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Nourishing the Soul

Jon Kabat-Zinn, creator of the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health, and Society says:  “Mindfulness is a love affair with life and a gateway into the full dimensionality of being human.”  This applies to all areas of your life including how you choose to nourish your body.

This month we will take you from the macro (how to make ethical and healthy choices about food) to the micro (how food moves through your digestive system). When you begin to be mindful of food in this holistic way, it will lead to better health and a more profound connection with your food and your world.

At its most basic, eating is what humans do to satisfy hunger. Although, in our food-obsessed culture, eating is a loaded activity that comes with a host of emotional, social, physiological, spiritual, and environmental baggage. Not surprisingly, some of us rely on food to fill us up emotionally as well as physically. Let’s face it, we live in a culture that encourages us to eat and drink. For anyone who loves eating out or entertaining, it can be difficult to follow strict dietary guidelines. Plus, the temptation of junk food is everywhere. It’s fast, cheap, quick, and easy to eat at fast food restaurants.

In Michael Pollan’s books The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Food Rules, and his most recent Cooked, he points out that three times a day you are able to express your values through your food choices. So how do you bypass all of the unhealthy cultural messages you are bombarded with? One way to do this is to learn to eat mindfully. Mindful eating is eating with intention. It’s about slowing down and being conscious of the effect food has on your body. When you eat mindfully, you learn to enjoy food the way it is meant to be enjoyed rather than just trying to fill a void. You choose foods that truly support your body. This approach inevitably leads to developing a healthier relationship with your food and puts you in the right frame of mind; your body will feel the benefits. Eat slowly and focus on what you are eating. Chew your food until it is liquefied and think about how every mouthful is nourishing your body. Smell it, savor the taste, and enjoy the experience. Your mindset is extremely important.

Michael Pollan believes “cooking is an expression of love” and “meals are sacred occasions” where you should honor the sacrifice of the food you are about to eat. It’s a good idea to take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to prepare your digestive system for the food your body is about to metabolize. It lowers those stress hormones whose goal is to encourage you to store fat when you eat. You certainly don’t want that.

By being mindful of the foods you buy, the brands you choose, and the stores you shop in, you become part of a groundswell of people who are striving to stop the unscrupulous food producers, pesticide manufacturers, and GMO proponents from severing our vital connection to nourishing foods.

Tune in next week to learn more about the foods in the world around you. And enjoy this complementary recipe, meant to be eaten slowly and enjoyed to it’s maximum!

Access your complementary recipe here.

Health Coach Rita Thomas and Chef Erin Holm hope to inspire families, friends and communities to live happier, healthier and more delicious lives.
<style=”text-align: left;”>Sign up to their health and recipe blog to start your journey to good health.

Spring Tonic Soup

Spring Tonic Soup
Yields 6
Nettles are very high in minerals. They grow wild in British Columbia, Canada and in the spring pair well with asparagus and spinach. If you find some at a farmers' market and you know they have not been exposed to pesticides, grab some and make this soup. Give your body a spring tonic blast! If you can't get nettles, just substitute with watercress; it is also highly nutritious.
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  1. 4 cups nettles or watercress, tougher stalks discarded
  2. 2 cups spring spinach leaves or watercress
  3. 2 cups tender asparagus, chopped
  4. 2 tablespoons organic butter, ghee, or olive oil
  5. 1 onion peeled and finely chopped
  6. 2 large leeks, trimmed, washed and finely sliced
  7. 1/4 cup chives
  8. 1/4 cup chervil
  9. 2 celery sticks, chopped
  10. 2 cloves garlic, minced
  11. 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  12. Sea salt
  13. Freshly ground black pepper
  14. Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  1. Heat the butter or oil in a large pan over medium low heat. Add the onion, leeks, celery, and garlic. Cover the pan with a lid and let the vegetables steam for 10 minutes. Make sure you stir them a few times; you want the vegetables soft but not browned.
  2. Add the stock and bring to a simmer, cook for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the nettles, spinach, chervil, and chives, stirring them into the stock as they wilt. Simmer for 3-5 minutes, until tender and just wilted.
  4. Season the soup generously with sea salt and pepper.
  5. Purée the soup in two batches, reheat if necessary and check the seasoning.
  6. Serve in warmed bowls with a little squeeze of lemon juice.
  1. Garnish by swirling a dollop of yogurt or "cashew creama" into the soup for a creamy finish.
Recipes for Life by Rita Thomas and Chef Erin Holm

