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This salad features my favourite winter vegetable, beets! Beets are high in iron and strengthen the blood. Roasting them intensifies their sweetness, and more of the flavour and nutrients stay in the beet if you roast it rather than boiling them. After years of boiling beets, I showed this method to my Mom and she has never gone back, loving beets more than ever!
This salad features my favourite winter vegetable, beets! Beets are high in iron and strengthen the blood. Roasting them intensifies their sweetness, and more of the flavour and nutrients stay in the beet if you roast it rather than boiling them. After year of boiling beets, I showed this method to my Mom and she has never gone back, loving beets more than ever!
Optional add-ins (choose one or a couple of the following):
Roast washed whole beets in 1 inch of water and about 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or 1/2 a lemon in a covered casserole dish.
Bake at 350F until beets are fork tender. ( about 90 mins, but depends on the beet!)
Cool slightly and peel by rubbing the skins off with your fingers or a towel (not your favourite white towel!)
Wedge or slice the beets
This salad goes as a side for almost anything, keeps for days in the fridge if adding sprouts or cheese, add them just before serving. Everything else an be added and marinate with the salad with the dressing.
Essential Salad Dressing
The liver loves the flavour sour. Lemon stimulates the liver and is alkalizing in the body.
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup flax oil
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp mustard
1 clove garlic, grated or minced (optional)
pinch chili flakes, cayenne or black pepper (optional)
pinch sea salt
Put all ingredients into a mason jar and shake it up (or blend it for a smooth dressing)
Put the lid on tightly and shake before using.
Keep in the fridge.
Make small amounts at a time and use quickly.
Use just enough dressing to cover the salad.
What is a cleanse? What is a detox?
I am often asked ‘what is the right cleanse ? Do I need to cleanse ? There is a confusing array of cleansing pills and boxed supplements out there. These can be bought in health food and supplements stores. They are readily available, but choosing the wrong one for you may be ineffective or even dangerous! The safest and most effective way to cleanse is actually by eating everyday, cleansing whole foods! There is no one size fits all cleanse!
Let's start with some terminology:
Cleansing: The body’s natural breakdown process. Removal of buildup. The composition of certain foods and drink can be used to aid in the bodies cleansing process.
Detoxification: Removal of toxins from the body or neutralizing or transforming them through abstinence from food, increase in hydration or through the use of specific nutrients, treatments and herbs. A specific type of cleansing.
Why cleanse? Cleansing can reduce symptoms of congestion, let the organs rest, to slow down, help us to lose excess weight, improve flexibility, rejuvenate the body and mind, and can help us to become more organized, inwardly focused, conscious, clear, attuned to nature, energetic and relaxed.
This said, cleansing is a process that is happening all the time in your body. Cleansing especially happens when the organs of digestion are at rest, so by all means, any 'lightening of the load' of digestion (intermittent fasting is gaining popularity), consuming liquids only (like a bone broth cleanse)helps the liver do the work of filtering the blood most effectively. For most of us, following everyday healthy eating habits like not eating before bed, chewing our food very well, choosing fresh, wholesome foods that are in season... all of these practices help support the body's cleansing process to keep everything running well.
Signs and times that you do not need to cleanse are: constant coldness, underweight, serious blood sugar problems and also do not cleanse deeply during building times, like pregnancy or during childhood and adolescence.
All this said, everyone lets their self-care practices slide sometimes as life gets busy. Eating well is a form of self-care that sometimes we need a reminder about. And springtime is a natural time of renewal, so let's review some practices that help us to cleanse!
1) Phase out non-foods like refined sugar, caffeine and non-prescription drugs.
You can do this one step at a time. Start by cutting down one cup of coffee. Substituting naturally energizing green drinks like a spirulina smoothie is a great way to reduce reliance on sugar and caffeine. Click here for green smoothie recipe!
2) Support your cleansing process by taking lemon juice and water or unpasteurized apple cider vinegar and water.
Both of these tonics help to cleanse the liver ( hint: the taste sour stimulates the liver and gallbladder). They also increase digestive fire, maximizing our digestion and therefore absorption of nutrients.
Check out this recipe for tonifying warming and tasty apple cider vinegar tea! Click here for stomach fire tonic recipe!
2a) Drink more pure water!
Water transports toxins. Cleansing without adequately hydrating causes toxins to re-circulate. Water comes in many forms- from sipping on herbal teas to enjoying broth soups and eating refreshing vegetables like cucumber and melon, you are contributing to deep hydration. Remember that drinking water, especially ice water with or just before a meal actually extinguishes your digestive fire!
