Strawberry Salsa

One of the first dishes my sister ever wowed me with was baked chicken topped with a mango salsa. Never before this had I considered another type of salsa – what was this voodoo magic? The experience opened my eyes and after that, I was sold on trying all different kinds.

There are so many great one’s out there, but Strawberry Salsa has always been at the top of my list. You probably won’t find this at a grocer, and it’s pretty rare you’ll find it at any local markets. So when all else fails, you gotta make it at home. The other great part about making it at home is that it’s affordable. Plus, it means you can make a humungous batch in case you have to share.

It also gives you the chance to control the heat. I’m a medium heat gal myself, but you can up your jalapeño to turn it up a notch. This recipe is super quick and simple, so let’s not delay! You’ve gotta make this one. This strawberry salsa recipe is simple, refreshing, slightly sweet, and flavourful.

strawberry salsa recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 + 1/2 cup diced strawberries
  • 1/4 cup finely diced purple onion
  • 1/2 – 1 fresh jalapeño (to preference)
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)

Directions

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl. If you can let the flavours mingle for 30 minutes, it’s even better!

Pairs well with fish, fish tacos, bean chips, or tortilla chips.

The cilantro is optional – I’ve tried it both ways, and it’s excellent with or without it!

I love seeing your recreations! If you make this, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram @standingstrongwellness .

Later babes!

6 Reasons to Quit Dairy For Good

What’s the deal with dairy? Last year the dairy industry took a real hard hit. Is quitting dairy a health-fad, or are the benefits for real? Today we’re sharing 6 reasons to quit dairy that may help you answer this question: should you quit dairy?

Tough on Digestion

Do you find dairy makes you bloated, or gives you irregular bowel movements? It’s actually more common than not. In adulthood, our bodies produce less of the enzyme necessary to digest lactose (lactase). Very few adults have a genetic variant that allows them to continue digesting lactose, while the rest of us would need to supplement, or simply deal with the bloating and indigestion.

Misleading Claims about Milk

Did you grow up believing that dairy was necessary for strong bones? That couldn’t be further from the truth. Nuts and seeds, white beans, and leafy greens like kale and arugula are all high in calcium. If you eat a well-rounded diet, you are probably meeting your daily requirements through other foods.

We’ve always been told that we need dairy to protect us against developing brittle bones, yet it’s been shown that countries that consume the least amount of dairy (like Africa and Asia) actually have the lowest instances of osteoporosis. Furthermore, recent research supports the importance of vitamin D over calcium for strong bones.

Dairy Contributes to Inflammation

Is dairy bad for you? For the benefits that dairy does offer (protein, probiotics), there can also be some serious drawbacks. Many nutrition professionals view dairy as an inflammatory food, because it contributes to bloating, gas, low-grade chronic pain, and acne breakouts. A lot of these symptoms have to do with the immune-response produced in the body when consuming dairy.

Dairy is Addictive

The dairy protein casein contains something called casomorphins, which is a compound similar to morphine. Casomorphins attach to the same receptors in your brain as narcotics, giving you that feel-good effect. Of course, milk is not heroin. However this does illustrate how dairy can be highly addictive. In an effort to produce that feeling again, your body will continue to crave the substance that produced it – dairy.

Endless Alternative Options

If you’ve never tried dairy-free milk, cheese, and yogurt options, I know it can be scary. But you’re truly missing out! There are so many different milk options out there, from soy to oat to almond milk. What’s more, they all offer their own unique range of nutrients. You can get amazing coconut yogurt almost anywhere now. And the cheese – don’t even get me started! Just in these past few years, the options for dairy-free cheese have exploded. I love the small artisanal ones offered locally, but I also keep store-bought shreds in the fridge at all time. You can find a lot of great homemade recipes online too.

Quitting dairy and replacing it with other plant-based options is something I’ve recommended to almost all of my clients, and the ones who really gave it a fair shot never went back. Why? They felt so much better without it. Their stomach felt better. Their elimination was normal – no more constipation and/or diarrhea. Their skin gets better too!

