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Academy of Culinary Nutrition Blog by Academy Of Culinary Nutrition - 9h ago

There are a multitude of foods that help us detoxify our bodies on a regular basis, but if we’re preparing those foods in a kitchen loaded with chemicals that damage our health we may not be much further ahead. The solution? Detox your kitchen! Making a few simple swaps will allow you to boot unnecessary toxins and harmful compounds out of your kitchen so they won’t enter your body, either by mouth or through your skin.

Here are a few suggestions to help you detox your kitchen today!

1. Swap out the Teflon cookware

Polytetrafluoroethylene (PFTE) and perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) are chemicals found in Teflon cookware and they can be ingested and inhaled when cooking. They are potential cancer-causing substances, may give you flu-like symptoms and can even be found in human breastmilk.

Mimi Huang, a toxicologist, states, “Assuming you use your cookware appropriately, i.e. not heating it excessively and unattended, always heating the pan with something in it, not scratching off the Teflon and consuming it for dinner, using non-stick pans is relatively safe for humans.” That’s a lot of caveats to make a piece of equipment ‘relatively safe’. Teflon-ites claim that it’s safe up to 350 degrees – but how do you know what level of heat your element is producing and if the heat is excessive?

Avoid the confusion and try using cast iron, ceramic, or stainless steel cookware instead. Some of these options can be more expensive, but they last a long time. To save money, try scouring thrift stores or garage sales for a good cast iron pan (or pillage your grandmother’s kitchen).

Also, if you are disposing your Teflon cookware ensure you do it safely. Get in touch with your municipality about the best way to do this.

2. Replace paper towels and napkins with reusables

Paper towels are an energy drain on the environment because they require water, energy and trees to be produced – and then we throw them in the trash. Even recycled paper towels use water and energy. According to one survey, 95% of American households use paper towels.

Aside from the environmental impacts, many paper towel and napkin brands use bleach, chlorine, formaldehyde or bisphenol A (or a combo of more than one of these). Exposure to chlorine and formaldehyde may boost our risk of cancer, while BPA disrupts our endocrine system, which is responsible for our hormones.

To mop up kitchen spills, try using cut-up old dish towels and t-shirts. They are absorbent, re-usable, and it’s likely you already have some old duds on hand that you could transform! For a napkin replacement, use cloth napkins.

3. Use non-toxic kitchen cleaning products

We all want a clean and safe kitchen for food preparation, but conventional cleaning products contain a cocktail of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and other chemicals that can harm our health. Some of the risks include asthma, allergies, skin issues like dermatitis, endocrine disruption and cancer.

Fortunately, there are a multitude of non-toxic cleaning products on the market nowadays – or you can make your own. Mix baking soda, vinegar or lemon juice, your favourite essential oils (we like peppermint or tea tree oil) and water in a squeeze bottle and use it to wipe down your kitchen surfaces.

If you have conventional cleaning products at home, don’t toss them down the drain! As with Teflon, get in touch with your city about the best way to dispose of harsh cleaning chemicals.

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4. Store food without plastic

Tupperware, plastic bags, plastic wrap and other kitchen plastics contain bisphenol A, which disrupts our endocrine system. Not to mention the huge drain plastics have on the environment.

Skip the plastics and opt for re-usable glass containers, stainless steel containers, beeswax wraps (one of our culinary nutrition expert program grads makes them), mason jars or fabric snack bags. These alternatives are easy to use, clean and store. If cost is an issue, start slowly – you don’t need to replace everything at once! Check out garage sales and thrift shops, or save your glass containers from store-bought items, such as nut butters, to re-use. Mason jars tend to be inexpensive as well, so check out your local hardware store for a flat of them.

Need additional guidance about cultivating a healthy environment in every room of your home? Click here to get on the waitlist for Healthy at Home, an online course that shares simple and important things we can do every day to reduce our exposure to toxins in our homes.

5. Drop the vegetable oils

Oil is a kitchen staple, but it’s important to choose the right oils to support our health. There are many vegetable oils (including soy, corn, canola, safflower, cottonseed, etc.) that pose health risks due to the way they’re processed and the types of fats they contain. You can read more about the dangerous side of vegetable oils here.

The good news is there are many nutritious oils we can use at a variety of temperatures! Some of these include:

  • Ghee
  • Coconut oil
  • Olive oil
  • Hemp oil
  • Flax oil
  • Chia oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Sesame oil

In this Guide to Choosing Healthy Cooking Oils, we offer a full breakdown of the best oils to use and at what temperature.

6. Get a water filter

Most municipal drinking water contains chlorine, a disinfectant. Chlorine disrupts our gut flora and boosts our cancer risk. Some cities treat water with fluoride, a potential endocrine disruptor. The chemicals in your water depend on where you live, so investigate what you have in order to find the best water filter to meet your needs.

Installing a water filter in your kitchen is easy to do, or you can purchase a unit for your counter to detox your kitchen. Whatever you do, please don’t buy bottled water. You’re exposing yourself to the risks of plastic and creating environmental waste, not to mention that companies draw from municipal sources, treat it and then bottle it. You might as well skip the middle man and the continual cost and install a water filter yourself.

7. Clean out the spice cabinet

Certain foods, such as whole/ground spices and seasonings, are approved for radiation. The intent behind this is to reduce the risk of mold, bacteria and parasites, to get rid of any insects and to increase shelf life.

