Healthy Lunch Ideas for Kids

It’s back to school time for kids, which means back to schedules for parents. Organizing backpacks, after school activities, school supply shopping and of course – making lunches. With so many allergies in today’s classroom, packing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or tuna wrap is a definite no go. It can have parents feeling out of ideas quickly. As a parent, you want to ensure you are sending your kids to school with healthy lunches, that are easy to prepare the night before or morning of, and perhaps most importantly – lunches your kids are going to actually eat.

Gone are the days of picking up a ‘ready-to-eat’ package lunch for your kids. They are loaded with sodium, sugar and simply aren’t enough nutrient dense calories to keep them full all day. If you are a working parent, I understand the struggle with time. You just don’t have enough time to cook, make and bake homemade everything. Who does really? But that doesn’t mean your kids nutrition should take the back burner. Here are five ideas on how to make delicious, healthy lunches your kids will be sure to enjoy.

  1. Leftovers – if they liked it at dinner, they’ll like it at lunch. My sister, the super-hero mom of three, ensures that every lunch and dinner meal has vegetables in it. Be it raw veggies and dip, steamed broccoli, honey carrots or roasted vegetables, her kids love them. Finding a vegetable or two that your kids enjoy is the key to this working. Don’t be scared to send them with the same thing every day – if they like it and it’s healthy, that is what counts. I think I ate the same lunch every single day in twelve years of grade school and never got bored. Taking them grocery shopping (which yes I know, can be a nightmare at times) may help them understand the variety of vegetables they can choose from. Making it a game by having them find and pick out veggies for the cart is a great way to make them feel part of the process. And when they feel like part of the process, they are more likely to eat what you are making.
  2. Wraps – there are lots of options with what to put inside these. I would suggest choosing a whole grain wrap that typically comes in smaller sizes for kids. Dice up some chicken, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, red peppers – whatever they like. Add brown rice or rice noodles from last night’s dinner, and for condiments try mustard or hummus for a healthy dash of extra flavor. Superhealthykids.com has a great article on top ten healthy wrap ideas for kids.
  3. Pita Pockets – the mini-pita pockets are great for kids’ lunches. Use cream cheese as a base, and add fresh cucumber and tomato. This takes less than 60 seconds to prepare and are delicious.
  4. Pita, Hummus and Veggies – kids love to dip – have you seen them eat fries and ketchup? Here’s a healthy spin on it. Pack them a bento box with healthy options like hummus, pita and veggies.
  5. Pasta – assuming your kids classroom has a microwave, send them with whole wheat pasta and marinara sauce. Not only is this healthy, but it’s a cost effective meal that can feed your whole family.

When it comes to snacks, most schools now encourage you to pack healthy snacks – they don’t want to see kids coming with a chocolate bar and a bag of chips to help them get through the day. They too understand the value of nutrition and how it can affect learning and energy levels. Instead, try packing fruit, cheese and crackers or veggies and dip. I loved having something sweet as a kid in my lunch, so if your kids do too, try to provide them with homemade goodies over processed treats.

Lastly, when it comes to packing lunches, be mindful of what you are packing them in. Plastic sandwich bags and brown paper bags that are thrown out every day are terrible for our environment, and the cost adds up quickly. Instead, send lunches in re-usable containers like Tupperware, and pack it all in a re-usable, washable lunch kit.

How to Eat Healthy During Summer BBQ Season

We are well underway with summer in Winnipeg – the weekend getaways to the lake, the countless festivals in the Exchange District, enjoying the incredible patios our city has to offer, and spending time with friends and family at the ever-popular BBQ. But summer indulging can take its toll on our health and on our waistlines. I think most of us drink a little more and eat a little more that is outside of our regular regime in the summer. It’s time for enjoying the weather, getting outside, and in turn, indulging. But we don’t have to go overboard. Here are a few tips on how to eat healthy next time you’re out and about in barbeque season:

  1. Reach for whole-wheat buns rather than white buns. Personally, I like the taste of whole wheat much better, and feel that everyone can acquire the taste buds to enjoy this option. Whole wheat is rich in fiber, is a plant-based protein, and is higher in phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals than is white bread.
  2. Stick to veggie or turkey burgers or boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of hot dogs or hamburgers. The World Health Organization last year linked processed meats (i.e. hot dogs and sandwich meat) and red meat to cancer. “A risk of several cancers may be associated with high consumption of red meat or processed meat. Although these risks are small, they could be important for public health because many people worldwide eat meat and meat consumption is increasing in low- and middle-income countries.” (Source: World Health Organization). So if an increased risk of cancer isn’t enough of a reason to reach for a secondary option, I don’t know what is. Boon Burger makes amazing vegetarian options that are sold both in their restaurant (79 Sherbrook Street) and at the grocery store.
  3. Go easy on the sauces. Everyone loves the toppings that come with burgers. Pile them on veggie style. Add tomato, onion, hot peppers, pickles and lettuce. With regards to condiments, try to stay away from high-sugar ketchup or mayo. Mustard and hummus are great substitutions.
  4. Don’t drink your calories. When it’s hot outside it’s important to stay hydrated. Whether you are drinking alcohol or non-alcoholic beverages, try to cut out high sugar options like pop or fruit juices. Try infusing your water with oranges, raspberries or mint for a fresh summer flavor without all the calories.
  5. If it’s a potluck, bring a healthy dish like a spinach salad or fresh or roasted vegetables. Summer is a great time in Winnipeg for fresh fruit and veggies, purchased locally at many of our Farmer’s Markets around the city. Adding berries to a spinach salad is a terrific way to increase the vitamin C while having a delicious summer salad.
  6. Don’t over indulge. The best way to do this is simple – get a plate, put your food on it and stick to eating just that. Try to avoid grazing all night over the finger food and snacks.
  7. If there are lots of starchy side dishes like pierogies, potato salad or pasta salad, try to pick just one. Think of it as prioritizing your food and pick just your favorite. Try to fill up on the healthier options around you.
  8. Stay active. The great thing about BBQ season is that is it so nice outside. When you’re done eating go for a walk, toss a football around or play a round of tag with the kids. This avoids the heavy feeling after you eat.

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Top 10 Items for a Healthy Kitchen

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 summer time foods. I grow beets in my garden, and purchase them at the farmers markets throughout the summer until it is time for my garden to harvest. 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 – oh how I love my 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 – Summer is definitely the season of 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. I like to freeze them in the summer months so I can have delicious flavorful ones all winter long for snacks or shakes. Berries are high in antioxidants, vitamin C, are great for your skin and can boost your immune system.

We are always on the hunt for great resources, so wanted to share one of our new faves with you! Check out Positive Health Wellness for great info to help you stay on a positive healthy track!

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Let’s Talk About Menopause!

They say there are two things you can be sure of in life – death and taxes. However as women, we get a bonus third thing we can be sure of – menopause. Yay! Lucky us! Menopause is defined as “occurring 12 months after your last menstrual period and marks the end of menstrual cycles.”

Such a simple definition obviously doesn’t capture the scope of this “change” women endure. Menopause can happen in your 40s or 50s and even into your 60s and beyond.

Some women are thrilled about the idea of no more monthly periods including cramping, headaches and inconvenience. They can also have copious amounts of sex without having to worry about pregnancy. It is a time where we have earned our womanly stripes and are more proud, confident and sure of ourselves than ever before. However some women are saddened by the idea of going through menopause because they feel like they may no longer be vital, fertile and sexual. I would argue this with the fact that Christie Brinkley is 61, Elle Macpherson is 51, Sofia Vergara is 44 and Jennifer Lopez is 48 this year! This is a sexy group of potentially menopausal women!

Besides having to come to grips with the idea of menopause, there is also the “in your face” physical symptoms that can sometimes be nearly unbearable. The physical symptoms include the infamous hot flashes, irregular periods, vaginal dryness, night sweats, difficulty sleeping, mood changes, weight gain and slowed metabolism, thinning hair, dry skin and loss of breast fullness. Sounds fun right?! OMG!

Here are some symptoms (listed below) that you may experience in the thick of menopause and some ideas for relief. The reliefs listed are ones outside of menopausal hormone therapy (MHT). MHT is an option that may alieve many symptoms of menopause. Be sure to discuss any of these options with your doctor prior to implementing them.

