Happy Birthday to me (with Vanilla Berry Nut Cake)

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It has been a really, really long time since my last blog post.  Since my last entry, I was pregnant, have had a baby and have almost finished my maternity leave.  My son Truman is almost 2 ½ months old but self-employment means I start back to work in a touch over a month.   It has gone fast, but I am grateful to still have a month, with my daughter Evora, I had started back to work by this point.

New additions have brought new food parameters to work around.  Our little guy is sensitive to dairy and if I want to keep his spit up and fussiness to a minimum that means no dairy for me while nursing.  Even though we have dairy issues already in the house with my daughter, I am generally fine with dairy.  I hadn’t actually realized until cutting it out again that I had been eating a fair bit of cheese in the past couple of years and miss it.  Thank goodness for occasional sheep cheese to satisfy cheese cravings.  The hardest change at this point is chocolate!  I am always a dark chocolate eater so being off milk chocolate is easy but trying to avoid cocoa and dark chocolate is more of a challenge.  I keep going to grab a square of dark chocolate as a treat but then remember all the fussing and crying that it seems to lead to and then I think better of it.

I started writing this post on my birthday while I was feeling glum in search of a non-chocolate, non-dairy, gluten free birthday cake.   For the first time we braved a nice restaurant to celebrate with the two little kids and wanted to keep it short and do dessert at home.  This was partially to avoid kid meltdowns and partially out of necessity since finding a restaurant non-dairy, gluten free dessert is a challenge.

I ended up feeling very successful when I not only managed to bake a lovely cake with both kids awake but it was great too!  The winner was a grain free berry cake – so delicious and quite healthy!  This cake is delicious warm with some vanilla non-dairy coconut ice cream.  It is also delicious the next day with a cup of herbal tea.

Recipe: Vanilla Berry Nut Cake

(original recipe found on http://cleaneatsinthezoo.com)

Cake
1.5-2 cups almond flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch/flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup coconut oil, butter or Earth Balance, melted
4 eggs
1 TBSP vanilla
3/4 cup honey

Berry Swirl
2 cups raspberries or mixed berries
1/4 cup honey
dash of salt

For cake:

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease an 11×7 or 9×13 pan with coconut oil/butter. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together melted coconut oil/butter, eggs, vanilla and honey. Add to dry ingredients and thoroughly combine. Pour into greased pan. Meanwhile, add raspberries, honey and salt to a medium saucepan. Heat over medium heat and mash with a potato masher (or a fork) until heated through and nicely mashed. Place spoonfuls of berry mixture onto cake batter.  Swirl in an “S” motion with butter knife.

Bake in oven for 25-35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in middle comes out clean. Watch carefully the last 5 minutes or so to make sure it doesn’t burn. If it’s getting too brown, turn down the heat a bit. Remove from oven and enjoy while warm with vanilla ice cream or non-dairy ice cream (or cooled, it is yummy both ways).

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Why are you so tired (part 2)

Here is the second installment in the series, Why are you so tired?  If you missed part one, click here to go check it out.  In part one, I dealt with many nutritional reasons why a person can be tired.  In this post, I’m going to deal with hormonal reasons, sleep issues and blood sugar imbalances leading to tiredness.  As you will see, all 3 of these major causes for tiredness can overlap and influence each other.

The endocrine system is a complicated system that has many interconnections.  The endocrine system is made up of all the glands in the body that secrete  hormones, this includes thyroid, adrenals, reproductive system, pancreas, pineal gland, pituitary gland and many more. The endocrine system controls growth, metabolism, reproduction, regulates our response to light and dark, controls lactation, initiates labour, controls blood sugar, regulates calcium metabolism and has an influence on digestion.  The main parts of the endocrine system we are going to touch on in this post are thyroid, adrenals, reproductive system and pineal gland as they most directly relate to our energy levels.

