The superfood you need to know about if you’ve ever had digestive challenges

The superfood you need to know about if you’ve ever had digestive challenges

If you’ve ever struggled with digestive issues, you know how uncomfortable and disruptive they are.

Fun, work, relationships, family – everything suffers. Lame! Being free includes being free of health challenges and feeling awesome every day. Everyone wants to be happy, right? I believe the foundation of happiness is feeling good.

The sad thing is, digestive issues are on the rise. I’m amazed at how many people struggle with digestion. It’s not that hard to figure out why: everyday we eat and drink things that aren’t good for us… while it’s a great goal to eventually eliminate these problematic foods from our diets, instead of constantly stressing over what we should and shouldn’t eat (stress makes everything worse), what if there was one powerful superfood that you could consume daily to promote repair, healing, and restore balance in your digestive system?

 

I’m a big fan of simplicity, and implementing small positive changes on the road to bigger changes.

 

I hope that if you’re reading this blog, you have intentions of assessing your diet and making changes to support better digestion, but for now… start with understanding the top 15 health benefits of this wonder plant and find out how you can get your hands on the best of the best.

 

I’d never heard of drinking aloe vera until…

aloe juice drop close up

…several years ago when my mom was introduced to an aloe drink by her friend. She’d been dealing with some acid (indigestion) issues which she realized were limiting her vocal range (she sings in a jazz choir). After drinking a high quality, potent aloe vera product over several weeks, she noticed improvements in her vocal range and has been singing without issues ever since.

Fortunately, I’ve been blessed when it comes to digestion, BUT, I used to deal with a lot of mucus/ phlegm, especially in the mornings. I know… gross! Since drinking aloe I have noticed a huge improvement AND the more I learn about this plant, the more I want to consume it every. single. day. forever.

 

15 benefits of Aloe Vera

  1. strengthens the immune system (about 80% of your immune system is found in your gut!)
  2. assists with almost all types of digestive illnesses/disorders
  3. kills yeast (candida) and provides prebiotic benefits (creates a good environment for beneficial bacteria: probiotics, to thrive)
  4. improves digestion and absorption of nutrients (it pretty important to absorb the food you’re eating, right?)
  5. balances pH levels in the GI tract
  6. balances blood sugar levels
  7. increases bioavailability of naturally occurring antioxidants in foods and supplements
  8. provides antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and antiparasitic activity
  9. reduces inflammation
  10. activates the liver to produce glutathione (a powerful antioxidant with many functions)
  11. contributes to kidney health
  12. stimulates collagen production and lubricates joints, brain, and nervous system
  13. improves the health of skin and nails (more youthful skin, anyone?)
  14. naturally detoxifies, including facilitating the removal of mercury through the urine and GI tract
  15. helps with weight loss and muscle gain

Now, if this list is a bit too lengthy for you, you can just remember this simple acronym: MAGIC.

M = supports the Microbiome

A = enhances Absorption of nutrients through the gut lining

G = helps stablize blood Glucose levels

I = enhances Immunity

C = stimulates Collagen production

 

By now you’ve probably read enough to know whether you want to experience these benefits for yourself. If you are sick and tired of feeling crappy and if you want your life back from the unpredictability of a digestive system that is out of whack, then its time to take action. But…

…not all aloe drinks are created equal.

Most aloe products on the market contain a 200:1 ratio of water to aloe. In fact, something can be labeled “pure aloe” even if it’s 95% water and 5% aloe! The product I use is more like 200:1, aloe to water; highly concentrated, potent, and pure. I also discovered that this aloe is harvested and processed within six hours to ensure bioactivity in the end product.

My favourite aloe drink is called Aloe Select Mango and can be purchased here.

{Full disclosure, I receive a commission from sales on this site. I aligned myself with Univera because I believe in the quality of their products and I am eager to share the health benefits I’ve experienced with others. Read more about how you, too, can align with Univera if you feel the same way.}

Or, for more information + a short video, go here to learn what makes Univera’s Aloe product uniquely effective.

 

Sources:

Superfoods: The Food and Medicine of the Future, David Wolfe, 2009

The Metabolic Makeover: It’s All About Energy, Stephen Cherniske, 2014

The Metabolic Plan, Stephen Cherniske, 2003

 

What does ‘healthy eating’ actually mean? Picky eaters unite! My food journey – part 1

What does ‘healthy eating’ actually mean? Picky eaters unite! My food journey – part 1


IMG_3514
If you asked me five years ago if I ate a healthy diet, I would’ve said yes without hesitation. The interesting thing is, the way I eat today is a lot different than how I ate five years ago. Why? My definition of ‘healthy eating’ has evolved with new information and experiences.  Whenever I’m having a conversation with someone about wellness and they say, “yeah, I eat healthy…” I have to ask… what does ‘eating healthy’ mean to you? Everyone has their own definition. For some people its choosing low fat dairy products or buying unsalted or baked chips, for some it’s having fruit for breakfast, for others it means they eat Paleo, vegetarian or vegan. Do you ever find yourself wondering what you should be eating and who to believe out of all the hype and fad diets? Yeah. You and 17 million other people.

