Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cold vs Flu

Yes I know it's crazy pandemonium about this cold and flu season..... lots of information out there... the spin on this topic is unbelievable. I'm doing a lunch and learn for a company on Tuesday about H1N1 - what the facts are, symptoms, how it's spread AND what are some immune boosting or prevention strategies. I'll try and post some of the presentation later next week.

For now it's important to stay calm and treat this like any other flu season and be able to recognize the difference between a cold and a flu.

The incubation of the H1N1 is 1-4 days, possibly as long as 7 days and the clinical symptoms include:
  • Sudden onset of fever (usually high);
  • Headache;
  • Extreme tiredness;
  • Dry cough;
  • Sore throat;
  • Runny nose; and
  • Muscle aches and stomach symptoms -- more common in children.
The symptoms of H1N1 are similar to those of a seasonal flu but the trend is more GI symptoms emerging i.e. diarrhea and vomiting.

Colds may have similar symptoms but usually no fever and no muscle aches. Be vigilant, wash your hands and stay at home if you are sick.

AND with Halloween coming up be careful with sugar .... 1 tsp of sugar can decrease your immune system for 24 hours.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Morguard Health Fair

This week I was at the annual Morguard Health Fair. Morguard owns the office building my clinic is in and their head office is a few buildings down the road. Michelle Johnston of The Working Well, ( organized the health fair bringing together some great businesses, including Toronto Sprouts, an organic farmer from Brampton, a golf swing analysis guy, a fitness centre - Wynn Fitness, among others.

I've done a lot of health fairs over the last 6 years and have to say this health fair is one of the best organized and easy to do. The employees of Morguard are also great to chat with, most being very conscious about their health. Here's a pic of me talking about the importance of taking a fish oil - great for hair, skin and nails, very anti-inflammatory, wonderful for decreasing LDL cholesterol.....

I'll be back at Morguard in 2 weeks to do a lunch and learn about the H1N1 - history of the virus, symptoms, the vaccine, prevention and immune support from a naturopathic perspective.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Quinoa? Kale? Strange Foods?

Sometimes I take for granted what I know and how I eat. Sometimes a patient, (if not Chris), reminds me that these foods are not in the regular repetoire and seem scary.

Today was one of those days where 4 of my patients today wanted (or needed) to make some changes in their diets and were scared about trying different things, in particular quinoa and kale.

If you want or need to try something different and want to up the nutritional quality of your meal start with quinoa. It is a grain, looks like cous cous, cooks like rice and is eaten like you would eat rice. Where do I get this funny grain? Bulk barn, health food stores like Whole Foods or Planet Organic, or the health food aisle in a grocery store like Loblaws or Highland Farms.

Now I have it at home... what do I do with it? Put 1 cup of the quinoa and 2 cups of water into a saucepan, cover the saucepan, and put the stove on high heat. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and let the quinoa simmer for another 20 minutes. It should be done!

You could use vegetable stock instead of water to flavour it up or saute some onions and carrots and celery and add it into the cooked quinoa or let it cool and make it into a cold salad by adding cucumber, celery, some parsley and some herbs. Another thing you can do is make a breakfast hot cereal out of quinoa by adding some cinnamon, fruit, and nuts or flaxseed!

New foods don't need to be overwhelming. One thing at a time... baby steps.... this week try quinoa, next week try making kale, the following week buy swiss chard... after a couple of months you'll have a whole new repetoire!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Medical Information on the Internet

Just saw a quick clip of a hockey player and his wife talking about her being diagnosed with cervical cancer. The story has a good ending but she did say that the one thing she wouldn't do and tells people struggling with the disease is NOT to read the internet.

As a healthcare professional I know how much health info is on the internet, credible and not, and I also know how many people come into my office with pages of internet information or a checklist of symptoms trying to self diagnose.

I think it is very important to be responsible for your own health and have a better understanding of how things (food, environment, medications, etc.) can affect your health. But I also know how intricate the body is and how every process in the body is connected and how many years of education it took to truly understand how to properly differentially diagnose pathologies. The most credible and scientific websites are not meant to be read by the average untrained person. The majority of information is to be read with a knowledge of physiology and pathophysiology to truly understand how disease happens and changes.

Anyway.... my point is .... if you are experiencing symptoms whether intense and /or frequently, go see your naturopathic doctor (or family medical doctor) to get and idea of what is going on so you are properly followed. Don't go in blind... have a few questions ready and expect answers and a plan. Keep asking questions of your healthcare professional until you are satisfied... but don't use the internet to self-diagnose. You wouldn't self-diagnose your car trouble right? You would take it to a mechanic and get it fixed properly.... take as much care with your health.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How Old is Your Mustard?

Read a quick article today on shelf-life of foods, once opened, in your fridge. Roast chicken was 5 days, deli meats (which there shouldn't be any in your fridge anyway!!!! ) last 2 days, yogurt was 5-7 days....

I ask you how old is your mustard and how long does it last? Doesn't it last forever??? Apparently 3 months is the max time it should be in your fridge. First thing I'm doing when I get home is throwing out my mustard. I use dijon mustard weekly for making quick salad dressings so that one will stay, but the good ol' French's yellow mustard has been there quite a while - at least since last summer when I bought it for a BBQ we were having for friends!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Jalapeno Corer

Ok gotta love Williams Sonoma.... I got a great birthday package in the mail yesterday filled with Williams Sonoma goodies. I was giddy with my new kitchen goods while Chris was rolling his eyes, knowing that it was just going to become harder to find things in our kitchen drawers with more gadgets.