Many tired people come into my office worried about their thyroid function and some of them are on the right track to solving their energy issues.  Having a low functioning thyroid can leave a person tired, makes it easy to gain weight (and difficult to lose weight), can lead to dry skin, constipation and can lead to menstrual cycle abnormalities including long or short menstrual cycle length and possibly heavy periods.  The main test for thyroid issues is TSH.  This test measures the level of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) that goes from pituitary to thyroid to prompt the thyroid to secrete hormones (T3 and T4).  In theory, if the thyroid response is inadequate the TSH should rise and we should be able to see thyroid imbalances.  There are people who feel that free T3 and free T4 should also be checked for a more complete picture of thyroid health.  I think one of the main issues in TSH testing is that there is a broad range, most labs go from 0.35-5.0 as being normal values.  Having TSH monitored periodically over the years can help detect a change, for example if TSH has risen from 1 to 4.5 over the years, this is a good indicator that something is affecting the thyroid function.  One person might feel good at 3, another person might be feel good with TSH under 1.  Generally people are not addressed medically until their TSH is above 5 consistently over time and at that point the treatment is thyroid hormone, likely for life.  I find there are many people with normal tests, or high normal numbers (above 3 but not quite to 5) who respond very well to natural thyroid support either in the short term or on an ongoing basis.  Sometimes this natural treatment can leave a person feeling more energetic and lower their TSH level, possibly saving them from being on a long term medication.  There definitely is a time and place for thyroid medications and in some people it can be a good option when thyroid symptoms persist.  Thyroid controls metabolic rate and energy levels, having a balanced thyroid goes a long way toward steady energy levels.

Another type of gland that is very involed in energy levels is the adrenal glands.  Adrenal glands are not paid much attention in conventional medical circles unless someone has a life threatening issue such as Cushing’s (adrenal hormones too high) or Addison’s Disease (adrenal hormones too low).  In naturopathic circles, adrenals are extremely important.  Many times people who have had acute or ongoing stress show symptoms of adrenal fatigue.  Some people will present in the “tired and wired” phase, where they are tired but also anxious and unable to relax, which often leads to more trouble sleeping and more tiredness.  If adrenal issues persist, a person can get to a point of total exhaustion because the body is extremely burnt out.  Symptoms of adrenals fatigure/exhaustion include:  tiredness, dizziness on standing/rising, weakness, feeling run down, feeling the need for caffeine/sugary treats just to get through the day, sleeping too much (or not being able to relax into sleep at all), recurrent infections and many more.  Many naturopathic treatments can regulate adrenal function though I find there is a lot of variation between patients.  Some simple things that can help with adrenal fatigue that will benefit most people with chronic stress, take a B complex vitamin, try to get on a sleep schedule with a regular bedtime, limit caffeine and if there are no issues with high blood pressure, a little bit of licorice tea in the mornings can be a helpful adrenal tonic.  Sometimes adrenal fatigue can contribute to or mimick a thyroid issue and sometimes a weak thyroid can put a strain on the adrenal glands as they try to compensate.

Reproductive hormones can also affect energy levels.  Many women find their energy is lower before and during their period.  In some cases, this can be because an underlying adrenal issue is worse before the period.  In other cases, heavy periods and blood loss can weaken a woman.  Sleep can also be affected right before or during a period.  Cycle regulation is a complicated process and many different issues can arise, some leading to low energy at various points in the cycle.

Later in life, female hormones can also affect energy.  I have many patients in perimenopausal years or menopausal years who has lower energy than they used to have.  Again, sometimes this is from underlying adrenal and thyroid issues that have shown themselves at this point in life.  Other times, hot flushes and restless sleep from hormone changes can leave a woman feeling very tired and run down.  Supporting adrenal glands is often necessary at this stage to prevent a woman from getting more run down, also after ovaries stop producing estrogen and progesterone the adrenals are the main source of precursor hormones that turn into both estrogenic (female) and androgenic hormones (male).

