Pomegranate Blueberry 10-Minute Pancakes (gluten free, vegan)

blueberry pomegranate pancakes, gluten free, vegan

When you don't have a lot of time in the morning, breakfast usually comes last, and quickly.  We get pretty tired of toast, smoothies and granola though.  Pancakes are normally reserved for the weekend, on more leisurely days.  But, with this month being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we've been thinking about simple ways that we can incorporate more self care.  Self care doesn't have to be an hour long massage or a girls' night with friends (although we love those things and would love to bank some more hours there).  Self care can be simple.  And, we want to put our attention on those simple things.  Pancakes for breakfast is a form of self care.

Taking a moment to breathe deeply is self care.  Washing your face with a natural soap that you love, buying your favourite beautiful fruit to enjoy even if it's not on sale, curling up with your favourite blanket and good book for 15 minutes before bed...these are all moments of self care.  Although we are nutritionists and talk a lot about food and importance of eating nourishing things to support your health, self care and how you emotionally feel is just as important when it comes to preventing disease, managing illness and recovering and healing. 

Our Top 4 Self Care Tips for Breast Cancer Prevention

1. Skin brush.  Buy a skin brush and use it in the shower every day, or even once a week.  Just start out with using it occasionally, so that you can implement the practice and avoid getting overwhelmed. Skin brushing helps stimulate your lymph system and move toxins out of your body (the things that can get stagnant and lead to blockage and illness). Remember, always brush toward the direction of your heart when skin brushing.

2. Get outside in nature. Whether you live in the city or in a more rural area.  Walk in nature.  Walk in a park or nature reserve area if you live in the city.  Spend some time sitting on the earth.  Being in nature helps calm the mind, body and spirit.  Haven't heard of forest bathing? Check it out: Forest Bathing

3. Detox your home from toxins. Clean out your house of all the cleaning supplies, soaps, lotions, makeup, etc. that are made with chemicals.  Anything that has a really strong smell is a good sign that it's probably not the healthiest thing for you to keep around.  Instead, pick up some new cleaning supplies from the health food store that are made with natural and organic ingredients.  Choose soap and beauty products that are free of dangerous chemicals.  Need help?  Check out the Environmental Working Group's guide: Skin Deep Database

4. Make pancakes more! Take the time to prepare and eat the foods that you love.  A little self care and nourishment is easy to incorporate when you make recipes that use good quality ingredients. 

Pomegranate Blueberry 10-Minute Pancakes (gluten free, vegan)

1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup oat flour (certified GF if needed)
2 tsp coconut sugar (omit if you don't want sweets)
tiny pinch sea salt
1/2 tsp powder
1 Tbsp chia seeds mixed with 3 Tbsp water
1 cup dairy-free milk
1 Tbsp coconut oil, melted
1/2 cup wild blueberries (we use frozen)
1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds

additional coconut oil for cooking

Directions:
1. Combine the chia seeds and water in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl.
3. Create a well in the dry ingredients in the center of the bowl.  Add in the chia seeds and water, milk, and melted coconut oil.
3. Mix all together.  If the batter is too thick, you can add some more water or milk.
4. Then fold in the blueberries.
5. Heat a large skillet with some coconut oil.
6. Scoop out batter to form small pancakes.  Cook for about 4 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook on other side until center is firm and the edges are just beginning to crisp slightly.
7. Serve pomegranate seeds over top.  If you eat butter, add some on top of the pancakes (or use coconut oil), along with maple syrup or raw honey.

Smoothie Bowl (Banana Free) & Why Make Sugar Free Smoothies?

smoothie bowl, banana free smoothie bowl, smoothie bowl no banana, acai smoothie bowl

The question of whether or not to eat sugar comes up a lot for many of our clients, especially when it comes to cancer prevention.  This can be a challenge when it comes to making smoothies and clients ask us if it’s okay to put sweet fruit in them.

In honour of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, this October, we are going to be sharing some blog posts with important information for women...and the question about sugar is one of the things we’ll look at.   

If you don’t like bananas it can be tough to find a good smoothie.  We admit it, even we resort to using bananas as a key ingredients in smoothies most of the time.  But, we don’t all love bananas and we get bored of their strong, overpowering flavour that seems to take over the entire smoothie no matter what other delicious ingredients we add.  

Besides the flavour, there are a lot of reasons why many of our clients limit or avoid their intake of bananas.  It’s not that they aren’t healthy, in fact bananas are actually technically a low glycemic fruit.  On the Glycemic Index scale they are rated at 51, and foods below 55 are considered low glycemic (meaning, they won’t release carbohydrates rapidly and spike your blood sugar as quickly as high glycemic foods immediately after eating). Bananas are also infamously known for their high potassium content, which is an important mineral needed for electrolyte balance.  

