The Expert Series Julie Daniluk On Inflammation



It is said that inflammation is the root of many illness and disease; leading to minor issues like gingivitis or major concerns like heart disease, stroke and death. This is why Julie Daniluk’s crusade couldn’t be more perfectly timed.

You may know Julie as the resident nutritionist on The Healthy Gourmet, which airs on the OWN Network; but Julie is also a very acclaimed writer and owner of the Big Carrot Natural Food Market, one of the largest of its kind in Canada.

Recently Julie released a literary tome “Meal That Heal Inflammation” that serves as a textbook for those who desire to heal their bodies with the food they eat; the book offers practical information paired with down to earth recipes that are not only flavorful but healing as well. I bought the book and I was floored by the amount of information Julie managed to inject within the pages- it really is an amazing book!

I was so pleased when Julie took a few moments away from her Canadian book tour and television appearances to participate in the experts series; thank you Julie!

So to end the expert’s series, the lovely Julie Daniluk on Inflammation!

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You are well known for your meals that heal; but if you could narrow it down to five essential items, what are the most important ingredients to have in a healthy kitchen?

1)    Kale: This form of cabbage is rated one of the highest nutrient-density food. With only 31 calories a cup, it is packed with nutrients.

2)    Arctic char: This fish resembles a salmon but is genetically more closely linked to a trout. It is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, a powerful anti-inflammatory.

3)    Berries: Eating berries daily can significantly reduce inflammation, according to a 2007 study in Journal of Nutrition. Blueberries, one of my all-time favourites, are low on the glycemic index, which means it does not spike your blood sugar. They are also high in fiber, packed with antioxidants and also reduce cortisol, a stress hormone.

4)    Maca Powder: This nutrient dense root vegetable is used to increase vitality and stamina, regulate glandular function and promote hormone balance in men and women. I love using it in smoothies. For more information you can check out this link, http://www.pno.ca/preferred-nutrition-products/item/brad-king/macapunch-powder.html

5)    Hemp Seeds: Also known has hemp hearts, these seeds are a powerhouse of protein, EFA, GLA and iron. I put hemp on salads, in smoothies and include them in many other recipes on my website juliedaniluk.com. For more information you can check out this link, http://manitobaharvest.com/index.php

In your opinion what is the most important thing to remember when trying to heal ourselves and why?

Be loving and patient with yourself. Give healing time. It often takes years to develop a health problem, so it is reasonable to say it will take time to reverse it. I ask people to commit to the MTHI plan for at least 8 weeks but many will start to feel the results before that time.

In my book Meals That Heal Inflammation, I tell the readers that Chapter 2 “Emotional Pain: Let’s Talk” is the most important chapter in the book. I really mean this!

It is vital to engage in positive self-talk and drop the negative. Negative self-talk such as “I’ll never lose weight” or “I’ll always be in pain”, become a tape loop in your mind that will not help you reach your goals. Reword these messages and rewrite the story line to include your goals.

Many people, who are struggling with weight and pain issues, are also struggling with emotional difficulties. Mental health is key to physical health and having someone such as a therapist to guide you through this journey can help you make lasting changes.

What is one thing that you do every day that contributes to your health?

I practice Yoga every morning. This includes stretching (asanas), chanting and deep breathing (pranayama). These practices keep me grounded and centered for the day’s activities.

I also have dinner for breakfast, meaning I start each day with a good quality protein meal to keep my blood sugar balanced for the day.

Organically yours,

Guest Post- Hair Care Tips For Loveable Tresses



While beautifying yourself, what are the things you consider the most?? Let me guess, make-up, clothing, accessories, hair style- all in the pursuit of perfection. So tell me, do you think it’s possible to have a complete look without a proper hair style? 99.99 % of women will likely answer with a loud and resounding “no”. So what are those among us, who have difficulty growing the mane they so desire, to do?

Balding isn’t simply a man’s affliction; knowing how your hair grows, is essential in knowing why it may be falling out.

Women are notorious for being hard on their hair; and self inflected damage is often the main reason behind hair loss. But hair is resilient and can usually withstand the beating you put it through. As an insurance policy and to keep your hair in fighting form, try using a leave in treatment.

Excessive tensions or irritation, otherwise known as stress, is also a very common reason for hair loss. The only cure for this is to relax- I know it’s easier said than done, but try calming activities like yoga or meditation to help get stress under control

There are some prescription medications that can cause hair loss. Blood thinners and cholesterol reduction pills are to blame for hair loss; it can be difficult to stop hair loss from medication. Consulting with a holistic practitioner may help in sourcing a solution to counteract medication induced hair loss.

Females are hormonal beings; and when hormones flow, hairs reduce in size or get stretched; getting so small in fact that the follicle is the only thing that is able to thrive.

Naturally, hair loss is a part of the whole hair growth system but, whenever the amount of hair loss is greater than the amount of hair growth, this is when balding becomes an issue.

Hair loss treatment often begins at home. It is very important to wash your hair regularly, it helps removing the dirt on the scalp, so that the follicles can breathe properly; but know your hair type, as some hair types do not respond well to being washed every day, such as ethnic hair. Hot oil hair massages within regular intervals also proves very beneficial in promoting healthy hair. It increases the blood flow in the scalp, which is the nutrient supply to the scalp.

There are prescription solutions to promote hair growth; but, beware of self prescribing medical solutions. Always consult a doctor before consuming pills for hair growth; as there are different prescription formulations for men and women.

There are some drug free solutions that can help with the problem of hair loss, the troxinator hair massager works by creating friction and promoting blood flow; and blood flow means hair growth!

And lastly, when nothing is helpful there is transplantation; which is becoming more and more common. However this is extreme, and should be considered only after you have tried everything else. It is not only expensive but painful as well. But if you have tried this is a solution and you are the end of your rope, you can rest assured that transplantation will work.

Halibut With Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes



This past Saturday I woke up on the wrong side of the bed; and no matter what I did, I simply could not shake. I made a smoothie- nothing; I sat outside and stared at the sun, in an attempt to soak up some Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin and…nothing. It weird, usually smoothies and sunshine is all it takes to snap me back into shape. So after a full day lounging inside in a frowsy mood, I decided it was time for dinner; if there is one thing that makes me happy, it’s making dinner.

