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Archive for the ‘healthy foods’ Category

Creatively Cooking Canadian

Posted on: July 26th, 2021 by TouchStone Health

What Eating Local Has to Offer

By Jill Jackson, CNP, NNCP

As a passionate nutritionist eager to take on a challenge, I decided to poke my nose into the ever-rising interest of local cooking.

At first like many, I assumed the term “locally cooked” was best left as selling-point for expensive restaurants used to charge staggering amounts for a tiny plate of food. However, after some research I realized it can be done easily from the comfort of your own kitchen and at a reasonable price.

Currently “Local Food” is defined as food sold that is grown or made within your residing province or food sold across provincial borders within 50km of the originating province or territory.

Why Cook Local?

As a research project, I compared two recipes. One a non-local favorite recipe I frequently made and the other a locally sourced recipe. I found the manufacturers address or the farm address for all the called for ingredients in both recipes. I calculated the mileage that the food had to travel to get to my plate in my hometown of Waterloo Ontario. Upon comparison I was shocked! The ingredients of the non-local recipe had to travel from all over the world some 5,008 miles, whereas the local recipe had logged only 31.68 miles of travel. What does this mean?

For starters, cooking local ensures the freshest and most nutrient dense food. Fruits and vegetables that must travel large distances to reach your grocery store are often picked prematurely to guarantee they do not go bad throughout the duration of travel. Sadly, this causes nutrient value loss. The foods do not contain as high amounts of vitamin and minerals as they would if the produce were allowed to naturally ripen. Local fruits and vegetables can be picked at the peak of their freshness and ripeness, ready to be farm to fork within hours. You really are paying for top quality food when you buy local!

Local cooking also supports local businesses and farms. In 1931, 31.7% of the Canadian population lived Farms that were their livelihoods. As of 2006 only 2.2% of the Canadian population lived on a farm. This means the ratio of farmers went from 1 in every 3 rd person to 1 in every 46. Farms that mass produce often can run locals out of a job but eating local does the opposite, supports them and their families while also promoting biodiversity and sustainability.

Overall, it is considerably better for your health and the health of the environment.

Where to Look to Shop Local?

If you are located in Canada near the country, a quick drive to farm territory might be a great place to start. Where I am from, local produce stands can be found at the entrance of most farm driveways. A majority of the stands work via the honour system and the children of the farmers often love to be a part of creating the sales signs and seeing you purchase. This can be an inexpensive way to support local.

Another option would be choosing a grocery store that opts to carry some local products or finding a farmers’ market. Grocery stores will often distinguish what products are locally made, sometimes down to the exact farm, and farmers markets will be sure to do this as well.

I am confident you will thank yourself when cooking with local Canadian foods. Not only will your tastebuds be exploding with Canadian flavours, but the farmers will be tipping their hats to you in genuine appreciation.

5 Ingredient Watermelon Feta

Posted on: June 21st, 2021 by TouchStone Health

Jill Jackson, CNP, NNCP

Hello friends! This recipe creation is a new favorite of mine!! It is perfect for cooling off in the summer heats. It is crisp, fresh and light with still an abundance of flavor. Since I like to keep things simple, this recipe is only 5 easily accessible ingredients. It is also gluten and grain free. I hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Cook Time: 15-20 minutes
Serves: 4-5 people

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of cubed watermelon
  • ¼ cup of olive oil (preferably a lighter tasting oil)
  • ½ cup of crumbled feta
  • 1 generous handful of basil
  • Juice from 1 large lime (or 2 tbsp of lime concentrate)
  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  • Begin by cubing watermelon into bite sized cubes. Place in a medium to large bowl.
  • Next, crumble in feta and add in basil either whole or torn into smaller pieces.
  • In a separate small bowl add olive oil and lemon juice, whisk together until well
    combined. If you have a mason jar with a lid, vigorously shaking the olive oil and lemon
    juice together in the jar works as well.
  • Season with a salt and pepper, pour dressing over salad and mix all ingredients together
    till watermelon is evenly coated.
  • Plate and enjoy! (Tastes best chilled)

In Wellness,
Jill Jackson, CNP, NNCP

Is Following the Canadian’s Food Guide a Healthy Way of Eating?