Talking about reproductive hormones, I don’t want to leave the men out of the discussion.  Testosterone is also very important in maintaining energy levels in men.  Many men in the 40s or older, start to experience declining energy levels related to hormonal changes.  Low testosterone levels can lead to sexual difficulties, changes in body composition (less muscle, more fat), irritability, depression and tiredness.

The next gland, starts the discussion about sleep issues affecting energy.  The pineal gland is responsible for regulating our internal clocks.  The pineal gland is strongly influenced by light and dark and secretes melatonin in response to darkness.  Melatonin helps us sleep soundly.  I sometimes will use supplementary melatonin in patients to try to train their systems into healthy sleep patterns.  I especially find this useful in patients who have jobs that involve shift work, are strongly affected by seasonal time changes or who travel and suffer from jet lag.  Natural ways to encourage healthy melatonin levels include getting some sun exposure into your eyes (no sunglasses) in the mornings (at least 20 minutes if possible) and having your bedroom as dark as possible at night.  Some forms of deep breathing and meditation can also raise melatonin levels naturally.

When dealing with sleep issues, I often need to find out whether we are dealing with onset issues or sleep maintanance issues (or both).  Some of the most common sleep onset issues can include anxiety, inability to unwind at the end of the day, too much caffeine and delaying bedtime too late and missing a good sleep window.  Common sleep maintanance issues can include menopausal issues, blood sugar drops in the night, difficulty with positioning (ie. hip pain waking a person up in the night to change positions), nightmares, having to get up to urinate and waking thinking of work/things to do the next day.

I think it is always best to try to get to the bottom of what is causing the sleep disturbance, which can take a bit of detective work.  Without a clear reason for sleep issues, there are many healthy habits that can help sleep quality.  Setting a regular bedtime and sticking to it (even on weekends when possible) is a step that is often underestimated.  Preferably setting a bedtime early enough to be soundly asleep by 11 will work better for people with restless sleep than a slightly later bedtime.  In acupuncture, an imbalance in the liver (which usually is the result of stress) will cause restlessness between 11 and 3, so getting to sleep before this time period starts will often result in better sleep.  Rescue remedy (Bach Flower) or passionflower or chamomile can be all gentle ways to relax your body to get ready for sleep if anxiety is an issue.  Sleep somewhere comfortable, quiet, dark and preferably a little bit cool.  Try to restrict fluid intake in the evenings to prevent frequent bathroom trips.  Try to resist caffeine through the day, the temporary boost in energy during the daytime could be contributing to your restlessness at night, leading to poorer sleep which can run a person down and leave them reaching for more caffeine, making the cycle worse.

Lastly I want to deal with blood sugar issues.  Both high blood sugars (such as diabetes) and low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can lead to tiredness.  In both cases, eating enough protein, focusing on carbohydrates that have fibre rather than white, refined products (white flour, white rice, sugar) and focusing on good fats can help stabilize blood sugar.  Eating regular meals (and snacks if necessary) can also help to stabilize blood sugar.  Diabetics often notice that tiredness is one of the first signs that their blood sugar is off track.  In people with a tendency toward low blood sugar, often when they have gone too long without food or eaten a low protein meal (especially if that meal has a high level of starch or sugar) they might find that they start to feel tired and draggy.  Sometimes this is associated with anxiety, crankiness, shaking or headache.  If at this point, people grab a sweet snack or drink (which they will often crave at this point), the cycle continues.  Blood sugar will spike up quite high because all the sugar and starch digest quickly, then insulin levels rise and then blood sugar crashes back down leaving them tired again.  This up and down can affect energy levels all day long.  If blood sugar dips happen while a person is sleeping, they can wake up anywhere between 2 and 6 am and have trouble getting back to sleep.  At this point sometimes a snack can help someone get back to a restful sleep.  If this is a recurrent problem, addressing the cause and looking at the diet through the day is more successful at fixing the problem.  I have often seen that adjusting protein intake in a day will regulate a person’s sleep and daytime energy levels.

