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Protein Ponderings

Sugar Ridge has been serving guests plant-based meals for 10 years now.  Over the years I’ve been routinely asked 2 questions.   “How do you get enough protein” and “Why don’t you serve meat here”? So I thought I’d address them here.

Most people don’t have the opportunity to experience their body on a meatless diet.  If you don’t know what you don’t know, why would you change?  Most guests leave saying they would like to eat more vegetarian food if only they knew how to prepare it.   The experience of one’s own body thriving, feeling increased vitality in just a couple days speaks for itself.  People leave Sugar Ridge knowing they can thrive without meat.  The experience is education enough. 

Side Effects of Eating Meat

I don’t want this to turn into a rant so I’ll suggest that you look into a few facts that in general, we try to avoid and which, in my opinion, if everyone cared about, there would be an end to suffering when it comes to food.  In no particular order these are other reasons we don’t serve meat:

  • lack of arable land – deforestation to graze cattle, loss of rainforest
  • lack of fresh uncontaminated water – most available fresh water feeds domestic livestock
  • starving people – grains used to feed livestock could feed far more people than the flesh of those animals
  • obesity epidemic – unhealthy foods are cheap
  • many diseases directly affected by meat consumption include diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, osteoporosis, arthritis
  • animal cruelty – no animal destined for slaughter is happy with the process
  • dairy isn’t meant for human consumption and contributes to illness, including osteoporosis
  • global warming – according to the UN the livestock industry creates 55% of greenhouse gases (methane from livestock is worse than CO2)
  • the meat industry is not sustainable – we’re running out of land as the human population grows
  • low nutrient quality of food – factory farming depletes the soil, GMO’s – we still don’t know long term effects
  • focus on macronutrients (protein, fat & carbs) leaves the body hungry for missing micronutrients, so we keep eating

My focus here at Sugar Ridge is mindfulness and food has always been a big part of that whether guests know it or not.  The present moment is the one in which we have power to influence our health, wellness and the wellbeing of the planet.  The decisions made in the present moment affect our future individually and as a species collectively.  The decision to eat meat or not is one of those opportunities.  So much suffering is attributed to the meat and dairy industries.  And not just the suffering of the animals involved, but the human suffering as diseases become normal, lifespan is now decreasing, forests are destroyed, people are displaced, and water is contaminated. 

The main reason we don’t serve meat is that I refuse to participate in the harm of your body, the harm of animals and the harm of the planet through global warming.

The Protein Myth

The protein answer is pretty easy and it’s really just about education.  Most people are misinformed about nutrition in general and get their dietary education from the media, from the plethora of food commercials, from good intentioned (but uneducated about nutrition) health professionals and a lot from powerful food lobby groups.  It’s easy to see how people get misinformed when everywhere they turn they’re told to eat more protein, carbs are bad and fat is good (or bad) depending on the day.  Just think about who’s paying for that ad.  The protein myth is one that can be dispelled quite easily. 

Protein is one of the three macronutrients needed by our bodies. The other two are carbohydrates and fats. Our bodies need each of these for proper cell functioning.  Metabolic processes happen with the aid of enzymes and every enzyme is made of protein strands.  The body itself is made of proteins.  The paradox of protein is that it is not only essential in your diet but too much threatens your health and is linked to serious illnesses like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.  It’s virtually unheard of for healthy people who have access to food in general to have a protein deficiency.  On the other hand, many people need to reduce protein under doctor’s orders.

The myth part of the protein craze stems from the fact that animal protein is called complete, whereas most vegetable proteins, but not all, are called incomplete.  Protein is made up of various amino acids and every plant has many amino acids but few have all of them in the proportions we need to thrive.  Thus they are called incomplete proteins.  Animal flesh, dairy and eggs are complete proteins because they contain all of the amino acids.  But that doesn’t mean you will have a protein deficiency by not eating meat or dairy.          

When you eat protein-containing foods, the digestion process breaks down protein into amino acids to make them available for use by your body. Nine of the 20 amino acids are essential because our bodies cannot make them on their own. This means we must get them from our diets. We don’t need to consume protein; we need to consume amino acids. 

Vegetables have protein too!

Complete proteins in the vegetable world include quinoa, hemp seeds, soy products, carrots, brussel sprouts, cabbage, cucumbers, kale, okra, peas, cauliflower, corn, eggplant, potatoes, summer squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and bananas.  