If you’ve been struggling with digestive issues, acne breakouts, and inflammation, getting dairy out of your diet could make a huge difference for your health.

Psssst – all of my recipes are dairy free! You can check them out here.

2020 Kitchen Staples – Nutritionist Favourites

You know when you get really excited about a song, and you think it’s so good that you just have to share it with everyone you know? This post is my personal version of that.

I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and my kitchen staples are my treasures. I love these ingredients so much, and I think you’ll love them too – which is why I’m so eager to share them with you!

I’ve split this list into 3 categories – Pantry, Fridge, and Snacks. I’m leaving out produce because to me, preference for that is so individualized.

Here’s what I will be sharing: the staple itself, why I choose it, and even my preferred brand or flavour. I hope this inspires you to branch out and try something new, or get excited about being in the kitchen today!

Pantry

Almond Flour

Almond flour is a great high-protein, high-fat flour. I love it in baked goods because it produces a nice crumb, and is an easy substitute in most recipes. Almond flour is naturally gluten-free and easy to digest. Also great for paleo recipes too! I love having this on hand – but I don’t use it every day because it can be quite pricey. My favourite brand is Bob’s Red Mill.

Brown Rice Flour

Brown rice flour is something I’ve used in so many of my recipes! It’s gluten-free and very affordable. Great for coating your cauliflower in to make buffalo wings, or making my oh-so-good Chickpea Burgers with. I also use it for sauce bases too, like with my Creamy Garlic Sage Pasta. Keep in mind when baking with this, it can be a bit dry (no gluten, no stretch), so I like to use almond flour instead for baking, or half and half with the sprouted spelt flour coming up next. Like with the almond flour, I prefer Bob’s Red Mill.

Sprouted Spelt Flour

I eat mostly gluten-free, but I can tolerate gluten in smaller quantities. I know some recipes will turn out better (or be made easier) with a flour that does contain gluten, so I choose spelt flour which is known to be easier to digest. What’s especially important here is the sprouted part. This sprouting further enhances digestion by pre-breaking down some of those hard to digest nutrients – definitely go for sprouted! Great for flatbreads and pizza crusts. My favourite brand is Anita’s Organic.

Coconut Sugar

If you haven’t tried coconut sugar yet, you must! Coconut sugar, compared to other sugars, is lower on the glycemic index. This means that it doesn’t spike your blood sugar as much when consumed. It has a bit of that mapley-brown sugar taste, which I think is phenomenal. My favourite brand is Wholesome.

Chickpeas

For a while, I debated changing the name of my business to “mostly chickpeas” because let’s face it – I cook with them a lot! They are packed with fiber and so versatile. You can make Breakfast Cookies, Chickpea Curry, Chickpea Burgers – your options really are endless. I don’t think that all brands are created equal. I usually buy the No Salt Added Compliments Brand, and I always soak for at least an hour before cooking.

Brown Rice Pasta

I know fancy pastas are all the rage right now, but I can’t be bothered to spent $10 on a box of lentil pasta. I love the texture of Brown Rice Pasta and it’s always affordable. We have pasta just about every week – I buy the compliments brand in spaghetti or penne.

Pumpkin Seeds

I like to use these as a sneaky way too add extra iron and magnesium to any dish, mostly on soups and salads. I buy the Compliments Brand, and go for organic and raw. Cooking the pumpkin seeds can compromise some of those nutrients, so get’em green!

Dairy-Free Chocolate Chips

What pantry would be complete without a little bit of chocolate? I love making chocolate chip cookies and homemade trail mixes. Sometimes we just grab a small handful when we need to! Enjoy Life makes dairy-free chocolate chips – regular, dark, and mini.

Fridge

Coconut Probiotic

When choosing a probiotic, quality is really important to me. The Cultured Coconut offers a liquid coconut probiotics which has 4+ TRILLION CFU / TBSP , which is basically unheard of. If you compare to the brand in your cupboard, you’ll be blown away. Because this one comes as a liquid, you will want to keep it in the fridge. I take 1-2 TBSP every night, and it makes a huge difference for me!