Hot flashes – Be cognizant of what trigger these – spicy food, alcohol, caffeine or stress – and avoid them if possible. Also do whatever else you would do in the middle of a heat wave of summer – fans, relaxing and “breathing”, dressing in layers etc… Consider taking black cohosh. It is said to be beneficial in easing feelings of depression as well as regulating body temperature.

Vaginal dryness – As mentioned above, just because you are menopausal, doesn’t mean you can’t or don’t want to get it on! So if you do experience dryness, there are lots of great lubes out there. I would suggest buying one at a sex toy store rather than the pharmacy – they have way more options there for you to use. Using a water based one is also where it’s at. If the over the counter variety don’t do the trick, talk to your doctor.

Problems sleeping – Everything’s better with a good night’s sleep. One of the best ways to get a good night’s sleep is to be physically active. But don’t do this close to bedtime as it might make you more awake. Also, avoid working or “screen time” right before bedtime, caffeine after noon, and avoid alcohol close to bedtime.

Mood swings – Great! So as if we weren’t hormonal enough before menopause!?! If you are experiencing mood swings, getting enough sleep, reducing your stress and staying physically active will help ease your stress. Depression is another common side effect of menopause. If this is a new condition for you or is exasperated by menopause, talk to your doctor.

Here are a few other ideas that could help…

Healthy lifestyle – Menopause is another instance when proper nutrition and exercise are paramount in achieving benefits to your body and relief of symptoms.

Support – Consider joining an “in person” or online support group for women who are going through the same things as you.

Yoga – Continual evidence supports the notion that yoga can help relieve irritability and depression brought on by menopause. Women report that yoga relaxation and stretching techniques help stabilize their moods while improving their overall well-being.

Mindful Breathing – Another great idea to incorporate into your life is meditation (menopausal or not!). Meditation and “mindful breathing” can help calm your mind and any anxiety you feel including during times of hot flashes. It will also allow you time to decompress, destress and relax.

Acupuncture – Some women swear by acupuncture as a great treatment and alternative to hormone therapy for menopausal depression and hot flashes.

Supplements and Herbs – In addition to Black Cohosh, you may want to incorporate St. John’s Wort and Ginseng into your regimen. St. John’s wort is said to be an effective treatment for menopausal mood swings, improved sleep, relaxation, and reducing mild depression and anxiety. Ask your doctor before you begin taking St. John’s wort, as it might interact with other medications. Ginseng may be used to treat menopausal symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, and stress.

Luckily we are in the best time in history to go through menopause. We know more about menopause now than ever – including best ways to relieve symptoms!

Everyone’s journey through the “change” (for the better) is different. For some, it’s hell and for others it’s a cake walk. Hopefully yours is the latter. If not, hopefully this blog will help you find some relief or at least have some solid options to consider and talk about – with your circle of “people” and with your doctor. I also hope you to consider the notion that menopause isn’t a curse, but rather it’s an end to cramps, bloating, tampons and headaches! That it is a path to freedom! Let’s all see this as a graduation – you made it through the trenches and now you can soar.

My Top 10 Items for a Healthy Kitchen

easy-kitchen-tips-to-cook-food-fast-and-yummy
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.

Top Ten Food Swaps for Healthy Living

Grocery

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.

Budget Friendly Healthy Grocery Tips

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With the current price of food at its highest in history, and no signs of this slowing down anytime soon, this week’s blog looks at tips to eat healthy on a dime. There are lots of ways you can save money at the grocery store and still walk away with healthy, nutritionally dense food choices for you and your family. Here are a few of my favorite tips.