As you can see, getting to the bottom of why your energy is low can be complicated, but naturopathic doctors can help identify health priorities and help focus on getting you to feel like your energetic self again.

Soy cheesecake

I should start this post by saying that I’m not a fan of cheesecake.  It isn’t a dessert that I really enjoy and I would take a cookie or fruit crisp any day of the week.  However, about a month ago I bought some soy creamcheese to make some faux creamcheese icing for creamsicle cupcakes.  The soy cream cheese never made it into icing because I burnt the cupcakes (it happens), so now a month closer to expiry I was trying to figure out what to do with this imitation cream cheese.

My husband and my stepdaughters love cheesecake, even though it doesn’t always love all of them back.   Our youngest had never tried cheesecake due to severe reactions to dairy so I decided to make a cheesecake that she could enjoy.

I looked at many recipes online for inspiration and had settled on this one.  It advertised itself as most excellent soy cheesecake.

As I assembled my ingredients I was a bit skeptical that anyone was going to enjoy this dessert.  Extra firm tofu, soy cream cheese and soy sour cream didn’t look like convincing substitutes when only mixed with lemon, eggs, sugar and vanilla, but at this point I was committed to the plan and had an excited 2 1/2 year old who wanted to help make cheesecake.

Here is the original recipe (with my modifications in bold):

Soy cheesecake

Crust:  1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs

5 tablespoons melted margarine

Instead of graham cracker crumbs I used a 1/2 recipe of my brown sugar dough, baked in the oven about 10-12 minutes before putting the cheesecake on top.

Cheesecake: 1 1/2 cups Mori-Nu Silken Extra Firm Tofu (1 package) I used a firm, organic, non-gmo tofu

12 ounces soy cream cheese

1/2 cup soy sour cream

3 large eggs

1/3 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon grated lemon peel

fresh fruit or pureed fruit for topping (I used blueberries and raspberries that sat in the fridge with a little sugar overnight)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8″ springform pan with cooking spray. In a medium bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and the margarine until well blended. Press evenly over the bottom and partially up the sides of your pan.

In a food processor, combine the tofu, cream cheese, sour cream, eggs, vanilla, sugar, and lemon peel. Process until blended.

Pour into the pan, and bake for 20 minutes. Reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake for 20-25 minutes more, until the cake is almost set in the center.

Turn off the oven, and leave the cake in the oven with the door open, for 20 minutes. Cool the cake completely on a wire rack. Cover the cake and chill until set, about 6 hours or overnight. Serves 8 – 10.

I have to admit at this point to not following the directions exactly. When I was pouring the cheesecake part into the shell, I had too much cheesecake so I filled up to the top of my crust and put the rest in a separate dish to bake.  At the end of baking and cooling, I put the cheesecake in the pan in fridge like the directions said, to chill overnight.  My husband and I thought the other dish would be a yummy evening snack after kids went to bed.  We were very very wrong, it was pretty disgusting actually, kind of like a curdled baked pudding, yuck!  It didn’t give me high hopes for the cheesecake the next day but at that point I had a beautiful looking faux cheesecake that my daughter was very excited to eat.

The next day when I was slicing the cheesecake to serve at the party, I noticed that it looked different than our sample the night before and actually looked like cheesecake.  I was still cutting and serving when the first reviews came in and they were great!  The texture was entirely different than the night before, creamy and delicious.  The recommended time in the fridge is an necessary part of this recipe!  Everyone loved it, some wanted seconds but there were no seconds to be had.  I even quite enjoyed it, in some ways better than I would have enjoyed a cheesecake.  Even members of the family that usually avoid anything if they hear it is gluten free, heartily enjoyed it and asked what I had made it with if I didn’t use creamcheese.  This conversation soon ended at the mention of tofu, he didn’t want to know the rest because he was enjoying it too much 🙂

Faux cheesecake = huge success!!

I love oats!

