Start Your Own Food Revolution

So, if you haven’t been watching Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution it is a must see. Tune in Friday’s at 9pm on ABC.

For those of you who haven’t heard of this program, Jamie Oliver is better know as the “Naked Chef”. He has created a revolution in the school programs at home in England, and has now brought the project to one of the unhealthiest cities in America.

As you can imagine, he gets a lot of resistance and has great struggles trying to get these kids to eat “real food”.    The kids are currently on a school lunch program and are being fed pizza and strawberry milk for breakfast and then pizza or chicken nuggets again at lunch.  Of course all of these meals are processed containing a whole list of additives not to mention vast amounts of sugar and salt.

Jamie’s mission is to get “real food” back into the school cafeterias which includes meals like pasta, with a meat sauce that is full of vegetables and real chicken or sloppy joes made of unprocessed beef and vegetables and even mac and cheese…but the homemade kind not from a box. He even admits that the meals are sometimes not the “best” choices but they are better than the stuff they are currently eating.

There have been 3-4 clips in this series so far that I have found fascinating and wanted to share them with you

Is That Chicken?

In one of the first episodes, Jamie does an experiment where he takes a chicken and explains to a group of 6-7 kids where processed chicken nuggets come from. He takes a whole chicken and cuts off the legs and breasts, explains these are the good parts and sets them aside. What is left is the carcass, bones, fat, cartilage..and he takes all of this and cuts it up and places it in a food processor. At this point the kids are screaming and totally grossed out. Jamie explains that these are the ingredients they are eating when they consume chicken nuggets. Then he takes the “mash” and combines this with flour, fillers, and spices to make it taste good, forms them into patties and fries them with a coating.

The kids are watching this whole process, and at the end he asks for a show of hands as to who would eat this.

Even though 3 minutes before they were disgusted by the “mash”, every child put up their hand that they would still eat the chicken nugget. Gross!

The point being, we really have to focus on educating our kids about what is actually in our food as when this food comes in pretty packages they are disconnected from what they are actually eating. This goes for adults too.

What is a Vegetable?

Along this same line, Jamie went into the classroom and was trying to get kids to identify vegetables.  While the kids had no problem recognizing things like French fries and pizza – not one single child was able to identify a carrot, potato, eggplant, broccoli etc.

Come Over To The Common Sense Corner

Jamie has his meals going up against the regular school lunch program. On this particular day, he made a pasta that included 7 different kids of vegetables, and that was going up against a burger and fries with the “option” of a side salad.

The supervisor pulled Jamie aside and said that according to standards there wasn’t enough vegetable in his meal. The policy required that you need 1 ½ cups, and even though there were 7 different kinds of vegetables in the pasta there wasn’t 1 ½ cups. When he questioned where the vegetables were in the regular school program dish the answer was the French fries and the option the kids had for the side salad (even though not one child was in the salad line).

This is where we have to use our common sense, and agree that sometimes policy just doesn’t make sense. I bring this up as this happens a lot! We know in our heart of hearts what we should and shouldn’t be eating but we tend to rationalize. My favourite example of this is the whole grain fruit loops…we know this really isn’t great for us, yet we rationalize that at least it is whole grain, or reduced in sugar.

When presented with situations like this…no matter what the policy or label may claim we challenge you to put on your common sense hat!

Is That Milk?

The last one was probably the most mind blowing for me. The last episode had Jamie trying to feed the children plain milk instead of giving them the option to choose the strawberry or chocolate version.  Typically these flavoured milks have more sugar than a can of pop…and we know all of the problems that over 10tsp of sugar in one drink can have on a body, let alone a little body!  The rationalization for the flavoured milk still being offered was that it is better for a child to drink the sugar to make sure they get their calcium.

My jaw dropped to the floor!

We now know that sugar is one of the major driving forces of things like cardiovascular disease, inflammation, diabetes and now new research is pointing at Alzheimer’s as being the type 3 diabetes.  In addition, we know that calcium is leached in an acidic environment…and one of the number one acidic foods is sugar.

Again…here is where we need to advocate for and educate our children.

One of the teachers in this episode encouraged the children to choose the regular plain milk and explained why, and everyone in that class made the right choice in the cafeteria line.  It is up to us become educated ourselves, and then educate our children and given the choice they usually do make the right decision!

Your Own Food Revolution

To embark on your own Food Revolution…come to our Transformation Weekend on June 5/6, 2010.

2FOR1 special is on until May 7th!

For More Details click here now:

Until Next Time…tune into Jamie’s Food Revolution.

Stay Vibrant

Robin and Kristijana

My New Favourite Book for Healthy Living

You never know what kind of treasures are waiting for you around the corner.  As I was shopping in Shoppers Drug Mart for my all natural toothpaste last week I also stumbled upon a great new recipe book on their discounted book rack.

The book is called 100-Calorie Snack Cookbook by Sally Sampson.  It’s filled with hundreds of recipes, accompanied with colourful pictures and serving ideas and has a breakdown of the calories in fats, carbohydrates, protein, sodium and dietary fibre.  The book is further organized into different chapters form soups, to protein snacks, to tasty healthy deserts.

