nutrition

Heme vs Non-Heme Iron: The Facts

When I was vegetarian, I had a severe iron and B12 deficiency. I used to go to my doctor weekly for B12 injections and take iron supplements daily. It wasn’t until I went fully vegan that my nutrient deficiencies started to disappear.

You may be wondering how going vegan helped, but it did in tremendous ways! Many plant-based foods are rich in iron and beneficial nutrients, however there is a common misconception that you must consume animal products in order to maintain healthy iron levels. This is far from the truth, and the reality is that animal sources of iron have harmful effects on the body when compared to plant-based sources. So today I wanted to write a blog and present some interesting research on the topic!

What is Iron and Why is it Important?

Iron is an important mineral that helps to maintain healthy blood. A lack of iron is called iron deficiency anemia which is the most common nutritional deficiency, affecting about 4-5 million Americans per year. Iron deficiency occurs when our body doesn’t have enough iron to produce hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein in red blood cells that is responsible for transporting oxygen to our body’s organs and tissues. Without enough iron, we are unable to produce healthy red blood cells to transport oxygen which leads to fatigue, dizziness and headaches.

Iron is necessary for healthy brain development and growth in children, as well as helping to maintain healthy red blood cells.

How Much Iron Do We Need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for adults 19-50 years:

  • Men: 8 mg daily.
  • Women: 18 mg daily.
  • Pregnant Women: 27 mg daily.

The higher intake amounts for women and pregnancy are due to blood loss during menstruation and the rapid growth of the fetus during pregnancy.

Heme vs Non-heme Iron

Now that we have talked a bit about what iron deficiency anemia is and the recommended daily intake, let’s differentiate between the two forms of iron.

Iron from food comes in two forms: heme and non-heme. Heme is only found in animal flesh such as meat, poultry, and seafood. Non-heme iron is found in plant foods such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, and leafy greens. Non-heme iron can also be found in animal flesh (animals consume plant foods with non-heme iron) and fortified foods. 

About 40% of the iron found in animal sources is heme iron and about 60% is non-heme iron. Additionally, when heme iron is heated during cooking processes, much of it is denatured.

Although both forms of iron provide benefit to the body, high heme intake is associated with increased risk of several cancers, including colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and lung cancer.

Negative Health Effects Associated with Heme-Iron

The human body has no way to dispose of excess iron, which can lead to future health complications. As a result, excess iron is stored in our organs with the majority being put in our liver, heart, and pancreas. Too much iron in our organs can lead to damage and disease—eventually leading to life-threatening conditions such as liver disease, heart problems, diabetes, and certain types of cancers.

Because heme iron is absorbed at a higher rate (15%-35%) than non heme (2%-20%), it’s much easier to consume too much.

Cancer

Meat is one of the largest dietary sources of heme. Many studies have suggested that the high heme content in red meat is associated with several diseases, including heart diseases, diabetes and cancer.

Red meat (beef, lamb and pork) has 10 times the heme content compared to white meat such as chicken. Research has shown that an increased risk of several types of cancer is associated with diets high in red meat. On the contrary, consumption of substantial amounts of green vegetables is associated with decreased risk of colon cancer, likely because vegetables contain low levels of heme iron.

Significantly Increases your risk of Coronary Heart Disease

Coronary heart disease (CHD) is caused by plaque buildup in the wall of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Plaque is made up of cholesterol deposits and buildup causes the inside of the arteries to narrow over time. This process is called atherosclerosis.

Many studies have demonstrated a positive association between heme and coronary heart disease. The earliest evidence of this association was actually documented in 1994- findings included an increased risk of myocardial infarction among men consuming red meat as the main source of iron.

In another study, meat intake was used as a measure of dietary heme. Men who consumed meat six times a week compared to men who consumed meat less than once a week had a 60% increased risk of CHD.

Benefits of Non-Heme Iron

If you’re feeling confused as to where to get your iron from moving forward, I have one word for you- plants!! Plant based sources of iron are packed with beneficial antioxidants, nutrients and Vitamin C which aids in iron absorption. In addition, a plant-based diet has demonstrated the ability to protect our cells from inflammation and chronic diseases. Plant based sources of iron allow you to meet your nutritional requirements, without causing negative health effects.

