Simplifying nutrition and using food as medicine - one bite at a time.

My goal with this blog is to set folks straight about what good nutrition really is! Starting by discarding the info we get every day from 'sponsors' that do not really have our best interests at heart, I want to inspire you to eat better AND realize it is much easier than you thought it would be!

Just about any health issues can be addressed with nutrition (and meditation), from mild to chronic to acute. We truly have the ability to heal ourselves physically, mentally and spiritually...

And you can use your daily routine as your vehicle to drive that change :)

Join me...

Quote of the Month

"When food, in the minds of eaters, is no longer associated with farming and with the land, then the eaters are suffering a kind of cultural amnesia that is misleading and dangerous"
~Wendell Berry

Monday, February 22, 2010

If We Only Knew Now What We Knew Then

Are you absorbing the nutrients from your food?

Looking back in history and in many cases still today (outside North America), traditional peoples from all around the world were fermenting, soaking, or sprouting their grains, legumes and nuts/seeds (picture a Japanese family fermenting soy beans to make miso or a Bavarian woman fermenting her flour to make sourdough bread). They somehow inherently knew that these foods required these techniques to break down ‘anti-nutrients’, such as phytic acid, creating better mineral absorption and other nutrient content as well increasing enzymes. It also creates a more alkaline product (we all seem to need more alkalinity these days).

It’s amazing how traditional wisdom can be so easily overlooked or 'lost in translation' from generation to generation. And now our modern, fast-paced diets, without these principles, are taking a toll on our health with a huge increase in food allergies, digestive/intestinal problems, immune deficiencies, etc.  (Let's not even mention the increase in stress of our lifestyles).

Did you know...amongst the top 3 reasons for hospitalization and intake of pharmaceutical drugs is digestive/intestinal disorders.  The vast majority of these issues can be reversed with improving your food quality and managing your stress (take a deep breath once in a while!...especially before/after eating please...more on that in future posts)

Science now proves:
• The phytic acid present in most grains, beans, nuts and seeds binds with calcium, zinc, magnesium and iron, rendering these nutrients almost impossible to absorb and therefore leaving us mal-nourished. Over time this will leave us with a deficit that can potentially lead to many different chronic and acute diseases.  Soaking, sprouting or fermenting these foods will neutralise the phytic acid and allow for optimal absorption of these critical nutrients.

• ‘Enzyme inhibitors’ are also neutralized with soaking, not only increasing vitamin content, but dramatically increasing enzyme content.

• Gluten and other hard to digest proteins are broken down, which makes for easy digestion. *Rye, Barley, Wheat, Kamut and Spelt and most oat products contain gluten.

Using these techniques:
• Soak grains, legumes, nuts & seeds for at least 7 hours before use, ideally in an acidic medium (e.g. a dash of apple cider vinegar, a squeeze of lemon or tsp. of yogourt) or just water.

• Buy or make whole grain sourdough breads.  These have undergone full fermentation of the dough.
*Yeast fermentation does not neutralize phytic acid or release the bound nutrients.
Her eis a link for some good recipes and photos:

• Soak nuts/seeds overnight, drain and then place in oven on lowest possible setting (pilot light for gas or 150 F electric) or, even better, a dehydrator to dry throughout (up to 16+ hours). This vastly increases storage time, provides better crunch and flavour. *I do a big batch of nuts and seeds approx. once per month and then store them in glass jars in my pantry for a healthy and easy snack or meal embellishment.

• Eat sprouted grains, legumes, nuts and seeds (see my recent post on sprouting and the resources noted).  There are many sprouted grain breads on the market today. *See this link: for a great article from the Boston Globe with a yummy recipe to boot.

Oxalic Acid
This is found primarily in leafy green vegetables such as chard, spinach, beet greens, mustard greens. It binds with calcium and iron and inhibits their absorption.

*Lightly steaming (or sautéing) is enough to neutralize the oxalic acid found within.
Don't be overwhelmed by all this information, especially if it is all new to you.  Take it in stride and gradually make improvements and, in no time, you'll be achieving these things easily and with minimal effort.  In the whole scheme of things it is a minor change but with VAST benefits over time.

Be well-nourished from the inside out...Lisa Marie

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Love is in the Air
Well, Valentine’s Day just passed and you either love it or hate it. I often think about how I can spend Valentine’s Day in a not-so-conventional way. I started making homemade cards years ago to bypass the cheesy Hallmark greetings, not to mention that they are costly (for what they are). And in recent years I have also been known to cook a yummy meal and indulge in plenty of dark chocolate.

This year, I gave my hubby a homemade card and a heart-shaped rock – which he received very enthusiastically. Oddly, he returned the sentiment with a similar heart-shaped rock (we were walking on the beach yesterday with our little one, Oskar).

