 

It’s Time To Getaway!

Hey Everyone!!!

I wanted to pop and quickly chat about an upcoming trip I’m headed on and I figured I should write a little post about my travels before I head out.

Soon, I’ll be off to Italy where I’m headed on a culinary/yoga retreat with a group of amazing people: some chefs, some yogi’s and some who are just looking for a getaway. We will be staying in Umbria: an Italian region bordering Tuscany, Lazio and Le Marche. Often called the country’s green heart, it’s known for its medieval hill towns, dense forests and local cuisine, particularly foraged truffles and wines. So clearly, it’s the perfect spot to retreat, get into some good cooking and downward dogs.

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If you don’t know, I’m a newbie to yoga – regardless of how I currently train and my personal strength, yoga is new to me so I’m looking forward to spending a week really trying to get the most of out it.

L’anima, is being run by two people I truly admire: Rob Gentile, the amazing Chef behind the Buca Restaurants and his stunning wife Audrey who is a phenomenal yoga instructor and wellness expert; essentially they are the dynamic duo.

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I’m going on this trip with a fellow lady chef friend of mine (aka the workwife) and I don’t think this could have come at a better time! I’m looking for a little mental reset, some new inspiration and a little passion rejuvenation. I’ve never been to Italy (shocking I know) and this is something I’ve wanted to do for years – and now that it’s happening I can’t believe it’s real.

I plan to eat ALL THE FOOD, no restrictions or hesitations because I want to embrace all the beautiful food this country has to offer. We have a pretty awesome itinerary laid out consisting of wine tours, farm tours, truffle hunting, cooking classes and yoga. In our free time we can do whatever we wish (including the spa and shop!) We ended up booking a couple extra nights in Rome so we can have a slightly extended trip and squeeze in bit more of this amazing country….and pizza + wine.

In terms of exercise, no gym BUT we start every day with 90 minutes of Vinyasa yoga and end the day with 60 minutes of restorative yoga. So there will be plenty of movement, plus I’m sure walking/hiking.

This will be one of most inspiring weeks I’ve had since New York and I really can’t wait to soak up every minute. I will not be blogging while I’m there, but I will do a 2-3 part series when I return to recap the adventure, I need to turn my brain off for a little while!

However I’ll be posting on Snap Chat (Cheftucci) and Instagram (StephanieTucci) mainly, so you can follow along as I attempt to speak Italian, forage amazing food, explore and eat…obviously.

I’ll catch you guys on Social Media 🙂

~ Chef Steph

Arrivederci xo

 

 

Genuine Health Review + Protein Parfait Recipe

8429-fermented_greek_yogurt_proteins+_vanilla R00I’ve had a love hate relationship with protein powder for as long as I can remember. I’ve always attempted to take different powders, either in a smoothie or post workout, yet it always ends up with me crunched over from uncomfortable stomach pain. If you read my story  you know that I have a long history with debilitating digestive issues and now that I’ve got my health in check, I’m very particular about the type of supplements I choose to consume. Even though I’ve come from the fitness realm, I’m still very much involved in it especially regarding the nutritional/performance aspect, therefor I understand there is a need for adding in protein powder to our daily routine. For some people they need it to support training and recovery, for others they don’t physically consume enough protein so they need to supplement and some people who are recovering from a certain illness need extra protein to help their cells and tissues heal properly.

At work we use Genuine Health products in our smoothie bar and even in some of our baked goods, so I’ve been a fan and very familiar with their products for a while now. However when their new fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ came out I knew I had to give this a try. I wanted to give you guys a proper review because anytime I come across products that makes me feel great, I know they are worth sharing. Plus I have a delicious recipe to share to enhance your morning breakfast routine.

Let’s talk protein powder: The reason some people don’t recommend protein powder is because chances are you are most likely not absorbing a good portion of the standard 25grams. It all comes down to the state of your gut and how effectively the protein can be digested and absorbed by your body. Fermented foods help to support your gut health and aid in strengthening it, to allow for better digestion, nutrient absorption and overall comfort. Genuine Health, the leader in fermented supplements , has introduced the next big innovation and the first of it’s kind, fermented Greek yogurt proteins+. It’s been formulated to provide maximum absorption, strengthen gut and digestive health, and provide 25 grams of fully-fermented protein from clean, grass-fed California dairy.