Vegan Veggie Stew

Vegan Veggie Stew
Yields 6
This stew is hearty and easy to vary by substituting different vegetables during different seasons. I like adding corn, sweet potatoes, and peas when they are in season.
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  1. 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  2. 1 white onion, chopped
  3. 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  4. 2 leeks, sliced
  5. 2 stalks celery, sliced
  6. 2 cups cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets
  7. 2 cups butternut squash, peeled and diced into 1-inch squares
  8. 2 cups Brussels sprouts, stems trimmed, outer leaves removed, and halved
  9. 2 cups spinach
  10. 3/4 cup coconut milk
  11. 2 tablespoons miso paste
  12. 1 tablespoon tahini
  13. 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  14. 3 tablespoons Italian parsley
  15. Pinch sea salt
  16. 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large sauté pan. Add the onion, garlic, leek, celery and Brussels sprouts. Sauté over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  2. Add the cauliflower, butternut squash, and coconut milk.
  3. Turn down the heat to a simmer, cover the pan with a lid and let steam for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the miso paste and the tahini past to the pan along with the spinach, and stir well to combine.
  5. Cover the pan again with a lid and let cook for another minute, until the spinach has wilted but is still bright green.
  6. Stir in the lemon juice, Italian parsley, salt and pepper.
  7. Serve in a shallow bowl.
Recipes for Life by Rita Thomas and Chef Erin Holm


Now you now know how to eat healthy, what to eat, and what to avoid… And hopefully you have gone shopping, and have rotated all the foods in your fridges and cupboards… you are all ready for a fresh clean start!  What types of foods can you create with all this in mind? This week we’re giving you the 411 on menu planning:

Menu planning can be tricky, particularly now that meals are not always composed of a meat, a starch, and a vegetable. If you are entertaining, then you want the meal to flow, present well, and be satisfying for your guests. Here’s a checklist to help you:

  • Check with your guests to see if they have any special dietary requirements.
  • How much time do you have?
  • Ask yourself what is in season and what the weather is like. Have your guests been active (for example, skiing all day)? Is it the middle of summer? Perhaps everyone will  want  to be sitting outside on your dec Do you want a culinary theme (Asian-inspired or Italian- inspired, for example)?
  • From a health perspective, two thirds of your menu should be composed of low-starch vegetables and leafy greens, and the remaining third should be a protein dish. You can incorporate one dish that is a starchy vegetable, a legume, or a gluten-free grain like quinoa or lentils.  Add a healthy dose of fat to help your body absorb all those wonderful vegetables!
  • Now choose your main dish.
  • If you have chosen a meat dish, pair it with two or three lighter vegetable dishes or salads. If the meal is dark in color with richer flavors, like a vegetable curry or a chicken stew, pair it with a green salad and an acidic dressing.
  • Now, think balance in textures and colours: don’t start with a soup and serve a stew as your main course. Don’t serve a quiche as your main course and serve pie for dessert! Pick different colors and textures of dishes to compliment and balance your main dish.
  • Don’t use the same cooking method for all of your courses, or you will over-commit oven or stovetop space.
  • Make sure one or two of your dishes can be made ahead.
  • It’s probably not a good idea to experiment with a new recipe when you are hosting guests.
  • Serve the meal family-style if kids are involved, so they can pick and choose what they would like to eat.  Reward them for trying new foods.
  • When in doubt, pair your main dish with a simple green salad.

For more detailed information on Menu Planning, pick up your copy of the Recipes for Life Boxed Set here.

Access your complementary recipe here.


