Food of the Month: Crushing on Cranberries

Care of Ashley Sauve Cranberries are a seasonal favorite during the holidays, an icon of festivity. They’re also a staple dried fruit used in trail mixes, granolas, and even salads. While we generally see cranberries as  complement, condiment or side, this tiny berry actually packs a solid nutritional punch and brings to the table a host of health benefits. Like all berries, cranberries are a potent source of anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. This means that they can support immune function, protect against cardiovascular disease, and play a role in cancer prevention.   Cranberries in particular have a long-standing reputation for protecting against Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs). This effect is seen both in humans, and even in our companion animals (especially cats), and is thanks to a compound in cranberry called proanthocyanidin. This compound in cranberries prevents bacteria from adhering to the walls of the urinary tracts, where they settle and multiply contributing to UTI symptoms. There is also research being done on these anti-adhesion effects potentially preventing stomach ulcers, which are also caused by bacteria settling on stomach lining. Cranberries are naturally very tart, and most enjoyable when sweetened slightly. However, many dried and canned cranberries are completely filled… Read More

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Food of the Month: The Perfect Pear

Care of Amy Symington of With its season beginning in August and lasting until end of October, pears really are the ultimate fall fruit. They come in the rainbow of autumn colours from green to red to yellow to brown and have a  subtle, sweet flavour that is very versatile when it comes to its culinary options. They go great atop salads, in soups, on pizza and sandwiches and in all the baked goods from cobblers to crisps to streusels to cakes to homemade pop tarts. Moreover, they are a fantastically healthy addition to one’s diet. They are a good source of copper and vitamin C and K and are very high in fibre, packing about 6g per pear. Due to their high fibre content, a large amount of which is found in its skin, they have been shown to aid  in the prevention of Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease and certain types of cancer like colorectal, stomach and oesophagus. In addition to containing high levels of fibre, pears contain anti-inflammatory properties which help with the prevention of chronic inflammatory diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, they contain high levels of… Read More

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Powerful Pistachios

Care of Ashley Suave of The Vegan Chef Pistachios are a crowd favourite, especially around the holidays and they are deserving of the love! In fact, pistachios have been described as an honorary legume thanks to their unique nutritional value among nuts. Thanks to their high fiber,  protein, and vitamin E content, pistachios make a great addition to any healthy diet. By now, most people know that protein is no real issue in plant-based diets. Plants contain all essential amino acids. However, sometimes vegans can fall a little short in the amino acid lysine. Because of this, legumes are an important part of plant-powered diets due to their high lysine content. Pistachios also contain higher amounts of lysine than other nuts, so much higher in fact that a ¼ cup serving of pistachios can be substituted for a serving of legumes. Pistachios also contain a good amount of fiber, about 10% of their weight, making them a great snack choice. Fiber encourages satiety, and combined with the healthy monounsaturated fats in pistachios, keeps you feeling fuller for longer. Thanks to their shells preventing quick overeating, they’re the perfect snack for anyone looking to manage their weight. Vitamin E… Read More

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Marvelous Millet

Care of Amy Symington of This round, teeny tiny ancient and gluten free grain that is commonly found in bird seed packs a nutritional punch that is not just for the birds. Millet is high in insoluble fibre and is a good source of magnesium. High fibre whole grains, like millet, protect us from a wide array of chronic diseases such as obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and cancer, in addition to lowering our LDL cholesterol and reducing our risk of high blood pressure. Whole grains also contain lignans, a phytonutrient that has been directly linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, and phytoestrogens, which aid in blood vessel elasticity and bone metabolism. Millet’s higher levels of magnesium are beneficial as well.  Magnesium is a co-factor for the enzymes that are involved in the body’s release of insulin as well as its use of glucose, making millet a diabetic friendly food. Magnesium is also an electrolyte which aids in maintaining proper fluid balance and cell communication in the body. It helps with muscle relaxation and works synergistically with calcium, vitamin D and phosphorous (which is also found in high levels in millet) to build… Read More

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Food of the Month: Spirulina

Care of Ashley Sauve You may have heard by now of spirulina. It’s a trendy superfood that has been popping up everywhere from your favourite morning show to the grocery aisles. But what exactly is this mysterious ingredient? And is it really the nutritional superstar everyone is claiming? The answers might be surprising – first, that spirulina is actually a blue-green algae. If the thought of consuming algae freaks you out at first, don’t be alarmed. Evidence of humans eating algae dates way back to the 9th century, in fact algae is one of the oldest life forms on Earth! Today it might be grouped in with granola-loving hippies, but in 16th century Mexico, spirulina was a valuable food source for the Aztecs. In terms of nutritional benefits, spirulina is well-known as being incredibly rich in protein (up to 70% by weight—that’s more than double red meat), and this protein is very well digested by humans. In addition it is one of the highest food sources of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) in the world. GLA is an important fatty acid for the heart and joints as it is a precursor to critical biochemical that mediate inflammatory and immune reactions. This makes… Read More

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What’s Up Doc? Our 2nd Favourite Vegetable: The Carrot

