Monday, December 19, 2011

Comfort Food Makeover!

During the winter months it’s typical for us to crave warm and comforting foods like hearty stews, rich and heavy sauces or decadent drinks from our local coffee shop.  Sadly so many of the ingredients we use are not great for our health or our waist lines.

Try these delicious alternatives to standard comfort fare:

§         If making a soup or stew, sub store- bought vegetable broth for homemade broth or water and seasonings.  Store-bought broths most often contain high amounts of sodium, preservatives and MSG.
§        Forget high-fat cuts of meat, try legumes like chickpeas and lentils with brown rice as an excellent source of protein and fibre.
§        Rich sauces are loaded with fat and calories, switch up your oils and go for extra virgin olive oil, s esame oil or walnut oil and mixed with fresh or ground herbs and spices.
§       Many of the festive drinks found at our fav coffee shops are loaded with sugar, fat and way too many caloriesLoose leaf tea shops are increasingly popular and have a wide variety of flavours.  Check out these options as they often have sweet, dessert-like teas and many of the ingredients often have healing properties.
§       Thick, warm bread is delicious but can be refined and full of hidden sugars and preservatives.  Stick with whole grains such as spelt, kamut or rye bread and slather coconut oil on top instead of butter or margarine for some healthy, heart-friendly fats.

Of course, a little bit of indulgence is ok but limit yourself to the amount of sugary treats and fatty foods you consume and your bod will thank you!

Comfort food makeover recipe below: YUM

Butternut Squash and Lentil Stew

1.5 c. of sprouted green lentils
2 c. of vegetable stock
1 can of coconut milk
1 tsp of coconut oil
3 medium carrots
2 celery stalks
1 medium butternut squash
1 large white onion
2 red bell peppers
1 garlic clove
1 tsp sea salt
Big pinch of red chili flakes
¼ tsp turmeric powder
¼ tsp of garam masala
¼ tsp of coriander
1 bay leaf

How to make:
1.       Preheat oven to 400F
2.       Cover lentils with water and let soak for at least 20 minutes.
3.       Cut butternut squash in half. Put an inch of water into a large baking dish and add squash, cut side down. Put squash into oven for 35 minutes.
4.       Chop carrots, onion and celery into little pieces (about 1 cm thick)
5.       Add oil to large pot and melt over medium heat, add carrots, onion and celery
6.       Chop bell peppers into medium sized pieces and add to pot.
7.       chop garlic into small pieces and add to pot
8.       add sea salt and all spices, stir for 1-2 minutes

Recipe by: Annaliisa Kapp
Annaliisa is a Registered Holistic Nutritionist at Two Girls Cooking.

Post by: Danielle Felip
      Danielle (Dani) Felip is a Certified Personal Trainer and studying Applied Holistic Nutrition at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto, Canada.  She changed her life by changing her diet and lifestyle to a whole-foods, plant-based diet and aims to educate and inspire others to empower themselves to make conscious choices with what they eat and how they live.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Keep That Sweet Tooth in Check!

By Danielle Felip from Body by Nature 

You know what’s scarier than ghouls and ghosts on Halloween?  Fluctuating blood sugar levels!  This is what gives you that afternoon crash that leaves you craving sweet treats.

Have you ever tried to justify to yourself that it’s okay to eat 5 mini chocolates because they practically equal 1 full-size bar?  Or that you’ll stop eating licorice and ju-jubes as soon as the last of the Halloween candy is done?

Keep yourself out of a sugar coma and in check with these sweet tips!

1.      Stay hydrated, you will be less inclined to crave sweets if your body is well-hydrated.  Add lemon, apple or strawberries to your water for flavour.
2.      Sweet fruits like pineapple, bananas and dates are great replacements for sugary candies when you feel that 3pm craving coming along.
3.      Try raw cacao, it’s chocolate before it’s been processed meaning it’s full of valuable nutrients and tastes great.  Add it to a smoothie for a delicious alternative to caffeinated beverages.
4.      Consume complex carbohydrates like sweet potatoes and buckwheat that provide slow burning energy and won’t spike your blood glucose.
5.      And lastly, if you really want the candy bar, have the candy bar.  But limit your intake to 1 or 2 mini chocolates.

