Hi everyone! Thank you to all those who have followed my blog thus far, and patiently waited for me to return with new material. I have some good and bad news – good news is that I have moved to a new city, and become quite busy with a few holistic nutrition positions that allow me to continue to educate and empower people in person! The bad news is that I have had to put my blog on the back-burner as a result. I still plan to keep it alive, but if you don’t see many posts from me for a while, now you know why. Thank you to everyone who’s been a reader and I know we will keep in touch. I’ve become more active on Instagram now so please follow me there (link on side) and see what I’m up to! I’d love to see what all of you are doing as well.
Maybe I’ll even see some of you in person now….in my new hometown of chilly, crisp, delightful Ottawa!
Summer weather is *finally* here in good old Ottawa. When we moved here I thought the winter and rain would never end, but it seems to be warmer now (hello +17!) and with warm weather comes the desire to be outside and catch some rays. The long weekend in May is a cue for all cottage-owners to get the cottage ready for visitors…..both human and insect, that is.
If you’ve started your summer getting intimately acquainted with mosquitoes, black flies, sand flies or ticks – read ahead for some savvy tips on how to alleviate the itch and prevent a second attack.
A mild winter combined with heavy rainfall has made spring/summer 2017 the best season yet for mosquitoes, according to City News in Toronto. Repel: Check out Health Canada website for the latest on which diseases may be present in Canadian mosquitoes (i.e. West Nile, etc.) and plan your activities wisely (look at where and when mosquitoes are hungriest). The Quebec-made Citrobugmade with pine, lemon and citronella oils was given a green thumbs up by Adria Vasil, author and trusted advisor for all things eco-savvy. Treat: if you’re gotten a few bites, make a paste using baking soda and water and apply to the area. This should help relieve the itching and neutralize the irritation. Alternatively, you can wet a cotton ball with apple cider vinegar and dab onto bites to soothe them. Take a natural anti-histamine like quercetin or vitamin C to help reduce the redness and irritation.
Black Flies & Sand Fleas
“Black flies cut and rupture the skin and then soak up the blood. Irritation from the black fly’s saliva can also cause swelling and itching in some people” – Algonquin Parkwebsite. These biting bugs are mostly common from May – July and can pack a nasty punch. The bites can swell up to look like full-on welts, and cause soreness all over.
Repel: wear clothing!!! Tucking in long sleeve shirts and pants (black flies are attracted to dark colours so layer on the white/khaki!) will reduce the amount of skin the flies have to land on and feed from. Find bug netting and wear it as a draped hat over your face and neck, too. Treat: black fly bites are big and ugly, and can cause significant redness, swelling and itching. After a few days, the bites will begin to ooze liquid, which isn’t a pretty sight either. First, calm the heat by applying pure aloe (direct from a plant is best). Spritz the infected areas with an anti-bacterial solutions like colloidal silver, or tea tree oil and/or lavender essential oil diluted in distilled water. Fly bites invite a lot of bacteria, so something anti-bacterial is imperative for healing. If you’re in the wilderness with nowhere to turn, theOld Farmers Almanac recommends using the oil from pine tree branches as a forest first aid. After applying your anti-bacterial treatment, relieve itching and swelling by using soothing balm like E-Creamwhich contains calendula, chamomile, chickweed, oats, peppermint (to cool the area) and zinc oxide. It’s a perfect blend of ingredients to speed healing.
Ticks are sneaky and scary, and can carry Lyme disease to humans and pets. This can be a sometimes fatal disease that has neurological implications, so tick repelling is serious. The Canada Public Healthwebsite breaks down which areas in each province pose higher threats for Lyme disease spread. Check out your province and be informed. Repel: The CBCoffers the following advice:
Stay on the path: if you’re in an area where ticks may be found, stay where it’s dry and avoid long grass and bushes. Cover up: wear light coloured clothing so you can spot ticks. Tuck your shirt into your pants and your pants into your socks to make it harder for ticks to find your skin. Repellent: use an insect repellant that contains DEET*. Check your body [when you get home] for ticks, paying special attention to your scalp, ankles, armpits, groin, navel and behind your ears and knees. Wash: take a shower or bath. Put your clothes in the dryer for at least 60 minutes to kill any ticks.