Halibut was to be my meal; and although white fleshed fish is not as powerful an omega 3 fatty acid source, they still have plenty of good things going for them. Lean fish is low in fat and calories; but brimming with high quality protein. A 3 oz portion, for example, provides almost 20g of protein – for less than 100 calories no less; if that doesn’t make a girl happy, then there really was no hope. White fish is also rich in B vitamins, which is crucial, as most people are deficient in B vitamins; and selenium, the all important cancer fighting trace mineral, is found in abundance in the mildly flavored flesh of white fish. 3 oz, which seems to the magic number, boasts 100% of the daily requirement of selenium

The reason that I sometimes tend to favor white fleshed fish like halibut, is due to the aforementioned mild flavor; fatty fish, like salmon, although a nutritional powerhouse, comes with a bossy flavor, which tends to overpower. However, white fish is slightly more modest, preferring be a part of the chorus, rather than the lead singer.

This recipe would make anyone happy as cleanup is a breeze; halibut recipes baked cooking en papillote (in parchment paper) has the power to evoke such feelings. Once cooking and plating is accomplished, just wrap it up and toss it out! I chose zucchini and cherry tomatoes for this chorus because they are quintessentially summer; and although the solstice is still a few weeks away, balmy weather, bike rides and short shorts are abound, so it would seem summer came early this year.

Nevertheless, after I ate this meal, adorned nicely with a glass of wine, my mood went from sour to sweet upon first bite; that there is the power of real food!

Serves 1

1/4 zucchini, cut into half moons
3 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp salt, divided
1/4 tsp pepper, divided
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1 green onion, trimmed and finely sliced
1 tsp fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp fresh mint, chopped
1 tsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
1-5oz halibut fillet, center cut, skin removed

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; and in a single layer place zucchini and cherry tomatoes, sprinkle with half the amount of salt and pepper. Set aside.
To make dressing, combine basil, mint, parsley, oil, vinegar and green onion in a bowl; and whisk until one even mixture. Season fish with remaining salt and pepper; place on top of zucchini and tomatoes. Spoon the dressing over the fish; allow it to sit 10 minutes, so the fish can absorb the flavor.
Roast in the oven until fish is firm and flakes, about 12-15 minutes.

Remember to promote sustainability and ALWAYS choose SeaChoice Fish!

My Best Health Supplements For Women



I credit my health to, not only, my nutritional efforts but to my natural vitamin supplement routine as well. I take a slew of supplements every day!

Here is a peek into my medicine cabinet!

Probiotics (2 tabs daily on an empty stomach)
Probiotics literally mean pro-life; which makes a whole lot of sense considering over 60% of our immunity and wellness resides within our digestive tract. Probiotics are friendly bacteria that repopulate the bacteria within our digestive tract; and they promote digestion, immunity and work to keep our digestive tract healthy.

The two main cultures are Lactobacillus Bulgaricus and Lactobacillus Acidophilus and they are living culture, so look for probiotics that must be refrigerated.

Fermented foods are excellent probiotic sources, which include:

  • Kefir- fermented milk
  • Miso- fermented soybeans
  • Sauerkraut- fermented cabbage.

I would not recommend heating these foods over 118 degrees celsius, in order to keep the active cultures alive as long as possible.

Sea Vegetables (2 tabs daily)

Include:

  • Spirulina
  • Chlorella
  • Blue/Green Algae

Sea vegetables contain over 10x the minerals than land vegetables; and they are rich in calcium, iron, zinc and amino acids. Sea vegetables offer a wide range of health benefits, including relief from symptoms of:

And improved:

Raspberry Ketones (2 tabs daily)

This potent female tonic is beneficial for women of all ages, from your first period to menopause. They are high in usable minerals that strengthen the pelvic region, thus preparing the uterus for conception and delivery; and relieving menstruation cramps.

Raspberry ketones also help with the hormonal imbalances that characterizes the female fertility period- from our teens to our early 50′s. Since taking raspberry ketones my periods have gotten substantially easier- as easy as periods can be I suppose!

Vitamin D (1000 IU’s daily)

This is a fat soluble vitamin, so unlike vitamin C which is water soluble, the whole dosage can be taken at once, without worry that half of it will be urinated out.

Vitamin D is crucial for those who reside in norther climates where sun exposure in the winter month is scarce; and is essential for bone growth and renewal, as well as the assimilation of calcium and phosphorus. Without vitamin D we may find ourselves S.A.D, struck down with Seasonal Affected Disorder; which is seasonal depression resulting from vitamin D deficiency.

Omega 3 Fatty Acid (2 tabs daily)

In North America where our diets are heavy in animal proteins we tend to get enough omega 6 fatty acids; but tend to be deficient in omega 3 fatty acids, which are plant based, derived from foods like chia and hemp seeds. However the balance is crucial, because when we are balanced in both essential fatty acids, we boost our good cholesterol (HDL), increase our energy, enable weight loss and ensure healthy skin, hair and nails. The balance is VERY important, as an imbalance can lead to memory problems and reproductive challenges.

Milk Thistle (1 dropper full daily, under the tongue)

This a boozer’s best friend, as this potent liver detoxifier helps to rebuild damaged liver cells.

Milk thistle comes in tincture (liquid) form or tablet; I take the tincture under my tongue daily, because under the tongue is where it will be absorbed into bloodstream the quickest.

I take milk thistle daily; however, if I plan on enjoying a few adult libations, I take a dropper full BEFORE going out, then AFTER going out before bed and then the following morning; due to the nature of this plant, it is impossible to overdose, so go wild if you like to indulge!

Liquid Chlorophyll

This is a plants food source, and it fuels their growth from a cellular level, so imagine what it can do for us! And this is a natural breath freshener and body deodorizer, so if you feel that you may get a little ripe by the end of the day, this may be just what you need. I add it to my water everyday and it tastes deliciously minty!

So there it is, the best health supplements for women- for this woman anyways. What’s supplements are in your natural health routine, please comment below!

