Health Issues

Posts specifically regarding health concerns and issues surrounding weight loss.

Remaining Calm During a Hectic Time

In perfect tandem to my previous post, I came across an article in Yoga Journal about how to stay grounded (aka sane) during the upcoming holiday season. Their ideas, not always including yoga, are effective and quick and make a whole bunch of sense. I want to share them with you:

1. Breathe. The most important for sure. When you are feeling overwhelmed, stop and just breathe. At least 10 breaths. The world is not going to end during the time it takes to do this. It’s the fastest reset you can do.


2. Establish an intention for each day when you wake. A common undertaking during a yoga practice, you don’t have to be in downward dog to do this. Take a minute to steady the breath and set your intention for the day. Visualize the kind of day you want to have. Not everything will cooperate but your mind will work towards your goal without you even realizing it.

3. Smile. I love this one.

4. Alert, yoga pose! Maybe not appropriate in Costco but certainly at home or in the office, it just takes a minute. Forward bends are calming poses and can help lower your systolic blood pressure reading. Stand with your feet together and hands in a prayer position at your chest. Raise your hands straight above your head and fold forward reaching towards the floor. The closer you are to the floor, the more grounded you will feel. Stay for a few breaths.

forward bend

5. Music. Putting on your favourite music doesn’t require any time but can help calm you and lighten your mood as you work.

6. Brew a tea. The English love to “have a cuppa” when life gets stressful. Make it caffeine free for best effect.


7. Take a few minutes to walk outside when things get tough. Use all your senses to ground yourself; the sounds outside, the feel of the earth beneath you, the feel of the air across your face, the sights you see. Allow your shoulders to relax as you walk and your face to soften.


8. Use some essentials oils to help you wind down at the end of the day in order to get a good nights sleep. Lavender is a wonderful calming oil and great for inducing sleep. To go one step further, Yoga Journal suggests this routine:
Add 2 drops each of lavender, chamomile, and rose essential oil to 2 oz. organic almond oil. Blend together and sprinkle a drops into your palms. Massage your face and neck gently with upward strokes. Pinch lightly along the eyebrow, and then press down along the ridge under your eye. Finish with circular full-facial strokes before placing the palms over your closed eyes, and inhaling deeply for a few seconds.

essential oils

Feel better?

Article adapted from Yoga Journal’s “7 Ways to Keep Your Calm”


Prepping for Christmas

4 weeks less one day till the big day. How will those 4 weeks unfold for you? Throwing up your hands, saying “screw it”, I’ll deal with in January? Or can you take a healthier view and try to offset the damage beforehand?

Time speeds up as we get older and I’m starting to feel really old these days as I swear it was just summer. A summer full of social engagements and alcohol. I never seemed to completely recover before the holiday season looms. With this in mind, the only way we can manage a long term healthy diet and body, is to take it day by day and eat (and drink!) mindfully throughout the year.

There is probably a good 2 weeks left before the social events really start to kick in. It’s a great opportunity to do a simple detox to flush toxic build up that has been lingering. Not only will this refresh your body physically, it will adjust your mindset as you “feel” healthier and less likely to overindulge over the holidays.

Here are a few things you can do in the next couple of weeks:

1. Increase your water intake. Start the day with a glass of water with lemon for a gentle flush.
2. Take a probiotic in the morning.
3. Limit your caffeine intake to 1 caffeinated coffee per day. Replace caffeinated drinks with green tea, even if it caffeinated, it’s way less.
4. Clear your kitchen of chocolate, candy, cookies and cakes. There’s going to be enough temptation without adding to it in your own home.
5. Ensure you get at least 2 servings of fruit a day and 5 servings of vegetables, especially green ones. See yesterday’s post for tips on how to “winterize” your salads.
6. Pack your lunch.
7. Get outside every day, at least 15 minutes and add in an hour long walk a few times. Make it priority and take anybody you need to with you. If you have a regular exercise schedule, include workouts on your calendar so they don’t take a backseat.
8. Limit your alcohol intake. Especially on days when you don’t have anything going on. Your liver will thank you come January.
9. Get enough sleep. Don’t burn yourself before the season has even begun, you won’t enjoy any of it, particularly if you make yourself susceptible to picking up a big. Make sure your to-do list doesn’t get bigger than hours available.
10. Meditate for 10 minutes every day if you are a regular practitioner. If not, check in with yourself a few times a day to focus on what is happening in your mind and your body. It will keep you centred and keep your racing mind (and to-do list) in check.

Using the time now to prep yourself, ensures you really get to enjoy the Holiday Season without hindering your mind or physical health.

School Snacks


Do a google search for packed lunches or school snacks and there are always a ton of great suggestions for peanut butter. I’m not sure where these “peanut-friendly” schools are, but they certainly aren’t around me. The schools I know of, either my local ones or schools where my friends’ kids go are completely nut-free.

Now my little one’s nursery school is taking it one step further. A child at this school is severely allergic to milk and eggs. Since we are talking about 3 year olds who can’t be trusted to wash their hands meticulously and clean up after themselves meticulously (actually I’d just take clean up after themselves), it’s safer to keep all dairy out of the classroom.

So we end up with a selection that are nut-free and dairy free. Oh ya? What exactly are these snacks?

It’s not as hard as it seems to come up with ideas. I have some suggestions but bear in mind that there are a great deal of alternatives available for existing recipes. Nuts do not include seeds so you can substitute seed butters and non-dairy milks.

1. How to Adapt an Existing Recipe:

– Milk can always be replaced with a dairy free alternative. For baking, coconut milk works really well and if you choose the unsweetened kind, you won’t affect the sweetness.