Coconut Nectar

When I was younger, we used to go to this sushi place that had a “sweet soy sauce” offered with or in place of the regular just-salty stuff. I loved the addition of the sort-of sweet taste, and the Coconut Nectar tastes just like it. I use this in place of soy sauce in my fridge. I use it in sauces, salad dressings, and of course stirfrys! I have tried a few that were just okay, but I love Braggs.

Plant-based Yogurt

Are we sending a trend here? I guess it’s clear I love all things coconut. Plain Coconut Yogurt is a great snack with fruit, or I sometimes pair it with oatmeal for breakfast. The plain one is quite tart, so I’ve also added vinegar, cucumber, and dill before for a quick cucumber salad. I buy the Silk brand because it’s available almost everywhere I shop. The vanilla is good too!

Apple Cider Vinegar

There are a lot of myths about ACV – so I want to make it known why I use this vinegar in particular. First, it has been shown to be helpful with digestion. Secondly, it is known to be antimicrobial, and can minimize the spread of bad bacteria. I use apple cider vinegar a lot in baking, and also to make vegan buttermilk, which is basically plant milk + ACV. I also use this vinegar in my homemade dressings. I go for the ever-popular Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar.

Zevia

Regular pop can keep it’s artificial sweetners and added corn syrups – I’ll take a Zevia. Zevia is a pop that’s sweetened with stevia. I love that Zevia is naturally sweetened with a very low glycemic sweetener. They also never use any dyes. Since discovering Zevia, I’ve had pop only once – maaaaaybe twice in the last 4 years. My favourite is Root Beer – the Cola is also really good!

Snacks

High Fat Bars

Fat is the slowest digesting micronutrient, so eating food that contains fat will keep you feeling fuller for longer. When I need a snack to hold me over until the next meal, I usually pick one that is high in fat and easy to digest. My favourites are Love Good Fats (plant-based PB & J) and Good to Go (Pecan). These feel like a treat but both offer a good amount of protein and fibre too.

Bean Chips

I’ve been going through a separation with corn, and one thing I’ve missed is tortilla chips. I can’t believe that this is what it’s taken for me to try Bean Chips – they are so good! Higher in fibre than your average chip, they are satisfyingly crunchy and also great with salsa (or on their own). I always choose Beanfield in Sea Salt or Nacho.

Smart Sweets

My love affair with Smart Sweets Candy is alive and thriving. These candies are plant-based and sweetened with stevia – only 3 grams of sugar for the entire bag! This is a sweet treat that won’t mess with your blood sugar and help keep your energy stable while still letting your tastebuds go WOW. My favourite is the Peach Rings – I’m seriously eating them as I type right now.

Sprouted Nuts

Like with the sprouted spelt flour, sprouted nuts can be easier to digest than regular nuts. If you have a sensitive digestive system like I do, try your nuts sprouted! A handful of nuts is a classic great snack. I especially love the blends by Living Intentions – White Chocolate and Honey Sriracha are so. GOOD!

Do you stock any of these ingredients in your kitchen? I would love to hear what is a kitchen-must for you right now!

Later Babes!

Roasted Red Pepper Fettuccine

When we were kids, my mom couldn’t always be home to make us dinner. Some days she worked long hours or well into the evening, and me and my sisters were left to fend for ourselves (dun dun dunnnn).

On our list of favourite things to make : soup, salad, or pasta. I know – it sounds like you’re dining at the Olive Garden. But nope, (unfortunately) the Standing girls are cooking for you.

To be fair, there wasn’t much cooking involved. The soup was from a can, the salad was from a bag. The pasta was the furthest we went, because it requires two components – the pasta itself and the sauce.

Our sauce: always from a jar.

The pasta: always spaghetti, always undercooked.

What can I say – we tried! I’m glad I’ve been able to redeem myself in adulthood. We eat a lot of pasta in my house, but we still use a lot of jarred sauce. Sometimes, it’s nice to start from scratch and do something a little different.

There’s something about this dish that’s so romantic. When I think about eating this, I imagine enjoying it slowly while dining al fresco on a warm summer day.

There’s something about this that makes me think this is the perfect dish for date night. Even though overall it comes together easy, it still feels so lush, creamy, and satisfying.