Food irradiation produces potentially harmful byproducts, can change the flavour and destroys some of the nutrients found in foods. It doesn’t prevent food from spoiling, but may mask the odour we would normally recognize from a food that’s gone off.

Dried herbs and spices are a mighty part of the culinary nutrition arsenal, so check your spice containers as they will be labelled if they’ve been irradiated.

8. Shop with re-usable shopping bags and produce bags

Canadians take home 2.86 billion plastic shopping bags every year; in the US that number is a staggering 100 billion. And those numbers are just the retail bags and don’t include the extra plastic we might use to grab nuts and seeds from the bulk bin or use for our produce.

While many grocery stores are charging levies for plastic bags now and some cities have banned them outright, we can still do our part in the kitchen. Keep re-usable fabric shopping bags in your kitchen, purse or car so you’ll have them on hand when you grocery shop. There are also a variety of smaller mesh and fabric bags you can purchase for bulk goods such as produce, nuts, seeds, gluten-free flours, etc. Click here for more tips about keeping a zero waste kitchen.

These eight simple ways to detox your kitchen will help you improve your health without compromising the flavour, quality or deliciousness of your food. What do you have to lose?

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The post 8 Ways to Detox Your Kitchen appeared first on Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

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Academy of Culinary Nutrition Blog by Academy Of Culinary Nutrition - 1w ago

Water is fundamental to our health – but with all of the different kinds, it can be tough to figure out the best type of water to drink and how to choose a water filter. Let’s get into the nitty-gritty details of water, and how you can decide what might be best for you and your family.

Health Benefits of Water

We are made up mostly of water – here’s a quick review of why water is important. Water:

  • Keeps us hydrated
  • Ferries nutrients, proteins, hormones and chemical signals
  • Flushes the kidneys and liver
  • Keeps our skin and joints supple and hydrated
  • Reduces pain
  • Helps with digestion and elimination, and prevents constipation
  • Diminishes hunger
Checking Your Water Source

Before you choose a type of water filter, it’s important to know what kind of water you are dealing with in your home and what’s in it. If you live in a larger municipality, check with the city about water treatment and what chemicals they use (chlorine and fluoride are common); if you draw your water from a local or private well, ensure you test it. Then, based on what’s in your water, you can begin to make decisions about what filtration systems you may need.

The Environmental Working Group has a Tap Water Database where you can access water records – this is for US cities only.

What’s The Best Type of Water?

Let’s talk about some of the common water types that are available. We’ve listed these sources in what we feel is least desirable to most desirable.

Bottled Water

What Is It: Store-bought water that is packaged in bottles.

Pros

We actually don’t think there are pros to this one!

Cons

  • Stored in plastic, which can leach endocrine-disrupting chemicals into the water. Bits of microplastic can also be detected.
  • Bottled water is an unregulated industry, and it’s up to each bottled water company to test and screen its water (or they may not do this).
  • Many bottled water sources are not what the labels claim – companies take water from municipal sources, meaning it’s tap water.
  • Expensive.
  • The environmental impact of plastic is huge: people consume over 300 billion litres of bottled water every year, and those plastics don’t biodegrade. Plastic is polluting our oceans and affecting wildlife – researchers predict there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050.
Tap Water

What Is It: The water comes from your tap in your kitchen and bathrooms.

Pros

  • Inexpensive and easily available.
  • Can be easily treated by using filters (more options for this below).

Cons

  • Tap water is usually disinfected with chlorine, which can destroy our gut bacteria and affect digestive health.
  • Is often treated with fluoride, with can disrupt our endocrine system.
  • Can be contaminated with drugs that people are using.
  • Can have a metallic taste or odor.
Activated Carbon Water Filter

What Is It: This type of water is filtered using a carbon block that soaks up contaminants.

Pros

  • Removes the chlorine, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and odors.
  • Low cost and relatively simple to maintain.
  • Tastes neutral.

Cons

  • Doesn’t remove all contaminants – things like heavy metals and fluoride remain.
Distilled Water Filter

What Is It: This type of water has been boiled to remove impurities and minerals.

Pros

  • Everything in your water is removed.
  • Can help with detoxification.
  • Can be made at home.

Cons

  • Doesn’t have beneficial minerals – you’ll need to add minerals back into it.
  • Has a flat taste.
  • Can be acidic in the body.
  • Uses a fair amount of energy to produce it.
Reverse Osmosis Water Filter

What Is It: Reverse osmosis water passes through several filters to remove the large and small contaminants.

Pros

  • Removes most major contaminants – chlorine, fluoride, heavy metals (such as lead and mercury), bacteria.
  • Tastes pure and clean.
  • Great for people who live in cities and want to remove a lot of toxins in their water.

Cons

  • Can be expensive.
  • Wastes water.
  • Can remove some beneficial minerals.
Spring Water

What Is It: Fresh water that comes straight from the source – the earth itself, which naturally filters and mineralizes the water.

Pros

  • One of the cleanest water sources available.
  • Contains natural, beneficial minerals.
  • Easy to find for free – Find A Spring is a great resource to find spring water near you.
  • Tastes pure and clean.

Cons

  • Can contain some pollutants – ensure you test the spring water for purity.
  • Can be difficult to access if you don’t have a spring near you.
  • Need large glass containers and transportation to collect it.

Need additional guidance about cultivating a healthy environment in every room of your home? Click here to get on the waitlist for Healthy at Home, an online course that shares simple and important things you can do every day to reduce your exposure to toxins in your home.

