PMS Relief Foods



While I’m off gallivanting and taking in the CHFA West in the beautiful city that is Vancouver; I thought I would be remiss to leave you with nothing to whet your natural health appetites. So I’ve lined up some guest posts, to keep you entertained.

~Bianca

Has that time of the month come to call again? If you’re like most women, you have learned to grin and bear through your symptoms of PMS until the pain, bloating and fatigue subside. However, not all women are able to simply endure their PMS symptoms, and some may experience cramps and bloating to the extent that the pain makes it difficult to get up and function throughout the day. Not to mention the intense mood swings so common in that crazy pre-period week. Luckily, if your PMS symptoms are becoming difficult to handle, or if you simply want to alleviate as much pain as possible, there are ways to naturally reduce symptoms of PMS by adding extra amounts of specific nutrients to your diet. While these foods are not a cure-all for PMS, enriching your diet with these three essential nutrients can help take symptoms from unbearable to so unnoticeable you might be left with nothing more than a big, wide grin.

1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids have been part of a huge health fad recently, widely touted for their benefits as healthy sources of fat. Foods such as nuts, olive oil, salmon, fish oil, and avocado that are high in omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease, improve immune function, and reduce inflammation. But studies have found that this essential nutrient can also alleviate the symptoms of PMS. Because inflammation is such a large part of PMS symptoms, like cramps and bloating, the effects of omega-3 fatty acids work wonders. Try adding some extra avocado and olive oil to your salads or sandwiches the week prior to your period for added anti-inflammation benefits.

2. Vitamin B

Making sure your diet includes a healthy amount of Vitamin B will go very far to reduce the amount of PMS symptoms you experience regularly. While vitamin B does not work as an antidote for symptoms upon consumption, a study by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that women with a diet rich in vitamin B reduced their PMS symptoms by about 25%, compared to women without consistent vitamin B in their diets. Foods like spinach, whole grain breads and cereals, beans, and lean beef are great sources of vitamin B. Supplements work, as well, but eating a rich diet is always better.

3. Magnesium

Magnesium is known as a natural relaxant. It is often used to alleviate anxiety and help with sleep. Magnesium helps regulate the levels of serotonin, which is a mood regulator in the brain. Magnesium in supplement form can be taken as an instant mood enhancer to help the emotional sensitivity caused by PMS. Magnesium also helps to reduce water retention, which will alleviate bloating and fatigue. Foods high in magnesium include whole grains, beans, brown rice, peanut butter, spinach, salmon and cashews.

Exercise Tips For Women



Exercise, you either love it, or love to hate it; however, despite this, we all need it in order to lead a healthy vitalized life. The benefits of exercise include improved circulation, better skin, cardiovascular health, better sleep and mental focus; and, of course, a sexy body!

In light of the fact that I tend to fall under the “love to hate” category, I went and found myself a personal trainer. And, although I am no stranger to exercise; in recent months I have found that I have been guilty of challenging myself less and less. You could say that I have been putting all my health eggs in my nutritional basket; and as vital as nutrition is, it’s only a part of the total equation. Exercise AND nutrition must be present in order to be healthy; one is not incomplete without the other- you could say that exercise is Tom Cruise and nutrition is Renee Zellweger, they complete one another.

I cover nutrition here on the blog extensively; but what does a successful exercise plan look like?

  • At least 30 minutes of heart pumping exercises
  • 3-4 times per week, two or three of those days should contain strength training
  • Interval training; such as one minute sprint two minute walk, which burn more calories and builds more cardiovascular strength than simply running for thirty minutes.
  • 10 minute stretch.

Workouts should be challenging; being able to carry on conversation means you aren’t working hard enough- plain and simple.

One of the less favorable results of a strenuous workout is soreness. We’ve all been there, the day after a workout where getting out of bed seems harder than the workout itself. This turns so many people off of exercise; but it shouldn’t- soreness is a part of the deal. However, there are ways to minimize soreness associated with exercise. I posted a video on the Vitality Guide Facebook Page detailing how I, and you, can reduce the soreness we experience.

Summer is around the corner, and with that it’s time to get moving; so what are your exercise tips for women just like you, who are eager to get bathing suit ready?

Recipe Development



It’s officially the week of CHFA West; the week in which I get to be on TV; the week in which I get to immerse myself in all things health food related; and the week in which all my hard work culminates!

For the past two months I have been working closely with my wonderful partners at Organika Health Products to deliciously debut their newest functional food products; coconut oil, coconut sugar, cherry concentrate and a fiber blend. Now, we’ve become really familiar, so you know very well that I am a part of the coconut tribe; in fact I love coconut so much, that not only is coconut oil my go to cooking oil, but my body moisturizer as well- so, yeah, I love coconut!

I was tasked with creating six recipes using all of Organika’s food products; and initially I was overwhelmed because of all the ideas swirling through my head. However, once I calmed the voices, I got to work on the task at hand. And if you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve likely seen all these dishes before; so, finally, here are the recipes!

Coconut Almond Crusted Shrimp

First I revamped one of the most popular recipes here on the Vitality Guide for Women, Coconut and Almond crusted shrimp. It didn’t require much tweaking; I simply added the ultimate fiber blend and coconut sugar to the breading. The fiber blend is completely tasteless so it didn’t impart any changes to the flavor profile; but the coconut sugar changed the face of the game! Simply put, this dish is a star!

1/3 cup raw almonds

1/3 cup unsweetened, unrefined shredded coconut

½ tsp salt

1 tbsp Organika Coconut Palm Sugar

¾ tsp red chili flakes

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

2 tbsp Organika Ultimate Fiber Blend

1 egg

2 tbsp coconut milk

8 shrimp

Preheat oven to 4000F.

