Beware: This May Get Steamy

Sauna

I am super lucky because my place of employment has a steam room.  I am allowed to use it whenever I want (outside of my work hours, of course).

You know by now that I am a big believer in ‘You are what you eat’.  Besides ensuring that I am eating the healthiest foods for my body and avoiding all chemicals on my skin, I also work on getting rid of toxins that are getting into my body.

We don’t always have complete control over the environment that we live in and can absorb many toxins on a daily basis… exhaust fumes, computers, other peoples’ chemicals from perfume/cologne, hairspray, lotion, dryer sheets, etc, fumes from paint, new carpet, new cars, etc.  These toxins we breathe in and they can settle into our bodies, wreaking havoc on our systems.

I like the idea of regularly using a steam room or a sauna, to induce sweating and get rid of some of these ‘nasties’ that we don’t want inside of us.  As little as 15 minutes, a few times per week, can benefit your health immensely.

In case you are not familiar with these beautiful rooms…

A sauna uses dry heat, whereas a steam bath uses high humidity – both open up pores to eliminate toxins through sweat, relieve joint pain, strengthen the immune system and improve blood circulation.

Heat above 160 degrees F, or 71 degrees C (often is much, much hotter than this) is the usual temperature in a dry sauna room.

A steam room has a lower temperature – not more than 110 degrees F or 43 degrees C, though the level of humidity is very high at 100 degrees.

Both places have the following benefits:
  • lower pulse and blood pressure by causing blood vessels to dilate
  • increase circulation and make you sweat
  • benefit cardiovascular health
  • promote healthy and deep sleep
  • heat gives pain relief and can help conditions caused by inflammation such as arthritis and fibromyalgia
  • relax muscles
  • generate feelings of calmness and relaxation

A steam room is excellent for any respiratory conditions.

  • clears sinuses and lung congestion
  • loosens and clears mucus from nose, chest and throat

Caution: A steam room may aggravate asthma

Caution is advised if you have heart and blood conditions (hypertension, low blood pressure, heart disease), if you are pregnant, have epilepsy or are under the influence of any mood-altering drugs.

About 10 years ago, I found that I had an overload of heavy metals in my body.  Under the guidance of my Naturopath, I did chelation therapy. I also used the sauna every day for 1 hour.  I did this for an entire year.

It was difficult at first.  I could only stay in for about 10-15 minutes and then I needed a cold shower and a big glass of water.  But I soon became accustomed and eventually would stay in for 30 minutes, take a long cold shower and then 30 minutes more.   I drank a lot of water; before, during and after.

After a month or so, I actually started to sweat.  I never used to sweat, even when I exercised.  I saw this as an important change in my body.

After the year, I had more testing done and there was a significant decrease in the amount of heavy metals in my body.  They were not 100% gone but definitely on the low end.

I use the steam room now.  I enjoy both the steam room and the sauna.  I would alternate between the two, if I could.

I know that there are many people out there who don’t believe that saunas and steam rooms are useful for detoxification, but I disagree.  When used safely and properly, I believe that all ages can benefit.  Saunas and steam rooms have been around for centuries.  Even if it is only for relaxation and stress relief; that is a detox in itself.

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How to make a Simple Smoothie

Organic strawberriesMy son got himself a GoPro.  I had never heard of a GoPro but I  now know that it is this cool little video camera that has all kinds of features.

He said that I could use it to make a video in the kitchen.  Awesome.

I have only done one other video before, that is about what I typically eat in a day.  Check it out here.  It was made not long after my head injury.

I decided to make a short video for you; showing you how I make a smoothie in the morning. Very, very simple.

I was rather nervous and so I am not my usual smiley self!  With practice, I will get better. Watch it here.

The measurements for the ingredients are all listed below.

I forgot to mention that adding your favourite flavours is a great idea.

