My friends have been raving about their crockpots and so I decided that I would see what all the fuss was about. What interested me the most was that I could throw all my ingredients into something that would do the cooking for me all day and have a meal all ready by the time I got home.
For my first experiment, I made Vegan Lentil Potato Chili.
This makes 8 servings and takes about 15 minutes to prep. It took me about 25 minutes to prep as I am slow at cutting veggies.
I set it on low for 8 hours.
In my crockpot, I combined all the ingredients and stirred to combine.
I covered and cooked on low for 8 hours (until the potatoes are tender).
I served with avocado.
Verdict? Not bad for a first try. Do you have a favourite recipe? Post below for others to enjoy.
Do you ever get stressed wondering what you are going to cook for dinner? If you’re like me, when I get home at the end of the day, I’m tired and hungry and I can’t wait to eat. I rush through my prep so that I can get to the eating of food as fast as possible.
I was sick and tired of this weekly cycle of prepping and making food ….so I decided to change the way I think and feel about my food.
Let’s take a look at what it actually takes to get my food on the table.
Imagine a dinner of brown rice, veggies and chicken. We will look at the rice portion. What has been sacrificed in order for me to have this rice? Rice is grown in fields in China and people work long days to harvest the rice. The rice is then transported to Canada and sold in stores where I have been fortunate enough to drive to and then had the means to buy it. When we look at all the components to get rice to my table, I become grateful.
When I eat the rice, I take a look at what it does for my body and for my family. The food helps to nourish my cells, organs and tissues and give me energy to get through my day. It also feeds my family so they become strong and healthy.
When I have gratitude for my food, I become grateful to the process of preparing food. Instead of looking at preparing food as a chore, think of it as an act of love for yourself and your family. The more you add the ingredient of love into what you do, the more you change and the more your family changes.
Try taking the time to be grateful for the different aspects of your food. See what effect it has on your and also, how it tastes differently.
Leave a comment below to let me know your experience.
A couple months ago, I was having trouble sleeping, feeling lethargic and eating too much junk food. I was feeling tired after my lunch meals and craving sugar and chips (my nemesis), so I decided undergo a lifestyle modification program aka diet.
Upon telling people around me, I got different reactions. 1. Why do you need to diet? You’re so slim already! 2. You don’t need to lose weight 3. What are you going to cut out now?
I found it interesting that when someone has a smaller build, it does not seem "socially" acceptable to undergo dietary changes, regardless of the reason. As I’ve grown up with my body my entire life, I am aware of it’s general weight fluctuations.
There is a range with which I prefer my body to function at. Once it goes higher or lower than normal, it’s time to re-evaluate my exercise, diet and stress levels. This is similar to blood pressure where there is an acceptable range. Too high and you have high blood pressure which is associated with many body systems shutting down and too low, you can incur another set of health challenges.
What about you? When was the last time you evaluated your health and wellness regime?
I knew my exercise was fairly regular so I turned to my diet. After 1 month of cutting out junk food, stopping excess snacking and I’m feeling better.
Something else I noticed as I was losing weight was that I was also more irritable and grumpy. It could be because I cut out the addictive junk food and was going through withdrawals symptoms. However, I think there was more to that. My stress levels were higher than usual and it also correlated with the excess sugar and chips. I became aware that as I was losing weight, I was going through some of the emotions that I had been experiencing lately….perhaps, it is possible that body stored those emotions as fat because I wasn’t able to feel them at the time. Now, that I am aware of them, I can work through them through breathing techniques, journalling and of course going to see my chiropractor.
Are you having trouble losing weight? It is possible that you are eating your emotions instead of feeling them. To find out how to change this behaviour, come to our advance workshop.
Firstly, a Happy Chinese New Year to those who celebrate. Wishing everyone good health, happiness and fortune in the upcoming year.
Now for my weekly blog:
I recently found myself eating more than I am used to.
Once I became aware of this, I sat down to ask myself a couple questions: 1. What are some possible explanations for this? 2. Do I want this behaviour to continue?
