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National Non-Smoking Week

Most people who start smoking, typically do so before the age of 18 and never think that they will become addicted.  But the truth is that nicotine is an extremely addictive drug making it harder to quit than most illegal drugs.  Cigarettes also contain many other chemicals and carginogens (cancer causing compounds), such as cadmium a heavy metal found in batteries and methanol which is used as rocket fuel, which contribute to the many negative health effects that smoking has been linked to.

Have you been thinking about quitting smoking for a while now, but there is something holding you back from taking that first step?  If you need some extra support than why not contact a Naturopathic Dcotor and let them supprt you.  Naturopathic Medicine can help make the quitting process easier by decreasing side effects, cravings and improving overall health.

Here are a few tips to help reach your smoke free goals”

  • The first thing you need to do is decide on a quit date.
  • Make a list of all the reasons why you want to quit smoking.  Keep that list with you and when you find yourself reaching for a cigarette look it over.
  • Switch brands to one that is low tar and  nicotine for a month before your target date.
  • Tell people around you that you have quite smoking – especially family and friends.  This way hopefully other people will no smoke around you, you may get some other people to quit along with you, and if it works better for you then you can consider yourself accountable to other people and not just yourself.
  • Some people find going cold turkey the best way but other find it easier to slowly cut down on the nuber of cigarettes that you smoke each day:
  • Only smoke half of each cigarette
  • Decide beforehand how many cigarettes you will smoke each day
  • Do not smoke before breakfast – always eat first.
  • You can try delaying the lighting of that first cigarette buy an hour every few days.
  • Drink plenty of herbal teas and water during the process to help flush the nicotine out of the system.
  • Save the money you would usually spend on cigarettes and buy yourself something you really want at the end of a week, month or year!

Dr. Joanne has a smoking cessation program that incorporates both acupuncture and supplements to help you acheive your goal of becoming smoke free.  If you have made the decision to lead a healthier life then give us a call at 905-475-0484 to book your appointment today.

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It seems that most of my posts revolve around not so healthy desserts and this one isn’t any different….yikes..I am going to have to try more healthy baking to post on here.

This recipe comes from the CBC show In the Kitchen with Stefano Faita and I just tweaked it to make it both gluten and dairy free.  I don’t even think I have had a baked alaska back in the day when I did  dairy, but I fed this to my extended family for christmas and everyone ate it, and I  it was pretty good as well!  Here is the link the the original recipe: http://www.cbc.ca/inthekitchen/2012/10/cappuccino-baked-alaska.html

This is what mine looked like as the end result…..

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Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 boxes of gluten free Enjoy Life Shortbread Sugar Cookies (instead of ladyfingers – I couldn’t find any gluten free lady fingers)
  • 4-6 tbsp espresso or strongly brewed coffee
  • 2-3 tbsp chocolate covered espresso beans – chopped
  • 1/2 cup chocolate cookie crumbs (I omitted because I did not have any)
  • 1 tub of coconut milk ice cream – depending on the brand you can try mocha almond fudge (So Good), or Mocha Maca Chip (Coconut Bliss).  Or you could just do plain vanilla or chocolate if you like.
  • A handful of chocolate chips – that I used instead of the chocolate cookie crumbs

Meringue Ingredients:

  • 6 egg whites
  • A pinch of salt
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Directions

  1. Start by crushing 1 box of the cookies into a bowl.  Slowly add the espresso mixing to combine.  If too wet then add more cookies (but you need to keep about 12 to line the outside of the pan), if too dry then add a bit more coffee. Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie pan (which I do not have so I used a springform pan).  Now you want to line the side of the pan with the rest of the cookies.   This is where having ladyfingers would have been so much easier…I contemplated keeping the cookies whole but I thought it would make it more difficult later on to do smallerserving sizes, so I compromised on overall appearance and broke them in half to line the sides.   I put this in the freezer while my ice cream was softening.
  2. Remove ice cream from the freezer and let stand for about 10-15 minutes so it can soften.  Once softened, spread the ice cream over the crust in an even fashion.
  3. I also could not find any chocolate covered espresso beans that did not have dairy in them…..why something labelled dark chocolate covered _____ needs to have whole milk powder added to it is beyond me and also left for a very messy task at hand.  If anyone knows where to get them in the greater Toronto area or York region let me know because I also like to snack on them.  Basically I made clumps of chocolate covered espresso beans, waited for them to harden andthen smashed them with a meat pounder, sprinkled them over the ice cream and added a handful of chocolate chips as well.

