Holistic Nutrition

A nutrition journey is about what you GAIN, not lose + eating delicious food (11 recipes)

Posted by on Jun 29, 2016 in Blog, Success Story, Whole Food Recipes | 0 comments

A nutrition journey is about what you GAIN, not lose + eating delicious food (11 recipes)

Yes – I still exist, even though I haven’t published anything on my site in awhile 🙂

I just realized I’ve been depriving all of you wonderful people from recipe updates and ideas! How selfish of me.

How come? Well, I’ve actually been busy working on recipes over at Precision Nutrition’s Encyclopedia of food (a database to help educate you about specific foods – storing, cooking, nutrition info and more – and provides a recipe to go along with it) along with many other talented individuals. So come on over and receive 4 new recipes each month! 🙂

I always say, the best way to build a relationship with food is to get to know it – so try and introduce yourself to a new food this week and learn about it. Kinda like a human relationship right? To grow the relationship you need to spend time, get to know each other, treat each other with respect and determine if you’re right for each other 😉

Stayed tuned for the following recipes in the Encyclopedia over the course of several months:

EofF almonds

EofF blackberry

EofF cranberry

EofF curly endive

EofF garam masala

EofF Kiwi

EofF spaghetti squash

EofF swiss chard

EofF acorn squash

EofF zucchini

I’ll continue to update my instagram account as I create more and more recipes to help my photography evolve 🙂

It’s also that time of year again! As most of you know, I’m a nutrition coach at Precision Nutrition and I accept clients only ONCE a year – every July – to work together for a solid 12 months. And since July is around the corner (July 12th to be specific), I just wanted to send out a reminder 🙂

Women can sign up to receive a discount here

Men can sign up to receive a discount here 

Because discounts are nice 🙂

As I wrap up another year of clients – I am continually inspired by them and reminded that a journey of health, nutrition and fitness is about what you GAIN, not what you lose (if weight loss is your goal). Such an empowering feeling, right?


Have YOU gained something amazing from your own nutrition journey? Share it – #WhatIGained


Whether it’s gaining more freedom of movement, more freedom in the grocery store, the ability to play with your children, skills in the kitchen, feeling strong, feeling confident, feeling knowledgeable, or having a better relationship with food – you can GAIN a whole lot by working on your health and fitness.

I feel honoured to be able to share stories of inspiring individuals that went through the program – maybe you see yourself in one of them?

Karen’s story

14 Amazing Stories + more from this week – we have a section of the program called “a postcard from the future” – what would you say to your future self?

“I am loving this habit and these lessons because they encourage me to look backwards from where I’ve come. Not being able to go for a long walk. (without drugs) to randomly (every day) taking at least 45 minutes to walk. I haven’t taken prescription pain killers since around Christmas. I can dead lift 105 lbs now. Now I know, when I try a new exercise if it will cause problems or not. I stop, now, and don’t fight through it like I used to. I know when to get help from trainers, massage therapist, chiro etc. I started this cycling season with a 35 km bike ride. Last year, I only ended at 50. The list goes on and on. It really makes me excited about the future, my future.”

“For most of my adult life I have looked after kids, aging parent, husband, horses, neighbour kids, even the humming birds eat better than I do! This week I have an opportunity to a) stay in one place for a week b) mostly alone c) plan my own agenda and schedule. Normally I would go out to eat cause what does it matter? It’s just me. I would have a glass of wine or two ( for stress) cause what does it matter? It’s just me. And I would let my workouts slide cause what does it matter? I have time and can do them later. BUT THIS WEEK IS MY WEEK. I woke up one morning and something had happened and I WANT to be healthy. I want to plan and prep my food. I want to make progress towards my goals. What? Yes! For me! Not ‘it’s just me’ but it’s for me! I like making progress and I like working hard. I realize now that I can make progress and work hard, for me, for my goals. Who knew?
Thanks PN coaching! I can not explain how significant this is.”

Rachelle – “We took the kids to the city Museum – it has tons of crazy tunnels and crawl spaces for kids to explore. We split up into pairs and my 5-year-old dragged me ALL OVER the tunnels, both inside and outside of the museum. She kept saying, “no fear! That’s the rule!” (It was a little scary, especially in the wire tunnels that stretched like 3 stories above the ground, leading to airplanes precariously balanced on towers!). Anyway, my knees were KILLING me after an hour or two of this, and I wished I had brought knee pads. I ended up bear crawling through most of the rest of the tunnels, and I thought about how grateful I was that I’ve been bear crawling at every workout this past year! My whole intention with PN was to engage more in my children’s lives and I was truly able to do that this week. I could have sat on the sidelines abs watched the kids creak around, but instead I was able to join in and create memories together.” – Rachelle also lost 40lbs!

And it’s not just for weight loss – it’s for anyone looking to improve their health and nutrition. To give you an example – some goals coming into the program can be to lose weight, to gain muscle, to gain weight, to eat healthier, to have a better understanding of what to eat, to gain support, to help them implement what they know and turn it into action and so much more!

But, enough about that – I just can’t help but share inspiring stories of individuals who have worked hard to improve their health, their life and their well being – it’s stories like these that reminds me why I became a nutritionist in the first place 🙂

And, if that’s not what you’re interested in or you’re already living out the healthy lifestyle you want – awesome! Then be sure to sign up to receive those delicious recipe updates – you’ll receive 4 recipes a month in your inbox along with really fascinating information on specific foods. And who doesn’t love some food inspiration? Enjoy!

