Learning from our ancestors

Balance.  Moderation.  Variety.
It seems to be the key ingredients to living well and that includes eating well. Whether you were recently celebrating Passover or Easter you more than likely enjoyed good food amongst friends and probably overate a little…or a lot.  Without really meaning to.

Never mind the Passover Brisket.  I will pass over that one. On Easter Sunday we had dinner at a friends house.  Spiral ham with pineapple, homemade scalloped potatoes, caesar salad, etc.  Of course dessert afterwards and then we all went home with a selection of curated individual goody bags from Purdy’s filled with chocolate easter eggs, bunnies, English toffee, etc.  But it’s a special treat and thank goodness it’s only once a year. It should really be guilt free but we always complain later that we should not have gone for that second third helping.  Why do we have friends that make it so darn difficult?  Why are they such good cooks?

Anyway I’m way off topic because where I was meaning to go with this post was to talk about ancient foods being the key to preventative medicine.  Our grandparents used to talk about the many ways people of their time used to heal themselves for common health issues and illnesses.  It’s just something to discuss and consider.

The use of traditional remedies, usually homemade preparations and herbal infusions was common practice. The lack of readily available medicines and healing remedies now known to us existed but were not as widely accessible as today. This forced our ancestors to focus more on prevention as a priority.  It’s a good start.

Hippocrates’ famous quote “Let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”, dating back to 400 B.C., reflects this ideal of focusing on prevention.  The concept of using food for prevention is even found as far back as 2000 B.C., with the Egyptians using honey, garlic, radishes and turnips as well as figs, nuts, salts and spices in their daily diets to fortify the body.

Honey, for example, is one of the oldest recorded foods, used for preventative purposes.  Its unique chemical composition, low humidity and high acidic levels create a low pH environment (3.9 on average), an unfavourable atmosphere for bacteria and other micro-organisms to grow.  Raw honey is a true natural antibiotic. I put a teaspoon of raw, organic unfiltered honey in my lemon water almost every morning to help protect my immune system.  I now add turmeric, cayenne + fresh ginger to the mix.  You can never be too sure.

Vinegars, salts and spices have also been important cornerstones in the diets of our ancestors.   Vitamin C, although it was not discovered until the 1900’s, played a critical role in the everyday diets of the past. Water soluble vitamins found in fruits and vegetables were not yet understood however they were known to consume large quantities of fruits like oranges and lemons high in vitamin C.

In the Amazon of Peru, natives have historically consumed Camu Camu, a superfood that we know today is packed with the highest concentration of natural Vitamin C in the world.

Eating well means to ingest diverse food each day to get the nutrients your body needs to support and maintain good health.  It’s all about balance, moderation and variety.  Even without technology, our ancestors understood this and there’s still much to learn from them.

We can only do our best.

Source: Jorge Urena (founder, president & CEO of UHTCO Corp. – a Canadian company dedicated to create, manufacture and distribute the most unique high quality products from Peru).


Health: we’ve got you covered

Today I’m off to the Vancouver Health Show

Rainbow of slow-cooked Veggies
Rainbow of slow-cooked Veggies

I’ve always been health conscious but in the past several months even more so.  Not totally hardcore but definitely more mindful of what I cook and how, and cutting out everything that is not good.  I’m actually loving it.  I enjoy cooking in general but now the intent is to make food rich in nutritional value while maintaining overall taste & creativity.

Quinoa Tabouli Salad
Quinoa Tabouli Salad

I’ve taken several cooking classes/demonstrations to see what the nutrition experts recommend as a preventative to getting sick.  Inspire Health offers services to enhance quality of life, health and well-being of people living with cancer and their families.  I am usually the only non-cancerous person in the class, being there as a support. These people are trying to do the best they can through nutrition (as in you are what you eat) to promote longer life and aid in treatment of radiation/chemo by adding flavour and digestible probiotics to delicious, healthy meals.  It can be a challenge but it’s well worth it.  In the following weeks I can share some of the recipes with you.  For now, these posted photos are only of some of what I’ve made.

