Sausage Meatballs with Onions and Peppers

Posted November 30th, 2013 in Meat in, Paleo, Recipes by Rebecca Lane

Dinner last night was so tasty that I have to share it with you!

Yesterday, I visited a new butcher (Copari Meats) in Newmarket with whom I had a great discussion about the difference in taste between grass-fed animals and those produced on large scale Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO).  For more information, I encourage you to watch the video American Meat available free online at http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/11/23/american-meat.aspx.

After our discussion, I picked up four of his mild pork sausages (as well as some venison dog food), and this is how I put dinner together.

Simmer gently to combine flavours for about 10 minutes.

Simmer gently to combine flavours for about 10 minutes.

Sausage Meatballs with Onions and Peppers

4 Mild Sausages, cut up into 1 inch slices

1 Onion, diced

1 Bell Pepper, chopped in chunks (I actually used 2 half peppers for colour – orange and red)

1 can (398ml) Eden Organic Diced Tomatoes with Roasted Onion

Pinch salt, basil, oregano, parsley, chevril – I’m not exact, but about ½ tsp of each

Over medium heat, gently brown the sausages. Add in the onions and cook in the oil from the sausages. Once the onions are softened and fragrant, add in the peppers and stir into the onions and sausage. Sauté for 3 to 5 minutes. Add in the tomatoes and spices and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Steam the cauliflower until fork tender

Steam the cauliflower until fork tender

Mashed Cauliflower

½ cauliflower, cut into florets

2 Tbsp butter

Pinch salt, parsley

Steam the cauliflower until fork tender – about 10 minutes. Transfer the cauliflower into a food processor with butter and spices and puree until the consistency of mashed potatoes.

Wash, then cut off stems and chop into 1.5" chunks.

Wash, then cut off stems and chop into 1.5″ chunks.

Cover and steam for 5 minutes - should be bright green colour.

Cover and steam for 5 minutes – should be bright green colour.

Rapini

1 bunch of rapini, stems cut off and chopped into 1.5 inch sections

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp butter or coconut oil

¼ cup water or vegetable stock

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) to drizzle over the top

Over medium heat, warm a cast-iron pan until the butter melts. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant but not brown – 2 – 3 minutes. Toss in the rapini, and the stock or water and allow to come to boil. Cover and remove from heat. Let sit for about 5 minutes. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp of EVOO and serve while still bright green in colour.

Sausage Meatballs with Mashed Cauliflower and Rapini

Sausage Meatballs with Mashed Cauliflower and Rapini

Serving this on a plate, I put the mashed cauliflower down first, topped with the sausage meatballs. Then the other 1/2 of the plate I filled with the rapini. If you are not a fan of rapini, you could replace it with collard greens, kale, spinach, swiss chard – all cooked the same way. Or if you prefer, a salad would be a great accompaniment too!

Comments from my teenage son – best dinner ever Mom! He ate 4 helpings.

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Healthy Fats

Posted November 28th, 2013 in Brain Health, Concussion Nutrition, Fats, Nutrition Articles by Rebecca Lane

Fat is essential for the proper function of the body, it is an integral part of every cell membrane, regulates the immune system, reduces inflammation, and vitamins A, C, E, and K require fat to be properly absorbed in the body. Deficiencies in these vitamins are linked to malabsorption, bone density issues, insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome. Here’s a brief overview of the different fats, and healthy food sources.

Essential fats – omega-3 and omega-6 – These fats are not produced by the human body and must be acquired from the diet. They promote cardiovascular health, keep cell membranes fluid, lubricate joints and skin, boost metabolism, nourish the nervous and immune systems and help keep hormones in balance.

Food sources: mechanically cold-pressed chia seed, flax seed, hemp seed oils, algae, fish, krill and walnut oils; almond, black currant seed, borage seed, evening primrose seed, pumpkin seed, safflower seed, sesame seed and sunflower seed oils. Once you open the bottle, they need to be consumed rapidly – store in refrigerator.

Monounsaturated fats – important for the healthy function of the brain and all cell-membranes, and reducing reduce inflammation. Research also shows that MUFAs may benefit insulin levels and blood sugar control, which can be especially helpful if you have type 2 diabetes.

Food sources: avocados, cold-pressed avocado oil, extra-virgin olive oil, grape seed oils, nut oils.

Saturated fats – make up 50% of your body’s cell membranes, bones require saturated fat to properly assimilate calcium, your lungs and heart use saturated fat for nourishment and proper function.  Additionally, saturated fats found in butter and coconut oil (myristeric acid and lauric acid), play a large role in immune health.

The brain is made up of fats and cholesterol, mainly saturated fat. A diet low in saturated fats deprives the brain of the building blocks it needs for proper repair and function. Saturated fats are also needed for nerve communication; they function directly as signaling messengers and influence the metabolism.

