Archive for optimal health

a salad a day july

A Salad A Day July - nu roots nutrition

Monthly resolutioners, are you still with me? Look at all we’ve accomplished so far…

Have you noticed how we have been alternating between lifestyle and nutrition goals? Well this month, it is time for this super foodie to strip it down to the basics. We need veggies people, and lots of ‘em! I find enforcing the “minimum of one big salad per day” rule extremely helpful in ensuring I (and baby) receive the 5-10 cups a day we are supposed to be getting. Plus, it’s summer (er…sort of), time to stock up on raw veggies while they are abundant and exactly what our bodies tend to crave right about now, just start listening. Sometimes your body says “spinach” and you hear “Twinkies”. Whoops! Talk about mixed messages… ;)

Although I must admit, even I get bored of the same old, same old when it comes to salads. So I am going to do my best to boost up the creativity in the salad department this month and share with you some of my (hopefully) fabulous creations.

Here are some tools I use to create wonderfully complete and delicious “salads as meals”.

The Salad Builder

The most common complaint I get about salads is, “they don’t fill me up”. Being married to a man who eats his weight in food every week, I’ve learned to come up with ways to boost it up with things like nuts, seeds, grains and superfoods to fill you up and make sure your body will be more than satisfied! Unlike when you eat a Twinkie and are starving again minutes later…

Use this ‘Salad Builder’ as a guideline when creating your salads, it will help to ensure you are getting the right mix of carbohydrates, healthy fats, and protein to make a salad a sustaining meal.

  • Greens (at least one) – kale, spinach, arugula, green leaf lettuce, romaine lettuce basil, cilantro, parsley
  • Veggies (at least 3) – broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, carrots, sun-dried tomatoes, green onion, red onion, celery, bell peppers, etc.
  • Grains (optional) – quinoa, millet, buckwheat, brown rice
  • Nuts (optional) – almonds, brazil nut, walnut, pecan, macadamia nut, cashew, etc.
  • Seeds (at least 1) – hemp seed, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed, sesame seed
  • Protein (optional, but recommended) – beans (any cooked or sprouted), organic & free range meat and/or cheese (chicken, bison, hard-boiled eggs, turkey, goat’s cheese, etc.), tempeh, nuts, seeds, etc.
  • Fats (at least 1-2 tbsp) – cold pressed, virgin oils (flax oil, hemp oil, olive oil), olives, avocado
  • Edible flowers (optional) – nasturtium etc.
  • Sweeteners (optional) – dried fruit (raisins, goji berries), fresh fruit (pears, strawberries), unpasteurized honey, pure maple syrup

Me, eating flowers in the garden

Dressing staples

Keep some of these around the house to mix and match and make your own salad dressings that are fresh, additive free, healthier & cheaper than buying pre-made store bought dressings. Just shake em up in a jar and pour on top of your salad right before you eat.

  • All natural Dijon mustard
  • Bragg’s soy
  • Unfiltered apple cider vinegar (or other vinegars)
  • Miso paste (gluten free if needed)
  • Tamari (gluten free if needed)
  • Fresh lemons, juiced
  • Healthy oils (flax, hemp, sesame, toasted sesame, walnut, extra virgin olive, etc.)
  • Spices & herbs (fresh or dried)
  • Nutritional yeast (dairy free, cheesy tasting substitute – full of energy boosting B Vitamins)
  • Garlic
  • Fresh ginger
  • Hot sauce (Franks, etc.) or cayenne pepper (stimulates metabolism)
  • Green onion
  • Pickled onions (just put thinly sliced onion is apple cider vinegar and salt and they’ll pickle within 5 minutes!)
  • Pure maple syrup or unpasteurized honey (small amounts)
  • Kelp powder – a seaweed superfood! (or sea salt)

Now let’s get our salad on!

Happy July…can you believe it is already July?

Sam

yoga june

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Hello fellow resolutioners! I am so sorry for the delay in this post, I have already got started on my June resolution, but haven’t had the chance to fill you in yet. It seems difficult to pull myself away from the beaches in Spain to get some work done these days….yeah, it’s a spoiled brat kind of problem, but I apologize nonetheless!

