Tis the Season to be Healthy: Gingerbread Houses

posted on December 21, 2015

Looking for a fun Holiday activity for the kids that does not involve copious amounts of sugar? Try this healthier version of a gingerbread house! (Note that I did not say “healthy” but “healthier” J).

Last night my husband had the idea that we should make gingerbread houses.  This was a Christmas tradition he really enjoyed as a child and wanted to pass it along to our girls.  But of course, mommy (aka Naturopath Mommy downer) wanted to find a creative way to engage in this fun activity without all the icing sugar and gumdrops.  After briefly looking online I combined a few ideas and decided on this version – graham cracker, peanut butter houses J.

All you need is graham cracker sheets, regular smooth peanut butter and healthy nut, seed, cereal and dried fruit toppings of your choice.  (We used coconut shavings, pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries and pretzels).

Heads up: PB is not nearly as structurally sound as icing.  It is sticky enough but does not harden so you may want to put the PB in the fridge before making the houses and store them in the fridge for a night after.

I hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Sweet and Savoury Pumpkin Soup

posted on November 3, 2015

Still have pumpkin up to your ears?  Don’t throw them out.  Eat them!

Here is another idea for consuming your Halloween pumpkin.

If you are feeling pumpkined out…substitute the pumpkin for a butternut squash.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups pumpkin (or about a 4lb pumpkin) – baked
  • 4 cups water OR Vegetable stalk
  • 1 onion - coarsely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 2 by 1 inch ginger root - coarsely chopped
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 cup apple unsweetened sauce
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 1 tsp salt for cooking and add to taste along with black pepper

 

  1. Cook pumpkin. [Preheat oven 400F. Cut pumpkin into quarters and gut the insides. Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour or until meat is quite soft.  Scoop out meat, puree in blender and store in fridge until you are ready to make your soup]
  2. Place 4 cups of water or soup stalk into a large pot. Add salt, onion, garlic and ginger and bring to boil. Simmer for 15 mins or until ginger is soft.
  3. Add pumpkin to pot and cook for additional 5 minutes.
  4. Blend, in 2 batches, soup, coconut milk, applesauce and spices.
  5. Serve & enjoy.

Recipe: Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

posted on November 1, 2015

Wondering how you are going to get through November without a Halloween candy sugar high?  Whether it is for the good of your kids’ health or yours, I suggest you ditch the candy for this delicious post-Halloween treat!

These pumpkin muffins are not just tasty but are packed with healthy ingredients.  First, and foremost is the pumpkin itself.

Pumpkin is an excellent source of Vitamin A and Carotenoids (which are precursors to Vitamin A).  Vitamin A is a powerful antioxidant for the whole body but particularly for the eyes and skin.  Pumpkin is also a great source of potassium, fibre and is low in calories.

If you are looking for a well-rounded snack, these muffins have you covered!  With the addition of some vegan protein powder, hemp seeds and nut butters, they contain a good source of vegan proteins along with the carbs of gluten free oats and the vegetable content from the pumpkin.

So, rescue your pumpkin from the front porch and make use of this wonderfully healthy and delicious squash.  Your family will thank you for it!

Ingredients: (Makes 12 muffins)

  • 1 cup pre-cooked pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 2 chia eggs (1 tbsp Chia to 3 tbsp water sit for 5-10 mins) or use 2 regular eggs for non-vegans
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4c hemp seeds
  • 4 tbsp nut butter (sunflower seed is what I used but almond and cashew work nicely too)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom
  • 1/4 cup vegan protein powder (if you do not wish to use – add ¼ cup more oat flour)
  • 1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Cook pumpkin.  I did this the night before to save time.
    1. [Preheat oven 400F. Cut pumpkin into quarters and gut the insides. Bake for 45 mins to 1 hour or until meat is quite soft.  Scoop out meat, puree in blender and store in fridge until you are ready to make your muffins]
  2. Preheat Oven to 350F.
  3. Add wet ingredients to a blender – pumpkin, milk, chia eggs, vanilla, nut butter, maple syrup plus hemp seeds.  Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth.
  4. Combine remaining dry ingredients (except chocolate chips) in a large mixing bowl until even texture.
  5. Add wet to dry ingredients and stir until all ingredients are evenly combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Oil the muffin tins with coconut oil.
  8. Distribute batter evenly in 12 muffin tins.
  9. Bake for 22 minutes.
  10. Let cool for approximately 10 minutes - if you can wait!

10. Enjoy!

Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Barley Salad

posted on November 1, 2015

Check out yet another one of my yummy recipes for fall on thenatpath.com.

Warm Roasted Cauliflower and Barley Fall Salad

Give it a try tonight!

New Recipe! Home-made Hemp Almond Milk

posted on September 14, 2015

Check out my latest recipe on The Natural Path website - Hemp Almond Milk

For those of you with dairy allergies, this is an easy recipe to make your own nutritious nut milk!

www.thenatpath.com for Dr. Cali's Recipes!

posted on June 1, 2015

Check out this wonderful Naturopath-authored website.  I was honoured to be asked to contribute a monthly recipe article.  Follow this site to see all of my upcoming recipes!

Crunchy Kale Quinoa Salad - The Perfect Summer Meal

Goodness Me! Presentation May 4, 2015

posted on May 5, 2015

Thank you to those that attended my recent Goodness Me! lecture.  I hope it gave you some new ways of thinking about foods and how they relate to your symtoms.