Health Coach Rita Thomas and Chef Erin Holm hope to inspire families, friends and communities to live happier, healthier and more delicious lives. Sign up for their weekly health and recipe blog to start your journey to good health.


Hello!   Here is a sneak peak at the type of Menus you will be able to create using our Recipes:


New Year’s Eve Dinner

  • Winter Salad with Pomegranate and Fennel
  • Seafood Chowder
  • Mocha Pudding Cake

Vegan Supper

  • Portobello Mushroom Pizzas
  • Asian Beet and Avocado Salad
  • Zucchini Spaghetti “Zoodles”
  • Banana Gelato

Picnic Party

  • Southwestern Quinoa Salad
  • E’s Crunch Salad with Hard Boiled Eggs
  • Coconut Slaw
  • Comfort Cookies

Spring Celebration

  • Steamed Artichoke
  • Coconut Lime Beurre Blanc on Wild Salmon
  • Bok Choy with Shiitake Mushroom Sauce
  • Açai Cheesecake with Fresh Berries

Italian Night

  • Watermelon Gazpacho
  • Butter Lettuce with Shaved Asparagus and Truffle Vinaigrette
  • Rustic Tomato Sauce on Quinoa Pasta
  • Chocolate Avocado Mousse

Burger Night

  • Bountiful Burgers
  • Coconut Coleslaw
  • Sweet Potato Salad

Low-Carb Night

  • Kale Caesar Salad
  • Lasagna-Stuffed Spaghetti Squash
  • Frozen Fruit Platter

Deck Dining

  • Grape and Watercress Gazpacho
  • Seafood Louie with Guacamole
  • Apple and Pear Crisp

Brunch Buffet

  • Great Green Juice
  • Watercress and Blueberry Salad
  • Powerhouse Frittata
  • Hummingbird Breakfast Muffins

Big Winter Warm-Up

  • Vitamin A Soup
  • Classic Roast Chicken
  • Cauliflower Rice
  • Sauté of Super Greens
  • Holiday Pumpkin Pie


Health Coach Rita Thomas and Chef Erin Holm hope to inspire families, friends and communities to live happier, healthier and more delicious lives. Sign up for their weekly health and recipe blog to start your journey to good health.

Butter Lettuce with Shaved Asparagus

Butter Lettuce with Shaved Asparagus
Yields 4
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  1. 2 heads Bibb or butter lettuce
  2. 6 asparagus spears
  3. 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, shaved
  4. 1 tablespoon fresh chives, chopped
Truffle Vinaigrette
  1. 1 small shallot, minced
  2. 3 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  3. 1 teaspoon truffle oil
  4. 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  5. Pinch of sea salt
  6. Black pepper to taste
  1. Whisk the ingredients for the Truffle Vinaigrette together. Set aside so the flavors can blend.
  2. Meanwhile, shave the asparagus into thin strips with a vegetable peeler.
  3. Wash the butter lettuce. Carefully separate the leaves.
  4. Whisk the vinaigrette and toss the shaved asparagus with a small amount of it.
  5. Toss the butter lettuce leaves with the vinaigrette.
  6. Pile the lettuce leaves up on the plate. Layer them with a few shavings of asparagus.
  7. Garnish each salad with a few shavings of Parmesan cheese and 1/4 of the fresh chives.
  1. If you can get fresh truffles or truffle powder, add a few fresh truffle shavings or a pinch of truffle powder to the vinaigrette.
Recipes for Life by Rita Thomas and Chef Erin Holm

Great Green Juice

Great Green Juice
Yields 5
To get optimum nutrition, drink this within 24 hours.
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  1. 5 celery stalks
  2. 1 large cucumber
  3. 1 bunch romaine lettuce
  4. 1 bunch kale or collard greens
  5. 1 bunch spinach
  6. 1 bunch parsley
  7. Juice of one lemon
  8. 1 green apple or pear (optional)
  9. Raw honey or stevia to taste (optional)
  10. 1/4 teaspoon Udo's oil, brain oil, or healthy oil of choice to aid in digestion (optional)
  11. Chia seeds (optional)
  1. Run all the ingredients, except the lemon juice, through a juicer.
  2. Stir the lemon juice into the green juice.
  3. Keep in glass jars or a glass pitcher with a lid in the fridge.
  1. Even if you don't want to noticeably sweeten this recipe, you might add a tiny amount (1/2 teaspoon) of raw honey to keep this juice from oxidizing too fast.
Recipes for Life by Rita Thomas and Chef Erin Holm

