Tag Archives: Eat By Design Coaching

5 Must Have Kitchen Accessories

There are certain items that will make your cooking experience that much easier and that much more enjoyable. Today I am going to share with you 5 must have kitchen accessories that have made a huge difference in my life (and you know that I cook ALOT).

Now, before we get started I am going to say that one of the most important items that is not on this list is a good, sharp kitchen knife. This saves time and obviously makes chopping easy and you will know exactly what I am talking about when you feel the difference. I use this knife.


  1. A Good Blender

When I say good blender I mean a really good blender and these are often an investment.

When you are making homemade soup you want it to puree perfectly.

When you are learning how to make bread replacements with plantains, you want blades that are going to break those things down into a smooth paste.

When you only need a small amount of cashew butter for a recipe, you want a blender that will pulverize your nuts to a perfect paste.

And when you regularly hide spinach or other green vegetables in your smoothies, you want a blender that will break them down, so that you don’t have little tiny pieces that tickle your throat on the way down (all you pulp-haters know what I mean)!

I have used the Vitamix, Blendtec and the Ninja blenders and all worked very well. I have a preference for the Vitamix but that is likely because I have had one for almost 10 years so I know what it can do.

Hamilton Beach food processor

  1. A Food Processor

The difference between a blender and a food processor is that a high powered blender is great for pureeing things like soups, smoothies and nut butters. The food processor is great for rough chopping and blending but not quite pureeing so it is a great option when you are making salsa, dips, shredding cheese, chopping or grating vegetables.

I am currently using this food processor. I am happy with it’s capabilities and have made lots of great pesto, grated lots of cheese and made homemade marinaras in it. There is some issue with food getting stuck in a poorly designed spot on the lid, but so far I have been able to deal with it.

5 must have kitchen accessories

  1. An Immersion Blender

I love my immersion blender. I have an older Braun immersion blender that I purchased from a second hand store for $4.99.

I use it to make guacamole, puree soup (although I prefer my Vitamix for this) and to puree my mashed potatoes.

But one of my favourite uses is to make mayo or homemade garlic sauce.

If you have ever tried to make mayo in a food processor doing the “one drop at a time” method, it is time to make a change because the immersion blender allows you to put all your ingredients in a container and just blend…and voila, out comes mayo (usually…), within seconds.

You also save a lot of time on the clean up when you use the immersion blender.

I love my Braun but I also know that the Cuisinart immersion blender is at a good price point and has great reviews.

instant pot

  1. The Instant Pot

The Instant Pot is an electric pressure cooker.

Gone are the days when you have to fear that your pressure cooker is going to explode and literally blow through your ceiling (yes, that use to be a thing).

The Instant Pot is a Canadian designed pressure cooker that has multiple features aside from just pressure cooking. You can also sautee, slow cook, make rice, yogurt and more.

It has ten “fool proof” safety protections so that you do not need to fear anything going wrong (you know, like those explosions I mentioned).

And…it speeds up cooking by two to six times using up to 70% less energy.

For example, if you would usually make a stew in the slow cooker for 8 hours, you can make that same stew in the Instant Pot in about an hour and I am telling you, it will be better, more tender and more flavourful than your original version.

Note that there are are different sizes and versions…my favourite is this one.

This is one of the best purchases I have made in the past few years. And their customer service is excellent.


  1. Parchment paper

Is parchment paper an accessory? I say yes!
One of your biggest pains is cleaning up the dishes after all the cooking happens. And the worst part is cleaning baked on sauces or burnt food.

Parchment paper has basically annihilated any need to scrub baking dishes or cookie sheets because it is a paper that won’t burn under regular heat in the oven.

So you just line your baking sheets or dishes with it and after you cook, it lifts right off the dish and into the garbage, leaving you with an almost clean dish!

I buy mine at Costco.

Two notes on parchment paper:

  • Make sure to use a piece of paper big enough to go over the edges of your dish when you are cooking something with a sauce or oil so that the sauce doesn’t leak over the edge of the paper.
  • I am going to be upfront and admit that I do have some questions about the health issues with parchment paper. I am just curious to know what chemicals are in the parchment paper and if they are a concern to our health in any way so for this reason, I occasionally choose to not line a dish and accept that I will have to wash it.

A bonus favourite…

squatty potty

  1. A Squatty Potty

Ok, I know this one seems not fit into the theme of cool kitchen accessories I have mentioned but this is for after you’ve enjoyed your healthy meals.