For those of you interested in the full presentation please click on link below.

When Good Foods have Bad Reactions: The Scoop on Food Sensitivities

Power up on this protein packed Green Buddha Bowl

posted on March 24, 2015

Spring has sprung and so has the need for “spring cleaning”.  Traditionally the warming weather is a perfect time for detoxing, however this year’s chilly climate has left most still craving the comforts of warming foods.  So let’s begin the detoxifying season with a subtle and warming start with this power packed Green Buddha Bowl (or Rice bowl).

Rice bowls often live in the realm of restaurant and take out food because, to most, the multiple ingredients and yummy sauces are intimidating.  As a lifetime rice lover, I have indulged in a variety of creations but this is my go-to, easy peasy recipe that I can’t get enough of!

For those of you that are vegans, you can relate to the constant need to keep up protein counts and this recipe can add a lot to your day! For those of you who are not vegan, these easy-to-digest vegetable proteins can offer you a break from heavy meats.  It also has the subtle detoxifying power of lemon juice, cilantro, kale and ginger!  Best of all it is super yummy…which is the most important piece.  So this chilly spring, warm up on this!

Ingredients: (Serves 4)

2 cups of washed uncooked brown rice

1 package of Organic firm plain tofu

1 can of chickpeas – rinsed and drained

1 red onion – chopped

1 cup fresh cilantro – de-stemmed and chopped

2.5 cups of organic kale (or one head) – chopped

1 tbsp avocado oil (or appropriate cooking oil)

4 tbsp hemp hearts

 

Sauce:

1/3 cup tahini

2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari

2 garlic cloves

1 tbsp (or 1.5 tbsp) chopped ginger

juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp water (can add more if too thick)

 

  1. Cook rice according to instructions
  2. Combine all ingredients of the sauce in a blender or mini food processor.  Blend until creamy uniform consistency.  (Add extra water for thinner consistency). Set aside.
  3. Heat avocado oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add tofu, chickpeas and red onion. Cook until onions become translucent.
  4. Turn down heat to low add kale and cilantro, over for 3-5 minutes until greens start to appear a deeper green (or leaves just starting to soften). Do not overcook greens.
  5. Serve rice, cover with stir-fry, add sauce and top with 1 tbsp hemp seeds
  6. Enjoy!

 

 

Nourishing Nettles Soup

posted on June 3, 2014

So far this year our CSA (Community Shared Agriculture) has brought us an abundance of leafy greens!  One of those greens is Stinging Nettle, which can be a tricky one to work with.  As the name suggests, it “stings” you if you touch it bare handed.  So, how do you prepare this stuff in to something edible?  Cook it! (And protect your hands with the prep!)

Before I get into the recipe, there is something to be said about Nettles.  Although it has the potential to bite you, the nutrients and health benefits are well worth the risk!

Nettle leaves are known to be rich in vitamin A, calcium, magnesium, manganese and iron.  It is especially high in vitamin K (a very important vitamin for bone health and blood clotting).  Many would call it a nutritive plant because of its nutrition profile.

Nettle is also quite the healing herb.  Its historical use for health conditions ranges widely and includes anemia, fatigue, allergy relief, arthritis and inflammation, digestive disorders, skin conditions and tonification of female organs.

Our farm provided a wonderful recipe for a nettle soup adapted from www.foragerchef.com.  I have adapted that recipe even more to make it more accessible for my family.  Give it a try!  Kids love it too!

 

Nourishing Nettles Soup

Ingredients: (As always, try to use organic)

3c of nettle leaves (if you have a high powered blender you can try it with stems)

3-4c of baby spinach

1 large or 2 small russet potato, diced

1 large white onion, diced

2 clove garlic, chopped

4c homemade, chicken or vegetable stock

2 tbsp coconut oil or unsalted butter

sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

DIrections:

  1. Sautee onion and garlic in the coconut oil with a pinch of sea salt for a few minutes or until translucent.
  2. Add stock and simmer.
  3. Add potatoes and simmer until soft.
  4. At the same time bring large pot of water to a boil. Blanch the nettles and spinach by dropping them in water for 30 seconds and then remove, placing them in a bowl of ice water. (this brightens the greens and preserves the nutrients).
  5. Once potatoes are soft add simmering potatoes with broth and greens to high-powered blender and process until smooth.

Enjoy!!

Recipe for the month: Kamut pasta with greens and creamy sauce

posted on April 24, 2014

Who says you can’t have creamy decedent sauces while watching your waistline?  Well, the vegan Naturopath says you can!

I was looking for something comforting while detoxing and this creation definitely fit the bill.   It is hearty, full of nutrient dense foods and, most importantly, delicious!

I hope you enjoy it as much as my family did.

Ingredients:

-       kamut pasta (Great vegan source of protein. I used tricolor)

-       ½ head of organic kale – washed and coarsely chopped

-       1.5c mushrooms – sliced

-       1 medium sized onion – sliced

-       1 tsp thyme

-       1 tbsp avocado oil

Sauce:

-       ½ head cauliflower – cut into large florets

-       1c cilantro

-       1 can coconut milk

-       ½-1tsp of salt and pepper (or to taste)

 

  1. Cook Kamut pasta.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Boil water and add cauliflower. Cook until cauliflower is soft – approx. 7-10 mins.
  3. Heat pan with avocado oil.  Add kale, onion, mushroom and thyme.  Cook until veggies are just soft.  Turn heat on low and add the pasta.  Mix to warm.
  4. Place cooked cauliflower in a blender.  Add cilantro and coconut milk.  Add water to thin out if necessary.  Add salt and pepper.
  5. Serve the pasta with greens and cover with the creamy cauliflower sauce.
  6. Enjoy!

