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Archive for the ‘digestive health’ Category

My Favourite Gluten Free Recipes to help you create your Menu

Posted on: July 6th, 2016 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

Going Gluten-free (GF) can be intimidating and many people don’t know where to start.  Whether you’re trying it out to see how you feel, needing to do so for health reasons or trying to cook/bake for someone who is GF…it can feel overwhelming.

Here is a list of some tried and true recipe ideas that I have enjoyed.  If you know me, you know I’m not a great cook…I don’t enjoy spending a lot of time in the kitchen and the last thing I want is needing to go to various stores to get different ingredients.  These recipes are generally – easy to make and you can buy most ingredients from either your local grocery store (Zehrs health section is usually the best match for me) and Bulk Barn.

See what you think and I hope these recipe ideas taste great for you too. (And most of these recipes are dairy free as well or allow for dairy-free substitutions.)

Breakfast Ideas

Grain-free Berry Granola – Healthful Pursuit

Banana Oat Blender Pancakes – Kitchen Treaty

Coconut Flour Chocolate Crepes – Healthful Pursuit

Sweet Potato Hash – Healthful Pursuit

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal – Oh She Glows

Soft and Chewy Sugar Free Granola Bars – Oh She Glows

Almond Flour Pancakes – Comfy Belly

Fluffy Coconut Flour Pancakes – Comfy Belly

Quinoa Granola – Comfy Belly

Blueberry Syrup – Nourishing Meals

Gluten Free Raspberry Scones – The Roasted Root

Mochaccino Chia Breakfast Pudding – Joyous Health

The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread – My New Roots

SMOOTHIES – here are Greatist’s 54 Top Smoothie Recipes

SMOOTHIE BOWLS – here are Greatist’s Top Smoothie Bowl Recipes  and some more that are Dairy Free Top Smoothie Bowl Recipes

Lunch Ideas

Spiralized Thai Salad Recipe – Against All Grain

Sea Salt Rosemary Zucchini Chips – Joyous Health

 My Favourite Detox Salad – Eat Yourself Skinny

Veggie Summer Rolls with Peanut Sauce – Avocado Pesto

Soft Gluten Free Sandwich Bread – A Little Insanity

10 Minute Grain Free Paleo Bread – Shiny Happy Food

Dinner Ideas

Coconut Cauliflower Rice – Healthful Pursuit

Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl – Minimalist Baker 

Spicy Buddha Bowl – Crazy Vegan Kitchen

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust – Blissful Basil

Cauliflower Pizza Crust – Detoxinista

Zucchini Noodles with Creamy Avocado Pesto- Eat Yourself Skinny

Curried Cauliflower Soup – Cookie and Kate

Dessert Ideas

Black Bean Chia Brownies – Joyous Health

One Bowl Jumbo Chocolate Chunk Cookies – Oh She Glows

Fudge-tastic Brownies – Healthful Pursuit

Grain-free and Vegan Flourless Fudge Cookies – Healthful Pursuit

Raw Chocolate Cheesecake – Comfy Belly

Real Deal Chocolate Chip Cookies – Against All Grain

Fudgy Chocolate Tarts – Against All Grain

Banana Bread – Comfy Belly

Flourless Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins – Running with Spoons

Flourless Banana Bread Muffins – Running with Spoons

Fudgy Paleo Beetroot Brownies – The Roasted Root

Chocolate Avocado Pudding – Pop Sugar


Chocolate Gelatin Bars – The Healthy You Project

Power Protein Balls – Caveman Strong

Crunch Raw Protein Balls – The Healthy Family and Home

Homemade Gummy Candies – Healthful Pursuit – Use a juice of your choice

Date Energy Balls – Detoxinista

Mint Chocolate Truffle Bites – A Virtual Vegan

Classic Almond and Cacao Energy Balls – Deliciously Ella

Dr. Amanda Cressman, N.D.

