Drinks, Health Tips, Smoothies

What you need to know about inflammation

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word, “inflammation”? For many, words like pain, damage and destruction come to mind and rightfully so.

Inflammation is a process designed to happen for our protection. It is a knee jerk reaction to an injury or an infection. Think of what might happen if this response didn’t exist. There wouldn’t be proper repair to damaged tissue and threatening germs would have their way with us. However, inflammation can only serve us well when it is kept under control, in an individual who is normally healthy.

Traditionally, relief for inflammation involves the R.I.C.E method. This method involves resting, “cooling” down, compressing and elevation of an injury. Today, several health professionals are recommending a method that is in contrast to said method, called M.E.T.H. The proponents behind this method claim that this is a way which works with the body’s defence mechanism instead of against it. The theory behind this is, when we “help” our body with a quick fix, we tend to work against it, prolonging the healing process.

Ugly Inflammation

 There are several reasons why inflammation gets ugly. To name a few, they are:

*Having an impaired immune system/chronic infections

*Consuming a diet rich in arachidonic acid (omega 6 fatty acid) and not enough omega 3

* Constant exposure to toxins (foods and environment)

*Prolonged trauma/injury

*Obesity

Chronic inflammation can lead to damaged tissues in other parts of the body and as a result could lead to health conditions such as heart disease. This can be minimized by including more whole foods like nuts, seeds, legumes and especially vegetables and fruits into your diet.

Factors that impair healing:

*Nutrient deficiencies

*Lack of sufficient protein

*Over use of effected area than is needed

NUTRIENTS TO THE RESCUE!

There is a time period in which healing from inflammation is most crucial and that is during the first six to eight weeks after an injury or infection.

By focusing on several key nutrients, will ensure that your body is well equipped with the necessary tools it needs to deal with an injury/infection. By doing this, you will minimize any further damage and speed up recovery.

TOP SEVEN RECOMMENDED NUTRIENTS FOR A SPEEDY RECOVERY

*Vitamin A

*Vitamin C

*Vitamin E

*Essential Fatty Acids (Omegas)

*Enzymes

*Protein

*Zinc

FOODS WITH ANTIINFLAMMATORY PROPERTIES

*Turmeric

*Pineapple

*Ginger

*Papaya

*Garlic

*Aloe Vera Juice

*Flax Oil

*Hemp Hearts

Here is a simple and delicious way to incorporate the majority of these ingredients and key nutrients, mentioned above:

Cool down inflammation with a tropical smoothie!

Tropical Spice Anti Inflammatory Smoothie

Ingredients:

2-3 clementines, peeled or 1 medium orange

1 cup of unsweetened coconut water

1 cup of frozen or fresh pineapple

1 cup of frozen or fresh mango

½- 1 tsp of turmeric powder (if you aren’t a fan of spice, start off with ½ tsp.)

1 tsp of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped or ½-1 tsp of ground ginger

3 tbsp of hemp hearts

½-1 tsp of stevia to sweeten, optional

Instructions:

In a high speed blender, place coconut water, ginger, hemp hearts, turmeric, oranges and sweetener. Then, add in your fruit and blend on low to get things moving. Next, turn up blender speed to high until ingredients are blended well.

Enjoy!

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Drinks, Health Tips

Beet Lemonade

This beetade is refreshing and delicious! Plus,it also helps to support your body’s detox organs. #healthywin!

Best beet lemonade ever!

If there’s one drink to reach for this spring/summer, make it this one! Lets face it, we are bombarded with a plethora of unhealthy beverage choices. These are usually skillfully marketed to make you feel that you “need” it, you just have to “have” it.I get it! So, sometimes it’s ok to indulge but why not throw in a drink choice that’s actually going to give back to your body?

Bodacious Beets

Beet Benefits

Beets have been used in the natural health care field for several years, primarily for issues in the liver. They have also been known to help in other areas along the digestive tract, such as with digestion, kidney stones, gallbladder, and in the intestines. They also help to flush out uric acid. The top nutrients found in beets are calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, Vitamin C, folate and other B vitamins such as B1, 2,3, 5 and 6. How can you pass up a drink that can fuel your body with these life giving nutrients!?!? Maybe you’re not a beet lover? Me neither! For me, that’s huge…..I like all my vegetables. So trust me when I say this is one beet juice you’ll love!

For this recipe, I used beet juice crystals instead of straight up beet juice because I find they taste milder/less earthy 🙂 If you are a hardcore beet fan or, maybe you just don’t want to buy a jar of beet crystals, you can sub them with 2 cups of fresh beet juice and then only add in 1 cup of purified water.