As with most of the recipes I share, this one feels a bit naughty but does have a health-edge to it too (I’m not sure if this makes it more or less sexy). Cashews are surprisingly high in iron, magnesium, and vitamin B6 (hello stable mood and energy production!). Although red peppers lose their vitamin C when cooked, their antioxidant content actually goes up!

So there you go – this dish really offers it all. Looks and smarts. Go for it!

This recipe is dairy-free and gluten free (and could be vegan, depending on your noodles!). Serves 4 with a side, or 2 very hungry people.

Ingredients

  • 400 g (ish) fettuccine noodles
  • 2 red peppers
  • 1/4 Large purple onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked and drained
  • 3/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • parsley (garnish, optional)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Slice peppers in half and remove seeds and stem. Place along a parchment lined baking tray with onion and garlic. Leave the garlic unpeeled! Drizzle olive oil over peppers, onion, and garlic. Place in the oven for 30-35 minutes.

You’ll know these are done when they come out soft, especially the encapsulated garlic. Peel the garlic and discard the outer peel, adding the clove inside as well as the onion and red pepper into a blender. Also add all remaining ingredients. Blend on medium to low until smooth.

Add sauce to a large, deep pan and keep it warm on a low setting. Meanwhile, heat a stovetop pot and cook your fettuccine noodles according to the directions. This is divine with fresh pasta (which is always such a treat!), but dried pasta works well too. Once the fettuccine is finished cooking, drain and add to sauce. Mix around so the fettuccine is evenly coated.

Top with parsley for garnish, if you want. And voila! Roasted Red Pepper Fettuccine complete. Great on it’s own, but would also go well with a side salad or some fresh bread.

Speaking of date night dishes – what is your typical date night go-to?

I’ll have to mull that one over, but I think it would be fun to share.

Speaking of sharing – I share a lot of my daily plates on Instagram! I love meeting new people so please follow along there: @standingstrongwellness

Later babes!

How Quarantine Stress Affects Your Body

We’re living in a time of really high stress – there’s no doubt about that. Our worlds have become smaller, and our worries are a whole lot bigger. High stress in your body means high cortisol levels. High cortisol can impact your health in so many different ways, both big and small. Stress during quarantine is impacting us all to some degree, so being aware of what this might look like should be important to you.

This information isn’t intended to scare you or make you even more stressed. This information is intended to help you reflect on how well you might be managing your stress right now. Knowing what signs to look for may help you prioritize strategies that can help you balance your cortisol.

What is Cortisol?

Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone”, because it plays a crucial role in how the body responds to stress. However, there is much more that cortisol plays a role in. It is a very important hormone for overall health and wellness, as it also plays a role in metabolism, inflammation, blood pressure, blood sugar levels, and memory.

High Cortisol Effects on the Body

When it comes to cortisol, the most important aspect is balance. While a certain amount of cortisol is vital for regular healthy body function, an overproduction can lead to many significant health issues. All of the following are common signs of high cortisol.

Anxiety. I know, I know! As if being stressed about self-isolation and more wasn’t enough, high cortisol can further promote anxiety. Stress causes, well, more stress. It’s a bit of a vicious cycle, and it can be really difficult to get out of, especially when this becomes a more chronic or ongoing issue.

Depression. There’s no doubt that high cortisol impacts mental health. Many people with depression have high cortisol levels. However this is not really a one way street. Stress and depression have more of a circular relationship, where they both influence one another.

Digestive Problems. In times of particularly high stress, your body will restrict functions deemed as “non-essential”, as our body remains in a fight-or-flight state. This includes digestive function. Blood flow may be restricted, holding your digestive system back from functioning properly.

Headaches. In a fight-or-flight state, the brain releases certain chemicals that result in changes in vascularity. These chemicals work to dilate and restrict blood vessels. This can cause headaches and migraines.

Sleep Problems. Those worrisome thoughts that keep you awake at night also keep you from having a good quality sleep. This can sabotage your mood the following day, and lead to even more stress. Sleep problems can look like trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or just not having a good quality sleep.