Chicken Bone Broth with Vegetables
Chicken Bone Broth with Vegetables
Thai Beet Soup
Thai Beet Soup
Lentil Curry
Lentil Curry

Back to the Health Show:

It’s a two day consumer event for the health conscious individual.  It offers a diverse array of options to explore all under one roof for an entire weekend of shopping and education.

A great place to be if you’re looking for the latest products and services on the market, just beginning your journey of achieving a healthier lifestyle or have specific health issues that you need help with.

There are experts on hand to answer your questions to do with anything from nutritional supplements to alternative therapies to fitness trends to food products.

You will meet the people who know what it takes to create a loving home through the discovery of the best new products on the market that will inspire every room in your home to be clean and green, fresh and organized, harmonious and functional.

Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers.

Where?  The Vancouver Convention Centre – November 5th (10:00am – 6:00pm) + November 6th (11:00am – 5:00pm).

But before I go I’m making a breakfast pizza which looks like this:

Free-range eggs, bacon, Tillamook ex-sharp cheddar, onion + parsley.
Free-range eggs, bacon, Tillamook ex-sharp cheddar, onion + parsley.
Free-range eggs, spinach, mushroom, red pepper, feta.
Free-range eggs, spinach, mushroom, red pepper, feta.





Or this:


Black Bean Veggie Burger (sans bun) with a delicious Miso Tahini Dressing
Black Bean Veggie Burger (sans bun here) with a delicious Miso Tahini Dressing
Spaghetti with fresh & sundried tomatoes, parmesan & parsley. Secret is in the spices & truffle oil.
Spaghetti with fresh & sundried tomatoes, garlic, parmesan & parsley. Secret is in the herbs,  spices & good Italian truffle oil.

But the 80-20 rule still applies.  The other night I made a restaurant quality AAA rib-eye with thinly sliced baked russet potatoes + beets drizzled with olive oil that came out nice and crispy and kale.  Lots more on my list…..

I’m excited about all the possiblilities.

Health Benefits of Nori

You know…the Seaweed that wraps Sushi

Getty  (this resembles an ART piece)

although it is also used as a garnish, for flavoring noodle dishes and soups, or as a health supplement. Indeed, as the nutritional value of nori continues to come to light, more and more health food stores worldwide are beginning to sell it in fresh or dried form.

From LiveStrong Website
Photo: LiveStrong Website

List of Health Benefits

And the benefits abound: Seaweed (specifically nori, the kind usually used for seaweed snacks) is a cocktail of nutrients, including high levels of vitamins A and C, and calcium. Vegans can rejoice in the fact that it’s one of the only natural, non-animal sources of vitamin B-12, which is essential for many cognitive and bodily functions. In addition, sea vegetables tout particularly high amounts of iodine, potassium, selenium, iron, and magnesium—unrivaled by land vegetables, as these minerals are especially concentrated in seawater.

Rich in protein – 100 grams of nori contain between 30 and 50 grams of protein, making it one of the plant world’s richest sources of protein and comparable in density to spirulina, chlorella, and soybeans. Protein is needed for building and repairing muscles, building enzymes and antibodies, and cell maintenance and growth.

Lowers cholesterol – According to a study published in the June 2001 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition, when rats that were on an otherwise high-cholesterol diet were fed nori, their LDL cholesterol levels lowered, suggesting that nori plays an important role in stabilizing cholesterol levels. Perhaps this is because nori is surprisingly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are well-known for reducing LDL cholesterol. They also help lower blood pressure, therefore making nori excellent for the cardiovascular system.

Dietary fiber – Nori is comprised of approximately 33 percent dietary fiber, making it an effective laxative. Also, since high-fiber foods have the ability to make you feel full for longer, nori is also a good weight loss food (a fact that is reinforced by its low calorie and fat content).

Lowers cancer risk – A study published in the May 2010 edition of the British Journal of Nutrition found that the regular consumption of nori was linked to lowered rates of breast cancer for menopausal and pre-menopausal women. This is unsurprising, since nori is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C that help neutralize the cancer-causing effects of free radicals.

