detox salad


I’m sure you all know this, but this winter was ROUGH. Long, harsh and cold. I honestly never thought we’d see spring weather let alone the patio appropriate weather we’ve had lately! It’s truly a relief to be walking outside and be too warm!

Long, cold winters usually result in the eating of a lot of comfort food. And maybe a little less exercise. If this sounds like you, it’s nothing to beat yourself up over! We are conditioned to crave heavier foods and conserve energy in those circumstances.

That being said, once the warmer weather comes along, I really like to lighten up a bit. Eat lighter and feel lighter! A detox this time of year is a wonderful thing to do. The temperatures are warm which is extremely helpful. Have you ever tried to do a detox in winter? Talk about shivering x 1208348. Spring is also a time of new beginnings and detoxing to release toxins built up in the winter will ensure you start off this season on the right foot! Continue reading

{from left to write} thrive and a call to the 30×30 challenge

Another book club post! Not being in school anymore has afforded me more time for pleasure reading and I couldn’t be happier about it. And this book couldn’t have come at a better time.


This post was inspired by the book Thrive by Arianna Huffington as a part of the From Left to Write book club. Written by the editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post, it proposed a new way of defining success called “The Third Metric”. Essentially what her view boiled down to is that Money and Power should not be the only measures of success in life. We are all getting burnt out at the expense of our own health, the quality of relationships and family life and ironically enough, our careers and productivity. We need a new definition of success that incorporates Well-Being, Wisdom and Wonder.

First let’s get the bad out of the way- while I agreed with the sentiments of the book, it wasn’t one I particularly enjoyed reading. I found myself skimming over most sections. It could be that being in the health and wellness industry, most of the information wasn’t very ground breaking for me, hence didn’t hold my interest. I found it read like random quotes and factoids rather than being a succinct and cohesive body of knowledge.

That being said, I took away a lot from this book. Did I learn a ton? No, not really. But it was a bit of a wake up call. You know how you can know something to be true a million times over, but all it takes is someone delivering the message in the right way at the right time for you to really listen? Continue reading

inspiring intentions


While New Years is the traditional time to set goals and intentions, for some reason those never seem to stick for me. We make them and they are quickly forgotten. I'm sure many of you have experienced the over zealous crowds at the gym in January only to see things are back to normal by March. 

For me, it's the transition out of summer and into fall that really inspires change. It just seems more logical doesn't it? School starts again, work starts after summer vacation, we say goodbye to warm weather and hello to cold. Establishing good habits and intentions now seems like a great way to get ahead of the game doesn't it? You will be well on the way to positive change by the time everyone else even thinks about it in January ;)

I like to think of this as my personal new year. My time to lay intentions down for who I want to be and the direction I would like my year to take. Intentions to me don't mean specific goals like working out 3 times a week or eating more meals at home. To me they are more like principles to guide the way I think and act. If I can act in accordance with my intentions, my goals tend to fall in place and I can say i am happy with the year, no matter what else happens!

I wrote a post as a part of Suzanne at hello veggy's Inspiring Intentions Guest Post Series and I hope you'll head over to check it out!

photo credit: Ian Sane via photopin cc

pep talk for the next time you’re ready to give up on clean eating: a guest post from eat well. party hard.

Hello friends!

Today I am so excited to be hosting Claire from Eat Well. Party Hard. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading her blog, Claire is a fun, enthusiastic and inspiring woman whose approach to healthy eating and living is so inspirational and accessible to anyone whether you are an experienced health nut or a complete newbie. She posts recipes and tips aimed at making healthy eating fun and enjoyable which is exactly in line with my beliefs. She is currently teaching English in China so her blog is full of great anecdotes of trying to be healthy in a place where the language an food is completely foreign. Her good humour and positive outlook is infectious and I know you will all love her.

She’s here today to share something that I think everyone should keep in his or her back pocket. Transitioning to or even living a healthy lifestyle can be hard at times. You have so many forces and temptations pulling you in another direction. When you feel lost or are losing motivation a letter like this to remind you of why you have chosen a (at times) more difficult path can be comforting and can reaffirm why you are doing this is in the first place.

So now, with that long-winded introduction, take it away Claire!

A pep talk for the next time you're ready to give up on clean eating


Hey, friend.

Things are really tough right now. I get that. At this moment, nothing would make life feel easier than digging into a bag of Doritos, or popping open a can of Pepsi.

But here's the thing: you're better than that.

When you set new clean-eating goals for your life–to smash your sugar addiction, to cut refined carbohydrates, maybe to curb your meat intake–you did so with a purpose. You wanted something, and you wanted it bad, and you knew this was one tiny step on the road to getting there.

But the road's been pretty hard, hasn't it? There have definitely been some bumps along the way. That energy crash around 3pm, when a bag of Skittles seems like it could save the world. Or that whiff of fresh muffins from the bakery next to your apartment; how is one supposed to get through the day without giving into that? Or–and I always find this one the toughest–Pizza Fridays/Taco Tuesdays/Burger & Beer night out with friends. "Aw, come on, you're seriously ordering salad? You're no fun anymore, dude."

With temptation to fall back into old habits taunting you at every turn, I totally get the desire to just yell F*ck it! and down a Snickers or two in defiance. And hey, is one candy bar going to kill you? Probably not.