Did you know that 20% of the calories Canadians are consuming is from sugar?1  Most of these calories come from beverages and processed foods.  Avoiding refined sweeteners will keep you feeling great!  Instead choose to use natural sweeteners such as;
Maple syrup – A Canadian favourite!  Maple syrup is the boiled sap from Maple trees and is one of my personal favourites! 
Stevia – This is a plant-based sugar which has very minimal effects on blood glucose levels.  A great substitute for white sugar in baking but has a slight aftertaste.
Coconut sugar – Made from the flowers of the coconut tree.  It is low glycemic and has a slightly caramel flavour.
Sucanat – Comes from whole cane sugar and still contains all of the cane’s natural molasses giving it a nice brown colour.  Is also a source of chromium which helps balance blood sugar.Keep in mind that natural sweeteners are still sugar but are a far better option than white sugar and in moderation are safe. 

Want to learn more about how to use healthy sweeteners to create the most delicious and heavenly guilt-free desserts? Check out Two Girls Cooking Workshops!

1.      Canada.  Statistics Canada.  Sugar consumption among Canadians of all ages.  21 Sep 11.  29 Oct.
      Danielle (Dani) Felip is a Certified Personal Trainer and studying Applied Holistic Nutrition at the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto, Canada.  She changed her life by changing her diet and lifestyle to a whole-foods, plant-based diet and aims to educate and inspire others to empower themselves to make conscious choices with what they eat and how they live.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Its Organic Week!!

Its time to celebrate and acknowledge all the amazing growers and producers  that make it possible for us to choose food  that is free of toxins and full of nutrients!! Choosing organic supports a vibrant sustainable agriculture ensuring future generations will have access to the rich farmland that exists in Canada. Organic farming is a healthier choice for you and our environment. Mother Nature has given us so much, this is how we can give her something back!!

Organic vs. Conventional
Conventionally grown produce is tainted with pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and may have been genetically modified.  Fortunately there is a healthy alternative!!!!  Certified Organic means that it is grown free of chemicals, antibiotics and GMOs. 

Why is Certified Organic Important?

1.        Protect our children:  The average child is exposed to 4 times more pesticides and at least 8 known cancer-causing pesticides from food than adults. In May 2010, researchers at Harvard University found increased risk for attention deficit-hyperactive disorder among children exposed to typical levels of organophosphates, a common pesticide found on conventionally grown fruits and vegetables. The most sensitive newborn was found to be 65 to 130 times more affected than the least sensitive adult!!!1

2.        Prevent soil erosion: The Soil Conservation Service estimates that more than three billion tons of topsoil is eroded from the United States croplands each year. Meaning soil is eroding seven times faster than it is naturally able to replenish.  Soil is the foundation of the food chain in organic farming.  In conventional farming the soil is used more as a medium for holding plants in a vertical position so they can be chemically fertilized. As a result, American and Canadian farms are suffering from the worst soil erosion in history.

3.        Protect our water quality and promote bio-diversity: Large amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous from fertilizer runoff can create massive algae blooms that suffocate aquatic life, creating large dead zones in our oceans.3

4.        “Frankenfoods” No Thank you!!!  Conventional food has been irradiated (zapped with gamma rays) and X-rayed to prevent natural sprouting, ripening and moulding processes. Organic food is your only guarantee that you are not eating Genetically Modified Foods (GMO’s)

5.        Keep Chemicals off your plate:  pesticides are poisonous and many have been linked to causing cancer.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) found 6 different pesticides in a strawberry and peach and 5 in a carrot, grape, pear and lettuce leaf.  About 60% of pesticides currently being used are hormone disruptors!!!4

6.        Protect farm workers health:  Farmers exposed to herbicides had a 6-times greater risk of cancer than non-farmers. The World Health Organization estimates that over 200,000 people die every year from pesticide poisoning.

7.        Tastes better and has a higher nutritional value:  Organic farming starts with the nourishment of the soil which reflects in its taste.   Researchers at Rutgers University found the amount of iron in organic spinach was 97% more than the commercial spinach!!!!

Not all of us can to afford to eat 100% organic all the time.  The Environmental Working Group (EWG) offers a solution with its list of the 12 most contaminated fruits and vegetables otherwise known as the “Dirty Dozen”.  According to EWG consumers can reduce their exposure to dangerous pesticides by 80% by avoiding conventional fruits and vegetables on this list.

The Dirty Dozen: a list of produce that contains the highest pesticide content
1.        Nectarines
2.        Celery
3.        Pears
4.        Peaches
5.        Apples
6.        Cherries
7.        Strawberries
8.        Imported grapes
9.        Spinach
10.     Potatoes
11.     Bell Peppers
12.     Red raspberries

Tips and tricks to make organic food more accessible for you and your family:
  •            shop at your local farmers’ market, many are open all year
  •            choose vegetarian meals more often: whole grains like quinoa, tempeh, and legumes are great protein sources
  •            buy in bulk – make friends with your farmer or a local food manufacturer, they are great resources
  •            grow your own herbs and sprouts all year round!
  •        plan your meals ahead so food doesn't go to waste

Two Girls Cooking products are made with the highest quality organic ingredients from local sources, handcrafted in harmony with our earth. Gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, and delicious! All of our workshops also feature organic whole foods!

