Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Importance of Probiotics

by Maria E. Roldan, RNCP, ROHP, NNCP

When I mention the word probiotics to clients and friends they usually say: “oh yes, I take yogurt every day”. Really? Are you sure that’s enough or, do you know why you need probiotics in the first place?

Probiotic supplements contain “friendly” bacteria that most of us want present in our digestive tract in large amounts. Why? Let’s see: There are a total of 100,000 billion bacteria living together in our digestive system (that is ten times the number of in our body). As you can imagine, yes, we want to make sure that there is a balance between “good” and “bad” bacteria!

Here are some of the ways in which probiotic bacteria help us[i]:

  • Prevent overgrowth of disease-causing microbes such as candida, E. coli, Helicobacter pylori, and salmonella
  • Improve nutrient absorption
  • Manufacture B-complex vitamins
  • Stimulate and balance the immune system
  • Help prevent vaginal and urinary tract infections
  • Prevent and treat side effects of antibiotic therapy
  • Help acidify the intestinal tract. Low pH provides a hostile environment for pathogens and yeast
  • Help digestion of lactose and dairy products
  • They are the primary bacteria in infants, which helps them grow and develop their immune system
  • Help regulate bowel movements
  • Help reduce the toxic load of the liver
  • Inhibit growth of bacteria that produce nitrates in the bowel. Nitrates are bowel toxic and can cause cancer

I hope by now you are convinced that probiotics should be part of your daily diet and supplementation plan.

The main sources of dietary probiotics are cultured or fermented foods such as yogurt and kefir (make sure they contain “live” or “active bacteria”), sauerkraut, and miso.

If the above foods are in your daily diet that’s great. However, I do recommend that you still consider taking a good probiotic supplement containing at least strains of bifidobacterium bifidum and lactobacillus acidophilus. There are some great brands out there in the market, and the doses go anywhere from 1 billion to 130 billion. It all depends in what your health needs are at the time. Your health practitioner can help you make that decision. In my case, I have a very sensitive digestive system and my maintenance dose of probiotics is 16 billion a day.

Do you still have questions about probiotics? Feel free to email me and I’ll do my best to help.

[i] Lipski, Elizabeth. “Digestive Wellness”. Mc Graw Hill. 2004. Third Edition. P41-42.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spring Quinoa and Navy Bean Salad

By, Hayley Shwaizer, CNP
Spring clean your body with this lovely light and easy to prepare complete meal. Whether you’re taking a break from meat or even if you are a vegan/vegetarian, this is a great dish to freshen up your palate. It is high in fibre, packed with nutritious raw veggies and a great source of complete vegetable-based protein.


1.5 cups          dry quinoa, rinsed
2 cup               navy beans, drained from tin (or soak overnight 1 cup dried beans, rince and bring to a boil, then simmer until tender, approx. 45 mins.)
1                      English cucumber, diced
2                      celery stalks, chopped
1                      red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2                      tomatoes, diced
2                      cloves of garlic, crushed and minced
1 cup               fresh parsley or 2 tbsp dried parsley
1/3 cup            fresh flax oil (from an opaque bottle protected from oxidation) 
                        or extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup              tamari (gluten free) or soy sauce
Juice of 1/2     freshly squeezed lemon
2 tbsp              balsamic vinegar
1 tsp                hot mustard

In a medium saucepan bring 4 cups of water to a boil, add the rinsed quinoa and reduce heat to low simmering for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat, set aside to let it cool. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients and add the quinoa once cooled. Keep uneaten portions covered in a dark container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator. Serves 6.
Let me know how you like it. Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Bon Appétit,

Friday, April 15, 2011

Digestive Kichadi

By: Ilona Napravnik

This is a great dish for digestion and can be used solely as a cleanse for a couple of weeks in cases of chronic digestive ailments.