Spring Cleansing

posted on March 31, 2014

It has been a long and bitter winter and, at last, the season of change is upon us.  No better way to give your body a break from those hearty winter comfort foods than to embark on a spring detox!

 

When most people think of detox diets they think of restriction…avoid this, avoid that.  And although this is important to cleanse the body, what is equally important is what you do eat!

 

Here are a few fabulously detoxifying foods that you can enjoy in plentiful quantities to help restore and boost your immune and detoxification systems.

 

The GREEN goodies:

  • Asparagus – Ahh, the perfect side veg! It boosts your liver function and is protective for many chronic diseases.
  • Kale – high in antioxidants and wonderfully anti-inflammatory.  Excellent for your kidneys.
  • Broccoli – increases liver metabolism and protects the liver
  • Artichoke – increases bile to purge toxins.
  • Avocado – Worried about the fat? Don’t.  This fruit is packed with monounsaturated fats…the good stuff!
  • Dandelion greens – powerful liver tonic and can be sued to treat liver conditions
  • Green Tea – loaded with antioxidants, called catechins, and nutrients galore.  Studies show it is protective for heart disease and cancer and can aid weight loss.  Want a super charged green tea?  Try Matcha powder.

 

Nothing is more awakening for the body than CITRUS:

  • Lemon – helps flush out toxins and aids digestion
  • Grapefruit – thrust the liver into action mode for super detoxification

 

Get to the ROOT:

  • Ginger – cleanses the body by stimulating digestion, blood flow and sweat
  • Garlic – rich with sulfur, it can push heavy toxins out of the body
  • Turmeric – one of the most studied herbs for its powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties. Promoting of all detoxification systems

 

Looking for a great detoxifying start to your day?  Try this breakfast smoothie

 

The Green Get-Up

Ingredients: (try for organic if you can)

  1. 1.5 leaves of kale
  2. 1 tbsp shaved ginger (if you have a high powered blender, just put a 1 inch cube in)
  3. 2 tbsp Hemp hearts
  4. 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  5. ¼ avacado
  6. ½ apple or banana to sweeten
  7. 2-3 ice cubes
  8. cover with water or half water half hemp or almond milk

Optional – 2 tsp of real maple syrup, matcha powder instead of avacado

If one of these ingredients doesn’t appeal to, just leave it out J

 

Blend to oblivion and enjoy!

Go Nuts for Coconut Balls!

posted on February 22, 2014

Looking for something sweet but also so healthy?!?  Well, chew on these - Raw Coconut Energy Balls! Yummmm... For those of you with sensitivities, they are gluten free, dairy free and vegan (and for those of you without sensitivities, don't let that turn you off! I swear they are excellent!)

I discovered a similar recipe a few weeks ago and I have made them so often since, that I have changed the recipe to my liking.  Coconut, cocoa and almonds...the perfect treat to quench that sweet craving :)  Great for the whole family!

Ingredients (for approx 20 energy balls):

  • 2 cups gluten free oats
  • 1 cup organic shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/3 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup dry roasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup chia seeds (can use flax seeds)
  • 1 tbsp organic pure cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsps unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/3 cup almond butter
  • 1/3 cup organic agave
  • Optional - for an added energy kick - add 1 tsp maca root powder

Directions:

Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl, mix well.

Add almond milk and mix.

Add agave syrup and warmed almond butter.

Mix ingredients together.

Create balls out of mixture by packing handfuls back and forth between your hands, until molded into tight balls (about 1 ½ inches in diameter).

Place ball into a storage container you can put in the freezer.

Repeat until all mixture is all used up.

Store in the freezer for 2-3 hours. Serve cold.

Enjoy!

If your hubby is like mine - these will be gone in no time!

Creamy Cauliflower Cilantro Soup *vegan

posted on February 10, 2014

My apologies...I have been blogless for almost a year!! Wow!  A year goes fast...

2013 just flew by as I have been busy with the new love of my life, my sweet little daughter!  She is now 6 months and starting foods!  I can't believe it.  Inspired by her purees, I made this flavourful and warming cauliflower soup.  Yummmm... Comforting and soo healthy all in one bowl.

2014 has brought us heaps of snowy weather so get cozy and warm up with a hearty bowl of soup!

 

 

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower

1 onion med to large size

1 parsnip (peeled)

4 cloves garlic peeled

1 tsp rosemary

1/2c chopped fresh cilantro

1 can coconut milk

Salt and pepper to taste

 

  • Chop cauliflower, onion and parsnip into large pieces
  • Add it plus garlic cloves and rosemary to large pot.
  • Cover veggies with water (approx. 5c)
  • Bring to a boil
  • Cook for approx. 15-20 mins or until veggies are soft
  • Scoop cooked veg into blender (may have to do in 2 batches)
  • Add fresh cilantro, salt and pepper
  • Add 1/2c water from pot and ½ can of coconut milk – repeat with second batch.  Add more water to reach smooth creamy consistency
  • Serve hot and enjoy!