Your Next Steps In Choosing a Water filter

Choosing the best water or water filter really shouldn’t be so difficult. How do you choose what’s best when there are pros and cons to every option? Here are the steps we recommend.

  1. Look up your municipal water source and find out what is being added and what is being removed from your water.
  2. Determine what you ultimately want to have or not have in your water.
  3. Determine your optimal set-up (ie. You may want a portable option if you’re in a rental).
  4. Review the options above and choose the one that checks most of the boxes.
  5. Compare the options in that category and make the choice that works with your budget.

There are a lot of water choices out there – so dig in and explore the best types of water filters for you!

The post How to Choose A Water Filter appeared first on Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

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With kids in school for most of the year, we want to make sure they are eating as much of their meals and snacks as possible. There are many reasons why your child may not eat well at lunchtime – maybe you have a chatterbox on your hands who just loves to catch up with friends and forgets to eat. Or perhaps your child will eat the snacks only and leave behind the main course. For younger children, perhaps the lack the motor skills and sheer strength to open their school lunch containers is a factor. Other children won’t tolerate the bright light of the cafeteria or the loud noise nearly as well as others.

The good news is there are many ways to help your child eat his or her school lunch. Here are the strategies I love to use that encourage kids to eat their school lunch.

5 Ways to Help Your Children Eat Their School Lunch 1. The Container and Lunchbox Must Pass the Open Test

One of the biggest challenges kids face at school is the amount of time they have to eat their lunch. In some schools, they allocate a mere 20 minutes while others are luckier with longer lunch times.

If your child can’t open their lunchbox or their containers and they have to rely on a teacher’s help, they are losing precious minutes holding their hand up and waiting to be seen and attended to. At worst, they can spend half their time waiting, leaving only 10 minutes to eat.

If your little one can’t open their container, return it and get a more kid-friendly lunchbox.

2. Don’t Use Too Many Individual Containers

It’s no accident that the bento-style lunch boxes became so popular. In terms of time savings, it’s huge. Kids literally just have to open one lid and all their food is ready to be eaten. Contrast that with the kid who is taking each container out of his or her lunchbox, opening each one individually, and figuring out which container is for snack time and which ones are for lunchtime. Not to mention they have to figure out what to do with the lids. The area of the table in front of them is a hot mess of containers and lids everywhere!

I found for my own pre-schooler, the sweet spot is to use 3 containers. Younger kids will have two snack times and one lunchtime. Two of the containers are dedicated for each one of the snack times, and one for lunch. All he has to worry about is to pull out the container dedicated to the meal he’s having. I love small containers that have a divider in the middle. You could even colour code containers or lids to designate the ones for snacks and the one for the main meal.

Don’t be afraid to ask your child for feedback. If they’re younger, they may not even know what’s bothering them about lunchtime.

Questions such as, “Was it easy to open your lunchbox/container?”, “Was it too messy?” and “Was it easy to get the food out of your container?” will all spark those conversations. You’ll be amazed how much useful information will come out of those conversations that will ultimately allow you to make meaningful changes.

3. Cut Everything Into Bite Sizes

For kids who love to chat with friends during lunchtime and “forget” to eat, this is my go-to tip. Cutting foods in a similar shape and size allows kids to chat away and still reach in their lunch container and grab a piece of food with little effort. These gluten-free and dairy-free bite-sized snacks will offer you some inspiration and can be modified if there are allergies.

I know it might seem like you are encouraging the chatting behaviour rather than eating, but this strategy is designed to encourage the volume of food they need as opposed to teaching them to focus. We have tip number 5 below to help with the focus part.

4. Protect Them From Sensory Overload

Eating is the only activity kids will do that requires them to coordinate all 8 senses. Eating in itself has a lot of information for the brain to sort through let alone when there are extra burdens placed on our sensory system.

That is the chaos of the cafeteria! They can be loud and bright. Visually, there are many distractions as well as lots of students, lots of movement, and the mess of scattered containers in front of them. Food smells meld together, which can be overpowering to some sensitive children. The easier we can make it on our kids from a sensory perspective, the easier it will be during lunchtime.

Making sure they can open their school lunch containers on their own, with minimal effort, sending fewer containers to open, and pre-opening any packaged foods are all helpful strategies to reduce the overload. If your child does not like bright environments, consider providing sunglasses. If your child is sensitive to loud noises, get them noise-reducing earmuffs.

Don’t be afraid to talk to your school and see if they can be placed in a quieter and less stimulating environment to eat if that’s what it takes.

5. Practice the School Lunch Routine at Home

Try practicing “lunchtime” at home right before school starts or after longer breaks like winter vacations or spring break. I also recommend doing this exercise whenever you feel that your little one needs to work on a particular skill.

Maybe they need to practice opening containers, tame their inner chatterbox, or simply need to work on eating around louder noises (in that case, turn up the radio during your practice lunch).

Pack dinner for everyone in a lunchbox and place your lunchboxes in a designated corner (this is a great way to practice your meal prep, too!). At dinnertime, ask everyone to go get their lunchboxes and come sit at the table. Each person is responsible for opening their own lunchbox and containers and eating as if it was at school. Set a timer for roughly how long children have to eat at school, and end the meal with everyone placing the containers back in the lunchbox. Next, have everyone place their lunchbox back in its designated spot.

