Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Green Cleaning with DIY solutions

There are many chemicals all around us. We can not always control what chemicals we are exposed to but we can control the chemicals we use in our households. A great way to do that is by becoming green with all of your cleaning products. If you're like me, walking down the cleaning product aisle at a grocery store gives me an instant headache and actually makes me nauseous. (Never mind the fact that I have the sense of smell of a bloodhound, like my husband always tells me). But have you ever experienced this?

Why Switch to DIY products?

So, you always choose 'healthier' cleaning products anyway, why DIY? When you actually look at the label of your cleaning products there are a slew of label claims. But do they really mean anything? Let's take a look at some common label claims (info from Environmental Working Group's Guide to Healthy Cleaning):

Active Ingredient: This usually refers to an added antimicrobial pesticide. These are hazardous chemicals that should be avoided. For example, Triclosan is a pesticide that is added to liquid soap but doesn't actually clean better than regular soap and water. It is also toxic to the environment and can contribute to the development of bacteria that are antibiotic resistant.

Biodegradable: Unfortunately, this isn't a regulated term when it comes to cleaning products. These products may bio degrade quickly and harmlessly but they could also linger for years or decompose into harmful contaminants. For example, nonylphenol ethoxylates, often found in laundry detergent, are broken down by bacteria into hormone-disrupting chemicals.

Fragrance: This is probably my number one recommended ingredient to avoid. Why? Because fragrance refers to any combination of THOUSANDS, yes you read that right THOUSANDS of different chemicals. It is literally a chemical cocktail and the actual list of chemicals used isn't disclosed! But, these chemicals are linked to a slew of different health implications from allergies, asthma, cancer and hormone disruption. And, don't be fooled by 'scent-free' or 'fragrance-free'- there can still be fragrance added- check the actual ingredient list to be sure. (aka, put down the Febreeze and read on...)

Natural/Plant Based: This is another unregulated term. It doesn't actually mean anything.

Organic: Another unregulated term when it comes to cleaning products. 

The only way to truly know what you are using to clean your home is by making it yourself and controlling the ingredients. Just think of all the chemicals in all of the products you use around the house! We are at a stage where saving the environment is a major issue . So why not start by changing what we use to clean our homes. It may seem like a small change but in the long run,  it becomes huge.

Start Green Cleaning!

First thing to do, is look in your pantry. You may already have the ingredients you will be using to start cleaning your house.

1. Baking Soda:
It is a natural disinfectant, neutralizes odours and is a natural non scratching abrasive. This will become your number one staple in making your green cleaning solutions.

2. Vinegar:
Also a natural disinfectant, combats stains, acts as a deodorizer and cuts through grease. This will also be a major ingredient to keep in your household.

All Purpose Orange Vinegar Cleaner:

Here is a simple, yet very effective all purpose cleaner to start off with.

You will need:
  1. Mason jar with lid or empty juice container or jug with lid.
  2. Orange peels - the more the better
  3. 3 - 4 Cinnamon sticks (optional)
  4. Vinegar
* Cinnamon has antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties and will add some more cleaning power. Plus it smells good with the orange peels.

Place the orange peels, cinnamon ( optional ), in the jar or container, add vinegar to fill the entire jar and make sure it covers the ingredients.

Place in a dark cool area and store for two weeks. When finished, strain the ingredients and transfer to a spray bottle. You can dilute this mixture with water 1:1 ratio. Can also be used at full strength in the hard to clean areas of your home.

Clean smelling air and furniture?

Another major factor in reducing chemicals in your household are AIR FRESHENERS. Did you know that air fresheners, don't actually freshen the air. It actually causes more air pollution in our homes (check out Fragrance above). Any product stating they "freshen" the air; either be it air fresheners, plug-ins or candles; they just contaminate the air. Worse even if you suffer from allergies or asthma. So I will show you a better way to freshen your furniture and upholstery.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVED air fresheners!! Febreeze was one of my absolute favourite products to buy. I would spray that @$&% on everything!! But over the years, I just started getting more and more sensitive to the smell. I started feeling nauseous and it seemed like the smell of it was literally inside my nose. I couldn't get the smell off of me. So that's when I started researching how to make my own air and fabric freshener. At that time I had pets (still do), and I was becoming a new mom. So I didn't want those chemicals to affect my baby or my fur babies. My husband on the other hand, I don't think he even noticed to be honest. Anyways, I found this great alternative to help freshen the house without all the chemicals.

