Why you should just say NO to SNACKS.

I see the logic in some arguments to snack.  Eat every few hours, and your energy will never get low.  But breaking down food for digestion requires a great deal of energy. Constant snacking can make the cycle worse.  Unless you have blood sugar issues or are working out like crazy (expending lots of energy) you should be able to go between meals without feeling hungry.

If you do feel you are hungry between meals, you should ask yourself if you’re hungry or bored.  The marketing departments of our food companies have spent loads of money to tell you that you need to snack, to consume more, and to buy their products.  But I’m here to say “Don’t eat unless you’re hungry”!

No Snacks

No Snacks – really!

I have clients who have NO IDEA what hunger feels like because they are constantly snacking.  Your body is designed to tell you when you are hungry.  Let your kids learn to listen to their bodies.  It is really an important skill to learn.  Ignoring your body’s signals for hunger and just stuffing your face whenever you feel you need a treat or a reward can lead to some weight issues down the road. It can also mess with your ability to digest food properly.

Are you bloated and gassy? Snacking could be to blame!  When I was in school I had a teacher use a washing machine analogy and it changed the way I eat.  Your stomach is like a washing machine, designed to break down your food before it goes into your intestines. Your stomach along with stomach acid and other digestive enzymes is supposed to break down food so that your intestines can absorb all the health-promoting nutrients we just ate. Once the food is broken down it sends a signal to a valve at the bottom of your stomach to open. Once this value opens the digested food empties into your small intestine to begin the next step of digestion. The step from chewing your food, to the valve opening and emptying can be quick or it can take hours depending on what you’ve eaten.

Think of the washing machine.  Half way through the cycle you throw in another bunch of dirty clothes.  It should start over again to get those new clothes clean.  If it doesn’t start over those new clothes will not be clean when the washer goes to the next step.

If your stomach is half way through breaking down your food and you add new undigested food into it, the new food can’t be properly broken down.  You are creating an environment where your stomach might not be able to work properly and undigested food might get into your small intestine which can cause gas and bloating.  Even more concerning is it might create problems with candida and yeast overgrowth. If food isn’t broken down in your stomach with all the acids and digestive enzymes you will not be able to absorb the nutrients properly. I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of money on food, and I want to get everything I can from it!

If you’re truly hungry between meals, then absolutely eat a snack.  But this scheduled snack stuff is not healthy.

If my daughter comes to me and says she’s hungry between meals, I offer her an apple with some nut butter.   If she’s truly hungry, she will take it.   If she’s bored and not actually hungry, she won’t.  If you snack, try to include some kind of protein with it.  Protein will help ward off hunger longer than a simple piece of fruit.

Tips to save money on groceries – Vegetables

How to eat well on a budgetWe eat a LOT of vegetables. Some we get from our farm share, some we get from local grocery stores, some I pull from the freezer that I have purchased in bulk in peak season and some are pickled or canned.

Where I get my vegetables

Buy Local
Did you know just how important it is for your food to be grown locally? I’m not just talking about the environmental impact of shipping truckloads of produce from far, far away. (I saw produce from Israel the other day?!?!)  I am talking about the actual nutritional value of your food.  In order to arrive at our markets without spoiling the fruit and vegetables had to be picked way before they were ready.   They didn’t get the full benefit of ripening on the vine, or tree or in the ground etc. So it is picked before it’s had the chance to get all the vitamins and minerals that nature intended for it from the soil.  The unripe produce is refrigerated and sits on a truck until it arrives at the store.  There the unripe fruit and veggies are then “gassed” with ethylene gas to kick start the ripening phase again so it looks ripe and pretty for you to purchase.  The ethylene gas is concentrated and is used on both regular and organic produce. 

I don’t know about you, but I want my produce to ripen in its own time, still attached to its food source until it has absorbed as much nutrition as it can.  That is how you get nutritionally dense food!

I won’t even get into the guidelines for farming in other countries, but know that there are a lot of blurred lines and a whole lot of spray!

Find a Farm Share
I LOVE my farm share! I am a “depot” for Plan B Organics. This means that once a week a truck comes to my house and drops baskets of produce (and eggs and other local goodies you can add on) on my porch.  I found several other families in my neighbourhood who were also interested so I was able to become a “depot” and the truck drops my basket and several other families’ baskets to my front porch.  The neighbours then pick their baskets from my porch.  Plan B gives you the option for “local” or “local and import” baskets in different sizes depending on your family’s needs.  I get the local bin (obviously) because I want the best nutrition for the price. Shortest distance travelled should mean longest time ripening and absorbing of nutrients.  I also support the hard working farmers in my Southern Ontario community.

