A Student Survival Guide For Back To School Stress

It’s been a few years since my university days and without hesitation I can say : I miss it!

I loved learning and being surrounded by like-minded thinkers. I loved digging into text books and the sounds of laptop keys furiously clicking through lectures. I loved the in-betweens of classes, sneaking off into the trails, the late nights working away with friends.

And then I happened upon my friend, Denis, here in the streets of Montreal and I too remembered: the once considered mandatory exam coffees (I don’t even like coffee!), the all nighters, the deadlines, the hunched shoulders, the sugar cravings… oh yes! I remember. And while it took me a few years, by my final year I felt I had just about learned the ways of university and the most useful and practical subject I have studied: nutrition.

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Perhaps you are off to school, or simply feeling the stress of the September season. In either case, remember that the psychological key to reducing stress is not in the situation itself, but in your mindset towards it. And as a clean body equates to a clean and clear mind, these are my holistic tips (with the help of our good friend Denis) for a September that’s stress-free!

Refine Your Take On Refined Foods

  • You’re under enough stress as it is, you don’t want food to be another!
  • Refined foods are stressors to the body as they create unsteady blood sugar levels causing you to crash on the school couch, and create a rapid spike in cortisol – our stress hormone! As the icing on the cake, a junk food diet has been shown to affect your brain’s synapses, thereby impairing learning and memory.
  • Instead? Ditch the fried french fries spewed over the bench and burger bag hidden behind Denis’ shoe and opt for fast, fresh and wholesome foods instead!
  • Bananas, for example, are conveniently prepackaged, naturally sweet, and packed with stress busting nutrients such as calming magnesium, energizing vitamin B6, and components that increase the production of serotonin in your brain to promote optimal stress relief.

Kick The Coffee

  • As my professor once said “coffee is stress in a cup!”
  • But as a staple of many students’ daily routines, caffeine is often relied on to boost energy and reduce stress. The issue? This boost of energy is only short lived and unsustainable, and the coffee can actually trigger the body’s stress response.
  • Instead? Opt for green tea or matcha (concentrated green tea powder) with the amino acid L-theanine that helps to reduce stress, boost energy and enhance productivity, while promoting a sense of relaxation.
  • NOTE: In either case, caffeine should be used as a boost when needed but not as a crutch. For the everyday, opt for energizing B vitamins (a supplement that supports the adrenals, your body’s “stress glands”), and ginkgo biloba which not only works as an adaptogen to help you cope with stress, but is well known for boosting blood flow to the brain to enhance learning and memory – all without the caffeine jitters!

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Move To Manage Stress

  • While excessive sitting, on city benches or otherwise, has been proclaimed “the new smoking”, exercise has long been known for its stress busting benefits. Movement will instantly refresh and energize you while oxygenating the brain and boosting your feel-good neurotransmitters.
  • While movement is a necessity in health, vigorous exercise is a stress to the physical body, so engage predominately in light to moderate movements on a daily basis. Run the stairs at your breaks, take a hike through campus trails, and participate in group activities in between lectures such as yoga (my favourite way to de-stress on a long day!).

A+ For Denis

  • What Denis did get right? He’s taken it outside! In fact, I have a feeling he spends an awful lot of time here.
  • Fresh air and nature spaces have both been shown to dramatically reduce stress. With the last of our beautiful summer weather and fall on the horizon, it is the perfect time to soak up the sun. Bonus points for removing your shoes to harness the stress relieving benefits of earthing!
  • Can’t get outside? Bring the outdoors in with green plants and open windows.

Study these tips and you are well on your way to a healthy, happy, stress free semester!

From A(+) to Zen,

Suzanne Eden

Sticking To The Bear-Necessities Of Life

If there’s one thing learned, living out of a suitcase,

its that life becomes fuller when you stick to the bear-necessities.

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This point proven not solely by our friend the furry Mountie (and beloved Jungle Book), but in clinical studies of psychology.

So while this may entail leaving our life-sized bear-hugging buddy in Quebec city, it also requires that you live lighter, smarter and with much more happiness!

