Grain-free, Recipes, Uncategorized

Low Carb Roasted Almond Chocolate Bark

Chocolate, yum! Who doesn’t like getting quality chocolate for Christmas? The problem is, most of us eat way too much sugar during the holidays. This recipe is a guilt free treat and it tastes delicious!

There are a few other online, but they use cocao powder, cocoa butter or coconut oil. I wanted to use my unsweetened chocolate from the bulk store, so I made up my own recipe. I have made low carb chocolate from coconut oil and cocoa powder before and I think that this chocolate was a lot tastier and it had a better mouth feel (the creaminess if chocolate!). I will make that again for sure. Here we go:

14 squares of unsweetened chocolate (14 oz)

3/4 cup THM Gentle Sweet (you can make your own by blending 3/4 cup of each erythritol and xylitol as well as 1/2 tsp our stevia in your blender)

1/2 cup roasted almonds

Sprinkle of Himalayan salt

The quantities are easy to adapt, and you can modify to suit your taste. I had 14 chocolate squares from the bulk store, that is why I picked that amount. I melted my chocolate on low heat. I know many would do that on a water bath to avoid cooking he chocolate, but I don’t bother. I just stir constantly and it’s fine.

I roasted more almonds that I needed because they are such a great snack. Roast them at 350F for about 10 minutes. I taste test them and roast them a bit longer if needed.

That is what they look like when they are to my liking.

Mix your sweetener with the chocolate as it is meltin, this will allow it to dissolve well. You can also taste for sweetness at this point.

Pour your melted chocolate in a 8 x 8 inch square pan (20cm x 20 cm). I used silicone. If you use metal, I recommend you line it with parchment paper. Spread your roasted almond on the chocolate and sprinkle with Himalayan salt.

Put in the fridge until set and break up into pieces. This recipe yields enough to divide up for 6 people.

For more great gift ideas, check out this page.

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Homemade products, Uncategorized

Homemade Paper using Stuff from the Recycle Bin

Do you love the texture and the look of homemade paper? It’s actually simple to do and you can make it using all your random pieces of paper from the recycle bin. I bought my frame online, but you can make one using a picture frame and screen mesh from the hardware store. I found some good instructions for this on YouTube.

Step 1: Soak your paper in a bowl of water.

Step 2: Blend some of the paper in the blender, filling it up 3/4 with water. You can also add paint to the mixture to colour your paper.

Step 3: Pour just enough of the mixture in your frame to make a nice thick layer of pulp. Do this in a sink filled with water, your frame floating on the surface. At this point, you can add glitter, herbs, flowers, feathers or anything else you would like to your pulp.

Step 4: Put your frame on a towel and remove the top part of your frame (we keep the two pieces together with an elastic band). Use your other piece of screen mesh and put it on the pulp. Press it with paper towel to absorb some water. Using a sponge would also work well.

Step 5: Cover an ironing board with a towel and put your sheet of paper on it. Cover it with a piece of paper and a towel and iron it.

Step 6; Let your paper air dry for 24 hours.

For more great present ideas, check out this page.

Uncategorized

Homemade Lip Balm Recipe

Lip Balm Recipe:

First, let me say that I purchased all the ingredients except for the coconut oil on Amazon. Nice and easy! This recipe will make enough to fill up 24 lip balm tubes, which is how many there was in the package.

  • 1/4 cup beeswax pellets
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1½ tsp vitamin E oil
  • Essential oils of your choice or vanilla extract

Start by adding the beeswax and coconut oil to a double boiler to melt them together. I used a glass measuring cup so that it would be easy to pour once they were melted.

Once the oil and wax have melted together, remove from heat and add the Vitamin E and stir.You can now fill up your lip balm containers and add about 5 drops of your essential oil of choice per tube. It’s messy, I recommend putting your tubes on a cookie sheet.

You will have to add a bit more of your oil and beeswax mix to make your tops smoother once it starts hardening.

That’s it! You are all done!

For more great ideas, check out this page.

Diets, Plant Based, Uncategorized, Vegan Ketogenic

Vegan Low Carb Detox

I am planning a super exciting project for the end of January: a 21 Day Vegan Low Carb Detox. Detoxying helps support your body’s healing abilities. Environmental toxins, poor diet and lifestyle put incredible demands on our bodies and this is why we need to make sure we do a detox at least twice a year.

