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Book Review: One Spirit Medicine by Alberto Vilioldo

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About the Author:

Alberto Vilioldo, Ph.D., is a Cuban-born psychologist, medical anthropologist and author, writing primarily in the field of neo-shamanism.1 Vilioldo has studied the shamanic healing practices of the Amazon and Andes for more than 25 years. In 1984 he founded the Four Winds Society, which offers extensive education in the philosophy and practice of energy medicine, training students to become modern-day shamans. He also directs the Center for Energy Medicine in Chile, where he investigates and practices the neuroscience of enlightenment.2 Read more about the author on his Biography page.

Book Review:

This book is an interesting mix of general wellness advice and spirituality. Vilioldo presents a lot of information in this book about the connection that physical health has with the emotional and psychic well being of the body. If you’re a medical practitioner this book may blow your mind. If you’re a spiritual person you may find this book as interesting as I did. I never thought of my body the way that Vilioldo describes things. It’s a refreshing way to look at your physical health. The only thing I found frustrating was that Vilioldo would talk about the disadvantages of how life is often lived in the modern world and the ailments that arise from it. But he didn’t provide that many solutions in the book. I would read about all sorts of illness he’s talking about and think okay, that’s good to know. But how do I fix it? He would only provide solutions to some issues but not to the many, many issues he brought up. There is a lot of information that he presents in this book (see Table of Contents above). There are so many topics he touches upon so I’ve chosen just to do an overview in this review. One of the many topics are that everyone should make sure their digestive systems (gut brain) are working properly. He basically says that if your digestive system isn’t working at optimal levels it can seriously impact not only your health but your spiritual journey. It makes sense to me that a pure body helps to contribute to a clear, functioning mind. When our minds are clear then we have a greater chance of making the right decisions for ourselves spiritually and otherwise. Vilioldo characterizes each stage in the spiritual journey with an archetype: the healer, divine feminine, sage, visionary, etc.

I haven’t decided yet how seriously I want to take this book. Certainly, a lot of things he suggests the reader do for a more balanced life seem like common sense to me. For example, his 7 day detox plan sounds interesting. But for some people it would not be affordable to buy the amount of supplements he suggests for the detox. The dosage of the supplements seem high to me, but I suppose one would seek the advice of their doctor before embarking on such a detox. In any case, this book will open your mind to the possibilities of a dialogue between spirit, body and mind. I would suggest readers take this book with a grain of salt. While I think Vilioldo makes a lot of valid points I wouldn’t take his word as gospel, nor would I take any author’s word as gospel. For many people the best thing to do is accept the information that makes sense to you and leave the rest.

Rating: 4/5


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All you need is love and chocolate from ChocoSol Traders


ChocoSol Traders has become one of my favourite organic chocolate brands. Green & Black’s used to be my favourite but I’ve since realized the benefits of eating a more artisan type of chocolate and raw chocolate. What makes them artisans?  Well, ChocoSol Traders make sure they deal only with fair-trade cacao bean suppliers, and they make their chocolate right here in my home city of Toronto using eco-friendly power. They have a “cradle to cradle” approach in making their chocolate, which is organic, shade grown and sourced from indigenous communities in the Lacondon Jungle of Chiapas, Mexico and the Oaxacan mountains of Southern Mexico. They also use ingredients grown in Southern Ontario. To read more about ChocoSol Traders, check out their About Us page.

I love all the unique flavours they have for their bars. At the Total Health Show back in April I was able to nab the Jaguar Swirl and Coffee Crunch flavours which aren’t available at the health food stores I frequent. The bars were delicious and I found a small square of chocolate really satisfying. With some chocolate bars in the past I would eat one piece and then want to devour the whole bar! But with ChocoSol Traders’ my chocolate craving would be satisfied with just one square. Perhaps it’s because their chocolate is quite dense and the flavour profile is also intense. Chocolate bars aside, I’ve also tried their cacao nibs which I use to make the Earth Diet cookie dough balls. The cacao nibs work great as “chocolate chips” and are actually healthier for you than milk chocolate chips as these are as pure as you can get. For those not familiar with cacao nibs, they are created from cacao beans that have been roasted, cracked and de-shelled. The only nit picky thing I can complain about with ChocoSol Traders is that I wish they had an online shop so I could get my hands on more of their special flavours. But then again, I suppose that would defeat the purpose of their slow chocolate/food ethics. Besides chocolate bars, they also sell drinking chocolate, cacao nibs, roasted coffee, hemp seeds, chia seeds, vanilla pods and agave. Check out their youtube video of drinking chocolate below. Doesn’t it look scrumptious? I’ve yet to try their drinking chocolate. Maybe when the weather cools down again I can get my hands around a hot mug of their drinking chocolate.