It is a well establish fact that small frequent meals throughout the day and incorporating snacks into your diet between meals is the key to stabilizing blood sugar, reducing stress, enhancing energy and losing weight!

For those that want to start eating healthier or for those that are looking for new and exciting snack options this is the perfect book for you!

Say good-bye 100 Calorie Thinsations and all other processed low calorie, nutrient void foods and say hello to a library of tasty, healthy, low glycemic snack options.  It’s one thing to reduce calories lose weight, but if you are doing it by filling your diet with low calorie highly processed foods stripped of nutrients and pumped with artificial this and chemical you may lose weight but do you gain health – NO.

If losing weight or maintaining a healthy weight is important to you check out this book.  Here a few of my favourite recipes from the book so far – Enjoy!

Ps. you can pick yourself up at a copy at Amazon by clicking this link: 100-Calorie Snack Cookbook

Peanut Butter- Banana-Apple Bites (1 serving)

  • 2 thin slices of apples
  • 2 teaspoons peanut butter (can substitute with almond or other nut butters)
  • ¼ banana, sliced
  • ½ teaspoon honey
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 14 blueberries (optional)

Place the apple slices on a flat surface and spread the peanut butter.  Top with the banana.  Sprinkle with honey, cinnamon, and if desired add blueberries.

Beet Chips (4 servings)

  • 8 beets, boiled or roasted until soft, peel and slice as think as possible
  • 1 teaspoon salt (if you’re reducing salt in your diet, use less salt or try low sodium alternatives such as Herbamare spice by A.vogel)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Place beets, salt and oil in a large bowl and toss until beets are well coated.  Pour the beets in a single layer onto the baking sheets, transfer to the oven, and bake until they are beginning to brown on the edges and are just crisp, about 40 minutes.  Set aside to cool and then transfer to a jar or for up to 3 days. If they become moist, simply pop them in a 300 F oven for about 5 minutes.

Vegetable Cottage Cheese (1 serving)

  • ½ cup nonfat cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp chopped English cucumber
  • 1 tbsp chopped tomato
  • 1 tbsp chopped carrot
  • 1 tbsp chopped chive
  • ½ tbsp chopped red ions
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Place everything in a mixing bowl and gently combine.  Cover and refrigerate for at least ½ hours and up to 4 hours.

Berry Fro-Yo (4 servings)

  • 2 ½ cups strawberries, sliced and frozen
  • 2 cups blueberries, frozen
  • ½ cup plus 2 tbsp frozen plain low-fat yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

Place frozen berries in the food processor.  Process until smooth.  Gradually add the yogurt and lemon juice and process until completely incorporated.  Serve immediately or cover and freeze in individual portions for up to 2 weeks.  If you freeze the portions, let them sit at room temperature for 10 minutes before eating.

My Love Affair with Quinoa

I LOVE Quinoa!

I was first introduced to it at a dinner party by one of my classmates from my naturopathic medical training.  It was the fluffy, creamy, slightly crunchy texture of the quinoa that won me over immediately!  Soon after my first introduction to this fabulous “grain” I began incorporating it into my own cooking and was thrilled to learn about all the nutrients and numerous health benefits I was gaining from eating this delicious food.

Most commonly considered a “grain,” quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard.  Quinoa is an amino acid-rich (protein) food.  It also supplies complete protein, meaning it includes all nine essential amino acids which makes it an especially good choice for vegetarians or vegans to ensure adequate protein intake.

Quinoa is especially rich with the amino acid lysine, which is essential for tissue growth and repair. In addition to protein, quinoa features a host of other health-building nutrients. Because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus, this “grain” may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes, atherosclerosis, antioxidant, menopausal, asthma, cancer and much more.   In addition, quinoa is gluten free; thus, it is one of the least allergenic “grains.”

Nutrient Breakdown

Quinoa: uncooked 0.25 cup, 158.95 calories




Daily Value

Foods Rating


0.96 mg


very good


89.25 mg




3.93 mg




0.06 g




0.35 mg




174.25 mg



Macro Nutrient Comparison to Other Grains (as a percentage)

Nutritional Value (%)

Protein Fat Carbohydrate Fibre
Wheat 8.9 2.2 66.8 2.1
Barley 10.0 1.5 66.4 4.5
Oats 10.3 4.7 62.1 9.3
Rye 12.4 1.3. 71.7 2.3
Brown rice 9.7 2.4 73.2 1.1
QUINOA **13.1 5.3 55.7 4.9

Tips for Preparing Quinoa

  1. It is always a good idea to thoroughly wash the seeds.
  2. To wash quinoa, place it in stainless steel strainer, run cold water over the quinoa and gently rub the seeds together with your hands.
  3. To cook the quinoa, add one part of the grain to two parts liquid in a saucepan. After the mixture is brought to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover. One cup of quinoa cooked in this method usually takes 15 minutes to prepare.
  4. When cooking is complete, you will notice that the grains have become translucent, and the white germ has partially detached itself, appearing like a white-spiraled tail.
  5. If you desire the quinoa to have a nuttier flavor, you can dry roast it before cooking; to dry roast, place it in a skillet over medium-low heat and stir constantly for five minutes.

