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Menu planning when dealing with food allergies

As someone who has had food allergies most of my life, I know too well how difficult it can be to plan nutritious, tasty meals. If you are like me, and have to avoid an array of foods, it can be overwhelming at times.

My first rule of thumb is to clean out your pantry and fridge. Get rid of the items that you can no longer eat, so you won’t be tempted. If you are part of a family and they can still eat these items then you are going to have to be pretty strong in your resolve. For me, it just wasn’t worth cheating as it made me feel to unwell.

It may take you a while to enjoy some of your new foods, as your taste buds have been accustomed to the same foods for years, so don’t be too hard on yourself.

The first thing to realize is that it is about what you can eat, not what you cannot eat. Perhaps dedicate a shelf or a cupboard just for you, filled with all the foods that you can eat.

Next, figure out what your favourite foods are that you can eat. Have them on hand, so you don’t feel deprived with you new diet.

Visit a health food store and ask them about all the allergy-free items that they offer. You will be amazed at how many foods you can eat.

Purchase a cookbook that contains recipes that you can enjoy.

Many big bulk stores are featuring allergy-free items like gluten-free grains and pastas at a much lower cost than health food stores, so you may want to check them out as well. Try the healthy natural food aisle at your local grocery store for allergy-free options.

Once you start to eat foods that agree with your body, you will notice how much better you feel physically and emotionally, and this will then encourage you to continue on with your healthy eating regime.

Remember that pre-packaged allergy free foods usually contain a lot of sugar and do not have a lot of nutrients in them, so if you can start to make more of your meals and treats from scratch, it will benefit you in the long run.

Many people say to me that they don’t have time to cook, but they soon realize if they give up one television program and get into the kitchen they can whip up a soup and a couple dozen muffins to freeze for the coming work week.

It’s important to have food in your freezer for those busy evenings or when you are on the run.

Making smoothies is another fast option for quick mornings or evening snacks. Try to have lots of fresh produce in your fridge, so at a moment’s notice you can whip up a shake or smoothie for yourself. Frozen fruit is great to keep in your freezer and avocados are indispensible to me and I always have at least seven or eight in my house for veggie shakes.

My daily vegetable shake base is a mixture of celery, cucumber, spinach, avocado, cilantro, water, sea salt, and lemon juice. Sometimes I will add a tomato or a small green onion. Blend and you have a salad in a glass, full of nutrients.

My favourite mid day smoothie is a simple, nutritious mixture of unsweetened So Delicious Coconut Milk, a banana, and hempseed.

 

For more allergy -free recipes and healthy ideas, please visit my website.

Avocados: the super fruit

Last week I was lucky enough to be asked to try some recipes with Mexican avocadoes. I love avocadoes. I probably eat at least two avocados a day, maybe more. But if you had asked me 20 years ago if I liked avocados I would have said, “I have never tasted one.”

Yes, I am one of those who ate meat and potatoes and a little seasonal fruit most days. Foods like cilantro, avocados, arugula, and anything else that was green, except frozen peas, were probably not high on my list, nor was it served at our supper table.

Then my life became all about food allergies and what the heck was there left to eat. Avocados were on the ‘Can Eat’ list. So I tried one and, well, I loved them. They are so smooth and creamy and I can’t imagine how I had lived without them.

I first tried avocados in a local vegetarian restaurant where they had made them into an avocado and onion salad with lemon juice, uembushi vinegar, olive oil and salt. I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

Since that day I have never looked back and every time I go grocery shopping, which is fairly often, I pick up at least six avocados.

My significant other was like me, and when we met a few years ago I tried to get him to eat avocados. He would always say “I don’t really care for them”, and I would say,” have you ever tried them?”

Now he eats more avocados than I do. His favourite way to eat them is sliced on toast or with a chicken sandwich. He also loves them with his eggs on the weekend, or on homemade flax crackers.

My girlfriend always carries an avocado in her purse when she goes out for dinner, just in case there is nothing on the menu that she can eat. She will ask the waitress to bring her some olive oil and lemon and voila she has a healthy snack.