* there are a lot of reservations about DEET, not only from a health standpoint but also as an environmental concern. If you’re looking for something DEET-free, Consumer Reports had good success withRepel: Lemon Eucalyptus insect repellent used to repel deer ticks. EcoShield spray offers a natural mosquito/flea/tick/black fly repellent for use on humans and canines (***but never use essential oils on cats***).
Treat: Ticks are able to dig into your skin once they bite, and stay there. If you discover one on your body, use fine-tipped tweezers to carefully remove it without crushing the tick’s body. Go see a doctor if you think you’ve been bitten by a tick. The bite will usually leave a “bullseye” shaped ring on your skin.
Many households throw tons of food scraps like peels, veggie tops and pineapple cores into the compost, believing them to be inedible.
But what if I told you that a lot of the food we scrap can actually be eaten? You can cut down on food waste by re-purposing the foods that may actually be FULL of the very nutrients you’re looking for. Read ahead for some surprising food scraps you won’twant to throw away…
According to this study, pineapple cores contain a lot of the enzyme bromelain, traditionally used to ease inflammation and help improve digestion. So let’s stop throwing this awesome enzyme away! Because the core is harder than the outside fruit, all you have to do is slice it up thinly, to get the consistency of water chestnuts. Bon appetite 🙂
2. Veggie Tops and Bottoms
Get those veggie tops out of the compost and into your salad! There are a lot of veggie tops that are safe to eat, and in fact quite full of important vitamins and minerals like magnesium, vitamin C and iron to keep you energized. Some of the safe leafy tops include beet greens, turnip greens, celery tops, carrot tops, squash blossoms, zucchini blossoms, and radish greens. Veggie bottoms (stems) are just as amazing, and full of fibre to help a constipated colon. Just make sure to wash them and chop them up well. Try kale stems in your next stirfry, or chopped up broccoli stems eaten raw with dip or in salads.
3. Chickpea Brine
I just discovered this a few days ago, but the savvy vegan community has been using chickpea brine (also known as “Aquafaba”) as a substitute for eggs in many baking recipes! I just tried it in a batch of cookies and I was blown away by how chewy the texture was. Try whipping it into a meringue like in this recipe from Lazy Cat Kitchen, or in this chewy double chocolate chip cookie recipe from Holistic Hormone Help.
4. Coffee Grounds
Re-purpose old coffee grounds into an energizing and exfoliating body scrub. Coffee grounds naturally contain antioxidants and caffeine, which can stimulate circulation and reduce the appearance of cellulite. A DIY recipe is beyond easy, and really all you need is to mix your coffee grounds with an oil (usually sweet almond or coconut) and some sugar or salt. Then apply it in circular motions in the shower or bath to gently exfoliate and energize your body – great for thighs, lower legs, feet, and bum! If you need a recipe, check out this onefrom Coconut Mama – it includes cinnamon.
5. Potato and Veggie Peels
The peels of beets, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, parsnips, carrots, and zucchini are safe to eat, although somewhat more bland in flavour. This tip from Julie Daniluk, RHN, suggests we roast them and make tasty chips! Just drizzle with a little oil, salt and pepper, then roast in the oven until crispy. Voila, homemade veggie chips. Doesn’t your wallet feel lighter already?
IMPORTANT TIP – Potato eyes are not safe to eat, so if you have a particularly old bag of potatoes you’re interested in using, best to just toss them into the compost. This info from Medline Plus states the following: “The poison is found throughout the plant, but especially in green potatoes and new sprouts. Never eat potatoes that are spoiled or green below the skin. Always throw away the sprouts.”
6. Citrus Peels
Think twice before juicing that lemon! After thoroughly washing your citrus fruits (grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, tangerine) go ahead and zest them first, before juicing out the interior.
The outside peels of citrus fruits contain gorgeous aromatic (and anti-microbial) oils. Save the zest or peels in a container in the freezer, and bring out when making lemon drop cookies, candied grapefruit peels, or orange-infused olive oil. The interior citrus juice of lemons is alkalizing to the body and can traditionally help ease indigestion.
