5 Homeopathic Remedies Every Parent Should Know About

Echinacea Flowers homeopathic remedy

I’ve been a mom for almost 15 years. Actually, let’s just call it 15 years, because you begin taking care of somebody the second you find out you’re expecting. Right? So 15 years of motherhood so far, and three kids. And a husband that I sometimes call my fourth.

(Jk, Dave.)

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always been way more interested in natural remedies for the various childhood ailments that seem to repeat themselves, rather than simply throwing an acetaminophen tablet at my kid and calling it a day. (Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done that, and sometimes you have to do that, but I just prefer not to.)

Here are my top five homeopathic remedies that I believe any parent who is interested in natural cures should have at his or her disposal. It’s taken me a long time to find ones that really work, but these suckers have proven they do, and they’re also proven both safe and effective for children.

Since we’re approaching cold and flu season (groan), I thought I’d share.

Essential liquid homeopathic remedy

To relieve an ear ache:

  1. If you think your child might have an ear ache due to pressure in the ear (usually due to a build-up of wax), then olive oil and a hot water bottle is your child’s best friend. Warm some olive oil slightly (barely above room temperature over the stove—make SURE it’s not hot, or you could burn your child), and then have your child lay on his side, with the offending ear up. Insert two drops of oil in the ear, then gently massage to encourage it in. Leaving your child in this position, place a warm hot water bottle over that side of his face and ask him to stay in that position for 10 minutes. Repeat two times a day until pain subsides and you see ear wax begin to make its way out of the ear.
  2. If you believe your child has an ear infection, then cutting a small onion in half and placing the cut side down over his ear and holding it there for 10 minutes, four times a day helps to kill the infection. Use the hot water bottle to help relieve pain.
  3. To further reduce inflammation, try peppermint and ginger tea (recipe below, step four).

Ginger Tea homeopathic remedy

To calm a cough:

  1. For a dry cough, try giving your child one tsp. of pure, raw honey every two-four hours, and definitely before bed. For older children, that amount can be adjusted up to one tbsp.
  2. Get your child to gargle with salt water. If there’s a bacterial infection that is causing the cough, then the salt will help kill it. It also reduces swelling, and for a productive cough, it will help to expel mucous.
  3. If your child can’t seem to stop coughing (for instance, for croup), then a few drops of eucalyptus in a very warm bath or shower can help. Steam helps to loosen mucous, and the essential oil has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
  4. Peppermint and ginger tea. This tea is usually pretty tasty for kids, and while the ginger is anti-inflammatory, the peppermint can calm that irritating throat tickle that prevents your child from sleeping. Try chopping up one tsp. of fresh ginger, and adding it to a cup of hot peppermint tea. Let it steep for five minutes, and then remove the ginger and the tea bag. Sweeten with honey if you think it will make it more palatable for your child.

pure water is emptied into a glass of water from a pitcher. fres

To relieve occasional constipation within 24 hours:

  1. Begin with fluids. Your child should be drinking lots of water, because without it, stool will be hard and compact, which will be painful for him (let’s pretend we’re talking about a boy) when it finally passes.
  2. While water is on the go, examine his diet, and take charge. I like to make smoothies that consist of water or coconut water, berries (high fibre), ground flax (more fibre), and if they’ll drink a green smoothie, then kale (more fibre). Coconut milk (full-fat, from a can) is also a proven laxative.
  3. Speaking of fat, try adding healthy fat to his food. Avocado, a tsp. of olive oil, fatty fish. These foods help to grease the pipes, so to speak.
  4. Get your child moving. Go for a walk. Exercise helps to kick-start digestion, and it’s good for you in other ways, too.
  5. Eliminate added sugar, processed foods, wheat products, dairy, and red meats until a bowel movement is achieved. All of these items are difficult to digest and/or confusing for the digestive tract.
  6. Begin a regimen of probiotics. These good bacteria are necessary for proper digestive function.
  7. Try a tummy massage. Rub his stomach in a clock-wise direction for a few minutes—it might be enough to get gas moving around and stimulate a bowel movement.
  8. If all else fails, break out the no-sugar-added prune juice. Just half a cup every four hours until he moves his bowels. (Often, all it takes is that first half-cup.)
  9. For more tips on how to achieve a tummy, healthy gut, see HERE.