A Few Quick Serving Ideas

  1. Combine cooked chilled quinoa with pinto beans, pumpkin seeds, scallions and coriander. Season to taste and enjoy this south-of-the-border inspired salad.
  2. Add nuts and fruits to cooked quinoa and serve as breakfast porridge.
  3. For a twist on your favorite pasta recipe, use noodles made from quinoa.
  4. Sprouted quinoa can be used in salads and sandwiches just like alfalfa sprouts.
  5. Add quinoa to your favorite vegetable soups.
  6. Ground quinoa flour can be added to cookie or muffin recipes.
  7. Quinoa is great to use in tabouli, serving as a delicious (and wheat-free) substitute for the bulgar wheat.

Tasty Quinoa Recipes

Meatless Quinoa Burgers

2 cups cooked Quinoa
1 onion chopped
1 carrot grated
1 clove garlic minced
1 Tablespoon onion soup mix or preferred seasonings
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 finely chopped celery stick
1 egg (beaten) – This makes a firmer burger
  1. Mix above ingredients, add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Form burger with wet hands (patties are about 4 inches in diameter and ½ inch thick).
  3. Lightly oil frying pan.
  4. Cook about 5 minutes each side until golden brown.


  • 1/2 cup cooked and finely chopped broccoli
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, finely chopped

Quinoa Pilaf

1 cup Quinoa
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup minced onion
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1 tsp minced garlic
1 lb fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups water or low-salt chicken broth
1/2 – 1 tsp salt
3 tbsp minced parsley
1 tsp fresh thyme
1/4 tsp black pepper
  1. In a medium skillet, heat olive oil.
  2. Add onions, celery, garlic and mushrooms.
  3. Sauté for three or four minutes until slightly browned.
  4. Add Quinoa and stir for a minute or two to coat with oil.
  5. Add water or broth, cover and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and add remaining ingredients.
  8. Serve immediately.

Make 4 – 6 servings

Stuffed Bell Peppers

4 large Bell Peppers
1 cup Quinoa
5 cups Vegetable Broth
6-8 Sun dried Roma Tomatoes
1 medium onion
1 cup Buckwheat Groats
3-4 Garlic cloves
Rosemary, Basil, Oregano to taste
1 cup Tomato Puree
1 egg white or egg substitute
  1. Rinse Quinoa well and set aside to drain.
  2. Chop onion, garlic, and sun dried tomatoes and set aside.
  3. Cut tops off of bell peppers, rinse the bodies clear of seeds. Trim the seedpod off the tops and save the tops.
  4. Heat 2 cups of broth to a boil in a medium sized saucepan. Once broth has reached a boil dump in the Quinoa and sun dried tomatoes. Cover and bring flame down to simmer for 12 minutes.
  5. Add 1 cup of buckwheat groats to 1 egg white (or egg substitute) and mix until groats are coated.
  6. Turn mixture into a dry frying pan and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes stirring well to keep groats separated. After 2-3 minutes add a cup and a half of broth, onion, garlic and other spices.
  7. Cover and bring flame down to a simmer for 0-12 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Take Quinoa from stove and drain, saving vegetable stock (you’ll need it in a minute).
  9. Place Quinoa in a bowl and add the buckwheat groats once they have finished.
  10. Add 1 cup of tomato puree your favorite tomato sauce and mix well.
  11. Once mixed, spoon liberally into bell peppers and put pepper tops back on.
  12. Take left over broth and put into large pot with steamer tray.
  13. Add broth or water until water just touches bottom of steamer rack and place Peppers into pot.
  14. Secure lid and place on stove.
  15. Bring to a boil then let simmer for 20-30 minutes, until peppers are very soft.
  16. Serve.

Nutty Green Quinoa

1 cup Quinoa
2 cups water
¼ to ½ tsp salt
½ cup almonds
1 bunch parsley
1 clove garlic
1 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
1 ½ Tbsp olive oil
½ cucumber
Pepper to taste
  1. Bring water to a boil, add quinoa and salt; stir and simmer, covered, for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat and let sit for another 10 minutes; then remove cover and allow to cool.
  3. While quinoa is cooking, blend almonds, parsley, garlic, and oil in a food processor.
  4. When quinoa is cool, stir with nut mixture and add pepper to taste.
  5. Garnish with cucumber if desired.

Buckwheat – The Power Cereal

We have talked already about the way to dissect your boxed breakfast cereal, but what if you could get an even more nutritious version that would taste even better?

Welcome to the world of sprouted buckwheat!

Benefits of Buckwheat

  • Gluten free
  • Complete protein (all essential amino acids)
  • High in Rutin – a compound that is known to be a powerful capillary wall strenghener. Good for varicose veins, hardening of the arteries
  • High in Lecithin –  Lowers Cholesterol, Brain Booster
  • High in Iron, Calcium and Boron
  • High in bioflavonoids, coQ10


So, why sprout instead of eating the toasted version Kasha?

Sprouting actually takes a nut or seed that is in a dormant state and brings it to life. In anyone has every sprouted, you can actually see before your eyes this seed that was once sitting on the shelf for months actually begin to grow and reclaim life. When this happens, the nutrients and enzymes also come to life. This means the food is much easier to digest, contains live enzymes, and more absorbable nutrition. Basically, it is supercharging your food!

