Wow! It’s October already – how did that happen? And you know what that means – Thanksgiving is right around the corner, here in Canada.

I am a Registered Holistic Nutritionist but I’m also a Certified Coaching Practitioner – so for today’s blog, I’m going to put on my coach’s hat.

Before a big game, athletes need to prepare themselves physically and mentally. So how are we preparing ourselves for the big gorge that we call Thanksgiving. Let’s start with the intent of what we are not going to do – that is eating to a point of groaning and lying on the couch after the holiday meal.

I would suggest you start with a tall cool glass of … water – yes water. Hydrating yourself means you are addressing being thirsty, which many of us interpret as hunger.

Next – I would like you to “set the stage” for a relaxed, stress-free meal (or as stress free as you can be with family : ) It’s likely already a nice setting – tablecloth in fall colours, flowers, candles, sparkling crystal, shiny silverware, artfully-folded napkins.

It’s an occasion. Frankly, it would be great if we approached all our meals in that way – maybe not with ALL the bells and whistles – but with a nice environment.

We will pause in thanks giving – for having our family and friends gathered and for all the great food that has been prepared. Again – it’s always good to pause before you dive into your meal. To leave the stresses of the day behind and be present to eating.

Now – I’m going to suggest something shocking. Use a small plate.

Here is a typical plate by today’s standards – beside it is a plate from the 70s  … wonder why North Americans suffer from obesity – we fill the plate, whatever size.

So go ahead. Fill the small plate – psychologically you’ll feel like you are feasting – but there will be smaller portions. And really, we only truly enjoy the first few bites of any food. That’s why it is great to share dessert. Slice of pumpkin pie with 2 forks … coming up!

Next – don’t laugh – I want you to chew, really chew your food. Note the tastes and textures. Put your fork down between each bite. How many of us have the next fork full waiting before we’ve swallowed the food already in our mouth.

Thanksgiving often means a groaning board, everyone has brought their favourite dish and you want to try everything. So even though you have only taken a little bit of everything on your small plate – you can enjoy it immensely.

Add an activity before or after the meal. If this isn’t part of your family tradition, make the “first annual” fill in the blank (ball hockey or football or hike or whatever), be this year.

with thanks to my sister who took this photo

And finally. It’s a great time to think of others. When we’re feeling gratitude for the abundance that we have – how about delivering a food or cash donation to your local food bank – so that everyone can have a Happy Thanksgiving!


All of a sudden, I have a plethora of tomatoes from friends and generous farmers’ market vendors. More tomatoes than two people could ever eat. So I made bruschetta with crostini when friends came over recently and then as the tomatoes were getting a little soft … I made soup.

Here is my recipe for bruschetta. Slice big juicy tomatoes, add salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with crushed Ontario garlic (1-2 cloves), and fresh basil roughly chopped, drizzle 3-4 tbsp of white balsamic vinegar and 3-4 tbsp of good quality olive oil. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes so flavours can imbue.

Serve with crostini and enjoy!

And now for the soup. This tomato zucchini soup is adapted from a Feb 2004 Chatelaine recipe.

Pan-roasting the zucchini quickly produces a nutty grilled-veggie taste

– 2 med green zucchini

– Olive oil

– Tomatoes – really just use as many tomatoes as you like – it’s soup. There are no rules. I had seven of various sizes and shapes

– 900ml tetrapac of low sodium chicken broth or veggie broth

– 1 tbsp fresh dillweed (less or more to taste)

– freshly ground pepper

– ½ uncooked gluten-free pasta (optional)

– 4 cups organic baby spinach

– ½ cup crumbled feta cheese (I used sheep’s milk feta)

Peel tomatoes (yes peel – I have an amazing peeler for soft fruit and veggies. It’s worth the investment) and cut into large chucks. Bring to boil with broth, dill and black pepper. Stir in pasta if using. Reduce heat to med-high. Cook for about 10 minutes.