Yoga! YAY! I am stoked about this month’s resolution. I’ve been an sporadic wanna be yogi for years now, but it is one of my fave physical activities that has been as good for the mind as it has been for the body. My problem – I am a little inconsistent my muscles are super tight so if I go a week (or even a few days) without it I stiffen right up and feel I have to start from scratch. I have done only one yoga challenge in the past, it was 30 days of 60-90 minute classes…and it was an absolutely amazing month! I’ve been meaning to do another ever since, so here we go!!

This month’s yoga challenge includes:

  • A minimum of 30 minutes of yoga (or whatever stretches I can get this growing belly into) daily. I am aiming for at least 3, one hour (or more) classes per week and a mini home session for the other days.

I plan on combining going to my prenatal yoga classes (in Dutch – I’m lost for most of it), using yogaglo.com (which is fabulous for all types of yoga, all levels and all lengths of time) and my own repertoire and mishmash of poses my body feels like doing. Hip openers seem to be a daily necessity for these ever expanding baby bearing hips.

A great start for new yogi’s would be a simple 7 sets of sun salutations first thing in the am. The beauty of this is that it costs nothing and can be done from the comfort of your own home.

Let’s get into why you should be participating in this month’s challenge…

Benefits of Yoga

  • increased flexibility
  • increased strength
  • decreased stress & anxiety
  • more mindfulness, living in the moment
  • connection of mind and body
  • consciousness of breath, decreased respiratory rate, which means lungs function more efficiently
  • there are also a whole slew of potential health benefits for conditions such as cancer (increased red blood cells and less nausea during chemotherapy), depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia, fatigue and mood
  • reduce heart rate and decrease blood pressure (therefore decreased risk of heart disease)
  • increased circulation therefore increased nutrition and oxygen to organs for healthier skin and brain
  • decreased pain, especially back pain – a complaint of 80% of North America
  • weight loss – yoga can actually help reduce binge eating and control your eating habits
  • decreased menopause symptoms, studies show less hot flashes in menopausal yogi’s
  • decreased asthma symptoms
  • anti-aging
  • and the list goes on….

Benefits of Prenatal Yoga (for all you other soon to be mama’s)

Make sure you are always doing safe prenatal poses (some are not recommended and can be harmful), I highly recommend taking a class or using yogaglo‘s online prenatal classes during this time.

  • learn breathing techniques to help during labor (deep breathing keeps adrenaline down, high adrenaline during labor may mean less oxytocin, which is needed to help labor progress naturally and can prevent the need for pitocin, the synthetic version used to induce labor)
  • learn pelvic floor exercises to prepare you for child birth and boost postpartum recovery (maintaining muscle integrity ‘down there’)
  • decreased back pain
  • classes increase the opportunity to meet a like-minded supportive community
  • squatting can shorten the birth canal by 30% (but dont practice after 34 weeks or it may induce labor)
  • it may help flip a breech baby or get your babe into an ideal birthing position making labor “easier” and reducing the need for medical intervention

I hope you choose to continue to follow along this month to reap these benefits and tell me all about how amazing you feel.

Resources:

to supplement or not to supplement?

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Is it necessary? If so, what do you recommend and why?

These are the supplement questions most commonly asked, and often debated by clients, friends, family and the like. Here is my attempt to answer them to the best of my ability, of course in my own opinion. I hope that you can take this information and decide what is best for you and your family, but please do your own research. We must take health into our own hands and learn how to decipher through the copious amounts of conflicting information.

To simplify, yes, I do believe supplementation is necessary and highly recommended. Now I know you are going to want more information than that…so here’s how I came to this conclusion.

Why do we need to supplement? Don’t we get what we need from food?

To begin this convo I need to dig deep, right down into the soil! You see we get nutrients from food, yes, but the food needs to get them from somewhere – the soil. Therefore soil quality is incredibly important, and we are extremely dependent on the soil. Let’s take a look at the “ideal” world vs. reality today as far food and soil quality are concerned.