You Are What You Eat

posted on March 9, 2013

In my practice I use a variety of treatment methods, but none as important as diet and nutritional counselling.  I believe that what we consume on a daily basis is more fundamental to health than any other single health regimen.  Cancer and heart disease are Canada’s leading causes of death by far (1) and both are modifiable and preventable by diet and lifestyle.

What I urge to my patients is that we can only be as healthy as what we expose our bodies to.  One of the most influential exposures that we can control is food.  So, not only do I believe that we are what we eat, I try to live my life by it and advocate my patients do so too.

The expression “you are what you eat” was introduced in the early 1800’s.  It does not imply that one day you’ll wake up looking like a piece of fried chicken (then again, you may feel like one); the phrase purports the simple meaning that to be healthy, you have to consume good food (2).  Although this concept is not lost on our generation, the simplicity of it has become…complicated.

With the media constantly preaching words like: “organics”, “super-food”, “natural”, “omega 3s” and “antioxidants” our perception of good food has changed.  Our actions can become so motivated by these words that we forget about the food on the inside of the box.  An organic, omega 3 fortified cookie is still a cookie.

So when you are ready to take on a healthier diet, don’t get caught up in all the buzz, go back to basics. Eat real, wholesome, unprocessed food! If the foods you are buying contain a lot of non-food ingredients, put them back on the shelf.  The best foods for us don’t have a label.  You get the most bang for your buck with foods that contain nutrients naturally and abundantly; and you can find them in your grocery’s produce section.  Put simply, to quote one of my favourite food authors, Michael Pollen, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” (3).

If we are what we eat, than I strive to be kale.  What would you like to be?

Immune System Ready...Set...Protect! 10 Ways to Stay Healthy this Season

posted on October 14, 2012

It’s that time of year again – cold and flu season!  Is your family prepared with strong immune systems?  Here are 10 easy tips to keep your entire family healthy and bug-free by boosting your immune fighting potential.


1. Steer clear – avoiding infection is the first step.  Wash your hands frequently especially before and after meals, using the bathroom, contact with someone who is feeling ill or after touching public fixtures and surfaces.  And do your friends a favour by keeping your germs to yourself by frequent washing while sick and not touching others. Avoid antibacterial soaps and gels as they may allow bacteria to build resistance (and they really dry out your skin).
2. Produce, produce, produce – One of the best ways to keep your immune system healthy is through a healthy diet and fruits and veggies are your best choice.  They contain a rich source of antioxidants which protect and repair cell damage.  This helps keep your immune cells robust and ready for action when exposed to infection.  When looking for the most antioxidant-rich produce remember the deeper the colour the more nutrition.  Stock up on the deep green, purple, blue, red, orange and yellow foods to get plenty of Vitamin C, E and beta-carotene.  Mix in some nuts to get your Zinc and Selenium too!
3. Dump the Junk – Stop suppressing your immune system with junk food.  Foods high in sugar (refined or even natural sugars) can halt your immune cell function leaving you susceptible to incoming infection.   1 tsp of sugar can reduce your active immune cells by half....which is only a couple of candies! Also, the heavy fats of chip snacking can diminish the strength of the immune system by igniting inflammation. (Mom and Dad, monitor and moderate the Halloween treats!!). 
4. Ain’t no sunshine when D’s gone – Or is it, “ain’t no D when sunshine is gone”?! Vitamin D (which we create in our skin from sun exposure) is a critical vitamin to our immune defence because it actually helps activate immune cells.   Those deficient in Vitamin D have less capacity to fight infection and get sick more often.  And guess what? Many Canadians are not only low but very deficient due to our short summers and low sun exposure.  Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D (fish is your best source) so you may want to think about supplementing vitamin D especially for the fall/winter months.  Consider a liquid supplement that the whole family can use which has superior absorption.  Talk to your doctor about dosing for the whole family.
5. Keep mucous in check – when you are sick and full of phlegm you should consider avoiding dairy products.  Milk and Dairy are mucous producing and can cause a heavier phlegm; which not only feels icky, but allows more infection to breed.  It can also have a suppressing effect on the immune system too.  If you are looking for a way to clear the mucous, consider a nasal lavage such as a Neti pot or Saline nasal spray to clear out your nose and sinuses.  You can also try a facial steam by breathing in the vapour of a hot bowl of water to loosen up the congestion.
6. Keep active – Although it is the time of year when most want to curl up in front of the fire, being active can possibly increase immune cells.  Recent studies note that those who engage in heart-pumping exercise most days of the week have a fraction of the colds of those that are inactive.  If you don’t have time to go to a gym, put your boots and snow suit on and play with your kids in the snow!
7. Rest to protect – Sleep not only rejuvenates your body and mind, but your immune system too! A lack of sleep can lower your immune potential by decreasing your defensive white blood cells and inhibit production of immune-enhancing compounds that are released during sleep. Don’t wait for the flu to knock you out...get your sleep now to keep your immune system healthy.
8. Calm those nerves – Stress is a major contributor to all disease and has a direct relationship with immune system impairment.  When stress is high, cortisol from the adrenal glands is also high and cortisol has a suppressing effect on your immune system.  As a double whammy, when the adrenals become tired, they can no longer support your immune system to function effectively.  Although stress can be unavoidable, it is all about how we deal with it.  If you are finding you are more “on-edge” than normal, explore appropriate ways to de-stress (ie. Yoga, meditation, exercise, walking the dog, reading etc).
9. Friendly bacteria? – Who would have thought that putting bacteria in the body can keep infection away?  By now probiotics (aka. good bacteria) are a regular health food buzz word, but what do they actually do?  A healthy bacterial flora lines all of your mucous membranes and helps, not only to keep bad bugs out by blocking them, but to actually improve the immune system response.  A deficient flora can leave you susceptible to infection, therefore supplementing with probiotics or increasing your fermented foods may be beneficial to keep your immune system healthy. 
10. Herbal help – Nature has provided some excellent herbs to heal our body.  After years of historical use, research has finally caught up and highlights many which support and boost the immune system.  Consider botanicals such as Astragalus, Schisandra, Golden Seal, Eleutherococcus, Echinacea and even Garlic to name a few. Although, they are mainly safe, your doctor can help you determine which are appropriate for you.