Looking at question 1: I had been exercising and lifting more weight, perhaps my body needed more calories. Maybe my body is stressed and I am eating to compensate. I could also be eating in the place of feeling my emotions. Other possibilities included extra Halloween candy and eating out too much. After this examination, I decided more awareness is in order.
I started a 1 week experiment with my focus on listening to my hunger. I wanted to know what my hunger is really telling me. I started by putting off my breakfast time. I hypothesized that this would allow me to distinguish between true hunger versus eating out of habit.
My stomach started to feel like it needed to eat around the same time in the morning that I usually eat everyday. However, when I drank water and waited another 5 mins, that feeling passed.
Next, we had a rush of people come into the office at once and things got a little stressful. Even though it was the morning, I found myself craving the chocolate in my drawer….hmmm, another clue. I drank more water and went back to work.
By mid morning, my stomach started to make noises and I knew what actual hunger felt like for me. When I listened to this cue I noticed that I ate slower and was full sooner than usual. I compared this with my stress eating where I would eat chocolate bars and chips and they are eaten so quickly that I don’t even realise until the entire pack is done.
Other awarenesses I noticed during the week were:
In all of this, I was reminded what a pleasure it is to eat food. With this experiment, I can now understand what my body needs and how to properly nourish myself. Give this a try and let your body guide you.
This week's guest blog is brought to you by nutritionist Amy Longard. Amy is a registered Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Food Chef in Ottawa and she's got some great tips for those looking to improve their diet this year.
The new year is a great time to start anew. It’s an opportunity to drop habits that don’t promote good health and happiness, and replace them with better, healthier habits. As a nutritionist, I don’t usually encourage my clients to make drastic changes. Instead, I support the notion of adopting small dietary and lifestyle changes over time. I’ve found that this method tends to be the most successful and increases the likelihood that these changes will be long-lasting, and will ultimately lead to a healthier lifestyle.
Even tiny adjustments can have huge impacts on our health. Big change doesn’t happen over night. It’s the result of many small changes practiced daily, again and again, until they become habits. Below, I’ll share a few surprisingly simple things that will have profound impact on your health and wellbeing.
Stay Hydrated. Water is vital to our health. We literally cannot live without it. It supports good digestion, absorption, and elimination. However, despite being a necessity, the simple act of drinking water throughout the day is often overlooked. It is recommends that men consume roughly 13 cups (3 litres) of water per day, and that women consume approximately 9 cups (2.2 litres) per day. A good way to reach this goal is to start your day with a big glass of water. Have the water ready and waiting on your bedside table so that it’s the first thing you see when you wake up. I suggest you also take a water bottle with you everywhere you go and if you have trouble remembering to drink water you may also want to set a timer on your phone to remind you.
Eat More Vegetables. Vegetables provide dietary fibre, vitamins, and minerals. They also add colour, variety, texture, and taste to meals. Like drinking water, eating vegetables should be a priority, but without proper planning it can be easily overlooked. Allotting a few hours, one or two days per week, to meal prep can play a big role in upping your vegetable intake. An easy first step would be to clean, chop and store vegetables in your fridge for easy access. Get in the habit of cutting up carrots, celery, cucumber, radishes, and broccoli to have with hummus. You should also have ready-to-eat leafy greens, like spinach, kale, or arugula, in your fridge to add into smoothies, salads, stews, soups or stir fry. If you aren’t already in the habit of making vegetable rich meals, challenge yourself to try one new vegetarian dish each week with the goal of expanding your culinary skills as well as your palate.
Chew Your Food. Chewing is a fundamental part of eating, and it is also crucially important in terms of nutrition. Our saliva contains digestive enzymes that help breakdown and absorb the foods we eat. Thoroughly chewing your food will allow these enzymes to do their job and will also lessen the burden on your stomach and small intestine, leading to greater nutrient absorption. As an added bonus, research shows that eating slowly can help you to eat less and, ultimately, prevents weight gain and may even contribute to weight loss. When you sit down for your next meal, start by taking small bites, chew slowly, be patient, and enjoy what you are eating. Keep chewing until your food has lost its texture and is mostly liquefied. Make sure to completely finish chewing and swallowing before taking another bite of food. This may sound tedious or trivial, but give it a try! Your digestive tract will thank you.