An Ideal World

  • We have several feet of top soil
  • We rotate our crops as to not deplete the soil of the same nutrients year after year
  • Each year the soil is replenished with compost and manure to ensure nutrients are being returned to the soil
  • The soil retains all 50+ minerals required to maintain healthy plants (food) and therefore a properly functioning human body
  • Plants are healthy, not requiring too much human intervention
  • Crops are grown organically (without chemical fertilizers and pesticides)
  • Food is picked when ripened by the sun
  • Food is eaten just after being picked
  • Food does not undergo heavy processing or too much heat
  • Food scraps go back into the compost pile
  • Our bodies are satisfied having received the nutrients it requires, we are healthy
  • The cycle continues…

Reality Today

  • We have a mere 6” of top soil
  • Most industrial farms use mono-cropping (one crop, year after year), which depletes the same nutrients from the soil, without rotation or replenishment
  • We use chemical fertilizers to “replenish” soil, unfortunately they mostly only contain Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium…only 3 of the 50+ minerals that plants and humans need to be strong and healthy
  • Plants become weak without proper nutrients to allow them to grow
  • Bugs come and attack
  • We use chemical pesticides to attack the bugs
  • Often times we use genetic modification so we can use more chemical pesticides
  • Food is picked before it is ripe
  • Food is often ripened artificially with chemicals during transit
  • Food travels hundreds or thousands of miles to get to the grocery store
  • Food is processed (stripped of what little nutrition remains), packaged, then more chemicals are added to preserve
  • Food sits in grocery store waiting to be purchased
  • Food sits on our counters or in our fridge before consumed
  • We eat nutrient depleted, chemical infused food
  • We are still hungry, our bodies having not been nourished with the vitamins and minerals they require
  • We eat more nutrient depleted, chemical infused food
  • The cycle continues…
  • Eventually we become overweight, under nourished and sick

Wowza, that was quite the depressing road I just took you down! Okay, you may think this is an extreme version of reality today, but really – is it that far off?

Very few of us (if any) can realistically live in the “ideal world” scenario I described, perhaps unless you are living solely off your own land (ahh, the dream…one day). Even if we are eating 100% organic food, how far has it travelled to get to you? Was it from a small scale farm where crops are rotated or is it “big box organic”? Was it ripened in the sun? Do you eat it right away? You see how there are SO many factors to consider the nutrient quality of modern day food…it’s really enough to make your head spin.

Top nutrition scientists and Naturopathic Doctors featured in the movie Food Matters (a highly recommended must watch) say that if you have sub optimal nutrient levels you can eat raw veggies all day, but you still wont replenish nutrient deficiencies from the past. Therefore in the case of sub optimal nutrient levels (reality today), or worse – deficiencies, supplementation is required.

This brings about a whole new point….can we get by on “sub optimal” nutrition?

Many nutritionists and other natural healers believe that the deficiency of nutrients can contribute (or cause) disease, therefore replenishing these nutrients (among other treatments) can bring the body back into balance and sometimes can even reverse disease. The body is quite amazing at continuing to function with sub optimal conditions for an extended period of time, but in reality this is just setting the stage for disease as we grow weaker.

RDA’s (Recommended Daily Allowances)

But this glass of orange juice says I am getting 100% of my daily requirements for Vitamin C, why would I need more?

RDA’s were designed to help prevent diseases of nutrient deficiency. For example the RDA of Vitamin C is 60mg/day, therefore if we were to receive at least 60mg of Vitamin C/day we should prevent scurvy (the Vitamin C deficiency disease).

Us nutritionists look at these RDA’s as the MINIMUM WAGE OF NUTRITION. Personally, I don’t want to earn minimum wage, nor do I think my body deserves the bare minimum. Early hunter gatherers are believed to have consumed at least 640mg (10x or current RDA) of Vitamin C/day, and many believe we need much more than that to achieve optimal levels. Some Naturopathic Doctors have used upwards of 100,000mg (1667x the RDA) of intravenous Vitamin C for cancer treatments.

As far as I am concerned, when it comes to myself and my family, I’m aiming for OPTIMAL NUTRITION (or as close as I can get). Therefore we do what we can to ensure we consume high quality, local, organic food that is minimally processed AND we still supplement what I would call “the essentials”. (Check out an Optimal Daily Allowance guide)

What supplements do you recommend and why?

