Recipes

7 of my favourite low sugar, refreshing summer drinks

Summer is here, which means so is patio season… the most wonderful time of the year!!! Although not much is better than enjoying a refreshing drink in the sunshine with family or friends in the summer time, it is important to be mindful of the amount of sugar in the drinks you are consuming. Those with an Inflammatory Bowel Disease need to be particularly careful, as drinking beverages high in sugar can cause stomach discomfort or upset and bloating.  Below are a few of my favourite low sugar, refreshing summertime drink recipes.  I have incorporated a few of my favourite Ontario fresh fruits & lots of mint – mainly because it is growing out of control in the garden. Enjoy!

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  1. The Ultimate Caesar – this is my all time favourite!!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of clamato juice
  • 1 oz vodka
  • 1/2 oz red wine
  • 1/2 tsp horseradish
  • 1/2 tsp of tabasco (I like mine really spicy)
  • 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 ice cubes
  • Garnish with THE SKEWER – the best part! I like adding pickles, cheese, cucumber, lemon, lime, spicy sausage, celery and a pickled bean to mine. Technically it’s healthy if you add all the food groups as garnish. 😉

2. Cucumber, Mint, Lime & Grapefruit Vodka Soda – my current go-to!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of sparkling water (Or I often add kombucha or flavoured soda – La Croix and Zevia are my favourite low sugar options)
  • 1 oz of vodka (Ketel one cucumber & mint is my new favourite)
  • 4 muddled fresh mint leaves
  • 2 slices of muddled grapefruit
  • 4 slices of cucumber
  • 1 tbsp of fresh lime juice
  • 3 ice cubes
  • garnish with lime and/ or grapefruit slices

This drink is super refreshing and very low in sugar. Sometimes I add all the ingredients but the soda a few hours prior to drinking it to allow the drink  to “marinate”, maximizing the flavours.

3.  Moscow Mule – Kombucha style – I love Kombucha so much, I was excited to create this recipe and have another excuse to drink it!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of ginger kombucha
  • 1 oz of vodka
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp of agave syrup
  • 3 ice cubes
  • garnish with lime slices

4. Fresh Watermelon Daiquiri

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of pureed watermelon (~2 cups of fresh chopped watermelon)
  • 1 oz of white rum
  • 2 tbsp cup fresh lime juice
  • Garnish with a sprig of fresh basil and a watermelon slice 

5. Sparkling strawberry & blueberry gin soda

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of sparkling water
  • 1 oz of gin
  • 4 sliced fresh strawberries 
  • 1/4 cup of fresh blueberries
  • 4 muddled fresh mint leaves
  • 3 ice cubes
  • garnish with fresh strawberries and blueberries

I find this one is sweet enough with the fresh strawberries and blueberries, but if you don’t, add a couple teaspoons of honey or agave syrup, or muddle the strawberries and blueberries and strain.

6. White Wine Peach Spritzer

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of sparking water
  • 6oz of dry white wine – Sauvignon Blanc is my favourite 🙂
  • 1 oz white peach sorbet vodka
  • 1/4 cup of frozen white grapes – I like using these to substitute for ice cubes
  • 4 fresh peach slices
  • Garnish with fresh peach slices

7. Mint- Peach Mojito

  • 1 cup of sparkling soda
  • 1 oz white rum
  • 1/2 cup fresh, peach – 1/4 cup muddled, 1/4 cup cubed
  • 10 muddled mint leaves
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 3 ice cubes
  • Garnish with lime and peach slices

Have a good weekend! Stay hydrated (mainly with water), drink responsibly & wear sunscreen.

Anna x

 

 

Articles

The V I T A M I N S !

Eat your vitamins and be a nice human. That is all. 

Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for normal physiological functions. Vitamins cannot be synthesized by humans in amounts large enough to meet daily physiological needs, therefore they must be ingested through ones diet. Vitamins are a natural component of food – inadequate vitamin consumption can lead to specific deficiency syndromes based on the lacking vitamin. Vitamins do not provide the body with energy, but they  are necessary for the facilitation of energy provided by macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, & fat).