Sounds great, how much time is it going to take?

The great answer to this is no time at all. While in total it takes about 2 days to complete this process, your actually hands on time is a matter of minutes.

How do I begin to make Sprouted Buckwheat – Yields 1 Cup

  1. Go to your local health food store and purchase buckwheat (non toasted, roasted). They will sometimes be labeled groats.
  2. Mix 2/3 of a cup of buckwheat with 2-3x more water
  3. Stir the buckwheat so there are no seeds sitting on top
  4. Soak the seeds for about 1 hour
  5. Empty your seeds into a strainer. So, don’t make the mistake I made of putting the buckwheat in a strainer with big holes. Make sure the strainer holes are small enough that the buckwheat wont leak through and rinse with cold water
  6. Empty your seeds into a sprouter. If you don’t have a sprouter, you can get one they are everywhere  (health food store, chapters, homesence). Or, you can actually sprout on cookie sheets – so spread the buckwheat evenly on top of a cookie sheet
  7. There is a goopy substance (the starch) that you will notice collects on the buckwheat. For this reason, you will need to put the buckwheat back into the strainer and rinse 3 times a day. This is where the sprouter comes in handy as you don’t need to keep transferring between the cookie sheet and strainer.

Eventually you may want to get a sprouter, however – to start…don’t let this stop you…just try it the old fashioned way.

  1. 2 days later – your buckwheat will start growing tails. You are done!
  2. Now – you can stop here. OR, you can dehydrate the buckwheat to make it  crunchier but still keep all of the live benefits. Again, the best option is to have a dehydrator – but again don’t let that stop you as you can use your convection oven.  Set the oven as low as it can go, mine is 150F.

Enzymes are destroyed at temperatures above 110F, so we need to leave the oven open a bit to let some heat out. I usually take a steel serving spoon and lodge it in the oven. Bake the sprouted buckwheat on a cookie sheet for 5-6 hours.

DONE!! Now place this in a sealed glass jar and enjoy

Please try these recipes, or share any that you have on our website.


Classic Cereal

  1. ¼- ½ cup buckwheat
  2. ¼ cup seeds/ nuts of your choice
  3. 2 tbsp of gogi berries or raisins
  4. ¼- ½ cup fresh berries
  5. Almond milk

Sprouted Buckwheat Chocolate Banana Sundae

  1. 1 Banana
  2. 1 cup Sprouted Buckwheat (this doesn’t need to be dehydrated)
  3. 1 Teaspoon Raw Chocolate Powder
  4. 1 Teaspoon Agave Nectar
  5. Splash of Warm Water

**this is basically a protein shake, where you are using the buckwheat as your protein powder

Home Made Energy Bars

With all this talk about healthier choices for breakfast cereals and breakfast bars I would like to give you some tasty easy to make homemade recipes for energy bars that can be used for a balanced breakfast or as a nutritional snack.

Bars are among the easiest and least time-consuming to prepare and the only equipment you need is a food processor.  You will find these bars to be a big contrast to the regular cereal bars.  They are filled with nutrient dense foods that will give you all the nourishment you need to have an invigorating start to the day and sustainable energy throughout your day.

You can eat 1 to 2 bars a day, and if you make them in big batches the bars will last longer.  When preparing in big batches you can individually wrap the bars and put them in the freezer and grab them when needed.   The bars will not freeze solid so there is no thawing required.  Since the bars don’t freeze fully they are a great treat to take while doing winter sports such as skiing or snow shoeing.  These bars will stay supple and chewy where as most processed commercial bars will freeze solid.  You can even through a few in your freezer at work and if you didn’t have time to pack a lunch or are working late you can use the bars as a nutritional meal or snack.

If you have never tried a nutrient dense energy bar and want to give it a taste-test you can buy a commercially made whole foods bar made by – Vega, Lara and or Raw Organics.  These bars are made with whole foods and organic ingredients.  They will give you an idea of what your own homemade bars will taste like.  These bars are some of the best on the market, but it can get pricey if you’re buying them daily.  Check out Mountain Top Nutrition at the corner of King and University (253 King St N, Waterloo, 519-342-2043) for Energy bars – their selection and service is fantastic!

Energy Bar Procedure:

Follow this procedure for all the energy bars until otherwise specified.

  • Place all ingredients in a food processor until desired texture is reached – for uniformly smooth bars you want to process for longer, and if you like the chucky texture process less.
  • Remove mixture from processor and put on a clean surface.
  • There are 2 ways to shape the bars:  actual balls or bar shape.
  • To shape into balls, use a tablespoon to scoop the mixture (approx  3-4  tablespoons) and roll between the palms of your hands
  • To shape into a bar, flatten the mixture on the clean surface with your hands.  Place plastic wrap over top and with a rolling pin, roll mixture to desired bar thickness.  Cut into bars.  Alternatively, form mixture into a brick and cut like sliced bread.
  • As the bars dry they become easier to handle.  The moisture content of berries and dates vary so if the mixture is too moist to form a solid bar, add more of the dry ingredients.  If too dry, either add more wet ingredients such as berries or a small amount of water.
  • All recipes make approximately 12 1oz bars

Chocolate Blueberry Energy Bars

High in Antioxidants and flavonoids, therefore helps to reduce free radical damage in the body and improves cellular recovery.