We do not need all essential amino acids from one food or meal because our bodies are able to store amino acids for future use.  Food combining used to be popular but now it is understood that you don’t have to consume all amino acids in the same meal or even in the same day.  Although all vegetable foods have protein, some have more than others.  You can divide the vegetable world into seeds, nuts, legumes and grains with the combination of any two providing all essential amino acids.  We naturally combine these foods because they taste great together, so it really takes no effort to get all amino acids.  For example, a peanut butter sandwich, rice and beans, hummus with pita bread, lentils with rice or quinoa, a wrap with tempeh and so on contain all essential amino acids.  Note this doesn’t take into account the protein in vegetables and fruits. If you eat a variety of whole foods throughout the day, you get enough protein.

A vegan diet has plenty of protein, as well as minerals and vitamins and micronutrients that a healthy body needs.  Animals that are killed to be consumed by people have plant-based diets, getting all their protein from the plants they eat.   Cows are huge just eating grass (it’s also where they get their calcium).  Every plant has some protein in it.  All protein ultimately comes from plants, either by consuming an animal that consumed the plant, or consuming the plant itself.  Eating the plant is easier on your digestion.

Protein and Disease

According to the World Health Organization most North Americans consume more than double the recommended dietary intake of protein.  The WHO suggests we should have 4.5 % of our calories from protein.  You probably don’t need as much protein as you think, and you’re more than likely getting enough, even if you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet or even a raw vegan diet.

Many diets that have been popular over the last few years have had a focus on high protein and low carbs.  These diets actually promote weight gain over time.  Animal flesh is denser than plant foods, has no fibre, and has a much higher caloric count by volume, taking up much less space in your stomach than an equivalent amount of calories from plant matter which has a lot of fibre.  So, you tend to eat more calories since you don’t feel full, and you can miss out on micronutrients which your body needs, leaving you still feeling hungry despite the calories you’ve consumed.   

People who consume animal products with every meal are taking in approximately 5 times the recommended amount of daily protein.

I encourage you to do your own research and don’t take my word for it.  I am intentionally leaving out references so that you will go find your own.  The truth is out there!  I know I was surprised, angry and disappointed the more I learned.  The science is there.  Match what you find to your own body and eat so that you thrive.  The same diet isn’t right for everyone.  Find yours and don’t be fanatical about it or it causes more stress which will undo all the good that the diet does.  Plant-based eating can include meat, just not much.  If you want to transition to eating a more plant-based diet think about the starch, fat and veggie side of a meal and build around that.

Mushroom Stroganoff

This is an old recipe that Liz has had for years and slipped it into the cookbook on a whim, but we’ve been getting a lot of wonderful feedback on this recipe! Try it for yourself and let us know your thoughts. 

Mushroom Stroganoff

This was one of those comfort foods I used to love as a kid.  My mom would make a huge pot of it (with beef and sour cream back then) and we’d eat it for a couple days.  Now I make it with mushrooms in place of the meat but same old goodness and hug for the tummy.  My mom would serve it over egg noodles but any wider noodle like linguini or fettuccini are fine too.

Ingredients:

  • 1 12-ounce package fettuccini or linguini
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 large chopped onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups fresh mushrooms – use a variety (cremini, oyster, shitake, button) and if they’re small enough leave them whole
  • dash of cayenne
  • 3 tablespoons white wine
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 cup soy or nut milk
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch mixed in 1 cup cold water
  • fresh ground pepper
  • fresh tarragon (or dried if you don’t have any available)

Instructions:

  • Place the water, onions and garlic in a large pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add mushrooms and cook until they soften.
  • Add all remaining ingredients, except for the cornstarch mixture. Mix well and cover.
  • Cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Remove lid if too much liquid is accumulating from the mushrooms.
  • While this simmers, cook the pasta according to directions on package.
  • Slowly add cornstarch mixture to pan, stirring as you add it and stop when sauce is thickened to your desire.  Discard any excess cornstarch mixture.
  • Ideally the pasta is ready when the sauce is finishing.  After draining the pasta transfer it back into the pot and spoon some of the sauce into the pasta coating it well so it doesn’t get sticky.  Serve immediately with mushroom mixture over fettuccini.
  • Garnish with tarragon.

 

Lemon Tahini Dressing

This salad dressing is super easy to make and a guest favourite.  Its lemony, sweet and tangy flavour is great on any salad.

2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Mix ingredients and drizzle – or use as a veggie dip.

 

 

 

 

Chef’s Tip: Our awesome cook, Sam, did a ingenious variation of this recipe.  She removed the vinegar, added water instead, along with some icing sugar and made a drizzle that we used on cookies. Delicious!

Make Your Own Dandelion Salve! It’s Easy!

It’s Dandelion time!