Cost: Half bar $4.80 CAD
Available at: Noah’s Natural Foods, Ambrosia Natural Foods, List of other stockists
Brand Origin: Canada
Rating: 5/5

Check out ChocoSol Traders on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram


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Book Review: The Food Babe Way by Vani Hari


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About the Author:

Vani Hari is a food activist and the creator of FoodBabe.com. In her work, Hari has influenced how food giants like Kraft, Subway, Chipotle, Chick-fil-A, and Starbucks create their products, steering them toward more healthful policies. For most of her life, Vani Hari ate whatever she wanted — candy, soda, fast food, processed food – until her typical American diet landed her where that diet typically does, in a hospital. It was then that Hari decided to make health her number one priority. Her newfound goal drove her to investigate what is really in our food, how it is grown, and what chemicals are used in its production. The more she learned, and the more lessons she put into action, the better she felt. Eager to share the truth about harmful ingredients as well as the secrets of her healthy lifestyle with friends and family,
Excerpt from The Food Babe Way, Author page

Book Review:

Well there’s a lot to talk about in this book so let’s get started. Part I of the book deals with Vani Hari’s story and also how she came to start investigating food ingredients. She has a list of chemicals to avoid which she calls the “Sickening 15”. These chemicals commonly found in processed foods are called obsegens. I did a quick search on google and the term does actually exist. However, since I’m not a scientist I cannot say how accurate her information in the book is. Hari has lately been attacked by some in the scientific community that call her a fearmonger and scientifically illiterate. I’m not here to debate whether she is or not, as it would take an awful lot of time for me to research each of her claims. But the good food habits she lays out in Part II of the book make sense to me. For example, many people drink lemon water in the morning as a way to do a light detox every day. Also, drinking juiced fruits and vegetables are certainly known to improve health by getting more nutrients into your body. I’ve also tried Hari’s advice about not drinking during meals. That has definitely helped with my digestive processes. I like her advice to eat meat like a condiment instead of making it the main attraction of a meal. So there are still some valuable things for me to take away from this book. Part III contains all the recipes and eating plans. The recipes are healthy and common dishes that you can also find some variation of on the internet for free. For the eating plan I would actually flip things around. She has the heaviest meal at dinner time and I actually like my heaviest meals to be breakfast and lunch. I need more fuel during the day when I’m out and about at work, whereas at night time I’m usually just relaxing. Also her guidelines for how to eat while traveling or dining out make a lot of sense but what if you are in an area where there you cannot get organic foods easily? I’m not willing to load down half of my luggage with food just because of that. I would personally make take the healthiest options available and then go back to eating organic when I get home. Hari’s way of eating seems very restrictive in some ways. It worked for her and that’s great. But it might not work for everyone. I actually bought a paper copy of the book to use as a reference but going through it now, I think I may actually return it. The book is also available at my local library so I don’t think I need a personal copy on my bookshelf. To be honest, I’m a little disappointed in this book because a lot of her advice has already been talked about and published by many other authors.

Rating: 3/5


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Free Thought Fridays: 8 Tips on How to Juice Effectively

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Ever since I got the Earth Diet book and started juicing I noticed some wonderful health benefits. I feel more energetic, my mind feels clearer, and my body feels cleaner. My skin and hair have improved too. My hair is thicker and my skin has a better texture and tone. I would encourage anyone who is contemplating juicing to do a little bit of research first however. I actually bought my juicer before doing much research and I didn’t fully realize the differences between the juicing machines. Once my current juicer burns out (a centrifugal juicer) I’ll get the kind that I want. Below are some things for you to think about if you want to try juicing.

1. Buy a juicer that fits your needs

What is more important to you? Quality, quantity, or cost? If you’re on a budget, the cheapest juicers are the centrifugal juicers. If you want high quality juice then perhaps a masticating juicer would fit your needs. If you want to squeeze the most juice out of your produce then a hydraulic press juicer would work best. Each type of juicer has its pros and cons. For example, centrifugal juicers are low cost but noisy and not completely efficient at getting all the juice out of your produce. Masticating (single gear) and triturating (twin gear) juicers are more expensive and take longer to extract juice. But they are also quieter and more efficient at extracting juice. The hydraulic press juicers are the most expensive of all (e.g. $2,000+) and works slowly as well, but produces the best quality juice that can be stored for longer periods of time. So think long and hard about what is important to you. Just as a general guideline, if you are a beginner you should start with the most affordable juicer. Then if you decide you want to become serious about juicing you can get a more expensive juicer later on. Read up on the different types of juicers here.

