Tropical State Of Mind // Five Tropical Foods To Boost Your Mood!

An escape to the tropics may be just what the doctor ordered!
handstand
Vacations have long been shown to optimize mental and physical wellbeing as they improve sleep (provided you aren’t kept up all night by two snoring parents in the bed next to you), significantly reduce stress, increase job productivity and performance, boost creativity and can significantly reduce anxiety and depression!
Though peace of mind and optimal health may very well be a flight away, it may also be just a bite away, no plane ticket needed! Food both directly and indirectly affects our mental health in intricate ways. Some foods can cause chemical reactions to naturally elevate our overall mood, provide relaxation and mental clarity. Others affect our mood by providing energy and high nutrient density delivering the raw materials for our cells to thrive. While others reduce inflammation to ease the “attack” systems of our bodies. Mental health starts from the inside out. It’s a week in Cuba served up on your dinner plate!
Here are 5 tropical foods scientifically proven to powerfully boost your mood:
banana
 
A banana a day keeps the psychiatrist at bay
  • Bananas produce dopamine quinine, a naturally occurring form of dopamine which is a “feel good” neurotransmitter in our brains. Not only are bananas at their ripest and sweetest when they are brown, but the “sweet spots” also contain the highest levels of this dopamine!
  • Bananas are also high in magnesium and B vitamins to calm our nervous system to reduce stress.
  • Complex carbohydrates aid in the absorption of tryptophan along with vitamin B6 helping convert it into the mood-elevating hormone serotonin  (one reason low carb diets may increase risk of mood disorders). This also aids in a good sleep with no worries of snoring roommates!
Sea algae
  •  among the most nutritious plant-based organisms, sea algae provides a rich source of nutrients and antioxidants which elevate energy levels to boost your mood. On top of its loaded nutrient density, this is another reason to add sea veggies to your daily green smoothies.
  • Sources: Spirulina, chlorella
 
Coco for coconuts
  • coconuts contain medium chain triglycerides which work fast in the body as brain food to rev our neurological centers and help us to feel more alert and invigorated. The scent of coconut alone has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, and lower blood pressure just so long as it is not a synthetic fragrance.
Fishing for antidepressants
  •  The essential fatty acids EPA and DHA are crucial for brain health, the root of mental wellbeing on top of being highly anti-inflammatory. The omega 3’s will also assist in serotonin development in the brain to further elevate mood and have been shown to reduce depression as effectively as antidepressants, without the unwanted side effects!
  • Prescription for wellness: I recommend eating well sourced fish 1-2X/week.
Dark chocolate for a sunny disposition
  • Tropical? Heck yes! The cocoa belt (where the large majority is grown) is a narrow band up to 20 degrees of latitude north and south of the equator. Cacao (raw, unprocessed cocoa) is one of the richest sources of magnesium in food which relaxes the body and nervous system for powerful stress reduction.
  • phenylethylamine (PEA) promotes happy, euphoric feelings, and alleviates depression
  • Anandamide (the “bliss” chemical) in raw cacao is a neurotransmitter produced in the brain that can temporarily block feelings of pain and depression and may elevate dopamine levels. Chocolate also contains other chemicals that prolong these “feel-good” effects of anandamide.
  • It also contains tryptophan and serotonin! Bonus, it also has the same effect that love has in our brain without coming home with your vacation boyfriend.
  • Note: not all chocolate nor cacao is created equal. Look for quality sourced cacao and a minimum 70% dark chocolate. My favourite for both quality and taste being Giddy Yoyo 🙂

 

Your ultimate mood boosting prescription for wellness: add a little dose of the tropics to every meal this week!