– Butter can be replaced with coconut oil or a vegan alternative such as Earth Balance.

– Eggs are trickier but my go-to substitutions are either mashed banana or ground flax seed. Both work as binders. For each egg, use a 1/2 mashed banana (about a 1/4 cup).  Or mix 1 tbsp flax seed with 3 tbsp water. Let it stand and once it starts to gel, add it to the recipe.

2. Resources for a Vegan Recipe:

Angela Liddon from Oh She Glows is nothing short of genius. She’s just published a book (and had a baby) but still keeps her blog going. She recently wrote a post on school snacks and offers alternatives to any nuts that are in a recipe. Since this post, I’ve been using a lot more sunflower butter (with a dash of sweetener added) to replace almond butter.
Click here for the post “21 Portable Allergy-Friendly Snack Recipes”.

The resource section of my blog also includes other options, including Jae Steele’s Get It Ripe cookbook and Sweet Freedom by Ricki Heller.

3. Some easy ideas:

– Top dollar size cold pancakes with applesauce and cinnamon.

– Cut a banana into bite sized pieces. Dip in fruit juice and roll in wheatgerm.

– Carrot sticks dipped in hummus.

– Stack apple pieces and pineapple chunks on a toothpick.

– Top a wholegrain cracker with apple butter. Add a chunk of banana on top.

4. Wraps are a great idea that doesn’t have to mean a main meal. A wholegrain wrap can be made savoury using hummus, ham slices and slices of red pepper. Or a sweet version using sunflower seed butter and apple butter.

5. Smoothies are something I love doing for kids snacks and it’s often popular as well.  Start with 1 cup coconut water and 1-2 bananas. Follow up with whatever fruit you have on hand. I often keep a stack of mango, strawberries and a selection of other berries in the freezer when the season runs low. You can also add a dollop of soy yogurt, pumpkin seed butter or a tablespoon of hemp seeds for some added protein. Sneak in a handful of washed spinach if you dare!


6. Purchased snacks. Enjoy Life is a brand that offers snacks that are free from the top 12 allergens in Canada.  They also have recipe ideas on their website
Check the ingredients list on anything else that you purchase. An ingredients list that includes any of the following will NOT be safe for a milk allergy:

  • Beta-lactoglobulin
  • Casein, rennet casein
  • Caseinate (ammonium caseinate, calcium caseinate, magnesium caseinate, potassium caseinate, and sodium caseinate)
  • Delactosed or demineralized whey
  • Hydrolyzed casein
  • Lactalbumin and lactalbumin phosphate
  • Lactoferrin, lactoglobulin
  • Whey and whey protein concentrate

And the following ingredients indicate presence of egg:

  • Albumin, albumen
  • Conalbumin
  • Egg substitutes, for example, Egg Beaters
  • Globulin
  • Livetin
  • Lysozyme
  • Ovo (means egg), for example, ovalbumin, ovomucin, ovotransferrin
  • Silico-albuminate
  • Vitellin

* Information sourced from Health Canada.

I will leave you with 3 recipes that fit the criteria of nut-free, dairy-free and egg-free without losing any of the taste!


Applesauce Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


1/2 cup coconut or soy milk
1 cup applesauce
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp ground flax seed
2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1-2 tbsp lemon zest
1 cup raisins or currants (optional)


Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a 12 cup muffin pan or two 12 cup mini-muffin pan or line with paper liners.

Mix wet ingredients and flax seeds, set aside.

Combine dry ingredients and then add wet ingredients.

Add raisins if using. Fold together until just combined. Do not over mix.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan(s), filling each cup approximately 3/4 full. Bake unit la toothpick inserted into the centre of the muffin comes out clean (20 to 25 minutes for large muffins, 12 to 15 minutes for mini-muffins).

Let the muffins cool 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

Recipe from from Caroline Dupont Enlightened Eating

Crispy Oat Squares
(adapted from Angela Liddon’s Granola Bar)

1.5 cups rolled oats (not quick)
1 cup rice crisp cereal
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
6 tbsp brown rice syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of fine grain sea salt
1/4 cup non-dairy mini chocolate chips (such as Enjoy Life brand, optional)


Line an 8-inch or 9-inch square pan with two pieces of parchment paper, one going each way so it’s easy to lift out.

In a large bowl, stir together the oats, rice crisp cereal, sunflower seeds, coconut, and chia seeds.


In a medium pot over low heat, melt the coconut oil. Remove from heat and stir in the sunflower seed butter, brown rice syrup and vanilla, until smooth.

Pour wet mixture over dry and stir well until thoroughly combined. Add a pinch of salt to taste and stir again.


Spoon mixture into the pan and roughly spread out (but don’t pack down yet). Sprinkle on the chocolate chips in an even layer. Wet hands lightly and then press down the mixture until even. Use a pastry roller to roll it out and pack it in even more.


Transfer pan to the freezer for about 10 minutes until firm. Slice into bars, wrap, and store in the fridge or freezer.

Note: It’s not recommended swapping the brown rice syrup for any other liquid sweetener. Other sweeteners won’t be sticky enough to bind the bars.

Read more:

Banana Cookies

  • Servings: 15 cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

3 ripe bananas
2 cups rolled oats (not quick)
1 cup pitted dates or figs, pitted and chopped
1/3 cup sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

Mash the bananas and stir in the oats, dates, oil and vanilla. Mix well and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet.

Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

A final note, this doesn’t just have to be for kids. Any of these snacks are perfect for the office too!