Before you rip open that wrapper, stop a second. Breathe. And remember these things:

1. You are not alone.

Immediate circle of real-life friends giving you crap for trying to change your habits? Get new friends. They're totally out there.

I'm not saying that isolating yourself from your social group will solve every problem–and by all means, it's important to keep close to your tribe. But it's also important to find a network of people who truly support your efforts to improve, and for that? The internet is a gift from above. Whether you wanna make long-distance, online friends through outlets like Heathy Vegan Fridays or VeggieBoards, or connecting with a crew nearer to home via MeetUp is more your jam, there approximately 2.5 bajillion fellow humans pursuing the same goals you are–it's just a matter of saying hello.


2. Change really is happening–though you may not be measuring it.

Wanna know a surefire way to forever feel disappointed with yourself? Place all of your worth on outcomes, not efforts.

"I didn't lose ten pounds in two weeks–I'm a failure. Someone please pass me the brownies."

Instead of beating yourself up over the results that haven't materialized in exactly the way you'd pictured, reflect on the actions you took to move closer to those results.

"I haven't lost the weight I'd wanted yet, but I ate 12 clean, super-healthy meals this week and only two junk ones; that's five more healthy meals than I ate the week before, and seven more healthy ones than I ate the week before that. I'm actually making steady progress!"

See the difference?

3. The new life you're designing? It's worth so much more than what's in front of you right now.

Back to reality: look at that Snickers bar in your hand. What's it worth to you, really? About three minutes of sweetness, saltiness and comfort, right? But what about a minute after that–guilt? Or 40 minutes after that–ugh, a sugar crash? Or a few hours after that–annoyance at the fact that cravings, not you, are still running the show?

A deeper satisfaction than a candy bar can ever provide awaits you in the future–I swear it does. And though you haven't completely achieved it yet, you know for yourself that this is true. A cleaner, lighter, addiction-free and more conscious life is totally possible, and you're on the path to it this very second. Trust me here, okay? It's seriously gonna rule, and you deserve it.

bio_photo Claire Suellentrop is a catalyst for purposeful change. A passionate whole foods enthusiast and organizational whiz, she shares lifehacks that allow busy people to make healthier food choices on Eat Well. Party Hard. She's happiest when helping others take greater control of their lives through knowledge and action, and fuels her own weird life with a plant-based diet, black coffee and whiskey. She'd love to hear from you at eatwellpartyhard (at) gmail (dot) com.

let’s talk about skin

Skin can be a tricky and sensitive subject. It is one of the first things people see when they look at us, the barrier between us and the rest of the world. So naturally, when it isn’t cooperating it can be a source of stress and insecurities. While there are so many causes of skin issues and I can’t hope to address them all in one blog post, I have been getting questions recently on tips for what to eat for better skin. Thankfully there are a whole host of foods in the plant-based world that can help your skin look and feel its best!

I have a ton of recipes that include all of these foods so make sure to browse my recipe index for ideas. I’ve provided a link for my favourite recipe in each section to get you started.

The Basics

Organic fruits and vegetables are packed with antioxidants and critical vitamins and are low in toxins. Try and choose organic whenever possible since they are grown in more nutrient rich soil and have lower exposure to environmental toxins and are guaranteed GMO free!

Drink lots of filtered water to help flush toxins from the body and keep your skin hydrated. If you aren’t able to detoxify all the bad stuff coming in, it will make an appearance on your skin! Other great options for hydration include green tea which is rich in antioxidants and kombucha for a dose of living enzymes and good bacteria to help your body digest your food properly and get all the skin-loving nutrients from it!

Now for more specifics…

Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acid Foods

These fatty acids provide your body with the building blocks to produce anti-inflammatory prostaglandins and help maintain the integrity of your cell walls. This helps with everything from inflammatory conditions like acne and eczema to dry skin.


Other Healthy Fats

Other healthy fats like monounsaturated fats found in foods like olive oil and avocado as well as the good saturated fats like MCTs found in coconut oil help keep your skin moisturized from the inside out. Your skin needs fat so trying to avoid it can be very detrimental to your healthy glow!

  • Foods to add: avocados, olives, coconut, nuts and seeds
  • Recipe to try: Kale Avocado Pesto

Vitamin A

Carotenoids helps with natural skin turnover and are potent antioxidants.

  • Foods to add: red, orange and yellow coloured foods like tomatoes, mangoes sweet potatoes and carrots. Green veggies like spinach and kale are also high in this important nutrient too.
  • Recipe to try: Bruschetta Quinoa


Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps in the production of collagen which is vital to our skin’s structure and maintaining a youthful appearance. It also helps to fight inflammation and it an important antioxidant to help fight the aging process!

  • Foods to add: fruits and veggies particularly citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, sprouts, kale
  • Recipe to try: Massaged Kale Salad


Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant and helps protect the skin from free radicals which age us and protect us from sun damage as well as helping to reduce inflammation.



Zinc helps regulate sebum production in the skin by helping metabolize testosterone (sebum is the stuff that clogs our pores and makes our face shiny). It is involved in the generation of new skin.


Whole Grains

When we eat refined grains, our body has to dump out insulin in response which triggers a hormonal cascade leading increased oil and cellular production (think clogged pores) and inflammation! Choosing whole grains to prevent a blood sugar spike and to provide fiber helps combat this cycle. Whole grains are also rich in the B-vitamin biotin which is crucial in helping your body process fats.