Vegan Almond Mayo and The Benefits of Soaking Almonds



SCROLL FOR VIDEO AND RECIPE

Nuts. I love nuts, from pistachios to hazelnuts to almonds, I could eat nuts at every meal for the rest of my life and never get enough of them. I especially love almonds. But the glorious almond can cause some people digestive upsets; in minor cases, stomach aches, but in slightly more serious cases, vomiting or vomiting, ahem, the other way. Regardless of whether almonds give you grief or not, the benefits of soaking almonds are undeniable for us all.

The benefits of soaking almonds are rooted in nutrition. When we soak an almond we increase the enzyme activity by 50% and the nutrient bioavailability by 3 or 4 times than the non soaked variety; so when we are talking about getting the most out of our food, soaking almonds give us a great deal of nutritional bang for our buck.

Another one of the benefits of soaking almonds is that it makes them more digestible. There are hard to digest enzymes within the skin of almonds, and when we soak them, these enzymes leach out into the water (which we discard) therefore removing the irritants; it’s genius really!

But, for me, one of the best benefits of soaking almonds is, by far, that this process makes almonds taste better. Have you ever had a nut that was so bitter, it made you gag? Well, when you soak them, this never happens, the almonds get sweeter and softer to the tooth.

So how does on harness the benefits of soaking almonds in their own home? All you need is ALMONDS, WATER and TIME. The true benefits of soaking almonds is achieved when you allow the nuts to sprout or soak for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours, which will make them very soft and perfect for Vegan Almond Mayo!

Vegan almond mayo takes so well to the latter of the benefits of soaking almonds, because then we are able to to create a velvety smooth sauce that resembles mayonnaise but is dairy free, and vegan. The key to this sauce is to soak the almonds as long as you can; if you have a really high powered blender, 2-4 hours of soaking will do, but if your blender isn’t super powerful, then endeavor to soak your nuts overnight. The idea is to make this smooth like mayo, so blend until that happens; using water as needed to thin out the sauce.

Watch me demo this recipe and learn more about the benefits of soaking almonds in the video below!

1 cup almonds, soaked overnight and drained
5 cloves garlic,
1 avocado, skinned and pitted
1 lemon, juiced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/3 cup chives
Approx. 1 1/4 cup olive oil
water as needed

Combine all ingredients in a blender, reserving half the amount of olive oil and the water; turn on the machine, and slowly pour the olive oil into the blender. Add water to thin out the blend, a little at a time, until desired consistency is achieved.

Store in an airtight container for up to 4 days. WARNING, due to the avocado and the manner with which it oxidizes, there may be some discoloration; don’t be alarmed, this is not an indication of spoilage.

Lemon Zested Greek Yogurt And Raspberry Parfait



It’s well known around these parts that I love smoothies; but I’ll spare you my long winded explanation as to why- we’ve been down that road many times. I want to talk about Greek yogurt.

Every single one of my smoothies contains Greek yogurt; because I like the creaminess it provides. Although I don’t complain, but when someone kindly makes me a smoothie and they neglect to add Greek yogurt, it just isn’t the same. I’ve been known to add Greek yogurt to my boozy smoothies as well; debunking the myth that dairy and alcohol don’t mix. But I warn you, a boozy smoothie made with Greek yogurt and brown cow may yield different results.

Nutrition month wouldn’t be complete without an ode to this ivory colored food stuff; because, straight up, it’s so good for our overall health. There is a saying that goes “healthy stomach means a healthy body”; and if the saying rings true, then Greek yogurt is a must. It has been proven to boost immunity; and it’s no wonder considering the Probiotic Enzymes, which Greek yogurt is renowned for. These said probitics promote helpful bacteria that protect the digestive tract from disease and constipation.

Because Greek yogurt is high in protein, yet low in carbohydrates and sugar, it is an excellent choice for dieters and those looking to build muscle. And an 8oz serving provided nearly 25% of the daily requirement for calcium. The combination of potassium and calcium helps with protein synthesis to create a balanced PH; and a normalized PH level is vital as it aids the blood in carrying oxygen and nutrients to our cells; and helps with nutrient absorption during the digestive process.

So you see why I love the stuff.

Healthy desserts tend to stump people; but when I make dessert I like to highlight simple ingredients. Perhaps it’s because I have never been a huge fan of sweets, but I prefer desserts that are light on the palate and refreshing- this dessert is just that. The combination of lemon zested Greek yogurt with plump and juicy raspberries, organic honey and toasted pistachios is a lovely way finish off any meal!

In fact, this dessert is so healthy you could have it for breakfast- I did!

Lemon Zested Greek Yogurt with Fresh Raspberries

Makes 3 servings

500g plain Greek yogurt

Juice and zest of 2 lemons

2 pints fresh raspberries

½ cup pistachios, chopped and toasted

3 tbsp organic honey

In a blender, combine the yogurt, lemon juice and lemon zest; blend until well combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

In a wide bottom cup, divide the lemon yogurt evenly between three cups; add the raspberries. Add the toasted pistachios and drizzle 1 tbsp of honey for each cup; serve.

Love Your Liver with Lemon Juice



Liver health is SO important in the conversation about ultimate vitality. Everything we eat, drink, inhale and slather on our bodies must be cleansed by the liver for our protection- just think of this task and what our livers are asked to do for us every moment of the day; so you can imagine that our livers need some love too.

Drink Lemon and Water
This is becoming a fairly well known technique for liver detoxification, and it’s because it works! Each and every morning when you wake up, before anything passes your lips, drink 2 cups of water with the juice of 1 lemon. You want the water to be room temperature, so that the body doesn’t have to warm it up or cool it down; this way this morning elixir can get down to the business of cleansing.

“But I hate lemon water”

Apple cider vinegar- organic- works just as well. And if you are concerned about tooth enamel, ingest through a straw; I don’t care how you do it, as long as you are doing it!

WHY?

Total Body Cleanse
Lemon juice cleanses and detoxifies the liver by increasing it’s own detoxifying enzymes. The liver is an essential piece of the health and vitality puzzle, with over 500 functions, many directly related to detox; the adage “a healthy liver is a healthy body” rings very true.

Increased Bile
Gross, yes. Beneficial, 100%!