Never heard or seen of a jalapeno corer before ... this is fantastic. I haven't tried it yet to see if it actually works and gets all of those little hot seeds out but I'll let you know.

Here's a little dressing to try next time you buy a jalapeno! It's tangy and definitely has some bite. I love this over any salad or over warm sweet potatoes!

1 clove of garlic
1 jalapeno
juice of 1 lime
olive oil
sea salt and pepper

In a small food chopper (another kitchen gadget!) pulse the garlic, jalapeno,sea salt and pepper. Add the lime and puree for a minute. Add a few tablespoons of olive oil and puree together until well combined!

Chris may not welcome the jalapeno corer but I think he's happy about all the pie baking paraphenalia! Thanks AK!!!!!!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Cranberry Sauce

I just made such a delicious cranberry sauce! My parents are coming over tomorrow for a brief little lunch. Usually Chris and I go to their place and don't do much except sit and eat; this year we've both been so busy we decided they would come here!

In preparation, Mom and I decided that they were going to bring the turkey (no tofurky this year!) and I would make the veggies. So I was planning on some roasted root veggies - parsnips, squash, carrots, and sweet potato and the pecan brussel sprouts that I put in the last ZH newsletter. Yesterday Mom and I decided these few things plus a few nibblies to start and some fruit for dessert, would be enough for an early lunch.

So today of course is a different story and I knew this was going to happen..... I just got off the phone with Mom and now she is also bringing perogies and a plum harvest cake! I also know that Dad loves cranberry sauce so I started looking around for a recipe on the food network and came across a recipe from Ina Garten, the barefoot contessa - a chef that I love - well maybe her house in the Hamptons even more than her food!!!!

I decided to tailor the recipe a little as usual.... and it turned out great!
1/2 bag cranberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup agave nectar
I brought these together in a small saucepan on low heat for 10 minutes and then added juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon and 1/2 an orange and some peeled and diced pear. I cooked this all together for 20 minutes, took it off the heat and add a handful of chopped walnuts and then put it in the fridge for tomorrow.

Just a little note that the original Ina recipe used a full bag of cranberries and 1 3/4 cup white sugar.....

Happy Thanksgiving!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Coconut Butter Truffles

Last week one of the massage therapists in the clinic brought in a dark chocolate ganache torte that was raw. Super easy crust made of coconut butter and maple syrup and almond flour and of course cocoa, while the 'filling' was coconut butter, maple syrup and cocoa.

I decided to make truffles out of the ganache filling part. I also made half the recipe so we didn't have 2 dozen truffles in the house!

In a food processor I ended up using 1 cup cocoa, 3/4 cup maple syrup, and 1/2 cup coconut butter. I processed it for a few minutes until it was completely smooth. I poured it in a small pie plate and placed it in the fridge for an hour. After an hour I used a melon baller and made little truffles and placed them on a plate and put them back in the fridge for another 3 hours. I rolled half in shredded coconut and the other half I left as is.

Delicious. And all gone!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Urban Getaway - Mighty Leaf Tea

My husband Chris surprised me this weekend with a little urban getaway - a night at a hotel in Toronto. Yes we live in Toronto, but nothing beats blackout curtains, fluffy white robes and pillows, and not looking at my dusty baseboards!

We had a fabulous time walking around the neighbourhood, having dinner and breakfast out and relaxing without computers or to-do lists! Sunday morning we had breakfast at MBCo., a cute all-white place with a decadent supply of croissants and other breads and filled with wheat and gluten! I don't usually order egg-white omelettes as they are usually dry and lack flavour, (AND I think egg yolks get a bad wrap - everything in moderation!) but the spinach and goat cheese filling enticed me. We shared a fresh fruit bowl and I had a Mighty Leaf tea called African Nectar that was delicious. It is a rooibus tea with hibiscus and mallow and marigold flowers and some rose leaves. The omelette was fantastic and I ended up finding the tea in our neighbourhood at a store called Fresh and Wild and buying a box. It is expensive for a box, so it definitely won't be my daily tea but as a weekend tea it will hit the spot.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Amaranth Porridge

Time for hot cereal again!
I just got back from a run through High Park. Yes it was cold this morning; it was the first morning I had to find my toque and running gloves! But wow was autumn ever in the air. The leaves have started to change colour and you can smell the crisp leaves.
So when the weather changes like this my morning smoothie doesn't cut it. I want something warm and nutritious to soothe. This morning there was a bit of an incident with my amaranth. If you have never cooked with amaranth, I urge you to go to your local bulk store and buy 1 cup to try it out. Amaranth is a gluten-free grain that is high in protein, calcium, and iron, which is quite rare for a grain!
Anyway so I was measuring out my amaranth and it spilled everywhere on my counter and floor. It isn't easy to clean up as it is such a tiny tiny grain, smaller than couscous or millet.
So today I made some amaranth porridge with pears, walnuts, ginger, and cinnamon. 3/4 cup amaranth and a pinch of sea salt with 1 cup of water in a saucepan. Bring it up to a boil and then let it simmer for 20 minutes. Add in any fruit and nuts or seeds that you have around the house and stir thoroughly and hea through for another 10 minutes. Let it sit for 5 minutes and enjoy! This will make enough for 2 servings.
Enjoy the cooler weather and some warm cereal!