Fermented Foods

Bacteria is such an important part of our overall health, so making sure we have an optimal balance of good and bad bacteria is important! Choosing fermented foods will make sure your good bacteria flourish so they can help us obtain all the nutrients from our food and keep inflammation in the body down.

  • Foods to add: sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, non-dairy yogurt, miso, raw apple cider vinegar
  • Recipe to try: Chipotle Tempeh Burgers


Foods to Avoid

Trans and hydrogenated fats, coffee, dairy, refined grains, refined sugars and fried foods all make skin issues worse so avoid these as much as possible! When it comes to healthy natural sweeteners (like coconut sugar, maple syrup, dates, honey, etc.), they are still sugar so keep their use to a minimum to avoid blood sugar spikes. 

And Remember…

  • Your skin is your body’s largest organ and one of a few used for detoxification. So if you taking in too many toxins or aren’t detoxifying properly through other organs like your liver, kidneys and colon, you are going to see it in your skin! Make sure you keep your liver happy and are eliminating properly. That means fibre and antioxidants!
  • Hormones play a huge role in your skin’s appearance! Make sure you are providing your adrenals and thyroid with solid nutrition, getting appropriate rest and keeping your stress levels to a minimum. Also, having too much circulating estrogen can wreak havoc: avoid external estrogens in plastics and eat lots of estrogen detoxifying foods like cruciferous veggies and pumpkin seeds! Avoid foods like coffee (yes, even decaf).
  • If you aren’t digesting your food properly you are not only not getting all the nutrients from your food but you are also taxing the body, creating toxins. And those toxins have to come out somewhere…Aim for good digestion by using probiotics, digestive enzymes if necessary and practicing food combining principle whenever possible. Also consider stimulating stomach acid procudtion by using apple cider vinegar, lemon juice or ginger before meals. If your stomach acid is really low (like it is for me) supplement with Betaine HCl (supplemental stomach acid) until levels are up to par. If anyone wants tips on how to do this, just email me!

Healthy Skin from the Outside In

It’s very important to consider what you are putting on your skin as well! Most commercially available products are packed with toxins that will do more harm than good. Choose your products wisely and when possible make your own! Here are some of my favourite recommendations:

  • Coconut oil or almond oil to moisturize
  • Oil cleansing instead of face wash
  • Witch hazel as a toner
  • Avocado face masks
  • Evening primrose oil or vitamin E as serum
  • Tea tree oil for spot treatment
  • Lavender oil to calm redness


Finally I want to mention a couple products I was lucky enough to sample from Gabriela. She makes 2 wonderful products that exemplify exactly what you should look for in skin care: simple ingredients and no fillers. Her products all contain pomegranate seed oil which is a powerful antioxidant to help revitalize your skin and reduce signs of aging and tiredness.

Her Citrus Chiffon Skin Brightening Scrub contains jojoba oil, pomegranate seed oil and olive oil to help nourish and brighten your skin and I found after a couple times using it may skin was so soft and bright! I used it every day for about a week and then a couple times a week to maintain after that. My skin hasn’t been so soft in ages! I also tried her Almaretto Lip Softening Balm. This product does contain beeswax (so it’s not vegan) but contains coconut oil, vitamin E and pomegranate seed oil. This product left my lips so soft even when faced with an extremely dry work environment!

Her products are not expensive at all and she ships all over the place! I highly recommend her products if you are looking for a natural alternative to conventional products but aren’t quite ready to make your own ;)

Do you guys have any tips or advice for healthy skin? Favourite products or at home remedies?

guest post: hydration and your brain


photo credit: [cipher] via photopin cc

You all might have seen a little while ago, I posted a review of KOGE supplements. One of the owners, Andrew, also offered an article he had written about water to publish on my site. Since I am a big fan of the company and he asked oh so nicely (;o)) I am going to share it with you all now!  I’ve added in my 2 cents in a couple places in italics, because I couldn’t help it, I love the topic!

Take it away Andrew!

Drink Water & Gain an Extra 20% of Brain Power?

When the human body is dehydrated, brain function decreases by 20-30%. Considering an estimated 75% of North Americans are chronically dehydrated means that three-quarters of the North American population is not experiencing their full cognitive potential.  A study done by a research team in the United Kingdom found that the brain uses metabolic resources inefficiently during and following episodes of dehydration. Their research also found that dehydrated participants needed to exert a higher level of neuronal activity in order to achieve the same performance level their hydrated selves were able to achieve.