You’re probably thinking that none of these tips have anything to do with kids doing any eating. That’s the next step. We first want to get kids in a place where they can focus on the food in front of them. If they are frustrated because it’s too hard to get the food out or they run out of time to eat, teaching them these skills will give them the foundation they need to move on and focus on the eating part.

Further Resources and Recipe Inspiration

The post 5 Ways to Help Your Children Eat Their School Lunch appeared first on Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

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The staff and students at the Academy of Culinary Nutrition love meal prep – we find it relaxing and meditative, plus the end result of tasty homemade meals is worth the effort. However, we know that not everyone loves chopping vegetables, blending condiments or batch cooking quinoa. The popularity of meal prep services and meal kit delivery is on the rise, growing from 1 billion US dollars in revenue in 2015 to a projected 10 billion by 2020. In Canada, where the Academy of Culinary Nutrition is located, the meal kit business has doubled since 2014 and is estimated to surpass $400 million in the next year.

The concept is simple: a company delivers meals to your door and you eat them. But are meal prep services worth it?

Why Would Someone Buy (or hire) Meal Prep Services?

When someone else does the meal prep (and grocery shopping) instead, you can still enjoy home-cooked meals that support your health and wellness. Undoubtedly, meal prep services make cooking and eating simpler but that’s not the only rationale for using one. There are other reasons why you might be drawn to a meal prep service. Meal prep services can:

  • Allow you to explore new recipes and flavours
  • Help you learn basic cooking skills
  • Cut down on food waste, since you are getting exactly what you need
  • Offer options for different popular diets, allowing you to stick to your culinary nutrition goals
  • Be a healthier alternative to takeout
  • Support people who are unable to prep due to illness, injury or chronic pain (such as arthritis)
  • Give you more time to pursue interests aside from cooking
Types of Meal Prep Services

There are a few different types of meal prep services. They include:

Meal Prep/Meal Kit Delivery

What Is It? You receive a delivery of chopped and prepped ingredients needed to make a full recipe, along with cooking instructions for the meal.

Best For: Those who want to eat a fresh, hot meal and aren’t a fan of leftovers or reheating. This option is also good for those who enjoy cooking, but not the time it can take to chop and prep the ingredients.

Full Meal Delivery

What Is It? You receive a fully prepared and cooked meal – all you need to do is reheat. If it’s a meal that doesn’t need to be eaten hot (like a salad), you just eat it!

Best For: Those who aren’t interested in doing any cooking at all, or don’t mind reheating foods.

In-Home Cooking

What Is It? A chef or nutritionist comes to your house and creates a set of meals that are customized to your health needs. Many of our culinary nutrition expert graduates do this!

Best For: Those who desire a personal, customized approach from an expert with knowledge in nutrition and cooking for health. You can also have more control over what ingredients are used in your food, as well as the types of equipment used to cook and prepare them.

Meal Prep Considerations

If you’re thinking about purchasing from a meal prep service or online meal kit delivery, not all companies have exactly the same offerings. As you conduct your own research, contemplate:

Quality of Ingredients:

Does it matter to you if the ingredients in your meals are local, organic, non-GMO, sustainable, or fresh? What about sourcing animal products? If anything is unclear about where the ingredients are sourced from, don’t hesitate to ask. And, will the ingredients in each meal help to support your health and wellness?

Variety/Types of Recipes:

Many companies have sample menus online where you can see if the types of meals they provide are the ones you enjoy eating. It’s great to try new things, but it’s handy to know that you are getting at least a few meals a week that you know you’ll enjoy. How much variety is there from week to week? Does the menu change weekly, biweekly, monthly? Can you pick and choose, or is the menu plan set for you?

Cook/Assembly Time:

How long do meals take to cook from start to finish? Given the demographic these companies are targeting, most meal kit services provide relatively quick and straightforward meals. However, if you don’t want to wait 30 or 45 minutes for your dinner, perhaps a meal prep service with more pre-cooked items might be for you.

Prep Time:

How much chopping will you need to do? Some companies offer everything sliced, diced and ready to go, while others may require you to do some light prep work.

Cost:

Meal prep services and meal kit services are more expensive than cooking yourself. Prices vary, though on average you’ll probably pay about $10-12 dollars per serving. Yes, that’s probably cheaper than eating at a restaurant or some takeout spots. However, if you’re a family of four you could be paying $40 to $50 per meal –  and you could probably make something yourself for less and have more servings to freeze or take for lunch to work the next day.

Servings:

Two or four servings is standard for most meal prep services, and you can usually choose how many recipes you’d like per week. How big are those portion sizes? We all have different appetites, so it’s worth looking into reviews about this or asking the company if they can give you an approximate yield of food provided.

Dietary Restrictions:

Are there options if you have allergies or dietary restrictions, or can you request substitutions? Many services also have plans that follow the popular diets like vegan, Paleo and keto. If you have severe allergies, you’ll want to ask about cross-contamination in the prepping process.

Packaging:

Meal kit delivery services can use a lot of packaging, as each component of a meal can be wrapped separately and there is also the box itself that the full meal arrives in. Check if the packaging is plastic, or is made from a material that is more eco-friendly and sustainable. The home chef option typically uses the least packaging, as you can use your own containers for storage.

Subscription Commitment:

Do you need to commit to a certain number of meals every week, or can you order whenever the mood strikes? Can you pause your subscription if you are going away for business or traveling with family and friends?

Want to DO Your Own Meal Prep?

