15 Super Foods

We have all heard the term ‘super food’. Every time you read something about nutrition you are told to increase the number of super foods in your diet. Many restaurants now use it as a catch phrase for their salads and healthy meals. But what does it really mean? By definition, a super food is “a food (such as salmon, broccoli, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health. Super foods increase energy and vitality, regulate cholesterol and blood pressure and may help to prevent or fight cancer and other diseases.” (Source: Marriam-Webster Dictionary).

The issue then becomes what ARE the actual super foods? Depending on whom you ask, there can be up to 100 different foods on a super foods list. I find that almost impossible to remember, let alone work into your daily nutrition routine. The idea of eating nutrient dense food, and the ones that are the absolute best for your health is what I find super intriguing. So I have compiled a list of fifteen super foods below that I feel are easy to incorporate into your day, taste delicious, and bring tons of benefits to your overall health.

  1. Berries – berries are on every super food list I have read. This includes acai, goji, cranberries, blueberries and strawberries. Each one of these berries brings different vitamins and minerals, but all are high in antioxidants, polyphenols and vitamin C. These sweet bundles of goodness help fight chronic disease and cancer.
  2. Cacao – you may have seen cacao nibs or powder at your favorite health food store. I find the powder terrific to add to a shake. Cacao is high in antioxidants that helps slow down the aging process. It is also high in magnesium and iron, which can be beneficial especially for women.
  3. Chia Seeds – chia pudding might be one of the easiest and healthiest snacks to make. A few major benefits of chia seeds include diabetes prevention, increased fiber and omega-3’s, strengthens your teeth and bones, high in protein, fights belly fat and has been known to improve heart health. A spoonful into a shake, on top of your oatmeal, or in a salad are all easy ways to incorporate chia into your day.
  4. Hemp Seeds – Hemp seeds contain high amounts of protein, which helps in strengthening the immune system. This reduces the instances of disease and helps excrete toxins from the body. Hemp also produces phytosterols, which helps reduce cholesterol. Lastly, these super seed contains all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential amino acids (EAAs) our bodies cannot produce.
  5. Turmeric –Turmeric is a natural anti-inflammatory and will do wonders for your joints. An anti-inflammatory diet is suggested for almost every ailment today from cancer to high blood pressure to Alzheimer’s to heart disease. Turmeric has been shown to not only help prevent these diseases but also help treat them once they attack. Turmeric is also great as an antioxidant, and has been suggested to be an anti-cancer agent. It has been shown to lower risk of brain disease and boosts brain function in the meantime. It has been shown to lower depression, help delay aging and fight age-related diseases.
  6. Cayenne Pepper – hot peppers have been known to boost metabolism and in turn, help you lose weight. It also helps to boost circulation and neutralize acidity. It’s great for keeping a cold or fungus at bay, on headaches, allergies, for joint pain and inflammation, good for digestion and heart health, and some studies have shown it to be anti-cancer.
  7. Garlic – nicknamed the ‘world’s healthiest food’, this one packs a punch! Garlic has been used for centuries to treat colds and infections. Raw, crushed garlic is the best way for it to be absorbed by your body. Garlic helps reduce blood pressure and lower cholesterol, and reduces your risk of heart disease. It is also said to be good for your brain while warding off dementia and Alzheimer’s. It has been found to be good for your overall bone health and help you live longer, and recently studies have shown it can help with erectile dysfunction.
  8. Broccoli – this is one of my favorite foods. Broccoli has been shown in studies to prevent cancer, reduce cholesterol, is high in antioxidants, reduces inflammation, is great for your bones and heart and helps detoxify and alkalize your body.
  9. Beets – another one of my absolute favorite vegetables. According to OrganicFacts.net, the health benefits of beets include “treatment of anemia, indigestion, constipation, piles, kidney disorders, dandruff, gall bladder disorders, cancer, and heart disease. It also helps to prevent macular degeneration, improve blood circulation, aid in skin care, prevent cataracts and mediate respiratory” They are nutrient dense and filled with vitamins and minerals.
  10. Spinach – spinach salad or popping some into a green smoothie is how I best incorporate this vegetable into my day. Spinach is full of vitamins and minerals – everything from A, C, E and K, to protein and flavonoids to calcium, iron and magnesium. In turn being great for your heart, brain, skin, hair and bones. For an added healthy bonus eat spinach with a high vitamin C fruit such as berries.
  11. Avocado – loaded with nutrients, this healthy fat is great for your heart, kidneys and overall cell function. Its ability to reduce inflammation has shown links to cancer reduction and help with arthritis. It is also high in fiber, which can help with weight loss and keep your digestive system on track. Avocados also help your body absorb nutrients from other vegetables, meaning it works for you! I put avocado with my eggs every day. It’s also a great topper on salads, chicken, toast, or salmon.
  12. Kale – with three grams of protein per serving, this high antioxidant super food is making its way to my fridge every week. It is said to be one of the most nutrient dense foods on the planet. Studies have shown links to cancer fighting properties, cardiovascular strengthening and can help you lose weight. I find it a harder one to digest so a light steam or baking them in raw organic coconut oil in the oven is a great way to add this one to your day.
  13. Eggs – eggs have received a bad rap over the years. We were once told to ease up on our egg consumption due to its ability to increase your cholesterol. That is no longer the case. It is recommended to eat up to 12 eggs per week. That said, if you have high cholesterol you should speak with your doctor or health practitioner first. The yolk of an egg is loaded with nutrients. Eggs contain all 9 essential amino acids, are highly concentrated with vitamins and minerals, and are rich in Omega-3s.
  14. Salmon – it is important here for me to note that I would only recommend wild caught salmon, not farmed salmon for consumption. Salmon is high in Omega 3s, is great for your brain and heart health, is anti-inflammatory and is an excellent source of vitamin D. So get fishing – and bring me some back too!
  15. Sweet Potatoes – this delicious, good carbohydrate is loaded with vitamin A, fiber and potassium. Studies have shown sweet potatoes decrease the risk for diabetes, heart disease and obesity while increasing your energy, are good for your skin and can help lower your weight.