Care of Amy Symington: You don’t need to be Bugs Bunny to appreciate the satisfaction of biting into a freshly picked crisp, sweet carrot. Noted as the second favourite vegetable worldwide, carrots come in every colour of the rainbow from orange to purple to yellow to red and are the beginning of any good stock, salad, stir fry or cake. The modest carrot although often taken for granted is packed with piles of potential health benefits. They are of course most noted for their high levels of beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A which aids with vision, skin and cell integrity and immunity. Beta-carotene is also an anti-oxidant that prevents against oxidative stress caused by free radicals from sources like UV rays and pollution. Consequently, it is well known for its anti-aging properties and for healthy skin. Carrots also contain phytonutrients called polyacetylenes which have been shown to inhibit the growth of colon cancer cells. Interestingly, the beta carotene that is present in carrots helps prevent the oxidation of the polyacetylenes, allowing them to do their job. Carrots are also high in dietary fibre which aids in digestion, healthy weight loss and/or maintenance, promoting beneficial bacteria in the gut… Read More

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Rapini or Broccoli Rabe

Care of Amy Symington It’s not quite spinach; it’s not quite broccoli, but it’s a helluva tasty and just as good for you as both! Contrary to its appearance, rapini is actually a cousin of the turnip and is called “cime di rapa,” in Italian which literally meaning “turnip tops.” It is a green cruciferous vegetable, which has similar health benefits to other cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, kale and cabbage. The leaves, buds and stems are all edible and rich in vitamin A, B, C, and K as well as iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. It is also filled to the brim with cancer fighting phytochemicals like indole-3-carbonol which can aid in the prevention of cellular damage from free radicals. It contains sulphuric compounds which, in addition to decreasing inflammation and toxins in our bodies, can also help to reduce one’s risk of heart disease. Moreover, its vitamin C and folate content decrease homocysteine, an amino acid that can be found in our arteries, and if found in excess can lead to heart disease.  Due to its high vitamin K and calcium content, rapini scores big points in the maintaining strong and healthy bones department too.  It’s also high in… Read More

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Superb Sunflower Seeds

Care of Ashley Sauve Sunflowers are a sure symbol of summer, and while we all enjoy their beautiful blooms we can also enjoy their delicious seeds! In fact, you’re doing your body good by including these super seeds in your diet! Sunflower seeds are one of the best sources of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects against heart disease. In fact, vitamin E protects LDL cholesterol (the nasty kind) from becoming damaged and thus hardening the arteries! While sunflower seeds do contain significant amounts of fat, this fat is the healthiest kind. You may have heard that many of us living a Western lifestyle are deficient in magnesium. This mineral is necessary for healthy bones, and may also lower blood pressure, reduce heart attack risk and even prevent migraine headaches. Include sunflower seeds in your diet to ensure you’re getting some magnesium, as they are a good source! Another health benefit offered by sunflower seeds is the presence of the trace mineral selenium. Studies have suggested that increased selenium in the diet may decrease incidence of cancer. As sunflower seeds are not a common allergen, they make a great substitution for nuts in many recipes! They can be ground… Read More

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Terrific Teff

Care of Amy Symington Teff, a traditional ancient Ethiopian grain, is one of the most recent up and coming health foods making its rounds on the must eat list this year. Well known as the key ingredient for injera, a fermented Ethiopian flatbread often eaten with legume based stews, teff is a gluten free grain that is just as versatile as wheat. It comes in a wide array of colours and has a mild, nutty flavour profile. Its nutritional profile, however is much more impressive. It is high in fibre, iron, calcium and protein, containing 8 of the 9 essential amino acids. Moreover, it is high in resistance starch, a type of prebiotic that aids in digestion, immune function and colon health. Due to its high fibre content, teff is also great for blood sugar regulation and weight maintenance, minimizing one’s risk of obesity and Type 2 Diabetes. In terms of cooking, teff can be used similarly to other gluten free grains like quinoa, rice and millet. However, due to its size, which is about the size of a poppy seed, it tends to cook faster than its grain peers.  When grounded into flour, it is a notable gluten free… Read More

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Where to buy Vitamin D supplements in Toronto

Vitamin D is an important nutrient for vegetarians and vegans to supplement with. It is a fact that it is not common in vegetarian foods (and actually it is found in few non-vegetarian foods too), and getting your Vitamin D from the sun by going out in the sunshine without sporting sunscreen isn’t a great idea either! There is no shame in taking supplements to ensure you have optimal health on a plant-based diet. So here’s what you need to know about finding a good Vitamin D supplement in Toronto. Vitamin D2 is usually vegan, however some people’s bodies do not absorb it very well even in supplement form, so they require Vitamin D3. However, Vitamin D3 is often not vegan (it can be derived from sheep’s wool). The catch here is that vegan Vitamin D3 is not commonly found in Toronto (yet!). If you’d like to have an easier time purchasing in Toronto, you could give Vitamin D2 a try and have your blood levels tested after a few months. If your Vitamin D levels are not optimal, then you will want to try and find Vitamin D3 in Toronto, or order it from a vegan supplier such as… Read More

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