Only you can decide whether a meal prep or meal delivery kit service is right for your health, your family, your lifestyle or your budget. If you’d like to try meal prepping on your own before hiring a service, here are some resources to help you:

The post Meal Prep Services: Are They Worth It? appeared first on Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

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Academy of Culinary Nutrition Blog by Academy Of Culinary Nutrition - 1M ago

A backyard with an overflowing fruit and vegetable garden is an absolute delight – unless you don’t have the outdoor space, are affected by cold seasonal temperatures, or simply fail as an urban gardener. Try bringing your garden inside with these six easy foods to grow indoors. They’re inexpensive and once you get the hang of it, you’ll have access to a variety of ingredients and flavours you can use to enhance your cooking.

6 Easy Foods to Grow Indoors Sprouts

Sprouts are nutrition powerhouses – they are rich in enzymes, bioavailable protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. You may not have realized how easy they are to grow at home! There are a few different methods you can use to sprout and the equipment is mostly low-tech, meaning you probably already have what you need (and if you have a well-stocked pantry, you likely have things you can sprout as well).

Learn how to sprout here.

Microgreens

Photo: Deviyahya on Unsplash

Microgreens are essentially baby plants. They are harvested a few weeks after the sprouting process mentioned above, before the seedling turns into a mature plant. Microgreens have strong flavours and pack a large nutritional punch – research on microgreens shows that they can contain 4 to 40 times more vitamins C, E, K and beta carotene than their full-grown counterparts. All you need is some seeds, soil, water and a sunny window and you’re ready to reap the benefits.

Learn how to grow microgreens here.

Mushrooms

At the Academy of Culinary Nutrition we are huge fans of mushrooms. They help to boost the immune system, are packed with vitamins and minerals, and have anti-cancer properties. Mushrooms grow from spores, depend on sawdust, straw, wood or grains for nutrients, and require damp, dark and cool environments to thrive. You can create your own mushroom-growing setup, or start off with a mushroom kit to make the process even easier.

Learn how to grow mushrooms here.

Herbs

Photo: Matt Montgomery on Unsplash

Herbs are often relegated to the side of the plate or used as a garnish, but they’re truly the workhorses of the kitchen. They’re loaded with flavour, beneficial nutrients and texture, and we like to use them generously to amp up dishes. Some easy herbs to grow indoors include mint, thyme, oregano, chives, parsley and basil. Thyme, oregano, basil and chives are great on healthy pizza, while parsley and mint are fantastic additions to dairy-free smoothies.

Beginners will likely find it easier to start off by purchasing a young plant rather than growing from seeds.

Learn how to grow indoor herbs here.

Lettuce

Photo: Taylor Kiser on Unsplash

Fresh lettuce is a traditional base for salads, but you can also add them to smoothies or use the leaves as a bread replacement. If you have a large window and live in a locale that gets plenty of sunshine during the winter, you can try your hand at growing fresh greens inside. You’ll need a little bit more space and the lettuce requires some TLC, but the results will be worth it!

Learn how to grow indoor lettuce here.

Ginger

Photo: Dominik Martin on Unsplash

Known for its anti-inflammatory, immune-boosting and cold-fighting properties, ginger is a delicious addition to a variety of recipes including soups, elixirs, gluten-free baked goods, tinctures, salad dressings and other condiments. Bring that culinary power indoors by growing your own, which you can do using store-bought organic ginger root and a pot of soil. Growing ginger takes longer than some of the other foods we’ve mentioned here, though they do say that patience is a wonderful virtue to have.

Learn how to grow ginger here.

These easy foods to grow indoors allows you to explore growing your own food all year long. And who knows – after you achieve success inside, you may want to expand to the balcony, patio, backyard or community garden!

The post 6 Easy Foods to Grow Indoors appeared first on Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

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Once the domain of psychedelic hippies, medicinal mushrooms have now hit the mainstream health, wellness and culinary spheres. This diverse group of plants – there are more than fourteen thousand varieties, of which only about three thousand are edible – are rich in a multitude of nutrients and are now accessible to us around the world. In this Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms, we’ll talk about the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms, how to select them, and how to use them.

Culinary Nutrition Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms General Health Benefits of Medicinal Mushrooms

As a whole family, mushrooms:

Choosing + Buying Medicinal Mushrooms

Many varieties of mushrooms are inedible or poisonous. It’s important to purchase mushrooms from a competent source that you can trust. If you’re interested in foraging, find an expert forager in your area – there are reputable classes and trips that you can take to ensure your safety. Otherwise, you can visit your local farmers’ market for fresh or dried mushrooms, travel to your local health food store or purchase mushrooms online.

There are several ways you can buy and consume mushrooms:

  • Fresh: These types of mushrooms are easy to prepare and cook with, like shiitake, maitake, oyster, etc. You don’t have to go to any extreme measure to extract their benefits – a simple roast, sauté or simmer will do.
  • Dried: Whole mushrooms are dried and then need to be reconstituted for use in recipes like teas or dairy-free elixirs.
  • Powders: Mushroom powders are a handy way to glean the benefits of mushrooms that are tougher to cook with or find at the grocery store (they are often more potent than the average culinary mushroom, too). You can find these at health food stores and online. There are a couple of methods to increase the bioavailability of the powerful constituents of mushrooms; one is steam distillation, where the compounds are extracted using water, and alcohol distillation to decoct the nutrients that aren’t soluble in water (basically the second method is making a tincture).
  • Chunks: Some mushrooms are rock hard, like reishi and chaga. You’ll find these available in chunks of different sizes, which you can boil for teas or soups, or use to make tinctures.
How to Use Medicinal Mushrooms

You can incorporate medicinal mushrooms into your cooking! Trying using mushroom powders in:

Mushroom powders are potent, so start small and increase the amount as you get used to them.