    Phone Pics - food 007Phone Pics - food 009

  4. Return to the freezer while making the meringue.
  5. To make the meringue, beat the egg whites in a large bowl on a low setting until soft peaks have been formed.  Increase the speed and add the salt and cream of tartar.  Gradually add in the sugar and keep beating at a higher speed until stiff peaks are formed.  You know you have a stiff peak when you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue does not fall out.
  6. Spread the meringue over the frozen pie and use a fork to make a swirling motion and create peaks.  Use a small blowtorch to lightly torch the meringue until there is a golden brown hue.
  7. Cut into cake wedges and serve!

Optional – if you do not have a mini blowtorch then do not like the sides of the pan with ladyfingers and lightly broil the baked Alaska until the meringue is golden brown, about 2-4 minutes.

Enjoy 🙂

Frozen peanut Butter Pie

The frozen peanut butter pie recipe is adapted from a Canadian Living recipe to make it gluten and dairy free.  I made it for my sister’s birthday and we both loved it, and then I brought it to work and no one could tell it was dairy and gluten free!!  Excellent…

Frozen Peanut Butter Pie

Ingredients 

Crust:

  • About 1 cup of gluten free chocolate chocolate-chip cookies crushed into crumbs
  • 1/4 cup melted coconut oil

Filling:

  • 2/3 cup plain coconut yoghurt
  • 2/3 cup natural organic smooth peanut butter (you could also use almond butter for a healthier option)
  • 2 tbsp (about) of almond milk
  • 4-5 tbsp of icing sugar

Topping:

  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/8 or a bit more… cup almond milk
  • 1/4 cup chopped peanuts
  • Fresh seasonal berries to garnish.

Directions:

  1. I bought my gluten free cookies because I was not going to have enough time to make them and they were a soft cookie that i just crumbled up.  You can get gluten free wafer crumbs or make your won cookies and  bake them so the get hard, then crumble them down and mix with the coconut oil.
  2. Pat the crumbs onto the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate and freeze for about 20 minutes.  I used coconut oil as my greaser but I have found that it is not always the best so you can try adding some gluten free flour on top of it or use good old trusty parchment paper.
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl whisk together the coconut yoghurt, sugar and half the almond milk.  Then whisk in the peanut butter and stir until smooth, adding more almond milk if needed.  Instead of almond milk you could use coconut milk but I was not going to be around to use the rest of it for a curry and the almond milk was already open….I also used organic peanut butter with nothing added, instead of the crap the some companies market as a health choice that is already laden with hydrogenated vegetable oils and sugar so I added a bit more sugar than the original recipe called for.  I started with the original 3tbsp called for and decided it needed a bit more (some more sweetness for my sister) so I added a bit at a time to get the right sweetness.  So play around with the sugar, this recipe is extremely rich so next time i might just stick with the 3tbsp and see how everyone feels about it.
  4. Spread evenly over the crust and freeze for 1hr.
  5. For the topping, melt the chocolate and almond milk in a double boiler over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth.  I confess that I really didn’t measure out the almond milk here but you will need less than the recommended 1/4 cup whipping cream.  Can be hard to find the right balance so do your 1/8 cup of almond milk and melt that way and once the mixture has cooled a bit if you feel it’s a bit too thick then add a bit more milk, and hopefully it has cooled enough that it will not go lumpy on you!  The joys of working with melted chocolate right!
  6. Spread the chocolate mixture evenly over the peanut butter filling and then sprinkle peanuts along the edges.  Freeze for at least 1hr or until it has completely set.  When serving let it stand for about 10 minutes so it can thaw enough to get a knife through it!  You can also make it aheadof time, wrap it in foil and freeze it for up to 1 week.  (that is what the recipe says but i am sure you can freeze it for longer…)

ENJOY!!!  so good and delicious that I recommend adding some berries to balance it out.  For my pie, I used raspberries instead of peanuts along the edges.

Canned Goods and BPA…

Hopefully everyone has heard of BPA (Bisphenol-A) in the last few years as it has made made a big media splash as being a common chemical in plastics with many negative effects.