Here are some suggestions:

  • vanilla
  • maple syrup (just a little)
  • cinnamon
  • raw cacao powder
  • freshly squeezed orange juice
  • almond butter
  • use hemp or flax seeds instead of chia
  • coconut oil

Breakfast Green Smoothie
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3 cups
 
This is a very simple smoothie that can easily be modified to suit your tastes. Choose organic ingredients whenever possible.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • liquid to cover chia seeds
  • 1 heaping cup fresh strawberries
  • 1 banana
  • 10 oz spinach or green of choice
  • ½ avocado (optional)
  • liquid to cover (water, coconut water, almond milk, cashew milk, etc)
  • protein powder (optional)
Instructions
  1. Before you hop in the shower, put your chia seeds in your blender and cover with water to soak.
  2. Once you are ready, put all ingredients in the blender.
  3. Blend for several minutes.
  4. Taste and adjust seasonings (may need to add vanilla or another banana or a shot of maple syrup)
  5. Pour and enjoy until you feel full.
  6. Save the rest for later in the morning.

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GMO. What’s the Big Deal, Anyway?

GMO tomatoes

In my previous post, I shared with you a list of companies who have invested significant amounts of money to continue to produce foods with genetically modified organisms (GMO) as well as prevent the general public from knowing that they are consuming foods with GMO.

What I did not share was information about GMO foods, what they are, what to look out for and how to make sure that you and your family have the best food that you can provide.

At one time I did not know much about genetically modified organisms (GMO).  I was in the dark about the whole thing.  When I learned about GMO, I became very concerned.

What are GMO Foods?   GMO foods have had a gene from another organism (plant, animal, virus, bacterium) forced into them, altering its DNA.

Can you believe it?  Putting animal genes into plants?  Here I am a vegan and I could be consuming animal products through vegetables or other foods that are plant based.

This process initially began to  increase crop protection and production.  It is said that GMO foods keep insects and disease at bay. Resistance against insects is achieved by incorporating into the food plant the gene for toxin production from the bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt). This means that the plant produces its own pesticide! Yikes! The crops are more resistant and therefore the crop yield is also increased.  Genetically modifying these foods is used for drought tolerance, hot and cold temperature resistance, as well as ensuring that products travel well.

At what cost, I ask?

Are GMO foods safe?

A lot of people don’t think so.

The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) doesn’t think so. The Academy reported that “Several animal studies indicate serious health risks associated with GM food,” including but not limited to:

  • infertility
  • immune problems
  • accelerated aging
  • faulty insulin regulation
  • changes in major organs and the gastrointestinal system.

What? This is absolutely terrible.

The following information comes from the Institute for Responsible Technology:

It has been found that:

  • Thousands of sheep, buffalo, and goats in India died after grazing on Bt cotton plants
  • Mice eating GM corn for the long term had fewer, and smaller, babies
  • More than half the babies of mother rats fed GM soy died within three weeks, and were smaller
  • Testicle cells of mice and rats on a GM soy change significantly
  • By the third generation, most GM soy-fed hamsters lost the ability to have babies
  • Rodents fed GM corn and soy showed immune system responses and signs of toxicity
  • Cooked GM soy contains as much as 7-times the amount of a known soy allergen
  • Soy allergies skyrocketed by 50% in the UK, soon after GM soy was introduced
  • The stomach lining of rats fed GM potatoes showed excessive cell growth, a condition that may lead to cancer.
  • Studies showed organ lesions, altered liver and pancreas cells, changed enzyme levels, etc.

Some other factors to consider:

  • If the antibiotic gene inserted into most GM crops were to transfer into bacteria living inside our intestines, it could create super diseases, resistant to antibiotics
  • If the gene that creates Bt-toxin in GM corn were to transfer into bacteria living inside our intestines, it might turn our intestinal bacteria into living pesticide factories.

This is a big deal.  A very big deal.

10 Ways to protect yourself and your family

1. Choose organic 100% of the time.

  • According to the Organic Trade Association, “The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is prohibited in organic products. This means an organic farmer can’t plant GMO seeds, an organic cow can’t eat GMO alfalfa or corn, and an organic soup producer can’t use any GMO ingredients. To meet the USDA organic regulations, farmers and processors must show they aren’t using GMOs, and that they are protecting their products from contact with prohibited substances, such as GMOs, from farm to table.