Beet Lemonade

Serves: 4

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 Lemons, freshly squeezed/juiced
  • 3 tbsps of beet juice crystals, I like to use Salus Red beet crystals
  • 3 cups of purified water
  • 1/2 tsp of stevia or 2 packets, I use the Wholesome brand for a milder tasting stevia
  • 2 tbsps of pure maple syrup

DIRECTIONS:

Using a large pitcher, add in all your ingredients and stir until it’s well blended.

Cheers to good health!

Health Tips, Salads

Glorious Green Salad Bowl with Balsamic Dressing

 Why Greens Should Be Included Into Your Everyday Meals

Have you seen adds or articles popping up here and there that are touting the power of green foods, lately? And it’s left you wondering “what’s up with all the popularity attached to these green foods, anyway? When you stroll down the aisle of your favorite health foods store, you’ll notice that there is an entire sections dedicated to green food supplements. Also, there are many options to choose from. Firstly, you have your land greens and your sea greens. Secondly, you can choice what form of consumption fit you best- powdered or liquid form? Maybe with all this hype, you’ve decided its time to give the greens a go. So, here’s why I think you should definitely hope on board…….

The Benefits of Green Food

Magnesium:

 The luscious green colour comes from a green photosynthetic pigment called chlorophyll, also referred as the life blood of the plant. Some of chlorophyll’s benefits are through liver support, aiding in detoxification. And, magnesium just so happens to be at the center of the chlorophyll molecule, making green vegetables a great source of magnesium. Be sure to choose locally grown, organic greens- these tend to have a higher source of magnesium because of the rich soil that they’re grown in.
Due to the over processing of food and the lack of leafy green consumption, this mineral is largely missing in a standard diet-this may be a contributing factor in the majority heart disease cases. Magnesium is also important to our muscles, especially the older ticker, our heart. Because magnesium acts as a muscle relaxer, it can help in the prevention of arterial spasms.

Iron:

Iron deficiency is fairly common in our western culture and there are many reasons why this can be happening. A couple contributors are……..one, a lack of it in our diet, especially if processed foods make up the majority of it. Number two, any underlying digestive issues-this can reduce iron absorption. Lastly, blood loss-through menstruation or through issues along the GI tract, such as peptic ulcers, IBD ( Inflammatory bowel disease), polyps and hemorrhoids.

Some of the familiar symptoms of iron deficiency are fatigue or lack of energy, hair loss and Tachycardia (an abnormal electrical response in the heart). In order to ensure that we are getting enough iron we don’t always need to turn to a steak because leafy greens can pack a good portion of our daily intake. Although certain greens contain vitamin C, it’s a good idea to include others foods that contain Vitamin C to improve iron’s absorption. You might think this seems like a daunting task but you might already be doing this without even knowing it….have you ever added peppers, strawberries, avocados, cucumbers or lemon juice to your green salad? 😉

Vitamin K:

We don’t hear as much as we should with this vitamin. It is equally important in our diets because of its blood clotting ability. Vitamin K is also an important nutrient in combination with calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D. This team of nutrients are important in the integrity of the skeletal system.

Green vegetables are known as the power house of nutrients and are at the top of the list of the most nutritious vegetables. Thankfully, we will soon be entering into a season with copious amounts of these powerhouse vegetables. Here is a recipe that is packed with greens. You can enjoy it as a meal anytime of day (maybe not for breakfast though 😉 ) or it can be brought to share at your next potluck.

The Glorious Green Salad Bowl

10 oz baby spinach

2 stalks kale, lacinato or curly kale, chopped super fine

1-2 mini cucumbers or half a large cucumber, sliced into small chunks

1 stalk celery, chopped into small pieces

2 green onions, chopped

Handful of parsley, chopped finely

 3 Tbsp hemp hearts

3 Tbsp nutritional yeast, optional

Other optional add-ins for more colour and nutrients…..

-Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Avocado, Peppers or any other vegetable you fancy 🙂

Balsamic Dressing

 ¾ cup of extra virgin olive oil

4 Tbsp of balsamic vinegar

1-3 cloves of garlic, depending on taste, crushed

 Sea salt and pepper to taste

For the salad:

Because kale is a tougher leafy green, I suggest removing the stem and then chopping the leaves into thin shreds so that it blends well into the salad. I’ve incorporated nutritional yeast into this recipe because it adds a “cheesy” flavour along with added nutrients like protein and B12. If you don’t have it on hand, this salad still tastes great!

Wash and spin your leafy greens, then pat dry. For the kale, you want to remove the leaf from the stem. Hold the stem with one hand and grab the leaves at the base of the stem with the other hand and pull up so that the leaf separates from the stem. Once you have removed the stems, take the leaves and roll or bunch them up as much as you can and slice the bunch into thin strips. Add chopped cucumber, celery and parsley. Top with hemp hearts and nutritional yeast, if using.