3) Reduce congesting foods and Include more cleansing foods
Step three is where you can really customize your cleanse. Starting exactly where you are in your diet, choose congesting/ building foods and replace them with cleansing foods. What on earth are congesting foods? The biggest culprits are poor quality fats (deep-fry, cheap 'vegetable' oils, processed foods, packaged baked goods) and refined sugars (as in sugar in all it's names as well as flour. Even the GF refined flours like white rice or cornstarch)
An example of this is to replace potato chips with snacking on sprouted mung beans or raw veggie sticks.
Check out this Liver-Loving Salad recipe that I made especially for a nice and tasty spring cleanse dish.
4) Eat lighter- don’t stuff yourself! Especially at night.
As a general rule, eat until you are 2/3 full. You will benefit from more sustained energy and smoother digestion. Chewing well increases absorption and satiation. Healthy fats like coconut oil and flax oil are great during cleanses. Eating too little fat causes sugar cravings and hunger.
5) Light exercise and reduce stress. Rest and relax
Cleansing happens in the body naturally when we are in a relaxed state. Take time to go inward and listen to your body during your cleanse.
I wish you renewed energy and the sense of freedom that comes from shedding the winter 'coat' (both mentally and physically!)
Genuine energy comes from nourishment, not stimulation!
Increasing the green foods in your diet benefits on a daily level by increasing energy levels and decreasing cravings for junk food. Add this smoothie to your daily routine and especially to your cleanse!
Caution- more is not necessarily better! Spirulina’s cleansing properties can cause stomach gurgling and loose stools if over-done. Start with 1 tsp and work up to 1 Tbsp gradually.
Make this smoothie your breakfast or as a mid-afternoon pick-me up instead of coffee.
1 banana, preferably frozen
¼ cup frozen berries (optional)
3 Tbsp hemp seeds (Optional but awesome!)
1 tsp spirilina powder
Water up to the 8 oz mark on the blender, or use 4 oz yogurt or almond yogurt and 4 oz water.
1 inch of ginger, grated
pinch of cinnamon ( especially for cold people)
1-3 tsp bee pollen (Note- stay away from bee pollen if you're allergic to bees!)
1-tsp- 1 Tbsp flax oil
The energetic nature of sprouts are UP and OUT! All the potential life energy of the plant, breaking through the seed’s protection. Sprouts are an enormous source of energy! The first spring foods- baby sprouts and quick-growing veggies like radishes help to kick us out of our winter slumber and prepare us for lighter times ahead! This recipe uses sprouts as well as a host of liver-helping foods. Keeping the liver in tip-top shape is very important for overall health. It accomplishes an enormous amount of work to keep us ticking!
Functions of the liver include:
1 bunch radish, 8 small or 3 medium sized. Use 1 or 2 watermelon radishes instead if you can find them.
2 medium beets, peeled
1 green apple
1 handful of sprouts (try alfalfa, broccoli, mung bean, sunflower…)
Essential Salad Dressing
This is enough for about 2 recipes of salad. Extra dressing should be kept in the fridge and can be used for green salads as well.
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup flax oil
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
pinch chili flakes, cayenne or black pepper (opt)
pinch sea salt
To make dressing:
– Put all ingredients into a mason jar.
-Put the lid on tightly and shake before using.
– Keep in the fridge.
-Make small amounts at a time and use quickly.
-Grate or julienne hard veg and apple, mix in sprouts, add desired amount of salad dressing, enjoy!
Apple Pie Granola
Makes about 2 Liters, or 8 cups
Store-bought granola is marketed to seem healthier than boxed cereal, but it is usually just as ridden with sugar! Those tasty clusters are so tasty; the bad news is that they are mostly crystallized sugar.
Save yourself from the blood-sugar roller coaster by making this tasty cereal from scratch instead! The high proportion of nuts and seeds (half the bulk of the recipe!) gives you lots of protein and good fats to get your day started right. And enough whole grain to keep you feeling full till lunch.
4 cups slow-cooking rolled oats
1 cup cashews or almonds (whole, raw or sprouted)
1 cup seed of your choice (I like pumpkin seeds)
1 cup dried, unsweetened coconut
1 pinch salt
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cloves
(Or substitute 1.5 Tbsp apple pie spice if you have it)
¼ cup chia or ground flax seed
½ cup honey, maple syrup or coconut nectar
2 cups unsweetened apple sauce OR just core, chop and blend 3 apples in the blender for ‘lazy’ raw apple sauce!