There are other companies that do similar produce bins, but Plan B is an actual farm.  They grow a lot of their own stuff.  They have relationships with farmers in their immediate area (Flamborough, Ontario).   I have toured Plan B’s farm more than once. I have gone with my family on their family days and I can whole-heartedly say that when I grow up, I want to be a farmer just like Alvaro, Melanie and Rodrigo at Plan B.  Their passion is infectious and the absolutely love what they do, and I support that kind of farming with my grocery dollars. I also forgot to mention – every Wednesday when I get my bin, I mentally tally up what I would have paid in a grocery store for sometimes lesser quality organic produce.  And every week I have an Ikea “start the car” moment thinking I’ve just gotten such a steal!

Farmers Markets
Summer and Fall are ripe for glorious farmers’ markets!  Time to stock up on the freshest local produce and at the best prices.  In my community I have my favourites.  I love the Watertown Farmers Market, as well as the one in the town of Dundas.  I recommend these ones because they have a large selection of organic farmers.  Check out your local resources for organic and near-organic veggies and fruits.  This website shows all the Farmers Markets in Ontario.    I’m sure your area has on-line resources to this as well.

Farm to Market stores
I also have used “Farmer Jack” to be a liaison to the Mennonites who grow tomatoes and pickling cucumbers (non-organic- but Mennonites use very minimal sprays if any). Farmer Jack is a produce store here in South Burlington that is seriously passionate about local food, and again the prices are bang on.  Throughout the winter they have great prices on fresh herbs.  They also do juicing and make soups and smoothies.  Farmer Jack is a hidden Gem!

Grow your own
You can grow your own veggies! I have mastered herbs (literally you just have to water them).  My green thumb stops there, yet I have not given up. I have a very ambitious garden planned for this year.  Growing your own is so cost effective! Not to mention the freshest ever produce.  It just takes time and skill. Things that I hope to have this summer!

My garden will be I my yard – but in many areas the city has community garden plots available.  Contact your city hall to ask about them.


Sprouts ready to go in the garden

Wholesale Stores like Costco
There are things that we can’t get locally. I buy a few things at Costco like lemons and limes from the US. I juice and freeze the juice in cubes when they go on sale.  Costco also has bags of Canadian frozen fruit and some vegetables when your own frozen veggies are all used up. Just read the label and be sure there are no preservatives in there.  They also have great prices on organic pine nuts, organic olive oil, cold pressed avocado oil, organic coconut oil, organic chia seeds, organic dates, and organic salad mix or spinach.  That’s especially useful when you’re doing a juice cleanse and need lots. I also buy Canadian non organic shallots, and USA Brussels Sprouts.  (I buy Ecos laundry soap there too.)

How to store your veggies and fruit

vacum-pak-395Vacuum Pack and Freeze
Buying in bulk gets the best prices, but to quickly preserve that freshness through the winter I highly recommend buying a food saver, those machines that vacuum-pack and seal stuff.  I got mine at Costco.   It’s a good price and Costco is fantastic for warranty stuff.  I use this machine all the time to freeze my ripe, local produce for the winter. Bags of blueberries or asparagus will last months in your freezer when vacuum sealed this way.


Fresh Peas from the freezer, stored in vacuum packed bag.

Ziplock Bags and Freeze
Then there is the veggie scrap bags, so much talk of the veggie scrap bag.  When I talk about making soup stocks – I use all those veggie scraps that I keep in a ziplock bag in my freezer.  In it you will find all your clean green bin scraps. Peel a carrot – peels into the veggie bag. Core a pepper – core and seeds into the veggie bag.  Peel an onion – veggie bag. You get the picture. When the veggie bag is full, you take it from the freezer and make a stock.  You can add a bag of bones that you have been saving and call it delicious soup stock.  All things that would have gone into the garbage live on in your stock.   Using all these scraps adds wonderful fresh flavor and saves you money!

Canning is a whole other can of worms (Ha ha, see what I did there) and I will be running classes late summer on how to master this lost art.  But this is a very cost effective way to save produce. Making a dozen jars of pickles is much cheaper than buying chemical filled ones. Canning is also a great way to make people feel special around the holidays as I give these as presents.  I have dozens of jars of canned bone broth (or stock) in my basement, and this is super cost effective as they cost literally next to nothing to make.

I can bushels of tomatoes to make my own tomato sauce, ketchup, and tomato paste.  I use my pressure canner and giant cooking pots for this.

I’ll be sure to add my recipes for these in the fall!

Beets, green beans, turnips, pickles, and horse radish, jalapenos are just some of the jars that line my shelves in the basement.  Then there are just as many options for fruit.  One of our favourites are Cherries in Brandy.  A jar of that makes a great Christmas present!

I’ll be sure to add my recipes and directions for this as well in the Fall.