Here are some of my favourite plant-based foods that are rich in iron:

  • Lentils: Lentils come in three varieties: brown, green, and red. Lentils are not only packed with iron, but also high in potassium, fiber, and folate (a B vitamin). One cup contains 6.6 milligrams of iron.
  • Tofu/Tempeh: Tofu and tempeh soy-based products are a big part of the vegan diet! Tofu has a higher iron content of 6.6 milligrams per half-cup. One cup of tempeh has 4.5 milligrams of iron.
  • Spinach: one cup of cooked spinach contains 6.4 milligrams of iron. Try adding spinach to your smoothies, pastas or salads to naturally increase your iron intake!
  • Beans: are an amazing source of iron! Kidney beans (5.2 milligram / cup), soybeans (4.5 milligrams / cup), and lima beans (4.5 milligrams / cup) have the highest iron content.  

 

Conclusion

When it comes to iron, plant based sources are much healthier because they typically contain antioxidants and other crucial nutrients. In addition, plant-based foods have anti-inflammatory effects whereas animal derived foods are one of the main causes of inflammation in the Western diet. Try plant-based sources instead!

Be sure to follow me on social media, and check out my services page if you would like to work together. Stay healthy and stay glowing! ✨

Sources

Ascherio A;Hennekens CH;Buring JE;Master C;Stampfer MJ;Willett WC; (n.d.). Trans-fatty acids intake and risk of myocardial infarction. Circulation. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/8281700/ 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2021, July 19). Coronary artery disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved November 11, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/coronary_ad.htm#:~:text=Print-,Coronary%20Artery%20Disease,This%20process%20is%20called%20atherosclerosis. 

Dutra, F. F., & Bozza, M. T. (1AD, January 1). Heme on innate immunity and inflammation. Frontiers. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2014.00115/full 

Hooda, J., Shah, A., & Zhang, L. (2014, March 13). Heme, an essential nutrient from dietary proteins, critically impacts diverse physiological and pathological processes. Nutrients. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3967179/#:~:text=High%20heme%20intake%20is%20associated,pancreatic%20cancer%20and%20lung%20cancer. 

Iron. The Nutrition Source. (2020, October 19). Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/iron/#:~:text=RDA%3A%20The%20Recommended%20Dietary%20Allowance,and%209%20mg%20for%20lactation. 

Kaluza, J., Wolk, A., & Larsson, S. C. (2013). Heme iron intake and risk of stroke. Stroke44(2), 334–339. https://doi.org/10.1161/strokeaha.112.679662 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2022, January 4). Iron deficiency anemia. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved November 10, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/iron-deficiency-anemia/symptoms-causes/.

acupuncture

5 Reasons to Choose Cosmetic Acupuncture Over Botox

I believe that everyone can age beautifully and gracefully without having to compromise their health with harsh anti-aging treatments. In today’s society botox is becoming increasingly more popular, especially in younger women in their 20’s. Luckily, an all natural and healthier alternative to injections has been gaining popularity- cosmetic acupuncture.

Cosmetic acupuncture is an amazing all natural beauty treatment that both younger and older women can gain benefit from! So today I wanted to write a quick blog on why you should choose facial acupuncture over botox any-day!

How does Cosmetic Acupuncture Work?

Cosmetic acupuncture is derived from Traditional Chinese Medicine beauty and is growing popularity around the world. It’s 100% natural, injection free and is often done at minimal discomfort. By stimulating certain areas of the face with hair-thin acupuncture needles, the body is encouraged to locally increase blood flow, collagen and elastin production.

How does Botox Work?

Botox is a drug made from a toxin produced by the bacterium called Clostridium botulinum. It’s the same toxin that causes a life-threatening type of food poisoning called botulism.

It works by blocking signals from our nerves to our muscles. The injected muscle can’t contract which makes wrinkles relax and soften. However over time, this procedure can actually weaken facial muscles and cause even more aging in the long-run.


Now that we understand the key points of each treatment, let’s go over why cosmetic or facial acupuncture is more beneficial than getting botox.

1. Benefits your overall health

Unlike botox which just treats local concerns of wrinkles, cosmetic acupuncture has the ability to positively impact your health as a whole. This is because Traditional Chinese Medicine treats the body as an energetic system and many skin related issues stem from inner imbalances. This can be due to poor digestion, poor circulation to the face or inflammation. Using a combination of points located on the face and body, the root cause is able to be addressed rather than just masking superficial symptoms!

2. Influences the long-term health of skin

While botox typically lasts 3-5 months, cosmetic acupuncture lasts much longer and will continue to benefit your skin even when you discontinue treatment. By causing micro-trauma with the insertion of needles, facial acupuncture encourages the natural production of newer, stronger elastin fibers and collagen. This results in increased elasticity, firmness, reduced fine lines, brighter complexion and smoother texture!

