Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Taste Buds: Magic in Our Mouth

Have you ever wondered why your kids love a certain food one week and won't-touch-it-with-a-ten-foot-pole the next?  Is there a food you yourself disliked as a Child/Adolescent that you still haven't given a second try?

Well I have some interesting info to share with you that may shed some light on why we like the foods/flavours we do and why you should give that _______ (insert name of food you won't eat here) another go.  But first before I do, I wanted to share with you a bit of my own eating history.  I grew up like many children do, hating vegetables!  The only veggies I would eat as a child were corn (not actually a vegetable!) and eventually warmed up to peas and carrots, but it was a tenuous relationship at best.  Of course my Mother now finds it hilarious that I am now a Vegetarian who LOVES vegetables!  And I would too if I had had to deal cooking to suit my finnicky eating habits.

Why is it that children often despise vegetables?  I'll tell you why!  It's because our brains have been programmed to dislike bitter tastes for survival purposes. Our ancestors (the cave men and women of our fair world) needed these tasty instincts to recognize flora and fauna that was poisonous to them (poison apparently has a bitter taste similar to the often bitter taste of veggies).  Be careful not to share this info with your wee ones though as they may claim justification in not eating their veggies because you are attempting to poison them lol!

Our taste buds (all 2,000-10,000 of them!) can recognize 5 different tastes, these are salty, sweet, sour, bitter and "umami" or savoury.  Most people enjoy (some might say crave) the salty, sweet and savoury tastes but do not enjoy the sour and bitter ones, because of this innate survival instinct.  Interestingly enough taste buds can also be affected by hormones, as in when a woman is pregnant they may experience an aversion to the bitter taste of veggies because their body is attempting to protect their unborn baby from perceived poisons...aren't our bodies Neat?!!

The taste buds are constantly regenerating (roughly every 10 days to 2 weeks) and it is possible to train your taste buds to be open to new foods, by appealing to their love of sweet, salty or savoury flavours.  By changing the method of preparation, adding a sweet element or adding a bit of healthy fats to the dish or slowly incorporating more of that food into your diet in different ways (mixing it into a salad, adding it as a home-made pizza topping, mixing it into your fav casserole dish) you can train your taste buds to tolerate and even enjoy these foods!

**FYI: Did you know that Taste and Flavour are actually two different things?  Taste is the act of the sensory receptors of our taste buds...Flavour is the mixture of our sense of taste and smell coming together.

My Lovely friend Sylvia Oakley has recently started a funny and delicious Vegan Cooking Show on Youtube and in one of her first episodes she created an Amazing Brussel Sprout Dish!  I know what you all are thinking..ick Brussel Sprouts!! Trust me up until preparing Sylvia's dish myself and sampling it I felt the same way.  I had tried Brussel Sprouts once or twice as a kid and the boiled bitter taste had me running for the hills!  But this dish is a Tantalizing mixture of flavours, with a dash of maple syrup to appeal to our sweet-loving taste buds.  I have since made it a few times and I have to say it is so easy and quick and nutritious to boot! fits all of my criteria..because my food must not only be good for my body but appealing to my palate as well!  Please watch this helpful video from Sylvia's Vegan Kitchen on preparing that Awesome Brussel Sprout dish below....soo YUMMY!!

 So whether Brussel Sprouts are your arch nemesis, another veggie or maybe you have a whole host of foods you aren't fond of, don't write them off as foods you will never enjoy, experiment with new recipes, preparation methods and give them the benefit of the doubt..because not only are our veggies good for us but they can taste GREAT too!  Thanks Sylvia for allowing me to share your Brussel Sprout Wisdom! ;)

Eat Happy, Eat Healthy!


Saturday, 23 February 2013


My Husband, Dave D., and I purchased a Juicer (nothing fancy, just your run-of-the-mill Hamilton Beach) right around the time we got married (almost 4 years ago!) and I am embarrassed to say that the poor thing sat in its original box unused until our move to Newfoundland, Canada (yes, I stubbornly schlepped it all the way out here).  We had the best of intentions when we purchased it, but then it got shoved to the back of a kitchen cupboard unopened and was forgotten.  But since our move I have busted it out of its prison and have been using it like mad and I have to say, though it isn't the most efficient Juicer on the market (I often put the pulpy bits through a second time) it does the job and I have created many a refreshing concoction with it!