Bile in addition to fibre help remove toxins from the body; so when you go number two stimulated by lemon juice, you removed more waste products from the system.

Alkalinize
An acidic body is a sick body; and lemon juice is acidic, it creates an alkaline response in the body. Lemon juice enhances the digestive secretion, meaning that acidic waste is eliminated more effectively.

Keeps Things Moving in the Right Direction
Constipation sucks- just ask anyone who is. Lemon juice stimulates the gut naturally and more gently than coffee. I can guarantee your bowel movements will improve dramatically by doing this one small daily habit.

You Glow Girl…or Boy!
Initially if your liver is taxed, you will break out on your skin; this is a sign that the liver is starting to effectively remove toxins. But after a few weeks of lemon juice and water your skin will be brighter and the blemishes you experience will be nonexistent. Skin health and digestive/liver health are directly correlated. Skip the lotions and potions and start with real food!

Ensuring that you adopt this habit will have wonderful results in your overall feeling of vitality. But you can meet your lemon quota in other ways too:

Make a lemon vinaigrette- 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Whisk until combined and enjoy on your favourite salad.

Infuse a Green Juice with lemons- kale lemonade is a summer favourite of mine. Juice 4 leaves of kale, 3 lemons, ½ cucumber and 2 granny smith apples for a power boost of green liver love!

I can promise you will astonished at how good you feel after drinking lemon water in as little as 7 days.

Until next time, bottoms up!

Benefits Of Coconut Water



Coconut water. If you haven’t caught wind of the hype surrounding the benefits of coconut water, then you must have been in seclusion! Coconut water is fast becoming the darling of the beverage world, with the benefits associated with drinking it being touted by many.

You see, coconut water is Mother Nature’s Gatorade, serving to replenish lost electrolytes and re-hydrating the body, without all the nasty sugar and additives of the aforementioned sports drink. And as the temperature rises and we lose nutrients through our sweat, the benefits of coconut water become even more important.

I have been drinking coconut water since I was young, as my family hails from the islands, where fresh young coconuts are a part of everyday life; roadside stands selling “Coconut Watah” are a dime a dozen! I’m fairly sure that my grandparents weren’t completely aware of the amazing health benefits of coconut water, as the coconut hype is fairly new; they were simply giving us the goods from the Motherland. Regardless, when I sip coconut water, it reminds me of being a child, visiting my family’s native land.

Today the merits of all things coconut are long and storied, and I am certainly a part of the coconut tribe. So when I was approached by ZICO Coconut water, I thought ” why not”; I’m already drinking the stuff! I rather enjoyed their selections, and they certainly have a great deal to choose from. Lattes, chocolate flavor, from concentrate and not from concentrate, ZICO certainly gives the consumer choice.

After sampling all the flavors, I had some questions, because I believe that we should all be well informed consumers, especially when it comes to “It” foods; healthwashing is real people, and you want to make sure that there is truth in labeling of the products you choose to consume.

Here are the questions I posed to the people at ZICO.

Is your coconut water organic? Why or why not?

ZICO is not certified organic.

I noticed that some you sent me were from concentrate and some were not, why is that? What is the different between the two?

“From concentrate” simply means that the coconut water has had most of the water removed during the production process so that it could be more easily transported and stored, and then has had water added back into it later in the process to bring it back to the same nutritional profile as the original coconut water. Removing water and then adding it back in does nothing to reduce the benefits of the coconut water.

Similar to ZICO’s carton product, ZICO concentrate is produced by hand-harvesting the most delicious and nutritious coconuts from around the world. For ZICO in the bottle, we’ve selected a unique blend of coconut waters from the South Pacific to achieve a unique, consistent taste. By sourcing the best coconuts from around the world, ZICO helps to ensure greater quality and flexibility throughout the supply chain. As the fruit matures, the coconut water is gradually replaced by the coconut meat and air. A young coconut has little meat, but the meat it has is very tender, almost a gel. 

You have a variety of flavors, how do the new flavors stack up nutritionally to the original?

ZICO Original NFC is 100 per cent coconut water; ZICO Chocolate and Latte are 85 per cent coconut water and contain cane sugar. ZICO Chocolate and Latte contain less coconut water to maximize the flavour and consistency of the product. However, even our flavours are natural. In fact, ZICO is the ultimate natural hydration beverage for healthy active living and is loaded with 4 essential electrolytes: sodium, magnesium, calcium and potassium.

My thoughts:
Personally I prefer a product not from concentrate, I just do; but I like that ZICO gives the consumer choice. Life is about choices, no?! And as far the Latte and Chocolate flavor are concerned, if I want chocolate flavored coconut water or a latte, I will make them on my own using raw cacao, organic coffee and something other than cane sugar; though I will freely admit, they were delicious, but slightly unnecessary for me and my needs.

Regardless, the benefits of coconut water  are what make me continue to consume it, especially in the heat; but not from concentrate, pure coconut water is the only product I’m interested in. However, I appreciate ZICO’s attempts to innovate!

The summer heat is in full swing, and the aforementioned benefits of coconut water include super hydration; so here is a a refreshing summer sipper that highlights seasonal fruit and amplifies the benefits of coconut water with extra flavor!

Coconut Strawberry Refresher

1 pint strawberries, washed
3 stem of mint, with leaves
1 cup Not From Concentrate Coconut Water
Ice

Juice the strawberries and mint, combine with coconut water; and serve over ice.

Guest Post Practicing Yoga In Every Moment



This is a post by the lovely Sarah she lives and breathes a holistic lifestyle; I am honored to have her post here today- I hope you guys enjoy it!

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Opportunity to Love Ourselves
Last night I woke up at 4am.  I had a restless sleep and kept going in and out of a dream, until I finally shook myself awake and looked at the clock.  That space in the middle of the night- before sunrise, in the silence of a city that is sleeping – is a time of solitude, a time to delve into the world of connecting with self.  I love that time.

But, not last night.   Upon waking I realized that my hands were incredibly itchy and my whole body was swollen.  I quickly realized that the physical discomfort was actually what had disturbed my sleep and I was having an allergic reaction.  My mind was running mad- why is this happening?  What did I eat?  Is my throat going to close up?  Oh my god, what if I have to go to the hospital?  What if this is really serious?  The usual stream of fearful questions started racing.

