Health Blog

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Improve Your Brain Power with a Mental Workout

24 Hours logoQuick, what’s your sibling’s cell number? When is the date for your next haircut? What’s the password to your online banking? No, I don’t actually want to know any of these things! But, do you know the answer without checking your phone, calendar, or personal computer? Many of us use many tools to record items that we’ll need to know, but find hard to remember. And, that mental quickness can diminish with age. But there are things you can do to keep yourself sharp, as discussed in my most recent 24 Hours article Give your body a mental workout.

 

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Treating depression, anxiety, stress with wonder

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s easy to feel wonder and awe when looking at, listening to, feeling, or tasting something new, unusual, or unique. I have had the opportunity to visit many awe-inspiring and wondrous places, both natural—like the Serengeti and Kilauea Volcano—and man-made—like Gaudi’s Familia Sagrada and Machu Picchu. That feeling of “wow!” that grabs your attention is undeniable.

But how often do we feel wonder in our normal everyday lives? The other day I was driving to yoga when I had one of those moments. It happened spontaneously, that feeling of wonder, about something that I do on a near daily basis. I felt wonder about the fact that I was moving a heavy metal object with me inside of it with just the push of a pedal and a turn of a wheel.

This was nothing new, unusual, nor unique, and yet there it was—wonder. If you think about it though, it is pretty amazing, and there are plenty of wondrous things around us if we care to look. One of the benefits of looking for elements of wonder in our day is that it brings our attention to the present moment. We need to slow down for a bit to notice. And, along with wonder is often a feeling of gratitude for just that experience.

In this fast-paced world of nose-in-phone, short-attention-span living, taking these moments becomes even more important to help us bring balance to our lives. Feelings of stress, anxiety, depression, sadness, fear, worry, anger, frustration, detachment, and loneliness can be managed. It’s hard to feel those emotions at the same time as experiencing a feeling of wonder.

The moment I had was not planned—I was not trying to feel awe. It just happened. We can, however, cultivate this by setting aside a brief time to stop, take in some deep breaths, and observe. Pay attention to nature, animals, people, and even your own body so that you can notice some of the things that are amazing. Then allow yourself to really feel that feeling.

Every day I see people at my clinic who are overwhelmed. I would like to prescribe a daily dose of wonder.

 

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Happy Husband Roasted Vegetable Chowder

After my husband separated his shoulder 2 days before New Year’s eve, he was feeling a bit down–he was in pain and not able to do his regular activities. And, since he is normally our cook, that left me to prep meals. I needed something simple that would last for at least a couple of meals, so I found this soup. Turns out my husband loves this soup! Cheered him up and he said it’s now his favourite soup of all time. 

Happy Husband Roasted Veggie Chowder
Serves 5
Vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free
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Ingredients
  1. 1 sweet potato, diced
  2. 1 yellow-fleshed potato, diced (I used 4 small potatoes)
  3. 1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
  4. 1 onion, diced
  5. 1 cup (250 mL) sliced cremini or button mushrooms
  6. 1 cup (250 mL) frozen or fresh corn kernels
  7. 1 Tbsp (15 mL) coconut oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  8. 2 garlic cloves, minced (I doubled this, as I like garlicky and it's good for cold and flu season)
  9. 4 cups (1 L) vegetable stock (not sodium-free)
  10. 1 - 14 oz (398 mL) can full-fat coconut milk
  11. 1 1/2 cups (350 mL) cooked chickpeas (I used rinsed canned ones)
  12. 1 Tbsp (15 mL) lemon juice
  13. 1/2 tsp (2 mL) sea salt
  14. 1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground black pepper
  15. 1/4 tsp (1 mL) grated nutmeg
  16. 1/2 cup (125 mL) finely chopped fresh parsley (I missed out on the parsley, but later added sauteed Swiss chard)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F (190 C)
  2. Toss all veggies in oil and roast on rimmed baking sheet for 25 minutes
  3. Transfer roasted veggies to a large pot
  4. Stir in stock, coconut milk, garlic, chickpeas, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  5. Bring to a boil
  6. Reduce to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for 25 minutes.
  7. Before serving, stir in fresh parsley (or sauteed Swiss chard or kale).
Adapted from Allison Day, RHN; Alive Magazine
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Candy Cane Chocolate Coconut Cookies

C-C-C-C-Can you get any better than this?! I need to make these! But I think I’m actually going to wait until after Christmas is over, as I’m already overwhelmed with sweet treats galore. If you make them first, tell me what you think.

Candy Cane Chocolate Coconut Cookies
Yields 10
I think that the author of this recipe is on to something huge here. Check out her blog Healthy.Happy.Life (http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/) for more amazing recipes. I passed on doing a cookie swap because I really didn't have time for it, but if I would have done it, this is the cookie I would have brought!
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Ingredients
  1. 3/4 cup oat flour
  2. 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  3. 1 tsp baking powder
  4. 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  5. 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
  6. 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  7. 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  8. 1/2 tsp salt
  9. 1 1/2 Tbsp cold non-dairy milk
  10. 1/4 cup crushed candy cane
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Combine oat flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl
  3. Fold in the vinegar, vanilla and coconut oil.
  4. Stir well until a thick crumbly dough forms.
  5. Fold in the cold non-dairy milk and candy cane pieces.
  6. The dough should thicken up as the cold liquid touches the coconut oil-infused dough.
  7. Lightly grease a baking sheet or use a baking cookie mat.
  8. Form small dough balls with your hands and press the balls into flat circles with your palms. (or roll out dough and use cookie cutters to make your own fun shapes!)
  9. Place on cookie sheet.
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes (cook a bit longer if you like a crunchier cookie texture, less for soft and fudgy)
  11. Allow cookies to cool at least twenty minutes before serving. (not sure I will have the willpower to wait!)
Notes
  1. If you want to make your own oat flour, you can blend dry whole oats in a powerful blender.
Adapted from Healthy. Happy. Life
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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Don’t suffer the Christmas bloat

24 Hours logoYou know what I’m talking about. You look in your closet to figure out what to wear to go to the next holiday celebration and you ask yourself, “What will stretch without showing my bloated belly?” Instead of having to cover up, avoid the holiday bloat by making better food and drink choices. That doesn’t mean that you have to avoid all the fun! Just choose wisely and follow some of my simple pieces of advice given in my 24 Hours Vancouver article, Avoid the Christmas bloat

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Bad news press; Good news reality

24 Hours logoSometimes something comes out in the news that is bad for a profession. Someone’s poor decisions and actions can taint the profession as a whole. It has happened many times for the police, though there are many good officers that keep the public safe.  It has happened to dentists, when one person is doing unlawful dental work in their basement. It has happened to executives who steal from the company or misappropriate funds. But this should not reflect on the professions at large. TCM is a regulated profession. That’s a very good thing. We have rules we need to abide by. Of course! These rules are in place to protect the public. You are protected. If we do not follow them, there are consequences. As there should be. I recently wrote this article in 24 Hours Vancouver to inform about the safety of the TCM practice of acupuncture.: Public safety not taken lightly in TCM

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Treating wintry depression (SAD)

24 Hours logoSeasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that occurs with a specific season. The most common type of SAD occurs during the colder, darker months of fall and winter. While feeling a bit of a pull to hibernate is common, SAD can negatively affect daily living. My article in 24 Hours Vancouver offers solutions, “Natural remedies can lighten the sadness.”

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Getting over fears

24 Hours logoPhobias can be of nearly anything, from aardvarks to ziplines, but a fear of needles is quite common. There are many things you can do to help you get over your fear of needles so that you can enjoy the benefits–and even the feeling of relaxation–that comes from acupuncture. Learn more by checking out my article in 24 Hours Vancouver, Don’t fear acupuncture needles

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Black Bean Curry Stew

A great recipe to warm up to on cold wintry days, this comforting stew is also great to support digestive health. Black beans are rich in fibre, iron, magnesium, potassium, and folic acid. Butternut squash is another amazingly nutrient-rich food that keeps the colon healthier.

Black Bean Curried Stew
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Ingredients
  1. 2 cans of organic low-sodium black beans, rinsed
  2. 6 cups of cubed butternut squash (either peeled and cubed from whole squash or frozen cubes)
  3. 2 Tbsp high quality organic coconut oil
  4. 1 medium onion, diced
  5. 1 Tbsp curry powder
  6. 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
  7. 1/2 tsp cracked pepper
  8. 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  9. 8-10 whole dried apricots, chopped
Instructions
  1. Saute onion to golden brown in coconut oil, using large saucepan.
  2. Add in squash and saute until squash is also a light golden brown.
  3. Add curry powder, cinnamon, and cracked pepper and stir for about 1 minute.
  4. Add vegetable broth.
  5. Stir in black beans and apricots and bring to a boil.
  6. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer--stirring occasionally--for 30 to 35 minutes, or until squash is cooked and soft.
  7. Enjoy!
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC http://www.activetcm.com/
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