In a food processor, combine the almonds, coconut, salt, Organika Coconut Palm Sugar and chili flakes; pulse until the almonds are pulverized and everything is one cohesive mixture.

In a bowl whisk the egg and coconut milk. Set aside. In another bowl, combine Organika Fiber Blend and whole flour.

Set up the breading station in the following order:

  1. Flour/Fiber Blend
  2. Egg/ Coconut Mixture
  3. Almond/ Coconut Mixture

Bread the shrimp by covering completely in flour, then coating completely in the egg mixture; and then coat in the coconut almond mixture. Be sure to coat the shrimp completely at every step, otherwise the breading will come off during cooking. Once all the shrimp have been coated, refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Bake on a greased rack, 5 minutes per side. Then switch the oven to a high broil and cook an addition 3 minutes; or until the breading becomes golden brown.

Blueberry Italian Soda

I’ve been told that I drink my calories; and I’m inclined to agree. I love smoothies, juices and sippers of all kinds. This Blueberry Italian Soda is heavenly by design; effervescent from the club soda; antioxidant rich from the blueberries; and sweet and rich due in large part to the coconut sugar and almond milk. This is a guilt free drink; that can be made guilty with the addition of spiced rum- hello summer sippin’!

Blueberry Syrup

1 cup Organika Coconut Palm Sugar

1 cup water

1 ½ cup blueberries*

In a pot combine all ingredients and on the stovetop bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Strain and discard the berries; set aside to cool.

*Any fruit can be used to create the syrup; however, avoid citrus fruits, as the syrup will curdle the milk in the next step.

  • Club Soda
  • Ice
  • Unsweetened Almond Milk

Fill a glass with ice. Add the chilled blueberry syrup until the glass is ¼ full. Add club soda until the glass is ¾ full; and finish with almond milk. Stir to combine.

Sweet and Spicy Nuts

Nuts are a go to snack for many, including myself; so, naturally, a nut recipe was in order. Sweet and spicy nuts are the perfect snack. Lightly sweet, lightly spiced; with the added benefit of extra fiber- what’s not to love?!

1 cup Organika Coconut Sugar

2 tsp salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp coarse black pepper

½ tsp cayenne pepper

1 large egg white

1 tbsp Organika Ultimate Fiber Blend

6 cups unsalted, raw nuts

Preheat oven to 3250F and grease a large sheet pan.

In a bowl, combine Organika Coconut Sugar, salt, cinnamon, black pepper, cayenne and Organika Ultimate Fiber blend; stir to combine.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg white until it begins to form soft peaks, about 4 minutes. Fold in the spice mixture; then stir the nuts into the egg spice mixture. Toss to coat all the nuts. Line the nuts in 1 even layer onto the greased pan.

Bake for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer the mixture to parchment paper to cool. The nuts will feel soft immediately out of the oven; but they will harden once cooled. Nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Raspberry Whole Meal Muffins

By all accounts I am not inclined to sweet things- I’ve always been a bit salty; but raspberry whole meal muffins have the ability to make even the saltiest among us a convert. This recipe is diabetic friendly, because white sugar has been swapped out in favor of the low glycemic coconut sugar; and these muffins are brimming with fiber, provided by the whole wheat flour and Organika’s fiber blend.

1 1/3 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/3 cup Organika Coconut Palm Sugar

1 egg

4 ¼ oz melted OrganikaCoconut Oil

½ cup almond milk

½ tsp grated lemon zest

¼ cup frozen raspberries

2/3 cup OrganikaUltimate Fiber Blend

Extra coconut sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350Of.

Sift flour and cinnamon into a large bowl. Stir in Organika Coconut Sugar and a pinch of salt. Make a well in the center.

In a separate bowl, whisk egg, Organika Coconut Oil, almond milk, lemon zest. DO NOT DO THIS STEP AHEAD OF TIME, coconut oil hardens very quickly. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients; and stir to combine.

Spoon batter into muffin holes to 1/3 full, then add 2 to 3 frozen raspberries to the center of each muffin. Top with the remaining batter and sprinkle with extra Organika Coconut Sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes or until they are golden brown and an inserted stick can be removed clean.

Sweet Curry Spice

In addition to being salty, I have been known to be spicy too; I chalk it up to my Caribbean ancestry! My grandmother, who is gifted in the Caribbean culinary arts, very kindly gave me permission to share her curry spice recipe. I added coconut sugar to the mix and BOOM magic happened; the coconut sugar brings harmony and evens out the spice, managing to bestow a lovely richness to the blend.

1/3 tsp Madras Curry powder*

1/3 tsp regular curry powder

1/3 tsp cumin seed

Pinch of turmeric (about 1/8 tsp)

¼ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp Organika Coconut Palm Sugar

In a dry pan on high heat, toast the cumin seed until fragrant; 2 minutes. Remove from heat and grind into a powder. Mix the cumin powder with the Madras curry powder, regular curry powder, turmeric, salt and Organika Coconut Palm Sugar. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 months.

*Available at any Indian Grocery

Using the Spice

Sweet Curry Kale

3 oz. kale, rib removed and chopped

1 tsp Sweet Curry Spice

¼ tsp unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted

½ tsp Organika Coconut Oil

Wash the kale very well and dry completely. Heat oil in a pan on medium heat; add the kale and cook, tossing to coat in the coconut oil for 1 minute. Add the sweet curry spice and cook an additional 2 minutes, or until the kale is completely wilted, sprinkle with toasted coconut. Serve with whole grains, like quinoa.