So Why Juice You Ask?

Canada's Food Guide calls for 5-7 servings of Fruits and Veg a day.  A typical serving size according to the Canadian Government is equal to 1 medium-sized fruit or a 1/2 cup of fresh, frozen or canned vegetables.  Now for some this might seem like a lot, especially if you aren't a big fan of salads (so Yummy!)..luckily there is another easy, relatively quick way that you can increase your intake from this Nutrient Dense food group..creating your own freshly made, wholesome and delicious Juices!

By Juicing fresh (preferrably Organic - see Tuesdays post as to why) Fruit and Veg you are extracting vitamins and minerals an consuming them in a concentrated dose!  Juicing offers you the opportunity to increase your F & V intake, try new veggies (or perhaps give ones you don't care for a second chance) and is a quick and easy way to provide nutrients and energy to your body while you are busy living Life... perhaps a light energy booster before your next yoga class ;) Fresh Homemade Juice also has the added bonus of not containing any of the Ridiculous amounts of added sugar prepared juicers contain (not to mention all the other junk they stick in there!).  For more info on the benefits of Juicing, check out the documentary 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead' (, really interesting and inspiring to watch!

**Important Info: Though Juicing is a great way to incorporate more F & V into your diet it should not replace eating whole foods from this food group as the whole versions provide valuable fibre in their pulp and nutrients in their skins that are not found in their juices.  Therefore it is still recommended that you consume whole fruits and veggies as a part of a well-balanced diet.

How to Prepare Produce for Juicing:  
In order to prepare your "freggies" (my newest slang term for Fruits and Vegetables) to be offered up to the 'Higher Powers' of your Juicer you must of course wash them, cut off any bits that look less than desirable and peel any items that you would need to peel in order to consume them 'the conventional way' know with your teeth. ;) Don't have a composter?  Don't worry, you can use the pulpy bits leftover from your Juicing experiments for your baking and cooking experiments (it's a cycle of Deliciousness!).
FYI Certain items don't juice well and will produce more of a creamy slushy-type consistency (and possibly clog your juicer), like Bananas and Avocados.  These fruits are better suited to a Smoothie, for which there are an abundance of Super-Yummy recipes floating around the cyber-waves!
**Please note: Due to the oxidation (the combining of a substance with oxygen resulting in a loss of that substances electrons) of the nutrients through the Juicing process, it is best to consume your Juice immediately after making it. 

Juicers: What You Need to Know

Generally speaking the more you spend on a Juicer the better quality (less wastage) you will get and the more Nutrient Dense Juice it will make for you.  These Beauties can run you anywhere from $50 (which I think is what I spent for my little Beacher) to $400 or more.  But if you are low on funds try looking on or Craigslist or perhaps starting out with run-of-the-mill while you save for the 'Juicer of Your Dreams'.  Whatever you buy, be sure to clean your Juicer soon after use so the waste particles don't get dried on, this is a Bitch to clean!
For more info on types/brands, etc check this link out

A Few of My Fav Juice Recipes:

Just tried this one today and it was Fab!

Jess's Fav Green Drink

3 Stalks Celery
1 Handful Spinach Leaves
1/2 Cucumber
2 Kiwi
1/2 Lemon (squeezed in after Juicing process)

Carrot, Apple, Ginger Juice

4 Carrots
2 Apples
1 hunka hunka Ginger (yes I know, I am a geek!)

Beet-Box Juice

2 Beets with greens/stems
3 Celery Stalks
1/2 Cucumber
3 Carrots

The Beauty of Juicing is that you can create your own recipes/flavours by experimenting with new fruits and veg or by altering the amounts you include in your fresh bevvies!

Eat Healthy, Eat Happy!

Sources & Links:

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Fruits & Vegetables: Organic or Conventional??

