ROASTED GARLIC CAULIFLOWER HUMMUS

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Before starting my journey through holistic nutrition, I went in thinking I had everything figured out. I ate healthy. I exercised regularly. I cooked with whole foods often. I was healthy, wasn’t I? A year into schooling, seemingly out of nowhere, I was handed a host of symptoms I had not previously experienced. What I initially thought were acute symptoms eventually turned chronic and I was riddled with stress and “poor-me” syndrome. My ignorance was not so blissful after all. I had (and still have) much to learn.

Five months and numerous natural methods later, I, in a moment of desperation, took a round of antibiotics (gasp!). My perspective quickly shifted as my symptoms came rushing back within days after completing the prescription. I knew then and there that I no longer could take the back seat by trying to simply treat the symptoms, I needed to get to the root cause of the issue. After much research and a handful of consultations within my network of practitioners, it all came down to one major factor: candida albicans (with a side of parasites and toxicity). All of which are much more common than you’d think. Put simply, candida is a smart little fungus in the form of a yeast and part of our gut flora that thrives in the body given the right conditions. A damp, sweet, and toxic environment is one in which it can easily flourish. It also releases over 80 of its own toxic byproducts, which your body then has to process and eliminate before it runs amok on other body systems, namely our immune system. When candida overgrowth is present in the body, it can manifest in many ways. Brain fog, fatigue, crying spells, strong cravings for sweets, sensitivity to foods and smells, and a slough of vaginal infections are all possible symptoms and all of which I experienced. Unfortunately, there are many, many more possible symptoms. Fortunately, there are also many possible steps to take in getting it under control.

When I was ready, I began a strict protocol in which I removed the foods (and there are lots) that are known to assist the growth of yeast as well as incorporated strong probiotics and specific enzymes to help crowd out the bad flora and break down the cell wall of the candida yeast. This can certainly be a challenge and it sure isn’t a quick fix, my friends. But as with all healing, it takes time. With this protocol, I’ve eliminated many foods to promote die off including all sugar and most all carbohydrates. “So, no chocolate to wash down my sorrows…?” I thought. Yes, it’s tough but it isn’t impossible. And believe me, you become very creative in the kitchen (dare you to ask about my recipe for no-sugar-raw-chocolate-with-almond-filling)!

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Knowing I had strict guidelines to follow, I sought out as many anti-candida recipes as I could and tried a hand at my own as well. Thanks to a fellow classmate and Paleo enthusiast (this recipe also works for those following Paleo and GAPS diets), I got my hands on this super recipe. I made a few adjustments but it is still a simple recipe that is totally satisfying. Finding delicious alternatives to the real thing make for an easier transition altogether. Plus, cauliflower, and cruciferous veg in general, are packed-full of vitamins and minerals and anti-inflammatory nutrients. Eat as you would regular hummus – with my homemade seed crackers, perhaps? –  as a dip, spread or dollop on top of a meal.

I’m happy to report that as short as a month and a half into the protocol, I saw a significant decrease in symptoms. Hallelujah!

The Ingredients (Yield: 4 servings Total Time: 1 hour)

  • 1 head garlic (keep raw for additional anti-candida-fighting benefits)
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large head cauliflower, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • sea salt & ground black pepper

The Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F

2. Chop off the top of the head of garlic and lightly coat with olive oil. Place in a small baking dish and roast in oven for 35 minutes

3. Break down cauliflower into smaller florets and place on baking sheet. Coat with extra virgin olive oil and place in oven. Roast for 20 minutes. You can also steam your cauliflower until it’s cooked and fork-tender but not mush, about 10 minutes. Drain and place in food processor

4. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and into the food processor

5. Add in tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, paprika, and a pinch of s&p to the food processor and pulse until smooth in consistency. Adjust seasonings to taste

*Think you may be struggling with candida overgrowth, parasites, or toxicity? I am now taking on clients and can offer up further knowledge and a hand in healing. Get in touch through my Contact page for more details (website coming soon!).

LET’S GET GROUNDED

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Grounding. Nature’s therapy, antioxidant, and teacher. Also known as Earthing; a relatively new term for a timeless concept that involves directly connecting with the Earth’s surface, skin-to-skin. It’s about oneness and balance, stability and connectedness.

Our Earth is a giant magnet with a bottomless pit of electrons. These electrons are absorbed and then neutralized to release free radicals (electron thieves) from our bodies. We, as humans, are electrically charged beings and our natural connection to the Earth is through direct contact. We can create this connection by walking barefoot on soil, sand, or cement as we absorb these electrons on its surface, we then equalize the electrical potential in our bodies with that of the Earth. These electrons serve the function of antioxidants and offer immediate as well as long-term reduction of inflammation, better sleep, muscle recovery, boosted creativity, and stress relief.

