Dr. Lani Nykilchuk
Naturopathic Family Physician
Breakfast is this most important meal of the day...am I starting to sound like a broken record? But, it’s true!
Ensuring you get a complete meal for breakfast including protein, carbohydrates and health fats is extremely important when it comes to breaking your overnight fast and fuelling yourself for the day to come.
This breakfast idea is great for on the go. All you need is a sealable jar and some delicious and nutritious ingredients and you will have an awesome breakfast in no time.
Since apricots and blueberries are in season these are perfect additions to your breakfast. If you have the time to do some canning and preserving you can keep eating local all year long.
Check out this post for for simple ideas to preserve fruit: Nourishing meals -Simple ways to preserve fruit.
Canning is a great activity to do with friends/loved ones - since it takes time and often leads to a large quantity of canned goods. If you’re new to canning make sure to consult someone who has done this before to ensure safe technique to reduce bacteria contamination.
Fresh apricot and blueberry mash breakfast parfait
Ingredients for Parfait
1/2 cup rolled oats
2 tbsp chia or hemp seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup greek full fat yogurt
1/2 cup blueberry mash
2 apricots sliced
Ingredients for blueberry mash
1 1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 lemon juice and zest
a couple slices of fresh ginger (optional)
Add each ingredient in layers in bowl or travel container ( I used a mason jar). Start with oats, cinnamon and chia seeds and mix these together. Then add greek yogurt, 1/2 cup berry mash and sliced apricot.
Preparing blueberry mash:
Stew 1 cup blueberries, lemon juice and zest and ginger for 15 minutes over medium heat. Once finished stewing add 1/2 cup fresh blueberries. Keeps in fridge for up to 3 days.
This year we preserved fresh peaches and nectarines for the Fall /Winter.
This is a talk I gave on May 15th, 2013 on the topic of “Foods That Heal”. It was live streamed to people all over Canada.
In this talk I discuss food groups, what a healthy plate looks like, food preparation tips and why it's important to choose organic and non-GMO.
Watch the full video below.
Summer is here and so are outdoor meals- lovely picnics and BBQ’s! Potato salad is a classic but often contains lots of mayo and dairy, which is ok for some but not for all. I decide to put together a salad that had a creamy texture but didn’t have any of these foods that some may need to avoid.
Also, by incorporating all of the herbs available right now in my yard this is a truly summery salad. If you are looking for a hearty salad to bring to your next outdoor party- give this one a try. It’s been tested and approved by potato salad connoisseurs.
A little bit about the nutrient benefits of potatoes:
The benefits of potatoes mostly reside in the skin- including vitamins like B3, B5, B6 and C, potassium, dietary fiber and even a decent amount of protein (2.5 gram per medium potato). An added benefit of potatoes is that they contain the essential amino acid lysine, which is absent from other starchy foods such as corn and rice.
When selecting potatoes- always keep an eye out for any green coloration (often noted just under the skin), which indicates the presence of the toxic alkaloid solanine and should not be consumed.
Summer Herb Potato Salad
2 lb potatoes (I used red and orange fingerling)
2-3 shallots, finely chopped
1 garlic scape, finely chopped (or substitute 1 clove garlic, minced)
2 tbsp grainy mustard
4 tbsp apple cider vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
1 cup packed fresh herbs- basil, parsley, thyme, oregano, chives (whatever you have available to you this summer)- roughly chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste
Scrub potatoes, leaves skin on and boil for 10-20 minutes until tender (can pierce with fork). Drain and set them aside to cool down while you prepare dressing.
Mix together shallots, garlic scapes, mustard, vinegar, oil, herbs and S+P.
Once cool, slice potatoes to desired size. As you add potatoes to your bowl, pour a little dressing and give it a toss. Continue this until you have used up all your ingredients. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve.
Congee (Jook) is a traditional Asian meal, often eaten for breakfast or as a snack. The basis is that the rice is cooked for a long time until it becomes a porridge. On it’s own it has amazing healing qualities since it is pre-digested and therefore easy to assimilate. You can also add various ingredients to intensify the healing properties of this dish (such as ginger, which is warming and shiitake mushrooms, which support immune system function).
Brown rice (Oryza sativa) is a very hypo-allergenic food, which means that it rarely causes an allergy or sensitivity. It is rich in fibre, trace minerals, vitamin E and B vitamins. It also contain gamma-oryzanol, which is unique to brown rice and is a potent antioxidant.
This dish is nourishing, satisfying and easy to digest. If you are noticing any symptoms of digestive upset it’s a good idea to talk to your naturopathic doctor and make yourself a bowl of congee, to give your gut a break while still providing it with essential nutrients.