Healthy Eating for a Busy Time of Year

Posted on: November 11th, 2015 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

Fall and Winter are usually a very busy time of year with events, social functions and activities.  Many people I speak with have most of their weekends planned with outings leading up to the New Year.  Time is usually limited amongst the busyness and planning for healthy eating amongst it can be tricky.

On our website on the Resource page, I have a listing of some of my favourite websites for healthy recipes.  Many of the websites take into consideration any food sensitivities you may have and help make meal planning an easier experience.  One of the easiest websites to navigate is Leanne’s Healthful Pursuit where you can specify which meal you want, what eating style you’re eating (paleo, vegetarian, gluten-free, etc), how long you want the prep time to be and any key ingredients you would like to see in it (greens, legumes, chocolate, etc).

If you can get your meal planning organized for the week you’ll be eating healthy foods amongst a busy time of year and help keep energy and immunity high.  Hope these helps.

Oh She Glows – Award winning, Angela Liddon has hundreds of delicious vegan recipes and so much more.

Comfy Belly – Erica’s recipes are a combination of gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-fee, sugar-free and SCD….they are amazing.

Healthful Pursuit – Leanne gives you options to find recipes that are: gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, veggie, vegan or paleo.

Against All Grain – Danielle’s grain-free, SCD recipes.

Nourishing Meals – this site has endless fantastic recipes that are great for elimination diets, detoxes.

Joyous Health – Joy has great resources and recipes for a variety of dietary needs.

The Naked Label – this site helps us understand what we are eating through education but also gives great recipe ideas.

Sprouted Kitchen – Sara and Hugh’s whole foods made easy.

Food Sensitivities…what are the really?

Posted on: May 3rd, 2014 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

One of the most common problems I see in my office is digestive concerns.  Whether that be gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation or heartburn, one of the first areas to address are the foods we eat.

90% of all food allergies come from 8 different foods.

  • milk
  • eggs
  • wheat
  • soy
  • fish
  • peanuts
  • tree nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, etc)
  • shellfish

What is most difficult about this list is the frequency that we eat these foods.  Dairy, wheat and eggs are a staple in our North American diets.  How do we find out if one of these foods is an allergy or sensitivity or if it’s another food entirely?

There has been some controversy around testing food allergies versus food sensitivities…let’s explore that a bit further.

A true allergy is an anaphylactic allergy that is an IgE reaction in the body.  The immune system reacts immediately to the offending food causing mucous membranes (inside of mouth and lips) to swell.  We often think of this with peanuts and the growing amount of children who are allergic to them.

But many of us have food reactions of are own, that are are not anaphylactic, but take away from our day, causing pain, discomfort and annoyance.  Many of these reactions are due to food sensitivities or intolerances and this is done via a different set of immune reactions, the IgG antibodies.  What is tricky about identifying these, is that we don’t often see symptoms developing immediately.  We can react up to 72 hours after foods are eaten, making it very difficult to know what food is the culprit.

You have many options when trying to address food sensitivities.  You can do an elimination diet, which is my favourite way to uncover foods.  I love this approach, as you give your body a chance to chill out during a 2-3 week elimination and then systematically bring each food back in to determine what food is causing what reaction.  This is time and effort intensive, as it usually takes 6-8 weeks to fully complete, but the results are worthwhile.  This approach is not for everyone though, so testing is also available.   TouchStone Health offers a wide selection of food panels to be tested to help uncover if your body is indeed sensitive to specific foods.

There are many options to get you feeling better.  Whether it’s digestive health, weight loss,  mental clarity, congestion, skin health or energy that you want to improve, addressing underlying food sensitivities may be helpful in getting you there.



JUICING vs. BLENDING: The Juicy Facts on Which is Better for your Health

Posted on: March 20th, 2014 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

Written by: Dr. Melanie Reidl, ND

You’ve probably heard about the ongoing dual between the benefits of juicing versus blending your drinks.Both of these stellar kitchen habits have their benefits, but is one really better than the other? Will you feel better drinking a smoothie over a juice, or the other way around? It’s a confusing topic, so today I’d like to provide you with the facts so that you make the best choice for your health!