During times of physical stress (including dehydration) the body is programmed to allocate water resources to certain high body systems such as the brain. Researchers found that when the body is in a state of water deprivation, brain systems used for ‘higher functioning’ (such as the planning and visuo-spatial processing systems) are given less resources for functioning. Yikes! Just think of all the potential ideas, innovations, companies, and technologies that are ‘on hold’ because someone just needs to consume a few more glasses of water in their day. *(Gabby: did you also know that some research has pointed chronic dehydration to a host of problems from diabetes to cholesterol to asthma? Read: “Your Body’s Many Cries for Water” by F. Batmanghelidj)

Here are some easy ways to increase your water consumption and your mental potential:

1. Eat Fruits & Vegetables high in Water Content

· Zucchini: 1 cup of zucchini contains over 100ml of water and is high in fiber

· Cucumber: 1 cup of sliced cucumber contains 100ml of water and is soothing to the stomach

· Mushrooms: white mushrooms are made up of 93.9% water and contain Vitamins B7 and the antioxidant Selenium

· Pineapple: 1 cup of pineapple has 223ml of water plus contains enzymes that help with digestion

· Cherries: 1 cup of pitted cherries has 127ml of water and is also high in fiber

· Apples: 1 large apple has 191ml of water and is a great source of quercetin (a natural allergy suppressant) *(Gabby: I can personally attest to the beneficial impact on quercetin and allergies- I started taking it a couple months ago and my usually bad seasonal and animal allergies have been minimal!)


*Gabby: And let’s not forget some of my most favourite fruits: melon! Particularly watermelon- it's called WATERmelon for a reason! Plus it’s in season right now and perfectly sweet.

2. Choose Cooked Oatmeal or Soaked Chia Seeds for Breakfast:  One cup of cooked oatmeal has 197ml of water, plus the soluble fiber has a great affect on cholesterol levels. Chia seeds soaked overnight in water or almond milk is a great breakfast choice especially when topped with grated apple and toasted almonds.

*Gabby: The same can be said for most cooked grains! Remember, it is always better to opt for a whole grain version than a refined- and this included whole grain flours in breads and baked goods. When you cook the whole grain you add in water which is hydrating and much more filling! Hence why you can eat more baked goods that cooked whole grains ;) So during the summer and for more brain power choose cooked whole grains more often!

3. Flavour Your Water:  Adding fresh fruit or herbs to water is a great way to make water taste amazing and improve metabolism. Throw some cucumber slices and thyme to soothe the digestive tract, or lemon and rosemary to increase memory and metabolism.

Even if you’re not a fan of water, I hope you enjoy these simple alternate ways to hydrate and the cognitive benefits that are sure to follow!

As we head into the warmer  months, our need for water increases so thank you Andrew for the great info!

I want to share a couple more tips for staying hydrated…

  1. Coconut water– nature’s sport and electrolyte drink. Packed full of important minerals, coconut water (no sugar added please) is a wonderful and delicious way to hydrate
  2. Avoid caffeine and other diuretics like alcohol: thinks like coffee, black tea, wine, beer and liquor all sap water from your body. So if you are going to drink them, keep the servings modest and increase your water consumption to accommodate.
  3. Remember to balance electrolytes too- our body needs water, but we also need things like sodium and potassium for loads of functions in the body like nerve signal transmission.
  4. Make drinking water fun! Put it in your favourite glass (like a wine glass perhaps?) or use a fun straw (I love glass straws from Strawesome).
  5. Remember to filter your water! Reverse Osmosis is the best option, but anything you can afford is better than nothing. In Toronto, our water is fluoridated which puts us at risk for toxicity as well as numerous other hazards from hormones, to pesticides to bacteria. I like Santevia pitcher filters).

Again, thank you Andrew for this wonderful piece. I will have another post in the coming weeks about water too so stay tuned for that!

  • What are your favourite ways to stay hydrated?
  • Any tips to share, or infused water recipes?

See you all on Friday!

grain-free, paleo and vegan carrot zucchini muffins! {v}


Hello my lovely veggies! Thank you all so much for all your votes in the Vegan Recipe Challenge! I came in 3rd and that was way more than I was hoping for!

It’s been a busy week around here- I'm so sorry to my fellow bloggers whose blogs I've been neglecting. I am trying the best I can to catch up and will read every one of your wonderful words. But I’m back and eager to share a ton of stuff with you! You can expect some delicious food coming up on the blog!

I'm constantly playing around with my diet, trying to come up with a combination that helps my tummy feel it’s best. For those of you who are new readers, I’ve suffered from very uncomfortable digestion for years and I’m on a quest to correct it! Read this post for a few things that I’ve found helpful recently.

So in playing around with my diet, one thing I’ve tried is cuting out grains. I know, crazy right? It’s something I never thought I would do and I always thought that “paleo inclined” eaters were insane! What do they do without quinoa? Fresh baked goods? No sushi? No BREAD?


turns out you just need to find the right kind of baked goods!

Just goes to show you the lengths I’m willing to go to fix this problem. And it actually isn't too bad! .

You see, due to the make-up of grains, people with delicate digestive systems often find them aggravating. The carbohydrate content of the grain is primarily made up of starches as well as some sugars that require extra steps to digest. If you are unable to digest them properly due to a weak system, we are left with undigested fragments that are then used to feed the no-so-good bacteria in our system. This can lead to an overgrowth of harmful bacteria and a crowding out of the good guys. The bad guys can also begin to produce toxic substances that can damage our intestinal lining, leading to something called leaky gut. And what leaky gut basically means is that the tight junctions between your intestinal cells become “loose” due to damage and now undigested proteins and particles can make their way into your bloodstream and cause inflammation, allergic responses and general havoc! All in all, not a pretty picture for proper digestion.


So through cutting them out, healing can be brought to the digestive system. I by no means think this should be a permanent move, but can be extremely therapeutic for a time!

