Stomach Fire Tonic

  • By Andrea Potter
  • 01 Apr, 2017

This warm and soothing tonic helps with bloating, eases digestion and gives you pep!

In my practice as a nutritionist, I recommend this tonic so often!
It's such a common complaint to feel tired after a meal, bloated, to get heartburn...
This tonic helps reduce those uncomfortable symptoms, but more than that, it actually helps re-balance your stomach's own production of acid. When our stomachs are producing acid properly, we can absorb more of the nutrients from food and not have to suffer from the bloat and other digestive ailments. 

It's so simple, all you need are a few quality ingredients:

Stomach Fire Tonic
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Get the raw/unpasteurized stuff (sometimes labelled 'with mother')
1 tsp raw honey
1 cup warm (not hot!) water

Put all in a mug, stir and enjoy. 

Drink on an empty stomach in the morning or as a sipper after meals to avoid heaviness and heartburn.


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By Andrea Potter 08 Sep, 2017

Countless times as a healthy cooking instructor - during cooking classes, baking demonstrations and seminars - I have had someone ask me ' what it is about wheat that is so bad? !' Or they tell a familiar story of not having Celiac disease, but their symptoms (weight gain, IBS, skin problems and many other inflammatory conditions is just the tip of the iceberg) decrease or disappear when they avoid wheat and/or gluten altogether. 

The rise up against the grain

Since my early days as a cook, fresh out of culinary school, I have been asked for a lot of 'mods' - special requests for a gluten-free or wheat-free version of something that's on the menu. My station in kitchens was often making pasta from scratch or making pastries. The answer was usually 'no', with chefs and cooks muttering under their breath (or some of them proclaiming loudly) that they hated accommodating these 'fake' allergies and fad diets. Yet bakeries and pasta kitchens were going out of business all over town, the ones who survived were offering alternatives to wheat and/or gluten on the menu. The Atkins diet was the first that I saw of a wave of anti-wheat, anti-gluten and now anti-grain diets like paleo and keto.

I am a lover of pasta, bread and cake, and I saw no reason to quit enjoying these foods. Although I did not share some of my fellow cook's disdain for people's diet requests, I was glad that I was not among those who needed to single themselves out in a group and ask if there was something different for them at dinner or dessert. 

Discovering wheat intolerance

A few years down the road, as I was attending nutrition school, I tried out a cleanse on myself (one which excluded glutenous grains)mostly out of curiosity for what I might notice, having no major complaints health-wise. And then everything changed. My symptoms were so status-quo to me, that I thought that the bloated feeling after meals, the hung-over feeling every morning, the constipation and the brain-fog were all the normal state-of-affairs for my health. Had I not done this cleanse, I might not have known what 'better' felt like. The bar for my new 'normal' state of health and energy had been raised. After methodically re-introducing foods after the cleanse, I realized that wheat (and I thought maybe gluten in particular) was to blame. I found that I had what is known as 'wheat intolerance', and that I was among the growing masses of people who are finding that there's something about wheat that does not do our bodies good. 

I know that my story is pretty low-stakes. I am fortunate not to be among the many who have serious inflammatory issues, allergies and more serious health concerns. But I was my own case study for school, and I looked at my symptoms as warning signs to pay attention to before anything more serious cropped up.  I dutifully ate a diet free from gluten for a couple of years. Thankfully, this was before the plethora of gluten-free junk-foods had showed up on the market, so my diet was pretty basic and whole-foods oriented, with a lot of whole grains and very little flour at all. 

The modern wheat problem

No food has been so revolted against as wheat, and later, the protein gluten was singled out as a culprit for people's growing suspicion of wheat as the cause of their weight gain, digestive woes and many other symptoms.

Yet grains- and wheat to a large degree, has been the backbone of agricultural society and staple food for generations, and if our ancestors largely thrived on it and with inflammatory conditions, allergies and auto-immune disease on the rise (especially in North America), the question should not be 'what's bad about wheat?' but 'what's changed about wheat?' 

Well- in short, three things: 

1) The processing of wheat  flour. Our ancestors learned to grind grains between stones, which moved slowly- powered by animals or water or by wind. This slow processing didn't create the heat that modern steel roller processing does. The heat created by modern milling denatures the fats in the germ of the grain, causing whole flour to go rancid quickly. Rancid fats are one cause of free-radical cellular damage, which can lead to a variety of chronic conditions. Another processing issue is this: the label 'wholegrain' on flour in North America does not mean what you might think. Most 'wholegrain' flour is actually white flour, which has had all of the germ (vitamin E-rich healthy fat) and bran (fiber, most of the vitamins and minerals in the grain) removed. Some of the (now potentially rancid) germ and the bran is added back to the white flour and is called 'whole'. Hmmm...

