Body, Mind And Spiritual Wellness

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Three tips for healthy digestion

You are what you eat’ is a well-known adage, but perhaps a more accurate phrase is, ‘you are what you digest and absorb’. Optimal digestion is undoubtedly the foundation of health. Here are three signs your digestive system needs support and strategies that can help.

You have no appetite
Three tips for healthy digestionIf you wake with no morning appetite or the thought of food in the morning leaves you nauseous, then chances are your liver could do with assistance. Traditional medicine has considered a poor appetite in the morning as a sign that cleansing is required. The liver is at its busiest whilst we sleep, packaging up metabolised, redundant or harmful substances for excretion. When this process works seamlessly, you wake with a healthy morning appetite and abundant digestive juices, ready to ‘break the fast’. However, when impeded due to too many liver loaders (alcohol, processed foods and sugar) or a lack of nutrients that facilitate detoxification, a sluggish digestive system can result.

The strategy: Bitter plants
Bitter plants may help those with lack of appetite. Bitter flavours stimulate digestive chemicals and liver function, and for this reason we suggest taking them before meals, especially first thing before breakfast. As well as helping to restore appetite, the daily cleansing helps support your body to function as best as it can. Our favourite bitter plants are globe artichoke (cynara scolymus), dandelion root (taraxacum officinale) and St Mary’s thistle (silybum marianum).

Frequent bloating and gas
One of the most uncomfortable digestive symptom – frequent bloating – is caused by improper digestion of food. A lasting solution must address the root cause – this may be lack of digestive enzymes or a taxed liver, poor food choices, stress, or an incorrect balance of gut bacteria.

The strategy: carminative plants
Three tips for healthy digestion
Medicinal plants are a wonderful ally for anyone with bloating. They bring symptomatic relief whilst also improving the overall function of digestive organs. In many countries there is a long-standing tradition of consuming carminative plants as a medicinal tea following meals to promote the proper breakdown of food and relieve the discomfort of bloating and gas. ‘Carminative’ means to expel gas from the stomach or intestines, thus relieving flatulence, abdominal pain or distension. Rich in essential oils, the main action of these plants is to soothe and settle the gut, reducing inflammation and coordinating gut contractions. A good quality carminative plant will have an almost immediate soothing effect on an unhappy gut. Our favourites are peppermint (mentha piperita), fennel seed (foeniculum vulgare) and aniseed (pimpinella anisum).

You’re tired all the time
This is a surprising one, but second only to sleep problems, poor digestion is one of the most frequent reasons for sub-optimal energy. If underlying health problems have been ruled out and you sleep deeply but are still tired, then the next step is to look at the quality of your digestion.

The strategy: a comprehensive approach
Three tips for healthy digestionStart by introducing bitter plants before meals (St Mary’s thistle, globe artichoke, dandelion). By stimulating digestive juices, nutrients from food can be more effectively absorbed by the body and utilized for the production of energy.

Next address how and what you eat. Eat slowly, mindfully and not too much. Avoid drinking large amounts of fluid, coffee or alcohol with your meals, since all of these will affect absorption. Focus on real, whole foods, omitting processed alternatives that are lacking in nutrients.

Usually one or a combination of these strategies will be enough to improve energy if you have sub-optimal digestion.

Wellness tips to take the chill out of winter

Bring out the cosy duvet and fuzzy bed socks: winter is here. As the sun sets earlier and the temperatures drop, many of us soothe ourselves with unhealthy comfort foods and hibernate. But we aren’t bears that check out until spring: we humans need to keep our bodies moving and nourished daily. There are simple things we can do to keep moving and get the right nutrients to boost immunity and moods this season.

WINTER
When our body temperatures drop, eating and drinking habits change. There’s a biological reason for this: we will eat more to boost our body temperature and produce inner heat. You may find when you exercise outdoors in winter and shiver, you race to find warm food. We burn up to 400 calories by shivering. So we naturally want to eat more in winter, but our food choices make the difference between extra kilos and fitting into summer swimwear. The opposite of this is our sense of thirst decreases in winter because we aren’t sweating as regularly, so we tend to drink less and become dehydrated. We may feel more fatigued and experience mind fog from loss of fluids.

