My Food Philosophy

“Are you vegetarian? Gluten-free? Vegan? What the heck is paleo? Are you paleo?”

As a nutrition-obsessed foodie who loves to cook, I often hear questions like this one, and my answer is simple: none of the above. My philosophy to food and healthy eating is all about savouring every bite in a balanced, forgiving way. Food is one of the greatest pleasures in life, though it is slowly becoming the enemy, something we blame and fear. When fresh ingredients (and love!) are used to make anything from kale salads to triple chocolate cakes, they all belong in our diets.

If you want to wrap yourself in a blanket and have a bowl of a caramel ice cream, do it. And if you overdo it this time, forgive yourself and move on. Given the fact that humans spend five to six years of their lives eating, a single meal mishap is nothing to stress out about.

As for the said diet labels, there are days where I am completely vegan (most of the time, it is unintentional!), and other days where I’m the biggest carnivore. Sometimes I’ll enjoy dairy-free meals, and other times I’ll make yummy paleo or grain-free desserts. Every diet has great benefits and shortcomings.

Of course, there are days where my diet doesn’t fit into a box at all! For reasons explained in a couple pages, I am 90% vegetarian, with an emphasis on plant-based ingredients. While I strive to enjoy a variety of seasonal produce, unique grains, and other delicious things like salmon, nuts, eggs, and yogurt, I don’t like to label myself a vegetarian. When Mom spends hours salting, basting, and roasting a turkey on Thanksgiving, I will happily help myself to a piece… or five. During the summer that I lived in France with my sister, I devoured steak tartare (raw beef topped with uncooked egg yolk) and frequently found myself ordering crispy fried duck. If Grandma lovingly prepares a beef stew, I will certainly not refuse the juicy chunks of meat that she cooked with so much care.

Cooking and enjoying food need not be complicated, time-consuming, or restrictive.

A healthy diet = balance = cook at home as much as possible + variety of minimally-processed goodies + occasional indulgences

The Flying Foodie Kitchen

Welcome to the Flying Foodie Kitchen!

Pantry

  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Low-sodium chicken broth
  • Canned chickpeas
  • Canned black beans
  • Canned pineapple tidbits
  • Canned tuna and/or salmon
  • High-quality bottled pasta sauce

Fridge

  • Peanut, almond, and/or sunflower seed butter
  • Eggs
  • Plain Greek yogurt
  • Cheddar
  • Parmesan
  • Goat cheese
  • Milk
  • Almond milk
  • Ground flaxseeds
  • Hemp hearts
  • Maple syrup
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Firm tofu
  • Shrimp
  • Salmon or trout
  • Garlic puree

Fruits

  • Lemons or limes
  • Kiwis
  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Avocadoes
  • Raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, or blueberries (can be frozen)

Vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Baby spinach
  • Bell peppers
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Regular boiling or baking potatoes
  • Butternut squash (can be frozen), kabocha squash, spaghetti squash
  • Frozen corn, peas, and edamame

Spices

  • Sea salt
  • Freshly-ground black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Dried basil
  • Garlic powder
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Paprika

Grains

  • Quick-cooking oats and/or regular old-fashioned rolled oats
  • Whole wheat bread, pitas, tortillas, and/or flatbreads
  • Spelt flour or whole-wheat flour
  • Brown rice
  • Couscous
  • Whole-grain pasta
  • Quinoa
  • Almond flour
  • Coconut flour
  • Buckwheat (Japanese soba) noodles

Baking

  • Brown sugar
  • Cane sugar
  • Semisweet chocolate chips
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder
  • Pure vanilla extract
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Honey
  • Unsweetened applesauce
  • Pine nuts, sesame seeds, walnuts, pecans
  • Unsweetened shredded coconut
  • Dates, raisins, dried cranberries
  • Chia seeds

Condiments

  • Sesame oil
  • Chili garlic sauce
  • Rice vinegar
  • Fish sauce
  • Ketchup
  • Soy sauce
  • Dijon mustard
  • Coconut milk
  • Enchilada sauce
  • Curry paste: red or green

Salmon and Veggie Wrap

Hello everyone! Happy Saturday. How was your week?

As usual, my week was a little stressful and sorta hectic. I accomplished a lot – practice SATS, math finals review, and more! Much more to do this weekend. I’m spending so much time thinking, and looking, and reading about universities. Lately, my life has been all about post-secondary. A little stressful, but I know I have to keep pushing myself in order to accomplish what I hope I’ll be able to do.

