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Month 3, A Step Towards A Healthier Me

Hello everyone & welcome to March: Nutrition Month.

I’m Yvonne the RD & CDE here at Mindful Medicine.

We’re 3 months into the New Year and there’s still time to start and/or enhance your existing health journey! I know becoming a “healthier you” might seem like an extremely daunting process, where do you even start?! Well, I’m here to help you, taking the first step is hard but remember, it doesn’t need to be a really big change – simple moderate modifications are a good start. Any positive change is good change. After all wellness is a journey, not a destination.

So, let me help you with your first step:

What about starting with a “Monday go vegan day” in your weekly routine?

Now, I just want to be clear – If you’re a hard-core meat lover, I’m not trying to convert you into a full vegan but veganism does have many benefits to your health. Start this once a week and think of it as doing something good for yourself and your body.

Okay so, why go vegan? Well, everybody chooses to eat a vegan diet for different reasons. It could be spiritual and ethical reasons, environmental consideration, or animal welfare.

From a dietitian point of view, I encourage my clients to go more vegan as a means of managing and preventing chronic diseases. Even the upcoming 2018 Canadian Food Guidelines emphasize a Plant-Based Diet and less reliance on meat and dairy products!

As mentioned previously, introducing vegan diet in your routine can bring many health benefits to you. A vegan diet includes:

  • Grains

  • Vegetables

  • Fruits

  • Legumes

  • Seeds and nuts

So why exactly are vegan diets better for you? Well, vegan diets contain no dietary cholesterol, they’re lower in total fat, saturated fat and glycemic index. Also, they’re high in fibre, antioxidants and phytochemicals compared to regular diets. All these factors add up to give you numerous health benefits such as:

  • Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight

  • Managing blood sugar

  • Managing blood lipids

  • Managing blood pressure

  • Reducing inflammation, etc.

This is why vegan diets are a great choice to help people manage certain chronic conditions!

Now of course there are a few disadvantages to a vegan diet and that’s why planning a balanced vegan meal with adequate macro and micro-nutrients requires some level of evidence based nutrition knowledge. Some vitamin and mineral deficiencies are common with vegan diets, for instance:

  • Vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and zinc

  • Absorption of calcium, vitamin B12, iron and zinc are less efficient

So, I do want to mention one important thing, just because I’m asking you to have vegan Monday’s doesn’t mean you have fries and ketchup with a can of coke! Have healthy vegan Monday’s. A vegan diet doesn’t always mean a healthy diet and that’s where gaining as much knowledge as you can on the foods you consume, becomes more important than ever!

Here’s an example of a healthy vegan day:

  • Apple Cinnamon Oat Meal

  • Couscous Confetti Salad and Carrot and Red Pepper Soup

  • Sliced Bell Peppers with Hummus

  • BBQ-Style Portobello Mushrooms with Quinoa Pilaf

(Scroll down for recipes)

Not bad right?

And this is just once a week to start with!

Once you’ve gained your nutrition knowledge and start putting it to practice – you’ll enjoy every balanced vegan meal you have!

Have fun with your “Monday go vegan day”!

If you are interested in vegan diet, vegan meal planning, or if you want to gain more advanced nutrition knowledge about vegan diets, please join our dietitian education session. Call our clinic (416) 800 9032, contact us or drop in for information!

Our next nutrition workshop on label reading will be hosted Thursday, April 5th at 5:00pm click here to learn more.



Apple Cinnamon Oat Meal


  • 1 cup old-fashioned or quick-cooking oats

  • 2/3 cup shredded apple

  • 1 1/3 cups water

  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


Combine oats, apple (if you don’t want you apple incorporated this way, you can simple top with shredded apple), water, and cinnamon in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Let stand 3 minutes before serving.

Couscous Confetti Salad and Carrot and Red Pepper Soup



  • 2 large red bell peppers (1 lb)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1⁄2 teaspoon curry powder

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 1 large onion, sliced (2 cups)

  • 2 large carrots, sliced (1/2 lb)

  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350°F Place bell peppers on baking sheet, and roast 1 hour, or until skin is wrinkled and blackened all over, turning peppers occasionally with tongs. Transfer to bowl, and cover with plastic wrap 10 minutes to steam. When peppers are cool enough to handle, rub off blackened peel, and remove seeds.

Heat oil in 2-qt saucepan over medium heat. Add curry powder and bay leaf, and stir 10 seconds. Add onion, carrots, garlic, and salt. Cover, and cook 10 minutes, or until onion is translucent.

Add 4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, covered, 25 minutes.

Transfer carrot mixture to blender, add bell peppers, and puree until smooth. Stir in lemon juice. Garnish servings with bell pepper slices, if using.

Couscous Confetti Salad


  • 1 ½ cups dry whole-wheat couscous

  • 2 cups boiling water

  • 3 to 4 green onions, finely chopped, including tops

  • red bell pepper, seeded and finely diced

  • carrot, grated

  • 1 to 2cup finely shredded red cabbage

  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh parsley

  • Juice of 1 lemon

  • ¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon curry powder

  • 1 ½ teaspoons teaspoons salt


In a large bowl, combine couscous and boiling water.

Stir to mix, then cover and let stand until all the water has been absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes.

Fluff with a fork. Add green onions, bell pepper, carrot, cabbage, and parsley.

In a small bowl mix lemon juice, vinegar, oil, curry powder, and salt. Add to salad and toss to mix. Serve at room temperature or chilled. Makes about 8 cups.

Sliced Bell Peppers with Hummus

For a hummus recipe click here.

BBQ-Style Portobello Mushrooms with Quinoa Pilaf



  • 2 large Portobello mushrooms

  • 1/2 cup vegetable juice

  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers

  • 1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce

  • 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Cut into 1/2-inch strips.

Combine vegetable juice, red peppers, soy sauce, vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, and black pepper in a blender.

Process until smooth, then transfer mixture to a non-stick skillet and heat until bubbly. Add mushroom strips, turning to coat evenly with sauce. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.



  • 1 yellow or red onion, chopped

  • 1/2 cup chopped celery

  • 1/2 cup chopped carrot

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 2 cups quinoa, washed and dried

  • 3 cups boiling water or vegetable broth (add 1 teaspoon salt if using water or unsalted broth)

  • 1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro or parsley (optional)


Sauté onion, celery, carrot, and garlic until they start to caramelize or turn brown.

Add cumin, oregano, and quinoa.

Stir constantly and cook for about 3 more minutes to allow spices and quinoa to toast. Add boiling salted water or vegetable broth. Cover and cook about 20 minutes or until all the liquid has completely absorbed and the quinoa has “bloomed.” Do not stir during cooking and make sure the lid is tight to prevent moisture from escaping. Remove from heat and allow quinoa to sit for 5 to 10 minutes. Add cilantro or parsley, if using.

Fluff with a fork and serve.

Allow leftovers to cool and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

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