Moods in winter may be affected by seasonal affective disorder, a type of seasonal mood, in which less sunshine contributes to low moods and lethargy. We may not be getting enough of the hormone vitamin D which comes mainly from the sun. Optimal vitamin D levels are important for functions including moods, immunity, hormone production, strong bones and muscle recovery. Early nights mean less time spent outdoors in the sunshine in winter, which may leave us feeling down, so we tend to boost moods with alcohol, caffeine and junk foods. While these provide momentary ‘pick me ups’, they do not provide sustained energy and mood support.

Given our bodies crave more calories in darker months, healthy winter foods could include:
Hearty soups and stews, made with a variety of vegetables. By filling up on a variety of vegetables, we feel fuller for longer. Try turkey, beef or vegetarian chili for a satisfying dish.
Vitamin C-rich citrus fruits for extra immune-boosting benefits. Grapefruit and mandarins are great winter choices, which can be juiced or added to smoothies, or even squeezed into hot mugs of water and sipped for an invigorating start to the day.
Healthy fats, such as olive or avocado oil drizzled on vegetables, or white fish or salmon steamed and topped with butter and herbs with steamed veggies on the side. Nuts, boiled eggs and seeds are healthy snacks for in between meals. Omega 3 from oil, fish and nuts help supports our brains, hearts and may even help deter winter dry skin and eczema.
Root vegetables like kumara, celeriac, garlic, onion, parsnips, beets, carrots and baby potatoes. These ground-based veggies are full of fibre, antioxidants, vitamin C, B and A for immune system support.
WINTERBecause we have less thirst, winter drinks could include:
Fresh slices of ginger or lemon in hot water with a teaspoon of manuka honey for vitamin C and antibacterial properties, and a pinch of cayenne pepper for metabolism boost. Ginger is also wonderful for our circulation.
Hot turmeric milk – with almond and coconut milk, a dash of turmeric, and a pinch of cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg – is a body warming drink with antioxidant properties. In colder months, joints and arthritis may feel stiffer, but turmeric and ginger have anti-inflammatory properties and may help make joints more mobile.
Dried rosehip and hibiscus tea contains flavonoids, antioxidants and high levels of vitamin C, making this an excellent choice for immunity support.

Winter nutritional supplements recommended:
WINTER
Vitamin D, 5000 IUD daily is my recommendation for the winter months, due to the lack of skin exposure to sun. This is important for everyone, but particularly critical for darker skin as there is a tendency to absorb less vitamin D naturally from the sun with more melanin pigment in the skin.

If not consuming fatty fish at least twice weekly, 2000mg of pure omega 3 fish oil is recommended for its potential boost to brain, heart and skin health in winter. Topical application of plant or mineral-based skincare helps to restore moisture due to the impact of dry air from heaters.
Zinc, vitamin C, astralagus and echinacea can all be helpful immune supporting nutrients.

Winter exercise tips include:
WINTER
If getting outside, layers of clothing to keep body heat in and remove as you warm up. Amazingly our bodies can heat up to tropical level by wearing the right clothing during aerobic exercise even in the coldest weather.

Interval training is a good option to help contribute to weight loss and boosting testosterone for men. This means jogging at a good pace to get the heart moving for 1 minute, then walking at a moderate pace for 3 minutes. Repeat three times. Incorporate a 10-minute warm up and cool down of gentle walking to this 30-minute total programme. Try this 3 non-consecutive times weekly.
If you prefer to be active inside, buy a yoga mat and search on YouTube for free workouts, or seek out a good set of weights you can store in the back bedroom or garage and do a 30-minute resistance set. Music motivated? Turn up some of your favourite beats and boogie for a good 20-30 minutes straight to burn some serious calories or find your local Zumba class for a more social time.
For best results, aim for 4-5 times weekly exercise of 30 minutes’ duration.
Don’t forget if you are about to do aerobic exercise, drink two glasses of water prior to activity and one glass just after to keep hydration in check.

Combine the above tips with 8 hours of sleep nightly, warm baths to support circulation, hot stone massages and saunas, daily pet cuddles, and regular 15-minute mindfulness/meditation practice, and you are on your way to resisting hibernation and choosing the most proactive, healthy winter yet. Keep warm and enjoy!

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CARROT CAKE PROTEIN BALLS

Those Carrot Cake Protein Balls is the easiest carrot cake recipe ever! It is perfect for those night when you are craving on carrot cake but do not have the time to bake a whole cake. Those raw carrot cake protein balls are made within 3 minutes, it is sweet, natural, fulfilling and simply delicious.

