Tip of the Day

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.

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Winterize Your Greens

weather

I think I can safely say that summer is behind us. Fall is almost behind us. It’s time to adjust our diets to cater to the colder months. According to traditional healing systems, such as Chinese and Ayuervedic medicine, our bodies need cooling foods in the hot months and warming foods in the colder months. Realistically, we often eat the same foods year round but when you think of these cooling and warming foods, it makes a lot of sense.

Cooling foods are more of the raw fruits and vegetables, citrus fruits and leafy, crunchy vegetables. Warming foods require more cooking or preservation. Tomato sauces, lentils, winter squash, cabbage and dried fruits are all warming foods. Garlic and Ginger are both warming while curry is cooling. That seems counter-intuitive but if you ever eat a curry in mid-winter and then go outside, you will soon realize that you aren’t as warm as you were before you ate the curry.

Meat, dairy, eggs and heavier foods such as butter, cream, chocolate and whole grains such as barley lend themselves much better to the winter months but vegetables are just as important and shouldn’t be neglected. It’s just a matter of switching. For example, a staple in the summer, salad, can become cooked winter greens so there is no excuse to give-up the greens in the winter months. The nutrients they provide are all the more important to fend of the cold and flu bugs.

Although, lettuce doesn’t lend itself well to being cooked, kale, swiss chard and bok choy does. Very well. Steamed kale with a drizzle of tamari and olive oil is delicious. Sauteed bok choy is super simple and probably easier – and quicker – to put together than a salad in the summer.

bok choy low res

Warmed greens in minutes. Bok choy is sauteed in butter and drizzled with tamari and olive oil.

 

 

 

 

Happy Canada Day!!

There is usually a touch of beer or wine – or more – consumed on our national day. If you are having a party, tempt your guests to drink water at the same time by adding some of the local, seasonal and extremely delicious strawberries in a jug of water. Together with some lemon and lime, it’ll will keep everybody hydrated on this hot, humid day and they won’t feel deprived either.

IMG_20140701_0744231 jug water (approx 8 cups)
1/2 lemon, quartered
1/2 lime, quartered
1/4 cup fresh strawberries
5 mint leaves
A few ice cubes

Wishing everybody a very Happy Canada Day!

 

 

Morning Rituals

If I have time for a yoga practise and a shower before my children get up for the day, it sets the path for the day in a very positive way. I generally have more patience throughout the day, knowing that I have been able to take care of my own needs. Nothing is more frustrating that opening my eyes to whining and demands that I know aren’t going to diminish anytime soon.

A morning ritual doesn’t take a lot of effort, or time. It just takes some planning and about 15-30 minutes before you’d normally get up.

Consider these:

1. Meditation

2. Yoga

3. Coffee and a Newspaper/Internet News

4. A walk

5. Preparing a breakfast/juice/smoothie

And if all else fails, SMILE. It’s an instant boost.

 

Dodgy Fruits and Veg

15 Dozen

Each year, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) publishes a list of the most contaminated fruits and vegetables as well as a list of the cleanest produce. This list can help us budget by selecting organic versions of the produce that are heavily sprayed and allows us to get away with conventional produce that isn’t so contaminated.

Anybody who has their own fruit trees will know that it’s hard to have a good yield without the use of pesticides. These fruits are the common ones, especially apples and pears. Potatoes are also hard since they vulnerable to bugs and easily damaged.

So it’s no surprise that some of the most common fruits and vegetables hit the Dirty Dozen list year after year. Much hasn’t really changed from last year with the following listed as the highest contaminants (in no particular order):

1. Apples
2. Peaches
3. Imported Nectarines
4. Strawberries
5. Grapes
6. Cherry Tomatoes (new, they were listed as a “runner up” last year)
7. Imported Snap Peas (new)
8. Potatoes
9. Celery
10. Bell Peppers
11. Cucumbers
12. Spinach

So what’s the issue with the pesticides used? First of all, the contaminants have been so successful in producing larger crops that their use increases year after year. For us, they have been shown to produce behavioural and developmental problems in our children whose immature bodies are unable to process the chemicals. Before you dismiss this, consider the recent statistic from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that 1 in 5 schoolchildren in the US are on some form of psychological medication. ONE.IN.FIVE. Yikes.

Furthermore, they are endocrine disruptors. In plain English, they mess with our hormones creating a whole host of problems including infertility. Finally, they are .. surprise, surprise …. carcinogenic. In my last post, I was asking you to eat more greens to prevent against cancer. And yet, many conventional greens are sprayed with chemicals that counter this benefit. So when you do choose your greens, select organic versions of spinach, kale and collard (the latter two were runners up on the Dirty Dozen list).

This is just us. The damage they are doing to the environment is a whole other story, one that is changing the entire eco-system, killing off entire species of wild and marine life, reducing the quality of the soil and contaminating our drinking water.

If your budget doesn’t stretch to 100% organic, you can save some money by choosing conventional versions of the following produce, aptly named “The Clean 15”:

1. Asparagus
2. Avocado
3. Cabbage
4. Cantaloupe
5. Cauliflower
6. Eggplant
7. Grapefruit
8. Kiwi
9. Mango
10. Onions
11. Papayas*
12. Pineapple
13. Sweet Corn*
14. Sweet Pea
15. Sweet Potatoes

* Although these are listed as low in pesticide residue, papaya and sweet corn have other problems. They are both GMO foods and should be only consumed as organic versions.

The EWG has compiled this information into a PDF that you can print and carry with you to the grocery store. Click here to download the EWG’s 2014 Shopper’s Guide.

Deceiving the Kids …. and other unsuspecting family members

I’m not the first mother to hide vegetables in her children’s food and I won’t be the last. Generally, it’s not a practice I worry about too much as I believe that children should be exposed to vegetables every meal; they learn that way that they aren’t an evil food that is automatically going to taste “gross”.

Any greens powder can work.

Any greens powder can work.

Sometimes though, it has to be done and I cannot resist adding a spoonful or two of this to their morning smoothies. The hardest part is finding the fine line of enough wheatgrass to provide the benefits of a green drink and not too much to put them off the drink.

You can add this to any smoothie that is mainly fruit based.