In the past decade you have most likely noticed a new section crop up in the Fresh Produce aisle of your grocery store or perhaps observed new advertisements of 'Organic Produce' at your local Farmers' Market.  There are even convenient online Organic Grocers' cropping up across the country, for your Organic Shopping delight, such as Real Food Market of St. John's (, making it convenient and more affordable to get fresh synthetic pesticide-free Deliciousness at the click of a button!  In today's chemical-laden world, it seems for many the logical decision to make the shift from purchasing Conventional Fruits & Veg to Organic.  Or maybe you don't see what all the fuss is about.  If you are like me, you can see the importance of choosing Organic but due to your geographical location (and the  subsequent availability of said Organic goods) and/or your financial situation it may not be feasible to go 'Full Boar' with Organics.  Regardless of your current mind-set on Conventional vs. Organic, feel free to read on and find out how you can get the most 'Healthful' Bang for your Buck!

Organics: What's the Deal?

Organic Produce has become increasingly popular in the Western world and here are some of the reasons behind this movement.  By choosing Organic you are limiting your (and your Family's) exposure to Pesticide residues commonly found in Traditionally grown produce. Organic produce was found to have 30% less pesticide residue than Traditionally grown produce, and these residues are predominantly from naturally occurring pesticides.  By incorporating more Organics into your diet (or making the switch to all Organics) we are lessen the toxic load on our fair planet, bettering the quality of the soil and water supply for us all (and for generations to come).  By speaking out with your pocket book and choosing to purchase organic goods, you are voicing to our Government the greater need for subsidies and supports for the Organic Farmers of Canada and increasing the likelihood that more Farms will turn to more Earth- and People-friendly practices.  

Organic Controversy

In the past year or so there has been some controversy over whether the Health benefits of eating Organic which have been touted by Health Gurus are accurate.  After reading several articles suggesting doubt in nutritional benefits of Organic foods I have come to a conclusion on the topic.  The articles that I found (listed below in the Sources section) discussed recent studies which found there was no nutritional advantage to eating Organic over Conventionally grown produce and meat products, but had only this to say about the advantages of reducing or eliminating ones exposure to synthetic pesticides:

"Conventional growers use pesticides to protect their crops from molds, insects and diseases. When farmers spray pesticides, this can leave residue on produce. Some people buy organic food to limit their exposure to these residues. According to the USDA, organic produce carries significantly fewer pesticide residues than does conventional produce. **However, residues on most products — both organic and nonorganic — don't exceed government safety thresholds." - excerpt from "Organic Foods: Are they safer? More nutritious? (

Regardless of the nutritional benefits to eating Organic (I find at the very least that they taste better and if purchased locally stay fresh longer), but the effects on human health of many of these conventional pesticides have NEVER been tested so I find it hard to swallow the idea that the Government has 'Safety Thresholds' as to the amounts of these pesticides which can contaminate our food. The reduced levels of pesticide residue present on Organic Produce is reason enough in my opinion to opt for Organic whenever feasible.  On a side note: some of these conventional pesticides horrifyingly can be found in chemical warfare agents used today..ACK! (see:

The Dirty Dozen

For those of you who like me are on a budget (really who isn't these days), making the transition to all Organic Produce and other Organic products may be a little outside your allotted weekly food expenses.  Have no fear!  There are alternatives to going full-blown Organic.  The Environmental Working Group (  has developed a list (which does change periodically) of the 12 Fruits and Vegetables most heavily laden with synthetic pesticide residues.  The Top 3 on their list are Apples, Celery and Sweet Bell Peppers (which are common to most N. American diets).  But there is light at the end of the tunnel, they have also included a 'Clean 15' List of Conventionally-grown Fruits and Veg which have the lowest pesticide residues.  So for anyone looking to spare their pocket book, try choosing items from the Clean 15 list and if you are going to purchase items from the Dirty 12, then maybe opt for the Organic version (if available).

If you are like me and you live in the Northern Hemisphere then you may find yourself at times without the option of certain Organic Produce selections (depending on season, geographical location, etc).  I have a healthy solution for this also!  Often times merely rinsing Traditionally-grown Produce doesn't remove all the residues but by choosing one of the cleaning techniques listed below (taken from Juice Fasting & Detoxification by Steve Meyerowitz) you can rest assured that the produce you eat will be free of health-harming chemicals.