Tofu and Kale Rice Bowl

4 oz firm tofu

1 oz sweet curry kale

½ cup wild rice, cooked

1 tsp Organika Coconut Oil

1/3 tsp sweet curry spice

Slice the tofu in bite sized pieces, 2 in. cubes. Heat oil in a non stick pan heated to medium high heat; add the tofu and sweet curry spice and cook, stirring constantly, for 4 minutes; or until tofu is caramelized. Add the kale and wild rice; toss to combine and cook for an addition 3 minutes, or until everything is well heated. Serve hot.

Other Uses

Used to rub on chicken, beef and fatty fish.

Mixed Berry Recover Smoothie

A recipe creation project, done by me, would not be complete without a smoothie recipe. Using Organika’s sweet cherry concentrate, I created the perfect post exercise recovery smoothie. Hydrating, filling and brimming with antioxidants and gut loving probiotics; this smoothie is the perfect post workout reward!

1 cup coconut water

¼ frozen blueberries

½ cup frozen raspberries

1 tbsp Organika Sweet Cherry Concentrate

1 tbsp Organika Ultimate Fiber Blend

2 tbsp plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp OrganikaCoconut Oil

Combine all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth and free of lumps, about 1 ½ minutes.

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Ok, so, Thursday I will be on Breakfast Television Vancouver; set your PVR’s or DVR’s (we all have them) for 8:15 am and WATCH! And if you are in the Vancouver area, come out to the CHFA West expo and say hi to me at the Organika booth; I love to talk, and I would love to meet you!

Gremolata Parsley Sauce



This past weekend was Thanksgiving in Canada; and an integral part of giving thanks, for me, means spending time with those that I love, which necessitates a lot of eating and drinking. It’s no secret that people gather around food and drink and use it as a measure to share love, as sharing meals and sharing love have often gone hand in hand; and this thanksgiving was no different.

With many of my close friends in from out of town, the responsibility of showing them a good time was one I did not take lightly. We ate, we drank and gave thanks for one another with many (many toasts); which was then followed by the traditional Thanksgiving feast at my grandmother’s house. Where once again we gave thanks for one another over food and drink; and as thankful as I am for all the people in my life, I am ever so thankful for the return of less lenient nutritional behavior.

Enter Gremolata Parsley Sauce.

Now, if you’ve ever chewed on parsley to freshen your breath, then you know firsthand its ability to refresh even the most pungent of mouths; but did you know that parsley has the ability to freshen the whole system? Parsley is known primarily for its detoxification and deodorizing properties; which make this, the world’s most popular herb, perfect for the week after thanksgiving. Parsley’s ability to purify the breath and detoxify the system comes from the same substance that makes it green: chlorophyll. With countless studies confirming the ability of chlorophyll to purify and rejuvenate; and it has been shown to stop bacterial growth in wounds, deodorize, counter toxins, deactivate carcinogens, build blood, renew tissues and counteract inflammations.

There is also some suggestion that the volatile oils in parsley, especially myristicin, may inhibit tumor growth; with umbelliferous vegetables (which include parsley) being among a select group of about a dozen foods with the highest anticancer activity. Ten sprigs of parsley contain 556mcg of carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin which protect our eyes; as well as 505 mcg of beta carotene, 164 mcg of bone strengthening vitamin K and 84 IU’s of vitamin A.

A New Spin on an Old Favorite

Gremolata parsley sauce is a traditional Mediterranean sauce that is comprised of parsley, lemon and garlic, and as delicious as the conventional rendition is, I opted to boost its already potent nutritional content by adding walnuts. While walnuts are rich in omega-3 fats and also in flavor, I chose them because of their ability to mesh nicely with the bright aromas of this herb-y sauce.

This gremolata parsley sauce is meant to be a garnish; and because this adaptation on the traditional parsley sauce has a toothsome mouth feel, it is best served with an accompaniment that can stand up to it. I served mine on halved zucchini’s that had the centers hallowed out; and I’ve also served as a garnish on halibut- both were showstoppers!

Detoxifies, fights cancer and tastes delicious- you can really have it all.

Gremolata Parsley Sauce

Zest of 2 lemons
1/3 cup parsley leaves, packed
1/3 cup chives
1/3 cup walnuts, raw
½ tsp chili flakes
¾ tsp salt
¼ cup (or less) olive oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in a food processor and turn on. While the machine is still running slowly add the olive oil until a thick paste is formed- you may not need all the oil, it depends on what consistency you like. Will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for one week.

Guest Post Battle The Bulge With Small Habit Changes



According to the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons (BAAPS), over 3,000 women checked in for a tummy tuck procedure last year as did more than 100 men. It’s no secret that the world is getting larger, but is it really that hard to eat healthily and burn fat?

It seems banishing biscuits and forbidding fried food can be quite a challenge, so here are five ways to avoid fattening foods.

Eat before shopping

Food shopping on an empty stomach is one of the worse things you can do, so make sure you’re full before hitting the shops. If you’re hungry, you’re more likely to fill your cart with unhealthy items and sneak a calorie-laden snack along the way. Crisps, chocolate and unhealthy dips can call your name if your stomach’s rumbling, so always eat a hearty lunch before an afternoon grocery run. Avoid the aisles packed with fattening foods and linger around the vegetable stands instead. Treat yourself to a fruit you’ve never tried before and avoid walking past the bakery if possible.

Don’t kid yourself

Don’t buy cookies for the kids, if you know, full well that you’re going to eat them. Children don’t need unhealthy snacks for their lunch boxes, so leave fattening goods on the shelf. Many people have little will power when it comes to food and can feel tempted by the silliest of things. Cakes, candies, cookies and the like (which you’d never usually eat) can become a big temptation if they’re in your house, so avoid buying them all together. Don’t kid yourself that you’ll only have one muffin when you know you’ll have five – or you’ll soon be queuing forliposuction on your thighs!