Natural Upholstery and Air Freshener:

You will need:
  1. Spray bottle - dollar store or reuse an old spray bottle. Just wash out thoroughly
  2. 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  3. 2 cups of lukewarm water - preferably distilled or filtered. (Tap water will have a lot of calcium  eventually build up, so you don't want that coming through onto your furniture)
  4. 10 - 20 drops of Essential oils - your favourite scent or blend. Not sure what to use, try Lavender, Lemon or Sweet Orange. 
In a small bowl mix baking soda and essential oil together, pour into bottle (you may need a funnel) and then add the water. Place lid and give it a good shake. Always shake before use. There you have it!   

You have now reduced many chemicals in your household with two very easy and simple recipes. So stock up on baking soda and vinegar. Obviously, you can find the ingredients pretty much everywhere but my fave place for getting all these ingredients is Costco. 

For more information on green cleaning and how to use them effectively around your house,  stay tuned to our green cleaning series. For more information on common chemicals in cleaning supplies, health concerns or to see how your current cleaning products rate with regards to toxicity and hazard, check out Environmental Working Groups Guide to Healthy Cleaning.

For more information and to become more informed check out this article on chemicals and how they affect us.

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Tips for a Growing Belly

Ah pregnancy: a time of wonder, a time of change, a time for advice!!!

As many Coach House patients know I am embarking on this wonderful journey of pregnancy and motherhood for the first time (our little girl is due to arrive May 11th) and with all the books, websites, social media outlets etc... it can be very overwhelming!

The benefit of working at the Coach House, besides our amazing patients of course, is that I am surrounded by not only other parents but, those who work in medical fields, especially natural ones. Plus, with our network of fellow natural based businesses, it has really helped guide me to some healthier and more natural options while my body is going through these changes.

Below are a few examples of things that I have discovered along the way that really worked for me! With anything regarding your pregnancy, of course check in with your primary care physician or naturopathic doctor first.

A Growing Belly AND Winter Skin?!?!?!?

Yup- this happened! January and February were brutal on my skin not only from because my fascia was stretching to meet the demands of the growing belly, but add to that the cold weather and heaters turned up in the office, car, everywhere: I was going CRAZY!

Our Naturopathic Doctor, Dr. Jessica, to the rescue! She introduced our clinic and patients to an incredible line of natural skin care products made right here in Kitchener Waterloo, Cocoon Apothecary. Trust me: the ENTIRE staff (and our hubbies) are addicted to this line: It's amazing!

According to Dr. Jessica: "The best way to keep your skin hydrated is by keeping your whole body hydrated- drinking water. But, especially during the winter months, we can use a little extra topical support. However, standard moisturizers (petroleum based like Vaseline) often only provide a barrier without actually hydrating the skin. This can actually make dry skin worse because it not only tries to lock moisture in, it also blocks air and moisture from getting in! It can also clog pores creating break outs. So skip the chemical based 'moisturizers' and opt for natural oils that don't clog pores and that provide both moisturizing and hydrating effects."

When you hear it like that it makes sense, right? So I immediately purchased Cocoon's Purist Unscented Body lotion and you could totally tell the difference from a texture point of view from the very first use. And guess what: in less than 2 days my winter skin 'dry patches' were completely gone! Bye bye irritating, night time scratch-a-thons!

I now use this product all over, including the belly, after every shower. If I get one of those days with 'itchy, growing belly' a little of this and *poof* itching gone! And trust me, as Dr. Jessica says, with this product being natural oil based a little goes a long way- I still have a lot in my bottle, and that's having to cover an ever increasing belly!

Another product our staff was introduced to and have used is Substance Belly Jelly. We featured this product at our "Birds n' Bees" seminar with the help of Nimira Husein, owner of Tadpole Children's Shoppe in Uptown Waterloo.

Described on as "A rich emollient balm designed to intensely moisturize the skin.  Packed full of oils high in vitamin E, Belly Jelly increases the skin's elasticity, allowing it to stretch with your growing belly.  Rich shea butter, oats, lavender and a special blend of essential oils further nurtures the skin to add that extra ounce of prevention." which translated means this can help minimize stretch marks!

