Tummy comforts….indulge!

Still following the belly theme for the month one can’t ignore the importance of “Comfort Foods”.

I don’t know about you but I have some that are just “have to haves”, usually when I’m feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. I think when using food for comfort it’s a great idea to question the “why” of it so that it isn’t an habitual way of dealing with emotions. That is when it’s more a covering up of something rather than a comfort.  Eating with mindfulness plays a large role in recognizing that. But you know….sometimes….I think it’s a good idea to just give yourself permission to indulge!

Many of my clients talk about not allowing themselves this or that because it’s bad for them, cutting things out of their lives, only allowing themselves so many minutes, hours, days to just deal with it and get over it….not very often do they talk about what they are allowing themselves to do, for themselves, that feels good to them. Outside of the media, who says we have to stop enjoying the things we do? who says we only have so many minutes to “just get over it”?….if you take a few deep breaths into the belly, shut off the mind and listen to your body and your heart, let them lead the way…you’ll probably discover a self of allowing rather than disallowing, a self that knows that cutting ourselves off from comfort and joy shuts us down rather than opens us up, that a gentler, more tolerant self is really what our inner being is. A self that allows us to enjoy what’s good without overindulging.

Comfort foods don’t have to be unhealthy or laden with fat and in my personal, inner beings quest to eat healthier I find recipes that incorporate healthier indulgences. I hunt for organics and whole grains where I can find them and I usually add more veggies than recipes call for and substitute anything processed with a different ingredient. They still taste great, give comfort and I don’t feel deprived of my favourites …here are a couple of recipes

I recently discovered this delicious recipe in a magazine. I used natural cheeses without dyes or additives. I added onions and garlic to the pasta as it boiled and also diced up some fresh tomatoes and tossed them in before baking. I had some asparagus on the side and I think next time I’ll add some chopped broccoli or fresh spinach to the recipe.

Bobby Deen’s MAC&CHEESE

You’ll need: 2 cups uncooked multigrain macaroni
3/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese and 3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Skim Milk
2 Egg whites, lightly beaten
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper
1 (16 oz) bag frozen peas, thawed
1 cup finely chopped cauliflower
1/4 cup soft whole-wheat bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare macaroni to package directions. Drain well, cover and keep warm.Combine cheeses and next 8 ingredients in a bowl. Stir mixture into warm macaroni, spoon into a coated casserole dish. Sprinkle crumbs on top. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

AND for the “sweet tooth”…this recipe was shared with me by Arlene

In a food processor grind 1/4 cup sesame seeds, 1 cup oats, 1 cup walnuts, 1/4 cup sunflower seeds, 1 cup pecans.
Add: 1/2 cup carob or cocoa powder, 2/3 cup maple syrup or honey and 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
Mix well and pat into a pan. Refrigerate, cut into squares.

I wouldn’t change a thing with this recipe…it’s a delicious, healthy “power me up” treat!

WATCH for a special guest blog in MAY
from Carmen Daigle
Carmen is a Holistic Nutritionist and Personal Chef and you can find out more about what she does at www.carmenscuisine.ca

What healthy foods do you  indulge in as your favourite comfort foods? What ingredients do you substitute to make a favourite food healthier?


What dogs absolutely love is good for humans too!

The “fire in the belly”…

it can be a spiritual understanding, a mental “knot in the gut”, or the physical burning of indigestion. What ever the experience, it is affecting your body’s core. The area beneath our ribcage and above our hips is filled with the soft organs of digestion, a bundle of physical and emotional nerves and the soft unprotected grounds of our psyche…so often overlooked and forgotten, unless it’s grumbling from lack of attention.

As a belly dance teacher who encourages students to dance from that energetic belly fire, it saddens me when I hear the way women will talk about their bellies. Exposing the belly is always optional in classes; many feel pretty vulnerable about showing off their mid-drift. I’ve heard this beautifully rounded body part described as too fat, too thin, too ugly, too lumpy, too many scars… covered up rather than embraced for the powerful, beautiful, life-filled space that it is. I’ve also watched, as confidence builds, belly scars decorated with temporary tattoos, henna, bindis and other forms of art, stomachs draped with scarves, veils, fringe and coins…and then that pivotal moment when a student will come into class, shyly undrape, to show an outfit that exposes her belly for all to see. THAT takes confidence, courage and inner strength!