Brush your teeth

If you feel like snacking after dinner, go to the bathroom and brush your teeth. Minty, fresh breath should put you off food and will (hopefully) take your mind off eating. Many of us want something sweet after a main course, but it’s best to stick to yoghurts and fruit, as these are low in calories. Avoid chocolate, cakes and butter-filled pastries and save your treats for a night out. It’s ok to eat desserts now and again, so long as it’s not every day.

Exercise

Exercise releases hormones which suppresses appetite! Therefore, working out on a regular basis could keep your hunger and weight under control. Eating small amounts, more often will keep your energy levels up and hitting the treadmill could keep you in shape. If you hate the gym, try walking to and from work or take the stairs instead of the bus. Every little bit of exercise ads up and will help you to stay fit and healthy for longer.

Battling the bulge is a hard job, but it can be done with a little strength, determination and small habit changes.

Summer Skin Protection Tips



I’m a summer baby, born during the dogs days on July 11th- my mother recalls sweating profusely for the last three weeks of her pregnancy; I maintain that I made up for it by only taking four hours to deliver. In any case, I love the hot season of the year; but most doctors, naturopaths and health practitioners alike, worry about their patients most during this season, as sun exposure wreaks havoc on our skin- our protective layer.

I am a sunscreen warrior, I wear it year round; but I know many who eschew the stuff for various reasons, ranging from it’s finish, chalky or greasy, the toxins found within drugstore brands, and, most frustratingly, because they simply forget. But you know what, skin cancer is on the rise among women under 40, due in large part to sun beds. A word on sun beds, DON’T, just don’t; it has been said that for those who indulge in sun bed activities, it’s not a matter of IF you will cancer but WHEN. And I know this seems positively ridiculous coming from someone with dark skin, but just as I have come to terms with being dark, you should come to terms with being light- it’s the way nature intended!

It’s true that many drugstore sunscreens are filled with horrible stuff, namely parabens, that interfere with our body’s hormonal response; causing all sorts of issues, but don’t despair, there’s a wonderful movement toward “clean” sun protection; and I have been swept up in the wave.

There are two types of sunscreen:

Chemical Filters~ This type of sun protection uses chemical blocks to protect the skin from damage; and although they come in silky and smooth varieties, they are awash with harmful chemicals such as Mexoryl SX, Octocrylene and Avobenzone- yeah, I can’t pronounce them either.

Physical Filters~ The second type and my personal preference is the physical filter; which form a protective layer that sits on the skin and repels harmful rays. I will freely admit  that these tend to go on chalky; and they generally leave my skin a little ashy- but there are always solutions to every problem! Coconut oil has a natural sun protection factor (SPF), so I mix it with my physical filter sunscreen and then slather it on my skin; this helps it spread evenly and minimize the chalky look- and begs the question, is there anything coconut oil cannot do?!

So what are my favorite “clean” sunscreen brands?

Jason Mineral Sunblock~ I love Jason products, they are my go to line of affordable clean beauty products; from toothpaste to shampoo, Jason has it all. This brand is widely available, and has been around since 1959.

Goddess Garden~ Yet another affordable brand. I met one of the reps at the CHFA West and she gave me a ton of samples; and I really liked the product.

Green Beaver~ This wouldn’t be a sun protection round up worth its salt without a mention of Green Beaver. This brand is all inclusive, meaning they have not only sun protection specially formulated for the face, the body and kids, but shampoo, toothpaste etc. I use a wide range of Green Beaver products, including SPF lip balm, SPF for my face and SPF for my body. Not necessarily the most affordable of brands, but well worth it, based on their selection.

There are also a whole host of foods that arm us against the sun;

Foods That Protect Against Sunburn

Eating green, leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and chard helps to protect the skin from squamous cell cancer by up to 50 percent; with squamous cells being the 2nd leading type of skin cancer.

  • Colored Fruits and Vegetables

Brightly colored fruits and vegetables contain carotenoids which are powerful antioxidants that protect the cells in the body from the damage of free radicals and also enhance the immune system. And beta carotene, found in these types of foods, helps prevent sunburn.

Research has found that lycopene and other antioxidants found in tomatoes can actually help prevent the skin from becoming sunburned; and with the season of this crimson colored fruit upon us, this is yet another reason to eat more of them.

  • Foods High In Omega Fatty Acids

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids help to prevent the skin from the damages of sunburn as well as from skin cancer. Omega-3 fatty acids also help to reduce inflammation which can be caused by sunburn.

Now, these foods are meant to be a compliment to a sun protection regime, including covering up (when possible) and applying a clean sunscreen whenever you plan on being in the great outdoors.

With that said, what do you say we get outside?!

Foods For Healthy Skin



It is very well documented on this website that nutrition is, not only my livelihood, but my passion too. When I was younger I struggled with problematic skin; and when I changed the way I ate my skin cleared up! The saying “let food be thy medicine” is definitely far reaching. Today’s guest post features all the foods for healthy skin.

Enjoy!

When we think of beautiful and healthy skin the first thing that comes to mind is cosmetic products; expensive lotions, anti-aging serums, make-up and the list goes on and on. Have you ever thought about the phrase “You are what you eat”? Stop for a second and think about your daily diet. Does it include the right type of foods you need to keep your skin healthy in every way possible? Well, here is a list of things you need to include in your diet in order to keep your skin healthy, young and glowing.