Vasil, Adria. Ecoholic. Canada: Vintage Canada, 2007. P.66
Vasil, Adria. Ecoholic. Canada: Vintage Canada, 2007. P63-64
Applied & Environmental Microbiology, Vol. 67, page 1494 (2001). Also cited in New Scientist magazine, April 21, 2001.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fruits and Veggies and You!

By Danielle Felip

Study1[1] after study2[2] have shown the positive effects of a plant-based diet and lower rates of heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure  and obesity.3[3]

Not ready to give up meat?  That’s ok!  A plant-based diet does not have to mean eliminating animal products all together.  Reducing your meat and dairy consumption3 and increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables is beneficial to your health and the environment.4[4]
A plant-based diet means more than just iceberg lettuce salads and rice.  If you put it into perspective there are a handful of animal products we consume in North America and literally hundreds of different fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and grains to consume.  The possibilities are endless!

So how do you get started?  Here are a few simple tips for adding more plants to your life!

1.      The dinner plate – Ensuring that at least ½ your dinner plate is vegetables.  Try a vibrant salad or lightly steamed veggies.
2.      Blend them up – Adding greens to your smoothie is a great way to get more veggies into your diet.  Try adding spinach or dandelion leaves and you’ll be amazed at how much more energy you have!
3.      A fruit bowl – Keeping a bowl of fruit on your desk will be a visual reminder to eat more fruit and should you have a sugary craving in the afternoon, you’ll have a sweet treat right in front of you without having to hit up the vending machine.
4.      Get nutty – Add nuts and seeds to salads, rice bowls, quinoa to add healthy fats and protein to your meals. 
5.      Quickie snacks – Chop up vegetables as soon as you buy them and store them in single serving containers, that way you can grab and go and they make an easy snack.

 It’s easy to find fresh and local produce at Farmer’s Markets and more grocery stores are carrying organic fruits and vegetables as well.

Two Girls Cooking Vegging Out Workshop is all about going a little vegetarian. Vegetarian meals require less energy for the body to digest, they are nutrient dense and help us lighten our caloric load. We'll show you hot to put a creative spin on making vegetarian meals healthy and delicious!! 
Vegging Out Workshop 3 part workshop series: Jan 17, 24, 31

Here’s a quick and easy smoothie recipe that is good for you and the environment and full of nutrients!

Dani’s Basic Green Smoothie

1 banana, fresh or frozen
1 cup mango
2 generous handfuls spinach
1 scoop protein powder
1 tbsp flax or hemp seed oil
2 cups filtered water

How to make:
Combine all ingredients and blend until relatively smooth (if using a high-powered blender this will take no time at all)


[1] “The Effect of a Plant-Based Diet on Plasma Lipids.”  Stanford School of Medicine: Nutrition Studies.  2009.  15 Oct 2011. 
[2] Wang, Shirley S.  “Study: Foods To Lower Cholesterol.”  The Wall Street Journal.  24 Aug 2011.  15 Oct 2011. 
[3] Barnard, N.D., A. Nicholson, and J.L. Howard. 1995. The medical costs attributed to meat consumption. Preventative Medicine 24: 646-55; Segasothy, M., and P.A. Phillips. 1999. Vegetarian diet: panacea for modern lifestyle disease? QJM 92 (9):531-44.
[4] Hamerschlag, Kari.  “The Meat Eater’s Guide to Climate Change + Health.”  Environmental Working Group. July 2011.  15 Oct 2011.  <>   

Friday, October 14, 2011

Fall in Love with Farmers' Markets

Toronto’s vibrant community-based farmers’ markets are the most wonderful places to shop. The Ontario produce is bursting with flavour and nutrients along with homemade goodies, beautiful flowers and even a treat for your four legged friend. The friendly farmers and vendors are full of great advice and interesting tips on how to use their products in new and inspiring dishes.

The benefits markets bring to our city are numerous for health, community and the environment. I have had the opportunity, with Two Girls Cooking, to participate in a local farmers’ market and I know what a tremendous amount of effort is involved. The early mornings, loading and unloading the trucks, the long drive, setting up and cleaning up at the market. Our farmers are some of the most dedicated and hard working people with a common goal to deliver the most nutritious and highest quality products, while being kind to our earth. Supporting local producers helps to develop awareness around where our food comes from and builds a moral economy. 

