Self Care

It’s the holidays. Things are officially crazy. People are busy with work and holiday parties. Fighting crowds at the stores. Battling traffic on the streets. Figuring out how you’re going to buy and wrap gifts, grocery shop, do laundry, feed the family and the dog oh yeah, and work! Can be a lot. Like, A LOT to manage. We do it, but sometimes we get a little rundown in the process.

Dont forget about the importance of self care. This means exactly what it says, taking care of yourself. We always leave ourselves last and we shouldn’t. It’s important for our mental and physical health that we keep our body’s and our minds well. The great thing is, self care can be whatever you want it to be. It could be soaking in the tub with a good book. (Click here for a great body scrub you can use) It could be a killer workout. It could be meditation. It could be a hot cup of coffe and a magazine. Whatever you find most relaxing and whatever makes you feel good, can be self care.

Don’t forgot about your health this holiday season and take time for yourself.

#livevibrantly

Nightshades

Let’s talk Nightshades. This controversial group of plants belong to the Solanaceae family. This family of plants contain an alkaloid called Solanine. Solanine is produced in response to a stress factor. For example, when a bug begins to eat the nightshade, the plant releases Solanine as it is toxic to insects. It’s a natural defense of the plant when bugs eat it. To humans, it’s not toxic* BUT some people are intolerant to Solanine and experience negative symptoms when ingested.

It is thought Solanine may also increase inflammation in the body and so, anyone experiencing arthritis may benefit from reducing these foods in their diet. Most people tolerate Solanine just fine but for some, it can worsen inflammation and inflammation can worsen disease progression.

So now you’re wondering what foods belong to this family of plants and whether or not you might be sensitive to Solanine. Well, white potatoes, eggplant, several varieties of peppers as well as tomatoes belong to the nightshade family. If you do experience sensitivity you might have gas, diarrhea, bloating and heartburn after consuming these foods.

Nightshade

Listen to your body. Pay attention to how you feel after meals especially if you have a lot of nightshades in your diet. If you are experiencing these symptoms speak with your Naturopath or Functional Medicine Doctor about a Nightshade-free diet and how to re-introduce them after elimination.

I’m not writing this to tell you these foods are bad and you should not eat them, that’s simply not true. These foods are rich in vitamins and fibre and are beneficial to your diet. Only if you are one of the few that has troubles with these foods should you consider elimination.

I happen to be one of the few with a nightshade intolerance. My Naturopath put me on an elimination diet and these foods were removed from my diet for a few months. I slowly re-introduced them and began consuming them on a more regular basis. This was a few years ago. I have freely been consuming nightshades for the past year  and I am noticing now, the aforementioned symptoms creep back in; especially with raw tomatoes and white potatoes. This is why I encourage you to take a few minutes to check in with yourself after meals. See how you are feeling right after and again, an hour later. There is only one you. Keep yourself living vibrantly.

 

 

*There are nightshade plants that can be toxic to humans as the Solanaceae family is a large family of plants. A perfect example is belladonna which is also known as “Deadly Nightshade”. Belladonna has been used for centuries in medical practice to aid multiple conditions but if the fruit of the plant is consumed its toxic. In today’s society, Belladonna is used in homeopathic medicine under the care of a homeopathic doctor. 

(Fletcher, 2017. Uses and Risks of Belladonna. Web)
(Balch, 2010. Prescriptions for Nutritional Healing)

Dill-icious Ranch Dip

I love Ranch anything. Ranch dip, dressings, chips etc. I love it all. What I don’t like about Ranch dip is all the ingredients that don’t have to be in there. For starters, there can be added emulsifiers like soy lecithin which is fine if it’s NON-GMO (and you don’t have a soy allergy) but if it’s not GMO free or Organic, is likely from a genetically modified source. There’s also added sodium in these products as well as milk ingredients.

If you’re vegan or dairy free, you need to seek alternatives. There are many great (and not-so-great) alternatives on the shelves of your local grocery or health food store. This recipe came from my desire for a dairy-free ranch dressing. I bought a very well-known brand of dairy free ranch salad dressing, excited for how delicious it would be. Let’s just say after I tasted it, I was very disappointed. It was not tasty nor was it cheap! I poured an expensive bottle down the drain and decided I could make some myself, from scratch.

Ranch is thick and creamy. I needed to get that texture without using dairy. I opted for an unsweetened, dairy free yogurt. I chose Silk coconut yogurt. I also had on hand, vegan dairy free mayo. I figured the two together would give me the consistency I needed.

Ranch Dip 2

 

All the Ranch I typically love has lots of dill in it so I made sure this recipe has a lot. You can add as little or as much dill as you’d like. It’s important to use fresh dill. You’ll get a better flavour out of it and all the little green leaves will look pretty in your dip.

What you will need:

  • Vegan Mayo (keep it dairy free and vegan)
  • Unsweetened non-dairy yogurt (I use Silk coconut, linked above)
  • Green onion
  • Fresh garlic
  • Fresh dill
  • Dijon Mustard
  • Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper

You’ll likely have most (if not all) of these ingredients already in your house. I find it tastes best if it sits for a day before you eat it BUT it taste great immediately.