For the dressing:

Mix olive oil and balsamic vinegar together and pour into a bottle that can be shaken and stored for later. Add crushed garlic, salt and pepper. Place cap on bottle and shake until well combined.

Pour desired amount onto salad and toss. Once the dressing has been added, this salad should be eaten within 1-2 hours.

I hope you enjoy this nutritious and delicious salad as much as my family does. Spread the health and share it!

Healthy Treats, Smoothies

Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

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If you’re a pumpkin pie fan like myself, having a slice of pumpkin pie for breakfast has probably crossed your mind a dozen times or so 😉 And, there are definitely a few healthy pies out there that could make your dreams come true. But, if your pie is the over processed, refined sugar laden kind, I’d recommend keeping it in the fridge and saving a slice for the end of the day, after you’ve loaded up on nutrient dense foods.

 

IMG_6839Let’s turn this deliciousness into a healthy smoothie, shall we 🙂

 
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Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

1 Serving

Ingredients:

1 cup  Milk alternative (unsweetened)

1 Frozen banana, chopped

1/2 tsp. Unsulphured blackstrap molasses

3 Tbsp.  Pumpkin puree ( not canned pumpkin pie filling)

1/2 scoop Vanilla protein powder of choice ( I like to use Genuine health’s fermented vegan protein powder or Orgain’s Organic plant based protein powder)

2 Tbsp Raw pumpkin seeds ( you can add two more Tbsp if you don’t want to use protein powder)

1 1/2 tsp of pumpkin pie spice mix

 

Directions:

Place all your ingredients into a high-speed blender and blend until smooth or for 1-2 minutes.

 

 
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The ingredients in this smoothie are loaded with nutrients, even the sweetener has minerals.

Pumpkins and their seeds pack……

*Vitamin A

*Vitamin E

* Folate

*Beta-carotene

*Vitamin C

*Zinc

*Calcium

*Lutein

* Vitamin B1,2,3 & 6

*Magnesium

*Iron

*Potassium

*EFAs

*Fiber

*Protein

Click here for more information on the health benefits of pumpkin seeds.
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In good health, enjoy!!

Healthy Treats, Snacks

Trail Mix Oat Cookies

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A few years back, one of my daughters had brought home a cookie recipe from Pioneer Girls- what is that? It’s a faith based “Brownies/Girl Guides”, as I like to refer to it :). The recipe was called Spirit Cookies/Scripture Cookies and each ingredient had a bible verse to go along with it. It was really cute and I noticed that this recipe wasn’t far off from being healthy, simple and free from most common allergies. So, I decided to revamp it and make my own version……except there won’t be a bible verse for each of my own ingredients, I’m not that clever.

Since my original recipe contained gluten and honey, I set out to make batches that were either gluten free but had honey, batches that contained gluten but without honey and batches that were both gluten free and vegan. There were many, many flops-of course my kids loved theses the most, they just didn’t look like the ones in the photo (they were too flat).

Here are a few…..

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I also want to mention that for any gluten free recipe, I’ll try to avoid the majority of premade gluten free flour mixes. These premade flours usually use refined ingredients. It would be beneficial to your health and wallet if you made your own.

As much as it is beneficial to avoid certain foods for optimal health, it’s even better to focus more on what we are adding in to the diet rather than the taking away, ” I can’t have that”, restrictions. The more you add in nutritious foods, the better you will start to feel and your body will crave more of the good foods  (because they won’t taste like high sugar or high salted, deep fried card board 😉 ) and the junk will get pushed to the side, changing your mind set from ” I can’t have that” to “I don’t want that”.  And, all those foods that you used to crave and love so dearly- cookies, pizza, burgers, chips, ice cream, can be revamped and made into something that will love you back!

Let’s talk a little about how these little cookies can be the right kind of treat. We are trying to focus on adding in foods that will give your body something back or feed your cells instead of robbing them. The ingredients in these cookies as opposed to your basic cookie with high sugar, high fat, refined carb content, have more vitamins and minerals to feed your cells, stabilize blood sugar levels and leave you satisfied. When we eat foods that are lacking in nutrients, especially fibre, we feel the need to keep eating. Have you ever eaten a piece of cake or had a cookie and it went down fairly easy, leaving you a bit hungry or feeling like you could go for another piece whether it’s right away or an hour or so after?………

Here’s Why

  • Fibre and The Lack There Of:  Fibre fills you up quickly, leaving you full a lot faster. It also helps you to maintain steady blood sugar levels so that you won’t be crashing soon after a sugar spike and then left feeling tired and in need of some energy (food/sugar/caffeine). In the long run, the lack of fibre coupled with these refined carbs will foster a poor microbial environment in your gut, leading to a condition called Candida. This condition will cause you to crave more of these foods as well, and the cycle will continue if we don’t stop it.

