Red Lentil Veggie Soup

These cold, winter days call for comfort foods that warm my tummy. This soup is so jam packed with nourishing ingredients. I can’t decide which one is the all-star here, so I’ll highlight a few!

Let’s start with bone broth. The bone broth I use in this recipe is homemade from chicken bones (see notes below if you want to use an alternate liquid). Bone broth is one of the most healing foods you can consume. It’s full of collagen and minerals that help to repair the gut, boost the immune system, reduce inflammation and encourage liver detoxification from the glycine and potassium it contains.

Carrots are one of my favourite vegetables. They contain high levels of vitamin A, and are a great source of vitamin K, fibre, and biotin. Next we have sweet potatoes which are loaded with carotenes, vitamin C and vitamin B6.

Lentils are high in fibre and protein, but relatively low in calories. They help to balance the body’s pH level because they are a very alkaline source of protein. I love cooking with red lentils because I find them to be so adaptable. They cook quickly and blend in well with other flavours. The garlic, ginger, onions and turmeric combine to make this soup an anti-inflammatory powerhouse!

My whole family enjoys this dish. My toddler and baby gobble it right up! My baby is nearly one and has had each of these ingredients separately prior to having this soup, so I feel comfortable feeding it to him knowing he won’t have a reaction. I add more salt to the servings that I give to myself and my husband. I also add one or two Thai green chillies to the recipe if I don’t plan on giving it to my kids.

Red Lentil Veggie Soup

This dish is so nourishing and warming during the winter months, I can’t stop making it. The combination of red lentils, carrots, sweet potatoes and bone broth make this soup a complete meal. 
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Keyword: Dinner, Main Course, Soup
Servings: 6
Author: andreagracewellness

Ingredients

  • 1 cup red lentils soaked and rinsed well
  • 1 medium sweet potato peeled and chopped
  • 2 medium carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped finely
  • 1 cube fresh ginger root peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp pink or sea salt add more to taste
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
  • 4 cups bone broth or water or vegetable stock I like to do 3 cups of bone broth and 1 cup of water
  • 1-2 Thai green chilies, chopped if you like some spice!

Instructions

  • Start by measuring out 1 cup of red lentils and let them soak in cold water. By the time you’ve prepped the rest of the recipe, it’s usually enough time for them to soak (about 20 minutes).
  • Peel the sweet potato and carrots, then chop them into cubes. Dice the red onion and finely chop the garlic and ginger. Make sure to remove the skin from the ginger first. 
  • The lentils will have expanded quite a bit after being soaked.
  • Using a fine-mesh strainer, rinse the lentils well with cold water, until the water runs clear. 
  • In a medium sauce pan, add the coconut oil, onion, garlic and ginger, on medium heat. Stir them around frequently until the onions run clear and begin to brown.
  • Add the bone broth (or liquid combination of your choice) to the saucepan. Then add the rinsed lentils, sweet potato, carrots, dried coriander, turmeric, sea salt and fresh parsley. Give it all a good stir.
  • Turn the heat up to high and bring the liquid to a boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer/low and cover with a lid. Let it simmer for 20-25 minutes. 
  • Stir the soup occasionally to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom. Just be sure to add the lid back on quickly after you’ve finished stirring.
  • After 20ish minutes, the veggies should be quite soft. Use a hand masher to mash up the soup, leaving it slightly chunky. You could also pour the contents of the saucepan into a blender and blend on high for 1 to 2 minutes to make a smoother consistency.
  • Serve immediately and enjoy! Put the leftovers in the fridge to enjoy for a few days. The soup will thicken up quite a bit in the fridge, so I like to add a bit of water to the soup when I reheat it on the stove. 

Did you make this recipe? Let me know what you think of it in the comments below! Any questions about the recipe instructions or ingredients used can also be asked in the comments. Happy cooking folks!


5 Amazing Superfoods

I’m sure you’ve heard the word “superfood” all over town, and seen it plastered on items in the grocery store. But what is a “superfood”? I’m glad you asked! It’s nothing more than a term used to describe a food that is ultra nutrient dense. Below are 5 of my favourites that I use regularly in my house. I’ll tell you how I incorporate them into my meals and snacks to kick the nutrient profile up a notch!

