The Protein-Hormone Connection and How It Involves Chocolate

I love chocolate. If I had to live on one flavour forever, I feel like I’d be perfectly content choosing chocolate.

Loving chocolate and craving chocolate are not the same creature.

For the first week of World Vegan Month, I’ve been focusing on plant protein and how to get enough. Now I’m going to take a look at how protein intake is connected two-fold with chocolate cravings. Continue reading “The Protein-Hormone Connection and How It Involves Chocolate”

Adapting to STRESStember and Beyond!

I love fall. I love the crunchy leaves underfoot and the more comfortable temperatures (hello again, my beloved hoodie collection!).

What I don’t love… is the spike in stress that often comes with this particular change in seasons. Being a lifelong student as well as a nutrition professional means I see it in myself and those I work with.

September/October ➡️ change in routine ➡️ STRESS!!

I’ve figured out along the way that it’s important to have nutritional strategies to help keep a balance from day-to-day! Continue reading “Adapting to STRESStember and Beyond!”

LoveBites: 2 Easy Ways to Slow Down

“Sometimes you need to slow down to eventually go faster.” ~Robin Sharma

How do you slow down? What does that look like? When was the last time you actually did?

If it’s been a while, here are a couple of ways you can try to slow down today: Continue reading “LoveBites: 2 Easy Ways to Slow Down”

[Recipe Post] Cafe Brunch Smoothie Bowl

Sunday mornings are for smoothie bowl brunches!

This chocolate peanut butter one features fresh market raspberries and Hippie Mylk’s new oat milk from the Westboro farmers’ market! Continue reading “[Recipe Post] Cafe Brunch Smoothie Bowl”

What I’ve Learned Camping on Plants

My first experiences with camping date back to when I was maybe 4 or 5 years old, at my uncle’s cottage in the country. I remember being carsick on the way there, Sam the stuffed Basset hound in my fists, and my elder cousin, a wise 7-year-old, telling me there were snakes under the bridge and my young mind conjured a full-on hissing snake pit of doom such that my uncle had to carry me screaming across it.

Later, pioneer camping Continue reading “What I’ve Learned Camping on Plants”

Spirulina: Why it’s a Hot Topic in WFPB Food Talk & Why You’ll Want to Try it Too [Recipe Post]

It’s a rich dark green (or blue), it comes from the sea, and chances are you’ve seen it listed as a component in at least one food or beverage item at your favourite plant-based hotspot.

Spirulina is popular in whole-food plant-based diets, and not just because it’s fun to say. So why is it so prevalent in the discussion of nutritious staples to include in a balanced plant-powered lifestyle? Continue reading “Spirulina: Why it’s a Hot Topic in WFPB Food Talk & Why You’ll Want to Try it Too [Recipe Post]”

LoveBites: Seed Cycling

Seed cycling! Who’s doing it? Who wants to know more about it?

This is one of many tools in your arsenal for helping rein in estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones involved in balancing your menstrual cycle, like testosterone, FSH, and LH.

Seeds typically used for this: flax & pumpkin for days 1-14 or follicular phase; sunflower & sesame for days 15-28 or luteal phase. But why these seeds? Continue reading “LoveBites: Seed Cycling”

PCOS Might Break Your Heart – What Can You Do?

February is Heart Month. What does that have to do with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) or plant-based living?

Simply put, people with PCOS are at a greater risk of developing other metabolic disorders, including insulin resistance, diabetes, thyroid imbalance, and heart disease. Continue reading “PCOS Might Break Your Heart – What Can You Do?”

The Connection Between Adrenal Fatigue and Effed-Up Menstrual Cycles

Are you feeling tired and yet can’t sleep? Craving sugar and salt to the point of almost passing out or committing a felony? Maybe PMS is kicking your ass this month with incredible irritability, brain fog, and energy fluctuations? Or your period is irregular, heavy, painful, or straight-up absent?

All of these can be related to the constant stress we feel in our lives. We know that stress can have a huge impact on our health and wellness. And Continue reading “The Connection Between Adrenal Fatigue and Effed-Up Menstrual Cycles”

LoveBites: 3 Ways to Temper the Holiday Madness

Let’s get real. The holiday season is in full swing. We’re getting swept up in parties, gift-giving, family time, and of course potlucks and holiday feast mode.

Not to mention if you’re the one organizing and hosting and making the food and in charge of the holiday gift budget ON TOP of all that other everyday stuff you still have to get done. <flailing both hands in the air>

So believe me, I understand if your needs have gotten bumped down a few notches in your priority list Continue reading “LoveBites: 3 Ways to Temper the Holiday Madness”

I’m Your Wild Girl! White Chocolate Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb Smoothie Bowl [Local Product Feature, Part 2]

This past summer I had the opportunity to sample some lovely locally-produced plant mylk. I loved playing and making new recipes with it.