sea salt electrolytes homeopathic remedy

To stop diarrhea:

  1. One word: BRAT. It’s an acronym for bananas, (brown) rice, applesauce and (whole grain) toast. Eaten in this combination, it works to slow the bowel and bind stool.
  2. Avoid dairy and anything spicy or acidic to reduce unwanted bowel reactions and pain due to acidic stool.
  3. Also, have your child drink lots of water or herbal tea. This may seem counter-productive, but diarrhea equals dehydration. You can further electrolyte absorption by adding a pinch of sea salt to his water, or providing him with pure, unsweetened coconut water.

turmeric homeopathic remedy

To reduce general pain:

  1. Turmeric is a powerful natural pain reliever that is safe. You can buy empty capsules from your local health food store, and fill them with organic, powdered turmeric. (You may find them already pre-filled with turmeric if you’re lucky.) Have your child (who’s old enough to swallow a capsule; otherwise mix the powder in warm water and sweeten with raw honey) take 4-6 capsules a day.
  2. To relieve inflammation, which is often associated with pain, try ginger. You can also make a tea with these spices, and sweeten it with raw, organic honey.

For more information on the following ailments, click on the one that interests you:

Reduce a fever

Relieve a sunburn

Soothe eczema

Welcome Back: The Surrey International Writers’ Conference

SiWC2014

Calling all writers!

While the end of summer is often a melancholy time of year for Vancouverites (here comes the rain!), it also means that fall is just around the corner, and that the 22nd Annual Surrey International Writers’ Conference will be in full swing!

“The SiWC Society prides itself in creating an atmosphere of writers helping writers. The conference is run as a not-for-profit society by a volunteer Board of Directors, a few staff, and a team of amazing volunteers. We have over 700 presenters and attendees who come here from around the world: Japan, Ireland, Switzerland, Scotland, England, and all over the US and every province in Canada, to learn, share and connect with other writers.”

I cannot state enough how incredible it is to experience this writers’ conference. My first year attending, I came with a fully finished manuscript in hand, and no other direction. Six weeks later, I had an agent, a book deal, and had begun writing for Vancouver’s own alive Magazine.

I can personally attest to the pricelessness of this event.

If you’ve ever wanted to become a professional writer, this conference is for you. Even if you’ve already been published and need some new inspiration, the sessions that this conference provides are unreal, from the presenters and the timely topics that are discussed, to the other attendees, participants, and volunteers that you’ll meet there.

“No matter what level your writing is at, this is your chance to attend over 70 workshops and meet one-on-one with well-known authors, agents and editors.”

Last year, over 700 presenters, board members, and attendees congregated at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel in Surrey, where the event takes place. Workshops go all day from Friday October 24th, until Sunday the 26th. There are even master classes on the Thursday for those who can’t wait to get started. You know, for the keeners.

(I was a keener my first year attending, and I loved it.)

Jack and Diana SiWC

Aside from the workshops, there are meet-and-greet lunches, dinner banquets, author Michael Slade’s Shock Theatre performance (this is a goodie), and Jack Whyte’s rendition of The Hippopotamus Song. (Hint: everyone sings the chorus.)

Hang out at the hotel bar with agents, editors, publishers, authors, and other attendees. Who knows? You may just end up having a conversation with authors Diana Gabaldon and kc dyer, or local social media guru Sean Cranbury.

Anything could happen.   

Not interested in attending, but want to be part of this awesome conference, anyway?

“One of the ways we raise funds to be able to continue providing this amazing opportunity for our writers is through our Silent Auction that runs throughout the conference. We love the opportunity to showcase local venues and attractions to those that attend. SiWC can provide donor recognition on our website (with a link to your site) as well as print and verbal recognition at our conference. If you are interested in an even greater involvement as one of our conference principle partners, we will be happy to provide more details.”