Now for the fun part- grain-free kitchen experiments! Grain-free baking was really daunting to me, but my recent success with my berry crisp and now these muffins is making me feel like all that fear was unwarranted. Now I can say I LOVE grain-free baking!


I love that when you bake with nut meals and coconut flour, there is a ton of natural sweetness and healthy fats in there- meaning you can use less added oil and sweetener! Not only that, nut meals and coconut flour are so healthy! Lots of healthy fats and fibre! While they are not exactly low in calories, you’ll find that you are wonderfully satisfied after a small portion.

Like take these muffins. They certainly are not light bites. BUT they are filling, nutritious and delicious. And they surprisingly don’t feel heavy- they have a wonderful crumb that would satisfy the most traditional baker. I hope you all try them- I’m certain you’ll love them!


Grain-Free Carrot and Zucchini Muffins (Vegan, Gluten-free, Sugar-Free, Paleo, SCD)

Adapted from these at Amazing Paleo.

Ingredients (12 muffins)


  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon of sea salt


  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • ¼ cup melted raw honey
  • ¼ cup melted organic coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar


  • ½ cup of grated carrots
  • ¾ cup of grated zucchini (unpeeled)
  • 1/8 cup of raisins (optional)


Preheat oven to 350. Grease with coconut oil or line a 12 muffin pan.

Mix all your dry ingredients in a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, mix your applesauce, honey, coconut oil, vanilla and cinnamon. In a final small bowl, whisk together the 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, water, baking soda and apple cider vinegar. Now add the applesauce mixture to your dry ingredients and combine well. Now add in the coconut oil and baking soda mixture. Finally, mix in the carrot, zucchini and raisins.

Spoon the batter evenly into your muffin pan. You want to do this fast since you want to make sure the baking soda and vinegar will still be reacting to give some lift in the oven. Bake for 35min, or until tops are browned and a knife inserted comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 5 minutes then move to a cooling rack to cool completely.

products i love: natural vitality


There are a lot of supplement companies out there these days. Some great, some not so great. So when a really good product comes my way, I feel the need to tell everyone I know about it. But for some reason, these recommendations never quite make it onto my blog. Which is silly really and I apologize for my negligence in this matter.

Recently I was contacted by Natural Vitality to try out some of their products and I was definitely intrigued. I am not a stranger to the company having used their product Natural Calm before. Not only did I find improved sleep when I used Natural Calm, I actually noticed a reduced frequency and severity in migraines. What I didn’t realize is that they actually have a range of supplements and I get to share some of those with you all today!

Natural Vitality stands out to me as a great supplement company for the following reasons:

  • high quality, organic supplements, proven with research
  • use liquid and water-soluble powder forms to enhance absorption
  • a portion of all earning goes into their Natural Revitalization environmental action initiative, a program that supports organic farming and environmental stewardship
  • a focus on obtaining quality ingredients, from quality production and growing methods

With so many companies out there these days using cheap fillers and difficult to absorb formulations, Natural Vitality is a breath of fresh air!

Now here are the products I got to try:

natural energy

Energy 28 is a natural energy supplement that uses golden chlorella, maca, superfruits and  24 organic fruits and vegetables. It provides energy without using refined sugar and caffeine.

This was a little sweet and a little sour and while they say you can eat it straight from the pack, I found it difficult to get down. BUT when mixed with water to make a “juice” or slipped into a pre-workout smoothie it tasted better and provided quite the boost! I took a pack right before heading to a birthday party and although I was completely exhausted before going, I managed to stay awake until 5 in the morning. Totally unlike me but I was sooo energized! Beware taking at night ;)


Organic Life Vitamins: This is a liquid vitamin supplement that can be taken as is, or mixed in water or a smoothie. It was named 2013’s Best Multivitamin in Delicious Living magazine which is pretty cool. I liked the flavour of this one better than the Energy 28 and loved the colour- I felt like I was drinking orange juice! It contains aloe, different fruits and veggies and ionized minerals to make a multi-vitamin that delivers a ton of nutrition and surpasses many Daily Recommended Values (which, please, are too low anyway). It’s a great way to kick start the day and I really enjoyed taking it!

While I liked these products, one thing I didn't love is that the Energy 28 and Organic Life Vitamin both contain organic agave nectar as a sweetener. I don’t use a lot of agave as a sweetener these days as I believe there are better options.  However, I don't think a little of it is the worst thing and it wouldn't stop me from using these products. Just keep that in mind when using these!


Plant-Sourced Minerals in green apple flavour: This supplement provides chelated minerals sourced from a prehistoric plant deposit called Senonian Vegetate, formed approximately 70 million years ago. This vegetate is mineral-rich organic soil derived from plants and naturally protected from mineral depletion. This supplement delivers 70+ trace minerals! While it doesn’t actually tell you what minerals you were getting and what quantity (can you imagine the label on that??) I did notice an improvement in my energy when I took it. The flavour was nice and mild, not too sweet and good mixed in water or added to a smoothie where it was barely noticeable. This one is sweetened with stevia which I liked. 


Natural Calm in Raspberry-Lemon flavour: a magnesium supplement which is mixed in water. This particular flavour was Raspberry-Lemon but it also comes in Natural. 