And that doesn’t mean things won’t be appearing on this website either – I’ll surprise you 🙂





What Photography Has Taught Me

Posted by on May 15, 2015 in Blog | 0 comments

What Photography Has Taught Me

I’ve been interested in food photography for about 6 years – pretty much ever since I became a nutritionist. It started with cell phone pictures and then I bought my first and only DSLR camera. For years I just watched others or grabbed my camera and started fiddling with any and all settings – I didn’t take any formal lessons or instruction. I would take hundreds of the same photograph, all on different settings. Then, I would see which one I liked and I would try to remember what happened. I hated most of them, but when I found one that I loved – it felt so good! 1 out of 300 is still 1 usable picture! Now how’s THAT for a positive spin 😉

Sounds like a lot of other things in life right? Sometimes we quietly try things out on our own and we think – huh, that was fun. Let’s keep learning that!

Last year I finally took an actual course (my first!) and learned about aperture – it’s basically how much light comes through the lens based on shutter speed – but my brain likes to think of it more like how much blur will be in a photo. Basically, do I want the entire picture to be in focus or do I want some blur around the edges and background?

When I was in the class I remember the instructor asking “So how long has everyone had their camera?” Some said a few weeks, a few months – and then they got to me – “uhhh…a few years” I said. “And you’re taking Level 1?” he said kind of judging me – I just nodded, feeling a bit embarrassed.

Seriously, how often do we judge people? Too much. Does it matter what age we are when we learn something? Or that we take an introductory course to something we’ve owned for years? I think what matters is that we do it, and that we try. And that we enjoy things and have fun.

I wouldn’t say that I’m a photography expert, or that I am a photographer, but I definitely have an interest. You can often find me cooking and spontaneously running to grab my camera, and then continuing to cook with it draped around my neck and dangling on the side of my hip. Most of the time, my pictures are completely unplanned. Sometimes my food gets cold because after I serve myself, my eyes see something and I want to try to capture it. Now, keep in mind that half the time my food looks like absolute shit because I’m not a food stylist, and the other half the time I don’t photograph it properly – but hey, it’s about trying and enjoying it right? One day I’ll compile all of the photos where my food looks like shit (like actual poop) and I’ll call it “Looks like shit, but tastes real damn good” 😉

That’s the thing – when you like doing something, does it even matter if it’s done perfectly? Nope! Because you enjoy the process, it’s not necessarily all about the outcome. When you get intrinsic pleasure from something, it doesn’t matter much what other people think because you’re doing it for you.

I also remember a time when someone saw a picture I took – I was pretty proud of it because the lighting was awesome and it was so crisp and sharp – and she said something like “where’s all the pizzazz – you know, the dripping sauce, the napkin nearby, the crumbs on the plate and all the colour – this is just the meal and nothing else”. I just laughed! I said “thank you – that’s all I wanted to capture – I’m just happy the damn picture is in focus!” 🙂

gluten free crazy granola

It’s all perspective. What you think “isn’t that good” could be another person’s huge milestone. Everyone is working on something at some point. It’s not always perfect, or complete.

With my photos, all that I care about is that I capture the actual food so I have something that’s bright, mostly in focus and good enough to put on my website so I can share my recipes – and occasionally I may throw in a fun stripped towel on the side or a dribble of lemon zest if I’m feeling bold and confident and have something lying around 😉

Food photography

I think learning about photography has taught me that you can’t judge people where they’re at, sometimes people just do things for fun and not to be experts, and that you can learn anything, at anytime, no matter how long you’ve owned something or how long it takes to learn or how long you’ve been meaning to learn it. What matters is that you try and that you enjoy it.

When I first started taking pictures of food, I had 1 great shot out of maybe 300. Now, I only throw away about half of them – progress! Next step – is patiently trying out all of that “pizzazz” – a little dribble of that, a little wood cutting board here, a little zest there. I’m learning – slowly and steadily.

What’s one step you can take to trying something today? You don’t need to master it today, or tomorrow, or maybe never – but trying can actually be pretty fun too 🙂

Food Photography

Picture courtesy of the amazing photographer Felicity Murphy! I had such a fun day with her as she took pictures of me taking pictures of my food. I have to say, when I saw the shots of me with my camera in the kitchen, I thought – “Yup, that feels like me!”. I’ll continue to pick up my camera whenever I get a hit of inspiration, and I’ll keep trying. For now – it’s just a hobby that brings me pleasure and that’s a-okay with me 🙂

Blast from the past – a few oldies from the archives that in the past were progress in various ways. I still treasure them, even though they aren’t “the best” 🙂

Side - beets n brussels thyme but with sweet potato
Dinner - sweet shepherds pie2
Snack - apple and pb kids
Breakfast - cheesey christmas frittata





Same but Different – A Salad, 3 Ways – Your Key to Lunch Variety and Simplicity

Posted by on Jun 6, 2014 in Blog, Lunch & Dinner, Same But Different, Whole Food Recipes | 0 comments

Same but Different – A Salad, 3 Ways – Your Key to Lunch Variety and Simplicity

You may be sitting at work right now thinking – “what should I make for lunch next week? Ugh, I hate making lunch, it’s so boring and tasteless”. Or maybe you make awesome lunches, but it’s still the same thing over and over again. What if I told you that you could have variety, different tastes, and different textures – all from the same food prep effort? That’s right.

With Spring here to stay and Summer on its way, you may even notice your food cravings are changing so it’s time for a bit of a revamp anyways. Time for fresh food to reign again! Have you noticed you’re now craving cold fresh fruits and raw veggies again? Not so much feeling the soup and stew?

