Category Archives: Nutrition

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.

Do You Want More Energy?

Most people will reply YES!

Since energy is in such high demand it’s important to explore where our body’s energy comes from so we can figure out how we can get more.

Where does energy come from?

Energy is produced by the trillions of cells in our body, therefore in order to gain more energy we need to address the health of our cells.

There are three essential components that determine how well a cell functions:

  1. Oxygen
  2. Water and
  3. Elimination of Waste.


Oxygen is the source of all energy in the body. Without oxygen our cells wouldn’t be able to do any work. All metabolic processes in the body such as assimilation (absorption), elimination of waste, respiration, circulation and digestion requires energy.

So how do we get more oxygen?

The answer is simple, we need to breathe better, and by this I mean real deep diaphragmatic breathing – commonly practiced in yoga and meditation. Deep Breathing is simple and just practicing 10 deep breaths twice a day is a great start that only takes minutes out of your day, yet leaves you feeling much more energized.

To help you learn how to breathe deeply you can pick up CD’s or take yoga classes. You can also look on the web for videos that demonstrate diaphragmatic breathing. There are two videos that I found to be helpful in getting you starting on diaphragmatic breathing.

The first video explains the location of the diaphragm in the body and how it moves in relation to other organs.

The second video is a one minute demonstration of diaphragmatic breathing.

In addition to giving your cells an essential ingredient to make energy, diaphragmatic breathing is an excellent way to relax and calm down the nervous system. When you’re feeling stressed or anxious you can stop and take 10 deep diaphragmatic breathes essentially anywhere – your office desk, your car, in the elevator and so on.


The second ingredient necessary for your trillions of cells to produce energy is water.

Water is the most abundant substance in the body. Up to 70% of our body is made up of water; furthermore 70% of our planet is also made of water, so it only makes sense that we need a substantial intake of water daily for optimal cellular function. Water is the medium in which all cellular reactions occur, thus if we are dehydrated even slightly it reduces cellular function, hence reducing our overall energy.

The recommended daily intake of water is one half your body’s weight in ounces. For example, if you weight 200 lbs, half your weight would be 100 lbs, thus you would need 100 ounces of water daily. There are 8 ounces in one cup of water, or 32 ounces in a litre. Therefore a 200 lb individual would need to drink 3 litres of water daily to stay well hydrated.

So how do we get more water?

The best way to tackle your hydration is by observing the colour of your urine. If you urine is clear or faint light yellow and odourless you are well hydrated. If you find your urine to be darker yellow and has an odour it’s a good indication that you are dehydrated.

If you find yourself thirsty it’s an indication that you are dehydrated. Don’t wait to feel the thirst to drink water. You body usually sends out thirst signals well after the fact of dehydration.

In addition to drinking water you want to consume approximately 75% of your diet in the form of raw uncooked food due to its high water content. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, and cold pressed oils.

Use freshly cut lemon or lime slices to spice up your water, oranges slices are very zesty and work well too. Over the summer months you can increase your water consumption through the use of herbal iced teas. As a rule of thumb, half of your daily water consumption should be in the form of pure water and half can be in other forms such as herbal or green tea.


The last component to producing optimal cellular energy is the ability of the cell to eliminate waste, also known as Detoxification.

Every cell in our body produces a natural waste as a bi-product of the work it does, and in order for the cell to be able to continue function optimally it has to remove that waste to make room for future waste. One of the biggest obstacles to detoxification and waste removal is that in addition to the natural waste our body produces, it’s also faces with environmental toxins and toxins from the food we eat and the water we drink, making it twice as hard to keep up with the detoxification process.

One of the most important components to waste removal is our lymphatic system. Stay tuned for the next blog which will discuss the lymphatic system in detail.

In order to support detox you need to:

  1. Do a couple of really good cleanses each year with the fall and spring being the best seasons to embark on a cleanse.
  2. Be putting healthy cleansing practices into everyday use to keep up with waste removal.