I love my dehydrator!  You can dry your herbs, garlic, onion, cayenne, paprika, chill flakes, turmeric, ginger and make your own organic spices without the crap they put in commercially produced spices. Did you know that lots of spices have silicon in them so they don’t clump? Silicon is not food! Not to mention the radiation used on some imported spices.  You can even make your own greens powders for power smoothies.  I’ll be adding “recipes” for this in the near future.

These are some of my favourite ways of ensuring my family has the best nutrition while staying within my food budget.  Do you have any other methods?  I’d love to hear about them!  I’ll be adding lots of recipes related to this in the near future.  Stay tuned.

Fermented Foods

Fermenting Blogs:

Fermenting Recipes:

Why eat Fermented foods?  Well for one they are delicious. For some they are an acquired taste.  If you have never eaten fermented foods before, they taste “different” then you are used to.  Of the five tastes of your pallet, fermented foods fall into the “sour” category usually. When I first started down the fermented path, I really didn’t care for them.  I knew how good they were for me, so I kept on.  Over time your tastes change, and now I can honestly say I love them.

In our modern day world we don’t eat a lot of fermented foods, mainly because we don’t have to.  We can go to the grocery store in January and get a cucumber, or we can make fresh coleslaw any time we want.   Back in the day, before bazillions of dollars were spent on chemical food preservation people had to preserve their fresh foods for the long harsh winter coming. The food industry has decided to pasteurize everything, which kills good and bad bacteria. People also like the predictable flavours of buying their second jar of something.  Fermenting can be different every time, causing variation from batch to batch, which can throw some people off.  For some like me it is exciting, you never know if it will be better than your last batch!

Some how over the years society as a whole has decided that bacteria is bad and fresh is best. Fresh foods are amazing and extremely important in a healthy diet, but I argue so are fermented foods. Fermented foods are loads with “healthy bacteria” promote healthy guts.  Research now is showing the the health of your gut or digestive system is crucial to your over all health.  Poor gut health can contribute to depression, weight gain, lack of energy, allergies, lowered immune system even learning disabilities.

There are so many things that negatively impact you good gut bacteria.  Pharmaceuticals including antibiotics completely upset the balance, food preservatives and additives, even tap water kills good bacteria. Oh, and stress… Stress messes with your digestion, therefore messes with your good bacteria. Luckily none of us have any stress, right? Incorporating fermented foods into your diet can repopulate your gut with healthy bacteria and starve off the bad bacteria.  Bad bacteria can take over when there are no good guys there to defend your gut.

Fermenting is a natural preservative. Meaning it preserves the foods nutrients naturally, keeping the goodness alive. The good bacteria break down the natural sugars of the food and create probiotics and vitamins and even some healthy fats – naturally!

If you are just starting out on your fermenting adventure, eating a plate full of Kimchi, or a gallon of Kombucha might cause you some tummy troubles.  These can be attributed to the bad guy bacteria dying off when the good guys show up. None the less, take it slow and avoid the cramping.

Some commercially produced fermented products are actually pasteurized after being fermented, which kills all the healthy bacteria making the product less beneficial to your gut health.  Some fermented products are packaged in BPA plastics and sealed with aluminum.  Some industrially produced fermented products have small allowances for non food contaminants.  It is always better to make your food yourself and know exactly what is in it.  And this way you can make things to your own tastes.  You can make Kimchi as spicy as you want, you can make Kombucha in a different flavour every time. You’re in charge here.

Tips to save money on groceries – Buying Meat

How to eat well on a budgetWe buy our meat in bulk.  It seems expensive to shell out hundreds of dollars all in one shot, but I assure you in the long run, it is cheaper.   And I’m happier because I know where the meat comes from, how it is raised, what it’s fed, and how it is prepared.  Here’s how I started my research for the best meat for my family.

We regularly have half a cow, and a dozen chickens, geese, and duck plus lamb in our freezer. We also have a few sides of wild caught salmon and our homemade bacon.

First, look local.  I’m fortunate that I live within a short drive to hundreds of local farms that produce a wonderful variety of products here in southern Ontario (Canada).  I love farmer’s markets and ask a lot of questions.

Secondly there are lots of terrific resources on the web that can help you find local suppliers of wholesome and nutritious foods, including meats.

cow-300I was thrilled to find the Eat Wild website, that lists farms in Canada and the US that believe cows and lambs should be grass-fed.  Why?  Because feedlot cattle are fed grains to fatten them up for market. And since grains are not in their natural diet they don’t digest them well.  Feedlot animals live a very stressful life and are often sick because of it. Many animals are given antibiotics all the time to prevent sickness, others are dosed with high “kill all” doses. Either way I don’t need their antibiotics in my dinner!  Fatter cows are not happier or healthier.  They provide more profit to the farm.  Pasture raised animals are less stressed and don’t usually need antibiotics.  And because they are not stressed their meat has less of the chemicals caused by stress passed on to my family.  Everyone has heard that stress raises Cortisol in your body, same goes for the animals we eat. You are what you eat after all. Don’t be eating additional stress (and more Cortisol)!
Website: www.eatwild.com

Chickens, ducks and geese should be “pastured”. The term “free range” needs to be clarified.  It can mean that there are a million birds climbing on each other in a suffocated barn. Free range just means they are not caged all day. Pastured or pasture-raised are words you want.