[You can find one of those recipes here. [Local Product Feature, Part 1]

Hippie Mylk, which you can find at Ottawa farmers’ markets and now in select health food stores, most definitely also passes the smoothie test! It’s creamy, naturally just a little sweet, and high in protein and healthy fats (you know I’m all about those #healthyfatsftw). Continue reading “I’m Your Wild Girl! White Chocolate Ch-Ch-Ch-Cherry Bomb Smoothie Bowl [Local Product Feature, Part 2]”

When You Haven’t Changed Anything… But Your Pants Don’t Fit

I’m no stranger to that struggle.

You’re positive that you’re not eating more food or “junkier” food but you’re still gaining weight. And you don’t think you just shrunk your clothes, are PMSing, or haven’t taken a good poop. How could this happen?

You’re not going crazy. You’re not alone. Continue reading “When You Haven’t Changed Anything… But Your Pants Don’t Fit”

Comfort Food Grows Up [Local Product Feature, Part 1]

I’ve written about comfort food before. So you likely know that I’m not opposed to including a handful of favourites in your meal repertoire for those rainy afternoons, those #selfcaresaturdays, those “just ‘cause” moments.

I get a warm nostalgic feeling when Continue reading “Comfort Food Grows Up [Local Product Feature, Part 1]”

LoveBites: Smoothie Bowls are Warrior Fuel

When the lovely people at Raw Elements generously send you a big ol tub of berry Warrior Blend and ask you to give it a try, you make a glorious super berry smoothie bowl!! 😍💜 Continue reading “LoveBites: Smoothie Bowls are Warrior Fuel”

Is My Poop Normal?

There’s actually a reason I ask every client I see about their poop.

(Totally unrelated aside: my job is so glamourous, peeps.)

You might already know that your poop can reflect your physical – and sometimes even emotional – health.

You may get constipation or have diarrhea when you eat something that “doesn’t agree with you,” or when you’re super-nervous about something. Maybe you even find you need to go 3+ times in the 2 hours before your end-of-semester graded recital with staying in your program on the line. Maybe this accurately describes my own life in university with performance anxiety. Maybe that’s TMI. Maybe we’re moving on now…

Continue reading “Is My Poop Normal?”

[Recipe Post] Lower Cortisol with Dessert? Yes Please!

STRESS!!!

Its causes are absolutely everywhere. Would you agree?

Our natural “fight or flight” stress response is supposed to help us escape injury or death in an emergency and then return to normal after we’ve, well, fought or flew. But, in our society, with stressors basically ever-present – it becomes a long-term reaction. It becomes chronic.

You might already be familiar with the main stress hormone, called “cortisol.”  It’s released from your adrenal glands in response to stress. It’s also naturally high in the morning to get you going, and slowly fades during the day so you can sleep.

Now did you know that too-high levels of cortisol are associated with belly fat, poor sleep, brain fog, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and even lowers your immunity?

Do you experience any of these? Keep reading – I have a list of foods, nutrients, and lifestyle recommendations to help you lower this stress hormone naturally! Continue reading “[Recipe Post] Lower Cortisol with Dessert? Yes Please!”

[Recipe Post] Cafe-Style Summer Drinks, without the Cafe Lines and Name Typos

With the warmer weather comes patio season, and that often intertwines with frosty cafe beverages with or without caffeine. While I am no stranger to these cafe offerings (especially on a lovely day out or a little walk amongst the shops), it does get pricey to buy one each time. Not to mention the amount of wasteful packaging that might accumulate in your bins, if you’re like us and try to remember to bring a tumbler but don’t always manage (it’s a work in progress).

My classic ice-cold bev tip for when you want that cafe taste but not the expense or the trash OR the questionable additives:

Continue reading “[Recipe Post] Cafe-Style Summer Drinks, without the Cafe Lines and Name Typos”

[Recipe Post] Nostalgic (and Dairy-Free!) Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup

I have been dairy-free for over 10 years. Before I broke up with milk products, for the sake of animals as well as my skin and immune system, a favourite food while living at home and eventually on my own was cream of mushroom soup.

You know the kind – condensed and canned, that you need to add however much milk to it to make it “edible”. (And not remotely healthy.)

But I loved it. Continue reading “[Recipe Post] Nostalgic (and Dairy-Free!) Cream of Wild Mushroom Soup”

My 3 Favourite Plant-Power Breakfast Foods + A Savoury Recipe to Try

Do you love your breakfast?  Do you have a short list of “go-to” recipes?  Do you need a bit of inspiration to start eating breakfast again?