And then I paused for a moment.  I was afraid and alone in the dark.  Such a familiar sensation- throwing me back to the days of when I woke up terrified in the middle of the night as a little girl, worried that someone was going to break into the window.

And then I checked in with myself.  I was breathing.  I was able to get up and walk around.  I was just experiencing the bodily sensations of being itchy and swollen.

And then I asked myself a question- what is this teaching me?  What is this experience shining light on? My body was on overload.  I was stressed out emotionally, mentally, spiritually and definitely physically- so many things were being uprooted in my life and being turned upside down.  And so my body was so perfectly reminding me to pay attention…to slow down…to rest…to feed myself pure, wholesome, clean foods…to allow the pain and sadness to be experienced.

Illness shows up so that we have the opportunity to love ourselves more.  It is in those moments of darkness that we have the opportunity to cultivate being comforting, nourishing, and patient.  This is bringing the practice of yoga to every day life.  

How to Practice Yoga
There are many simple ways that you can practice yoga in your daily life- without even having to go to a yoga class.

1. Notice when your mind starts running wild: asking lots of fear-driven questions, doubting, worrying.
2. Pause and notice what you are really afraid of or what is really bothering you.
3. Ask yourself the question- what is this teaching me?  What opportunity is this situation presenting to me?

Yoga gently reminds us to look at our bodies and our lives with awareness and consciousness.

Yoga and Nutrition
Practicing yoga not only supports the digestive system and physical health.  If you do want some tips on actual yoga postures for supporting digestive health, you can check some of the best out here.   Additionally, yoga can also assist us in understanding the emotions that are tied up in our eating habits.

For example- if I start to crave a particular food, like a gooey chocolate chip cookie, my mind can go crazy just thinking about something so simple.

1. Notice that I am craving something.
2. Bring gentle discernment to this craving. I can start to look at why I am really craving sweets and why I am yearning for the sensations of eating a cookie.  There is always something behind the craving when I start to look at what I am really feeling.
3. Ask questions- what is this teaching me? Maybe this is an opportunity to give myself nourishment that is deeper than food cravings.  Maybe I need to feel taken care of and that life is full of sweetness.  Eating that cookie will bring those sensations only temporary.  What are the actions I can take and things I can do in my life to cultivate caring for myself and generating sweetness in life?

Remember that practicing yoga is always a self-exploration and for you to discover.  You can’t mess up.  Just start asking yourself questions and shining light onto the opportunities that every situation presents.

Bio
Sarah Grossman is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, holistic chef, and yoga teacher. She teaches people Intuitive Nutrition to determine which foods are best for the body and loves writing blog posts.

Patty Pan Squash Parcels



Can you believe it’s already August? I love summer but it calls everyone, especially people in the North like myself, to get outside and enjoy. During the summer you can find me poolside, parkside and cruising the many farmer’s markets my city boasts during the summer months; seeing Mother Nature’s bounty in full effect is nothing short of awe inspiring, albeit brief here in Edmonton.

When the berries come up, I get excited because berries are one of my favorites; but you want to know the summer gem that gets me more excited than my beloved berries? Patty Pan Squash. Without fail, the first time I spy patty pan squash at the market I, quite literally, jump for joy; their season is fleeting so I always buy in bulk!

Related to melons, cucumber and other squash, such as zucchini, patty pan squash is a light and cleansing food; they contain a high amount of water (hello hydration), are low in calories and can ease prostate conditions in men- patty pan squash also come complete with beta carotene. They can be found in yellow, light green and dark green varieties, all of which are delicious; but the yellow variety are particularly rich in antioxidant carotenes, such as lutein and zeaxanthin.

Getting the most nutritional bang from patty pan squash lies in eating the whole plant; from the skin to the seeds, patty pans, like other squash, are almost entirely edible. As a cooling and sedative food, they are useful in treating adrenal fatigue and frazzled nerves. Buyer beware though, they can’t be stored for too long, so eat them quickly while they are still fresh; if you’re anything like me, that shouldn’t be a problem!

Also because I’m a juice lover and a cleansing maven I feel I must mention that patty pan squash are a wonderful addition to juice; their water is highly mineralized and bioavailable (easy to digest). Add them to juice for a quick and satisfying mineral boost!

Patty pan squash, because of their cup-esque shape lend themselves so nicely to stuffing. If you’re paleo you can stuff them with grass fed ground meat with vegetables and cheese; vegans can join the fun by stuffing with an assortment of vegetables, nuts and seeds. That’s the beauty of patty pan squash, their aroma is light, meaning they play nicely with so many flavor combinations.

This recipe is simple, hollow out your patty pan squash and saute the innards with kale, onions and spices;  stuff the hollow patty pan squash with the goodness, bake and serve. And the darling little chapeau just adds to the fun!

Mother Nature, thank you for Patty Pan Squash; sincerely, Bianca.

Patty Pan Squash Parcels
Serves 3

3 patty pan squash
1 tbsp coconut oil or ghee
1 medium red onion
1 clove garlic
1 cup shelled green peas
2 cups chopped kale
1 tbsp feta cheese (optional)
sea salt & pepper

Cut  the top of the patty pan squash in half and scoop out the inside flesh. Rub the inside and outside of each squash with a little olive oil, coconut oil or ghee (to prevent drying out in the oven). If you cannot get the squash to sit evenly, slice off a little of the bottom to create a flat surface (be careful when you cut, so as not to create a hole in the bottom.)

Heat the coconut oil or ghee in a large skillet. Add the onion and a few pinches of salt, cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for another couple minutes. Next add the peas then the kale a minute later, folding occasionally until the kale is slightly wilted. Season to your liking with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Fill each patty pan squash with the vegetable mixture and place the individual lid on top of each squash. Arrange the squash in a baking dish with a little water in the bottom. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the squash is soft and cooked through.

Serve hot!

Apple Cider Vinegar Natures Beautifier



If you haven’t noticed already, I am obsessed with clean beauty; as the thought of putting chemicals and synthetics on and into my body send shivers down my spine. I’ve shown you how to make your own face wash and body moisturizer, and today’s guest author Sarah will speak to the benefits of apple cider vinegar and it’s many uses in our beauty routine.