½ cup               brown basmati rice
¼ cup               whole mung beans
1 ½ tsp             cumin seeds
2 tbsp               ghee (clarified butter)
3                       bay leaves
1 ½ tsp             coriander seeds
½ tsp                tumeric
1 tsp                 dry oregano
1 tsp                 Celtic sea salt or Himalayan rock salt
2” piece            Kombu
1-2 tsp              fresh ginger root, grated
3 cups              water
3 cups              fresh vegetables, such as carrots, zucchini, celery, kale, 
                         collard greens, chard, cabbage, or summer squash

  1. Pick through the beans, soak overnight or for 24 hours with one changewater for better digestibility.  You may even consider sprouting them for one day.
  1. Rinse the soaked beans together with the rice in a colander until rinse water is clear.
  2. Grind the cumin and coriander in a coffee grinder or with mortar and pestle.
  3. Warm ghee in a medium saucepan and add the freshly ground cumin and coriander seeds, bay leaf and oregano.  Sauté lightly until aromatic but not burnt.  Stir in turmeric, ginger, rice and mung.  Add water and kombu.
  4. Simmer covered over low heat until beans and rice are soft, about 30 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, wash and dice vegetables.
  6. Add salt to the dish together with the vegetables before all the water has been absorbed by the beans and rice.  Do not stir and cook undisturbed until completely tender, 20 to 30 minutes.
  7. Stir thoroughly and serve warm.

Holistic Food Preparation Notes; Institute of Holistic Nutrition; 2010; p, 65.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Oatmeal Blueberry Banana Pancakes

By Kimberly Ignas C.N.P, NNCP

I love weekends because I have some extra time to make a yummy breakfast.  Ever since I found this book ( and this recipe I have been obsessed with these pancakes.  Normal box pancakes have no nutritional value in them and they give me awful heartburn.  I do not have any gluten sensitivities but this recipe is gluten, wheat and egg free.  It is nice to give your system a break.  Use some REAL Canadian Maple Syrup or some almond butter to drizzle over top.   So here you go my favorite pancakes!! Enjoy!!!

Makes 5- 7 Pancakes

1 ½ cups thick rolled oats
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 ¼ cups rice, almond, or hemp milk
2 teaspoons melted virgin coconut oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 small banana, lightly mashed
½ cup blueberries, fresh or frozen

*use virgin coconut oil for cooking

1. Grind oats to a fine powder (I use a coffee grinder).  Place ground oats, baking powder, and baking soda in a medium sized bowl and stir together.

2.  In a separate bowl, combine milk of choice, coconut oil, maple syrup and mashed banana and stir together.  Then add the wet ingredients into dry and mix together.  Try not to over mix the batter and gently fold in the blueberries.  Add more milk of choice if batter seems too thick.

3.  Heat the skillet over medium heat.  Add a little coconut oil and drop ½ cup full of the batter into the pan.  Cook for about 2 minutes on each side.  Watch those yummy pancakes for burning; keep an eye on the heat. 

Recipe from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook 2nd edition; Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN

Friday, April 8, 2011

How to Eat Like Me!

