January 17, 2018

Have You Tried These Non-Dairy Pro-biotic Foods?

Living life dairy-free or sugar-free?  Yes, you can enjoy the health benefits of yogurt without actually eating it.  When popular yogurts can have as much sugar as a small can of cola, looking elsewhere for your pro-biotics is a good idea.

Here are four non-dairy sources of active pro-biotics that don’t come stacked with a ton of sugar:

Sauerkraut:  Not to be confused with coleslaw, sauerkraut is a European-style fermented cabbage side dish or condiment that may be cooked or eaten raw. Note: the real thing has NO VINEGAR added to it.  The sourness comes from the lactic acid created by the bacteria that soften the cabbage to a mildly-crunchy texture. Try it cold on top of a green salad or baked potato. Look for it in the refrigerated section of your grocery or health food store.


Kimchi: This is a Korean style of fermented nappa cabbage. I was told by a Korean woman that there are over 300 different ways to make kimchi!  In contrast to sauerkraut, kimchi usually has garlic and often, sriracha as key ingredients.  Find it in the fridge of better stocked health food stores and use it just like you would sauerkraut.


Kombucha:  This is a fermented green tea beverage that offers pro-biotic cultures as well as anti-oxidant benefits.  Properly produced kombucha is mildly effervescent,  smells reminiscent of beer and should be enjoyed chilled.  However, beware:  there are some varieties that are sweetened.  Drink it any time.


Coconut yogurt:  at first glance, it looks like ordinary yogurt. Simply by adding living bacterial cultures to coconut milk produces this creamy snack.  It tends to be a lot less sour than dairy yogurt, so if sourness is not your thing, this may be your best choice of pro-biotic food! Add a few berries and you are all set.


No matter which pro-biotic food you choose to try, each one will offer up different species of beneficial bacteria.  To get the most from pro-biotic foods, eat them regularly, rotate them, and keep them cool (refrigerated).  Enjoy!



How to Replace 3 Unhealthy Breakfast Foods

Sugar suppresses immunity, with no exception.  I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t want better immunity against pathogens and cancer cells, so I’m always about reducing simple sugars from the diet.

Here are three foods I see in clients’ food logs that are mistakenly thought to be part of a healthy breakfast:

Flavoured Yogurt. Would you eat ice cream for breakfast? Coming in at around 25 grams of sugar per individual serving, fruity yogurts—as well as vanilla and mocha-flavoured yogurts —contain more added sugar than a small can of Coke and about the same amount as a bowl or ice cream.

The fix: buy plain, organic yogurt (the kind with just two ingredients), add a dash or stevia extract  or one teaspoon of maple syrup (only 5 grams of sugar) plus a few berries. Enjoy!


Fruit Juice. Would you eat 4 oranges in one sitting? Even if you did, the fibre from the pulp would slow the absorption of the sugar from the fresh-pressed OJ.  But when you drink strained OJ from a bottle, it’s like eating 4 oranges minus the pulp. Your body will respond just as it had if you’d eaten granulated sugar.

The fix: Eat an orange—just one, whole orange, with some nuts, cheese or eggs to slow the absorption of sugars into the bloodstream.


Granola.  Not only is it oiled with inappropriately chosen liquid oils and baked at pizza oven temperatures, it usually contains excessive sugar in order to mask the flavour of burnt/spoiled oils.  This is no health food.

The fix: make your own muesli! This contains all the redeeming features of granola—the oat flakes, seeds and dried fruits—but you don’t add oil or bake it, so it’s raw.  Use sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds for some crunch.  Just add your favourite calcium-containing beverage  and enjoy, raw.

The payoff

The lower your concentrated sugar intake, the better your immunity system will work, and the more balanced your mood, weight and energy will be. Need help reducing your total sugar intake? A Registered Nutritional Therapist like myself can assist you in reaching your health goals.

The BEST Reason to Log Your Food

Maybe you’ve tried keeping a diet journal, and for a number of reasons, you didn’t Businesswoman Writing In Diarykeep it going.  Here are some common objections and excuses I have heard for avoiding this practice:

“It takes too long.”

“By the end of the day I’m too tired to do it.”

“My day was so hectic that by lunchtime I can’t remember what I had for breakfast.”

“I’m too lazy to do it.”