It’s funny how our environment can depict cravings – and believe it or not, there are reasons why our cravings change with seasons and temperatures, such as food availability. Our bodies are so smart!

I like to call this “Same, but different”. Its really easy to make – I promise. An extra bonus, they’re all gluten-free! I discuss this stuff with my clients all the time to try and make nutrition a bit easier and realize that you can play around with foods and make them different, but yet they can be the same too.

This is incredibly beneficial for those who crave tons of variety, but variety can make them crazy or feel unorganized, and for those short on time. You want variety, but the variety doesn’t need to be fast food – I can’t emphasize that enough. If you love and adore food, you probably already make the most awesomest of lunches. So keep it up! But for those who feel like making their lunch is PB&J or romaine leaves and chicken and end up feeling deprived, this blog is for you!

Let’s dive right in to see what I mean.

To do this, we need to pick a salad base that all three salads will have. Then from there, we pick three different mains that will make the salad different, but the prep for them all can be the same. For this particular example I’m choosing red pepper, celery, and purple onion for the veggies and sticking to the simplest of simple dressings made of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, sea salt and a tinge pepper. The mains that I chose are quick, easy and pantry friendly because my main goal is to get you started. You can really choose anything you want in terms of the veggies, dressing and mains and I highly encourage even more variety and fun on your end as you explore, but today is about simplicity and a step in the right direction.

Same But Different – A Salad, Three Ways

easy chickpea gluten free salad
Lunch - salad 3 ways tuna pumpkin seed2

quick and easy gluten free salad

Created by Sarah Maughan

Base, per 1 serving – (so chop more for as many salads as you are making)Lunch - summer chickpea salad veggies2
½ red pepper, diced finely
2 tbsp diced red/purple onion
1 stalk celery, diced finely
¼ avocado sliced (I recommend adding this the day off)

*For a whole week I tend to use 2 red peppers, 1 whole onion, 1 whole bag of celery

Dressing, per 1 serving (make up however many servings you need in advance)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp 100% maple syrup
pinch of sea salt and pepper

Salad main examples

Salad # 1: 1 cup organic canned chickpeas + 1 tbsp hempseeds

Salad #2: 1 cup cooked quinoa* + 2 tbsp goats cheese (optional dried cranberries)

Salad #3: 1 can tuna (preferably Wild Planet or Raincoast Wild tuna) + 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds (optional finely chopped apple)


  1. In advance – chop up the veggies in advance for the number of servings needed (maybe lunch monday – wednesday so that would be 3) and store in a container in the fridge. Mix the salad dressing up for as many servings as you need and store in a container in the fridge. Your 10 minutes of food prep is done!
  2. On the day of – add your salad main to your lunch container, for example open the can of organic canned chickpeas, rinse and add to your bowl, sprinkle hempseeds , then sprinkle some of the base (the pre-cut veggies and avocado) and pour over the dressing. Repeat for the other days using some different main ideas and voila! Slightly different tastes, some different textures, a bit of variety, but equal effort.

For salad #2 you will require pre-cooked quinoa so this does take a bit more effort. I always recommend that people have individual servings of pre-cooked grains in their freezer for easy access so keep that little tip in mind 🙂

What other “mains” can you think of? Or better yet – what different “bases” can you think of? Have some fun with it!

Quick and Easy No Cook Protein Sources

Posted by on Apr 23, 2014 in Blog, Top Tips | 0 comments

Quick and Easy No Cook Protein Sources

You’ve come home late and you’re absolutely exhausted and starving. Making dinner doesn’t always seem like it’s the most appealing thing in your to-do list so you open your cupboard and open up a box of cereal thinking you’ll just have a “light dinner”.

Or maybe you grab some pieces of bread and cheese and quickly make a grilled cheese. Or maybe you open up a bag of chips. Is this you? Keep reading.

These options are going to deplete your energy, possibly not have enough food to be a full meal, and you’re going to miss out on major nutrients like protein and vegetables and overdo it in the not-so-healthy carbohydrates.  Weight loss disaster and health disaster! You need to know about some quick and easy protein sources that require little to zero cooking!

Since we know those situations WILL happen, we won’t try and prevent the late night arrivals home if it’s absolutely impossible we can’t, but we can prevent what’s being chosen for dinner and how to throw something together within minutes that’s also balanced.

Since protein is often the food that’s not chosen in a pinch or for “light” meals because it may take longer to make let’s look at some no-cook quick protein options and how to incorporate them:

No Cook Quick Protein Options

  • Organic canned beans – just open, rinse and add to a veggie soup or chopped veggies with vinaigrette for a quick bean salad.
  • Edamame, without the shell – it stays in the freezer so just take it out run a bit of water on it and add to a veggie soup or throw in a pan with frozen vegetables and quickly sautee with extra virgin olive oil + garlic or just herbs and spices, or just eat as is.
  • Shrimp – it stays in the freezer as well so it’s ready when you are with just a bit of water to defrost. Easily added to sautees, stir fries or make a picnic of shrimp, dip, fresh veggies and wholegrain crackers if you aren’t cooking at all.
  • Cottage Cheese or Greek Yogurt – both can be eaten straight from their containers or mixed with other things.
  • Bonus if you cooked up a bunch of organic chicken, wild fish or lean beef in your freezer and you just defrost and add to a stir fry or with some hummus and lettuce, anything!