I put sliced avocado into all my salads. Whether it is a green lettuce salad, a cabbage salad or kale salad, avocado always makes it taste so much better.

Avocados are full of healthy fats and help keep the body alkaline, which helps us to keep disease away. Avocados contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals, folate, and more potassium than a banana. Avocados can help lower cholesterol, so why not pick up a few avocados at your local supermarket.

It is best to buy avocados that are green and firm. You know they are ready to eat when the skin changes from green to almost black and is slightly soft to the touch.

What about avocados for dessert?

Last night I decided to make an avocado pudding.

 

2 avocados
1 banana
5 tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
½ cup coconut milk

 

Mix all ingredients in a food processor until smooth and enjoy.

I found this a little sweet, but my husband loves sweet things (guess that is why he loves me). If I were making this just for me, I would put in less sweetener, but I have to say the fresh maple syrup that we just picked up at the sugar bush last month makes this a delicious and healthy avocado-banana pudding.

 

Want to try more of Shirley’s recipes? Enter our contest to win her cookbook, Finally…Food I Can Eat.

Win inner peace

This is your chance to win a spot in the very exclusive fall Shanti Yoga retreat organized by Cruda Cafe. On October 18-20, expert yoga guide Paula Marin will guide you through a weekend of yoga and meditation designed to bring you inner peace while executive chef Claudia Gaviria cooks you meals that will convert you to the raw food diet. Only eight spots are available for the whole retreat, so don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity to win one. Enter today!

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Wednesday, October 16th, at 12 p.m.

This contest is now closed. Thanks for entering!

Life’s Lessons from a Septuagenarian

It is often at the dusk of our life that we seem to value the life we had and live. I turned to the elderly to sail through seemingly tough times. Here is what I have learned so far…

 

1. Trust only a person’s actions, not their words. Much can be promised; little of it gets done.

 

2. Surround yourself with people who will either help you grow as an individual or who keep you happy. You are better off alone than with false friends.

 

3. Always have a plan. Time passes swiftly and one day you will not realize when you turned 60. Set New Year resolutions; you may not follow them but you will at least know where you want to be.

 

4. Be happy or learn to be happy. Create your pockets of happy moments, like adventurous travels, risqué affairs, insurmountable challenges, etc. These will be the memories you will return to when in distress.

 

5. Don’t fight to change people or things. Change your perspective and everything around you will change itself. If there are people bothering you, discard them from your life and stay out of theirs.

 

6. Gain control over anger and emotions. Maintain silence and refrain from making any decisions when too excited, depressed or upset.

 

7. Do not envy or compare yourself with anyone else. Know that everyone has their own set of miseries to deal with.

 

8. Be good to your spouse, friends and children. Your treatment of them will decide how your old age is going to be.

 

9. Learn your finances well. Money has more value than everyone else advocates. Use it wisely.

 

10. Remember to never lose faith and instill ample patience. Everything has a way of working out in the end.

Women of the week: Susan Jamieson

Sometimes a personal crisis can give you the needed perspective to change your life.

In 1995, Susan Jamieson’s daughter was diagnosed with A-plastic Anemia. Doctors prescribed a treatment of blood transfusions, a treatment neither her daughter nor Jamieson supported.

“We are grateful to live in a country that respects religious freedoms and our family supported our daughter’s constitutional right to ask that hers be respected. Now 31, Tarin still remains the youngest child in Canada to have gone to court and ask for the right to have a say in her medical management,” says Jamieson.

Prior to her daughter’s illness, Jamieson had overseen marketing and sales programs for numerous high profile companies such as Sheraton Hotels, American Express, Budweiser and Pepsi. She took a leave of absence to focus on this medical battle but in 2001, with the disease in remission, Jamieson returned to the work world with a new, more refined focus.

She now serves as a managing partner in JoSuTa Group, a company whose directive is “A desire to help people be healthy.” With clients such as Greenzone, Food Diva and Score-Up, JoSuTa is helping people make informed decisions and working to make the world a better place.