5 Great Ways to Improve Your Diet This Spring
So the title is a little cocky, but to be honest I get so many questions about my dietary habits that I thought a bit of insight might guide a few people in the right direction. I am definitely not perfect, nor am I as hardcore as some of the health foodies I know. My personal motto is “everything in moderation, even moderation” though I do my best to stick to what I’ve outlined below:
1 - I Always Try to Eat Organic Food.
Organic, opposed to conventional food, is grown without the use of sewage-based fertilizers, questionable genetic modification practices (GMOs), or manmade chemical pesticides/herbicides/fungicides. Morally, I tend towards organic or at least naturally raised, free range meats and animal products, such as dairy and eggs. This is to avoid growth hormones, antibiotics as well as questionable feedlot and slaughterhouse practices.
I also choose to eat organic because we vote with our dollars. Organic foods are more expensive because conventional big agri-businesses are exceptionally subsidized in comparison. Organic farming takes more TLC to assure that food is grown in highly mineralized soils, strict regulations are in place and the record-keeping is far more extensive to assure the best practices are maintained. I vote for healthier, more sustainable foods.
When underprepared and away from home, I try to stick to fruit that have inedible protective skins you peel away such as pineapple, mango, banana, kiwi and so on. This is to lower pesticide exposure.
2 – I’ve increased Local, Raw and Whole Foods in my diet.
Local foods- picked when fully ripe means having more nutrients than foods which ripen en route and through fumigation practices. I prefer to look for what’s in season in my home province of Ontario, but I also search out some American states in the vicinity. A simple Google search will typically let you know what’s in season in your area.
Raw foods - high in vitamins and minerals, immune-building antioxidants, phytonutrients and digestive enzymes, often lost in cooking (or worse yet, over-cooking) your food.  Digestive enzymes are like self-destructing proteins that aid in digestion by helping to breakdown food and release all the wonderful nutrients for us to absorb.
Whole foods – are unprocessed foods. Processed packaged foods are super saturated with unhealthy ingredients from cancer-causing fats and unrecognizable lab ingredients, to off the charts sodium levels which can send your blood pressure through the roof. I prepare meals with whole foods, which are much more nutritious and I always know what is in them.
3 – I Use Natural Ingredients to Enhance the Look and Flavour of Dishes.
Many of the packaged and fast food items are prepared with lab-made flavours, scents and colour enhancers which turn disgusting, tasteless “food” into something that smells, looks and tastes delicious and irresistible. This is how packaged and fast food companies convince and hook us to eat their unhealthy garbage.
It can be challenging for those who grew up in this fast food nation to acquire a taste for healthier foods, but there are many ways to naturally add yum to your dishes. Vegetables come in varieties of colours. Try some new ones to add colours to your plate. Natural ways to increase flavours include using garlic, ginger, lemon, chilli peppers and apple cider vinegar. Even keeping it basic with some sea salt, pepper and extra virgin olive oil can go a long way and tastes amazing. Slowly you’ll be able to wean yourself away from the fake stuff and learn to love the taste of real healthy food.
4 – I Do a Food Plan and Prep Work in Advance.
This one is so key to eating well. I make a meal plan a week or two in advance. This way the foods we buy don’t go to waste, and it also helps to know what to do when you go to the kitchen instead of standing in front of the open fridge door thinking “there’s like no food and I’m starving!” Put down the phone and hang up on the delivery you are about to order. Yes, I’ve been there too often in the past and this has truly been a saviour.
When we do groceries, we put time aside to wash up and prep as many vegetables as we can for the week and for those nights when you are short for time, motivation, energy or all three. It’s just so great to go to make a meal and see all the needed vegetables are ready to go. In good quality containers, they can often last for up to a week (sometimes longer!!).
5 – I Drink Water, Herbal teas, Fresh Vegetable Juices and Smoothies.
Water really is the stuff of life! You can go for ages without food, but you will die within a few days if you don’t get access to water. We often dehydrate ourselves with sugary caffeinated drinks like coffees, black teas, pops and flavoured juices. These things are brutal for our blood/sugar levels and cellular health. Drinking water and organic caffeine-free (not decaf – that’s a whole other can of worms) teas as well as nutrient dense fresh vegetable juices and smoothies is sure to make your cells and body love you once again.
These are some of my dietary habits that I have acquired over time. I encourage you to slowly start to incorporate these practices into your routines this spring and watch how much your health will improve! What are some of your healthy habits? Drop me a line in the comments below.
With love,
Hayley Shwaizer, CNP

Wednesday, April 6, 2011


By: Ilona Napravnik CNP

           Adrenalin is a very powerful stress hormone and it can be very beneficial.  It is the reason why we have the speedy reflexes and strength to leap out of the way when we step in front of a speeding car or the sheer power to lift a heavy object when our child is trapped underneath. 
            But when the adrenals become unbalanced, it leads to anxiety.  Common symptoms of anxiety are constant fear, frustration, irritability and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.  Anxiety can be quite debilitating and when extreme can lead to physical symptoms such as rapid heartbeat and digestive disturbances.  This is what is referred to as the fight or flight response that causes nervous exhaustion and leads to depression.  In this reaction, the body is completely focused on the source of the stress and shuts down the energy production for all non-essential bodily reactions, such as digestion and fertility. 
            If symptoms of anxiety are bothersome and affect your daily activities, it is imperative to remove all substances that are stimulatory in nature, ie. alcohol, caffeine, processed foods and most important of all sugar and refined grains.  Sugars, whether in pure form or in refined grains, can cause a thiamin (B1) deficiency.  Thiamin deficiency mimics symptoms of anxiety and can make the condition appear much worse than it is. 
            Nutritionally, the best options for minimizing anxiety symptoms are foods with B vitamins and magnesium.  Of particular importance is:

Thiamin (B1)  - This vitamin is important in energy production and for the proper maintenance of nerve and muscles.  As such thiamin is beneficial for the heart muscle.  Good sources of thiamin are asparagus, mushrooms, spinach, sunflower seeds, tuna and Brussels sprouts.  