Oh and side note: it’s hormone and antibiotic free, gluten free, soy free, AND non-GMO….winner winner!

Simply put, I love this product for what it offers my digestive health and my physical performance. As a nutritionist and fitness enthusiast I hold both at a high level of importance.

Alright so lets enjoy this awesome simple recipe, that’s perfect for breakfast or a mid afternoon snack during a busy day.

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BREAKFAST PROTEIN PARFAIT
Yields 2 Servings
{Gluten Free, Vegetarian}

INGREDIENTS
For the Quick Chia Jam
1 cup frozen blueberries
1 Tbsp lemon Juice
2 Tbsp chia seeds
For the Yogurt Mix
1 cup sheep yogurt (or yogurt of choice, but 2% or higher)
1 scoop fermented Greek yogurt proteins+
Toppings
Pomegranate seeds
¼ cup Chia Jam
Hemp seeds
Pee pollen
Lemon zest

METHOD

  1. In a mixing bowl, stir your fermented Greek yogurt proteins+ powder and sheep yogurt together then set in the fridge until you’re ready to assemble.
  2. In a small pot, over medium heat, bring the blueberries, lemon juice and chia seeds to a simmer. Let simmer until thickened, 6-8 minutes. Make sure to stir often to avoid the chia seeds from sticking together. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. To assemble: Scoop your yogurt protein mix into 2 serving glasses, I used stemless wine glasses, because why not?
  4. Top each with 2 Tbsp of chia jam, pomegranates, hemp seeds, bee pollen and lemon zest and serve!

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Ps….These bars are pretty delicious, let’s talk about crushing those sweet tooth cravings the non bloating, energizing and healthy way!

8597_fGYp+ cinnamon pecan_R00_highEat, fuel and thrive guys!

-Chef Steph

Food Freedom #2: Stop Forcing Sh*T and Let It Be!

You know those weeks, where you’re like, “Ok universe, cool it, I’ve had enough.” That’s been the past month or so for me, filled with an overwhelmingly amount of stress, anxiety and not getting enough time for myself. So the question is how do I balance it? Honestly guys, some weeks I don’t and that’s life. Some weeks, I bare down, grind it out and recognize that once in a while work/life balance isn’t always attainable. I used get emotionally overwhelmed when this happened, but now, if it’s something that will yield a proud result– I allow it, now and then, knowing that this is just a period of time.

Over the past month, this girl has gone a little nutty:

  • Rolled out the spring Menu at Impact Kitchen,
  • Proceeded with the full staff training
  • Put classes together for Natures Emporium Canada with a fellow Nutritionist
  • Gave some talks with the Darby Training System group
  • Attended multiple meetings outside of work hours
  • oh….did I mention I’m moving, so lets throw packing into the mix. Awesome.

Needless to say, I’ve had to modify almost every workout so I could get it done in my Condo gym – which is not my favourite place, but I can deal with it. I’ve eaten more meals at work, then I have at home, but since I created the menu, I never complain. I’ve also eaten some extra, not so healthy meals, this month.

Here’s what I’ve learned from my days of dealing with Adrenal Fatigue, a consistent work in progress, but a valid message regardless:

If you can’t listen to your body, especially during times of stress – how do ever expect to work with your body to provide it what it needs to help support your health. This is especially crucial regarding going to the gym and your diet.

Lets start with the gym or any training in general:

For years, I was the “5am gym girl” it worked with my past schedule and I felt great. However now, especially this month – I recognized how badly my body needed sleep. So instead of forcing myself out of bed, I allowed my body the rest it needed and went later in the day. There are also days, when my schedule is so packed and my days are too long that I have really question if forcing myself to get to the gym is honestly better then going home, eating dinner and having an hour actually relax. Fact guys: When we are under immense stress and dealing with exhaustion, intense workouts will not actually help. They only send your cortisol levels through the roof and increase internal stressors. This past week I only got to the gym twice, old Stephanie would have had a fit, but now, I’m grateful that my body doesn’t feel like it’s falling apart by the time Sunday night rolls around.