As I am in my last 2 months of pregnancy, the months of most growth, I'm super excited to try this product. The Belly Jelly of course can be used throughout all stages of belly growth but for my belly (and don't forget: everyone's fascia is different!) I found using the Cocoon Apothecary up until this stage worked for me. They even have a travel stick! It's available at Tadpole Children's Shoppe (you can do a registry online as well) and don't worry: if it's sold out as it was when I went in due to popularity, Nimira and staff will take your name and call you as soon as an order arrives. 

Staying Hydrated...Safely

So. very. thirsty! was and still is a common theme in pregnancy and it's very important for mom and baby to stay hydrated. According to the Dieticians of Canada pregnant females should aim for 2.3L or 9 1/2 cups of water per day. Although my body wanted water I found I got so bored with "just water" throughout the day.

Thankfully there are a number of websites that offer various diffusion recipes using fruit and/or vegetable to help stave off boredom. These recipes and guidelines can actually be found on a previous Blog we did dated January 11th of this year. Feel free to visit that Blog for a lot of great information regarding dehydration and of course an easy chart for fun and tasty water recipes.

Not only is it important to stay hydrated, but the type of glass you use to consume your fluid is just as important. Dr. Jessica has some very clear advice when it comes to plastic water bottles etc.. and your health: "DITCH THE PLASTIC. That BPA-Free label really means nothing when it comes to whether or not the plastic is healthy. Whether BPA-free or not, it will leach chemicals that you do not want to be exposed to." You can read more about how the BPA-free label is very misleading in her Facebook post dated January 12/17 on our Coach House Therapeutic Centre page featuring the following article:

Thankfully Coach House friends are here for us. Located on Lexington Road in Waterloo this store is a treasure trove helping you go plastic and litter-free! Their glass water bottles are great and even better: they have glass travel mugs for coffee, tea etc... which is incredibly important as you do not want any chemicals leaching from the heat. That's just the beginning of the great and healthy products they provide!


A Snuggle Buddy for Sleep...Rest for your Aching Back

As the belly grows so does the discomfort. Whether it's restlessness at night time with your body getting adjusted to the new changes in your posture, or to the lower back pain most females feel with the growing belly this is definitely an issue for most pregnant females. Besides stretch marks (and the actual birth of course) the idea or threat of lower back and hip pain along with lack of sleep is usually at the top of our lists, especially heading into the third trimester.

May I introduce your new best friend: The Snoogle by LeachCo!

I have my best friend Michelle to thank for this little gift from heaven that I received as a Christmas present when I was approximately 5 months along. I 'thought' I was sleeping alright as that's right around the time my 'baby bump' really started to make an appearance. OH. MY. GOODNESS! What an incredible difference! I didn't realize how restless I actually was until I used this pillow and I slept like a baby from night one!

Being an RMT we are of course trained on how to give therapeutic massages throughout all stages of pregnancy. We know how to pillow the patient for safety of mom and baby, and of course for support. I was doing some pillowing every now and then between my knees but this pillow blew that away. 

The pillow comes with instructions on how to use it in 8 different positions, whether sleeping in bed or sitting up and watching TV. It alleviates pressure and pain on your hips, lower back, glutes and of course supports the belly.The following 2 minute YouTube video tells you all you need to know about this great product:

To prove the point even further, I unfortunately went through about 6-8 weeks of catching every little bug and virus that went through the clinic. With these fever flashes I didn't use my Snoogle for approximately 2-3 weeks as it was making me hotter. Upon getting healthier and back to work I noticed my lower back right at my sacroiliac joints were in pain/sore by the end of my shift. Being 6 months along I thought "Uh oh, well guess it's the size of the belly, having to stand all day and this is how it'll go for the rest of my pregnancy." WRONG! I brought my Snoogle back to bed and by the next day at work no pain! And this is from someone who had to stand for approximately 7 hours a day, and run up and down stairs.

This pillow is definitely worth the approximate $85-$100 investment. Super comfortable and supportive, you don't have to worry about adjusting random pillows throughout the night and to get some proper sleep before Munchkin arrives? Priceless!

Wrapping Up

So there you go: I'm throwing my little bit into the 'pregnancy advice' ring. But again, I find I'm at an advantage not only working with other natural modalities but having a large cross section of the population in my patient base who have passed on tricks that have worked for them. 

These are of course things that have helped me- every pregnancy is different. This and other concerns that you may have for your pregnancy (nausea/morning sickness, low iron etc...) should be discussed with your primary care physician or book an appointment with someone like our fantastic Dr. Jessica who has 2 munchkins of her own, so not only has she studied these elements at school but has actually utilized them and more!