Blending is the act of pureeing whole foods (ex. bananas and hemp seeds) with liquids (ie. almond milk and water), thereby retaining all portions of the initial ingredients. Nothing is discarded, the fiber is left in the drink, and your finished product can be a thick or thin consistency.

Juicing, on the other hand, separates the fiber from the liquid in fruits and vegetables by processing them through a juicing machine. What’s left over (and usually discarded) is the pulp of your produce, and you’re left with a nutrient-rich, concentrated vegetable/fruit drink. So as you can see, both blending and juicing are delicious forms of liquid nutrition.

In order to create these nutrition powerhouse beverages, you’ll need to invest in a good blender or juicer. I’ve done some research on the pros and cons of each option to make your purchasing decision a bit easier.

Blenders come in all shapes, sizes, powers and prices. I can speak from experience that investing in a good blender that does the job right the first time is a GREAT decision. Blenders range from $99 basic Magic Bullets, to $500 Vitamix high powered blenders. Basically, the more you spend, the greater capabilities and power your blender will have. I HIGHLY recommend the top of the line Vitamix if you’re looking for a kitchen appliance upgrade. This highly powered machine can blend hard produce like apples and beets into a liquid juice, almonds into almond flour or almond butter, or act like a food processor for bean dips and homemade salad dressings. I promise you won’t regret buying a Vitamix!

Smoothies are the most common use for blenders, since they are a quick, nutrient-rich, and refreshing meal or snack at any time of the day. Your options for smoothie ingredients are virtually endless, and you can create a fully balanced meal in one drink. A smoothie is also easily digested in the body since it has already been broken down into smaller parts, and the nutrients are also readily absorbed. I recommend keeping your smoothies on the ‘green side’ by loading them up with veggies first, and then adding in some fruit for sweetness. This is a wonderfully simple way to ensure that you’re getting enough greens into your diet each day.

Juicing machines can run you anywhere from $50 to $500 dollars. A cheaper juicer will likely operate with centrifugal force and the teeth will shred the ingredients through a fine mesh filter. These juicers do not work well for leafy greens, and are best suited for hard or juicy produce such as cucumbers and apples. A centrifugal juicer operates with more power and tends to heat things up as they pass through, causing some destruction of natural enzymes in your foods. The alternative is a masticating juicer, which slowly crushes and squeezes more liquid out of your ingredients. This type of juicer is generally a bit more expensive, but it is capable of juicing your greens such as kale and wheatgrass. Because this type of juicer works at a slower speed and does not heat the produce, the enzymes stay intact and the juice will stay fresh for longer.

There’s no doubt that juicing is a wonderful means to consuming more fruits and vegetables in a day, especially if you can afford it. I generally recommend that you keep your juices at 70% vegetables and 30% fruits so as not to spike your blood sugar from all of the natural sugars. Pure fruit juices should be avoided as they can pack in enough carbs and sugars for an entire day. It is also important to choose organic produce if finances permit, otherwise you are drinking up a whole lot of conventional pesticide-laden food.

So now for the verdict; is juicing or blending a better choice as part of a healthy lifestyle?

The answer is both. Different habits seem to work better for different people, and a machine that collects dust is no good in any diet. The optimal choice comes down to which method you will be able to incorporate into your lifestyle, and which one you’ll enjoy drinking on a day to day basis. If your blender makes a mean kale, banana and avocado protein smoothie – get blending!  And if your juicer makes a potent immune elixir of ginger, pear and lemon – keep on pressing!

**Check out my Pinterest Recipes board for more information on how to make a super-healthy, detoxifying greens drink!

Image courtesy of : [gameanna] /

Diabetes Month…Let’s Review Sweeteners and Which one is best for you.

Posted on: November 28th, 2013 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

November is Diabetes Month and a good time to review the amount and types of sweeteners in our diet.  Which sweeteners are refined or unrefined?  Let’s review them to find the choice that works best for you and your diet.