2. Avoid the most common GMOs. 

They are

  • soy
  • cotton
  • canola
  • corn
  • sugar beets
  • Hawaiian papaya
  • alfalfa
  • squash (zucchini  and yellow)

Many of these items appear as added ingredients in a large amount of the foods we eat. For instance, your family may not eat tofu or drink soy milk, but soy is most likely present in a large percentage of the foods in your pantry.  Corn is also in many, many processed foods.

3. Read labels carefully.

  • GMOs may be hidden in common processed food ingredients such as: Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.

4. Buy whole foods and cook from scratch.  It is estimated that 80% of grocery store products contain GMO.

5. Start your own organic garden.

6. Sign this petition Support GMO labelling.

7. Watch the film Food Inc.

8. Pass information on to your family and friends.

9. Follow “Millions Against Monsanto” on Facebook.

10. Do the best that you can.

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Why I Won’t Go to Starbucks

GMOMy youngest daughter desperately wants to go to Starbucks. The closest one to us in Collingwood, which is about 1 hour away. I refuse to take her.

Why? What is the big deal?

I hear you, ‘Don’t be such a stick in the mud. Let the kid enjoy herself.’

Well, I disagree and I will tell you why.

Starbucks is owned by PepsiCo.  PepsiCo has spent $4.8M to keep you uninformed about GMO foods.  $4.8M!  That is a lot of money. They, and many other big companies, have Monsanto’s back and want to make sure that you do not know what is in your food.  They also want to make sure that there will be no labelling of GMO foods as well as legalizing labelling GMO foods as ‘natural’.

We are not allowed to know what we put in to our body.

Yikes!  I will not support that.  No way, no how.

There are other big companies who are putting money into this as well, over 300 of them.  Scary stuff, wouldn’t you agree?

Some of the big ones are:

(In italics are the smaller food companies that they own.)

PepsiCo ($4.8M)IZZE, Naked Juice, Simply Frito-Lay, Starbucks Frappucino
Coca-Cola ($3.2M)Honest Tea, Odwalla, Keurig/Green Mountain Coffee (10%)
Nestle ($3M)Gerber Organic, Sweet Leaf tea
Kraft/Mondelez ($2.4M)Boca Burgers, Green and Black’s
General Mills ($2.1M)Annie’s, Cascadian Farm, Larabar, Muir Glen
ConAgra Foods ($2M)Alexia, Pam organic cooking sprays
Kelloggs ($1.1M)Bear Naked, Gardenburger, Kashi, Morningstar Farms
Campbells ($980k)Plum Organics, Wolfgang Puck organic soups
Smuckers ($900k)R.W. Knudsen, Santa Cruz organic, Smuckers Organic
Hershey’s ($880k)Dagoba
Bimbo Bakeries ($560k)Earthgrains bread
McCormick ($400k)Simply Asia, Thai Kitchen

To view a short list of companies who are members of the GMA (Grocery Manufacturers Association-Monsanto’s Evil Twin) go here and look on the right side, near the top of the page.  There is a small link.  You will be surprised which companies you see there.

Do you get what that means?

It means that people who think that they are doing the right thing by buying organic and natural products are sometimes being duped, tricked.  That really angers me.  Here I am, doing what I think is the best for my family and some rich, nasty company is buying up little organic companies, vying for my business and putting that money towards the GMO business.

Oh no. No, no, no.  I am not going for that.  I am educating myself.  I am making as much from scratch as possible.  I am not falling into their trap.

I have signed a petition to show my support to companies who are creating foods that are real and are good for me and my family.  You can too.  Go here.

The Organic Consumers Association says the following:

Our motto for Monsanto and GMA products must become: Don’t buy them. Don’t sell them. Don’t grow them. And don’t let your financial institution, university, church, labor union or pension fund invest in them.
Do your part and sign the petition.
Do your part and refuse to buy products from these companies.
You can truly make a difference.

Learn more about the Boycott List here.

The Boycott List InfographicThere is excellent information on the site about how to avoid GMO products.

My suggestion is to eat from the Earth as much as possible and avoid prepared foods.

You have the power to feed your body what is best for it.  Make a choice.  Choose for you.