Amy Longard is a registered Holistic Nutritionist and Natural Food Chef. For recipes, nutrition tips, and general health information, visit her blog at: www.AmyLongard.com
This week's blog is brought to you by our new nutritionist here at Hampton Wellness Centre.
Now that it’s the New Year and you’ve decided to get in shape, do you understand how your metabolism really works? Dieting can actually reduce your metabolic function, putting a damper on your weight loss. So before you decide to cut calories, here are a few things you should consider.
Your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the energy your body uses at rest. That energy goes toward liver function, heartbeat, breathing, and cell regeneration, among other things. When you reduce your caloric intake, your body starts to reduce its efficiency at carrying out these functions. Your liver stops clearing toxins at the same rate, your breathing and heartbeat slow down, and your cells don’t get to regenerate as well as they should.
Your muscle content also influence your body's metabolism. It uses up more energy than other cells, and it stores glycogen, a stock of sugar. As you eat sugar, your body looks to take excess amounts out of your blood. If your glycogen stores aren’t full, your body directs that sugar to your muscles and liver. When those stores are full, excess sugar gets taken up into fat cells. Caloric reduction will burn some fat, but it will also dip into your muscles.
Increasingly, excess weight is being seen as a symptom of imbalances in the body, rather than the actual issue. When you cut calories and reduce your body’s abilities to remove excess toxins and regenerate cells, you create imbalances in the body. As you lose muscle, you also reduce the potential for glycogen storage, resulting in more excess sugar being stored in fat cells.
Rather than focusing on counting calories for weight loss, I like to direct the attention to the foods that are being consumed. Instead of looking for foods with a list of ingredients, I encourage you to look for the actual ingredients in their least modified form. Foods contain the most nutrients when they’re fresh. Nutrients are important for the production of hormones and enzymes which will help you lose weight. If you want to start the year off well, start by treating your body well!
Christina Najjar is Hampton Wellness Centre's Registered Holistic Nutritionist. She has recently graduated from the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition with Honours and holds the highest standing in her class. Christina believes that proper nutrition is a big component of well-being, since we are what we eat, but more importantly, what our body absorbs. If you have any questions about your health or about Holistic Nutrition, Christina offers 15 minute complimentary consultations.
This week's guest blog comes from Dr. Thorin Gault in Cornwall, ON. He has some great timely advice on how to stay healthy over the holidays.
A reminder that the office is open over the holidays with reduced hours. Please call ahead 613-761-1600.
Don't Let Your Health Take a Holiday
Whether we like it or not, the holiday season has begun. The lights and trees are starting to go up and soon it will be time for parties, treats, libations and visiting with family.
As all of this fun is happening one of the biggest challenges many people face is that they tend to get sick and cannot fully enjoy all that the season has to offer. It is not a coincidence that flu/cold season tends to start now and I know that chiropractors also see more back and neck pain ‘emergencies’ at this time of year than any other.
When you combine more junk food (which starts with Halloween), a decrease in sun exposure and fresh air, staying out late, more alcohol than usual, and increased financial and family stress you have a recipe for failings in our health that often show up as illness and pain.
So, how do you enjoy the holidays and not end up out of commission? Can you indulge and still stay healthy? The answer is yes if you are smart about it.
The key to staying healthy over the holidays is to continue to do the good things while you indulge in the ‘treats.’ What that means is that while you indulge a little, be sure to continue to keep the habits that make you healthy all year round. Unfortunately many people let it all slide this time of year and end up paying for it.
So, if you know you are going to eat some junk, make sure you are loading up on fresh produce and high quality meat as well. Drink lots of water. If you know you will be out late, schedule some naps and a few quiet nights to minimize the effects. Don’t drop your exercise program. Schedule walks or mediation sessions to be sure your stress levels are handled.
Personally, as the holidays approach I pay even more attention to doing the good things so that I can have lots of fun, stay healthy and go into the new year floor running. Here are some of the steps I take.