It may sound overly dramatic to confess that I love a grain, but I really do. When I originally went gluten free it was a step at a time (someday I will write about this and why I think it is the wrong way to become gluten free and why I think celiac testing is important before starting a gluten free diet). I was having severe digestive issues, my naturopath at the time suggested I stop eating wheat. I felt wonderful! Within days all my symptoms went away, I was still eating all the other non-gluten and gluten containing grains. As I got more proficient with cooking with grains I previously hadn’t really eaten often such as spelt, kamut and barley, I noticed one by one I was becoming far less tolerate and gradually began having the same reaction to each of them that I got when I ate wheat. Spelt and kamut were the first to go which made sense since they are ancient forms of wheat so many people react to them the same as they do to wheat, then barley wasn’t worth the consequences. Aside from being sad about missing out on my grandma’s cabbage rolls, losing barley wasn’t a big deal for me. Then very, very sadly I needed to say good bye to my 100% rye bread that I loved so much. That is one that I still miss and wish I could eat again. I was left with non-gluten grains and oats. I was ok, I loved oats and rice.

Then gradually I started to notice that if I ate too may oats I started to have issues. I was in denial for quite a while but eventually cut out the oats and felt much better. For years, I really missed oats. Then a few years ago, research came out proving that oats as a grain don’t contain gluten. They get contaminated through farming and processing and all commerical brands contained traces of wheat, barley or rye (usually wheat). This made sense, this meant that oats had to lowest levels of gluten and that is was only due to contamination that most gluten sensitive people were unable to tolerate oats. It took a few years but now there are many wonderful companies that sell oats that are gluten free (free from traces of wheat, rye and barley). These companies have farms that are dedicated to only growing oats and not other grains as well and use dedicated machinery and processing for their oats. At the end of the process assays are preformed to make sure the gluten level is below the minimum allowed level to qualify as gluten free These companies include Creamhill estates and Only Oats are the ones I most often buy. Some celiacs do react to the oat proteins (avenins) in a negative way and it isn’t recommended that celiacs eat more than 50-70 gram of pure oats/day. I also is generally recommended to wait until someone stabilizes on a gluten free diet before adding the pure oats in so that you can see if someone is reacting to them in a negative way. Having pure oats available can help someone who is celiac or gluten sensitive with variety in whole grains.

Oats are a great source of iron, fibre, calcium, magnesium and B vitamins.  Oats can help reduce stress and in nursing moms can increase milk supply.  Oat bran can decrease cholesterol (though I have found it hard to find gluten free oat bran).  The fibre content in oats keeps you feeling full longer and keeps blood sugars stable, this is good news for diabetics, pre-diabetics and people trying to lose weight. And they are yummy!

I love oats as granola, as breakfast oatmeal with pecans and cranberries, in my favourite crispbread recipe (I love to use steel cut oats in it best, tastes like the oat cakes I used to love before becoming gluten free!) and in these tasty cocoa sunflower almond butter balls.

Enjoy some oats!

Great resource

Hi just came across this great document which gives a lot of information about testing for celiac and following a gluten free diet. It is worth checking out if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process of getting started, or just looking for more tips.

Are you tired of being so tired??

One of the most common reasons people come to my office for the first time is tiredness.  Initially in this article I was going to explore the main reasons why people are tired.  The article got lengthy in a hurry!  In this issue of the newsletter I will deal with the main nutritional reasons for fatigue and in future posts I will deal with some other reasons for tiredness.

There are several nutritional deficiencies that can cause anemia.  Anemia is when a person has low numbers of red blood cells, low hemoglobin and low hematocrit, all these values are checked in a simple blood test called a CBC.  To be diagnosed with anemia, all 3 values must be low.  Red blood cells contain hemoglobin which is what makes them red.  The hemoglobin binds oxygen and delivers it to all the cells in the body.  If a person has low amounts of hemoglobin or low numbers of red blood cells, this means it is more difficult for the tissues to receive oxygen which leads to tiredness.  Other symptoms of anemia can be palpitations, shortness of breath, restless legs, paleness and weakness.