Carrot cake balls
Calories: 130 kcal

Ingredients

1 cup Old fashioned oat also called rolled oat
1/2 cup Almond Meal Flour
1/3 cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
1/4 cup Pecans nuts
1/2 cup grated carrots packed
4 tablespoon Almond Butter smooth
1 cup Medjool dates Soaked in hot water, drained
2 tablespoon Unsweetened Cocoa powder or protein cocoa powder
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup Cashew Butter to drizzle on top of the balls

Instructions
carrot-cake-balls 2In a food processor with the S blade attachment add all the ingredients except the cashew butter that you will use to drizzle on top of the balls to decorate them.

Process until it comes together and form a ball. You may have to stop the food processor each 30-45 seconds to scrap down the side of the bowl with a spatula. Process again until it form a consistent raw cake batter. It should not take more than 2 or 3 minutes.

Using your hands take small portion of batter and shape carrot cake balls by rolling the batter between your hands. Each balls should be approximately the size of a small apricot.
Place each balls onto a tray covered with parchment paper.

Decorate. Insert the cashew butter into a pipping bag and decorate the top of each carrot cake balls with a drizzle of cashew butter. If the butter is too liquid place the butter in the fridge for few minutes until soft but not runny.

You can enjoy the balls straight away or refrigerate the balls for 1 hour to harden a little bit.

Store until 2 weeks in a airtight container in the fridge.


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TURKEY SPINACH MEATBALLS WITH GARLIC & HERBS FETA CHEESE SAUCE

Prep Time: 15 minutes

25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

This recipe makes 30 spinach turkey meatballs. Nutrition panel per meatballs without sauce. Calorie: 21.3 kcal | Carbs: 2.2 g | Fat :1.1 g:Protein: 1.1g | Fiber: 0.6 g

Ingredients

2 tbsp. extra virgin coconut oil + extra to drizzle on baked meatballs – optional
TURKEY SPINACH MEATBALLS 31 large shallot, finely chopped
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely choppped
18 oz (500 g) frozen spinach cubes
1/3 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp. tomato paste
1.3 lb. (600 g) minced turkey
1/4 cup fresh herbs – I mixed basil and parsley
1/2 cup Gluten Free Oat Flour
1 egg
For the garlic and herbs feta sauce
4 oz (100g) goat feta cheese, mashed with a fork into a paste
1/2 cup greek yogurt
2 garlic gloves, crushed
3 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1 tbsp. lime juice
Salt, pepper

Instructions

Preheat oven to 200 C (400F). Prepare a large baking tray covered with parchment paper. You can spray a bit of oil to make sure the meatball don’t stick to the paper when baking.
In a frying pan on medium heat warm coconut oil. Add the chopped shallots, onion, garlic and cook until fragrant about 3-4 minutes.

Add the frozen spinach to the pan, chicken broth and tomato paste.Cover, reduce to low/medium heat and cook until the spinach defrost. You can give a good stir every 2-3 minutes to check the process and loosen the frozen spinach cubes.

Remove the lid, stir well to combine the ingredients together. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. It took about 5-10 minutes. Let cool down in a separate bowl until it reach room temperature.

In another large mixing bowl, add the minced turkey, chopped fresh herbs, spinach mixture, oat flour and egg.

TURKEY SPINACH MEATBALLS 2Combine until it form a meat ‘batter’. Use your hands to squeeze well all ingredients together. If too wet – if your spinach released water it makes it difficult to shape meatballs – add a bit more oat flour 1 tbsp. at a time until it reach a consistency that you can easily shape into meatballs.

Using your hands, shape meatballs that are about the size of a golf balls. Place each balls on the prepared baking tray leaving half thumb space between each meatballs.

If you have got too many meatballs. Place the unbaked meatballs into a single layer on a airtight plastic box, Make sure they don’t overlap. Freeze. Simply bake them frozen the day you want to eat them. It will need 10 extra minutes to bake as it is frozen.

Bake the meatballs until they are cooked through about 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile prepare the garlic & herbs feta sauce.

On a chopping board mash the feta cheese into a paste.
Combine into a bowl with Greek yogurt, crushed garlic, herbs, lime. Adjust salt and pepper.
Refrigerate until the meatballs are ready to serve.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and serve as an appetizer on a plate or skillet. Drizzle extra melted coconut oil on top and eat dipped into the garlic and herbs feta sauce.
Serve the meatballs in a cast iron skillet with extra tomato paste and feta garlic cheese sauce


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VEGAN TZATZIKI SAUCE

This vegan Tzatziki sauce is super simple to make and tick all the dietary boxes. Soy free, dairy free, paleo and whole 30 approved. It is thick and creamy with lovely garlic and fresh cucumber flavor. It is a perfect dairy free Tzatziki sauce recipe to add with vegan platter appetizers or to use in falafel sandwiches.