Why would we want a magnesium supplement? Magnesium is an mineral critical for so many reactions and processes in the body. One of it’s most famous purposes though, is as the anti-stress mineral! But it can only do this when it is properly balanced with calcium. Too much calcium and magnesium is depleted and relaxation is difficult to do. Natural Calm gives you an ionized (and therefore very absorbable) form of calcium to help balance the ratio helping to reduce things like stress, anxiety, fatigue and headaches. I myself have experienced reduction in these things with regular use. The raspberry-lemon flavour is nice, not too sweet and delicious hot and cold. This one is also sweetened with stevia, while the natural flavour isn't sweetened at all.


I decided to create my own little “slushie” with this product and I fell in love! This product fizzes when you add it to water, giving my blended drink that token slishie feel. Drank a couple hours before sleep and you will be sleeping like a baby, I promise you. 

I added a banana to the mix for a good dose of potassium, another mineral that promotes relaxation and improves sleep by reducing the number of times you wake up and reduces muscle tension. Water and ice is all that’s left to create this delicious anti-stress and sleep-promoting drink!

“Sweet Dreams” Slushie (Vegan, Gluten-free, Sugar-free, Paleo, SCD)

Ingredients (serves 1)

  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp Natural Calm (Lemon Raspberry or Natural Flavour)
  • 1 frozen banana
  • a few cubes of ice


Put the water in the blender and add the Natural Calm. It will fizz for a bit and let it do so until most of the fizzing is done. Add in the banana and ice and blend. Serve as is or chill in the freezer a little longer to help it get even more slushie! You could always add more ice but that would dilute the flavour.


NVlogo-Nobg (1)

Overall, this company brings stellar quality supplements that you know are providing significant health benefit. You can feel good about spending your money on these because they not only nourish you, but they also give back in support of sustainable farming practices. I noticed an improvement in my energy levels and overall health while taking them and would definitely recommend them!

Note: While I was provided these product free of charge, I was in no way onbligated to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.


Oh and for a quick little shameless self-promotion: if you could all head over to Ethical Ocean and vote for my Raw Chocolate-Coated Key Lime Pie, in the Eat What’s Good Vegan Recipe Contest, that would be swell. You can vote everyday so even if you voted once I would sure appreciate a second (or third, or tenth!). Thanks!

anti-inflammatory african “peanut” stew for digestive healing


**Disclaimer: this post is not meant as medical advice. This is simply what worked for me**

It’s been a while since I’ve discussed health issues on this blog and I recently had a few questions from readers about them. I’ve been really hesitant to discuss these things because this is my own journey and I’m still struggling to find what works for me. And what works for me, might not work for you! But since this is a healthy food and living blog, it might interest you all to hear about the goings on, the progress I’ve made and what I’m doing going forward! Plus, as I’m studying to be a holistic nutritionist, this is precisely the kind of thing I love talking about! Of course there will be a wonderfully delicious recipe at the end as well ;)

Older readers might recall that in the summer I was struggling with low iron levels that refused to go up, low energy and fatigue as well as a lot of digestive upset. You can read about those issues in this post. I was extremely fortunate to receive a ton of advice from you all and that combined with some of the things I’ve been learning about in school and by working with a naturopath, I have made some progress while uncovering new problems.

First things first, if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my first few things at school is that it all starts with digestion. If digestion is weakened or not functioning properly, this will cause a lot of problems upstream. Did you know that 80% of your digestive system is in your gut?? And not only will faulty digestion impair your immunity (included in this realm is intolerances and allergies), but it will also severely impact your ability to extract nutrition from the foods you consume. They say, “You are what you eat” but it’s actually much more accurate to say, “You are what you absorb”.


In saying that, it should have been no surprise to me then, that my iron issues were directly related to my digestive issues. So working to heal my digestion has been a primary focus and I have to say, I haven’t even taken any iron supplements in months and I do feel better! I am not 100% there but there is definite improvement. To find out what has worked for me in this regard, keep reading, if not, scroll down for today's recipe!

Food and Eating Habits

Simplifying food combinations: The idea of food combining was not foreign to me, but it also wasn’t something that I’d followed very closely. There are a lot of competing views on food combining but I think this infographic outlines it quite well:


Complicated eh? But adhering to these guidelines for the most part has been so crucial for me. Someone who has strong digestion doesn’t need to worry about this very much, but for anyone who experiences digestive upset, following these rules reduces the stress on the digestive system, meaning food is digested easier and more completely. That means you get more nutrition from your food! It’s been tough- as a vegan some of the combinations that are “bad” are so common! Like nuts are not good with oils or starches, and there is much debate as to whether legumes are actually a starch or a protein. I’ve been feeling best treating them as a protein, meaning no combining with grains! And what’s more vegan than beans and rice??

Simplifying my meals: This simply means that my meals lately have generally had fewer ingredients. So while in the past I have made smoothies that contain 20 different ingredients, lately they’ve focused around 5 or 6, same goes with my salads. This allows the digestive system to properly break down each component instead of competing for different enzymes. Carrot Cake Puree anyone?



Anti-inflammatory and non-reactive foods: I’ve eliminated most foods from my diet that have been found to be inflammatory or reactive which included things like gluten, bananas, some forms of soy, nightshade vegetables, etc. Lists of these foods can be found on the internet, but I like this one. In addition to this, I’ve been incorporating lots of anti-inflammatory foods like omega=3 rich hemp and chia seeds, berries, lemon, raw and cooked vegetables and spices like turmeric and cinnamon.