The process of making red blood cells involves iron to help make the hemoglobin and B12 and folic acid to help the red blood cells mature to function properly.  If any of these raw materials are low, people can become tired before they technically meet the requirements for being diagnosed as anemic.  I look at these people as not being anemia YET.

Iron deficiency can happen at any stage of life but is seen most often in women in their reproductive years. Iron deficiency can happen for 3 big reasons, losing blood (which leads to iron loss), inadequate intake and decreased absorption.

In many cases when a woman is iron deficient the cause is heavy periods causing blood loss.  Heavy periods are a frequent problem through all years of menstruation but often are of particular concern in teenage girls and in women as they get into their late 30s or 40s when perimenopausal hormone changes are starting.  Iron deficiency can also be an issue during pregnancy as iron requirements are higher.  It can also be an issue after childbirth, especially if there was quite a bit of blood loss with delivery or heavy bleeding in the weeks after the birth.  If iron levels are low with adequate intake and no obvious source of blood loss then doctors will often investigate as this can be a sign of bleeding in the bowels which can be an early sign for colon cancer.  Doctors routinely will screen for colon cancer at age 50 using stool samples which are analyzed to look for trace amounts of blood that is not visible to the naked eye.

Iron is found in many foods including red meat, dark meat in poultry, kidney beans, tofu, molasses, lentils, green leafy veggies, liver, seeds and nuts, raisins and other dried fruits.  People following vegetarian diets or avoiding red meat often will have lower iron intake in their diets and can become iron deficient due to low intake.  Young children are sometimes at risk for low iron levels especially if they are picky eaters.

The last major cause of low iron is inadequate absorption.  This is seen frequently in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (Crohns and colitis) or celiac disease.  In these cases, if the bowels are repaired and the person is able to more adequately absorb iron then their iron levels will go up, until this happens they may need to supplement.

I recommend that most women during their reproductive years take a good quality multivitamin with iron in it to prevent iron deficiency, especially if they have heavy periods.  I also think a multivitamin should especially also be taken by women who are pregnant, nursing or planning to become pregnant. I also think vegetarians or athletes need to give iron levels some extra consideration.  In some cases, extra iron supplements can be a very good idea though they should never be given to men or post-menopausal women unless there is evidence that they need it.  Women who are having periods lose blood every month which in most cases will keep iron from building up to dangerous amounts, men and post-menopausal women aren’t losing blood or iron monthly and can develop toxicity with high levels.

B12 deficiency is a frequently under diagnosed cause of tiredness.  Symptoms of B12 deficiency include exhaustion or tiredness, neurological symptoms (nerve pain, numbness, tingling, impairment of sensations of touch and vibration), insomnia, impaired memory, and changes in blood work indicating anemia.  The neurological symptoms of B12 deficiency can be very serious and permanent even once blood work normalizes.

As with iron, reasons for major reasons for deficiency are low intake and absorption.  B12 is found in all animal foods so typically if someone eats meat but is deficient, they are deficient because of poor absorption.  The absorption of B12 is complicated and involves the stomach and the lower ileum (last part of the small intestine), both have to be healthy enough to absorb the B12.  Often B12 deficiency will occur in patients where their stomach or intestinal health is compromised.  Autoimmune destruction of the cells of the parietal cells in the stomach can also cause B12 deficiency, in this case it is called pernicious anemia.  Absorption of B12 gets more difficult with age, many elderly people can benefit from B12 supplementation which can help with memory, depression and low energy that often goes undertreated in elderly patients.  Vitamin B12 levels can also decline with certain types of medication including medications that block stomach acid, the birth control pill and some diabetic medications.

Vegans don’t receive vitamin B12 in their diets because they don’t eat animal products that contain B12.  I recommend all vegans absolutely include a vitamin B12 supplement and even vegetarians who do consume dairy and eggs can benefit from B12 supplementation to prevent problems down the road.