My basic supplement regime or “the essentials” that I often recommend to clients (and take myself, even during pregnancy) looks a little something like this:

Note: these are all taken DAILY for maximum effect.

A high potency multivitamin & mineral (during pre-conception, pregnancy and lactation this would be a high quality prenatal vitamin) – We just aren’t getting enough from our food, did I make that point clear yet? :P A good quality, hi-potency multi usually consists of any where from 2-8 pills/day, not 1. It is impossible to get even the bare minimum from a one-a-day.

I often recommend professional line (or health food store) products, as drug store and grocery store brands are cheap for a reason. They usually contain forms of vitamins and minerals that are synthetic or poorly absorbed (low bio-availability), for example Calcium Carbonate is a cheap source of Calcium with a low bio-availability, meaning we don’t absorb it well (if at all). Microcrystalline hydroxyapatite (MCHC) is a more expensive, but much more easily absorbed form of Calcium. Each vitamin and mineral can come in a variety of forms making it oh so difficult to determine the quality of a good multi, but worth the time and effort, it’s your money, your health.

Probiotics – These are the good bacteria that literally build our immune system. They help us to absorb nutrients and can even help us make vitamins! Many of us have taken antibiotics in the past without having replenished the good stuff, nor do most of us eat enough fermented foods. These are especially important during conception, pregnancy, and lactation because baby’s gut (and even brain) health depends on mommy’s gut health. 10-20 billion cfu/day from a high quality source that is kept in the fridge.

Vitamin D – The “anti-cancer” nutrient almost NONE of us are getting enough of. Years ago even I was shocked to find out my levels were sub optimal and I’m a sun loving, non sunscreen wearing (luckily I don’t burn), whole food eating nutritionist! At least 2000 IU/day is recommended for most, during pregnancy as well.

Omega 3’s (preferably from fish oil) – We aren’t getting enough in the typical western diet (are you noticing a theme here?). If you are eating lots of packaged foods then you are likely consuming a diet high in Omega 6’s. Unless you eat a lot of wild, cold water (ideally low mercury) fish, then you probably get very little omega 3’s to balance out the 6’s. Fats are a really complex topic that deserve a post all on it’s own. Bottom line, many of us are omega 3 depleted and they are SO important for health (blood pressure lowering, anti-inflammatory etc.) that supplementation is highly recommended. The bonus is you will see the effects in your skin and hair almost immediately. 1 tsp – 1 tbsp per day of a high quality fish oil (again you get what you pay for here) ensure it is tested for mercury and processed minimally.

What about ALL the other supplements on the market?

There are SO MANY amazing supplements on the market (and conversely, some crappy ones too), many in which I use or have used in the past, but each and every one of us is different. We require different supplements, for different purposes, in different doses from different companies. This is when you need to seek out your favorite holistic nutritionist, Naturopathic Doctor or other open minded natural health care practitioner to develop a supplement regime that is unique to you. (PS – I’m more than happy to help! And offering 20% off if you book in May or June, 2012)

I hope this helps you get started in your journey towards optimal health! I would love to hear your thoughts, questions and comments below. I will do my best to answer, but I cannot answer individual health questions without having done a proper intake (of course you are always welcome to book a private session).

Links and Resources

Supplement companies I like:

*again I stress the importance of individuality, but I just KNOW you are going to ask which companies I recommend often

Professional (see your ND’s or nutritionists for these ones)

Health Foods Store

Other Great Resources

going organic

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Health savvy moms have you gone organic? Have you felt unsure of why or what it is that you actually get when you purchase something organic? Well you are not alone so we thought we should enlighten you on the matter.  The definition of organic foods are foods that are produced using methods that do not involve modern synthetic inputs such as pesticides and chemical fertilizers, they do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) and are not processed using irradiation, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives (Wikipedia).  Meaning that there is less ‘stuff’ in your produce, they typically contain more nutrients and taste a whole lot better. Plus did you know 60% of herbicides, 90% of fungicides, and 30% of insecticides are known carcinogens (cancer causing)?