In a tropical state of mind,

Suzanne Eden

Four Ways To Make Your Holistic Nutritionist The Watson To Your Sherlock

“You know my methods Watson”

Holistic health is often an investigative affair. We are complex and all systems in our body function synergistically, so that when one becomes unbalanced, everything else is affected as a result. This can make getting to the root of the issue a rather tricky enterprise and in order to crack the case, it’s often a matter of some trail and error. When it comes to your health, you are the greatest detective there is but what’s a detective without their faithful accomplice? That, as you may have “suspect”ed, is where we, your holistic practitioners, come in. Pull out your magnifying glass, grab your trusty nutritionist and disprove your own theories until you find the one that clicks!
timr
Sherlock’s role :
  • Your role in the healing process is the most important. Your holistic nutritionist can give you all of the advice in all of 18th century England but it is YOU and only you that can make it happen. When it comes to your health, nobody knows you like you do and in order to decipher the riddle of your body, we rely on you to be attentive to its clues.
Watson’s role :
  • As your holistic health practitioner, it is my job to be your accomplice, to look out for you, and to be your helping hand when getting out of sticky situations. Although I don’t have nearly the same appealing accent or handsome allure of Robert Downey Jr., what I do offer as your Watson, is my knowledge, advice and ability to listen to your body’s evidence of what might be happening within you. From there, we develop our theories to reach the suspected issue at the scene of the crime and then work to heal it.
Here are 4 ways to use your holistic practitioner as the Watson to your Sherlock:
 
1) Pay close attention to detail
 
“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important. ‘There is nothing like first-hand evidence.”
  • Everything counts. Nothing is nothing. From fatigue, to brittle nails, to bloating after a meal, to an itchy nose, your body is constantly sending you clues to your health. Pay close attention so that we can decipher them.
2) Do some digging
“The world is full of obvious things which nobody by any chance ever observes.”
  • Remember that ailment from grade four that caused you to go on antibiotics? What about the root canal  from 5 years ago? As all of our experiences in life shape who we are today, they also shape our health. From the little to the monumental: dig back into those things that others may disregard.
3) You are your own healer
‘My name is Sherlock Holmes.  It is my business to know what other people don’t know.’
  • Nobody knows you like you do. As your Watson, I’m relying on you to communicate everything you can with me. When we pair our personal knowledge with that of our nutritionist, this is where true healing lies.
  • After all…
    ‘Nothing clears up a case so much as stating it to another person.’
4) Trial and error
‘Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.’
  • Do not be deterred by a little trial and error. No two people are alike and therefore, to experience true healing, a little trial and error is absolutely necessary. This is what detective work is all about.
With your body’s evidence and the combined detective work of both yourself and your practitioner, you are well on your way to closing the case on your health!
In a series of investigative affairs,
Suzanne Eden

Your Holistic Guide to Healthy Snacking at the Theatre & my Chocolate, Cashew Drizzled Popcorn

“Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”

~ The Imitation Game

These past few days have found me enchanted by elves and hobbits and mystified by the mind of Alan Turing as all good movies seemed to pop their way into theatres just in time for the winter chill (in which I rather fittingly become much like a hobbit myself).
~*~
Now just think: movie theatre food, and what is likely the first thing to pop into your mind? The beloved popcorn of course! But what is lurking in that seemingly bottomless bag of buttery kernels? I did a little digging and found some sticky facts on one of Canada’s favourite movie treats and created a better than butter alternative to satisfy all of your popcorn popping indulgences.

 

Popping up some facts:
  • Popcorn MUST be purchased organic. Non-organic corn is heavily sprayed in pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, and fertilizers which wreak havoc on our health and the health of our environment.
According to the Globe and Mail published in 2011:
  • a large Cineplex popcorn unbuttered is the calorie and fat content equivalent of two McDonald’s Big Macs
  • The same bag having nearly a day’s worth of sodium intake

 

and that’s without butter.

According to Cineplex Entertainment’s Nutrition and Allergen guide, their liquid margarine contains these ingredients (plus a few others):

  • Soybean Oil
  • Hydrogenated Soybean Oil
  • Salt
  • Soy Protein,
  • Soy Lecithin
  • Potassium Sorbate
  • Mono & Diglycerides
  • Artificial Flavour

 

This ingredient list is high in processed soy and oils which alters their chemical composition causing them to be toxic to our bodies. Also present are artificial flavourings, preservatives and, once again, salt. Its shelf life: a minimum of three months! Real food rots. If it does not go bad, what exactly are we eating?

 

A few tips to snacking during a flick:
  • Eat when you are hungry

A movie snack is a cultural habit. Food is meant to be enjoyed when we are hungry. If you are not hungry, skip the snack and just enjoy the film.