Here's proof: visit our Coach House Therapeutic Centre YouTube channel for a great video on DIY Baby Wraps at

Wishing you nothing but health and happiness on your own pregnancy journey and make sure you cherish every step of the way. And of course: here's wishing all of you a safe (and quick!) delivery to welcome your beautiful bundle of joy to the world!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

DIY-ing with Eco Well

Welcome to another edition of Wellness Wednesday! This week, in honour of our Customer Appreciation month, we invited Jen Novakovich of Eco Well to join us and share a couple easy DIY skin care recipes with you. A very special Thank You to Jen and for more information check out our guest blog post from Jen below and be sure to watch the how to video above! 

About The Eco Well

The Eco Well is a Waterloo local cosmetic manufacturer and educator. We're passionate about making uber clean, evidence driven and therapeutic skincare products. We also do public talks on clean cosmetics and host DIY Beauty workshops throughout Ontario. We're working hard to engage our community about sustainability and transparency, and to empower them to make better informed decisions about their skincare purchases. In addition to all of this, we host monthly local entrepreneur networking nights, donate to local businesses and do fundraiser events for different local organizations.

The Eco Well products can be found at Kultrun Market, Full Circle, Fine Fettle Kincardine, Uptown Woods, Healthoholics, Sante Elora, The Stone Store & Old's Cool General Store as well as online at Learn more about us on our twitter, instagram and facebook feeds!

About Jen

Jen, the owner of The Eco Well is a graduate of the Nutrition & Nutraceutical Sciences program at the University of Guelph, where she took a special interest in cosmeceuticals. She's passionate about public education, science, sustainability & supporting her local community. In addition to running a business, she's a yoga teacher, music lover and a long time rock climbing enthusiast!


The products we made for the Coach House video were two simple body scrubs, using ingredients you probably have at your fingertips in your kitchen. Though we made 2 separate options, that's by no means the limit! One of the beautiful things about DIY Beauty is, you get to create your recipes and tailor them to what you like. With a little bit of knowledge on different ingredients, you can really start to formulate products that will work for your skin type!

Recipe 1: Brightening & Clarifying Turmeric Sugar Scrub

The first recipe we made was a clarifying sugar scrub with turmeric! Turmeric is one of my favorite ingredients to use for my skin because of how therapeutic it is for a wide range of skin conditions. For acne spot treatment to dull skin, turmeric is a great go to! As discussed in the video, be sure to wash your scrub off well as it stains (but totally worth it). We complemented the scrub with a cheerful blend of essential oils with clarifying effects. Feel free to sub in other essential oils if you prefer another blend (Check out our blog post on Essential Oils to learn more about them!). Finally the oil we chose for both of our scrubs today was avocado oil, a soothing oil that is very low on the comedogenic scale (how likely an oil is to clog your pores). Again, feel free to sub in another oil if you have a preference, although if you tend to get acne, I recommend checking out comedogenic ratings (e.g. coconut oil is quite comedogenic and is more likely to clog your pores). A few other notes on oil, go for good quality oils, just like you'd do for your diet. If you don't have avocado oil around, extra virgin olive and high oleic safflower oil are excellent alternatives that you probably already have on hand.  

  • 4 tbsp Fine Sugar
  • 4 tbsp Avocado Oil
  • 1 tbsp Turmeric Powder
  • 10 Drops Sweet Orange Essential Oil
  • 10 Drops Grapefruit Essential Oil
  • 8 Drops Rosemary Essential Oil
1. Mix all of your ingredients in a bowl.
2. Pour them into a container of choice.
3. Enjoy!

Recipe 2: Invigorating Coffee Sugar Scrub

Wake up your tired skin with this invigorating sugar scrub! Just like the morning boost we get from our first cup of coffee, coffee grinds are also great for dull and tired looking skin. Pro-tip, use used grinds! All the good stuff in the coffee will be more available to your skin! Note, be sure to use this scrub within a day or two of making it. When water's added to your recipes, they're more prone to microbial growth if not preserved. We complemented this scrub with a blend (lavender, geranium and tea tree) of essential oils that helps to soothe itchy skin, combat acne and promote the appearance healthy looking skin! A note about both of these scrubs, while facial sugar scrubs are very popular on the market, they can be a little abrasiveness on the more sensitive skin on your face. Subbing the grinds used for ground oatmeal, a far gentler option, or even just using a wet towel on your face to exfoliate may be a good option, especially if you have sensitive skin. 