For more information on what you can do to defend yourself, consider seeking the advice of a Naturopathic Doctor.


Yours in Health, Michelle Cali, ND

 

Summer Greens and Edemame Salad - A Big Hit at BBQ's!

posted on July 22, 2012

I have made multiple variations of this salad for a number of gatherings and it is a hit everytime!  It can be a healthy complete meal on it's own or as a side.  Try it out!

  • 1 cup organic edemame shelled (you can buy frozen shelled organic beans at your local health food store or in your grocery's organic section)
  • 2 cups cooked and cooled organic quinoa
  • 1/2 sweet onion diced
  • 1/3 english cucumber diced
  • 3 cups organic greens mix chopped
  • optional - add avacado

Dressing (it's the secret to this simple salad!)

  • 1/3 cup oilve oil
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1 tbsp of seedy dijion mustard
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 3/4 cup cilantro
  • 2 galic cloves chopped

Cook the edemame (boil in water for about 5 mins).  Add it to quinoa and mix in a large bowl.  Add all other salad ingredients to bowl.

Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and blend until well mixed.  Mix dressing with salad right before serving. Enjoy!

Optional alternatives for a new flavour:

  • replace edemame with chick peas
  • replace quinoa with barley or wild rice
  • replace cilantro with fresh basil
  • replace lime juice with balsamic vinegar

Treat your taste buds and your body to this salad tonight!

Skin Awareness...Acheiving Your "Healthy Glow" Can Lead to Cancer

posted on June 20, 2012

Summer is officially here (although it feels like it has been here since March this year) which is all the more reason to consider your skin health.  In Canada, we experience so many months of darkness, we can’t wait to break out our summer gear and soak up those bright rays; but as the sun gets stronger, I warn you to proceed with caution (or perhaps, not proceed at all!).


Skin cancer is on the rise, including the very serious and most deadly skin cancer, Melanoma.  This is a cancer that affects all ages, genders and races but has a higher affinity for those of light complexion, eyes and hair.  This means, the most common people looking to "get their tan on", are at the highest risk!  Currently, one in 74 individuals is affected with Melanoma. If caught too late, they can lose their lives to this aggressive, terminal cancer.  The worst part is it very preventable!  By limiting your sun exposure and using safe and effective sunscreens you can prevent the damaging skin changes that are caused by sun radiation.


Did you know that only one severe sunburn can double your risk of Melanoma?  Also the use tanning beds (even if sporadically) has also been associated with dramatically heightened risks.


Watch this poignant video of Canadians affected by Melamona.


Skin Checks


You know your body better than anyone else, so don’t depend on someone else to find a suspicious lesion.  Perform regular skin checks and monitor those freckles, moles, lumps and bumps.  Get to know your ABCDE(FG)`s of melanoma signs:


• Asymmetry
• Borders (irregular)
• Color (variegated),
• Diameter (greater than 6 mm)
• Evolving over time


For Nodular Melanoma watch for


• Elevated above the skin surface
• Firm to the touch
• Growing


The skin is the largest organ of the body and is just as important to your overall health as any other organ. Don’t let it be too late before you think about your skin health and sun behaviour!

Talk to your ND about safe options for sun protection.  The higher the SPF is not necessarily better for you although it offers more sun protection.


The information here was adapted from The Melanoma Network of Canada. For further details check out http://melanomanetwork.ca.

SHAKE up your morning...and add some GREEN energy!

posted on April 23, 2012

Don’t have time for a healthy breakfast?  How about a one minute wonderful drink that is commuter approved?!
My go-to breakfast fruit shake has been saving this “most important meal” for the 2 most common classes of breakfast people – the over carb-ers and the skippers.
As all of my patients know, I am keen on a great nutritional start to the day.  If you have a blender and about 60 seconds you can make a healthy breakfast! And it includes a serving of veggies that you won’t even know is there – I promise!
Although I would rather you eat your breakfast in a peaceful place overlooking the sunrise, I know this isn’t possible for most of us...so throw this breakfast into a commuter cup and take it on the go if you have to.  I approve.
This is my tried, tested and true solution to achieving great nutrition and a satisfying flavour in your breakfast.
The Breakfast Shake:
The basics:
  • ½c frozen Berries (I like variety – strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries but any berry will suffice)
  • ½ or whole banana (depending on how sweet you want it)
  • ¾ c Almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • Add water to just cover the fruit
  • One handful of organic baby spinach
  • 1 dash of cinnamon
The options:
Feel free to add any of the following...
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (vegan or whey)
  • 2 tsp nut butter
  • ¼- ½ avocado
  • 1 tbsp flax seeds
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 scoop of greens powder
  • Switch up the fruit from time to time – freeze some oranges, tangerines, pineapple slices, peaches, mangos etc and add frozen to shake
I challenge you to try this and not love it!  Step aside bacon, fruit coming through!

