2014-09-29_FilmCrew_9290160(1)Today on The Marilyn Denis Show I fulfilled a personal goal that has filled my heart with gratitude and will be forever locked in my memory.










I grew up in a lovely small town called Ardoch in the area of North Frontenac.  Many wonderful members of the community donated goods from their own cupboards to help others when they couldn’t get by.  My family was a recipient of this food bank at various times when I was a child. Although the sense of “giving” was part of the town, there was also a secretive nature to using community assistance. I often felt a sense of shame for being in that unfortunate situation but I also had a sense of gratitude for being able to eat.  The disappointment and appreciation caused me to have mixed emotions about food, fairness and issues of social equality at an early age. At the time I didn’t know how to define my mixed emotions and my views of society but I did begin to grow an understanding of how food played a large part in my own life. When we had food in our cupboard I felt safe. If we didn’t have much I felt scared. This experience as a child created the spark of understanding that food isn’t just something that satisfies the hunger gap, but it brings a deeper level of emotional nourishment.

Fast forward many years later and as a mother of two boys one of the ways I nurture them is to have food in my cupboards and fridge…and many hugs and kisses of course ;)  IMG_5481

As I tie it all together it is by no surprise I am so passionate about food and have made a career of it. From the conception of my business I made a promise to myself that I would somehow work to help provide healthy food for low-income families, without judgment or shame and instead support and nurture.

While visiting my family this past summer in my home-town area of Perth I walked into The Table, a Community Food Centre location to see what everyone was talking about. I was overwhelmed with the incredible offering of support for community members. I had the opportunity to spend time with Head Chef, Judy Dempsey who showed me around the facility. IMG_3243I visited community gardens where the fresh produce is used for food bank offerings, community meals and for programs for children to understand how to grow real food. I watched as volunteers prepped food for mealtime offered to anyone who just needed a healthy homemade meal spent with others. Not only is this community food centre feeding bellies, but they are also nourishing hearts and minds. I couldn’t help but reflect back and wonder if this type of uplifting support was offered when I was younger would I have gone through the emotional challenges I encountered. I was touched and inspired and began brainstorming ways to contribute to this organization.

I thought that it would be wonderful if I could bring some healthy groceries up to The Table and help to contribute to a community meal. I was overjoyed when Pusateri’s Fine Foods, top gourmet retailer in Toronto, graciously offered a generous donation of groceries to not only help me with this initiative, but to provide additional healthy items for the community food bank.


I have been working with Pusateris for the past couple of years and in this time we have worked hard to provide healthy options for customers – it was so exciting to be able to take some of these foods back to my hometown.  I had so much fun shopping with my colleague Nicole. It took us three hours and filled up five grocery carts. Here are some pictures of all of the amazing foods we loaded up on.



I also received a wonderful donation from VEGA providing 100 shaker cups and travel packs of my favorite protein smoothie. Sea-licious also kindly donated maple flavoured fish oil for all community members.

Thank you to these wonderful companies for their kindness and support during this unforgettable experience in my life.



I believe that every community should have a Community Food Centre where no matter what your situation is you can feel holistically nourished, educated about healthy eating, and up-lifted during times of challenge.

This is what community is all about.

This was a full circle experience for me. I was able to go back to the place of pain as a child and turn it into a loving gift for others. I have hopes of continuing to support this life-changing organization in the near future.


The final product. A health-inspired meal made with local, seasonal ingredients and a lotta love!

For more information on Community Food Centres Canada and  how to donate click here

Kids love sweet foods! Obviously this is not ground-breaking news of any kind. But what is ground-breaking is that kids can enjoy sweet treats in a healthy way.