1. Lemon Bath - Fill your sink with cold water, add 4 Tbsp of  salt and the juice of 1 Lemon.  Soak fruit and veg for 10 mins then rinse with cold water.  *1/4 C of White Vinegar can be substituted for Lemon.
2. Boiling Bath - Suitable for all but the most fragile veggies.  Dip the veggie into boiling water for 5-10 secs. Remove with tongs.  Also a great way to remove waxes from fruits and veg.
3. HCL Bath - Purchase Hydrochloric Acid from your local pharmacy and pour 1 oz. into 3 quarts of water.  This is the equivalent of a 1% solution.  Soak F & V for 5-10 mins and then rinse.
4. Clorox Bath - Use 1 tsp of Clorox Bleach per gallon of water.  Let your produce sit in solution for 5-10 mins, then drain and soak again in fresh water for another 5 mins.  If there is still a Clorox odour after rinsing, rinse again and let produce air dry.

Obviously I prefer the first 2 methods listed above as they are the most natural processes, but choose the option that works best for you.  My advice would be to use one of these methods on all your freshly purchased produce when you return from the store rather than taking time to do this for each individual piece as you need it.

Whether you buy Conventional or Organic Produce, remember to incorporate a variety of different types into your diet and enjoy them often!  Happy Eating Everyone! :)


Real Food Market
'Organic foods: Are they safer? More nutritious?'
'History of Pesticides'
Environmental Working Group's 'Dirty 12/Clean 15 List'

Juice Fasting & Detoxification by Steve Meyerowitz

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Happy Valentine's Day World!! Today is of course the Universal Day of Love, named for a Bishop Valentine who used to perform secret marriages for young soldiers who had been forbade to marry by Claudius the 2nd (who later executed Bishop Valentine for his trouble!).

But don't forget what other delightful thing this special day is known for..CHOCOLATE!!!  This dessert favourite to so many, has a long, ancient and intriguing past.  But I won't bore you with all the drawn out details, just the highlights!

~ Canadians consume just over 8.5 pounds of Chocolate per person Annually!!

~ Did you Chocolate (unlike money) actually grows on trees?! At least in its raw form anyways.  Cacao (the base component of all the Chocolate Deliciousness in the World) is the seed of a fruit which grows from the 'Theobrama cacao' tree.  This tree grows in warmer sub-tropical and tropical climates (21 Celsius and above) and produces its fruit all year round.  The tree is believed to have originated in Venezuela, but now grows all over the World.

~ Raw Cacao "Nibs" (the raw seed of the Cacao tree) have been known to promote heart health, relax the muscles, assist in building bone tissue and even (or especially for us Ladies) soothe PMS!! No wonder us Gals tend to crave the stuff around the time of the month!  Raw cacao also contains Dopamine, Serotonin, Tryptophan and Anandimide - all natural mood boosters!

~ Cacao was even used as a form of currency by the Mayans..can you imagine today if we still were able to buy things with Chocolate?!  I would be a rich woman!

Some of the positive properties listed above are lost through the manufacturing process Cacao goes through to become the Chocolate we see on the store shelves today and sadly much of it is lost in the making of Milk-Chocolate products (like the antioxidants), so it is best to consume it in its raw form or in the form of Dark Chocolate with a 70% or higher Cacao content.  Not to mention that by cutting out your consumption of Milk Chocolate products you are reducing your intake of food additives, chemicals, pesticide residues, powdered milk (which is actually antioxidant-blocking) and artificial hormones from the cow providing the milk to your chocolate.  Ick!

So in honour of this glorious day of Love and Chocolate (and our Love of Chocolate!) I have decided to prepare a Raw Chocolate Dessert!!  Of course though I might have been tempted to consume all of it myself  I will be sharing it with my Yoga students this evening at the Yoga/Nutrition course I am currently teaching through Shakti Yoga Studio (  But's it is the Healthiest kind of Chocolate there is so we need feel no guilt and what is Love if you cannot share it right?

Below is the recipe of these Delicious Raw Chocolate Haystacks, which I found on The Rawtarian website (  which was quite helpful if you are new to all things raw as I am. With just 6 natural ingredients this recipe is quick and oh so Delicious!!