1 Tbsp vanilla
3 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1 cup dried raisins (optional) or un-sulphured dried apple pieces
In a blender, combine chia or flax with apple sauce (or raw apple pieces if doing the ‘lazy’ version), sweetener, melted coconut oil and vanilla in blender until smooth.
In a mixing bowl, combine oats, spices, salt, nuts/seeds. Add with blended mixture to the dry mixture and stir well to combine. This part is important because once the flax or chia gets moist from being mixed into the blender mix; it starts to thicken, giving you nice clusters!
Spread mixture evenly and not too thick onto 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets and bake at 320F, checking and stirring regularly. This takes about 1-2 hours, or just until it is dry to the touch.
Stir in dried fruit, cool and store in ziplock bags or airtight containers.
Keeps for at least a month.
Enjoy with milk or alternative, on yogurt, over stewed fruit, eating out of hand, make granola bars or add a crunchy sprinkle to ice cream etc.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I am a plant-based baker. I was trained in Bread and Pastry Arts at North West Culinary Academy of Vancouver and after working in chocolate, catering and restaurants, I found my happy place as a baking instructor. If I was stranded on a desert island and could only choose 3 foods it would be beer, bread and chocolate. If I could only choose two, it would be beer and bread and if I could only choose one food, it would be sourdough bread!
What inspired you to teach healthy cooking/baking?
When I was training in pastry, I became more and more aware of the need for baked goods that did not rely on highly refined products (i.e. white flour and white sugar), wheat, eggs and dairy products. I get a lot of satisfaction from helping people and so I wanted to create and share recipes for great baked goods that were friendlier to people’s specific diets, allergies and or ethics. I also gain so much from others experience and knowledge so teaching lets me create, share and learn all at the same time!
What do you love most about healthy cooking/baking?
Plant-based baking is a very creative process for me. I get a lot out of the process of testing, failing and eventually problem solving baked goods that match our sensory memories (such as a brownie or ice cream). I also grow my own veggies so getting to use them in my baking is really satisfying! Most of all, I love sharing treats with others and seeing them experience joy at being able to eat them.
How does learning to use whole and plant-based foods benefit you and those who you teach?
In addition to helping people find foods and recipes that they can reintroduce into their diets that suit them, I think it provides connection, inspires confidence in people and pleasure in cooking and baking. It also enhances the quality of our nutrition by integrating new and more plant based foods into our diets.
What makes your cooking/baking classes different from the norm?
I strongly believe that great plant based baking is a combination of good technique and the right ingredients. So I really try to make baking methods approachable, low tech, and accessible to students so that they can gain confidence and have fun in learning new recipes and new skills without feeling intimidated. I also have no expectation that people who are in my class are plant based. There is no expectation that you need to change any of your practices or eliminate anything from your current diet. It’s simply about learning new things and having fun no matter where you are at in your food journey.
What was your favourite experience cooking/baking healthy?
Getting to work with Andrea Potter who inspires me to be a better teacher and baker and seeing folks who had previously given up on sweets being able to integrate them into their diets again!
How has healthy cooking/baking enhanced your life and the lives' of your students?
Honestly, it has helped me to find my place in the world! Working in this area of baking/food is very meaningful to me and keeps me learning all of the time: from my own mistakes, from my students, from the continuing sophistication of ingredients and methods. I see it enhance the lives of students when they tell me how they are able to eat the foods that bring them joy and gain confidence in their own cooking so that they share it with others.
Any advice for students thinking of getting into healthy cooking/baking?
Our classes are really approachable and we are open minded so just give it a try. We’re here to offer you plant based options and then you then can decide for yourself what you want to try and integrate! No fancy equipment needed. Oh, and it’s delicious!
Recipe by our RHN, Jenn Rapske
This recipe checks all the boxes!
· 1 can full-fat coconut milk (no substitutions)
· ½ cup unsweetened cacao powder, sifted
· ½ cup pure maple syrup (less if desired)
· ⅛ teaspoon coarse sea salt
· ½ teaspoon vanilla bean powder or cinnamon
1. Whisk together the coconut milk, cacao powder, maple syrup, and salt in a medium saucepan.
2. Bring ingredients to a boil over medium heat, then turn the heat down and simmer 15 minutes while whisking frequently. The mixture will begin to thicken slightly.
