Why my 2017 includes muffins

I love muffins. Actually, I love most baked goodies. I consider myself a textbook  “sweet” person. Chips can sit in my cupboard for weeks, but cookies won’t last a day.

When three o’clock rolls around, if I don’t have a satisfying snack ready to go, I’ll find myself at my local coffee shop picking up a muffin or a granola bar. I literally find myself ordering, while a distant voice in my head reminds me about the apple on my desk.

The reality is, for me, an apple isn’t enough in the afternoon. It took a lot of lattes turned treats to learn this, but now I know, when three o’clock rolls around, with several more hours of work ahead of me; an apple isn’t going to cut it, and I’m (usually) prepared.

It is important to be realistic about your eating. If you pack yourself a bag of chopped veggies for your afternoon snack, and you feel satisfied, that’s wonderful and by all means keep that healthy habit. But, if you pack yourself a bag of chopped veggies for your afternoon snack, and you eat them, and then you find yourself feeling miserable and unproductive, or you find yourself at the vending machine, or milling around the staff room looking for scraps of old doughnuts, it’s probably a good idea to switch that snack to something more substantial, and closer to the food you really want to eat.

We are nearing the end of January. If you made health goals for the new year that are not working for you, give yourself permission to reassess, and try something new. It can take a few attempts to get it right, and what is ‘right’ for you might not be what you hoped it would be. There are a lot of different ways to eat well, and a lot of opportunities in the day to make changes to the way you eat. Reflect on what you have learned about yourself, and go back to the drawing board regularly, keeping your healthy eating goals in mind.

I like to keep a small assortment of home made baked goods in the freezer, and pack one with me on work days, along with some nuts and fruit, or some vegetables. Keeping these snacks in the freezer keeps them out of sight and unavailable for me to mindlessly snack on. Another truth I know about myself is that I will eat way more cookies if they are on the counter than if they are out of sight and less accessible (i.e., in the freezer).

A home made muffin, cookie, or granola bar is almost always a better choice than something commercially made. You are in control of the portion size and the ingredients. Even local bakeries and cafes tend to use less healthy ingredients than you would at home. I recently went looking for some dairy free muffins to bring to a friend’s house for tea. The girl at the cafe informed me that all of their muffins were made with whipping cream. Seriously, who makes muffins with whipping cream? I never would have guessed that a walnut apple muffin would have whipping cream in it.

I also like to play around with recipes to make healthier versions of the snacks I love, so that I can enjoy a snack that satisfies me, and is still relatively healthy. Here is one of those recipes. Full of blueberries and whole grains, and with an added nutritional boost of grated zucchini, these muffins satisfy without sending your blood sugar on a roller coaster ride.

Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Chickpea Salad

Conceive Fertility Dietitian Services Chickpea Salad packed up and ready to go for a nutritious work lunch that provides plenty of protein, fibre and nutrients to support fertility.

I am always keeping my eyes peeled for easy meals that support fertility and this quick salad pretty much has it all. This one is perfect for women who are struggling with ovulatory infertility including PCOS or weight related issues,  for women struggling with endometriosis, and really, for anyone trying to improve their nutritional wellness in order to support a healthy pregnancy.

Of course, it is the simplicity of this salad that first made me want to make it, but it’s the terrific dose of plant-based protein, fibre, folate, iron and healthy fat that seals the deal and makes it an excellent choice for anyone trying to conceive. It really does have it all, and it takes less than ten minutes to prepare.

You can make the “bean salad” part of the recipe ahead, combining all of the ingredients except the spinach and avocado. When you are ready to eat, toss it with spinach and top it with avocado. If you are feeling really hungry, add more avocado or top with raw pumpkin seeds which add even more  iron, folate, and fibre, and go well with the other flavours in the salad.

I just had this for lunch with fresh oregano from the garden (yay spring!) Here is the link to the recipe. Enjoy.


Avocado Nori Rolls

Conceive Fertility Dietitian Services. Avocado Nori Rolls are a quick and healthy lunch that supports your fertility

The women I work with are often looking for quick and easy recipe ideas that support their fertility. Here whole grains and healthy fats roll together in one fast, versatile, and nutrient rich lunch.

All you do is wrap avocado and your favourite leftover grain up in a piece of nori, and voila! I don’t cut these rolls into pieces like sushi, so I don’t need to worry about the grain being sticky -really any grain works. Here I’ve used quinoa but I usually use short or long grain brown rice.