High in iron – 100 grams of nori contain approximately 88 percent of our recommended daily intake of iron, making it an extremely rich source of this much-needed mineral. Furthermore, a Venezuelan study published in 2007 for the Journal of Nutrition showed that nori, unlike many grains and beans, doesn’t contain phytates, which can drastically lower the absorption rate of iron.

Improves bone health – 100 grams of nori contain 280 milligrams of calcium (28 percent of our RDI) and 300 milligrams of magnesium (85 percent of our RDI). While we all know that calcium is good for the bones and is needed to prevent osteoporosis, lesser-known is that fact that we also need magnesium to help absorb it. Since nori contains sizable quantities of both, it is the perfect bone-builder.

Impressive iodine content – Sea vegetables are the plant world’s premier source of iodine, and nori doesn’t disappoint. 100 grams of it contain approximately six milligrams of this extremely important mineral. Indeed, according to the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), one sushi roll wrapped in nori contains 92 micrograms of iodine, which is close to an adult’s RDI of 150 micrograms. Iodine deficiencies are very common in the West and can lead to serious conditions such as goiter and hyperthyroidism.

Aside from the nutrients already mentioned, 100 grams of nori also provide us with vitamin A (288 percent of our RDI), thiamine (60 percent), riboflavin (194 percent), niacin (78 percent), folate (475 percent), as well as impressive levels of phosphorous, potassium, zinc, and vitamins C, E, and K.

Source: Michael Ravensthorpe. He is the creator of the website, Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world’s healthiest foods.


I use nori as a topper in a homemade miso soup base.  I start with a soybean paste that is GMO free (getting non-GMO is harder to find these days but if you look hard you’ll find it). Sometimes added chicken stock and then add vegetables (baby bok choy, spinach, broccoli, a little soy, rice noodles, shichimi spice and toasted seaweed.  It is fairly quick, nutritious and delicious.  It sure beats the miso soups you get at any Japanese restaurant.

If you want to know the difference between Kelp and Seaweed:

Seaweed is a very, very broad term that is used to describe the many marine plants and algae that live in the world’s waters. Kelp is actually a subgroup of seaweed and is also the largest form of seaweed. Seaweeds range in size from the microscopic to the massive, while kelp are so large and complex that they form massive underwater forests. You may have seen this marine plant at the beach. Kelp is a type of large brown seaweed that grows in shallow, nutrient-rich saltwater, near coastal fronts around the world. It differs slightly in color, flavor, and nutrient profile from the type you may see in sushi rolls. It contains:

  • iron
  • manganese
  • calcium
  • magnesium
  • copper
  • zinc
  • riboflavin
  • niacin
  • thiamin
  • vitamins A, B-12, B-6, and C

What about too much Iodine?

The key is to get a moderate amount to raise energy levels and brain functioning. It is difficult to get too much iodine in natural kelp but this could be an issue with supplements.

Do you eat Nori or Kelp?

Healthy Food – Vietnamese Salad Rolls

A friend prepared these delicious salad rolls shown in photo.  She did not have a specific recipe however I found one that you can follow and add chicken or prawns to if you like.  They’ve got the three essentials – that is they’re delicious, healthy and low fat.  What was really nice is how she served them with lettuce leaves lining the plate – presentation, presentation ladies and gents!

Photo: d. king
Photo: d. king

Don’t you hate it when you ask someone for a recipe and they say “I don’t have a recipe, just use whatever you have on hand – they’re so easy to make.”  Said friend made the best sukiyaki (again, no recipe and who makes sukiyaki anyway – you’re lucky to even find it on the menu at any Japanese restaurant) but believe me I took mental notes and I’m making it and will follow up for you on that dish at a little later date. When it starts to get a bit cooler out maybe even tomorrow. I need to buy another appliance before doing so.  For now make this & cut them up smaller for appetizers:

MAKES 4 ROLLS (regular size)

You can try different dipping sauces – why not have options? In photo the wraps are made with chicken and the dipping sauce is thai sweet chili which can be store bought if you don’t have the time to make it from scratch.