It’s important to remember that “light” meals shouldn’t be void of protein, especially when weight loss is a goal in sight. Protein will help fill you up, keep your muscles lean and create a faster fat burning metabolism all day long. Never underestimate the power of easy to throw together salads with quick proteins added on top. Light, filling and nutrient dense! Your body, mind and exhaustion will thank you!

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Weight Gain Wednesday – Bringing Health & Nutrition Back to the Breakfast Porridge

Posted by on Mar 19, 2014 in Blog, Nutrition Education, Sports Nutrition | 2 comments

Weight Gain Wednesday – Bringing Health & Nutrition Back to the Breakfast Porridge

It’s Weight Gain Wednesday again! If you’re just tuning in you’ve missed quite a few posts about high calorie nutrient dense foods to help you gain weight, how to pump up a smoothie, how to pump up a salad and how to decrease bloating and gas that can be associated with trying to gain weight.

Last week I had a request to talk more about breakfast and one that I always love discussing is the hot breakfast. Traditionally, you’ll hear of people having oatmeal in the morning to help lose weight. However, with added ingredients, it can be great for weight gain too.

Typical Breakfast Porridge

1 package of instant oats, flavoured

This is extremely unhealthy for a number of reasons. Quick oats (and even just rolled oats) have been precooked and then dried so they cook faster. This means when it’s time for you to eat it, it’s going to have a lot less nutrients associated with it.

Not only this, but instant packages are almost always sweetened, or at least that’s what everyone chooses. This means you’re adding an additional 15 – 30g of processed sugar to your meal.

So no matter how little or how much you eat of this, it’ll not that healthy.

How can we add health back into the morning breakfast, and help you gain healthy weight from it?

I’m going to change the instant oats to steel cut oats or whole quinoa for a gluten-free option. Both the instant and steel cut oats are technically the same in quantity and all of the macronutrient nutrition numbers but the overall micronutrients (vitamins/minerals) will differ just based on the processing and ingredients involved.

 Pumped Up Morning Porridge for Weight Gain Or Just Health

½ cup uncooked steel cut oats or whole quinoa for gluten-free (which becomes 1 cup cooked)
Whole milk or coconut milk to prepare the oats/quinoa
1  tsp coconut oil or butter
1 cup blueberries
2 – 3 tbsp hemp seeds
½ – 1 scoop all natural vanilla protein powder
Optional – lemon zest

Cook the oats/quinoa according to package (cook in advance for a speedy morning) in the milk/coconut milk. Stir in the coconut oil/butter, hempseeds and add the blueberries at the end. Stir in protein powder and add lemon zest of you love a lemon freshness. Add extra water for desired consistency of your protein powder thickens it too much.

*There are 18g of sugar in this, 13 of which come from low glycemic blueberries instead of processed sugar like the instant packages, and the rest naturally occurring from the dairy. The rest of the carbohydrates are from low glycemic steel cut oats or quinoa.

Psst – for those gaining weight this could be seen as breakfast #1 😉

Keep empowering your growing bodies with nutrient dense foods 🙂

UPDATE: Please enjoy the rest of the series

Weight Gain Wednesday – High Calorie nutrient dense foods for healthy weight gain

Weight Gain Wednesday – smoothies for healthy weight gain

Weight Gain Wednesday – Healthy salads for healthy weight gain

Weight Gain Wednesday – How to decrease gas and bloating when trying to gain healthy weight

Top 5 Food Trends That Are Coming or Here to Stay

Posted by on Mar 17, 2014 in Blog, Top Tips | 0 comments

Top 5 Food Trends That Are Coming or Here to Stay

I had the pleasure of going to the Natural Products Expo West last weekend and I was absolutely blown away. I was introduced to some new food trends that I believe we will be seeing more of, and also saw an explosion of trends that are definitely here to stay so I thought I would share it with you since you deserve to know as well!

There were companies that I didn’t even know existed and they were companies that fall in line with my philosophy of real ingredients, real food, and quality food so I was extremely excited to be introduced to them. For the most part, I hadn’t heard of them because they were either locally produced in California, or only produced in the United States.

It was interesting because I would always ask if a new product was being released in Canada, and if a vendor was not already in Canada that response was ALWAYS “we aren’t in Canada because of the bilingual label laws” or “it won’t be in Canada for a long time because of the bilingual label laws”. Turns out, our laws make it a wee bit more expensive to produce bilingual labels and it’s a lengthy process to go through. That was frustrating to hear (though I still haven’t confirmed this or what the laws are in the US).

Well let’s take a look at what I found was new (or new within the last year or so) and what trends I feel will be here to stay because I think it’s all pretty darn exciting!