On to dieting:

Coming from a history of eating copious amount of tilapia, asparagus and egg whites – I can understand that sometimes we feel like we have to eat certain foods to attain a certain look or body composition. That does hold some truth to a certain extent, however, if you have to force yourself to eat 6 meals a day, or force yourself to eat that dry tilapia with steamed broccoli: then tell me how that’s actually beneficial. Here’s the take away: any time you have to force yourself to eat something “because it’s supposed to be healthy” or force yourself to follow a certain diet, your goals will actually become a further reality. With diet change: whether it’s for health, body composition or performance, you need to find a solution and method that not only works for your body but one you actually enjoy. Any time we make a shift in our diet and lifestyle, we need to allow ourselves time to adapt so we can find a way to make it sustainable, this way we stop forcing new habits and start enjoying.

Here’s been a pretty standard day, of what my diet looks during my crazy days (minus the chocolate – that’s not a daily thing)

Breakfast: Fat Fueled Smoothie, low sugar smoothie option so I don’t have a mid morning crash. I love it, it’s the best and most effective way for me to have a smoothie. (I’ll share the recipe here soon.)

Lunch: I usually pack a couple hard boiled eggs daily, so I threw them on some shredded kale and fennel. I used this almond butter thai dressing we make to marinate the greens. Added some hemp seeds and watermelon radish over top!

Dinner: I had the base of our Maverick Bowl with some blackened trout.

Snack: This day I had errands to run and was out in Burlington, so I stopped by my favourite coffee shop and grabbed an almond milk latte and some Soul Chocolate.

Eating this way, is my sanity. It helps keep my body nourished during times of stress, keeps my brain functioning and helps balance my extra serving of sweet potato fries I’ve had this month.

Anyways guys, I get it more than most people: so take it from me when I say, stop forcing your body to do certain things or eat certain things, when in that moment it may not be what you really need.

Happy Monday!

-Chef Steph xo

Immune Boosting Turmeric Mylk

Today’s post is quite fitting, since I’m in bed nursing Pneumonia, bronchitis and the flu which is truly an unpleasant experience. Since staying on my own wasn’t a good idea, I’m back at my families home trying to recover and also taking advantage of cable television again. All I’ve wanted to eat is Ezekiel bread or this delicious quinoa cereal my mom has – literally the thought of eating anything else makes me cringe right now.

I’ve spent some time in the hospital as my fever and chest pains were out of control and the medication given by the nurses, really has messed with my stomach to a new level. Usual I’m always an advocate for reaching for natural supplementation first, but the reality is when your this sick and when you end up in the hospital, you need other forms of medication to help you through it. So it’s about supporting your body as best as possible to help your immune system and revive it when it’s in a depleted state.

I’ve been making these healing beverages lately, elixirs if you will, that offer a variety of health supportive benefits. I have an array of these drinks in my recipe tool box that I pull out when I’m sick, have digestive upset, when I need an immune boost or a daily energy kick.

Today’s recipe is all about supporting immune health, I call it my Immune Boosting Turmeric Mylk, it’s super rich and creamy, that has a little kick from the cayenne and ginger.

Taste Profile
Texture
: Creamy
Sweet: Manuka Honey, Coconut
Savoury: Ginger, Ghee
Pungent: Cayenne, Turmeric

Health Profile

There is a synergistic reason why I love the ingredients in this elixir and I feel like they need to be highlighted.

Ghee: The result of clarifying butter, but taking it 1 step further, by simmering it longer to increase the rich nutty flavour. The process of turning butter into ghee, involves removing the water and milk fats that leaves behind a pure health supportive fat that is also excellent for cooking, lactose free and shelf stable. Ghee contains Butyric Acid, a short chain fatty acid that helps to detoxify and improve colon health. It’s been shown to lower inflammation, manage insulin levels, and very nutritive for those with IBS, Chrons disease and Ulcerative Colitis. Lastly, something many people are not aware of, Ghee actually helps increase gastric acid with improves the efficiency of digestion!