From our suitcase living, to small cabin bunking, these are 3 ways to stick to the bear-necessities:

Weigh Your Baggage

  • Every travel luggage has its limit. Thus preventing you from cramming in the entire contents of your closet, forcing you to evaluate the necessity of each item and become resourceful with your belongings.
  • While it’s okay to own more than a suit-case worth of items, it begs the question: how much of it do we actually need? And is our stuff owning us more than we own it?
  • When it comes to your home, weigh how much each item means to you, how often you use it, if it is a true necessity, and should you find it weighing you down rather than creating a lighter load upon your shoulders, leave it behind!
  • Donate it, discard it, release it. You will feel a lot lighter in doing so and what’s more? You will gain back the average 3,680 hours or 153 days spent searching for misplaced items in a lifetime of losing approximately 9 items a day, according to the Daily Mail. That equals a whole lot more time to explore!

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Make It Multipurpose

  • When I travel, coming with me are all my own soaps, moisturizers etc. And while I highly recommend doing so to ensure the quality of  ingredients and integrity of the products, it’s extra to pack. To get around this, I use multipurpose items such as Green Beaver soap that triples as a body wash, hand soap and facial cleanser.
  • This tip can be easily utilized at home with beauty care, furniture, such as our cruise room couch that pulled into a bed, and all-in-one agents like our beloved  coconut oil.
  • What’s more? Going multipurpose significantly reduces the 14.3 million tonnes of waste Canadian households produced in 2012, reported by stats can.

Shop Smart – Bear Without Your Mountie

“There are two ways to be rich: One is by acquiring much, and the other is by desiring little.” 

—Jackie French Koller

  • Teaming with adorable shops in every stop, the temptation of coastal trinkets is very alluring. And while we picked up some souvenirs on our trip, all were things that I use virtually everyday (a ring from Maine, a lanyard from Peggy’s cove etc.).
  • Knowing you have limited space, in suitcases or otherwise, you’ll spend less and spend smarter. By being more intentional and contemplative with your purchases, you can save for higher quality items that will last and sustain you much longer.

The perks of living the minimalist way are endless! You spend less, clean less, stress less, lose less, define yourself less and free up time to do more and go explore!

Leaving a bounty of furry Quebec Mounties,

Suzanne Eden

Three Healthy Minded Restaurants On The Streets Of Montreal

Home to smoked meat sandwiches and french poutine, Montreal is fit for a foodie. But how does a wellness enthusiast navigate the city of cultural cuisine?

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While I’ve always been one to plan vacations around food, this travel tour was packed with sightseeing and left little in the way of food planning. Thus posing the presumptuous predicament of where a holistic foodie can eat in a city populated by fried potatoes, gravy, and cheese curds.

You can image my relief in happening upon a hub of holistically tailored dinning options in every city that we visited. And for the two days that we spent in the metropolis of Montreal, this is where and what we ate!

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 1. Pizzeria Bros

Location: 13 Rue Notre-Dame O, Montréal, QC

In our quest for lunch, we wandered the streets of local shops and stumbled upon the menu of this popular pizzeria.

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  • This humble nook of Old Montreal has a little something for everyone. Kneading the traditional dough by hand, they also offer gluten-free pizza crusts, homemade tomato sauce, the option to forgo the cheese, and a whole host of unique toppings including anchovies and capers, making this the perfect stop for conventional and holistic foodies alike.

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How to make it holistic:

  • 1) Opt for gluten-free crust:
    • Bypassing the uncomfortable side effects many experience from gluten, this thin crust doesn’t overpower the toppings which enhances the flavour of your pizza.
    • NOTE: Do be aware that there is an additional charge of $1 to do so. For those with celiac disease, there may be a chance of cross-contamination, though the man who made mine was exceptionally careful and diligent not to touch the dough with his floured gloves. Merci monsieur! 🙂
  • 2) Omit the cheese:
    • Cheese stimulates our opiate receptors which induces the post-lunch sleepy sensation. Because it is so difficult for our bodies to breakdown, your energy is directed to digestion and leaves little for you to carry on with your day.
    • NOTE: You can substitute the cheese for an additional topping of your choosing!

Follow these two rules and your delicious pizza will leave you satiated and energized for your adventures ahead!