Why a Vegan Low Carb Detox?

A detox is like pushing the reset button. Avoiding certain foods during a detox doesn’t mean that these foods are harmful, but they might require your body to expend more energy using the nutrients they provide. Furthermore, eating the same foods over and over, no matter how healthy they are, can cause you to become sensitive to them. Leaky gut, or intestinal permeability, is a common problem today. It increases the likelihood that you will react to what you eat because it allows undigested food particles to cross into your bloodstream. Your body will fight off these invaders and cause unpleasant symptoms.

This Detox will be vegan because most of us eat too much animal protein, which is harder to digest. Some argue that plants are hard to digest because of their cellulose content, but I think it is faulty reasoning. The cellulose is simply fiber, it helps clean out your digestive tracts and reduces your risks of cancer. Considering all the healing and detoxing protocols revolving around meat (GAPS,WHALS protocol, Whole 30, AIP, SCD), I have struggled for a while with the place of meat in a health promoting diet. I have come to the conclusion that eating meat is fine, but in moderation. Also, it is best to consume organic meat.

However, in the context of a detox, the goal is to consume nutrients dense foods while facilating the digestive process. It is well know that animal protein sources are highly thermogenic. For this reason, many weight loss programs require a clean source of animal protein with every meal. Since detoxing is the goal rather than weight loss, let’s make our meals as easily digestible as possible. When your body is not busy digesting, it is regenerating. Even so, you may find that you lose weight simply by avoiding sugar and inflammatory foods.

Now you know why I chose vegan. Why did I chose low carb? Because after years of overindulgence, most of us struggle with uneven blood sugars and some level of insulin resistance. And, yes, carbs increase insulin levels. By keeping your daily carb consumption to between 30 and 150 grams, you might see the following benefits:

  • fast weight loss;
  • reduced hunger;
  • better control over insulin and blood sugar;
  • enhanced cognitive performance;
  • lower risk for heart disease factors.

However, as for meat, I want to make it clear that is is a temporary detox measure, not a long term plan. For most of us, carbs are an important part of a healthy diet. Each of us is different and need to figure out what works for our body.

If you would like to join our January Detox group, comment below or email me. You can also join later in the year if you miss the January one. Here is what you will get: access to our Facebook community and our weekly live videos, a booklet explaining the plan and how it works, a meal plan, grocery shopping lists, recipes that will include all your nutritional information as well as advice on supplements and essential oils to support your detox. All this for free (all you need to purchase is your supplements if you decide you want them). I hope to see you there!

Recipes, Uncategorized

N’oatmeal Raisins Cookies (Paleo, Grain-free)

These paleo cookies are truly reminiscent of oatmeal raisins cookies.

Here is the recipe:

2 cups almond flour

1 cup arrowroot flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

2/3 cup coconut oil

2 eggs

1/2 cup raisins

a handful of walnuts

Mix am the ingredients and he dough should look like this:

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Form into cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350F for about 10 minutes.

That’s it! So simple and delicious!

Recipes, Uncategorized

Easy Make Ahead Meal Ideas

As most busy mamas know, days can get pretty crazy! I have often felt like I needed a private cook to keep up with all the demands on my time, but I have developed a few ways over the years to simplify the task of putting healthy meals on the table each day.A very important one is freezer cooking. Each week, I try to make at least one meal a double or triple batch to have enough for the freezer. Keep in mind, this is no small feet as feeding my family one meal requires to double most recipes. Another method is make ahead meals. This is the one I will be talking about today.

Easy make ahead meals

In the Winter, one of my favorite ways to save time on cooking is to make a big batch of soup or stew. This is then our lunch a few days in a row with the option to add some bread or a side salad depending on how much time I have each day.

I also often use Saturday to do some prep work that allows me to throw many meals together during the week. In addition, I try to have some portable options for days when we are on the go. Here is an example of what you can do:

1- Hard boiled eggs: Hard boiled eggs are the convenience food by excellence. I cook them in my pressure cooker set on 6 minutes (my rice setting). Put about an inch of water at the bottom of your pot and make sure to release the pressure as soon as they are done. Then, you need to put them in cold water right away and they turn out just perfect. The shell almost slides off, even with my fresh eggs.