for the peanut sauce 

1 tablespoon soy sauce (I prefer low sodium)

2 teaspoons fish sauce

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

juice of 1 lime

1 shallot, roughly chopped (1/4 cup)

1 small garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped

1 1-inch piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped

¼ cup sesame oil

2 teaspoons maple syrup

for the rolls:

8 rice paper spring roll wrappers

1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated and washed

12 fresh mint leaves

12 fresh basil leaves

8 sprigs fresh cilantro

½ English cucumber, cut into sticks

1 small avocado, thinly sliced

  • About 2 cups cooked rice vermicelli cooled down (optional)
  • fresh bean sprouts (optional)
  1. To make the peanut sauce, blend all ingredients until smooth.
  2. Meanwhile, cut or tear the hard rib from each butter lettuce leaf and prep all other filling ingredients.
  3. Fill a bowl large enough to hold the spring roll wrappers with warm water. Soak one wrapper for about 1 minute, or until just pliable, then lay flat on a cutting board. Layer in lettuce leaves, folding large ones in half, then fresh herbs, cucumber, and sliced avocado. Then rice vermicelli, meat (if using) and bean sprouts.
  4. Carefully roll up the wrapper, leaving both ends open. Soak another wrapper and wrap existing roll inside to secure ingredients.
  5. Repeat with remaining wrappers and filling ingredient. Then, pack in an air-proof container, layering in a damp paper towel to keep the rice paper moist.
  6. Serve with dipping sauce on the side.

Originally featured in An End of Summer Picnic on goop

Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce:

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1/4 cup hot water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 lime, juiced
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon red chili paste, such as sambal

Source for chili sauce: Food Network

I’ve made traditional Vietnamese salad rolls in the past using lettuce, rice vermicelli, prawns, green onion and bean sprouts with peanut dipping sauce.  They’re actually pretty easy to make.  At first you might break a few of the wraps because they’re so thin but when you get the hang of it they’re fun to make.  It just took my friend making these to remind me that they’re a BIG HIT at parties! Everyone loved them.  Everyone asked for the recipe.  You’re welcome!

Upcoming Vancouver Event:

Join me at one of my favourite Fall fundraisers –  the annual Arts Club event CHEF MEETS BC GRAPE featuring up to 90 BC wineries pouring over 350 award-winning wines, delectably paired with locally inspired dishes from top British Columbia restaurants.  See why BC food is designed for BC wine!

Signature Tasting
Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Vancouver Convention Centre East
999 Canada Place, Ballrooms A, B and C
7–9:30 PM

Simply Satisfying – Panko Baked Chicken Fingers

pankochicken4These are a healthier alternative to the chicken fingers that are served in restaurants and they taste great. These are good the next day, too & make a tasty snack or appie.


1/2 tsp (2 mL) Dijon mustard
2 egg whites
2 cups (500 mL) panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1/2 tsp (2 mL) paprika
1/2 tsp (2 mL) dried parsley
1 tsp (5 mL) lemon zest
Pinch each salt and pepper
2 chicken breasts (650 g total), cut into 16 1-in.-thick strips

Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. In a bowl, whisk Dijon mustard with egg whites. In a second bowl, mix together bread crumbs, paprika, parsley, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Dip chicken in egg whites and then bread mixture, and place on baking sheet. Repeat till all strips are coated. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until cooked through.

Makes 16 chicken fin­gers. Each: 100 calories, 12 g protein, 1 g fat (0 g sat­urated fat), 10 g carbo­hydrates, 1 g fibre, 24 mg cholesterol, 142 sodium.

Spicy Peanut Dipping Sauce


2 Tbsp (30 mL) smooth peanut butter

¼ cup (60 mL) hot water

1Tbsp (15 mL) lime juice

1 Tbsp (15 mL) low sodium soy sauce

1 tsp. (5mL) Tabasco

Pinch each ground ginger, cumin, salt and pepper

Having a couple of extra dipping sauces on hand like sweet chili & honey mustard will give guests a variety to choose from and are a nice accompaniment to the fingers.


Recipe taken from Best Health Magazine