Many people suffer from constipation and while this is often caused by dehydration, poor diet and lack of movement, it can also be worsened by the position in which you poop (humans are meant to squat while we poop).

The Squatty Potty is basically a footstool that wraps around the base of your toilet. You put your feet on it when you are having a bowel movement so that your colon is in an optimal position for elimination and that means that the poop comes out more easily.

Whether you are constipated or not, this is a great accessory for the whole family that will contribute to better health for everyone. And I kid you not when I tell you, you will never want to poop without your footstool again after you try it!

Do you have a favourite kitchen accessory that I didn’t mention? Let me know which ones you love by commenting below.

For simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

*This post contains affiliate links, which means that I will receive a small percentage of any purchases made when you buy through these links. I endorse products that I love…




7 foods for faster meal prep

7 Foods for Faster Meal Prep

Meal prepping is all about getting your food prepped in advance so that you have less cooking to do when you actually need the meals most. It’s a great concept right?

But doing all that prep takes time.

So I want to show you seven of my favourite foods that you can use for faster meal prep.

Getting all of that chopping and mincing out of the way in advance can literally change your life on weeknights when time is precious and food is needed quickly.

Now, some of these items may not be available just yet at your local grocery store but I want to give a huge shout out to President’s Choice (who are not sponsoring this post in way) for the fact that they carry many of these items.

I’ll bet someone in that company is a fellow food prepping, busy mom who understands our needs!

frozen grilled veggies

My favourite frozen veggies

1. Frozen Veggies

Frozen veggies are economical. But even more importantly, they are often more nutritious than their fresh veggie counterparts from the supermarket.

The reason for this is that these veggies are frozen sooner after being harvested which means that they retain more nutrients than veggies that have had to travel across the world in their fresh state, to sit on a truck and then wait in the produce section, before reaching our dinner plates.

And most importantly, frozen veggies are prepped ready to be cooked. They can be thrown into a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper or roasted and topped with a little goat’s cheese or they can be added directly to soups and stews with no washing, peeling or chopping!

2. Cauliflower Rice

When you are maximizing the amount of nutrients you get from your food want to be eating lots of vegetables.

Compare the nutrients in rice with those in vegetables and the veggies are going to come out on top every time so a simple substitution is to use grated cauliflower instead of rice.

Now, don’t get me wrong, cutting up a head of cauliflower and putting the florets into the food processor is not really difficult work but it is messy…the cauliflower seems to get on everything when you try to wash your dishes. And don’t even get me started on trying to do this with a hand grater!

So finding these bags of prepared cauliflower pearls (aka rice)  was definitely a win because I know it will save many heads of cauliflower from going to waste in well meaning peoples’ fridges.

avocado3. Frozen Avocado

Did you even know that avocado could be frozen? Yes!

In fact, it freezes so well that you can take it out, defrost it and create a guacamole that is so fresh and creamy you would never know it had been frozen.

And honestly, the price point for a 400g bag is similar to what I would pay for a bag of five avocados that I would still have to peel myself and the amount of guacamole was possibly even more than I would get from all of the fresh ones!

So frozen avocado it is with the exception of days when I am prepping guacamole to freeze (which now you know you is possible)! In that case, I buy fresh avocados.

butternut squash4. Frozen Butternut Squash Cubes

This one is a huge time saver.

Yes, it is a frozen vegetable and could have been left in that category.

But if you have ever peeled a butternut squash, you know that having it peeled, seeded and cubed, ready to throw on a cookie sheet for roasting or into directly into your soup or stew, is priceless. So it gets it’s own category.

garlic 5. Peeled Garlic

I guess it depends on how much garlic you use but if you find you don’t use a lot, I recommend you use more:-).

Garlic is known for its antifungal properties in the human body as well as its usefulness is supporting the immune system. Plus, it tastes fantastic and can bring a dish to the next level.

If a recipe calls for two garlic cloves, I use four. You just can’t get enough garlic.

So this peeled garlic comes in handy because most of the work is done for you. I can just take it out of the bag and chop it. And the only ingredient is garlic!

At such a low price point, although I do not condone wasting food, I am ok if I do not get though the whole bag.

shrimp6. Raw Peeled Shrimp (when it is on sale)

Shrimp is not cheap. I get that. And buying “Easy Peel Raw Shrimp” is less expensive but when it comes to meal prep for four, peeling up to 80 individual shrimp is just not a great way to spend your time.