Our mid-drifts hold all of the organs of digestion

those organs that play a pivotal role in our physical and emotional absorption and elimination. If we’re bound up tight physically or emotionally our belly will talk with us loudly through tummy aches, gas, indigestion, constipation and cramping. There can be no question about it, when our belly is stressed, we hear about it. But when we take a few moments and breathe deeply into the belly, exhaling fully, we can release the tension and the ache within, when we give our belly a physical rub or a positive emotional thought it helps it to unwind from its cramped space.

Abdominal or Belly Massage is very often skipped over during a massage session despite how important it is. Studies show that in using specific massage techniques abdominal massage can help to reduce gastric upsets and pain, relieve constipation, promote good digestion, ease colic, break down scar tissue from surgery, help the uterus to unwind from menstrual cramping and soothe the nerves. Perhaps it can also, through positive touch, open one up to embracing their mid-section?

Imagine rubbing your belly first, for comfort and ease, before taking medications…
Or perhaps, experiencing good digestion and regular bowel movements…
Or soothing the grip of menstrual cramps and anxiety…

There are many essential oils, that when properly diluted with oil or lotion can enhance your Abdominal Massage. Dill, Basil, Chamomile and Fennel assist the digestion process, Clary Sage and Geranium for menstrual cramps, Peppermint and Chamomile for upset stomach related to headaches, Marjoram, Tangerine and Fennel help to release emotional stress held in the belly.

Watch for April’s Health Session Special…all about the Belly!

When was the last time that you gave your tummy a positive pat?
Do you hold stress in your belly? Is it upset at the same time that you have a headache? What positive things do you do to feed the “fire in your belly”?

DID YOU KNOW that laughter is the BEST medicine for digestion? A good belly laugh jogs and massages your internal organs.




Greens, Beans and …..

mmmmmmmmmm another recipe! I wasn’t going to add one until later in the month but I’ve just made it, tasted it and it’s delicious AND nutritious.
Another big thank you to my friend Val for sharing it with me!

Greek Rice Pilaf

Greek Rice Pilaf

Colourful, Nutritious and Delicious!

1 large Onion chopped
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground B lack Pepper
4 cups chopped and washed Spinach
3 tablespoons fresh Lemon Juice
4 cups cooked Rice
1 cup frozen Peas
1 cup drained, cooked Chick Peas
2 Tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh Dill
1 cup Feta Cheese, crumbled

In a heavy skillet saute onions and garlic in oil until onions begin to soften. Add garlic, mint and pepper, continue to saute for 2 minutes. Stir in spinach, lemon juice, tomatoes, chick peas, rice, peas and dill. Cover and cook 3-4 minutes stirring occasionally until spinach is limp and rice is hot. Stir in feta, let it sit for a couple of minutes and serve.

There is so much goodness in this recipe (besides the taste) with just the greens, beans and grain…the other additions just up the nutrition level!

Would love to hear your suggestions for some variations and additions…..

Root Vegetables during winter months

This seems the time of year we want the comfort that root vegetables seem to provide whether cooked on their own or roasted, put in soups and stews…theres something comforting about them.

Packed with comfort and nutrition!

Beet Roots are a source of phytonutrients (pigments that give them their rich red colour) that have been shown to have anti-oxident, anti-inflammatory and detoxification properties. These yummy roots are a really great source of dietary fibre, Vitamin C, Magnesium, Potassim, Folate and Manganese plus they are low in saturated fat and cholesterol. Add the Beet Greens and you also have good source of Protein, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Phosphorus and Zinc, Vitamin A, Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol), Vitamin K, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Copper.
When the weather is grey and rainy and cold I look to the comfort I receive from soup….yes, soup…full of veggies, warm in my stomach and delicious so this month I’m sharing a yummy good for you recipe from my friend Val.


5 medium Beets
4 medium Potatoes
1 lb ground Turkey
3 cups frozen Peas
3 cups Broth (chicken, veggie, you choose)
1 teaspoon Salt
1 tablespoon Flour
1 can Tomato Soup
Sour Cream

Dice beets, stalks and leaves, potato and onion. Brown meat, then simmer 1/2 hour in 6 cups liquid. Add vegetables and simmer until cooked. Mix tomato soup and flour together and add to soup. Add lots of Dill weed to taste. Cook a little longer to blend all the flavours. Add a dollop of sour cream to your soup once it’s in the bowl. Freezes well!

What are your favourite ways of cooking with beets? Share your fabulous, healthy and nutritious recipes using this key ingredient!