Spring Cleaning...for your Body!

posted on March 27, 2012

It is a time of renewal and life’s new beginnings.  With the start of a new season and the warmer weather it is the perfect time to shed some winter storage.  Although your closet may need an overhaul, your body has been accumulating garbage too – toxins!

According to Asian Medicine Theory – Spring is a perfect time for the body to detox.  It is the season of the liver, our detoxifying organ.  We are also better able to handle the cooling detox foods such as fruits and vegetables.

Detoxing does not have to be a rigorous long-term process.  You have to consider what is appropriate for your body based on your state of health and life exposures.  Working with a Naturopathic Doctor can help you determine what is appropriate and best suited to you. Many find that detoxifying the body increases energy, enhances mood, improves digestion, aids weight loss programs and much more!

What does a typical detox involve?

A typical detox can involve any or a combination of the following:

  • Dietary modifications – following a clean and wholesome diet
  • Supplementation for Liver support
  • Reducing environmental exposures
  • Physical activity
  • Castor oil packs
  • Skin brushing and hydrotherapy

Getting Started

Ask a Naturopathic Doctor how to detox safely and effectively.  All detox’s are not safe for everyone.  It may not be appropriate for some conditions and medication regimens. A Naturopathic Doctor will design a detox program that is right for you. 

Basic Suggestions include:

  • Avoiding refined sugars
  • Avoiding food preservatives, additives and heavy pesticides
  • Drinking greater than 2L of water per day and minimizing coffee intake
  • Reducing chemical exposures in the home (most commonly through household cleaners and detergents)

Recipe: Delightful Dobi, A New Winter Classic!

posted on February 1, 2012

For Christmas this year I received the wonderful gift of good food – a cookbook.  The author, Troth Wells takes you on a global vegetarian journey in his book, “One World Vegetarian Cookbook”.  The other night my husband picked a definite tummy pleaser that we gave 5 stars!  It was super easy, quick, extremely nutritious and DELICIOUS!

Dobi is a staple veggie dish from Zimbabwe usually served with maize (or ugali – a corn based meal).  Even if you are not a huge fan of veggies, the addition of a small scoop of peanut butter makes this dish truly savoury and full of flavour! We enjoyed it atop brown rice (as ugali is something I only experienced in Kenya).

I have adapted the recipe to our liking.  It is definitely worth a try!  Great pick hunny!

Dobi – Spinach and Tomato

Serves 2; Prep 10 mins; Cooking 10 mins

Ingredients:

1 onion, chopped

8-10 mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves of garlic, chopped

4-6 fresh tomatoes chopped (or 1 can of tomatoes)

1 tsp Thyme

1 tsp basil

1 tsp Rosemary

½ fresh green chilli de-seeded and chopped (OR a great trick is to use ½ jar of spicy salsa for the zip!)

3 cups of spinach (can substitute chard) chopped

1-2 tbsp natural peanut butter (smooth)

Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Fry the chopped onion and mushrooms in a cooking oil until soft
  2. Add tomatoes, garlic, herbs and season to taste.  Add the chilli or salsa.  Simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Add spinach.  Simmer until tender.
  4. Add peanut butter (start with 1 tbsp and then add more to your taste).  Stir until PB is evenly mixed.
  5. Serve over brown rice or quinoa.

ENJOY!

 

Walk it Off in 2012

posted on January 17, 2012

Happy New Year!  As we move into a new year many of us contemplate the most common, most nagging, New Year’s resolution – getting fit (or losing weight or feeling more comfortable in our skin!).  Well, I am going to go out on a limb and say that the “no pain, no gain” strategy may not be the best approach to getting back in shape.  If exercise did not make it into your daily routine in 2011, a great place to start is with something we could all do a little more of – walking! 

Create Goals with a Pedometer

Most people think that exercise has to be a certain amount of time devoted to physical activity only, but can I suggest meeting your walking goals throughout the day? Investing in a pedometer (which, these days, does not require more than a few dollars) can help you track your daily steps and give you immediate feedback on your accomplishments. If you haven’t come across one before, it is a small device, like a watch that sits on your hip. Pedometers provide ongoing data to help you plan out the rest of your day...How can you fit walking in your day make your step goals?  Whether it be running to meetings or walking to the grocery store, there are many opportunities to take more steps! A recent review1 of 26 studies indicated that those who used a pedometer had higher activity level, decreasing body mass index and lower blood pressure.

So, the question becomes, how many steps are enough? To determine your individual goal, start by logging how many steps you get in a regular day and then add 2000-3000 steps for your daily target.  This adds about an extra 30 minutes of walking a day or just 10 minutes of jogging.  10,000 steps is a common goal and a great one to work towards but studies show as little as 6000 steps per day is associated with decreased mortality. 

To help with motivation, start a pedometer challenge with colleagues, family or friends.  It is a great way to promote health and gain walking buddies!

So start your engines and walk it off!

1Using Pedometers to Increase Physical Activity and Improve Health: A Systematic Review. Journal of the American Medical Association, Nov. 21, 2007.

