Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Avocado Fudgesicles

This week marks the end of another school year. It's also Water Fun Day at my daughter's Montessori school so what better way to enjoy the sun, sprinkler and start of summer than Fudgsicles!

These are one of my favourite treats to make my kids because even though they taste like they are unhealthy, they really aren't. They are loaded with healthy fats, low in sugar, super easy to make and if you don't want to freeze it all, the mixture can be eaten as pudding straight out of the blender jar!
The original recipe is from the Whole Life Nutrition's Blog.

8 medjool dates, pitted (can also use honey dates just double the amount)1/2 cup hot water3 medium avocados, pitted1 cup coconut milk, almond milk, cashew milk, etc.1/4 cup honey or maple syrup5 to 7 tablespoons cacao or cocoa powder2 teaspoons vanillapinch sea salt Place the dates into your high powered blender (I used my Blendtec) or food processor and cover with the 1/2 cup hot water. Pack the dates down if needed so they are covered, for the most part, in the water and let soak for about 30 minutes.  Then add in the remaining ingredients and blend until very smooth and creamy. Depending on your blender, you may need to add a little extra coconut milk or water. I often will reduce if not almost completely eliminate the honey, however, for the Mes Amis kids, I did add the full 1/4 cup. Pour into small bowls and serve as pudding or pour into popsicle molds and freeze for at least 6 hours. Run under hot water to release.

If you would like to make these completely Vegan- use maple syrup instead of honey. You can also adjust the sweetener and cocoa powder to taste.

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.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Summer Skin

Sunscreen Basics

Today is the official start of summer and in honour of this day we are dedicating this Wellness Wednesday to summer skin care especially sunscreen. My favourite source for up to date research on sunscreens is Environmental Working Group's Sunscreen Report. Each year they rate sunscreens on their effectiveness and UVA and UVB protection. For all the details and research you can always pop over to their full Sunscreen Report, however, today we are going to touch on some of the highlights and things to remember when picking a sunscreen.

Sunscreen and Skin Cancer

Often times, it is believed that wearing sunscreen will protect us against skin cancer, however, there is very little evidence to support this belief. There are 3 main types of skin cancers- squamous cell, basal cell and melanoma. Both squamous cell and basal cell are your more 'benign' skin cancers and tend to be more unsightly or disfiguring but are rarely deadly or malignant. Sunscreens have been shown to help reduce squamous cell carcinoma but not basal cell. Melanoma is the deadly form of skin cancer that is malignant and though sun exposure and sunburns do play a role, it is only one small factor. For example, often times Melanomas actually develop on parts of the body that aren't sun exposed areas.

The Higher the SPF the Better, Right?

Though you may think that higher SPF is better, the truth is this really isn't the case. An SPF of 50 blocks 98% of UVB rays, while SPF 100 blocks 99% of UVB rays. Choosing an SPF between 30-50 is more than adequate and in Canada sunscreen makers aren't even allowed to claim an SPF higher than 50 since there is such little difference between SPF and anything 'higher'. It's important to remember as well that SPF only refers to how well UVB rays are blocked and not UVA rays. UVB rays will cause sunburn and non-Melanoma skin cancers, however, UVA rays are the rays that penetrate deeper, damage DNA on a deeper level and increase the risk of Melanoma. Even if you are using an adequate SPF, you may not be getting all the indicated protection. This is because thickness of application will affect SPF. In testing, a thicker layer is often used compared to what people are actually using in every day life. This means that if you are only using 25% thickness of an SPF 30, you may only be getting about an SPF 7 protection or less. We often believe that higher SPFs afford us a lot more protection so we aren't reapplying as often as we should and we are staying in the sun longer than we should.

Avoid the Vitamin A

This will usually show up on labels as retinyl palmitate or retinoic acid. Vitamin A, when exposed to sunlight can break down and release free radicals that damage DNA.

Chemical or Mineral Sunscreen

More and more, the sunscreen market is seeing mineral based sunscreens popping up, and for good reason. Chemical based sunscreens work by absorbing the UV rays and often times undergo a chemical reaction which will release free radicals. These free radicals will damage our DNA. As well, active ingredients in chemical based sunscreens, especially the most commonly used oxybenzone, have been shown to cause allergic reactions and endocrine disruption including both estrogenic and anti-androgenic effects. These chemicals are being absorbed into our bodies- through our skin and even ingestion. Oxybenzone has even been found in breastmilk of nursing mothers meaning it's being passed into nursing infants! The chemicals used are usually not very stable in sunlight so additional stabilizers need to be added in and also have the possibility of causing skin irritation and other health issues. Most chemical based sun screens also do no provide UVA protection.