Siwc pic

Need I say more? Get inspired, get motivated, get registered. View the website at http://www.siwc.ca for more information.

Additional Details:

Conference Dates: October 23rd-26th, 2014

Conference Location: Sheraton Vancouver Guildford Hotel in Surrey, British Columbia

Contact person for Silent Auction/Door Prize donations is Jennifer Browne at jenbrowne.pc@gmail.com.

Not-for profit Society registration #S57858

*Shared from www.myvancity.ca

This is Why Photographers are Expensive (or, Book Cover Photoshoot)

Book cover photshoot

An amazing photographer and I shot the cover image for my new cookbook yesterday. (Well, okay, she shot it, but I’m lumping myself in there since I made the food.) The fact that this bucket list item was being crossed off was extremely exciting for me, and despite only standing there staring at her while she photographed four of my recipes, I was exhausted.

Remind me never to do anything strenuous, because apparently, I tire easily.

The new book is (currently) called Vegetarian Comfort Foods: The Happy Healthy Gut Guide to Delicious Plant-Based Cooking. It’s somewhat of a supplement to Happy Healthy Gut: The Natural Diet Solution to Curing Your IBS and Other Digestive Disorders. Upwards of 100 whole, plant-based recipes designed to kick-start your body into kick-ass mode. (AKA: lose some weight, eradicate your digestive problems, strengthen your immune system, and increase your intake of phytonutrients that fight free radicals.)

It’s being published by Skyhorse Publishing, and is slated for release in spring 2015. I’m STOKED. While I don’t have any images that will be in the book to show you yet, I can show you some of the pics I took with my iPhone while the real photographer did all the work.

‘Cuz I’m helpful like that–and this is why I’m not an actual photographer. I promise the professional images will look a lot better. Like…a lot.

I wonder if professional photgraphers are also good at taking selfies…

Also, this isn’t my kitchen.

Tanya R Loewen

Tanya R Loewen

Tanya R Loewen

Thanks, Tanya! xo

Why You Should Be Cooking with Beans

*Disclaimer: I will use the word “farty” in this blog post. I apologize ahead of time.

Beans

Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot. Right? NOOO! It doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t let beans have their way with you. You’re the boss, and they need to be put in their place.

Boss those beans around!

Why bother, you ask? Because beans are tiny gems of awesomeness that are high in fibre, protein, and a variety of other goodies. They’re a main staple in countries like Mexico–and others in South America–because they’re inexpensive, readily available, and super high in nutrients. They’re superstars, really.

Unfortunately, they get a bum rap. (Get it?) Beans can make some people feel bloated and gassy, so a lot of us choose to just ignore their amazingness altogether to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation in yoga class. Also, those suffering from digestive issues like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or Crohn’s disease may find that beans make their gut situations worse. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

There is actually a correct way to both prepare and cook beans. Beans have indigestible carbohydrates that need to be broken down by soaking. If you’re using beans from a can, then the trick is to rinse them very well, until all the bubbles are gone. Those bubbles are gas, and they make you farty. (See? Told you I’d use it.) No one wants to be farty. If you plan on cooking them after you rinse them, then your best bet is to add a bay leaf to whatever you’re cooking, whether it’s soup, stew, chili, or whatever. Bay absorbs the acid in the beans that add to the gas. Just don’t eat the leaf.

(Although I must admit that the thought of this makes me smile.)

If you’re cooking dried beans, then rinse them very well first, and soak them in a lot of water overnight. (The general rule is one cup of beans to three cups of water.) In the morning, strain them and rinse really well again. When you go to cook them, cook with a bay leaf for the reason explained above, but also skim off the bubbles that will form off the top after about an hour. Remember, those are farty bubbles. Also, make sure you cook the beans very well. Don’t leave them half-cooked.