Genetically modified foods are becoming more and more prevalent in our grocery stores.  The definition of a genetically modified food is organism whose genetic material has been modified by genetic engineering. For example it’s like inserting a gene from Arctic Char (a fish) into a strawberry so that it doesn’t freeze in the winter (hmm, our bodies aren’t used to fish with our strawberries, perhaps this isn’t such a good idea!). Common foods that predominately come GMO are corn, soy, canola, rice and cotton seed oil and unless otherwise specified (ie: labelled organic or non GMO) are probably GMO. Going organic is a way to ensure that what you are eating has not been genetically modified in any way. If the thought of this makes you uneasy, perhaps it is time to contact your MP and start demanding mandatory GMO labeling.

So what are the Canadian standards on what is considered at Organic product or produce? Here is an outline on organic product from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency:

  • Only products with organic content that is greater than or equal to 95% may be labelled as: “Organic” or bear the organic logo.
  • Multi-ingredient products with 70-95% organic content may have the declaration: “contains x% organic ingredients.” These products may not use the organic logo and/or the claim “Organic”.
  • Multi-ingredient products with less than 70% organic content may only contain organic claims in the product’s ingredient list. These products may not use the organic logo.

The fact of the matter is that organic farms have stricter guidelines then non-organic which ensure that health remains a top priority.  Organic farms are also far more sustainable making this an environmentally friendly decision. Protecting the quality, and volume of our top soil means protecting our life on this earth. Sadly, soil is diminishing at an alarming rate and we must do all we can to prevent this situation from getting worse. Eating organic also usually means we are helping to support smaller, local farms, and protecting the health of our farmers.

So what are the benefits? Organic produce tends to be higher in nutrients due to the quality of the soil they are grown. Most chemical fertilizers contain only nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. The elemental composition of the human body contains 26 minerals and unless we are taking supplements we need to get these minerals from food! Organics also tend to have higher anti-oxidant content such as flavonoids and polyphenols.  We need high levels of antioxidants in our diets to help combat all the free radical stress that our body endures, thus organic food helps our body heal more effectively.  Not only that, but organic produce tastes better, those nutrients give the food we eat flavour.

A study conducted looking at children who consumed a higher diet of non-organic versus organic that they had six times higher amounts of Organophosphorus (OP).  It has been indicated in other studies that chronic exposure to this pesticide may affect neurological functioning, neurodevelopment, and growth in children.

For those who want to go organic but feel it may be expensive here are a few rules for you to ease into the organic food world:

  • Follow the dirty dozen and clean fifteen rule.  These are lists that have been developed to identify which fruits and veggies are the safest to buy non-organic and those that absolutely should be organic as they are susceptible to the most contamination.  We have included these lists for you in case you were unaware however a good rule of thumb is that if you eat the skin or the produce in its entirety then it should probably be organic.  If it has a hard or thick casing then the chemical agents are less likely to penetrate the food making them a safer non- organic purchase.
  • If there are certain foods that you and your family eat all the time then these are the ones that you should consider making organic first.
  • If it is good enough for your children it’s good enough for you.  We have had so many moms tell us that they have a separate menu then that of their children because they are so passionate about giving their children the very best but fail to do that for themselves.  Lead by example of what a healthy diet is, they are watching what you are eating and how you are treating yourself.  Eat well, you deserve it!

Here are the dirty dozen, our additional “must buy organics” and pretty clean fifteen:

Dirty Dozen

  • Apples
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Imported Nectarines
  • Imported Grapes
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Blueberries
  • Domestic Potatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Kale/ Collard greens