3. Strengthens facial muscles + prevents atrophy

With the use of motor points, cosmetic acupuncture stimulates or relaxes muscles in the face depending on the individual’s needs and goals. Instead of inhibiting muscle contraction like botox, cosmetic acupuncture aims to stimulate blood flow to the area. Increasing localized circulation allows your body to activate its own healing capabilities and naturally eliminates fine lines and wrinkles by supplying energy or Qi.

4. It Works!

Not only does facial acupuncture have the ability to promote anti-aging effects, it can also benefit many health conditions. In a recent article, facial acupuncture can also be used to treat various neuromuscular facial conditions such as Bell’s palsy, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome and trigeminal neuralgia.

5. Covered by Healthcare Benefits

If your healthcare benefits cover getting acupuncture by a Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac), then cosmetic acupuncture falls under receiving an acupuncture treatment!

Conclusion

Thank you so much for reading my blog! I hope that I sparked your interest in this amazing all natural beauty treatment 🌸

If you are interested in learning more, please feel free to book a free consultation call with me! If you would like to book a cosmetic acupuncture treatment, please click here! I am currently accepting new clients in Toronto and would love to work with you 💗

Sources

Kotlyar, Arkady. “Treatment of Facial Pain with I Ching Balance Acupuncture.” Medical Acupuncture, vol. 29, no. 6, 2017, pp. 405–410., https://doi.org/10.1089/acu.2017.1251.

Rekstis, Emily. “What Is Facial Acupuncture? Skin Benefits, Cost, and Side Effects.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 15 June 2018, https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/facial-acupuncture.

Healthy Living

5 Ways to Naturally Boost your Immunity at Home

It’s officially fall- my favourite season! I love this time of year because there are so many pretty colours and it also means that halloween is just around the corner! But with the transition from warmer weather to cooler temperatures, it’s so easy to get sick. However, if you take the necessary steps to protect your body against pathogens, you will have nothing to worry about!

Here are the best natural remedies for a strong immune system:

1. Echinacea Tea

Echinacea is in amazing herb that has the ability to naturally boost your immunity and shorten the duration of the common cold, flu, pharyngitis, cough & fever. In fact, archaeologists have found evidence that Native Americans used echinacea for more than 400 years to treat infections such as wounds and a general “cure-all”. In addition, echinacea is loaded with plant compounds that function as antioxidants which help to support a strong immune system.

Traditional Medicinals is my favourite brand of echinacea tea because the ingredients are clean and it’s very affordable! You can find it at most general stores like Bulk Barn, Loblaws, No Frills or even Shoppers Drug Mart.

2. Freshly squeezed orange juice

Drinking orange juice is a great and tasty way to build strong immunity at this time of year. Oranges are naturally packed with Vitamin C which has the ability to help our bodies produce leukocytes (white blood cells). White blood cells are what fights off infection and helps our bodies recover from illness. In addition, oranges are also rich in carotenoids which help to protect our cells from oxidative stress, as well as supports cardiovascular health 🫀.

Check out my new Youtube video for a delicious orange smoothie recipe that is packed with carotenoids 💪🏼

3. Fresh Garlic

Garlic is a natural remedy that most people already know about because of their grandparents. But today I want to tell you the reasoning why garlic has such amazing immunity boosting effects! It all starts with allicin- an active compound that gives garlic its smell and taste. Allicin has the ability to ease inflammation and block free radicals that damage cells and tissues within your body. It also has antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties meaning that it can naturally destroy select viruses and other harmful microorganisms.

I love adding garlic to my recipes for added nutritional benefits, but when I feel myself getting sick I prefer to eat it raw. I usually mash one clove, mix it with maple syrup and take it like a spoon of cough syrup. But if raw garlic is too strong for you, you can try boiling it in 1 cup of water and drinking the water as a tea 🍵.

4. Ginger

Ginger is one of the most commonly used herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine because of its amazing immunity boosting effects! Ginger is considered a warming herb so it’s perfect for combating seasonal sicknesses such as the common cold at this time of year. In addition, ginger can help to decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and inflammatory illnesses.

Try adding fresh ginger to your morning smoothie or even try drinking a ginger tea before bed.

5. Dressing Weather Appropriate

This one seems a bit obvious but it’s extremely important to wear adequate clothing for this time of year- I know in the mornings it can be warm, but pack a sweater anyway! This small gesture will prevent you from dealing with a runny nose for weeks on end. In addition, wearing socks around your house surprisingly helps improve your immunity. This is because a lot of body heat can be lost from walking on cold flooring!