Their first taste of sweet begins in utero with amniotic fluid, which contains fructose, glucose, fatty acids and amino acids. As a result babies are born with a preference for the sweet taste of mother’s milk. This initial stage of nurturing creates a safe and comforting feeling that is associated with the sweet flavour. This soothing feeling from sweet foods lives with us into our adult years. You might find yourself digging through your cupboards for a cookie or stopping off at a bakery for a cupcake after a frustrating day. We often reach for sweet treats when we want to reward our efforts, or find comfort. The sweetness triggers your pleasure induced brain signals and offers, reassurance, comfort and support. This sounds all so sweet until that one comforting chocolate chip cookie turns into 6 guilt ridden ones. When eating sweets moderation is the key but often it proves to be the challenge as emotional responses take over. Be mindful of this when reaching for your sweet pleasures and try to live by the 80/20 rule.

I see the innate love for sweet foods in my four year old. He’s been introduced to a mixture of flavours and textures within a wide variety of healthy foods since he was born, but he always has a desire to have a sweet treat.

I don’t believe in deprivation, but I do believe in finding the healthiest version of a treat where possible. I often walk through grocery stores and have a hard time digesting the gross abundance of man-made processed treats with brain-numbing artificial colours and flavours, and nutrient-robbing sugar.  These energy-stripped confectionaries have a great impact on a child’s behavior, their ability to communicate, their immune system and their development, but as a society we have made it an acceptable part of childhood.

I have seen tremendous changes in children when their parents reduce these treats and replace them with healthier alternatives. One of the main reasons for this is the body needs to use valuable nutrients to help metabolize these ingredients. Not only does this leave a child’s body at a deficit, but it also creates a sugar spiraling cycle of wanting more due to crashing blood sugar levels. One of the worst parts of this addiction is many children become accustomed to a wanting an extreme flavour that only fake ingredients can offer. Watermelon candy doesn’t taste like real watermelon for example. It’s no wonder many kids won’t touch broccoli or spinach.

So, how do I give my son sweet and sour treats without the plethora of toxic ingredients? I always keep Golden Berries and Medjool Dates stocked in my fridge.

Golden berries are highly addictive in my opinion. They are sweet, sour and tart, which makes them a great substitute for a child who likes sour candies. These are nature’s equivalent of sour skittles. They have a texture like a cranberry and can be added to recipes, smoothies, salads or enjoyed on their own. They offer a mega amount of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-parasitic and anti-histamine benefits. Unlike other berries, golden berries offer a good source of protein. Some brands offer dark chocolate covered golden berries. I am definitely a buyer.

Medjool dates are naturally sweet. I would describe them as having a caramel like flavour. There are tons of easy ways to incorporate dates into your baking and cooking or eat them raw. You can make a paste by blending them, or chop them up for sweet or savory applications, throw them in a blender with your smoothie or tuck a teaspoon of coconut oil in one before exercise for an easy to digest carb. They offer a great variety of nutrients that are important for healthy growing kids; minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc, copper, iron, selenium and potassium, vitamins B5 and B6 and fibre. They are an alkaline-rich fruit, and instead of sending your kids blood glucose on a roller coaster, they help to stabilize.

Nutrition Side Note:

-Remember that portion control still applies here. A couple of dates and a small handful of golden berries go a long nutritional way

The Polka Dot Thought…Medjool Dates & Golden Berries

(Tell your kids this info before or after they try this snack)

Dates blast you full of energy

-Golden berries help you to concentrate so you can finish your homework faster and play sooner!


 Leave a comment below and let us know what you do with dates.



The winner will receive a sample box of four 8oz Natural Delights Medjool Date tubs: organic, conventional, coconut and almond rolls.  Natural Delights Medjool Dates are fresh—not dried—and are available in the produce department in both regular and organic packages as well as in coconut, pistachio and almond rolls.  naturaldelights.ca

Contest closes Friday April 18th 6p.m. One winner will be chosen at random. Contest open to Canadian residents.


Bakalar, Nicholas. Nature 486,S4–S5 (June, 2012) Nature. International Weekly Journal of Science Sensory Science: Partners in Flavour. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v486/n7403_supp/full/486S4a.html

Parenting isn’t always glamorous. I spend a lot of daily energy making sure my kids bowels are churning at optimum efficiency. Poo-regularity is a serious business in our house for many reasons. 80 percent of the immune system is found in the digestive tract. Regularity means better absorption of important nutrients for their growth and efficient elimination of waste. 