2- Salmon patties: I have posted about my salmon patties before. I just love them! I use 3 cans of salmon, 2 eggs, spices and some sort of flour. I made them with about 2/3 cup of roasted sweet potatoes as well. I have used cumin, salt, mustard powder, Herbamare salt or sea salt. The seasoning possibilities are endless. I have used 3 TBS of coconut flour or 1/3 cup of almond flour. It all works out. The best part is, I cook them in my waffle maker. Before discovering that method, I could never flip any salmon patties recipe without destroying them. Now, they stay together and cook perfectly.

3- Coleslaw: There is no doubt that coleslaw is the best make ahead salad. I have been making it with cabbage, carrots, apples and celery. Sometimes I even add in some sunflower seeds and raisins. For the dressing, I use homemade mayo with lemon juice, mustard and a bit of organic cane sugar in it.

4- Marinated meat: Marinating your meat is a great way to prepare ahead. Today, I marinated shrimps in ginger, garlic, tamari, sesame oil and honey. Yum! You could use chicken and change up the marinade to suit your taste.

5- Cauliflower rice: Cauliflower rice also works great to prepare ahead of time. Today, I made it with some celery and parsley. Cilantro or zucchini is also a great addition. When you are ready to use it, just cook it on the stove to soften it and warm it up. Add salt or any spice you like.

These are some ideas you can use to simplify getting dinner ready. And don’t forget: meat and roasted veggies are also a super quick healthy meal!

General Health, Uncategorized

Healing Foods to Reduce Inflammation

Inflammation has become a trendy word in the world of health and nutrition. Why? Because it is at the root of most chronic health issues along with the microbiome. Let’s look at the causes of inflammation and talk about the foods that help reduce inflammation.

What causes inflammation?

Have you ever heard of Donna Gates? She is a pioneer in the gut health movement. Her book, The Body Ecology Diet, has become a classic.

She defines inflammation as your body’s response to stress. Some inflammation is useful and necessary, like when you catch a cold, but now we have an epidemic of chronic, low grade inflammation. She mentions two very important causes of chronic inflammation, which we have talked about on this blog: food sensitivities and microbiome imbalances. Along with that, there is stress, environmental toxicity and poor lifestyle choices.

What are the healing foods that help reduce inflammation?

As you might know, the excess of omega 6 found in processed foods is a major cause of inflammation. It follows logically that consuming omega-3 rich foods is helpful in reducing inflammation:

1- Fatty fish

2- Olive oil

3- Nuts and seeds

Fruits and vegetables, rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, also help restore health and repair the body.

1- Leafy greens like spinach, kale, broccoli, aragula, bok choy, cabbage, swiss chard, collard greens, beet greens, etc. are nutrition powerhouses. If you struggle getting enough, adding them to smoothies and juicing them is a great option. I love this juice.

2- Ginger has been known mainly for helping with stomach upsets and nausea. Did you know that it is also a powerful anti-inflammatory that has been used to treat arthritis?

3- Turmeric has been vastly studied in scientific literature. This beautifully coloured root has been shown to help as an antidepressant, an anticoagulant and guess what? An anti-inflammatory! You can use the fresh root to make tea, juices, curry and many other delicious dishes. You can also purchase turmeric in the form of a supplement.

4- Pineapple, rich in bromelain, also helps combat inflammation.

5- Celery, with its high vitamin and mineral content, has many health benefits. In particular, it is a great source of potassium and we are discovering that the right balance between potassium and sodium is also an important factor in fighting inflammation. Other potassium rich foods include squash, avocados, sweet potatoes, white beans and bananas.

6- Beets, known for their bright colour, are full of antioxidants. They also contain betaine and pectin, which help detoxify the body.

7- Blueberries have been known for their antioxidant properties for a long time! They also contain a strong anti-inflammatory called quercetin. Quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant, play an important role in fighting free radical damage and inflammation.

Food is fuel for your body. It sends information to your cells, that is why it is so important to emphasize foods that are healing in your diet. When you eat as much anti-inflammatory foods as possible, you have less space in your diet for the inflammatory choices that would harm you. I once read the advice that one should make sure to drink a quart of green juice, a quart of green smoothie and eat a great big salad each day. This advice was an eye opener for me. I haven’t put it into practice religiously, but I have taken to heart to focus on nutrient density in my diet. I think you should too!

