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!

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Health Tips

Pumpkin Seeds for Prostate Health

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As we say goodbye to October and all it’s beauty, be sure to hang on to those pumpkins that you forgotten to gut and carve-maybe even rescue a few that haven’t been sold?! Why you might ask. Well first off, even though we are headed into the Christmas season,  the ‘all things pumpkin spice’ train is still traveling through this month and second, you have some nutrient gold sitting out at your front door….pumpkin seeds!

 

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Now that we are heading into November, a month that is bringing more awareness to the effects cancer has on all the men in our lives, I wanted to do a post that could provide a  bit of info on prostate cancer prevention because my motto is  “prevention is key and knowledge is what puts that key into your hand”.

One particular food that kept coming up as I was doing research was pumpkin seeds. There’s a powerhouse of nutrients packed into these little seeds! The majority of these nutrients have a role in protecting against cancer.

Most of us have heard the word antioxidants floating around, some might not know what it is that they do or what nutrients belong to the antioxidant family but they know they need them in their diets. In a nut shell, no pun intended 🙂 antioxidants help to fight free radicals from wreaking havoc in our bodies. Free radicals are an atom or molecule with an uneven number of electrons in its valence shell. These molecules are unstable and roam around destroying our healthy cells in their quest to find another electron. Antioxidants come in and neutralize the destructive molecule by giving it the electron it needs. Our bodies naturally produce free radicals just by functioning. The problem lies when we are producing too many and end up being left unchecked. Too much cell damage leads to many diseases, especially cancer.

 How to Avoid Free Radicals

*Minimize stress

*Avoid cigarette smoke

* Avoid or try to limit chemicals and toxins  in your diet and environment ( buy locally grown organic produce, start substituting your personal care products and house hold cleaners with natural ones).

*Eating a healthy diet, one that includes a variety of whole foods such as vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and seeds- these are all loaded with antioxidants

 

 Antioxidants That Fight Prostate Cancer In More Ways Than One

ZINC: 

*Boosts testosterone levels

*Can aid in shrinking an already enlarged prostate by getting rid of excess DHT (dihydrotestosterone)

VITAMIN E:

*  Combination of E & selenium have been found to significantly lower the incidences of prostate cancer in men. Selenium also increases vitamin E absorption

 

Like all the other plant foods, pumpkin seeds also contain phytochemicals or phytonutrients. Phytochemicals are a natural compound found in plants. These compounds help the plant to fight off disease. They also help us by working with our body to protect it against disease. There  are different classes of phytochemicals in the plant kingdom, each having a unique part in the fight against disease which is why it’s important to eat many different varieties of plant foods.

Pumpkin seeds have a mild flavor and can be added into your bowl of oatmeal for a bit of crunch or added to your smoothies like some of these green smoothies!

 

 

 

Sources:

Murray, Michael. N.D. and Pizzorno, Joseph. N.D. with Pizzorno, Lara. M.A, L.M.T. Encyclopedia of Healing foods

Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Dietary Wellness

Haas M. Elson, M.D. with Levin, Buck, PhD, RD Staying Healthy With Nutrition, The complete Guide to Diet And Nutritional Medicine. 21st Century Edition

 

Health Tips

Signs and symptoms of a microbial imbalance and small changes that can help you to restore optimal balance.

Do find yourself constantly feeling unwell and unsure of what’s going on with your health? Doctors visits leave you without answers because most tests have come back normal? You convince yourself that this is your new normal, hoping that things could get better….

If you are suffering with several of the following symptoms, it could be that you have an imbalance of good and bad bacteria.