3. Turn off heat and whisk in vanilla/cinnamon.
4. Cool to room temperature on the counter.
5. Transfer to an airtight container or single serve containers (I like mini mason jars or ramekins).
6. Refrigerate for a few hours.
7. Serve chilled and garnish with your favorite ingredients—berries, nuts, coconut flakes, etc.
As the weather cools down,
these soft cookies are the perfect excuse to turn the oven on. Naturally
sweetened with bananas and maple syrup, these sweet treats not only taste good,
good! They are free from
gluten, eggs and dairy. This makes a ‘mookie’; a muffin-top style of cookie.
They are best eaten fresh out of the oven, but are also enjoyed a day or 2
later if warmed up slightly.
Makes 24 small cookies.
2 bananas, mashed
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup maple syrup (Note- darker maple syrup has more minerals, so opt for #2 or #3 syrup. Bonus - it is often cheaper than the lighter stuff.)
½ cup unrefined sunflower oil or melted coconut oil
3 tsp rice or coconut milk (Or other milk alternative)
1 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 cup slow-cooking rolled oats (g/f if celiac)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
Preheat oven to 350F
In food processor or blender (or by hand using a whisk and some elbow grease), blend together first list of ingredients (wet).
In a separate bowl, combine flour, spices, baking soda and salt.
Add the wet to the dry and stir to combine.
Now add coconut and oats and stir.
Drop tablespoon-sized portions onto a greased cookie sheet.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until bottoms are slightly browned.
Befriending Bacteria for Immune, Gut and Brain Health
We are finding that the one key factor in health and longevity is in us, and all around us- we just need to give it what it needs to thrive! Gut health is a hot topic in many areas of health and healing. Gut microbiome is has been known to be a huge influencing factor into healing digestive inflammation, irritation and disease. It is also being linked to other areas of health, including maintaining a healthy weight, proper immune functioning, clearing persistent skin problems and even to psychological wellbeing.
What is gut health? Gut health begins at birth; our internal ecosystems are established based on our mother’s own populations of bacteria and other micro-organisms. We can grow more and different strains of helpful bacteria in life through diet. This ecosystem is called our ‘biome’, which houses our micro-flora. We are made up of trillions of bacteria and yeasts that support us in nearly every biological function. Bacterial cells actually out-number human cells in our bodies by 10-1!
We eat far fewer bacteria than our ancestors, and we are worse off for it.
If you look at your great-grandparent’s diets, most all of them would contain a number of naturally bacteria-rich foods and drinks. Bacterial fermentation of food is an ancient method of preserving foods, so before refrigeration people from every culture ate a wider variety of fermented foods. Another big difference within the past 3-4 generations is our exposure to bacteria from soil, animals and other people. Our obsession with ‘clean’ and the war on germs that we have waged has tilted the scale to actually be a detriment to us. Kids who are allowed to play in soil, with animals and with other kids develop stronger immune systems by incorporating more strains of beneficial organisms in their bodies. Up to 80% of our immune systems actually lives in our guts. Not to mention that the bacterial diversity in the soil has decreased due to modern agricultural practices, resulting in fewer strains of bacteria in food to begin with.
Who needs better gut health?
· We all do! But key times of growth, life transitions and stress as well as illness call for more attention to be brought to finding enough ‘good bugs’ to support our health.
· Expectant mothers to provide the probiotics that will largely support their children’s immune systems.
· Kids- enhancing immunity and reducing the chances of acquiring allergies through life.
· People who suffer from inflammatory and autoimmune conditions, people who are affected by many different gut health issues and people who are recovering from antibiotic use.
Signs, symptoms and health issues resulting from an imbalance of good gut bacteria:
An imbalance of the microbiome can manifest in many different ways, depending on the nature of the imbalance and on an individual’s biological predisposition towards certain imbalances.
The balance of the biome is essential to the health of our digestion of course, as most of this system is in our intestines. But the functions don’t stop directly at digestion. An unhealthy gut is linked to psychological problems including depression and anxiety, to persistent skin problems like eczema, to chronic obesity and even to auto-immune disorders and allergies.
Signs that one should look into incorporating more gut-friendly bacteria in their diets (and supplements) are:
· Leaky gut/candida
· Low immunity
· Gut inflammatory conditions like Crohne’s colitis and IBS
· Autoimmune conditions
· Depression and anxiety
· Chronic skin conditions that are treated by ongoing antibiotics
'Good Bug' Foods to promote gut health
Some examples of bacteria-rich foods are traditionally made (unpasteurized) sauerkraut, kimchi, and various brined pickles like traditional kosher pickles as well as many kinds of Indian pickled condiments, yogurt, and kefir. Even the earliest forms of mustard, ketchup and relish were fermented (before being taken over by big food companies). Most traditional dinner tables would have had at least one fermented, probiotic-rich food.