Top 5 Food Trends That are Coming, or Here to Stay

  • NEW – barcodes to scan batch for allergies –  A company called Zego Snacks has created a scannable barcode that you can scan with your phone to read about the post production allergy testing of that specific batch of bars you are about to eat. I think this is amazing for the allergy world and gives that extra boost of confidence before you chomp down as we all known the reality of food recalls due to unfortunate allergic reactions. I see this as a new trend that is here to stay and hope to see it on more products in the future.
  • NEW – Less sweet, more savoury – especially in the bar department. Every single snack bar has a sweet taste and usually lots of sugar, whether natural or artificial or unhealthy. It’s not always the greatest thing to flock to, especially in the gluten-free community. I saw a few savoury bars with a lower sugar content than the sweet counterparts so that makes me pretty happy. Kind Snacks had a whole line of savoury snacks entering the US shortly although they couldn’t confirm entry into Canada even though their other bars are here. Their flavours including Hickory Smoked Almond and Honey Mustard Almond and they were delicious! And gluten-free! I’d love to see more savoury snacks to help our society move away from expecting a sweet flavour from everything we eat.
  • STAY – more official third party certifications on claims – instead of a company saying gluten-free out of their own free will, more will be certified. This has to do with consumer demand as well as new labelling laws. Those who will not be certified will have to remove their claim as they likely did not take precaution in manufacturing despite the product being made without actual gluten. Cross contamination is the most common reason allergic reactions occur, not the actual consumption of the allergen. This will make it so much easier on the allergic consumer and family members shopping for them to see third party stamps. But let’s hope they all have barcodes soon too like what I mentioned above! Can never be too safe 🙂
  • STAY – Less junk, more goodness – I’ve seen over the years companies change their ingredients due to customer demand. I have yet to see too much change in the major brands that run the world, but the companies just entering will be looking at customer demands in order to survive. I don’t have an exact on this but I’m pretty sure that in 5 years, the amount of real food bars on the market has likely quadrupled. They used to be a science experiment of how can we reduce carbs and pump up protein and the result was a chemical cocktail of ingredients. Now there are at least 15 different companies that create bars with real whole understandable ingredients and even boast about their sourcing. In the protein bar department there is so much selection with a combination of dates, nuts/seeds, protein powders, and spices. Even though many have the same minimal ingredients, they all manage to taste a bit different so I say the more the merrier! Pressures on to the companies who haven’t jumped on to the real food band wagon yet – tick tock tick tock until these guys overpower you!
  • STAY – more food companies taking a lifestyle approach – for example instead of saying here is my product and getting people to eat it, they will be advocating for a whole food lifestyle all around and help people get motivated in one way or another whether having in-house menu plans that are downloadable, on-staff nutritionists or providing recipes and health information on their website and promoting and marketing a whole lifestyle. This is not only helpful for motivating their consumers to make overall changes, but also it gives you more confidence in the brand itself and why such a  product or products were created. If a company lives and breathes what they promote, you can guarantee their passion will make them big and they won’t be trying anything sneaky for financial gain.

It’s going to be an exciting 2014, 2015 and beyond! I can feel it. Are you excited about food yet?


*Sarah Maughan and Empower Your Body with Food have no financial or business connection to any of the products mentioned on this page or throughout www.sarahmaughan.ca. Any products mentioned are personal choices and not meant for soliciting sales, or for financial profit for companies mentioned or for personal financial profit. All mentions are unbiased and for your informational purposes only to spread the word on good things 🙂

Weight Gain Wednesdays – How to Decrease Bloating and Gas When Trying to Gain Weight

Posted by on Mar 12, 2014 in Blog, Sports Nutrition, Top Tips | 1 comment

Weight Gain Wednesdays – How to Decrease Bloating and Gas When Trying to Gain Weight

If you’re trying to gain weight, you’ve likely come across the frustration of getting bloated, uncomfortable, gassy and maybe even alternating between constipation and diarrhea as your digestive system adjusts to more food.

So today on weight gain wednesdays I’m going to discuss how you can help to decrease bloating and gas and other digestive discomforts while you continue on your weight gain journey. Pssst, this actually applies to pretty much anyone with digestive issues, even the weight loss folks and weight stabilizers.

It’s not uncommon to experience digestive issues while you try to gain weight because your digestive system is on overload and working incredibly hard to digest extra food. It can get pretty tired, and you have to feel full to accomplish weight gain. However, there are some tips and tricks to try and ease this discomfort as much as possible.

Tips to Decrease Gas and Bloating When Trying to Gain Weight

1. Chew – your body is already taxed by the extra food, so if you don’t chew properly so that your food is in a babyfood consistency, your body will have to work even harder to break apart the food. The higher the surface area of the food being swallowed, the harder it is for your enzymes to break it down, which means large food pieces going through your body. Ouch. Burp. Fart.

2. Drink liquids away from meals – Since your meals will be quite filling, you definitely don’t want too much dilution sloshing around your food and filling up your stomach even more. It doesn’t count if your meal is a liquid like a smoothie or soup – but water, teas, alcohol, milks and other clear hydrating fluids should be consumed in between meals or 30 minutes before meals as much as possible so that it exits the stomach quickly without discomfort. Generally 1 cup of liquid sipped slowly will be fine, just avoid large quantities and guzzling.

3. Drink peppermint or ginger tea – in between meals of course. This can help decrease intestinal spasms and improve digestion making it easier when you reach meal time. Extra bonus points if it’s fresh ginger added to boiling water for an extra spicy more effective digestive tonic.

4. Snack lots – instead of jamming all of your food into 3 meals make sure that you spread it out to ensure that your digestive system gets drips of food throughout the day. Think of it like exercise. If you exercise 1 hour a day for 7 days, your body can easily do it. If you exercise 7 hours in 1 day, you’ll be pretty exhausted. If your digestive system gets a huge load of food all at once, it’s resources will be taxed too so make sure you have the 3 main meals with a few extra food pumper uppers but also add your extra food in the form of snacks at least 3 times per day to give your GI tract a bit of a break each time it needs to begin digesting.

5. Avoid actual foods that make you bloat – this is really important because if a food is making you bloat and preventing you from eating other nutrient dense foods, it will impede your progress. Try and monitor how you feel after meals and whether you feel bloated due to a high quantity of food, or perhaps a particular food item in that meal. For example, it’s not uncommon for people to feel a distended stomach and some gas after consuming beans. You can decrease the gas causing ability of these by soaking them, boiling them with seaweed or apple cider vinegar or using a lemon/vinegar dressing, but they could still be a problem for some so determine your own individual food discomforts to ensure your belly is only full when it really needs to be, and not full because it’s filled with extra air.