Which brings me to the point of this post. What says ‘I love you’? In particular, what foods say “I love you”.

They say endorphin-promoting foods are ones that are ‘sweet’ and often ‘fatty’. These need not be unhealthy though like so many options we are faced with at the supermarket.
And by the way, if you do not have a special someone in your life you should feed these to yourself to tell yourself “I love me”. There’s no better way to attract love to you than treating yourself with love. OK advice column over…now the food stuff begins…

Consider these:
Dark Chocolate (the old stand-by) – a much better option that milk or white chocolate that usually contains all sorts of yucky ingredients including milk powders and loads more sugar. Having said that a small portion of milk chocolate once a month or so won’t kill you… if you insist!

I have a pretty ‘deadly’ recipe that a colleague of mine gave me recently. I’ve modified it slightly, they’re called chocolate chlorella balls and they’re dynamite! Not only healthy but deee-licious!

I’m posting it for your delight!
Chocolate Spirulina Balls:
1 cup hempseeds
2 cups cacao powder
½ cup spirulina
½ cup virgin coconut oil
¾ cup raw honey
3 pinches celtic (unrefined) sea salt
3 vanilla pods (scrape inside) – if cannot find can use vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon and/or cardamom and/or cayenne - to spice it up a bit ;)

-Mix all ingredients in a bowl until everything is mixed in together, roll into little balls and put in the freezer for 15 minutes. You can then store them in the fridge until eaten

Makes 80 (you can half recipe if needed)
Creamy foods: For example, creamy mashed potatoes (don’t peel the skins and use organic non-homogenized milk, hint: Avalon brand!), homemade hot chocolate (made with dark chocolate, add maple syrup or stevia to sweeten. Craving ice cream? Before you reach for the (gasp) Ben & Jerry’s, check out Saltspring Island Ice Cream company for some of the healthiest ice cream around. Or perhaps full-fat non-homogenized yogourt (ie: Saugeen and Jerseyland Organics brands) with a splash of maple syrup and real vanilla – mmm…

*If you’re dairy intolerant try using coconut milk in recipes that called for cream ie: puddings, creamy sauces (ie: curry’s) as long as the coconut flavour works for you. I make a pretty mean thai-style rice pudding with overcooked brown rice, coconut milk, maple syrup, cinnamon and cardamom.

**Also, there’s rice, soy, hemp and almond milks to use as alternatives – they’re not a creamy but they still can satiate you. I make a very satisfying chocolate pudding with Ryza rice milk.

Homemade Candy – try making caramel at home with unrefined cane sugar instead of white sugar. Drizzle with melted dark chocolate on pecans and be in total bliss! Or try maple sunflower candy as per Rebecca Wood’s website

I also came across this recipe Omega Rich Sweets recipe a couple of years ago and find it pretty yummy and hits the ‘sweet spot’ (I wish I knew who created this recipe so I could give credit).
1 cup dried organic apricots, diced
1/2 cup virgin coconut oil
2 tbsp raw cocoa powder
2 tbsp cocoa nibs
1 tsp orange zest
3 tbsp hemp nuts
2 tbsp chia seeds

1. In a food processor, blend apricots and coconut oil for about 30 seconds.
2. Add orange zest and cocoa powder, pulse for a few seconds.
3. Add cocoa nibs and hemp nuts, process until a ball starts to form.
4. Scoop mixture into the middle of a wax or parchment paper sheet. Fold paper over mixture and begin to roll slowly back and forth to form a cylinder about 6 or 7 inches long, about 1 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter.
5. Open paper and sprinkle part of the chia seeds on top, roll a bit further. Sprinkle the remainder of chia seeds on top and roll until all seeds have coated the outside of the roll.
6. Refrigerate, slice and serve.

Note: If you prefer, refrigerate the cylinder before coating with seeds then slice into 1/4 inch slices and roll into individual balls. Coat each individual ball with chia seeds or your favourite crushed nuts.
Enjoy your sweets responsibly but don’t try and go without them completely if you crave them. Just make yourself some quality ones and allow yourself to enjoy them without over-indulging. You’re less likely to binge on stuff that’s healthier because it actually satiates the craving whereas the refined/processed versions do not, so they leave you wanting more and more and more and the vicious addiction cycle activates.