You can drink your bacteria too! Beverages such as kombucha tea and water kefir (fermented by a Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast, or SCOBY), traditionally soured drinks like kvass from Eastern Europe and even some country-style, homemade soured beers are teeming with live enzymes and bacteria, benefiting digestion and helping to lay down a foundation of communities of organisms that we become populated with in order to maintain balance. I suggest getting probiotics first through foods because residual sugars and potential alcohol from some of the beverages can out-weigh the benefits. The beverages can be functional, but I don’t suggest relying on them for all of your probiotic needs. Variety is key!
What to look for when buying or making probiotic foods: Look for products that do not contain vinegar and are in the refrigerated section (or recipes that are fermented and not heated after fermentation). They should be labeled ‘unpasteurized’ or ‘raw’ and are often labeled ‘live culture’. Products like yogurt may have actual bacterial names and amounts on the label. Other products may not, but may say ‘live’ or ‘live culture’.
Just like good hosts, we need to feed these good bacteria we are inviting in through our diets! A diet rich in prebiotic foods is important. Prebiotics are indigestible fiber that feed probiotic bacteria. A diet rich in wholesome foods provides enough prebiotics to keep a gut healthy. Some sources of prebiotics are: onions, leeks, dandelion root, apples, sunchokes and asparagus. A varied diet with lots of whole, raw and cooked vegetables and fruits is usually enough to supply the probiotics we need.
How to incorporate more probiotic foods into everyday diet:
Aim for 2+Tbsp of some fermented probiotic food with each meal.
· Yogurt/kefir in smoothie
· Add sauerkraut to salads and as a garnish for soups
· Kimchi on eggs in the morning
· Brined pickled carrots or other fermented vegetable pickles for snack
How do you incorporate the good 'bugs' into your diet?
Recipe by Ellexis Boyle for
Low sugar, GF option, dairy-free
If your neighbour’s are anything like mine, you will have been inundated by apples, pears and prune plums this past month! This simple fruit crumble takes minutes to prepare, is low in sugar and keeps the integrity of the healthy and delicious fruit intact! Coconut sugar is chosen for its low GI and cinnamon adds a hint of sweetness as well as helps to control blood sugar levels.
Yield: one 8 X 8” baking dish or one 8-9” Pyrex pie dish
5 cups of chopped fruit, leave skin on. Chop apples and pears, rhubarb and peaches/nectarines into bite-sized chunks. Halve and pit apricots and plums, leave berries whole.
1-2 Tbsp of coconut sugar
1 Tbsp of arrowroot (a less-processed alternative to cornstarch for thickening)
½ tsp cinnamon
Zest and juice of ½ lemon
Tasty Fruit Combinations
Apple + Pear
4 cups Apples + 1 cup Berries or Rhubarb
Apples+ halved Plums or Apricots
Peaches + Cherries (increase arrowroot to 2 Tbsp if using moist fruit like these)
½ cup slow-cooking rolled oats* (Oats are not necessarily Celiac- Friendly! See GF sub in note below)
½ cup spelt flour*, sprouted flour is best if you can find it. (See GF sub tip below if gluten is not an option)
1/3 cup shredded coconut
2 Tbsp maple syrup
2 Tbsp unrefined grapeseed oil (or use avocado oil or melted coconut oil)
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp sea salt
*Make mine Gluten-Free Please!
While spelt flour is an option for some people who have a wheat intolerance, there are those who require gluten – free.
Swap out the whole amount of spelt flour for millet flour or brown rice flour, or a mix of the two. For people with Celiac disease, I don’t recommend (even GF) oats. Sub out the rolled oats for additional coconut (a heaping 3/4 cup total coconut)
1. Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease your baking dish with coconut or grapeseed oil.
2. Wash fruit and dice into 1/2” cubes. If fruit is from your neighbour’s (un-sprayed) tree, leave skin on. Just remove any bruises or blemishes.
3. Toss chopped fruit with sugar, arrowroot, cinnamon, lemon juice and zest. Pour into your chosen greased, baking dish.
4. Make crumble topping by combining oats, flour, sugar, salt and coconut in a bowl and then rubbing in the maple syrup and oil with your hands until well coated and clumpy like granola.
5. Spread crumble topping evenly over the fruit
6. Bake in a 350F oven for 30-40 min. Crumble is ready when the topping is golden and you can pierce the fruit easily with a knife.