My supplement cupboard has been looking a bit like a pharmacy, but these carefully chosen supplements have been doing the trick!

Probiotics: often times digestive upset can be linked to a disbiosis in the body, or in other words, an imbalance in the good and bad bacteria in your gut. We need bacteria, they do so many beneficial things for us. But things like stress, illness, medications and food choices can tilt the balance towards the bad ones. A good probiotic can help bring balance back to your system.

Digestive Enzymes: while these are not something I like to rely on, when I’m eating out and don’t have full control over the ingredients in my food, these help to negate any bad reactions to food.

Vitamins A, C, E: These are powerful antioxidants and are crucial to helping your small intestine regenerate and repair.

L-glutamine: This is an amino acid that is used for energy by the cells of our small intestine. Supplementing with this greatly enhances your intestine’s ability to heal

Magnesium and Zinc: critical in so many reactions relating to digestion. Magnesium also helps your muscles and body relax and cope with stress. Stress and digestion are not friends so finding a way to deal with stress is so important!

MSM: Short for methylsulfonylmethane, MSM is a powerful anti-inflammatory agent by helping to remove and detoxify waste products that create inflammation.

Lifestyle Changes



Sleep: Getting enough rest is so important to reducing the overall stress on your body, allowing proper hormonal functions and giving your body time to rest and repair. I’ve made it a priority to get 7-8 hours of sleep every night.

Not Snacking and Intermittent Fasting: This might sound like it’s going against the grain to conventional nutrition advice but eating less often and drawing out the space between my meals allows my system to fully digest the previous meal before tackling the next one. In fact, when I space out the time between my final meal of one day and my first meal of the next by 12-14 hours or more, my body is more able to handle the task. I try to eat only 3 times a day, which believe me, a former chronic snacker, this was VERY hard!

Stress: Reducing stress. Stress affects your body in so many ways from your digestive system to immunity to your hormones, all of which of course are intertwined! Many people who struggle with Irritable Bowel Syndrome of cite stress as one of the main factors as to whether or not they will react to a food or not. This was one of the primary factors to me deciding to go down to part-time at school.

Going Forward

My journey towards healing my digestive system has taken a while, but I do feel like progress is being made! I have been feeling more energized and my digestion is definitely stronger. My iron levels are still low though, so I will incorporate a supplement soon to boost my levels. Hopefully my digestion will continue to heal so I won’t require one at all! I have been told Floravit is an excellent iron supplement which is easily absorbed and doesn’t cause digestive upset like many iron supplements. I will also continue to pay attention to food combining, including combining foods to enhance iron absorption such as with vitamin C.

I’ve also made other discoveries along the way, particularly as it related to my thyroid function. Did you know that dysfunction of the thyroid, particularly hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) is actually really common, especially in women? I will save my discussion on the topic for a whole separate post, if you are all interested!

And now, for the recipe I promised you!


I had a craving for something warming and comforting when I went home to visit my parents last week, and a stew seemed like just the thing! However, with my multitude of restrictions coming into play, we had to get creative.

The result was a very delicious, anti-inflammatory, low reactive African “Peanut” Stew that tastes just as good as the traditional version! Substitutions we made from the original recipe:

  • Almonds and almond butter instead of peanuts: peanuts have a high affinity for mould, therefore aren’t as digestively friendly!
  • Cayenne in stead of chilli peppers: cayenne is actually anti-inflammatory while chilli peppers belong to the nightshade vegetable family and can be problematic for some
  • Chickpeas instead of black-eyed peas: chickpeas are one of the best tolerated legumes
  • Coconut sugar for brown sugar: brown sugar is really no different from white sugar and is acidifying, reactive and high glycemic. Coconut sugar is a much more healthful option.
  • Added some chopped kale, just for fun and added nutrition!

The almond butter makes this stew incredibly creamy and satisfying with a wonderfully sweet flavour that plays off the spiciness of the cayenne. The cinnamon and cumin enhance the anti-inflammatory properties of the stew and the chopped almonds add great texture!

If you have weak digestion, I suggest serving this over greens as I did. But if your tummy is a powerhouse, feel free to serve over your favourite grain, like my parents.


African “Peanut” Stew (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free)

Adapted from 'The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook'  by Robin Robertson

Ingredients (6 servings)

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium size sweet onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 pinches cayenne (or 1-2 tsp chilli flakes)
  • 1 1/2 tsp peeled and grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 1/2 cups chopped and peeled butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lbs)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup creamy natural almond butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or one 15 oz. can
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw almonds
  • 3 cups chopped kale


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the onion, cover, and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, cayenne, ginger, coconut sugar, cinnamon , and cumin and cook for 1 minute.  Add the squash and stir to coat with the spices.  Add 1 1/4 cups of the water and salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low.

Put the almond butter in a small bowl and slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup water, stirring until smooth.

Stir the almond butter mixture into the stew, cover, and simmer until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.  About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, add the chickpeas, almonds and kale and simmer until heated through.  Before serving, taste to adjust the seasonings.

Serve over top of your favourite greens or grain.


I'm sharing this recipe at Allergy-Free Wednesdays and Nourishing Recipes @ Lifeologia!

I hope you all found this post informative, helpful and delicious! I had a ton of fun writing it as it was something a little different!