14 vitamins exist – 4 are fat-soluble (A, D, E, & K) and 10 are water-soluble. Fat- soluble vitamins are dissolvable in fats. Excess amounts of ingested fat-soluble vitamins are able to be stored within the body, in the liver and adipose tissue. In contrast, water-soluble vitamins are able to dissolve in water and are quickly absorbed into one’s tissues for immediate use. Water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored within the body after being transported to the body’s tissues, and therefore, must be consumed regularly through one’s diet to prevent deficiencies.  Excess amounts of ingested water-soluble vitamins are excreted in ones urine.

Below is a chart of the 14 different vitamins, what physiological function they play within the body and their importance for adequate consumption, what food sources they can be found in, and the deficiency symptoms, syndrome or condition associated with inadequate intake of the given vitamin.

Vitamin Physiological role within the body Food sources Deficiency symptoms, syndrome or condition associated with inadequate intake of the vitamin
A – the first Vitamin discovered!  (1) Helps maintain normal vision, (2) Promotes healthy growth and development, (3) Involved in regulation of gene expression. Sweet potato, Pumpkin, Carrot, Liver, Turkey Night blindness – if untreated can lead to irreversible blindness (Xerophthalmia)
D – The Sunshine Vitamin (1) Necessary for the development and formation of teeth and bones, (2) Acts as a steroid hormone, (3) Maintains calcium & phosphorus homeostasis, (4) Helps to regulate innate and adaptive immune responses. Not naturally found in many commonly consumed foods – Fatty fish, Egg yolks, Fortified dairy products

 

Canadians are advised to supplement with Vitamin D in seasons with limited sun exposure (fall & winter) to ensure adequate intake

Rickets, Osteomalacia, Osteoporosis, Increased susceptibility to autoimmunity and infection
E (1) Improves immune function, (2) An antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage by free radicals, (3) Helps to keep red blood cells healthy, and fight infection. Almonds & almond butter, Sunflower seeds, Cooked spinach, Avocado, Wheat germ, Eggs, Eel Weakened immune system and function, Nerve and muscle damage that can result in: muscle weakness, vision problems, and loss of feeling in the arms and legs

 

K (1) Required for the blood clotting cascade – needed to properly clot blood. Green leafy vegetables – kale, spinach, parsley, romaine lettuce, Turnip, Brussel sprouts, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Cabbage, Fish, Liver, Eggs, Cereals Deficiency is rare because widespread in food – Hemorrhages & prolonged blood clotting time
C (Ascorbic acid)

 

Humans are one of the few species that cannot synthesize Vitamin C

(1) Vital for growth and repair of skin, teeth, and bones, (2) An antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage by free radicals, (3) Enhances iron absorption, (4) Boosts immune function.

 

Peppers, Broccoli, Cabbage, Oranges, Guava, Papaya, Kiwi Scurvy – fatigue, impaired wound healing, hemorrhage in skin and gums, edema
Thiamin (B1) (1) Facilitates energy released from foods – enables the body to convert ingested CHO and protein to make energy, (2) Crucial for maintaining nervous system function. Oatmeal, Cereal, Pork, Sunflower seeds, Soy Beriberi – Wet Beriberi affects heart and circulatory system

 

Dry Beriberi damages nerves and can lead to muscle paralysis

Riboflavin (B2) (1) Enables your body to effectively use other B vitamins (conversions to co-enzyme forms), (2) Assists with energy production throughout the body.

 

Milk and milk products, Liver

Milling of wheat results in significant losses of B2, thus in Canada flour is fortified with B2

 

Lesion symptoms: redness, red tongue, magenta tongue, dermatitis

 

A vitamin B2 deficiency has potential to affect ones B6 levels

 

Niacin (B3)

 

Can be synthesized within the body from tryptophan (an amino acid)

(1) Central in macronutrient metabolism, (2) Enables enzymes to effectively work within the body, (3) Promotes healthy skin and nerves.