2) The toxic load of a chemical called glyphosphate which is permissible and abundant in conventional wheat is now being pointed to as a likely culprit for more and more people having issues with wheat. Symptoms include but are not limited to: bloating, indigestion, constipation, allergies to wheat and other foods, skin problems and inflammatory issues of all kinds. This is because the chemical disrupts the functioning of bacteria in the gut , throwing off the healthy balance of microbiota. The answer here (in addition to expressing outrage that this chemical is allowed in our food system by calling for a ban of Monsanto's Roundup) is to buy organic. 

The spraying of this chemical is so far not allowed on organic foods. In addition to avoiding conventional wheat, supplementing your diet with probiotic-rich foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented pickles and yogurt helps keep a balanced micro-flora; imperative for digestive and immune functioning. 

3) Our grain-eating ancestors prepared grains carefully for maximum benefit. Wheat (and other grains) in its whole and unprocessed form is not properly digested and is high in an anti nutrient called phytic acid . Consuming a diet too high in this anti-nutrient causes malabsorbtion of minerals, especially zinc and iron. Grains that go through the process of soaking, sprouting and/or fermentation are not only much lower in phytates, but are also 'predigested', making them much easier for our bodies to absorb the nutritive value from the grains.

Opening up to sprouted grains and enjoying fluffy, healthier cake!

After a couple of years eating a gluten-free diet out of fear that the uncomfortable symptoms I had lived with for years would crop back up, I started learning more about modern wheat and farming practices, heirloom relatives of wheat and about the processing of glutenous grains for digestibility. I started by making my own sprouted kamut and spelt crackers and then branching out to learn how to make sourdough breads and sweets. My food world blew wide open again! After years of avoiding sweets and breads, or occasionally putting up with the GF versions that were never quite as good or were full of other dubious ingredients, I could enjoy whole-grain crackers, cakes and breads.

So in our baking classes, I recommend either or both methods of preparation if you want to keep enjoying bread and baked goods made with heirloom glutenous grains. 


Learn to bake with sprouted ancient grains

Our upcoming class by guest baker, Lexi- is all about sprouted flour, its yummy (also all vegan) products and how to work with it. The Sprouted Bread Frontier class is on Sept 17- so join us!
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/healthy-cooking-classes-cook-ea…

All the flour in our class is from Abbotsford's  One Degree Organic Foods  mill <3 <3 <3

The photo is one of Baker Lexi's beautiful vegan creations. It's a sprouted grain carrot cake. It's as moist and yummy as conventional, but unlike conventional wheat cake, it will love you back too.


By Andrea Potter 31 Aug, 2017
This recipe is based off of one we made at Radha Eatery. We made a super thick and rich version and served it as a sauce over house-made pasta. This lighter version makes a super warming winter soup.
Be bold and choose a squash you've never eaten before! Any yellow or orange-fleshed winter squash will work. The recipe works well with standard butternut squash, but equally well with delicata, pumpkin, turban, red kuri or kabocha. We have so much variety in heirloom squashes coming back, this recipe is a great excuse to try them out

 

Makes about 4 liters (serves 8)

Ingredients

1 medium butternut or other winter squash

2 Tbsp coconut or sunflower oil, or ghee

1 onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

4 chipotle peppers (canned, in abodo sauce. Or use 2 dried whole chipotle chilies, re-hydrated). Use less if you don't like too much spice.

1 tsp sweet(mild) smoked paprika (use regular paprika if you don't find the smoked)

2 tsp ground coriander

2 cans coconut milk

About 2-3 liters good (chicken or veggie) stock or water (depending on how big the squash is you used.)

Sea salt


Directions


  • Preheat oven to 350F
  • Place halved squash on baking sheet cut-side down
  • Roast for about 45 min or until the squash is soft. For hard-shelled squash you need to test the fleshy side to see if it is soft. Once it is done, cool it, scoop out the flesh and set aside
  • In a soup pot, saute onion and garlic in the oil over medium heat, until fragrant
  • Add chipotle, coriander and paprika and stir
  • Add coconut milk and roasted squash and just enough water to cover. Simmer for a couple of minutes for the flavours to combine.
  • Puree and season with sea salt to taste
  • Garnish with lime wedge and cilantro, some pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or some feta cheese



By Andrea Potter 31 Aug, 2017

  This recipe happens to be free from wheat, dairy and eggs, while remaining very moist, just sweet enough and satisfyingly your dark-chocolate craving. The addition of beets keeps it moist and adds a serious nutrition booster.