Getting some protein at each meal can help with blood sugar management, metabolism and weight loss.  This is because protein helps you feel fuller longer and uses up a bunch of calories to absorb and metabolize it.  So I’m going to show you how to get the protein, as well as some veggies and healthy fats for your soon-to-be favourite new “go-to” breakfasts. Continue reading “My 3 Favourite Plant-Power Breakfast Foods + A Savoury Recipe to Try”

Stay in Bed… All Night Long (for the Other Good Reason)

Do you feel like you’ve had a messy breakup with sleeping through the night?

Are you feeling exhausted or basically running on fumes all day?

Keep reading! I have some great tips (and an amazing recipe) to help you stay in bed all night long… for the other good reason. *ah-wink* Continue reading “Stay in Bed… All Night Long (for the Other Good Reason)”

[Recipe Post] A Healthy Hormone-Lovin’ Mexican Poutine

What do you get when you want sweet potatoes, broccoli, and cashew cheese? In this case, I made… a healthy Mexican poutine? Whatever it was, it was a delicious way to eat my colours and get a good range of hormone-healthy antioxidants, fiber, and healthy fats. Continue reading “[Recipe Post] A Healthy Hormone-Lovin’ Mexican Poutine”

Coffee: To Drink or Not To Drink?

You either love, love, LOVE it (I do!), tolerate it as a means to get through the day, or flat-out hate it. You know if you actually like the taste, or if it’s just a thinly-veiled excuse/vehicle to deliver mounds of sugar and cream to your bloodstream. You know how it makes you feel (i.e. your digestion, your appetite, your mental acuity, etc.).

But then you have all the crazy headlines sending you mixed signals, with some that say coffee is great, and the next day that you should avoid it!

And even more confusing, some people can manage to consume coffee on the regular with seeming ease, citing that it’s their super-power elixir that carries them effortlessly through errands, workouts, homework, and more; while there are others who experience a plethora of not-so-super symptoms ranging from jitters, restlessness, anxiety, digestive distress, and counter-intuitive energy lows and sleepiness after one cup.

There is actual science behind why different people react differently to it. It’s a matter of your genetics and how much coffee you’re used to drinking. Continue reading “Coffee: To Drink or Not To Drink?”

[Recipe Post] Potlucks on Plants + Italian Stuffed Mushrooms

Navigating holiday food can be hard enough when you’re making a lifestyle change, as those of us who are vegan know intimately well. The same goes for anyone taking on a change for their own health reasons, whether it’s gluten-free, keto, paleo/pegan, anti-candida, etc., etc., etc….

Then there’s the challenge of potlucks and worrying if you’ll find anything to eat that falls within the parameters of your new habits. Cue filling up on grocery-store veggie platters (sans dip), fruit trays, and steamed veggie sides… and when things get dire, lots of chips. It can be pretty easy to fall off the health-wagon in the face of both temptation and minimal “safe” offerings.

So what can you do? My top 3 strategies are: Continue reading “[Recipe Post] Potlucks on Plants + Italian Stuffed Mushrooms”

A Nutritionist’s 5 Favourite Foods for a Healthy Sex Drive (and a Sexy Smoothie Recipe)

I originally wrote this article for TheCoconut.com. It was published on that site on August 1, 2015. The smoothie recipe also appears as the Day 20 recipe in my free LPFL 20-day Fast & Fresh Green Smoothie Challenge.

Let’s face it: healthy sex, whatever that looks like in your intimate relationships, is an important aspect of a healthy lifestyle – as much as a clean diet, regular exercise, and stress reduction. Nothing puts a kink in the works (or takes the kink out, as it were) like a slumping sex drive. Fortunately, a lower sex-drive than your normal may be nourished back to a more desirable level by adding some delicious libido-boosting foods into your everyday diet. Continue reading “A Nutritionist’s 5 Favourite Foods for a Healthy Sex Drive (and a Sexy Smoothie Recipe)”

Skin Illuminated: 7 Health Hacks

Last week (along with sharing my very personal mental health post, which has also been updated), I shared a #nofilter selfie on Instagram. I’ve been receiving compliments on my skin for some time now, including from strangers who speculate that I must use X skin product or Y supplement and that’s why it’s so nice. Having grown up with teasing for my skin problems (as well as my general weirdness and smartness, but I digress); having tried conventional OTC pharmaceutical products ranging from Cetaphil and Noxzema to benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid; having tried prescription Differin gel, minocycline, and hormonal birth control… it’s been dumbfounding to me that what was once my bane is now my banner, displaying my own glowing health. Compliments gladly taken! Here I’ll share what I’m actually doing, so that you can get glowing too. Continue reading “Skin Illuminated: 7 Health Hacks”

Why Eating Lots of Flax May Not Meet Your Omega-3 Needs

Eating lots of flax, which is a rich source of omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), may still not be enough to convert in adequate amounts to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), the forms our bodies most readily use.