If you are still having digestive issues, there may be more going on, but start here first and if needed, contact a Naturopathic Doctor or Holistic Nutritionist near you for further guidance and possible supplemental support.

Now go empower your growing body with food, comfortably 🙂

UPDATE: Please enjoy the rest of the series

Weight Gain Wednesday – High Calorie Nutrient Dense Foods for Healthy Weight Gain

Weight Gain Wednesday – smoothies for healthy weight gain

Weight Gain Wednesday – healthy salads for healthy weight gain

Weight Gain Wednesday – Bringing health and nutrition back to the breakfast porridge

Weight Gain Wednesdays – Healthy Salads For Weight Gain

Posted by on Mar 5, 2014 in Blog, Nutrition Education, Sports Nutrition | 0 comments

Weight Gain Wednesdays – Healthy Salads For Weight Gain

It’s Weight Gain Wednesday time! If you missed the past 2 weeks of blogs about healthy weight gain using high energy and nutrient dense foods feel free to catch up with top nutrient dense foods to gain healthy weight and how to make healthy smoothies to gain weight.

This week is all about salads! Yup, salads aren’t just a weight loss options, they can be pumped up too for extra nutrition to nourish that growing body of yours to help with weight gain too!

 Typical Basic Salad recipe:

2 cups Romaine lettuce or leafy greens, chopped
Tomato, sliced
¼ cucumber, sliced
Grilled chicken breast, sliced
1 – 2 tbsp vinaigrette

(Kind of like the grilled lemon chicken and romaine salad I posted awhile back)

 Salad Pumper Uppers For Healthy Weight Gain

  • Nuts/seeds – slivered almonds, pumpkin seeds, hempseeds, walnuts, pecans, etc – for extra protein and healthy fats
  • Avocado – for extra healthy fats to help that skin look glorious as you grow
  • Olive oil – and lots of it! Healthy fats and extra density that doesn’t take up a lot of room in the belly
  • Beans/lentils – for added protein and fiber
  • Chicken Thighs or Ground chicken  or Salmon or grass fed steak (organic) – for added density and extra protein to encourage muscle growth, or additional protein in general as your requirements will increase
  • Quinoa – for added complex carbohydrates and protein
  • Fruits – for added healthy carbohydrates

*One of the best and easiest ways to add density to a salad is making the base a quinoa/grain or bean option instead of leafy greens and adding in chopped veggies on top.

New Pumped Up Salad Recipe for Weight Gain

1 cup sliced veggies – spinach, cucumber, carrots, peppers, sliced small
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 apple, sliced or 2 tbsp raisins for more compact energy
2 grilled organic chicken thighs, sliced

Nutritious Additions
2-3 tbsp hempseeds
½ – full avocado, sliced
2 tbsp vinaigrette (1  tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar)
Other optional add-ons if you’re not full from this meal yet – 1/2 cup beans/lentils, more quinoa

The theme of these blogs are to outline how to increase the energy/nutrition in the same quantity of the food first and then add in food that will take up more physical space in the stomach.

So with this salad, I reduced the veggies by 1 cup and sliced them really small, and added 1 cup quinoa for added density to replace 1 cup veggie carbs with 1 cup starchy carbs and a bit of protein. I also swapped out the tomato for an apple for some added healthy carbohydrates and density.

The add ons are the hempseeds and avocado, which really don’t add too much actual bulk to the salad but certainly add more caloric and nutrient density. The chicken was also swapped from a breast to chicken thighs which are also more dense and yes, they do have more fat, but did you know the fat from chicken thighs is great for endurance athletes and anyone else who requires oxygen to their muscles? Pretty cool. And definitely helpful for the weight gain community.

This salad won’t make you gain weight just by eating it and as always is suitable for anyone and any goal, it is just a guideline for how to increase density and nutrition for typical recipes and the rest of your day must reflect eating for weight gain as well so please adjust portions to your hunger, and gradually increase as you move along with your weight gain progress but keep the food quality high not just the quantity.

Stay tuned for next wednesdays weight gain blog!

UPDATE: Please enjoy the rest of the series

Weight Gain Wednesday – High Calorie Nutrient Dense foods for healthy weight gain

Weight Gain Wednesday – Smoothies for healthy weight gain

Weight Gain Wednesday – How to decrease gas and bloating when trying to gain healthy weight

Weight Gain Wednesday – Bringing health and nutrition back to the breakfast porridge

Weight Gain Wednesdays – Smoothies for Healthy Weight Gain

Posted by on Feb 26, 2014 in Blog, Nutrition Education, Sports Nutrition | 0 comments

Weight Gain Wednesdays – Smoothies for Healthy Weight Gain

Nutrient dense smoothies for weight gainA few days ago I wrote a blog post about how to gain weight using healthy high caloric and nutrient dense foods and suddenly lots of people came out of hiding and sent me notes of gratitude that I spoke about a topic that is seen as so negative, or just completely not necessary, in our society.

I feel socially responsible as a holistic nutritionist to speak about healthy weight gain because I do see many people who need this, it’s not just about weight loss. As a result, welcome to “Weight Gain Wednesdays!”. Every Wednesday for the next few weeks I’m going to talk about something to do with healthy weight gain, whether it’s a lifestyle tip, a recipe, how to alter a recipe, or dealing with plateaus, this will be your go-to resource since there doesn’t seem to be that many regarding this topic, at least in a healthy way non-body building way.