  • 4 tbsp Fine Sugar
  • 2 tbsp Fine Coffee Grinds
  • 4 tbsp Avocado Oil
  • 10 drops Lavender Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • 10 drops Geranium Essential Oil
1. Mix all of your ingredients in a bowl.
2. Pour them into a container of choice.

3. Enjoy!

A special thank you again to Jen for sharing her DIY recipes! We hope you enjoy!

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Making Healthier Choices with your Slow Cooker

By now some (hopefully most) of you have lugged that slow cooker out of your basements and have conquered your fear of this appliance!

To help your family meal plan and stay on a healthy track for 2017 I'm adding a few more hints and tricks to help you become Slow Cooker Aficianados. By adding a slow cooker to your weekday meal routine, not only will it save you time and stress but will allow you to make healthier choices.

As mentioned previously, Googling for recipes is a great, fun and inventive way to spice up the old meal routine but be wary: most of these recipes are more of a "open box or packet, throw in veggies and heat" type of meal where the sodium and sugar can be off the charts! Changing just a few ingredients can make all the difference in the world without sacrificing taste- and this is exactly how I stumbled upon this recipe.

Planning my meals for the week I noticed I had some peppers about to turn and some pork in the freezer, but also no time with my schedule to make a meal. What to do...what to do... TO THE GOOGLE and by typing in "peppers, pork, slow cooker" I stumbled upon: Slow Cooker Thai Pork with Peppers! The recipe in its originality is as below from

1 cup chicken stock            
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tbsp. honey
6 garlic cloves, minces
2 tbsp. minced, fresh ginger root
1 tsp.crushed red pepper flakes
2 red peppers, thinly sliced into bite size pieces
1 pound boneless pork chops

Place the chicken broth, soy sauce, peanut butter, honey, garlic, ginger, crushed red pepper flakes, red bell peppers, and pork chops into a slow cooker, stir together, and set the cooker on Low. Cook for 5 to 6 hours until the pork is tender, and remove the pork from the sauce. Shred the pork, return to the sauce, let cook until hot, and serve.

Now that doesn't look too bad does it? Take a look at the nutritional breakdown:

Nutrition Facts

Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 516
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 29 g 45 %
Saturated Fat 9 g 43 %
Monounsaturated Fat 8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 96 mg 32 %
Sodium 1408 mg 59 %
Potassium 824 mg 24 %
Total Carbohydrate 23 g 8 %
Dietary Fiber 3 g 11 %
Sugars 18 g
Protein 39 g 79 %
Vitamin A 37 %
Vitamin C 127 %
Calcium 0 %
Iron 9 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

The sodium is off the charts! If we take a couple of moments and substitute some of the main "bad guy ingredients" it's a whole different world. Pictured below are two easy substitutions, most people feel they are doing better by choosing "low sodium" and or "Light" alternatives, and in some cases of "low sodium" that may be right but beware: making something "Light" means they have to substitute the fat and taste somehow and in most cases it's with sugar!


Instead of the regular shelves at the grocery store where we're tempted to grab the original variety of an ingredient, or sometimes worse the "light" version, by heading just a few aisles over to your Nutrition or Green area it makes for the greatly healthier option. In my recipe I substitute peanut butter for almond or cashew butter still giving it that Thai kick and a new ingredient our naturopath Dr. Jessica introduced us to during our detox: coconut aminos. Trust me it's tasted exactly the same and is great to have in the kitchen for recipes, stir frys etc... both can be found in the natural section of your grocery store or any health food store.

Another easy substitution is the chicken broth: So.Much.Sodium! By choosing the low sodium or no sodium added option you're ahead of the game but why stop there? Why not make your own chicken stock or better yet, have our friends from Stock Exchange Bone Broth do it for you! See our Blog from February 15th, 2017 for more information on this power packed and healthy alternative.

The New and Improved:
Above is the look of the finalized ingredients, minus the meat. I like to switch it up for taste and colour by having a red and a green pepper. Remember though: peppers are on the EWGs "Dirty Dozen" ( list for pesticide use so ensure to wash them thoroughly and use sparingly in everyday cooking.

And here is the nutritional break down- see the difference especially in calories, fat and sodium?!?!