We love these wonderful little flowers! Seeing their sunny faces dotting the countryside is a sure sign that summer is on its way.  Besides trumpeting in a new season, dandelions provide loads of nutrition and are pretty multi-talented when it comes to providing health benefits. 

The entire plant is edible and the flower serves as the main ingredient in a salve for dry skin and especially eczema.  Plus, foraging for these flowers is super easy – as they are everywhere! There is a belief among herbalists that the more prolific an herb, the more the benefits and the more we need it.

Today we are going to teach you how to make your very own salve – it is so simple!

 

How to make Dandelion Salve!

The first step to making your salve is to collect the dandelions. Next, you will be making an infusion from the flowers. You can dry them for a day first to get rid of some moisture or put them straight into a jar with oil. Make sure the oil covers the flowers. A 16 oz jar will yield about an 8 oz cup of oil.  You can choose your favourite oils like olive, coconut or sweet almond. For this recipe, I chose olive oil and avocado oil.

 

Let your oil sit in a dark place for a week. Don’t wait any longer or the oil will start to spoil. After a week, strain the flowers through cheesecloth. Squeeze hard! You want to get all the benefits of the flowers out. You will be left with a beautiful golden colour oil.

Dandelion Salve Recipe

For this recipe, you will need the Dandelion Infusion you just made and about 6 – 4 oz mason jars with labels. You can get these jars at any hardware store, grocery store, or can likely even re-purpose from jars you may have at home. The rest of the ingredients like beeswax, shea butter and essential oils are at any well-stocked health food store.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dandelion infused oil
  • 1 ounce beeswax
  • 1 ounce refined shea butter
  • 12-24 drops essential oils of your choice (lavender and sweet orange are two of my favourites)

Instructions

  1. Create a makeshift double boiler by putting a small bowl or a glass Pyrex measuring cup over a pot with about an inch of simmering water.
  2. Put the dandelion oil and beeswax into the small bowl or Pyrex, and heat until the beeswax completely dissolves into the oil, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add the shea butter and stir until it completely dissolves.
  4. Stir in the essential oils.
  5. Carefully pour the mixture into small jars or tins and let sit until the salve sets up completely.

 

Our salve turned out beautifully! The smell of the essential oils is glorious and the salve is so soothing for my hands, knees and elbows after a day in the garden. With the ingredients easily available, now is the time to get out and harvest your dandelion flowers before they are gone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos courtesy of Linda Vanderstoop             

 

3 Big Mistakes Most Guys in Relationships Make…

 

That Keep Them Feeling Trapped, Resentful & Feeling Disconnected From Their Partner

by Kurt Frost

It may sound clichéd, but we live in difficult times for men.  The demands of work and family can spread your time and energy thin and our “A.D.D culture” makes it really hard to focus on what is important without the next thing immediately demanding our attention.  

As a result, guys get lost, and when we do, we lose touch with ourselves and what makes our lives exciting and full of  meaning.  Less meaning and excitement creates frustration, builds resentment and causes anxiety. Not only anxiety over feelings of overwhelm, that we can’t keep up, but a growing hopelessness that we are failing. That we may never live the life we want.  This loss of self-fulfillment comes back to hurt our relationships, family and generally the world around us.

Pretty depressing, eh? You may find yourself wondering how you got to this point, but there are definitely 3 big mistakes that most guys make that will pretty much guarantee getting stuck here.  You’ve probably made at least 1 of them if not all 3.

  1. Not Taking Care of Yourself

Most guys are bad at taking care of themselves.  It looks different for everyone, but some common examples of poor self care are:

  • Lack of exercise
  • Poor diet
  • Lack of time for yourself
  • Lack of time with other male friends
  • Poor sleep
  • Many more…

It happens for many reasons, but as you try to take care of everyone else, you do less and less for yourself and, over time, you end up being last in the quest to make sure everyone else is okay.  

This is definitely a recipe for disaster, as the less you do for your own well being, the less you have to give, much less function well in your life.

 

  1. Poor Communication with Partner

The effects of this one are probably the most obvious and at the surface for most guys in their relationships:

  • Feeling like you and your partner are “missing each other”;  your partner is not getting what you mean and you feel misunderstood by them too.
  • Being confused by your partner’s shifts in moods towards you; one minute you feel close and the next you are a jerk.
  • As much as you try to explain your thoughts about something, your partner is resistant and even antagonistic.  Maybe avoiding each other, or difficult subjects.
  • The list goes on…

Continued miscommunication in a relationship is toxic and will only increase the distance between you and your partner. This will undermine the rest of your life too, leading to effects in your self care and sense of purpose… it is all connected!