Vitamin A – To harness this essential ingredient for your recipe of healthy skin, think low-fat organic dairy products. Vitamin A is required by your body for healthy digestion and anything that aids digestion also helps in maintain healthy skin. So, whether it is milk, yogurt or cheese, try incorporating them into your diet daily and your one step closer to healthy looking skin.

Antioxidants – These free radical scavengers rid the body of toxic waste; and, although, this sound like a difficult job, the process is rather simple. Snack on
blueberries, strawberries, blackberries or plums; because not only are they colorful
and delicious, they have the highest number of antioxidants in them and
these antioxidants keep skin looking young and fresh.

Essential Fatty Acids – EFA’s retain moisture in the skin by making your skin stronger. The effect is plumper and younger looking skin. Simple changes like using Canola Oil or extra virgin oil while cooking, or adding walnuts to your salad can provide you with these fatty acids. However, be careful; you should not use more than 2 tbsp of oil in your diet everyday otherwise you can easily add extra calories to your overall diet.

Selenium – This key mineral is present in everyday food such as Whole-wheat bread and cereal. Selenium reduces the damage caused to skin by UV rays; and is also found in turkey, tuna and Brazil nuts.

Green Tea– In terms of healthy skin, the benefits of green tea are numerous. Whether severe ailments as skin cancer or as simple as inflammation, green tea can reduce the risk of both. It is as simple as supplementing black tea with green tea.

Water – We often underestimate the effect water on our skin. Water keeps the skin hydrated- plain and simple. Ditch the sodas and artificial juices and drink water instead.

So there you have it- the perfect recipe for healthy skin! But food is not the only factor that affects the health of our skin skin; stress and lack of sleep can also lead to unhealthy skin. So, the next time you decide to stay up late for an event, be sure to make up for the sleep you lost, your skin will thank you!

Author Bio

Princess Carey is a Nutritionist and Wellness Coach from New Jersey. She is an active member of WeGo and The American Nutrition Association. Being effective in the health and wellness industry for over six years, her experience and continuous education has allowed her to properly inform her audience. She can also be found on Twitter: @CoachPCare  and www,coachpcares.info

Eat Your Way To Sexual Vitality



Ask anyone and they’ll say they want to be sexy, or hot; but did you know that you can eat your way to a sexier self. Yes it’s true there are foods that tantalize not only your taste buds but other body parts too-and these foods have science and research to back them up!

To get more nookie into your life try some of these super foods:

Not only does chocolate make us happy; but it also contains a compound called phenylethylmine, which is linked to the release of endorphins- and endorphins are responsible for that post exercise glow or the other glow from activities that are widely considered more fun

Another reason chocolate is on the list, is not because it’s linked to sexual arousal or satisfaction; but because it allowed people to believe their sexual desire increased- meaning chocolates sexy powers are likely all in your head, where serotonin and endorphins are rooted. When looking to jump start the love bug with chocolate be sure to choose brands with 70% or more cocoa and aim for organic if possible.

Coffee, associated with one of the least sexy time of the day, the morning, has been found to perk up the female sex drive; stimulating, in women, the part of the brain that regulates arousal. But just remember that coffee will keep us up, and although some activities require a late-night, if you’re planning to get to sleep at a reasonable hour pay attention to the afternoon cut off time; no caffeine after 2 PM it’s always a good idea.

Saffron is a premium spice that comes from the crocus flower and has a delicate flavor; it is popular in most Spanish and Mediterranean dishes. And saffron surely lives up to its reputation for improving sexual performance; and at about $11 a gram it should. In order to effectively capture its flavor, soak the threads in hot, but not boiling, broth for 15 minutes, and add the liquor to the recipe.

This delicately sweet and quintessentially summer fruit is not just for the office picnic, it has an unusually high level of an amino acid called citrulline; and this amino acid is used by our body to pump out other amino acids that regulate our heart health. For the fellas this means healthier erections; for us women this means an increase in libido-it’s a win-win situation!

What’s not to love about steak; loaded with zinc and iron and a hearty amount of protein and B vitamins; and quite honestly there’s nothing quite like a sizzling steak on a barbecue to get most in the mood; making steak the perfect foreplay food. Be sure to stick to leaner cuts of meat; and familiarize yourself with the proper cooking technique for each type of cut.

You see, the keys to sexual vitality aren’t found in pills and pharmaceutical solutions, they can be found within the aisles of our neighborhood grocery store; by incorporating all these nutritious foods into our diets we give our bodies what they need to “perform” now and forever.

Quitting Sugar With A Plan

I wouldn’t say that I have a sweet tooth; but I definitely feel a void without sugar. For good reason, people report that sugar comforts them and makes them feel good. And with the upcoming holiday season, my sugar intake is likely going to go into high gear with cookies, cakes, tarts and the like; but before the time comes for seasonal indulgence, I’ve decided to embark on a sugar detox.

Sugar, although sweet and delicious, affects our bodies negatively in the following ways:

Sugar can decrease growth hormone (the key to staying youthful and lean

Sugar increases cholesterol

Sugar can interfere with the absorption of protein Sugar causes food allergies

Sugar contributes to diabetes

Sugar contributes to the reduction in defense against bacterial infection (infectious diseases)

Sugar greatly assists the uncontrolled growth of Candida Albicans (yeast infections)

Sugar contributes to osteoporosis

Sugar feeds cancer

Our bodies change ingested sugar into two to five times more fat in the bloodstream than it does starch. With a million and one reasons why sugar is bad for us, we wonder, is there even a need for it? Well, the interesting thing about sugar is that it tastes good and makes us temporarily feel good, which explains why big brands put it in EVERYTHING. But all sugars are not created equal; complex sugars found in whole grains, fruits and vegetables are good for us; they, also, contribute to a feeling of well being and give us long lasting energy- it’s the white, refined stuff that needs the boot.