Nutrition Facts

Servings 4.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 373
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 18 g 28 %
Saturated Fat 3 g 15 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 75 mg 25 %
Sodium 599 mg 25 %
Potassium 137 mg 4 %
Total Carbohydrate 25 g 8 %
Dietary Fiber 4 g 15 %
Sugars 21 g
Protein 27 g 53 %
Vitamin A 32 %
Vitamin C 107 %
Calcium 8 %
Iron 11 %
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because the recipes have not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

Trust me when I say this is a GREAT recipe to try. I'm by no means a spicy person (my tongue is a wimp actually) but this has just enough kick to make it enjoyable. I follow the recipe as instructed and it smells and tastes incredible. To finish off I serve over bulger wheat or brown rice noodles, or in a pinch a bit of brown rice. Garnish with green onions and shaved nuts (whether cashew or almond, depending on the butter you used) and it's divine.

And there you have it: not only how to use your slow cooker but how a couple of quick and easy substitutions will make it even healthier for those creative days you Google your recipes.

Happy cooking!


Monday, 6 March 2017


From Client Appreciation Afternoon

Thank you. 

Thank you for being amazing clients and for all of your support for The Coach House and its team. We wouldn't be here without you and we so badly wanted to show you how much you mean to us! We hope you enjoyed our matinee showing of Lion. 

Many of you enjoyed our cupcakes and asked for the recipes as well...maybe you were surprised that these little sweets were actually GLUTEN FREE! 

Say what? I know, you couldn't even tell could you? When most people hear gluten free they think of something resembling crumbling cardboard. But the truth is the trick to getting good gluten free treats is the flour. I have tried may different versions, some homemade mixes and pre-made mixes- usually some kind of combination of rice and/or bean flours, sometimes requiring the addition of a 'gum' (xantham or guar).

My favourite was Bob's Red Mill standard gluten free mix. This version did require the addition of a gum and was a bit dense. So I dabbled with a few basic DIY mixes I found on Pinterest. My favourite contained a mix of rice and coconut flours. This was until Bob's Red Mill released a new gluten free flour- 1:1 Baking Flour which needs no additions AND you can substitute into your favourite recipes as if it was regular gluten containing flour! 

This is the flour we used for all the cupcakes and the recipes, and all the recipes were just standard Chocolate and Vanilla cake recipes from Martha Stewart's cookbooks (Cupcake and Cake, respectively). The lemon recipe came from i am baker's blog. The icing was basic buttercream (icing sugar, butter and milk) with the addition of either vanilla, peppermint or lemon. I don't actually have a recipe for this as I just add and adjust ingredients until I get the right consistency.

But, before any one gets the wrong idea, these cupcakes were most definitely NOT healthy. They were a treat. Whether gluten free or not, cupcakes are loaded with sugar. To make them healthy, you would have to remove the sugar and let's be real, what you would be left with would NOT be a cupcake.

The point of using gluten free flour or a non dairy milk isn't to make them 'healthier' per say but to allow those who can't eat those ingredients- whether due to Celiac Disease (an autoimmune reaction to gluten) or a Gluten Sensitivity (this can present with digestive upset, diarrhea, eczema, unwell feeling, etc)- to enjoy a treat. Even if you don't feel you are sensitive or allergic to gluten, a reason to consider using gluten free flour is to mix up the grains that you are exposed to. We tend to over consume wheat/gluten (bagels, cereals, bread, baked goods, etc) while not consuming many other grains. By mixing up the flour you use, you get a more varied diet and a break from the overconsumption of gluten/wheat.

This is important to remember however, a cupcake is a cupcake. Whether it's organic, gluten free, dairy free, or vegan.
It. Is. Still. A. Cupcake.

So, eat the cupcake and enjoy the sugar (just don't do it every day)!

Thank you again for being a part of our journey, we wouldn't be here without you and we are so glad we were able to give you a Thank You treat!

~The Coach House Team~

Thursday, 2 March 2017

DIY Elderberry Syrup

Elderberry Syrup

When it comes to cold and flu season, elderberry syrup is your best friend. The research on it is pretty impressive, however, the store bought stuff can get pretty pricey and like all pre-made products, it doesn't always have the most beneficial ingredients. Thankfully, this super delicious concoction is super easy to make at home.