Refined Sweeteners

Agave: a syrup extracted from the sap of a plant.  Although it has a low glycemic index, its fructose content makes it difficult for the body to break it down easily.

Demerara: evaporated from sugar cane and then boiled, dehydrated, centrifuged and filtered.  Beautiful to look at and use and although it looks more natural/healthier it has 99% sucrose content.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: made from corn starch which contains 45% glucose and 55% fructose and is rapidly absorbed in the body.  When too much is ingested, it enters the liver quickly and is converted to fats that become insulin resistant.

Brown Sugar: white cane sugar with added molasses.

White Granulated Sugar: sourced from sugar cane or beets.  99.9% sucrose with a very high glycemic index.  It is processed with phosphoric acid, formic acid, preservatives, bleaching agents to name a few.

Unrefined Sweeteners

Sucanat: (sugar-cane-natural) made from dehydrated sugarcane juice, containing 88% sucrose with a lower glycemic index.  The natural vitamins and minerals are retained, but it has a very strong molasses taste.

Coconut Sugar: derived from the sap of coconut palm tree blossoms.  It has a sucrose content of 85% with a very low glycemic index.  It can be substituted for cane sugar in a 1:1 ratio and will add a caramel flavour to your foods.

Molasses: this is made from a by-product of refining white sugar cane or beets.  It provides 50% sucrose with lots of iron, calcium, zinc, chromium and copper and has a very distinctive taste.

Maple Syrup: from the sap of sugar maple trees.  It provides 65% sucrose but gives 54 anti-oxidants and more vitamins/minerals than any other sweetener. And what’s better, is you can buy local, supporting neighbouring farmers.

Honey: bees make this from the nectar from flowers.  Like many of the other unrefined sweeteners, in its raw form it contains vitamins/minerals, but also phytonutrients and good bacteria.  Through processing and pasteurization, many of the beneficial qualities are removed.  Pure, raw, local honey gives this extra nutrition, but never give this to young children, especially those under 1 year of age whose digestive system cannot ingest these bacteria.

Stevia: an extract from the plant leaf.  It contains zero calories, so it does not affect blood sugar levels.  It is considered 100 times sweeter than sugar so it needs to be used sparingly.  One draw back is its bitter aftertaste.

So, hopefully that helps in choosing a sweetener that works best for you and your diet.


References: How Sweet it is…or, is it?! By Dr. Heidi Lescanec, ND.  Featured in Eco Parent.


Posted on: June 22nd, 2013 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

Posted by Dr. Melanie Reidl N.D.

foodYour mother told you to eat your veggies… well, she was right. When we look at the research on intake of vegetables and fruit, the results are clear: reduced risks of chronic diseases such as cancer and heart disease. Massive studies have found that individuals who eat 5+ servings of vegetables and fruit compared to only one serving daily have a 44% reduction in cancer risk and 38% reduction in stroke risk.

Let’s take this a step further to a plant-based dietary pattern. A healthy plant-based diet aims to maximize consumption of nutrient-dense, plant-based, whole foods and reduces or minimizes intake of processed foods, refined carbohydrates, and animal products. It encourages higher intakes of vegetables, fruit, beans, lentils, peas, nuts, and seeds. This style of eating is essentially a semi-vegetarian diet, since healthy, lean animal products may still be consumed in reduced amounts if desired.

Numerous studies have reported that completely vegetarian diets (that restrict all animal meat) reduce risks of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and mortality. However, comparable benefits have been found with plant-based (or semi-vegetarian) diets that also include low to moderate intakes of lean animal products. A major study of heart disease patients following a plant-based, Mediterranean-style diet that also included fish, healthy oils, and low amounts of lean meat, found that cardiac events and mortality from all causes were reduced by 73% and 70%, respectively, when compared to diet higher in animal meats and lower in plant-based foods.