Our important additions to the dirty dozen

  • Animal meats, eggs and dairy products – Organic meats are free from antibiotics, pesticides and hormones.  The animal is not fed genetically modified grain and are never fed animal by-products.  Also these animals have freedom to be outside making this a more humane (and cleanly) practice.
  • Baby food – Infants are more sensitive to pesticides due to the vulnerability of their nervous and immune systems.
  • Coffee – It is one of the most heavily pesticided crops on the planet, buy fair trade & organic if possible.
  • Tomatoes – As many as 30 different chemicals are sprayed on tomatoes, not to mention they are often genetically modified as well.
  • Soybeans & other soy products (milk, tempeh, tofu, miso, lecithin) – Almost always genetically modified.
  • Wheat – Often genetically modified. Also note that up to 75% of the germ may be removed from items labeled as “whole wheat” in Canada.
  • Canola – Often genetically modified.
  • Peanuts & Peanut butter – Peanuts absorb a large amount of toxins from the soil and can contain a mold called aflatoxin, a dangerous carcinogen (Goodbye Kraft, Jiffy and any other non-organic PB’s, plus these usually contain sugar and hydrogenated fats, the worst of the worst!!)
  • Bananas – Try to find fair trade organic bananas instead, as they are often shipped from long distances and sprayed with chemicals along the way to help them ripen.
  • Rice – Since many tend to eat so much of it, it is important to buy rice organically grown. Buy in bulk at health foods stores to save on packaging and cost.

Pretty Clean 15

  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapple
  • Avocado
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Sweet peas
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplants
  • Domestic Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Cabbage
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Mushrooms

Going organic is an important step in improving our health and food quality.  The food that we eat can be healing, as food is medicine, but we need to ensure that the food we eat is what nature intended.  We know that a common concern is its cost, but if you look around the grocery stores these days a growing number of organic foods available are very close in price to the non-organic option.  Furthermore, their are other costs that one must factor in such as your health, and the health of the planet. “Those who do not make health a priority now will have to make time for disease tomorrow” ~Unknown.  Food is healthy or harmful and small changes that you make today can impact your health and well-being positively in the years to come.

In great health & happiness,

Dr. Michelle Peris ND and Samantha Peris, Holistic Nutritionist

my resolution revolution

Meditation

my resolution revolution

As a holistic nutritionist and a person who is always striving to better myself, the world and the lives of those around me, instead of a traditional resolution, this year I’ve opted for 12…er…I guess it’s 11 now. It’s probably not what you think. I’m not going to do them all at once, but rather I have decided to implement one healthy habit per month that I will complete everyday for that month.  Experts say it takes 21 days to form a habit, so I’m putting that to the test.

First off, you start one month later than everyone else! As a chronic procrastinator I am usually one step behind, but hey no time like the present! Besides, I was busy moving across the world Dec 30th…okay, I will stop with the excuses.

Actually, I was inspired by my brilliant sister, Dr Mom ND and her “Live Like You Give a Damn” project, where she is taking on 12 healthy habits she recommends to her patients and leading by example.

So what do I expect to get out of this? My intention is not to become a master at all 11 resolutions, or maybe not even 1. It is simply to be open to something new, something positive and something I have wanted to implement for some time. My goal is to see and feel what effect these practices have on my mind, body and soul and, hopefully, afterwards I will continue to practice at least some on a regular basis. That’s it – no guarantees, no overwhelming pressure, just try it and see what happens.

February: daily meditation

This is a tough one for me. I have tried to meditate many times in the past, but without much success. Nearly every attempt I’ve made, I’ve either been quickly distracted by incessant, rambling thoughts, or I get cold, or there is some obnoxious song repeating itself over and over in my head. It usually isn’t long before I just give up.

So why meditate at all? For one, studies have shown that it reduces all kinds of stress (physical, emotional, psychological), improves health in so many ways, boosts fertility, enhances immunity and slows down the aging process, to name just a few of the benefits. (For more, read this awesome article by Food Matters). I have known about the advantages of meditation for years and have often recommended it to clients, so now it is about time that I start taking my own advice.


So what is meditation anyway? Meditation does not necessarily mean siting with your legs crossed, fingers together, singing “hum-men-a hum-men-a, hum-men-aaaaaa”. It can be as simple as sitting in a quiet space with your eyes closed, or even open, and beginning to rid your mind of the constant chatter. As the saying goes, “you control your mind, your mind doesn’t control you”. But for most of us living in this overstimulating, often chaotic world, this simply isn’t the case.

Over the course of this new year, please join me in implementing month-long healthy habits (even if you are focusing on a different habit than I). I would love to hear how they are changing your daily life, for better or worse. I plan to write regular updates about my journey – the ups and downs, the challenges and the changes, so please check back regularly and send me your feedback in the comments section below.