Raw Chocolate Haystacks *Yields about 20 haystacks depending on size*


2 1/2 C Shredded Coconut (I went with unsweetened)
3/4 C Liquid Coconut Oil (Organic is best and make sure you take it out of your fridge well in advance to allow for liquification..what a fabulous word..haha)
1/2 C Maple Syrup (Heck Yes!)
1/2 C Raw Cacao Powder (available at your Friendly Neighbourhood Health Food Store)
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract (YUM!)
1/4 tsp Sea Salt (or if you have one of those fancy table grinders like I do, a few twists)


1. Mix all ingredients except for the Coconut together in a bowl.
2. Stir until well mixed. *Note: Do not mix with a whisk, or this will happen, see below picture, plz learn from my snafoos haha!)
3. Once combined, add Shredded Coconut and mix well until fully combined.
4. Form into small mounds (or balls, as I did) and place on plate. **For Coconut sprinkled effect roll mounds in extra Coconut before putting on plate.  Freeze for a 1/2 hour.
5. Store remaining Haystacks in freezer (coconut oil will liquify if allowed to warm).

And Woolah!  You have an easy, quick, chocolatey Raw Dessert that is perfect for party functions or a quick choco fix. ;)  Enjoy!!

And so I leave you to enjoy the rest of this Lovefilled day with an old Spanish Proverb - "Las cosas claras y el chocolate espeso" or as its' translated to English "Ideas should be clear and chocolate thick." Boy did the Spaniards ever have the right idea!


"Naked Chocolate" by David Wolfe and Shazzie

Raw Chocolate Haystacks

History of Valentine's Day

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

What Every Yoga Teacher Wants Their Students to Know

Whether you are considering "maybe" trying a Yoga class, are brand new to Yoga or a seasoned practitioner there are a few key points that every Yoga Teacher out there wishes you knew and adhered to (I might be over-reaching here but speaking as a Teacher and knowing many others I know we can all agree on these key fact some of you Teachers out there may have others to add).  They are more for your own benefit than ours I assure you, and if followed will enable you to get the most out of your Practice every time you come to your mat.

1. Make sure you arrive for class 10-15 minutes early.  This gives you time to get changed, set up your mat and props and have a few minutes of quiet time before practice begins.  By giving yourself enough time to get to class you eliminate the over-stimulation of your adrenal glands (say goodbye to that adrenaline rush!) by rushing to make it to class, which is exactly what we are all trying to avoid by practicing yoga in the first place.  The goal is to get calm and centered not give yourself heart palpitations!

2. If you are dealing with an Injury/Health Concern make sure you make the Teacher aware of it before class begins.  Do this with every class you attend, even if it is with the same Teacher.  Depending on how many classes per week we teach and how many studios we teach for we may not remember your specific needs so you do us a service (not to mention yourself) by reminding us.  FYI if you are "recovering" AKA currently seeing a Therapist for an injury or have just completed your therapy we still need to know about the issue.  We may be utilizing the body part which you are having issues with in class and can give you modifications through out to keep you from injuring yourself, but we can't do this if we don't know about it.

3. Honour the Wisdom of your own Body.  Our bodies are miraculous, no one tells them to breath the air, to circulate the blood, to heal wounds/infections, they just do those things (and so much more).  Quite frankly our bodies are smarter then we are! So if you experience sharp or localized pain at any point through the class that is the bodies way of saying you are taking your practice too far that day, let go of your ego/sense of competition and heed the warning (even Teachers need to be reminded of this at times).  Ask the Teacher for a modification (if they don't offer one) and remember to practice Compassion with your physical form.  If you want it to continue its'  very important work you need to show it a little Respect & Love .

4. If you are unsure of how to come into a pose, don't be afraid to wave the Teacher over and ask for clarification/pointers.  This will keep you from injuring yourself (short and long term) and you will get the intended benefits out of the posture.  There is nothing worse than realizing after 6 months of practicing that you have been doing the pose incorrectly. Then you have to work to undo all that brain and muscle conditioning!