 
Ingredients

1 cup (250 ml )dairy free coconut yogurt (if not vegan use low fat greek yogurt)
1 clove garlic, crushed
10 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1/2 lemon
1/4 large cucumber, unpeeled
2 tablespoon olive oil
Instructions

VEGAN TZATZIKI SAUCESlice the cucumber in half and scrape out the seeds. This part has to be removed to avoid water into the dip.

Grate the remaining cucumber part. Squeeze out the extra liquid with your hands. Discard the liquid.

Place the grated cucumber into a small bowl.

In another bowl combine olive oil, crushed garlic clove, finely chopped mint, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Stir into the grated cucumber and finely stir in the dairy free coconut yogurt until it forms a thick dip.

Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and store in the fridge for at least 2 hours to let the flavor blend.

Serve with falafel sliders or as a dip for appetizers.


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CREAMY BROCCOLI QUINOA CASSEROLE | HEALTHY GLUTEN FREE DINNER

CREAMY BROCCOLI QUINOA CASSEROLE | HEALTHY GLUTEN FREE DINNER

Creamy broccoli quinoa casserole with a creamy and cheesy quinoa white sauce.


The creamy white sauce is 100% dairy free and gluten free using quinoa.

BROCCOLI QUINOA CASSEROLE WITH QUINOA WHITE SAUCE

Prep Time: 15 minutes

25 minutes

Total Time: 40 minutes

Serving Size: 4 people

An healthy creamy broccoli casserole with a gluten free quinoa white sauce. An easy and healthy comforting family dinner. that kids loves.

Ingredients

12 broccoli feat, trimmed into small florets (4 cups)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil – to oil the baking dish
Quinoa white sauce
1/2 cup (50 g) uncooked quinoa – white, red or even a combo of both
2 cups vegetable stock or dairy free milk like soy milk or almond milk + extra 1/2 cup lukewarm stock to adjust sauce thickness
1 garlic glove, crushed
1 teaspoon nutmeg
CREAMY BROCCOLI QUINOA CASSEROLE-HEALTHY GLUTEN FREE DINNER 31/2 teaspoon salt
optional : add 1 cup grated parmesan or grated cheddar

Crust
1/4 cup gluten free panko crumb
1/2 cup grated cheese – I used cheddar

 
Instructions

Preheat oven to 200C on fan grill mode.
Prepare a baking dish slightly oiled with 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil.
Trim the broccoli and place into a microwave safe bowl.
Cover the bowl with a microwave safe lid and microwave between 4-6 minutes on high.
You can also cook the broccoli florets into 2 l of boiled water on medium heat in a pot. It takes about 8 minutes. Drain well and let the steam evaporate before placing into the baking dish.
Place the cooked broccoli florets into the baking dish. Set aside.
For the quinoa white sauce.
Combine quinoa – I used a mix of white quinoa and red quinoa – with 2 cups of vegetable stock. Note that you can also use dairy free milk to cook the quinoa. The sauce will be whiter but the quinoa tend to stick more to the pot when cooking !
Cook in a small pot over medium heat for 15-25 minutes stirring constantly until it forms a slight boil with small bubbles on the side of the pot. Don’t boil and keep stirring, every so often, to prevent the quinoa to stick at the bottom of the pot.
The quinoa is cooked when it forms a thick and creamy mixture.
CREAMY BROCCOLI QUINOA CASSEROLE-HEALTHY GLUTEN FREE DINNER 2Pour the quinoa mixture into a hig speed blender and blend on high speed until a creamy sauce forms. If too much stocks evaportate during the cooking you may have to add up to 1/2 cup cold dairy free milk – like almond milk or soy milk or even vegetable stock – to adjust the sauce thickness until you reach a consistency you like.
Simply add the extra liquid gradually while blending in the mixer. Stop when you like the consistency of your sauce. It should be as creamy as a regular white sauce.
Add nutmeg, crushed garlic, salt and cheese! Cheese is optional here but I love the extra tste and texture it brings to the sauce.
Blend 30 seconds to combine and pour the sauce over the cooked broccoli.

