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Think fermented foods are gross? Some tips

Watch my video below or read the text under that for tips about a few ways to eat (and enjoy) fermented foods.

* Note that putting yogurt in muffins will cook out the good bacteria, but there are many other ways to sneak it into your food (e.g. smoothie).


natto fermented foods healthy food grossI’ve tried a number of fermented foods that I’ve wanted to spit right back out (ayran and poi, for example). And some I’ve not been able to get past the smell of (natto and stinky tofu). But don’t be offended if those are your favourite foods. My grandmother grew up eating natto, so she loves it. I think it looks like chunky mucus and smells like rotten garbage. Nothing I’d want to eat. But, the first time people try beer or alcohol, they also tend to think it doesn’t taste good. Our tastes change with exposure.

A friend once proved that to me when I told him I would not eat Marmite (New Zealand’s version of Vegemite, a food paste made from leftover yeast extract). He quietly snuck it into sandwiches he made for me. He started with tiny, miniscule amounts so I wouldn’t notice. Then gradually increased the amount bit by bit. Eventually, he opened up my sandwich as I was partway through eating it to show me that I had been happily eating something that I had once thought of as vile.

My mother used to sneak yogurt into my dad’s food because he doesn’t like yogurt. Not knowing it was there, he didn’t mind it. Though he still says he doesn’t like yogurt. Sometimes it’s also mind over matter.

Nevertheless, there are a huge number of fermented foods, all with different flavours, so I’m sure there are some that you will enjoy from the start.

Did you know that even coffee and chocolate are made from a combination of fermentation processes?

(By the way, this is a sidebar in my TCM healthy nutrition book I’m writing.)

Summary of how to like fermented foods

  1. Include just a little, so you can barely taste it (or not taste it at all). Easier to do if you are the cook and the fermented foods-hater doesn’t know they are eating it.
  2. Mix it in other foods that will hide the flavour.
    1. Yogurt or kefir in a smoothie. Check out this delicious lassi recipe! 
    2. A bit of sauerkraut on a burger. Try it on a bean burger recipe.
    3. Chop up fermented veggies really small and add them to a salad.
    4. Find a chutney you’ll like–there are so many options, from fruity and sweet to savoury or spicy. 
  3. Just because you don’t like one kind of fermented food doesn’t mean you’ll hate them all. Explore your grocery shelves and online ideas and recipes.
  4. Remember that tastes change. And sometimes we actually learn to like something we didn’t like once upon a time. I’ve discovered this about Brussels sprouts, fish, tomatoes, and olives (provided those olives are in Greece when I eat them).
  5. Try this easy sauerkraut recipe.

What are your favourite fermented foods and fermented food recipes?


Believe in Magic

Believe“Believe in magic.” I heard this said this morning and it seemed timely. Tonight I sit writing this blog and watching “Polar Express.” “I believe” says the little boy. Flying reindeer, elves making toys, and a big man in a red suit who knows all and delivers presents around the world in one night—a time of magical wonder. All of these things I believed in as a kid, along with the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny, and so much more.

Wouldn’t it be nice to believe in magic again? As adults, we question most everything. I regularly question if something will work. It’s my job to look into the evidence behind treatments, supplements, and health information. It’s my job to explain how acupuncture and the other therapies I use work. I usually talk about how acupuncture increases local blood flow, at least in part by stimulating the release of nitric oxide. I speak to how acupuncture causes the body to release chemicals like serotonin, a feel good hormone that can reduce symptoms of depression, pain, anxiety, and stress, while supporting healing. Evidence has also demonstrated that acupuncture points have lower bioelectric and biomagnetic resistance than other areas, and that placing a needle in an acupuncture point changes how the brain reacts.

But my favourite way to explain how acupuncture works is, “it moves Qi.” Qi is most commonly translated as energy. Some have explained that Qi is actually better translated as oxygen. But I prefer to think of it as magic!

Life is magic. Love is magic. Healing is magic.

When you think of what you would like from 2014, wouldn’t you like to have a little magic?


12 Days of Health

12 days of xmasOn the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

A natural immune boosting shot

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Two gluten-free cookies

and a natural immune boosting shot

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me…

Three kale shakes

two gluten-free cookies

and a natural immune boosting shot…


Four vitamin D drops

Five TCM consultations!

Six green teas

Seven days  to rest

Eight yoga classes

Nine press needles

Ten herbal formulas

Eleven Grouse Grind climbs

TWELVE acupuncture treatments!


Delicious Healthy Spread

I just got a Vitamix. Thank you Airmiles! 🙂 As a result, in just one day I made a variation on this recipe, guacamole, salsa, and black bean burgers. And, of course, a kale-based smoothie. The good news is that I’ve made this recipe once before, in my pre-Vitamix life, and it worked just fine. I used my Nutribullet, but a food processor would have been a better choice, as I almost broke it.

This recipe is from the most recent issue of Alive magazine. I’ve added my variations in brackets.


Better than a Pumpkin Pie Latte

pumpkin smoothie recipeWhat’s better than a pumpkin pie latté? A pumpkin pie power smoothie! Why? Because…

1. Though the caffeine of a latté will give you energy initially, many feel the post-caffeinated crash a couple of hours later. This smoothie–with its blood sugar-balancing protein and cinnamon–will sustain your energy much longer.