Happy new year! New year, new foods, new goals. What kind of health-minded resolutions have you made? Resolutions aren’t about regret and hostility towards your past self; rather, they are about hope towards the future. Don’t stress if you ate too much over the holidays – shake it off and begin each day with a positive outlook. Make small changes that are realistic. For example, support your local economy and farmers by purchasing at least one item from the grocery store made in your home province or state.
Farmers markets are pretty slim this time of year, but there are loads of in-season veggies at your local shop that are just waiting for you to take them home. Case in point: winter squashes. Specifically, acorn squash.
This little gem has become a bit of an obsession with me lately. The flesh is so rich and buttery, and really lends itself to both savory and sweet creations! It’s also a nutritional powerhouse – full of fibre, vitamin A for immunity, vitamin C and B-vitamins for stress relief.
All you need to know is how to properly roast this bad boy.
1 Acorn squash, cut lengthwise (Scoop out the seeds but keep them to roast separately! Full of fibre and protein)
1 tbsp coconut oil, or grass-fed butter
salt & pepper to season
Turn oven to 400 degrees F. Scoop out the seeds and rub down the squash interior with your oil/butter. Season, then put in the oven for 1/2 hour. To check if it’s done, stick a fork in the flesh. When it feels soft, it’s ready!
Now, the rest is up to you. Here are two healthy recipes to get you inspired.
1.Do you feel like having a hearty & sweet breakfast? If so, check out this recipe which tops the acorn squash with cinnamon, honey and pecans.
2.If you’re looking for a something a little more savory, warm up with this recipe which stuffs a roasted acorn squash with apples, quinoa and kale.
I’m off to the kitchen now to play with my squash. So many possibilities!
It’s been a long time since I’ve posted. I moved out of the city and into another city….well, village….much smaller….basically the opposite of Toronto. Anyway, that took up a lot of time. And I started a new job, so between both of those things I’ve sadly left my little Lavender Owl on the backburner. But I plan to tend to it again in 2017!
As a little holiday gift, I wanted to share some really awesome recipes from a friend of mine. Her name is Kathy – she’s a fellow RHN, talented recipe developer and the thoughtful holistic professional behind the website Holistic Hormone Help. She specializes in women’s hormonal health. Definitely give her a shout if you’re in need of some balancing in the new year (the holidays can throw even the healthiest-minded person out of whack).
Here are links to some holiday-themed DELICIOUS recipes from Kathy. Give them a try this season and be thankful for good health!
Are you thinking about using Bio-Oil on your scars or stretch marks? If you have skin damage, you know how frustrating it can be to find effective products. Today I want to highlight some natural alternatives that are extremely effective in healing damaged skin.
The Bio-Oil Blues
I just watched the commercial, and it was very convincing! Scarily convincing, even for a body care ingredient pro like me. So I slapped myself, then set to work discovering what’s actually in this oil. I went on the Bio-Oil website to see the formula, and found 28+ ingredients. These include mineral oil, soy oil, BHT, fragrance, and orange colouring. Mineral Oil is derived from petroleum (yes, like gas!)and sits on top of the skin to create a velvety coating. While this makes your skin feel nice, it will be doing quite the opposite for your health. The short story? Leave political and environmentally damaging petroleum out of your bathroom, and certainly off of your skin. The long story? The EFSA has this to say about mineral oil, which can easily be contaminated with hydrocarbons:
The potential human health impact of [mineral oil hydrocarbons] varies widely; so-called ‘aromatic’ MOH may act as genotoxic carcinogens (that is they may damage DNA, the genetic material of cells, as well as cause cancer), while some ‘saturated’ MOH can accumulate in human tissue and may cause adverse effects in the liver.
Bottom line: there are soooooo many safer, cleaner, and MORE EFFECTIVE oils to use on your damaged skin, so say goodbye to mineral oil and say hello to these great alternatives!