Shrimp makes such a great meal prep option because all you need to do is make whatever sauce or marinade you plan to cook it in and once it is cool, add it to the frozen shrimp and put it right back in the freezer (in a sealed bag or container).

And then, when you want to enjoy the shrimp, you just defrost it and throw in a pan with a little olive oil or butter until it is cooked through. Better yet, pair it with cauliflower rice!

I’m telling you, there may be nothing easier than meal prepping shrimp.

So every now and then your grocery store will put the peeled raw shrimp on sale and that is a time to grab a bunch of bags. We use two bags per meal, which is about two pounds for a family of four.

salad7. Bagged Salad

And finally, bagged salad.

You want about three quarters of your plate to be covered in vegetables and one of the easiest ways to do that is by having a salad with every meal.

And although salad can be very easy to put together, that whole washing the lettuce part and cutting up the veggies task usually leads to everything just rotting in my fridge because I don’t do it.

So I generally like to meal prep one salad and then buy a bagged salad to tide me over once the first salad is eaten…(and as a side note…sometimes I just go through two bags of salad instead of making any myself)!

In closing…

We all know that meal prep can be a big task if you make it that way and the bigger your meal prep, the bigger the payoff in the week ahead but if you keep your out eye out for hacks like these, you can make a big meal prep day go even faster.

What are some of your favourite foods for faster meal prep? Please comment below.

For more simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

5 Simple School Lunches (Grain Free, Nut Free)


Oh boy…school is back already?

This means that school lunches are back too and I am about to help simplify that for you.

You can download all of the recipes from this blog in this handy little recipe package I put together for you (yes it is free!). You can get that HERE

The Perfect Lunch

A perfect lunch is one that satisfies you and fills you up without leaving you feeling like you need a nap. So that means that it cannot be full of processed, sugary snacks.

So what it should be made up of is some meat, lots of veggies, fruit and some healthy fat.

And bonus points if you get that from leftovers from dinner the night before! Save yourself some time and make extra at suppertime. Then all you need to think about are snacks.


You have options here.

Stainless steel containers like Planet Box and Lunchbots are lightweight, eco-friendly, durable and healthy for storing food. They are great and will likely last forever but not surprisingly, they are at higher price point.

school lunches

I am using Sistema, a BPA free plastic product that I love because the price is reasonable (although, I would not say cheap). The containers have a lot of cool dividers so that you can fit more food into each container without having them mix together (think veggies and dip).


A thermos is also a necessary part of a healthy lunchbox. I used our Thermos (it comes with a folding stainless steel spoon) almost every single day last year. I add boiling water to the insulated thermos for about five minutes, then I dump out the water and add our heated up food and it keeps warm until lunchtime. 


Most schools are going nut-free now so for those of us who eat a lot of nuts that can feel like a bit of a challenge since a lot of our favourite go-to snacks contain nuts.

So now I would like to introduce you to Nut Free Trail Mix.

I will give the full recipe in the free By Design School Lunches Recipe Pack that I made up for you but the idea is that if you choose a random mix of coconut, seeds and dried fruit (and occasionally dark chocolate chips), you can create an awesome little nibbly snack that is full of healthy fat.

As you are about to see, nut free trail mix is a staple in our lunches.

So without further ado…

Here are five By Design school lunch ideas to help simplify your life.

Healthy School Lunches

Lunch Box 1

Main: Chicken & Veggie Soup


Carrots and Sweet Poppy Seed Dressing


Avocado with Sea Salt


Nut Free Trail Mix


Lunch Box 2

Main: Hamburgers with Organic Ketchup


Berries with Yogurt and a dribble of Maple Syrup

Cucumbers and Dip (Homemade Mayo or Tzatziki)


Nut Free Trail Mix 

Lunch 3

Lunch Box 3

Main: Grilled Chicken Thighs (Wrap optional)


Zucchini and Celery Sticks


Cherry Tomatoes

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Nut Free Trail Mix

Lunch 4

Lunch Box 4

Main: Turkey Apple Mini-Meatloaves


Red and Green Peppers



Apple Sauce

Nut Free Trail Mix


Lunch Box 5

Main: B’Eggs


Broccoli Salad





Nut Free Trail Mix

We have a whole whack of more great recipes in the Eat By Design Cookbook that would make perfect school lunches (and weekday dinners)! The cookbook is also a 28-day By Design meal plan with grocery lists.