Whole culinary mushrooms, like shiitake and maitake, can be used in:

Whole mushrooms that are tough, like reishi and chaga, can be boiled to extract the beneficial properties. Drink as a tea, use it as a base for soups, or chill the liquid to use in smoothies.

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Using Medicinal Mushrooms In Cooking Reishi

Health Benefits: Known as the queen of the mushroom world, reishi mushrooms soothe and calm the nervous system. They contain immune-modulating compounds called beta-glucans that help boost the immune system or dial it down as needed, and they have anti-cancer, liver-protective and blood sugar-balancing properties.

Recipe to Try: Cacao Reishi Green Smoothie by The Healthful Ideas

Chaga

Health Benefits: Chaga is the king of mushrooms, and like reishi, it’s a powerful immune-booster that has anti-cancer and anti-oxidant properties.

Recipe to Try: Chocolate Covered Dates stuffed with Chaga Chai Ghee by Sweet Lizzy (*Culinary Nutrition Expert)

Shiitake

Health Benefits: Shiitake mushrooms invigorate the immune system with their active compound called lentinan. One of lentinan’s benefits is the ability to power-up the immune system, strengthening its ability to fight infection and disease. Research also points to potential benefits of lentinans to help with cavities and oral health.

Recipe to Try: Baby Bok Choy + Shiitake Curry Soup by Healthy Little Vittles

Lion’s Mane

Health Benefits: If you’re looking for a brain boost, Lion’s Mane can support the nervous system and cognitive health. It’s been shown to help stimulate brain cells and nerve growth, while animal models indicate it has potential to help with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, memory, and regeneration of damaged nerves.

Recipe to Try: Lion’s Mane Latte by Dr. Mark Hyman

Cordyceps

Health Benefits: In addition to its cancer-fighting and anti-tumor properties, cordyceps can help reduce fatigue and boost energy levels, and has been studied for its anti-inflammatory, antifungal, anti-allergic, anti-bacterial and analgesic effects.

Recipe to Try: Cordyceps Broth by Clean Cuisine

Turkey Tail

Health Benefits: Turkey Tail has been studied for its anti-tumor properties and is beneficial to our digestive health. It’s a prebiotic food and turkey tail has been shown to improve the helpful bacteria in our gut.

Recipe to Try: Turkey Tail Tea by Yvonne Cornell

Maitake

Health Benefits: Maitake can help to stimulate and enhance the immune system and animal studies also show its promise for helping with blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes and obesity.

Recipe to Try: Three Mushrooms + Thyme Chickpea Pancake by The Hungry Herbivores

We encourage you to explore the world of medicinal mushrooms, and reap the amazing health benefits, as well as the taste!

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The post Guide to Medicinal Mushrooms: Types, Best Uses and Recipes appeared first on Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

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Women are busy. We’re superheroes, really, balancing marriage/relationships, kids, careers/businesses, the household, the meals, family, friends, appointments, the social calendar…I can go on and on. While being a superhero is impressive and honorable, it’s not uncommon at the end of the day, when all (or some) of the boxes on the to-do list are checked — the family is fed, the dishes are done, and the kids are asleep — there isn’t much energy left for ourselves. As a result, our libido, or sex drive, can be affected. Thankfully, diet can help — and we can get in the mood with food!

Fatigue — among other factors like medications, chronic health issues and hormonal changes — impacts our desire for sex. In fact, fatigue is the ultimate libido killer. While many equate libido with youth, estrogen and passionate relationships, nutrition actually plays one of the biggest roles in sexual desire. The “tired housewife” syndrome, so to speak — the antithesis of a strong libido —  can reverse itself with beneficial foods, good sleep, hydration and regular exercise.

Fatigue, aside from poor sleep and excessively busy schedules, is often a symptom of what and how we eat. Grab that bagel or doughnut for breakfast on the go and you’re sure to feel the mid-morning sleepies leaving you reaching for your next caffeine fix and, you guessed it, more sugar. Many of us get stuck on this blood sugar roller coaster ride of spikes and crashes, leaving us to feel chronically fatigued, depleted and mentally fogged — low libido is the product of this very cycle.

With a few tweaks, you can halt this cycle, spiking your libido rather than your blood sugar. In addition to a sexual mood boost, you may also rid yourself of that nagging headache, shed a few pounds, and once again feel energized and vibrant… ready for love when the moment strikes.

5 TIPS TO GET IN THE MOOD WITH FOOD 1. Cut Out Highly Refined and Sugary Foods

This includes white bread, pastries, candy, starchy grains (like white rice), potato chips and refined sweeteners, as well as processed meats, cold cuts and hot dogs. These are devoid of any real nutrients that fuel your body. They also spike your blood sugar levels, which impact energy levels and mood, and perpetuates cravings for even more junk food. If you’re looking for sweetness, try natural sweeteners or fruit.