Niacin (B3) – Niacin is also important for energy conversion; it is the nutrient responsible for converting proteins, fats and carbohydrates into usable energy.  Deficiency in this very important nutrient has been linked to depression and anxiety.  Good sources of niacin are crimini mushrooms, tuna, salmon, chicken breasts and asparagus.

Vitamin B6 – B6 is an incredibly important nutrient for digestion and it is necessary for many functions which converts sugars and starches into energy.  B6 is also important for the nervous system and supports many necessary activities, of particular importance is avoiding feelings of depression and anxiety.  Good sources of B6 are bell peppers, spinach and tuna.

Vitamin B12 – vitamin B12 is an excellent blood builder and cell enhancer, particularly red blood cells and nerve cells.  It is also helpful in metabolizing proteins, fats and carbohydrates and thereby converting foods to energy.  Even more telling are the signs of deficiency; heart palpitation, nervousness and depression.  Good sources of Vitamin B12 are sardines, snapper, beef and shrimp.  There are no vegetarian sources of B12, vegetarians need to supplement this vitamin.

All B vitamins and B vitamin derivatives (Biotin, Folic Acid and Riboflavin) are important for the maintenance and development of the nervous system and should be consumed to avoid symptoms of anxiety. 

Magnesium – This nutrient is the most important single nutrient recommended for relaxation.  If the anxiety you feel affects your sleep or causes insomnia, this nutrient is a must.  In addition to it’s relaxation properties, it aids in the smooth functioning of the blood stream which will provide nutrients throughout the body.  Good sources of magnesium are raw pumpkin seeds, boiled spinach and swiss chard (avoid excess cooking as this will degrade the magnesium content).  For extreme cases of anxiety, nervousness and insomnia, supplement with magnesium in repeated doses throughout the day to retain the nutrient in the blood stream.  

            And lastly, relaxation techniques have been shown to be very beneficial in anxiety, as adherence to relaxation exercises alter brain waves in the devotee.
The most common relaxation techniques are yoga and meditation, both have CD’s and DVD’s readily available if you are weary of attending a class.  The benefits of meditation are evident in as little as 15 minutes per day.
            To enjoy anxiety-free good health eat a tuna, asparagus and spinach salad and participate in a daily relaxation program.  Your effort will be well rewarded with good  sleep and serenity. 

**Sources of vitamins were found @**

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring Cleaning for your Body

By Kimberly Davidson CNP

Hopefully you are reading this because you are finally ready to take that plunge and try your first cleanse. Or maybe you tried one once before and had such a great experience, you want to do it again. Or maybe you are still not convinced of the benefits of a cleanse and want some more information. Either way, I am so happy as all of you reading this recognize the importance of your health and how sometimes a little work is required to keep our bodies functioning properly and disease-free.

Getting Started
·        Because a detox consists of a break down diet, it is very cooling on the body. Therefore, you want to detox when it starts getting warmer out. That is why spring and fall are the best times.
·        Pick a time that is convenient and realistic for you. Don’t pick the 2 weeks where you have major events planned (i.e. weddings, parties). It will only make sticking to the detox program more difficult. Also this program involves quite a bit of food preparation time. Don’t do it when you are scheduled to do over time all week.
·        Get rid of any temptations (i.e. chocolate, cookies etc.). This detox will be a real test on your will power so the easier you can make it on yourself the better.

Foods to Avoid
·        Sugar: all foods containing white sugar, brown sugar, glucose, fructose, corn syrup, cane sugar/juice/syrup, honey, agave nectar, rice syrup, maple syrup and definitely no artificial sweeteners (sucralose, saccharine, aspartame, neotame). Stevia can be used but only if really necessary – which I don’t think ever really is!
·        Coffee: it would be a good idea to slowly start cutting out the coffee as soon as possible to avoid headaches and coffee withdrawal. The only form of caffeine allowed is green tea.
·        Animal products: A purely vegan diet is recommended for a detox. This includes no eggs, fish, dairy products and honey.
·        Processed foods: pretty much anything that comes in a can or box is not allowed!! This includes tofu for vegetarians and almond, rice or soymilk. Some exceptions are organic Tamari sauce (make sure it is wheat free), olive oil, organic coconut milk and canned organic beans  (Eden). The better option would be to soak and cook all your beans but I do realize how time consuming that can be.
·        Gluten: follow a gluten-free meal plan. A detox should also be free from most grains with the exception of brown rice and quinoa.
·        Alcohol: sorry, no exceptions. Hey, the good thing is your friends will appreciate having a DD for the next 2 weeks!!

What to Eat:
·        Veggies, veggies and more veggies!! There is no limit except for potatoes as they are a starch.
·        1-2 grains /day consisting of brow rice or quinoa.
·        Fruits. Limit high sugar content fruits such as tropical  (banana, pineapple, mango) and eat fruits after lunch only to help balance blood sugar levels. Avoid dried fruit.
·        1-2 servings/day of beans or lentils.
·        Nuts and seeds with the exception of soy and peanuts.

Diet Guidelines
·        Drink water: first thing into your body every morning should be an 8 oz. glass of pure water with ¼ of a freshly squeezed lemon. Water should be drunk consistently throughout the day. The minimum requirement should be your body weight divided in half and that would equal the amount in ounces you should drink per day (i.e. weight=130lbs/2 = 65. 65oz of pure water per day minimum). Drink 6 oz. (177 ml) before meals. Water should never be ice cold. Warm or room temperature is best.
·        To break-the-fast, it is recommended you start each day of the cleanse with vegetables. 750ml – 1L of freshly juiced juice is recommended for breakfast everyday and to be drunk within an hour of making, as nutrients are lost. Carrot and beet juice, along with leafy greens are best.
·        Eat every and half hours to balance blood sugar and energy levels (this is will help avoid the afternoon crash as well as night time munchies).
·        Eat organic. As we are trying to limit our exposure to toxins, we should avoid all pesticide-sprayed foods.
·        Finish meals and snacks by : your liver detoxifies overnight and this time line helps its efforts.
·        Try not to overeat. To conserve time, you can make big batches of food to eat throughout the week. However, as fresh is best, try to add a fresh salad or veggies as a side to any leftovers.
·        As stress and anxiety can produce toxins internally, one should incorporate a program that will detox the mind as well. Balance and harmony is only achieved when there is a balance between mind and body. Incorporating Yoga, Reiki, Tai Chi and/or meditation are great ways to improve mental health.
·        Supplementation: Liver support during a detox is essential. Milk thistle or Hepato DR by St.Francis is recommended. Dandelion and parsley leaf is recommended for kidney support as toxins are flushed out of the body.
·        Enemas. Yes, you heard me correctly. As our livers begin to release existing toxins, we should assist to eliminate these toxins from the body and enemas are a great way to do this. Please feel free to contact me on how to preform an enema safely and properly.

What you might feel during the Detox
A Detox is a break-down diet designed to not only eliminate the toxins you ingest but release the toxins that already exist in your tissues. As this process occurs, it is possible to feel worse before you feel better. Some possible symptoms can be headaches, fatigue, gas, dizziness, feeling cold, irritable and/or emotional. Those with more toxins will most probably experience more symptoms.
*Anyone pregnant, breast feeding or diabetic should not participate in this program. Those suffering from any other medical conditions please consult your physician prior to starting this program.

For those of you who are ready to feel great, The Green Blossoms Detox Program is a full a 7-day meal plan complete with all recipes including snacks and even a few treats. This program will guide you through a healthy detox with such yummy foods; you won’t even feel like you are depriving yourself! Sign up today and get ready to blossom!!