Friday, 20 May 2016

DIY Backpacking Food: Lentils with rice & apples

I love backpacking! Backcountry camping while carrying everything you need to survive on your back is so freeing! I'm beyond excited for hikes this summer and have started prepping lightweight dehydrated food.
Essential to dehydrating your own food is a dehydrator with a fan & heat control. Cheaper dehydrators without a fan take too long... the food will spoil before it's fully dehydrated. And don't even think about dehydrating meats without being able to set the correct temperature on your dehydrator.

Today I made Lentils with Rice and Apples. While I haven't tried this recipe re-hydrated, it sure tasted good fresh!

First cook 1/4 cup wild rice mixture for 40-50 minutes (according to instructions). Be sure not to add any butter, as fat does not dehydrate well.

In the meantime, cook 1 cup dry red lentils for 10-15 minutes with vegetable broth instead of water. Chop 1/4 of an onion and peel 1 clove of garlic. Chop 1 cup of Fuji apples into 1x1cm cubes or smaller. Add 2 TB of fresh lemon juice and some lemon zest to the apples.

Then heat 1 tsp of oil in a large frying pan and add chopped onion. Saute until the onions are turning golden. Then add minced garlic. Now add the apples with lemon and spices: 3/4 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp cumin. Cook until the apples are tender.

Mix in the cooked rice and lentils. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Dehydrate at 135° until the mixture is crisp.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Why you shouldn't use a diffuser

Right now, essential oils & diffusers are ever so popular; I also got a diffuser a few months ago.
However, I recently learned from a very intuitive healer that essential oils should not be inhaled. She noticed that clients using diffusers had an "off energy" in their lungs. Why? For those who aren't so intuitively-inclined, a more biological answer below:

Our lungs are coated in a surfactant. This liquid is composed of various proteins and lipids that help bridge the gap between the air and our water-based body. Our bodies are made to breathe pure air, and the surfactant helps in this, decreasing the surface tension, and allowing us to breathe.

Essential oils are organic plant-derived chemicals. By "organic" I mean a carbon-based compound; these essential oils are non-polar organic compounds, ie. fat-soluble.
There is a chemistry rule: "likes dissolves like" - so fat compounds will dissolve in fats but not polar solvents like water. Water will dissolve in polar solvents, but not fats. Essentially, fats/oils and water do not mix.
While they by be useful in other applications, inhalation of these oils on a regular basis isn't recommended. Breathing in fat-soluble oils is not what our lungs are made for: the oil doesn't mix with our water-based body!

For great smelling spaces, think water-soluble diffusions: try simmer citrus in water (stovetop potpourri) or burn beeswax candles, incense etc.

Friday, 8 April 2016

The Math of Weight Loss

These weight loss tips are from my Sports Nutrition class at University of Alberta:

Before deciding on weight loss & an appropriate goal (given appropriate time) check your BMI. The general formula is weight (kg) / (height (m))^2
Normal range for a healthy BMI is 18.5 to 24.9
Keep in mind that this calculation is validated on the general population; elite endurance or strength athletes with lots of lean muscle will not get accurate BMI results.

First of, understand the energy balance needed for weight loss:

Calories out (ie. exercise) needs to be greater than energy in (ie. food energy). So while physical activity is essential for weight loss, nutrition in my opinion plays an even larger role.

To lose 1lb of body weight, you must have a deficit of 3500 calories. (Ie. energy out is greater than energy in by 3500 calories over 1 week.) Over one week, 1 lb lost would be a 400-500 calorie deficit per day. To lose 2 lbs/week, a deficit of 800-1000 calories is required.

Losing 1-2lbs per week is a fantastic weight loss goal that is sustainable & achievable over the long term. The ACSM strongly recommends not to have calorie deficit of greater than -1000 calories per day. At the very minimum, ACSM recommends consuming at least 1200 calories /day.

Energy in

But, to know what your "deficit" or energy out should be to lose 1 lb/week, you need to know what your energy in must be to support your body & activities. To estimate your resting metabolic rate (energy your body needs to function) we use the Mifflin equation:

RMR = (10 x weight) + (6.25 x height) - (5 x age) - Gender factor
(Females subtract 161, males subtract 5)

This RMR number is the calories needed to function per day, without physical activity. If you exercise, or are on your feet all day, it may be helpful to multiply your RMR by an activity factor.

Rest = 1.0
Very light activity = 1.5
Light activity (eg. slow walk) = 2.5
Moderate activity (eg. brisk walk) = 5.0
Heavy activity (eg. running) = 7.0

To be even more specific, think of a typical day and multiply each applicable activity factor by the number of hours you spend doing that.
For example, I may sleep 9 hours, work at a desk 8 hours, run for 2 hours, and do light housework for 5 hours.
9+8 = rest time = 17hrs x 1 = 17
2 hrs = heavy activity = 2hrs x 7 = 14
5 hrs = very light activity = 5hrs x 1.5 = 7.5
Sum of activity factors (for 24 hours) = 17+14+7.5 = 38.5
Divide activity factor sum by 24 = 38.5/24 = Avg. activity factor of 1.6

Use your average activity factor to multiply to your RMR number. This final number is calories in required to maintain body weight at your activity level.
To lose weight, subtract 400-500 calories. You should be losing 1lb/week at this rate.

Energy out

To be at a 400-500 calorie deficit, you can increase energy out (increase physical activity) or decrease energy in (decrease food calories).
Tip for physical activity for fat loss: while low intensity long duration exercise is known to burn more fat than carbohydrate (sugars) in proportion, the total calories burned is less than at high intensity , shorter duration exercise. So up the intensity (best at 70% of capacity) & work out until you're exhausted and know you burned more calories than a slow 2 hour jog.

Remember, losing more than 2lbs/wk of body weight can be detrimental to your health! Take it slow & but work hard.

Best of luck!

Thursday, 17 March 2016

Green Smoothies for St. Patrick's Day!

Happy St. Patty's day!
I totally forgot about the holiday until the drive to Pilate this morning when I heard it on the radio. Then, at Pilates, everyone (except me) was dressed in green workout clothes! Ah, how I missed my bright green workout shirt today...
So, as a late celebration for the green holiday, I decided to have a green smoothie lunch.

Green Smoothie:

2 cups baby spinach or baby kale (or 2 leaves large kale)
1 banana (preferably frozen)
1 pinch green stevia leaf powder
sprinkle of cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1+ tsp coconut sugar (to taste)
1/4 scoop VegaOne Vanilla Chai Nutritional Shake
optional 1 tsp chia seeds

Blend until smooth & enjoy!

Instead of the coconut sugar, add a handful of frozen berries or frozen peaches & use whatever protein powder you have on hand (or omit the protein altogether).

Picture from:  (labelled for reuse)

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Struggling with Candida: the "diet" that worked for me

A bit of a personal post & general thoughts on foods:

In spring 2012, I found out that yeast overgrowth in my digestive tract was causing my acne, which I had been fighting since early teen years. (Candida, or yeast, is quite normal to have in your gut, but an imbalance can lead to 'dis-ease'.) It's been a bumpy road to health, but I think I'm finally closing in on it for good. My body feels strong & healthy. My acne is under control & my face is healing. I have found more confidence.

Those who have been by my side through my journey know that my diet has been the biggest part of my health journey. At the very beginning, my diet was strict, but as I became healthier I was able to enjoy more and more foods. However, some things have stayed constant:

Healing Foods (to consume daily):
  • whole milk (not 2% or lower!)
  • cocoa
  • ground ginger (spice, not fresh)
  • cinnamon
  • eggs
  • 1 TB unheated oils: corn, sunflower, safflower
  • something green & something orange (eg. spinach and yam)
  • black beans (weekly)

Foods I avoid:
  • pork & pork products  (sigh...the guilt of cheating on bacon is real)
  • wheat  (but not necessarily gluten)
  • yogurt  (sugar + probiotics that could throw off my own gut bacteria)
  • dried fruit  (HIGH sugar)
  • fruit juices  (high sugar & no fiber to slow down the digestion)
  • added sugars  (sweeten with coconut sugar and stevia instead)
  • yeast  (theory that yeast nurtures yeast)
  • alcohol  (especially beer and sweet liquors)

Anyone familiar with candida & the typical candida diets (which emphasize eating no sugars to starve out the yeast) will be questioning why I drink milk. Lactose is a sugar after all.