Bloating. Stress causes a fluctuation of hormones, which alone can lead to bloating. High stress can also influence your gut bacteria, throwing your microbiome out of whack as a result and also leading to bloating.

• Memory Impairment. Have you not quite felt like yourself lately? Stress can lead to forgetfulness, confusion, and memory problems. The way your body reacts to stress changes the way our brain processes information. You might be forgetting particular parts of conversations you’ve had, or putting your belongings in bizarre places.

What You Can Do To Combat Quarantine Stress

Stay Connected. Not being able to catch up with your friends and family in person can impact your mood and leave you feeling lonely. Nothing can replace a warm hug from your loved ones, but for the time being take advantage of what you can do to stay connected. Try FaceTime, Skype, or HouseParty so you can see your people face to face.

Keep Moving. Daily movement promotes a balance mood and can help stave off stress! Whether that’s a walk that allows for social distancing, yoga in your living room, or a 20 minute bodyweight workout, daily activity whether short or long can help combat stress.

Engage in Enjoyable Activities. Yes, it’s fun every once in a while to binge hours of a new show! But don’t forget to engage in the other activities you enjoy. Art, photography, baking, reading – you have so many options. Doing enjoyable activities when possible can help you pass the time more easily.

Take Time For You. If you are alone right now or have a lot of time to yourself, this suggestion might seem silly. But just because you have the time doesn’t mean you make it meaningful to you. Taking time to yourself means planning out something that’s just got you. If you are taking care of others right now, really take this suggestion to heart. Try to get your own physical space for at least 30 minutes a day to do something that’s just for you.

I hope you found this information helpful. I would love to hear more about what you’re doing to combat stress during this unprecedented time – feel free to share below.

Take care Babes.

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The Green Machine

If food held a popularity content, smoothie would have a good chance of winning. After all, what’s not to love? It can be anything you want it to be – creamy, refreshing, tart, sweet, chocolatey! Talk about versatility.

Personally, I love a creamy smoothie. I also love one thats filling, not overly sweet, and packed with something a little extra for nutrition. I am not opposed to a post-dinner shake, but I tend to have my smoothies first thing in the morning or after the gym.

If you feel the same, I think you’ll find this recipe appealing. It’s simple, delicious, and an easy way to sneak in some greens. It’s pairs perfectly with that post-gym strong-as-a-motha’ **** machine feeling. Hence the name: The Green Machine.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 Banana
  • 4 Ice Cubes
  • 1 TBSP Maca
  • 1 Heaping TBSP of Almond Butter (or Peanut Butter)
  • 1/8 TSP Cinnamon
  • Big handful of spinach
  • 1.5 Cups Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk

Directions

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend on high until smooth in consistency. Top with extra banana or hemp seeds (as pictured) if desired!

Not a fan of spinach? Swap for kale, or greens powder of your choosing!

Would you just LOOK at that green! I’m obsessed.

The fat in the almond butter makes this smoothie super satiating, and the maca, although mild in flavour, is an adaptogen that helps regulate cortisol. I try to sneak in adaptogens however and whenever I can.

Still hungry? Find more recipes here.

Curious about adaptogens? There’s more information here.

I hope you enjoy the smoothie!

Chili Spice Sweet Potato Fries

Are you a meal person or a snack person? I’ll admit, I am a total snack-a-holic. I prefer multiple appetizers over the whole meal. And my body just craves a bite every couple of hours.

Sometimes, this snack-a-holic craves something crispy, warm, spicy, and dense. These Chili Spice Sweet Potato Fries fit the bill. Yes, they require some prep and some patience. But trust me – they’re so worth it. The fries themselves are amazing, but you DON’T want to miss out on the chipotle mayo because that is what really brings this over the top.

If you’re not a snacker, you should know that these make a great side-dish too, maybe to a good burger or taco. Or how about making it for a game night, or better yet a games night!

Time to bust our your sheet pans and preheat that oven because your mouth can’t wait to meet these Chili Spiced Sweet Potato Fries.