Posted on: April 27th, 2021 by TouchStone Health

By Jill Jackson CNP, NNCP

If you are a Canadian citizen, chances are high that you have been taught to follow or at the very least, seen Canada’s Food Guide at some point in your life. I vividly remember being taught to follow it in school, even starting as early as grade 7 and 8. From a young age, I questioned the lack of individuality the food guide had to offer. How could a food guide really work for all Canadians who varied in age, genetic predispositions, weight, gender and so many other differentiating factors?

First, let’s have a quick history lesson. Where did this food guide originate? It was first released to the public in 1942 with the title “Canada’s Official Food Rules”. It was originally intended to assist with wartime nutrition and food rationing during a time when poverty overtook many areas of the country. There was 6 initial food groups: milk, fruit, vegetables, cereals & bread, meat & fish and eggs. Despite being made by the Nutrition Division of the Federal Government and the Canadian Council on Nutrition, it was evident that war time efficiency was of top priority, rightfully so. However, suggestions such as 4-6 slices of bread and only 1-2 servings of vegetables a day are hard to see as a nutritionist!

There were a few small changes and revisions made along the way. The guide continued to use emphasize food preservation/rationing and the term “Food Rules” was continued until 1949 when it changed to “A Pattern for Meals”. Providing an example of a “idealistic” breakfast, lunch and dinner, with bread and processed margarine still being a main staple. 

Revisions continued to become more specific. Finally, in 1977 terms such as “Meat and Alternatives” were introduced, at last giving an alternative option to those who wished to get protein elsewhere. In 1992, there was a large change in how the guide was presented. There were more suggestions, and it was appealing to the eye, getting Canadians excited about nutrition. It even recognized nutrition changes based on age and activity level and increased the suggested serving of fruits and vegetables jumped to 5-10. Unfortunately, the “grains” category still remained the biggest food group with the suggestion of a whopping 10-12 servings daily!

Finally, in 2007 there was a huge revision that took into account gender and age! Fruit and veggies remained a prominent category, oils were considered, dairy alternatives were considered and suggestions for including exercise were given as part of a healthy lifestyle. It was translated into many languages as Canada continued to grow to be a multicultural country. In my opinion, this was a great step! This is the guide I remember growing up with. 

Now the current 2019 food guide is part of the Government of Canada website. The main page shows a picture of a portioned plate with a variety of foods within each portion. From a far, the plate looks fairly well rounded. Half the plate is filled with different fruits and vegetables, a quarter of the plate filled with meat and alternatives and a quarter filled with various grains. The main written suggestions on this picture simply state the following;

  • Have plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Eat protein foods
  • Make water your drink of choice 
  • Choose whole grains

The next sliding page goes on to state a few more helpful suggestions with linked articles as to how to carry through with them.

So the big question you have all been waiting for…

IS THIS HEALTHY?

My answer…it depends.

Here’s what is positive about it: It looks pretty, a bonus for drawing the reader’s attention towards nutrition. It is definitely is more diverse than it used to be. It also provides a wonderful amount of links for further reading! It caters to First Nations and Indigenous people. Also, I never thought the Canadian Food Guide would be suggesting mindful eating practices, but it does and that’s awesome! It’s translated into more languages than ever before, as Canadas diversity continues to grow. And last but not least, most importantly, it is emphasizing fruits and vegetables as half your plate, making it the predominant food choice. 

Unfortunately, I still feel there are a long list of cons. I will just name a few as to not keep you reading all day.