2. Opt for a Whole Foods Diet Made up of Mostly Plants

You don’t need to ditch your favorite steak forever, but by eating more plants rather than conventional animal foods and processed foods, you’ll improve your health and wellbeing, reverse chronic health conditions, support a healthy weight, and have more energy – the recipe for a high libido. Whole, plant-based foods are rich in fibre, beneficial fats and protein, the macronutrients that help us manage blood sugar levels (more on that below). They are also wonderful sources of vitamins and minerals that support hormone balance.

3. Reach for Staple Aphrodisiac Foods

Pumpkin seeds, spinach, almonds, chickpeas and watermelon are known to stabilize blood sugar, increase energy, and elevate sexual mood. These foods also provide nutrients that are linked to reducing risk of disease, dropping body fat, relaxing the blood vessels and increasing blood flow — all of which are vital for a strong libido.

4. Consume Protein, Fibre and Healthy Fats at Every Meal

These are going to help you stabilize your blood sugar levels and are full of nutrients that fuel your body and brain, restore optimal functioning in the body’s systems and keep you feeling full. Protein is essential for hormone production and many of us don’t consume enough of it daily. If you’re struggling with this, these 21 ways to get more protein in your diet can be a big help! Fat, too, is important for our hormones and you can consume a variety of healthful fats including coconut products, avocado, nuts, seeds, cacao butterghee, and more.

5. Explore Libido-Boosting Superfoods

Explore some of the best libido-boosting superfoods around like maca, kelp, bee pollen and warming spices like ginger and nutmeg. These powerhouse foods not only surge energy levels, but they can be thought of as nature’s competition to Viagra by amplifying sexual virility, balancing hormones, supporting sexual functions, and boosting arousal and sexual mood.

So get in the kitchen with your love interest, play with some new foods and eating habits, and get cooking to get in the mood with food. You’ll thank me later!

Photos: iStock Lilechka75, ThitareeSarmkasat

The post 5 Tips to Get in the Mood with Food appeared first on Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

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The generosity and passion of our community never ceases to amaze us. Thanks to your generous donations in purchasing From Scratch Cooking 2019 Edition, so far we have raised more than $10,000 for Organics 4 Orphans.

Today we’re sharing a delcious gluten-free and dairy-free recipe from Culinary Nutrition Expert Andi Smith. After completing the culinary nutrition expert program in 2014, Andi took her culinary nutrition knowledge with her as she pursued a longtime dream of going to school for photography, and has since become an incredibly aspiring food photographer. We were thrilled to select her gorgeous rustic shot of these Berry Walnut Muffins as this year’s cover photo.

Speaking of From Scratch Cooking, if you haven’t yet picked up your pay-what-can copy, today is the day! This book featuring 50 gluten-free and dairy-free recipes will only be available for a limited time, so grab your copy today!

Andi’s food doesn’t just look good, it tastes amazing as well. Case in point: these gluten-free berry walnut muffins with an orange glaze. Using a combination of gluten-free flours, natural sweeteners, healthy fats and fresh fruit, these muffins are perfect for your next snack or brunch potluck.

You can find more tasty gluten-free, plant-based and dairy-free recipes in From Scratch Cooking 2019 Edition – get your copy here.

Gluten-Free Berry Walnut Muffins with Orange Glaze

Prep time:  10 mins

Cook time:  20 mins

Total time:  30 mins

Serves: 12 muffins

Ingredients
For the muffins:
  • 1¼ cups buckwheat flour
  • 1⅓ cups ground flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1½ cups almond milk
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • ½ cup cacao nibs
For the glaze:
  • ½ cup coconut sugar
  • 1 Tbsp of fresh pressed orange juice (or more to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp arrowroot starch
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 ˚F and lightly grease or use paper liners in a 12-cup muffin pan.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together buckwheat flour, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg.
  3. In a smaller bowl whisk together eggs, almond milk, honey and applesauce. Combine ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Fold in blueberries, cacao nibs and walnuts.
  5. Fill muffin cups evenly and bake 15-20 minutes. To test that muffins are baked thoroughly, insert a toothpick into the middle of muffin, and if it comes out clean they are done.
  6. While muffins are baking, make the glaze. In a small bowl mix together all the ingredients for the glaze until smooth.
  7. Cool the muffins for 10 minutes. Drizzle muffins with glaze just before serving.
3.5.3226

 

The post Gluten-Free Berry Walnut Muffins with Orange Glaze: A From Scratch Recipe appeared first on Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

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The donations are rolling in for the 2019 edition of From Scratch Cooking, our annual gluten-free and dairy-free e-cookbook for charity. We are certainly on our way to raising $15,000 for Organics 4 Orphans – thank you to those who have already bought a copy. As you know, we donate 100% of your purchase!

Today, we want to share one of the From Scratch Cooking recipes with you. It’s a comforting roasted butternut squash and cauliflower soup from Culinary Nutrition Expert Melissa Torio.

Melissa is a fermentation expert who teaches local fermentation and nutrition workshops, and shares creative and delicious recipes on her blog, and has a line of reusable food wraps that she sells online and at markets in the Toronto area. She’s also one of our amazing program coaches in the culinary nutrition expert program.

Like all of the recipes in From Scratch Cooking, this squash and cauliflower soup is gluten-free and dairy-free without sacrificing a luxurious and creamy texture. It’s family-friendly, easy to make and is a great recipe for meal prep and batch cooking. You can roast up the veggies ahead of time if needed, then blend and heat before serving, or make a huge batch and freeze some for later. Either way, this one’s a winner!