Through experience, I have come to recognize that I am my truest and best self when I am in, and surrounded by, nature. It lifts my spirits and brings me peace. Earthing shows us that we are one with nature, not separate from it. To incorporate a dose of that pure and unfiltered energy, here are five of my favourite ways to reconnect with Mama Earth:

1. Practice yoga outside, breathe in fresh air and take in new surroundings to enhance your awareness. No mat required.

2. Walk barefoot in the grass or sand, to clear your mind, increase endorphins, and relieve insomnia. Walking barefoot also stretches and strengthens those foot muscles not often used when wearing shoes. Spread those toes!

3. Hike in nature, the world is our oyster. Here in BC, we have access to explore some of the most beautiful parts of the world. Being surrounded by the strong energy of a forest can really create magic, if you tap into it. You can take part of it with you, too. If you are close to a river, pick up a river stone as they carry the Earth’s charge. Take two, one for each foot and stand on them, barefoot, while slowly moving your feet up and down.

4. Soak up some sunshine, that all-natural vitamin D. It’s easy to forget how essential sunlight is to our well-being. If the sun is shining, try running outdoors instead of hitting the gym or walking outside to do errands instead of taking the car. Every little step proves beneficial to our bodies.

5. Incorporate copper, as it is not always possible to make time each day to be in nature. Copper is a conductive metal. In order to maintain a connection to the earth in which electrons can enter your body, there must be conductivity. Years ago, I stumbled across Juil, a sustainable shoe co. connecting you to the Earth beneath your feet through copper-dotted soles.

Are there other earthing practices you integrate into your daily life? I’d love to hear! Keep the conversation going #letsgetgrounded

WARMING TURMERIC SMOOTHIE

Once upon a time, I left my cushy corporate job to work at a juice bar. It was a drastic change, to say the least but one I do not regret. It was smack-dab in the middle of a dark, cold, disheartening Toronto winter and smoothies, cold-pressed juices, and raw foods were the furthest thing from my mind. Give me a bowl of hot and hearty lentil soup in lieu, then we’re talking. Though taking advantage of my situation, I never turned down a free smoothie (girl’s gotta eat!). Hours of experimenting later, I reached an “aha” now known as the Warming Turmeric Smoothie. I came to realize this particular mélange gave me the same warm-fuzzies that I’d experience from sipping a spiced chai or hot apple cider, even though it was as cold as, you know, a cold smoothie. My body temperature has always had a tendency to dip south of the thermometer, as I’m sure many can relate, but this cold smoothie quickly became part of my morning ritual, despite how contradictory that may seem. Let me explain…

When you think about turmeric, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Maybe something along the lines of yellow-stained-everything, anti-inflammatory, or superfood, yes? Well, something not so often considered is that it is a warming food. This doesn’t necessarily mean that turmeric itself is physically warm (although it can be), it means that, as a whole, it is warming due its composition; taking into account both inner and outer temperatures and ultimately affecting the way our bodies interact with and process it. As I have recently been learning a lot about complementariness; warming vs. cooling, masculine vs. feminine, yin vs. yang, I’ve come to realize the importance in seeing these opposites as wholes; working in harmony as opposed to one being better or worse than the other. As with all living matter, foods from the earth possess complementary properties as well. Warming foods, like turmeric, have the effects of dry and light yang energy whereas cooling foods, like cucumber, have the effects of cold and dark yin energy.

Next time you sit down to eat, mindfully take into consideration the effects of different foods. Pay attention to everything you eat and to how you feel right afterward. It can deliver great insight to possible imbalances or deficiencies as our body knows exactly what it wants and needs, all you need to do is listen.

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Oh, and I recently contributed to an article by lifestyle and relationship columnist (and friend from the 6, shout to Drake) Benjamin Mann. Because I firmly believe that in order to experience healthy, thriving romantic relationships, we must first begin with a healthy body and mind, on an individual level. Have a read, here!

The Ingredients {Yield: 1 smoothie Total Time: 5 minutes}

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 pear
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 heaping tablespoon turmeric
  • 1 knob ginger
  • 1 teaspoon bee pollen
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1/2 cup milk of your choice (I used: rice milk)
  • dash cinnamon
  • 1 ice cube

The Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender

2. Blend on high until smooth and creamy

3. Top with bee pollen

GREEN PROTEIN BOWL + GOOD-FOR-EVERYTHING DRESSING

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All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go. I’m standin’ here outside your… you get the jist. Today marks the two week countdown to a new chapter in my life and I couldn’t be more excited to make a move to the west coast to delve into the unknown and fully immerse myself in nature, wellness, and all things health and healing.

When I think of moving, I don’t usually associate it with words like “easy” or “fun.” Though, needless to say, each time I’ve moved to a new country, province, or apartment within the same city, I’ve gained valuable life lessons that have given me the tools to make this one of the most seamless of moves yet. Of course, there have been bumps and sharp turns along the way but there has also been wide open road. When we move, we often rid our lives of clutter. We shed a skin of material things. Possessions, so I’ve come to realize, do not define us or represent our soul, nor do they create profound, long-lasting happiness.

Simplicity in nourishment and contentment in ones own life make for a fulfilled and happy soul.

I recently read a compilation of others’ definition of happiness. Some were simplistic, others materialistic. It sparked me to create a definition of my own:

Happiness is not so much something we choose but something we create. Happiness is accepting the present moment, whether good or bad, and finding the beauty in it. Being at peace with it. Happiness is a soul filled with gratitude, like a claw-foot tub filled to the brim with bubbles, on the brink of gently flowing over. Happiness is not an instantaneous, fleeting feeling but a slow and steady calm. Happiness is me.

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Happiness, in my eyes, is also this bowl of green goodness. It has just about everything you need. It’s protein-dense, chlorophyll-rich, and essential fatty acid-filled. A green bowl is quick to prepare and even easier to eat.

Oh, and one last thing! My Services Page will be up and running in the next few days. Check back soon for current offerings and news for clients in 2015.

The Ingredients {Yield: 2 bowls Total Time: 15 minutes}

Green Protein Bowl

  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas or lentils {dried over canned is preferred}
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 2 cups kale, steamed
  • 2 cups raw green veg of your choice
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped

Good-For-Everything Dressing

  • 1 cup plain organic yogurt
  • 1/4 cup flax oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon red chili flakes {optional}

The Directions

1. Place dry ingredients in two individual bowls, plate as you wish

2. Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk or place in food processor and blend

3. Top your bowl with dressing, mix, and enjoy

*Dressing keeps for up to four days in the fridge. Double up on the recipe for an easy dip, dressing, or sauce throughout the week

CHOCOLATE ORANGE BODY SCRUB

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It’s four days before Christmas, and everyone is stirring because, damn, this time of year can be stressful. Anyone else scrambling for last-minute gift ideas? A homemade holiday gift can be a simple yet thoughtful gesture that anyone on your gift list can appreciate and benefit from.

This all-natural body scrub is such a treat (literally, you can eat this stuff) and is super nourishing for skin, especially this time of year. Coconut oil is so beneficial not only when consumed but also for skin health as it is said to prevent wrinkles and is known to keep skin supple and hydrated. The cacao is also invigorating, leaving you feeling refreshed and relaxed. Scrubs help promote circulation and keep the lymphatic system in tiptop shape and because our lymphatic system works in conjunction with our immune system, you could even say that this body scrub will aid to stave off colds and flus.

If you give this as a gift this year, don’t forget to #treatyoself, too.

You Will Need…

  • 125ml mason jars
  • 1/3 cup soft dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup melted virgin coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons pure cacao powder
  • 2 teaspoons dried cinnamon
  • 10 drops orange essential oil (available at most health stores)
  • twine or ribbon to wrap

What To Do…

1. Mix your ingredients in a bowl until fully combined, the scrub will darken and take on a paste-like consistency

2. Place scrub in jar and wrap with twine or ribbon for a finishing touch

3. Best applied to the body in a circular motion, used right before or during a shower

HOW-TO: MAKE YOUR OWN HEMP MILK

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Since before I began studying holistic nutrition, I had been keen on reducing my environmental footprint. Over time, regular ol’ household cleaners were swapped for vinegar-based concoctions, food was being stored in jars and reusable cling-wrap alternatives, cloth bags became the new plastic, and my consumption of packaged products was reduced overall. Since then, I’ve not only cut down on waste and saved some cash, I’ve also learned to get creative and make the best with what I’ve got. By the way… I recognize it may seem a tad contradictory to get all environmentalist on you, yet have a photo of a Ziploc bag front and centre. I’ve accepted that the process of reduction and elimination does not happen overnight and so I put to use one of the few already-used baggies I had kickin’ around.

It’s been years since I have been using packaged nut milk in lieu of cow’s milk and for a long while, it seemed to be working out just fine. But by now, you’ve probably heard of the – yet another – harmful additive, carrageenan, in packaged non-dairy milks like almond and coconut. Destructive to the digestive system, carrageenan is known to cause inflammation and gut irritation and is also being studied for its possible carcinogenic properties. And we’re ingesting this? Yeah, no thanks.

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So, as of recent, I’ve taken it upon myself to make my own milk. I have yet to try making the plethora of nut milks {mainly because my blender is on the fritz} but I’ve got hemp milk down to a science. And what’s best is that you don’t need to strain it, simply add it to a blender and voilà. Hemp milk has a creamy and pleasantly nutty flavour that I find goes with most anything from smoothies and breakfast cereal to tea and coffee. The benefits of hemp hearts are endless, though most significantly, they are high in easily digestible protein as well as Omegas 3 & 6. Want more? Read all about them, here.

This has been one of the more simplistic lifestyle changes I have made along my journey and yet another small step in the right direction. It feels good to know I am positively impacting my body as well as the environment. Which, if you think about it, are directly connected. We are all one, in the end.

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The Ingredients {Yield: 5 cups Total Time: 5 minutes}

  • 1 cup hemp hearts
  • 4-5 cups pure, filtered water

The Directions

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender

2. Blend on high for 2 minutes, or until smooth

3. To create desired thickness – from coffee creamer to skim – adjust the amount of water

*For flavour and sweetness, try adding: vanilla bean, dates, cacao, raw honey, warming spices {cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom} or your favourite fruit to the mix

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