 

Like most people in the world of wellness, I have my own beliefs about what ‘healthy eating’ means. The simple version of my food philosophy is 

eating healthy means listening to your body and being honest about your results.

If you look, feel, and perform really well in life, then you’re probably eating the right things, for you! If you are struggling with any aspect of your health, it might be worth exploring some changes you could make. I don’t believe that every person should be eating exactly the same things. I’ve arrived at a place in my journey with food where I understand the fundamentals of what makes me feel good, and I believe some of the things I’ve learned might be helpful for you. I’m also a huge advocate of taking a proactive or preventative view on health. What does that mean? It means

I take products and make food choices that will provide me with long term benefits, BEFORE any health problems arise.

Read on to understand more about what I mean.

 

My goal with this three-part blog post is to share the evolution of my food choices, with an emphasis on the journey; it’s very difficult to make drastic dietary changes overnight, but making gradual improvements is manageable and if you stay committed, you’ll find yourself looking back in 5 years, impressed with the progress you’ve made and the information you’ve learned along the way.

{Disclaimer: I am not a health professional, nutritionist, or dietary expert. I can only speak with certainty about my own experiences and the lessons I’ve learned from experts along the way}

The Early Years

When I think back on my life, I can see a few major events that influence my food choices today. My parents moved West to the Rockies in their 20s. My mom was an early adopter of the health food trend. I have childhood memories of granola, kamut cereal, spelt pancakes, brown rice, tofu, nutritional yeast, braggs, greens, rice/soy milk and other ‘weird’ foods which I wasn’t overly thrilled about at the time. Despite these healthy food influences, my parents will tell you that as a kid, the ONLY thing I wanted to eat was ‘noonies’ (noodles) with butter and cheese. I didn’t like tomato sauce, AT ALL, in fact when we had pizza I had mine without sauce!

Around this time my mom found a company called Sunrider and a product called NuPlus. If my memory is correct, it was a powder containing berry concentrates and other herbal ingredients. She would mix it into my yogurt so at least I was getting some vitamins and anti-oxidants (before anti-oxidants were even a ‘thing’) which eased her mind when I ate nothing but pasta the rest of the time.

LESSON #1: if your diet is lacking in key nutrients, find a supplement to fill in the gaps

Besides my moberriesm trying to find creative ways to get me to eat foods with nutritional value, the other major memory from my childhood is the impact of my dad becoming insulin-dependent diabetic in his late 30s. I would’ve been about 8 years old and this experience was traumatic to say the least. I became hyper aware of sugar and understanding which foods were high in sugar. Dad would make oatmeal and put yogurt and nuts on it (no brown sugar), pancakes were topped with plain yogurt and fresh fruit, not maple syrup. You get the idea.

LESSON #2: Sugar is dangerous and should be avoided or minimized

Needless to say, we didn’t eat a lot of dessert in my home during the early years. There was no pop in the fridge, and even fruit juice was a treat. I went through a short rebellion phase in my early teens (when I started having my own money from babysitting and other business ventures) and bought myself pop and candy, but I soon realized I didn’t even like it that much.

The good part about this whole experience is that I don’t crave sugar in my adult life. I enjoy a yummy treat now and then (dark chocolate is my fav), but I can easily walk into the grocery store and walk right by the cookies, tarts, scones, and chocolate bars without even thinking about grabbing any of them. When we host friends or family for dinner, I often forget to prepare dessert, it’s not even on my radar. This might be due to another factor that I learned more recently…

stay tuned for part 2 and 3 of this blog to hear the rest of the story!

 

13 Ingredients for epic smoothies, 3 of them might surprise you!

13 Ingredients for epic smoothies, 3 of them might surprise you!

Smoothies are one of my favourite things. In the world.

IMG_9185The only time I’ve ever gotten sick of smoothies was when I had my wisdom teeth out and couldn’t eat solid food for a week.

I find it funny when people say, oh yeah.. I gotta start making smoothies in the morning – like it’s a hard thing to do?! I wouldn’t want to start my day any other way. But we’re each on our journey; here’s hoping you’ll hop on the smoothie bandwagon with me! 