 
  • Be a delinquent and bring your own food & drinks
  • Eat mindfully : if eating, eat BEFORE the movies

Eat during the opening credits and pay attention to the taste and flavour. You’ll be satisfied faster, longer and enjoy your food more.

  • Don’t eat during or even before a suspense, thriller or horror film.

The stress you feel in these movies actually puts our body into the “fight or flight” mode. This state activates our
sympathetic nervous system which tells the body to stop digesting so that you have more energy to flee. Of course, you’re not going anywhere but your body doesn’t know that and your digestion is compromised as a result.

  • Make healthier versions.

 A better than butter alternative popped up in my kitchen for Monday night’s movie ventures, though it was admittingly gone before I had even left for the theatre!

popcorn

 
  • Better Than Butter Popcorn:
Organic homepopped Popcorn (NOT microwaveable!)
Coconut oil
Sprinkling of Himalayan salt
Simply mix some coconut oil into your warm popcorn, tossing it around so that it melts and coats your popcorn as would butter. Sprinkle a little sea salt in and enjoy!
~*~
  • Chocolate, Cashew Drizzled Popcorn

Organic, homepopped Popcorn (again, NEVER microwaveable)

Raw, vegan dark chocolate

Raw cashews

Himalayan salt

Simply melt your chocolate in a bowl over a pot of boiling water. This will prevent it from burning and keep the delicate cocoa oils from denaturing. Lay popcorn flat on a sheet of wax paper and drizzle the warm chocolate over top, sprinkle with sea salt and pop into the fridge before enjoying. Keep cool.

Popping out of the hobbit hole for a movie date treat,

Suzanne Eden

20.5 Reasons Coconut oil is the New Windex (and Weatherman)

I knew something was up when I came downstairs to find my tub of coconut oil solidified in my cabinet. What is normally a runny pool of clear oil in summer becomes a white, solid brick when there’s a temperature drop. Ah yes, it seems October was a little too eager to arrive this year and before August comes along to set it in its rightful place, we decided to roll with it. There is now a large, organic, grass-fed, free range turkey in our oven wafting remnants of Thanksgiving through our house as we prepare to have a family gathering. No dairy free pumpkin pie, however. (We do have our limits).
Though eagerly anticipating the return of summer, I will admit that the oil is far easier to use for many of its functions when it isn’t dripping all over you. Food aside, I’m talking about the benefits you probably haven’t thought to use it for. Like the dad in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is with Windex, I am with coconut oil. Point blank: whatever it is, put some coconut oil on it!
Dry, summer skin? Brittle, ocean kissed hair? Stubborn makeup? No problem! Here are 20.5 reasons to make this your new cabinet staple and all-purpose fixer upper no matter what season the weather claims to be in!
coconut
  1. Makeup remover Simply rub over face, leave about 3 minutes and wipe off
  2. Put coconut oil on cuts or burns to speed up healing
  3. Whole body moiturizer – Rule of thumb: don’t put anything on your body that you wouldn’t put into your mouth
  4. Chapstick
  5. Helps to prevent stretch marks
  6. An all natural SPF – The SPF is not overly high but it is there and will also help to build the body’s natural defense against the sun. It’s the SPF that just keeps going!
  7. Not just for protection, it can help to heal sunburns quicker
  8. Anti-frizz cream – Just a drop massaged through hair (Not too much or it will make your hair greasy)
  9. All natural leave in conditioner (see point above)
  10. Deep conditioning treatment – leave in hair overnight and wash out in the morning for silky smooth, shiny hair. You will need to sleep on an easily washable pillow case or sleep in a shower cap as it will get greasy and be sure to wash hair thoroughly  to get all of the oil out.
  11. As your nighttime facial moisturizer (Mine contains a mixture of coconut oil, vitamin E, Calendula, lavender and a few other natural ingredients)
  12. Coupled with apple cider vinegar it is a natural cure for LICE! – This one I’ve been fortunate enough to never have experienced but have read about and it claims to actually work
  13. Antibacterial skin cream to reduce acne – a little goes a long way, you don’t want the skin to be excessively oily
  14. After shave lotion – No red bumps and reduced ingrown hairs!
  15. Put on arthritic joints, its anti-inflammatory properties can help to alleviate the pain
  16. A natural tanning oil – while performing the double duty of protecting you while you tan – this works! And prevents your skin from drying out in the heat
  17. Effective way to sooth the itch of mosquito bites/poison ivy and prevent scaring
  18. Rubbing it on the inside of your nose can be an effective way to alleviate allergy symptoms
  19. A natural lubricant … just saying
  20. An effective way to get gum out of your hair! Not that I advise eating gum but if you ever found yourself in that sticky situation or one similar, this is the way to slid yourself out of it… naturally.