The bottom line is this… you can still eat lean animal products and reap the benefits that a plant-based diet provides. The key is to consume primarily plant-based foods, and include healthy oils such as extra-virgin olive oil, wild-caught fish such as salmon, and if desired, healthy animal proteins such as organic eggs and free-range poultry in reduced amounts. To shift to a more plant-based diet, start by aiming for 7-10 servings of vegetables and fruit daily, and replace a daily serving of animal protein with a healthy plant-based protein meal, such as a quinoa (‘keen-oh-a’) salad!

References: Jansen, M.C., Bueno-de-Mesquita, H.B., Feskens, E.J., Streppel, M.T., Kok, F.J. & Kromhout, D. (2004). Quantity and variety of fruit and vegetable consumption and cancer risk. Nutr Cancer, 48(2), 142-8. Overvad, K., Stripp, C., Tjonneland, A., Husted, S.E. & Sorensen, H.T. (2003). Intake of fruit and vegetables and the risk of ischemic stroke in a cohort of Danish men and women. Am J Clin Nutr, 78(1), 57-64 Tuso, P.J., Ismail, M.H., Ha, B.P., Bartolotto, C. Nutritional Update for Physicians: Plant-Based Diets Perm J. 2013 Spring; 17(2): 61–66.

Beets…fantastic help with constipation

Posted on: May 28th, 2013 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

This the time of year when you start seeing more colour at your local farmers market.  One colour I adore is the magenta of beets.  Not only are they delicious, but helpful with liver detoxification and slow bowels.  They are also chalk full of vitamins & minerals and supports circulation.

Beet When eaten in raw form, they aid with constipation, speeding up transit of stool as it moves through the intestinal tract.  We often eat these pickled, roasted or cooked, but consider eating in raw form to get the most support for your bowels as possible.  After consuming raw beets, your urine will become pink/purple in colour and soon after your bowels will be moving with more ease.

Here is a delicious recipe, created by Leanne Vogel, a Holistic Nutritionist with a flare for making healthy foods, taste delicious.  She cooks mostly dairy and gluten free…so wonderful for those with food sensitivities.

Recipe: Brilliant Beet Slaw.



Fennel to the Rescue

Posted on: May 12th, 2013 by Dr. Amanda Sue Cressman

It’s spring and hopefully you’re feeling a shift in energy, mood and a desire to eat more vegetables.  As the new season emerges, our cravings change and we are beginning to desire more fresh and raw vegetables & fruit.

I love salads…I actually can’t get enough of them.  It’s a convenient way to get loads of vegetables into your diet without spending hours in the kitchen.  I like throwing various greens in, diced celery, sliced beets, grated carrots and fennel.  Why fennel?  I’ll explain.

The one disadvantage to all this raw goodness is the digestive component.  Some of us have a more difficult time breaking down raw veggies than others.  If you ever find yourself bloated and gassy after a big vegetable infused meal, particularly a raw vegetable meal…then we need to support that.

This could be for a variety of reasons: eating too quickly (not breaking your food down adequately), talking while eating (swallowing air amongst the food), not having enough stomach acid, deficient digestive enzymes or fermentation of your food particles.  When these symptoms are severe and lifestyle components have been changed without improvement…supplements or my personal preference, food medicine can really help.

Fennel can come to the rescue.  This is a herb that many of us do not have too much experience with.  You can usually buy it as a fresh bulb or as a dried herb.  It acts as a carminative, a fancy word for helping you pass gas.  It encourages the intestinal sphincters to expand which creates less pressure and ease to move the gas through.

Have you ever been to an Indian Restaurant and at the end of the meal saw there were little coloured candies to chew on?  These were candy covered fennel seeds to help with gas.  Peppermint is another carminative…hence peppermint candies served post meals to help with gas.  You’ll notice if you chew on a few post meal…you feel more comfortable with less gas.

Food medicine is an easy way to help break down foods and relieve unwanted symptoms.  Next time you’re eating a salad…throw in some fennel seeds.  I think they taste great and your intestines will be kind to you thereafter.

Here’s a fun fennel recipe to try, to get your taste buds primed for this herb, from: For the Love of Food: Roasted Fennel and Cauliflower Soup.

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