One study published in 2004
"investigated the efficacy and safety of oral elderberry syrup for treating influenza A and B infections. Sixty patients (aged 18-54 years) suffering from influenza-like symptoms for 48 h or less were enrolled in this randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study during the influenza season of 1999-2000 in Norway. Patients received 15 ml of elderberry or placebo syrup four times a day for 5 days, and recorded their symptoms using a visual analogue scale. Symptoms were relieved on average 4 days earlier and use of rescue medication was significantly less in those receiving elderberry extract compared with placebo. Elderberry extract seems to offer an efficient, safe and cost-effective treatment for influenza."
In a more recent study published in 2011
"it was shown that a standardized elderberry liquid extract possesses antimicrobial activity against both Gram-positive bacteria of Streptococcus pyogenes and group C and G Streptococci, and the Gram-negative bacterium Branhamella catarrhalis in liquid cultures. The liquid extract also displays an inhibitory effect on the propagation of human pathogenic influenza viruses."
What's even more interesting is that Tamiflu, the standard pharmaceutical treatment for flu treatment, cuts flu symptoms from 7 days to 6.3 days (3)- so about half a day, while research on Elderberry Syrup has shown that 90% of people recovered from flu within 2-3 days (4)!

What it means? Research shows that not only can elderberry syrup help prevent getting ill with the flu (or other cold or virus) it can also help you get over it quicker which reduces the risk of developing a secondary infection like pneumonia and it can also help clear a bacterial respiratory infection if you do get one. And the best part, no side effects or drug interactions have been reported with Elderberries(1) and it can be used with children (2).

Making your own syrup might sound daunting but it's actually incredibly easy, often the hardest part is finding elderberries. If you live here in KW, you can easily pick them up at Distinctly Tea (in the Bauer Lofts- where I grab mine) or you can order online through Herbie's Herbs in Toronto. The rest of the ingredients can easily be found at any grocery store or even Bulk Barn!

Elderberry Syrup Recipe

  • 2/3 cup dried black elderberries
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 2 in piece of fresh ginger
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp dried cloves
  • 5-6 star anise pods
  • 1 cup raw honey
1. Add elderberries, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, star anise and water to a medium saucepan. 
2. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour or until it has reduced to about half.
3. Remove from heat and let cool for a bit until cool enough to handle. Pour through a strainer into a mason jar. Be sure to mash the berries with the back of a spoon a bit to extract all the liquid (and medicinal benefits).
4. Wait until liquid is lukewarm and add in the 1 cup of honey. You can either mix with a spoon or place lid on mason jar and shake until completely mixed. Note: do not add honey to hot elderberry tea as it will destroy some of the benefits of the raw honey.
5. Store in the fridge.

Standard dose for kids is 1 tsp/day and adults 1 tbsp/day. For specific dosing speak with your ND or health care provider. 
NOTE: because you are using honey, it is NOT suitable for children under 1 year of age.

Interested in the ingredient benefits? Read on!

  • Antiviral, immune enhancing, antioxidant (2)
  • Used for influenza, common cold and other acute viral infections (2)
  • Suitable for children (1)

  • Antioxidant and antimicrobial (2)
  • Used for acute infections, fever, common cold, acute bronchitis (2)

  • Antioxidant, antimicrobial- bacterial, fungal, yeast (6)
  • Indicated for use with the common cold (viral infections) (2)

  • Highly antioxidant, antimicrobial- both bacterial and fungal, antiviral and has analgesic (anti-pain) properties (5)

Star Anise
  • Antimicrobial, antioxidant and analgesic
  • Interestingly, star anise is the major source of shikimic acid one of the main ingredients in the anti-flu drug Tamiflu! (7)

1. Hoffman, David, Medical Herbalism The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine.  2003.
2. Bone, Kerry. The Ultimate Herbal Compendium, 2007.
3. Cochrane Review: Tamiflu vs Relenza
4. Mumcuoglu, Madeleine, et al. Inhibition of Several Strains of Influenza Virus in Vitro and Reduction of Symptoms by an Elderberry Extract (Sambucus nigra L.) during an Outbreak of Influenza B Panama
5. Cortes-Rojas, Diego Francisco, et al. Clove (Syzygium aromaticum): a precious spice
6. Rao, Pasupuleti Visweswara, et al. Cinnamon: A Multifaceted Medicinal Plant 
7. Wang, Guo-Wei, et al. Illicium verum: A review on its botany, traditional use, chemistry and pharmacology

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Travelling Healthy

Travelling Healthy

Spring break is only a week or so away and many of you may been planning to head to the sun. Fittingly, we filmed this edition of Wellness Wednesday during a snow storm. But spring is just around the corner....right? If you are planning to travel (whether for March Break or other times of the year), we have a few tips to help make your holidays a healthy and happy experience!

