Gnocchi is one of my favourite pasta dishes to make! It really brings me back to when I used to eat dinner at my Nonna’s on Sundays. Back in the day (meaning about 15 years ago), my family used to get together every September and make pasta sauce the authentic Italian way. This meant buying bushels of tomatoes, cutting them, adding a bit of salt, processing them through a machine and canning them. Everything was done by hand and we spent days outside doing this! Unfortunately this tradition has died out, but I think about it every time I make pasta in my kitchen.
So today I thought it would be cool to show you a plant-based Gnocchi recipe and how I like to make my pasta sauce. The cool thing about these gnocchi’s is that they don’t require any eggs. They also only require three simple ingredients: potatoes, flour and oregano!
For the Gnocchi:
About 8 medium sized red potatoes
4 cups of flour
3 tablespoons dried oregano (optional)
*A quick note on ingredients: please use these measurements very loosely! All potatoes are different sizes, so you may need more or less flour. The main thing is to form a dough, while adding as little flour as possible. Refer to the video below for full instructions ☺️
For the Tomato Sauce:
1 white onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
1 carrot, grated
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 Package Yves Veggie Ground
1 Jar of tomato sauce
Salt and pepper for seasoning
Gnocchi can be tricky to make the first time so I made a video to help you out! 😊👩🏻🍳
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Tacos are one of my favourite go-to lunch ideas! They’re so tasty, filling and surprisingly not that bad for you (depending on what your toppings are of course!) For years, I bought tortilla wraps from the store but all honesty, I really disliked them. I always felt like they made my vegetable wraps or tacos unhealthy because they’re filled with preservatives and processed ingredients.
I always found that they didn’t taste the best and got soggy after adding tomatoes. For years, I honestly didn’t know that there was a cheaper, healthier and tastier version to store bought tortilla wraps.
Until, My boyfriends mom Claudia showed me this AMAZING recipe!
All you need is Corn Flour (Maseca) and water! The best thing about this recipe is that it’s also 100% plant-based, gluten free and contains only one ingredient- corn treated with lime!
In a large bowl, combine the corn flour and water. Use your hands to form a dough. I like to have a bit of water on the side just in case.
When a nice and moist dough is formed, cover and set aside.
Now it’s time to set up your tortilla making station: place a piece of plastic wrap over a cutting board or clean surface with the edge hanging off of the surface (watch the video above for reference).
Take a golfball sized piece of dough, and place it in the center of the plastic wrap. Fold the plastic wrap over the dough, and use a plate to press.
When you remove the plate, use your hands to flatten and even out the dough into a nice circular shape.
Heat a pan on medium-high heat, your pan may smoke from the high temperature so be careful.
When the pan is heated, remove the top layer of plastic wrap and flip the tortilla onto your hand. Transfer it to the heated pan.
Let cook for about 5 minutes, or until the underside looks golden brown. Flip and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
When you remove the tortilla from the pan, it’s crucial to set aside and cover it with a lid! The steam is the secret to making these tortillas nice and soft, otherwise they won’t be flexible at all!
Continue the process until all of the dough is used up and top with your favourite taco ingredients!
Having extra water on the side while preparing the dough really helps! It’s better to have dough that’s too moist, than too dry.
When cooking, the pan may smoke so make sure you cook with a window open! My fire alarm usually goes off when making this recipe.
It’s crucial to cover the tortillas with a lid as soon as they’re removed from heat!
I hope you liked this simple, affordable and tasty recipe! Be sure to subscribe to my brand new Youtube Channel for more Recipes and Fitness content!
Pancakes have always been my favourite breakfast food! But ever since I went vegan, I had trouble finding a plant-based recipe that I actually liked. I found that some recipes lacked flavour, while others produced pretty flat looking pancakes (which isn’t my thing)!
Until, I found a recipe online and modified it! It turns out that the secret to fluffy and delicious buttermilk style pancakes is actually apple cider vinegar. When you combine apple cider vinegar with milk, it produces somewhat of a thick mixture that is perfect for achieving that cloud like texture that I’ve been craving!
This recipe is actually pretty simple and easy to make. I made sure to only include ingredients that most people already have at home, with the exception of apple cider vinegar. So without further ado, here’s your new favourite plant-based breakfast recipe!
1 cup of plant-based milk (I used Vanilla Almond Milk)
1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
1 cup all purpose flour
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter (+ a bit extra for cooking)
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 a cup of chocolate chips
Start by combining the milk and apple cider vinegar in a small bowl. Set aside and let sit for at least 5 minutes, while you measure out the dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and baking powder. Mix until all of the ingredients are blended together.
Add the milk mixture into the large bowl of dry ingredients and mix using a whisk. Be sure to smooth the batter out as much as possible! Once the batter is smooth, add in the chocolate chips.
Prepare a lightly buttered pan on medium heat and use a big spoon to scoop your pancake into the pan once it’s heated.
Flip using a spatula after about 4 minutes, or until the underside looks golden brown.
Let cook for an additional 3-4 minutes and remove from heat.
Serve hot with maple syrup, fresh fruits and icing sugar!
If you want your pancakes to be extremely fluffy, try using an electric mixer instead!
Using vanilla flavoured milk will make your pancakes taste better.
Make sure the pan is fully heated so the pancakes bubble a bit on the sides when you add them in!