CREAMY BROCCOLI QUINOA CASSEROLE-HEALTHY GLUTEN FREE DINNER
Add Panko crumb evenly on top of the casserole and extra grated cheese if you like.
Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is melted.
Turn the oven on grill mode and keep baking for 5-10 minutes or until the top is crusty.
Can be stored in the fridge in airtight container for up to 4 days. Freeze very well in plastic lunchboxes. Keep well in the freezer up to 2 months. Defrost the day before and rewarm in the microwave until pipping hot.

CREAMY BROCCOLI QUINOA CASSEROLE-HEALTHY GLUTEN FREE DINNER


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5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ARTIFICIAL FOOD COLOURS

5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ARTIFICIAL FOOD COLOURS

SONY DSCThe subject of food colours has been nothing short of controversial, especially as studies emerged pointing out the risks of ingesting these chemicals. However, because artificially-coloured foods are so widespread and pervasive, most of us don’t even think twice about eating them. Even worse, because so many food items have fake colouring, most of us don’t know what the real thing is supposed to look like!

What do you need to know about food colours?

1. Food colours are often added to products as inferior ingredients are used. Food colours are used to make the final product more appealing and real. My favourite example is yoghurt. Yoghurts made with inferior ingredients, will use food colour to make the product look creamier and more real. Real yoghurt, using real ingredients, doesn’t require any food colour!

From the time that we were hunters and gatherers, our eyes and brains evolved to look for the most colourful things in nature. Bright and vivid colours usually meant a higher density of nutrients, like in fruits and vegetables, which are packed with sugar.
Food manufacturers want to replicate this response to food in our brains, which is why everything, from our egg yolks to our butter and sometimes even salmon, is artificially coloured.

2. There isn’t an acceptable daily intake set for children. You will often find that food colours are most prolific in children’s foods. If you compare the dosage our kids are receiving in relation to their weight, they are receiving a much higher dose than adults do. This presents a bigger risk, especially with children at crucial stages of development.

3. Additives are normally only tested in isolation. If you review any processed foods ingredients labels (as I do on a daily basis) you will see that there is often more than one food colour listed together with many other additives. Independent research conducted by the University of Liverpool released results in December 2005, announcing that combinations of additives are potentially more toxic than might be predicted from the sum of their individual compounds. Until there is further independent research, we have no idea how these individual additives react with each other, or the long term implications on our children. Additives are not tested for effects such as hyperactivity, behavioural and learning impacts.

4. The European Union has mandated a warning. A study published in Prescrire International showed a link between artificial food dyes and hyperactivity in children. In Journal of Pediatrics, tartrazine was linked to behavioural disturbances in kids. Doctors at the University of Southampton in the UK found that food dyes significantly effect children’s behaviour and their tendency to be hyperactive.

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These are only a handful of the research showing the adverse effects of these chemicals on kids, prompting the EU to issue a mandate*. Now, any food and drink that contains any of the following six artificial food colours:

sunset yellow FCF (E110)

quinoline yellow (E104)

carmoisine (E122)

allura red (E129)

tartrazine (E102)

ponceau 4R (E124)

must have a warning label that states: “may have an adverse effect on activity and attention in children.”

5. The list of potential adverse health effects is long. It’s not just behavioural effects, either. Individuals that have a sensitivity to artificial colours will often present with the following ailments**:

– asthma

– hyperactivity

– skin ailments (rash / hives)

– behavioural problems

– headaches

– insomnia

– learning difficulties

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I have seen the impact of food colours. The effects included asthma, skin ailments, behavioural problems, insomnia, and headaches. With the removal of these food colours (and other additives) these ailments have disappeared.

Should Food Standards Canada mandate similar warnings?

It will be a moot point whether Food Standards Canada continues to allow these additives in our food. As more people are made aware of the potential impact of these additives, consumers will choose products without these food colours. They will vote with their dollar.

This action by consumers will hurt the manufacturer’s bottom line and manufacturer’s will reformulate their products when they realise they are losing market share to natural/real products. There is a massive movement happening in the United States currently with a huge number of additives being removed from many popular food chain menus. If we make ourselves heard, it will happen here in Canada too!

What should you do?

Whilst food colours may not affect everybody, I recommend that if your children suffer from any of the ailments listed above, it is worth trialling the removal of these food colours from your diet to see if any improvements are noticed. You have nothing to lose!