Facts:

  • Has been around since 1957 – can be found in water bottles, medical and dental devices, dental fillings and sealants, CDs and DVDs, the epoxy resins lining food and beverage cans, eyeglass lenses etc.
  • In 2010, Canada became the first country to declare BPA a toxic substance (although they did not really ban its use in plastic products…)
  • The new plastic Canadian currency has been measured as having the highest levels of BPA of several international currencies measured……
  • Canada, the States and the European Union have banned BPA in baby bottles, but nothing else.
  • BPA is an endocrine disruptor – which means that it affects the body’s hormones – specifically estrogen.  Some studies suggest it can lead to miscarriages, fertility probblems, and affect breast cancer treatment (reduce sensitivity to chemotherapy, stimulate cancerous changes).
  • BPA can bind to thyroid receptors affecting function.
  • One of the reasons it was removed from baby bottles was there was was concern about the effect of BPA on fetal and infant brain development.  A 2008 study by the Yale School of Medicine looking at the effect of BPA on primates showed significant adverse neurological effects – affecting learning, memory and mood.

While, baby bottles with BPA have been banned, food and beverage containers have not so many people and infants (through formula) are still being exposed at varying amounts.  There are however, some companies that have voluntarily removed BPA from their epoxy resins in canned foods.

When you are out buying canned foods look for some of these brands:

  • Eden Organics – they have been using BPA free cans for over 10 years.  They use PA free cans for all their beans, bean and grain combos and chili’s.  The company is also in the process of adding BPA free stickers to these cans so consummers know!  On a side note, due to the acidic nature of tomatos, their canned tomatoe products are still in cans with BPA liners, but they are transitioning to amber glass jars.  I would suggest getting tomato products in glass jars because the acidic nature of the tomatoes does cause the BPA to leech out into the product.
  • Hunts plain tomatoes only are said to be in BPA free cans.
  • Native Factor – coconut water.
  • Native Forest – Organic coconut milk, asparagus mushrooms and hearts of palm.
  • Amy’s – According to their website, as of March 1 2012 they have completely transitioned to BPA free liners in their cans.
  • Campbell’s Soup – Apparently it was accounced in March 2012 that they will be phasing out BPA from their cans but I am not exactly sure when that is happening or how long that will take….

http://www.edenfoods.com/articles/view.php?articles_id=178

http://www.forbes.com/sites/amywestervelt/2012/03/05/under-pressure-from-parents-advocacy-groups-campbells-goes-bpa-free/

http://www.treehugger.com/green-food/7-companies-you-can-trust-to-use-bpa-free-cans.html

http://inspirationgreen.com/bpa-lined-cans.html

 

Organics…good or bad?

So while I was on vacation there was a big splash in the media about organic foods and the fact that they are not healthier than conventional non-organic foods.  I think there might be a bit of misconception when it comes to organic so here is my 2 cents.

Study – published in the Annals of Internal Medicine

  • Abstract: http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1355685
  • Scientists from StanfordUniversity looked at 17 studies focusing on humans, and 223 studies looking at the nutrient and contaminant levels in foods.
  • Conclusions:
    • Strong lack of evidence that organic foods are significantly more nutritious than conventional foods and did not see any marked differences between people who ate organically and those who ate conventional foods.
    • Conventional produce had considerably higher levels of pesticide residues than organic produce.

What does Organic Mean?

  • Organic farming prohibits the use of:
    • Chemical pesticides
    • Antibiotics (only allowed as a last result if the animals life is in danger.  If they are used, any milk derived from that animal is discarded for a minimum of 30 days and the meat can never be sold as organic)
    • Synthetic hormones
    • Genetic engineering and other excluded practices
    • Sewage sludge
    • Cloning animals and using their products
    • Excess processing of foods, artificial ingredients, preservatives, or irradiation.
  • Organic Manufacturers do not use:
    • Irradiated products or ingredients
    • Artificial preservatives, colours, flavours or chemical additives
    • MSG, aspartame, sodium nitrates or nitrites
    • GMOs
  • Organic farming is very much about the environment – helping to maintain and replenish the soil by rotating crops; using composting and green manures to add nitrogen and organic matter to the soil which will help with keep weeds down and prevent drought and soil erosion.