Happy meditating…hum-men-aaaaaaaaa!!

 

Helpful links:

Benefits of meditation & sample guided meditation

Yoga Glo – unlimited online yoga and meditation for just $18 US/month.

 

sam’s fave superfoods

goji, maca root, raw cacao, spirulina

Let’s face it, nearly every superfood is my “favorite” something or other…I may be a little over enthusiastic about them, but honestly, they are in fact really super. In general they are all known for their high antioxidant content, their ability to aid in detoxification, boost metabolism and help us maintain a healthy body weight. Note: some of these are what I would call “hardcore food nerd” superfoods, you are going to have to find these bad boys at health food & superfood shops…I may however post an “everyday grocery store superfoods” post soon though!

It was hard to narrow it down, but here we go:

  • Raw cacao(chocolate): Ok this one was obvious if you know me. Raw cacao has not been heat treated like commercial cacao powders, and therefore retains WAY more nutrition. It is the highest natural source of anti-stress mineral Magnesium, and a source of iron. You can get it as nibs (the whole bean crushed), a powder, or raw cacao butter for your skin or chocolate making. I can go on and on about this one (and I do in my 2 hour raw chocolate making class), but you really cant go wrong with raw cacao (sounds like kuh-kow):
    • most delicious food ever – check
    • 30x more antioxidants than blueberries – check
    • wonderful to add to smoothies, breakfasts, desserts or nearly every meal or snack – check
    • brings me joy like no other food on the planet – check
    • ‘nuff said!
  • Spirulina, chlorella, or other blue green algae: I call these my “whole food multivitamins” they are so nutrient packed that one tsp is like 2-3 servings of veggies for antioxidant content. I put 1 tbsp in my smoothie daily (you can start with less if the bright green colour freaks you out, but once you feel the energy this food provides, you will get over the alien-like appearance).
  • Coconuts: Young coconut water, raw coconut flakes and/or virgin coconut oil tend to make their way into my diet on a daily basis. Ok so maybe it is no where near “local” for us Canadians, but it sure is one of the healthiest foods on the planet. It is true that coconut oil is primarily saturated fat, but this kind of saturated fat is actually good for us! It is great for cooking as it can take more heat than polyunsaturated fats. It also boosts metabolism and kills yeast in the body. Young coconut water is a perfect electrolyte drink, so perfect it has been used for blood transfusions!
  • Hempseed: A fab source of our ever so important essential fatty acids (omega 3’s & 6‘s). Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, blood pressure reducing and hormone balancing. We need more 3‘s North America, so eat up! Use hemp seed on your breakfast, in smoothies, drink hemp milk or sprinkle on salads. They are an excelled vegetarian source of protein with loads of fibre to boot.
  • Chia seed:Yep, the same seed we used to plaster on ceramic animals and stick in the window sill (ch-ch-ch-chia). One word says it all – REGULAR. Seriously my fave source of fibre, the good kind that helps pull toxins out the body and well, ensures a regular morning visit to the can. Another fabulous benefit of chia is that it helps to regulate blood sugar (type 2 diabetes is on the rise every year). Try it in smoothies, on breaky or in water with fresh squeezed lemon (just shake it up before you swig).