Then there’s the most honest reason:

“I hate admitting to myself that I ate something I shouldn’t have.”

What if I said that keeping a diet journal is ESSENTIAL to reaching your health and weight goals? That logging your food (and beverage!) consumption is the behaviour that is most important to losing unwanted pounds?

Studies have shown repeatedly that individuals who consistently keep diet journals lose twice as much weight as those who don’t! 

It’s NOT All or Nothing.

Here’s the best news: in these studies, it didn’t matter how ‘perfectly’ the individuals kept their journals. Just the fact that they recorded what they ate and drank on a regular basis lead them to success!

Here are four more great reasons to keep a food diary.

So, if you’ve stopped keeping a journal because you weren’t doing it perfectly or eating perfectly all the time, try again. It could really make the difference in your success!



Why I Love Buffets

If your conscience is punishing you about partaking in buffet-style restaurant meals, park that guilt! There are actually many good things about buffets. From a nutritional standpoint, here are a few:https://static2.tripoto.com/media/filter/l/img/256471/TripDocument/1461053991_2014619113333436269.jpg

  1. Variety of flavours.  East Indians, for instance, have known for millennia that a balance of flavours in a meal are good for digestion and satisfaction.
  2. Variety of nutrients. Few menus offer single dishes that have a good balance of protein, carbohydrate, fat, minerals and vitamins.  A good buffet will provide a well-rounded selection of nutrients that you otherwise might not achieve by the end of your day.
  3. You ARE in control of how much is on your plate. The average nutritionist’s attitude on buffets is AVOID them because it’s too easy to overeat.  While I agree that one must exercise some won’t-power at a buffet, I believe it’s actually easier to control your portions when it’s not a set plate.
  4. Try foods you saw in the produce aisle but didn’t know what to do with.
    You’ve heard avocadoes are good for us, but never got around to making or trying guacamole. Or, you’ve seen blue potatoes at the store but wondered if they tasted the same as white ones. Here’s your opportunity to try them without risk!
  5. Be inspired by new-to-you recipes, or ways of preparing ordinary foods.  Even if you’re a ‘foodie’ and have tried many vegetables, you may not have ever thought of preparing them in the way that you find them at a buffet.  Be adventurous!

Here are my recommendations for the best buffets in Ottawa, from a nutritional standpoint:

  • Viva International Buffet: International cuisine, home-cooked style.  Usually there are many options for vegetarians and those with food sensitivities.  Kanata.
  • Mandarin Buffet: An Asian food nirvana. Includes sushi. No MSG added. Orleans and  Riverside+Hunt Club locations.
  • The Green Door: Vegetarian.  Pay by weight.  All items have common allergens identified.  Main St., Old Ottawa south.
  • The Table: Vegetarian cuisine. Pay by weight.  All items have a full disclosure of ingredients.  Wellington Village at Holland Ave.

Enjoy your buffet experience!

Is Your Granola Bar a Glorified Candy Bar?

If there is a ‘healthy’ granola bar that is commercially available, then I haven’t seen it.

Healthy munchiesSure, there is a whole aisle full of ‘granola bars’ at your local supermarket.  But they are loaded with sugar. Some even contain hydrogenated oils, those evil trans fats.

My wish list for the perfect granola bar includes:

1. Sugar content of less than 6 grams.  Yes, sugar is a preservative when used in quantity, not to mention that it makes everything more palatable. However with diabetes and insulin resistance rising to epidemic levels, we don’t need more of it.

2. Fibre content of at least 7 grams. This will offset the high-glycemic effect of any sweeteners or dried fruits used, and promote bowel regularity.

3.  Protein content of at least 6 grams.  When protein arrives in the stomach, the brain shortly receives the signal to cut appetite so that it remains in the stomach for digestion to begin.  Nuts and seeds are the best and most natural way to accomplish this request.

4. Coconut oil as the primary oil.  No canola oil or soybean oil, which are genetically-modified (unless certified organic).   Coconut oil is the winner of the group for withstanding baking temperatures. It is also solid at room temperature so it will assist in holding the bar together (this may be why hydrogenated oils/shortenings are often used).

5. No artificial colours, sweeteners, flavours or preservatives. Enough said.

6. No cracked flax, chia or hemp seed.  (Surprise!)  As beneficial sources of essential fatty acids, these become rancid and toxic at baking temperatures.  Put them on your cereal or yogurt instead.