Summertime Coconut Slaw

Coconut Slaw
Serves 6
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  1. 2 cups green cabbage, shredded
  2. 2 cups red cabbage, shredded
  3. 1 cup carrot, shredded
  4. 1 cup kale, shredded
  5. 3 green onions, minced
  6. ¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
  7. ½ cup fresh coconut or meat of 1 young fresh coconut, shredded
  8. ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds, toasted
  9. 3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  10. 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
Coconut Milk Dressing
  1. ½ cup coconut milk
  2. 2 tablespoons olive oil
  3. 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  4. 2 tablespoons lime juice
  5. 1 shallot, minced
  6. 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  7. 1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce (see page 314 for a healthy hot sauce option or substitute chili flakes)
  8. 1 tablespoon raw honey or 2 drops liquid stevia
  9. ½ teaspoon black pepper
  10. ½ teaspoon salt
  1. Place the ingredients for the dressing in a blender and blend well.
  2. Refrigerate for 1 hour prior to using.
  3. Place all the ingredients for the slaw in a salad bowl and toss together with the dressing. Add salt and pepper if desired.
  1. If you cannot find fresh young coconut in the produce section, coconut should be available
Recipes for Life by Rita Thomas and Chef Erin Holm

Top 10 Foods to Avoid

We hoped you enjoyed last week’s 10 Basics of Healthy Eating. It was full of great tips, tricks and insights into how you can get jump-started on healthy eating right away! This week we have for you a list of the the top foods you should eliminate from your diet, or at the very least, consume in moderation!

  1. Avoid gluten and grains whenever possible. If you don’t buy into all the stories of the negative effects gluten has on the body, read Wheat Belly by cardiologist Dr. William Davis.
  2. Avoid dairy unless you can find a safe, raw, and unpasteurized source. Besides the fact that not everyone can properly digest dairy, studies have found that countries with the lowest rates of dairy (Africa and Asia) have the lowest rates of osteoporosis. So, contrary to popular wisdom, the less dairy you eat, the better your bones will be.
  3. Avoid genetically modified foods (GMOs) at all costs. There have been copious amounts of research done on the damaging effects of GMOs, so don’t mess with this.
  4. Stay away from artificial sweeteners and eat all natural sugars in moderation, including fruit.  The less sugar or sweeteners you consume the better.
  5. Avoid processed food, junk food, and food with additives and preservatives: a lot of condiments fall into this category.
  6. Avoid soy products unless they are fermented because they can actually affect your hormone levels and not in a positive way!
  7. Eliminate foods labeled low fat, because low fat means added sugar. Don’t be afraid to eat healthy fats from nuts, seeds, avocados, and healthy oils. Fat makes you feel more satiated.
  8. Avoid foods cooked at high temperatures with low-smoking-point oils.
  9. Do not eat anything grown in a factory farm. There have been plenty of in-depth investigations showing the terrible cruelty to animals practiced on factory farms. You sure don’t want all this negative energy transmitted into your body.
  10. Avoid hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils are either semi-solid or solid at room temperature and are only one molecule away from plastic; plastic does not break down, as you can imagine. This oil can create thicker blood with a gummy substance that flows through your blood and can easily lodge in your arteries and build up arterial plaque. It doesn’t take anywhere near as much time as you may think for this to occur. Some studies have shown that negative health effects of eating processed foods occurs within only minutes of consuming such foods.

So stay away if you can… and refer to the 10 basics of healthy eating for what you can be doing.

For more detailed information on Healthy Eating and Choosing the Right Foods For You, pick up your copy of the Recipes for Life Boxed Set.

Access your complementary recipe here.