  1. Buy in bulk – whether it be at your local grocery store or specialty health food store, there are lots of healthy options in the bulk department. Chia and flax seed, whole grain pasta, lentils, spices – you name it, you can buy it in bulk. And not only are you saving some dough, you’re also saving the environment with less packaging.
  2. I know organic is typically more expensive. And although I find it to be a priority, everything does not have to be organic. A good rule of thumb is if it has a thick peel, you are good to go non-organic. Dr. Andrew Weil, one of my all-time favorite health gurus, names the ‘dirty dozen’ to always buy organic, and the ‘clean 15’ that you are okay to buy non-organic here.
  3. Keep your eye open for sales at your favorite health food store, grocery store or pharmacy for supplements on sale. In Winnipeg, Vita Health always has a flyer with items on sale and in-store specials that I love to take advantage of. Buy one, get one, or reduced prices on supplements happen all the time at supermarkets and large pharmacies…buy them on sale and you’re sure to save a buck.
  4. Collect points – shopping rewards, air miles, or in-store ‘bucks’…be sure to collect them. They really do add up. You might still pay regular price on your food, but if you can get a free flight at the end of the year or a bulk purchase percentage off, it is definitely worth it.
  5. Grow your own. If you can, you must! Plant a garden that you can eat from. In the winter of course this is a difficult one to start, but growing your own herbs year-round is something you can do. Once the spring hits be sure to plant lots of freezable options. This way you ensure pesticide free food while at the same time being able to eat at a significantly reduced cost. It is some work, but work you will most certainly enjoy the fruits of your labor.
  6. Community Gardens are a great way to get to know people in your neighborhood while at the same time save money. They work similar to a food swap – ‘I’ll trade you some tomatoes for some corn’ mentality. Find out if your area has one and get involved.
  7. Farmers Markets might be my all-time favorite place to be. Buying your organic produce from a farmer and his/her family feels great…and it’s cheaper too. I could easily spend $40 at a market and have fresh fruit and veggies for us all week.
  8. Cook for yourself. Be rid of the processed foods – they tend to be added with ‘food’ and ingredient items you don’t understand, are packaged incessantly, and are much more expensive. Have a day with friends where you make soups, sauces, dips and items that you can freeze. It is a fun day to spend with your buddies while making whole, natural, nutritious and delicious food. There are tons of recipes online to make anything and everything you can imagine.

 
Eating healthy can be done on a dime, and I promise that down the road your body and bank account will thank you for it.
If you enjoyed this blog, read more about our favorite nutritional tips.

Top Ten Favorite Green Foods For My Health

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In this week’s blog, I wanted to explore the concept behind ‘greens’. When grocery shopping this past week, I looked down at my cart and noticed that everything I had put in so far was green. I definitely eat a very healthy and balanced diet (including other colors of course!), although not everyone is on that same field. So this week’s blog is my Top Ten Favorite Green Foods, why I love them and why you should consider adding them to your daily nutrition routine.

1. Broccoli – this high fiber food truly is a super food. Broccoli lowers cholesterol, aids in digestion and naturally detoxes the body. Packed with Vitamins D, K and A this tasty vegetable has enormous anti-inflammatory benefits. Some people find it difficult to digest raw, so a light steam can help with that. I eat this daily with hummus or on it’s own.

2. 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.

3. Spinach – this delicious one is full of vitamins and minerals – everything from A, C, E and K, to protein and flavanoids to calcium, iron and magnesium. It’s basically loaded with good things for every part of your body. Great for your heart, brain, skin, hair and bones. I put spinach in my breakfast wrap every morning right before the eggs on top to give them a slight steam which adds even more benefits to spinach. A spinach salad for lunch is also a frequent occurrence in this household. Add with your favorite veggies, a few Hemp Hearts and some extra virgin olive oil…you are set. Added bonus? Eat spinach with a high vitamin C fruit such as berries to help pack even more of a punch.

4. Brussels Sprouts – everyone probably remembers having brussels sprouts as a kid and hating them. But they seem to have made a come back in my kitchen in more recent years. Packed with vitamins and minerals, they are noted as one of the top 20 healthiest foods by the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index. Studies have shown links to fighting cancer, preventing diabetes, obesity and heart disease. They also increase your energy – so really how can you go wrong. After steaming these veggies I love to either roast them or toss them in a pan with extra virgin olive oil or raw organic coconut oil. It’s important to remember the foods we choose are important, but equally important is the way and in what we cook them.

5. 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.

6. Bok Choy – as part of the cabbage family, bok choy is loaded with nutrients, omega 3s and anti-oxidants. Cancer prevention is often tied in studies to bok choy and other green leafy vegetables. I find this one great to chop up and add to stir fry. I also make a great cold salad with chickpeas, bok choy, yellow and red pepper and cucumbers. Delicious!

7. Aloe Vera – there are numerous health benefits to drinking aloe vera. A spoonful in the morning helps with digestion, antioxidant support, healthy immune system, reduces harmful toxins, increases nutrient absorption, balances stomach acidity and helps sooth muscle and joint discomfort. For more info on this morning move, see here.