Are beauty products only skin deep?

posted on November 23, 2011

It isn’t common that one looks at their skin care regimen as a health matter…but we need to start exploring what we are feeding our body from the products we put on our skin.  Skin is our largest organ of absorption and transport.  What we put on the outside of our body can be transported inside.  Look at your face wash, shampoos and creams…are those things you would put in your mouth?  Likely not; but beauty product chemicals are not only getting in your body, some are staying there and wreaking havoc.   The problem is knowing which ones are the really bad ones….

The David Suzuki Foundation lists the nasty cosmetic chemicals in this article: 'Dirty Dozen' Cosmetic Chemicals to Avoid.

Movie Plug: Forks Over Knives

posted on November 22, 2011

The movie Forks Over Knives has us thinking about getting back to our roots…in plant-based foods!  This documentary follows patients’ pursuit of a whole-food diet in place of processed foods and a high protein, high fat animal-based diet.  It also highlights the impact of our SAD (Standard American Diet) in our health as a society and reviews outcomes of massive research projects (like the China Study). 

Bottom Line: Most degenerative diseases (especially our number one killer – Heart Disease) can be managed or reverted by adopting a whole-food diet. 

Check it out!  The official movie website

D is for Defense! Vitamin D and the Immune System

posted on October 23, 2011

It`s that time of year again; cold and flu season...and the kids are coming home with more than homework.  An optimal immune system is your best defence against any bug and recent research is highlighting a key role for Vitamin D. 

Vitamin D has long been known as a regulator of calcium and, thus, is an important vitamin for bone health.  But vitamin D has far reaching benefits including boosting your immune function.  New research suggests that Vitamin D directly interacts with multiple immune cell types to modulate their function in an immune response1-2.  For our T (killer) cells, essential in the fight against serious infections, Vitamin D is responsible for changing them from dormant to activated fighter cells.  This confirms why those lacking in vitamin D face an increased risk of infectious disease and why supplementing is actually protective3.

Being that the main source of vitamin D is from sun exposure, deficiency is a very real issue for us Canadians.  It is during these cold and dark months that we get minimal sun exposure.  Even on sunny winter days, our skin exposure is inadequate to absorb enough D.  In 2010 Statistics Canada published results of a population-wide survey on Vitamin D status of Canadians.  It revealed that greater than half of Canadians do not have adequate levels known to prevent chronic diseases (like cancer) and 4% were at risk for serious deficiency syndromes such as rickets (causing serious bone deformities)4

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin.  This means that it can accumulate in your body so, although it is rare, overdosing is potentially an issue. 

So, what can you do?  Most adults are safe to supplement Vitamin D at a level of 500-1000IU per day. However, it is more important to find out your own Vitamin D status so you can supplement appropriately to obtain optimal levels.  The current recommended daily intake of 600IU will not replete a deficiency.  Sometimes short-term high dosing is necessary to get your body back on track. 

Talk to your Naturopath about getting your sunshine vitamin to boost your defenses.  They can provide Vitamin D testing and guide you on how to achieve adequate levels. 

  1. Bikle D. Vitamin D and the immune system: role in protection against bacterial infection.  Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2008 Jul;17(4):348-52.
  2. Baeke F, Takiishi T, Korf H, Gysemans C, Mathieu C. Vitamin D: modulator of the immune system. Curr Opin Pharmacol. 2010 Aug;10(4):482-96. Epub 2010 Apr 27.
  3. Urashima M, Segawa T, Okazaki M et al. Randomized trial of vitamin D supplementation to prevent seasonal influenza A in schoolchildren. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Mar 10
  4. Langlois K, Greene-Finestone L, Little J, Hidiroglou N, & Whiting S. Vitamin D status of Canadians as measured in the 2007 to 2009 Canadian Health Measures Survey. StatsCan  Health Reports 2010:21(1)

 

Veganism – A Naturopath’s journey to kind eating

posted on October 21, 2011

As a Naturopathic Doctor my idea of a healthy diet always involves a balance of nutrition and enjoyment. Food is such a big part of our lives that enjoyment is not only necessary but key to long-lasting diet improvements.  Over the years I have come to realize that, for me, enjoying food goes beyond nutrition and flavour, it starts with food production.  This has fuelled my recent efforts to embark on a vegan lifestyle.

Veganism is described as a lifestyle that abstains from the use of animal products.  You may be thinking that, as a Naturopath, it must be natural to be vegan for the health benefits.  It is true that vegans, with a very high vegetable diet, reduce their risk of many conditions and diseases.  A vegetable-rich diet has long been known to manage a healthy weight, and lower the risk of almost all major causes of disease including heart disease and cancer.  Vegetables provide a great source of fibre, antioxidants and a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. Also, by consuming less meat, you may be reducing your saturated fat intake, and decreasing your exposure to a number of toxins, hormones and traces of pharmaceuticals.  Sounds good right? Well, in addition to benefitting your own health, changing to a vegan lifestyle can also benefit the health of our earth.  Raising animals for food, dairy and eggs has quite the impact on our earth.  Although this ecological impact has been threatening us for years, public awareness is becoming more prominent.  A recent publication put out by The Environmental Working Group (EWG) along with CleanMetrics Research exposes the heavy “footprint” that animal farming creates in terms of greenhouse gases. As our earth gains in population and our individual demands increase (especially in North America), a major shift in how we look at food is necessary. [FYI Check out “Meat Eaters Guide to Climate Change and Health” - www.ewg.org/meateatersguide]. 