 

So, why would you stop eating bananas?

Bananas are still sweet and contain sugar, just as all fruit does.  However, if you are managing or recovering from a health issue, limiting sugar intake is helpful for many reasons.  Whether you are dealing with blood sugar management, hormonal imbalance, digestive imbalance, or cancer, reducing your sugar intake supports the balance of good bacteria in your digestive tract.  Too many sweet foods fuel overgrowth of bad bacteria and yeast in the gut.  This in turn not only interferes with proper digestion and removal of waste, but can weaken the immune system.  70% of your immune system is found in the lining of the intestinal tract.  When the good bacteria is out of balance here, your body’s first line of defence is weakened.  

If you are dealing with insulin resistance or want to prevent that from happening, it’s a good idea to limit your intake of sweet foods (especially refined carbs like sugar, white flour, and processed foods). These foods trigger your pancreas to release insulin to help shuttle the carbohydrates into your cells.   However, if lots of sweets and simple carbohydrates are consumed the pancreas becomes taxed with producing so much insulin. And, your body’s cells can eventually stop responding to insulin (insulin resistance), which leaves glucose circulating in the blood stream. This elevated blood sugar and insulin resistance is linked with inflammation, which increases cancer risk.

 

What to do?

This doesn’t mean you have to stop eating fruit or whole grains and starchy vegetables.  Sweet potatoes and other root veggies, brown rice, quinoa and other whole grains, and so many fruits are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.  It just means that you want to eat these things as part of a balanced diet with lots of leafy greens, a rainbow of colourful veggies, clean proteins (beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, eggs, or organic animal protein if you’re omnivore), and healthy fats like extra virgin olive oil and omega-3 rich flax oil.  And, limit your intake of sweet foods and avoid refined products like white flour and sugar.

 

The Alternative to Banana in Smoothies

So, whether you are limiting your intake of sugar or just don’t like the taste of bananas, here’s what you can use instead to make a smoothie.  

Option 1: Pear
Pears are a bit lower on the glycemic index than bananas and taste less sweet. Add pear into your smoothies instead of bananas.  You can replace banana with the same amount of pear for a similar consistency.

Option 2: Avocado
If you’re  going completely sugar free, then avocado will provide the perfect creamy texture to your smoothie that banana normally does.  But, then you might be dealing with a smoothie that’s not sweet enough.  Berries are your best friend here.  They are low glycemic and the lowest sugar fruits. If you still need more sweet taste, then we recommend adding a few drops of stevia to the avocado based smoothie. Many healthy vegan protein powders are already sweetened with stevia, so if you add a scoop of that into the smoothie it can provide some sweetness.

 

Smoothie Bowl (Banana Free)

1 pear, chopped roughly
1 cup blueberries (or you can use raspberries and/or strawberries instead)
1 acai smoothie pack (we’ve been using this Acai Roots brand)
2 to 3 Tbsp hempseeds or protein powder of choice
½ cup unsweetened coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk of your choice)

Toppings:
Shredded coconut
Caco nibs
Mulberries (or goji berries)
Strawberries
Raspberries

Directions:

  1. Place the pear, blueberries, and hempseeds (or protein powder) in the blender.

  2. Break the acai smoothie pack into a few smaller pieces and add to the blender.

  3. Add a little bit of the milk and blend everything together.  Add the milk gradually, as needed to get everything blending.  The smoothie bowl with be thicker with less liquid added.

  4. Once everything is creamy and smooth pour into a bowl.

  5. Top with your toppings of choice!

 

References:

Ben-Shmuel S, et.al. “Metabolic Syndrome, Type 2 Diabetes, and Cancer: Epidemiology and Potential Mechanisms.” Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, April, 2015.

Brown, Kirsty, et al. “Diet-Induced Dysbiosis of the Intestinal Microbiota and the Effects on Immunity and Disease.” Nutrients, vol. 4, no. 8, 2012 Aug: pp. 1095–1119

Sears, Barry, and Mary Perry. “The Role of Fatty Acids in Insulin Resistance.” Lipids in Health and Disease 14 (2015): 121.

Simopoulos, Artemis P. “An Increase in the Omega-6/Omega-3 Fatty Acid Ratio Increases the Risk for Obesity.” Nutrients 8.3 (2016): 128. PMC. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.

Vighi, G et al. “Allergy and the Gastrointestinal System.” Clinical and Experimental Immunology 153.Suppl 1 (2008): 3–6. PMC.


Wellen, Kathryn E., and Gökhan S. Hotamisligil. “Inflammation, Stress, and Diabetes.” Journal of Clinical Investigation 115.5 (2005): 1111–1119. PMC. Web. 27 Sept. 2017.