  1. Raw Cacao Nibs
    • These little brown nibs are loaded with magnesium. They are actually one of the highest food sources of magnesium – an essential mineral we could all probably use more of. They may also act as an aphrodisiac. I like to add cacao nibs to my coconut yogurt for a chocolatey, low caffeine crunch. They can also be added on top of a smoothie or used for baking in place of chocolate chips. My favourite brand of raw cacao nibs is Giddy Yoyo (not sponsored or affiliated).
  2. Nutritional Yeast high in B vitamins.
    • The first time I saw nutritional yeast, I thought it was fish food and was hesitant to try it. But, I gave it a chance and quickly became obsessed. It has a nutty, cheesy flavour to it. It’s not really like anything I’ve ever tasted before. Nutritional yeast, or “nooch” for short, is one of the best food sources of vitamin B12 – making it a great addition to a vegan or vegetarian diet! I like to add it to savoury foods, like on my scrambled eggs, mixed into soups, on top of pasta in place of parmesan cheese, or sprinkled on a rice cake on top of hummus. My favourite brand of nutritional yeast is Bragg (not sponsored or affiliated).
  3. Chia seeds
    • Don’t underestimate these tiny warriors – they are small and mighty. Chia seeds are an awesome source of omega-3 fatty acids, calcium and fibre. They are a great way to help keep your digestive tract moving. I often make chia seed pudding, I mix them into yogurt, or I add 1tbsp of chia seeds to my smoothie. I actually don’t have a favourite brand of chia seeds. I’ve been happy with several brands. I just look for ones that are organic ones and non-GMO.
  4. Bee Pollen
    • This superfood is the newest addition to my pantry of the bunch. Bee pollen is a great source of protein and B vitamins. I like to eat them with breakfast to help give me a boost of energy to start my day. They taste great mixed into yogurt with berries, on top of toast with nut butter, or simply sprinkled on to fresh fruit. My favourite brand of bee pollen is Beekeepers Naturals (not sponsored or affiliated).
  5. Hemp Hearts
    • I find hemp hearts to be the most versatile superfood from this group. They pair well with sweet and savoury foods. I use them in a variety of ways. I add them into smoothies, mix them into soups and yogurt, sprinkle them on salads or eggs, or add them to fresh fruit. Hemp hearts are high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. They are also an awesome source of non-animal protein, as well as manganese and magnesium. My favourite brand of hemp hearts are Manitoba Harvest (brand ambassador).

There are tons of amazing, nutrient dense foods out there, AKA “superfoods.” What are your favourite superfoods? Tell me below!

Starting from the top going clockwise – nutritional yeast, chia seeds, bee pollen, hemp hearts, cacao nibs.

Twisted Tabouleh Salad

I’m a huge fan of simplicity and efficiency in the kitchen. With 2 young kids at home, I don’t have time to be in the kitchen for hours creating elaborate meals. But, I also don’t cut corners when it comes to creating nourishing meals.

Quinoa is one of my absolute favourite foods to eat. I’m a serious carb lover, and I love that quinoa hits the carb-loving-spot, without the gluten, plus the protein! Quinoa is rich in minerals, such as manganese, copper, phosphorus, and magnesium. It’s also a good source of fibre, folate and zinc. Parsley is the true star of the show here. I don’t feel like it gets enough credit for how nutrient dense it is. It’s loaded with vitamin K, C, A, folate, and iron. It is an antioxidant powerhouse!

Another thing I just love about this salad is that it’s very easy to make adjustments to and it’ll still be delicious. Avoid adding the feta cheese to make it dairy-free. If you don’t like mint – no problem! Swap it for cilantro, dill or another fresh herb. Chickpeas don’t do it for you? Sub in kidney beans, navy beans or black beans instead. You will not be disappointed!