General Health, Uncategorized, Weight Loss

How to Stop Craving Carbs and and Sugar

Almost everyone can relate to that intense desire to eat more bread or cookies. Sugar and carbs are really the same thing here. Carbohydrate-containing foods will metabolize into sugar by your body. To understand how to stop craving carbs, we need to understand what causes these cravings.

What causes us to crave sugar

Blood sugar imbalances, causing insulin surges, are responsible for carb cravings. It is a viscous circle: you eat carbs, you crave more carbs! Not only that, but your gut bacteria will cause you to crave certain foods. For example, if you suffer from candida overgrowth, the little bugs will really work hard at getting you to feed them sugar. Lastly, eating carbs and sugar provides a burst of serotonin and endorphins. It makes you feel good! Hormonal imbalances will make you more vulnerable to cravings, which explains why women tend to struggle with cravings before their menstruations.

How to Stop Craving Carbs and Sugar

1- Stabilize your blood sugar: Avoiding sugar and processed foods is critical if you want to get off that insulin roller coaster. Using stevia in place of sugar in your sweet treats will help when you feel like you NEED sugar. Gradually, you will find that the cravings are not as strong. Eating more healthy fat and protein, drinking enough water are other ways to improve your glucose metabolism. Also, make sure you consume at least 7-9 cups of vegetables each day. Nutritional yeast is also a great addition to your diet as it provides the B vitamins necessary to lowering insulin.

2- Feed the good bugs in your gut: The brain-gut axis is becoming very well researched. This term doesn’t describe a physical network, but rather the interrelationship between the intestines and the brain. It describes how the microbes in your intestines have an impact on your behaviour and that include your food choices, since different microbes prefer different foods. Furthermore, the vagus nerve (connecting your brain to your gut) plays a major role in brain to gut signaling. When food arrives in your stomach, your gut bacteria will determine whether your vagus nerve will suppress your hunger or not.

3- Get rid of candida overgrowth: Candida, on top of it’s various unpleasant symptoms, will cause you to crave more carbs because that is what it feeds on.

4- Get natural energy: Food sensitivities can leave you drained and looking to sugar as a pick me up. Go through an elimination diet to see if your cravings improve. Avoid gluten, dairy, corn and soy for at least 21 days and start reintroducing them gradually to see if you react to them. Wait 3 days between each reintroduction and keep a journal to write how you feel. Also, feed your body the nutrients it needs to avoid cravings.

If you would like to improve your energy and reduce your cravings, don’t hesitate to contact me here. I would love to accompany you on your journey and I can add you to our Detox through Food and Essential Oils Facebook group.

 

Gut health, Uncategorized

Foods that Build your Gut Flora

All disease begins in the gut.

Hippocrates, the father of medicine, understood the importance of the gut flora 2500 years ago. So, how do we nourish the gut? Here are some simple foods that will build your gut flora :

1- Fermented foods

Yogurt, fermented sauerkraut and kombucha, miso and kefir are great options.

2- Bone Broth

If you don’t make bone broth, now is the time to start. It’s cheap, simple and healing. Sometimes, I don’t even add any vegetables. I just throw bones and water in a pot and simmer for a few hours. The resulting liquid is rich in minerals, collagen, glutamin, glycine and prolin.

3- Cooked vegetables

There are many types of diets out there and they all gather some sort of following. Fortunately, whether you are vegan, paleo, high carb, low carb, high fat, low fat, we can all agree on one thing: more vegetables. Just remember that cooking them will aid digestion. Yes, raw veggies contain enzymes and they are still a great choice, but they also contain cellulose, a fiber hard to digest by humans (see the section on prebiotics below).

4- Fish and Fish oil

Fish is rich in Omega 3 and vitamin D. There seem to be a link between gut disorders and vitamin D deficiency.