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Barbara’s Raspberry Dream Cakes

Raspberry Dream CakeI enjoy desserts that are delicious in flavour, not in sweetness.  I would rather have a juicy piece of fruit than say, a doughnut with icing.

In order to please myself with a dessert that I would love, I made this recipe this past weekend.  We had a holiday on the Monday (Victoria Day here in Canada) and I thought that I would make something special.  I made it as a cake in a springform pan rather than the individual cakes that I will show you today.

We ate it all up with smiles on our faces, longing for more.

Since I did not photograph the initial process, I decided to make the recipe again.  Last night, after work.  This time as individual cakes.

 

Dream Cake 1

I organized myself in the morning by soaking the dates and the cashews and putting the coconut oil in bowl, ready for the warm water bath.  I also took the raspberries and coconut meat out of the freezer.

I worked the evening and did not arrive home until 8:30pm.

I started preparing the cakes and by 9:30pm, the delicious treats (and photos) were complete AND I had tidied up!  Not bad, I say.

How is this done?

Let me tell you…

Remember to use organic products whenever possible.

Begin by soaking your cashews in water.

soaking cashews

Next get your dates soaking.

soaking medjool dates

Add the chia seeds to the thawed raspberries, along with the juice from the raspberries.  Put this mixture in the fridge to allow it to thicken.

raspberries and chia

Set out the coconut meat to thaw.

coconut meat

A word about the coconut meat.  I used an unpasteurized, organic,  frozen coconut meat.  This was my first time using the frozen meat.  It really added to the flavour of the creamy filling.  It is full of electrolytes and antioxidants and is so healthy for you.  It is a little on the pricey side but I think that it is worth it.

To make the base, you will need to grind the almonds to a fine meal…

almond meal

…add the dates (drain them first) to bind it all together.

almond and date crust

So far so good, right?

Get out your muffin tins and put a bit of parchment paper in each.  This will make it easier to get the little guy out when you are ready to enjoy it.

Make balls of the dough and flatten them out by hand.  Put them in the bottom of each muffin tin.

crust in the tins

Now for the filling.  Are you excited yet?  I am!

Drain the cashews and put them in the food processor.  I don’t bother to clean out the processor.  Let’s keep it simple, shall we?

Add the remaining ingredients: lemon rind, lemon juice, melted coconut oil, coconut meat, maple syrup and vanilla extract.

ingredients for filling of Dream Cake

Process this until it is smooth and creamy.

creamy Dream Cake filling

Scoop on top of the crusts in your muffin tin and top with the raspberry sauce.

Dream Cakes in the tins

Place in the fridge to firm up.

Dream Cake

Serve and enjoy.

Dream Cakes

Oh my,  definitely enjoy.

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5.0 from 1 reviews
Barbara's Raspberry Dream Cakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12-16
 
This is a refreshing, delicious dessert that can easily be made into a round cake in a 8 " springform pan. Switch the raspberries for other fruits that you like. Get organized the day before you want to make this. Thaw the raspberries, soak the dates and cashews. Add the chia to the raspberries. When you are ready to start, it will be a swift process.
Ingredients
  • 300g frozen raspberries, thawed
  • ½ cup chia seeds
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 10 medjool dates, pitted (1 cup), soaked at least an hour
  • 1¼ cup cashews, soaked at least 4 hours
  • rind of 1 lemon
  • juice of 1 large lemon, about ¼ cup
  • ⅓ cup coconut oil, melted using warm water bath method
  • ½ cup young coconut meat, thawed
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Place the thawed raspberries, along with their juice in a bowl and add the chia seeds. Stir together until well combined. Set aside in the fridge, to allow the mixture to thicken. May be done ahead of time and kept in the fridge.
  2. Place the coconut oil in a bowl and put this bowl in a bowl with hot water. Set aside to let the oil liquefy.
  3. Grind the almonds in a food processor until it resembles a fine meal.
  4. Chop the soaked dates and add to the almond meal. Pulse until a sticky dough forms.
  5. If making individual cakes, divide the dough into 12-16 balls. Flatten with your hands, to form small circles that will fit in the bottom of the muffin tin.
  6. Put parchment paper in your muffin tins and place the circles in the bottom of each tin. Set aside.
  7. In your food processor, put (remaining ingredients) cashews, lemon rind, lemon juice, melted coconut oil, coconut meat, maple syrup and vanilla. Process until you have a smooth, creamy mixture.
  8. Scoop a heaping tablespoon or enough to fill the muffin tin ¾ of the way, into each muffin tin. You may have filling left over (darn!). Have it for breakfast.
  9. Scoop some raspberry sauce on to each cake.
  10. Place in the fridge for a few hours.
  11. Remove from the tin and serve.
  12. May be stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  13. May be stored in the freezer (be sure to bring to room temperature before serving) for up to 2 weeks.