My Top 10 Items for a Healthy Kitchen

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When first starting out on your healthy journey, your kitchen cupboards and fridge might need a makeover. Taking out the high-sugar, high sodium and processed foods is a great start, but there are some really healthy additions to make as well. Here is my list of top 10 favorite staple items that every healthy kitchen should have.

1. Turmeric – Turmeric has many benefits to your body and brain. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, is good for your heart, and has been shown in some studies to prevent and sometimes even treat cancer. It is also great for your brain as it helps with depression, helps prevent Alzheimer’s, and aids in warding off age-related diseases. I find the taste quite mild, so I put it on everything – toast, eggs, chicken, and in health shakes.

2. Raw Organic Coconut Oil – I am mildly obsessed with this one. It has tremendous benefits to your insides and out. I have used it with various skin issues including sunburns, eczema and cradle cap. I put it all over my body once a week for a deep moisturizing effect, and it does wonders for fine lines in your face. I cook with it constantly, or just eat a tablespoon of it. In terms of internal health, coconut oil is good for your brain, can help your body burn fat, can help prevent infections, and can help improve blood cholesterol levels.

3. Ground Flax Seed – With so many seeds out there to choose from, it can be hard to figure out which one is the best for you. As each of us has different needs and goals, I would suggest incorporating flax, hemp and/or chia seeds into your diet. You can sprinkle them on cereal, into a shake or in your eggs. I personally choose ground flax seed because of it is high in anti-oxidants, has cardiovascular and anti-inflammatory benefits, potential cancer prevention and digestive health promotion.

4. Organic Hemp Oil – Years ago I had issues with allergies that had me focus more on my liver health. A few things were suggested, including organic hemp oil. A tablespoon in the morning really seems to make a difference to keep my allergies in check and provide additional support for overall liver health. In addition, hemp oil is great for your brain, heart, hair, skin and nails, all while supporting the immune system and maintaining hormonal balance.

5. Cayenne Pepper – I love spicy food. The hotter the better! So this one is an easy addition for me. I sprinkle cayenne pepper on my eggs, chicken, roasted veggies – everywhere! Spicy food is a great way to boost your metabolism, and in turn lose weight. What else is great about it? It has antibacterial qualities so can help your body avoid infection, is great for your digestive system, and keeps your blood pressure in check. Pretty terrific for a little spice!

6. Beets – definitely one of my favorite foods. Other than the fact that they are a tasty vegetable, they are really great for you too. The have high immune-system boosting qualities due to their high vitamin C and magnesium content. They can boost your stamina in the gym, fight inflammation, are terrific for your digestive health and have anti-cancer properties. They are a high-sugar vegetable so if you are diabetic, definitely talk with your doctor before consuming too many beets.

7. Raw Organic Apple Cider Vinegar – this one can be a hard one to swallow. Similar to coconut oil, this one is great for you inside and out. It can be used to treat sunburns, acne, and other skin conditions. Drinking this every day can help detoxify your liver, help with weight loss, help balance your body’s pH level, and can help keep candida at bay. It is important to use only raw organic versions. My favorite is Bragg’s Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar that you can purchase at most major grocery store chains. Two tablespoons with a full glass of water to dilute it is key.

8. Greens – When grocery shopping, my cart can sometimes be mistaken for a leprechaun. Some of my favorite green veggies are spinach, bok choy, avocado, kale, brussels sprouts, and broccoli. I eat them every single day. If you are worried about not getting your greens in every day, but want to ensure you reap the benefits, there are some terrific supplement options you can try. My two favorites are Green Envy, which is a quick shot in the morning, and Magnum Performance Greens that you mix with water and tastes delicious.

