The Trough Blog: Finding Portions That Work for You

Definition of trough. 1a : a long, shallow receptacle for the drinking water or feed of domestic animals.

Sometimes, eating well is something you have to make work for you. Sometimes its glamorous, sometimes its seriously not. Sometimes, its just fun. The point of this post is to inspire you to get back in the kitchen and make some actual food [Read: The Death & Revival of Real Food]. It doesn’t matter what it looks like or how its put together. The point is that it is working for you.

That’s all that matters.

At the end of these words I’ll let you know how to find portions that work for you. It’s so super simple.

My friend Nikki of The Green Vanity has a fascinating dinner habit that I’ve wanted to share for a year. Says the creator of “The Trough” as its been so infamously named: “I had to find a way to create a portion that worked for me. That pan size is the perfect size for me, just the right amount of food for me.” At first it was just something we laughed about. Now she is a nightly trough creator, and it’s part of her daily life. So I met with Nikki to learn more about her technique with creating troughs (and of course, to eat one myself.)

The Art of Building a Trough


Building your trough is not a science, it’s an art.

Whatever plate or bowl that you find that is a good portion of food for you, let it work for you.

It might even be a really small bowl or plate that you know you can fill and then decide if you want to come back for seconds or not. Or it can be a big one that you layer once only. Everyone has a favourite plate :)

Our troughs were filled with amazing winter veggies. There were also meat options available for me, how kind! [Read: 5 Truths About Going Vegan] We also had a few different options for toppings on the trough to make the veggies even tastier. Omega oil blend for extra healthy fats (for our skin, nail and hair health), nutritional yeast, fresh lemon juice and sea salt or for a treat, mayonnaise.

Our trough contained the following veggies: steamed beets, green beans, sauteed broccoli and portobello mushrooms from our friends over at One Big Table. It also contained a couple vegan truffle mushroom perogies from Flavours Kitchen.


Beets - high in fiber, minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. Make sure you steam them 20 minutes or less (chop them small and leave the skin on!) or roast for no longer than an hour. If your urine reddens after eating beets, see a health care professional as this can be a possible indicator of issues with iron metabolism. Beets have amazing edible leaves that you can also steam and eat.

Broccoli - is one of my favourites this season. Broccoli is in the EWG’s Clean 15 which means it doesn’t have a high pesticide count compared to other vegetables. This means you don’t have to buy it organic to feel good about it. I love steaming broccoli and often eat it on its own or with whole grains (like quinoa or brown rice) with lemon and sea salt for breakfast, lunch OR dinner. Broccoli has a lot of Vitamin K and C in it, and many other vitamins, minerals, fiber and protein. Take care to not over-cook your broccoli, a quick steam (less than 7 minutes) is ideal for nutrient retention.

Mushrooms - mushrooms are a fantastic and versatile veggie that offer valuable nutrition for our body. They offer B vitamins, minerals, fiber and vitamin D. Mushrooms are your only source of Vitamin D in the produce section so stock up every day through the winter! [Read: Mushroom Eggs Recipe] Mushrooms also made my top 5 list for winter foods because of their powerful immune system support. [Read: 5 Winter Food Prescriptions]

Omega oil nutrition - we know fats are important in our diet. Essential Fatty Acid’s are responsible for vital functions such as cell growth and division/cell communication, gene expression and more. The body can make almost all the fatty acids it needs from other nutrients but lacks the enzymes required to synthesize either omega-3 or omega-6 essential fatty acids and therefore we must obtain them directly from our diet, hence the name ‘essential’. Experts believe some of our greatest health issues stem from a prevalence of omega-3 deficiency and the overabundance of highly-refined vegetable oils (mostly omega-6) in our food supply. It’s easy to pour this on steamed or roasted food. Don’t use Udo’s oil for cooking.

Nutritional yeast - has a delicious nutty, cheesy flavour and goes well on popcorn and veggies or whole grains; alright goes well on anything, really! AKA “nooch” is a perfect addition to any meal and provides nutrition in the form of protein and vitamins, in particular B-complex vitamins. It contains folates, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, selenium and zinc, making it a great superfood! It’s even a great source of vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 and their benefits; however, because yeast cannot actually produce B12 if it is listed on the label, that means it has been fortified with it. According to Dr. Axe, nutritional yeast also improves digestion and has antiviral and antibacterial properties.


Mayo/dressing - I am not usually a mayo eater but I have to admit I do like the taste of vegan mayonnaise - there are a few out there. For all you non-mayo fans my favourite sauce for veggies would be Little Creek Dressing (it’s my Franks’ red hot sauce!) to go on anything from salads to roasted veggies to pasta.

When your trough is ready to eat, eat slowly and mindfully and enjoy! Food is meant to be a great, happy experience. And always remember you never have to finish the whole thing, if you filled your plate too full. [Why You Don’t Have to Finish Your Plate] In Nikki’s house, the word ‘trough’ has become synonymous with a healthy, delicious dinner. It’s funny, catchy AND I LOVE IT.

What is the right portion of food to eat?

Portions don’t have to be an issue that you stress over. Let me just ERASE that. Learn your stomach’s signals and stop before you get too full. If you stop at about 80% you won’t over eat. It takes time and practice to learn this and find your sweet spot. But once you do, you’ll never again overwhelm your digestive system with too much food. It really can be that simple. Eat when hungry, stop when full.

Happy cooking!

(Our new Canada Food Guide encourages us to do more at home cooking as well as eat mindfully, and I am ALL for this! See my video about it in the Facebook group here where I do free trainings and share recipes and more.)

Hope this post has inspired you to get back in the kitchen. Want some recipe ideas for your own trough? A soup, salad, casserole, eggs or grains and veggies all go well in a trough, no matter what your trough looks like! You can find a list of all the recipes on my site in one convenient place: here!