 

  1. Not Living With Purpose

Living on purpose means you live your life in a way that makes you feel energized and alive.  

If you don’t know where you are going, you won’t know how to get there… or even know if you got there.  It is like sailing a boat; if you don’t have your destination in sight, you will veer off course. And if you know anything about sailing, that is not a good thing.

“Life purpose” is a verb, not a noun. You need to “do” your life purpose in little ways each and every day.  Your purpose isn’t a goal, per se, but rather a way of being that you need to keep checking in with to see if you are on track.  

Put another way, it is you engaging all of you and feeling like you are moving towards a better version of yourself.

A big sign that you are not living with purpose is if you are feeling frustrated that your life is being defined for you by your partner, your kids, your boss, etc., etc., etc.  It feels controlling and leaves men often feeling angry and resentful.

All of this can change!

As you have seen, there are many ways for your life to get off track, but there are also many solutions you can implement to help you claim the life you desire and start living with the purpose you deserve.  

Men need their own space to get back in touch with what feels right. The Power of Purpose Retreat For Men does this. During this retreat you will address these 3 exact problems and leave with the solutions you need to be happier and excited about your life again! Find out how we will accomplish this here.

Coconut Cream Chia Pudding

Chia seeds are one of the healthiest of the new superfoods widely available in food markets today. They are loaded with nutrients that can have important benefits for your body and brain. 

Coconut Cream Chia Pudding is a delicious, easy to make treat packed with lots of nutrition! Vegan-friendly and gluten free, you can make one or more portions the night before to have throughout the week. Start with the basic recipe, adding in your favourite fruits and toppings.

Chia seeds were an important food for the Aztecs and Mayan who prized them for their ability to provide sustained energy.

In fact, “chia” is the ancient Mayan word for “strength.”

Despite their ancient history as a dietary staple, only recently did chia seeds become recognized as a modern-day superfood.

These tiny seeds pack a powerful nutritional punch.

A 1 ounce (28 grams) serving of chia seeds contains (1, 2):

  • Fiber: 11 grams
  • Protein: 4 grams
  • Fat: 9 grams (5 of which are Omega-3s)
  • Calcium: 18% of the RDA
  • Manganese: 30% of the RDA
  • Magnesium: 30% of the RDA
  • Phosphorus: 27% of the RDA
  • They also contain a decent amount of Zinc, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Potassium, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) and Vitamin B2.

The fiber and Omega 3’s in Chia seeds rate higher ounce for ounce than flaxseed.  Higher fiber with lots of Omega’s reduce your risk for diabetes type 2 and heart disease. One of the best features are the antioxidants which help the Omega oils from going rancid. So grab your empty mason jars (8oz) and get your breakfast of champions started!

COCONUT CREAM CHIA PUDDING
WITH MIXED BERRIES AND PECANS

Ingredients (per serving)

  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (adjust sweetness to taste)

Mix chia seeds, coconut milk, and maple syrup together in a small bowl or glass mason jar. Let it set in the refrigerator. Stir mixture after half an hour and set back in the fridge. Repeat one more time. Leave overnight.

In the morning, remove it from the fridge, and make sure your pudding looks thick and the chia seeds have gelled.

Layer the coconut cream on top of the pudding (available at specialty food stores or the grocery store in ethnic aisle) then add fresh strawberries/blueberries and top with chopped pecans. Then grab a spoon and enjoy!

You can make 5 to 7 – 8oz. glass mason jars with the basic recipe and change up your breakfast to go every morning by using different fruits, nuts and seeds for a variety of tastes and texture.

P.S. It also makes a great dessert or afternoon snack!

Maple Sriracha Roasted Cauliflower

A guest recently shared a version of this recipe with me and I’ve loved it ever since. I’ve tweaked it a bit of course (cuz that’s what I do) and every guest I’ve shared it with has loved it.

If you are looking for a super quick side dish that’s unique then here’s your answer!     ~ Liz

Ingredients

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp sriracha – could use more if you like it hot
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Preparation

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk all ingredients together until combined. Add the cauliflower and toss until well coated.
  3. Spread on a baking sheet, and bake, flipping once during baking, until golden brown and tender (approx 25 min).
  4. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and serve with additional sriracha sauce if desired.

Pro Tip: If you want less mess for clean up, line the baking sheet with parchment paper!