  1. 1 cup fresh soaked dried dates
  2. ¼ cup almonds
  3. ¼ cup blueberries
  4. ¼ cup roasted carob powder or cacao
  5. ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  6. ¼ cup hemp protein
  7. ¼ cup sesame seeds
  8. 1 tsp lemon zest
  9. Sea salt to taste
  10. ½ cup sprouted or cooked buckwheat (optional)
  11. ½ cup frozen blueberries

Place all ingredients into food processor except the buckwheat and blueberries.  Knead buckwheat and blueberries into mixture by hand.

Ginger Pear Energy Bars

A refreshing, crisp-tasting bar with lots of nutrients and ginger to help fight inflammation and improve digestion

  1. 1 small pear, cored
  2. ¾ cup fresh or soaked dried dates
  3. ½ cup sunflower seeds
  4. ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  5. ¼ cup hemp flour
  6. ¼ cup walnuts
  7. 2 tbsp of grated fresh ginger
  8. Sea salt to taste
  9. 2 tbsp sesame seeds

Mix all ingredients in foods processor except sesame seeds.  Cover mixture in sesame seeds before shaping into balls or bars.

Apple Cinnamon Energy Bars

These bars are more traditional in flavour but with all the same health benefits as a nutrient-dense bar.

  1. 1 small apple, cored
  2. 1 cup fresh or soaked dried dates
  3. ½ cup soaked or cooked quinoa
  4. ¼ cup almonds
  5. ¼ cup ground flaxseed
  6. ¼ cup hemp flour
  7. 2 tsp cinnamon
  8. ½ tsp nutmeg
  9. Sea salt to taste

Mango Coconut Energy Bar

With a tropical flavour, high electrolyte content, and energy producing coconut, these bars are ideal for long physically demanding days

  1. ¾ cup fresh or soaked dried dates
  2. ½ cup chopped mango
  3. ½ cup ground flaxseed
  4. ½ cup soaked or cooked quinoa
  5. ¼ cup macadamia nuts
  6. 1 tsp lemon zest
  7. Sea salt to taste
  8. ¼ cup shredded coconut.

Mix all ingredients together in the food processor except coconut.  Work coconut into the mixture by hand.

* All recipes provided have been taken from the book ‘The Thrive Diet’ by Brendan Brazier*

Breakfast Bars — High Fibre, or High Sugar?

The last blog discussed breakfast cereals and how to pick a ‘better’ cereal to start off the day.  Cereals companies are now coming out with breakfast bars and marketing it as a fast and easy choice for breakfast or as a high fibre snack.  Just like cereals you need to be careful about what you’re choosing to put in your grocery cart.

Many breakfast bars/cereals bars are marketed as high fibre but are also filled with loads of sugar, colouring and additives.  With millions of dollars spent every year on the marketing of processed foods such as breakfast bars it can be come very confusing about what the better choice is.  The best way to determine the quality of your breakfast bars is to take a quick look at the nutrition label for the following:

Sugar vs Fibre Content

You want to pick a bar that has approximately equal amounts of sugar and fibre and you want to avoid bars with more then 9 grams of sugar.  Look at the ingredient list and if you see sugar in the first three ingredients it’s loaded with sugar.  Pay attention to how many times is sugar listed in the ingredient list?  Also, the type of sugar used is important.  Bars that contain high fructose corn syrup should be avoided where better sugars include organic cane juice/sugar, brown rice syrup, honey, maple syrup, agave.

Additives, Artificial Colours & Flavour

Ask yourself – can I read and understand what all the ingredients listed are?  If not it’s likely to be artificial.


You want to avoid any bars that have modified or hydrogenated oils/fats.


Sodium is added to processed foods for flavour and as a preservative.  You want to pick a bar that has less than 150 mg of sodium per serving.


Low calorie is not always the better choices.  Often low calories choices are the ones that are most heavily processed and stripped of their nutritional value and pumped with artificial colour and flavour to make it taste good.  Low nutrient foods add no value to your diet and often leave you hungry and craving for more foods because of the lack of vitamins and minerals content.  Physically you may feel full but your body is still starving and in need of vitamins and minerals thus leaving you hungry soon after eating.  In addition, bars with high sugar content will affect your body’s blood sugar levels and also leave you hungry and craving more foods soon after eating.


Below you will find a chart of the most common breakfast cereal bars and their nutritional content – what would be your best choice after looking more closely at the sugar, fibre, artificial content, sodium levels and ingredient list?

Cereal Bar Special K Strawberry flavour Fibre 1 – oats and peanut butter All Bran Bars – oatmeal cinnamon Kashi – 7 grains with almonds
Sugar 9 g 12 g 9 g 5 g
Fibre 0 g 5 g 4 g 4 g
Sodium 95 mg 90 mg 105 mg 115 g

Ingredients – pay special attention to types of fat and sugar used.