With all of that being said, I still haven’t gotten to why I decided to become vegan – to pay homage to all the creatures that walk this earth with us.  Being an animal lover my whole life, I have always gone out of my way to create distance between animal meats for consumption and animals that roam the land or sleep in our beds.  I chose not to think about what happened before those pleasantly packaged meats showed up on our store shelves because I could not stand the thought of a suffering animal or critter or the fact that I may be supporting it. (My mother would verify this with a story about the ant log we set on fire while camping when I was a child...My screams as the ants came running out of their smoking ant holes still concerns her to this day).  The more pets I had, the more I became aware of their emotions.  Although some may say that I humanize these emotions, what is undeniable to any dog owner is the pep in their step when they hear the word “walk” or the solemn look on their face with the word “no”.  This got me thinking about farm animals...and with the onslaught documentaries specifically on factory farming in the past decade, I didn’t need my imagination to understand that animals are indeed suffering. 

For me, this was enough to educate myself on veganism.  After much reading I realized that this was a new and potentially challenging lifestyle, but one that I could be on board with while aligning my values and eating habits.  I have found joy in believing in something and following through on it every day.

Understand, I am not against the consumption of meat nor do I want meat-lovers to shy away from becoming informed. I respect the natural food chain and in fact, I am hoping that recent movements will promote a more natural farming industry.  I am a strong supporter of the ethical farming movement. 

However, as a Naturopath I do believe that many of us consume more meat than necessary – driving the increases in meat production.  So I challenge you to find joy in trying new food selections of the vegetarian/vegan variety.  Whether you agree with veganism or not, increasing your veggie intake can benefit your health and our earth!

Here is a veg recipe that I love.  Feel free to try it or make your own delicious version to help kick-start this challenge in your life:

QUINOA TABOULEH – Michelle’s yummy favourite!

A wonderfully healthy dish – full of colour, flavour and fabulous nutrients!  Eat as a side salad or add cooked beans and/or tofu to make it a hearty meal.  One of my new favourite dishes everyday; and while on detox. 

What you will need:

  • 1c organic quinoa
  • 2c water
  • ½ English cucumber – diced
  • 2 roma tomatoes seeded and diced
  • ½ small red onion - minced
  • 3 stalks of green onion – chopped
  • 1 ½ c loosely packed minced fresh parsley
  • 1c minced fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Zest of 1 lemon rind
  • 1/3c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or add to taste)
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper (or add to taste)

To make:

  1. Wash quinoa thoroughly to remove bitter white coating, then rinse and drain
  2. Cook quinoa
  3. Rice cooker (easier!) – add washed quinoa and water to rice cooker and turn on!
  4. Stove-top – bring water to a boil in medium pot. Add quinoa nad reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all water absorbed (leave lid on as much as possible - about 20 minutes).
  5. Place quinoa in a large bowl and set aside to cool and dry (put in fridge or freezer if wanting to cool faster – that way you can skip step 6 if wanting to serve immediately). 
  6. Add to bowl: cucumber, tomatoes, onions, parsley and cilantro.
  7. To make dressing: whisk together oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Pour dressing over salad and toss well to combine.
  8. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
  9. Serve chilled.

Enjoy!

Healthy Tip: Eat for the Season

posted on August 2, 2011

Eating for the season can be beneficial for a number of reasons.  Consuming summer grown foods in the summer are more nutritious, have better taste and can lower your grocery bill.  For Canadians it is the best time to explore a nearby farmer’s market and eat locally.  According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, eating light and cooling foods will optimize your body’s functions as your body adapts to our hot summer weather.  Foods to enjoy this summer: fruits like strawberries, raspberries, apples, pears and plums; vegetables like summer squash, broccoli, cauliflower and corn; and herbs like peppermint and cilantro.

Taking Health Naturally - Why see an ND

posted on August 1, 2011

Ask yourself – “Do I feel healthy?” or “Can my health be improved?”

Many of us walk around with a clean bill of health or a ‘managed’ condition, yet still feel that something is not quite right.  From nagging colds, digestive discomfort to just feeling drained, there are subtle everyday occurrences that can wear us down and may even be a sign that something is starting to go wrong. 

This is where alternative healthcare can play a significant role in your health.  Naturopathic Medicine is one way to address your health from a comprehensive and natural perspective.  From acute to chronic symptoms, there are many natural ways to optimize your health and even prevent future conditions from arising.  

Naturopathic Doctors are primary care physicians that are extensively trained in a number of natural therapies.  These include: diet and lifestyle counselling, botanical medicine, clinical nutrition, hydrotherapy, homeopathy and traditional Chinese medicine and acupuncture.  This allows you and your Naturopath to explore a number of options best suited for you.

With growing consumer demand of Naturopathic Medicine, many health insurance plans even cover the cost of visits.

Why see an ND to guide your self-care

Today, with an influx of media claims for the latest and greatest therapeutic food or nutritional supplement, living optimally and naturally can be overwhelming and confusing.  After a thorough health history intake, a Naturopathic Doctor can help you determine what will be of most benefit to your body and how to incorporate such things into your life.  This way you can approach your health from an informed point of view.  This emphasizes one of Naturopathy’s guiding principles, “Doctor as Teacher”.  

Beyond sorting through all the claims, this is also a matter of safety.  Due to various medication regimens and health conditions not all natural products or foods are for everyone.  Therefore, it is important to consult a professional before embarking on a new regimen – even if it seems like a healthy one.