The EatWell website has lots more excellent information on the benefits of animals that are grassfed and pasture-raised.  Check this page for tons info on why this meat is so much more nutritious for you and your family.

Once I found this website I started researching the farms.  I would email back and forth with questions.  I personally don’t care if they farm is “certified organic” because those certifications take lots of time and money to achieve.  In my opinion, as long as the cows are grass fed AND grass finished and local and antibiotic free – I’m happy. (We don’t add hormones to cows in Ontario. Thank Goodness!)

My daughter and I visited several farms listed on the Eat Wild website to see how the animals were raised and to speak to the farmers.

That’s all good – but how does it save money you ask?

Buying directly from the farmer I eliminate the markup added by the grocery store.

Plus buying on bulk the price averages out less per pound.  Yes I do get some cuts I usually wouldn’t buy in the store – but that just adds some adventure to our dinners! I love that I have to Google what the heck certain cuts are, but it’s exciting to try new things and find new recipes.

Meat is expensive.  There is no denying that.  But at our house we use every bit, I don’t waste a penny. 

Bones included for nutritionally rich bone broths


Starting a lamb broth with the bones and veggie scraps.

Some farms throw in the bones for free! Some farms will even give you everyone else’s bones because bones have little value to mainstream people.  To me bones are the ticket to flavour town! Amazing bone broths for all your soups all year long, added to sautés, or gravy full of healing collagen goodness.  You can pressure can or freeze these bone broths until you need them. When you cook a whole bird you get more than one meal out of it, because you can always make a soup from the bones.

I save all the bones from cooked meats in zip-locked bags in my freezer.  Bag for chicken bones, another for beef, and so on.  I also save my veggie scraps to add to the soup broths for extra flavour.

Leftovers is not a dirty word in our house.
I use leftovers to make new exciting meals.   Again I love to Google new recipes

Save the animal fats
I save all the animal fats that come off things like goose or duck or bacon and use to roast veggies for added flavour.

Organ meats


Organ meat into the Dehydrator to make best ever dog treats!

No I haven’t explored too many recipes to use these for my dinner – but my dog Earl sure enjoys them!  Buying from the farm, you often get an assortment of organs, to which most people turn their nose.  We dehydrate them to make jerky for treats to last Earl for a full year.
I do admit I save some of the liver and “hide” it in meatballs just for the nutritional value.   (Don’t tell my husband!)

Visiting the farms we also have a greater variety of meats to choose from.  We rarely see goose or duck in our local grocery store.  Unless it’s an expensive treat for certain holidays.  Touring the farms we have bought these as well as lamb at reasonable prices.

Here’s some of the wonderful farms that supply our household with healthy top quality meats:

To name names, I used Grass Roots Beef from Durham Ontario.  I toured the farm.  My daughter and I got to pet the animals. We will be buying from them from now on.

Visit their website to learn the many benefits of grass-fed beef.
Website:  www.grassrootsbeef.com

I’ve also purchased lamb, beef and chicken from Dreamach Acres (It’s a haul to get there, but they said they can deliver for large orders so team up with a friend)   My farm sidekick and I toured that farm as well and spent hours playing with the animals.  (No website)

We cure and smoke our own bacon.  I have yet to find a farmer that will sell just one or two bellies. I purchase those from The Healthy Butcher shop in Kitchener, and they also have a Toronto Location.
Website: www.thehealthybutcher.com


Fenwood Farms specializes in chickens, I have also used Morden’s Farm store in Dundas for odds and ends.  I also love Harrington Lane Farms.  I discovered them at the Waterdown Farmers Market.  They will also deliver in Burlington.  In farmers’ market season, I go to Waterdown Farmers Market every chance I get – it’s one of the best!


In a pinch, our local grocery store Fortino’s sells organic chicken, and they sometimes have “Manager’s Specials” where the meats are close to their “best before” dates and are half price (but check dates).  As long as you prepare it quickly or freeze it there’s no problem.

When Nutrafarm came to my door one night – I will admit, I was excited.  They sell bulk orders of frozen food, delivered to your home.  Reading the brochure and the info on their website, people were saying that their meat was organic.  But nowhere on Nutrafarms website do they claim to be organic.  They throw the word natural around – but that word is meaningless in my opinion.