Turmeric & Ginger: two very powerful anti-inflammatory roots, that are much more potent in their root form over the powder. They both promote liver health and are very therapeutic for the digestive system as they are both soothing and warming roots.

Collagen Hydrolstate: This is essential for all connective tissue in the body and aids in our joint health, especially when dealing with any joint inflammation. It supports our hair, skin, nails, and any skin ailments including acne, eczema and scaring. This type of collagen is a great source of protein that’s a pure product meanings it’s exceptionally absorbable in the gut causing no gastric issues, like other protein powders can cause for those who are more sensitive.

Coconut milk: I choose this liquid base firstly because of its rich, creamy satisfying mouth feel. It’s an easily digestible, nut free liquid, that holds up well when heated, coconut also pairs deliciously with the other flavours in this elixir.

Turmeric Milk 1

Immune Boosting Turmeric Mylk
Yields 2 servings
~Paleo, Diary Free

Ingredients
1 can coconut milk (full fat)
turmeric root, 2.5” piece peeled and minced
ginger root 2.5” piece peeled and minced
cinnamon ½ tsp
Pinch of Himalayan sea salt
Collagen Hydrolstate (I used Great Lakes) 2 Tbsp
Ghee 1 Tbsp
Manuka honey (optional) 1 tsp
Pinch of cayenne

Directions:
1) In a blender, blend the coconut milk, minced turmeric, minced ginger, cinnamon and pinch of salt.
2)Pour into a small pot and bring to a gentle simmer.
3)Pour back into the blender with the collagen, ghee and honey. Blend on high speed until emulsified and smooth.
4)Pour into 2 glasses and sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne pepper, and serve.

 

Turmeric Milk 2

~Chef Steph

 

 

 

Pear Cranberry Crumble (Paleo)

I debated over and over again about what I wanted to my first recipe post to be, then I realized simple is truly best and posting something accessible and non daunting would be the way to go.

My love for desserts lead to me making something that would fall under the dessert and breakfast category because I chose to keep this recipe relatively low sugar.

To touch on my “My love for desserts” comment; I’m not a sugar junkie, but there is something I love about watching people light up when they are served dessert. I also genuinely admire it when it’s something that’s not laden in white sugar and white flour, but used with more wholesome ingredients.

I’m not a trained pastry chef, however after culinary school I did work within some pastry kitchens and quickly fell in love with those that used the alternatives to transport a traditional dessert, or traditional ingredients into something gluten free, something paleo or something vegan. For me it really changed the way I saw desserts. I also believe that desserts shouldn’t be sugar laden, overly portioned and should really be looked at a treat and consumed in moderation, but that’s the nutritionist in me speaking.

I get it, because I’m human – sometimes you just want a damn cookie and you don’t want to care about sugar they used. Fair.

However for the other 90% of time, I think opting for the more wholesome choices will land you in a position of better balance and more will power against white sugar cravings.

In terms of winter desserts (even though it’s currently an odd 6 degrees in January), I believe it’s just as important to focus on seasonal ingredients just as you would a savoury dish. For example, if I go to a restaurant in the dead of winter and see a berry tart (strawberry, raspberry, blueberry) on their menu or lemon meringue pie – I feel like I get an eye twitch.

So for this grain free crumble I went with the humble pear, a fruit I don’t think is utilized enough. To add some contrast I added some tart cranberries (a fall/winter berry). Then to balance the flavours, I threw an apple into the mix. In this crumble, I chose not to pre cook/sauté the filling because I wanted a firmer texture as the topping is little softer then your average crumble.

As with any dish, and this is something I’ll usually do within my posts, is mention how having at least 2 of the 5 taste profiles in a recipe and some contrast in texture will allow for a more satiating meal, bite or treat. Just as there should be nutritional balance, we should also have flavour balance.

