Baru Rubs & Sauces

With Barbeque Season officially here, the timing could not have been better to try what is now my new favourite seasonings! I had been so bored with my regular “go-to” menu and was looking for something to “spice things up” without going completely off what I know how to cook. 

Here’s where Baru Rubs and Sauces steps in! Baru is a Vancouver-based company started three years ago by two BFFs – Zeta Newis and Nina Lafleur – as a spin off of the successful Kitsilano restaurant – Baru Latino.   Part of what makes their products so unique is that they are a small batch, handmade producer based out of an award winning restaurant.  Who wouldn’t want to bring this deliciousness home for their own daily consumption?

I think I may personally love the business for the fact that the co-owners are women, BFFs, foodies and Canadian.  Nina Lafleur attributes their success to their belief in  “fresh, healthy, tasty ingredients and a commitment to our customers”

The friends’ love for food and cooking is evident in their products.  They want to make healthy, fresh and delicious food for friends and family. This is something I completely relate to. “Food is family, friends, and community. It is something that unites us all. With our products, you are able to sample foods which are inspired from different areas of the world, take them home and try new things.”

Having tried all of the rubs and hot sauces, I have to say that they are as unique and diverse as my own family.  Their “Hot’R Sauce – Even Hotter” is, by far, my husband’s favourite he’s ever tried.  Having spent 6 years in the Caribbean, the flavour takes him back.  He LOVES hot sauces – but this one isn’t just hot, it’s packed with flavour.  He said “it’s the habenero…I can taste it in the sauce”.  When I asked him more about what he thought, he said “it’s all gone. We NEED to get more!” For this discerning hot sauce fan, this is the greatest compliment.

Now for the rubs… I have a mixed crew of test subjects and palets … I like spice and flavour, my husband likes HOT and flavour and my daughters like flavour packed spices without the HOT.  The girls favourite was the Chimichurri Rub.  I marinated chicken in the recommended mix of (olive oil) and rub before cooking.  They actually fought over the last piece and asked to have it for lunch!  Success!

I love the fact that these rubs are packed with flavour, not just sauce or salt. I also love that they give suggestions to how to use them – I didn’t even think of using it as a marinade! Baru hit the nail on the head with their focus on putting ethnicity and global tastes into a product.  It goes outside my own personal usual “go-to’s” – which I love!  I can’t wait to try these rubs on fish!  And steak is a “no-brainer”.    

Currently their products are only sold in retail stores in BC but they are wanting to expand outside of the province. Luckily for me, five of their products (including the coveted Hot’R Sauce!) are available online and can be shipped anywhere in the world. Currently their offering free shipping in Canada for orders over $30. Yippee!

I’m happy that I was able to try Baru’s products – not only to have a future Father’s Day gift idea, but also to help me break out of my usual fare of seasoning-free kid cooking to a kid and adult-approved cooking environment!

If you are interested learning more about or trying the Baru Rubs & Sauces yourself this BBQ season (or anytime really!), please visit their website: https://www.barurubsandsauces.com.

Cacao Now – My New Favourite Nutrition Secret

 

 

 

 

On the advice of my brilliant nutritionist, I started to add more raw cacao to my health regime earlier this year. I purchased raw cacao powder and planned to put it in my morning concoction, which is a mixture of a green supplement, maca powder and now this. I found the combination worked really well to get me through my workouts, as I do intermittent fasting and need a boost. But the mixture was far from tasty. I could get it down, but figured there must be another, tastier option for the cacao. I wanted to find something that was raw, real, organic, and tasted awesome. Sounds impossible right? Wrong.

I stumbled across a company called Cacao Now founded by Tove Redeby and found a plethora of options to try. As I read more about the products and business, I found myself pretty fascinated with the woman behind the company and thought she would be a perfect person to interview and highlight in our FIT Women & Girls blog and social media. A super strong, healthy, environmentally-conscious woman…just our type!