  • It has reverted back to taking away gender, age and food groups making it less specific. I understand the attempt to make nutrition less confusing, but diet is not a one-size-fits-all situation and people should be given that disclaimer front and center. 
  • Food groups have now disappeared on the main page. It is replaced with the saying “eat a variety of foods each day.” I know what this saying is referring to (as a trained nutritionist) however, the average person may be eating a variety of different processed foods or a variety of foods all within one food group and still consider that “a variety”. Though the picture is great, the comments on the main page have become extremely vague. Unless people are clicking on the links a page over, I feel it leaves much for incorrect interpretation. 
  • It still is heavily influenced by conventional dairy and meat products which do not always need to be essential in a healthy diet and in many instances can cause health issues. In the 6 recipes given as suggestions I still found ingredients such as conventional low fat yogurt, margarine, and light mayo. There is now so much science and research showing how these foods can be damaging to the human body! It has me scratching my head as to why they are still included. 
  • Common allergens such as gluten, dairy and eggs are not overly taken into account. It leaves limited options for those suffering from all to common allergies and intolerances. 
  • There is a more in-depth guideline under the websites subheading “For Professionals”. It has further explanation and evidence. I feel this information should be front and center for all to read. It would limit confusion and give people the information they need to feel impowered to eat better. Nutrition is so important, it is literally what keeps us living on a day to day basis!! Information such as this should not be marketed to professionals only. 

In conclusion, I hope you take the Canadian Food Guide with a grain of salt. Clearly, suggestions from the Canadian Food Guide have not always worked as a majority of Canadians still walk around overweight, underweight, sick, or nearly dead! If you have never considered nutrition before, it may be a good place to begin, but please also consider what has been stated above. Always remember that no two people are the same, therefore, no two diets should be either. 

I could ramble about this interesting topic for days, so if you have questions or any opinions to add please feel free to leave a comment or shoot me an email! I would love to hear from you. 

In Wellness, 

Jill Jackson CNP, NNCP

Are You Suffering from Adrenal Fatigue?

Posted on: February 12th, 2021 by TouchStone Health

by Jill Jackson, CNP

You may have heard the term “adrenal fatigue” as it is slowly gaining popularity in the media, but what is it? How can we fix our adrenals? Today we will briefly be discussing just that!

The purpose of the adrenal glands is to respond to stressors. This includes all types of stress whether it be physical, emotional, or environmental. The adrenals enable your body to deal with stressors ranging from the common cold to relationship problems. Your energy, endurance, vitality, and your very life depend all on well-functioning adrenals.

Underactive adrenals can be labeled as “adrenal fatigue”. While not generally considered a life-threatening medical emergency by conventional doctors, there are still a handful of life changing side effects. It is often caused by an excess of stress over a period of time. Stress can be cumulative, and everybody has a different tolerance to stress.

Some of the symptoms include generalized extreme fatigue (despite adequate sleep), general feeling of unwellness, eyes that are sensitive to light, fluctuating blood pressure (often too low), mood swings, suppressed immune system, excessive perspiration, prone to crying, and emotional upset causing complete exhaustion, the list could go on and on.

However, if that list sounds like you, the good news is with proper guidance and nutrition the adrenals can be repaired to a highly functioning state. You may want to try some of these suggestions:

  • Remove caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol.
  • Make sure you are getting adequate sleep. The more sleep the better.
  • Talk to a nutritionist or naturopath about trying restorative supplements like ashwagandha, rhodiola or acerola cherry for adrenal health.
  • Exercise! The key here is balance as both over and under exertion can act as a stressor.
  • Limit or remove dairy, processed foods, white sugars, artificial sweeteners, and fried foods. Swap them out for a diet filled with fresh fruits and veggies!
  • Stay hydrated. Aim to drink 1.5-2L of water a day.
  • Focus changing your attitude and having a positive disposition on life!

Adrenal fatigue may sometimes be scary, but restoration is possible with a little time and dedication to healing. It is a condition far more common than you may think, you are not alone! Once again, my biggest recommendation is taking guidance from a professional (a Nutritionist or Naturopath) and educating yourself on adrenal health. One of my favorite resources for all
things adrenal health is the book “Adrenal Fatigue – The 21 st Century Stress Syndrome” by James L. Wilson. It is an easy yet informative read. Please contact me if you would like more information on this important topic and remember healing is possible.

In Wellness,
Jill Jackson, CNP, NNCP

Welcome Holistic Nutritionist to TouchStone!