Enjoy the sweetness of life!
(stay tuned for more discussion about healthy sweets and managing blood sugar and weight issues)

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The Power of Sprouts

Many do not realize the healing power of sprouts but the founder of the Hippocrates Health institute, Ann Wigmore, dedicated her life to rediscover the healing and culinary properties of sprouts. Her institute treated people, over many years, for many different disorders. Sprouts were found to contribute extensively to the immune system, as excellent detoxifiers. Being biogenic, sprouts are attributed rejuvenation qualities (creative life force). This contributes to the vitality and stamina experienced by thousands who consume them regularly. They are rich in vitamins, minerals, proteins, and relevant enzymes to assist its digestion.
Sprout History
Medicinally and nutritionally, sprouts have a long history. It has been written that the Ancient Chinese physicians recognized and prescribed sprouts for curing many disorders over 5,000 years ago.
In the 1700's, sailors were riddled by scurvy (lack of Vitamin C) and suffered heavy casualties during their two to three year voyages until Captain James Cook had his sailors eat limes, lemons and varieties of sprouts; all abundant holders of Vitamin C. These were, predominantly, were credited for preventing the mariners' casualties.

It is really only in the past thirty years or so that "westerners" have become interested in sprouts and sprouting. During World War II, Dr.. Clive M. McKay, Professor of Nutrition at Cornell University. Dr. McKay led off with this dramatic announcement: "Wanted! A vegetable that will grow in any climate, will rival meat in nutritive value, will mature in 3 to 5 days, may be planted any day of the year, will require neither soil nor sunshine, will rival tomatoes in Vitamin C, will be free of waste in preparation and can be cooked with little fuel and as quickly as a ... chop." Dr. McKay was talking about soybean sprouts. He and a team of nutritionists had spent years researching the amazing properties of sprouted soybeans. They found that sprouts retain the B-complex vitamins present in the original seed, and show a big jump in Vitamin A and an almost unbelievable amount of Vitamin C over that present in unsprouted seeds. While some nutritionists point out that this high vitamin content is gained at the expense of some protein loss (conversely, the protein actually becomes more bio-available), the figures are impressive: an average 300 percent increase in Vitamin A and a 500 to 600 percent increase in Vitamin C. In addition, in the sprouting process starches are converted to simple sugars, thus making sprouts easily digested.

*Always choose organic seeds for sprouting to avoid genetically modified seeds as well as any chemical residues.

Health Benefits Galore
I often recommend using sprouts in the daily diet of my clients as an easy power-packed addition to any meal – particularly for people who have a hard time getting in their daily recommended intake of vegetables. Sprouts are one of the few fast foods that are healthy and they’re delightfully easy to incorporate into the diet. If, for instance, you often have eggs and toast for breakfast– accompany with a handful of sprouts to enhance your vegetable intake for the day. Or use a variety of them instead of salad greens in the colder season for a meal that’s more nutrient-rich and less work for your digestive system.

Be sure to explore beyond the standard alfalfa sprouts; some of my favourites include: broccoli, garlic, clover, rasdish, sunflower and mixed bean sprouts, available at local supermarkets in the produce section. At home you can extend the variety even further with mung sprouts (traditionally found in Chinese cuisine), fenugreek, mustard (spicy!), flax and many more. The possibilities are endless; you can sprout just about every grain, seed, nut or legume endowed with the potential for the next generation of new plant life. In general you will see the increase of fibre and chlorophyll (which is itself rich in nutrients and health-giving properties such as magnesium), 15-30% more protein, a variety of enzymes, Beta-carotene (Vitamin A’s precursor), B complex (especially heart-friendly Niacin and Riboflavin), Vitamin C, E, K calcium, phosphorous and iron, though mineral content does not increase as much as the vitamins do.  All that and the vital energy within the sprouts are tranfered to your body when you eat them. 
We all need alittle more of that, don't we?
Some of the results of adding sprouts to the diet include: weight loss, improved hormone balance (including improved thyroid function and PMS symptoms), general body cleanse/detoxification, improved digestion & liver function and even the prevention of many of our culture’s most prevalent diseases; osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease.
Alfalfa sprouts, soybeans, clover and oilseeds (such as flaxseed) are the most significant dietary sources of the phytoestrogens such as isoflavones, coumestans, and lignans, respectively. Studies in humans, animals and cell culture systems suggest that these dietary phytoestrogens play an important role in prevention of menopausal symptoms, osteoporosis, cancer and heart disease. _________________________________________________

Sprouts are likely the most vitally alive and nourishing foods we can eat. We can sprout all year round and benefit from their low-calorie, high-nutrient density which supports an improved metabolism – great for those trying to lose or maintain a healthy weight. They also provide the nutrients of leafy greens when they are not in-season. And the amount of nourishment per dollar surpasses most any other food – so they’re also very economical for those of us who are watching our budgets a little more closely these days.