7. No milk or gluten. There is absolutely no reason that milk products and gluten are needed to hold a granola bar together.  They are among the top allergens/hypersensitivities in the western population. (It’s best to reduce your exposure if you are concerned about becoming sensitive!)

Of course, food industry’s priority is to make food as cheap and shelf-stable as possible, which is why so many of the undesirable features are present in commercially available bars.  For now, I don’t recommend store-bought granola bars.   The best thing to do is make your own.  Have fun with it! I’d love to hear about your successes (and failures).


5 Things to Do if You’re Always Tired

Are you falling asleep at your desk? Can’t get through the afternoon without the boost caffeine and carbohydrates can temporarily give you? Is getting out of bed in the morning your biggest challenge of the day? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, you would benefit from a thorough dietary and lifestyle evaluation.

The first step in doing this is to keep a diet journal. Don’t delay! Take a moment to get a free one right here:  7-day Diet Journal

juggle junk food1. Begin recording everything you eat and drink through the day, being sure to write down how much you’re eating. For example, did you have two plates of pasta or just one? Did you go for the largest size coffee or the small? Approximately how many almonds did you eat?  This exercise will bring a consciousness to your eating patterns, and can be very informative. It will reveal tendencies and patterns, which can serve as excellent motivation to change bad dietary habits.  Do this for at least a week.

2. Are you getting any fresh air?  (Walking to your car in the parking lot does not count, but standing at the bus stop does! ) .  Many buildings have poorly-maintained ventilation systems. Outdoor air is usually cleaner and more oxygen-rich than indoor air. Aim to spend at least 20 minutes outdoors daily! If it’s sunny, this is also a  good opportunity for vitamin D production.

3.  How often do you exercise? The brain and muscles depend on oxygen for their function, and physical exercise is the best way to improve circulation.    Do you exercise outdoors or indoors (see #2)?     Be sure to get some of your exercise outdoors. Consider cycling, skiing, swimming, skating, or hiking.

4.  Do a cStudio Portrait Of Depressed Womanommitment review.  What have you said ‘yes’ to that you wish you’d said ‘no’ to?  Is it because you are overwhelmed with responsibilities, and do you enjoy these responsibilities? Just being conscious of the fact that you have a long list of to-dos, projects and social commitments can take up a lot of energy!   Make a list of everything and start rating them according to their importance to YOU. Then, make a commitment to be more selective.

5. Weed out the energy-drainers. These consist of negative  people, places, TV programs, etc. that drag you down instead of make you feel good.  If you are feeling guilty about saying goodbye to the Sad Sallys in your life, set boundaries instead.  There is no law that says you have to answer the phone when it rings, or the front door, for that matter (unless it’s the police!).  Put yourself first more often.

There are a multitude of life coaches out there to help you organize and improve your life, and they can be very beneficial.   However, improving nutritional intake is critical for supporting yourself under stress in order to reduce fatigue so that you will have the energy to make the changes such a coach is recommending.  After all, the body and its chemistry is built and maintained by nutrients!

Once you’ve started keeping a diet journal I believe you will see how food and hydration affect your energy. Of course the next step is to CHANGE what you’re eating and drinking.    A holistic nutritionist can offer superior support in this regard, giving you personalized, practical and fun recommendations that makes your goal of increased energy more attainable!

5 Healthy Ways to Satisfy Your Craving for Sour Foods

Sweet, salty, spicy, bitter, and sour.   The latter doesn’t typically rank near the top of favourite flavours except in a small selection of us–including me.  As a child, sour was a close second favourite to sweet.  I’d actually sprinkle vinegar on Olive Oil And Vinegarmy plain potato chips to satisfy a sour craving! Other go-tos were the Sour Kids candies, sour gummy-worms, Lik-a-Stik powder, et cetera.   Thankfully, I eventually became interested in healthier foods as a teen and transformed my diet into one that had more nutrient-dense sour foods.

Here are a few ways I’ve satisfied my craving for salt and vinegar chips and other empty calories:

1. Pickles. Did you forget that pickles are actually pickled cucumbers? While I have never enjoyed raw cukes, the pickled version is pretty exciting with its distinct crunch and zing.  Avoid the bread and butter pickles as they contain sugar; instead, choose garlic and dill pickles. Also, look for pickled beets!