I asked a lot of questions and no one could tell me where the farms were actually located, so I couldn’t visit and see how the animals were raised. I asked if I could talk to the farmers and they said that wasn’t possible. They could not tell me if all my beef in an order came from the same cow. They say cows don’t have “sub therapeutic antibiotics”, but no one could tell me if they were ever given antibiotics therapeutically (meaning if they were sick).  They couldn’t tell me how long the meat I would purchase had been frozen. They also didn’t answer my question when I asked if they used water to plump their meat. (The meat industry does this to make a higher weight for their product, because meat sells by the pound).  I could go on!  But it felt like a whole lot of smoke and mirrors to me.  They did tell me they feed cows grains.

Oh, and wait – if you order you get a freezer! Nothing in life is free my friend. You are paying for that freezer one way or another. I would suggest you’re paying for that freezer with a lesser quality meat.
Website: nutrafarms.ca

Could you buy lesser quality meats for less money? Yes.  But if I don’t agree with how the animals are treated, I don’t buy it.  I don’t support industrial farming which sells meat cheaper at the expense of the animals’ health and nutritional value of meats.  And I silently protest with my grocery dollars.  Let’s support our local farmers!

I love the bulk orders because I get different cuts, cuts that make me Google and experiment.  We eat meat every day.  But not every meal, and we value it.  Meat is not the primary food on our plates, because we eat a truck load of veggies.  The next blog post will talk about where to get all the best vegetables!


On a personal note..

Another dream dashedI am out of words for trying to describe the emotions I feel when I throw my negative pregnancy test in the trash for what seems like the 100th time.  Heartbroken yet again. And it never gets easier.  But it can get worse. When you are pregnant and then you are not. The even more crushing is the excitement of “Finally!!” to “OMG – I just got my period, that could have been my baby!”

I don’t know why I’m writing this article aside from I know I am not the only person who feels this way. I don’t know what else to do to make myself feel better. There are days where I feel all alone in my struggle. But I know I am not alone because there are countless women on waiting lists for fertility treatment.  So many women who feel broken and empty asking for help. Every single one of us knows someone who struggles with infertility. And yet, no one talks about it.  We are embarrassed, as if there is something wrong with us.   Every time I go on FB and see a sonogram pic with a “we’re welcoming baby ….. soon” my first reaction is ” Well f** you!” out of sheer jealousy. That feeling then subsides to excitement for her.  I feel relief for her and her partner that they have escaped the desperate infertility cycle that I’ve been stuck in for almost two years.

I am relatively young. I am 31 years old.  I’ve had two endometriosis surgeries.  I’ve been with my husband for 11 years and we’ve never really used birth control.  And I have a daughter who was an absolute surprise.  No “trying” for her.   When people say “Once you have one, your system gets kick started and it is easier to have babies.” I want to choke them.  Don’t give people false hope like that!  I can say with 100% certainty that is not the case for everyone!  I’ve been asked “Can’t you just be happy with what you’ve got, at least you have one?”  And it makes me feel like shit.  I am so over the moon in love with my daughter, it is that love which fuels my want for more.  I want her to have a sibling. I have so much love to give! I feel guilty every day that I am sad. I feel like it isn’t fair to her.  And yet I trudge on.

I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Meaning I know a lot about food and health and hormones etc.  I am the healthiest I’ve ever been.  My husband is a little older than I am but he’s been tested, and he’s a breeder!  So WTF??  It took a lot for me to see a fertility specialist. Food is my career and I felt like a fraud because I couldn’t fix myself. I was desperate. My natural instincts to reproduce were consuming my thoughts.   For months I’ve been seeing a fertility doctor for help despite my moral conflicts of letting things happen naturally.   Months and months of appointments and ultrasounds and blood tests and drugs. Drugs which can make you bat-shit crazy. Jacking estrogen levels sky high makes you insane. Injecting yourself with more hormones to make you ovulate. And then the second half of the month “inserting” different hormone pills up there twice a day that ooze out.  It totally messes with your sex life and your marriage. Sex becomes scheduled and work. Why do people live like this? Our natural instinct to reproduce cannot be shut off.

I’ve sacrificed my social life. I never book bar nights or weekend trips with friends because “What if I’m pregnant?”  I watch my friends drink wine while I sit there and hope I have a baby in there that will make my always being the designated driver worth it. And there never is. My husband and I skipped an all-inclusive week away in the fall because “What if”.  I don’t know how to turn that off. People say “You need to just stop trying and let it happen naturally”.  Well fuck – aren’t you fucking brilliant!  Why didn’t I think of that?