How to Make an Iced Matcha Coconut Latte 2 Ways!

matcha latte, matcha latte recipe, matcha coconut latte, dairy free matcha latte recipe

We have a thing for matcha lattes over here.  And it seems that a lot of other people do too, seeing that matcha lattes are appearing on menus at so many different coffee shops and cafes.  The thing is that buying matcha lattes can get quite expensive and often have added ingredients, like sugar, that we don't love.  So, making matcha lattes at home is a great way to not only save money but also ensure that you know exactly what ingredients are used.

Matcha is made from high quality green tea leaves that are turned into powder.  This means that matcha is much richer in flavour than a normal green tea as well as going to give you a mega dose of antioxidants, including EGCG (Epigallocatechin gallate), the famous component in green tea that's linked with preventing free radical damage and cancer.

We have many different ways of preparing matcha lattes at home and during the winter we love to sip on a hot cup of steaming non-dairy milk frothed together with matcha.  However, in the summer, we need icy, refreshing beverages. The most exciting part about this is that we can use coconut water in our matcha lattes (we wouldn't recommend heating up coconut water- not only would it destroy the nutrients in it, but it just wouldn't taste good).  Coconut water is a wonderful source of naturally occurring  electrolytes, including magnesium and potassium.  It also naturally has a sweet taste to it.  When you buy coconut water, check the label and make sure that you get a brand that doesn't have any added sweeteners.  

Here are two different recipes for a refreshing, iced matcha latte.  The first recipe is super duper easy and only requires two ingredients.  Using coconut water means that you can avoid using other sweeteners, like sugar, because it will naturally sweeten the matcha. The second recipe is a little bit more complex and rich, but still super easy to whip up, and a great choice if you want something creamy but dairy-free (it's almost like a matcha smoothie).  The second recipe also contains some protein and anti-inflammatory fats from hempseeds, which is a great option if you want something more filling. 

 

Iced Matcha Coconut Latte Version 1

2 cups coconut water
1/2 tsp matcha green tea

Directions:
1. Simply combine the coconut water and matcha in the blender.
2. Blend for 30 seconds or until creamy and smooth.
3. Pour over ice and serve.

 

Iced Matcha Coconut Latte Version 2

1/2 cup coconut water
1 cup coconut milk (or other non-dairy milk, unsweetened)
1/2 tsp matcha green tea
1 Medjool date
2 Tbsp hempseeds

Directions:
1. Combine all of the ingredients in the blender.
2. Blend for 1 minutes o until creamy and smooth.
3. Pour over ice and serve.

 

matcha latte, iced matcha latte, matcha latte recipe, matcha coconut latte, matcha coconut iced latte

Cherry Coconut Smoothie and Why You Should Eat Cherries

cherries, cherry, summer fruit, berries, cherry bowl

We're absolutely lovin' cherry season this year, especially since it's for such a short time, it feels extra special.  Cherries are one of the best fruits to pack for snacks during the work day, on road trips, on camping trips, and even on plane rides, because they are strong enough to stand the heat and are less likely to get crushed than softer berries and nectarines or peaches. 

The rich and bright colour of cherries is caused by a type of flavanoids called anthocyanins. Anthocyanins have antioxidant properties and studies have found that cherries even have anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties. Cherries also naturally contain melatonin, so they are a good food to eat later in the day or for dessert in the evening as they are sleep supportive. 

Another reason why we recommend eating cherries instead of sweeter fruits, such as banana and tropical fruits, is because they are low glycemic and low in sugar.  Many of our clients that are dealing with cancer choose to follow a diet that is low in sugar and avoid eating desserts, baked goods and refined carbohydrates.  Studies have found that consuming sugar interferes with the function of the immune system, so if your body is compromised and dealing with a disease or even a cold, we recommend avoiding sugar and choosing very low-sugar fruits like cherries and berries (raspberries, blueberries and strawberries are all great options as well). You'll still get to enjoy these delicious fruits while at the same time get the benefit of their antioxidant and vitamin content. 

We've added some healthy whole-food fats into this smoothie, avocado and hempseeds.  These will keep you feeling full for longer, as well as provide anti-inflammatory omega 3s. 

 

Cherry Coconut Smoothie

1 cup cherries
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 cup coconut water
2 Tbsp hempseeds (or add vegan protein powder instead)
2 Tbsp avocado (or you can add more, if you like)

Directions:
1. Rinse off the cherries well and remove the pits.  This part can be a little time intensive, but it's worth it!  There are two ways to do this- Option 1: We cut away as much of the cherry as we can from the pit. Option 2: We poke something into the center of the cherry (like a chopstick) to make a small whole and pull the pit out.