Facial Scarring:Rosehip Seed Oil(my pick: Skin Essence Organics)
Rosehip is high in naturally-occurring vitamin C, which is a potent antioxidant shown to improve collagen production, an important component in wound healing. Rosehip oil can also benefit sun damage, decrease appearance of body scars, and provide your skin with rich nutrients like natural Vitamin A and essential fats. Always use for at least 1 month to see real results.
Uneven Skin Tone: Turmeric (my pick: Turmeric & Vitamin C Serum by Andalou, or Clear Skin Advanced Serum by Province Apothecary)
Turmeric supports regeneration of skin cells, and targets hyperpigmentation (i.e. uneven skin colouring). You can make your own turmeric face mask with honey, or pick up one of these pre-made serums.
Sun Damage: Sunscreen with non-nano Zinc Oxide. Also try comfrey, calendula, or raw honey.
What can I say…..always wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen if you’re going outdoors to avoid sun damage (Skin Essence E-Cream has an SPF 30 and also contains soothing calendula). Comfrey herb contains the compound allantoin, a powerful healer of damaged skin cells. It can be bought as a salve (try Clef des Champs comfrey ointment). Raw honey can be applied as a mask as well. It’s natural levels of antioxidants and enzymes can help heal damaged skin and promote new skin turnover. Go to a local farmer’s market and pick up a jar of raw honey to get the best!
Stretch Marks:Vitamin E (my picks:Chocolate Mandarin Body Balm by Skin Essence, or Belly Jelly by Substance)
Stretch marks are hard to heal once they have occurred, but the good news is they are extremely receptive to vitamin E. If you know your skin may be going through some stretching (i.e. significant weight loss or gain, giving birth, etc.) start rubbing on some vitamin E-rich oils right away, like sunflower oil, wheat germ oil, soothing cocoa butter, or healing oat.
A quick post today to bring you up to speed with some of the health world’s most interesting and unique health facts. Being in the know about the following info is sure to help you impress at the next dinner party – but more importantly, will help you on your path to vibrant long-lasting health!
cholesterol medications (known as ‘statins’) will decrease levels of Co Q10 in your body
keep charcoal tablets in every home in case of accidental ingestion of poison
Aspirin can create deficiencies in folate, B12, iron, and zinc
Do you turn into a different person after consuming a particular food, drink (alcohol) or drug? You may be experiencing a “cerebral allergy” which alters mood and personality as a reaction to an allergic substance.
If you are low in iron, consider taking iron with vitamin C to improve absorption. Coffee, cocoa, and almonds contain oxalic acid which can decrease iron absorption.
People with underactive thyroid should always consume their cruciferous vegetables (i.e. broccoli, kale, cauliflower, asparagus…) cooked. Raw cruciferous veggies contain compounds known to interfere with iodine absorption.
keep bone density strong by decreasing/avoiding foods that leech calcium out of the bones, including pop, sugar, coffee, and some dairy and grains.
those with ragweed allergies may want to think twice before consuming chamomile tea, as both these species come from the same plant family.
tea tree oil should always be used topically, never internally as it may cause nerve damage. Use a different anti-bacterial if you are allergic to thyme and celery.
There are three different types of lavender to watch out for when buying essential oils:
– Lavendula angustifolia – traditional and true lavender with calming and anti-bacterial properties
– Spike Lavender – higher in camphor content, so often used in chest rubs or bug repellant
– Lavandin – a cross hybrid of regular lavender and spike lavender. Much cheaper to make, not as therapeutic, but still strong lavender scent.
With the Olympics in our rear-view mirror and the Paralympics in full swing, now seems like a great time to shed some light on proper athletic nutrition. For those of you breaking a sweat on the regular, knowing the optimal nutritional needs for your body can make a real difference in the results you see and aspire to. There is a lot of information to learn (protein powders, creatine, carb loading, oh my!) but today I’m going to focus on 3 key boosters for your routine. Keep these in mind, and take your fitness to a whole other level!