Special K Strawberry Flavour


Fibre 1 oats & peanut butter


All Bran oatmeal cinnamon

Wheat flour, sugar/glucose-fructose, cereal (wheat bran, sugar/glucose-fructose, malt [corn flour, malted barley], salt, vitamins [thiamin hydrochloride, pyridoxine hydrochloride, folic acid, d-calcium pantothenate], iron), vegetable shortening (contains palm and palm kernel oils, TBHQ), oat hull fibre, rolled oats, dried whole egg, milk ingredients, salt, cinnamon, natural and artififcial flavours, baking powder, soy lecithin.

Kashi 7 grains with almonds

Seven whole grains and sesame blend (Whole: hard red winter wheat, oats, rye, barley, triticale, long grain brown rice, buckwheat, sesame seeds), whole almonds, brown rice syrup, soy protein isolate, toasted soy grits, evaporated cane juice, chicory root (inulin), whole flaxseed, evaporated cane juice syrup, rice starch, corn flour, honey, expeller pressed canola oil, glycerin, oat hull fibre, salt, natural flavour, cane juice molasses, soy lecithin, peanut flour, milk ingredients, annatto colour. Contains wheat, almond, soy, peanut, milk and sesame ingredients.

Ideally you want to avoid choosing processed foods as much as possible.  It can be just as convenient and tasty to make your own breakfast using whole foods.

Easy Alternatives

Some fast and easy alternative to breakfast cereals:

–       Hand full of nuts and seeds and an apple/fruit (flax seeds and hemp seeds are high in fibre)

–       Home made granola

–       Protein smoothy – whey or soy protein, ½ cup of fruit, 1 cup of water or soy/rice/almond milk

–       Hard boiled eggs, 3 egg white omelette

–       High protein whole food bars – Raw Organics, VEGA, Elevate, Lara bars

Cereals. Are they Healthy?

With all the marketing talk on cereals, no wonder people are confused! While cereals are a convenient way to start your day – they may not be the best.  Since breakfast is your most important meal, lets learn how to dissect what you are eating!

TV commercials are full of marketing claims – you know the ones I mean…there are cartoon characters dancing around with cereals that are basically straight sugar claiming that they are now whole grain, and a good source of vitamins and minerals.  While this may be true, how did they actually get the cereal this way. Well, they stripped the grain of all its nutrition, and then added sugar, colourings, additives and vitamins and minerals. I don’t know about you, but when I enter my common sense corner wouldn’t you rather eat something that hasn’t been that processed?

Sure you may be getting those vitamins and minerals but what else are you getting, and what about the sugar?

If you want a vibrant life, it is not going to come from eating, low nutrient based food.

So, what should you look for.

Sugar – even though your cereal is claiming that it has vitamins, minerals, and fibre how much sugar are you getting. In our opinion to be considered a healthy cereal it should contain less than 9g sugar/serving.

Also – what form of sugar are you eating. Things that contain high fructose corn syrup should be avoided where better sugars include organic cane juice/sugar, brown rice syrup, honey, maple syrup, agave.

Fibre – Make sure that your cereal contains between 3-5g of fibre per serving and if doesn’t…add some. Flax is a great source of fibre amoung other things.  Grind it and add 2tbsp to your favourite cereal. Fibre can slow down the absorption of these blood sugars, so if your favourite cereal is higher in sugar than it should be, adding extra fibre can balance this out.

Sodium – Low sodium foods are considered to have less than 140-200mg of sodium per serving.

Fats – some cereals are still adding toxic fats to their cereals. Watch for things on the label like hydrogenated or modified fats. Avoid these at all costs.

Add things that are ALIVE to your breakfast. Berries contain some of the highest sources of antioxidants and vitamins and minerals and taste great on your cereal. By adding 2tbsp of flax and ½ cup of berries to a healthier cereal you are doing a great service to your health!

Check out our upcoming newsletter to see how you can supercharge your breakfast cereal!!

Here is an example of a poor label, and a better label.  See if you can apply what you have learned!!

Which label is better and why?

Label #1

soy grits, seven whole grains and sesame cereal (hard red winter wheat, long grain brown rice, whole grain oats, triticale, barley, rye, buckwheat, sesame seeds), evaporated cane juice syrup, corn meal, corn flour, soy protein, wheat bran, oat hull fibre, corn bran, honey, evaporated cane juice, natural flavours, calcium carbonate, salt, annatto colour. Contains soy, wheat and sesame ingredients.

Sugar – 9g/serving
Fibre 5g/serving
Sodium 95g/serving

Label #2

whole wheat, raisins, wheat bran, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, salt, malt flavoring, vitamins and minerals: niacinamide, reduced iron, zinc oxide, pyridoxine hydrochloride (vitamin b6), riboflavin (vitamin b2), thiamin hydrochloride (vitamin b1), vitamin a palmitate, folic acid, vitamin b12 and vitamin d.

Sugar 19g/serving
Fibre 7g/serving
Sodium 350mg/serving

Answer – Better Choice – Label 1

Why? – less sugar, better sugar choice (evapourated cane juice instead of high fructose corn syrup), less sodium.

Now go out and use this knowledge to help make healthier choices everyday, and Stay Vibrant!