A word on Sarah. Sarah is the real deal; she is incredibly passionate about holistic living and she shares her passion with the world; I’m honoured to have her share her wisdom on the Vitality Guide for Women.

And with that I say, take it away Sarah!

Did you know that the average woman puts around 515 different synthetic chemicals on her body every single day? How is this possible, you may ask? Simply by grooming herself before she exits the house. Conventional beauty and body care products are loaded with hidden chemicals that are very toxic to one’s health. Many of these synthetic chemicals have been linked to skin sensitivities, internal and external inflammation, allergies, hormonal disturbances, fertility issues and cancer.
These statistics and findings can be horrifying. But, fortunately, there exists a lot of clean and natural beauty and body care lines out there. However, they are not the cheapest and the bill can add up really quickly considering just how many things a woman uses everyday to groom herself…

Being a student at the time of my discovery, I had to look for cheaper, yet still healthy alternatives. That’s when I started experimenting with DIY’s (Do It Yourself) and what I call “kitchen” cosmetics. I was so astounded to find just how many things I could easily make myself at home. One of the first things I experimented with was making my own makeup remover; simply by mixing some extra virgin olive oil with the same amount of witch hazel water. It was so easy, cheap, lasted a long time and was extremely nourishing and moisturizing to my skin. I was hooked! I quickly became obsessed experimenting with all kind of mixtures and concoctions in order to make my own facial, body and hair care products!

Given that the skin is one of the largest organs in your body, you want to make sure that whatever you apply on it is so safe for you that you could literally eat it too. Indeed, whatever you put on your skin WILL penetrate it and reach every single cell of your body. That is exactly why I love the concept of using kitchen ingredients to make some, if not all, of your beauty and body care products. The other benefit of doing that is that you know exactly what is inside your beauty products, but you can also enjoy the additional health benefits of such ingredients.

Take Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) for example. Most people already have apple cider vinegar in their kitchen’s cabinets and use it for their salad dressings. But did you know that you could also use it to make several beauty and body care products? I love to use it as a toner, but also as a shampoo, but before we delve into it, let’s consider for a second why this relatively inexpensive kitchen ingredient can be so beneficial to your health.

Apple cider vinegar is definitely one of my all-time favorite beautifying foods, here is why:

  • It is extremely alkalizing to the body due to its high mineral content. Anything that promotes alkalinity inside of your body, also promotes its health and vitality as your body’s ideal pH ranges between 7.3 and 7.4 (thus slightly alkaline).
  • It helps balance your skin’s natural pH when applied to the skin. This is why it makes such a wonderful facial toner and helps keep your skin’s complexion glowing and clear.
  • It can help reduce dandruff when used as a shampoo (diluted with some water).
  • It is anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal because it is rich in malic acid. This is why it makes for such a wonderful clarifying shampoo, removing build-up on your scalp, preventing dandruffs and bacteria.
  • Because of its high malic acid content, it can also help get rid of body odour. Simply soak a cotton pad with apple cider vinegar and apply it to your armpits, for example.
  • It assists your stomach in the production of gastric acid, which further helps promote a healthy digestion and therefore a more efficient absorption of your nutrients.
  • It helps your liver in detoxification pathways, which promotes further elimination of internal toxins.

These are just SOME of the health benefits of this wonderful kitchen ingredient.

One word of caution when choosing your apple cider vinegar: make sure you buy one that is organic, unrefined, and raw. It will usually still contain the “mother” (bacterial culture) from the natural fermentation process it undergoes. Braggs or Eden Organic are two of my favorite brands for these reasons.

Now, let’s talk about how to make your very own facial toner “mist” or spray.

Simply dilute 1 to 2 capfuls of apple cider vinegar in 2 cups of filtered water (feel free to use a half and half ratio but I find it a little too powerful for my skin). Place the mixture in a spray bottle and that’s it.

I love spraying it or applying it on my face at night before I apply my organic coconut oil, as my moisturizer. In the morning, my skin feels moisturized and as soft as baby’s skin.

Remember there are so many beauty and body care products you can make yourself at home. Feel free to experiment with essentials oils as well to add a scent to your beauty products and have fun with it!

Author Bio
“Sarah Somian is a Holistic Nutritionist (CNP) and Wellness Coach, who attended the Institute of Holistic Nutrition, in Toronto, Ontario. Sarah’s mantra is the Latin saying– “Mens Sana in Corpore Sano” : A Sound Mind in a Healthy Body.

She firmly believes that holistic and vibrant health can be achieved once body, mind and spirit are equally tended for.
It is this conviction that drives Sarah’s dedication to help you adopt healthier thought patterns and nutritional habits.

Sarah’s passion for health and nutritious foods started at a young age in Belgium, her country of origin. There, she enjoyed the most delectable meals of the different cultures from which she originated—namely Italian, Ivorian and Belgian.
It was only years later however, while studying Health and Psychology at McGill that she slowly started to see the link between healthy nutritious foods, a healthy mind and vibrant health. After experiencing first-hand the powerful benefits of eating clean and maintaining a healthy relationship with oneself, Sarah was convinced she had found the perfect way to sustain and manage her own health but also that of her loved ones and family members.
Holistic nutrition emerged as her life’s passion and she decided to pursue it as a career.

Beet And Cabbage Borscht



I don’t know about where you live, but where I live is cold- really cold; and with the dawn of winter I have ramped up my soup making efforts. I looove making soup; in fact, of all the things I’ve been trained to make, soup is my favorite. I place soup up on a pedestal with the likes of smoothies, simply because, just like smoothies, one can pack a great many health promoting ingredients into one soup. For instance, this borscht soup, although distinguishably stained the color of beets, boasts an enviable amount nutrients from the cabbage.

Now I’ve waxed poetic, at length, about the many health benefits of beets; but cabbage, poor cabbage, never gets the credit its due. Yes cabbage is the culprit in many gaseous incidents, but a little flatulence won’t turn me off; here’s why!