Mineral based sunscreens, Zinc oxide and Titanium dioxide, on the other hand, work by deflecting the UVB rays vs absorbing them. Since the mineral particles are coated with inert chemicals, they tend to be very stable in sunlight and don't break down into free radicals. Good evidence shows that little to none of the of the particles are absorbed into the body, though aerosol versions should be avoided to prevent inhalation. Both Titanium dioxide and especially Zinc oxide provide UVA protection. Zinc oxide actually provides the best UVA protection out of all sunscreen options! Titanium dioxide's UVA protection isn't quite as high as the Zinc Oxide however, it still provides better protection than most of the chemical sunscreens. However, since the protection comes from a 'physical' barrier, these sunscreens also tend to be the ones that appear the most 'white' when applied. Many of the mineral sunscreens use a combination of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to give the benefits of both the zinc oxide protection with the nicer application of the titanium dioxide.

Two of my favourites that are readily available are Badger (Zinc Oxide based) and Garden Goddess (combination zinc and titanium). Both can be found at most health food stores- Goodness Me, Fiddleheads,, etc. Garden Goddess is even available at some Zehr's (I picked mine up at the Zehr's at Conestoga Mall). A new favourite that was just released is Cocoon Apothecary's Facial Sunscreen Reflector, which goes on really well without clogging pores and provides good protection. We were able to test drive this one a couple weeks ago while on a field trip to the farm.

Choosing Sunscreen

Feeling a bit confused on what sunscreen is the best to use? Environmental Working Group does test and rate sunscreens every year. There is a full report you can read through, however, if you just want to see how your sunscreen stacks up and which are your best options, you can look up your specific sunscreen or just check out the list of best sunscreens here.

Best Protection

However, regardless of what sunscreen you are using, it's important to remember this is still NOT the best protection. It creates a barrier but doesn't necessarily protect against skin cancer and there are tonnes of factors that will affect it's effectiveness- like application layer. It's always important to remember the basics when it comes to sun protection
  • Wear protective clothing
  • Seek shade
  • Remember sunglasses
  • Avoid mid-day sun when UV rays are highest
  • Don't get burned

And if you do get burned...

First thing to do is cool your skin, try some cool water or even apple cider vinegar to reduce the heat. Once the heat is reduced you can use aloe vera to help soothe and heal the skin. This doesn't need to be a bright green gel, I actually recommend having an aloe vera plant (super easy to grow since they are cactuses- I have no green thumb...) and you can just squeeze the gel right out of the leaves onto your skin.

A quick note on Bug Spray

Recently, there has been a flurry of social media posts promoting using essential oils to protect against bug and tick bites with claims that they are as effective as DEET and other chemical protectants. The truth is there is extremely limited research, if any, on the effectiveness of essential oils. With the spread of the tick population and Lyme disease, this is not a chance I would recommend taking. If you are looking for an every day spray for your kids playing in the backyard, sure, this could be a viable option but if you are using this while going to a wooded area- even local trails or camping, I would say stick to the researched/proven effective options. Lyme disease and other blood borne illnesses are serious and endemic areas are spreading. It's also important to remember that though essential oils are natural, they are very highly concentrated and still need to be processed and cleared by the body. This happens through your liver. If you are running your diffuser all day, every day and rubbing oil on your temples and wrists and feet all day, every day, you are going to start overloading your liver. Especially if they are not diluted properly which, if you didn't already know, all essential oils MUST be diluted before applied topically. 

But, back to bug spray...

Take precautions, even if you are using a spray it's important to have the basics in place.
  • Make sure you are wearing clothing that covers your skin and prevents areas for attachment
  • Be sure to tuck your pant legs into your socks if walking through wooded areas
  • Do a 'tick check' when coming indoors- don't forget hair lines, between toes, etc.
  • If you do find a tick be sure to remove properly and keep it so you can take it for testing

Get outside and enjoy the outdoors this summer but be sure to keep yourself (and your skin) safe and healthy! 

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, 20 June 2017

Talking Chemical Free Skin with Cocoon Apothecary

Two weeks ago, we were able to chat with Jessica Burman, creator of Cocoon Apothecary skin care for our latest edition of Wellness Wednesday. Not only is this line completely chemical free, it's also a local Kitchener-Waterloo company. Jessica sat down with us to talk all things skin care, chemical free and a few new products that were just launched last month! If you're not already familiar with this amazing product line and company, check out our above interview and continue below where Jessica gives us all the details.