I always have organic apples in the house for an easy snack. Apples contain a great assortment of antioxidants and one (with skin) contains four grams of fibre. I kick-up the fibre content of this snack with “magic sprinkles” aka chia seeds, which stick on the apple with a tablespoon of nut butter (almond, pumpkin, sunflower or organic peanut butter). One tablespoon of chia seeds has five grams of fibre not to mention protein, brain boosting omega-3 fats and antioxidants. Kids ages one-nine require between 19-25 grams of fibre per day. Canadian stats show that most kids are barely getting half that amount. This small snack supplies 10 grams of fibre! It makes a great snack after school or before bed.

Organic Apple & Magic Sprinkles
-1 organic honey crisp apple (you can choose any variety that your kids enjoy)
-1 tsp organic peanut butter
-1 tsp sunflower seed butter
(you can choose any nut or seed butter that you want)
-1 tbsp chia seeds

Cut the apple in wedges and hollow out a small hole for the nut butter to sit in, sprinkle chia seeds and serve on your special plate

Nutrition Side Note:

  • Those that are allergic to mustard or sesame seeds may also have an allergic reaction to chia seeds.
  • Make sure your kids drink enough water as chia seeds can absorb 10 times their weight in water
  • Kids under 10 should not consume more than one tablespoon of chia seed per day
  • Organic apples are recommended over conventional varieties to maximize health benefits and avoid pesticides
  • On an emotional level, chronic constipation can represent the refusal to let go of certain ideas or situations. Helping your child to flow with life is an important addition to a healthy diet

The Polka Dot Thought…Organic Apple & Magic Sprinkles
(Tell your kids this info before or after they try this snack)
-The magic sprinkles make you smarter and feel happy
-The apples make your belly feel good

Want more apple info? Watch Miranda and her son discover an apple orchard on The Marilyn Denis Show  

Steamed greens are an immediate ewwwww for most kids.  So, how do you get your child to eat this leafy powerhouse? You have to make it relatable in some comfortable and known way. Replicate a texture, flavour or appearance of something that your child likes.

Like many kids, my son loves pickles, so I took the flavour element sour and used lemon and apple cider vinegar to give him the pucker-sour taste he loves. He describes all sour foods as tasting like pickles so when I introduced kale to him I said it tastes kind of like pickles. He also recently started enjoying avocado and cucumber sushi rolls. He calls the Nori, sushi paper so I described eating kale also like eating sushi paper.

I also introduced kale to him on this day unannounced without any pressure.  The pressure is a big one here. Most kids don’t want to disappoint their parents, so make it an easy yes for them without any uncomfortable reactions. There’s been many times in the past where I’ve asked him and he’s said no, and I’ve had to let it go, but today, he said yes and he ate it without any struggle.

But, before you get overly excited, let me define what I mean by he ate the kale. I like to call this the dipping stage. He chewed and ate the first bite and then he sucked the “pickled” juice off each leaf and ate the stems, which he describes as the crunchy part. This is the first stage of trying a new food and I am totally okay with it – children need to start somewhere with a new food and every effort and stage should be celebrated.

Remember this may not be an overnight change – it is a journey. Your child will be watching how you react to their like or dislike of kale. Make your reactions one of trust and encouragement. It’s OK if they don’t like it today.

Steamed “Pickled” Organic Kale


-1 bunch of organic curly kale

-1 organic lemon

-1tbsp of expeller-pressed avocado oil

-1tbsp of apple cider vinegar

-pinch of sea salt


1)    Cut and wash kale

2)    Add to a pot with a small amount of water

3)    Steam kale for 3-4 minutes. Kale should be bright green (do not overcook)

4)    Strain kale from pot

5)    Add lemon juice on kale

6)    Cut into small pieces for your child. Add avocado oil, apple cider vinegar and a pinch of sea salt.