However, it seems that yeast is unable to use lactose. In addition, lactose (and milk in general) is incredibly important to build up the good bacteria in the gut.
While I find it difficult to find literature of yeast & lactose in English, the idea that yeast is unable to metabolize milk sugars is very popular in German.

My diet is much more in depth, but I've posted this list because I believe that almost everyone would benefit from following it - at the very least, focusing on having the "healing foods" on a regular basis.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Naturopathic School Interview

Wow! It's been so long since I posted anything on this blog. I miss it, but I've also been so incredibly busy. Last week I flew to Vancouver, BC to visit BINM for an interview. I also got to sit in on a class in the morning.
I know that prior to my day at BINM, I did a lot of online research to try prepare myself. Honestly, there's very few posts about what the interview is like at any naturopathic medicine school, so I decided to post about my experience.
View from the Skytrain - beautiful mountains!
But no, BINM students do not get a transit discount.
In the morning I got to sit in on a bio-medicine 1st year class that goes from 9am-12pm (with a break or two). I learned that this class usually has about 2 quizzes a week, so you have to keep on top of the material. What I love about how BINM teaches, is that they teach all of the bio-medical sciences in one integrated course!
Students then have a 1 hour lunch break. There's plenty of fridges, freezers, and microwaves to use - almost everyone brings their lunch from home. Although every Thursday students get 10% off at the Subway across the street.
The next class is from 1-4 pm. I didn't sit in on this class, as my interview started at 1pm. The schedule for BINM students is always this regular - 2 classes a day, school from 9-4pm. I like the fact that you will always start and end school at a regular time. I'm told that CCNM schedules look more like undergrad schedules - class times differ depending on the day.

The interview consists of 3 panels, whom you talk to for about 20 minutes each. They each have slightly different types of questions, which I outline below. Keep in mind, this is not a complete list of the questions they asked me.

Classic interview-style questions:
What frustrates you?
How do you manage conflict?
How would you like us to remember you after this interview?
Why Naturopathic medicine? Ie. what got you interested in this field?
Why did you apply to BINM? What do you expect from BINM?

Personal questions:
Tell us about yourself.
How do you work in a group? How do you deal with conflicting personalities in a group setting?
Tell us about a failure and how you managed it.
How do you propose to take care of yourself physically, emotionally, mentally?
Describe yourself using only 5 words.
Have you applied to any other schools? If so, why Boucher? Pros/Cons

Situation questions:
Ethical question: explain your decision process given an ethical dilemma.
What do you do to counsel someone?
You are working in the clinic as an intern, and your supervisor corrects your mistake in front of your patient. You are embarrassed. What do you do?
You see a friend cheating on an exam. What do you do?
Imagine you're a ND: what do you think will be your least favorite aspect of your career?

I think my interview went pretty well! I will be hearing back from them within 2 weeks to see if I got in or not!

I hope this post will help some of you prepare for your interviews & get a better idea of the school :) Remember to relax & be yourself! It also helps if you have some questions to ask them... it shows your interest.

Update: I got into both BINM & CCNM! I will be attending CCNM in Fall 2016

Monday, 25 May 2015

Green Mint Chocolate Ice Cream

Summer has finally come to Alberta! It's been incredibly hot these past few days, and the ice cream maker has been in use. If you don't already own an ice cream maker - I highly recommend you get one! If not, ice cream can still be made in the freezer, but it won't be as creamy.

Since I'm not having dairy or eggs, I made coconut milk based ice cream. It's creamy and satisfying! Plus, you can change the flavor/sweetness to be exactly how you like it. :) This recipe even sneaks in some veggies for that lovely green color instead of using artificial colors.

This is the easy ice cream I made today, based off of Food Babe's recipe.

Blend in a high-speed blender (like Vitamix):
2 cans coconut milk
1 cup coconut palm sugar
3 tsp peppermint extract
2 loose handfuls spinach
1 pinch Himalayan sea salt

Then pour into an ice cream maker, follow manufacturer instructions and add a handful of cocoa nibs halfway through.