A great website for getting started at home is: but all you really need to start is a few seeds and a jar with a lid with some holes punched in it and some filtered water. Different seeds require different treatment and time to sprout (see website for details)

Enjoy and be better-nourished!
Lisa Marie

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Body’s Great Need for Water

“Water is the basis of all life and that includes your body. Your muscles that move your body are 75% water; your blood that transport nutrients is 82% water; your lungs that provide your oxygen are 90% water; your brain that is the control center of your body is 76% water; even your bones are 25% water”
I want to speak about the importance of water as a follow-up to my cleansing post last week. You water intake is a great way to start positive, sustainable changes to your diet and lifestyle. It’s cheap, easy and profoundly affects your health. Please read on…

I was introduced to the concept of the body’s real need for water several years ago when I worked in the supplement industry. I already knew of the basics of human need for regular hydration but one particular book, The Body’s Many Cries For Water - by F. Batmanghelidj M.D. really opened my eyes to just how important water is and just how so many of us ignore our own needs and therefore suffer, unnecessarily, due to this self-induced dehydration. It manifests as many different ailments and occurs from minor to severe.

“The simple truth is that dehydration can cause diseases. Everyone knows that water is good for the body. They seem not to know how essential it is to one's well-being. They do not know what happens to the body if it does not receive its daily need of water."

“We misinterpret thirst signals as pain, and treat them with drugs which silence instead of cure the problem. Because dehydration eventually causes loss of some functions, the various signals given by water distribution system regulators during severe and lasting dehydration have been translated as indicators of unknown disease conditions of the body. I discovered that histamine is a vital chemical messenger in the brain. Histamine has a most important function not written about in medical textbooks. It is in charge of water intake and drought management in the body. It is less active when the body is fully hydrated, and becomes increasingly active when the body becomes dehydrated."
"To hush the body's call for water by masking the symptoms with drugs is like turning out the dashboard light that signal us that our car is about to overheat."

"Every function inside the body is regulated by and depends on water. Water must be available to carry vital elements, oxygen, hormones, and chemical massages to all parts of the body. Without sufficient water to wet all parts equally, some more remote parts of the body will not receive the vital elements that water supplies. Without sufficient water to constantly wet all parts, your body's drought-management system kicks into action. The histamine-directed chemical messenger systems are activated to arrange a new, low quota of water for the drought-stricken area. When histamine and its subordinate "drought managers" come across pain-sensing nerves, they cause pain. This is why dehydration produces pain as its first alarm signal. If the dehydration persists and is not corrected naturally with water, it becomes symptom-producing and, in time, develops into a disease condition." (All above quotes from

This information is a real eye-opener and, as I stated above, should be the foundation of any new diet/lifestyle change when trying to improve one’s health. Isn’t it inspiring to have something so potentially simple, inexpensive and profoundly healing at your fingertips?

One of my goals is to empower people to make positive healthful changes. To help people understand just what potential they have to be their own healers (and disease-creators) and how easy it can be with some basic understanding and a good ‘filter’ to be able to sift through the overwhelming amounts of bias and poor advice out there – much of which has only your $$ in mind.

My first recommendation in lieu of the above info is for you to start every day with one large glass of fresh, filtered water. If you already have a glass upon waking then strive for 2.
Then, drink water throughout the day, but only on an empty stomach – any significant amount of water should be consumed either 20 minutes before a meal or at least 2 hours afterwards to ensure you adequately hydrate yourself and not interfere with your digestive processes.

Speaking of filters…
Get yourself an inexpensive filtration system that does not filter your water too much such as solid-carbon filters or ozonation. Processes such as Reverse-Osmosis and distillation also effectively remove potentially harmful impurities but unfortunately they also remove the life-giving properties of water such as the minerals naturally occurring within. From my research I’ve found ozonation to be one of the best options for home purification without removal of the essential natural nutrients in water. However, I personally use a more affordable but still very efficient, sink-side, tap attachment home filtration system (see photo above) composed of solid carbon (In my opinion, better than the store-bought loose carbon filters, ie: Brita) and you could get an under-the-counter one instead, if you prefer. Here are some stats I discovered on a trusted website ( where you can do your own research and find what suits you best:

In 2006, researchers from Universite Laval in Quebec, Canada found that the use of activated-carbon filters is one of the most effective ways for households to reduce THM and HAA concentrations in drinking water (Lévesque, 2006)

EWG research shows that pitcher and faucet-mounted systems are typically the most economical, with yearly costs typically in the range of about $100. Counter-top and under-counter systems tend to be more expensive at the outset, though the yearly maintenance costs are often not that much higher than the pitcher and faucet-mounted systems.

I encourage you to simplify in 2010; reduce your stress by breathing deeply, listening to your intuition, drink clean water and eat cleaner food throughout the day. I will do my best to offer you some guidelines through my blog which can help you on your way.

Yours in health, Lisa Marie

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