Sweet – Pear
Tart (Sour) – Cranberries
Creamy – Butter
Crunch – Pecans

Pear Cranberry Crumble
Serves 6 – 8
~Paleo~

Ingredients:
3 D’anjou , peeled, sliced into rounds – remove core
1 fuji apple, peeled, sliced into rounds – remove core
½ cup frozen cranberries – halved
1 cup (86g) not packed, blanched almond flour
¼ cup (33g) coconut flour
1/3 cup (49g) coconut sugar
1/3 cup (73g) chilled butter, cubed
¼ tsp sea salt
1/3 c (52g) pecans, roughly chopped
2 tsp cinnamon
zest of 1 orange
1 tsp grated ginger
¼ tsp ground clove
1-2 Tbsp Ice water (optional)
2 Tbsp (22g) butter, melted for filling
2 Tbsp (13g) tapioca flour, for filling
2 Tbsp (1 oz) orange juice

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9×9 2”deep baking dish.
  2. Add your sliced pears and apples to a bowl of acidulated water, just squeeze ½ a lemon and add the half lemon into the bowl of water. This is to prevent from browning will you’re prepping the rest of the ingredients. Strain, when ready to use.
  3. All the almond flour, coconut flour, coconut sugar, salt, 1 tsp of cinnamon and the 1/3 cup chilled butter to the bowl of a food processor.
  4. Process on high to form a dough, if it’s too granular then add the ice water 1 Tbsp at a time until it just comes together. Remove and fold in the chopped pecans, then set aside.
  5. In a small bowl whisk the orange juice with the tapioca flour, to create a slurry and set aside.
  6. In a large bowl, toss the strained apples and pears, cranberries, orange zest, 1 tsp cinnamon, ginger, clove, melted butter and slurry.
  7. Layer the filling in the bottom of your pan and pour over any remaining juices.
  8. Crumble the topping over the entire layer fruit, then bake for 45 minutes until the crumble topping is golden.
  9. Let cool for 15-20 minutes then slice and serve.

 Notes:

  • If you’d like this sweeter, you could add 2 Tbsp of coconut sugar into the filling to make it a little richer.
  • You could top this with coconut cream or a full fat dairy cream of your choice.

I hope you enjoy, if you have some awesome crumble combinations I’d love to hear about them!

-Chef Steph

A Grand Welcome

I’m so excited to have this space as a way for me to share my passion and connect with great people all over the world.

I’m hoping that this can become a place where you can draw inspiration, even a place where I can be inspired by all of you. I want to be able to share my passion in a way that you’re able to learn something new, everything from a new culinary technique to a piece of nutritional information that might enhance your daily life. I’ve taken my three worlds culinary arts, holistic health and fitness to create a very balanced approach to my life and a balance I’m here to share and teach others.

Whether you’re a pro in the kitchen or someone that can’t even grasp making eggs, a nutrition expert or someone just starting to dabble into living a healthier life – know that this is a no judgment, non biased zone where I’ll be sharing my personal experiences, good and bad as away to empower you and maybe even bring some likeminded passionate people together.

This isn’t a place where I’m solely going to preach one diet choice, or talk about good vs bad foods because that’s not the way I roll. I’ve used different health methods, such as following the specific carbohydrate diet to then a strict paleo diet, to get me back to health after years of a tumultuous health struggle. Now after coming out top, I’ve learned what works for me, what helps me thrive and what simply doesn’t work. When it comes to balanced health, the most important thing I’ve come to learn is that understanding your body is more important and crucial then stressing out over any diet, obsessing over health and creating any negative energy toward the foods we eat. I no longer see food as “good” or “bad” and I thankfully no longer adhere to stiff food ‘rules’.

I’ll leave you with my personal food mantra that holds major truth in my life, I simply choose to live an unrefined life that welcomes balance.”

Before you leave, check out my links above where you can learn a little more about me, my personal food philosophy and see some of my work.

Welcome to my world, let’s cook together, create conversation around food and live a life with healthful purpose.