Here are a few more of our school lunch favorites from the cookbook:

Cabbage and Sausage

Lamb Shepherd’s Pie


Slow Cooked Pulled Pork

Tuna Fish Mix

By Design Waldorf Salad

If you have peeps (aka friends and family) who are in charge of making lunches, share this little bit of inspiration with them so that they too can see how easy lunches can be.

Get your free By Design School Lunches Recipes HERE

***A huge thank you goes out to Grace In The Kitchen, a specialty kitchen store (with an amazing cheese selection and coffee bar) in Kanata, Ontario for supporting us to put this blog out to you. You can get the Sistema product line there.



5 Simple & Awesome Salad Recipes

We can all agree that eating more salad and vegetables is on most people’s to-do list.

The easiest way to get that done is to include a salad with at least two meals a day. Ideally, if you could pair a small salad with lunch and a big whopping salad with supper, you would be well on your way to consuming an ideal amount of veggies.

This will help you feel full longer, feed your healthy gut bacteria, give you a great source of nutrients and phytonutrients (helping you keep that youthful glow). They can contribute to healthy bones and they are a source of magnesium (which is depleted by stress and helps you sleep). And who doesn’t want that?

And another awesome benefit is that eating salad regularly will help keep things moving smoothly through your colon. That means regular poops! And, really….tell me that doesn’t sound amazing!

So today I am giving you my favourite salad recipes. On days when you are rushed, go for the Lazy (Wo)Man’s salad and on days when you are looking for a masterpiece, go for the kale salad (just remember to make it slightly ahead of time so that the flavours can fully develop).

Here are my five favourite salad recipes.

1.    Blueberry & Goat’s Cheese Salad

Prep Time: 5 minutes 

  • 127 g container organic mixed greens
  • 1 4 ounce container of fresh organic blueberries
  • 6 fresh, organic strawberries (optional)
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1/3 cup goat’s cheese
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  1. Add mixed greens, blueberries, strawberries if using, and green onions to a bowl.
  2. Crumble goat’s cheese on top. 
  3. Mix the olive oil and balsamic vinegar in a separate, small jar.
  4. Toss salad with dressing. 

Serves 4 

2. The Traditional Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

  • 1 red, yellow or orange pepper
  • 1 small red onion (or half a medium), chopped fine
  • 1 head organic romaine lettuce
  • 6 mushrooms thinly sliced (optional)
  • 6 strawberries thinly sliced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  1. Add the pepper, onion, lettuce (and mushrooms and strawberries if using) to a bowl.
  2. Mix the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup and Dijon mustard in separate small container.
  3. Add dressing to salad and toss to combine.

Serves 4

3.    The Lazy-(Wo)Man’s Salad

Prep Time: 2 minutes

  • 127 g package mixed greens
  • a handful of dried cranberries
  • Bonfire Fish Oil, liquid form 
  1. Add mixed greens to a bowl.
  2. Toss in cranberries.
  3. Squeeze some Bonfire fish oil on and toss.
  4. Serve.

Serves 4

4.    Apple Pecan Kale Salad

My all-time favorite salad is the Apple Pecan Kale Salad. This is that salad…It’s the one that people ask about. The one that gets people asking “Who made this salad? Can you give me the recipe?”

The one that you keep thinking about after dinner…

It does take a bit more work, but it is totally worth it. It’s pretty, it’s delicious…and it has feta cheeseJ.

You can find that HERE.

5. By Design Broccoli Salad

And I will throw in one more delish salad for good measure…(I’m not even sure what that saying means, but it sounds about right). Check out our By Design Broccoli Salad. This one is very kid-friendly, especially if you toss in a handful of raisins!

I hope that you enjoy these salads and remember to include a salad with every meal (atleast lunch and dinner) to increase your veggie intake.

Let me know in the comments below what’s your favorite go-to salad recipe?

For more simple By Design recipes why not pick up your copy of the Eat By Design Cookbook. I’ve created it in the form of a 28-day meal plan (plus grocery lists!) so you don’t need to think about what’s for breakfast, lunch or dinner for the next month. Or you can grab the first 7 days FREE by clicking here.

3 secrets to sustain your diet

3 Secrets To Sustaining Your Diet

If you have been focusing on improving your lifestyle by eating healthier, exercising, getting more sleep, I want you to read the following information.

I am going to share with you three secrets that could be the deciding factor between succeeding on this lifestyle change or failing.