5- Prebiotics

Besides feeding our gut good bacteria, we can give the good bacteria food to thrive. Nondigestible carbohydrates (NDCH) act as food for probiotics and they are called prebiotics. The first NDCH we come into contact with is mother’s milk. In fact, breastmilk contains 100 times NDCH than  cow’s milk. It includes over 130 different oligosaccharides and glycoconjugates and proportionately contains 90% galacto-oligosaccharides and 10% fructo-oligosaccharides. Plant foods are the best sources of NDCH, but just a word of caution: mammalians rely on their gut microbes to break down cellulose.  Consequently, if your gut health is impaired, you are missing the organisms to digest plant foods. Most gut healing diets remove grains, legumes (reducing polysaccharides) and other more typical inflammatory foods like corn, soy, dairy. Of course, vegetables are an incredible source of nutrients, so they should constitute an important part of any healing diet,  but it it is often advisable that they be cooked during the healing phase. Blended foods are also helpful since the first step of breaking down the cellulose is accomplished. Supplementing with prebiotic during strict healing diet reduced in NDCH will help make sure you feed the good bacteria.

So, how do you know if you need to heal your gut? Here are a few questions to ask yourself: do I suffer from chronic fatigue, allergies, food sensitivities? Do I deal with any chronic health issue that is affecting my quality of life? If you answer yes to any of these questions, it’s time to start eating these healing foods daily.

General Health, Uncategorized

Rebuilding your Immune System Naturally

Our immune system and chronic inflammatory diseases are closely related. Keeping our body’s defense mechanism functioning properly is key in fighting off disease on one hand, and avoiding chronic inflammation on the other hand. You don’t want an underactive immune system or you will be always catching colds and other illnesses, but you don’t want an overactive immune system either as this will cause various autoimmune issues. How does our immune system work? What happens if it works too well? How can we make sure to nourish and protect our immune system?

How does our immune system work?

Did you know that the cells of your immune system originate in the bone marrow? They then migrate using a special system of vessels called the lymphatic system. Our immune system is constantly adapting and learning to be able to fight new bacteria and viruses every day.

When your immune system is overactive

A variety of modern diseases are caused by an overactive immune system; they are called autoimmune diseases:

1- Allergies and asthma are caused when the immune system reacts to harmless environmental substances.

2- Autoimmune diseases occur when your immune system attacks cells from your own body. Thyroid dysfunction, for example, is caused when your immune system attacks your thyroid gland. There is also rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis among others. To heal autoimmunity, it is essential to heal your gut and to temporarily remove your food triggers.

What if your immune system is underactive?

If you keep getting all the sicknesses that are going around, you may benefit from healing your gut too, but you should also boost your immune system with these simple tips:

1- Add more good bacteria to your diet. Are you surprised? It seems that no matter what ailment troubles you the solution is probiotics, probiotics and more probiotics. So, please make sure you know how to build your gut flora.

2- Attack the virus/bacteria naturally. Echinacea, goldenseal and astragalus are herbs often taken in the form of tincture. They are fairly common cold remedies and some people drink them in teas, but I find them most effective in tincture form. Whenever you feel the first symptoms of a sickness, follow the dosage recommendations on the bottle (typically a few drops in water every 3-4 hours). I have always been amazed at how quickly I get better when I do this. Garlic and oregano are other herbs often used to support immune function.

3- Vitamin D is so important for your well being, I might write a whole post just about it. For now, let’s just say that most people are deficient most of the year and it is critical for most of us to supplement at least 1000 IU every day all year. Vitamin D deficiency can cause fatigue, depression, poor immunity, muscle weakness and pain (I experienced that one for the first time in the spring of 2017, it was strange), bone pain and difficulty thinking clearly.

4- Vitamin C is also a very critical component of any regimen meant to improve your well being and your immune system function. It is the one Vitamin that everyone seems to know about and for good reason! It is used by the body not only for immune function, but also for iron absorption, collagen production, wound healing and cartilage maintenance.

5- Do not fear germs too much. It’s time to shift your paradigm away from the germ theory, The most important factor between health and disease is not so much the presence of germs, but rather it is the terrain that will determine whether they thrive or not. This point relates to protecting and nourishing your good bacteria, but it’s more than that: germs and sicknesses are keeping your immune system primed so to speak. For example, researchers have found that babies raised in homes with cats and dogs grow up to be healthier. Being surrounded by viruses and bacteria is a way to help avoid chronic diseases. People are even starting to talk about ingesting dirt as a healthful practice.

6- Avoid sugar and processed foods. Sugar feeds disease and depresses your immune system. Period.

Keeping your immune system functioning optimally is necessary to health. Putting these tips into practice should help you increase your well being and your resistance to diseases.