 

 

Whole and enriched gains, Peanut butter, Mushrooms, Fish, Poultry Pellagra – associated with dementia, dermatitis, diarrhea, and in extreme cases – death
Pantothenic Acid (B5) (1) Aids in the development and metabolism of various hormones. Widespread in food: Liver & various types of meat, Milk, Whole grains, Legumes Deficiency is rare because widespread in food

 

Burning feed syndrome – pain in toes and soles of feet

Pyridoxine (B6) (1) Linked to nervous system and hormone function, (2) Affects glycogen breakdown, (3) Aids in red blood cell formation and function, and hemoglobin development, (4) Enhances immune function. Bananas, Potatoes, Fortified cereals, Various types of meat, Grains, Legumes Deficiency affects nervous system – irritability, confusions, depression, sleeplessness
Biotin (1) Enables the release of energy to fuel bodily functions from CHOs, fats, and proteins from food.

 

 

 

 

Sweet potatoes, Yogurt, Peanuts & Peanut Butter, Almonds, Eggs, Liver, Soy protein, Whole-grains, Cereal, Legumes Neurological problems – depression, lethargy, hallucinations, rashes, thinning of the hair
Folate

 

Folate = form in foods & body

 

Folic Acid = fortified foods and supplements

(1) Aids in the production and maintenance of DNA and cells, (2) Helps to create red blood cells – preventing anemia.

 

Dark green leafy vegetables, Corn, Beans, Lentils, Fortified products

 

Deficiency usually due to diet and associated with weakness and depression

 

Neural tube defects – women of child bearing age are suggested to supplement with folic acid to lower the risk of giving birth to a child with birth defects

 

 

Cobalamin (B12)

 

The only vitamin that can exclusively be found in animal products and fortified foods

(1) Maintenance of the nervous system, (2) Enables the development of red blood cells, (3) Needed to form DNA. Eggs, Milk & milk products, Cheese, Various types of meat, Fish, Shellfish

 

It is strongly suggested that those who follow a plant based diet supplement with Vitamin B12

 

Neurological problems, pernicious anemia
Choline (1) Essential part of cell membranes (phospholipids), (2) Necessary for lipid and lipoprotein transport. All natural fats – Egg yolks, Peanuts, Soy beans Fatty liver and liver damage

 

EAT YOUR VITAMINS!!! Have a great weekend!

Anna x

 

Ps. Click the link if you want a printable chart of the vitamin table. I have one hanging beside my bed for quick reference. printable vitamin table

 

References:

[1] Dietitians.ca. (2019). Functions and Food Sources of Some Common Vitamins. [online] Available at: https://www.dietitians.ca/Downloads/Factsheets/Functions-Sources-Common-Vitamins.aspx [Accessed 1 Aug. 2019].

Recipes

The simplified guide to delicious, homemade Kombucha

Kombucha is a refreshing low sugar, carbonated drink. It is a fermented black or green tea beverage that has many benefits for one’s health – particularly relating to gut health and immune function. Kombucha is loaded with probiotics, numerous B vitamins and antioxidants. Drinking kombucha supports the excretion of toxins within the body, aids in digestion, and can help to reduce the risk of acquiring certain types of cancers and heart disease.

Follow these 8 simple steps to make your own homemade kombucha!

What you’ll need:

  • 1 glass canning jar
  • a tightly woven cloth
  • an elastic band
  • 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
  • 1 tea bag
  • 1.5 litres of water
  • a ” SCOBY” (symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast) – You can make your own SCOBY or you can purchase one at a health food store.
  • 1/4 cup of starter –  unflavoured store-bought kombucha if you are making your first batch, or 1/4 cup of  kombucha from your previous batch.

Step 1: Clean and sterilize a 1 litre glass canning jar.

Step 2: Fill the canning jar 3/4 full of boiling water. Add a bag of your favourite tea (mine is ginger peach) and let steep for at least 20 minutes.

Step 3: Remove the tea bag and add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar – stir to dissolve.

Step 4: Allow this mixture to cool to room temperature (~20-25 degrees). Add 1/4 cup of starter and stir.

Step 5: Gently place the SCOBY into the mixture. The SCOBY provides bacteria and yeast to allow for fermentation of the tea. Cover this mixture with a tightly woven cloth or any material that allows the mixture to breathe. Secure the cloth with an elastic band.

