Monday, September 26, 2016

Take Yourself Out of the Equation

Last week I had the opportunity to facilitate a workshop at a local cancer support center on the topic "Healthy Eating 101." It was a two hour interactive workshop with a dozen or so people in attendance. It included those battling cancer currently, those who are survivors of the disease and caregivers to people living with cancer.

Once 10:30 came around, I closed the door to signal our start. As I turned to walk back to my computer where my presentation was, the energy in the room was palpable and I had to take a moment to gather myself before speaking.

As I gazed out to the faces watching me, an immense pouring of love swept over me. I could feel their openness and for the first time since my Yoga Teacher Training, I could make out auras surrounding some of the participants. They were open. I was open. Allowing a holding space for connection, learning, sharing and supporting.

I inhaled the experience deeply as a smile formed on my face. I liken this energy to that I feel while I'm guiding savasana. A room full of people who have chosen to hang their insecurities and reservations at the door. They are there open and vulnerable, ready to accept and share. I cannot explain how this energy fills the room. You'll know what I'm talking about if you've ever had the blessing of experiencing it.

I continued holding this space during my presentation and allowed it to fill me. Previously I had sat in my car before it was to begin, I had closed my eyes and silently set an intention for the next couple hours, "Allow me to authentically deliver whatever message or information will resonate with these people, guiding them toward better.

While I planned my presentation and organized it with a slideshow and handouts, it was important to me to feel the room, reading each participant, being open to understanding and recognizing what they might need outside of my planned information. I went with the flow, willing to release the crutch of my slides in order to serve the audience more authentically.

It turned into a beautiful couple hours of engaging conversations, heart felt personal stories, admissions of shortcomings, and a profound level of respect and nurturing amongst the group. I left on a high.


I was 17 when I first experienced symptoms of anxiety. I had a test that morning that I didn't feel totally ready for. My chest was heavy and my breathing wasn't coming easily. I curled up into the fetal position with my forehead pressing into my mattress, willing my breath to slow down. It wasn't very effective.

I was 20 and in University. I chose classes that didn't have seminars, only lectures. Seminars included an hour long class of sharing and conversation as a whole group. Unfortunately within my program there was only 1 class I was able to do this with. The first week was awful. During seminars I sat in a corner, quiet as possible, the entire time battling the nausea that overwhelmed me. My face would turn a dark shade of red at the mere thought of having to speak. I would sweat and wring my hands out, terrified at sharing. My goal those classes was to survive. I tried telling myself to put my hand up once during class and speak just one time, but that thought alone made me want to vomit. I skipped every seminar the second week and told myself I didn't need to go the rest of the year. I gave up 10-15% of my grade just to avoid these situations and to relieve the crippling anxiety that was starting to affect my life in many ways.

The next year in a Social Psychology class we were given an article to read and report on. As I sat in the back row taking in the article, I felt the blood drain from my face. The article could have been written about me. Words jumped off of the page, slapping me straight in the face. Words like difficulty breathing, deep feelings of fear, panic, sweating, blushing, wanting to hide. Holy shit. THIS is what I had been dealing with for years, not realizing it was a thing, just believing I was inherently different from everyone else. I believed I was just shy and I hated it about myself. Why couldn't I just have a conversation with someone in Walmart without wanting desperately to run away? Why did I cancel plans with friends on a regular basis to avoid being in public? Why couldn't I raise my hand in class and share a thought without believing sawing off my arm with a butter knife to be a better option? There was my truth on that page - Social Anxiety.

Armed with a label, I went home and researched all I could on the topic and found that I wasn't alone in the world after all. Yet knowing these things and battling it were two very different experiences. It wasn't until a trip to Walmart that left me paralyzed in my car, unable to open the door and enter the building because of my peaking anxiety, that I finally sought assistance from a therapist. The journey has been long. My tendency to hide and shut out everyone around me still appears when I've faced a fear or criticism from someone else. Yoga Teacher Training was very challenging because we needed to share of ourselves every class, staying open and vulnerable in a way I hadn't imagined possible.

But I did it. And I did it well.