Posted on: January 29th, 2021 by TouchStone Health

Hello all! I am excited to be joining the amazing team at TouchStone Health!  I am a Certified Nutritional Practitioner, however I more commonly go by the term “Holistic Nutritionist”. 

When I am not creating my newest healthy recipe or working on client protocols, you might catch me running the trails and finding any excuse to be outside.  My love of the outdoors continues to grow day by day.  I have not always been sporty and arguably some may say I am still not, but as my love for wellness grows, I realized that daily movement was a necessity for vibrant health.  Ever since then, I have been passionate about fitness as a pillar of health.  

I also believe another important pillar of health is treating illness and disease by the root cause.  Treating a person’s symptoms rather than aiming to identify the initial cause has been a concept that never made sense to me.  For this reason, I focus on education, prevention and improving health by addressing the root cause in my practice. 

As I have such a love for fitness, it is one of my specialties that I enjoy helping others with it. I have tried a variety of styles of workouts and have found what I love and an associated diet that makes me feel my best. Through COVID I trained for my first half marathon (which unfortunately got canceled last minute) and I unexpectantly fell in love with the sport. Perhaps you too have found a love for running or at home workouts since the gyms have been closed. I would love to assist you to find the best nutrition that you can pair with your training regime. 

One of the habits that makes me feel my best is plant-based nutrition. I have been a vegetarian for over 5 years and have also dabbled in veganism. While I can appreciate this diet may not work for all, it most certainly can work for many. If you are new to this lifestyle, check in with me as there is definitely a right and wrong way to approach it. I would love to assist you!

 I am thrilled to be working alongside this awesome team of professionals here at TouchStone Health.  I am confident that TouchStone will provide you with all the help you need to get on track to vitality. I would love to meet you! You can find out more about me under the clinicians subheading at the top of the page or visit my Instagram @holisticallyjill

In Wellness, 

Jill Jackson, CNP, NNCP 

Recipe a day to Inspire

Posted on: March 27th, 2020 by TouchStone Health

Today’s recipe is simply delicious…which is great as today has been a hard day.  We are now almost 2 weeks into this drastic change in all our lives and the emotions have moved from shocked, to fear, to anxiousness, to fatigue.  Amongst all there is to be grateful for, today has been a day of feeling many of the unpleasant emotions, which is important.

With so much change and disruption, I decided to choose a recipe that is rooted in tradition, in familiarity and in comfort….bread.  But this isn’t any loaf of bread – it’s easy to make, it’s honestly delicious and works for so many different dietary plans/restrictions.

If you make this, I hope it is delightful.

high-fiber-seed-loaf

Foundations of Health…Healthy Food Choices

Posted on: October 27th, 2019 by TouchStone Health

Written by: Amanda Cressman, N.D.

This time of year holds a lot – a lot of excitement and anticipation for festivals, parties, celebrations and events.  Amongst all this, there can be many who are feeling overwhelmed and stressed from the expectations placed upon them by others and most importantly, by themselves.

This past week has been an interesting one for myself and for many that I’ve spoken with.  The changing of the season to real Autumn weather has been hard – many have colds and coughs, the reminder that a new season is now here, where the nights are quickly dark, the wind is sometimes harsh and the temperatures are dropping, making it a little less easy to be outside.

This is a wonderful time to come back to centre, back to self and remember some key things you can do to support your health for a healthier and more comfortable winter season.

This week we are talking about healthy food choices, but I want to take a moment to highlight some key foundational pieces to health that will be highlighted in the coming weeks.