Avocado Nori Rolls

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 sheets of nori
  • 2/3 cup cooked brown rice, or other grain
  • 1/2 avocado


  • Soy sauce or tamari for dipping
  • Wasabi for spice (Add to the soy sauce)


Place one piece of nori, 1/3 cup brown rice, or other grain, and 1/4 of an avocado on a sushi rolling mat. Dip a brush, or your fingers, into water and dampen the top 1/3 of the nori. You do not need to spread out the grain like you would if you were making sushi. Just drop it on, and top it with avocado.

Using the mat, roll the nori around the avocado and grain. The wet part of the nori should stick the roll closed. If it looks like it might open, add a little more water.

You can wrap these up to enjoy later, or eat them right away. I like to dip mine in some  soy sauce mixed with wasabi.

If you wrap them up, the moisture redistributes and softens the nori. If you want to eat them right away, I recommend using a little more water when rolling, and covering a bit more of the nori’s surface area with it, to promote the nori softening more quickly.

Conceive Fertility Dietitian Services. Avocado Nori Rolls are a quick and healthy lunch that supports your fertility

Avocado Nori Rolls are a quick and healthy lunch that provides valuable nutrients to support your fertility.


Chickpea Chocolate Chip Energy Balls

These Chickpea Chocolate Chip Energy Balls are a great snack for women who want a sweet treat that keeps them full and doesn’t send their blood sugar through the roof.  These balls are packed with plant protein, fibre, and healthy fat. They are low in added sugar, and for me, they do the trick at 3 pm when my body is screaming for a sugar fix and a cup of tea.

Don’t taste the “dough”. Just don’t. It looks like delicious ooey gooey cookie dough, but let’s just say the taste is a lot healthier. Try to put them directly into the fridge. Trust me, the flavours soften and blend as they chill, and they’ll taste great the next day, whether you are having an afternoon break at work or taking in some fresh air at the ski hill.

Chickpea Chocolate Chip Energy Balls

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 can of chickpeas, well rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup natural peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon


In a food processor, or a high powered blender, mix the chickpeas, peanut butter, honey (or maple syrup), and vanilla. Pulse until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl and add the rolled oats, chocolate chips, coconut and cinnamon. Mix well, then roll into balls and place the balls on a cookie tray covered in parchment paper. Cover the tray with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for several hours, or overnight, until the balls are firm to the touch.

Transfer to a sealed container and store in the fridge for up to one week. I haven’t tried them in the freezer but I see no reason why they wouldn’t freeze well.


Broccoli and Apple Salad

I love this simple salad. It is rich in folate, fibre, and antioxidants. It satisfies my “sweet and savory” tooth and it lasts for a few days in the fridge. It is a favorite for bringing to work.  I make it, eat some, then pack the rest in one or two lunch sized containers (depending how much is left) for an easy grab in the morning. Enjoy.

Broccoli and Apple Salad

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 2 cups broccoli, cut into small bite sized pieces
  • 1 small apple, diced
  • 1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons minced red onion
  • 2 tablespoons raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup good quality mayonaise
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste



Place all ingredients in a large bowl. Stir. Refrigerate. Eat. This salad tastes best after a few hours in the fridge and will last well refrigerated in a sealed container for 3 days.




Fertility Foods: Folate in Photos

Broccoli is a source of dietary folate needed for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

Do you wonder if you are getting enough dietary folate for optimal fertility and a healthy baby? You may not be.

Many foods contain folate, but only a few are truly rich in folate. Check out the folate content of these 10 commonly eaten sources of folate, then ask yourself whether you are getting 400 mcg a day.

Remember that folate is water soluble and is easily lost in cooking so it’s best to enjoy the vegetables listed here raw or lightly steamed.

If you need a reminder about why folate is important and how much you should be getting, check out my September blog post. For optimal reproductive health, I recommend my clients include plenty of folate containing foods in their diet, and take a prenatal vitamin with around 400 mcg of folic acid.

Broccoli is a source of dietary folate needed for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

Steamed on the side, or in a salad, broccoli is a source of dietary folate.

Oranges are a source of dietary folate needed for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

Oranges are a source of dietary folate. Stick to whole oranges most of the time to get the benefits of the fibre and the other plant compounds.

Peanut butter is a source of dietary folate needed for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

A breakfast staple in North America, peanut butter provides some dietary folate.

Spinach is good source of dietary folate needed for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

Steamed or raw, spinach is a good source of dietary folate.

Romaine lettuce is a good source of dietary folate needed for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

In a salad, a sandwich, or a wrap, choose dark coloured lettuce for the most folate.

Sunflower seeds are good source of dietary folate needed for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

Roasted on top of salads, or sprinkled on breakfast cereal, sunflower seeds are a good way to add some folate any time of day.

Avocados are good source of dietary folate needed for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

On toast, in salads, in a sandwich or a wrap. Avocados are a good source of dietary folate.