9. Garlic – Garlic has been used for centuries to treat colds and infections. Fresh, raw, crushed garlic is the best way for it to be absorbed by your body. Garlic can reduce blood pressure, lower cholesterol, and reduce your risk of heart disease. Studies have shown it to be good for your brain while fighting off dementia and Alzheimer’s. Other health benefits include being good for your overall bone health, help you live longer, and recently studies have shown it can help with erectile dysfunction. Garlic can be used when cooking vegetables or meat, and to pack some extra flavor when making salad dressings and soups. If you’re getting sick, I would suggest taking 1-2 crushed garlic cloves before bed. It really does help!

10. Berries – Blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries – so many to choose from with tremendous health benefits for each. Berries taste great on their own, or adding them to a shake, yogurt or cereal. Berries are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, are great for your skin and can boost your immune system.

The Clean and Dirty

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I am sad to admit that summer is over. We are settling into fall – back to school, cooler nights and leaves falling. Pretty soon the local farmers’ markets will come to a close for another season. I absolutely LOVE the markets – fresh and local produce, baking, eggs, chicken and meat. I won’t be able to buy organic, non-GMO, local produce from the men and women that care for and cultivate these tasty treasures.

So now what? Living in the prairies, if we want to buy organic and non-GMO produce we will be paying a big price. Unless you have won the lottery, you probably can’t fill your fridge with everything that is organic and not covered in pesticides. We have to make choices.

Luckily, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has made our winter shopping easier. They have compiled the “Dirty Dozen” and “The Clean Fifteen” for 2016.

The Dirty Dozen consists of the top twelve produce with “most” pesticides – i.e.: the produce on this list should be on your “organic” section of your shopping list. This year the list includes…

  1. Strawberries
  2. Apples
  3. Nectarines
  4. Peaches
  5. Celery
  6. Grapes
  7. Cherries
  8. Spinach
  9. Tomatoes
  10. Sweet bell peppers
  11. Cherry tomatoes
  12. Cucumbers

Some of the EWG findings are shocking – including…

  • More than 98 percent of strawberry samples, peaches, nectarines, and apples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
  • A single grape sample and a sweet bell pepper sample contained 15 pesticides.
  • Single samples of strawberries showed 17 different pesticides

EWG’s Clean Fifteen is a list of produce least likely to hold pesticide residues. So the following 15 items don’t necessarily need to be “organic” – you can save some money on the produce on this list…:

  1. Avocados
  2. Sweet corn
  3. Pineapples
  4. Cabbage
  5. Frozen sweet peas
  6. Onions
  7. Asparagus
  8. Mangoes
  9. Papayas
  10. Kiwis
  11. Eggplant
  12. Honeydew melon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Cantaloupe
  15. Cauliflower.

In case you need some evidence that pesticides on your produce are dangerous to your health, the EWG (and so many more organizations and governmental agencies) have found that “pesticides have been linked to a variety of health problems, including: brain and nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption, skin, eye and lung irritation and impairment of children’s brain development”

So keep these Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists in your wallet or screenshotted on your smartphone. You can reference the lists when you are contemplating buying those organic or non-organic strawberries! You may find that when you spend a few extra dollars per package, it is balanced out by not only your non-organic onions but the benefit to your long-term health as well. If you found this blog interesting and helpful in making you and yours healthier, you may be interested in reading some of our other blogs on health and nutrition and signing up for our newsletter here. For more information on EWG – what they do, why they do it and how you can help, check out their website!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Top Ten Food Swaps for Healthy Living

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When we think about eating healthier and more nutritionally dense food, often people think about it being restrictive. They think about all the massive changes they need to make to their current eating habits, and all the things they can no longer enjoy. There needs to be a major shift in mentality if you truly want your food habits to become healthy long-term. You need to think about all of the things you are adding to your body to nourish and care for your cells. You need to think about how great you will feel from eating healthy – increased energy, better mood, and slimmer waistline. I would suggest that for anyone who wants to put their nutrition at the forefront, to do away with the word ‘diet’, as this constitutes a concept of it being temporary and restrictive. Rather, change the wording and mentality to eating healthy – because your body deserves it.

When first starting out, there are some simple changes you can do that can make a huge difference. Here is my list of ten food swaps to get your nutrition working for you today!