If you’re planning to make this, I recommend making the quinoa the day before or a few hours before to allow it enough time to cool. It doesn’t need to be cold, but room temperature at the least. If you’re in a pinch – cook the quinoa and spread it out on a large plate, then pop it in the fridge or freezer to cool faster.

Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think of it. Happy eating my friends!

Twisted Tabouleh Salad

I love this well-rounded, versatile salad because it can be prepared as an appetizer, side dish or main course.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Salad
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Recipe, Side Dish
Author: andreagracewellness

Ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked quinoa cooled to room temperature
  • 1 can chickpeas (398mL) rinsed well with cold water
  • 1 cup curly parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leave, chopped remove leaves from stems
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 10 grape or cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese I prefer goat’s or sheep’s feta
  • 1 medium lemon, juiced
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp fine pink salt or sea salt add more to taste
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried oregano

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, mix lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, sea salt, and ground black pepper to create the dressing.
  • Then add the chickpeas, quinoa, curly parsley, mint, green onions, tomatoes and feta cheese to the bowl with the dressing.
  • Gently mix the salad until dressing is evenly coated.
  • Eat immediately or cover and place in the fridge to consume later. It should last for 2 days in the fridge before getting soggy! 

6 Ways to Improve Digestion

The digestive system is one of the most complex systems in the body. There are numerous factors that contribute to a healthy, regular digestive system. Some of the most common digestive disturbances people experience are bloating, irregular or infrequent bowel movements, heart burn, indigestion, loose stool, cramping and more. Addressing the root cause of your digestive imbalance and healing your gut is essential in order to achieve optimal health. Here are a few ways you can slowly change your habits to improve your overall digestive health. 

1. Drink water away from meals. Drinking too much water during a meal can actually dilute your digestive juices which can interrupt or slow down the process of digestion. It would be better to drink a glass of water slightly before a meal instead. If necessary, take small sips of water while eating, instead of chugging a whole glass. Staying well hydrated throughout the day is essential for optimal digestion.  

2. Take a Probiotic daily. A multi-strain (human-sourced) probiotic supplement is incredibly beneficial to the digestive system to strengthen gut flora and intestinal health. A probiotic will also contribute to a stronger immune system. Try to incorporate probiotic foods into your diet daily, such as kimchi, miso, kefir, tempeh, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kombucha. Speak with your Nutritionist or Naturopathic Doctor to find out which probiotic supplement is best for you.

3. Eat slowly. Eating quickly is the fastest way to bloat and potentially overeat. When we eat too quickly, our stomach doesn’t have time to signal the brain that we’re satiated, which often leads to over consuming food. Chew each bite very well before taking another one. The more we chew our food, the easier it is for our body to digest that food and absorb nutrients from it.

4. Walk after eating. Going for a walk 10-15 minutes after eating is a great way to encourage optimal digestion and can help to regulate blood sugar levels.

5. Stimulate your digestive system. First thing in the morning, drink a glass of water with 1 tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar and/or juice from half a lemon, on an empty stomach. Work your way up to this dose. You can begin with 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and slowly increase the amount, according to your personal tolerance. 

6. Avoid eating when stressed or distracted. This is a big one that I think many of us are guilty of. When the body is under stress, it produces stress hormones that focus on managing that stress, not on digesting food properly. If you’re feeling very stressed or upset, spend a few minutes taking deep breaths before your meal to calm down, ground yourself, and to prepare your mind and body to eat. Many people eat while they are watching TV, driving or walking around. When we do this, we aren’t paying attention to what we are eating, how much we eating and how quickly we are eating. All of these things effect the way our body processes food. Aim to sit down in a calm environment, with minimal distractions, while engaging all five of your senses.  


You are NOT your Diet

You are NOT your Diet

I’m sure you’ve heard people say,

“I am Vegan.”

“I am Vegetarian.”

“I am Paleo.”

But…are you really? Or is it just your dietary lifestyle? Because I am Andrea.

The purpose of a specific diet is to guide you to make healthier choices, and achieve or maintain specific health goals. Diets are not meant to dictate your being, and they are certainly not meant to become or take over your identity.