Step 6: Place the canning jar in a dry place at room temperature and leave it to ferment for ~7-14 days. The longer the tea ferments, the less sweet the kombucha.

Step 7: Strain kombucha and bottle leaving a 3 cm head space.  At this point, a tablespoon of fruit can be added to the kombucha to provide additional flavour.  Ensure the lid is tightly sealed. (Remember to keep 1/4 of a cup of the kombucha as starter for your next batch).  Place the bottled kombucha in a dark spot at room temperature. Allow for the kombucha to ferment a second time and carbonate for ~3-10 days.

Step 8: Your homemade kombucha is ready to drink! If you find your kombucha is not as carbonated as you want it to be, extend the length of the second fermentation process.

 

Not only is kombucha delicious, drinking it provides numerous benefits to your health and body. Give it a try… your intestinal microbiota will thank you.

Have a great week!

Anna x

 

 

 

Articles

All About GUT HEALTH!!!

Your gut bacterium is extremely crucial for many aspects of health. It is important to have optimal gut health as it allows for effective absorption and digestion of food, adequate immune status, stable intestinal microbiota and an optimal state of well-being. A disrupted microbiota can lead to numerous chronic diseases. The best way to maintain a healthy microbiota is to eat a range of fresh, whole foods, mainly from plant sources like fruits, veggies, legumes, beans and whole grains.
6 ways to boost your gut health:
  1. Change your diet
  2. Eat prebiotics
  3. Eat probiotics
  4. Lower your stress levels
  5. Stay hydrated
  6. Eat s-l-o-w-l-y

One’s gut is incredibly complex and has been closely linked to whole-body health. Gut health is strongly correlated with the immune system and function, heart and brain health, mental health, mood, sleep, and optimal digestion. More recently, scientists have acknowledged that a healthy gut may help to prevent certain autoimmune diseases, skin conditions, endocrine disorders, and types of cancer. For all of these reasons, optimal gut health is so important!

The gut is often referred to as our “second brain”. It is able to regulate itself without brain interaction. About 70% of our immune system is located within the gut – thus, optimal gut health is of particular importance for those with autoimmune diseases or weakened immune systems. There are as many as 40 trillion bacteria found in one’s body, most of these bacteria are located in the intestines. Together, this bacterium makes up one’s gut microbiome – the diverse community of microorganisms that live in the digestive tract of individuals.

The human body has 100 times more DNA in the gut microbiome than cells in our entire body. Your gut microbiota is composed of about 1.5 to 2.5kg of bacteria. One’s gut microbiota can change as individual’s age, as their diet changes, or as one’s overall health changes. Not only is one’s gut bacteria linked to whole-body health, this bacterium can also aid in the development of vitamins, and metabolizing bile acids and sterols.

One’s gut is composed of both “good” and “bad” bacteria. The good bacterium in your gut competes with the bad bacterium. Bad gut bacteria causes inflammation, viruses, and infections, while good bacterium aids in the development of varying species of beneficial bacteria and secretes a substances that kill bad bacteria. Ones diet greatly affects the amount of both good and bad bacteria in the gut.

Now that you know the importance of optimal gut health…how can you improve it?

6 Ways to improve your gut health

1. Change your diet – eat a diverse range of foods

The foods you eat greatly affect the type of bacteria that reside inside you. A healthy, balanced diet, rich in fibre and whole foods is beneficial for your gut as it aids in the development and maintenance of a healthy gut microbiome. Reducing your intake of high- sugar, high- fat, processed, and deep fried foods as well as artificial sweeteners, can be of tremendous benefit to not only your overall health, but also, your gut health. These foods can not only disrupt the ratio of good to bad bacteria within the gut, but can also kill your good gut bacteria. Incorporating sources of lean protein and plant-based foods into your diet can also be of benefit to your gut health. The vast range of species of bacterium within your gut microbiome require varying nutrients for growth. Thus, it is important to eat a variety of foods to fuel these bacteria, leading to the development of a healthy and diverse microbiota.