8. Chlorophyll – liquid chlorophyll is an easy one to add to your water to dash into your day. It helps keep your red blood cells clean, healthy and plentiful by rebuilding and replenishing those cells. In such, our energy levels are boosted. Other benefits include detoxifying your liver, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-candida and promotes healthy iron levels. It helps build your blood. And if you think about that statement, your body completely depends on it.

9. Green Tea – I’m not a huge fan of the taste, so when I find I’m ‘over it’ I simply supplement. This way I ensure I get the health benefits on the days I’m not drinking it. Numerous health benefits from this anti-oxidant super star include improved brain function, burns fat, lowers your risk of certain types of cancer, lowers your risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s by protecting your brain, lowers your risk for cardiovascular disease and Type 2 Diabetes, and promotes longevity. All that for a cup of tea? Do it!

10. Supplementing – now at the risk of this all sounding overwhelming, I wanted to give two suggestions of how to get your greens in when you don’t manage to eat them all. I have two absolute favorites. First is Green Envy. A one ounce shot in the morning gives you your greens for the day. That doesn’t mean go and eat fast food for the rest of it, but it is a great way to ensure your greens are in no matter what. This can be purchased at both Superstore and Costco. My second suggestion is my absolute favorite new obsession – Magnum Performance Greens. I mix this in my shaker with Spirulina and water while I work out. I have noticed a significant improvement is my energy maintenance while working out and my hair and nail health. I still ensure the above are on my plate every day, but this is truly a tasty added bonus. You can purchase it online or at many local health food stores.

If you enjoyed this blog, we have lots of great info every week on our dedicated health blog. Here are a few more articles you might enjoy about nutrition – www.fitcommunications.ca/category/nutrition

WHO Announcement – What It Means and How to Adjust

Bacon

The WHO (World Health Organization) broke many people’s hearts on October 26, 2015 when it announced that processed meats cause cancer. Who doesn’t love a great steak? Bacon and eggs? Jets Dog? Corned beef sandwich? Heck, even a turkey breast sandwich on rye? Yum!

Specifically, the WHO stated that eating processed meat such as sausages and ham causes cancer, while unprocessed red meat may also be carcinogenic. The WHO’s cancer research unit now classifies processed meat as “carcinogenic to humans” based on evidence from hundreds of studies, and linked it specifically to colon, or colorectal, cancer. The report outlined that eating 50 grams of processed meat each day — the equivalent of two slices of ham or a few slices of bacon — can increase the risk of these cancers by 18%.

To be fair, there are many other things can be just as, if not more harmful, than enjoying your Keg prime rib roast. By not exercising, having a diet lacking adequate fruit and vegetables, sun tanning and smoking can all increase your risk of getting cancer. This also doesn’t take into consideration other potential risk factors including gender, family history and age.

That said, now that we have this information, what do we do about it? To start with, we need to know what exactly is a “processed meat”?  The WHO defines processed meat as “any type of meat that is salted, cured or smoked to enhance its flavor or preserve it. Processed meat generally contains pork or beef, but may also contain poultry.” Red meat refers to “all types of mammalian muscle meat,” such as beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat.

Sadly, my fear is that the people that will take this information to heart have likely already made this change to their diets. It has been suggested for years that eating too much red meat is not good for you. People should choose lean, unprocessed white meats and fish more often for overall better health. In addition, many of us already knew that bologna and other processed food are packed with chemicals to make them a) last longer and b) taste better. So those of us that already knew all of this will only be slightly affected by this announcement.

Will it really make a difference with the masses? If someone is driving thru a burger joint for the King Burger with Cheese, or are regularly frying up hamburger to add to a “Helper”, are they really going to stop these food choices because of this announcement? My fear is no. For there are so many other things that we know are killing us but people still continue to choose them as a part of their lives. Even if you are uneducated on the topic of health, you can pick up a package of cigarettes and see images of people and organs dying. But people still smoke. However, at least the information to try to make us healthier is out there.

Part of the problem with making the change into our daily routines is information and suggestions for realistic changes or substitutions. From school lunches to quick family meals, here are some suggestions for healthier alternatives to some of our newly “forbidden” foods.