2. Most pumpkin pie lattés are really a dessert, with up to 12 tsp of sugar (for you Starbucks PSL fans, you might want to limit your indulgences). This smoothie contains vitamin A-rich real pumpkin purée, antioxidant superfood kale, and micronutrient power-packed blackstrap molasses.

*chart from this article

3. Choosing the smoothie over the latté may actually save you money! Flavoured lattés purchased at a café will cost you $4-5–maybe more if you ask for it with soy or almond milk. Make this smoothie at home and you will be able to spend your extra money on your Halloween costume or–should I say it?!–save up for Christmas spending.



Pumpkin Pie Power Smoothie
Serves 1
Modified from several recipes, this is my own version of a healthy pumpkin pie smoothie, perfect for the Halloween and Thanksgiving season, or anytime you so desire.
Write a review
Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
  1. 1/4 cup pumpkin puree (I used BPA-free canned Farmer's Market Foods Organic Pumpkin puree)
  2. 1/2 banana
  3. 1 large kale leaf (optional, but I like to add kale to most of my smoothies)
  4. 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (to taste)
  5. dash of cinnamon (though cinnamon is one of the spices in pumpkin pie spice, I like my shake extra cinnamon-y)
  6. 6-8 ounces water or leftover chai tea
  7. 4 ice cubes (optional; depends on if you like the shake to be thicker)
  8. 1 tsp blackstrap molasses (you might find this is sweet enough without the molasses)
  1. Blend
  2. Enjoy!
  3. So simple
  1. You could use a milk alternative like almond or coconut milk instead of water, if you like.
  2. If you don't have pumpkin pie spice, you can make your own with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, all spice, and cloves. Here's a recipe I found:
Acupuncture, TCM, natural health, Vancouver, BC

Zucchini Cakes from Cooking Journeys

I’m off on holidays this October, heading to Italy! So, I thought my good friend, Chef Luisa Rios’ recipe for zucchini cakes would be a great recipe to share because I read that zucca is the Italian word for pumpkin or squash and so zucchini was derived from its being a “little squash”.

Chef Luisa says that this is one of her most popular recipes! If you like this one, check out her website for more recipes, food ideas, and to learn about her amazing cooking services.

Savoury Zucchini Cakes Recipe

(adapted from


1 pound zucchini (about 2 medium)

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 clove garlic, minced

2 scallions, halved length­wise and thinly sliced

1 large egg OR 1 flax egg (1 table­spoon ground flax mixed with 3 table­spoons of warm water)

1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper

½ cup Bob’s Red Mill™ Gluten Free All Purpose Flour

½ teaspoon gluten free baking powder

Olive oil, for frying


1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Grate zucchini using the large holes on a box grater. Season with the salt and toss well. Let stand for 10 minutes to draw the excess moisture out of the zucchini.

3. Meanwhile, whisk together the gluten-free flour, baking powder and black pepper in a small bowl.

4. Using a kitchen towel or clean hands, squeeze the water out of the zucchini and place in a large bowl. Add egg or flax egg, garlic and scallions and mix well. Add in the flour mixture. You may want to fry a tester cake to check your salt levels at this point; alter­na­tively you can salt the cakes as soon as they come out of the frying pan.

5. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick skillet. When the oil ripples, spoon rounds into the pan, about two table­spoons worth, flat­tening slightly. Fry until golden brown (about 2 minutes per side) and remove from pan to a parchment-lined baking tray. When all the cakes have been fried, bake for 10 minutes, flipping them after five minutes.

6. Remove to a cooling rack. Enjoy warm, at room tem­per­a­ture or cold. All are equally delicious!



Natural medicines good defence for flu symptoms

We face it every year. School season starts and shortly after, so too does cold and flu season.

It might seem inevitable that you are going to get sick when your family member returns home with a runny nose and a cough, but it is possible to defend against the seemingly unavoidable cold.

The way to a healthy immune system is similar to the path to good general health: nutritious food, restful sleep, regular exercise and positive attitude.

For tips to beat the cold and flu season this year, click here for my article in 24 Hours Newspaper.



Immune Boosting

When I was a kid, I tried to bargain my way out of any injections or blood draws. I once succeeded in talking my way out of a blood draw, much to the chagrin of my little sister who was chosen instead! Sorry sis!

Now I do my own injections on myself. This summer I injected my knees with Traumeel, Lymphdiaral, and Zeel and it worked!

Today was immune boosting day. One 2ml injection of Pascoleucyn to help me avoid joining the slews of folk who will suffer from colds and flus this fall and winter. If you want to do the same, ask me.

This is the recommended flu prevention protocol:

Healthy individuals: 1 ampoule in September or October (and possibly a 2nd ampoule in December or January)

People under stress, or the elderly: 1 ampoule per month

In situations of high susceptibility: 1 ampoule per week

Don’t want to do injections?

For the whole family, PASCOLEUCYN drops are useful for both prevention and treatment of cold and flu symptoms. One bottle usually lasts a family 1-2 seasons!

You might also consider my fave throat spray if you do get a tickle in your throat or get sick.


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