There are days where I can’t help but feel sorry for myself and cry.  Why me? Why can’t this just work?  It’s even harder when you’re being monitored and you are told things by a professional like “you have multiple perfect eggs this month”. If they are so perfect. Why did I just get my period?   Every month I get excited. And every month for far too long I am crushed again.  What I really want to know is why the fuck is no one talking about this? Why do I feel like I am the only one like this? I know I am not. Every week I sit in a waiting room full of women who feel the same way I do. Desperate and ashamed, looking at the floor waiting for their names to be called.  We need to talk about this.  I’m telling my story so someone who feels like me, hopefully won’t feel alone.

This is a new generation’s problem. Our parents rarely had these problems.  Because they didn’t suffer this fate, they don’t understand how hard it can be.  Don’t ask anyone when the baby is coming.  It’s none of your damn business! If one more insensitive person tells me to try harder I might come across the table and choke them out! (Like I have done in my head so many times!)  To the nosey people who think you should know everyone’s baby business, every time you ask someone who is struggling with infertility about their baby – you just reminded them at this moment when it wasn’t the first thing on their minds, that they can’t have a baby. Like I don’t think about that enough as it is?   So please.  Don’t ask people “When the baby is coming?”

My mom asked me why I thought this is such an epidemic.  The only thing I could think of is food supply. Genetically modified foods are designed so they cannot reproduce. So you have to buy more seeds from the company for every crop.  Those foods have their reproductive genes “turned off”.  You are what you eat.  And you are what you eat, eats. All non-organic meats we purchase were fed genetically modified food.   This is my only logical explanation (and opinion) as to why the number of people struggling with fertility is so common!  Or maybe it has always been this way and no one talked about it? I don’t know?

I know every one of you knows someone who has struggled and it’s heartbreaking. I want you to know that it’s hard, and you’re so, so strong for keeping a brave face! You are not alone.   Don’t be afraid to talk about it. My hope is that talking about it, and comforting someone going through the same battle in return eases my pain.  This stuff is more common than you think.  We are all in this together and need each other’s support.


Tips to save money on groceries – Series

How to eat well on a budgetI realize that we spent a lot of money on groceries.  I can justify it by wasting almost nothing we buy.  We also buy our meat in bulk, buy produce on sale in season and freeze, dry and dehydrate our own spices and green powders for extra servings of nutrition on smoothies.  As well we preserve and can food naturally, and I don’t throw away our produce scraps which go into soup stocks.  I also love and support our local organic farmers and farmers’ markets.

My laundry room has a massive freezer which currently holds half a cow, a dozen chickens, two ducks, two turkeys, and a goose (and a partridge in a pear tree).  In there as well are all the frozen veggies I hoarded throughout the summer and fall months.  Next to that freezer are some rickety old shelves full of mason jars with pickles, beets, tomatoes, jam, BBQ sauce, tomato paste, and other goodies we canned last fall.  This cold, dark, concrete floored room (which is also a haven for spiders) is my warm and fuzzy place.

It makes me happy because:

  • I know where it all came from
  • I understand and agree with how the animals were raised
  • I know there are no nasty ingredients hiding in my child’s food
  • And best of all, it’s cheaper!

Okay, it’s not cheaper than buying conventionally farmed, antibiotic ridden meats from animals fed GMO feed, living heart-breaking lives; or frozen veggies from China full of preservatives; or processed foods filled with non-food fillers.

It is cheaper and smarter to invest in your family’s health through good quality foods.  Otherwise you and your family are not living life to the fullest because you lack energy, can’t focus, suffer from headaches, “tummy troubles” and may other ailments that cost you your time and enjoyment.  Every parent wants the very best for their kids.  Learning how to navigate the seas of nutrition is a valuable lesson your kids will take with them forever. That to me is value enough for the money spent on good food.

You are what you eat, so don’t be cheap, fast or fake!  
– I wish I made that up – it’s so smart!

Over the next few weeks I will share my tips how I feed my family the best nutrition we can afford, within our budget.

I can tell you that the moral of the story here is:

  • buy in bulk,
  • buy in season,
  • hoard,
  • freeze,
  • get a vacuum baggings machine if you can afford it,
  • get ziplock bags (in bulk) and mason jars
  • dehydrate
  • do it yourself!

Heck yes, it’s more work, but the nutritional benefits are absolutely worth it!  Stay tuned!

Fermenting Tools

Fermenting Blogs:

Fermenting Recipes:

If you were in attendance for my fermenting classes, you heard me mention some equipment that would make your fermenting game strong.

ferment-pot-vegiesFermenting Crock – I have this one.  Patrick Yeung is a Toronto based ceramic artist that my mom met at the Toronto One of a Kind show.  I love the masculine look of his work.  This crock is a German style fermenting crock.  It has a lip on the top where you add water so gasses produced by the fermenting process can escape, but nothing can get in.  It actually makes me happy when you hear a little pop of air escaping, like a little fermenting toot. His crock also came with weights! Which is very important when buying a crock. You want to buy your weights from the same place that made the crock, otherwise you may never find weights that fit just right.