A fine example of her impact: In 2007, she travelled to Dubai to be a guest on a radio show and discuss organic fertilizer. Her segment would prove to be incredibly popular, bringing in a floodgate of callers. The show quickly made the decision to cancel the other scheduled guests and Jamieson was the featured guest for the full hour.

In 2012, Jamieson learned about First Do No Harm. Produced by Asia Geographic Entertainment, this documentary, according to its website, details the “controversial and paternalistic” history of blood transfusions and “the knee-jerk rejection of new knowledge because it contradicts entrenched norms.”

Very excited by the concept of the film, Jamieson sought out the producer and asked for Canadian distribution rights.

“You might say I came to the table a little more motivated than most,” she says.

A key source for her pitch: “She Decides: How to Reach the Most Important Audience for Your Health Campaign,” a report published by Fenton Communications which details the critical role women play in making health decisions for their families.

Once she successfully secured the rights, Jamieson began reaching out to Canadian and U.S. companies, using both her personal story and statistics on targeting the women’s segment of the market. Her goal, she says, is to get these companies to support a potential paradigm shift on the subject of blood transfusion use.

“I am not interested in starting a discussion about individual choice – the question I am asking all women to think about and answer for themselves is have you made an informed choice about the use of blood in your medical management?”

“Yes, I recommend all women make the time to watch the film, educate themselves and then consider, with the assistance of your family doctor, what your stand on blood transfusion use is for your family,” concludes Susan.

 

 

 

Win the Wrap Your Body Slim experience

This is your chance to win a great package from the fantastic health and wellness company Wrap Your Body Slim. One lucky winner will receive a basket filled with goodies such as a detox body wrap, facial wrap, a Vemma (vitamins, essential minerals, mangosteen & aloe) sample bottle, a Verve sugar free energy can, a Bod-e Burn can and a Thirst packette. Enter today for your chance to win the Wrap Your Body Slim experience.

Contest Rules & Regulations:
Contestants must reside in Canada (excluding Quebec) to be eligible to win
Contestants must be 18 or older
Contestants are eligible to enter 1x daily (further entries will not be counted)
Contest closes on Tuesday, August 13th, at 2 p.m.

 

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Honour your hunger

I hate being hungry. I think most people do. It’s a feeling that’s hard to ignore. Sometimes when I’m really, really hungry, I get angry too. (Ever heard of “hangry”?) I try to remember to pack a baggie of almonds everywhere I go so as not to cause bodily harm to others.

Anyone who’s ever been on a diet or tried to lose weight has come up against hunger. Hunger is something you might think you have to control or trick. You can try to control it by eating proper proportions of macronutrients (protein and fat will make you feel full) and by eating at regular intervals. You can try to trick it by drinking a glass of water or distracting yourself by doing chores. Do these strategies work? Maybe for a while. But it’s not easy to fight hunger day in and day out. Perhaps it’s time to step back and take a look at our relationship with hunger.

Firstly, what is hunger? It’s your body telling you something: to eat more. Is that necessarily bad? I can think of two reasons why it would do that. The more obvious one is that you haven’t eaten enough calories to meet its needs. Your body doesn’t like it when you severely under-eat, especially when the demands put on it are high. You’ve probably heard of “starvation mode.” Chronic under-eating will cause your body to lower its metabolic rate in order to hang on to the limited calories you’re putting into it. Hunger is a helpful signal that you’d better eat soon or starvation mode will kick in. It’s okay to skip a meal every now and again but relentless caloric restriction will most definitely do damage to your metabolism, damage that your body might not ever be able to repair.

The less obvious reason why hunger nags at you is that your body is looking for something that’s missing. The issue is not that you’re not getting enough calories; it’s that you’re not getting enough essential vitamins and minerals. (This often happens when people fall into “food ruts” and eat the same foods over and over again. Spinach salad with chicken breast, anyone? Eating a wide array of foods and managing stress are ways of making sure your body has adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals.

Think of it this way: a hungry body is a seeking body. Perhaps we should listen to our bodies’ signals instead of ignoring them. We often treat our bodies like they’re stupid. But they’re always acting in our best interest to help us and doing the best with what we put into them. True hunger is not something to be pushed aside; it’s something we should honour.