In the world of vegetables, the brassica family (kale, cauliflower, broccoli etc) are king, but the one brassica that lords over the rest is, hands down, cabbage. When we speak of cabbage, we are referring to the large, lettuce like head that has been a culinary staple for over a millennia. Eaten raw, it’s the stuff of slaw; however, when cooked, it is hard to ignore- likely because of the rotten egg aroma that results. But to my point, the cabbage family is probably one of the most important vegetables on the planet, from a nutritional and cancer fighting point of view.

I know we are almost to the end of October, and breast cancer month and thinking pink has long left the forefront of your mind; but let it be known, that in October and all year for that matter, cabbage keeps breast cancer at bay. The breast cancer protective properties of cabbage came to the attention of researchers when they observed women in Eastern Bloc countries such as Russia and Poland were far less likely to develop breast cancer than American women. After close analysis, they uncovered that these women have a much higher intake of cabbage. Indoles which are in abundance in all brassica’s alter metabolism in a favorable way, one that is likely to reduce the risk of cancer.

But the anticancer benefits don’t stop with just indoles. Other phytochemicals that pack an anticancer wallop and are plentiful in this delicious plant are dithiolethiones, isothiocynates and sulphurophane (which is to blame for its pungency). Sulphurophane increases the production of certain enzymes known as phase-2, which can disarm damaging free radicals and help combat carcinogens; and it’s believed that phase-2 enzymes may reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

So what’s a little flatulence when you consider the laundry list of health benefits?!

This borscht soup recipe was born out of a craving. After a delicious brunch at Bonjour Brioche in Toronto, where I ordered the most delicious borscht, I couldn’t get the flavor out of my head. So upon my return to Edmonton, I made quick work of satisfying my hankering. As with chicken noodle soup, there is a different borscht recipe for everyday of the year; some with beef, some without; some with cabbage, and some without. I decided to pick and choose elements from various recipes to customize my own.

In order to create a depth of flavor unrivaled by any borscht I’ve had before, I roasted the garlic and the beets; and I have to tell you, that although this creates an extra step, it’s hands down, 100%, worth it. Aside from the kefir garnish this recipe is completely vegan; but because I took the time to develop the flavors of the garlic and the beets, the meat was not missed. I even fed this to hard core carnivores and they approved. With that said if you don’t have the time to roast, the step can be skipped and this soup will still yield delightful results.

This borscht is hard the nose, but, oh so easy, on the mouth!

2 onions, small dice
2 celery stalks, small dice
1 carrot, small dice
1 leek, sliced into half moons
½ savoy cabbage, sliced thin
3 garlic cloves
4 beets, trimmed
2 tbsp coconut oil
1 ½ tsp salt + ½ tbsp
6 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp Organika coconut vinegar
1 tbsp kefir (per serving), optional

Wrap garlic (leave the skin on the cloves), beets, ½ tsp salt and 1 tbsp coconut oil in tin foil and roast in an oven heated to 400OF for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a thick bottom soup pot on medium heat, heat the remaining oil; add the onions and 1 tsp salt and cook, stirring consistently, for 20 minutes- or until the onions are deeply fragrant and browned. Then add the carrots, leeks and celery; and continue to stir.

Remove the beets and garlic from the oven; squeeze the roasted garlic from its skin and stir into the pot. Allow the beets to cool and wrap each in a tea towel and rub to remove the skin. Grate the beets and add to the pot, along with the cabbage and vinegar. Stir and cook 1 minute. Taste and season with the remaining salt if necessary; add the stock and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with 1 tbsp of kefir.

The Vitality Guide for Women A New Direction



For those of you who have been following for a while, you know that what started as a blog has blossomed into a full blown, brick and mortar company, The Vitality Kitchen; and as I have been learning to juggle the demands of a growing company, this place has been left to grow weeds- I apologize for this.

What started as a personal quest to heal my own life and understand how food can be used as medicine, has become my helping people to understand that healthy food is delicious, and vitality is for everyone to claim.

But as I help others achieve their best selves, I’ll be honest, I have, in some ways, lost my own way. It’s ironic that I empower others to put themselves and their wellness first, but as this business has grown, I haven’t been practicing what I preach.

Where once I was asking the question of how I can balance my hormones, now I ask how can I balance a thriving career and a personal life that serves my body and soul. There are so many questions that I have because I want my business to thrive, but not at the expense of my own health. Is it crazy that I want to have it all??

So things are going to change around here.

I want, and need if I’m being a honest, a place to share the struggles of being a young woman in business and how to live a healthy and vibrant life while going after my dreams without mercy. I know there are many women out there just like me, who know that in order to be the best at life, we need to be healthy- but beg the question of how?

So I’m going to open the book of Bianca and share with you honestly, the struggles I face, how I am learning to prioritize me and what success looks like as I try to achieve a work and life equilibrium. And by no means do I believe that I can achieve a balance- in building a business I don’t believe balance is the word; but I do want to share my new journey of being a business woman and attempting to maintain my own sense of vitality, as I help others unlock theirs.

I do hope that you will stay with me on my newest journey of discovery, and I hope that if you are like me, that what I share here can support you as well. We are all in this together.

So WELCOME to the new Vitality Guide for Women.

Summer Heat Relief with Raw Food



It’s summer in Edmonton and she’s still sweatin’ hard- like too hot for clothes hot; but I know that in 5 months time when we are in a deep freeze I will long for these days, so I’m keeping my kvetching to a minimum.

This morning I woke up at the crack of dawn to extol the virtues of raw food on Breakfast Television Edmonton, because when it’s hot out cooking is the last thing on my mind- and I’m sure it’s the last thing you want to do too.

I covered all the basics of raw food basics, because despite what you may think, raw food isn’t just rabbit food that lacks flavour and depth- oh no! Raw food is dynamic, flavourful and healthy when done right.

Housekeeping
It’s important to note that eating raw food comes with some housekeeping rules. Because raw food generally is a plant based way of eating, it’s important that you meet your protein requirements, so foods like hemp seeds, chia seeds and nuts are an essential part of a raw diet; and FYI fruits and vegetables do bear a little bit of protein, so if you consume a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, in addition to seeds and nuts, then you’re good!