EPA is considered potently anti-inflammatory, while DHA shows benefits for cognitive function.

Our bodies need to convert other omegas into these usable forms.

They need cofactors – vitamins like B6, minerals like selenium and zinc, and enzymes that buddy up with the omegas to assist the conversion.

But they also get diverted off the conversion path by nutrient deficiencies, alcohol, caffeine, drugs and medications, sugar, inflammation, environmental pollution, and of course stress.

This means a lot of factors need to “just so” for those conversions to happen in the first place, let alone to yield sufficient amounts!

Not to mention that flax seeds in particular have an outer shell that’s basically indigestible fiber. And even if we grind them up before eating them, the omegas are prone to going rancid very quickly, needing to be protected from air, light, and heat.

This is why I suggest getting whole flax seeds in small amounts, ideally in sealed opaque packaging, stored in the fridge or freezer, and ground fresh as needed.

Now, this is not to say that flax is useless as a source of omegas! Quite the contrary.

seed cyclingI’ve mentioned seed cycling [in a previous LoveBites post], which is a nutritional practice of consuming specific types of seeds at specific times in your menstrual cucle to promote better hormone balance.

Part of the reason for this is because the seeds contain lignans, a type of fiber which supports estrogen and progesterone balance. These seeds also contain different proportions of omega-3 and omega-6, which moderate both anti- and pro-inflammatory prostaglandins, hormone-like compounds that may be formed from ALA as well as arachidonic acid (AA).

High presence of AA is another contributor to the diversion of omega-3 off the EPA-DHA conversion pathway, promoting more of the pro-inflammatory prostaglandins. These prostaglandins in turn may contribute to menstrual cramping, and the pain associated with endometriosis and PCOS.

The balance of omegas in these seeds – flax, along with pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame – taken during the particular phases of the cycle may help to increase anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and reduce the painful effect of the pro-inflammatory prostaglandins.

[See the Seed Cycling post for more on how to incorporate it to your routine]

But what about EPA and DHA?

This is also why I suggest anyone eating even a whole-food plant-based diet incorporate a variety of omega-rich seeds and nuts, as well as an algae-based vegan EPA+DHA supplement. I love liquids that I can add to my smoothies!

[Check out some of my favourite omega-3 sources here – Peopletail affiliate link]

 

LoveBites: Try Approving of Yourself

“You’ve been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” ~Louise Hay

Not sure where to start? Try remembering the best compliments you’ve ever received. Visualize what it was like when it was said to you.

Skin_Care_Beauty-197

Now, if you downplayed or rejected it (“it was nothing” or “no I don’t” or “you’re just saying that”) at the time, or said anything along the lines of “thanks, BUT”… change the script. Imagine genuinely thanking that person for that compliment without taking anything away from it (“thanks, it was/I do/I am!”).

Now look yourself in the eye and repeat that compliment back to yourself.

Now imagine actively thinking that way about yourself, without waiting for someone else to tell you. “This outfit looks great on me. My eyes are stunning. I’m getting so strong. I rocked that. I have so many great ideas.”

You’ve got this!

LoveBites: I am the Storm

“I AM THE STORM.”

It’s so easy to get washed away within a vortex of doubt, anxiety, self-sabotage, worry that things just aren’t good enough. Looks, health, career, relationships – anything that feels like it’s bearing down on you, maybe even tearing you apart.

Change the perspective. Be the storm. Tear that shit up yourself. Get it done.

What does that look like in real terms?

Get your goal planner out. Write it down. Block out distractions and detractors. Show up even when you think you’re not feeling it. Strike one task down out of your path at a time, then bring on the next.

When you feel burnt out under your own fire take breaks without apology. Hydrate and get back to real food. Get some love from your friends, your partner, your pets. Stretch. Breathe. REVISE. Write some more.

Then get back on it.

You’ve got this.

LoveBites: Take Care of Yourself!

So often, I get wrapped up in taking care of other people, animals, projects… but not myself. “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” I say, but my own cup runs low. From time to time it helps to remind myself to refill! Here’s how you can refill your cup too: Continue reading “LoveBites: Take Care of Yourself!”