A Simple Guide to Menu Planning

Rainbow SaladI feel that it goes without saying that organization is the key to successful menu planning.  Having a clean and well-organized kitchen will encourage you to spend time there and create beautiful dishes for yourself and for your family.

Balance is also important to planning a weekly menu.

Balance

  • the season
  • the weather
  • your health
  • your individual tastes
  • what is available to purchase
  • your cooking and working schedule
  • the dietary needs of your family.

I feel that this can be applied to any type of diet.  I choose a Plant-based, Whole Foods diet that is gluten-free and vegan with mostly raw foods.  That is what works best for us.Continue Reading

Strawberry Lemon Chia Pudding

imageI splurged and bought beautiful organic strawberries this week.  I really wanted to just eat all of them but decided that I had better share with my family.  So I made this pudding for dessert tonight.  I had some for breakfast too but don’t tell anyone.

Chia seeds have amazing health properties.

Here are just a few:

  1. Important for digestive health – high in fibre
  2. High in Omega 3
  3. Good for your bones – high in Calcium
  4. High in Manganese – another nutrient that is good for bones
  5. Helps reduce belly fat – stabilizes blood sugar
  6. Lowers cholesterol

Great reasons to eat chia seeds, right?Continue Reading

7 Steps to Returning to Health

imageThis my 12th week back at work since my brain injury in September 2013.  At the time of writing, I am now working 5 hours per day, 5 days a week.

What a journey it has been.

I feel pretty good.  Sure I am tired and have better days than others but for the most part, things are going quite well. I attribute this success mostly to my diet and lifestyle and of course a positive outlook.

In order to ensure that I eat the best foods possible and get outdoors for exercise on a regular basis, I need to be organized.  I still have children living at home and my husband works away during the week so I needed a system.  I want to share with you what I have do that has helped me through this healing process.Continue Reading

How to Detox The Easy Way

beautiful girl enjoying the summer sunThe calendar says that Spring is here.

Spring is a good time to do some detoxing to improve your health, boost your metabolism and help renew your energy.

“Why?” you ask.

Gently cleansing your body has the following benefits:

  • boost your metabolism
  • give your body a rest to allow it to repair itself
  • remove toxins and wastes from your body
  • improve your blood sugar levels

I know that there is a negative stigma attached to doing a cleanse or detoxing so I thought that I would make a few simple suggestions.Continue Reading

Mexican Cauliflower

Mexican Cauliflower

Let me tell you about cauliflower and why you may wish it include it in your diet on a regular basis.

Being a member of the cruciferous family, it has some amazing health benefits.

  • Fights cancer – contains sulforaphane which is known to kill off cancer stem cells
  • Improves blood pressure – again that sulforaphane is involved to help with this
  • Anti-Inflammatory – contains Indole-3-Carbinal which works to keep inflammation down in the body
  • High in Vitamins & Minerals – contains lots of Vitamin C as well as Vitamin K, protein, magnesium, Vitamin B6 & much more
  • Good for your Brain – contains Choline (B vitamin) which is known for helping with developing brains
  • Good for your Digestion – high in fiber and also that sulforaphane (love this stuff!) protects the lining of your stomach by keeping bacteria under control
  • Detoxifies – super high in antioxidants (when eaten raw) as well sulforaphane (there it is again) assists with detoxification

All of this plus (I think) cauliflower tastes delicious!Continue Reading