For more fantastic recipes like this, get your copy of  From Scratch Cooking 2019 Edition, which is only available for a limited time. Pay-what-you-can pricing begins at $15. If purchasing the book isn’t possible for you at this time, then please take the time to share this post! Every little bit helps.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Soup: A From Scratch 2019 Recipe

Prep time:  20 mins

Cook time:  30 mins

Total time:  50 mins

Serves: Serves 6

Ingredients
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1-2 inch pieces (about 4-5 cups)
  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower florets
  • 1 onion, cut into quarters
  • 1-2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups broth or water
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • Pumpkin seeds (optional, for garnish)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 ˚F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper. Place the squash, cauliflower and onion pieces on the lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and make sure all the vegetables are coated and distributed evenly. Use another lined baking sheet if required. Place in oven and bake for 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large pot, warm the broth or water on medium-low heat, while the vegetables are in the oven.
  3. After the vegetables are done roasting, take them out of the oven. Carefully add them to the soup pot. Add salt and mix well.
  4. You can use an immersion blender or a vented blender. Place the immersion blender into the soup pot and carefully purée the soup until smooth. If using a vented blender, carefully add the soup into the blender container and purée until smooth. This may need to be done in several batches.
  5. Serve warm with some freshly ground black pepper. Top with some pumpkin seeds, if desired. Enjoy!
3.5.3226

The post Roasted Butternut Squash and Cauliflower Soup: A From Scratch 2019 Recipe appeared first on Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

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Academy of Culinary Nutrition Blog by Academy Of Culinary Nutrition - 1M ago

At the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, we love delicious, health-supportive recipes – but what makes those meals taste even better is knowing they are helping a great cause. For the sixth time, our graduates are donating their amazing recipes in our digital cookbook, From Scratch Cooking 2019 Edition, for charity.

What began as an experiment in 2014 to raise money for charity has now become a yearly tradition that we can’t imagine giving up. It’s an important way for our graduates to share the delicious recipes they developed during their time as a Culinary Nutrition Expert student and to contribute to a much-needed cause.

At the Academy of Culinary Nutrition, we aim to share the fundamental importance of how food and culinary skills can transform our health and the health of the world. When we combine this knowledge with the creativity of our students, that’s when the magic in the kitchen happens. Giving is a big part of the plan.

We have a rare luxury that most people on the planet do not.  We are able to choose the food we use to fuel our cells and our lives. And we want everyone else to have the same choices.

We aim to raise $15,000 for Organics 4 Orphans and we hope you will consider supporting this goal with your purchase of From Scratch Cooking 2019. More About Organics 4 Orphans

We love this amazing organization and are thrilled to be once again contributing to their work of helping local communities grow their own food and become self-sustaining. Organics 4 Orphans focuses on four key areas:

  • Organic Gardening: Using organic growing techniques to grow a variety of food year-round in difficult, dry or barren areas.
  • Nutrition: Selecting local and nutrient-dense crops that will best support health (that’s culinary nutrition!)
  • Natural Medicine: Growing herbal medicine plants that can help protect and address a variety of common health conditions.
  • Income Generation: Teaching farmers to earn an income from their crops in a self-sustaining way.

Organics 4 Orphans works in a variety of communities in East Africa to teach people the skills to grow food in impoverished neighbourhoods, schools, and even in women’s prisons. In 2018 alone, Organics 4 Orphans dug 24,403 garden beds, built 865 keyhole gardens, grew 1,767 medicinal plants, and grew food for 4,000,000 meals. 

Cumulative Impact of From Scratch Cooking

From Scratch Cooking has had an incredible impact around the world. These are some of the amazing results:

  • In 2014, we raised $2,500 for Charity: Water and $4,000for Organics 4 Orphans. These funds trained a community leader, brought wells to three communities and fed over 200 orphans with fresh, organic food.
  • In 2015, we raised $5,000 for Kiva, a lending organization that helps people around the world start their own businesses. The money funded 35 projects that span a variety of countries and industries. Nearly 90% of our loan recipients were women, and more than half were working in the food and agriculture sectors. Many of these loans have already been repaid and we’ve been able to subsequently lend more than $9,800 to borrowers all over the world!
  • We raised an additional $2,500 in 2015 to support the Canadian Red Cross on the ground following the Nepal earthquake.
  • In 2016, we raised $12,400 for Pencils of Promise, a non-profit that helps to build schools in Ghana, Guatemala and Laos. Your contributions have helped Pencils of Promise build schools for those who need them most, as well as fund programs that focus on teacher support, community health and student literacy.
  • In 2017, we chose a national Canadian charity called Community Food Centres Canada, a non-profit that creates welcoming spaces where people come together to grow, cook, share and advocate for good food. We raised $10,500, which went towards food access and food skill programs in local Canadian communities.
  • Following the hurricanes in September 2017 that ravaged the Caribbean, we raised an additional $2,000 for the Canadian Red Cross.
  • In 2018, we raised $12,000 for Organics 4 Orphans.
That’s over $50,00 we’ve raised for charity through tasty recipes.
The From Scratch Cooking 2019 Edition Cookbook includes:
  • 50 incredible gluten-free and dairy-free recipes
  • Vegan and paleo options
  • Culinary nutrition tips
  • Instant download upon purchase
  • Pay-what-you-can pricing
  • 100% of proceeds go to Organics 4 Orphans. A lot of work and a lot of love has gone into the creation of every single recipe.

—-> Click here to learn more and get your copy!

The post From Scratch Cooking 2019 appeared first on Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

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