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2. Délices Érable et Cie

Location: 84 Rue Saint Paul E, Montréal, QC

  • A quaint cafe along one of my favourite streets of Montreal that sings of Europe with its unique french flair. As it was rainy and overcast, I sought after a warm tea.
  • Initially drawn in by the samples, this cute cafe is teaming with the maple syrup staple of Quebec. You can sample it in tapioca balls, crystals, or my personal favourite of whipped maple butter with course sea salt!
  • They also serve dairy-free gelato which I tasted but left for a warmer day. Opting for a peppermint green tea as an antioxidant boost and sweetened with maple syrup crystals. Come rain or shine, this is a must stop shop for all maple syrup enthusiasts!

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3. Reubens Deli

Location : 1116 Rue Sainte-Catherine, Montréal, QC

 How to feel like a fish in a fish bowl: take a window seat at Reubens on the inner city strip with a smoked meat sandwich (hold the bread), vinegar based coleslaw and substitute the french fries for an alkalizing salad with balsamic vinaigrette on the side. A MUST!

This was one of my favourite meals on the trip. So much so that I hardly noticed the attention we drew of passersby through the window. Shy? Ask for an inner table as I guarantee you will have intrigued and envious eyes upon you.

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How to make it holistic:

  • They have an array of salads but if you want to experience Montreal’s staple smoked meat, ask for the basic smoked meat sandwich without the bread. It will come in a stacked pile and is so tender, it disintegrates as you transfer it to garnish your salad.
  • The coleslaw is not based in mayo, but rather vinegar which makes an ideal side.
  • Omit the fried french fries and opt for the salad. This is at an additional cost but well worth it! A light salad balances the meal leaving you feeling full without feeling stuffed.

NOTE: It is a popular joint and for good reason, so check in and enjoy a walk through the neighboring shops while you anticipate a delicious meal.

Bon appeptit,

Suzanne Eden

Seasonal Sundays || Peachy Keen

“An apple is an excellent thing – until you have tasted a peach.”

George du Maurier

~*~

Juicy with tips, tricks and holistic life hacks, this is the guide to one of our most beloved seasonal summer fruits: peaches!

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Life gets even sweeter with these juicy superfoods. But as any peach enthusiast would preach: you haven’t tasted a peach until you’ve tasted one in season and locally grown.

This Monday I did my weekly produce overhaul at Overholt Farms and happened upon a display of perfectly plump peaches freshly picked from the orchard. Sweet and fragrant (and admittedly the golden colour of our yard), these stone fruits are guaranteed to be staples of my counter-top through the upcoming months and sneak their humble way into most of our dishes.

As we dash to our local farmer’s market, here are my top tips and tricks to get the most out of a season that’s just … peachy!

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 Grow/Pick Your Own

  • As a child, we used to have a peach tree in our backyard that one year filled our kitchen, overflowed into the garage and trickled down into the basement with boxes bursting with these sweet fruits. I would run outside, stand on my tip toes and grasp the branch, plucking one loose and take a big, organic, mouthful of the juiciest, most flavourful peaches I have ever tasted!
  •  As with all fruits, they are sweetest when picked ripe off the tree. And though this tree is long gone, we reside in the fruit belt of Niagara which is bursting with local peach trees this time of the year.
  • Holistic Life Hacks: It is wonderful to visit the local farms for peaches, but going to the orchard to pick them yourself is best. Picking them fully ripened means there’s no wait to eat them (the most challenging part of any overhaul) and yields the juiciest, most flavourful and also the most nutritious fruit!

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Opt For Seconds

  • This is not in the sense of treating yourself to a second helping, though I am in full support of that too. “Seconds” are the peaches that don’t make the cut. They may have a small bruise, or indent and therefore won’t be found on display at the fruit stand. However, these peaches are just as juicy and delicious and are sold for much cheaper!
  • HLH: Ask for seconds at the fruit stand. They may be hidden behind the counter or you may have to take a mini drive/walk to pick them up.