2. Eat prebiotics

Both prebiotics and probiotics are known to support the growth of good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotics work to fuel the good bacteria in one’s gut, regulate one’s microbiome, repair any offsets of altered gut flora, and serve as fuel for probiotics. Prebiotics are present in fibre-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Prebiotics are important for gut health, as the fibre contained within them can stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria, promoting a diverse microbiome. Some examples of prebiotics include: onions, garlic, bananas, legumes, and asparagus. Prebiotics have also been found to reduce the risk of various types of diseases associated with obesity. Certain prebiotics can reduce insulin, and triglyceride and cholesterol levels in those who are overweight.

3. Eat probiotics (fermented foods!!)

Along with prebiotics, your body also needs an adequate dose of probiotics. Probiotics are live microorganisms that are proposed to provide numerous health benefits when ingested, typically by either improving or resorting one’s gut flora. Probiotics work to change the composition of one’s microbiota and to alter and restore the gut microbiota to a healthy state after any sort of alteration. This allows your gut microbiome to remain strong. Some examples of probiotics include fermented foods such as include: Kombucha (the best drink of all time), yogurt, kimchi, kefir, tempeh, and sauerkraut. The action of fermenting foods involves bacteria converting the sugars found in food to organic acids or alcohol. Fermented foods work to enhance the function of your microbiota and reduce the amount of disease causing bacteria present in the gut and intestines. This is extremely beneficial for your gut microbiome, as these foods have live cultures that allow your gut to break down foods and boost your immune system function. Additionally, often fermented foods are rich in lactobacilli, this is a type of bacteria that is beneficial for your health. If you find you don’t like the taste of fermented foods, try taking a probiotic supplement. Lactobacillus is the most common supplement, best taken with food.

4. Lower your stress levels

Chronic elevated levels of stress are very hard on your whole body, particularly your gut. Being in a state of stress while eating is known to slow digestion and may hinder the balance between “good” and “bad” gut bacteria. Some ways to reduce stress include: exercise, meditation, getting outside, socializing, or yoga.

5. Stay hydrated

Drinking adequate amounts of water has beneficial effects on one’s mucosal lining of the intestines, and enables the growth and maintenance of good bacteria within one’s gut. A quick way to estimate the amount of water you should be drinking is to divide your body weight (in lbs) in half, and convert this number to ounces. For example, if you weight 160 lbs, drink 80 ounces of water, equivalent to about 2.3 liters. Staying hydrated is an easy way to help in the development of a healthy gut!!

6. Eat s-l-o-w-l-y

Eating slowly comes with numerous benefits, especially to your gut health. Not only does eating slowly aid in full digestion, it also maximizes nutrient absorption and reduces digestive bloating and discomfort – both of which help to maintain optimal gut health.

A healthy gut is crucial to many aspects of your health. Use these tips to boost your gut health and help you to reach an optimal state of well-being.

Have a good week!

Anna x

 

 

Recipes

No-Bake Nut Butter Energy Bites

Try making these quick, easy and delicious energy bites! With the perfect blend of sweetness and protein, they make for a healthy afternoon pick me up snack.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of nut butter (I use natural peanut butter)
  • 11/2 cups of rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa nibs
  • 1 tbsp of agave nectar
  • 1 scoop of protein powder (I use Vanilla LeanFit Whey)
  • 2 tbsp of unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tbsp of chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp of flax seeds
  •  1 tsp of pure vanilla extract

 

Instructions:

  1. In a bowl, combine oats, cocoa nibs, coconut flakes, and chia and flax seeds. Mix well.
  2. In an additional bowl, mix nut butter, protein powder, agave nectar and vanilla extract until smooth.
  3. Combine the two mixtures and stir until all ingredients are well blended.
  4. Roll mixture into ~20 bite sized balls using your hands.
  5. Store in the fridge to maximize freshness.

If you find the bites are too crumbly, after rolling, pop them in the freezer for about half an hour.

Double the batch and freeze the bites, to save time on meal prep throughout the week.

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Have a great week! Enjoy the sunshine! Summer is just around the corner (hopefully).

Anna x