Serum B12 numbers aren’t perfect, while they can be an indicator that B12 levels are low, having B12 in the range (especially the low end of the range) may be too low for that particular individual.  It is recommended that if B12 levels are suspected to be low that a trial of B12 may be indicated.  In our office, a typical trial of B12 would be doing B12 injections, once per week for a month.  If there is no improvement then we discontinue.  If patients notice an improvement than we continue B12 injections as dictated by how they feel.  Some patients feel best to continue weekly for a while, others will do a monthly shot for maintenance and still others do a course of B12 and feel good for several years and at that point will sometimes do another course of B12 shots.  B12 can also be supplemented with drops or tablets that dissolve under the tongue which avoids relying on the digestive tract for absorption.

Anemia can also be caused by folic acid deficiency and vitamin B6 deficiency.  Vitamin B6 deficiency will also present often with PMS, carpal tunnel syndrome, tiredness and sleep issues.  Folic acid deficiency in pregnancy can lead to neural tube defects in the babies.  Both of these deficiencies can be preventing by taking either a good quality multivitamin or a B complex vitamin.  This is one of the many reasons that taking B vitamins (or a multi with higher levels of B) can help with tiredness.  In times of stress requirements for B vitamins go up, when someone is stressed I like them do have at least 50 mg of most of the Bs in their supplements.

Vitamin D deficiency can also cause tiredness.  I would suspect this most in someone who is tired starting with the short days of fall and gradually worsening through the spring but always has dramatically increased energy by late summer. In these people, generally you will also see a dramatic improvement in their energy from a vacation in the sun (more than you would expect just from getting away for a vacation).   I usually will see seasonal affective disorder in these same patients.  Often there is also a history of bone loss and musculoskeletal aches and pains.  I think most people should take a minimum of 1000-2000 IU/day, for many people this isn’t enough.  I will regularly use larger doses when I think they are indicated but do prefer to monitor blood levels periodically in patients who use very large doses.  Current research seems to suggest that toxicity is much more difficult to achieve than was once thought, dosage recommendations have increased quite a bit in the last couple of years, especially in northern locations.

Stay tuned for more reasons for tiredness in future articles.  In later posts, I’m going to attempt to deal with sleep issues, hormonal imbalances and blood sugar imbalances as causes for low energy.

Old Favourites

While getting all these recipes organized to launch this new website I’ve been rediscovering old favourites that I haven’t made in a long time.

Tonight for dinner we had Kale and Chick Pea Salad and it was lovely!  I had forgotten how delicious and fresh this salad tastes.

1 bunch Kale
1 can (19 oz.) chick peas, drained and rinsed
2 green onions, chopped
¼ cup almond oil/ walnut oil/sunflower oil
3 Tbsp. lemon juice
¼ tsp. dried thyme
½ tsp. dry mustard
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper

Place a large pot of water on to boil. Cut the stem from the kale. Wash and remove the seam or stalk. Cut the kale into bite-size pieces. Stir the kale into boiling water. Stir kale and drain immediately as kale turns bright green.  Spread the kale on a cookie sheet to cool. In a large bowl, combine the kale, chickpeas and green onions. Whisk together the vegetable oil, lemon, thyme, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss gently to mix. Serve at room temperature.

Another favourite that I rediscovered this week was Almond Muffins.  These muffins are grain free, sweetened with honey and can be modified depending on the ingredients you have on hand.  This batch I made by adding 3 grated apples, a couple handfuls of raisins and some cinnamon.  So delicious!

3 cups ground almonds or combination of nuts
1 tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
4 eggs
¼ cup melted butter
¼ – 1/2 cup honey

Mix wet ingredients in one bowl. Add to ground almonds, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine.
Pour into muffin cups to almost full.
Bake at 350º F for 20 to 25 minutes

The above recipe makes a basic muffin. For variations you can add raisins, blueberries, grated apple, grated carrots and/or chopped nuts or seeds. Depending on your choice of additions you may add appropriate spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger.