DON’T BE SURPRISED WHEN YOUR KIDS ASK FOR SECONDS OF THIS DELICIOUS BROCCOLI PESTO RECIPE!

Pesto is one of my favorite condiments, especially in the spring in summer when fresh basil is available. We just started our basil in the garden and I can’t wait till we can make this broccoli pesto recipe with homegrown herbs. Till then, I’ll be making this pesto on repeat with local broccoli from farmers markets and fresh basil wherever I can find it!

Broccoli pesto is surprising easy to sub in for most pesto recipes. What’s special about this one is that it’s nut-free, which works for so many allergy families. I can serve this and not worry if a visiting friend has a tree nut/peanut/sesame allergy. There is no lack of flavor, even without nuts. Pesto without nuts is also A LOT cheaper as pine nuts are crazy expensive lately.

I am using a grated romano cheese in this recipe. Although I generally eat dairy free, I find a little goat or sheep’s milk cheese is fine for my system. Did you know goat and sheep’s milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk?

BACK TO THE STAR OF THIS RECIPE: BROCCOLI. WHY IS IT SO GOOD FOR US IN BROCCOLI PESTO?

  • Super rich in Vitamin C and Vitamin K.
  • High in sulforaphane. This helps clear out excess hormones in our bodies, especially xenoestrogens that cause cancer.
  • Rich in fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol and helps digestion
  • Contains Omega 3’s…about the same as a flax oil capsule.
  • Contains kaempferol, which has the ability to lessen the impact of allergy-related substances (by lowering the immune system’s production of IgE-antibodies). By lessening the impact of allergy-related substances, the kaempferol in broccoli can help lower our risk of chronic inflammation.(source 1)

Okay, moving on to other important things. How to use pesto, besides on bread? This has been my challenge as bread and I are generally not friends lately. The rest of my family swears this broccoli pesto went well with some fresh bakery bread. Another family tested it out and shared the same sentiment…even from a broccoli hater!!

Broccoli Pesto in Food Processor

Here’s some other ways to pair pesto in your meal planning:

  • Add to scrambed eggs
  • Top grilled chicken
  • Add to a vegetable minestrone soup
  • Use as a condiment in a sandwich instead of mayo or mustard
  • Pair with rice crackers, or the Almond Flour crackers from Simple Mills (LOVE them!)
  • Top an heirloom tomato with pesto for a quick snack

Easy Broccoli Pesto

Broccoli pesto is a delicious dressing or dip any time of day. This recipe is also nut-free.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Dip
Cuisine: American
Keyword: broccoli, pesto

Ingredients

  • 2 cups broccoli florets
  • 1-2 small garlic cloves depending on how spicy you want your pesto!
  • 1 cup lightly packed basil leaves
  • ½ cup grated Romano cheese
  • cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Squeeze of a ¼ lemon
  • Pinch of salt to taste

Instructions

  • Steam the broccoli first using a steamer basket for 6-7 minutes, or until soft but still bright green. Drain well.
  • In a large food processor, add the steamed broccoli, garlic, basil, cheese, and lemon juice. Process until well blended.
  • Pour the olive oil into the pesto in a slow stream until well mixed and desired texture reached.
  • Taste and add salt as needed.
  • Store in the refrigerator. Serve warm or chilled.
Tried this recipe?Mention @emilyroachwellness or tag #erwellness!
Emily+Roach+Nutrition+Coach+Autoimmune+Disease
This is my story of how an autoimmune disease and an eating disorder all led to my career change into health coaching.
How did I get here talking about health and nutrition to all of you? It was a bumpy road, with an autoimmune disease that kicked things off.  I think it’s worth explaining why I’m so passionate about helping women feel their best, and why I put the effort in to take care of myself.

Autoimmune Disease

For me, my health journey starts when I was three years old and I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. I was one of the first patients in the my city develop Kawasaki’s syndrome. My tiny body swelled up, I couldn’t walk, color, and play like a normal three year old. It’s like an inflammation nightmare. It affects lymph nodes, skin, and potentially coronary arteries.
I went on an aspirin therapy regimen, and remained in bed till my body healed. I blocked out that memory for many years, but it came back when I was in late elementary school.  I was followed by cardiologists for years to assess the possible cardiac damage caused by this autoimmune disease.
Things were quiet for awhile until I was diagnosed with an irregular, irregular heartbeat. That led to more tests, a diagnosis of mitral-valve prolapse, and a prescription for beta-blockers. This was at the beginning of middle school. Not an awesome time in anyone’s life, but feeling “different” was even tougher at this age. I wore heart monitors to class on occasion, and worked really hard to hide it.
I just didn’t feel good.
autoimmune disease and eating disorder

This when I felt my worst in middle school.

The beta-blockers left me feeling lethargic, despite always being athletic in the past. I was tested for fibromyalgia, which was very new at the time, and was inconclusive. As someone who loved playing tennis, swimming, and playing outside, I felt like I lost a part of me.
Over time, the beta-blockers caused horrible reflux which led me to see a gastroenterologist. Digestive issues are near and dear to my heart as I’ve been there too. I tried all the anti-reflux pills, drinks, and tablets I could find. Nothing worked. Yet no one asked what I was eating.

Eating Disorder

How did I handle that horrible feeling of reflux? Not very well. I binge ate to try to quiet the fire in my stomach. It didn’t matter what the food was, ice cream, cookies, crackers, you name it. This is when disordered eating arrived in my life. I was fifteen years old.
I started to binge and purge, thinking it would help make the reflux feelings go away. I was secretive, and clearly not in the right mindset to handle the health struggle I was dealing with.
I will forever be grateful to my mother who discovered my behavior before it went too far. As a nurse, she was pretty quick to figure out something was really off. She connected me with an eating disorder therapist who helped me learn how to have a healthy relationship with food. It took a long time to stop the urge that had become a habit everyday after school for weeks.

Misdiagnosis

My bumpy health journey doesn’t end there. I went on to get diagnosed for chosto-chondritis, which is a form of arthritis in the chest wall. The chest pain I felt for years was real, but it had nothing to do with my heart. The heart condition was a misdiagnosis, and those prescriptive pills did nothing for me but wreck my energy and confidence during those high school years. No one should have to deal with that.
With the change in medication, I felt like the weight was lifted off my chest. Literally. I complained for years of stabbing chest pain, or feeling like a brick was on my check.
Fast forward a few years and I graduated college, got married, and became pregnant. Suddenly, I couldn’t take my arthritis medicine anymore in the third trimester. I stressed. How would my body handle the pain again?

Motherhood

It was becoming a mother which really opened up my eyes to what happened to our food over the past few decades. I started reading ingredient lists, switched to organic milk, and began to make wholesome meals like the ones I grew up with. No more cheese and crackers with wine for dinner.
That medicine I was so worried about needing? I never needed it again after having my daughter and changing the way I was eating. But it wasn’t easy.
I went back to work when my daughter was just three months old and had to learn how to make dinners fast. The mad rush to leave the office, drive 40 minutes to daycare, and race home to get dinner on the table was a real struggle. There were some cereal for dinner nights and I knew there had to be a better way.

Meal Planning

What changed my confidence in the kitchen is learning how to meal plan. When I started to take the time to develop a balanced meal plan, dinner became an enjoyable experience again. I started planning slow cooker dinners, 10 minutes dinner, and even created some freezer meals.
I started this blog in 2009 to document how we were changing our lifestyle to a healthy, real food based approach. It felt good to share what was working, and I found such stress-relief in the kitchen.
However, a few years ago I struggled with a post-baby body and bad habits of too much coffee and wine. On top of caring for three little ones, we had to move out of the country for my husband’s job. Caffeine and wine became a part of a coping strategy. Those first six months of living away from home were a challenge.
It was time to make a change.
Emily.R

All these babies! Love this time, but I didn’t understand what my body needed to thrive.

Creating a new path

At the library, I started diving into nutrition books. I upped my exercise game. I cut back on the wine Monday-Friday (wait, Thursday) Things started to come together again.

I decided to go back to school to become a culinary nutrition expert at The Academy of Culinary Nutrition. I cooked new foods, immersed myself in modern nutrition, and unlearned the old ways of approaching our diet. I thought I was eating healthy buying whole-wheat pasta and bread, and organic milk. Oh my, I was so far off the mark.

Changing the way I ate dramatically improved my energy level. I think it improved my mood too. The winter doesn’t bother me as much anymore, and I have a better understanding of why our body needs so much Vitamin D. I started playing tennis competitively again after 15 years. Knee pain I had struggled with for years went away, even as I exercised more. Oh, and I dropped 20 pounds. Without dieting. Our bodies work really well when we fuel it with the right foods, and eliminate the stuff that slows us down. This is what I have learned.

All of my success comes from eating the right foods. 

Once you have one autoimmune disease, you are much more likely to develop another. I also have a very strong family history of autoimmune disease, which also puts me at an elevated risk. On the test I give my clients, I would have scored over 100+ points before I focused on a holistic lifestyle. Now I can say I’m below 60, but the family connection and previous diagnosis will always put me at risk.
The most important thing, I feel amazing. 
I choose to follow a healing diet because I don’t want to go to that dark place again with unanswered health questions. The one thing we can control is our nutrition and lifestyle. I can say for sure it make a difference. Putting the effort in to eat well helps me be a better wife and mother.

Emily Roach wellness

I’ve chosen to take control of my health and I thought you all deserve to understand where I’m coming from when I give you guidance and support. Today I still face the same struggles of stress, juggling parenthood, and finding time to do all.the.things. It’s my understanding of how to take care of myself that keeps me going. One day at a time.
You deserve the education to empower yourself to take control of your own health. Today I work with clients who need the extra support and the motivation to make lasting change. I’m proof that you can come back from a health struggle and overcome obstacles.
why I became a health coach. Autoimmune disease health coach.

As soon as the weather cools I’m ready to make soup, especially this sweet potato and apple soup. It’s the perfect lunch soup to share with friends, and even the kids liked it! It uses all my favorite fall flavors, apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, and autumnal spices. Below I’ll give you the recipe for the autumn spice blend I like to keep on hand for the fall season.

When I shop for sweet potatoes and any other root vegetables, I always choose organic. Root vegetables grown in soil absorb anything that is put on the soil. So although sweet potatoes are often on the Clean 15 list, I still opt for organic when I can find it. They often taste better too.

Apples are one of those fruits that I only buy organic, or eco-certified. This is a new term that is for farmers who closely follow organic practices, but are not certified.  Apples are susceptible to pests, and these farmers use integrated pest management practices that are safer than conventionally grown apples. Did you know most apples in the stores can have up to 30 different chemical pesticides on them? And they don’t wash off. They get into the skin and because it’s in the soil, it’s in the whole apple. No thank you. I talk a little more about how to best spend your dollars at the grocery store in this post. 

Sweet Potato and Apple Soup ingredients

This sweet potato and apple soup is both gluten free and dairy free, but is incredibly rich and creamy. I use some coconut milk at the end of the cooking process to add the creamy factor. Look for canned coconut milk that just says coconut milk. There is a new one out from Native Forest and I just ordered a case of them from Amazon.

My recipe calls for chicken broth. You can learn all about how to make chicken bone broth here and learn why it’s so good for you. If you want this to be a vegetarian meal, please substitute vegetable broth. Take a look at the post about broth to learn how to avoid buying broth filled with MSG.

SWEET POTATO AND APPLE SOUP

How to make sweet potato and apple soup

WARMING SWEET POTATO AND APPLE SOUP RECIPE (GLUTEN FREE, DAIRY FREE)

A warming, autumnal soup filled with fresh fall vegetables. It's dairy free and gluten free and full of phytonutrients to support your health.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: apple, dairy free, gluten free, soup, sweet potato
Author: Emily Roach

Ingredients

  • 2 large sweet potatoes cut into ½" cubes
  • 4 tablespoons avocado oil divided
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 shallots minced
  • 3 carrots diced
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 6 cups chicken bone broth
  • 3 gala or fuji apples
  • 1 tablespoon autumn spice blend
  • 1 cup coconut milk beverage
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Add potatoes to baking sheet, drizzle with 2 tablespoons avocado oil and sprinkle with salt. Mix with your hands to fully coat. Roast for 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are soft, but not mushy.
  • Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the carrots and shallots. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then add the garlic for one additional minute.
  • Stir in the chicken broth, add the sweet potatoes when ready, apples, and spice blend. Cover the pot and simmer on low for 15 minutes.
  • If you have an immersion blender, use it to puree the soup in the pot until desired texture is reached. Alternatively, you can transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Return the soup to the pot and add the coconut milk. Stir to combine well.
  • Serve warm.
Tried this recipe?Mention @emilyroachwellness or tag #erwellness!

AUTUMN SPICE BLEND

*keep this on hand in a small jar and add to soups, smoothies, and oatmeal all season long. It will last two weeks in the pantry, or up to 3 months in the freezer. 

  • 1/3 cup ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

These warming spices help boost your circulation. Ginger also helps support your digestive system. If you are someone like me who ALWAYS feels cold from October till April, try adding this into more of our foods. I use a high quality cinnamon that is Ceylon cinnamon. Often times what’s in traditional grocery stores is cassia, which doesn’t have the same medicinal properties. I order a bulk bag of cinnamon and then keep a small jar on hand and store the rest in the freezer.

What’s your favorite fall soups? Here’s one additional health tip–consider having soup for breakfast. As the weather continues to cool and the mornings get dark, enjoying a warm soup first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day. With the sweet potato and apple soup you already have had a couple of servings of vegetables to start your day. Enjoy.

In the name of efficiency, I have been trying out a variety of grocery delivery services over the past couple of months. This past week I had the opportunity to try Farmers to You, a co-op of Vermont farms that will deliver in my area. Farm fresh produce and meat, without an hour plus drive. Yes, please! Don’t miss your special discount code at the bottom of this post.

Farmers to You Farms

What is Farmers to You?

Here’s how Farmers to You works. A wide variety of farms in the Vermont area provide their best quality produce, meats, syrups, and more to be delivered to Boston area families. We go online, choose what we want, then it gets delivered at a predetermined pick up location one day during the week. I was able to pick up my order at the Wellesley Farmers Market, which is now 100% served by Farmers to You.

One of the most important lessons I have learned as a culinary nutrition expert is to understand where your food is coming from. The shorter the distance from farm to table is always going to be in your best interest. Vegetables grown on small farms, where they truly care for the soil and the land, gives you more nutrient density in the food on your table.

If I have a choice to spend money with a small farm family business versus big agra, the small farm will always win. I know that someone has nurtured what they have grown, whether it’s fruits, vegetables, or animals. That positive energy becomes part of your food, and then part of us.

Food, if you can call it that, which has gone through processing becomes dead food. Same goes for food that is picked before it’s ripe. The most important step I teach my private clients is how the quality of the food they eat affects their health and energy level.

Is Farmers to You all Organic?

Here’s another tidbit worth remembering, you don’t always need to buy organic.  There is a time and a place for certified organic, but if you are partnering with a small farm that uses old-school methods of farming, they don’t need the costly organic stamp of approval for me. Organic farming has become a big business, and just because it’s labeled organic does not always guarantee it’s the best choice.

Farmers to You Vermont farm delivery service Boston

How do I prioritize what I buy organic versus not? Here’s my cheat sheet:

  • Choose grass-fed, pastured raised meat from small, local farms. You will get a better quality meat than a factory farm organic chicken. Yes, that’s what Perdue is doing to the organic business. Choosing the highest quality meat you can afford is the most important thing. I would ask you to spend the extra money on meat and dairy quality, and buy all your other veggies non-organic if your budget is tight.
  • Dairy is next in line. I’m comfortable with non-organic if the cows are pastured the majority of the year. Here’s more info on how to make smart choices about dairy…and guess what, it doesn’t include fat-free anything.
  • Eggs-pastured raised, small farm is best. Even organic standards allow for large scale chicken coops with very little outdoor exposure. Farm fresh eggs all rate higher for Omega 3, a key nutrient for anti-inflammatory diets. 
  • Root vegetables-if it’s not local and you don’t know the farm, choose organic. The veggies absorb everything that’s in the soil. If that includes Round-Up, then you get that too. Farmers to You partners with River Berry and Dog River Farms. You can grab some certified organic root vegetables with them.
  • Strawberries- top of the charts for the Dirty Dozen so I don’t make exceptions here. Always buy organic.
  • Apples- they tend to be heavily sprayed, but you can find good non-organic apples that have been grown with Integrated Pest Management practices. From Champlain farm owners,
  • Bill and Andrea at Champlain Orchards are committed to ecological practices and are Eco-Apple certified. Due to challenges of our Northeast climate, they use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and minimally spray their apples to manage pests in conjunction with natural methods.

  • Leafy greens- an avid reader informed me that leafy greens attract lots of bugs so they are sprayed heavily with pesticides. I’m sticking with organic here, unless I hear the farm follows a non-toxic protocol.
  • Corn-buy organic, otherwise it’s most likely from a GMO seed.
  • Red peppers- organic, top of the dirty dozen list.
  • Balance of fruits and veggies-grab organic if you can if in a grocery store. I’m comfortable without the organic label if it’s from a small, trustworthy farm.

Here’s a peek at how Farmers to You connects you to the food you serve your family.

A Community of Families and Farmers from Farmers To You on Vimeo.

How do I sign up for Farmers to You?

Super easy to test out if you are in the Boston area. Check here on this page to find delivery sites in your area. Want one in Needham? Let me know if there is enough interest and I’ll do a test run! While I love supporting my local farmers market, time is tight as a busy mom with three little kids and a husband who travels. Let’s not even mention the craziness of the kid’s sports schedules over the weekend. If I can make my cooking/grocery shopping a little more efficient right now, I’m all for it.

I created an account, placed an order by Sunday for a Thursday pickup. I got a text reminder and an email about when and where to pickup my order. It was super simple. *You do need to update your order for the following week as it automatically creates a reoccurring order. I adjusted mine to reorder basics and suspended it for a week to allow me time to process what I already received. Next week I’ll update it and see what new items are available.

What am I making with my delivery from Farmers to You?

Farmers to You Grass Fed Meat

There are some recipes on the Farmers to You website, but here’s a few more ideas based on what caught my eye last week.

sweet-potato-apple-soup-recipe-ingredients-paleo

Ready to check it out?! Head over here to place your order with Farmers to You.  My readers are getting 15% off their first order! Use the code: ER15. This expires Sunday, Dec 17th. Just think about how extra special Thanksgiving can be with fresh ingredients.

Come back here and leave a comment sharing what you are excited to try first! 

Note: I partnered with Farmers to You and was provided free product to facilitate this story. I had a great experience and look forward to placing orders with them again on my own. 

Farmers to You Food Delivery in Boston

If you shop the grocery store lately, you are bound to have lots of questions about healthy dairy options. There is a giant wall of choices, and you need to understand the differences between conventional, organic, grass-fed, low-fat, fresh, and raw milk. It’s a hot topic in the nutrition field and I’m going to break it down for you.

healthy choices for dairy, milk and yogurt

What are the health benefits of dairy?

Milk and dairy products have been around a very long time, at least 10,000 years or more by most accounts. Fresh milk provides the following nutrients when it hasn’t been altered by pasteurization:

  • fat-soluble vitamins like calcium and phosphate
  • conjugated linoleic acid (an anti-inflammatory and healing fat)
  • balanced amounts of essential fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6
  • probiotics
  • complete proteins, including glutathione (another anti-inflammtory)

Feeding our babies breastmilk provides all of the nutrients above, plus natural growth hormones. We are nearly all born with the ability to process lactose, the sugar in milk, but that ability begins to decrease by age 2. About 25% of Caucasians are lactose intolerant, and 97% of Native Americans are lactose-intolerant. (1)  Despite our lactose intolerance issues, dairy is still recommended for children and adults.

baby milk healthiest options

Do we need milk for calcium?

While calcium is one of the beneficial nutrients from dairy, it’s not as readily available as the dairy businesses would like us to think. Calcium is delivered into your bones when there is a synergistic relationship between it and magnesium, vitamin K2, and vitamin D. The vitamin D added to milk after pasteurization is not well absorbed by our body. What we really want is calcium in a bioavailable form, which is found in dark leafy greens, sesame seeds, dried figs, rhubarb, and bone broth.

The second big issue with the calcium conversation is the low-fat/no-fat nonsense. If your body is in balance with the other micronutrients I mentioned, calcium needs saturated fat to be absorbed. If you eat a 0% fat yogurt, you just got zero of the calcium.

When the beneficial fat is removed from the milk, it’s replaced with carbohydrate-based fillers like cellulose, maltodextrins, gums, starches, fiber, and polydextrose. The other thing added to low-fat products is SUGAR. When you remove the fat, you remove the flavor. Added sugar is a whole other conversation, but worth noting so you skip those fruity, sugary, no-fat choices next time you are in the yogurt aisle.

Also, studies have shown there is no reduced risk for osteoporosis when drinking two or more glasses of milk a day versus two glasses per week. (2) You are better off protecting your bones by eating a plant-rich diet and incorporating movement into your lifestyle.

What’s the downside of dairy?

Conventional dairy products typically cause your body to go into a proinflammatory state. It can cause leaky gut syndrome, insulin resistance, and development of gut dysbiosis. The main goal I have when creating a healing diet is to reduce the overall inflammation levels in your body. In this day and age, our bodies are taxed by environmental toxins all the time. We can’t always control that, but we can control what we choose to eat.

As someone who creates healing diets for clients, often I work with people to eliminate dairy from their diet. Why? Eliminating dairy gives you the opportunity to see if you can reduce issues related to digestion, skin (acne/rosacea/eczema), asthma, candida, joint pain, allergies, and headaches. When you reduce overall gut irritation, you actually make it possible for your body to absorb nutrients better from the other foods you eat.

Organic versus conventional dairy?

Milk quality has improved in recent years as companies realize customers do not want antibiotics in the glass of milk they serve their kids. However, if you do not choose organic milk, you will be exposed to pesticides. They exist in the grains fed to the cows, which then goes right into the milk. The toxins actually bind with the fat in milk and they are not eliminated by pasteurization. Always purchase organic milk to avoid the toxic exposure. Remember, this applies to all your dairy products: ice cream, cream cheese, cheese, sour cream, creamer, and so on. The conventional milk used for these products is pro-inflammatory which is exactly what I teach my clients to avoid.

What happens when milk is pasteurized?

Healthy dairy options at the grocery store.

Pasteurization is the process of heating milk to very high temperatures to kill off any bacteria, or microbes, present. It came into practice in the 1800s when we didn’t have the clean facilities to gather milk on a regular basis. The demand was increasing during the time of industrialization and pasteurization allows for milk to be produced cheaply, which is what the big dairy businesses needed. Homogenized milk was the next change, where milk fat is separated so the cream no longer rises to the top. So what does this do to our milk?

Pasteurized milk has no live bacteria, compared to raw milk that may have lactobacilli present. You know, those probiotics you pay for in a bottle used to come from a glass of milk. Heat from pasteurization breaks down the proteins and fat, resulting in health-damaging consequences. The new milk creates a milk-fat soap through saponification. This creates a product that irritates your gut and can cause either diarrhea or constipation. The nutrients we want from milk, like calcium and phosphate, are now much less bioavailable and difficult to absorb. It’s about a 6-fold drop in nutrition when comparing fresh milk to pasteurized milk. (3) The amino acids are damaged with the heat and then turned into pro-inflammatory irritants, or allergens.

Where can I get healthy dairy options?

Yogurt is still the one dairy option I recommend keeping in your diet, if you are able to tolerate it. The good news is that fermentation rejuvenates the damaged proteins and makes the minerals we need more bioavailable. You want to find whole milk, grass-fed, organic yogurt in the plain variety. Skip the flavored options and just add your own raw honey or maple syrup if you need a little sweetness.

grass fed yogurt healthy dairy option

Raw milk is becoming more available across the United States, however it is still illegal to sell in Canada. To find raw milk farmers near you, head over to Real Milk to see a state by state guide. This is the place to know your farmer, visit the farm, and talk about the safety of the milk. There was a lot of scare tactics used when pasteurization came into effect at the turn of the century. As we move towards getting more food closer to the source, I hope raw milk will become widely available. What I don’t understand is why we can buy soda and cigarettes that cause obesity and cancer, but not raw milk. As a healthy dairy option, the amount of regulation against raw milk surprises me.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Dairy decisions: Why can we buy soda & cigarettes that cause obesity & cancer, but not raw milk? ” quote=”What I don’t understand is why we can buy soda and cigarettes that cause obesity and cancer, but not raw milk. “]

Spring is actually the best time to introduce yourself to raw milk as the animals will be eating fresh, growing grass. I can’t get raw milk here in Canada, but I’ve already talked to the owners of a raw milk dairy back home during my time working on a farmer’s market. They were allowed to sell raw milk cheese at the market and it was amazing!

Here’s my recommendation for healthy dairy options in order of preference:

  1. Eliminate dairy for two weeks to see how your health may improve. Add back in and notice if you see any changes.
  2. Raw milk if you can find a quality source.
  3. Yogurt made with Organic, grass-fed milk. Plain flavor.
  4. Organic grass-fed milk (cow/sheep/goat) whole milk.
  5. Organic milk, whole milk.

If you wish to continue on the non-dairy train, you can read my tutorial here on how to make your own almond milk. Coconut milk, cashew milk, hemp seed milk and rice milk are all available at many stores. I don’t recommend soy milk as it will be a GMO product unless it’s listed as organic. You can find lots of recipes in my meal plan section that includes primarily dairy-free options.

Is it easy to go dairy free? Yes and no. I no longer drink milk but find I can tolerate a quality yogurt or cheese here or there. More often I’m going to make a homemade coconut milk yogurt instead. My kids however LOVE their cold cereal and milk in the morning. It’s a treat they get occasionally so I invest in the best milk and organic cereal I can find. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s working for us right now. Progress, not perfection.

Will I let them try raw milk down the road? Yes, once I get to know the farming practices in detail and can trust the safety of the milk. I would rather they get the full benefit of the vitamins and minerals in milk instead of a watered down version.

Leave a note in the comments if you have questions. Thanks for taking the time to empower yourself with information about choosing healthy dairy options.

how to choose healthy dairy options for your family

Healthy Dairy Options Additional resources

The Big Fat Surprise: discusses the need for fat in our diet.

Devil in the Milk: Illness, Health and Politics of A1 and A2 milk. : further reading to learn about the various qualities of milk

The Paleo Approach: in depth look at why eliminating dairy can lead to optimal health, especially for women with autoimmune conditions.

Click here for a report card on your favorite organic milks to see how they stack up to the competition. There is also a yogurt one on this site too. I learned that Organic Valley is a better option than Horizon. Horizon is organic, but it’s mass produced and the nutrient quality is not the same as using milk from grass-fed animals. Their cows may be getting organic grain feed, which isn’t going to produce a premium product.

Sources

  1. The Paleo Approach, pg 106
  2. Feskanich, D., W. C. Willett, M. J. Stampfer, and G. A. Colditz. “Milk, Dietary Calcium, and Bone Fractures in Women: A 12-year Prospective Study.” American Journal of Public Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine, June 1997. Web. 06 Apr. 2017.
  3. Roig, M.j., A. Alegrı́a, R. Barberá, R. Farré, and M.j. Lagarda. “Calcium Dialysability as an Estimation of Bioavailability in Human Milk, Cow Milk and Infant Formulas.” Food Chemistry 64.3 (1999): 403-09. Web.

The number #1 complaint I hear from readers, and clients, is their challenge with meal planning. They know it’s an important part of achieving their health goals, and also a way to limit their stress at dinner. But they get stuck when it comes to sorting through recipes. There are recipes coming at you online, in magazines, cookbooks, Pinterest, friends, and so on. What if someone could create a healthy meal plan for you?

When my daughter was in daycare, I remember the struggle of rushing to pick her up. How fast can I get her, get home, and get dinner on the table. Those stressful nights became manageable once I started meal planning. I’ve been crafting meal plans here on the blog for nearly five years. Each week I’ve shared my posts on Organizing Junkie, and I started to see some trends. There were recipes we kept coming back to because they were family-friendly, easy to prepare, and use real food ingredients. The 4-week healthy meal plan guide was born.

ENTER THE 4-WEEK HEALTHY MEAL PLAN

I heard from you the need to simplify. You want healthy recipes, but you don’t want to spend hours trying to find them. This book includes my favorite recipes that I go back to time and time again. These are the recipes that live in my meal planning binder and are stained from pulling them out so often. I went another step an organized all of these recipes into meal plans for you.

Here’s what you get with my digital download Healthy Meal Plan:

*4 weeks of Meal Plans for dinner

*Shopping Lists

*24 Simple Recipes

chicken-satay-recipe-healthy-meal-plan-recipes

You can see the recipes are easy to follow, and only use real-food ingredients. I’ve also included substitutions for making meals gluten-free or dairy-free if needed. Plus, there are side dishes suggestions to pair with the main meal. Often times I see meal plans and they include one main dish, or casserole. If you have kids like mine, I often need to cook meals that I can deconstruct. (or just not have anything touching each other!) Deconstructing a meal is a great way to make one thing for everyone and expose kids to a wide range of flavor and color.Keep some veggies raw that they may eat and cook for the rest of the family. Kids may not always eat everything, but overtime you will be surprised when one day they suddenly eat asparagus after swearing it off years ago.

MEAL PLAN AND SHOPPING LIST

4-week-healthy-meal-plan-shopping-list

 

SIMPLE, FAMILY-FRIENDLY RECIPES

The 24 recipes included are ones that I use for some of my custom meal planning clients. I want everyone to feel more confident in the kitchen and these are simple to follow. These recipes arm you with a plan for the end of the day when you are exhausted. You want to call for takeout because you didn’t plan anything for dinner. Get ahead of the game and use these healthy meal plans instead. The more you eat at home, the more your energy will increase, your sleep can improve, and you are saving money. Know what you are eating and avoid exposing yourself to processed foods and chemical preservatives. It’s the best way to optimize your health.

You should know that the recipes suggestions you gave us are still among our favorites!
-Deborah (former meal planning client)

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Ready to grab your copy? The price is $27 and will save you time and money each week.

 

4-weeks-healthy-meal-plans-recipes

Use any leftovers for lunch the next day and save yourself time and money by skipping lunch from the local shops. Your healthy meal plan can be printed out and bound at your local Staples. Did you know you can even print to them directly?! Ask for it to be spiral bound so it can lay flat on your kitchen counter.

Let me know how you are using your healthy meal plan and join us in the Facebook group here to share which ones are your new favorite recipes. Enjoy.

Welcome back to weekly meal plans! I’ve missed sharing some new recipes and I’ll be continuing the long standing tradition here going forward. The new part I’m playing with is organizing the meal plans into searchable themes, like this week’s Spring Paleo Meal Plan. I know a lot of people are following the paleo style of eating and I want you to be able to click over to the database of meal plans and search for what you need. You can expect to see plans that are anti-inflammatory, low-allergy, vegetarian, paleo, and Whole30. If you have some specific requests, leave a note in the comments.

Spring Paleo meal plan with paleo sweet potato quiche

Spring Paleo Meal Plan

Pick and choose recipes that can work into your own meal plan for the week ahead. The guiding principles for a Paleo meal plan is lots of protein and plants, and no dairy, gluten, and legumes. My exception will be my favorite Irish Soda bread for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday as I haven’t mastered a gluten-free version. Yet.

Dinner:

Lunch:

  • Tuna salad stuffed avocado from my past meal plan.

Breakfast:

  • Sweet potato quiche from Real Simple Good -it needs to bake for 45 minutes, so prep ahead! This will make a great lunch too.

For more inspiration, check out the years of past dinner plans here, my Pinterest collection here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans.

Let me know what you are making this week. Enjoy the Spring Paleo Meal Plan!

 

The quest for a delicious healthy granola bar has been a long one. Usually it needs to be a nut-free granola bar safe for school, and it has to pass the kid taste test. Plus it has to be refined sugar free, use real food ingredients, and give adults the protein we need in a snack. A long time ago I shared this recipe for a homemade granola bar, now I’ve updated my standards and sharing with you my latest healthy granola bar recipe. The new recipe guide is dairy free, gluten-free, (nut-free if needed,) and full of flavor.

Old fashioned, or large flakes, oats are still the base of my granola bar. They are fairly inexpensive and adding them helps to stretch your dollars. However, I do recommend the gluten-free organic oats when you can find them. Oats are a heavily sprayed crop with pesticides so it’s in your best interest to opt for organic when possible.

NATURAL SWEETENERS FOR HEALTHY GRANOLA BARS

You won’t find any refined sugar in this granola bar, or sugar hiding as brown rice syrup or tapioca syrup and so on. The two sweeteners I’m using here are Medjool dates and a little bit of molasses. The dates provide fiber, plus vitamins B6, potassium, magnesium, copper, and manganese. The molasses contains manganese, copper, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6, and selenium. Always opt for blackstrap molasses and not the imitation stuff. It’s also rich in antioxidants, which we need to help rid ourselves of toxins that can build up in our body from the environment.

Use medjool dates as a natural sweetener

Regular sugar doesn’t have any of that good stuff, and instead can aggravate anyone with inflammatory conditions like headaches, joint pain, skin issues, and autoimmune conditions. Generally everyone I know suffers from something on this list. Swapping out our sweeteners to use unrefined sugars 9 out 10 times has really helped our family’s health this year. (I haven’t mastered sugar cookies without sugar, but let me know if you do!) The less sugar you have in your diet to begin with, the less you crave it.

Take a look at the granola bars from the stores and you will often find sugar as the first ingredient. It may be hiding under a different name, but it’s still there. I’m not just talking about kid granola bars either, those energy bars everywhere are like candy bars for grown ups. Always read your label and you may be surprised that a real food isn’t the first ingredient.

[clickToTweet tweet=”Those energy bars everywhere are like candy bars for grown ups. Always read your labels.” quote=”Those energy bars everywhere are like candy bars for grown ups. Always read your label and you may be surprised that a real food isn’t the first ingredient.”]

Sesame seeds add calcium to granola bars

Did you know sesame seeds add a dose of calcium to these granola bars?

My healthy granola bar recipe is easy to update to a nut-free version. You can make them safe those with nut allergies by using sunflower butter instead of almond butter. I baked them once with both sunflower butter, and sunflower seeds, and it was just too much sunflower! The recipe is easy to adapt to your personal likes/kids’ dislikes and it will still come together. You will need to bake them for a short time, and let it cool thoroughly, which helps it retain its shape. No one wants a crumbly granola bar!

How to bake your own healthy granola bars

HOW TO MAKE HEALTHY GRANOLA BARS AT HOME

How to make healthy granola bars dairy free and gluten free

EMILY'S HEALTHY GRANOLA BARS

You will get a dairy-free, refined sugar-free recipe for healthy granola bars that everyone will love. Swap in your favorite dried fruits, superfoods, and even protein powder for an added boost of energy.
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Course: Breakfast, Snack
Keyword: granola, kids
Author: Emily Roach

Ingredients

  • 2 cups organic gluten-free oats old-fashioned/large flake
  • 6 pitted Medjool dates chopped
  • ½ cup dried fruit unsweetened cranberries or cherries
  • ½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 cup almond butter or nut-free butter
  • ½ cup raw honey
  • ¼ cup coconut oil
  • 11/2 tablespoon blackstrap molasses

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 9x11 baking pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl, combine the oats, dates, dried fruit, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, cinnamon, and salt.
  • Over low heat, add the almond butter, honey, coconut oil, and molasses to a small saucepan. Gently warm and stir until thoroughly combined.
  • Pour the wet ingredients over the oat mixture and stir to combine.
  • Transfer the granola mixture to the baking pan and press down evenly using your hands or a spatula.
  • Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from heat and let cool for at least 30 minutes.
  • Cut into desired size and store in an airtight container.
Tried this recipe?Mention @emilyroachwellness or tag #erwellness!

Have fun making your own healthy granola bars. Let me know how they turn out!

Academy of Culinary Nutrition Program Graduate

Academy of Culinary Nutrition program

For the past few months, I have been getting an amazing education from The Academy of Culinary Nutrition program, run by Meghan Telpner. I was challenged with new recipes in the kitchen, pushed to my limits writing research papers while taking care of three little ones, and am inspired by the community I am now a part of as an alumni. Let me tell you how I ended up there.

Last winter, I started feeling a little lost. Maybe it was a result of living in a foreign country without my friends and family nearby. Maybe it was looking ahead to September and realizing my kids would be in school all day together in a Montessori program. Did I want to be a full time blogger? No, my heart wasn’t there. I knew I needed something more. That’s when it hit me.

Nutrition.

I can talk about real food and nutrition all day long, but I never received any credentials around my love for healthy living. The idea of health coaching clicked and I started doing my research. For a month, I talked with multiple health coaching programs and chatted with a friend who has a successful life coaching practice. I learned a lot about the quality of different programs, and also the lack of regulation when it comes to being “certified.”

Then I found The Academy of Culinary Nutrition.

Health coaching online program options

When I learned Meghan was based in Toronto, it felt like a sign. I’m only here for two years and this amazing program is in my backyard, yet is online and available from anywhere in the world. It would offer me flexibility as I traveled in the fall and still be able to access the program. I read everything I could about the program, listened to the webinar (and took a lot of notes!), had Jim watch the video about making almond milk, and I was hooked.

The program is for people like me who wanted a solid nutrition education, and then an optional business component. There is also an honorary level for the program for anyone who wants the information for personal use. I signed up last spring and for the next few months, I couldn’t wait to get started on this new journey.

Over the summer I started doing some of my required reading, including Meghan’s Undiet book. It gave me a great foundation for understanding the philosophy of the class. In September, I was ready to get going and get my hands dirty in the kitchen.