So how am I going to kick my sugar habit?

Monitor My Blood Sugar. Eating a protein rich breakfast is the most important step; in addition to eating protein with every meal. Protein stabilizes blood sugar and leaves us feeling satiated, so that our moods and energy levels are at an even keel. Eating low G

I snacks at regular intervals will also serve to help us kick the habit; most of the time a sugar craving is simply hunger manifesting itself. Eating enough to feel satisfied, and regularly enough so that you feel stable, means we won’t crave so junk.

Keep Things In Perspective. While weight loss is usually a natural consequence of giving up sugar, it should not be focus. Weight loss is often a side effect of loving our bodies and freeing ourselves from food addiction; but health should be the focus.

Be ready. I have a list of things to do when a sugar craving hits. Relying on will power can be dicey, especially during the early days; so having something to get our mind off the craving is completely necessary. I love walking, so I will likely be walking whole lot over the next 5 days; what will you do?

Become A Detective. Sugar is hidden in almost everything; so when shopping plan on reading every single label. Becoming a label detective is a make or break of a sugar detox; because unknowingly consuming sugar will make the habit that much harder to kick. Look for hidden sucrose, fructose, honey and molasses; and be wary of canned soups and sauces, as they are well known for having high sugar and sodium contents.

Stay The Course. I don’t reccomend planning on failing, per se; but it may happen, that’s life. The thing to keep in mind is that this is a journey and we are doing this for our health, so having a slip up shouldn’t be considered the end of the world. Focusing on ourselves and the damaging effects of sugar on the body is the biggest tool to stay motivated.

Have you given up sugar? Did you find it hard?

Yoga For An Improved Sex Life



I love guest posts on the Vitality Guide for Women; especially when they’re super informative. So this week, while I’m off gallivanting around Chicago, in celebration of my twenty seventh birthday, I’m happy to present to you some amazing guest features.

Enjoy!

Yoga is generally thought of as a gentle, calming practice. However, many people may not realize that it can actually be a powerful tool for kicking their sex drive into high gear. Despite the sleepy and relaxing appearance of yoga practitioners, a few good sessions can help awaken sexual desire again.

This is particularly important for older people. As the body ages hormone levels drop. This can sometimes lead to decreased libido. However, just because the physical desire is not as strong as it once was does not mean that the desire for physical intimacy is gone completely. Many older people still want to be able to respond physically when the time is right.

These individuals may find a lot to like about yoga. The centuries-old practice has been used by millions of people to achieve a calm state of mind and tone the muscles. But why is it so good at boosting sexual desire?

A Calm Mind Equals A Responsive Body

The surest way to kill sexual desire is to start thinking about problems at work or all of your family responsibilities. When the mind is removed from an intimate situation it tends take all sexual desire with it.

Yoga trains the mind to avoid this kind of wandering. During sessions, practitioners are trained to focus their mind on the feeling of each position in their body. This keeps the mind wholly in the present. Over time, this becomes the default state of mind.

When your mind stops wandering you are more likely to respond to an intimate situation with your partner. The act seems much more pleasurable when you can keep your attention focused and avoid letting unhappy or distracting thoughts interfere.

Keep your heart healthy

Yoga has been shown to lower blood pressure and improve overall vascular health. This is important when it comes to sexual performance, particularly for men. Erectile dysfunction has been closely associated with heart disease and is even considered an early warning sign of the cardiovascular condition.

When a man has impaired vascular health, the arteries of his sexual organs are going to be the first to be affected because they are much narrower than other arteries. In fact, many cases of erectile dysfunction stem from poor heart.

Yoga helps men eliminate these problems. A session in the studio can be an excellent cardiovascular workout. Eventually men will find that they have excellent heart health measures, which will pay dividends in the bedroom by contributing to enhanced sexual function.

In general, exercise is important for maintaining a positive mood and enthusiasm for life. This type of attitude also plays an important role in stoking the fires of sexual desire. This makes just about any type of exercise good for supporting function.

However, because yoga combines the mental element to the exercise, it may be one of the most effective types of workouts for supporting sexual desire. Individuals who would like to spend more intimate time with their partner may benefit from joining a yoga studio and going to classes on a regular basis.

Black Bean Soup RecipeVegetarian



Today is May 4th, and that can only mean one thing- tomorrow is May 5th, also known as Cinco de Mayo! I love Cinco de Mayo for various reasons; one, the copious amounts of beer that will be consumed and the justification that I must drink in celebration; and, two, tacos of course! Tomorrow will be indulgent, of this I am sure; which is why I find it essential to eat healthy in the days leading up to a booze and taco soaked fiesta! And this, for me, undoubtedly means fiber.

Bean are legendary for being one of the best sources on fiber on the planet; and considering many of us don’t get enough fiber, this is information that benefits us all. Fiber protects us in so many ways; as high fiber diets are now being associated with lower risks of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity; which makes sense to me considering all those illnesses are the rise and as a whole we are deficient in fiber.

Coincidence? I think not!

Beans, or rather the fiber within them, are the ultimate regulator of blood sugar; as the soluble fiber found in abundance influences the rate at which glucose is absorbed. And for those who endeavor to eat a low glycemic diet, beans are the foremost in low glycemic foods; due in large part to their high fiber (again with the fiber, noticing a trend?), which raises the blood sugar very, very slowly.