*Fatigue

*Constant cravings for sugars and other refined carbs ( this could also be a blood sugar issue)

*Frequent skin rashes or itchy skin and ears

*Abdominal pain

*Bloating

*Diarrhea, Constipation

*Recurrent UTI ( urinary tract infections), or vaginal infections

* Often have feelings of being “spaced out”

*Poor memory

*Hormonal issues such as PMS or irregular periods

Why it’s important to have proper balance in good and bad bacteria

You could say we are a walking host to trillions of microbes, the good bacteria within us out number our cells 10 to 1. These friendly guys are there to keep us alive, this is their main goal. If we don’t survive, neither do they. We do need a small portion of bad bacteria because these become food for the good guys, but it isn’t their main faire. You see, these beneficial microbes prefer foods that your parents, grandparents and health practitioners have been pushing on you for years……..FIBRE ( a prebiotic) and we all know where it comes from, right?? Not from pastries, chips, pop, chocolate bars or ice cream…..although I can see marketing companies trying to come up with a way to add fibre to ice cream and in a sense “health wash” it to boost sales. If this ends up on the shelves of your local grocery store-please don’t buy it as a way to increase your fibre!!

The best way to incorporate more fibre is the old tried and true method, adding more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. I know this has been the main emphasis for years but fibre is only one important nutrient among many in these types of foods and if the fibre alone can help to rebalance a healthy microbial environment then they’re worth their weight in gold.

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In addition to good bacteria, we have microbes that are neutral, they live off food from the gut but aren’t harmful or beneficial. We also have pathogenic bacteria, parasites and viruses. They eat off the food from our gut and can be harmful to us if their population goes up ( they should be kept at a 3-10% level). When these guys get a chance to overpopulate, autointoxication happens. This is the result of  pathogens giving off endotoxins that our liver has to detoxify and when we either have an already burdened liver or there are too many endotoxins for the liver to detoxify, they end up in the blood stream, resulting in several symptoms mentioned above.

Things that can cause an overgrowth of bad bacteria:

*Lack of fibre from real food to feed good bacteria

* Antibiotic usage ( great for eliminating bad bacteria but they also wipe out good bacteria)

*Consuming foods that feed the bad bacteria (refined/processed foods, e.g. sugar, white grains and alcohol)

*Consuming little to no lacto fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha)

*Over eating

*Stress

*Frequently drinking chlorinated water

Things you can do to help improve the population of good bacteria:

*Consider supplementing with a good quality probiotic supplement( this is like reseeding the grass after it has been overtaken by weeds)

*Incorporate more whole foods into your diet ( fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, raw nuts and seeds)

*Add fermented foods to your meals at least once a day

*Add more garlic to your diet, this acts as an antimicrobial nutrient.

Each person is biochemically unique and you may be suffering with a greater imbalance. The recommendations here are a step in the right direction but there might be a deeper issue involved. It would be wise to get checked by your natural health practitioner.

Stacy Unruh, R.H.N.

Health Tips, Recipes

Lemons: More than just your average garnish.

How many of you love the smell of lemons like I do? I love any citrus smell, really. For me, I find that they smell refreshing and clean. If sunshine had a smell, it would be like lemons 🙂

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Lemons are the cleansers of fruit, both internally and externally. These fresh smelling fruits are used in many detox diets as they cleanse the bloodstream and liver. If you don’t normally think to use lemons in your daily meal preps and would like to, you can swap out the vinegar the next time you make a your favorite vinaigrette……..I guess it would no longer classify as a vinaigrette ( lemonette, maybe??). I will include a simple oil and lemon dressing that is also packed with nutrients to support other areas of your body. Another way to add lemons into your diet is with the classic lemon and water drink. I would only recommend more than a couple slices of lemon to your 8 oz glass if it was recommended for a liver cleanse. If you’re trying to kick pop to the curb and are looking for a better substitute, try sparkling water with fresh lemon juice and add a touch of stevia or raw honey to sweeten.

Along with being labeled a cleansing fruit, lemons are also packed with many nutrients such as antioxidants, the powerful nutrients that counteract the harmful effects from free radicals. Their antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C & Zinc make lemons great for supporting the immune system and have been used in many home remedies to aid in relieving symptoms from the common cold, influenza and for soothing sore throats.

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Other beneficial nutrients that are packed into these palm sized balls of sunshine are a few of the B vitamins. They contain B1,B2,B3, Pantothenic acid( B5) and B6. B vitamins serve many purposes in our bodies, but to name a few……they are helpful in our nervous system functions, they aid in the metabolism of carbohydrates & fats, they are beneficial to improving fatigue, irritability and digestive disorders. Pantothenic acid is known as the anti stress vitamin. In today’s fast pace society, I think we could all use a little more of this one 😉

Screaming girl covering face- Mulitple exposures

If you suffer with UTIs ( urinary tract infections), lemons along with other citrus fruits should be avoided because they produce alkaline urine and this encourages bacterial growth, compounding the UTI.