Chick Pea Salad

I am a huge advocate of adding beans and legumes to a salad, as they help stabilize your blood sugars and allow you to feel more full and satisfied from a meal.

I usually encourage people to purchase these, but also wanted to give people another option of making them at home. This recipe is really easy, and takes about 2-3 minutes to put together. In addition to being less expensive, it also allows you to make sure that there are no additives in your food. Experiment with this and Enjoy!!


  1. 2 cans of chickpeas (there are organic chickpeas in the health food section, or you can soak then yourself as well)
  2. 3 tbsp of olive oil
  3. 3 tbsp of lemon juice
  4. 1 cucumber thinly cubed
  5. 1 pepper thinly sliced
  6. ½ red onion thinly sliced (optional)
  7. Carrots (optinal)
  8. Sea salt to taste

Mix the ingredients, and place into a glass container to store

How to Read Food Labels

There is a lot of confusion around labels, and what is actually good for you. We went through a whole low fat craze, which actually in turn made people more fat!! Now we see many labels making claims…like high fibre, low sodium. The problem is, we need to be label savvy as a lot of this is great marketing. They replace one bad thing with another and trick us into thinking the product is good for us.

So, here is what to look for…

Serving Size

On the nutritional facts, there will be a serving size listed. For cereal or grains it might say 1/2cup, for bars it might say 1. This is important to note, as most of the higher calorie items are 2 cookies, or 10chips.  This isn’t a lot of food for this many calories, which is why these foods must be limited. They are called empty calories, meaning they hold very little nutrition for their caloric punch


Fats are a very confusing topic for most people. I still get many people in my office that are afraid to eat things like nuts or avocado for fear of getting fat.

These good fats actually help your body to burn weight…not put it on.

The inflammatory or toxic fats are the ones we want to reduce, but we need to increase our consumption of the good fats.

Fats to Avoid – Many processed foods, will also contain processed fats. These are fats that help to add flavour and stabilize the shelf life of the food.  We want to avoid the following fats as much as possible – hydrogenated fats, partially hydrogenated fats. We want to greatly limit things like vegetable oil, corn oil or soybean oil as most of the time they are highly processed. So, if you see a product that claims to be high in fibre, but also has these fats in it…this is not something that you should be eating every day

Fats to include – things like nuts and seeds (except peanuts), avocado, olive oil, hemp seeds/oil, flax seeds/oil, olives, fish. These products contain the good fats, that will help us with cardiovascular function, weight loss and management, skin health, brain health and much more.


Many of the processed foods will replace fats for sugar, or they add sugar to compensate for the increase in fibre (to still allow the product to taste great). White sugar is very inflammatory in the body and in increased quantities contributes to lowered immune system, weight gain and insulin resistance. When looking at a product it is important to make sure to look at the amount of sugar per serving as well as the type of sugar used.  Healthy products will use less than 9g of sugar per serving.

Healthy sugars to look for are things like brown rice syrup, agave nectar, honey, maple syrup, dates, dried fruit, organic cane sugar.

Sometimes when you look at some of the natural bars you will see that they have more sugar in them than 9g/serving.  If they are more, but they contain the natural sugars as oppose to white sugar, they are okay to consume. Lara bars are a good example of this


Don’t be fooled…even some of the soups in the health food section of the grocery store contain more sodium than they should. Sodium in excess quantities can cause problems with water retention and blood pressure. It is advised to keep your daily sodium intake to 2400mg, with an individual product being around 200mg. Most of the convenience food like frozen dinners and packaged soups can contain up to 700-900mg of sodium per serving.  Therefore it is best to cook your own food, or make sure that what you are eating on a consistent basis is not too high in sodium.  Celtic sea salt is not processed, and the trace minerals are not stripped like in regular table salt. Therefore it does not have the same effect of blood pressure and water retention. If you are going to use salt, you can use sea salt sparingly, but also try to find other ways to spice your food like lemon juice or herbs.

Having the ability to be able to understand labels, will help keep you and your family healthy.

The Straight Facts on Sunscreen

Here we are again, the time of year most of us wait for…those hot, hazy days of summer.  While summer brings us so much joy, it also comes with one of the most controversial topics….Sunscreen.

The incidence of skin cancer, and sun related skin damage is very real and also very preventable. It is important to understand what to look for as it will become apparent that all sunscreens are not created equal.  In this article, I hope to clear up some of the confusion around sunscreen and give you tools to help protect you and your family.

SPF (Sun Protection Factor)

SPF is a measure of a sunscreen’s ability to prevent UVB from damaging the skin.

As a general rule, if it takes you 20minutes for your unprotected skin to turn pink, then you take 20min and times by SPF 15, which gives you about 5 hours of protection.

Here is another way to look at it:

  • SPF 15 blocks approximately 93 percent of all incoming UVB rays.
  • SPF 30 blocks 97 percent; and
  • SPF 50 blocks 98 percent.