The idea behind raw food is that eating cooked food means that we are eating nutritionally inferior food than if it was raw; because the heat of cooking kills off vitamins and nutrients. I will, however, refute some of that logic, because foods like tomatoes are best eaten cooked, when the lycopene can be released and absorbed by the body; but alas, there are sacrifices to be made.

What is Raw Food?
Well, to be considered raw food nothing can be heated above 118F, so food can still be warm but not piping hot; so raw foodies must become SUPER familiar with blending, dehydrating and food processing. So, yes, raw food can be simple, but in a great many ways it requires more work from you- but at least you aren’t heating up the house.

Pregnant? Consider Cooking Your Food
It’s also of utmost importance that food is washed thoroughly because no heat is being applied and tasked with killing some foodborne pathogens; washing food and being sure that cross contamination hasn’t occurred is key. This is also why I don’t suggest pregnant women do solely raw food; I have other reasons why I believe pregnant women should avoid a 100% raw food diet, but potential pathogens is number one.

My Opinion
I believe that a raw food diet has a place and time. In 30+ degree weather raw food is welcome to most, because the diet is cooling and hydrating, due to the large volume of fruits and vegetables. However, in the winter when temperatures dip significantly, I think cooked food offers a level of grounding in the system; which is why I believe that everyone must listen to their bodies. Trying new things is always a suggestion of mine, but don’t be pigeon held into a certain way of eating; mix and match certain principles and find what works for you.

She’s Sweatin’- Let’s Have Salad!
Today I prepared a lovely summer salad that is raw, cooling and oh so delicious. If you’re a hot child in the city like me, then this salad is for you.

Green Salad with Sesame Miso Dressing

  • Cucumber, washed and peeled with vegetable peeler
  • Arugula, washed

Dressing

  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 3 tbsp tahini (or soaked and sprouted raw sesame seeds)
  • 1 ½ tsp tamari sauce
  • water, as needed

Combine the cucumber and arugula in a bowl and set aside.

In a blender, combine all the ingredients for the dressing; blend until smooth and toss with the salad. Enjoy!

Great Skin with Dermalogica

Dear fellow problem skin sufferer,

My name is Bianca; and I would like to share with you my experience of having problem skin and how I transformed it using what I consider to be the best acne skincare treatment and products available today…
That Was Then

When I was a teenager, I was plagued with acne. It covered not only my entire face, but also my back and chest. Needless to say, it also took a massive toll on my confidence.

It was so bad, that I often felt uncomfortable leaving the house. When I did, I would try to cover my face with my hair or stand attempt to find angles where my skin wouldn’t look so bad. Night time was the only time I felt like I could venture out and not feel so self-conscious. I was miserable.

Out of desperation I tried everything to get rid of my acne: I tried so many different acne skincare products, (some of which even contained harmful chemicals); and my doctor prescribed me different medications; everything that I tried was failing me.

At the age of 21, after years spent trialling many harmful acne skincare treatment and products than I care to remember, my skin was more or less acne free; but it was left dry, flaky and scarred. Instead of having the glowing youthful skin of a woman my age, my skin was aging me by 10 years.
This Is Now!

Today, I am 26 years old and I am a completely different person! My skin is smooth, scar-free, and glows. I receive compliments about my complexion daily– yes ME, the “girl with the bad skin”! If someone had told me that people would be praising my skin, I would not have believed them. Sometimes, I still can’t believe they’re talking about me!

Not only is my skin the picture glowing health, but I can finally say that my skin reflect how I feel on the inside; and it was all possible with the help of the best treatment for adult acne I have found – The Dermalogica line of skincare products. I started using this amazing skincare line almost a year ago – and I am ecstatic to report I haven’t had a breakout since!

As a direct result of using the Dermalogica line of products, I have experienced the correction of:

enlarged pores
dryness
redness
uneven skin tone
impurities (breakouts)

I can only speak from experience, and my experience is that this line of products is not only one of the best anti aging treatment products on the market, but also some of the best acne products for mature skin.
Putting My Best Face Forward

Before I found Dermalogica, I was desperate – desperate to have “normal” skin. And now I have better than I can be proud of!

I’d like to share with you my skincare routine with the sincerest hope to help you achieve your clear skin goals.

dermalogica line of skincare products

The Essential Cleansing Solution
iconTo cleanse I use the Essential Cleansing Solution; this hydrating cleanser refreshes and conditions my skin without the use of harsh chemicals that serve only to strip the skin. This was the first Dermalogica product I ever purchased; and I haven’t looked back.

The Daily Microfoliant
Thisicon is a product I use every day; and I cannot express my love for it enough! This gentle exfoliator leaves my skin radiant and smooth; and since I’ve begun using the Daily Microfoliant my lingering acne scars have faded dramatically!

MultiVitamin Body Block SPF 20
iconHigh quality moisture is essential to healthy and vibrant looking skin; as is sun protection, which has made me fall in love with the Multivitamin Body Block SPF 20! This broad spectrum and fast absorbing sun block is an essential to my daily arsenal. My favorite part about it is that it leaves my skin smooth without any greasy residue, which is typical of most sunscreen moisturizers.
Active Moist
iconIn addition to the Body Block is moisturize daily with the Active Moist Moisturizer, this lotion is perfect for oily/combination skin as it reduces shine and breakouts- things that used to plague my skin; and it’s light and oil-free, yet it manages to combat dehydration as it soothes and refines.

Ultra Calming Relief Masque
iconAnd lastly, once a week I use the Ultra Calming Relief Masque; this helps to reduce redness and swelling. When I started using the calming masque my skin was still in transition, and I noticed immediately that it reduced irritation and redness. Now that my skin is clear, I use it once a week as a preventative measure.

Affordable Prevention, Sustained Confidence!

As anti aging treatments and acne prevention products go, they don’t come much better than Dermalogica! These products contain no mineral oils, artificial colors or fragrances, lanoline, denatured alcohols and formaldehyde; and they are 100% non-comedogenic! This moderately priced line made especially for sensitive and reactive skin types has allowed for me to have dramatically improved skin, without breaking my bank.

These incredible products really worked for me – and I have every confidence it can work for you too.

Very best wishes,

Bianca