If you don’t have a fermenting crock, or you ferment so much that one fermenting vessel isn’t enough, you have options.

Mason Jars – I use these ones because they hold about one head of cabbage for a kimchi or sauerkraut.  These mason jars are “wide mouth” as well.   I walked into Canadian Tire and bought them (no shipping needed).  The issue with mason jars is the weights needed to hold the veggies under the juices produced. I jerry-rigged a small mason jar with my kids blocks. You have to get creative as the fermenting food must be covered in liquid. Some places say to use the core of the cabbage, but I worry about dirt getting into my delicate healthy bacteria. OR if your obsessed with kitchen tools, there are Pickling Pebbles!

fermenting-pebbles-handPickling Pebbles – My brother just got me these for my birthday and they are so cool!  They are handmade glass weights made of non-iridized soda glass and will never leach chemicals into your food. Use one or more weights to keep your food under the brine and free of oxygen exposure.  They come in two sizes (as do Mason jars) regular and wide mouth and are easy to clean.


largetulip-jarsWeck Jars – for pressurized storage are great.  I mentioned Weck jars for storing your flavoured kombucha.  I love these because they are easy to clean, and to remove your fermented fruit.  They pressure seal, which helps make your kombucha fizzy.  I got mine at Hendrix Restaurant Equipment.  They ship from Toronto.  I know that Crate and Barrel sells them, but you have to call them and place the order if you want to pick up in store.  (Because their Canadian website sucks I didn’t buy from them.)

This is a bit of an investment out of the gate, but if you’re going to be using these tools for years, it’s worth the money.

My First Class

Happy New Year folks.  I took a little break from the blog for Christmas, and some other stuff that life throws at you.  But I’m BACK!  Jumping in with both feet!

I wanted to thank everyone who came and supported me in my first ever cooking class! I was equal parts excited, and shit your pantsing.  (I don’t think that’s a word, but you know what I mean.)  I don’t know if the picture portrays how I felt.  My heart was beating a million miles a minute! All I could think about was “if this isn’t a test for all natural deodorant….”.  Shout out to Penny Lane deodorant.   It’s amazing! (I have absolutely no affiliation with them.  But it’s local, natural and really works!)

But about the class!

I taught Fermenting at Goodness Me in Burlington this week to a group of mostly strangers, minus my mom, and a few friends – and loved it.  Sold out class in the middle of a Monday!  I can’t remember a time where I felt so smart.  Twenty-four people asking me questions and I knew the answers!  What a feeling.  Perhaps I have found my calling.  I love teaching people how to make it themselves from scratch and with no chemicals.  I know you can’t buy food that tastes this good!

I’ve had jobs that I loved in the past, but nothing compares to this love.  I love food, and making it healthy and healing, and it turns out I love teaching other people how to do it too!  I love answering questions about food! Why should I avoid this food? Where can I get the best of this food? How can I make this?

Afterwards I was so jacked up and excited!  My husband probably heard the entire class over again verbatim.  Then I slept 10 hours and didn’t move once.  The next morning, I was still coming down from life’s natural high.  Now I am looking to get back to work and find my next personal success.  Stay tuned for more cooking classes in the coming months.   And recipes!


Milk is a tricky subject.  For years the dairy industry has led us to believe that if we don’t drink milk, we won’t have enough calcium for strong bones. Truth is, that isn’t true. Countries that have higher milk consumption, actually have a higher percentage of osteoporosis. Wait, what?

Milk is acidic within your body and throws off your pH balance.  Your body then tries to correct this imbalance by using calcium and potassium and other minerals from inside the body to neutralize the excess acid.  Don’t have any alkalinizing minerals just laying around?  Not to worry, your body will just pull it out of your bones.

Humans are the only species that drinks the milk of another animal. And we are the only creatures that consume milk after being weaned off breast milk.  Unfortunately as we get older our bodies stop producing the enzymes needed to break down the lactose found in milk.  It’s nature.

Let’s start with where milk comes from – typically cows, but goats and sheep are gaining popularity now as well.


Contented Cow?

Lady cows are artificially inseminated every year for a several years to produce more cows.  That’s until they are slaughtered because they have wrecked themselves having baby after baby so close together, all the while producing way more milk then their babies would ever drink.  The average life span of a dairy cow is around 5 years, although naturally they would live 20 years or more.  These moma cows rarely feed their babies as all their milk goes for our consumption.  (I’m not getting into what happens to the babies. Warning: if you google it, you’re going to cry.)

