baby, it’s cold out there! toronto is in a deep freeze and i’m in full on hibernation mode. it’s almost as cold as timmins right now and it’s only supposed to get colder as the week goes on – what gives?! i know it’s january and we live in canada, so i guess it’s to be expected, but i can’t help but complain at every chance i get. there’s still 77 days until spring (yes, i’m counting), and until then you’ll be able to find in a minimum of 3 layers with a huge mason jar of steaming hot tea between my hands.
since it’s so cold, i’m hoping that the gym won’t be packed with the “new year new me” resolution people that all tend to stop showing up after 3 weeks. that’s not to say that i’m not all for people wanting to make healthier choices this year (or anytime!), but if you happen to be one of those people who want to make a change, i can’t stress enough that change starts with your diet.
make 2018 the year you re-evaluate and change your relationship with food. instead of creating restrictions for yourself like “no carbs, no fat, no sugar” or goals such as “lose 15 pounds”, i urge you to take some time explore and asses your thoughts and feelings towards food, and work to building a healthy relationship with them.
being “healthy” means something different to everybody, but it doesn’t need to mean eating only salads, drinking green juice and being scared of indulging. you know that this blog is by no means a typical “healthy” food blog; i embrace pasta, cheese, sugar, oils and other “unhealthy” foods with open arms – but the most important part of a healthy relationship with food is on moderation, and knowing what you’re putting into your body. eating should be a happy experience every single time, whether it’s a kale salad or a bowl of pasta, and that comes down to your relationship with food.
the best place to start on moving forward is to do some research. read a few articles or books about what’s in the food you’re eating, read labels on food packages (and BE WARY OF THEM), pay attention to the labels on where your produce comes from. making a small effort to understand what you’re putting into your body will make all of the difference and will make it easier to buy healthy, good quality food. make informed choices about the meat you’re buying, about what chemicals are in those processed granola bars you stock up on at your desk, and about the conditions in which your produce was grown and farmed. you have the power to change the food industry simply with what you chose to nourish yourself with, and you might be surprised at some of the information you’ll find.
make the effort to eat as seasonally as possible. i know we live in canada, and there isn’t much to choose from in the dead of winter, so not everything can be locally sourced, but if you pay attention to the labels on your produce in the grocery store, you can find lettuce that’s been grown in hydroponics in burlington, lots of root vegetables from ontario etc. you don’t need to be buying flavourless tomatoes from mexico that cost $6. your food will taste better and it will cost less to cook at home. this also goes for any of you not in canada! a quick google search of “whats in season in —-” will tell you what you’ll be able to eat seasonally in your area.
experiment and listen to what your body tells you. how do you feel after you eat certain foods? how much food do you need to have energy and feel satisfied? instead of creating strict rules and focusing on the number of calories you’re eating or number of pounds you want to lose, why not focus on feeling healthy instead? try cutting back on refined sugars and see if you have more energy in the mornings / afternoon; try eating more fermented foods if you feel like you’re always bloated; and again, do some research on how to body functions, what it needs, what foods are good for certain things. you’ll be surprised at how much you can learn from a quick google search. the better you understand your body, the better you can give it exactly what it needs. what my body needs changes over the course of the year; in the summer i may have salad every day, but in the winter i crave heavier foods and keep me warm. this means i eat more bread, more pasta, more starchy foods; but those aren’t “bad” in moderation.
that being said: stop being scared of [real] food. gluten isn’t bad (for everyone); fat isn’t bad (but learn the difference between good and bad fats); CARBS AREN’T BAD (you need them for energy!!!); stop thinking of real foods as good and bad. but be scared of chemicals, refined sugars, additives, preservatives, the weird words you can’t pronounce on labels, and the hormones and antibiotics they put in your grocery store factory farmed meat. that shit is gross and you should be aware of when you’re putting it into your body.
cook at home! i know you are all hustling and busy af and when you get home from a long day, the last damn thing you want to do is cook. but carve out a bit of time on sunday and make a big batch of sauce, or chop up all your veggies for the week, or roast a nice organic grass fed chicken so you have some legit food in your fridge. it takes a bit of extra effort, but i can’t tell you the difference it will make (on your body and your wallet!) bring your lunch to the office (make it a yummy one so you don’t toss it and run across the street to grab a burrito that will make you feel like shit or a $20 bowl you could have made yourself).
with all that being said, the main takeaway is about balance. i love fast food. i love processed food. i love heavy pasta, butter, sugar and salt. i love INDULGING probably more than even you. you won’t always be able to cook at home, or know exactly where your food is coming from, and some days you just won’t give a flying fuck about that whole bag of chips you just ate and that’s ok. that’s the point of having a healthy relationship with food: finding the right balance of education, satisfaction and health will be better on your body, wallet AND the environment.
i also practice what i preach! my 2018 resolution is to help shape your relationship with food by informing you, encouraging you, and providing you with delicious, beautiful recipes that you can create at home without feeling intimidated. everything i share with you on this blog is real food that i cook and eat at home; sometimes it may be a salad, sometimes it’ll be cookies, but the standing theme is that it’s all made with good quality, accessible ingredients that you should feel good about eating.
i’m going to leave you with one of my favourite recipes of all time; perfect for this cold weather and the perfect weeknight pasta dish that’s easy, healthy and delicious.
pasta e ceci
1 can chickpeas, drained with liquid reserved
2 whole garlic cloves, crushed
1 spring fresh rosemary
1 pinch chilli flakes
1/4 cup olive oil
2-3 whole san marzano tomatoes from a can
2 cups of chicken broth or water
about a cup of small pasta such a ditalini
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
heat the olive oil in a large heavy bottomed sauce pan. add the crushed garlic and rosemary sprig and let cook until fragrant about 2 minutes. add the chillies and continue to cook for another minute or so. season with salt and pepper.
crush the tomatoes with your hand and add to the pan. let cook and sizzle, breaking up with a wooden spoon. meanwhile, remove the crushed garlic from the pan and add it to the bowl of a food processor along with 1/4 of the can of chickpeas. blend with a little water until you have a paste. add the chickpea garlic paste to the pan, along with the reserved liquid from the can, broth, remaining whole chickpeas and pasta. stir to combine.
cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally until pasta is al dente – about 15 minutes. if sauce is getting too thick, add a half a cup of water at a time. once finished, it should feel like a thick soup.
to serve, top with a little olive oil, fresh group pepper and pecorino cheese.