I eat a mostly plant-based style diet. For me, this means that I mainly consume fruit, vegetables, grains, nuts, legumes, and eggs. I also eat chicken, meat and/or fish a few times a week. If there is a week where I want to eat more animal products, or a week where I want to eat no animal products at all – I do it! No questions asked.

I will feed my body what I want to, when I want to, based on what I feel I need at that given time. I have learned to listen to my body and tune into the signs and signals it gives me regarding my eating habits. When I start to feel sluggish, it is often a sign that I’ve been consuming too many carbohydrates and not enough protein. Once I recognize the imbalance, I make a shift in my diet. My energy levels eventually follow suit. Of course, it is not always this black and white when it comes to finding the source of the imbalance. If you take note of how your body reacts after you eat different food, you will learn how to find the foods that work best for you. I recommend keeping a food journal with notes on how you feel daily. It is quite empowering to have that control over yourself! I believe that getting in touch with your body and eating intuitively is much more important than staying inside of the rigid walls that diets create.

I commend you if you wish to follow a Ketogenic, Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, Fruitarian etc., diet – all the power to you! Each diet has pros and cons and I want you to know that what I’m saying isn’t about favouring one specific diet over another. I’m also not saying that diets in general are bad for you. This is about people’s relationships with diets. 

Eating is not a one-size fits all approach, because every human is different. It worries me how people attach their identity so strongly to the food they choose to eat or not eat, by saying things like, “I am ____.” I think it can make people feel really trapped and scared when they want to step outside of said diet – causing a sense of shame and implications of unnecessary limitations when it comes to nourishing their body. They become worried about what others will think if they do, and they feel like they are betraying themselves.

Do not give the label of the diet that much power! It’s important to remember that every person’s body operates a little bit differently and a uniform approach isn’t realistic. You can still follow a Paleo style diet, and decide to eat legumes sometimes. If the people you know who follow a Paleo diet exile you from their community because you broke a rule, then I don’t think that was your tribe or safe place to begin with! Try to focus on what is best for you and your body, and not the social status that comes from following a specific, popular diet.

Going against the principles of a diet you follow will not make you weak or immoral. It makes you strong, intelligent and adaptable for recognizing that you are a human who is constantly evolving inside of a body that has ever-changing needs. It is admirable when a person can recognize that a specific diet is not allowing their body to thrive and makes adjustments in order to see positive changes.

“You are what you eat” has a lot of truth to it. The way your body operates absolutely reflects what kind of food you consume and the lifestyle you lead. But, your own personal identity as a human being, and the physiological response your body has to food are two very different things.

I’ve heard vegetarians say things like, “I haven’t eaten meat in years and now all of a sudden I’m craving it, but I can’t eat it!” Why? Why can’t you eat it? You are the only person in control of what you eat and when you eat it. No one else.

If your body is intuitively telling you that it wants chicken or fruit – listen to it! (Unless, of course, you have a serious allergy or medical condition preventing you from doing so). Maybe you’re heading towards a nutrient deficiency and your body is sending you some bold, red flags to help you out of it. That being said, eating intuitively has its boundaries too. If you feel like your body is having intense cravings for unhealthy food like candy, chips or chocolate, I would examine the situation further and figure out which imbalance in your body is causing these cravings. Perhaps your mind or body is craving sugar because of a candida overgrowth in your digestive tract. Maybe you’re craving chocolate because your magnesium levels are low. Craving salty chips could be due to a sodium/potassium imbalance. A diet is meant to guide you, not restrict you from what your body needs.

I’ve been eating meat my whole life and when I got pregnant with my first child, I could not touch chicken or fish for the first trimester. Instead of forcing myself to eat it because my typical routine was to eat chicken or fish a few times a week, I just didn’t do it. My body was saying “no,” so I listened. I didn’t call myself a vegetarian for those few months. I also didn’t worry about what someone would think if they knew I wasn’t eating meat at that time. I just did my own thing, without any labels, and began eating meat again in the second trimester.

So, what are you willing to give up in the name of your diet?