Slice zucchini in half lengthwise. Slice each half into 1/2in pieces. Lightly coat a large saucepan with oil and set over medium-high heat. Add zucchini. Stir occasionally until browned, 5 minutes. Stir into soup

Add baby spinach – stir until just wilted

Ladle into soup bowls. Sprinkle with feta


Prep time can be sped up if you use a 28 oz (796 ml) can of diced tomatoes FYI

Yesterday I also made tomato sauce for the first time in my life and there are 6 cups in various packages in the freezer awaiting their debut in a pasta dish this winter.

Now that most of the baskets are empty, I can finally see the shelves in the fridge again and nary a tomato destined for the compost!

I would LOVE to hear about what you do when you have produce in abundance. Also if you or anyone you know is looking for a nutritional coach, please contact the Georgetown Naturopathic Wellness Centre 905.873.2361 to make an appointment with me.




I’m a Registered Holistic Nutritionist and I’m sure it will come as no surprise that one of the things I talk to my clients about is exercise. It’s not that they don’t know that moving is “good for them” … but more the questions why aren’t they moving? what motivates them? what are the rewards?

I LOVE to hike. My husband and I always make sure there is a major hike or two whenever we go on vacation. And though our weekends are often overbooked, we do try to get out to nearby trails.

This weekend was perfect hiking weather – not too hot, not too cool, but just right. And even with those excellent conditions, I really had to talk myself out of staying home to relax and read a book (and let’s be honest – maybe nap a little) and instead hop in the car and drive to the trail close by.

I’m so glad we did.

Hiking the Bruce Trail is so different from walking in the city … when I’m walking on a sidewalk I can let my mind wander, sometimes hash and rehash conversation, solve problems and make lists. Which is all good but …when I’m hiking on the rough rocks and tree-root-covered paths – I have to watch my step, I have to pay attention. I have to live in the moment.

And, I have to work very hard at not being like Alice-in-Wonderland who fell down the rabbit hole, when I’m jumping over crevices that seem to go forever.

I watch in awe the climbers with their rope and carabineers making their way up the sheer rock face.

Hiking up and down the escarpment trail makes ones blood pump a little faster.

The other bonus is that all the adjustments that my body automatically makes to keep me upright, are helping to tone my muscles.

All this and sunshine, fresh air and great views and you’ll feel energized! I no longer felt the need for a nap : )

So I encourage you to pull on a sturdy pair of shoes or boots, find a trail and TAKE A HIKE

Or go for a bike ride or play a game of tennis or golf (without a cart) or do Tai Chi with a group in the park.

Discover activity and movement that brings you joy (at least 3X per week) and you’ll never “exercise” again!

I planned to go to the Farmers’ Market on Saturday morning. But the day woke grey and rainy – so I really just wanted to stay in bed. However I didn’t want to miss out on all the great fruits and vegetables, herbs, garlic etc so I dragged myself there, all the while wondering if there was somewhere I could go throughout the week other than the supermarket  … and there is!

I was speaking with Cathy Bartolic, the Executive Director of Ontario Farm Fresh (the organization of farmers who sell their produce on farm) and she cited four reasons why you would go to an On Farm Market..

  •  meet the farmer and see how the produce is grown
  •  absolute freshness
  •  experiential – especially if you pick your own
  •  physical activities -think fresh air, corn mazes, straw bales, a place where kids can just run

She says to be sure to take a cooler.

And in response to my lament about Saturdays … Cathy says this time of year many On Farm Markets are open to the public 7 days a week.