This recipe is vegan and gluten-free

Ingredients

Chili Spiced Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 Large Sweet Potato
  • 1 TBSP Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 TSP Chili Powder
  • 1 TSP Paprika
  • 4 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • Salt
  • Cilantro

Chipotle Mayo

  • 3/4 CUP Mayo
  • 1 TBSP Hot Sauce (I used Franks Red Hot)
  • 1 TSP Garlic Powder
  • 1 TSP Chili Powder
  • 1 TSP Paprika
  • 1/4 TSP Chipotle Powder
  • Juice from 1 Lime

Directions

Preheat your oven to 425, and prepare a sheet pan with parchment. Cut your sweet potato into fries and add them to the pan. Once on the pan, drizzle the olive oil, and sprinkle on the chili powder, paprika, and minced garlic. Massage onto the fries. Bake at 425 for 30-35 minutes.

While those are baking, combine all the ingredients for your chipotle mayo. Use vegan mayo, if thats your preference of course. I like to make the sauce right away, which gives the flavours a chance to mingle for a while.

Once the fries are done, bring them out of the oven and let them cool for a couple of minutes. When you are ready to plate them, top with salt and fresh cilantro.

Not a fan of cilantro? Swap for green onion! Those would be good too, but I do love the combination of the spices with the lime and cilantro. Either way, you’ll love this recipe. These are the best sweet potato fries ever. Just wait – you’ll agree.

These fries are a total flavour-bomb, but there are some health benefits to sweet potato too! Sweet potatoes are high in B vitamins, vitamin C, and fibre. That means that even though these fries are dense and delicious, they are also great for digestion!

I would love to see your take on these fries – don’t forget to tag me on Instagram when you post your batch!

Sleep Routine for Anxiety

There are many different factors in your life that can contribute to your anxiety. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because it means that these factors can be leveraged as tools to support your mental health. A couple of major influences on your anxiety levels include lack of sleep duration or lack of quality sleep. Each of these factors can have a great impact on your mental health.  A sleep routine catered to your needs can make a big difference in your mental health.

What is a Sleep Routine?

Perhaps the idea of a sleep routine is foreign to you, so let’s start with the basics. A sleep routine is a routine you practice every night before you sleep. This could last any length of time that works for you. Some people have a 15 minute sleep routine, whereas others have one that takes 2 hours. It’s all about creating a sequence of activities that suits you.

What are the Benefits of a Sleep Routine?

Falling Asleep

There is so much that a sleep routine can offer, especially for those struggling with anxiety. Firstly, a sleep routine can help you fall asleep. Falling asleep is so difficult for some people, as this time of day tends to remove distractions and can leave you with your own racing thoughts. By setting a predetermined sequence of events, you can teach your body to expect sleep once the routine is complete. Of course, this can take some time. But if you struggle with getting to sleep, it’s totally worth it.

Duration of Sleep

Let’s face it: there’s never enough time in the day to get everything done! But it can be tough to settle in when you feel like your to-do list is piling up. This is another good reason to start a sleep routine. A big part of the routine is having a set time at which the routine begins. This allows you to stay consistent with your bedtime.

Not only that, but creating a consistent flow of sleep duration (when you go to sleep and get up) will allow you to sleep better throughout the night. Again, this call comes back to creating expectations. Your body will know when it is time to sleep, and eventually how long it can expect to sleep by repeating the same pattern.

Quality of Sleep

Giving yourself time and space to wind down at the end of the night can enhance the quality of your sleep too. Slowly bringing yourself to a state of relaxation can influence the quality of your sleep. Plus, if a part of your sleep routine includes managing some things that will help you in the morning (such as choosing your outfit or packing your lunch), this can impact your stress and cortisol levels, which in turn influences your sleep.

Sleep Routine Ideas

Your sleep routine should be as unique as you are. It’s important to add in elements that help you wind down, reduce stress, and create a sense of routine. Here are some ideas of what you can implement:

  • Herbal, non-caffeinated tea
  • Bath or shower
  • Reading
  • Essential Oils
  • Dim lights
  • Yoga
  • Meditation
  • Skincare
  • Breathing exercises
  • Colouring
  • Stretching
  • Journaling
  • Light a candle
  • Relaxing music

Having a sleep routine can influence your mental health and your anxiety in a positive way. It can help you feel more prepared so that you worry less and relax easier. It does require a little bit of conscious decision making and consistency, but it’s so worth it for the benefit it can bring.

Sleep well!

Avocado Spinach Dip

Certain dishes remind me of family gatherings. I love that the dishes that remind me of these get-togethers are not universal – mine may not be the same as yours. Yet they all share the same thing in common: bringing us back to the greatest memories. Of talking, listening, sharing, and celebrating.

You know those giant pre-made platters at the store? We could always count on my mom or my aunt to pick up one of those spinach dip platters for a get-together. I always loved the creaminess of the dip and how satisfying it is to dunk in a piece of bread and apply that dip liberally.

Although, if I took a good look at the ingredients list, I’m not sure I’d eat it now. Plus, I love being in the kitchen, and since this is so easy – why not make it at home?

This recipe is just as rich, flavorful, fun and indulgent as the store-bought stuff, but contains real wholesome ingredients. The strong fat flavor we all know and love about spinach dip is enhanced with a ripe avocado, and fresh garlic provides a really fresh, strong balance with every bite.

This dip is great, but what about the dipping vessel? I love the classic saltine crackers, but if you want something more dense and filling, cubing a loaf of sourdough is the way to go. Or why not slice up some cucumbers and carrots, and bring some extra color (and nutrients!) to the plate.

You’ll really be surprised at how quickly and easily this healthy avocado spinach dip comes together. Last minute guests? You got this.

Avocado Spinach Dip

This recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, and vegan.

Ingredients:

  • 1 ripe avocado
  • 1/2 cup dairy free cream cheese
  • 1 giant handful of spinach
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 3 TBSP finely chopped purple onion
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions:

Heat a stovetop pan on medium and add 1 TBSP of olive oil. Add garlic and onion, give it a quick stir for one minute. Add a big handful of spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from heat and set aside when the spinach is wilted and the onion is translucent.

While the spinach mixture cools, blend together all of the other ingredients. It’s a lot easier to work with the cream cheese if it’s at room temperature. Once the spinach mixture is room temp, add it to the rest of the ingredients and mix well.

This dip keeps well covered in the fridge for up to 2 days, but is best eaten day of. If it’s as popular as it is in my house, it’ll be gone quickly anyways!

Mmmm, just writing this has me craving this dip again! Good thing it’s so easy to whip up.

What recipes remind you of fond memories and family gatherings?

Is the Carnivore Diet Healthy ?

The nutrition world has no shortage of controversial subjects. There’s veganism, the keto diet, fasting, and countless other diets that remain both criticized and praised – depending on who you’re talking to. The idea of “dieting” in general is controversial, and you will find plenty of people on both sides of the debate. And now we have what might be the most controversial diet to date: The Carnivore Diet.

Whether this is the first time you are hearing about the carnivore diet, or you’ve heard of this diet countless times ( Joe Roegan’s podcast, anyone? ) , the idea is intriguing. When I first encountered this all-meat diet, I was curious to say the least. I wanted to learn more. If you find yourself in that very same boat, keep reading.

In this post, we’re leaving our bias behind to cover the pros, cons, myths, and more of the Carnivore Diet.

What is the Carnivore Diet?

Before we make any judgments about the Carnivore Diet, it’s important to understand exactly what being on this diet means. The hardcore carnivore diet followers consume only animal flesh, bones, and fat. A less strict version of the carnivore diet may include eggs and dairy. This diet is marked by hardcore reliance on animals (adherents can only consume animal products) and heavy restriction ( no fruit, vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts or seeds may be consumed).

Benefits of the Carnivore Diet

Compared to other diets that hit the spotlight, the Carnivore Diet is relatively new. Right now, very little scientific data exists to support the carnivore diet. That said, there is some anecdotal evidence that speaks to how effective this diet can be, especially under certain circumstances.

Mikhaila Peterson, daughter of Jordan Peterson, is probably the most popular adherent of the Carnivore Diet. In an effort to reduce the symptoms experienced from her autoimmune condition, she began removing certain types of foods out of her diet. What started as an elimination diet became a keto diet, and then eventually all other food types except animal protein were eliminated from her diet.