“I have been interested in optimal eating and whole foods, as well as organic living and the environment for as long as I can remember. I have a diploma in nutrition, and I have always been fascinated by the power of food, REAL food. I believe that the foundation of most of our modern health issues are connected to what and how we eat, and that we can ultimately heal ourselves through our eating choices. As an avid all-around athlete, the connection between great food and great performance has also always interested me. My most important education has taken place in the mountains and in the kitchen, and my work is in service to both,” says Tove.

Let’s take a look at the health benefits of cacao:

  1. Cacao contains the highest concentration of ANTIOXIDANTS of any food in the world!
  2. Cacao seems to be the number one source of Magnesium.
  3. Cacao contains enough CHROMIUM to help reverse deficiencies in this mineral.
  4. Cacao is an excellent source of MANGANESE and ZINC.
  5. Cacao has an very high value of Vitamin C.
  6. Cacao is high in FIBER.
  7. Cacao contains essential omega-6 fatty acids. Once the cacao bean is cooked, the chocolate product automatically contains rancid omega-6 fatty acids (trans fat).
  8. Cacao contains Phenylethylamine (PEA). PEAs are a major class of chemicals that our body produces when we fall in love. This is one of the main reasons why love and chocolate have such a deep relation (this relation is not merely a myth). But, as PEAs are heat sensitive, they are not as present in cacao that has been heated.
  9. Cacao is rich in serotonin.
  10. Contrary to popular belief, Cacao is a poor source of Caffeine. Cacao contains Theobromine, a close relative to Caffeine.

Starting to sound like gold isn’t it? But how does it taste?

I have tried three of Tove’s Buddha Bars – Raw Chocolate Vanilla Bean, Raw Chocolate Peppermint and Raw Chocolate Orange Zest. The orange zest reminded me of the Christmas orange chocolate you get at the holidays. If that flavour is your jam, you’ll love this one. The vanilla bean is a subtle hint of vanilla, and if you are a big dark chocolate fan this one is for you. But that peppermint option – whoa! It’s delicious.

So here’s the cool part. I honestly felt the effects from eating this bar almost immediately. It gave me an energy boost, but not a jittery shakey boost. It seemed to just uplift me. This might be the most perfect pre-workout snack I can imagine. I at times workout twice a day with how my schedule is, and find that I need something to give me that extra umph! I completely avoid any sort of pre-workout supplements as I find them often riddled with chemicals and make me feel jittery and gross. I don’t like to eat too much before a workout as I find it makes me nauseous. Behold the solution! And here’s why this particular brand company is where it’s at:

There are absolutely zero refined sugars in Cacao Now products. Everything is sweetened with dates and/or raisins. Sugar is seriously the devil – avoid it as best you can. The cacao comes from raw cacao nibs, not a processed cacao mass, and therefore no fillers or ingredients we can’t pronounce are included. And Tove genuinely cares about what she is making and who she is making it for. She “deeply believes in the energetic connection between human and food” and in such energetically cleans her space before making her products.

Made in Squamish,BC, much of her product line is only available to the rest of Canada on her website. But don’t think for a minute that this woman plans on stopping there. With an upcoming expansion of her product line, she hopes to be in health food stores across the country soon. She is on a mission that I feel many of our readers can relate to. “My mission is just as much to share my knowledge and my passion for conscious living; to share the wisdom and healing powers of food and specifically of cacao; to spread good vibrations and LOVE; and ultimately to do my little part in making this world a “better” more loving place,” says Tove.

We love supporting strong, entrepreneurial women doing great things across our country. Eating real food, listening to your body, and eating mindfully are the words of wisdom Tove and Cacao Now want to share with you.

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Immunity Health – What You Need To Know

Winnipeg is experiencing one of the worst flu seasons in over two decades. A strong immune system can play a detrimental role in keeping the flu at bay. I often make myself a bit of a guinea pig to test the books and articles I read on health, and immunity is no exception.

To begin, why is the immune system is important? In short, it is the key to maintaining overall good health. The healthier your immune system is, the better chance you have at warding off illness and toxins. The immune system is the defense force against invaders from both outside and inside the body that can cause disease or death if not stopped. Personally, I feel that the key to a long, healthy life is a strong and clean digestive system and immune system.