    hemp, chia and flax seed

  • Unpasteurized honey: Loaded in B-Vitamins, our energy spark plugs, raw enzymes to help us digest and the taste is unsurpassed by any other sweetener (in my opinion). Use as a sugar sub by using 1/2 to 3/4 cup honey per 1 cup of sugar in your recipe, and reduce other liquids in the recipe by 1/2 cup per 1 cup of honey. It is also a natural anti-microbial and is great for coughs & colds. Please don’t feed to kids under 1 for risk of botulism.
  • Goji berries: They look like little red raisins, but pack a nutritional punch. Again, crazy high in antioxidants and for this reason have been used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for thousands of years. I eat them by the handful, in trail mixes, in my breakfast porridge, or even throw them in my water or tea.
  • Golden berries (Incan berries): The highest protein berry (16%). They are tart yet sweet, making them the best healthy substitute for sour candies. I prefer to eat them solo, but many others enjoy them in a trail mix or with other dried superfood berries.
  • Maca root powder: A fabulous hormone balancer, libido booster, fertility enhancer, also used for strength and endurance for athletes (or the Incas back in the day). It comes from the cruciferous veggie family, a root similar to a radish that is dried, then ground to a powder. Again I would throw 1 tsp – 1tbsp in a smoothie, or add to raw chocolate bars.
  • Kelp: Seaweeds are our highest source of iodine, which runs the thyroid and boosts our metabolism. They also help to pull heavy metals like mercury out of the body. I find the easiest way to integrate seaweeds into my diet is by sprinkling a little kelp powder into savory sauces, dressings and soups. We only need a little bit every day.
  • Matcha green tea powder: I was only going to do 10, but I couldn’t leave out the all mighty matcha. Matcha is powdered green tea leaves, with TONS more antioxidants than regular steeped green tea. It also boosts metabolism, keeps cholesterol in check, regulates blood sugar, detoxes and alkalizes the body. I try and start nearly every day with a delicious nut milk (usually almond) matcha green tea latte, add a few drops of french vanilla liquid stevia (a zero calorie, all natural sweeter)…deeeee-lish!

Stay tuned for more ideas and recipes on how to use these glorious foods.

Also check out David Wolfe, superfood guru, for additional info via videos and books.

I’d love to hear about how you use your fave superfoods below :)

the importance of exercise

samrunning

I’ll be the first to admit that up until recently, like maybe 4 months ago, I was pretty lazy. Sure I was athletic as a kid, but for the past 15 years or so…you might’ve accurately described me as a bit of a couch potato. Which is odd because my husband’s previous career was in personal training, a service I would’ve had access to for almost 6 years but never took advantage of. I am a bit stubborn, and being a nutritionist maybe I wanted to prove to people that all it takes is a healthy, wholesome diet to maintain a healthy body weight (which, ahem, I have proven to myself for the past 4 years). And to be honest, I do still strongly believe diet is 80% (if not more) the key to health. But I have to confess, I have never felt so good as I have in recent months, and I have exercise to thank. Perhaps it was the wedding looming over my head that sparked the interest in taking it to the next (i.e. first) step, but I must say there is no going back from this point on.

I am (or was) not a strong runner. In fact, I used to run for 15 minutes, huff and puff, stop and walk home. But I am proud to announce that I have since graduated from rookie to intermediate runner! My husby (he doesn’t understand why most people say hubby) and I successfully run about 6km with 4 sets of 146 steps (“the stairs” to fellow Canmorons or “ites”?) and upper body exercises in between about 2-3 times per week now. Each time we go out he pushes me to try one more set, even if it means just walking the steps (he continually pushes himself by hopping by one leg, or piggy backing me up!). And today, as much as I don’t want to admit it, a man who must’ve been 65+ in jeans, a button up shirt and dress shoes showed me up! He mentioned he frequently does 7 sets (at a faster pace than myself I might add). I threw that in there for those of you who think age means you cannot exercise like us youngin’s.

So I may not be an expert, but here are some of my best tips for getting started:

  • Get a buddy – find someone around the same fitness level as you, or a bit stronger to help push you, and make a plan to exercise together and keep each other motivated. And if you are someone’s buddy, show up! Don’t cancel last minute on your buddy or it wont be long until this system fails to work.
  • Start slow – no need to run a marathon your first summer of getting into shape. Start with where you are at, even if that means walking for 20-30 minutes a few times a week. Just make sure to continue to increase time, intensity or frequency if you intend on improving.
  • Have a goal – make it realistic, find out where you are at now and strive for something achievable. If you can run 3km now, try for 5 km by the end of next month.
  • Be consistent – the number one lesson from my very personal trainer (ha). The success of your exercise regime is not about going out and killing yourself 5 days a week, but rather working at an intensity that is reasonable and still enjoyable for yourself a few days a week. You may, in time, feel a need to increase intensity, duration and frequency, or you may not. Either way, just make sure you’re getting out there regularly.