As a person who suffered with terrible bouts of gastrointestinal distress , arthritis flare-ups, and fatigue, the carnivore diet brought her incredible relief. According to Mikhaila, her digestion improved, she had less arthritic pain, her energy levels improved greatly, and she was more cognitively sharp. Put quite plainly, her life improved greatly by making this switch. She went from constant pain and discomfort to being able to live a much better quality of life.

There are other people who have reported similar experiences. It seems that many of them also found this diet for the same reasons Mikhaila did. Those it seems to help most are those desperate to address their extreme sensitivities or autoimmune concerns. By removing almost all other food groups, they remove the possibility of having their symptoms triggered by possible sensitivities.

Although this diet relies heavily on anecdotal evidence, we can’t disregard these experiences entirely. After all, the explanation makes common sense.

Of course these people are feeling better.

They’ve likely been consuming foods that have triggered symptoms which severely impacted their health and their quality of life. With those cut out, they avoid those symptoms associated. It gives those followers a chance at feeling better than they have in perhaps a very long time.

Is the Carnivore Diet Extreme?

The short answer: yes.

The long answer is a bit more complicated. This diet is extreme in that it eliminates so much that is essential to functioning optimally in terms of health. There are so many micronutrients found in other food groups that will essentially just be missing without them.

Obviously, those on a carnivore diet are not missing any protein. Followers of the Carnivore Diet will eventually make a metabolic change into ketosis (burning fat for energy), as this diet contains zero carbohydrates. This will allow them to function using alternate sources for energy, as opposed to carbohydrates which is the go-to for our bodies. However, this transition is not easy. This metabolic transition can make you feel irritable, lethargic, and generally unwell for a few weeks.

There are also many micronutrients found exclusively in plants. Being on the carnivore diet for an extended period of time may lead to nutritional deficiencies, which can affect your body functioning on many different levels. Issues related to this may take months or even years to appear.

Carnivore Diet followers will also be missing out on fibre, which is important for digestion and associated with maintaining a healthy weight. Although some proponents of this diet claim it can help with weight loss, there is a lack of evidence support this. Conversely, there is evidence to support how a high intake of fiber can support weight loss.

Due to it’s restrictive nature, those who have struggled to have a positive relationship with food may not be the best fit to try this diet. If you have struggled with disordered eating, I would not recommend trying the Carnivore diet.

Who would the Carnivore Diet be good for?

Some people may actually see some positive results from switching to the Carnivore Diet. Most likely, this would be the small population of individuals who have serious sensitivities, inflammation, and gastrointestinal issues that cannot be managed with any other diet.

There are people out there struggling with exactly these issues. They fear food because it doesn’t bring them energy or joy – it brings them pain.

The idea of a Carnivore diet is ultimately offensive to some. As a Holistic Nutrition Consultant, it’s important to put our moral judgements aside so that we can do what’s best for our clients – regardless of how we might personally feel about it. I think if we can look at it through the lens of people who are desperate to try an eating style that works for them, we can empathize with those who are attracted to trying it.

We could all benefit from dropping our judgement some when it comes to food. There is no one diet that works for everybody. We are all so uniquely bio-individual. That considered, it makes sense that a very small amount of the population could thrive on this diet.

Is the Carnivore Diet Healthy?

Like so many diets that make it to the mainstream, there are pros and cons of the Carnivore Diet. Although many adherents have made various claims about it’s benefits, virtually none of it is supported by science. That said, common sense can explain how it would help that small group of people who would benefit from what is essentially an extreme elimination diet.

The Carnivore Diet may be the best option for them, but we can’t generalize to say that this diet is healthy for everyone. If you are looking for a diet to support increased energy, or to combat skin issues, or to lose weight, there may be other more scientifically supported and less restrictive options out there for you. In that case, perhaps, the journey for you continues.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the Carnivore Diet! Feel free to share in the comments below. Don’t forget to connect with me on Instagram – @standingstrongwellness !