Some quick and easy tips on daily cleansing include:

  • Increase green leafy vegetable intake (green smoothies are fantastic – check out Newsletter 14 for recipes on green smoothies)
  • Eating whole foods
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Daily movement/exercise
  • Hot Yoga or Infrared saunas
  • Good quality fats – fish, nuts, seeds or supplements with a fish oil

In addition there are several things you want to avoid that hinder detoxification:

  • Processed foods
  • Fried foods and unhealthy fats
  • Sugar
  • Toxic exposure – chemical products such as house hold cleaner & beauty products, toothpaste, deodorant etc…

In Summary

In summary, if you want more energy and you want to get more out of your day with better focus and more motivation you need to respect and support all the trillions of cells in your body by increasing oxygen supply, water intake and supporting the removal of waste through daily detoxification!

Boost Your Immune

Change of Season Soup

Over the last few weeks I have had  numerous patients coming into my office with the cold and flu; this is to no surprise because during the ‘Change of Seasons’ we are more susceptible to catching the cold or flu.  It’s important to boost your immunity during the ‘Change of Seasons’ and practice good hygiene such as washing your hands frequently to prevent the spread of germs.

For years I have been preparing for myself and prescribing to my patients a special soup called ‘Change of Season Soup’ to boost the immune.   It works like a charm, and patients will come back to me time and time again in owe by how well the soup supported their immune.

The ‘Change of Season Soup’ is based on Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).   In TCM the lungs are responsible for the Wei Qi (Defensive Qi) that protects us from the cold and flu.  ‘Change of Season Soup’ is an immune tonic which can help balance the body during times of stress, and protects against the cold and flu.

The following recipe can be made on its own, or the herbs can be added to homemade chicken soup with other hearty vegetables like: shitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, potato, carrots and other root vegetables.  Drink 2 cups of ‘Change of Season Soup’ each day for about two weeks.  If acutely ill, wait until you have recovered to drink the soup.

Ingredients: equal parts of the following herbs, about 2 oz (60 grams) of each herb

  1. Codonopsis root: Strengthens Qi (energy), builds the blood to improve circulation and nourish body fluids
  2. Astragalus: Strengthens the Wei Qi; the immune defences, nourishes the spleen, and tonifies the bloods.
  3. Dioscorea root: Tonifies and balances the lungs and kidneys.
  4. Chinese lycee berries: Strengthens the liver and kidneys.


  1. Fill a large stock pot with 4-6 litres of water, and herbs and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to low-medium and simmer for 2-4 hours to reduce the liquid to half.
  3. If liquid boils down before 2 hours add water as necessary.
  4. Strain out herbs.
  5. Makes 2-3 litres.
  6. Drink ½ litre (2 cups) per day as a tea or broth, or use it as a base for soups.
  7. Keeps in fridge for 4-5 days.

In addition, increasing your daily intake of Vitamin C (2,000-4,000mg per day) and taking a high potency probiotic daily (Metagenics for Seroyal brands) will help to keep your immune strong.

Spring is definitely in the air, but with the rapid and unpredictable weather changes it’s important to support your immune until the warmer weather is stable and here to stay!

Dried herbs can be found at: Natural Foods & More — Corner of Bridgeport and Devitt in Waterloo (cross from the Sobey’s plaza)

Warming Socks

As an acute treatment for the cold and flu try the ‘Warming Sock’ treatment.  It’s cheap and easy to do and anyone can do this – kids or adults.  The ‘Warming Sock’ treatments help to regulate circulation and boost the immune system.  It’s particularly helpful for symptoms of congestion, sore throat and fever.