With tons of sports drinks, coconut waters, electrolyte powders and more on the market, how do you know which is right for your body? Keep it simple by knowing the facts:
if your workout lasts less than 1 hour, pure water should do the trick. 1 hour of exercise = 1L of water to replenish what you have lost during activity and sweat.
if your workout lasts for longer than 1 hour, or you are training for a marathon or other long endurance sport, you need to include some form of carbohydrates and electrolytes with your hydration. Coconut water on its own is actually pretty low in sodium and glucose, both needed for intense replenishment. It is still a great natural option though, so instead try a coconut water-based drink enhanced with a few extras to ensure you’re getting adequate sodium, glucose, and hydration (for example: add in 1/2 tsp sea salt, 4 tsp honey, and fresh berries or lemon slices to your regular coconut water….shake, and drink up!)
Did you know that magnesium is needed in hundreds of reactions in your body? As an athlete, you need to be aware of this mineral and definitely start adding it to your routine, if you aren’t already. Here is a breakdown of some key jobs it does:
needed in energy production – pretty important for your muscles to keep them from fatiguing!
helps nourish nervous system and keep signalling on point
needed for proper bone formation – important for resistance training
helps remove lactic acid buildup
deficiency can be felt as muscle cramping, fatigue, inflammation, and vulnerability to more colds and sickness
You can get good amounts of magnesium through regular diet (cacao powder, seeds, nuts, leafy vegetables, whole grains) but you may want to consider a supplement as well. Magnesium bisglycinate is the best as it is absorbed most effectively. Aim for 100-200mg doses at a time, working up to around 400-800mg/day. Some people go up to 1000mg, but you’ll find your upper tolerance level once you start running to the washroom (excess magnesium causes diarrhea!). Brands – go for CanPrev, or Trophic.
Inflammation will inevitably occur with any exercise because you are breaking down and building up new muscle fibres. While this re-building of tissues is crucial for your success, the pain that can comes along with it can be frustrating and limiting. We don’t want to stop your body’s natural inflammatory responses, and if you injure yourself pain is a sign that something went wrong and needs to be fixed. Rather, try to encourage recovery and healing in a safe and effective way with natural foods and supplements. Here are my suggestions:
omega 3 fatty acids – found in fish oil, flax seeds, hemp seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, salmon, and other fatty fish. Taken as a supplement, look for DHA + EPA to equal over 1000mg to have a therapeutic effect on lowering inflammation in your body
curcumin – found naturally in turmeric root. This can be really helpful in osteoarthritis. Read the cautions before taking extracted curcumin if you have gallstones or liver disorders.
bromelain or protease enzymes – when taken away from meals, these enzymes help break down inflammatory complexes causing acute pain.
Arnica oil and/or pellets – homeopathic arnica pellets can be taken after an acute injury to help speed healing. Topically, skip the gels and creams and go straight to the pure stuff – arnica mixed with olive oil. It can be directly applied to bruising or swelling where there has been no broken skin. I love St. Francis arnica oil and Awaken My Senses arnica oil!
A lot of attention has been paid to collagen supplementation lately. A wonderful reader asked me for my input on the matter, so I have created this post to help out everyone considering taking collagen supplements! As always, I want to promote your education and empowerment with every nutrient that comes on the market. The more you know about your own body and how things work, the better you will be able to make great health decisions. Read ahead to get smart on this important protein!
What is Collagen?
Collagen is a complex protein that acts as a fundamental building block for your body. It helps increase the strength and elasticity of tissues in the body, including bones, ligaments, skin, joints, hair, and nails.
What Does It Do?
helps create cartilage (for joints)
helps keep skin youthful and plump
important component of healthy strong hair, nails, and bones
source of glycine, which is necessary for nervous system functioning, muscle tissue formation, and repairing damaged body tissues.
Can my body naturally make collagen, without supplementation?
Yes! Your body naturally makes collagen out of the amino acids (protein building blocks) glycine, arginine, and proline. Collagen levels can be boosted as well by vitamin C, silica, and biotin. After age 25, your natural levels of collagen will start to decrease. This is why much attention has been placed on collagen supplementation lately.
I think I’m going to try it. What should I look for?