Topping this with chocolate avocado mousse or whipped coconut cream makes it an extra special healthy treat. This is a great base for a birthday cake.


Ingredients

2 cups spelt flour (or use ½ spelt and ½ kamut). Use sprouted whole grain (spelt) flour if you have access to it.

1/2 cup cold-pressed sunflower or avocado oil. You can sub melted coconut oil if you prefer (makes a denser cake)

½ cup dark cocoa powder

2/3 cup whole sugar such as sucunat or coconut sugar (coconut sugar effects your blood sugar 1/3 as much as regular sugar! It's a great sub 1:1 for sugar in most recipes)

2 tsp baking powder

3/4 cup milk alternative (I like almond milk or cashew milk)

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp sea salt

2 cups raw shredded beets – peeled first and packed to measure

2/3 cup good (dairy-free) dark chocolate chips (optional. Add 2/3 cup chopped pecans or walnuts if you prefer)

 

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Oil a 9 X 11 inch cake pan (or a 10” round pan).
  • In a large bowl combine dry ingredients.
  • In medium bowl whisk together sugar, oil, milk and vanilla.
  • Add wet into dry and stir to combine.
  • Add beets and chocolate chips stir to mix.
  • Spread batter evenly in pan.
  • Bake until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

*These can also be made into muffins/cupcakes! Simply spoon them into the cupcake papers in muffin tins and bake for about 20 minutes, or until the tops crack a bit!

By Andrea Potter 30 Jul, 2017

Roasted Balsamic Beets with Nasturtium Greens

Ingredients

6 medium beets (red, Chioggia or yellow)

1 handful of nasturtium leaves (or substitute arugula), whole or slightly torn

A few leaves of basil, Thai basil or mint, or a combination

¼ cup balsamic vinegar, divided

2 Tbsp olive oil

Salt to taste

To Make

Preheat oven to 350F

Clean beets, cut off greens and reserve for another use (use as any other cooking green.)

In a roasting pan or pyrex dish, pour about ½ inch of water and add beets. Add half of the balsamic vinegar to the dish and cover with a lid or aluminum foil.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until you can poke the beet with a knife without it sticking.

Cool beets enough to handle and using a kitchen towel (that you don’t mind staining!), slip the skins off of the beets.

Chop the beets into big-ish bite-sized chunks and add to a mixing bowl with other ingredients, adding the rest of the vinegar, olive oil and seasoning with salt to taste.

This makes a nice warm or cold side salad. Add goat’s cheese for a decadent touch.

By Andrea Potter 30 Jul, 2017

Sesame Summer Greens

This inspired by one of my Japanese cuisine favourites- Gomae. I change it up a bit and am pretty loose with which greens I use and how they are seasoned. I also enjoy this both warm and chilled. It’s a wonderful way to get a ton of greens on your plate and in your body! Adding lemon juice or vinegar greatly enhances the ability for us to absorb the calcium. Lemon juice enhances absorption of iron from the greens as well, as it is a source of vitamin C.

Ingredients

1 lb (450g) of fresh cooking greens. Include kale, chard, nasturtium greens , arugula, mustard greens, turnip greens, bok choy or spinach, or a combination. A spring variation can be enjoyed with stinging nettles and radish tops. Wash well shake dry.

2 Tbsp sesame oil (toasted)

2 cloves garlic, minced or grated. Substitute for 2 garlic scapes, finely chopped if you have them.

2 Tbsp tahini or any nut or seed butter

Juice of ½ a lemon, or about 2 Tbsp rice vinegar

Tamari, soy sauce or sea salt to taste

Sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds

To make:

In a wide-bottomed pan or pot with a lid, over medium heat, add sesame oil, being careful not to over-heat oil (it should never smoke!). Add garlic and greens, stirring before putting the lid on top to steam the greens.

Steam for about 2 minutes, or until you peek in and see the greens wilting down.

Add tahini, lemon or vinegar and your choice of tamari, soy sauce or sea salt to taste.

Take off of heat and plate the greens- sprinkling with sesame seeds to garnish.

These greens taste good both hot and cold.