Sift Through The Seasons

  • Peaches are my all time favourite fruit, but I won’t dare purchase one in the winter. When consumed in season, as nature intended, these fruits with have significantly higher antioxidant contents, are at their peak of flavour and texture and may have up to three times the nutritional content of their out-of-season counterpart!
  • HLH: The best peaches are found during the middle of peak season. If you do get ones with a taste of texture that seems “off,”(particularly near the beginning or end of the season), don’t toss them! These are perfect to freeze and throw into a shake or make a baked good or peach applesauce.
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Peach Sorbet : Frozen local peaches | Frozen sweet banana | A generous squeeze of lemon juice & blend.

Get Dirty Or Go Clean

  • As part of the dirty dozen, peaches are highly sprayed with chemical pesticides. Though we live in the fruit belt, tracking down a local, organic grower isn’t easy pickings. If your produce is conventional, remove the skins to eliminate the contamination of the outer layers of pesticides that cling to the fuzzy exterior.

What’s In A Label?

  • To become organically certified is an expensive endeavour. For this reason,many small, locally run farms skip the certification, even though they don’t follow conventional practices. Though they cannot say that they are officially organic, you can get around this by asking if they spray their produce with pesticides and if they try to abide by organic standards of growing.

Fast Track The Ripening

  • Though an optimal opportunity to exercise our patience, peaches will ripen quicker in a paper bag. Add an apple which emits ethylene gases and you’re well on your way to a perfectly ripe peach!

To our peachy keen seasonal Sundays,

Suzanne Eden

August Abroad : The World Of Wellness Coastal Tour

Happy August friends!!

I am absolutely thrilled to share that this month, we’re going on a little adventure!

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This August, hold tight as we explore the cuisine of the coast, the wilderness of the east and the World of Wellness abroad!

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~ Coastal Callings ~

I remember our road trips to the East Coast as a child. I remember making friends with the chipmunks of the campgrounds, the little jellyfish that swam up my brother’s swim trunks and stung him (I’m willing to bet he remembers that too!). I remember wading through giant tadpoles to capture frogs with our bare hands, creating motels for the hermit crabs on the beach and naming our lobsters as pets before we ate them. Note to self: never name your dinner.
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I remember coming to face to face with the biggest moose we ever encountered (we saw 14 that trip), whale watching, the endless treks through the forests, the freshest fish for supper, but most importantly : I remember the feeling, that magical feeling that only the East can elicit.

FullSizeRender(17)In just a few weeks, we’ll be cruising our way through the East Coast of North America and taking the World of Wellness Tour with us! Sailing the St. Lawrence through Montreal and Quebec (the Paris of Canada), cruising alongside Nova Scotia and PEI, down to Maine in the US  & disembarking in Boston.

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We’ll be discovering all the health hubs, tasting the provincial super-foods, exploring the health practices and landscapes and oceans and doing all of this in the healthiest, tastiest, and most holistic way possible.

 

The biggest difference: this time I get to take you all along for the ride 🙂
Setting sail to the world of wellness,
Suzanne Eden

The Calm After The Storm : Harnessing The Positive Power Of Negative Ions

“It’s not the light we need, but fire.

It’s not the gentle shower, but thunder.

We need the storm, the whirlwind, and the earthquake.”

~ Frederick Douglas ~

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Yesterday morning, everything was lit up.

Just as Sunday’s concert was twinkling with illuminated cell phones in the air, yesterday the skies were lit with lightning.

And while these moody skies may look anguished and turbulent, they are charged with negative ions and laced with the potential to uplift even the stormiest of moods and calm the most overactive of nervous systems.

Electrical Beings

  • Just as lightning is an electrical spark that bursts through the sky, electricity courses continuously throughout our bodies and is vital to our well-being. Electrical and chemical impulses (otherwise known as synapses) are how our cells communicate and send messages from our nervous systems to brains (and vice versa) that control our heartbeats, our movements etc. Without electricity, we couldn’t survive, but optimizing these synapses is what allows us to thrive.

“We are all meant to shine, as children do. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Expect your life to be full and beautiful. Magnify your own qualities of light and love. You will break free of your own stuckness, with the energetic voltage to electrify possibilities all around you.”

-Marianne Williamson

Positive Feelings With Negative Ions

  •  When it comes to our health, negative ions are anything but negative. These molecules promote a sense of clarity and well-being, have both a stimulating and calming physiological effect, decrease inflammation for pain reduction and increase the oxygen flow to our brains for mental alertness.
  • Think of how you feel near the ocean or standing beneath a waterfall. This same effect can be experienced after a heavy rainfall as negative ions are present in abundance where air molecules are being manipulated in intense circumstances.