Diet is crucial to staying healthy and while I am a self professed sugar addict and love baked goods, I make absolute certain I am eating lots of healthy food each day. Breakfast is a great way to start. I also make sure I load up on green veggies (as well as a green drink supplement) and meat at meal times.
While obviously it is better to get our nutrients from food, supplements really are essential to maximize our health – especially during the winter months. Everyone can benefit from high quality vitamin D, fish oil, and probiotic supplementation at this time of year. I also supplement vitamin C, magnesium and zinc and have seen wonderful results since doing so.
Physical exercise is a great way to stay healthy over the holidays, yet so many people let this slide. I use the extra time off of work to make sure I am physically active on a daily basis over the holidays (it is now a tradition in my house to do a squat session on Christmas day). It does not have to be complicated or elaborate, especially if you are travelling. Go for a hike, do some bodyweight exercises, visit a gym in the town you are in. It doesn’t matter, just move! It will keep you healthy.
Despite my Nordic appearance I really don’t like being outside in the cold and this is a challenge because fresh air is very important to our health. Shovel some snow, go skating, build a snow man, walk to the coffee shop. Get out and breathe the air.
Because it is impossible to eliminate or ‘fight’ stress at this time of year it is important to make sure the effects of that stress are not physically accumulating towards a crisis. I meditate daily which helps with this and my biggest weapon is the Neuro Optimization chiropractic care I receive for myself. I much prefer to stay on top of things instead of waiting until I have an emergency on my hands.
Start now to ensure you have a fun AND healthy and happy holiday season. Commit to the good so that you can indulge in some ‘bad.’
This week's guest blog is brought to you by Dr. Liang Dai, who just recently came back from a functional medicine conference. I asked him to share with us some of what he learned about the gut and the digestive system.
Following the article, I've included a squash and lentil soup recipe for you to try. We recently harvested our squash from the garden and the soup turned out delicious. Enjoy!
Your Digestive Tract is A Sieve
Author: Dr. Liang Dai, B.Sc, DC
The immune system plays an important role in keeping foreign objects and substances outside of our bodies. There is however, a process occurring multiple times a day where we actively put foreign objects into our bodies. This process is better known as eating.
We eat to replenish our bodies of nutrients and proteins and all the good stuff that powers our bodies. Because nutrients are absorbed in the intestine, both the small and large intestine must be able to let these very small molecules through the intestinal walls via tight junctions. The process of how our intestinal cells allow small molecules through is called intestinal permeability. But what happens when the intestine lets in something that it shouldn’t? That’s when a foreign substance can enter the bloodstream and cause in inflammatory response.
As an example, a person who is sensitive to gluten is susceptible to their intestinal cells releasing a protein called zonulin when gluten is in their system. This zonulin protein can break apart tight junctions in the intestine. The moment the tight junctions are broken apart, the intestinal wall is now considered to be leaky. Once at this point, undigested food particles and other substances can now leak into the bloodstream.
Other culprits of causing leaky gut include inflammatory foods like dairy, sugar and excessive alcohol. Infections can also cause this type of dysfunction and they can include candida overgrowth, parasites and small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO).
Some of the signs and symptoms of a leaky gut can include the following:
Digestive disturbances such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, IBS.
Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, psoriasis, or celiac’s disease.
Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
Food allergies and intolerances. Acne, rosacea, and eczema.
Diagnosis of candida overgrowth.
So if you suspect an issue with a leaky gut, how does one go about fixing the issue?
A good place to start is by seeing a naturopathic doctor or a functional medicine practitioner for your concerns. As a functional medicine student on his way to becoming a certified practitioner, one of the tenets that you learn is what can be termed the 4R’s
Remove the bad substances. The implementation of an elimination diet is integral to take out the inflammatory, toxic foods and removal of any infections.
Replace with the good stuff. Add or aid proper digestion and absorption by properly chewing your foods, use of digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acids and bile salts if they have been lacking.
Re-inoculate with good bacteria. If antibiotics have been used in the past, it is so important to replenish your gut with proper good bacteria. Eating prebiotics and taking probiotics are essential in this phase.
Repair the gut lining. L-glutamine is an amino acid that is essential in repair for the gut lining. Other supplements may include slippery elm, marshmallow root and caprylic acid.
It’s always best to consult your naturopathic doctor or functional medicine practitioner before starting a regimen because every case is so individualized. A standard approach isn’t going to help every person with digestive issues. As I continue with my functional medicine studies, I will pass along what I have learned with you the readers and patients.
Gluten-Free Squash and Lentil Soup
2 Tbsp. olive oil or ghee
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 tsp. each of turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander, garam masala
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups red lentils, (soaked overnight)
1/2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and chopped
5 cups stock or broth
1. In a large pot, heat the oil or ghee and stir in onion, garlic and ginger. Let cook over medium-high till softened and just light browned.
2. Add spices and bay leaf, stirring in. Add lentils, squash and stock and stir over high heat until boiling. Spoon off any froth that rises to the surface. Lower heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes.
3. When squash is soft and lentils are fully cooked (about 20-25 minutes), remove bay leaf and purée the soup till silky smooth, or leave as-is. Serve into soup bowls. Top with hemp seeds, fresh chopped cilantro, or stir in fresh baby spinach leaves. Serves 4.
Have a happy belly!
With yoga and meditation becoming more and more popular. The term mindfulness or awareness has been coming up often. I hear people say, “practice being aware”. Well, how do you actually do that?
It’s easy to be aware when things are going well in your life. It takes doing what you don’t want to do but what you know you should do to actually practice awareness. When the alarm rings at 5am , the majority of the time, I don’t want to wake up to meditate and go to the gym. I prefer to put the covers back over my head and sleep longer. This is where awareness is practiced for me. Making the choice each morning to get up and meditate.
Staying away from the junk food in my kitchen cabinet when I am craving it is practicing awareness. First, I need to watch my thoughts, actions and emotions. Some questions I ask myself are : Am I hungry? Am I experiencing any emotions? Was there any added stress in my day? What else can I eat? Based on that information, I make a conscious choice to eat, not eat or eat something different.
Awareness is like a muscle. Build it, use it everyday and it will become a part of you. Practicing awareness never really disappears because we can always be more aware that we are now. But if you don’t practice it, during the harder times when you need it most, you won’t be able to call on it.
So, each action or choice that you make is a practice step towards being the version of yourself that you want to be. If you want to lose weight and have a strong body, your awareness for food, strength training and mobility is where you practice your awareness.
Decide on which version of yourself you would like to work on and look at you actions to see if they get you closer or further away.
Food cravings affect everyone at some point in time. Do you long for salty or sweet snacks? or both? For me, I crave salt. Sometimes, a craving could indicate that there is something lacking in your diet but for the most part, we crave things we’re not ‘supposed’ to eat, especially during times when we’re not supposed to eat them.
Last week, I was grocery shopping and saw a product with cheese in it that my mind tried very hard to convince me that I needed. Imagine that, even though I’m lactose intolerant, my cravings run so deep in my nervous system that I wanted to eat it!
I had a mental battle going on in my head where one side was coming up with reasons for why I should eat it i.e. it’s just a treat, you have been so good avoiding it, a little bit won’t hurt and the other side of my mind was fighting just as hard i.e. you’re doing great, don’t give in and you can walk away.
At one point, I actually picked up the product, put it in my basket and then was able to take it back out and put it back on the shelf. I proceeded to run away from that aisle and out the store. Close call. By the end of it all, my mind felt fatigued with all the decisions and mental gymnastics, however I was proud for putting the item back. I had won this round in mental toughness yet I knew there was still a long way to go.
I also notice that I have more food cravings during times of increased emotional or mental stress when my body is in fight or flight mode. Food cravings also signal to me that it’s time to take care of my body and get it checked for neuro abnormalities (i.e. physical, emotional or mental stress).
Next time you find yourself face to face with chocolate or chips that you’re not supposed to eat, see it as an opportunity to practice your mental toughness skills. Or, do what I did, put the item down and run out of the store.
Dr. Amanda is a non-traditional chiropractor who focuses on Neuro-Optimization Chiropractic in Ottawa, Canada.