I will apologize right now for using the word “calories” a whole bunch. You know I loathe that word, I prefer to use the term energy or energy giving, because not all calories give energy. But, I’m mentioning it throughout because it is sometimes necessary for explaining why something can help with weight gain or why something is different from another food. I am not recommending strict counting, measuring or weighing food 🙂

So this week I wanted to do the smoothie break down, or rather build up. I mentioned this was a great way to get a dense amount of calories, energy and good nutrition without filling up the belly too much so here’s how to amp up your smoothie recipes.

Typical Basic Smoothie Recipe

1 cup berries
1 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt
1 cup water

Weight Gain Smoothie Pumper Uppers

  • Seeds – ground flaxseed/chia/hempseeds – for dense healthy fats and fibers to help fuel your growing body and help all that great stuff come out properly 😉
  • Avocado – for dense healthy fats to help fuel that growing body of yours
  • Organic Whole milk/coconut milk –  denser energy and nutrition per cup than skim varieties
  • Organic Greek yogurt – whole or 2% – for denser energy and nutrition than their 0% counterparts, but also more protein than the typical low fat regular yogurts to aid in muscle tissue development and growth
  • More fruit – mango, peaches, banana, extra berries, etc to help fuel your growing body
  • Veggies – spinach, kale, pumpkin – for added nutrition and fiber overall
  • Protein powder – for added protein to aid in muscle tissue development and growth

Okay so now let’s look how we can pump up that original recipe without adding ice cream.

 New Pumped Up Smoothie Recipe for Weight Gain

1 cup blueberries,mango or peach
1 cup organic whole milk
½ cup organic whole milk greek yogurt
1 cup Water or to desired consistency

Nutritious Additions
handful of spinach
1 scoop protein powder (ensure of good quality)
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tbsp all natural nut butter
1 cup extra fruit
Additional water to your desired consistency

Blend, and enjoy!

So you can see, just by switching to whole milk and whole milk greek yogurt we added some extra dense energy and much needed fat and protein for a growing body that the original recipe didn’t have, without changing the actual visual quantity!

So before adding extra bulk, work with what you have then add in things that will take up extra room in the belly like the nutritious additions. This smoothie would not necessarily CAUSE weight gain for an individual, it depends what your overall requirements are, what your goal weight is, and whether this is a snack or a whole meal and how many snacks and meals you have in your day. Please adjust quantities as needed and use this as a guideline for how to add more density and nutrition using smoothies.

Just in case you’re gaining weight and your belly hates dairy, you could also do this one.

Non-Dairy Pumped Up Smoothie for Weight Gain

1 cup blueberries, mango or peach
2 cups organic soy milk/hemp milk unsweetened
2 tbsp hempseeds (instead of yogurt)

Nutritious Additions
1 scoop protein powder (ensure of good quality non-dairy source)
handful of spinach
1 tbsp ground flaxseed
1 tbsp all natural nut butter
1 cup extra fruit
Water to desired consistency

Blend and enjoy!

BOOM – so as you can see I increased the density without increasing the size/quantity of each ingredient first, then added a few extra ingredients to make it even more nourishing which increased the protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats to nourish your growing body. Much healthier than adding ice cream to a fruit smoothie which is the typical response to weight gain “nutrition”.

Every body requires different amounts of food to achieve weight gain, so increase/decrease the quantities of each food as needed. This is just a guideline for how to pack in nutrition and density into the same quantities of food to decrease overall bulk in the stomach to allow for even more food to get in there throughout the day or in the same meal 🙂

Stay tuned for next weeks weight gain wednesday where I’ll outline another pumper upper recipe! Is there anything specific you would like to see on this topic? Comment below and let me know!

Until then, keep empowering your body with food!

UPDATE: Please enjoy the rest of the series on healthy weight gain

Weight Gain Wednesdays – High calorie nutrient dense foods for healthy weight gain

Weight Gain Wednesdays – Healthy Salads for weight gain

Weight Gain Wednesdays – How to decrease bloating & gas when trying to gain healthy weight

Weight Gain Wednesdays – Bring health and nutrition back to the breakfast porridge

High Calorie Nutrient Dense Food Ideas to Gain Healthy Weight

Posted by on Feb 22, 2014 in Blog, Family & Kids, Sports Nutrition | 11 comments

High Calorie Nutrient Dense Food Ideas to Gain Healthy Weight

I know what you’re thinking – Is Sarah REALLY going to outline high calorie foods that are also nutrient dense to GAIN weight? Aren’t high calories bad? This is such a faux pas topic.

Literally, google “high calorie foods” and all you will find is “high calories foods to AVOID”. I couldn’t even find a decent stock image that was good for weight gain as it was always a person looking highly stressed standing on a scale or grabbing their abdomen with the words “need diet” on it.

It’s always seen as such a negatively viewed topic, because heaven forbid anyone in the world need to gain weight. We’re all about weight loss right? Wrong! I see plenty of people who need to gain weight whether it’s extremely active kids and teens, active adults or adults with fast metabolisms, and individuals recovering from eating disorders. Some people need high calorie nutrient dense foods even to maintain or to lose weight as well just to decrease the overall bulk of food in their stomachs.

While it is great that messages go out about weight loss for those who are in a dangerous area of obesity impacting their health, unfortunately the messages aren’t filtered and it leads everyone to think that everyone, and I mean everyone, is eating to lose weight. And leading everyone to think that they themselves need to lose weight too, even if they don’t.