Healthy Food Choices
Digesting your Food/Choices
Digesting your Emotional Experience
Detoxifying your World
Giving your Body the Rest it needs
Inspiration/Breathing
Moving Stress Out
Being Understood
Belonging/Connection

Although these may seem obvious, they are surprisingly hard to do and even more surprisingly have been forgotten by many amongst our busy world.  I’m always amazed at how many of us, myself included have forgotten simple truths, such as – ensuring you are outside, daily…even for a few moments, taking at least one deep breath in a day, ensuring you are eliminating your food regularly, having a daily bowel movement, letting yourself feel emotions when they come up or at least soon after to honour what has been, sweating regularly, doing something you enjoy every day, remembering your body needs to sleep and loves routine of familiar bedtimes, etc…the list goes on and on.  When things are off in our health, it can be a great opportunity to reflect and reassess priorities and goals for oneself. For many of us, we know what to do but the doing can be difficult. Like Dr. Seuss said, “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

So, today’s focus is healthy food choices.  This is one that we are all confronted with daily, yet continues to be hard to accomplish in a world where food prep takes more time than what most people have and the convenience of prepared foods is becoming easier and more affordable.

So, I don’t like to cook.  It doesn’t come naturally, I’m not super good at it and I just haven’t ever enjoyed it.  I don’t enjoy grocery shopping and find it always just takes way more time than I allot for it and thinking about new and exciting foods is stressful for me.  I am working at changing this because when healthy food choices don’t work out, the following takes place.

BAD FOOD CHOICES = IMBALANCED BLOOD SUGAR = INCREASED CRAVINGS FOR CARBOHYDRATES = INCREASED INTAKE OF CARBOHYDRATES = LACK OF DRIVE/AMBITION = MOODINESS = SHAME AND SELF LOATHING FOR BAD FOOD CHOICES.

Obviously, not a great place to be but one that many experience, sometimes daily.  And it can be avoided but it takes looking at your day/week honestly and prioritizing healthy food choices to ensure blood sugar is balanced, helping mood, mental focus, digestion and all the other systems that are positively supported when good foods come in to your body.

I could go on about the benefits of eating local or in-season or organic or non GMO foods…that is all great, but first, looking at the foundations of health, I think it’s important to focus on eating regularly and to do so with whole foods…ideally foods that you or someone you know have prepared.

There are many ways to do this.  In our house we have a weekly menu chart with foods picked out for each day and the designated cook who will make it.  This ensures all foods are purchased for the week on Sunday, as coming to Wednesday night and seeing no vegetables left in your fridge is a sure fire way to eating poorly and generally thereafter feeling poorly.  When we do this, everything is easier and less stressed when it comes to food choices.

Many apps are available to help with this and luckily we live in an era of phenomenal online recipe bloggers, creating new and healthy recipes for all different types of dietary plans and preferences.  I am so grateful for this as I need real recipes and real advice to ensure I can serve something that is edible and delicious.

One thing we enjoy doing at TouchStone Health is putting together meal plans to help with this.  Melanie Reidl, N.D. and myself put together meal plans for those wanting support. We can put together plans for various dietary needs, health or weight goals.  My favourite parts of the plan are knowing it’s all figured out for the week, so no extra mental work is needed trying to be creative mid-week. And the best part is the shopping list, knowing all that is needed before the week begins is purchased or available, brings peace to my mind.  I’ve attached below a 3-day Paleo Plan to show how it works. Please use it, hoping the recipes are easy to work with, delicious and create a more peaceful experience in the kitchen, even if just for 3 days.

We can put together these plans for existing patients, with more information about the meal plans, here.

Even doing just this – ensuring you are eating Whole, healthy foods is a major piece in the bedrock of your foundation of health.  Your body, your mind and your emotional health will all benefit…helping you digest the rest of this busy world we live in more easily.

3 day meal plan

Meal Plans to Help Make your Life Easier

Posted on: August 21st, 2017 by TouchStone Health

Do you find it intimidating or overwhelming to prepare healthy foods for yourself or your family?  This is a common reasons why most people struggle with clean eating.  We all know the basics of eating better – lots of vegetables, added fruits, healthy proteins and clean carbohydrates work for many but it’s hard to actually do this on a consistent basis.