So, in conclusion of Cooking with Beans 101 (because now you’ve now graduated Bean University), you rinse, you skim bubbles, and you cook with a bay leaf. Other gas-reducing spices include ginger, fennel, and cumin, so you could cook with those, too.

Local Food Products that are Rocking My World

Save-On-foods Vendors

This past weekend, I took part in an event at Save-On-Foods that was promoting local products. I signed Happy Healthy Gut books, and the other vendors were Happy Water, Nutricleanse, and Everyday Superfoods.

It is SO much fun to hang out with people who are like-minded when it comes to health. While the Happy Water reps kept the rest of us hydrated and genuinely happy (they literally danced and hoola-hooped the WHOLE time while playing Top 40), I was fortunate enough to chat for an extended period of time with Tony from Nutricleanse and Gordon from Everyday Superfoods about their products. I decided that this week’s blog should inform consumers of these fairly brand-new products, and perhaps you’ll all fall in love with them as I did.

Happy Water

Happy Water: This product is an award-winning, naturally alkaline lithia water. The water originates from Canada (Kootenay region), and is produced in Vancouver, BC. It contains “naturally occurring lithia, calcium, magnesium, potassium and fluoride.”[1]

For community events such as the one last weekend, Happy Water will send their “Smile Squad,” and the energy and positivity is definitely in the air. For information on how to request the Smile Squad to attend your event, visit http://livehappywater.ca/contact.

The product goes for about the same amount as other bottled waters.

Nutricleanse

Nutricleanse:  Although I’ve seen this natural health product around for awhile, I’d never before tried it, which is VERY unlike me. I’m a sucker for new health products (especially foodstuffs), and I’m surprised at myself.

This product is manufactured in Mission, BC, and the ingredients are organic, gluten-free, and limited to ground flax seed, psyllium husks, dandelion root powder, burdock root powder, and fenugreek seed powder.

That’s it.

The purpose behind adding this product to your daily smoothie or yogurt or whatever is to increase your overall fibre—and it sure works! If you’re someone who feels as though you could benefit from increased fibre consumption (ahem—EVERYONE), then you should give this product a try. I am a huge promoter of gut health, and this particular product is a goodie!

A 1 Kg. bag goes for roughly $29.99, but you can get it for $20.99 if you keep your eyes peeled.

Everyday Superfoods

Everyday Superfoods: Again, I’ve seen this product around (the rep told me it’s been around for a couple of years, but they only recently have become very mainstream and distributed), but hadn’t tried it yet. The main ingredients in their mixes are chia seeds, hemp hearts, and buckwheat.

The blends are great on oatmeal, in yogurt, or added to baking, and there are at least four different mixtures. The one I’m trying right now is called Cocoa Wow, and I also took home a bag called Trim.

They go for about $6.99 per bag (the weight isn’t disclosed, but it looks like it’s just over a cup’s worth), and the product is mostly organic, gluten-free, and vegan. It’s manufactured in Richmond, BC.

So there you have it! My newly acquired fun foods! Give them a try, and let me know what you think. Ciao, peeps!

 

[1] http://livehappywater.ca/our-water/

 

5 Signs of Good Health: what “healthy” truly looks like

Healthy woman

The definition of “healthy” is different for many of us. Some people believe health is what is attained once you’ve cut out carbs, and others feel that they’re healthy if they’re abstaining from processed sugar. But health is a broad term. Are you healthy if you aren’t currently diagnosed with a chronic disease? Does veganism equal health?

What exactly does is mean to be truly healthy?

Happy children sitting on green grass outdoors in summer park

The following points are what I’ve come up with, both during my own observations and experiences, as well as asking others this question. Here are what I consider to be five signs that you are really healthy:

  1. You consistently get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and wake up feeling refreshed. Great, consistent sleep is a fabulous indicator of good health. It means your body is regulated, your cortisol levels and core body temperature are normal, and you have the ability to let your mind rest peacefully, which indicates low stress. If you can achieve amazing sleep, congratulations! If you fall into the category of those who can’t sleep, I can assure you, I’ve definitely been there. For me, there are 3 things that I’ve identified as being culprits here: alcohol consumption (if I have more than one glass of wine, sleep is up in the air), stress (overthinking things), and excitement (not calming down enough for your body to rest). Other things that can lead to bad sleep include eating right before bed (your body will buzz with the energy t takes to digest that snack), sleeping in a warm room, and too much light.
  2. You have energy throughout the entire day. No 3pm slump for you! How does one obtain this? Aside from having a decent sleep, it’s with food. Good food. Food that contains proper energy sources and the correct balance of nutrients to assist your body in lasting happily throughout the entire day. Real food—not a chocolate bar. A good tip: eat a light, healthy lunch (lettuce wraps or salad with wild salmon), and then grab a snack around 3 o’clock. A smoothie, homemade granola bar, or boiled egg with salsa and avocado are great examples.
  3. You’re moving your bowels in a healthy way at least once a day. Now, when I specify “healthy” here, I mean that your movements are effortless, quick, significant, and normal-looking. (Not loose.) If you’re feeling empty after visiting the washroom, that’s good. To achieve better bowel movements, try tracking how much insoluble fibre you ingest (you need this to sweep your colon clean), and make sure you’re drinking enough water. Foods that can make BMs subpar are dairy, too much heavy meat, heavy breads (especially if you’re sensitive to wheat or gluten), and too much sugar. For more information on how to obtain better digestive health, check out Happy Healthy Gut.
  4. Your skin is clear, and your hair and nails look good. Your skin is your largest organ, and what it looks like says a lot about your health. Same goes for your hair and nails. Dry, brittle nails and hair can signify dehydration, and peeling problems can represent vitamin deficiencies. For better skin, hair, and nails, try drinking more water and eating more vegetables. Cut down on processed sugar, and begin to look at your food as fuel for your body.
  5. You’re happy. Honestly, consistently, truly happy. Happiness is directly correlated with good health, and people who can honestly call themselves happy are typically healthy, too. The mind and body are completely connected, and a clear, calm mind will usually be accompanied by a healthy body. To achieve better happiness, try and make a list of everything that is in your life that makes you upset and stressed out. Either let it go (meaning get out of that unhappy relationship or find a better job), or make clear strides to improve the situation. Do it NOW—don’t wait.

Beautiful healthy Young Woman lying on the green grass

What I am trying to get at it this: you don’t have to weigh 120 pounds or love the Paleo diet or declare veganism as your new diet of choice to be healthy. Health is a complicated thing, but the points above will hopefully lead you in the right direction.

 

Top 5 Reasons to Attend a Book Signing This Weekend

Book Signing

Okay…I fully admit that I have a vested interest in people attending book signings. But I actually do have valid reasons why this activity should be on your weekend to-do list, which I’ll specify right now:

1- When’s the last time you set foot into a bookstore? Do you even know that they’re still around? Amazon and other sites like it have made online book buying super easy (which is great), but remember the feeling of actually being in a bookstore? I mean, call me a total nerd, but bookstores ROCK. They’re like a vortex of awesomeness. You can get lost for hours and won’t even feel guilty about it after. (As opposed to getting lost for hours on a Vegas casino floor.)

2- There’s something special about picking up a book because it’s got a rocking cover, flipping through the pages to find out what they feel like, checking out the author pic and/or bio, and collecting a bunch until you can weed out the ones you really want to read, while ditching the few you won’t on a random table somewhere. Doesn’t sound familiar? Yeah…I don’t do that, either. :/ An electronic reader has nothing on an actual book, and I will argue that until the day I die. We all spend so much of our time staring mindlessly at our computers, and laptops, and iPads and iPhones. How about just open an actual book. Seriously.

Reading Books Makes You Better

3- Authors are excited to have people talk to them. (We’ve spent far too much time talking to ourselves about our own book.) Even if you don’t want to talk about their book or you don’t plan on buying one, it’s fun to have a conversation with someone different. You can bet that a year of that author’s life was spent writing their book, it took an addition x-amount of months or years to sell it to a publisher, and another year for the publishing process to be complete. There is definitely something to talk about, even if it’s “have you ever written at 3:00am?” (The answer to which will always be a resounding YES.)

4- It makes for good conversation with your friends at dinner on Saturday night:

“So, what did you do today?”

“I attended a book signing. You?”

“Uh…I played Dragon City.”

See? You’re already looking smarter and cooler than John Smith over there. You’re welcome.

5- You’ll end up finding that perfect Father’s Day gift for your dad. It may not even be a book, but bookstores have other stuff, too, and it’s all awesome. ALL OF IT.

Happy Healthy Gut Cover Design

So, here’s the deal: I have a book signing this weekend for my new book, Happy Healthy Gut. It’s at the Chapters in Langley, BC from 2-5pm. If you live in the area, and you come see me there, and you sign up for my website, and you mention this blog post, I will not only sign it for you, I’ll buy it for you as well. You will get it FOR FREE. And we’ll both be happy and live happily ever after, too. (But not together. Because that might be weird.)

‘Til tomorrow, peeps. Peace.

Dress Your Salad Healthy: when it comes to salad dressing, less is more

Assortment of salad dressings

The average salad dressing has over 20 ingredients; with a quarter of them typically being unpronounceable. Is that necessary? With far more calories and over double the sugar, what benefits are store-bought salad dressings lending us, besides a whole lot of extra filler? By creating your own concoctions, you can tailor them to fit your lifestyle. Whether you’re diabetic, gluten-free, or just eating clean, making your own dressings is a fabulous way to give new life to an old summer meal—while keeping health a priority.

Why bother dousing a healthy salad with unhealthy dressing?

There are a handful of ingredients that should be avoided in any salad dressing, and there are plenty of nutritious alternatives that can be used for making your own. So let’s start with a few ingredients to avoid:

1-      Titanium dioxide. Even the name sounds sketchy. Besides being classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 2B carcinogen (possibly carcinogen to humans)[1], it has also been proven to cause respiratory tract issues, tumors, and other types of cell damage.[2]  Also, it’s not just found in salad dressing. It’s present in many toothpastes, gum, sunscreen, and shaving creams.[3] Awesome.

2-      Partially hydrogenated oils (PHOs). In other words, trans-fat. Trans-fat has been linked to an increased risk of coronary heart disease,[4] and the Center for Disease Control urges that a “further reduction of trans fat in the food supply can prevent an additional 7,000 deaths from heart disease each year and up to 20,000 heart attacks each year.”[5]

3-      High-fructose corn syrup. Besides the fact that almost 100% of this ingredient in genetically modified, corn syrup is extremely high on the glycemic index.[6] It’s an incredibly cheap sweetener,[7] and most processed food manufacturers love it because of that reason alone. It’s been proven to become addictive to regular consumers (rats display the same addictive behaviours to it as they do to cocaine),[8] and it’s just plain gaggy.

I’m literally gagging right now just thinking about it.

Now that we’ve identified some of the nastier ingredients found in commercial dressings, what are some ingredients that you can use to make healthy ones?

1-      Cold-pressed oils. Oils like olive, grapeseed, avocado, and hemp are great for using in salad dressings. Always avoid vegetable oil.

2-      Vinegar. Vinegars that are great to use include balsamic, white wine, red wine, and apple cider.

3-      Quality sweeteners. These include honey, maple syrup, agave, and brown rice. They are pure in ingredients, and lower on the glycemic index than (gag) high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

4-      Fresh herbs. These are what really make a salad dressing pop. You can use any and all, but my faves include Italian parsley, mint, basil, and cilantro.

Salad Dressing

Here’s one of my favorite recipes to get you started—my neighbor complimented me on it just yesterday. (Thanks, Marlene!) Its super easy to make, and stores well on your counter for up to 2 weeks. It makes about one cup.

1/3 cup olive oil

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 tbsp. maple syrup

½ tsp. cayenne pepper

Mix together well and drizzle accordingly. Happy Friday, everyone!

For more recipes, check out my book, Happy Healthy Gut.

References:

[1] http://www.ccohs.ca/headlines/text186.html

[2] http://www.ccohs.ca/headlines/text186.html

[3] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/es204168d

[4] http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm372915.htm

[5] http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm372915.htm

[6] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2695593

[7] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2695593

[8] http://www.healthline.com/health-news/tech-sugar-and-fat-may-be-as-addictive-as-cocaine-052213

Smoothie Inspiration: new ingredients to try today

Detox Smoothie

Who here is guilty of blending only fruit? I mean, fruit is awesome, and an all-fruit smoothie rocks, but you can totally up the ante by throwing some veg in there, peeps!

I’ve tried to blend (almost) everything, and I’ve had some amazing success along with some epic fails. (Don’t blend roots. They’re weird.)

Here is my list of fave veggies to throw into my fruit smoothies—and they ALL bag you major added nutrients to your already healthy snack.

kale

  1. Kale. This leafy green is high in fibre, iron, Vitamin K, and antioxidants.[1] Although there is a slight taste associated with blending kale in your smoothies—and will turn them green depending on how much you throw in—it’s not offensive.
  2. Spinach. This one’s pretty common. Spinach is very high in Vitamins A, E, and C, along with iron and antioxidants (dark, leafy greens are always great for these nutrients).[2] Most people don’t notice any sort of taste associated with it when eaten raw, but it’ll definitely add a green colour to your beauty blend. (If you blend spinach with blueberries, it turns out black!)
  3. Herbs. Herbs are underrated by many, but they pack a huge punch in the flavour department. They are also great for their healing abilities (did you know that cilantro binds with heavy metals?[3]), and can be easily grown on your kitchen counter. The ones I use the most in smoothies are:
    1. Mint (my fave)
    2. Basil
    3. Cilantro
  4. Romaine Lettuce. This is one of the most nutritious of the “common lettuces.” (The ones that most people prefer—ones that aren’t bitter.) It contains protein, calcium, Vitamin K, Vitamin A, and iron.[4]
  5. Cucumber. You won’t taste this, it won’t change the colour of your smoothie, and it adds some major B vitamins to your sweet snack, along with extra water.[5]

Green smoothie

The following four items are my honourable mentions (these aren’t veggies, but they’re not strawberries or bananas, either):

  1. Avocado. I like to blend half of one in my smoothies, and it makes them rich and creamy and glorious. It doesn’t change the taste—just the texture. But think of all the extra nutrient benefits! More than anything, I do it for the added good fat.
  2. Nuts. Again, a source of good fat and protein. I use raw ones, and mostly blend almonds, walnuts, and pecans.
  3. Cocoa. Raw cocoa will add so much flavour, and Harvard researchers have found that it’s associated with improved blood vessel health, decreased blood pressure, and lowered cholesterol levels.[6]
  4. Rolled oats. I do this for the protein and the fibre. As with the nuts, you can just throw a handful on top of your smoothie, if blending them is throwing your completely off your game. Baby steps, right?

Smoothie

I challenge everyone to try something new in their next smoothie—you may discover your next favourite blend. If you need smoothie recipes, check HERE. You can also find more recipes in my book, Happy Healthy Gut. Good luck!

References:

[1] http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html

[2] http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=43

[3] http://www.naturalnews.com/027942_cilantro_heavy_metals.html

[4] http://www.incrediblesmoothies.com/nutrition/10-surprising-nutrition-facts-about-romaine-lettuce/

[5] http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_vitamins_are_in_cucumbers

[6] http://www.webmd.com/diabetes/news/20110323/cocoa-rich-in-health-benefits

What to Eat for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)

Happy Healthy Gut

“The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.” Ann Wigmore

Knowing what foods are safe to eat when you suffer from chronic digestive angst is really hard, but there are definitely a few core ideas (and rules) to keep in mind when searching for answers. The following recommendations are ones that have certainly helped me, and I continue to eat this way because I can’t imagine going back to feeling the way I did before. Here are my top suggestions:

EAT YOUR VEGGIES!

Nobody ever said to you, “don’t eat your vegetables!” Most of what we eat throughout the day, every day, should be vegetables. They are completely necessary for proper digestive function, and yet most of us don’t consume nearly the amount we should. Not only should we be focusing on increasing our overall intake, but we should also be experimenting with variety, and become aware of what is in season. Our bodies naturally process food that is whole and in season much better than foods that are processed and from thousands of miles away. (For example, living in the pacific northwest, my body wouldn’t process a pineapple in January the same way it would kale.)

LIMIT ANIMAL PRODUCTS

Let’s get real: animal products are not that great for your body. Despite the fact that various meat and dairy industry representatives swear up and down that animal products are a necessity for your health, we all know that can’t be true. Animal meat is very high in saturated fat, which isn’t at all good for us; especially ground beef. Unless purchased from an organic, grass-fed only farm, almost all meat (99% of what is out there), comes from factory farms, and it’s not healthy. The thing is, factory farms are a cesspool of nutrient-deficent meat due to too many growth hormones in the feed, routine antibiotics, and largely diseased animals due to the inevitable overcrowding that occurs. It is also the number one contributor of crazy environmental pollutants.

Dairy is bad, too. Cow milk is meant for calves, not humans. We don’t feed cows human milk, right? Dairy causes allergies and intolerances, which can contribute to ear infections, sinus problems, constipation, and other digestive issues.

Good Food

STOP EATING PROCESSED FOOD

We are living in a new age of food. Or “food.” The nation’s rates of chronic disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, digestive disease, etc, are skyrocketing at a pace never seen before. This is largely due to two things: increased consumption of animal meat, and increased production/consumption of highly processed food. In developing countries, where processed food is nil, these diseases are not present. It’s yucky, and needs to go. This type of food is “dead” because there is nothing nutritionally valuable left for it to offer. A good rule of thumb is to take a look at the list of ingredients, and rule out anything that contains un-pronouncables, and over 6-8 ingredients in total.

STEER CLEAR FROM GMOS

Genetically modified food is lab-created, nutrient-void, and poses considerable risk to your health. It is currently under investigation to prove its role in increased cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, autism, and among other things, decreased immune system function. Download the iPhone app ShopNoGMO to learn which food companies are GMO-free, and which ones aren’t. You can also visit www.gmoshoppingguide.com.

EAT WHOLE FOODS

Whole foods are exactly what they sound like. They’re still in their whole form, and haven’t been processed. These foods are nutritionally dense, and our bodies thrive on them. They’re super simple for our digestive systems to process, which lends more energy (that would have been diverted to heavy, unclean digestions attempts) to other parts of your body. Foods in this category are whole fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, (preferably sprouted!), dried fruit, etc, If your digestive system is giving you trouble, try eating this way: completely eliminate dead food, and switch to a diet rich in whole foods.

Green smoothie

NEW FOODS TO INTRODUCE

Once you eliminate the yucky foods, you can introduce an awesome assortment of foods that heal. These include such wonder items as digestive enzymes, probiotics, whole grains, sprouted grains, sprouts, wheatgrass, fresh veggie juices, sea vegetables, fermented goodies, tofu, tempeh and seitan, organic lovelies, and more! Food is our best ally against digestive unease and good health: we need to use it properly!

The right food nourishes your body, mind, and soul.

Those who know me, know that I am VERY into healthy eating and consuming food that I believe lends to more usable energy. I don’t want to feel good- I want to feel AMAZING! Ask me how, buy the book, or visit www.facebook.com/happyhealthylife.org.

Be Food Forward!