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 🙂





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.

*To add even more density and volume to this – increase the amount of steel cut oats/quinoa and switch blueberries to banana.

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

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. East mini meals/lots of snacks – 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. If your digestive system gets a huge load of food all at once, it’s resources will be taxed so it’s best to spread your eating out with mini meals/lots of snacks throughout the day. It gives you a great opportunity to add in food more slowly too by adding in an extra snack every couple of days as your body adjusts to a higher quantity of food.

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.

One other thing to consider is that cooked vegetables decrease in volume and are easier to digests than raw veggies. Think about when you cook spinach – you could probably eat a whole container! Yet, eating a whole container of raw spinach would be incredibly filling – so you might want to consider adding in some more cooked veggies for some added nutrition without reducing the volume of food you can eat in one sitting.

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 myoglobin 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/stealing, 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. Adding this doesn’t bulk up the volume of the smoothie so it’s a great way to get more protein in a small space.

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 without changing volume

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

Nutritious Additions to pump up the volume just a smidge, but not a lot
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 banana, mango or peach
1/2 cup full fat coconut milk
1 cup non-dairy beverage

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 a lot of nutrient density without a lot of food volume 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.

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

Two F Words – Food & Football – Recipes for the Super Bowl

Posted by on Jan 28, 2014 in Blog, Holiday Tips, Snacks, Whole Food Recipes | 0 comments

Two F Words – Food & Football – Recipes for the Super Bowl

Every holiday and event is revolved around food, you can’t really escape it. Especially the Super Bowl, which is notorious for rich, decadent and not so healthy food. But does all your food have to be deep fried, covered in processed cheese, and breaded for you to enjoy it? No, not at all. You know this, you don’t eat like this all year long (hopefully) so you know you enjoy other foods. There’s no need to eat just plain green beans, but you don’t need bacon wrapped sausages either – time for balance, like bacon wrapped green beans 😉

It’s also good to remember the most important part of the Super bowl – THE GAME! But, you will be eating food, so let’s explore some options to change up some favourites to help boost their nutrition without losing some of that flavour.

super bowl food - bacon wrapped green beans

As a goal, try to have some healthy choices available for you and your guests. That way, everyone has a choice.

Here are my top 3 suggestions to ramp up the nutrition without sacrificing flavour.

Super Bowl Food Swap Suggestion #1 – Switch up the dips

Try my Nothin but Beans n’ Flava black bean dip for your game satisfaction. Dip your chips or veggies in this without too much hesitation because you’re getting some quality protein and lots of delicious spices!

Have salsa available as a  lighter flavour adder – I recommend a homemade version because they taste extremely fresh and have more nutrition to each bite. See below for my favourite recipe.

Switch sour cream for plain greek yogurt or a cashew sour cream (recipe below) – you can ramp up the protein and probiotics or ramp up the good for you fats without sacrificing creaminess. Well done! This works great in a layered dip.

Serve guacamole which is rich of healthy fats instead of dips filled with artificial flavour enhancers and loaded with processed cheese.

Even better – provide fresh sliced veggies for dipping in some of the dips to switch from chips every once and awhile.

See below for an amazing layered dip you won’t believe it’s dairy-free and packed with nutrition!  (there’s nothing wrong with dairy, it’s just nice to switch up the nutrients every now and then)

Super Bowl Food Swap Suggestion #2 – Change up the nachos

Add black beans, chopped veggies like sauteed green pepper and tomato, add spices like chili powder, salsa, use less cheese (splurge on the great organic stuff) and use organic tortilla chips – the nachos won’t sacrifice flavour because it will be touched with a bit of cheese, cooked veg, spices, salsa, and black beans! Way more flavour to go around.

Serve guacamole, salsa, and plain greek yogurt as your dips for the nachos.

Super Bowl Food Swap Suggestion #3 – Bake, don’t deep fry

Baking chicken wings (if you buy organic you’re doing yourself even more of a favour) can have just as much juice and crunch as deep fried ones. Make sure you boil them in water for a long period of time (or cover and bake on low for a few hours before roasting). Instead of using a sugary BBQ sauce, try using a spicy dry rub instead, like my jerk seasoning (recipe below). Bake at a low temperature for a longer period of time, increasing the temperature in the last few min for that crunch. And these are spicy! A real crowd pleaser.

Jerk Seasoning Dry RubDinner - jerk seasoning


2 tbsp dry minced onion
1 tbsp onion powder
4 tsp ground thyme
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne (or less for less spice)

Brush meat lightly with extra virgin olive oil and bake or grill according to meat directions. The dry rub can be stored in a tight container for later use as long as no raw meat has touched it.

Amazing “can’t believe it’s good for you and dairy free” Super Bowl Layered Dip

This dip is loaded with healthy fats, protein and real food ingredients – so don’t even worry about eating the whole thing 😉

Layer in a large dish – cashew sour cream (recipe below), Nothin but beans n’ flava dip, Guacamole (2 avocados, lime juice, sea salt), Salsa (recipe below), and top with cashew crumbled “cheese” (recipe below). Though, feel free to use good quality cheese on top or a greek yogurt in place of cashew sour cream – this is just an outside of the box idea 🙂

superbowl vegan layered dip recipe

Cashew Sour Cream



  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt


Place cashews in a cup or small bowl and cover by about 1/2 inch with boiling water. Let soak 30 minutes.