     20.5: Evidently: a temperature gauge 

Solid = cold
Solid/liquid = warm
Liquid = hot
And probably far more accurate than your local weather station.
So as I patiently wait, bundled in sweaters in July, for summer to return from its summer vacation, I will enjoy tonight’s faux Thanksgiving dinner with the family and continue using my coconut oil to tell me what attire to wear in the upcoming weeks.
What can you look forward to come August? August will be ACTIVE-ist month on the blog! From what to eat pre and post workout, to the recipe for my electrolyte elixir, what activities are best for your body type, to the important topics I don’t find many people know, all will be covered throughout this upcoming month!
In a (coco)nutty state of affairs,
Suzanne Eden

Vegan Spicy Quinoa & Lentil Stew

I’ve had this stew every weekend for the past 4 weeks! Who doesn’t love cozying up in front of the fire with a journal and a cozy dinner? It does take some cooking and prep time but it’s simple and easy to tweak to your liking. Here’s what you will need:

lentil stew.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 1C Lentils (I used green lentils)
  • 2/3C Quinoa
  • 2 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 Onion
  • 2 Cloves garlic
  • Organic vegetable broth (look for one that is yeast and soy free, and naturally low sodium. Chicken broth would work as well though its not vegan)
  • 2 – 2 1/2 C vegetables (I like hearty vegetables in stew. I used carrot, parsnip, sweet potato and red pepper)
  • 1 Large or 2 medium sized tomatoes
  • 1/2 Tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 Tsp dried thyme
  • 2 Tsp dulce flakes (optional)
  • 2 Tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp turmeric (powder)
  • Cayenne pepper (to taste, very spicy)
  • 1/2 small lime
  • Coconut oil
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Seems like a long list but most of it is seasoning which you can easily play around with if you don’t have something or want to switch it up.

Directions:

  • Thoroughly rinse your lentils and bring to a boil 2 1/2 cups of water and let simmer until the water is absorbed. this takes approximately 40mins. At the same time Rinse your quinoa and bring to a boil with water at the ratio of 2 : 1 and adding in  your lemon juice. Allow quinoa to cool.
  • Saute garlic and onion in coconut oil until the onion is soft and translucent but not browned.
  • Add vegetables of choice with oregano and thyme and saute about 2 mins or until the vegetables are a vibrant colour.
  • Add the tomato and allow to simmer about one minute
  • Pour your vegetables and tomato into the lentil pot, bring to a boil with the vegetable broth and simmer with  the spices about 15-20mins or until vegetables and lentils are soft.
  • Remove from heat, stir in your quinoa and season with dulce flakes, salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.
  • Adjust flavours as needed. I like mine spicy so I nearly doubled the spices just being sure to keep in the ratios above and increasing the lime juice as well.

Tips:

  • Quinoa should be allowed to fully cool before stirring or working with it to avoid it turning mushy.
  • Add vegetable broth until you have your desired consistency
  • Though optional, dulce flakes enable you to reduce the sodium content. Using high quality sea salt is crucial.
  • Topping this with nutritional yeast will give you a nutty, almost cheesy flavour

And here’s a few quick switch ups:

  • Use your leftover stew to make spicy wraps. Look at these beautiful collard leaves! Just be sure they are organic. Simply fill, top with salsa and enjoy!
  • Stuff a warm, fresh-baked buttercup squash, or whatever squash you choose and serve on a bed of greens 🙂