About Cocoon Apothecary

Quality without Compromise
Beauty should come from purity and decadence, and nothing is more lavish than what nature has to offer. “By now we all know that your skin is the largest organ in your body, and it is the first thing people notice about you. But we forget that skin is truly alive. It absorbs what we put on it. It breathes nutrients in. It expels toxins and waste,” says Jessica. Most of Cocoon Apothecary’s ingredients are derived from nature: oils, waters and extracts from fruits, nuts, herbs, flowers and trees. The plant world offers substances that cannot be mimicked–complex aromas that vary from year to year, blends of chemicals that heal and treat without side effects, antioxidants that blast the aging process, and antimicrobials that protect us from illness and disease. “A beauty regime should be about indulgence, spoiling yourself and feeling valued,” says Jessica. “Rich, natural ingredients is all that it takes.”

The Emergence of Cocoon
It all began with a glance. In 2003, Jessica noticed her mother’s skin was suddenly glowing like never before. “She looked radiant,” Jessica says. “She had been using a new cream, one that was totally natural.” Inspired by the transformation, Jessica started buying natural products off the shelf. But she had to choose between rich, sumptuous lotions or the “other” ones that were good for the planet. “I didn’t understand why you couldn’t have both together,” she says. So, she set to work, beginning where many upstart cosmetic businesses do, at her kitchen stove. She started by crafting the basics: scrubs, balms and bath salts, and her friends and family were thrilled with the results. It was clear to Jessica that this could be much more than a hobby. Her husband Lane thought so too. In 2005, while Jessica went on a girls’ vacation in Italy, Lane went to work renovating their basement. She returned home to find a fully equipped cosmetics lab waiting for her–a complete surprise. Jessica mastered a smooth, creamy and fully natural lotion, and focused her product line into face and body care, adding new products only when they met her strict standards for quality. “I refuse to sell anything until I know it is absolutely perfect,” says Jessica. In 2011, Lane joined Cocoon Apothecary full time as general manager and became the creative mind behind the 2014 launch of Malechemy, a clean line of products for men. They outgrew their basement and now operate in a 2500 sq ft facility in downtown Kitchener complete with a retail store. Cocoon Apothecary can be found in stores and websites throughout North America.

About Jessica

Well-versed in the art and science behind her work, Jessica has earned a certification in Aromatology with the Canadian Federation of Aromatherapists and has also studied microbiology and aesthetics. As the former business manager of a national environmental magazine, she is aware of the ecological issues we face, and how inspired business people and activists are making it better every day.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

BBQ'n In Style

BBQ'n In Style

Its easy to resort back to the same old comfortable routine of hot dogs or hamburgers when it comes to BBQ dinners. But its time to put that habit behind you! We have complied some easy, delicious and healthy recipes for you to try and really impress your guests at your next backyard BBQ. 


Black Garlic Salmon


Black garlic is a type of "caramelized" garlic first used as a food ingredient in Asian cuisine. It is made by heating whole bulbs of garlic over the course of several weeks, a process that results in black cloves. The taste is sweet with hints of balsamic vinegar and has become a sought-after ingredient used in high-end cuisine. Ref. wikipedia

You can find black garlic at Vincenzo's in the produce section. Trust me, you will want to add this to the salmon. It will make all the difference in taste. 

Heat BBQ to 400 F. 

  • wild caught skin on salmon fillet
  • 3 cloves of black garlic 
  • 1 TBS of fresh ginger
  • 3 TBS tamari sauce 
  • 2 TBS honey 
  • 1 TSP sesame seed oil 
  • peel garlic cloves and place into the blender, add tamari, honey and sesame seed oil and blend
  • place sauce in a cast iron skillet (if you are cooking it on the BBQ) and place salmon skin side down in the cast iron pan. 

Once salmon is cooked to desired colouring, internal temperature approximately 145 F, remove from BBQ and let rest. 

Wait approximately 3-5 minutes and serve your fish. 

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

Nothing pairs better with pork than fruits. This recipe may require an extra step of two but nothing too strenuous and the results are amazing. We made this on the BBQ for an evening with friends and they agreed it was fantastic! The sauce is optional as some of us had it and some didn't and everyone enjoyed the meal. 



  • 1 TBS coconut oil
  • 2 cups chopped apples (we used gala but any will do depending on taste preference)
  • 1 medium shallot 
  • 1 TBS fresh thyme chopped 
  • 1/2 TSP ground black pepper
  • 1/8 TSP ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 dried apricots roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans 
  • 1 cup Stock Exchange or homemade chicken bone broth
  • 1 3lb boneless organic butterfly pork loin 

  • 2 TBS apple cider 
  • 2 TBS brandy
  • 1 TSP Dijon mustard 

For stuffing:
In a large skillet heat coconut oil over medium heat. Once melted add apples, shallot, thyme, half the pepper and nutmeg and cook until fragrant and the apples have softened.          
Stir in apricots, nuts and 1 TBS bone broth and cook uncovered for about a minute.
Once apricots have softened remove from heat and set aside to cool.

For the roast:

Heat BBQ to 350 F

If you didn't ask your butcher for a butterfly roast then you have a little more work to do to prepare it, so I hope its butterflied.

With your butterflied pork loin spread out on a clean surface, spread the stuffing over the entire roast. Starting at one end start to roll the roast. You may need an extra set of hands to have someone hold the rolled roast and another to wrap string around it and tie tight to hold it together.

Carefully bring your wrapped rolled roast out the the BBQ and place on bottom rack to sear.

Check your roast in approximately everyone 5 min to turn until all the sides are nice and golden brown. Once complete move the roast to the top rack and continue to let it cook.

Your total cook time is approximately 1 hour  - 1.5 hours, you want the internal temperature of the roast to register at 145F. Once this occurs remove the roast form the BBQ and let rest, that means leave it alone and don't cut it, for 5 minute.

For the sauce:

While you wait for your delicious pork roast to cook you better start on the brandy sauce.
Using a sauce pan over medium-high heat add the remaining bone broth and apple cider, if you cooked your pork on a pan or baking sheet you can add some of the dripping to the sauce for added 'wow'.
Bring the contents to a boil, for about 4 minutes or until the sauce has reduced by 1/3. Stir in brandy and Dijon mustard. If needed, season with additional pepper.
Serve sauce with pork roast.

Recipe courtesy of 'The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook'                                     


Melon, Cucumber and Mint Salad

Easy sides are key for backyard entertaining. No cook, minimal mess and easy to make! This salad encompasses all of those requirements and takes a new spin on the typical salads found at BBQs. Remember we are striving for different recipes that have that wow factors ;) 


  • 1 small honeydew melon sliced or cubed
  • 1 cucumber sliced 
  • 1/3 cup of finely chopped red onion 
  • 3 tablespoons of chopped fresh mint
  • 2 oz of Greek feta cheese (optional)
    • Place in a bowl 

  • 2 TBS lemon juice 
  • 1/4 cup extra- virgin olive oil
  • 1 TSP honey
  • pinch of salt
  • black pepper to taste
    • Place all ingredients in a small mason jar and shake to stir
Sprinkle dressing into the bowl of salad ingredients, toss and enjoy

Recipe Curtesy of Bakers Royale

Roasted Vegetable Side

If you are looking for a warm side to go with any main dish option then a one pan mixed BBQ vegetables dish is a good way to go. We chopped things so its a chunky side but you can chop finer if you would like. The recipe came from The Real Paleo Diet Cookbook but with more vegetables and twists.

  • 4 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 Spanish onion (or any onion you prefer) chopped
  • 1 cup of brussel sprouts halved  
  • 2 zucchini chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic (minced)
  • 1 lemon sliced
  • 3 tbs coconut oil 
  • 1/2 TSP black pepper 
  • 1 TSP fresh thyme 
  • 3/4 cup of white wine
  • 2 TBS finely snipped fresh parsley (final topping)
  • 2 TSP finely shredded lemon peel (final topping)
  • 2 TBS freshly snipped fennel fronds (final topping)


Heat BBQ to 350F

Using a BBQ safe or cast iron dish, add coconut oil, garlic, carrots, brussel sprouts, zucchini, and lemon slices. 
Sprinkle with pepper, fresh thyme and white wine to dish.
Place dish on the BBQ covered with foil. 

Roast the vegetables for about 15 min covered. Uncover the vegetables, mix and test them with a fork. You want the fork easily pierces the vegetables but you do not want the vegetables to be mushy. Depends on the thickness of the vegetables you chopped with depend on the remaining uncovered cooking time. If they are nearly done you want to uncover them for 5-10 minutes so some of the moisture evaporates. Longer if your vegetables are still hard. 

Once done, remove from heat and sprinkle on the fresh snipped parsley, fennel fronds and lemon peel. Mix together and serve. 


Chocolate Chip Raspberry Shortbread

This recipe was recently posted on PaleOMG and OMG is it ever good! Though it calls for coconut cream from a can of coconut milk (let it settle, or put it in the fridge so the milk and cream separate), my favourite coconut milk, Aroy-D doesn't really separate. This is because it doesn't contain any thickeners- the reason it's my favourite. However, they do make a canned coconut cream that can be used in this recipe with no extra effort. I didn't have this on hand so just used about half a can of Aroy-D coconut milk and it turned out great any ways!


  • 1 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup + 1 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup +1 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 tbsp butter (original calls for ghee, I used butter, coconut oil will likely work as well)
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup (honey should work also)
Chocolate Layer
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (use Enjoy Life for paleo, allergen free)
  • 1/2-1 cup Aroy-D Coconut Cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips

Crust: Preheat oven to 325F and line an 8x8 baking sheet with parchment paper. Mix all
crust ingredients into a food processor and process until combined and forms a ball. Spread dough into baking sheet and poke holes with a fork throughout so it doesn't bubble up. Bake for 17-20 min (depending on oven). Let cool for 10-15 minutes.

Chocolate layer: Melt chocolate chips over a double boiler or low heat. Let cool for 5 minutes. Mix in coconut cream and vanilla. (If it's not mixing in well, you can add it back to the heat to make sure it's smooth). Pour over the crust and sprinkle with remaining chocolate chips and raspberries.

Once assembled, place in fridge for at least 1 hour (or overnight) to set.

Note: For purchasing, the flours were purchased at Bulk Barn and the best selection of coconut milks and creams is Freshco.

Happy Barbecuing from The Coach House Team!!

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Finding The Balance

Last Wellness Wednesday, we sat down with Sheena Bounsanga a local mindfulness expert who not only offers one on one visits but recently launched an online program that can be accessed from anywhere! With a background in Early Childhood Education, her focus tends to be on children, however, these simple techniques can benefit anyone- child to adult! Here is the recap and a bit more info from Sheena- and be sure to read all the way to the end!

Mindfulology with Sheena Bounsanga

Almost two weeks ago, I was featured on Wellness Wednesday with Dr. Jessica, and I had promised to do a blog post about all the amazingly wonderful things we spoke about, including links and videos.   And then life happened… doesn’t life always happen like that, busy, full, chaotic and wonderful, ah life! 

Oh it happens, even when you’re an expert in Mindfulness. ;)

So, here I am two weeks later, with a blog post! Yay me!

First of all, can we have a quick chat about how amazing The Coach House is?!  The atmosphere is calming and contagious, and the staff are wonderfully warm.  I’m a sucker for exposed brick, I could hangout in Dr.J’s room all day (with or without her).  I adore Uptown, and this is yet another amazing place to compliment the Uptown vibe.  Go check it out!

Okay, on to mindfulness.  Mindfulness is about being in the present moment without judgement.  So often we are caught up in thoughts of what ‘coulda’ and ‘shoulda’ happened, and that place is super overwhelming and not very relaxing.  Mindfulness snaps us back to the present moment with simple techniques like mindful breathing, and mindful listening.

Mindfulness benefits young and old alike, and can be very easy to implement.  As an Early Childhood Educator, I saw so many children with stress related ailments like headaches and stomach pains, and it was amazing to see the results that mindfulness provided these little ones.  The first technique I generally always teach to kids is Mindful Breathing.  It’s a great way to practice brining attention to our breath, by focusing on the inhale and exhale of the breath.  Here’s a video of J demonstrating the Mindful Breathing technique with the breathing ball.  Try to match your breath with the ball. 

J is the perfect example of why I created the Mindful Kids Online Program.  Between her and her brother, and her two working parents, they have hockey, baseball, dance, and horseback riding, and that doesn’t even include running club, and afterschool programs.  Full schedules can lead to stressed out families, but full schedules don’t really work for adding in weekly mindfulness classes at a studio!  That’s why I put my entire Mindful Kids Series 1 program online.  Easy access = easy on the schedule!
If you want to find out more about the Online Mindful Kids program, you can check out this video.

And finally, as a thank you I’m offering a HUGE discount on both the Mindful Kids Online program (reg. price $75, sale price $50), as well as the Mindfulness for Kids Training and Mentorship program (reg. price $750, sale price $597).  This sale will only be available until June 15th, so be sure not to miss out!  You can find out all the details on my website,

Happy June Everyone!!