Fast forward to my life now and events such as my workshops. Never in my life would I have believed this person to be me. There were years I couldn't fathom the concept of standing in front of others without collapsing and dying. I still marvel at my ability to deliver content confidently and comfortably. Not shrinking. Not wavering in who I am. Not allowing fear to guide me.

Aside from my numerous therapy sessions, my dedication to living a life of freedom and my hours of research, self challenges and continual commitment to growing outside my comfort zone, I have come up with a simple concept that helps me immensely when I'm standing in front of a room full of people.

Take yourself out of the equation.

Wait. What?

Yes - take yourself out of the equation.
What I mean by that is that every time I deliver content to a group, I simply consider myself as a vehicle for information that may transform their lives. I envision words, ideas and concepts coming from a space in the universe to these people's ears. It has very little to do with me. I am there to serve these people. As a conduit. How can fear overtake me with that perspective?

Rather than thinking:
Will these people like me?
Did I work hard enough?
Do I even know what I'm talking about?
They're all looking at me.

Instead I think:
How can I serve these people?
Help me find the words that will resonate with them.
What can I give them that will be meaningful in their lives?

I am taken from a place of fear to a place of love. There is a shift from insecurity to hope. I move from a sense of inadequacy to a place of dedicated determination.

Fear cannot exist in a state of love.
So for 2 hours I delivered content. Eyes stared at me. Conversations happened. And not once did I want to shrink. Not once did my voice shake. Not once did I desire the comfort of the hole I bury into when things get uncomfortable.
I left energized. My cup was full. My heart was bursting. And as I walked to my car, gratitude swept over me as tears formed while I silently whispered to myself, good job Rachel. you served them well

Friday, September 16, 2016

But....fats are fattening right??

So I ran into my Dad and his wife at Costco awhile back. I saw him in the nut and snack aisle where he handed me a box of protein bars and asked if they were okay to eat (this is a common thing, being a Nutritionist). I didn't even glance at the back of the box before "no" flew out of my mouth. I quickly showed him the ingredient list and compared it to a neighbouring box of protein bars. The difference was obvious and in his cart went the better choice.

Next up, nuts. He handed me a bag of almonds and asked if they were okay. I noted that the bag read "raw" and no other ingredients other than almonds were listed. Perfect. After throwing them into their cart, his wife shook her head and said "he eats those all the time. Aren't they fattening?"


*Reminder Rachel - most people don't spend their days and nights reading all there is to know about nutrition and the body. All they have to go on is what they're bombarded with during commercials and sneaky marketing tactics"*

*Deep breath*

*Find a quick and easy answer*

Okay this is a valid question, and one that I get way more often than I would like. This question reminds me that there are still lingering side effects from the low fat craze that took place in the 90's (more on that later!). This mindset has got to go. Let's embrace the fats. They are your friend!

I LOVE FATS! I recently had my blood work done and my cholesterol was perfect. But if we are going to be talking about fats here, let's differentiate between what I'm referring to and the others, because, no, all fats are not created equal. Some fats will harm your body and some fats will heal and benefit your body. There's a difference between deep fried oreos and organic almonds. They will do completely different things within (and to) your body.

Healthy fats provide your body more energy per ounce than carbs or protein. Fats are required to transport nutrients through the body, and help regulate body temperature. Fats also help create cell membranes, protect vital organs and maintain a proper hormone balance. So many reasons our bodies need healthy doses of daily fat. Healthy fats include things such as avocado, flax oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds, nut butter, avocado oil. I include these things every day, multiple times a day. In fact, with every single meal I eat, I make sure I consume a source of healthy fat. I add flax oil to my smoothies. I top my oats with hemp seed. I eat wild caught salmon at least once per week. I sprinkle chia seeds on just about everything. I put avocado on my toast. I eat raw nuts and seeds with an apple. I even add coconut oil into my herbal tea.

Back when I was competing, the amount of fat I was eating was minimal, as were my calories. My hair started falling out in clumps. I could never stay warm. I stopped getting my period and I had very little energy. My body craved fat and it's why so many competitors can easily eat an entire jar of nut butter in one sitting - their body is screaming for fats!