2. Sauerkraut.  Again, here’s another vegetable—cabbage—that’s been fermented. This process results in a softer cabbage and is a great natural source of probiotics, like acidophilus! Look for naturally produced sauerkraut at your local farmer’s market and avoid the ones preserved with sodium benzoate.

Kiwi fruit3. Fruits. Berries, pineapple, Granny Smith apples, kiwis, juice oranges, lemons and limes—these are just a few of many sour fruits. High in antioxidants like vitamin C, anthocyanins and carotenoids, these are a delicious way to satisfy your sour cravings.

4. Yogurt. Plain yogurt is not nearly as popular as fruit-sweetened yogurt because it’s not got any sugars added. Of course, this makes plain yogurt far healthier.  Here’s another fermented food whose flavour is created by the friendly bacterial cultures that thrive on milk’s naturally occurring lactose.  This means there’s usually no lactose left in the product by the time it’s yogurt, so it’s even safe for those who are lactose-intolerant! Again, look for a product with as few ingredients as possible, and go for organic milk to reduce exposure to unwanted contaminants.

Green Stuffed Olives5. Olives. Green olives in brine are a sour, fermented snack or condiment, rich in health-giving omega-9 fatty acids.  Try a few different brands from your local Italian delicatessen (such as Nicastro’s in Ottawa, ON) and go for the lower-sodium varieties.

Lastly, don’t forget vinegar! There are plenty of vinegars to sprinkle on your salad: balsamic, wine vinegars, malt vinegars,…and many varieties within these three alone.  Vinegars are alkaline-forming and healthy for most of us, despite their acidic flavour.  Explore your neighbourhood Greek and Italian food shops for more!


What is Estrogen Toxicity Doing to Men?

Inside the 21st-century overweight male there is some interesting chemistry going on.  With the help of the enzyme aromatase, a man’s testosterone is converting into estrogen. The disturbing truth is that the more body fat he has, the more estrogen receptors he has, so the more vulnerable he is to the following side effects:

1.       Impotence

2.       Reduced libidojack needs bra

3.       Reduced fertility

4.       Decreased muscle tone

5.       Increased body fat

6.       enlarged prostate (BPH)

7.       Increased risk of diabetes

8.       Increased risk of heart disease

9.       Increased risk of stroke

10. Increased risk of cancer, especially prostate cancerbra black pink

11.   Mammary gland growth (‘man boobs’)

 reference:  www.meadlabs.com

 The human male physiology is not equipped to handle the xeno-estrogens that pervade our environment, our food and our water—not to mention endogenous estrogens (the ones made by the body). 

Men are excellent candidates for an estrogen detoxification program—which lowers circulating estrogens and allow testosterone to dominate in the manner it should. 

Fortunately, there are nutritional modifications that will help lower an excessive estrogen load. Some of these foods and phyto-chemicals help the liver process estrogens better, while others lower body fat and therefore estrogen load.  A good estrogen detox supports all channels of elimination to rid excessive estrogen from the body on daily, timely basis.   If you are willing to modify your diet, incorporate some organic foods and are willing to do an inventory and makeover of your personal care products, then you will not be disappointed in the results you get from an estrogen detox!

Why and How to Cut 500 Calories From Your Day

Drinking a 20-ounce (590 ml) bottle of cola daily for a year without increasing your energy expenditure can result in a gain of 25 pounds.  Before you trade it in for an equal serving size of O.J., realize that the calories are near equivalent and they are all coming from sugars.  The rules of weight loss are simple:  if you are eating more than you need to support your body’s metabolic processes you will gain weight.  But did you know that by eating 500 fewer calories per day, you can lose 1 pound per week?weighty apple measure

Here are 5 easy ways to cut 100 calories from your diet:

1. Use mustard instead of mayonnaise. It doesn’t matter how much you use—you’ll get tired of squeezing the bottle before you have 100 calories of mustard on your sandwich!

2. Avoid ‘candy bars’ (for example, Mars, Snickers, Oh Henry! are all candy bars, disguised as chocolate bars).   Instead, purchase an actual chocolate bar and eat 2 squares of dark chocolate. You will enjoy it more if you eat less of it, and slowly.