According to the book “The Immune System Cure” by Lorna Vanderhaeghe and Patrick Bouic, (which I would highly recommend reading) there are ten important nutritional supplements to boost your immune system. They are:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin B6
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Magnesium
  • Selenium
  • Zinc
  • Coenzyme Q10
  • Reduced L-glutathione
  • DHEA

Many of the above should be found in a high quality multi-vitamin. It is really important to choose a multi-vitamin that is absorbed well by your cells. Cheaper multi’s won’t be absorbed and you will just end up peeing out the nutrients.

In my personal regime to keep my immune system strong, I include the above, but have also found a few other really important pieces to the game. First, are phytonutrients and phytosterols. These are basically immune system boosters. You can get these in your food by eating organic vegetables, fruit, seeds and nuts. If your daily nutrition regime isn’t up to par, there are two things I would strongly recommend. First, a supplement called Immuno-First by Health First. You can purchase this online or at most health food stores. The second recommendation I have is to add a greens supplement to your day. I personally take PhD Pharma Greens Whole Food & Cleansing Herb Blend. I mix this with water at the gym, which gives me added energy while working out, is a natural cleanser for your cells, and an immunity booster.

Next, part of my morning ritual is a few spoonfuls of goodness. I take a liquid iron supplement by a brand called Lorna Vanderhaeghe (which by the way, tastes like caramel sauce – it’s delicious!), Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera Gel (antioxidant and overall good health maintenance), Progressive High Potency Fish Oil, and Organic Hemp Oil by Manitoba Harvest. I know this might sound high maintenance, but it takes less than one minute to do and I feel terrific. All in all, worth the 60 seconds.

I would also suggest taking a probiotic. These good bacteria help promote both a healthy digestive system and immune system. It is important to switch up your probiotic though – your body will get used to the good bacteria and it will start to become less effective. So be sure to switch up the brand or particular one you are taking every couple of months. Another great way to add good bacteria to your body is through organic, raw, fermented Kombucha. Kombucha improves alkalinity, digestion and detoxifies and maintains a healthy intestinal tract. There are lots of great options out to there choose from.

When I feel myself coming down with something, the first thing I do is double my dose of my multi-vitamin, vitamin D and vitamin C. This seems to work for me. We have all heard that vitamin C can chase a cold away, but in fact, once you have a cold vitamin C can’t help you. That said there have been many studies surrounding the concept of high-dosing vitamin C. In W. Gifford-Jones MD’s book “90+ How I Got There!” he talks about high dosing vitamin C and lysine, and their potential to prevent and help with various diseases from the common cold to cancer.  Jones takes 10,000 mgs of vitamin C and 5000 mgs of lysine every day. I take about a quarter of that via supplements, plus what I get from my food, which is much higher than most people. The average multi-vitamin only has about 100 mgs of vitamin C. Definitely worth some personal research and speaking with your health practitioner if this is something you are interested in.

Then there is food! I touched briefly on the idea of fruit, vegetables, seeds and nuts earlier, but there are also some great flavors to add to the mix to help with your immune system boost. First is garlic. Garlic has potent healing properties due to its antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-bacterial properties. Onions are right behind garlic with their immune system help. Fresh is best when it comes to these two.

Avocado and tomato are also high up on the list of immune system boosting foods. Tomato is absorbed best when eaten with a little bit of oil. Try flaxseed or olive oil with a salad for a great, healthy tasting snack.

Then there is the berry family. Berries, including blueberries, raspberries, cranberries and strawberries are packed with vitamin C and phytonutrients. Grapes are also a great fruit choice as they are full of antioxidants and resveratrol that has shown in some studies to have anti-cancer and anti-aging properties.

Last but not least I have to promote the idea of flushing it out. Clean water and green tea can be your best friend when it comes to immunity health. And do you know what is the worst thing that you can do? Eat sugar! When we eat sugar our immune system becomes upset, which can lead to numerous health issues including diabetes, cancer, obesity, heart disease and many more. Everyone loves a sweet once in a while including me, but try to keep the sugar intake to a minimum, especially when you’re sick.

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

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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.

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.