Ranch Dip4

The Recipe:

1/2 cup vegan mayo (like this brand here)

1/2 cup unsweetened, non dairy yogurt

1 green onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

2-3 tbsp fresh dill, chopped

1 tsp unfiltered, apple cider vinegar

1/8 tsp Hebamere* seasoning

1/8 tsp salt

sprinkle of pepper

Combine mayo and yogurt in a glass jar or dish. Add chopped garlic, green onion and dill. Add mustard, apple cider vinegar, Herbamere seasoning, salt & pepper. Whisk and you’re done!

Store in your fridge in an air tight container and enjoy on salads, veggies, potatoes and anything else you’d like! Works well as a yummy sandwich spread too. Can keep in your fridge for a week (if it lasts that long!)

*can be omitted but it’s a super yummy addition 

Ranch Dip 3

 

©2018 Vibrancy Health Solutions

 

 

DIY Brown Sugar Lavender Body Scrub

Winter has arrived and in the cold weather, it’s even more important to take care of your skin. I love using home-made body scrubs to remove dry skin.  One of my favourites to make is very simple and uses ingredients probably already in your house!

I am a huge fan of essential oils and love mixing. This one, I kept very simple using just lavender oil. It’s important when using essential oils to use a carrier oil. A carrier oil is an oil you can use on your skin that helps dilute the essential oil. A few examples are Coconut oil, Jojoba, Avocado, Apricot and Almond. Jojoba has a neutral scent and is very hydrating. Great for winter months!

Body Scrub
Brown Sugar Lavender Body Scrub.  Alexandra Wachelka, B.Sc

When working with essential oils, you want to use dark amber coloured glass. Essential oils do not fare well with direct light so the dark colour helps protect them. I used a 4 oz wide mouth jar from Aura Cacia (www.auracacia.com). In fact, all ingredients (less the sugar) are from this company.

I love this company because of the quality of their products. They work with small farmers all over the world to source their oils. When they go into these countries to partner with the farmers they help the community. They build schools, wells and support the women with jobs. They give a lot back and a few years ago, I had the opportunity to tour their facility in Iowa. The employees are treated incredibly well with an onsite daycare! and organic subsidized hot lunch everyday.  Meeting and speaking with their employees and you quickly learned that everyone loves their job.

So you know a little bit about one of my favourite oil brands, now let’s get to the recipe:

  • 4 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp jojoba oil
  • 20-40 drops lavender essential oil

Add all ingredients to glass jar, mix to combine. Use as you’d like in the shower! It’s that easy.

You can change up the quanity of oil and sugar to get less of a paste texture (use more oil) and you can change and mix the oils to suit your preferences. Just keep the total number of drops the same, too much oil without enough carrier and you may expeirnce some negative reacions on your skin due to the concentration of the oils.

May more recipes like this one can be found on their website (linked above). DIY oil products also make great gifts and can help reduce product waste. Experiment, have fun and #livevibrantly

Macronutrients

You’ve probably heard the term “MACRO” short for macronutrient. Maybe you knew what it meant, maybe you didn’t. If you didn’t, excellent! I will explain them. If you did, maybe you’ll still learn something from this piece.

Macronutrients are considered basic nutrients that everyone needs to sustain life. These nutrients contain the energy our bodies need to grow and live each day. The exception to this would be alcohol. Yes, alcohol can in fact be considered a macronutrient as it contains calories; approximately 7 calories per gram but it’ not required like carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Our main focus will be on Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat.

Let’s keep it simple, starting with the basics of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat

Continue reading “Macronutrients”

How to Read a Nutrition Facts Label

Thanks for joining me!

Reading Nutrition Facts Labels can be overwhelming when you’re not sure what you’re looking at. There’s so many numbers and percentages. What do they all mean? When you break it down into parts, it becomes much easier to understand. I will help you do just that!

On the Food Labels you will find:

  • The Nutrition Facts – which I will break down
  • The Ingredient List
  • The Nutrition Claims
  • Any Health Claims

Understanding Nutrition Facts can be simple!

Nutrition Labels

Almost all packaged foods have Nutrition Facts Label. The exceptions would be:

  • Fresh Fruit and Veggies
  • Raw Meat, Poultry and Seafood
  • Foods prepared at the store (Fresh Beads)
  • Foods with little caloric value (coffee/tea)
  • Alcoholic Beverages

Nutrition Labels 3

Nutrition Facts are based on a specific quantity of food (e.g. 100g) which is considered the serving size. It’s important to compare this quantity to the quantity you are actually consuming because it will change the caloric* and nutrient value.

*I’ll expand more on caloric value in another post 

Nutrition 4Nutrition 5

The Percent Daily Value is down the right hand side of the label as well as the bottom. This determines the amount of nutrient in the listed quantity of food. The important thing to note is this value is based on a “typical adult diet of 2,000 calories” according to Health Canada. This obviously does not apply to all individuals as many consume less or more than 2,000 calories. Nutrient requirements also differ between men and women but it still informs you if there is a lot or a little of a nutrient present.

In the above example you can see Vitamin A is 2% and Calcium is 20%. From this, you can determine this food is a good source of Calcium. You can also see there is no Vitamin C or Iron in this food. You would then want to make sure you consume those vitamins and minerals from other food sources such as citrus fruits, asparagus, beet greens, spinach and spirulina.

 

It’s important to understand the labels and make wise food choices as we all have packaged foods in our home. I am still an advocate for fresh, whole foods. You can get your vitamins and minerals by consuming a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies from your local market.