3. Use celery sticks instead of crackers or bread when spreading your peanut butter. Again, you will be FULL before you can eat 100 calories worth of celery! (But make sure you stick to the same serving size of PB!)

4. Use stevia in your coffee and tea instead of sugar. Stevia is a plant with sweet tasting leaves that are dried and powdered, then bleached.  Stevia contains zero calories, and it is so sweet that a  little dash goes a long way! If it tastes bitter to you, you’ve used too much. It’s available in handy packets for convenient transportation. (If you plan to bake with it, follow me and watch for tips on how to use it properly, coming soon!).

5. When ordering fast food, avoid the temptation to ‘get a better deal’ by buying the drink-included combo.  Remember, that extra 240 calories comes from sugar! Instead, drink water. Flavour it by adding a drop of pure food-grade peppermint oil, or other essential oil extracts (shake or stir well before drinking).

…you’ve done it! That’s at least 500 calories spared. I bet you aren’t even feeling hungry.

Remember that weight loss should be mainly fat loss. If you want to lose fat, not muscle, be sure to obtain a body composition measurement before you start and once your new lifestyle has been in effect for at least 3 weeks, and then compare your measurements.

Do you have a favourite low-calorie snack? Please leave a comment here.

Are you “fat, sick and nearly dead”?

Recently, I watched the film “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” by Joe Cross (Joe Cross Films, 2010). What an inspiring story! It’s about  two overweight men who transformed their health by performing a 60-day juice fast.  These two men first meet at a truck stop somewhere in the American Midwest and discover that they suffer from the same inflammatory skin condition, not to mention obesity and unhappiness about their current health status. Joe, our narrator, has already been drinking nothing but juiced fruits and vegetables for several weeks when he meets Phil, who is over 420 pounds. They exchange contact info, and the rest of the film follows Phil through his ‘reboot’, i.e. his juice fast experience.  The results are dramatic and impressive, rewarding Phil with a second chance at life.

While I found the film to be very inspirational (my juicer has returned to a central place on my countertop and is seeing daily use after a winter in hibernation), I feel it necessary to emphasize that  it is essential that you not embark on a juice fast on your own.  Here’s why you want to be under the supervision of a health care practitioner if you’ve never done this before:

1. Juice fasting can produce some unpleasant side effects in the consumer as large amounts of toxins are rapidly expelled from the fat cells.  This can result in headaches, skin outbreaks, diarrhea and other signs that your body is unable to cope with the volume of waste entering your circulation.

2. You will lose weight on a juice fast, whether you want to or not. Losing it too quickly may increase your risk of gall bladder stones, for instance.  If you’ve already got stones, well, then losing a large amount of weight in a short time could potentially cause an obstruction that requires emergency surgery.  Trust me: you should keep your gall bladder!

3. Consuming a juice-only diet means you are on a vegan diet. This means it will be devoid of vitamin B-12, retinol (vitamin A) and vitamin D.  You’ll need to take supplements to prevent deficiencies in these nutrients.

4. Individuals with diabetes or hypoglycemia  shouldn’t fast on just any juice.   Juicing removes most of the fibre from fruits and vegetables, allowing the natural sugars to enter the bloodstream much faster than if the food was eaten whole, fibre and all.  This means that blood sugars can be difficult to manage without the guidance of a nutritionist.

5. You will have cravings, and when you do, it will probably be for something you know is not healthy. You need a coach to make sure you stay away from the chips, chocolate, burgers, and other junk foods your body may be addicted to. Who better than a nutritionist to be that coach?

Other tips before you embark on this dramatic dietary change:

1. Have an electronic body composition assessment before, during and after your juice fast. This data will identify how quickly you are losing fat, expelling toxins and losing muscle (gasp! it’s likely on this low-protein diet).

2. Even if you aren’t ‘fat, sick and nearly dead’, please—have a health check-up by a qualified health professional before embarking on a juice fast.  The two gentlemen in the film did—and it proved to two medical doctors that dramatic changes in diet can produce dramatic, healthy results.

Final thoughts: Juicing is an excellent way to increase your daily intake of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants without having to chew your way through several large salads daily.  I believe that if more of us drank fresh juices instead of the pasteurized, “from concentrate” ones that we’d all be the better for it.

Have you ever fasted on juice, and if so, did you have a positive experience?