5. When your Teacher says "If you have (insert advanced/challenging pose name here) in your practice and you wish to take it now feel free", and you don't have that specific pose in your practice please do not attempt it.  The last sentence is usually followed by "If you have never taken this pose before please do not make today your first try," or something along those lines, but even if the Teacher neglects to add on that last bit, the reason they are not instructing everyone to take the pose is because it is a challenging pose and can cause harm to you if not executed properly and safely.  There will always be another option given for those who aren't at that stage yet, yoga is after all a 'Practice' so it is not expected that you be able to bend yourself into  a pretzel in your very first class (or even the second or third!).

And lastly..6. Don't be afraid to Smile, Giggle, Enjoy Yourself!  Yoga can have serious positive effects on your body and mind, but it can have a positive effect on your Heart as well if you do yourself the favour of not taking yourself too seriously while on your mat.  Put a little smile on your lips as you chant 'OM', have a little chuckle if you wobble or fall out of that Tree Pose..Yoga is more than just exercise, it can free the Soul.  Bring the Joy onto your Mat!  If you associate Happiness with being on your Yoga Mat it will make it that much easier for you to get on it and Practice regularly..and enjoy it too!!

I'll leave you with these Pearls of Yoga Wisdom, some are my own and some I have picked up from other Teachers (you never stop being a Yoga Student!).  Do with them what you will, but always remember that a Yoga Teachers' greatest desire is to assist you in bettering yourself, by practicing these little tips you will be helping us in our duty!

Namaste! ;)

Saturday, 9 February 2013

What Should We Eat?

It has become very apparent to me in my  ongoing Health Adventures, that with all the contradictory information out there today on diets, health, Superfoods, what scientists have recently found might cause you to grow a third eye.. that it can be really hard to know what it is you should actually be putting in your mouth.  Should you be following the Atkins Diet, the Southbeach Diet, Eat Clean or Paleo?  And what about Gluten, should you eat it or not? At times it can be downright confounding even thinking about making a Diet/Lifestyle change with the plethora of conflicting nutritional information available to us.

Recently I came across a new buzz word in the Health and Nutrition realm, called Bio Individuality.  According to this theory we must find a diet that is uniquely suited to our anatomy, metabolism, age, gender, and ancestry…even blood type plays a role here in deciphering what foods we need to be properly nourished, happy and healthy.   

In the yogic tradition this concept is taught regularly with the perspective that one should take only the physical poses (or asanas) that feel right for THEIR body (letting go of ego, competitive nature and our expectations).  Just as no two physical bodies are alike, no diets should be. Bio Individuality teaches us that there is not one specific diet which reigns above all others, there is no one-size-fits all Diet (regardless of what you may have read in the latest & trendiest diet book). 

I know this may sound like a tall order, trying to find a unique diet that suits your unique constitution.  And when you factor in your energy needs, lifestyle, and personal tastes you could very well feel just as overwhelmed now as you did when you started reading this post.  But I have GREAT news!!  By choosing to eat from a place of authenticity not only do you not have to try to squish yourself into any Diet-y boxes (“I’m a Lactose Intolerant Vegan with a Gluten sensitivity”), but you get to have your own fun Food Adventure figuring out what does work for you!  You get to reevaluate the foodstuffs which make up your current diet and see how they affect your digestion, mood, skin, brain, etc and if you discover that one (or more) of those items does not fit into your vision of your “Healthiest, Happiest Self” you can kick those food items to the curb and experiment with new foods and see how they fit into your Life.  YOU alone have the power over what you eat!  

So I think I have found a Diet Theory (as they call it in the Nutrition-y realm) that speaks to my heart, because as a society I feel we have had enough of being told to eat one way one week and completely different way the next.  Bio Individuality gives us the opportunity to eat from a place of Inner Wisdom (which is exactly as it should be).  If something makes you feel ill when you eat it or makes your brain feel like it’s going to spring out your ears then do yourself a favour and don’t eat it!  You’ll thank yourself later. ;)

So I’d like to leave you with the knowledge that my intention in writing this blog is not to instruct or counsel you on what you should or should not be eating (I am not yet a Nutritionist), but rather to continue my own journey towards Optimal Health, whilst sharing with you my adventures and the useful info I discover along the way.  Please feel free to post questions, suggestions or Health/Yoga topics you find interesting and I would be happy to include them in my investigative adventures!