So no..fats will not make you fat. Unless you eat 14 bags of nuts a day, you'll be just fine, and you'll be fueling your body with high quality fuel. As with everything I teach about nutrition - it's always quality over quantity.

The fats I don't recommend include trans fats which are found in fried, greasy foods. These fats cause huge amounts of inflammation in the body and impede with the body's ability to regulate many processes. The fats added to processed foods that you'll find on the shelves of grocery stores also cause inflammation. These fats go through a process called hydrogenation which renders the fat less likely to go rancid, but are associated with increasing blood cholesterol levels, inflammation, gut irriation and increasing the risk of artherosclerosis. (tip - look for "partially hydrogenated" on your food labels. And when you see those words, leave the product on the shelf)

There are 2 types of essential fatty acids (required by your body) - Omega-3 and Omega-6
These fats are essential for normal growth or blood vessels and nerves, and to keep skin and other tissues healthy and supple. The sources of Omega-3 are flax oil and seed, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds and oils, salmon and other cold water fish, and some sea vegetables.

Omega-6 is found in canola oil, corn, peanuts, safflower oils, sesame oil, & soy. These fats are also utilized by the body but in very small amounts

For optimal health, the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 in the diet should be anywhere from 2:1 to 4:1. Our standard diet in reality puts the ratio closer to between 10:1 to 20:1 thanks to all the fried and processed foods that surround us. With such an imbalance, we are at risk for insulin-dependent diabetes, obesity, heart disease, chronic inflammation and a whole lot of illnesses in between.

So, my wellness lovers. Eat fat. Eat lots of it.
Making sure it's a good quality fat providing your body with quality fuel will enhance your health without question.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Why Does Health Matter so Much to me?

I often have clients or followers wondering how the heck I put my health as a priority so consistently. Where does my motivation come from?|
Let me share with you part of what drives me.

I found out June 2004 that my Mom had cancer. She had been "sick" since January of that year, but for five months, doctors had been telling her she had pneumonia. Somehow, in a place deep inside myself, I knew the truth. I remember saying to my husband Jeff that I thought it was lung cancer and if it was, I would kill myself. Shortly after, my fears were confirmed.

I had two weeks to process the news. Two weeks to grasp that my Mom was fighting a very serious disease. Two weeks to research survival rates of stage 4 lung cancer. I had two weeks to wonder how the hell this had happened.

Two weeks later was my Mom's first chemotherapy session during which she passed away. Two weeks isn't a lot of time to get your head wrapped around the notion that your best friend in life was going to lose a battle that she never stood the chance against from the beginning. It wasn't enough time for me. Though looking back I can now recognize that no amount of time would have ever been enough.

After her death we requested an autopsy, though the reason behind that is vague in my mind now. It all happened so suddenly for me, that I was doubting cancer's ability to just take her away so suddenly. I was searching for someone to blame, something specific to hate. And I hoped my answer would appear in a misdiagnosis.

I never saw the results of the autopsy but they were relayed to me. Just about every organ, every cell of my Mom's body was smothered in cancer. How could she not have known? How could I have just spent that past Christmas with her and not have a clue that she was so sick? It snuck up on her, on us, and took her from us before I realized she was dying, before I even understood that she was sick. She was living in Alberta at the time while I reside in Ontario. When I was told she passed away, all I could say was "but she wasn't even sick. She wasn't sick. I don't understand, she wasn't sick." The image of my Mom was of a healthy, happy woman, not of someone who was sick. Her spirit didn't portray a dying woman, it portrayed strength and courage.

My Mom never worked out, she drank for many years, she smoked.
(Oh, on a side note, if anyone you know is diagnosed or passes away from lung cancer, don't ever ask if they smoked, it's completely irrelevant and certainly doesn't make the disease okay. I hated that question.)

My Mom spent many years neglecting her health. She didn't pay much attention to nutrition and abused the vehicle of her life as so many of us do to some degree. I'm sure she never assumed she would get sick. She probably didn't consider the consequences or her actions (or lack of actions), or if she did, didn't think they applied to her. Does this sound familiar? I don't blame my Mom for what happened, I'm not angry or resentful. I wish she would have taken better care of her not just so she would have more years, but so the years that she DID have were happy ones with vibrant health.

Instead, I am 35 years old and haven't seen my Mom in 12 years. My kids will never know her. How awful is that?

I now have 3 young children aged 7, 4 and 2. I love these little people with every fiber of my soul. I look into their eyes and vow to myself to do all I can to ensure I am here for them as long as possible. I will teach them how to care for themselves through health, love, compassion and confidence. I need to be here for them so they never question if there is something they could have done differently to give me more time. I see their smiles and want to see them for many days, many years to come. I don't want to miss out on their graduations, weddings, children.....because I know how void going through those things without a Mommy can feel.

My motivation for eating good foods, working out and promoting the heck out of healthy living every single day rests in those three teeny tiny creatures who individually have the strength to lift me above self doubt, and who, together, have the strength to carry me through the rest of my years.

And it comes from the memory of my own Mama, who was my greatest teacher in life. Every single day I vow to her that I will take the greatest care of one of the people that meant the most to her - me. Because I am worth it.

If ever you are feeling the pull toward a healthier lifestyle but are unsure how to proceed, I encourage you to connect with me to discuss actionable steps you can start making toward the best version of you possible. Because YOU deserve it


Monday, September 12, 2016

What Kids Should Eat or Drink When They're Sick

The other day I was with my youngest son, Alexander, at the doctor's office. He had developed crazy red boil-like bumps on the underside of his thigh, and smaller red bumps had begun spreading down his legs and onto his feet, and also around his mouth. Slightly concerned, I rounded up my herd and off we went.

Diagnosis? Hand Foot and Mouth (which...can I comment now that that is quite possibly the worst name I've ever heard for a virus???). Because it's a virus, there is "no suggested protocol to help him heal" said the Doctor.

Let me interrupt for a minute.
As a Mama and a Holistic Nutritionist, can I provide you this advice?
When someone tells you there is nothing you can do to help your child's health, don't ever believe them. What they actually mean to say is "I don't have a pill that will fix this." When it comes to health, there are many ways to empower you, as a Mama and to support your child's well-being. This post is one of many designed to provide you information and tools to enable you to enhance the health of your child.
Okay, on with the story.

With Alexander's decreased appetite, she did however, suggest I try getting him to eat as much as possible. She suggested things such as yogurt, ice cream and Jell-O.

Insert gasp here.

As a RHN and a health advocate, this type of advice pains me yet I never know how to navigate these situations.
Do I take those moments as opportunities to educate?
Do I shut up and accept her help, and follow my own protocol in silence?
Do I offer to sit down with her and suggest better ideas and resources to provide her patients?
I never want to offend, yet I always want to empower and educate.
Now this doctor was a lovely, lovely lady and I absolutely appreciated her expertise and kindness she showed us. I am grateful for the medical community and the access we have to life saving resources.

My questioning always comes from three places:
1. The nutritional advice that comes with minimal education in the field
2. The approach of getting rid of a symptom rather than addressing the root cause of the concern at hand.
3. The need to silence these symptoms instead of using them as a compass toward the answers

Sorry. I digress. Again.

As I was leaving her office I wondered to myself how many times I've heard advice like this. Not just from the medical field, but from other Moms or from strangers throughout my travels with my three children. I assume you have too. Perhaps you've even followed this advice. Or given this advice. Only a few short years ago I may have followed this advice myself, assuming a doctor would know and fearing the outcome if I didn't follow her suggestions.

Here's what I know now:

1. Sugar (such as Jell-O)
Sugar suppresses the immune system. Just one tablespoon of sugar can supress the immune system for up to 6 hours. So when our children are sick, you can see why feeding them with ginger ale, Jell-O, ice cream or popsicles is a terrible idea! Maybe it feels good for their throat BUT it is also allowing their illness to either worsen or lengthen. Perhaps even BOTH!

2. Dairy.
There is the argument that yogurt contains probiotics which are hugely beneficial to the immune system. Yes, I agree that probiotics are amazing, we use them every day. But...many yogurts have probiotics added before heat processing, rendering them inactive. Also most yogurts are loaded with sugar, which will suppress the immune system. Dairy products are vey congesting in the body, create acidity and most people's bodies cannot process dairy. Also, if purchasing anything other than organic dairy, you will expose your body to pesticides, fertilizers and antibiotics. For these reasons and because of their sensitivities, I don't give my kids yogurt. (stay tuned for a post on how to find the best yogurt option if your kids do love yogurt)

So what's a Mama to do?

What if you could provide your child something soothing to them but also something that will provide their bodies nutrients equipped to fight off illness, recover faster and boost their immune system? I assume you're saying "heck yeah!" right now so I shall continue with a few options:

1. Smoothies
Smoothies are such a great way to load your child's body with goodness. Here are some of my favourite ingredients to include and why. You can scroll to the bottom of this page to find a simple recipe you can make for your child.

Greens are packed with antioxidants which help in boosting the immune system. Adding a handful of spinach into a smoothie won't affect the taste at all

Berries are also packed with antioxidants and phytonutrients, both necessary to boost the immune system.

Citrus Fruits
For my son, citrus should be avoided because the rash could enter his mouth, which would be quite painful if mixed with the acidity that citrus fruits give off. Otherwise citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit or kiwi provide Vitamin C, carotenoids and flavonoids.

Essential Fatty Acids
EFAs are required for the immune system to fight infections, yeast and bacteria.
The best sources of EFA that can easily be incorporated into a smoothie includes avocado, hemp seed, flax seed or flax seed oil,

2. Popsicles
Kids love popsicles and it's one of the first things they request when they have a sore throat. But an average popsicle contains 10 grams of sugar, meaning it has the ability to suppress the immune system for hours. At our house we make our own and it's simple:

First, purchase some popsicle moulds
Next, when you make a smoothie, double the recipe, and pour the extra into the moulds
That's it. Talk about simple.

3. Warm soup

This comes to mind especially because we are entering the Fall season. When bodies are fighting off something, providing them food in liquid form is ideal. This way the digestive system doesn't have to work so hard, sending that energy into healing instead. Soups can providing an abundance of nutrients depending on what you put into it. It's as simple as pouring an organic veggie broth into a crockpot and adding in garlic (great health supporter), veggies, beans and rice. Full of nutrients, protein, fiber and minerals.

4. Homemade ice cream
What kid doesn't like ice cream? Conventional ice creams are full of the two things I avoid when my kids aren't well: dairy and sugar. So, we make our own!

All you need to do is take 1 cup of frozen fruit (either a single type or you can mix) and place in your high speed blender with a tiny bit of nut milk or water and voila! Ice cream. Our favourite around here is a frozen banana mixed with a bit of almond milk. It's delicious and sweet enough on it's own. Get creative and think of the flavours you can create: strawberry banana, mango banana, blueberry banana...the list is endless. I typically put banana in our because of it's sweetness but it's certainly not necessary!

So I hope that gives you some good ideas on what to give your child when he or she is sick. This information isn't child-specific, it all applies to adults as well, so feel free to embrace all these ideas when you aren't feeling your best either.

Cheers to good health!
xo Rachel

Simple Immune Boosting Smoothie

2 cups water
1 handful spinach
1/2 frozen banana
1/2 cup frozen mango
1 orange
1/2 cup frozen raspberries
1 Tbsp. flax oil

Blend and Enjoy!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fear & Stagnation via The Croods

I took my kids to see The Croods at the movies yesterday (yes, this is a post about a children's movie!). I have seen it before, but as always, we only get the lessons when we are in a place to receive them. I was quite impacted by the message of the movie...or at least my interpretation of it.

To quickly sum it up, the movie is about a family of cavemen/women. All their lives the Dad has kept them in a cave because that's where it's safe, and his job is to keep them alive. When night fell, he ushered them in, closed the door off with a giant rock and made them huddle together during sleep. They weren't allowed to wander or explore and the word "curious"  was about the worst curse word they could imagine. All the children knew was this cave. So one day the daughter becomes curious about the world outside and follows a spark that has come from a fire, leading her to a boy. She is fascinated by the fire and believes it to be the sun, since she has no concept of fire.

The boy warns the girl of the ending of her part of the world, and suggests she leave to find her way to the mountain, where she will be safe. When this information is relayed to her Dad, all hell breaks loose. He won't have it. The cave has kept them alive this long, it's the only place they can exist. Eventually destruction forces them out of their home, and they have no choice but to travel to this mountain. The movie depicts the Dad, with anxiety at every turn and resistance with every step, both leading to an inability to see beyond the past - and his save little cave that he continues holding on to.
Meanwhile, the others slowly but surely come to accept this new adventure. They embrace the change and are fascinated by the world outside the shell they had been living in. They enjoy the new sights and wonder at possibility. They ride this season of change and quickly realize the life they were living wasn't living at all.

Wow. Can you see the parallels between the movie and real life?

When we resist change and keep ourselves tightly bound in our safe little haven, we miss out. On opportunities. On connections. On experiences. On possibility. On life. Fear keeps us safely secured in the world we have created for ourselves and it's so much more comfortable there isn't it?

When we can embrace change, and become willing to ride the outskirts of our comfort zone, this little bubble of security can expand, allowing in more joy and freedom. Not without fear of course, but fear is okay. Fear is that knowing that a shift in comfort is about to occur, which is a GOOD thing. Fear serves us well, it keeps us safe, but it can also work against us and allow us to falsely believe that security is what life is about.
Freedom, possibility, laughter, love, adventure, opportunity....expansion. That's where growth can be found. And that is what life is about.

Fear this - finding yourself in a dark alley late at night as you catch a glimpse of a hooded man in the back corner. This fear will prepare your body to fight or run. It will alert your senses to make a decision for your survival and safety

Don't fear this - creating a community event to share your wealth of knowledge with others. Standing on stage and looking among the crowd of people all eyeing you up, awaiting your words. Feeling like you want to crawl into a deep hole and stay there awhile. This type of fear is based on illusion. A deep seated belief that you are not good enough, conjured up by the insecurities of others. This fear will keep you safe in your home, never allowing you to fully experience the opportunities and joys life has to offer. OR you can finish your talk, impacting the lives of those who attended, filling you with a sense of purpose and expanding your safety bubble enough to create yet another event to impact even more people.

See the difference? Robin Sharma is one of my favourite people. He continually promotes living with fear every single day, "If you're not scared a lot, you're not doing very much." What can you go out and do today that sparks fear but will open up your world a little more? Now go do that.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Guided Visualization for Children

About a year ago I decided I wanted to instill mindfulness in my children. I scoured the internet for resources and meditations I could read to them and came up mostly empty handed. I started just creating my own based on their interests, and it was a big hit. We love to do this practice at bedtime, after jammies are on and teeth are brushed. I tuck them in, and cue them to relax their body with simple phrases they can understand such as "allow your body to really sink into your bed," "feel heavy but safe in your bed", "let your arms and legs fall where they're comfortable." Then I read or create a simple meditation, anywhere from 1-3 minutes at this stage (my kids are 4 and 6. My 18 month old has yet to experience this type of mindfulness).
I wanted to create a sample guided meditation for you to use on your own children. Keep in mind, it's unlikely they remain still or even quiet for the duration of the meditation, and that's ok. Think about the first time you sat in stillness (or if you haven't yet - try it. Try sitting for 5 minutes while working on silencing your thoughts. It's HARD!). The natural instinct when we are outside our comfort zone is to move. And giggle. And distract ourselves. Kids are no different. But with practice, it gets easier for them to remain still and just BE. Unfortunately kids (and adults!) these days have no idea how to just sit with themselves and are continually looking for distractions in the form of movement or noise to cope with that discomfort. It's all about practice. And stillness for children is vital - for managing behaviour and impulse, for developing confidence, improving attention and focus, promoting empathy and compassion (for others and self!), reducing stress...just to name a few of the multitude of health benefits vital for well being.

The Let Go Balloon
Lie back with your eyes closed. Let your body sink into the ground (bed, etc). Let your legs rest as they are, allowing the feet to roll where they want. Place your hands on your belly and take a few deep breaths. Every time you take a breath in (demonstrate for them), feel your belly get bigger as it fills with fresh clean air.

Imagine you are blowing up a balloon with your breath. This balloon can be any colour you'd like. Maybe it's red. Or yellow. Maybe it's blue or green. Maybe it has polka dots on it, or stripes. Or animals or words. It can be small like a mouse, or huge like an elephant or medium sized like a melon. It is your balloon, create it however you would like.
Now, exhale through your nose (pause to demonstrate), slowly letting all the air out of this balloon. Feel your belly lower down, becoming smaller as all the air escapes.

Breathe in again through your nose, feeling your belly expand and once again seeing your balloon in front of you. Maybe it has changed and looks different. Maybe the size has changed. Or the shape. Or the colours. Maybe it's the same balloon you blew up before.

Take some deep slow breaths in and out as you continue looking at your balloon. Play with it a bit - it is your balloon, you can change the colours and shape of it all you want. Try painting it into a rainbow perhaps, or add some details to it. You can hold it or gently tap it to keep it up in the air, or just watch it dance around through the sky.

With your balloon in front of you, think of something that has been bothering you. Maybe someone said something not so nice to you. Or maybe you did something that wasn't nice to someone else and you feel badly about it. Whatever is weighing heavy on your heart, think of that. Take that thought and gently breathe it up into your balloon. If any air escapes while you're doing this, take a nice big inhale through your nose and fill up your balloon with some more air.

See your balloon holding your thoughts that have been making you sad or angry or confused.

Now let go of your balloon. It's ok to let go. You can always come back to this space to make another balloon anytime you want to. See your beautiful balloon carrying your sadness up into the bright blue sky. It drifts above the tree branches, floating above the buildings. It gets carried with the wind up toward the fluffy white clouds. It floats, floats, floats so high you can no longer see it. It is gone. Say goodbye to your balloon along with the thoughts and feelings that aren't making you happy. They are no longer yours to carry. You feel lighter and more joyful already.

I always end the meditation by slowly getting them out of it. You might say something like "now take another deep inhale through your nose and let out a loud sigh as you exhale. Start to wiggle your fingers and your toes and open your eyes if you'd like."

Then you can have a debrief if you think they're willing to share with you, or depending on their age, you can provide them a journal to record how they felt before, during and after the meditation, or just leave them with the experience, which is quite powerful in itself. Have fun <3

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

8 Kitchen Tools to Free up your Time

(Part II of Meal Simplicity Blog Series)

Let's be honest for a second. I hate dinner time. I hate the anxiety that comes with trying to prep a meal with my littlest pushing me so I'll pick him up, my middle child bugging me for a snack and my oldest yelling at me for something I've done wrong in the past 6 years that gets conjured up when her low blood sugar combines with fatigue after a long school day. I hate dinner preparation. For some I could see it being a peaceful time, chopping vegetables while humming a sweet melody. This is not the case for the Moms I know. Or at least, not for me. Post-school is seriously witching hour. It sucks most days. So....dinner for me needs to be quick. I don't have time or patience to spend 45 minutes creating a meal that (let's be honest again) will really only be eaten and appreciated by me. So here's the conundrum. Spending as little time as possible in the kitchen while creating something healthy that has a high chance of being consumed by the little people. Priorities. I encounter this lots with my clients, and part of my solution is to invest in some time saving kitchen tools that serve to save time or effort. Ready? Let's dig in

1. Crockpot

There's a reason this is first on the list. Using a crockpot even once a week will change your life! Just throw a bunch of stuff in it, turn it on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours and voila! Nothing easier than that. I like to throw in a few chicken breasts and cover with my favourite BBQ sauce, simplest meal ever. No excuses. Or get creative. The other day I put in 1 cup of lentils, 1 cup of quinoa and 3 large chopped sweet potatoes, added some organic vegetable broth and some spices and called it a day. You don't need to get fancy and whatever you end up with can be used for a main dish, a side dish, taco filling, wrap filling, salad topper, stir fry addition, omelet filling...get creative! And the good news is that if it ends up tasting terrible, just throw in some more spices and you're good to go. Just like painting, you just can't go wrong! If you need some more ideas, feel free to visit my crockpot Pinterest board here