I’m not that big on recipes, except maybe for baking… but here are my…

top ten smoothie ingredients


  1. berries
    (usually frozen) – full of antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients and of course, delicious
  2. banana – for that smooth texture, sweetness, and potassium
  3. protein powder – so you can actually go do some stuff before you need to eat again
  4. hemp hearts – also protein packed and containing beneficial fatty acids
  5. greens powder – spirulina, and so much more (check out my fav brand)
  6. spinach and/or kale (although I recently learned that eating too much raw kale can mess with your thyroid, oops!)
  7. cucumber – why not? you can’t even taste it
  8. avocado – creaminess galore and healthy fats
  9. almond milk and/or yogurt
  10. superfood concentrate (Xtra)

3 ingredients you probably aren’t putting in your smoothies, but should be!

  1. cayenne: I’ve got several friends who are studying or have studied chinese medicine. Green veggies are cooling, but adding cayenne to your smoothie has a warming effect.  AND it tastes epic. A couple sprinkles usually does the trick.
  2. peanut butter: its delicious and a good source of protein if you run out of protein powder (imagine this: chocolate protein powder, almond milk, frozen banana, peanut butter… drool)
  3. pure aloe vera juice: if you aren’t familiar with drinking aloe, check out this post. I LOVE to drink my Aloe straight up – however, some folks prefer to toss it in the blender with the rest of your smoothie goodies.

If I had to give you my current favourite smoothie recipe, this is it, but a smoothie is a glorious thing, you can throw almost any combination of fruit, protein powder, and greens in the blender and as long as you have some key ingredients, it will taste delicious (although slightly diff

2014-08-25 21.57.00erent) every time.

What are those key ingredients?

For smooth, creamy texture make sure you have at least one of the following: avocado, banana, or good quality protein powder.

For yummy flavour, make sure you have about 1 cup of fruit (berries, pear, apple, are good choices) and/or banana  (frozen fruit gives the smoothie its smoothie character, but you can also use raw fruit. I almost never put ice in my smoothie.)

For nutrition, pack in spinach, kale, cucumber, and a good quality greens powder will really take your smoothie to the next level of awesome.

For satiety, use at least one source of protein; protein powder, hemp hearts, greek yogurt, peanut butter

For optimal health, use whatever super foods you have on hand, for example a good quality greens powder with spirulina, wheatgrass etc, a pure aloe vera juice concentrate, cayenne powder

 

Pear & Spinach Morning Glory Smoothie

Add all ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth. 

Makes enough to fill 2 500 ml mason jars. One for you and one for your sweetie, or one for you now and one for you later!

  • handful of spinach (washed and preferably organic)
  • 1 cup of frozen fruit (today’s recipe includes frozen pears and apples from my backyard)
  • chunk of cucumber (about 3 inches long)
  • 1 banana
  • ½ of a large avocado (or 1 whole small avocado)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk (or milk of your choice)
  • 1/4 cup of organic plain yogurt
  • 1-2 scoops of vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tablespoon of greens powder
  • 2 tablespoons of hemp hearts
  • 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne
  • 2 ounces of botanical concentrate Xtra
  • 2 ounces of pure aloe vera juice

Enjoy!

Here’s where I source my high quality superfoods, aloe veragreens, and protein powder.

 

5 tips for delicious summer salads

5 tips for delicious summer salads

It’s officially barbecue & potluck season! As I prepare for my potluck dinner thisIMG_8424 week, I’m pondering how many ways there are to make a salad. This is the third salad I’ve made and they’ve all been slightly different. I was crunched for time for one potluck, so I stopped for sushi, which is always a good back up plan. As I washed and prepped veggies for yet another salad, this blog post popped into my mind, and I thought it might make people’s lives easier.

 

Here are five tips to keep your salads interesting and packed with nutrition. The goal here is to have such delicious EPIC salads that people can’t stop talking about them and you get to take home a nice clean empty bowl instead of soggy salad leftovers that you feel guilty chucking out.