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

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In addition to the aforementioned benefits, the following list are also realistic outcomes from practicing mindfulness:

Gains in working memory

Stress reduction

Less emotional reactivity 

Relationship satisfaction 

Numerous research articles have run studies on mindfulness and have discovered meditation has been directly related to self-reported positive affect. More interestingly, these results reveal that even short-term commitment show marked differences in the brains of people who practice mindful meditation versus those who do not practice mindful meditation. A study involving people with mindful practice ranging from one month to twenty-nine years were compared to a pool of people who hadn’t meditated. When shown graphic pictures, the former group was better able to disengage from the stimuli and instead focus on a cognitive task versus those who had no practice with mindful meditation.

More insights and explanations from these research studies, along the other uses of mindfulness can be found here: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx 

 

We invite you to practice mindfulness with us as we guide you on your journey to your inner wise self. Join us this January 1st for our “Get Clear on Your Year” retreat.

Get Clear on Your Year – Week Retreat

 

Thai Mushroom & Kale Soup

Thai Mushroom SoupIngredients

  • 1 large onion cut into chunks (bite sized)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 inch piece of ginger minced (more if you love ginger)
  • 2-4 cups mushrooms – brown, shitake or cremini – the older the better for flavour
  • 2 cups kale chopped (or bok choy, or spinach, or dandelion leaves)
  • Extra firm tofu – cut into small cubes
  • Mushroom bouillon (or veggie if you don’t have mushroom)
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 – 2 tbsp organic soy sauce
  • 1 cup bean sprouts
  • Fresh cilantro chopped coarsely for garnish
  • 1 can of coconut milk

Preparation

  1. In a large soup pot, soften the onions, garlic and ginger at a low temperature using a bit of water and put a lid on the pot letting them sweat and release their yumminess to the broth to come.
  2. Add the mushrooms and continue to cook at a low temperature, adding a cup of water after a few minutes.
  3. While this is cooking, fry the tofu in sesame oil until brown.  Turning it often so it doesn’t stick and frying evenly on all sides.
  4. When mushrooms are soft add 3-4 cups of water to the pot and add the bouillon cubes & coriander seeds.  Any bouillon flavour will do as long as it’s vegan & preferably organic so it doesn’t have any nasty chemicals in it.
  5. A few minutes before serving add the coconut milk, tofu, kale, soy sauce & lime juice to the pot. Reduce the temperature and serve when the kale is soft – takes a minute or so.  You can use bok choy if you don’t have kale.
  6. Garnish with bean sprouts and fresh cilantro just before serving.  Hot sauce is an option too.

Butternut Chili in Pumpkin Bowls


whats-fresh-791x1024Butternut Chili in Pumpkin Bowls

This is a perfect way to celebrate the fall harvest – chili made from fresh tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and squash, served in a tiny baked pumpkin:  the bowl you can eat!

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 4 bowl sized pumpkins (look for pie pumpkins) wash the outside well
  • 1 sweet onion, diced
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 1 sweet red pepper, diced
  • 2 – 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small butternut squash, cubed
  • 1 small – medium green zucchini chopped
  • 1 medium carrot chopped
  • 2 cups black beans (1 lg can), drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (use canned if you don’t have fresh)
  • 1 tbsp chili powder (or more to taste)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 3 – 4 cups vegetable broth – enough to cover the veggies in the pot
  • Sea salt, and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Prepare your pumpkin bowls by slicing the top off about ¾ of the way up. Scoop out insides of the pumpkin using a grapefruit spoon. This takes a few minutes and can feel kind of gross – but it’s fun too!  Save the seeds (minus the flesh) to roast them with some olive oil, salt and chili powder.  Serve the seeds on your salad if you want.
  2. When your pumpkins are empty and cleaned out, brush the insides with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. You will be eating the pumpkin flesh with the chili.  Put the pumpkins onto a baking pan and into the oven for 30 minutes at 350F.
  3. While the pumpkins roast, make the chili. In a large pot, add a bit of water and heat. Add chopped onion, garlic and celery and sauté for a few minutes until soft.
  4. Reduce heat to avoid burning. Add the chopped pepper, zucchini, carrot and squash and cook for 10-15 minutes until softened.
  5. Add the black beans, tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, paprika, vegetable broth, and stir. Simmer on low-medium for another 5 minutes.
  6. Remove pumpkins from the oven and fill the bowls 3/4 of the way full. Place pumpkins carefully back into the oven (again without top) and bake for another 30 minutes.
  7. Once they are cooked, turn oven off and leave pumpkins in the oven with lid on to stay warm. They will stay hot in the oven for another hour if necessary.

Garnish with fresh basil to serve.

Notes:

Chili is something easy to make with any veggies you have so make it your own.  Add corn, green beans, and peas or substitute the black beans for any other bean you prefer or mix them up.

Serve this with a colourful fresh salad and crusty rolls – great for dipping! Enjoy!