Bloating is one of the the most common adverse effects that many people experience after eating certain foods. Approximately one in ten Americans report that they regularly suffer from bloating even when they haven’t eaten a large meal.
Abdominal bloating is characterized by the stomach feeling full, tight, or swollen. Oftentimes, bloating is typically caused by one’s diet and is rarely a sign of a serious medical condition. So today I wanted to talk about some foods that can cause bloating and what to eat instead!
What exactly is bloating and what causes it?
We’ve all felt it after our digestive system is triggered by a certain food or beverage. So why exactly do we feel bloated?
Abdominal bloating occurs when the gastrointestinal (GI) tract is filled with air or gas. This is typically caused by a mild intolerance or allergy which causes excessive gas production, and as a result the air gets trapped within the intestines. The most common intolerances are wheat and dairy, scroll on to learn more!
Aside from eating particular foods, simple reasons for bloating can include:
Overeating: Eating too much can make you feel uncomfortably stuffed. In addition, fats and animal products take longer to digest than proteins, which can keep the stomach feeling full for longer.
Eating too fast: Drinking or eating too quickly can increase the amount of air that you swallow, which leads to buildup in the GI tract.
Chewing gum: When you chew gum, you end up swallowing more air than usual which increases bloating. Also, sugar free gums can contain ingredients such as xylitol and sorbitol which can ferment in the gut.
Now that we’ve talked a little bit about what bloating is and some common triggers, let’s talk about some foods and better alternatives!
Top 5 Foods & Beverages to look out for
Wheat contains a protein called gluten which is pretty well-known nowadays as the bad guy. Gluten can cause bloating, stomach pain, gas and diarrhea for some individuals. In addition, sensitivity to gluten can be due to celiac disease which affects about 1 percent of the American population. Although some people are not necessarily gluten intolerant or celiac, it still can negatively impact the digestive system.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity affects up to 6 percent of the population according to a report in the World Journal of Gastroenterology. Gluten also contains little to no essential nutrients. Foods that commonly contain gluten include bread, pasta and baked goods. It’s also found in many grains such as wheat, barley and rye.
Alternatives to wheat that may not cause bloating include pure oats, quinoa, buckwheat, wild rice and coconut flours. 🌾
Dairy includes a range of products from milk, cheeses, yogurts and baked goods. Although many people consume dairy daily in various foods and drinks, up to 75 percent of the world’s population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy and therefore are lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is the impaired ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products. Interestingly enough, affected individuals typically have difficulty digesting fresh milk, but can consume certain dairy products such as cheese or yogurt without discomfort. This is because these foods are processed using methods that break down much of the lactose.
Nonetheless, many people do experience adverse effects from dairy and animal products such as weight-gain, digestive issues and inflammation. In addition, there are much healthier sources of calcium that do not contain animal proteins and cholesterol.
Alternatives to dairy include plant-based milks such as soy, almond or rice milk. There are also plenty of plant-based cheeses and yogurts available so be sure to check your local grocery store! 🥤
Beans are full of fiber, protein, healthy carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Although beans are very healthy for you, they do cause bloating and flatulence (gas). This is because beans contain raffinose which is a non-digestible carbohydrate that is also found in cabbage, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Raffinose is poorly digested due to the the lack of an enzyme called alpha-galactosidase in the digestive tract.
As a result, raffinose can pass through both the stomach and small intestine, and enter the large intestine where it is fermented by gut bacteria. This causes the production of gases and therefore bloating.
But don’t let this discourage you from eating beans! They are still very healthy and can be enjoyed in moderation. Adzuki beans, mung beans and lentils can be a great alternative that is easier to digest! 🍲
4. Carbonated Beverages
Carbonated beverages such as sodas and sparkling water contain carbon dioxide which is what creates the bubbles. These bubbles may be fun and games while enjoying a drink, however the gas goes straight to your digestive tract, where it can cause bloating. In addition, many carbonated drinks contain artificial sweeteners, artificial flavours and colourants.
Alternatives to carbonated drinks include lemon water, fruit juices or tea. You would be surprised by how many tasty teas there are out there! 🫖
5. Artificial Sweeteners and Sugar
We all know that artificial sweeteners and sugars are bad for our health, however did you know that they can also cause bloating? Xylitol and sorbitol are amongst the most popular chemical sweeteners today that can be found in anything from candies to gum. These sweeteners provide no nutritional benefit and are not easily broken down in our digestive system. Therefore, they reach the large intestine unchanged where gut bacteria can feed on them. Research from BMC Obesity links these sweeteners with an unhealthy lifestyle and contributor to obesity. So not only does chewing gum cause bloating, the ingredients do too!
Alternatives to artificial sweeteners include dates, coconut sugar or raw honey. Instead of chewing gum, try a healthier alternative such as eating apple slices or a mint every so often. 🍃
Foods that Reduce Bloating
Since we talked about some foods that cause bloating, I wanted to quickly mention some foods that can naturally reduce the associated symptoms!
Foods that are naturally high in fiber, potassium and water content all have the natural ability to reduce bloating. Fiber is important because it helps to regulate digestion, while potassium helps regulate fluid balance and foods high in water content keep you hydrated.
However, it’s crucial to note that not all foods high in these nutrients reduce bloating. Apples are also high in fiber and water content, but can cause bloating because they contain fructose- a sugar that many people find it difficult to digest.
Pears can also cause bloating because they contain sorbitol which can ferment in the gut.