Please show your support and lets all enjoy the benefits of farmers markets!! Mayor Ford wants to increase user fees across Toronto for many important services and programs, including Farmers' Markets. Help your local farmers and artisans by signing the petition to stop increase in fees:

Most markets around the city run anywhere from May until early November but some are open all year:

The lovely Hanna from Matchbox Garden and Seed Co. with colourful
 watermelon radishes and green zebra tomatoes

This week’s trip to the market:

I picked up some bountiful things at the Trinity Bellwoods Farmers Market on Tuesday. It’s amazing how much you can learn when you take the time to say hello to all the lovely vendors and get to know the abundant variety of vegetables and fruit Ontario has to offer. From green zebra tomatoes and watermelon radish from to beautiful golden beets!!!  Add some savvy to your next salad with some interesting lettuce varieties. Mizuna lettuce is a fantastic spicy green alternative for arugula or mustard greens. Wonderful squashes, beets, apples and cider await you!! Below is a delicious and beautiful salad filled with antioxidants, fibre and nutrients!

The amazing Helin from Woolerdale Farm with golden beets

Mizuna Cranberry and Golden Beet Salad

1 bunch of Mizuna lettuce, sliced thinly (arugula works too!)
2-3 golden beets, sliced with a Mandela
¼ red onion, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, shredded
2 radishes, thinly sliced
1 small tomato, sliced
1 handful on cranberries

Lemony Dill Dressing
¼ c. Olive oil
1/8 c. Apple cider vinegar
1/8 c. Of filtered water
2 tbsp of honey garlic mustard
1 garlic clove
Juice of ½ lemon
Handful of fresh dill
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper

How to make:
Put all dressing ingredients into a blender and buzz until smooth. Combine all salad ingredients and drizzle with dressing. Goes well with Mr.Rutabaga Smith crisps and homemade hummus!
Makes enough for 2 to enjoy!

Two Girls Cooking organic vegetable snacks are produced with local produce from Pfennnings Organic Farms.

Post and recipes by: Annaliisa Kapp

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fight off the flu with this delicious antioxidant rich heart warming ginger tea!

Fight off the flu with this delicious antioxidant rich heart warming ginger tea!

When it’s oh so cold out, this is the perfect way to warm up your heart and soul! As well as help to prevent or fight off the flu symptoms.

1/2 lemon
½ inch of grated fresh ginger or ½ tsp of organic ginger powder
Big handful of goji berries
Raw honey to taste

Bring a cup of filtered water to a boil, add ginger root and simmer for about 10 minutes. If using ginger powder, there is no need to simmer. Add goji berries and lemon. Let tea cool down a little before adding honey to get all the amazing healing benefits of raw honey. Sip away!

Ginger - Ginger tea boosts the body’s immune system against flu and cold viruses. Ginger will warm you up quickly and help your body to sweat out infection. Sweating out toxins helps you to recover quicker, and keeping warm helps you to relax which also helps you get plenty of rest. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, ginger is pungent in taste and relates to lungs, spleen, and stomach. In general, it is able to promote circulation of blood, facilitate sweating, dispel cold, stop vomiting, disperse phlegm, and cease cough. Ginger tea soothes the throat and your tummy!

Lemon–You need vitamin C for a healthy immune system and to increase resistance to all those "invading" microbes that your body is busy fighting. One lemon can provide 80% of our daily recommended amount of vitamin C. Studies have shown that the vitamin C in lemons is effective at boosting the immune system. It does this by encouraging the body to produce more white blood cells, which fight cold viruses. Lemon juice also soothes coughs, sore throats and wheezing and helps cut mucous.

Goji Berries - Goji berries are also very rich in vitamin C. Eating berries, like goji berries, is a great source to get your dose of vitamins as they also contain fiber and other antioxidants that you won't get from dietary supplements. Antioxidants help prevent disease from occurring by neutralizing the damaging free radicals that cause cellular damage. Goji berries are filled with powerful antioxidants, these special compounds help boost immune function and help repair cells damaged by free-radicals.

Raw Honey – as well as being delicious, raw honey is also medicinal. It is antibacterial and good for infections of all sorts. Buckwheat honey reduces the amount of coughing someone suffering from the flu has to endure. In addition, buckwheat honey has also been proven to soothe throat irritation.

By Annaliisa Kapp