Diet meal with friends

Many people’s lives are full…full of many things and eating healthy foods generally falls off the priority list or is forgotten.  By the end of a busy day/week, it’s hard to make good decisions that are in alignment with how we wish to be eating.  Check out this article on Decision Fatigue by The Harvard Business Review.  Do you ever find yourself eating well and clean for the first part of your day but by the end are eating foods you wish you hadn’t?  We make dozens, some studies report hundreds of food-related decisions throughout our day and after deciding many things throughout the course of a day, we are tired and start making easier decisions which usually results in poorer choices for our health.  I know for myself, I have ideals of eating healthy foods but sometimes the inspiration falls short and I’m eating the same thing over and over or eating rice crackers and hummus at the end of a long day which although is an ok food, not a match for my constitution which does better on vegetables and a light protein.

So, we have begun a new program to help you eat clean and take away the work of deciding what to eat and when.  We are now developing Healthy Meal Plans to suit your specific dietary needs.  Weekly or Monthly recipe plans are put together for your specific needs.  Foods can be avoided specific to your needs and menus can be created specifically for your health goals (example: dairy-free, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, paleo, FODMAP, Anti-inflammatory, PCOS, Thyroid, Autoimmune, etc).

What’s included:

-a detailed shopping list is given for your plan

-a to-do list for the week of prepping food

-all the recipes

-micro and macronutrient breakdown

-caloric breakdown

And…we can make it for whatever serving size you want.  If you have a family of 5 we can ensure all recipes are specific for your 5 people or for one person. Prepping your week/month is incredibly easy as we do the work for you.

We started this program a month ago as many people were sharing their desire to eat well but that more support was needed to stay interested and consistent.  We hope this is the solution to help.  Pricing is located on our Meal Plan page and ask Dr. Cressman, N.D. if you have any other questions.

Attached is a sample 3-day eating plan to let you know what a plan would potentially look like.  sample-diet

This helps make eating delicious, healthy foods easier.

 

Kale Chip Recipe

Posted on: June 22nd, 2017 by TouchStone Health

Kale has made a serious come back from being one of the most unpopular veggies around to the most talked about.  I remember having to eat a cup of cooked kale/day when I had mono, some 25 years ago.  I had to eat this for a month straight, at the request of my dad who wanted to ensure I was eating nutrient dense foods to help heal.  Eating this kale helped boost my antioxidants, increased my immune supporting vitamins A and C, was anti-inflammatory and high in iron.

As trendy as it is now, it is an amazing food that provides numerous benefits to various health conditions.  I wasn’t impressed with eating it 25 years ago, but appreciated my father’s insight into knowing I would benefit from it.  If you are unsure of trying this popular food out, I’d recommend trying this recipe, as it’s delicious and easy to make.

Vegan “Cheesy” Kale Chips – Little Green Dot

I made mine with a dehydrator with 1/2 the seasons as recommended and they were tasty.  See what you think…a fun summer treat.

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Homemade Coconut Yogurt that actually tastes Great!

Posted on: April 10th, 2017 by TouchStone Health

I have been wanting to make yogurt for some time, as I grew up in a home where homemade yogurt was the only yogurt we consumed.  But I have a daughter with a dairy sensitivity so I wanted to make a coconut yogurt that not only tasted great but was actually thick and delicious like the greek yogurts available now.  Many of the coconut yogurts on the market are delicious but the stabilizers and gums don’t always agree with me.  So I needed to get creative and find a solution.

I was grateful to find a recipe that worked and for my Instant Pot that made it possible.  (An Instant Pot is an amazing device that is a yogurt maker, rice cooker, steamer, pressure cooker, slow cooker, warming pot and sautes all in one.  It’s amazing and has helped me make delicious foods in minutes compared to hours…and I have no affiliation with this company, just a big fan).

So, I made a great recipe from Amanda Naturally (not me…but a wonderful Holistic Nutritionist that makes delicious recipes).  I followed her recipe but instead of using a yogurt starter I used 3 probiotic capsules from my favourite probiotic and 2 tbsp of local maple syrup.  I also used a smidge more gelatin as I like my yogurt thick but may stick to the recipe next time.

It’s delicious and a great alternative for anyone wanting to make a dairy alternative yogurt that really tastes wonderful.  See what you think.

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Disclaimer: The information contained on this website is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice or instruction, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor on any matter relating to health or well-being.

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