All you need to get started is:

  1. 1 pair of ankle sport/cotton socks
  2. 1 pair of big warm wool socks
  3. Cold water
  4. Warm blankets


  1. It’s best to do this treatment over night while you’re sleeping.
  2. Before you go to bed, take the sport/cotton socks and soak them in very cold water, wring them out and take them out so they are wet but not dripping and take them to your bed.
  3. Place the wet soaks on your feet (this part is a little uncomfortable for only a few seconds until you get use to the feeling of the wet soaks), and place the warm wool socks over top.
  4. Wrap yourself in warm blanks or covers and go to sleep
  5. In the morning the wet socks will be dry
  6. Repeat every night until your symptoms resolve.

Often patients will look at my in disbelief that such a treatment would work, but his is by far the best acute cold and flu treatment out there.  It really works, it’s simple, it’s cheap and anyone in the family can do it!  Put it to the test next time you’re feeling under the weather.  This treatment is also great to do as prevention of the cold and flu during the early signs of the immune system weakening, for example sniffles, early signs of congestions or feeling worn down.

The Epidemic of Vitamin D Deficiency?

People are very confused about vitamin D, with good reason! For years it was thought of to be a very toxic vitamin that you shouldn’t to too much of. The recommended daily allowance was set at 400IU per day which was the amount necessary to prevent rickets (a brittle bone disease). Research is now showing that supplementation should be somewhere between 2000-4000IU/day depending on the health conditions and current vitamin D status.

It is my recommendation that everyone get their vitamin D levels checked. You can request this from your MD, and if they will not run it then ask us at your next appointment and we can order the test. While the test is not cheap ($75.00), it will provide invaluable information to preventing multiple chronic diseases including cancer and heart disease.

We all know that we require the sunlight to produce vitamin D in the body, and that while food supplies minute amounts of vitamin D it is really the sun that we need to reach optimal vitamin D levels.  So here is the dilemma, we know that sun exposure can increase our risk factor for skin cancer so we avoid the sun but we also know that low vitamin D levels will contribute to chronic disease. In fact, research has shown that people with skin cancer have the lowest rate of all other types of cancers. So what are we saying, you should get skin cancer…NO! We are saying that you need optimal levels of vitamin D!!

Dispelling the Myths

1)      We can get enough Vitamin D from the sun to provide us protection for the whole year

FALSE – Depending on when your vitamin D levels are taken will depend on what your status is. However, you need a constant level of vitamin D to be protective.  The amount of sun and the strength of the sun are equally important.  The equator is getting direct sun and all other latitudes are getting a less direct amount of sun. It has been found that the 35th latitude (around California) is the latitude that is required to have enough strength from the sun to convert vitamin D all year round.  For everyone else, the sun is not strong enough to cause a vitamin D conversion.  In fact, it has been found that people in Florida in the winter are vitamin D deficient.  In fact, the journal of experimental dermalotogy in 2007 stated that the recommendations regarding sun exposure need to be reevaluated in lue of the new research on vitamin D.

2)      Sunscreen does not block Vitamin D conversion

FALSE – it has been found that even SPF 8 will reduce vitamin D conversion by 92.5% and SPF 15 by up to 95%

3)      I drink fortified milk, so I am getting enough vitamin D

FALSE – Vitamin D is present in foods such as mushrooms, eggs, salmon, cod liver oil and milk. However the amount of vitamin D is a serving of milk is somewhere between 50-100IU and eggs 40IU and salmon 500IU. You can see that you have to eat a whole lot of these to get the required amount per day.  It has been shown that mushrooms contain a great amount of vitamin D, but you need to eat 5.9lbs of mushrooms per day to get enough to be protective.

30min of sun exposure will give you 10,000-20,000IU of Vitamin D (Williams & Wilkins, 2002)

4)      Vitamin D is Very TOXIC

FALSE – there are very few actual studies on the toxic effects of vitamin D. One of the most common studies was done from 11 people that were fed a meal that was made from vitamin D laced peanut oil (by mistake) and ended up taking in over 5,000,000IU of Vitamin D. Yes this wasn’t a typo…it was 5MILLION. So, 2000IU per day is completely safe.