  1. Ditch the Soda. Both regular and diet soda can wreak havoc on your health. Soda is loaded with sugar or aspartame, phosphoric acid and caffeine all having various adverse health effects. Drinking soda can lead to obesity, is bad for your teeth, and can lead to dehydration. Swap it for infused water, which is simply water with fruit, lemons and/or herbs such as peppermint or cilantro. There are tons of recipes online for different flavors, or just put your favorite berries or citrus flavors in your water bottle.
  2. Ditch the Flavor Shots in Your Water. Staying hydrated throughout the day is very important, especially in the summer. But adding a quick squeeze of high sugar or aspartame-loaded flavor combats the goodness of the water. Instead, opt for infused fruit water or consider adding a splash of chlorophyll, apple cider vinegar or kombucha. All of these additions have different health benefits and can be purchased at your favorite health food store.
  3. Buy Ready to Eat Veggies. Do you ever throw out vegetables that you haven’t got around to eating? If you’re anything like me, this drives you nuts! It is literally throwing money into the garbage. Although ready to eat veggies (pre-cut, pre-washed) are slightly more expensive, if you eat them instead of tossing them in the trash, it ends up working out. With busy schedules sometimes we don’t have time for a lot of food preparation, so if you can grab some carrots or broccoli that are ready to go, you may tend to eat more of them.
  4. Swap Your Dips. Who doesn’t love a great dip with their snacks? These are often loaded with unwanted calories, sugar and bad fats. But the idea of dry broccoli is definitely not winning me over. Instead, try using salsa or hummus. If you really have a craving for something creamier, swap your sour cream for Greek yogurt.
  5. Swap the Whites for Browns. This one is huge! If you are currently eating white rice, white bread, white pasta, white flour, crackers, cereal…its time has come to an end! Loaded with sugar, these trigger a release of insulin and an hour or two later your hunger returns. This can lead to diabetes, obesity and issues with your heart health. Instead opt for whole grain foods such as whole grain bread, pasta, flour and cereal.
  6. Swap Your Cooking Oils. Sometimes it’s not just about what you’re eating but what you’re cooking it in. If you are currently using margarine or any type of vegetable oil (canola, soybean, corn, sunflower, safflower, peanut oils) it is time for change! Swap any of these out for either raw organic coconut oil or extra virgin olive oil.
  7. Swap Your Flavored Yogurt. Often flavored yogurt is full of sugar in the fruit mixture at the bottom. Instead, opt for plain yogurt and mix in your own fresh fruit. Adding blueberries, raspberries or even banana brings the same amount of delicious flavor and has the nutritional benefits of fresh fruit, without the same sugar content.
  8. Swap Out the Creamy Soup – I love soup! In fact I could probably have it every day and never get bored. Processed soups are often loaded with sodium and items I have never heard of in the ingredient list (I mean really, what is ‘monosodium glutamate’ anyway?). If you are having soup, try swapping out cream-based soups for tomato-based or broth soup. Making soups at home is a great way to bring a healthier soup to the dinner table.
  9. Swap Out Your Sandwich Meat. I gave up processed deli meats a few years ago when learning about the adverse health issues that have been studied on the effects of eating this food long-term. Studies have shows eating deli meats can cause cardiovascular issues and an increase risk for certain types of cancer. Swap out your bologna, pepperoni and turkey breast for pieces of meat from the bone such as chicken or turkey.
  10. Swap Out Regular Ground Beef. An easy switch when strolling through the meat aisle is choosing extra lean ground beef opposed to regular ground beef. If beef is not on your menu, try extra lean ground chicken or turkey.

Remember it is not about denying yourself the things you love, rather making slight adjustments and adding healthy and nutritionally dense food to your plate.

Protein My Way

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Three things I love: Winnipeg, Family and Health! Apparently I am in good company.  I am so excited to hear that a local Winnipeg family – Bryce, Graham and Erin Folster, along with Derek Penner – have created something truly unique and needed in the Canadian – and world-wide market. They have created Protein My Way – a protein shake vending machine company to bring healthy and nutritious beverages to the masses. I think that this is exactly what is missing in so many places – schools, hospitals, community centers, and anywhere you have vending machines.

So, of course when I hear about a new company or product, my question is always “Why”? Why this idea? Why now? How did this idea come about? The answer starts from a simple car ride. These hockey playing Charleswood brothers were driving home from the gym one day when they wanted to get a protein shake. There was nothing convenient that was not only packed with protein but also low in sugar. This discussion inspired the future and development of Protein My Way.

What fueled the inspiration was that both Bryce and Graham noticed a lack of healthy and convenient food items in many of Winnipeg’s local fitness facilities. “The frustration I came across was the lack of nutrition in facilities that promoted healthy living.” So instead of sitting around and wishing for change, they sprung into action.

The Folster family is not alone in wanting change. Although vending machines are synonymous with offering products such as cookies, candy, chips and sugary beverages, the last ten years has seen a shift. Vending machines have been diversifying their offerings following a change in consumer snacking preferences coupled with technology advancements in the vending industry. More consumers are wanting healthier alternatives more readily available and are willing to pay more for those alternatives.

The family has poured their blood, sweat, tears and funding into Protein My Way (“PMW”). They must be on the right track with something unique and innovative because the Canadian National Research Council has also supported the funding to make this product a reality. It has brought together two mega industries, health and wellness and vending machines. There is no other like PMW on the market – providing a convenient, healthy, high protein drink 24/7 in any location.

In keeping with their commitment to health, Protein My Way has gone one step further. They have created their own protein powder used in all machines, which is one of the healthiest on the market. It is no wonder with all of this uniqueness coupled with consumer trends, that machines have already began selling in Canada, the United States and the Middle East in gyms, hotels, airports, offices and schools.