Staying Healthy

Immune Boosters
Whether flying or driving, you will likely encounter a whole lot of germs on your travels. Airplanes pack a lot of people into a very small space and do recycle the air, which means you can be exposed to germs from across the plane. Even if you aren't flying and opting to drive, gas stations and public washrooms aren't always the my hygienic and if you are travelling to a place with rides (Disney World anyone?), you have to consider how many people's hands grasp that ride each day without any cleaning in between. Packing a few simple immune boosters like Vitamin C or an immune boosting combination like St Francis Deep Immune isn't a bad idea.

Stomach Bugs
Coming down with a stomach bug (read diarrhea) while on vacation is the worst. This is often a concern when heading south where water cleanliness can be questionable. However, places where there is mass production of food (think buffets or cruises) also run a higher risk of contamination with a pathogen. Loading up on probiotics can help prevent colonization of a pathogen if you do come in contact and they can help clear pathogens if they do colonize, helping reduce symptoms and making your recovery much speedier. The best probiotics are those that are refrigerated though there are some shelf stable versions available. I usually recommend just bringing enough probiotics (plus a few extra just incase) for the trip. Often times you do have access to a fridge and even if not, they are only at room temperature for a few days and will still have benefit. (The only reason we refrigerate is to slow the bacterias life cycle so more stay alive longer).

Grabbing a Snack

The last thing you want while travelling is to get 'hangry.' Whether in a car or on a plane, it is not always easy to stop and grab a snack, so planning ahead and packing your own is ideal. Also, often times snacks picked up on the go are not the ideal health option. This especially rings true when travelling with kids, the last thing anyone wants to do is feed their kids a sugary snack while in a confined space like a car or plane. Focus on packing snacks that are low in sugar but will give you the energy boost you need until you can eat a proper meal. Look for snacks that are high in protein, contain fat and low in sugar. Some great options are:
  • Trail Mix- simply mix your favourite nuts, seeds and/or dried fruit in a mason jar and go.
  • Pieces of fruit- pack a small container of almond butter as a dip for extra points.
  • Protein Bars- These are great options as often time granola bars have nutritional profiles more comparable to cookies than a health snack. But be careful, even some protein bars will contain a lot of sugar. Look for fruit and nut bars with no added sugar like Lara bars or Nak'd bars. Avoid just fruit bars as they provide only sugar with no fat or protein. Grab protein bars that are also low in sugar like Luna Bars, Vega Bars or Elevate Me Bars. (Check out our previous blog posts for some great DIY nut and fruit bar recipes!)
  • Apple Chips- these are a great option and are simply dehydrated apple slices. If you don't have your own dehydrator like me, then check out Martin's apple orchard. You can actually purchase individual sized bags of apple chips by the case. We tend to always have these on hand for quick snacks or a lunch time treat. If you do have your own dehydrator, you can easily makes these or any other fruit you'd like. But, be careful, dehydrated fruit is generally pretty concentrated in sugar and since it lacks the water, it's a lot easier to over indulge. Be sure to combine with fat and protein, like a handful of nuts.

The Extras 

Even if you are trying to pack light, there are couple things that would be beneficial to work into your list.

  • Reusable Bottle- Investing in a good water bottle and ditching the disposable plastic is a good idea for sooo many reasons including being much better for you health (avoiding endocrine disrupting chemicals), the environment (the waste from plastic water bottles is insane) and it's way more convenient especially when travelling. Carrying the empty water bottle through customs at the airport and filling at a fountain inside is way better than tossing the half drank bottle at the entrance. Even if you aren't flying for you vacation, fountains are generally easily found at any rest stops and throughout amusement parks. Invest in a good stainless steel, like Klean Kanteen or glass, like LifeFactory.
  • Sunscreen- If you are heading to the sun, be sure to bring your own sunscreen. Trying to find sunscreen at your destination may limit you to the chemical based sunscreens. These work by absorbing UV rays, however, often times that absorption creates free radicals which are actually damaging to your skin and increase your oxidative stress. Instead opt for mineral based sunscreens which create a physical barrier to block UV rays and which provide a much better full spectrum protection (ie. both UVA and UVB rays). Our personal favourites are Goddess Garden and Badger, but you can also check how your sunscreen fares at EWG's Sunscreen Guide.

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.