Did you enjoy reading this post? What did you like about it and what didn’t you? Would you like to see more content like this on the blog?

I appreciate your input! See you back here for Healthy Vegan Friday. If you haven't already, check out last week's post here

oil cleansing for glowing skin and more money in the pocket!

As a part of my Holistic Nutrition course, I have to do a class on Professional Skills Development. What does this mean? Essentially loads of presentations. Which is basically my worst nightmare. I went into this class completely dreading it and had ridiculous anxiety. However the longer I’m in it, the more comfortable I’m getting, which is great because I have a feeling presentations will be a big part of my professional life once I get there!

Anyway, we basically get to do presentations on anything we want as long as we follow general guidelines and achieve the main purpose of the specific speaking assignment. My most recent presentation was a speech to persuade people of something. I did oil cleansing and I got such a positive response from my classmates, I thought I would post the info here for you all! Hopefully you all enjoy it and are inspired to try it yourselves if you don’t already!

Oil Cleansing


Picture this: clear, glowing and dewy looking skin, free of imperfections. Now imagine you could get this from a homemade product that is a fraction of the cost of most skin care products. Sound too good to be true? Ladies and gents, I present to you- Oil Cleansing!

Why Oil Cleansing?

Our facial skin is very delicate and easily inflamed. When faced with mainstream skin care products that strip out our skin’s natural oil, our skin produces more oil to repair itself and replace that which was removed. We go from a state of being dry and tight to our skin overcompensating for the lack of moisture by over-producing oil, making our skin oily- the exact thing we were trying to fix! Not only this, many of these products contain harmful chemicals and fragrances which are highly irritating to our fragile skin tissue. So you have alternating dry, irritated skin with oily and inflamed skin which traps debris, leading to imperfections. So as you can see, “grease-fighting” cleansers are not doing your face any favours!

The oil cleansing method addresses both of these problems! First thing you need to know is that like dissolves like; so, oil dissolves oil. The oil that is applied and massaged onto the skin will dissolve the oil that has hardened in your skin with impurities. Then using steam will open your pores, allowing the oil to be easily removed. And because you are making this “cleanser” yourself from only a few ingredients, you can tailor it to your skins specific needs and avoid any skin irritant!


What You Need

You need two oils to make this cleanser- the first being castor oil. It is highly anti-inflammatory and is very cleansing and healing. Because these cleansing properties are so strong, a second oil is needed to dilute it. This is where you get to start customizing your cleanser! Sunflower oil is a wonderful option because it really gets into your pores, allowing it to draw the dirt and grime out. There are many other options, depending on your specific skin care needs- some people use olive oil, sweet almond, jojoba, etc. Just make sure your castor and secondary oils are natural, organic and cold-pressed as these are more nutrient rich and will not carry toxins. The best ratio of castor to secondary oil depends on your own skin care needs:

  • oily skin: 30% castor oil, 70% sunflower/secondary oil
  • balanced: 20% castor oil
  • dry skin: 10%

You can also add a few drops of an essential oil! Tea tree is a great anti-bacterial for acne-prone skin and lavender is wonderful for soothing irritated skin.

Other than that, you just need a small bottle to mix everything in. Pour your oils in and give it a shake. Couldn’t be easier! I recommend making a small batch since a little goes a long way.


this was the first batch I made and it lasted FOREVER (about 10 months). Take it from me, do smaller batches!

How To: The Easiest and Cheapest Spa Experience Ever!

You pour a small amount of oil onto the palm of your hand and smooth the oil onto your face, massaging it in for about a minute. For women, this is a great time to give extra care to areas with make up because this is a fantastic make-up remover too! Now take a washcloth and soak it in hot water from the tap. Cover your face with the washcloth and allow it to stay until it cools, about a minute. This feels so lovely- it’s like a mini facial every time you wash your face! Then use the washcloth to wipe away the oil on your face.

I like following this with an alcohol-free witch hazel toner (future post perhaps?) to help close your pores back up and to further help soothe any inflammation or irritation.


If your skin feels a little tight, you can use a tiny amount of this oil blend as a moisturizer too! You only need to do this once a day, generally at night. In the morning, a quick rinse with warm water is all you need. You might find it takes a little time for your face to adapt- it’s probably used to over-secreting oil, but it will even out soon!


One of the greatest things about this method to is, that once you make your blend, a little goes a long way, making this incredibly affordable. I spent $10 on each bottle of oil (so $20 total) and I have enough to make cleanser to last a year or more, easily! If you use essential oils, it is a little bit of an investment but you only need a few drops- only adding cents more to this cleanser.

This product also essentially 3 products in one:

  • cleanser
  • make-up remover
  • moisturizer

And since you are working with your skin’s natural rhythm, you might find you actually need less moisturizer, saving you even more money!

Guys, seriously, this is one of the best things I have ever started doing for my skin. You will have absolutely glowing skin because you are working with your skin’s natural moisture cycle instead of stripping oil away. My skin never gets overly dry, even in the winter like it used to. And except for a brief period when I went off birth control, my skin has never been clearer. It’s easy to do and very customizable to your skin’s own unique needs. It also brings with it many cost savings and simplifies your skin care routine- no more investing in multiple, over-priced skin care products!


everything you need to get started!

Pretty sweet right?