Food sources: Organic butter and ghee (clarified butter), cheese, grass-fed meat, free-range eggs and poultry, coconut oil and palm oil.

Cholesterol – 1/5th of the brain’s weight is cholesterol, it makes up much of the myelin sheath, facilitates brain communication and function, is a powerful brain antioxidant and is a precursor to steroid hormones and Vitamin D.

Food sources: Grass-fed meats, free-range poultry and eggs.

Fats to avoid – Refined, processed, chemically extracted, bleached, damaged, and hydrogenated oils are toxic to every cell of the body. Margarine and processed or genetically modified products such as vegetable oil, cottonseed oil soybean oil, canola oil, safflower oil, and any hydrogenated oils should always be avoided. These fats are anti-nutritive, denatured, highly processed, pesticide and solvent laden, rancid, and refined. Of course, we all now know about the dangers of trans fats so avoid all fats that have hydrogenation listed on the label. NO AMOUNT OF TRANS FATS is safe to consume.

Guide to Cooking with Fat

As a rule of thumb, if the predominant classification of an oil or fat is polyunsaturated, then we should never cook with it – regardless of its smoke point. Lipid oxidation and free-radical production quickly takes place when these types of fatty acids are exposed to any degree of heat – even very low heat. This is a big red flag for producing inflammation and irritation within our bodies.

Heat (above 350°F): saturated fats and cholesterol – lard from animal fat, butter, ghee, coconut oil

Low to medium heat (moderately stable oils): extra-virgin olive oil, avocado oil, rice bran oil. When cooking with these oils, use broth or water to keep the temperature down and stop them from overheating.

Not to be heated (very unstable oils): nut and seed oils (including grape seed oil) , camelina oil – delicious drizzled over salads, fruit, and steamed vegetables topped with some lightly toasted nuts and seeds. They are delicate and easily damaged by heat, light, oxygen, and moisture, so refrigerate in a tightly sealed, opaque bottle. Look for cold-pressed, unrefined versions only.

Additionally, therapeutic oils such as cod liver, fish liver, borage, black currant oil, and evening primrose should NEVER be used for cooking.

Food Conscious

Posted November 21st, 2013 in Nutrition Articles, Psychology of Disease by Rebecca Lane

It has been a long time since I have written a blog post – almost a year! This has been an incredible year; the most important part is that I have been working with many different clients with many different issues. Working with all of you has been a great source of joy and inspiration for me.

I sometimes get asked, if I could give people one piece of advice to improve their health and wellness, what would it be.

All other things being equal, the answer is: Be conscious of the food you eat – understand the ingredients; know how it is prepared; and “consciously” ask yourself, do I really want to eat this food?

This advice is hardly revolutionary. But, in today’s world, one could say it is largely counter-evolutionary.

In the last several decades, our society has evolved into a world where we are less concerned with what we eat, and more concerned with how long it takes to eat it. Grabbing a “quick bite” has become more important than eating good food. Starting in about the 1950’s, mass produced burgers, wrapped in Styrofoam or wax paper became acceptable, even desirable, sustenance if it meant getting somewhere on time, getting more work done or pleasing your kids, who wanted the toy of their favourite cartoon character that came with their burger.

Even home cooked meals joined the rat race and were put into overdrive. Ingredients like sugar, bleached white flour, white rice and the beloved sodium became the fuel that drove the engine and, for many meals, the microwave became the race track.

So, how did this become the road most traveled? There are probably a number of factors that deserve honorable mention. But, none is more significant than communications technology. To illustrate the impact this technology has played in both how and what we eat, I’ll tell you story about my husband’s first encounter with a Blackberry.

In 2001, his brother was in Toronto on business and invited him to drive into the city and meet him for dinner. They were eating at a trendy restaurant in the Queen West area. It was about 9:30 pm and they had just been served their main course.  His brother’s Blackberry rang, either with an incoming call or email. He quickly looked at it and put it away. He then proceeded to wolf down his food before standing up and saying, “I’m going outside and deal with this.”

My husband said, “Hey, it’s quarter to 10 at night, they can’t expect you to just jump and get back to them. It is after hours, man, it is your time. You’re having dinner with your brother!”

His brother looked at him and with total seriousness, said, “When we were given these things we were told, if the office contacts you we expect you to reply 24/7.”

If the infiltration of communications technology into every waking moment of our day was not bad enough, it has been matched, gig for gig, by the equal proliferation of information technology, including news, entertainment and, most significantly, advertising.

We are all just so “busy.” Fast, mass produced and highly processed food helps us to get on with our “busyness.” And, all that advertising helps us know where to find it.