If you do enjoy apples and pears and they cause you to feel bloated, try boiling them first to make them easier to digest!
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog, I hope you learned something new! If you experience bloating, try eliminating certain foods from your diet and see if you are able to determine the culprit. Oftentimes, minor health problems can be solved with a quick change in diet!
If you’re interested in talking about nutrition or learning new ways to become healthier, feel free to book a free consultation with me! 👩🏻⚕️📲
Di Rienzo T;D’Angelo G;D’Aversa F;Campanale MC;Cesario V;Montalto M;Gasbarrini A;Ojetti V; (2013). Lactose intolerance: From diagnosis to correct management. European review for medical and pharmacological sciences. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24443063/.
Igbinedion, S. O., Ansari, J., Vasikaran, A., Gavins, F. N., Jordan, P., Boktor, M., & Alexander, J. S. (2017, October 28). Non-celiac gluten sensitivity: All wheat attack is not celiac. World journal of gastroenterology. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5677194/.
Winther, R., Aasbrenn, M., & Farup, P. G. (2017, December 27). Intake of non-nutritive sweeteners is associated with an unhealthy lifestyle: A cross-sectional study in subjects with morbid obesity. BMC obesity. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5745623/.
One of my favourite snacks to make are my apple peanut butter protein bites! Peanut butter is a great source of protein, while apples contain a healthy amount of fiber which will keep you feeling full for longer! 💪🏼
Not to mention, my protein bites contain absolutely no preservatives, artificial colourants or flavours like most store bought granola bars. Even energy bars marketed as “healthy” contain an unnecessary amount of sugars and “natural flavours” which aren’t always vegan friendly.
I also love that they’re no bake and only take about 10 minutes to make!
Here’s what you need:
2 cups large flake oats
1 generous tablespoon of natural peanut butter
2 tablespoons of maple syrup
About 2 tablespoons seed mix (I used flax and chia)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Serving size: makes about 12 energy bites
Start by grating the apples using a grater.
In a large bowl, combine the grated apples, large flake oats, peanut butter, maple syrup and seed mix. Mix using your hands.
Form mixture into about 12 bite sized balls and put aside on a plate.
Sprinkle with cinnamon- all done!
Store in your fridge for up to 3 days to enjoy whenever you want to snack!
You can also use other seeds such as sunflower, pumpkin or even walnuts! Make sure to just have fun with it and customize your bites to just the way you’d like! 😋
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With the seasons changing and the temperatures decreasing, it’s important to make the appropriate changes to your diet. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we use warming herbs in the winter, and cooling herbs in the summer months in order to create a balance within the body. So today I wanted to write a quick blog on 5 different herbs that you can add to your diet in order to warm your interior, boost your immunity and promote optimal health this winter season! ❄️
I just want to start off by saying that herbal medicine that originates from the Traditional Chinese Medicinal system is a lot different than how most people think of herbal indications. Take cinnamon for example, we generally think of cinnamon as beneficial because it has anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties. We also associate it with its ability to reduce inflammation.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, we actually refer to cinnamon as Rou Gui which basically just means cinnamon bark. It’s renowned for its ability to warm the interior, expel cold and alleviate pain due to its specific temperature and taste. Rou Gui is acrid and sweet and flavour, and hot in temperature which is perfect for when the temperature outside decreases. It also assists in the generation of Qi or energy and blood. In TCM terms, that means that it’s great for boosting immunity and energy levels within the body.
So without further ado, let’s talk about some interesting and useful herbs that are a great addition to any diet during the colder months!
1. Rou Gui (Cinnamon Bark)
I briefly mentioned Rou Gui, but I would like to talk more about this amazing herb because it has so many benefits! Rou Gui is a warming herb that is apart of the category of herbs that warm the interior and expel cold. It’s great for boosting immunity, reducing inflammation and reducing pain. Because it’s hot in temperature, it does a great job at pushing the cold out and moderating the effects of cooling foods that we eat!
As someone who is plant-based, I eat a lot of salads, fruits and drink a lot of smoothies- all foods that are “cold” or “cooling” in nature. In the winter months, eating just cold foods can cause stagnation, pain and therefore cause illness. I typically sprinkle a bit of cinnamon on my fruits and add some to my smoothies to balance it out!
2. Sheng Jiang (Fresh Ginger)
In TCM, there are two different kinds of ginger: fresh ginger (Sheng Jiang) and dried ginger (Gan Jiang). Gan refers to dried, while sheng means fresh- today we are going to talk about fresh ginger!
Sheng Jiang is big in Chinese Medicine with good reason- it’s a great herb for boosting the immunity, warming the middle and stopping vomiting. Because of its slightly warm temperature and acrid flavour, it has the ability to release the exterior and promote healthy digestion. We all know that fresh ginger does not taste the best 😅. But because of it’s unique qualities, it has very unique indications!
Drinking ginger tea when the weather gets colder is beneficial because it has the ability to boost your immunity and regulate digestion. Next time you feel yourself coming down with something, try making yourself a cup of warm ginger tea!
3. Jiang Huang (Turmeric)
Turmeric or Jiang Huang is one of the main herbs used in herbal medicine for reducing inflammation within the body. In addition, its active ingredient is curcumin, giving turmeric its yellow colour. Interestingly enough, Huang means yellow, which you can see displayed in the Traditional Chinese Herbal name above. Curcumin is a natural anti-inflammatory that can help improve many conditions such as heart disease, cancer, digestive disorders and even degenerative diseases.
In TCM, Jiang Huang is apart of the category of herbs that regulate the blood. Its temperature is warm, and its taste is considered acrid and bitter. Bitter herbs generally have the function of moving blood, therefore this herb is also great for reducing swelling and pain! It’s also used in many complex herbal formulas to address menstrual conditions such as amenorrhea or dysmenorrhea.
I add Turmeric to my diet by buying it fresh at my local grocery store and cooking it into curries and sauces. I sometimes do juicing as well and it’s a great addition that will make any juice glow! ✨
4. La Jiao (Cayenne Pepper)
I actually had to ask around about what this herb is called because it’s surprisingly not mentioned in many Traditional Chinese Medicine herbal books! So as much as I love cayenne, I’m not sure if it’s used that often in herbal medicine. But I thought it was definitely worth mentioning!
Aside from adding a lil spice to meals, cayenne pepper has so many health benefits! The active ingredient that gives these peppers their medicinal qualities is called capsaicin. Capsaicin has metabolism boosting properties! Because cayenne peppers are naturally hot in temperature, they have the ability to increase the amount of heat that your body produces, therefore naturally burning off calories. This process is called diet-induced thermogenesis which causes an increase in your metabolism and metabolic function. Many isolated studies have demonstrated that people who add cayenne pepper to their meals typically burn a few more calories than those who do not. Although the effect is small, I still find it interesting that cayenne pepper has this indication!
5. Ding Xiang (Cloves)
Cloves or Ding Xiang is typically used in herbal medicine for warming the interior and expelling cold. It’s apart of the same category as cinnamon, however it has a few varying indications. It’s great for the stomach with conditions caused from eating too much cold. Like I mentioned earlier, adding any warming herb to your diet during the colder months is beneficial because it allows your circulation to move more effortlessly throughout your organ systems. In TCM, we have a diagnosis called “Stomach Cold” which manifests as abdominal pain, vomiting and aversion to cold. This is a great herb for that exact indication as it’s warm and acrid in nature!
I love adding cloves to my diet by making my seasonal gingerbread cookies. The best way to buy them is whole and then grinding them down yourself using a mortar and pestle.
Thank you so much for reading my blog on herbal qualities! I personally love combining Traditional Chinese Medicine with modern day nutritional needs to balance out my diet. Herbs are great way to do that because they have such specific tastes and temperatures that can be used for many different indications.
However, I think it’s important to mention that the purpose of this blog was to teach you a little bit about herbs and some medicinal uses they have. If you’re interested in adding warming herbs to your diet, please do so in moderation like you would with any ingredient! Just like eating too many cold foods, eating too many warming herbs is not the best for your body. The key is being mindful and taking note of what works for you.
Thank you again for reading, please be sure to subscribe to my website and stay tuned for my new personalized services! 🌸
Bensky, D. (2004). Chinese herbal medicine: Materia medica. Eastland Press Inc.
Deng, Z.-jia, Zimmerman, G., & Ye, Q.-bo. (2014). Chinese medicinal formulas. People’s Medical Publishing House.
Maciocia, G. (2005). The practice of Chinese medicine: The treatment of diseases with acupuncture and Chinese herbs. Churchill Livingstone.
I am so happy to announce that I have officially graduated from the Traditional Chinese Medicine program at Humber College! For those of you who have been following my journey on Instagram, you know just how much this means to me! For those of you who are new, or solely following my blog- let me me tell you, it has been a crazy experience to say the least 😅
Through studying full-time for four years, taking 44 different courses and completing over 500+ clinical hours, this diploma was well earned!
My next plans…
I have always been so passionate about natural health, nutrition and living a healthy lifestyle. Throughout my studies, I was most interested in courses based on nutrition, herbal medicine and using tongue diagnosis to aid in treatment plans. I really like how TCM views the body system in a completely different way and uses alternative therapies to restore balance within the body!
My plan is to incorporate everything that I have learned into brand new services offered under Natural Glow Wellness. As a natural healer, I see great potential in using food as medicine to promote optimal health. In short, my all natural treatment plans will combine modern day nutritional needs with concepts from Traditional Chinese Medicine diet.
I also plan on offering all natural beauty treatments such as Gua Sha facials, facial cupping and virtual tutorials to teach my clients how to incorporate ancient skincare tips into their routine ✨
I do have some big plans, and I am so excited to start working on everything! As a practitioner, I am really excited to start promoting a healthy lifestyle and teaching others how to achieve optimal health through simple tips and tricks.
The Future of Natural Glow Wellness
Natural Glow Wellness will always encompass the idea that the earth has everything that we need to thrive. My business will always be based on being kind and providing my clients with the best services with one goal in mind- to promote optimal health.
I am so excited for this new chapter in my life, to begin formulating new treatment plans and to get new clients on board! Thank you so much to everyone who has believed in me, trusted in me and supported me! Your support honestly keeps me going and motivates me to create new content.
If you have any questions, feedback or would even like to chat about natural health- feel free to email me at NaturalGlowellness@gmail.com. I am always looking to network!
Does anyone else find it alarming that the most unhealthy foods are marketed for children? With colourful packaging and cartoon characters featured on the front, it’s really hard to see past marketing and labelling sometimes!
But the sad reality is that the snacks that parents trust in the most are high in sugars, artificial colourings, flavourings and preservatives. These ingredients have a list of negative side effects in children such as hyperactivity, behavioural changes and an increased risk of childhood obesity.
So today I wanted to write a quick blog on some common marketing tactics, daily recommended intakes for children, snacks to avoid and ways to incorporate healthier eating into your lifestyle!
Common Marketing Tactics
Let’s start by looking at some common marketing tactics in food and snacks intended for children.
Primary colours such as red, yellow and blue, as well as secondary colours green, orange and purple are more appealing to children than neutral shades. As children try to make sense of their environment, objects that are bright are more stimulating and interesting. This is why food and beverage companies as well as the toy industry use bright colours on their products.
Did you know that companies spend over $12 billion dollars a year trying to convince children to consume their products? And one of the most effective strategies is to attach a popular children’s character such as Shrek to the packaging! A recent study was conducted where children were presented with food in plain packaging and packaging that contained a licensed cartoon character such as Dora. The children consistently preferred the product with the character on it than the plain packaging.
This just goes to show you that food packaging has a huge influence on children and their perception of how a product may taste.
Games and Activities on the back
Almost all cereals have a game on the back such as connect the dots, mazes, match ups and even fun facts. This attracts children and stimulates different areas in the brain associated with happiness. In turn, this conditions them to enjoy the food more because it provides entertainment.
Daily Intake Requirements
Below you will find the daily recommended intake of sugar and sodium because they are often the main culprit in making children’s snacks completely unhealthy!
So now that we’ve talked about marketing strategies and daily intake requirements, let’s look at some foods that are advertised to children that contain absolutely no nutritional value 🙅🏻♀️
Goldfish is a big one! Advertised as a snack made with real cheese that contains vitamins & minerals, Goldfish are nothing but a result of good marketing- these snacks are anything but nutritious! Just one serving contains 250 mg of sodium and over 20 synthetic ingredients. Any food item that contains a list of ingredients on the back is a big no-no!
Not to mention, diets that are high in sodium are associated with an increased risk of stroke, heart failure, high blood pressure and kidney disease. Eating a lot of salt is also associated with weight gain because it causes the body to retain more water which can show up as extra pounds on the scale.
So if you’re looking for a healthy, nutritious snack that will provide your child with energy- Goldfish are not the right choice! Be sure to read on for some much healthier alternatives for your little ones ☺️
It’s no secret that fruit roll ups, fruit gushers and gummies are unhealthy. These “fruit” snacks typically advertise that they contain real fruit juice, while failing to mention that they contain a list of other ingredients such as synthetic colouring, artificial flavouring and corn syrup. Take Welch’s fruit snacks as the perfect example, they really try to gain consumers trust by advertising that fruit is their #1 ingredient. However, as you can see, just one packet also contains 11 grams of sugars, corn syrup and even red 40– a toxic colourant that has many known adverse effects.
High amounts of sugar in your child’s diet can lead to obesity which increases the likelihood of developing high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol levels and type 2 diabetes later in life. Consuming too much sugar is also linked to behavioural changes such as hyperactivity or depression.
Never be fooled by “fruit” snacks, buying the real fruit is much healthier and cheaper in most cases!
A lot of parents believe that granola bars are a healthy choice because they contain ingredients such as oats, nuts and dried fruit. However, most granola bars contain ridiculous amounts of sugar and other ingredients. For example, just one Quaker Chewy S’mores Bar contains 6 grams of sugar… but that’s not even the worst part! One bar also contains 25+ ingredients! One granola bar should never contain a list of ingredients. Also, most companies add in chocolate chips, marshmallows and cookie bits which make granola bars more of a dessert bar than anything else.
Creating healthy habits early in a child’s life is so important because it’s what determines their health in the long run! You can start by limiting sugar intake by avoiding overly processed snacks and foods at the grocery store.
Juice boxes are commonly packed with lunch because they’re thought to be a healthier option than pop or soda. But juice boxes also contain high amounts of sugar, artificial colourants and very little real fruit juice. Take Minute Maid Apple Juice for example, one box (only 250 ml) contains 21 grams of sugar. So if your child has two at recess or on lunch break, they are consuming 42 grams of sugar all at once which is already 2x the recommended intake amount!
No wonder many children are thought to suffer from “behavioural” issues- they are just experiencing side effects associated with consuming high amounts of sugar, sodium and other foreign chemicals in their developing systems. Sugar crashes reduce concentration, mental focus, memory and often cause emotional outbursts or tantrums.
Developing Healthy Habits
Don’t feel bad if you buy these snacks or feel discouraged if they’re all your child is willing to eat. The cool thing about children is that they are so open minded and can have lots of fun with any activity if you make it fun! Here are three simple ways that you can encourage your child to eat healthier.
Bake or cook once a week together
Most young children love anything that is hands-on. Try baking together once a week to add some fun into your lifestyle while incorporating healthier eating! This can include making pasta, salads, fresh bread, sushi or even gingerbread cookies for a special occasion! If you’re not sure how to let your little one be more involved in the kitchen, ask them to measure simple ingredients or help to mix everything together. The key is to make a healthy meal to enjoy together later while creating new memories. Children are a lot more likely to eat a meal that they helped to prepare! 😉
Make fun shapes out of fruits and veggies
Okay so we now know that children are more drawn to brightly coloured objects and their favourite cartoon characters. So, try doing the same thing with fruits and veggies- make cool shapes that will draw your child in! You can make apple butterflies, a banana elephant or even go all out and create a full scene on the plate! You can really get creative here and even go a step further and ask your child to create a scene with you. The goal is to make healthy eating a positive and fun experience!
Create your own trail mix together
Instead of packing an unhealthy granola bar, make your own trail mix together and give it a cool name! You can go to a bulk store in your area and buy different kinds of nuts, seeds and dried fruits. When you get home, mix it all together and store it in a mason jar or container and pack it with lunch! Nuts and seeds contain lots of vital nutrients, vitamins and are a great way to boost brain power. You can even add in a few chocolate chips, pretzels or candied nuts to make it more tasty! ☺️
The main reason why I wanted to write this blog is to show just how unhealthy most foods are that are marketed for children. I want parents to start seeing past marketing and to start seeing foods for what they usually are- cheap, unhealthy and unnecessary in any child’s diet. The simplest foods such as nuts, seeds, fruits and vegetables will always provide more nutrients than something that has been extensively processed. It’s so important to realize how much money goes into targeting children’s food choices, so the best thing you can do is create a fun experience out of healthy eating!
I really hope you got something from this blog! As always, feel free to contact me if you have any questions at all.
We have all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and rightfully so! It’s the first thing we eat after about 9 hours of resting and replenishes our body with glucose which powers our brain.
However, with such a fast paced society it’s easy to choose a quick and easy option that typically contains little nutrition or to just skip breakfast all together! So today I wanted to write a blog on why breakfast is so important, some popular breakfast foods to avoid and various healthier alternatives to fuel your day- so let’s get into it! ⚡️
Why is Breakfast Important?
As the name suggests, breakfast “breaks” the overnight fasting period. In the morning, we feel tired because our bodies lack glucose- the body’s main energy source. Without this important molecule, the body breaks down fatty acids in order to get the energy it needs. This in turn actually reduces energy levels and leads to excessive hunger later on in the day!
Research suggests that eating in the morning helps maintain a healthy weight because it prevents overeating and impulsive eating. When you skip breakfast, you’re more likely to be tempted to reach for a quick fix such as fast food or vending machine snacks.
The key is choosing a healthy, nutritious breakfast that will replenish your body and not overwhelm it ✨
Breakfast Foods to Avoid
Having an egg or two for breakfast is surprisingly not that healthy. Just two eggs contain 369 mg of cholesterol and 190.4 mg of sodium. Research suggests that consuming high amounts of cholesterol and sodium contributes to obesity, cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. It’s also useful to know that the daily recommended amount of sodium per day as set out by The Dietary Guidelines for Americans is less than 2,300 mg of sodium daily. This amount can easily be exceeded in the morning by having eggs, bacon and toast.
So just by skipping out on eggs for breakfast, you also skip out on unnecessary cholesterol, sodium and saturated fats! 🥳
Bacon is by far one of the unhealthiest breakfast foods out there! With high amounts of sodium, cholesterol, fat, oils and nitrates- bacon should definitely be avoided for breakfast. In fact, The World Cancer Research Fund released a statement which advises the population to eat as little red meat or processed meats as possible. This is because there is a strong correlation between red or processed meats and colorectal cancer. There’s also evidence that eating meat and dairy causes inflammation within the body. Inflammation can manifest as pain, redness, swelling and acne.
If you’re looking to make a healthy food choice that will have immediate health benefits, leave bacon off of your plate tomorrow morning!
Cereal is one of the most common breakfast foods and the first thing that many people eat in the morning to start their day! However, cereal is actually not that healthy for you as its highly processed and contains high amounts of refined sugars, additives, preservatives and even artificial colourants. Not to mention, most cereals are advertised as healthy so it’s hard to be completely sure.
If you enjoy eating cereal in the morning, try finding a brand that doesn’t contain colorants and ingredients such as BHT. There are also much healthier and more filling options below so be sure to scroll on down! 🙌🏼
I’m sure you’re surprised that yogurt is on this list considering it’s advertised as a low-fat nutritious breakfast. But the thing is that most yogurts are actually not very healthy for you at all! And, you should also be very careful if you ever see “Low-Fat” on food packaging. In the US, foods labelled “fat free” must have less than 0.5 grams of fat per serving, while “low fat” must adhere to 3 grams of fat or less per serving. Seems simple enough right? Well most fat free/low fat foods lack taste, so to make up for that, other ingredients are added such as sugar, flour, thickeners and other artificial ingredients.
Not to mention, dairy products are not environmentally sustainable and contain unfavourable “ingredients” such as white blood cells or pus excreted from the cow during the milking process. A litre of milk can contain up to 400,000 somatic cells before it is considered unfit for people to drink! Not very appetizing!
5. Breakfast Sandwiches
And lastly, let’s talk about breakfast sandwiches! Whether you make one at home or pick one up from Tim Horton’s before work- breakfast sandwiches contain a bunch of heavy ingredients that are bound to overwhelm your body. The typical sandwich contains white bread, eggs, bacon, cheese and sometimes even sausage. Just one Bacon Breakfast Sandwich from Tim Hortons has 1000 mg of sodium, 155 mg of cholesterol and barely any fiber at just 2 grams. Fiber is what makes us feel full, so not only will you still feel unsatisfied after a breakfast sandwich, you will also feel bloated and will be more likely to eat junk food later.
So just to put that into perspective- just one of these sandwiches accounts for 50% of your sodium intake without accounting for lunch, dinner or in between snacking!
There are much more healthier, filling and satisfying breakfast options!
Healthy Breakfast Options
One of my personal favourites is oatmeal. It’s cheap, easy to make and can be made into so many different combinations! It’s also a great way to eat fewer calories and therefore lose weight. This is because oatmeal contains beta glucan which is a naturally occurring type of fiber that slows down digestion and keeps you feeling full for longer. One bowl also contains a healthy amount of vitamins and minerals such as manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron, zinc, folate and B vitamins!
So next time you go to the grocery store, grab oats instead of cereal! They’re much healthier and contain lots of healthy plant compounds and antioxidants 🌱
2. Fruit Smoothies
Fruit smoothies are surprisngly filling and will provide you with vitamins, minerals and even plant proteins! I typically use soy milk because it’s one of the healthiest plant milks and contains phytoestrogens which are greatly beneficial to our health. I also usually add 1-2 tablespoons of peanut butter to add protein and to make my smoothies more thick and creamy 😋
Check out my Breakfast Smoothie blog for three different healthy and tasty smoothies that you can try tomorrow morning! 🙌🏼☀️
3. Refried Black Beans
Refried black beans are a healthy and protein packed breakfast option! Just one cup contains 15 grams of plant proteins and 15 grams of fiber which is great for weight loss. Research suggests that diets high in fiber help maintain a healthy weight, support healthy digestion and lowers cholesterol levels. Refried black beans are also so tasty and inexpensive- one can costs just under one dollar!
Try frying up some onions, garlic, soy sauce and black beans for breakfast instead of two eggs which negatively impact your cholesterol levels 🙌🏼
4. Avocado Toast
Avocado toast is a nice and quick option when you have ripened avocados around! Avocados are a healthy source of unsaturated fats, potassium, fiber and other vital nutrients such as vitamin K. In fact, many controlled studies have demonstrated that avocados can reduce total cholesterol levels significantly, reduce blood trigylcerides by 20%, lower LDL cholesterol by up to 22% and increase HDL (the good) cholesterol by up to 11%.
Try putting some sliced avocado on some whole grain toast with olive oil, pink salt and turmeric for a healthy and delicious breakfast!
5. Fruit Bowl
You can never go wrong with a fruit bowl! Fruits are a nice and light breakfast that will provide your body with the perfect fuel! Melons, berries and fruits such as bananas all contain beneficial compounds, nutrients and vitamins that aid in healthy digestion. Fruit is also high in fiber and natural sugars which prevent blood sugar fluctuations.
If you’re looking to add more fruits to your diet, check out my tips for healthy eating on a budget! There are plenty of ways to add more nutrient dense foods to your grocery list that won’t necessarily cost you much more ☺️
I hope that this post has inspired you to start making healthier breakfast choices! It’s so important to realize how much our first meal impacts our entire day. Be sure to always start your mornings with the right fuel, and you will be able to tackle just about anything! ☀️😎
Thank you so much for reading and be sure to follow me on Instagram for more healthy eating posts 🌱
Most people assume that menstrual products contain safe, non-toxic ingredients. However, that is unfortunately not the case for pads and tampons. The problem with Tampax, O.B and other conventional menstrual product manufacturers is that they use genetically modified cotton, as well as a list of other toxic ingredients such as wood pulp, plastics and dyes.
So today, I wanted to write a blog on the hidden dangers found in our menstrual products and what products to use instead! Because let’s face it- we should not be putting toxic chemicals inside of our bodies on a regular basis.
Periods: The basics
Before I dive into the horrible and unnecessary ingredients in both pads & tampons, I want to talk about why a menstrual period is such an important cycle that happens within the human body.
A period is a way for the body to cleanse itself, reproduce necessary hormones and shed off the lining of the uterus. We go through many phases both before and after our monthly cycles based on the hormones being released. Examples of this include the follicular phase, ovulatory phase and the luteal phase.
Throughout the week of our actual menstrual cycle, it is so important to allow your body to do a full cleanse! This can be experienced emotionally such as crying (PMS) or even just focusing more on your diet. What I want to get at here is that it’s so important to not add toxic chemicals to your cycle because this can later cause hormonal imbalances, bacterial infections or even a heavier flow. Chemicals and ingredients found in conventional tampons have many unadvertised side effects and dangers so let’s get into it and explore healthier alternatives!
Ingredients found in Conventional Pads and Tampons
The information that I retrieved about the ingredients found in varying menstrual products can be found on Tampax.com.
1. Genetically Modified Cotton
Genetically modified cotton was introduced in 1996 (only 25 years ago) and is thought to be one of the world’s dirtiest crops. Globally, cotton crops cover just 2.4% of the worlds cultivated land, but uses 6% of the worlds pesticides and 16% of insecticides- more than any other single major crop. This greatly increases the risk of residues being present in your personal products and can throw off the natural pH balance within your vagina.
Vaginal pH imbalances can lead to yeast infections, bacterial vaginosis and can cause allergy related symptoms such as itching.
Aside from the negative health effects associated with GM cotton, thousands of cotton farmers and their families suffer from pesticide poisoning every year. Some cotton farmers earn less than $2.00 a day for their cotton and spend up to 60% of their annual income on pesticides.
Rayon is a semi synthetic fabric made from recycled wood pulp. It’s widely used in the fashion industry because of its ability to mimic the look and feel of other fabrics such as silk, cotton, wool and others. This may sound great for fashion and clothing, but it does not belong in our bodies!
Rayon is processed with many other chemicals to be broken down into cellulose, which according to Tampax “helps absorb and retain fluid”. However, rayon is processed with many chemicals such as carbon disulphide, sulphuric acid, ammonia, acetone and others. The carbon disulphide emitted from rayon has been proven to cause symptoms such as nausea and vomiting, headaches and chest pain when inhaled. Toxins released from rayon can also rarely cause tissue necrosis for people who regularly wear clothing made of this fabric.
The interesting thing is that most studies done on rayon are based on fashion or clothing, not on the effects of putting it inside of the body. It is considered one of the most dangerous fabrics, but is still one of the main ingredients in our menstrual products! #notokay
Propylene is a plastic that is found in food containers like those that hold yogurt, cream cheese and butter products. It’s derived from petroleum and is found in some beauty products because it’s very cheap and is considered safe by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
However, a recent study conducted in November 2020 demonstrated that micro plastics are released from propylene infant feeding bottles. In the study, 48 regions were surveyed to estimate the global exposure to infants up to 12 months. They found values ranging from 14,600-4,550,000 particles per capita per day, depending on the region.
This greatly demonstrates that propylene plastics release micro plastics into our bodies and can have damaging health effects. The vagina is an extremely sensitive organ and using plastic derived ingredients is a big no no!
Paraffin is a by-product of the petrochemical industry and has to be intensively refined with bleach and other harmful chemicals in order to be useful. Its production is not sustainable nor environmentally friendly, making it a harmful and unnecessary ingredient in our menstrual products.
On its own, paraffin is greasy and has an unpleasant odour. So manufacturers add preservatives, fragrance and bleach to make it more appealing. This ingredient is used by Tampax as a wax “to keep the [tampon] string clean”. However, paraffin is far from clean!
Paraffin on its own can cause inflammation and irritation, but with the concoction of other chemicals added during production, it’s the perfect storm to throw off your pH.
As I mentioned earlier, vaginal pH imbalances can lead to different bacterial and fungal infections.
5. PEG-100 Stearate
PEGS or polyethylene glycols are petroleum-based compounds that are widely used in the cosmetic industry as thickeners, solvents and softeners.
You would think that with all of the evidence behind the dangers related to this ingredient that it would not be used in menstrual products, however there is very little regulation as you can see! Most people assume that their personal products are safe and are willing to use them regardless of ingredients which is why big companies are still using cheap and unsafe ingredients. We definitely need more activism and awareness around this issue!
6. Titanium Dioxide
Titanium Dioxide is a pigment that is used in both pads and tampons to make them appear whiter. Titanium dioxide has recently been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as an IARC Group 2B carcinogen “possible carcinogen to humans”.
This ingredient is widely used to provide a whiter appearance and opacity to products such as paints, plastics, papers, inks, foods and toothpaste. It can also be found in a variety of beauty products and lotions such as sunscreen.
Although it has been proven to likely be carcinogenic, this ingredient is still used in many products including menstrual products.
Healthier Alternatives for your Cycle & Your body
So now that you know why you should avoid conventional menstrual products at all costs, let’s explore some healthier alternatives and brands!
This brand is my go to- you can find it at Loblaws or even Amazon! I love this brand because it lists the ingredients right on the box. I also love that they use 100% organic cotton, are plastic & fragrance free, totally chlorine free and are biodegradable!
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to your personal care products, check out Natracare. They are about the same price as regular pads and tampons, but contain much cleaner ingredients!
Organyc is also a safe and clean choice for menstrual products. They are very similar to Natracare and do not contain genetically modified cotton or any of the other chemicals that we discussed. You can find their products at Healthy Planet or order from their website.
The Diva Cup
I don’t want to speak much on something that I personally have never tried, but I have heard great things about the Diva Cup! Not only is it a more environmentally friendly option, it doesn’t contain many ingredients that will linger in your body afterwards.
As you can see, there is not much regulation that goes into the manufacturing of menstrual products. It seems that because most people trust the ingredients, big companies and corporations can get away with adding cheap and harmful ingredients to our personal products. That is why it’s so important to take your own health into account and start educating yourself on common ingredients. Before I wrote this blog, I knew tampons and pads contained harmful chemicals but I will admit that I’m a bit shocked by the amount of information there is on this already. Needless to say, we need to start voting with our money and stop buying products that we know are not good for us.
Always remember- you are the only one with your health in best interest! Most big companies will do anything to make a bit of profit.
Li, D., Shi, Y., Yang, L., Xiao, L., Kehoe, D. K., Gun’ko, Y. K., . . . Wang, J. J. (2020). Microplastic release from the degradation of Polypropylene feeding bottles during infant Formula Preparation. Nature Food,1(11), 746-754. doi:10.1038/s43016-020-00171-y
Mancini, F., Bruggen, A. H., Jiggins, J. L., Ambatipudi, A. C., & Murphy, H. (2005). Acute Pesticide Poisoning among Female and Male Cotton Growers in India. International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health,11(3), 221-232. doi:10.1179/oeh.2005.11.3.221