Anyways, I have a feeling we’re going to have a good weekend before diving in to three four-day weeks in a row. Woot!

Check out this scrump-diddly-umptious salmon and veggie wrap. Not only is it filled with feel-good veggies and protien, it’s also super easy to make. I love how fresh and summery this tastes – just like this meal!

DSCN3584

Start with a plain ‘ole tortilla. I use whole wheat here, because I like the extra fiber and chewiness. Dempster’s makes pretty decent whole wheat products that you can find everywhere, but have you tried Flat-Out flatbreads? At Wal-Mart last week, I discovered this new brand – one flatbread has 9, yes, 9 grams of fiber. :O Impressive! The ingredients are okay (mono and di-glycerides, hmmm). See below for my opinion on this. I don’t eat wheat-y products (ie. pitas, bread, etc.) because I prefer to cook grains and eat them un-baked. Does that make sense? I’d choose a bowl of millet/couscous/quinoa/pasta/my favourite OATMEAL over a slice of toast any day. Wait – one exception. Homemade baked goodies, like this banana bread, are my kryptonite. Whole wheat, flax-filled and fruity muffins are my #1 weakness. These are the best, and you should try them crumbled over yogurt.

DSCN3579

Whoa, that’s a lot of links! Top the tortilla with your choice of veggies. I used baby spinach on the bottom as a base, then topped it with some sliced cucumbers and avocado. I’m sure bell peppers will taste (and look!) fantastic. Try chopped tomatoes in the summer! Remember the health benefits + deliciousness of avocado on toast? It’s also great in a wrap. Creamy, like a mayo-based dressing, but much healthier!

DSCN3580

Top that with some protein. If you’re like my mom, who knows nada about protein/fat/carbohydrates/etc., protein is made up of a bunch of amino acids (all chained together). You need protein to function. Basically, if you eat only leaves, you won’t be able to survive for very long. 😛 Protein builds muscle. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know what a protein drink is. Most of the time, people who are very fit (ie. go to the gym daily) have protein drinks once or twice a day. That’s also why you hear about celebrities eating five chicken breasts a day to bulk up for a movie!
I used trout, cooked this way, and then flaked with a fork. Oooh, I would’ve added feta cheese if I had some! You could also used sliced chicken/turkey breast, beef or pork, shrimp (YUM) or even tofu.

DSCN3583

Drizzle with some lemon juice, or dressing if you wish. I try to steer clear of store-bought dressings, because xanthan gum and trisodium pentahydroxylate – I just made that up – creep me out a little bit! I always say, “if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, you shouldn’t eat it.” That’s because those hard-to-pronounce names are usually chemicals. Ew. Anyways…

We’re done! Wrap it up and eat.

DSCN3581

By the way, it only looked this pretty for about two minutes. Then I, being a clumsy eater person, spilled the contents of this wrap all over my plate, and had to eat it like a salad. Ha!

 

QUESTION OF THE DAY!
Do you read food labels? To you, what is more important, the nutrition label or ingredients?

I always read food labels! I think it is SO important to know exactly what you are putting into your body. Chemicals, processed junk, and artificial things just won’t do it. Part of being healthy and strong is eating the right foods – whole, clean, and minimally-processed food. Real food! 😀
Ingredients, all the way. I don’t care if it’s fat-free, low-cal, or high-fiber – if there are 60 ingredients and half of them are chemicals, it’s junk food. While some might consider whole wheat bread to be a superfood, take a took at the ingredients. Is it even 100% whole wheat? Often, whole wheat breads are baked with white flour and then dyed brownish with caramel colouring. Bleh! Is there sodium stearoyl lactylate? High-fructose corn syrup (the horror!)? Calcium propionate? Thiamin mononitrate? What ARE these ingredients? I would estimate that 90% of the un-pronounceable ingredients are preservatives (keep food fresh and mold-free), artificial flavours/colours, and/or flavour enhancers (keep bread soft and wheat-y).

So what ingredients ARE healthy? I’d much rather have a slice of freshly-baked bread, made with simple ingredients.
-Fresh-ground whole wheat flour
-Water
-Fresh yeast
-Salt
-Something sweet (usually honey)
-Oats, flax, rye, sourdough starter, etc.

See that? Six ingredients! There is HOPE! 😀

Anyways, let me what you think below! Have a great weekend, everyone. I’ll have another update tomorrow!