Not only do I love this company for its innovation and its strong family base but also their values when it comes to sport and fitness. “We truly believe any child in sport has a way better chance in growing up to be a more confident, and healthier-minded individual.  This is where my brother and I knew we could make a difference,” says Bryce.  So cool.

I am so excited about this technology and extremely proud that these are Winnipeggers and Canadians that are making strides in the area of healthy living. I can’t wait to try my own PMW at my gym! If this is something you’d like to see in your kids’ school or your gym, contact them at www.proteinmyway.com or let us know in the comments below and we’ll help start the conversation.

Check out the article about Protein My Way in the Winnipeg Free Press.

 

Green Supplements – Our Top Picks!

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It is recommended for optimal health by both Canada’s Food Guide and the United States Department of Agriculture to eat 7 – 9 servings a day of fruits and veggies. According to Heart.org, a serving is defined as “Vegetables: 1 cup of raw leafy vegetables (about the size of a small fist), 1/2 cup of other vegetables or 1/2 cup of vegetable juice. Fruits: 1 medium fruit (medium is defined as the size of a baseball); 1/2 cup chopped, cooked or canned fruit; or 1/2 cup juice.”

Now I don’t know about you, but that seems like a LOT of veggies to get in in a day! It’s not like that is all you’re eating – you still need to add your carbs, fats and proteins into the mix. Seems like a lot of work to prep and eat. That said, there are so many benefits to eating greens including helping with digestion, reducing inflammation, strengthening your cardiovascular system, and being cancer fighting, so definitely something you don’t want to miss out on. For these reasons and so many more, I take a green supplement every day. I have tried a few different ones over the last two years, and this week’s blog is my opinion on each of the three I have tried, why I like them, and the science behind each.

  1. Green Envy – Daily Detox greenenvy

This daily dose is one 30 ml “shot”. Super easy to add to your morning routine. Green Envy is packed with 23 vegetables, fruits and herbs. It also contains super foods including barley grass, wheat grass and broccoli and is non-GMO and gluten free. A 32 oz bottle, or a monthly supply, will cost you approximately $30 in stores and online. At only 10 calories a shot, it really packs a punch of goodness.  According to Arolabs, creator of Green Envy, they have “formulated a premium blend of natural superfoods that aid in total body cellular detox which supports internal organ detoxification and healthy hair, skin, and nails.” Its detoxifying effects and prebiotic benefits aid with digestion and immunity health as well.

  1. Magnum Performance Greensmagnumgreens

Personally, I find these the best tasting greens on the market that I have tried – and believe me, I have tried many different options. They aren’t overly sweet like many other products on the market, yet still taste great. With this option, you add it to water, shake and drink. I personally drink it while working out for two major reasons. First, it ensures that I drink it every day and don’t forget about it. Secondly, I have noticed a significant improvement in my energy maintenance while working out. This product manages to combine greens and phytoberries into one product, and is completely organic with zero artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or anything unnatural. According to Magnum, Performance Greens will “increase energy support, regulate stress, detoxify and cleanse, support improved sleep, balance pH, promote healthy aging, and allow your body to function at an advanced level.”

  1. PHD Pharma-Greens WholeFood & Cleansing Herb Blendphdgreens

I recently came across this brand when shopping at Muscles By Meyers for a post-workout protein option. It comes in three flavors – Green Apple, Strawberry Kiwi, and Lemon Lime. I opted for the Green Apple as I was told it was the least sweet of the three options. Now don’t get me wrong – I love anything sweet, but I do find that green supplements can be overbearing in that department at times. The Green Apple is delicious. The added benefits to this option are:

  • Probiotic benefits
  • Supports the body’s ability to digest and absorb nutrients
  • Support the body’s cells for optimum energy
  • Increases energy and reduces stress
  • Cleanses and purifies the digestive system
  • Promotes an alkaline environment (pH balance)
  • Supports immune function
  • Enhances focus and concentration
  • Enhances physical performance
  • Enhances general well being and cellular health
  • Equivalent nutrition value of 6-8 servings of whole vegetables and fruits

I honestly think all three are terrific options. If you are fairly picky about taste, and want something quick and easy, I would suggest the Green Envy as it is only a one ounce shot for the day. The other two are terrific options to sip on throughout the day or while you’re hitting the gym.

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Healthy Meals Under $20

HEALTHY (1)I heard an ad on the radio the other day from a grocery chain advertising that they have family meals for under $40 – hence “affordable”. I am not sure who is doing the grocery shopping for these families but I am pretty sure that most people would agree that a meal at home should not cost $40. In addition, I highly doubt that these meals are nutritious. I decided to challenge this $40 meal with making my meals for my family for under $20. This, of course, requires me to do all of the planning, preparation and cooking. However, I would argue that most of us have to do some level of planning, preparation and cooking when eating at home.

I have come up with my week-long “healthy under $20” meals that I am sure will meet the nutritional needs and taste buds of even the most picky of family members. I have tried to keep the meals fun and interesting and sight a bit of what makes each meal healthy.