Other helpful tips:

  • Taking a steam shower is a great way to detox, improve circulation and ease pain. By standing in a steam shower for more than 5 minutes while focusing on your breathing, your body will naturally loosen up built up mucous in the respiratory tract and provide relief. If you’re laying in bed at night and you feel congested, try taking a nice steam shower! It will not only help you breathe easier, it will also help you sleep!
  • Eat more whole plant-based foods. Plant-based foods are high in beneficial nutrients and antioxidants that can help your body fight off infections + aid in building a strong immune system!
  • Exercise. Exercising has so many benefits such as improving brain function and reducing the risk of developing certain diseases. Try visiting the gym at least 2 times a week to stay in top shape and allow you body to function at its best!

Conclusion

Thank you so much for reading my blog! I hope that at least one of these immunity boosting tips was helpful! Be sure to follow me on my socials to stay connected 💗

Stay healthy & Stay glowing ✨

acupuncture

Treating Infertility using Acupuncture

Acupuncture is an ancient technique that has been used to treat many conditions and create inner balance for over 2,000 years. However, it wasn’t until recently that women started to explore Traditional Chinese Medicinal therapies as an option for fertility treatment. So today I wanted to write a quick blog on how acupuncture can help benefit infertility and help to increase your likelihood of conception.

What is infertility?

First things first, if you are struggling with infertility know that you are not alone. According to the CDC, about 10% of women (6.1 million) in the United States aged 15-44 have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. This can be due to many contributing factors in both partners.

What causes it?

In women, the cause of infertility can include endometriosis, uterine fibroids and thyroid disease. In men, it can be due to low sperm count, low testosterone, a pre-existing condition or injury.

Certain lifestyle factors can also increase the risk of infertility in both partners:

  • Age (over age 35 for women and over 40 for men).
  • Excessive alcohol use.
  • Smoking.
  • Stress.
  • Eating disorders including anorexia nervosa and bulimia.
  • Sexually transmitted disease (STDs)
  • Over-exercising.
  • Obesity.

How is infertility treated?

Typically, your healthcare provider will ask you to record signs of ovulation such as basal body temperature, do blood work and perform a pelvic examination to try to narrow down the root cause.

Varying treatment methods may be offered such as medications or even surgery.

The Alternative Approach to Infertility 🌸

Now that we have explored a little bit about what infertility is, let’s talk about how acupuncture can increase the likelihood of conception.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the body is viewed as an energy system. Each organ plays a role in the smooth flow of energy (or Qi) and maintaining an inner balance. When our inner balance is disrupted, many related symptoms and conditions can arise such as infertility.

How Acupuncture Can Help

Research suggests that acupuncture in combination with moxibustion can have positive effects when it comes to preparing the body for conception. This is because in most cases, the body or the uterus is too cold (doesn’t have enough energy) to carry and hold a baby.

When moxibustion is used to improve fertility, specific points over the ovaries and uterus are warmed to increase blood circulation. This in turn improves the availability of nutrients to growing follicles, assists with the elimination of toxins and improves the quality of the endometrial lining.

Moxibustion is a Traditional Chinese Medicine therapy which consists of burning dried mugwort on particular points on the body. 

In addition, diet plays a huge role in the success rate of conception. Traditional Chinese Medicine takes factors such as the temperature of foods, current season and nutritional value into mind to create a personalized plan based on the patients constitution.

Conclusion

Acupuncture is amazing treatment approach to many health conditions. Regular acupuncture sessions can help to monitor stress levels as well as promote relaxation which may also increase the likelihood for a successful pregnancy. It’s one of my favourite aspects of alternative medicine because it really does provide incredible effects! To learn more about how acupuncture works, check out my blog All About Acupuncture.

If you are looking for an acupuncturist, feel free to book an appointment with me, I am currently accepting new clients! 🌸

acupuncture

All About Acupuncture

Whenever I tell someone that I am a Registered Acupuncturist (R.Ac), they always have so many questions! So today I wanted to write a blog on what exactly acupuncture is, how it works and some of its origins. The cool thing about this ancient technique is that it originated in China over 2,000 years ago- so as mystifying as acupuncture may seem, it has been around for longer than most people realize!

What is Acupuncture?

Acupuncture involves the insertion of thin needles in strategic points around the body. These points were first mentioned in The Yellow Emperor’s Classic of Internal Medicine which dates back to approximately 100 BCE. This information continued to be passed down from generation to generation, until the acupuncture points were refined and it became a standard practice in China.

Today, acupuncture has gained popularity around the world and is a regulated health profession in many countries. Research suggests that acupuncture can be used to help treat a number of conditions and diseases such as pain, insomnia, digestive issues, migraines, anxiety and depression.

How does it work?

In biomedical terms, acupuncture works by stimulating the central nervous system using specialized points to activate your body’s own natural healing capabilities.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine however, our organ systems play a pretty big role. Take the digestive system for example, the main organ responsible for digestion is the stomach or spleen. If a patient presents with no appetite and feels tired all of the time, I would choose acupuncture points on the “Stomach Meridian” to promote healthy digestion and help the overall digestive system function better.

*I did not create this image, credit goes to its rightful creator.

It’s important to differentiate between both Eastern and Western Medicinal systems because both systems look at the human body completely differently. Utilizing all of the knowledge that we have as a modern society, while applying it to ancient concepts can be an amazing integrative approach to any treatment plan.

What does it feel like?

In most cases, patients report feeling a dull sensation after the needle is inserted. But because acupuncture needles are so thin, most people don’t feel a thing! My personal acupuncture style is to make sure that my patient feels comfortable at all times. This can be done by engaging in an open conversation, asking questions and reading body language.

How to prepare for your very first acupuncture treatment!

Booking your first acupuncture treatment can be intimidating but it’s something that you should be thrilled about! Taking your health into your own hands and trying new things is something to celebrate!!

Here’s a list of things that I always remind my clients to do before our session:

  1. Make sure you eat beforehand! Because acupuncture works at a superficial level, it’s hard to predict how you may feel afterwards. Eating a nutritious breakfast will help you to feel fully energized and provide your body with everything it needs.
  2. Wear loose and comfortable clothing. This allows your practitioner to locate and needle acupuncture points precisely.
  3. Don’t drink coffee before your session- aside from coffee preventing relaxation, it also affects the appearance of your tongue. The tongue is a crucial indicator of internal health and can be used to aid in diagnosis.
  4. Try and book your appointment on a day off. Booking on a day off will allow you to fully relax and immerse yourself in the experience.

I hope you enjoyed my blog and learned something new about acupuncture! I am currently accepting new clients for Registered Acupuncturist treatments, so please check out my services page!
Stay healthy and stay glowing ✨

Healthy Living

5 Reasons Why You Aren’t Seeing Results from Working Out

Working out is a great way to improve your overall health and create a healthy lifestyle. Research suggests that exercising has many mood related benefits such as reducing anxiety, depression and improving self-esteem. Aside from all of the amazing mental benefits, some people may wonder why they aren’t seeing physical results right away. So today, I wanted to write a quick blog on 5 key reasons why you may not be achieving your fitness results just yet!

1. Too many animal products in diet, not enough fiber

Okay so one of the most important things when wanting to achieve physical fitness results is making sure that you are consuming the right foods! The first thing that I recommend to new clients is to try to reduce their intake of animal products, and to up the intake of whole plant-based foods. The great thing about plant based foods is that they are low in calories, but high in fiber and volume which will keep you feeling full for longer. Animal products are often high in calories and contain unnecessary additives such as sulfates and sodium nitrate. Additionally, animal products contain cholesterol which can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and obesity.

Research supports that the plant-based diet reduces oxidative stress, inflammation and the risk of developing certain conditions later in life. To look healthy, you have to actually be healthy on the inside too! And one of the best ways to start is to incorporate more plant-based foods into your diet! Try doing Meatless Mondays or just simply being more conscious of the foods that you put into your body.

2. Need to Switch-Up Exercises

Many people stick to doing the same exercises if they’re trying to target a certain muscle group, however the best way to build strength and achieve noticeable results is to try different exercises! Our bodies are great at adapting, so if you’re doing sit-ups every night, your body will eventually get used to the motion and they won’t be much of a challenge anymore.

Changing up your routine will allow your body to build new muscles, prevent overuse injuries and increase the intensity of your workout. If you’re looking for easy at home exercises, check out my brand new Youtube Video for some inspiration! I love doing these exercises because they’re simple, quick and don’t require much space or equipment!

3. Not Being Consistent

Consistency really is key! Taking a day or two off is fine if you’re just not in the mood to be active, however it’s so important to stay true to your goals and remember why you started! Being consistent with your diet, lifestyle and long-term goals is what will get you a step closer to achieving physical results.

If you have trouble staying consistent, try creating a schedule for the week or buying an agenda. Creating lists and goals are a great way to stay motivated and stay on top of things.

4. Not Setting Goals & Lack of Organization

Setting goals is important because it allows you to actively track your progress while seeing what you may need to work on. If you get into a new workout routine without documenting your weight or measurements beforehand, it may be hard to notice any difference.

The best way to start achieving (and noticing) your results is to set very specific goals. If you want to lose weight, document how many pounds that you want to lose, if you want to build muscle, specify which muscle group and create a plan of action. Always be organized and honest with yourself so that you know exactly what you want and how you can accomplish it!

5. Unhealthy Lifestyle Habits

And lastly- unhealthy lifestyle habits! Living a healthy lifestyle means eating at regular times, not eating late, not drinking alcohol excessively, getting adequate sleep etc. Yes, working out and generally eating healthy is amazing and a step in the right direction, but it’s so important to follow healthy habits as well for your general well being!

This means making sure you meet all of your nutritional requirements, getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night and avoiding things that cause you to feel stressed. The reality is that these things can be triggers for you to overeat and therefore throw off your results. For example, if you didn’t get enough sleep, you may eat something sugary the next day to keep you awake. Or if you are going through an emotionally stressful time in your life, you may over indulge in sweets.

Setting boundaries, being organized and staying consistent are all great ways to start developing a healthier way of living!

Takeaway

Thank you so much for reading my blog! Be sure to follow me on my other social networks for more health & fitness content ✨

Sources

American College of Cardiology President: Why Cholesterol Still Matters. (2019, January 13). Retrieved from https://www.forksoverknives.com/wellness/why-cholesterol-still-matters/

Sharma, A., Madaan, V., & Petty, F. D. (2006). Exercise for mental health. The Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 08(02), 106. https://doi.org/10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a

Sodium Nitrite: Indications, Side Effects, Warnings. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/cdi/sodium-nitrite.html

What You Need to Know About Sulphites. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Food-technology/What-you-need-to-know-about-sulphites.aspx

Recipes

Vegan Potato Gnocchi + Delicious Tomato Sauce Recipe

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!

Ingredients:

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

Directions:

Gnocchi can be tricky to make the first time so I made a video to help you out! 😊👩🏻‍🍳

Please feel free to subscribe to my brand new Youtube Channel for weekly recipes and fitness content! ✨

Recipes

Vegan Tortilla Recipe (Gluten Free)

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!

Ingredients:

For the Tortillas:

  • 2 cups Maseca Corn Flour
  • 1 1/2 cup of water (you may need a bit extra)

For the toppings:

  • 1 block of tofu
  • 2 ripe avocados, mashed
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 tomato
  • Plant-based Spicy Mayo

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. When a nice and moist dough is formed, cover and set aside.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. When you remove the plate, use your hands to flatten and even out the dough into a nice circular shape.
  6. Heat a pan on medium-high heat, your pan may smoke from the high temperature so be careful.
  7. 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.
  8. Let cook for about 5 minutes, or until the underside looks golden brown. Flip and cook for an additional 4 minutes.
  9. 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!
  10. Continue the process until all of the dough is used up and top with your favourite taco ingredients!

Quick Tips:

  • 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!

Recipes

Vegan Fluffy Chocolate Chip Buttermilk Pancakes

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!

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, butter and baking powder. Mix until all of the ingredients are blended together.
  3. 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.
  4. Prepare a lightly buttered pan on medium heat and use a big spoon to scoop your pancake into the pan once it’s heated.
  5. Flip using a spatula after about 4 minutes, or until the underside looks golden brown.
  6. Let cook for an additional 3-4 minutes and remove from heat.
  7. Serve hot with maple syrup, fresh fruits and icing sugar!

Quick Tips:

  • 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!

nutrition

5 Foods That Cause Bloating & What to Eat Instead

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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

1. Wheat

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. 🌾

2. Dairy

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! 🥤

3. Beans

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!

Takeaway

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! 👩🏻‍⚕️📲

Sources

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/.

Gunnars, K. (2018, June 28). 11 proven ways to reduce or eliminate bloating. Healthline. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-proven-ways-to-reduce-bloating#TOC_TITLE_HDR_4.

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/.

Raffinose. Raffinose – an overview | ScienceDirect Topics. (2014). Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/raffinose.

Staff, F. E., & Rice, A. (2021, July 7). Bloating – bloated stomach – what causes bloating? familydoctor.org. Retrieved November 24, 2021, from https://familydoctor.org/condition/bloating/.

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/.