But back to the peaches and garlic and tomatoes and fresh oregano that I bought on Saturday …

Inspired to preserve some of the bounty for the cold winter days ahead, I decided to make a tomato “jam”. I have only done canning ONCE in my life. So I can’t tell you how happy I was to find this simple recipe created by Lauren Classen – first place winner of the 2010 Feast of the Fields appetizer contest – which freezes beautifully (no canning required)

Ok – so here goes:

Roasted Tomato and Peach Jam

10 ripe tomatoes (about 4 lbs) cored if needed, halved horizontally (I used 18 roma tomatoes instead)

10 ripe peaches (about 2 lbs) unpeeled pitted, chopped

I medium sweet onion chopped

4 cloves of garlic, peeled, smashed

2 tsp sugar (I didn’t add that btw)

¼ cup olive oil

1 tsp sea salt

2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano leaves

* * *

Place tomatoes cut –side up, without overlapping, on one side of a very large, rimmed baking sheet or in large roasting pan.

Pile peaches and onions on other side. Stick garlic between tomatoes. Sprinkle sugar (if using) on just tomatoes. Drizzle oil and sprinkle salt and oregano over everything.

Roast in preheated 400F oven for 40 minutes; onions and peaches will start to brown on edges.

Smash tomatoes with spatula to release juices. Mix everything together. Bake, stirring every 15 minutes until tomatoes are dark, moisture has evaporated and mixture is consistency of thick jam – about 1 hour. Taste. Adjust salt or sugar.

Serve warm or cold. Refrigerate in sealed container up to 1 week for freeze for up to 6 months

If desired, serve a dollop on baguette slices topped with goats’ or sheep’s milk cheese.

Makes 4 cups!

If you live in Ontario – “get fresh” and visit farms near you:

For times and places of local farmers’ markets:

Enjoy the bounty!

September always feels like the start of a new year to me – a holdover from first days of school for 17 years in a row, I guess. Vacation time is winding down, but oh what a great summer it has been.

September is about lots of firsts – first day in a new school or new job, first day with a new teacher or a new committee, or maybe the first day in a new soccer league or getting back to the gym after taking the summer off.

Regardless – these new beginnings bring more structure to our days and maybe the feeling that we have a little less time available than we did during the lazy days of summer.

September will present a first to me as well. I have worked from my home office since 1995 and had my own consulting business since 1999. But this September I will be setting up shop at the Georgetown Naturopathic Wellness Centre where my company, Alpha Vitality Nutritional Coaching will be providing holistic nutritional services as part of a wellness team.

So to help me ease into having more structure in my day, I’m going to make lunch to take to work. I did a test run by preparing hearty salads in large glass canning jars (we used to call them quart sealer jars). Once work begins, I’ll make one for each day I’m in the office.

Are you interested in making 5 days of salads on Sunday night to make your week a little easier? I’ve adapted this from a cover photo I saw in Chatelaine.

Step One – start with clean one-litre jars with tightly fitting lids

Step Two – Make a simple vinaigrette

Vinaigrette: (note this will dress 5+ salads) 2 tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, 1 tbsp grainy mustard, ¼ cup fresh herb (eg basil, cilantro, oregano, sage, thyme) freshly ground pepper to taste

If you like a sweeter tasting dressing, you can add 1-2 tsp maple syrup


Step Three – divide dressing among the 5 jars and put in something hearty that can act as a barrier between the dressing and the greens – I used red pepper but carrot would work well too


Step Four – The combinations are endless. There are lots of great vegetables at your local farmers’ market to inspire. For these salads, I layered corn, black beans, grape tomatoes, cucumbers and spinach. Note: if you have leftover cooked whole grains e.g. quinoa, brown rice – that makes a great additionImage

Step Five – Seal well and store in refrigerator


Step Six – When ready for lunch, invert and shake. Pour onto a plate and enjoy!

Also I’m going to take my own filtered water in a 2-litre container with my name on it and put it in the refrigerator at work. My job will be to finish it all before I leave for home and I’ll have an excuse to move a little by walking to and from the fridge to pour it. Bonus – I know I’ll be well hydrated for my commute home.

I hope you will pop in and read my blog from time to time. If you or anyone you know is looking for nutritional coaching, please keep me in mind.

Appointments can be made at:

Georgetown Naturopathic Wellness Centre (GNWC) 905.873.2361