Harnessing The Healing

It has been estimated that one in three people are sensitive to the concentrations of negative ions (myself included!). How can you tell? A good indicator is that you feel instantly refreshed and energized upon opening a window or stepping outside and find that spending too much time in enclosed spaces can make you feel sluggish.

But whether you are a particularly ion sensitive individual or not, we can all reap the benefits of these negatively charged molecules and these are a few great ways to do so:

  • Take a walk after the storm
    • Fresh after a heavy rainfall, the concentration of negative ions in the air is at its peak, making it the ideal time to submerse yourself in it.
  • Earthing
    • If you can walk barefoot comfortably, so much the better! Having direct contact between the soles of our feet and the earth allows for the transfer of negative ions from the ground.
  • Open your windows
    • This allows the negative ions to flow into your home (a space with a higher concentration of positive ions) to boost your mood.
  • Meditate
    • With the calming negative ions, meditating during or just after a storm has the potential to heighten our experience.
  • Invest in a salt lamp
    • No storm? No problem! Authentic Himalayan salt lamps produce these negative ions and can be left on all the time to add a continuous flow (and glow) of mood enhancing negative ions.

In light of the lightning,

Suzanne Eden

Five Holistic Reasons To Eat Your Way To Japan

If you ever needed an excuse to lust over the majestic forests and cultural  wonders of Japan, the cuisine would be your golden ticket!

We are getting so excited for our upcoming trip, but in the meantime I have heard and read and seen Japan everywhere lately. Though this isn’t where we are jetting off to, luckily for us, we don’t need to venture far to reap the benefits of these Japanese staples in our diet. If you needed an excuse, “feast” your eyes on my top five!

1. Matcha is to the Japanese what coffee & bacon are to North Americans

  • The Japanese loooove their matcha! It finds its way into just about everything and it’s a good thing too, as this brilliant green powder packs a big nutritional punch.
  • Matcha offers moderate amounts of caffeine balanced with calming l-theanine for an energizing boost without the coffee crash. Utilizing the whole tea leaves by grinding them into a powder, it’s a more potent source of catechins (an antioxidant compound known as polyphenols) than your standard green tea.
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|| Above : Unsweetened matcha tea latte with almond milk||

2. Get cultured

  • Fermented foods such as kimchi are staples in Japan and should ideally be features of every culture. Why? Fermented/cultured foods are rich in wholefood sourced probiotics, energizing B-vitamins and natural enzymes to enhance digestion and promote mental, physical and emotional well-being – no “zen garden” necessary!
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3. Soba Your Pasta

  • Soba buckwheat noodles are roughly the size of your standard spaghetti and made of buckwheat flour. They are commonly used in Japanese pasta dishes, piled high with fresh vegetables and drizzled with a light sauce (as opposed to smothered – the Western way).
  • I LOVE these and you can experiment with traditional pasta sauce, or enjoy the flavour when tossed simply with coconut oil, sea salt and loaded with vegetables or as a tahini based pad Thai as featured below. When savoring Soba at a restaurant, be sure to ask if they are gluten-free.

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4. Authentic sushi (of course!)

  • This goes without saying; you just can’t have a Japanese cuisine post without the mention of sushi. BUT! And this is a big but ; for all of us sushi lovers, we need to be adamant about sourcing. The seafood commonly used in restaurants is high in toxins (particularly mercury), can be contaminated with parasites and utilize inhumane fishing practices. Think: “The Greatest Catch,” documentary.
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  • In Japan (and everywhere), look not to the big sushi houses but small, intimate dinning experiences, often more expensive and not “all-you-can-eat,” that offer sustainably caught seafood and quality sushi. The REAL sushi you deserve to experience!
And on the subject of anti- “all-you-can-eat…”

5. Hara Hashi Bu

  • This is not a food per se, but a WAY to eat that will skip the sushi coma conundrum and keep you feeling healthy, vibrant, and ready for your next meal. Read more here.
To our future Japanese journeys,
Suzanne Eden