Monday – Chicken Dinner:

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts – chicken is packed with protein, phosphorus to keep bones healthy, niacin to help lower cholesterol and amino acids to help kids grow stronger and taller.
  • Steamed broccoli/brussel sprouts/cauliflower – anti-aging and cancer fighting superheroes! They are packed with antioxidants and selenium, immune boosting phytonutrients, vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium, iron and folic acid
  • Baked potatoes – Potatoes, if cooked healthily, are good for you! They are packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Potatoes and sweet potatoes fight cancer, control diabetes and help you maintain bone health.

Tuesday – Taco Tuesday:

  • Ground turkey or chicken – choose one of these two options instead of the traditional beef variety. Add low sodium taco season and it will be just a yummy as beef and a lot better for you.
  • Shredded choice of dark leafy green lettuce (instead of iceberg) as these high in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids and B, C, E and K.
  • Diced red or orange peppers – great sources of potassium, manganese (collagen production, blood sugar control, and bone production supporter), fiber and vitamins A, B, C and K. They also happen to have twice the vitamin C content of oranges and are packed with antioxidants.
  • Tomatoes and salsa – tomatoes are a great source of lycopene, a potent antioxidant that may reduce cholesterol and protect against advanced-stage prostate cancer.
  • Whole grain wraps or hard shell tacos and shredded cheddar cheese.

Wednesday – Spaghetti Dinner:

Whole grain spaghetti or spaghettini with tomato sauce – choose a tomato based pasta sauce instead of cream-based. Not only will this be better for your waste-line but also for your health. When tomatoes are cooked, their antioxidant power is increased as it increases the amount of phytochemicals they contain. Add a side salad with choice of colourful toppings.

Thursday – Breakfast for dinner:

Eggs and ancient grain toast, grilled tomatoes and orange juice or a veggie packed omelet.

Eggs have been given a bad rap but they are really an amazing food – they are loaded with nutrients – you can even get omega enriched eggs now. They contain vitamin A, folate, vitamin B5, B12, B2, D, E, K, calcium, phosphorus and selenium.

Ancient grain breads have more protein, folate, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins, iron, phosphorus, fibre, and calcium than wheat.

Friday – Fish & Chips:

Your choice of fish and preparation – you can even do homemade and healthy “battered” fish. Fish is loaded with important nutrients such as omegas, protein, vitamin D and iodine.

Serve with baked yam fries. – very rich in carotenoids, vitamins A, B6, C (helps heal wounds, cancer prevention, prevent cataracts, reduce blood pressure, regulate blood sugar and even treat Parkinson’s disease!), potassium, iron and fiber.

Saturday – Pita Pizzas:

  • Start with whole wheat pita bread – The “whole wheat” label means the wheat in that product hasn’t been refined so healthy components like endosperm and bran are left intact. Unrefined products also have many more nutrients like B vitamins and trace metals like iron, zinc, and copper.
  • Top with tomato/pasta sauce, mushrooms (contain selenium, potassium, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin D and more), chicken, peppers, tomatoes, pineapple (contains a natural enzyme called bromelain, which helps digestion and may also help prevent blood clots, inhibit growth of cancer cells and speed wound healing), ham etc…and top with your favorite cheese.

Sunday – Stir fry:

Boneless skinless chicken breasts, frozen stir fry veggies – frozen veggies are just as healthy as the fresh variety as they are flash frozen and all of the nutrients are preserved. Serve over and rice noodles or brown rice

 

Other ideas include roast chicken dinners, homemade soups, salads topped with chicken and baked whole wheat garlic toast. There are so many options. You are only limited by your imagination and, of course your family’s preferences.

So this week, challenge yourself to take the time to prepare some or all of these healthy meals for your family. You will be giving so much more than your gift of time, but the gift of health.

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GMO 101

gmo

A breakfast consisting of corn flaked cereal with low fat milk and a side of cut up papaya sounds pretty darn healthy doesn’t it? Well, think again. Thanks to GMOs you are likely eating herbicide and pesticide-laced foods wrecking havoc on your health. But what are GMOs? GMO foods or Genetically Modified Organisms are foods produced from organisms that have had changes to their DNA using the methods of genetic engineering. Genetic engineering techniques allow for the introduction of new traits as well as greater control over traits than previous methods such as selective breeding.

GMO crops were first introduced in the 1990s with the Flavr Savr tomato. It was supposed to have delayed ripening properties. This invention of GMOs was thought to perhaps be the answer to end world hunger. This is because the crops could be made to resist pesticides and therefore could increase their yields and decrease costs. However, as we still have world hunger, this was obviously not the case. Instead, the bugs and weeds, like many organisms through time and evolution – learn. They learned to become resistant to the chemicals that were dousing on the crops. This then led to increased use of the chemicals to try to battle these enlightened bugs and weeds. And as I’m sure you know, the more chemicals sprayed on our foods, the worse they are for our health.