In fact, studies have shown that the upper limit of vitamin D should be changed to 10,000IU (Am J Clin Nut, 1991)

5)      All Vitamin D Supplements are Equal

FALSE – First of all you need to take D3. Most pharmaceutical companies are producing D2 because it is cheaper, however it is less stable and can’t raise the vitamin D levels like the D3 version

Second, many companies will have things like lactose, gluten, magnesium stearate (coating that some people find hard to break down), sodium benzoate. You want to make sure that the company that you are using uses clean raw ingredients to produce their vitamin D.  The companies that we recommend are Thorne Research and Metagenics who have tight regulations and control on their products – both are distributed through health professionals.

6)      Vitamin D supplements are well absorbed

For the most part they are, however if you have been taking adequate levels of vitamin D and are deficient on bloodwork it may have something to do with absorption.  If you fall into this category, talk to us about checking your ability to absorb crucial vitamins and minerals.

What Protective Effects does Vitamin D have?

1)      Osteoporosis

One of the most widely known and well researched uses for vitamin D is in its protective effects against osteoporosis and fracture risk.  It was found that people that were deficient in vitamin D will only absorb about 10-15% of the calcium from the gut, whereas people that had optimal vitamin D levels were absorbing between 30-80%.  (NEJM 2007; 357-266-81)

2)      Myocardial Infarction

It has been found that men with suboptimal levels of vitamin D are 2.4X more likely to have a myocardial infarction than men with optimal levels. (Arch Int Med, 2008, 168 (11): 1174-1180)

3)      Inflammation

The inflammatory response seems to be very linked with Vitamin D status. Vitamin D levels were checked on people with chronic low back pain, and the majority of them were found to be deficient.  When supplemented for three months, 95% of people in the study reported they were pain free.

4)      Immune System

Antimicrobial peptides function in the human body to keep bacteria, viruses, and fungi in check. These peptides also act as immunomodulators, mediate inflammatory responses, bind bacterial endotoxins, and regulate adhesion molecule expression, and are regulated by probiotics, amino acids, and vitamin D.  Studies have shown that people that supplement with 2000IU of vitamin D through the winter have a 80-90% reduction in influenza compaired to people that don’t supplement at all (Alt Med Review, 2008)

5)      Cancer

  • 77% risk reduction of ALL cancer risk in postmenopausal woman that were supplemented with calcium and vitamin D (Am J Clin Nut)
  • 50% of colon cancer could be prevented by maintaining vitamin D blood levels of >34ng/ml (Nutrition Review, 2007)
  • Reduction by up to 50% of breast cancer risk for people who maintain a vitamin D level of >52ng/ml (Nutrition Reviews, 2007)
  • Reduction by up to 50% of type 1 diabetes in people who maintain a vitamin D level of >34ng/ml (Nutrition Reviews, 2007)
  • Reduction of 20% of ovarian cancer of people that maintain a vitamin D level of >40ng/ml (Nutrition Reviews, 2007)

**the amount to prevent rickets is 6ng/ml…clearly not enough to prevent these major diseases

Take Home Message

1)      We all need to have our vitamin D levels checked by either your MD or ND

Vitamin D Council is suggesting that everyone in Canada should have a vitamin D status of 50ng/ml (125nmol/ml)

2)      Everyone in North America should be supplementing with Vitamin D

  • Birth- 11years – 1000IU
  • 12yrs-adult – 2000IU/year during winter months. If you are spending great amount of time outside without sunscreen then you can reduce your summer intake to 1000IU

3)      If you have had breast or colon cancer, osteoporosis, type 1 diabetes or have a strong history of these conditions please talk to us as recommended levels can increase to upwards of 3800-5000IU/day

The Truth on Energy Bars

As many of you have already watched, I had the opportunity to do a segment on CTV news on energy and sports bars. Since the aired segment was short, I thought I would expand on what to look for and what to stay away from.