After many years of neglecting “what” we eat in favour of “how” we eat, something happened on the way through the drive thru. Somewhere along the line, we got fat. Between 1979 and 2004, obesity rates in Canada skyrocketed. In children between 12 and 17, the obesity rate tripled to just under 10%. For adults between 24 and 35, the rate more than doubled to over 20% and in seniors over 75, the rate also doubled to just about a quarter of all people. (Source: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/050706/dq050706a-eng.htm)

In the United States, where obesity is worse than in Canada, U.S. Surgeon General, Richard H. Carmonal, testified before Congress in 2003, saying:

“I welcome this chance to talk with you about a health crisis affecting every state, every city, every community, and every school across our great nation. The crisis is obesity. It’s the fastest-growing cause of disease and death in America. And it’s completely preventable. Nearly two out of every three Americans are overweight or obese. One out of every eight deaths in America is caused by an illness directly related to overweight and obesity.”

Dr. Carmonal went on to say that in the year 2000, obesity cost the U.S. economy $117 billion. By 2012, that number had grown to almost $200 billion, exceeding even smoking as the number one driver of rising health care costs. (Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/30/us-obesity-idUSBRE83T0C820120430?feedType=RSS&feedName=domesticNews)  

Dr. Carmonal fingered lack of physical activity and poor eating habits as the two key culprits “feeding” this growing crisis. He identified the key factors to overcoming the crisis as, more exercise, better nutrition and improved health literacy.

It is the third of these key factors, improved health literacy, which brings us back to the advice I gave earlier. Food literacy is a component of health literacy. Be conscious of what you eat. Read labels – understand the ingredients you are ingesting – know how your food is prepared and what that means for nutritional value. And, consciously ask yourself, do I really want to eat this food.

Now for the good news. The times they are a changing. With health costs soaring and the baby boom generation getting older and having to focus more on staying healthy, there is renewed interest in “what” we eat. The signs are all around us. For example, a growing percentage of customers going into drive thrus are ordering salads. Cafeterias in schools, hospitals and other institutions are improving the nutritional value of their menus, sometimes removing soda pop and high sugar foods. Terms like “whole foods,” “free range,” “Grain fed,” and “organic” are becoming more and more common in our food vocabulary (though they should not be accepted at face value).

There is some more good news. The human body is an incredible organism. Our bodies want us to succeed and to be healthy. They can, if properly treated, reverse a great deal of neglect and self-abuse. In other words, except in extreme cases, it is never too late to eat right and get healthy.

The purpose of this article is not to lay out a specific diet plan. There are many resources available that can do that. The purpose of this article is to drive home the point that you need to be conscious of what you eat. The food we choose to fuel our bodies is one of the most important and personal decisions that we make and affects our health and wellbeing more than just about anything else we do.

Knowledge is power and knowledge of the food we eat can power us to better health and to just plain feeling good.

Some of the most valuable knowledge available to us, not to mention by far the most accessible, is what we can learn by LISTENING TO OUR BODIES.

When people say things like, “I like hot and spicy wings but they don’t like me.” Guess what, your body is telling you something. It doesn’t like hot and spicy chicken wings.

By asking themselves a few very simple questions, most people can create a meal plan that will be as good as any you read in a book or magazine. What food nourishes me and makes me feel good? What food gives me energy and supports my feelings of health and wellness. Conversely, what foods make me feel sick or bloated after eating? What food gives me heartburn?

Looking at a very specific example, many people go through their lives constantly feeling tired, bloated, heavy and sick because of an intolerance to wheat and gluten. Let’s face it, we are a bread society. It goes with every meal. Toast and bagels for breakfast; sandwiches for lunch; and what dining out experience would be complete without the “welcome to our restaurant” basket of bread for dinner. For those suffering from an intolerance to wheat and gluten eating must feel like a virtual mine field at times. They could feel so much better if they understand their condition and adapted to it.

The questions we need to ask ourselves about good eating are simple, yet so many people choose to ignore the signs.

Another key question to ask about the food we eat is, what do I hunger for? Are you eating because you are feeling frustrated, lonely, bored, or just plain ticked off at the world and want to take it out on someone, even if it is you. Self-sabotaging eating habits are all too common. They are also almost always self-defeating. The sad truth is, whatever your problems, food will not provide your answer and, in fact, can make things a whole lot worse.

There is no doubt that one of the most critical factors contributing to our food choices is our mental state and mental health. If you have problems, talk to a friend, family member, colleague, counselor or therapist. Let food do one thing – nourish your body.

Earlier, I said that the key questions we need to ask about the food we eat are counter-evolutionary. Actually, we may be witnessing a revolution after all – a revolution where a growing number of people are saying, enough! It is time to slow down and closely look at the food we eat. It is time to place our focus on eating well, nourishing our bodies and feeling good. In the end, that is when we are at our best and are the most productive.