Not only did I get my hands dirty, but I trashed my kitchen a few times. There were some marathon cooking days when I had recipe assignments due, a family to feed, and just a mountain of dishes to tackle. I only wish I could have had a house elf to do dishes for me during this course!

Kimchi Maki Rolls Academy of culinary nutrition program homework

A peek at one of the recipes for a homework assignment.

On those cooking days, I used ingredients I had always passed by at the store. Nori rolls, seaweed, gelatin, and horseradish root. I always considered myself a “foodie” but I truly didn’t understand how powerful food is for our health. The #1 thing I came out with from this class is how important it is for us to take care of our health and let ourselves feel amazing. I have followed a gluten-free, dairy-free lifestyle during the course and am continuing this path. Why? Because I feel better. I have more energy. I no longer feel wiped out late in the day as I’m trying to get dinner on the table. Plus, the skills I learned in the class has helped me learn how to do this without getting stressed out about planning my meals.

Did I mention I had homework each week? That would also be why I couldn’t get a blog post up the past few months. I love writing, but not sitting at a computer. I reached my typing limit during this course, but look forward to sharing some of my new recipe creations here in the coming weeks.

What you learn in the Academy of Culinary Nutrition program

I worked on creating custom meal plans for clients that help with digestive issues. I came up with a protocol for managing thyroid conditions. Armed with books about natural medicine and knowledge from hours of lectures from the course has given me the culinary nutrition education I was looking for. Here’s a recap of all the skills taught in the Academy of Culinary Nutrition program:

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• A thorough understanding of the impact food choices have on health and specific health conditions.

• The development of meal plans in accordance with various dietary restrictions.

• Recipe modification and testing.

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• Recipe development and testing.

• Experience with a client simulation: following a prescribed meal plan for 3-7 days

• Selection of specific healing ingredients, experimentation with a variety of applications, and the creation of recipes that exploit health promoting benefits.

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[one-third]

• Successful hosting of a cooking class /workshop.

• Knowledge in and experience with local food community.

• The study and development of food philosophy.

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Now it’s my job to help share this message by working with clients to help them learn how to bring real food back to their life. Need a custom meal plan? I can help. You can learn more about my nutrition consulting services here. And a big thank you for being a part of my community here via the blog. It’s been over seven years and I can’t wait to see what the next seven holds.

One more thank you to my children and husband, who tried everything I put on the table. Thank you for being so supportive.

Emily Roach CNE graduate academy of culinary nutrition program

I cannot speak more highly of The Academy of Culinary Nutrition program. Meghan, her team, and the culinary nutrition expert community were all so supportive during this journey. Head over the the school site, and get on the mailing list to learn more about the community. If any has questions for me about the program,  or my services, feel free to reach out to me at hello@emilyroachwellness.com. I’m happy to listen.

Are you coming out of the hazy, lazy days of summer and starting to feel the urge to get organized again? Need some routine back in your day? Here’s a new meal plan after taking a summer break to enjoy gorgeous weather as much as possible. I read lots of books, magazines and blog recipes and I spent the good part of Sunday morning trying to organize them. The good ones get saved and shared here in my meal plans, and they also get added to my recipe binder.

A little nutrition lesson about farro, which is included in this week’s meal plan in two recipes. Farro, an ancient wheat grain, is a high fiber food. It has a nutty taste and is a great source of protein, magnesium, B vitamins, zinc and iron. It does contain the gluten protein so swapping it for amaranth is an alternative for those following a gluten free plan.

As you write out your grocery list for the upcoming week check out these healthy family friendly recipes from this weeks menu plan.

Our peach and zucchini summer pizza.

Our peach and zucchini summer pizza.

Dinner {GF= Gluten Free, P=Paleo, DF=Dairy Free, NF= Nut Free}

Monday: Roasted Chickens (2) paired with roasted broccoli and red potatoes. (GF)  Leftover chicken will be used for lunches the rest of the week.

Tuesday: Summer Minestrone Soup, vegetarian. My longtime favorite recipe is this one, but I also have made this Paleo version too in the crock pot. For anyone needing more protein in the soup, the leftover roasted chicken is a quick add.

Wednesday: Garlic-Lime Pork with Farro and Kale. (recipe) I don’t often find precooked farro so here are the simple directions: Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Stir in 2 cups farro and 1 teaspoon salt; cover and simmer 15 minutes or until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain; transfer farro to a large bowl. Use half for tonight’s recipe and the rest for the Lunch option.

Thursday: Kid’s request night is Chicken Tenders, steamed Green Beans and rice.

Friday: Summer burgers on the grill, local peaches and cream corn and heirloom tomato salad.

Weekend: Peaches are in season and we made a peach and zucchini pizza from Love and Lemons cookbook this past weekend. Check out your local farmer’s market to find some new combinations to put on your pizza. This summer squash and corn recipe is perfect for this time of year.  Try making your own pizza dough with this recipe.

Lunch

Farro salad with peas, pancetta and radishes. Use the farro made on Wednesday for this salad.

Breakfast

Protein pumped up in this week’s oatmeal recipe from Chatelaine. We made the carrot cake oatmeal and increase the oats by a 1/2 cup. It was a winner!

Snacks

Too  many apples sitting on the counter so we are making a round of dehydrated apple chips with cinnamon. (NF)

Bonus

French 75 cocktail…a minty version is also in the cookbook I mentioned. Why haven’t I tried this before?

Healthy weekly meal plan

Pin this to save for later!

 

For more inspiration, see years of past dinner plans here, my Pinterest collection here, or OrgJunkie for a link-up of weekly meal plans.