Drain cashews and place in a blender with vinegar, lemon, salt and about 1/4 cup water. Blend until very smooth, adding more water as required to purée the mixture. (I used almond milk and it gave it a better consistency)

Cashew Crumbled “Cheese”


1 cup cashew
1/8 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp lemon juice
¾ cup nutritional yeast


  1. Empty contents into the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Pulse until all ingredients are incorporated.



1 ripe tomato
1 tbsp red onion, finely chopped
½ tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp lime juice
1 tbsp cilantro, chopped
To taste, salt and pepper
Optional: jalapeno or Serrano chili for spice


  1. In a medium bowl, seed and chop tomato.
  2. Mix all ingredients together.
  3. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Enjoy the game and if you’re going to be grazing all day long just get yourself a game plan, no pun intended. Know the food for the day – or if you’re heading to someone else’s party make sure to eat delicious whole food when you can that day. No need to aim for perfection, yet no need to make your pants burst at the seams too 😉

Snacks - superbowl vegan snacks

Do you already eat well? Top 5 reasons your nutrition needs a revamp!

Posted by on Jan 20, 2014 in Blog, Nutrition Education | 0 comments

Do you already eat well? Top 5 reasons your nutrition needs a revamp!

It’s not uncommon for me to consult with individuals and I hear them say “Oh, I already eat well”, but yet upon further investigation, I have to break the bad news – they don’t.

It’s often due to a misunderstanding of what “eating well” means. One of the best ways to help someone realize this is to ask “How is that working for you”.

If one is truly eating well, they shouldn’t have issues with decreased energy, feeling bloated, unable to lose weight, having digestive issues (of course, there are exceptions and underlying medical issues).

I find that some people may have goals to reach during our sessions but they put up a block “I already eat well” or “I’ve always eaten this way, it works for me”. Does it? If you’re not feeling well, is it really working for you?

Here are my top 5 reasons why you may not “already eat well” and it’s time to think about a change – some of these may surprise you!

It’s time for a nutrition revamp when:


1. Your belief of healthy food is revolved around low fat foods – your entire diet is low in overall fats, even the good ones, and you often find yourself buying packages that say “low fat”. This will lead to decreased mental acuity (which is 60% fat), decreased energy, elevated blood sugar levels (low fat products are high in sugar) and hormonal issues – not to mention feeling absolutely starving since fat sends a signal to your brain that you are full. Missing any key major nutrients is not a “healthy” diet.


2. You feel strongly about organic food (which you should) but 1/2 of your intake is organic treats – sugar is sugar! Just because it’s organic dessert, doesn’t mean it’s a meal replacement. Always check ingredients, even when it says organic.


3. You eat everything good for you in excess – key word being excess. Avocado? Great I’ll have 6 in my salad. Quinoa? Give me the whole bag – it’s high in protein after all. Or maybe you eat almonds like it’s your job. Nothing is awesome or healthy for you in excess. If it was, then everyone would be able to survive off one food entirely. Eat a ton of awesome food in variety – switch up the starches, fruits, veggies, proteins and healthy fats and make sure you get enough of each and don’t just survive off quinoa. Too much food is too much food.


4. Your diet consists only of fresh pressed veggie and fruit juices, all day, every day, with no end in sight. Your micronutrients are soaring high and shining! But your macronutrients – like protein and fat and carbohydrates, don’t exist. At least not in the quantities you need to live and thrive. In the long term, this will lead to health issues as each of these build hormones, muscular structure, and brain tissue, to name a few. The same applies for chronically replacing meals with smoothies more than twice a day – you are likely getting a whole lot of fruit sugar and not a great variety in your nutrition.


5. Your caloric intake has maintained the same for 10+ years, and numbers are incredibly important to you. Low calories = health, right? Nope – if you focus on a number you forget to look at what you’re putting in your body. Calories don’t equal nutrition, they equal “energy” to the body, but there are energy givers (fruit and veg) and energy stealers (potato chips). Not only that, but if your overall energy intake has maintained the same over 10+ years, but your fitness level changed (increased) or perhaps you had a baby or became diagnosed with a health condition – all of these affect how much actual energy, and which nutrients, your body needs. Nutrition needs change constantly as you and your lifestyle change. That’s also why the same breakfast since you were 8 probably won’t feel that fantastic after you’ve reached menopause 😉


If you say you “already eat well” and your day includes a balance of fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, a variety of proteins, a variety of carbohydrate sources and a variety of saturated and unsaturated (we need both) fats and you pay attention to the ingredients in food products (if you buy any), where your food comes from, the overall quality of your food and eat whole real food, and spend time making food a priority (as in preparing it) and you’re reaching your nutrition goals – then you are totally right – you DO already eat well! And then this is where I would refund your session because you don’t need a nutritionist 😉

No worries if you found out you have a blind spot – it happens. Now that you’ve identified it, let’s get you to your goals 🙂