Lentils are a good source of dietary folate needed for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

In soups or stews, or sprouted in salads or wraps. Lentils are an excellent source of dietary folate.

Chick Peas are good source of dietary folate needed for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

In hummus, soups or stews, or just tossed into a green salad. Chickpeas are an excellent source of dietary folate.

Liver is an excellent source of dietary folate needed for fertility and a healthy pregnancy.

Liver is an excellent source of folate. Liver lovers need to limit their consumption to a serving a week when pregnant, to avoid any harmful effects of too much vitamin A on the fetus.






Tips to Manage Holiday Stress (and a recipe for your next party)

Fertility Dietitian Services Festive Guacamole

For everyone, December is emotionally and financially stressful. For couples struggling with infertility, this time of year can be especially difficult. How are you holding up? If your calendar is filling up with social events, life feels unbearably busy, and you are navigating complicated relationship and family dynamics, hold on tight, you are not alone.

The stress of the holiday season can wreak havoc on your health.  Take a few minutes this weekend to look at your calendar and commit to taking care of yourself, and your reproductive health, amid the glut of seasonal obligations. With the flu bug hanging around, it is particularly important to stay well rested, well hydrated and well nourished. A little planning can go a long way toward having a manageable, low stress holiday season.

Here are some practical tips to help make holiday eating both healthier and less stressful:  

Plan:  Save time and energy by making a shopping list that considers several dinners, lunches and breakfasts as well as a simple dish to bring to any upcoming party. The busier life gets, the easier it is to resort to eating out and grabbing food on the run.  Plan to eat at home whenever possible and make sure there are staples in the fridge and the cupboard so that you can throw together a quick meal if time is running short.

Don’t forget about the basics: Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season we forget to do the basic things that keep us healthy, happy, and grounded. We find ourselves justifying eating on the run and skipping a yoga or a fitness class in the name of preparing for the holidays. Busyness isn’t a good reason to eat a dinner of hors d’oeuvres from the office Christmas party. Try to keep shopping and eating regular meals and snacks. Eating a small meal before the Christmas party will help you make wise choices when you are there.

If you plan ahead to those busy days and have something quick and easy to prepare, it will be easier to honor regular meals and snacks.  Tis’ the season to make use of bagged salads and pre-cut veggies.  Simplify your cooking during busy times.  Here are some quick ideas:

  • Bean burrito –wrap, heated refried beans, jarred salsa, diced peppers, tomatoes and shredded lettuce
  • Bagged salad with chick peas and feta cheese added
  • Avocado toast topped with a poached egg
  • Pasta and tomato sauce. Add cut up veggies to a jarred sauce and whole grain pasta
  • Soup and a sandwich
  • Vegetable omelet

A quick utility meal will not only provide you with a variety of nutrients, it can also ward off the urge to eat the whole wheel of brie at the party.

Have a few favorite easy recipes on hand for parties:  Make a commitment to bring something nutritious to any parties you attend this season. Here are some ideas:

  • A seasonal fruit tray: include mandarin oranges, blood oranges and chunks of pomegranate along with classic favorites like tropical fruits and grapes.
  • Veggies with a bean dip. For a sophisticated party, place a teaspoon of bean dip on the end of purple endive leaves. If pressed for time, pick up a pre-made bean dip.
  • Antipasto served with crispy baked pita triangles or Melba toasts.

Here is the recipe for my go to Christmas party dish, Festive Guacamole. Beautiful looking, rich in healthy fats and antioxidants, this dish is quick and easy to make and you can feel good about eating it.

Be prepared for Christmas Dinner:  For most families, turkey and stuffing are the season’s tradition. This year, pair the turkey with a whole lot of simple but delicious vegetable dishes. With all the rich colours and diverse flavours, no one will feel the need to drown the plate in gravy. Plan to offer a couple of marinated vegetable salads or a fresh green salad that you can make ahead for easy meal prep the day of the big meal. Keep the vegetables simple and aim for three or four different coloured dishes. Here are some ideas:

  • Diced beets
  • Whole roasted yams,
  • Roasted nugget potatoes,
  • Green beans,
  • Broccolini or Broccoli Rabe
  • Spinach salad in a vinaigrette, peppered with festive pomegranate seeds,
  • A variety of roasted squash,
  • Romaine salad in a vinaigrette with pecans, red onions and mandarin oranges. 

Go easy on holiday desserts:  Be selective about holiday baking. Make your favorites and put them in the freezer until you need them. Add nuts and vibrant holiday fruits to trays of sweets; rings of mandarins and blood oranges, sliced red pears, and chunks of pomegranate.


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