Tip #1: Think local, fresh, and seasonal

Check out your local farmers’ market, or make a point of looking to see where produce comes from in your local grocery store. If it comes from your province or state, there’s a good chance it is IN SEASON right now. It makes sense to eat things that are in season for so many reasons… it’s morIMG_8994e sustainable to buy local produce, things that are in season are the freshest and packed with health benefits, and you can find inspiration by choosing ingredients that are readily available (even if you’ve never cooked with them before). I also love adding fresh herbs like basil, mint, cilantro, parsley, or fennel, depending on the flavours of the salad, and fresh fruit or berries are also great additions to summer salads. Here is a cool resource that I stumbled upon for figuring out what’s in season, and finding farmers markets! http://www.bcfarmersmarket.org/fresh-market/what%E2%80%99s-season

Tip #2: Break up with lettuce


Lettuce is … well, kinda dull. There are so many super greens you can build your salad with to mix things up: spinach, kale, arugula, endive, chard, mesclun mix, to name a few. If you want to increase the nutritional profile of your salad, start with a solid foundation! Even if you ease into it by starting with a combo of lettuce and kale, or lettuce and arugula, you’ll be on the right track. Funny fact: something I’ve always avoided in my salads is iceberg lettuce. I’ll be honest, I haven’t really done any research on it, but my best friend growing up had rabbits and we were told NOT to feed the rabbits iceberg lettuce – I decided at that point that if rabbits couldn’t eat it, why would I?

Tip #3: Get creative with how you cut your veggies

Somehow, when you change the shape, size or texture of veggies and fruit, it makes them way more enjoyable to eat AND they look cool. Examples: spiralized beet noodles, shaved cucumber, grated carrots and beets, julienned apple… etc. Presenting common vegetables (or fruit)  in a fun new way makes your salads way more appealing.

 

Tip #4: Make it a meal by adding protein

IMG_8992Adding a protein source turns a salad into a great meal! Besides hormone-free, locally raised meat, chicken, or sustainable seafood, here are some of my fav protein sources: hemp hearts, chick peas, goat cheese, almonds (soaked almonds are easier to digest and have a great texture), pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pecans, or walnuts. I will even occasionally top a salad with grilled tofu. Other nutrient-dense salad favs in our house include: avocado, dried fruit (currants, cranberries, goji berries… etc, unsweetened preferably). Tips for using nuts and seeds: almost all are more deliciouIMG_8993_2s when lightly toasted. You can do this by heating a pan on medium heat (I use cast-iron) without any oil, and sprinkle in your seeds… shake the pan periodically and watch the seeds or nuts turn a golden brown. Pumpkin seeds puff up and are delicious when toasted!

 Tip #5: Make your dressing from scratch 

Dressing can make or break a salad. I’ve always made my own dressings and I’ve noticed I get mad props for doing so. Granted, I’m not a mom (yet) or uber busy so convenience isn’t my #1 priority. If health is a priority for you, like it is for me, than store-bought dressings aren’t the best way to go. They almost always have added sugar and other mysterious ingredients. I’ve been falling in love with amazing dressings lately (all made from scratch) and they include fresh healthful ingredients like ginger, cold-pressed virgin olive oil, lemon juice, mint, apple cider vinegar, garlic, cayenne, sea salt, black pepper, dijon mustard, basil, etc. I’m not suggesting you use all of these ingredients at once 😉 , but maybe a couple of them will get you excited and you can experiment with flavours.

So there you go! I hope this provides inspiration for epic summer salads! If you’d like to receive healthy recipes, tips for improving your well-being and maximizing your freedom – sign up to receive my semi-monthly newsletter. And I’d love to hear from you – what are your favourite salad ingredients or methods? Share in the comments!

A must-watch documentary for creating freedom: Rise of the Entrepreneur

commute John WalkerMost of us were taught to go to school, get a good job, work hard, climb the corporate ladder and retire in our 50s or 60s with a pension and some investments.

Have you noticed that plan isn’t working out for a lot of people lately? Downsizing, outsourcing, economic uncertainty, technological advances… change is happening so quickly that people who are moving through the traditional education and career pathways are being left in the dust wondering what happened. I heard from a mentor of mine recently that art leads science by ten years, science leads business by ten years, and business leads education by ten years. Which means that education is 30 years behind the cutting edge. No wonder people are lost, confused and stressed out.

As part of Generation Y, I know there’s a rift between what we were told to do and what most of us actually want: freedom, fun, passion, adventure… and control over our time.  We are just not cut out for the whole 9-5 thing.

More and more people are realizing they want a different lifestyle so its not surprising to discover entrepreneurship isrise on the rise.

In the fall of 2014 I sat in an audience of about 7,000 people in Las Vegas for the very first showing of a brand new documentary called Rise of the Entrepreneur. I was absolutely blown away by what I learned. This film gathers today’s best experts, economists and thought leaders to discuss and forever change how you view work and wealth and the network marketing industry.

We are showing this ground-breaking documentary right here in Victoria in July 2015. Stay tuned for the details!

I am so incredibly grateful to be surrounded by inspiring leaders and mentors… read more about their view on entrepreneurship and the importance of this documentary here.


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