Genetically modified foods (GMO foods) have been shown to cause harm to humans, animals, and the environment, and despite growing opposition, more and more foods continue to be genetically altered. The harmful health effects vary from increased allergic reactions to increased direct and indirect cancer rates. They have also shown to cause birth defects, infertility, accelerated aging and immune problems.  They may also reduce antibiotic effectiveness due to consumption through both vegetables and milk. Each year there are many more studies and results published that contribute to the evidence that GMOs are harmful to humans.

“The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) called on ‘Physicians to educate their patients, the medical community, and the public to avoid GM (genetically modified) foods when possible and provide educational materials concerning GM foods and health risks.’ They called for a moratorium on GM foods, long-term independent studies, and labeling.” (Institute for Responsible Technology)

With all of this undeniable evidence stacking up, there has been mounting pressure for Canada to, at the very least, have mandatory labeling of GMO foods and to even ban GMO food production and imports altogether. Unfortunately, Canada is behind the 8-ball on this one. We are one of only a few developed nations in the world that don’t have either of these yet.

Because we have no laws requiring labelling of GMO foods, we are left to fend for ourselves. Without education, how would you know if you are eating a GMO or not? For example, the corn you are buying at the grocery store, unless organic, is probably a GMO. Same goes for your zucchini, squash and papaya! And here you thought you were doing great buying fruits and veggies! Well, so did I.

The only sure way to ensure you are eating non-GMO is to look for the certification and logo “Non-GMO Verified Project” and/or it is certified 100% organic – this is different from simply being labelled “organic” or “made with organic ingredients.” You can find these at some of the big chain grocery stores. Another option is to check local farmers’ produce or markets where you can be ensured that the crops aren’t GMO. Finally, your best bet is to start organic gardening to grow your own produce.

If you can’t do any of the above options – whether due to cost, time of year or your location, then you can at least avoid the products that are the worst GMO foods for you. Here is the list:

Corn – It is one of the most prominent GMO foods. GMO corn has been tied to a number of different numerous health issues including weight gain and organ disruption. You can’t simply think about corn as the corn on the cob you buy at the store. Also remember that these products are based on GM corn: corn flakes, corn chips, cornstarch, corn syrup, corn oil, corn ingredients in processed foods, glucose, fructose, eggs, milk and meat (as these are fed to livestock and cows).

Canola – One of the most chemically altered foods and the second highest GM crop in Canada, canola oil is obtained from grapeseed through a series of chemical actions. Included here are products such as canola oil, margarine and some honeys.

Soy – It is modified to resist herbicides. Monsanto (GMO superstar) still controls the soy market and approximately 90 percent of soy is being genetically engineered to resist Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. In one single year, 2006, there was 96.7 million pounds of glyphosate sprayed on soybeans alone. Included in this list of things to avoid are: tofu, soy oil, soy protein, soy lecithin, soy beverages, soy puddings and egg, milk and meat (as GM grains are fed to livestock and cows).

Sugar – Almost 100% of all of the white sugar beets grown in Canada are Monsanto’s GM herbicide-tolerant Roundup Ready sugar beets. I’m OK with losing this one – as white sugar is cancer feeder anyhow.

Aspartame – Aspartame is a toxic additive and it is created with genetically modified bacteria.

Papayas – GMO papayas have been grown in Hawaii for consumption since 1999. Although imported to Canada and the U.S. they can’t be sold to countries in the European Union.

Peas – Peas that have been genetically modified have been found to cause immune responses in mice and possibly even in humans. A gene from kidney beans was inserted into the peas creating a protein that functions as a pesticide.

Zucchini, Yellow Squash and Tomatoes – these have all been modified to resist viruses and have longer shelf-life.

Dairy, Eggs and Meat – Your dairy, eggs and meat products may contain growth hormones – this is aside from GM grains the animals are fed. Purchasing these items as organic is key.

Finally, steer clear from pre-made canned soups and frozen foods.

So there you have it. Scary, isn’t it!? I know that I have had my eyes opened to just how important it is to know where your food comes from. My hope is that the more people know about this, the more likely we will have pressure put on our government to work on protecting us from harmful GMO foods and in turn work on making the organic healthy foods more affordable for all.

As with previous blogs about health, we have to be in the driver’s seat of our own health and wellness. That includes learning as much as we can in order to make informed decisions for us and our families. If you feel that this blog has helped you in your own journey toward healthy living, you may be interested in ready more of our blogs on nutrition and health or sign up for our newsletter!

Sources: naturalnews.com, naturalsociety.com, gmoinquiry.ca, Institute for Responsible Technology

 

Fitness Journal for Girls

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The Fitness Journal for Girls launched Monday, May 16, 2016 in support of girls in Winnipeg being active in sport, fitness and health. Over twenty local businesses and sport organizations have come together in the Fitness Journal for Girls to help girls in Winnipeg curb the national trend of dropping out of sports. The Fitness Journal for Girls is a year-round guide to everything fun and fitness in Winnipeg.  The Journal is geared to girls ages 5 – 15 to try new sports and activities throughout Winnipeg, have weekly summer challenges to get active and win prizes, and Journal about their healthy lifestyle, increased self-esteem and positive outlook on health.