To help you figure out if this is right for you, consider the following points:
Most of the recent studies are on collagen hydrolysate, or hydrolyzed collagen. Here are two to take a look at:
– In 2013 a good study was done (double blind, placebo controlled) of 69 middle-aged women taking oral collagen supplements (2.5g, 5g, or placebo). At 4 weeks there was a statistically significant improvement in skin elasticity and moisture versus the placebo group.
– in 2008 a studywas conducted on athletes to examine the impact of collagen supplementation on joint pain. 10g of collagen was taken in a liquid oral dose, and was shown to be effective in reducing joint pain in athletes with osteoarthritis.
Sources of Collagen
– most collagen supplements will be either from bovine sources (cow – hide) or marine (scales or skin of fish).
– natural sources of collagen building blocks include Nettle (tea or tincture), horsetail (good source of silica), vitamin C (berries, hibiscus, camu camu berry, acai powder, etc), protein powders….
– Have you heard of Cosmetic Acupuncture? It is a holistic alternative to cosmetic surgery! It stimulates collagen production in the face and décolletage. If you live in Toronto, check out pomhealth.ca to book an appointment for this unique treatment.
There you have it! If you end up taking a collagen supplement, remember to read the label for proper dose and recommended timing (some say to take away from food). And if you’re getting it from animal sources, choose brands that take time to ensure you’re getting a clean product (i.e. from animals that are not tampered with).
Finally, here’s a recipe using collagen that looks pretty tasty! Chocolate Hazelnut Collagen Truffles.
I’m pumped to say that I had my first class at the clinic last Wednesday night, and it was a great success! The topic was about stress – specifically, diving into the physical effects stress can leave on your body and skin. Remember that advice from your mom? “If you keep looking like that, your face will stay that way forever!”. Well, it’s true…..at least, mostly. A stressful life can leave visible effects on your face, skin and body. Those fine lines, brittle nails, and thinning hair are not just your imagination – they have a real root in the amount of stress in your life.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the tools I talked about so you can nourish your complexion the next time you’re stressed out.
1. Fine Lines
Caused by: Adrenal fatigue leading to lack of vitamin C
Your body uses vitamin C to create collagen, the protein responsible for plump and youthful skin. However, when you are stressed, your adrenal glands use up tons of vitamin C, leaving less available for collagen production.
Your answer: Replenish vitamin C internally with foods like berries, red peppers, papaya and guava. Topically, apply a vitamin C-rich serum like Rosehip Seed Oil to your whole face. As you all know, I am obsessed with Skin Essence rosehip oil (and if you don’t live in Toronto and would prefer to buy it online, use promo code “emily” to get 15% off your order!)
2. Puffy Eyes and Dark Circles
Caused By: Sleepless nights!
Constant and chronic stress can lead to adrenal fatigue. A sure sign of adrenal fatigue is waking up at 3am – a traditional time when the adrenals should be functioning most optimally. If you’re waking up at this time, you know that they are in need of some TLC.
Your answer: Beauty sleep, starting with a healthy sleeping environment. Turn off electronics and make your bedroom a dark, quiet & serene place. A good night’s sleep also begins during the day, depending on what you put into your body. Nourish your adrenal glands with soothing and calming teas like chamomile, lavender, or green oat to ensure a good night’s sleep.
3. Brittle Nails and Hair
Caused by: Inadequate digestion.
When your body is under stress, it shuts off non-critical tasks like digestion, fertility and immunity. Your nails and hair are made of protein, which is broken down by stomach acid and absorbed through proper digestion Indigestion can have a very real effect on your looks!
Your Answer: Digestive Enzymes with protease. Taken before each meal, these will help your body properly break down proteins, which are needed for strong healthy nails and hair.
These were just a few of the things I talked about, but hopefully it gives you enough to think about! Chronic stress can affect more than just your looks. It can lead to things like infertility, chronic digestive issues, underactive thyroid functioning, fibromyalgia, and more. Take time to reflect on the stress in your life, and ways you can balance it. Maybe you’re a journal writer, or music-listener. Maybe you unwind by going outside, exercising, or talking with a friend. Remember, if you don’t take time for health now, you’ll have to make time for illness later!!!