 

 

We need to talk: The worst words you can hear in a relationship

“We need to talk,” are probably the four worst words you can hear in a relationship, whether that relationship is friendly or romantic literally nothing good happens after that sentence.

Last week I said those words, not to Boyfriend, but to one of my best friends. I told her that it was time we had a chat about her insistence on returning to her ex over and over and over again. They broke up a while ago because they have very different views on relationships and several other reasons that are not mine to tell. The day they broke up I was there for her and I was there for her every time she took him back after that but there comes a point when you just can’t do it anymore. So I told her, after seeing her falter and slide back into their old routine, that we had to talk, now.

There is no good time to tell your friend that you hate her boyfriend, there really isn’t, but after the break up you should feel safe to tell her that she can do better. Shouldn’t you? Not when she keeps going back to the same guy.

But you can only watch your friends hurt for so long before saying something isn’t really a choice but a necessity; our friendship now has a rule, no more talking about her ex and I can’t be the shoulder to cry on anymore.

The whole talk was short but I felt terrible. I felt like I shouldn’t be allowed to comment on someone’s broken relationship when mine is going so well, like somehow I lost my right to say something when I met Boyfriend.

In the end I want my friend to be happy, that’s it. I want her to see how beautiful and talented she is; I want her to walk away from the man who’s only made her miserable and my opinion wouldn’t be any different if I were still single.  I’m thankful that my friends never let me go back to some of the guys I dated before Boyfriend; one night my best friends spent two hours talking me out of a relationship with a boy who had been awful to me but I had never been able to see it.

Sometimes we all need a talking to–not all the time, but sometimes–and it helps. Maybe I couldn’t make my friend change her mind about her ex but at least someone finally told her the truth, at least finally someone said, “We need to talk.” If it had to be someone, I’m glad it was me. I doubt my friend knows how much she means to me but I hope one day to be sitting at her wedding watching her in love and happy.

Love isn’t easy. Some people are worth fighting for and some just aren’t. If you’re not happy, give up the fight and go find someone who will love you, someone who your friends can at the very least respect.

Spring detox day 8-10

I found the last three days to be the hardest of the detox since the food was limited. There were some restaurant quality dishes including the red lentil coconut curry, lentil chickpea sunshine salad, chocolate avocado pudding, and the poppy seed dressing, which was the star of the kale salad with grapes, avocados and almonds. I found these recipes to be the most flavourful. I will start incorporating my own fruit smoothies into my daily breakfast routine.

On May 20th, I had tomato soup for brunch and red lentil coconut curry for dinner. Throughout the day, I had almond milk and coconut milk. I’ll admit that the holiday was hard since I was out of routine and I did give in to three tiny pieces of california roll sushi with soy sauce. Although I did cheat a bit, I didn’t feel too bad since I feel as though I was slowly easing back into my regular diet. It was more of a slow transition.

May 21st was my ninth day on the detox. I decided to make my own cherry and unsweetened cocoa powder smoothie for breakfast and I had the red lentil coconut curry for lunch. For dinner, I had lentil chickpea sunshine salad. During the day, I had rice milk and coconut milk. Prior to class, my friend offered me skittles and I had two since I couldn’t resist. This is much less than I normally would have eaten.

On the last day of the detox, May 22nd, I had tomato soup for brunch and curried quinoa with raisins for dinner. My dessert after dinner was chocolate avocado pudding. Throughout the day, I had coconut milk and almond milk. There was the last teleseminar where the nutritionist talked about “what’s next” and how to keep your eating habits serving you for the long term. I made my own peach smoothie for tomorrow morning.
As I end the detox, I need to start incorporating all of the foods have been eliminated back into my diet. I certainly won’t have a huge cheesy pizza and chocolate cake, but I want to gradually go back to my regular, healthy diet. I will continue using my favorite recipes from the detox and it was great with the abundance of vegetables in every meal. Thanks for joining me through my BarreNourish 10-Day Detox series.