 

By Andrea Potter 30 Jul, 2017
Five years ago, I finally got a patch of dirt that I could cultivate in my backyard! Having a rural roots, I had always planted a food garden with my Mom and Grandma. As a transplant into city life,  I yearned to have a little patch that I could tend- even if just for some herbs and a few greens. 
My garden is in a pretty paved-over area in East Vancouver, there are not a ton of green spaces around. When I got started, I had the purely utilitarian sense that I would plant veggies and herbs that would save me money and be more nutritious than those in the store. I planted radishes, zucchini, kale, herbs, peas etc. My first year or two were not very productive. I had missed one major thing... attracting pollinators!
Enter flowers.
Of course I needed to invite the bees and other pollinators to my yard! I started planting nasturtiums and other flowers to attract bees, but have realized that nasturtiums are edible and delicious too! I now recall that as a kid, I would bite off the end of the pointy end of the flower and suck out the tiny amount of sweet nectar from inside. And sometimes I'd collect the flowers and put the petals on spaghetti bolognese (I don't know why I chose to decorate spaghetti, but I guess my aesthetic sense as a cook was developing!) The flowers are a little peppery and perhaps elevated that spaghetti in more than just a visual way. But I had to resist eating all the flowers if I wanted to invite the bees to my garden party.
The leaves of the plant are abundant in relation to the yellow and orange flowers the plant produces and out of curiosity, I tasted one. Peppery! Tasty- just like arugula (which I adore.)
So I have taken to harvesting the leaves instead of the flowers. I even found this variegated variety this year- adding interest to the patch. 
I have learned a lot from my little backyard food garden; well beyond just how to grow food. Having floral plants that live among the veggies and herbs has added beauty, variety and incidentally, also function to my garden. Stopping to smell (and taste) the flowers has reminded me to slow down and notice the function of beauty of diversity in my community. Diversity of plants, of people and the necessity of art and beauty in everyday life.
And with this- I'll suggest a few directions to take with your nasturtium greens in the kitchen. If you don't have them, substitute arugula leaves or mustard greens.

Nasturtium Greens Pesto 
Roasted Balsamic Beets with Nasturtium Greens
Sesame Summer Greens





By Andrea Potter 30 Jul, 2017

Nasturtium Greens Pesto

Enjoying a diversity of greens is what my summer garden is all about! When I learned that nasturtium greens are edible and full of peppery goodness (just like arugula greens!), I got all excited and started adding them to pesto, salads and cooked greens. 

Enjoy this pesto as you would any other fresh summer herb sauce: on omelettes, on fish, as a sauce on pasta or gnocchi, add to mayonnaise for a nice sandwich or wrap spread.

Ingredients

Collect a couple of good handfuls of leaves (or substitute arugula) Wash and pat or spin dry.

Add some basil leaves if you like
1 clove garlic, or 1 garlic scape (the curly sprout of the garlic that comes up about June)
lemon juice, to taste (or if you have it- sorrel is a lemony-sour herb)
olive oil
optional- hemp hearts (a couple tablespoons adds a creamier texture)

Salt to taste


To make pesto:
Add all ingredients except for olive oil to a blender or food processor (or an old-school mortar and pestle) and blend to combine, adding enough olive oil to blend smooth.

Adjust lemon and salt to taste and pour into a clean jar.

Pesto like this one keeps for about a week in the fridge, or freeze well for longer storage.

By Andrea Potter 01 Apr, 2017

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!)

-Andrea

By Andrea Potter 01 Apr, 2017
In my practice as a nutritionist, I recommend this tonic so often!
It's such a common complaint to feel tired after a meal, bloated, to get heartburn...
This tonic helps reduce those uncomfortable symptoms, but more than that, it actually helps re-balance your stomach's own production of acid. When our stomachs are producing acid properly, we can absorb more of the nutrients from food and not have to suffer from the bloat and other digestive ailments. 

It's so simple, all you need are a few quality ingredients:

Stomach Fire Tonic
2 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). Get the raw/unpasteurized stuff (sometimes labelled 'with mother')
1 tsp raw honey
1 cup warm (not hot!) water

Put all in a mug, stir and enjoy. 

Drink on an empty stomach in the morning or as a sipper after meals to avoid heaviness and heartburn.


By Andrea Potter 01 Apr, 2017

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.

Ingredients

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.

Optional:

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

Directions

  • By adding frozen banana pieces, your smoothie is nice and cold without having to dilute the dense nutrition with water!
  • Pop all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Add 1Tbsp flax or hemp oil towards the end of blending. You don’t want to over-oxidize these fragile oils!
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