Non-organic and organic dairy cows are given limited amounts of yard time. Meaning they are housed inside cramped living conditions that would make you cry, and then they get “recess”.  They are usually fed grains, which is not their native diet, but it’s cheap.  In Canada non-organic dairy feed usually contains GMO ingredients.  Our milk needs to be fortified with Vitamin D because the cows don’t get it from the sun as they live mostly inside barns.  Cows would also get vitamin D from eating grass, but not in the feed used.  So supplements are needed.

Constant demand for more and more milk from these lactating cows can cause metastasis.  Metastasis is a blockage of the milk duct that can lead to infection and bleeding. There is an “acceptable” level of blood and puss allowed milk for human consumption.  Think about that one for a second…  How do we clear infections?  Antibiotics…  What goes in mommy, comes out in milk.  Ta Da – you’re taking antibiotics you don’t even need.  That goes for stress too. Cows shoved in electrified milking stalls are under stress, and these stress hormones are in the milk you drink. You have enough stress of your own, don’t need more for breakfast!

How do you get certain fat percentages in milk? You spin the milk until it separates and then make other products such as butter or cream from what is left.   Fun fact: People who drink skim milk are more likely to be obese.  Fat makes you feel full longer. Fat free milk still has calories but you’re hungry very soon after and therefore you will eat larger portions or more frequently to feel full again.

We pasteurize our milk to kill potential harmful bacteria.  Pasteurizing means heating the milk to over 150 degrees F.  This kills the potentially harmful bacteria.  Healthy cows, raised in clean humane conditions produce milk that probably wouldn’t need pasteurizing.  Pasteurizing also kills so much more. It kills vitamins, and enzymes required to absorb vitamins and minerals from the milk.  It heats the delicate fat molecules causing them to deteriorate and creates free radicals. But hey, it increases the shelf life of milk. This means less will spoil and dairy industry will make more money.

After being pasteurized milk is then homogenized.  This is how they keep the milk from separating once in a carton.  The process is essentially firing milk through the finest screen at very high pressure to break apart the fat molecules so they will be evenly dispersed within the milk.  What’s the big deal here? This oxidizes the fat. Oxidized cholesterol, is now rancid fat, which causes heart disease.  You are drinking free radicals.  Better get those anti-oxidants up!

And the last step for this science project, the milk is put into BPA plastic bags and sent to your store.

So you think you’re eating healthy food because on the label there are lots of vitamins and minerals. Labels don’t tell you how absorbable these vitamins and minerals are. Labels don’t disclose oxidized cholesterol, or antibiotics or GMO feed, crazy stress hormones or puss and blood…. Let that one sink in again… You want to be healthy? Eat a vegetable! Leafy greens are packed with absorbable calcium. Eat some almonds or sunflower seeds. Make almond milk.

I know cheese tastes so good, and sour cream goes well on everything! Just try removing dairy from you diet, even for a few weeks and see how you feel. You might be surprised.

Learn more: Why Milk Is Bad For You And Your Bones by Vivian Goldschmidt, MA




No Peanuts!


We do not eat peanuts in our house. For those of you who don’t know, my daughter is anaphylactic to peanuts. I feel like that awards me the right to say “I hate peanuts”.  I did a lot of research on peanuts when I was hit with that news and what I discovered will alarm you, allergy or not.

Tree nuts grow on trees, these are your almonds, cashews etc.  Then there are peanuts. They are not technically nuts, they are legumes.  Peanuts grow in the soil and absorb more toxins then the average food grown underground.  Big deal, right?  So they absorb stuff from the soil? Yes, they “clean” the field by sucking all the chemicals from the soil.  Typically farmers rotate crops to optimize their output and they rotate peanuts with cotton.  Cotton is one of the top genetically modified crops in the world.  And it’s sprayed with even more kill-all pesticides because cotton is not a food.  See the problem?  Truckloads of hazardous chemical residue in the soil where they plant peanuts.  Any wonder so many kids are seriously allergic to peanuts?

This is how the majority of non-organic peanuts are farmed.  Is organic better?  Well, organic soils have no Monsanto chemical residues.  Environmentally speaking it is a more responsible purchase.  In my house, organic or not, it’s not allowed.  Even if my daughter weren’t allergic, I would avoid peanuts, just for the fear of cross contamination with regular peanuts.  What if one of those super chemical peanuts moseyed on over to the organic field and made chemical babies?  No thanks, I’ll stick to making my own almond or cashew or sunflower seed butter.

Something else no one talks about in peanuts is “Aflatoxin”.  This is a result of mould on the peanut.  (Yes peanuts are also mouldy.)   Aflatoxin is a known carcinogen.  Carcinogens cause cancer and liver damage just to rhyme off a few significant health concerns.

The moral of the story here folks…. Peanuts are not good for you.  They are not good for your kids, allergy or not.  Make your own nut butters or try my sunflower seed butter instead.