As founders of the Fitness Journal for Girls, we (Allison Gervais and Andrea Katz) created the Fitness Journal for Girls after learning that girls are up to six times more likely to drop out of sport in Canada than are boys (according to the Women’s Sport Center). Reasons for this include lack of positive female role models in sport, cost, transportation and safety issues, lack of access, social stigma of being a female athlete (‘tomboy’ or ‘butch’) and a decreased quality experience.

Mark Arndt from Tennis Manitoba and proud supporter of this initiative says, “Tennis Canada is in the process of rolling out a nation-wide campaign that focuses on increased participation among kids – especially girls. A participation gap exists among girls aged 8 – 16. Tennis Manitoba is confident this [Fitness Journal for Girls] initiative will help reach goals and, more importantly, increase and maintain activity levels for girls.”

There are over twenty local businesses and sport organizations within the Journal providing summer challenges and discounts on their programming to girls who purchase a book. Activities within the Journal for the girls include kickboxing, tennis, triathlon, swimming, wakeboarding, snowtubing, crossfit, ringette and many more.

The cost of the Journal is $20 and can be purchased on-line at fitcommunications.ca/fitnessjournalforgirls or at Aevi Boutique – 1580 Taylor Avenue. The purchase price includes all taxes and shipping. It is a great gift to give a young girl in your life – whether for a birthday, a grad or just ‘because’. What other gift provides the gift of fitness, health and self-esteem? Get yours today!

Veggies 411

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Thank goodness for chefs!  They have made me fall in love with vegetables! No matter what restaurant you visit nowadays, you can find some truly decadent vegetables! Curried cauliflower, grilled brussel sprouts, roasted peppers, spinach salads, glazed carrots, barbequed asparagus or garlic anything! I LOVE my veggies!

We all know vegetables are good for you. But why? What do they actually do for your health? Well I am in no way a dietician or nutritionist but I certainly have done my research! After doing some digging, I have come up with a fairly comprehensive list of veggies, some of their “groupings” and their health benefits. I included some of the benefits of each vitamin or mineral as I go because I also am curious as to what each “does” for our health.

Within the list below, I am sure you will find a few that you can work into your daily diet – whether it is in a soup or a salad at lunch or as a yummy side at dinner. Make it happen. Not only will your health thank you but so will your taste buds!

Allium foods are the super flavors! They have natural antibiotic properties and can help boost immunity, reduce inflammation and fight infection. They include leeks, onions, shallots, scallions and garlic.

Asparagus is a great source of potassium, fiber, vitamins A, C, K and B complex – especially B6 and folic acid. Asparagus reduces inflammation and even fights depression.

Beans and peas are much higher in protein than other vegetables. This is why they are a great “meat” alternative for all those veg-heads out there! They also contain fiber, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium.  They include peas, lentils, and beans – soybeans, lima, kidney and garbanzo.

Bell peppers are great sources of potassium, manganese (collagen production, blood sugar control, and bone production supporter), fiber and vitamins A, B, C and K. They also happen to have twice the vitamin C content of oranges and are packed with antioxidants.

Carrots are known to improve eyesight due to their high levels of carotenoids and vitamin A. But did you know that they also help protect against cancer? They’re also a good source of vitamins B, C and K, fiber, potassium, magnesium and folate.

Cruciferous vegetables are anti-aging and cancer fighting superheroes! They are packed with antioxidants and selenium, immune boosting phytonutrients, vitamins C and K, potassium, calcium, iron and folic acid Included in this group are broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage.

Dark green leafy vegetables are high in iron, potassium, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids and B, C, E and K. Included in this group are kale, spinach, swiss chard, collard greens, parsley and red/green lettuce.

  • Kale, (one cup of raw kale provides 460 percent of your daily vitamin K (prevents osteoporosis and aids in blood regulation and even reduces menstrual pain), 74 percent of your vitamin A and 107 percent of your vitamin C!
  • Spinach also offers an abundance of vitamin A (cancer fighter, eye support, skin protector and immunity builder) and folate too.

Eggplants are one of the best sources of antioxidants. Their high amount of soluble fiber contributes to healthy blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

Squash are rich in carotenoids (cancer and heart disease prevention), vitamins A and C, potassium, magnesium and fiber.

Sweet potatoes and yams are very rich in carotenoids, vitamins A, B6, C (helps heal wounds, cancer prevention, prevent cataracts, reduce blood pressure, regulate blood sugar and even treat Parkinson’s disease!), potassium, iron and fiber.

So there you have it! You receive a slew of health benefits by eating these colourful delights! Ensure your plates are as colourful as possible to ensure you are getting enough of your veggies. Your Mom would be so proud!

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