Instead of: Bologna, salami or corned beef sandwiches

Try: Sliced chicken/turkey (unprocessed, not sandwich meat), tuna, cream cheese and cucumber sandwiches

Instead of: Hot dogs, hamburgers

Try: Homemade turkey, chicken or veggie burgers or dogs

Instead of: Hamburger helper with ground beef

Try: Hamburger helper with ground chicken or turkey or even Tuna Helper

Instead of: “lunchables”

Try: Homemade bento box! You can include a variety of healthy choices including veggies and dip, hummus and pita (a complete protein together), fruit and cheese.

Thankfully the WHO is looking out for us and continuing to help make us all healthier. At Fit Communications, we are trying to do the same thing for Canadians by sharing knowledge such as this announcement to help reach more people. Please share this blog post with others so that we can all work towards leading our healthiest lives.

Fit Communications Top Ten Favorite Health Tips

Media Relations

At Fit Communications we definitely live our brand – every day we try to do our best to make healthy decisions for ourselves through nutrition, fitness and overall health and wellness. It takes time to get to the point where it is a lifestyle and you seem to naturally know what to do and how to do it. It takes lots of time and practice and being your own “guinea pig” often to see what works best for you and your personal system. This week’s blog is a look at our Top Ten Health Tips that we adhere to each and every day.

  1. Workout for 60 minutes, five times per week. I know this seems to some like a lot, so start where you can. If that is 45 minutes, three times per week at the onset, great! The point is to get moving. Your body and mind will love you for it. For us, the gym is almost like meditation. We both feel at our very best, my most confident and at our best mental state during and post-workout.
  2. Take supplements. Each person is different and has different needs, so there isn’t a fool proof list of what you should be taking. Depending on your age, health, sex, activity level would determine what you should be taking. At minimum we would suggest a multi-vitamin and a fish oil supplement. Along with that, between us we take calcium, vitamin C, D and B-complex, green tea supplement, immunity boosters, pro-biotics, CAMU-C, magnesium and milk thistle.
  3. Have some turmeric every single day. It is great for everything from anti-inflammation to anti-cancer. For more information on turmeric and a few of our other favorite spices, see here – http://fitcommunications.ca/healthy-spices/
  4. Eat a plate of raw veggies every single day. There are so many to choose from with tremendous benefits. Try to get these anti-cancer “superfoods” on your plate each and every day: spinach, broccoli, carrots and red pepper.
  5. Eat some seeds! We both have a minor obsession with Manitoba Hemp Harvest and their Hemp Hearts. Seriously – have you tried these things? UNBELIEVABLE! But there are other terrific options out there as well, all with tremendous health benefits. For more information about seeds and what might be right for you, read this – http://fitcommunications.ca/seeds-broken-down/
  6. Get lots and lots and LOTS of sleep. Easier said than done – I’m sure some are thinking. If you are having trouble sleeping or something about your life just doesn’t allow for that now, talk to your doctor. Sleep is our bodies’ way of cleaning itself and reviving our energy. After reading much about centenarians, they always say they had a great relationship with their bed – some would sleep up to 12 hours a day. Do your body and your mind a favor and get adequate sleep.
  7. Drink more water. This can be a tough one as most of us usually wait until we are thirsty to drink. However, experts say that thirst is the first sign of dehydration. The magic ‘8 glasses a day’ rule is no longer, but try to get a glass in every time you pass your kitchen sink.
  8. Keep it clean. We personally don’t believe in cleanses. We would much prefer to do something daily to keep our systems clean and running at its best. To do that, try two things. For starters, partake in intermittent fasting. Secondly, take a few things in the morning that naturally cleanse the system – aloe vera (by the spoon) and chlorophyll added to your water (see #7!).
  9. Meet with your doctor regularly. It is way too often that we hear of people finding out they have a disease or sickness when it is too late to do anything about it. Getting routine checkups, pre-screening and testing regularly and discussing any health concerns you may have with your doctor is imperative.
  10. The 80/20 Rule. Try to make nutritionally-wise decisions 80% of the time, and the other 20% they can slack off a bit. Now that doesn’t mean in the 20% you smoke cigarettes and eat salami! Just don’t think that you have to be perfect. Once it feels like you have a hang of that, bump it up to 90/10. We promise it will become easier as time goes on.

Those are our Top Ten Health Tips. Did we miss any of your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.