What is Healthy Eating?
For years food was something that I struggled with, without even knowing it. You see growing up I was a stick thin, gangly looking girl until about age 11-12 at which point I started becoming a pubescent teen and started carrying weight around my midsection and thighs while my hips started to come in. About a year and a bit later I started hearing conversations between aunts/unlces, family friends and even my grandparents telling my parents that "they should consider putting me on a diet". This was the very first time that I ever really truly realized that I looked different from some of the other girls in my class and started feeling like that was not okay.
Well my parents did the right thing and told these people that there was nothing to be concerned about and that I was perfectly healthy. In fact I was actually eating quite healthy with lots of garden fresh veggies, homemade meals daily and only really eating treats that either my grandma or my mom had made from scratch....AND was eating probably better than most of my peers who were eating processed package foods mostly. But none of that mattered to me because I still felt so self conscious about the way my body looked and I did not know how to change it. Instead of talking to my mom or dad about this I did what a lot of teens do and I just kept it all in.....all the negative thoughts about the person in the mirror and all of the negative feelings about who I was....AND because I didn't know how to deal with it all and just kept pushing it down it started spilling out into my life in ways that I didn't really understand. I started sneaking foods that my mom wouldn't normally have in our house (except as the rare treats) like chips, pop, and candy and using them to "feel better", only they just made me feel worse......so I'd eat more.....and then I'd feel even worse and the cycle would just continue. So needless to say I started gaining even more weight than what I had originally gained and my self worth/self-esteem plummeted to an all time low. I was binge eating and labeling every food that I came into contact with as good or bad based on what tv & magazines were telling me (which we all know how reliable they are!).
After years and years of living like this I went "vegan/vegetarian" because all the media was telling me it was the "healthiest" way of eating . But all I ended up doing was making myself sicker and continually binge eating because I never felt "fulfilled" by what I was putting in my body. Also being Celiac I was limited even further in the items that I could eat and ended up lacking A LOT of key macros and nutrients in my diet.....btw I actually am super in favour of anyone going vegan/vegetarian IF they do it right and their body can handle it (remember that everyones body is different so not every diet is right for every body). Basically I just ended up making myself sicker and sicker not only physically but also mentally......after 2 years of living like this my mom and doctor finally convinced me to start eating meat again.
By the time I was 24 I was stressed, depressed, anxious, physically weak, and lost a lot of weight (without actually trying). This all lead me to go to school for nutrition (well that and the fact that I was a counsellor and began to realize there hand to be more to mental/emotional health than what I was taught in university). It was during nutrition school that I really began doing the work to help myself health wise. Not only was I learning about food, nutrition and all the different ways it affects the body BUT I also started doing the internal work. The work of looking at why I viewed certain things the way I did and how it was actually affecting my health and wellness.
And guess what I learned?!?!
That there are no good or bad foods....the is no diet that fits every BODY.....there is no exercise routine that every body can DO.....there is only love, acceptance, and balance when it comes to mind, body, soul and health. That we should for the most part eat nutrient dense, whole, plant based foods.....BUT eating high quality and ethical meat/animal products can be equally as nutritious.....AND eating sweet treats, carbs, chocolate, chips, pizza, burgers and pasta can be healthy too! How you view things and the state of mind you are in while consuming something is the most important thing when it comes to health! You can eat all the "healthy" foods you want but if you are stressing yourself out about making sure you only eat "vegan, gluten free, organic, fair trade, etc" then you are actually doing a disservice to the body because it will never receive the most from the nutrients that it has to offer. You can also eat all the pasta, pizza, cheese, pastries and drink all the wine and as long as you are mentally happy and at peace your body will do miraculous things with them (just look at the Italians and French)!
Now don't get me wrong I do try to feed my body with MOSTLY veggies, fruit, ethical animal products, lots of fresh water and the occasional whole grain.....BUT I also love getting my hands around a glass of wine, some fries or a nice chocolate chip cookie! And also I do have days were I find it hard to think this way because we are constantly bombarded with social media posts, news, tv, and magazine articles all about what is healthy/not, and the "newest fix all diet". BUT hey thats all part of the healing journey... But its all about bring it back to balance and consuming what makes you happy. If having salad everyday for lunch seems lifeless and depressing to you day after day then find something that makes your heart sing like a veggie loaded turkey wrap/sandwich! Life is too short to stress over food and eat food you hate!
Now all that being said.....I actually love salads (about 70% of the time) and this is one of my latest obsessions when it comes to salads! It hits all the notes that I love....its spicy, sweet, fresh, and savoy! And next time your feeling like a delicious salad I highly recommend giving this recipe a try.
Summer Strawberry Basil Bruschetta Salad with Spicy Cedar Smoked Salmon
Ingredients For Cedar Smoked Salmon:
1 Cedar Plank
1 1/4 pound Salmon (with skin on)
1 tsp Chili Powder
1 tsp Smoked Paprika
1 tbsp Maple Syrup
Ingredients for Salad
1 1/2 cups Strawberries diced
1 cup Cucumber diced
1/2 Red Onion Diced
1 cup Basil cut (using chiffonade technique)
1 Avocado diced
Juice of 1 Lime
2 tbsp Olive Oil
Salt to Taste
Favourite Balsamic Reduction
6 cups Mixed Greens OR Butter Lettuce
Putting It All Together:
Start by soaking your cedar plank for anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours. This will keep it from catching fire.
Combine chili powder, salt, and paprika in a small bowl. Using a basting brush lightly brush the salmon with maple syrup with the skin facing down wards. Once coated with ample syrup rub spice mix into the meat and let marinate for about 30 minutes.
Combine strawberries, cucumber, red onion, avocado, 1/2 the basil, lime juice, olive oil and salt in a bowl. Set in fridge to marinate for about 30 minutes.
Once cedar plank is done soaking and the salmon is done marinating place the salmon on the plank, skin side down, and place in a oven OR BQQ (I personally love this recipe best in the BBQ) preheated to 350F. Let cook for about 25-30 minutes depending on how you like your salmon (25 minutes for Medium and 30 for Well Done). Note: Do not open BBQ or oven during cooking process as you will let out the cedar smoke which will make the salmon less flavourful.
Once salmon is done take 4-5 plates and portion out greens. Top greens with salmon and then place strawberry bruschetta mix on top of salmon and portion out the rest of the basil on top of that. Drizzle with balsamic reduction and dig in!