They may seem like negligible differences, but if you are light-sensitive, or have a history of skin cancer, those extra percentages will make a difference. And as you can see, no sunscreen can block all UV rays. (skin cancer foundation website, 2009)

Problems With This Model

  1. Because of stability issues, no sunscreen should be expected to work for more than 2 hours without reapplication
  2. Reddening indicates the damage from UVB rays, but doesn’t tell you about the damaging effects of the deeper penetrating UVA rays. Plenty of damage can be done to the skin without it ever turning pink or red

It is important that you use at least SPF 15, and preferably SPF 30.  Many sunscreens are now coming out with SPF 55-100 however most of these block just 1-2% more sunburn (UVB) radiation than an SPF 30 sunscreen and aren’t required to block UVA. Compared to an SPF 30 sunscreen, they also require 2-3 times more active ingredients, many of which absorb into the body.

Many all-day moisturizers advertise SPF protection, but 1 in 5 offer little protection from harmful UVA rays.  A surprising new government report attributes an increasing incidence of malignant melanoma among people who work indoors from UVA rays shining through windows onto unprotected skin (Godar 2009).


UVB is the chief culprit behind sunburn. UVA rays penetrate the skin more deeply and are associated with wrinkling, leathering, sagging, and other effects of photo aging.  They also exacerbate the carcinogenic effects of UVB rays, and a growing number of studies are showing that they are being seen as a cause of skin cancer on their own.

Most sunscreens protect from UVB sunburn radiation, and far fewer brands protect against UVA rays. Currently, there are no FDA regulations for UVA protection in suncreens.  The good news is that in the last couple of years, the number of manufacturers adding UVA protection to their sunscreen has increased.

Here are the current UVA filters approved by the FDA:

  • Avobenzone
  • Mexoryl
  • Titanium Dioxide
  • Zinc

It is important to make sure that in addition to a higher SPF (which will protect from UVB radiation) that your sunscreen is also protecting you from these harmful UVA rays.

Most active ingredients in sunscreen work by absorbing the suns energy, breaking it apart and releasing that energy to react with other chemicals in the sunscreen or kicking off free radicals. Some active ingredients are more stable than others, but nearly all break down to some extent in the sun.  In fact, it has been shown that many ingredients break down in the sun in a matter of minutes or hours causing UV radiation to be exposed to skin. Many products on the market contain ingredients that may be unstable alone, or in combination with other ingredients in the product.

Instead of absorbing the suns energy, the zinc oxide and titanium dioxide actually reflect or scatter the sunlight making it a more stable choice.  Because they are white earth minerals, the sunscreens tend to be more opaque and white in appearance instead of clear.  Little to no amounts of zinc or titanium dioxide are absorbed into the skin making them safer choices than some of the other UVA filters.

Environmental Working Group “found that consumers using sunscreens without zinc and titanium would be exposed to an average of 20% more UVA radiation — with increased risks for UVA-induced skin damage, premature aging, wrinkling, and UV-induced immune system damage — than consumers using zinc- and titanium-based products. Sunscreens without zinc or titanium contain an average of 4 times as many high hazard ingredients known or strongly suspected to cause cancer or birth defects, to disrupt human reproduction or damage the growing brain of a child. They also contain more toxins on average in every major category of health harm considered: cancer (10% more), birth defects and reproductive harm (40% more), neurotoxins (20% more), endocrine system disruptors (70% more), and chemicals that can damage the immune system (70% more)” (EWG 2007).

Toxic Ingredients

Sunscreen is known to contain active metabolites that are readily absorbed by the body and are known to cause many toxic side effects in the system.

Here are a few of the most common toxic ingredients in the most common and popular sunscreens on the market:

Oxybenzone – This is now the most common active ingredient in sunscreen since PABA was discontinued.

It is known to cause:

  • high absorption through skin
  • high rates of allergic reactions
  • growing concerns about hormone disruption

Octinoxate (octyl methyoxycinnamate)

It is known to cause:

  • sensitize skin
  • Estrogenic effects are noted in laboratory animals
  • disruption of thyroid hormone and brain signaling.

Paba ester/octyl dimethyl paba – A derivative of the once popular PABA.

It is known to cause:

  • this chemical releases free radicals
  • damages DNA
  • estrogenic activity
  • allergic reactions in some people.

What to Look for in a Sunscreen

  1. SPF 30 to 45
  2. Doesn’t contain the toxic ingredients
  3. The sunscreen has been tested for stability of ingredients
  4. Contains UVA protectants like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide

What Is the Best

After much research on this, I believe that Badger Sunscreen is the best and meets all of these requirements. Because of the zinc and titanium dioxide which are natural inert white compounds, this sunscreen tends to go on very thick and often white. While badger still does this, I find it goes on better than most.

Even many of the natural sunscreens on the market contain these toxic active ingredients, which is why for your convenience we are selling Badger in our clinic this summer.

To see how your sunscreen matches up, please visit

Sun Safety

In addition to wearing sunscreen, please also follow these important guidelines:

  1. Avoid sun during peak times of 11-3pm
  2. Wear a hat and UVA/UVB protective eye wear
  3. Take extra care of children
  4. Wear sunscreen at all times even in the shade as up to 40% of the UV radiation can reach the earth on a completely cloudy day
  5. Apply sunscreen 30min before going into the sun and then every 2 hours after that (regardless of SPF)

Much of the information in the article was from Please visit this site for more information.