Health Coach Rita Thomas and Chef Erin Holm hope to inspire families, friends and communities to live happier, healthier and more delicious lives.
Sign up for their weekly health and recipe blog to start your journey to good health.

Shopping List II

Last week you got the first half of the shopping list, here’s the rest:

Nut Butters: Almond butter (raw, sprouted), Coconut butter (raw), Hazelnut butter (raw, sprouted), Sesame tahini

Oils: Choose cold-pressed, extra-virgin varieties of: Avocado oil, Bulletproof Brain oil, Coconut oil, Hazelnut oil, Hemp oil, MCT oil, Olive oil, Red palm oil, Sesame oil, Udo’s oil

Fresh Fruit: Apples, Avocado, Banana, Berries (blackberries,  blueberries,  cranberries, raspberries, strawberries), Cantaloupe, Cherries, Coconut (fresh, young), Dragon fruit, Grapefruit, Kiwi, Lemon, Lime, Mango, Melon, Oranges, Papaya, Peach, Pears, Persimmons, Pineapple, Plum, Tomato, Watermelon, Any other fruit that is in season

Fresh Vegetables: Asparagus, Beets, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Carrot, Cauliflower, Celery, Celery root, Chiles, Corn, Cucumber, Eggplant, Endive, Fennel, Herbs, Basil, Cilantro, Dill, Ginger, Mint, Parsley, Rosemary, Tarragon, Jicama, Leafy greens, Arugula, Bok choy, Collards, Dandelion, Kale, Lettuce (all varieties), Spinach, Sunflower greens, Radish leaves, Mushrooms, Onions, Garlic, Leeks, Scallions, Shallots, Spring onions, Peas, Peppers red, Pea shoots, Pumpkin, Radish, Rutabaga, Sunflower shoots, Squash, Sweet potato, Zucchini

Refrigerated Foods: Butter (raw or grass fed), Coconut water (fermented), Cheese (Parmesan block, Pecorino (from sheep’s milk), Feta (from goat’s milk)), Eggs, Ghee, Kelp noodles, Miracle noodles, Miso paste (unpasteurized), Sauerkraut, Tempeh

Seasonings: Bragg’s liquid amino acids, Coconut aminos, Fish sauce, Hot sauce, Mustard, Nama shoyu, Tamari sauce (gluten-free), Seeds

Seeds and Legumes for Sprouting: Alfalfa, Bean mix, Broccoli, Fenugreek, Peas, Mung beans, Radish, Lentils, chick peas

Other Seeds: Chia seeds (sprouted and non-sprouted), Hemp seeds, Popcorn, Pumpkin seeds (sprouted), Sesame seeds, Sunflower seeds (sprouted)

Spices: Basil, Bay leaves, Caraway seed, Cardamom, Cayenne pepper, Celery seed, Chervil, Chile flakes, Chile pepper, Cilantro, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coriander, Cumin, Curry powder, Dill, Dulse seasoning, Fennel, Garlic, Ginger, Kelp seasoning, Lemon grass, Marjoram, Mint, Mustard, Nutmeg, Onion, Oregano, Paprika, Parsley, Pepper, Rosemary, Saffron, Sage, Sea salt (Himalayan or Celtic), Tarragon, Thyme, Turmeric

Sweeteners: Erythritol, Honey (raw), Lakanto, Lucuma, Stevia, Xylitol, Yacón syrup

Treats: Chocolate covered cacao beans from Longevity Warehouse, Power Organics Cacao Berry Clarity Chocolate, Whey Chocolate Protein Bar from Mercola, Bulletproof Vanilla Collagen Bar from Bulletproof

Vinegars: Apple cider vinegar, Balsamic vinegar (white and regular), Coconut vinegar, Superfood cider vinegar from Longevity Warehouse, Umeboshi plum vinegar, Wine vinegars (red, white, champagne, sherry)

Yeast: Nutritional yeast

Health Coach Rita Thomas and Chef Erin Holm hope to inspire families, friends and communities to live happier, healthier and more delicious lives. Sign up for their weekly health and recipe blog to start your journey to good health.