And then there is the BIG C, cancer; a research study found a significant reduction in the frequency of breast cancer in women who consumed a higher amount of common beans or lentils; what’s more, is that these benefits did not take long to record. Eating beans or lentils two or more times a week resulted in a 24% reduced risk. I don’t know about you, but that’s enough for me to get on the bean bandwagon.

So in light of the indulgence that is sure to follow cloaked as the aforementioned Cinco celebration, I decided to make a large family sized portion of black bean soup to ensure my blood sugar and digestion are ready. For me, black beans always bring about thoughts of Mexican food, likely due to them being found plentifully in tacos and other Mayan dishes.

I decided to tailor this soup to the occasion and garnish it with a spicy homemade salsa. A word on salsa, if I may; fresh salsa is heads and above better than anything found on the shelves of your local grocery store, it’s meant to be prepared and eaten within a day or so. So please do not ruin this velvety smooth culinary experience with jars of fraudulent salsa. In addition to garnishing with fresh salsa, one day I supercharged it with sautéed corn kernels, and WOW! I wasn’t even able to take a picture because I greedily slurped it up in the moment- but I’m sure you get the idea!

Black Bean Soup with Fresh Pico de Gallo

1 red onion, diced

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 cup canned tomatoes and their juice

¼ tsp chili powder

½ tsp cumin

3 ½ cups canned or soaked, par cooked black beans

½ tsp salt

4 cups vegetable stock

Pico De Gallo (salsa)

About 4 cups of diced tomatoes

1 jalapeno chili, chopped finely (remove seeds to reduce spice or omit altogether)

1 small red onion, chopped finely

1-2 small garlic cloves, minced

1 lime

2 sprigs of cilantro

Salt to taste

Pinch of sugar to taste

For the soup, heat oil in a large soup pot on medium heat; add the onion, chili powder and cumin and cook until onions become fragrant and transparent, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and beans and season with salt; cook for 4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the chopped tomatoes in a colander. Now place the colander on top of a bowl and let it sit for 30-45 minutes. Half way through, add the onions, jalapeno, garlic and cilantro and give it a light toss. This allows the flavors mingle. After 45 minutes, shake the colander to drain off the excess tomato juice.  You will see the drained juice in the bowl below the colander. Discard it. Take the same bowl, wipe it dry and toss the contents of the colander to the bowl. Add salt, lime juice and sugar. Give it a toss and taste. You can add more lime juice if needed; and set aside.

Once the soup has simmer and the beans begin to break apart;blend the soup with an immersion or traditionalblender until smooth and creamy. Garnish with fresh Pico de Gallo.

Super Food Recipes For Health As Seen on Breakfast Television Edmonton



Today I’m on Breakfast Television in Edmonton, extolling the virtues of super foods; I have graciously been given 4 segments to wax poetic about foods that make our bodies healthy!

Today is as short of a post you’re likely to see on the Vitality Guide For Women; so relish in it…it’s a rare occasion as I tend to be rather wordy.

I’ll be making Hemp Seed and Pistachios Squares, which I adapted from vegan chef Doug McNish, a Coconut Oil Super Food Spread, an Acai and Kefir Smoothie; and a Red Wine and Kombucha Spritzed Sangria, because super foods recipes for health can be all kinds of fun!

Hemp Seed and Pistachio Squares
Makes 8 squares

1/4 cup hemp seed, soaked for 30 minutes
1/2 cup raw pistachios, soaked overnight
1 cup raspberries + 1/2 cup
1/3 cup raw cacao powder
1/2 cup manuka honey
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/4 cup chopped, raw pistachios for garnish

Drain the hemp seeds and pistachios and discard the water. In a food processor, blend the hemp seeds, pistachios, raspberries, cacao powder and honey; while blender is running slowly add water and coconut. Blend the mixture until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. Place mixture in a bowl and gently fold in the the remaining half cup of raspberries. Pour the mixture in a baking tray; and refrigerate overnight.

Super Food Spread
Makes 1 cup

3/4 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup organic jam, any type

In a food processor, blend both ingredients until well combined; about 1 minute.

Acai and Kefir Smoothie
Makes 2

1 cup frozen blueberries
1/3 cup kefir
1/4  cup silken tofu
3/4 cup acai juice
1/4 cup frozen spinach

In blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

Red Wine and Kombucha Spritzed Sangria
Serves 2

1 cup red wine, Pinot Noir
1 cup Kombucha (fermented tea)
1 navel orange, sliced into rounds
2 plums, sliced into half moons
2 white peaches, sliced into half moons
1/2 cup ice

Prepare the fruit and place in the glass; add the ice and pour in red wine and kombucha. Serve immediately.

Playing With Summer Strawberries Making Hummus



Well hello there! It certainly has been a minute since I’ve posted a recipe; but what can I say, it’s summer and I have been enjoying it. When the mercury rises all I feel like doing is sitting poolside with friends, lounging on restaurant patios and cruising my local farmer’s market for the best that Mother Nature has to offer us!

Strawberries are my favorite of the summer bounty, because during the summer months, when they are able to be grown close to home, they sing like Aida! But aside from being juicy and delicious during the hot season, fresh strawberries are a high antioxidant food. In addition to being a rich source of vitamin C, strawberries contain a whole host of other health promoting nutrients such as folate, potassium, B vitamins and flavanoids like quercetin (read: they make you feel AND look great). And a fun fact about strawberries is that they are the only fruit to have seeds on their exterior, which provide a small amount of omega-3 fatty acids. All in all, I’d say strawberries are pretty boss!

But, alas, there are some important housekeeping notes about strawberries that we must attend to. Strawberries are grown all over the world and are readily available in grocery stores year round, however, they do not sore well and lose the bulk of their nutrients once picked. Do yourself and the beloved strawberry a favour and eat them in season. And lastly, conventionally grown strawberries are often treated with a toxic cocktail of pesticides and fungicides, so enjoy these beauties organic.