Spring Vegetable Congee
Makes 6-8 servings
• 2 cups rice (dry)
• 10 cups chicken or turkey stock (Click here for my bone stock recipe)
• 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped or grated
• 2 carrots, chopped fine
• ½ cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
• 1 cup of kale/swiss chard/spinach, finely chopped
• 2 tbsp wheat-free liquid soy sauce
• 1 small bunch spring onions, roughly chopped
• bunch cilantro, to garnish
To make this a vegetarian dish- substitute vegetable stock and consider adding 1/2 cup mung beans – which can add these at the beginning with the rice.
Cook the rice in the stalk for 2-3 hours at the lowest possible heat, keeping the lid on tight. During the last hour of cooking, add the ginger, carrots, mushrooms, greens and soy. When done cooking, garnish with onions and cilantro. This will yield ~ 6 large (2 cup) servings.
You can also set up in the morning and slow cook rice throughout the day. You can choose to use white or brown rice- white rice breaks down easier than brown rice and therefore may be the one to use when you are experiencing digestive upset.
Here is a recipe that incorporates veggies into a much-loved dip/condiment- guacamole. It is surprising how easy it is to sneak veggies into foods and no one else is the wiser. This is a great recipe for those picky eaters who you just can’t seem to get hooked on veggies.
The other highlight of this recipe is that this is a great time to be loading up on nutrient dense foods since along with Spring comes fresher ingredients and also for many of us seasonal allergies. There are also a few key foods that are best avoided if allergies are running you down. These include mucous forming foods (such as dairy and bananas), processed/refined foods (packaged foods, white flour and sugar) and any known food allergies or sensitivities. These foods increase mucous production and can increase inflammation in the body, which in turn aggravates allergy symptoms.
This guacamole recipe can act as a substitute to some of the above-mentioned foods and also has the bonus of containing ingredients that can decrease inflammation and foods rich in nutrients that can calm down allergies. Here’s how:
Guacamole can act as a nice substitute to dairy since it can be eaten as a snack (chips/veggies and dip) or as a condiment on any savory breakfast, lunch or dinner meal.
While you are avoiding banana’s avocados can meet your potassium needs. One avocado has the equivalent potassium to that found in 2.5 bananas.
Spinach and lemon/lime and onions are all good sources of Vitamin C, which helps stabilize and decrease the allergic reaction.
Red onions are rich in the nutrient quercetin, a bioflavanoid that acts as a natural anti-histamine.
Using flaxseed oil lends some anti-inflammatory omega-3’s to this recipe.
The aim in a day is to obtain 6-8 servings of vegetables so adding in extra veggies wherever possible will bring you closer to your daily quota. See if you can think of another place you can add veggies into your daily meals.
Sneaky Veggie Guacamole
1 cup spinach
1 large handful cilantro- remove large steams but keep little ones
1 large avocado
1 1/2 Tbsp flaxseed oil or olive oil
1 lemon or lime- zest and juice
1/4 red onion finely chopped
sea salt and pepper to taste
Cut a small portion of cilantro leaves ( I usually cut from the tops where the leaves are full) and set this aside.
Combine spinach, rest of the cilantro, 1 avocado, 1 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 lime and zest and salt/pepper in bowl and using a hand blender, blend until smooth and creamy. Cube the other avocado and add it along with remaining oil (1/2 Tbsp), the rest of the lime and zest, chopped red onions and cilantro. Mix with spoon and serve.
By blending half the recipe you can sneak in some veggies - spinach being a great option since it is quite inert in flavour and blends down very well, but feel free to experiment with others (I would suggest other greens like arugula, dandelion or maybe even steamed and cooled broccoli/kale). If you like a really smooth dip you can blend everything together but reserving some of the avocado gives this dip a nice balance of smooth and chunky textures.
Double the recipe if you are making this as a dip for a party.
Serve with non-GMO corn chips or bean chips.
This is a great way to whip up a nourishing hot soup in minutes. The great thing about this recipe is that you can make as many servings as needed directly into each individual bowl. If someone has a specific like or dislike this version of miso is perfect since you can add individual ingredients to each. Great as a starter to get your digestive system fired up with that powerful umami flavour (try this recipe along with the spot prawn stir-fry). If you’re new to miso- it’s a fermented paste made from soybeans. It looks almost like peanut butter but has a super salty taste and a little bit can go a long way to add rich flavour to soups and sauces. Miso soup is a Japanese staple, often eaten for breakfast.
So what makes miso so special?
For starters, it’s a source of protein (~ 1g per tsp), contains minerals (including zinc, iron and copper) and B vitamins. Since it’s a fermented food it contains gut-friendly lactobacillus.
Miso is a rich source of isoflavones, which belong to the family of plant chemicals called phytoestrogens. Isoflavones act very similarly to estrogen but have a weaker effect when they bind to estrogen receptors, which can offer protective effects to breast tissue, bone and overall hormone health.
Minute Miso Soup
Ingredients -per cup
2-3 tsp organic, non-GMO miso paste - I use genmai (brown rice) miso
1 cup boiled water
Optional Add in’s
1/4 cup organic, non-GMO firm tofu, cubed
green onion or leek, finely chopped
finely chopped leafy greens- kale, chards, spinach
other veggies can be added-zucchini, carrots, cabbage, green beans, mushrooms, daikon radish would all be great options. Make sure to chop finely- try using a mandolin or a peeler for really thin slices.
Tamari to taste.
Fill kettle and bring water to boil
In the meantime, chop veggies and tofu.
Place veggies in bowl
a dollop of miso (~ 2-3 tsp per cup)
once kettle is boiled let sit for 1 minute* , then pour water over ingredients in bowl.
Give it a good mix ensuring miso is well distributed
Taste and add tamari to preference.
Because miso is a fermented food it is best to not pour boiling water over it to protect its health promoting properties.
This recipe works well for a to go lunch- just place all ingredients in a resealable glass jar and once you are ready to eat boil some water and pour over ingredients.
" Let thy food be thy medicine, and thy medicine be thy food" - Hippocrates
Food can be our number one immune system protector. By choosing foods that are immune boosting, rather than immune depressing you will have one up on both preventing and fighting infections this season.
Let’s take a quick look at the main foods that weaken our immune system:
• Sugar and refined carbohydrate
• Unhealthy fats, including trans fats and excess saturated fats
• Processed foods (or ‘fake foods’ as I like to call them)
• Pesticide laden foods
• Food sensitivities and allergies, which are unique to each of us.
Now, let’s take a look at foods that support the immune system:
• Warming foods such as ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic, and onion.
• Eat all colours of the rainbow! What I mean by this is to eat a variety of fruits and veg to get all the nutrients you need.
• Focus on fermented foods: including yogurt,kefir, miso, kimshi, sauerkraut and kombucha- these foods contain beneficial bacteria that strengthen the immune system.
To get you started, I’ve included an immune-boosting soup recipe. Carrot ginger soup is a warm, rich and creamy meal that nourish the body and soul. Carrots and parsnips are packed with nutrients, which become easy to digest and absorb when made into a soup. Ginger warms you up from head to toe while supporting your ability to fight infections.
Carrot, Parsnip & Ginger Soup
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp coconut oil
4 tbsp minced/grated fresh ginger
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
a pinch of cayenne
8 large carrots, chopped
1 large parsnip, chopped
8 cups homemade stock or water
1/2 cup tahini-optional
1/3 organic lemon, juice and zest
1 tsp liquid soy
optional garnish- drizzle yogurt, top with pea shoots and fresh cracked pepper.
In a large pot, on medium heat, add coconut oil, onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, turmeric and cayenne and sauté until onions are soft (~10-15 minutes).
Add the carrots and parsnips and cook another 10 minutes, until carrots are slightly soft.
Add the stock or water, cover and allow to simmer for 30 minutes, or until carrots are soft.
Remove from heat and use hand –blender or transfer to blender and blend till smooth.
Add in tahini and lemon and liquid soy and mix well.
Serve with green garnish (such as pea shoots) and drizzle with yogurt for an extra creamy texture if desired.
Homemade chicken broth is a must have in your kitchen, especially during cold and flu season. I like to make my own broth rather than buy it because you can make it exactly how you like it and there is no sugar or preservatives added (which is often the case with the store brands). The added bonus to making your own broth is that you ensure that all the vitamins and minerals in the nutrient dense bones are pulled out by cooking it for a long time at low temperature and adding an acid (such as apple cider vinegar). If you prepare a roast chicken, make sure to keep the bones and make yourself a broth. The best way to do this without having to worry about it is to add all your ingredients to a crockpot, set it and you’re off! If you don’t have time to make a broth right away- you can freeze the bones for later use.
Now that you have your broth, here is a warming and nourishing soup recipe for cold and flu season. Adding kimchi is a great idea- it’s a fermented food typically made up of cabbage, radish, cucumber with garlic, onion and red chilli pepper. It is loaded with beneficial bacteria, so add it at the very end and serve immediately.
This soup will help clear your nasal passage and bring on sweating, which will speed healing as well as help ward off any nasty bugs that are circulating.
Homemade Chicken Broth
1 organic chicken carcass
12 cups water
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves
sea salt and pepper to taste
Optional: 1/2 fennel bulb, 1 bay leaf, 1 piece ginger root, 1 sprig fresh rosemary, 1 sprig fresh thyme, 1 pinch cayenne pepper,
1 handful sage leaves.
In large stove top pot or crock pot- add chicken, water, vinegar, vegetables and herbs. Turn heat to medium high and let broth come to a boil. Once boiling, bring heat down and allow pot to simmer for 6-10 hours.
Strain out chicken and veggies and reserve liquid. Store in mason jars in fridge (for up to 3 days) or freeze for future use.
Chicken Kimchi Soup
4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp extra virgin coconut oil
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 celery sticks, diced
2 carrots, diced
1 thumb size piece of ginger, minced
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1 small bunch chard, stems removed and leaves chopped
Optional: 1 large spoonful kimchi (per bowl) or 1 pinch cayenne pepper
Use a medium pot over medium heat to sauté onions, garlic, carrots, celery and ginger in coconut oil for about 5 minutes. Add broth and bring to a simmer and let cook 15 minutes until veggies are soft. Turn off heat and add parsley and chards then give it a quick stir to mix these in and lightly cook them. Serve with a dollop of kimchi on top.
The garlic scape is the lesser known edible part of the beloved allium sativum (garlic). It is actually the flowering top of the garlic plant and is important to remove to ensure that all the energy goes to fattening up the delicious bulb that will be harvested in the late summer. So, if they must be removed, why not eat ‘em?
I’ve had the opportunity to enjoy this early summer delicacy since it has been growing widely in the garden. Making it into a pesto is one of the many ways you can enjoy it. Other suggestions include- chopping it up onto pizza, frying the scapes up with a little oil and seasoning and even pickling them.
The garlic scape is milder in flavour compared to the garlic bulb, so can be more versatile in its raw form.
It contains many of the same phyto-chemicals (plant molecules) that are found in the bulb, mainly sulfur-containing compounds, which aids the liver in detoxification, are anti-inflammatory and have heart protective actions.
If you notice these delicious flowers at your local grocery store, farmer’s market or even in your own backyard give them a try.
Interesting Fact: Garlic is part of the lily family.
Garlic Scape Pesto
1 cup garlic scapes, tops removed but saved for later
1/3 cup walnuts or pine nuts
3/4 cup olive oil
1/2 lemon and zest
1/4 cup pecorino romano cheese (sheep cheese) - optional
salt and pepper to taste
Coarsely chop scapes and finely grate cheese. Place all ingredients into food processor or blender and blend until smooth.
Keeps in the fridge up to 1 week in air tight container. Good for freezing.
pasta - toss with your favorite pasta, protein and veg
pizza - a great option instead of tomato sauce
quinoa salad - 1 part quinoa cooked to 1/4 part pesto.
I served this sprinkled with pecorino romano cheese (sheep milk) and some quick fried garlic scape flowers (as seen in the picture) on top and had it with a organic skinless chicken breast (seasoned with lemon juice, olive oil and salt + pepper).
You can also toss the quinoa and pesto with your favorite greens ( I used arugula and basil) and added a little lemon juice and olive oil to dress it up.
The rhubarb in my garden is still growing strong, which has me looking for new ways to use up the stalks that seem to appear over night.
I’ve made some sauces/jams for pancakes and the likes, as well as a few rhubarb crumbles, but this time I decided to go with a square. The lovely thing about fruit squares is that they can easily be made dairy-free, gluten-free and egg-free- making them an option for almost everyone.
If you’re like me and not one to plan out time for baking, here’s my suggestion- choose to bake on a day that you plan to cook with the oven. I will often bake a sweet treat if I am doing pizza or baked yam fries or chicken and pop it in at the end. There is usually some time available while you wait for dinner to bake so this is when you can get your baking set to go in. The best part about planning it this way is that it’s hot-out-of-the-oven just in time for desert.
Strawberry Rhubarb Squares- Vegan/Gluten-Free
8 stalks of rhubarb, chopped
1 pint strawberries, chopped
5 dates, pitted
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp flour (I used quinoa flour but any flour will do)
8 Tbsp coconut oil, softened
1 cup flour ( I used brown rice)
1/2 cup almond meal (or an extra 1/2 cup flour)
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4-1/2 cup brown sugar (depending on how sweet you like it- I did ~ a half cup and it had a nice sweetness to it).
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp honey (optional)
For the filling
In a medium sauce pan, over medium heat, stir together the rhubarb, strawberry, dates and lemon juice. After letting it cook for about 5 minutes, slowly add 1 tbsp of flour- stirring continuously to avoid clumping. Continue to cook over medium heat for an extra 1-3 minutes, or until the mixture thickens.
Preheat oven to 350
For the crust
In a large mixing bowl, place 8 tbsp coconut oil and let bowl sit over oven to allow the radiant heat to soften the oil. Combine flour, almond meal, oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda and sea salt.
Lightly coat 9”x3” baking dish with coconut oil and then spread 3/4 of the crumb mixture on the bottom. Evenly spread filling over the crust and then sprinkle the remaining crumble mixture on top.
Bake for ~ 30 minutes, or until golden brown.
Optional, take crumble out at 25 minutes and drizzle 1 tbsp of honey over the top.
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