A few things you can do to encourage a healthy microbial environment in your belly are by adding in more whole grains,starting with oats- If you haven’t already, try adding in a bowl of oats into your breakfast menu. If you aren’t sensitive to gluten, incorporate more flours like spelt in place of white flour. Spelt is an older relative to wheat and is easier to digest, especially if it has been sprouted first. Add in more nuts and seeds like raw pumpkin seeds  , flax seeds, chia seeds, and walnuts or almonds for a nutritional boost. These will help with blood sugar stability as well. If you have a sweet tooth like myself, try using a less refined sugar instead of buying products with sugar already added. This way you’ll have more control over how much sugar is going into your food. Pure maple syrup is a better choice when it comes to added sugars. It still contains some of its vitamins and minerals and thus becomes a sugar that isn’t as quickly released into the blood stream.

Ok, It’s cookie time!

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Because of their nutrient value and lower refined sugar content, these cookies would be breakfast worthy- the gluten free version is pretty much just an oatmeal bowl in the form of a cookie 😉

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Trail Mix Oat Cookies

Makes: 25-30 small cookies

Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

Cook Time: 20-30 minutes

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients:

2 cups rolled oats

1 cup spelt flour

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raw

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, raw

1tbsp chia seeds

1tbsp cacao nibs , optional

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients:

2 flax eggs (1tbsp ground flax to 3tbsp water=1 flax egg)

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted

1/2 cup unpasteurised honey or 1/4 cup plus 2tbsp of pure maple syrup for the vegan version

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

Preheat your oven to 350º F

  1. Make you flax eggs first by putting 2 tablespoons of ground flax and 6 tablespoons of water into a small dish, mix together and let it sit until it sets (see photo below).
  2. Place spelt flour, oats, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon into a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk with a fork until mixed well. Next, add in seeds, raisins and cacao nibs (if using), mix together.
  3. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, add in your melted coconut oil, honey or maple syrup, vanilla and flax eggs. Mix until it slightly comes together.
  4. Add your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. If you’re using maple syrup, you will need to let your batter sit for 5 at least minutes before placing onto a cookie sheet because this sweetener isn’t as thick as honey and may make your batter runny.
  5. Using a medium sized cookie scooper or a large table spoon, scoop cookie batter, making sure it is packed firmly and then place dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Once the cookie dough is on the cookie sheet, you might want to pack it together if some of it starts to separate.
  6. Place cookies in preheated oven and bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly golden brown. We usually bake our cookies for 8 minutes because I like mine a bit softer 🙂
  7. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Here’s what the flax egg looks like…..

IMG_3233After setting, it becomes similar in texture to an egg.

Gluten Free Version

Makes: 15- 20 medium cookies

Ingredients

Dry Ingredients:

1 cup gluten free oat flour (see note)

1 cup buckwheat flour (see note)

1 cup quick oats, certified gluten free

1 cup rolled oats, certified gluten free

1/2 cup raisins

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, raw

1/4 cup sunflower seeds, raw

1tbsp chia seeds

1tbsp cacao nibs, optional

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp sea salt

Wet Ingredients:

2 flax eggs (1tbsp ground flax to 3tbsp water=1 flax egg)

1/2 cup  brown rice syrup or 1/2 cup unpasteurised honey if not vegan

1/2 cup virgin coconut oil, melted

2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Instructions

*Note: For the flours, instead of buying pre made oat and buckwheat flours, you can easily make your own at home. For the oat flour, process rolled oats in a food processor until it is flour like in consistency- it doesn’t need to be super fine. For the buckwheat flour, place buckwheat grouts into a coffee grinder, preferably that doesn’t get used to grind coffee, and grind into a flour (it grinds up quickly).

*This batch of cookies is not as sweet as the others. If you’d like to add a bit more sweetener with out flattening the cookies, you could add in a package of stevia.

Preheat your oven to 350º F

  1. Make flax egg and set aside until it has set
  2. Place flours, oats, baking soda, sea salt and cinnamon into a medium sized mixing bowl and whisk until mixed well. Next, add in seeds, raisins and cacao nibs (if using), mix together.
  3. In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, add in your melted coconut oil, brown rice syrup or honey, vanilla and flax eggs. Mix until it slightly comes together.
  4. Add your wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until well combined. Let batter sit for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Using a medium sized cookie scooper or a large tablespoon, scoop cookie batter, making sure it is packed firmly and then place dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. If cookie dough doesn’t stay nicely packed, use your hands to lightly pack it back together without flattening the cookie.
  6. Place cookies in preheated oven and bake for 9-10 minutes or until lightly browned.
  7. Let cookies cool on the pan for 5-8 minutes until transferring to a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

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Thanks for stopping by 🙂