 

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Lemony Dressing

1/2  cup of extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp  organic flax oil, cold pressed (http://amzn.to/2rhVHCG)

1-2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2- 1 whole lemon ( depending on taste preference), juiced

1/2 tsp sea salt

pinch of pepper

 

  • Mix with a hand held blender (http://amzn.to/2rwhrdt) or a regular blendar ,It’s easier to clean the hand held blender afterwards. Blend for 15-30 seconds and your done!   Super easy right?
Health Tips

Healthy Digestion=Happy Healthy you

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This being my first article, I thought it would be best to start off where good eating habits really count………..proper digestion.

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We all know the saying ” you are what you eat”, right?  These are some wise words. This phrase comes from another phrase that is just as relevant today as it was back in 1826. Brillat-Savarin wrote ” Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are”. Most of the cells in our body are being regenerated at different rates (feed these cells deficient foods, feel deficient, feed them nutrient rich foods, feel great). If you’ve been eating a calorie rich and processed  (CRAP) diet  most of your life, you may be dealing with some health issues that are quite frankly, making you feel like crap. The good news is that you can regain your health just by incorporating more natural foods and forgoing all those tempting foods that we all love but in reality, aren’t going to love us back.

Choosing healthy foods is only the beginning to good health. Even if we are eating nutritious foods and taking good quality supplements, as much as this helps a bit, we can often find ourselves deficient in certain vitamins and minerals or notice that we’ve started to develop a food allergy or an intolerance. If we aren’t properly digesting our food , we aren’t absorbing many of the nutrients being consumed. How we eat has as much importance as what we eat.

 

How you can improve digestion with a few simple tips?

*Try to fill up your day with nutrient dense foods, these foods weren’t made in a factory or sprayed with chemicals. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds are some of the most nutrient dense foods. There are also great products at your local grocery store in the natural foods isle that were made in a factory that do contain all or mostly natural foods, these are great for busier days.

*Try to check your stress at the door. It can only put out your digestive fire, so its best to slow down and relax during meal time. I know easier said than done when you have kids and a busy schedule……..but don’t stress about stressing out! I need to mention that these recommendations aren’t an all or nothing. When you take the first step your already one step closer. When you start to improve your health, even if you’re taking baby steps, you start to feel better and this will lead to you wanting it more.

*Chewing food thoroughly, this helps to coat our food with digestive enzymes. When we chew our food longer it helps to break it down even more ( I know, doesn’t sound exciting…..but consider the health benefits! 🙂 ). The larger the food particles going down means it takes more energy to digest them. Continuing this way can result with our stomach waving the white flag in surrender and letting undigested foods pass on down through the digestive tract where they become food for the bad bacteria.

*Skip the drinks at meal time…..SAY WHAT!?!? But doesn’t that help wash down the food?? That’s just it, along with “washing” down food, we are also washing or watering down our HCI (hydrochloric acid). HCI oh glorious HCI, how we can’t live without you? Think of your HCI as a currency, you don’t want to spend it all in one place. Most of us don’t make endless supplies, especially as we age. Without HCI we can’t properly digest our foods and you know where this is leading…… say it with me “no digesting, no absorbing”. If you’ve been drinking fluids with your meals most of your life and this seems like a chore, try taking tiny sips here and there and make sure to drink all your water throughout the day.

*Over eating, especially heavy proteins, regularly. These are big HCI and energy suckers. Ever feel that you don’t have a whole lot of energy after a heavier meal? This is a good indication that your stomach is being over worked.

I hope these tips find you well. Remember It’s not all or nothing. I love the saying  “how do you eat an elephant? ( don’t ever eat elephants, by the way!!!) one bite at a time”. Making small changes will put a spark in you to make bigger ones!

 

Stacy Unruh, R.H.N.

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