In preparing for this talk, one of the things that I found most interesting is where these bars are located. The bars that I consider “healthy” were found in the health food section of the grocery store…I knew where those were. However, I had to go on a hunt for the other sports bars. You will never guess where I found those…that’s right, the pharmacy aisles. To the average consumer this is very confusing, as how could things in the pharmacy section be THAT bad!

Here are the things that you want to keep in mind when eating these bars:


All of these bars use sugar. It is just a matter of what type of sugar they are using. The purpose of most of these bars is to act as quick energy for athletics, so they use sugar such as maltodextrin, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup and glucose to provide a powerful punch to the body and give it instant energy. The problem is, these sugars set off a cascade reaction in the body that causes inflammation and insulin levels to spike. So, while you may be getting a “punch” of energy during your workout, the question is…are you really gaining health?

What are these ingredients doing to your body long term? The answer is…nothing good!

Outside of athletics, the average person is using these as a snack thinking that it is a better choice than a chocolate bar. The problem is, the sugars in these bars are broken down and absorbed rapidly making it hard for the body to use all of this energy all at once. Instead, it conserves it for a later date…and it does so as body fat!

It has been shown that foods that contain high fructose corn syrup set off yet another hormonal cascade in the body that actually causing leptin resistance. Big deal! Well leptin is the hormone that is produced by your fat cell to signal your brain when it is full. So, these bars will actually make you feel hungrier causing you to want to eat more and more.

Look for these sugars in products – the are less inflammatory, have a lower glycemic index and send good messages to the body:

  • Dates, figs, raisins
  • Agave nectar
  • Organic brown rice syrup
  • Evapourated cane juice
  • Organic cane sugar
  • Honey


Most people know that hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats are not good for you. Long term use of these toxic and inflammatory fats has been linked to things like cardiovascular disease, obesity and high cholesterol.

Manufacturers have now become smarter, and have started using things called modified fats. While these may be better than the hydrogenated/trans fats, they are not much better and have still been linked to chronic disease.

Avoid anything that says – hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or modified fats. 

Look for good fats – hemp oil, flax oil.


The old rule applies here…if you can’t pronounce something, you probably shouldn’t be eating it. Common additives on labels of bars are things like sodium benzoate which can cause skin rashes and aggravate asthma, and sulphites which are known to cause rashes, headaches, trigger IBS and aggravate asthmatic conditions. The other things to watch out for are natural and artificial flavours which are like the “mystery meat” of the additive world.


A typical snack should be anywhere from 180-220 calories. Most commercial bars are anywhere from 200-300 – so a snack would be ½ bar (**this depends on activity level, and if you are trying to lose or maintain weight). Keep in mind the calories, and how many serving sizes are in a bar (most calories are per bar…but just double check this).

I am not against the use of these bars, I just think people need to be aware what they are eating. Eating the right bar can provide you with a nutritious convenient snack but just make sure that you are eating good quality bars.

Examples of Nutritious Bars:

Lara, Vega, Elev8me, Luna, Gen Soy, Think Organic, Dr Weil, Perfect 10, Organics, Clif

Homemade Nut and Honey Energy Bars

This recipe was already posted, but it provides a great example of a homemade energy bar that can be made at home.

  • 1 cup oatmeal 300
  • 1 cup granola 300
  • ¼ cup sesame seeds 50
  • ¼ cup flax seeds 50
  • ½ cup wheat germ 100
  • ½ cup bran 100
  • ½ cup protein powder 20
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ cup maple syrup 400
  • ½ cup honey 480
  • 1 cup peanut butter 760
  • ½ cup pecans 400 
  • Optional ¼-1/2 cup coconut, raisins, dried fruit


  1. Grease pan, mix dry ingredients.
  2. Mix peanut butter, maple syrup and honey in a saucepan and stir until very hot, but do not boil
  3. Pour mix over dry ingredients
  4. Press into pan, and let sit 24 hours in the fridge
  5. Cut into individual bars, and wrap or store in container in fridge or freezer and the Enjoy!