There aren’t even a lot of resources out there stating positively “how to stay exactly how you are”. You’re either losing weight or you’re losing weight. Not much of a choice out there.

So since it bothered me that very minimal resources are out there about how to gain weight in a healthy and nutrient dense way I decided this would be a great blog topic. You can find some resources on weight gain, but it’s often the “eat chips, white bagels, white rice, and juice” kind of way which will do no one good in terms of health. You can gain weight, be healthy and feel great while doing it, it’s possible!

I worried a bit about blogging about this because I fear there will be a few people who will never eat the foods I mention below ever again as they might now associate the following foods with weight gain, but I will just state that these foods are excellent for weight loss too, it all depends on the overall quantity they are consumed along with other foods that are consumed  and of course, your activity level – so don’t be turned off them because they’re real, whole, nutrient dense foods no matter what your nutritional goal.

Adding Calorie and Nutrient Dense Foods to Current Meals to Aid in Weight Gain

  • Avocados – blend into dressings, pesto sauces, chop onto green or grain salads, add slices to sandwiches or in wraps, blend into smoothies, use as a dip, or eat a whole one on it’s own!
  • Nuts and seeds – ground nuts/seeds can be used to coat chicken/fish, add them to green or grain salads, shave cashews onto thai noodles or pasta, spread nut butter onto wholegrain crackers or on a banana, add nut butters to smoothies or soups, add nuts/seeds onto breakfast porridges, or onto full fat yogurt parfaits
  • Switch to full fat milk or use full fat coconut milk for dairy free options – add to pureed soups, smoothies, sauces like curries, or pour over berries and/or cereal
  • Switch to whole milk yogurt – make parfaits with nuts/seeds/fruit/granola like my dense gluten free granola
  • Grass fed beef and organic chicken thighs – don’t be shy to switch, these are great for you! High in fat and higher in nutrient dense calories when they are bought organic . You can add ground beef to egg omelettes, use in casseroles and you can use chicken thighs anywhere chicken breasts were previously used. Chicken thighs also have a substance called myoglobin which is excellent at helping with oxygen to your own muscles for endurance activities – it does serve a purpose 😉
  • Quinoa – this is a great high protein and calorie dense grain that can easily be added to soups, stews, green salads, or made entirely into a salad on it’s own, you can mix it into chili, or breakfast porridges
  • Healthy oils – use extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil, flax oil, etc to add to dressings, soups, stews, and even coconut oil in porridge tastes delicious!
  • Beans – easy to add to soups, rice, quinoa, even smoothies! It adds more protein to your meal and excellent slow releasing carbohydrates.

When you’re trying to gain weight, you are going to feel full pretty much always. So this is why it’s best to consume foods that will provide the best bang for their buck so you don’t end up feeling even more full and preventing you from getting to your goal. So think about how you want to condense those calories into as small of a block as possible instead of consuming lots of bulky airy foods that will take up space you don’t have.

Types of Meals That Are Easy to Hide Extra Calories to Aid In Weight Gain

  • Smoothies – because everything is blended and already broken down, this will sit well in your stomach. These can be made as calorie dense as you want by adding nut butters, protein powders, full fat dairy or non dairy milks/yogurts, nuts/seeds, avocado, fresh fruit, vegetables, and some people enjoy putting soaked grains in if you have a high powered blender.
  • Stews/Soups – because everything is condensed and cooked you can work on swapping out ingredients that have a high calorie/nutrient dense food like whole milk for milk, or regular coconut milk for lite coconut milk, or chicken thighs for chicken breasts, don’t skimp on healthy oils, easy to add sweet potatoes, beans, or whole grains to amp it up
  • Stir fries/sautees – because vegetables become smaller when cooked you can add more items and again make sure you serve it with whole grains and you can also add chopped nuts quite easily.
  • Salads – this time make the base of the salad a grain (brown rice or quinoa) add some sliced veggies and some great additions to amp it up could be some beans, salmon, chopped avocado, chopped nuts/seeds (hempseeds are great and tiny), goats cheese, dried or fresh fruits, and dressings with healthy oils

So when you’re trying to gain weight, make sure the first thing you do is look at what you’re currently eating and see if there is a higher calorie (and nutrient dense) alternative so you’re increasing the bang for your buck and then work on the add ons.

Protein is also essential for gaining the healthy kind of weight especially when it has to do with muscle gain as well.

Gradually increase and slowly add in extra foods. If you do this all at once you may feel incredibly sick and uncomfortably full. Work on gradually increasing (the equivalent of an extra hefty snack) every 2 – 3 days or maybe every week and monitor your progress.

Gaining 10lbs in a week is not healthy weight. Ensure you’re on a steady and gradual incline and keep increasing every time you hit a plateau. Also ensure your fitness routine reflects your goal of weight gain whether it’s just weight gain in general, or if you’re trying to do hypertrophy of the muscles, your workout routines should reflect either and shouldn’t be geared at a weight loss routine.

NOTE – if this becomes a hot topic I will happily do a blog series on weight gain which will include recipes, so speak up if you want it!

Eat up! 🙂

UPDATE – It became a hot topic so please enjoy the rest of the series:

Weight Gain Wednesday – Smoothies for healthy weight gain

Weight Gain Wednesday – Healthy salads for healthy weight gain

Weight Gain Wednesday – How to decrease bloating & gas when trying to gain healthy weight

Weight Gain Wednesday – Bringing health & nutrition back to the breakfast porridge