To the recipe…!

Although strawberries are beautiful eaten raw or drizzled with balsamic vinegar, I have to tell you, when they are slow roasted in an oven, their depth of flavor comes alive! As they yield to the heat their  sweetness becomes a concentrated center of goodness. Now, roasted strawberries make a lovely addition to a smoothie (once cooled) but in this case I felt for hummus, so I threw caution to wind and roasted strawberries, white beans and garlic scapes into my food processor. HOLY. SMOKES. Hummus will never be the same!

The process of this recipe is simple: roast the strawberries and garlic scapes, soak and boil the beans, add everything into a food processor and watch the magic happen.

  • 1 pint strawberries, halved
  • 1/2 cup white beans, soaked overnight
  • 3 garlic scapes
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 325F.

Lay the strawberries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lay the garlic scapes on a baking sheet as well. Roast the garlic scapes for 10 minutes and slow roast the strawberries for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, drain and rinse the beans; place in pot with enough water to cover them and cook until tender, about 25 minutes. It doesn’t matter if they are slightly overcooked, they are getting blended anyways. Once cooked, drain and cool.

Remove the strawberries from the oven and place them, along with the cooked beans, roasted garlic scapes and all the remaining ingredients into a food processor; blend until your desired consistency is reached (I like it chunky, but the choice is yours).

Where To Use Roasted Strawberry Hummus

  • Use 1/4 cup hummus and whisk with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 3 tbsp olive to create a hummus vinaigrette
  • Slather it on toast
  • Use on a cheese plate as spread
  • Eat it with a spoon (this is what I did!)

Strawberry Facts 

  • Aid digestion by making a tea
  • Contains antioxidants that help fight cancer
  • Help prevent blood oxidization and arterial damage because of flavonols
  • Consume in season and organic in order to harness the most nutrients

What is your favorite summer fruit or vegetable and how do you use it?!

Moroccan Vegetable Stew Recipes



As I write this, it is 4 am in the morning and I cannot sleep; I am far too excited for BT Vancouver in four hours. I feel like a kid at Christmas; but with a little more appreciation for the wonderful opportunity I have been given. Truth be told, I was awake at 2 am but after finishing my book, taking a shower and touching up my manicure, I thought that I could use this time more usefully. So here I am, writing about Moroccan Stew at 4am in the morning.

I know what you’re thinking “Bianca, you’ll regret not sleeping”; and in a few hours I may agree with you, but for now I want to talk about this stew.

This is one of those stick to your ribs kind of meals that full of flavor and spice; but not spice for spice sake. Oh no, the spice in this dish provides a complexity of flavors that as you continue to eat they develop more on your palate. What’s more, this stew is chocked full of vegetables, which helps to keep Ms. Digestion happy and in working order. And the crowning jewel of this dish is, hands down, sweet potato.

Sweet potato, although the name would suggest, is in fact not related at all to the potato; it is a member of the morning glory family. They’re sweet, dark and one of the oldest vegetables known to man; having been around since prehistoric times; not many vegetable can say that they kicked it with T-Rex.

This starchy carbohydrate is high in fiber, half of which is soluble, and an incredibly rich source of beta carotene; a powerful antioxidant in the carotenoid family. And you know I am a heart health warrior and, if you’re like me, then sweet potatoes should be kept in your back pocket; as they are loaded with vitamin A and heart healthy potassium and a smidge of calcium. If that weren’t enough to convert you into a lover of this sacchariferous root vegetable, a medium sized sweet tater has a modest 103 calories! Whatever you do, DON’T forget to eat the skin- it’s the best part and contains the most fiber.

There are two different types of sweet potatoes; moist (orange fleshed) and dry (yellow fleshed); both are delicious. However, the moist fleshed variety are often called yams, which is a misnomer, as true yams are a large root vegetables with origins in Africa; so whether moist and orange or yellow and dry, the health benefits are the same!

In this dish the sweet potato tempers the heat from the spices with its characteristic sweetness; and as they break down during cooking they serve to thicken the broth and elevate this to a true stew. This is the perfect meatless meal; however, for the diehard carnivores among us, customization is welcome, simply by adding diced chicken to the pot with the spices and allowing the chicken to brown we make this meatless meal, meaty.

This is one of those dishes that gets better with age; on the second and even third day the “ooohs” and “aahhhh” will be discernible from the down the street!

Serves 4

2 tbsp coconut oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp ginger, peeled and minced

½ tsp chili pepper flakes

½ tsp cinnamon

½ tsp turmeric

½ tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp freshly ground pepper

¼ tsp allspice

¼ tsp ground coriander

1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 medium zucchini, diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

¼ small head of green cabbage, shredded

1-19 oz can chickpea, drained and rinsed

1 tsp sea salt

½ cup fresh mint, chopped

*2 chicken breast, cubed

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat, add the garlic, ginger, chili flakes, cinnamon, turmeric, cumin, pepper, allspice, coriander and chicken (optional). Stir for 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the sweet potatoes, zucchini, carrots and cabbage. Pour in enough water or vegetable stock to cover the vegetables, about 5 to 6 cups.

Cover and cook for 25-30 minutes, or until vegetables are tender but not completely cooked. Ladle out 1 ½ cups of the vegetables and 1 ½ cups of the broth and puree in a blender until thick. Return to the remaining stew.

Mix in the chickpeas and add the salt, bring to a simmer. Cook, covered, for an additional 10-15 minutes. Stir in the mint and serve over quinoa or bulgur wheat.