2. Then combine all the ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth and creamy.

cherry smoothie, cherry coconut smoothie

 

References:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24811821
https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.meir-ez.medlcp.tau.ac.il/pubmed/28274450
https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.meir-ez.medlcp.tau.ac.il/pubmed/26005400
https://www-ncbi-nlm-nih-gov.meir-ez.medlcp.tau.ac.il/pubmed/23480341

What's the Deal with Xylitol?

written by Jessica Tilley

xylitol, sweetener, sugar, maple syrup, honey, nutrition

There is sugar in almost every processed product that we buy. Even in the organic, “healthy” stuff, there’s still some form of it.  On average, a person in North America consumes 32g of sugar daily and it is causes so many health issues that most people are not aware of. Ingesting this large amount of sugar damages the liver, increases insulin levels (which can lead to insulin resistance, diabetes, and hormonal imbalances) and can cause an imbalance of beneficial bacteria in your gut.  Besides that, sugar also negatively impacts the immune system and your body’s ability to defend itself from illness.

There are, however, much healthier substitutes that could be used instead of white sugar that won’t cause the same negative effects.  Maple syrup and honey are popular choices- however they will still raise your blood sugar and be broken down into glucose in your body like refined sugar, however they still contain other nutrients, such as minerals.   Another lesser known option is xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that is derived from plants such as berries, corn and birch. It is lower in calories than sugar but delivers the same level of sweetness. It also is absorbed more gradually so it won’t spike insulin levels.   

We’ve been curious about xylitol and whether it is a safe alternative to using sugar, maple syrup and honey in sweet recipes.

Studies have shown that consuming xylitol benefits your dental health- some dentists recommend chewing gum that contains xylitol to combat tooth decay and the growth of plaque causing bacteria. There are also studies that show this sugar substitute also helps with the absorption of calcium, and reduces the acidity level of saliva in our mouths.  Xylitol is not used by the bad bacteria in your gut (they feed on glucose, which can lead to an overgrowth of bad bacteria).  Xylitol is very easily substituted in any baking, or really any recipe that contains sugar.

However, we do have our concerns with xylitol.  This substance is highly toxic to dogs, even the smallest amount can result in liver failure.  In humans, although it is not as common, it can cause some digestive discomfort. Sugar alcohols draw water into the gut and if it stays there for a while can start to ferment, causing gas and bloating.

 

So, what’s the conclusion?

We would stay away from xylitol if you are managing or recovering from a digestive illness or know that you have a sensitive digestive system.  If you do use xylitol, we would use it in small amounts (same rule as we apply to other sweet things).  We’d also recommend trying out stevia instead, if you need a completely glucose-free sweetener option.  

 

Resources:

Daniluk, J. (n.d.). Life After Sugar: A Guide to Alternative Sweeteners . Retrieved April 13, 2017, from https://juliedaniluk.com/food-facts/life-after-sugar-a-guide-to-alternative-sweeteners.html?highlight=WyJzd2VldGVuZXJzIl0

Gunnars , K. (2016, August 18). Xylitol: Everything You Need to Know (Literally). Retrieved April 14, 2017, from https://authoritynutrition.com/xylitol-101/

Mercola, Dr. (n.d.). What Happens in Your Body When You Eat Too Much Sugar? Retrieved April 13, 2017, from http://articles.mercola.com/sugar-side-effects.aspx

Turmeric Recipe Round Up!

Turmeric is a bright orange spice that is a part of the ginger family.  This spice has been used in traditional Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years and has gained mainstream popularity in the last few years.

Turmeric has medicinal properties to help combat digestive disorders, liver problems, skin diseases, wounds, parasites and has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial, hepatoprotective, immunostimulant, and antiseptic properties.

One thing to note is that cancer, heart disease, and cognitive disorders like Alzheimer's are linked to chronic inflammation.  Inflammation and cancer are closely related in the sense that inflammation in the body can increase risk of cancer development.

Turmeric in the diet can prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells since curcumin, a component in turmeric, interferes with the DNA  of cancer cells preventing them from growing and instead potentially causing these mutated cells to die.  Turmeric prevents angiogenesis, a process that creates new blood vessels, which can form tumours and cancer cells.

Lastly, turmeric has antioxidant properties that can remove and repair damage to the cells that are caused by free radicals.  Free radicals are created through exposure to pollution and stress and wreak havoc on healthy cells.   

There are many ways to incorporate turmeric in the diet.  Here are some recipes we’ve developed that are delicious and contain turmeric.  We have a turmeric breakfast bowl, coconut turmeric chickpeas, and a turmeric latte.  The links are below!

Turmeric Breakfast Bowl

 

 

Resources

Love, D. S. (2017, 04 16). Turmeric and Cancer: 5 Ways Turmeric Can Help Prevent Cancer. Retrieved from TTAC: https://thetruthaboutcancer.com/turmeric-can-prevent-cancer/?gl=582840323

University of Maryland Medical Centre. (2017, 04 16). Turmeric. Retrieved from www.umm.edu: http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/turmeric