2. High Speed Blender

It all started about 5 years ago with an infomercial and my love affair had begun. The word Vitamix would send shivers down my spine and eventually my very attentive and loving husband surprised me with one. It's kind of embarassing how excited I was actually. Anyway...I use her it every day, at least once a day. Throw in whatever you'd like and make a smoothie packed with goodness. Add in spinach, hemp seed, chia seed, spirulina, flax oil, matcha, blackstrap molasses...the options are absolutely endless. Nut butters, fruits, cacao powder, avocado....isn't this fun? I actually created a smoothie e-book full of information, including about 15 recipes in it for my newsletter subscribers. If you are interested just head to the home page of this site and fill out the information on the right hand side of the page.
Alternatively, I throw a bunch of ingredients into the jug to make muffins. No pulling out a large mixer, and only 1 dish to clean. Soups are a great option too as most high speed blenders produce enough heat to create hot soups without needing to dirty another dish

3. Juicer

My daily juice is created in our Breville juicer and I am very fond of this appliance. It's as simple as it sounds - throw in whatever fruits or veggies you have on hand (or follow recipes if you like to be safe) and ta-da, fresh juice! Juicing has many health benefits - balance out blood ph levels, they're high in antioxidants which can quickly enter the blood, and depending on what you put into it, can improve digestive system functioning, ease nausea and reduce inflammation. Cheers to that!

4. Citrus Press

Okay this isn't one of the necessary tools (especially if you have a juicer) but it's fun. If I don't feel like taking apart and washing the many pieces of my juicer (ie - if I'm feeling lazy), I slice an orange or grapefruit in half and put it into the press. This leaves me only 3 parts to quickly clean up. I don't buy juice from the store as it's full of extra sugar and preservatives to keep it fresh on the shelf. Fresh squeezed tastes so much better and contains so many more nutrients. Kids love to help, and they learn to appreciated the taste of fresh juice rather than store bought

5. Rice Cooker

I was actually quite hesitant to purchase a rice cooker for the longest time. I figured "how difficult is it to cook some rice?" But let me tell you, it really does make a difference! You can throw in a cup or two of rice with some water or stock and start it up. Or even better, set a delay so it will start cooking later in the day. Once the rice is finished cooking it will stay warm. No more spilling over the edge of the pot. No more burning edges. No more monitoring the stove. I have yet to attempt other grains in it but that will be a future endeavor for sure

6. Food Chopper

I used to wince at those silly informercials promoting food choppers but after receiving one as a gift from my husband one year, I fell quickly in love. Because seriously - what takes the longest when making healthy food? Chopping up so many darn vegetables, that's what. While you can't chop a ton at once, it's still quicker than hand chopping everything. I especially love this for onions, which always seem to fall apart when I cut them up. I would suggest even taking an hour to chop up whatever vegetables you have and throw the mix into a container. You can use this to top a salad with, create a stir fry with or add to your omelet. So many ways to ensure you're getting your veggies in!

7. Garlic Press

My Mother in Law gave me a garlic press many years ago and it's a go-to staple. I've actually never chopped a garlic clove in my life but I envision it being terrible. All you do is place a clove inside the opening and push. The garlic squeezes out the other side and the clean up is simple. And perhaps this will inspire you to eat more garlic. It is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and boasts many benefits to your cardiovascular system, such as managing blood pressure. Eat up!

8. Dehydrator

This is another luxury item that's completely unnecessary but fun. We use it to make apple chips (just sliced apples) or banana chips (just sliced bananas) or by blending some fruit in your high speed blender and pouring it into the trays to make fruit leather. Kale chips are awesome too and while all these things can be made in an oven, the dehydrator cooks foods more evenly so you don't end up with burnt edges and gooey middles.

I hope you find that helpful. One of my goals as a Holistic Nutritionist is to help families eat healthier with as little effort as possible. I would love your feedback - which appliance(s) do you rely on to keep you and your family healthy?