Information from: http://www.organicbiologique.ca/en/what.html

So is Organic Healthier?  In my Opinion YES 90% of the time!

  • Basically this study did prove that organics are healthier when they stated that consuming organic foods decreased your exposure to pesticides and drug-resistant bacteria….that is mainly what organic farming is about.
    • There have also been many studies showing higher nutrient content in certain organic produce versus conventional – these kinds of things always go back and forth.
  • You shouldn’t buy packaged organic cookies, cakes, brownies etc thinking they are healthy – processed organic white flour and sugar are not healthy…
  • Choosing organic produce will help to decrease your toxic load and how can that not be healthy – we are such a sick population and I think all these pesticides and herbicides are contributing to that.
  • If you want to make sure that what you are eating has not been genetically modified then you have to go organic.  Unlike some European countries where GMOs have to be labeled, in Canada they do not.  I feel that we do not know the long health implications of GMOs and we should be able to make an informed decision on whether we eat them or not.

I realize that organic can get expensive so check out www.ewg.org for their dirty dozen and clean 15 list and try to eat those dirty dozen in organic form as much as possible.  Fruits and veggies with thin skins (where most of the nutrients are as well…) tend to be on that dirty dozen list such as blueberries, strawberries, grapes, apples, spinach and lettuce.  Fruits and vegetables with thicker skins that are not normally consumed can usually be found on the clean 15 list such as watermelon, avocado, pineapple, onions and melons.

So I know that I have been MIA for a while and that is because I have been on vacation – enjoying the culture of Italy and Spain.   Now we all know that Italy is known for its food but my family was somewhat disappointed at the restaurants that we visited but we did make some excellent food with the fresh produce, meat, fish and pasta from the grocery store.  While there was not much in the fridge yesterday I did find a sleuth of veggies and some fresh basil which inspired me to make fresh pesto primavera.

Pesto Sauce – now I really didn’t take any measurements or follow any directions, I just threw everything together and blended it all together.

  • Fresh basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • fresh lemon juice
  • sunflower seeds – I didn’t have any pine nuts but these worked well, Cashews would probably also work well.
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Sauteed onion, garlic, green onion, zucchini, and tomatoe in some coconut oil until the tomatoes started to break up a bit.  Add some of the homeade pesto sauce to the veggies to get them coated.  Add the pasta and mix it all toghether adding some more pesto until everything is nicely coated.

Enjoy!

At the farmers market a few weeks ago I picked up large quantity of rhubarb…more than I really needed but it is a good thing that it can be frozen for later use.  So what did I do with all this rhubarb – I made Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins, Maple Apple, Strawberry and Rhubarb Crisp and Rhubarb-Apple Cobbler.  That’s right, I made all these goodies in 1 day and still had a whole bunch of rhubarb left to freeze!

 Healthy Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins – VEGAN

This is actually a recipe for Strawberry Peach Muffins but since Ontario peaches were not in season yet and I had this vast quantity of rhubarb, I decided to modify this one and I think it turned out pretty good!  I was also running low on coconut oil and this recipe calls for only a small amount of butter.

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour – I used spelt
  • ½ cup whole wheat flour – I used spelt, you could also use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Mix or any other gluten free flour  (just make sure to add that xanthum gum)
  • ½ cup quick oats – I don’t have the quick oats and it still turned out fine
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • ¼ vegan butter (like earth balance) – I used coconut oil
  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/3 cup play soymilk – I used plain almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • ½ cup finely chopped pecans – I didn’t have
  • 1 cup fresh strawberries, diced up tiny
  • Rhubarb…trying to remember how much I used….probably 1 cup also chopped/diced tiny
    • NOTE – the actual recipe calls for 1 large peach, peeled and diced small (but I am also pretty sure that I added more than 1 peach last time I made it…ya I like to increase my fruit..)

Pre-heat oven to 350F and grease muffin tin or use your muffin cups

Whisk dry ingredients in a bowl and set aside

In another bowl add sugar, butter, applesauce, almond milk, vanilla and pecans.  Whisk together until mixed.

Add dry ingredients to this and stir until just combined

Gently fold in the fruit

Spoon into muffin tins and bake for 20-25 minutes.

These muffins are very dense and moist! Store them in the fridge and they will keep for at least 1week – mine didn’t last longer than that.