Why Kale?

My son is in JK and with a ridiculous amount of germs floating around his classroom I am always searching for foods to build a strong wall against them – and kale is a superstar in this area. With an abundance of antioxidants (vitamin C & A) kale helps to keep your child’s immune system strong and their cells healthy. The rich source of calcium also contributes to strong bones and teeth.

Nutrition Side Note:
  • Always combine kale with a healthy oil to absorb more fat soluble vitamins A K & E
  • Avoid dairy during a meal or snack with kale as the oxalate compounds get in the way of calcium absorption
The Polka Dot Thought…KALE

Tell your kids this info before or after they try kale:

– Kale can give you superpowers against germs!

– Kale makes your bones strong.

– There is a type of kale called Dinosaur Kale



Bump to Baby

Check out Miranda’s Bump to Baby Nutrition Segments by clicking here.
There’s nothing that makes me happier as a mom (and a Nutritionist) then when my kids eat well. The Polka Dot Plate blog shows you a glimpse into my world as a mom instilling excitement and education into my four year old about healthy food.

Within the past four years we’ve been through many dietary changes. One day he loves eggs, the next day he HATES them. At two, he would happily eat sardines for breakfast (true story), but now Sardines are soooo not happening. Like all aspects of parenting, getting my son to eat healthy foods has taken creativity, thinking outside of the box, building trust, patience, communication and acceptance.

I am doing this blog because I feel that this “food exploration journey” that your child is on should be one of trust, enjoyment and individuality. It is one of the first individual connections to the outside world and the child is accepting it into their own bodies. The child must be able to express there likes and dislikes freely. Once the trust is built and they develop a healthy relationship with food it is in my experience that they will be more adventurous to branch out and discover new tastes and textures. It truly is a journey that takes time but the impact of food psychology on a child’s development makes it something all parents should take seriously.

You might have found this blog out of utter frustration because your kids won’t eat anything with a peel, or maybe the sight of anything green makes them gag. Do you think you have the pickiest eater in the world!? You’re not alone. 70 to 80% of kids fall in this picky eater category.

The struggle between you and your child to eat healthy is a common one. It can be frustrating and seem hopeless, however try not to give up, instead get inspired to transform the way they eat by switching YOUR mentality first.

If you feel stressed about feeding your child healthy or new food, this energy gets passed on to the child and ultimately to the food on their plate. Kids are extra sensitive to energy and stressed out food tastes dreadful. They want fun shapes, colorful ideas, and often an explanation of what the food is before they eat it. Kids experience foods through many senses. My son smells, licks, touches and asks many questions before consuming a food for the first time.  Try to empathize with this experience – have you tried something new for the first time lately and had apprehension about it? You might have researched it; asked many questions, maybe spoke to friends to get more info? Well this “new-feeling” comes into play everyday when you introduce “the new” with your child.  Yet, they cannot always communicate this scary feeling properly.

The energy you put into your kids diet at an early age is one of the biggest gift you can give to them. Eating well is living well. You provide your children with tools early on to thrive later in their life. With the obscene amount of packaged, processed and energy-striped foods, our kid’s health is challenged everyday. Help them to recognize real food and get excited about learning about food. They will be more apt to make healthy choices down the road.  Teaching this to your child early on helps them to make the connection between what they eat and how they feel. This is a boomerang gift back to you because this alleviates the nagging you have to do in their teenage years to slow down the junk food. When they are responsible eaters early on, they often stay that way later.

Each post will include a short video, recipe and benefits of chosen food on the polka dot plate. I’ll also include some extra tips to continue educating your kids about why they should eat healthy.

I encourage you to get your own polka dot plate or any eating tool that your child is attracted to and try these recipes and tips!

Bump to Baby

Check out Miranda’s Bump to Baby Nutrition Segments by clicking here.

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