2. If you have time, juice once a day

It’s a good idea to drink fresh juice, especially if you have a centrifugal juicer which produces lower quality juice. The benefit of juicing is that your body can absorb the nutrients much quicker since the fibre is absent. But at the same time, the nutrients and enzymes in juice oxidize quicker once in liquid form. The optimal time to drink your juice is as soon as you make it. But if you don’t have time to juice every day, you can also juice once or twice a week and freeze your juice. Thaw the juice a day before you want to drink it. The nutrient value in frozen juice will not be 100% but at least you will still get a lot more nutrients into your body than if you were to try to eat all the produce you’ve used to make the juice.

3. Store your juices in an airtight mason jar

Having an airtight mason jar can help preserve the nutrients in a green juice. It prevents oxidization as well. More tips on how to store your juice. I like to make large batches of juice on the weekends and then freeze them immediately. Some juice snobs may sniff at this and chide me, but until I get a better juicer this is what I will be doing to keep my juice fresh. I find the frozen juice tastes almost as great as the fresh juice and I still get to experience the health benefits from juicing.

4. Juice leafy greens first, then soft fruit, then hard veggies and fruits

When I first got a juicer I just threw them in without any order. Using a centrifugal juicer, I found a lot of the produce was coming out in the pulp almost whole and not fully “juiced”. Then I read Vani Hari’s book which said the leafy greens should go first, then soft fruit and lastly hard fruit and veggies. The harder veggies and fruits will push the softer items through the juicer. Since then, my pulp doesn’t contain whole pieces of produce that didn’t get through. From The Food Babe Way by Vani Hari.

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This is the kind of juicer I have. A Hamilton Beach Big Mouth Juicer. It’s a centrifugal juicer.

5. Don’t use more than 1 high sugar fruit per juice

Some fruits like pineapple and mango are very high in sugar. Although it’s a natural sugar it’s still a good idea to limit those fruits to one per juice. For example, you can do: kale, apple, ginger, lemon and carrot. The sweetness of the apple and carrot are balanced out by the rest of the ingredients. Here’s a very useful list of low sugar fruits. Plus an article on low sugar vegetables, fruits and what fresh juice does to your blood sugar.

6. Drink your juice on an empty stomach

The best way for your body to absorb the nutrients of juice is on an empty stomach. If you eat something before having juice you may experience stomach upset. If you want to eat food soon after having juice, Food Babe advises to wait at least 20 minutes. I have waited about 30 minutes before having solid food and not experienced any problems when I do this. Reasons why to have juice on an empty stomach.

7. You don’t need to use a recipe book

The great thing about juicing is that you can just go with the flow and follow the tastes you or your family like. Like it a little spicy? Add some ginger or garlic which adds a little zing to the juice. Recipes are good if you’re a newbie to juicing and want to focus on a certain goal like boosting your immune system or losing weight. But otherwise don’t feel you need to have a recipe book to start juicing. You can find tons of free juice recipes online and then change them to your tastes. I agree with the intuitive eating theory that the body knows what nutrients it needs. If you find yourself craving something then as Liana Werner-Gray says in the Earth Diet book, give in to that craving but get the most natural version of that craving that’s possible. Want some kale or broccoli but don’t like the taste? Juice them with some apple or carrots to help mask the tastes you don’t like.

8. If you want to do a long juice cleanse, make sure you speak to a nutritional expert

A lot of people jump on the juicing bandwagon very quickly. While I applaud that enthusiasm, you have to realize that if you’ve been eating junk food most of your life then doing something drastic like a juice cleanse will cause some major detoxing symptoms. I don’t know anyone who would want to feel lousy while trying to get healthy. Before you leap into a juice cleanse, take a look at your eating habits. If you don’t eat healthy then start to gradually eat better. You can always do a juice cleanse later on. Then before you do the actual juice cleanse, get a physical to make sure your body can handle it. If you will be doing a long juice cleanse (e.g. more than a week) then speak to a nutritional expert. You want to make sure that you’re not depriving your body of essential nutrients. Juice cleanses should be tailored to each person’s specific needs and body issues.

Some great resources on juicing:

Joyous Health

The Food Babe Way – Vani Hari

The Earth Diet – Liana Werner-Gray

Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (a Joe Cross film – documentary movie)

More articles on juicing:

Juicing Basics – Juice for Health

Juicer types – Huffington Post

6 Things to consider before buying a juicer – Summer Tomato

Juicer Buying Guide – Reboot with Joe (He was the star of Fat Sick & Nearly Dead)


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DIY: Cookie Dough Balls

One of my favourite recipes from the Earth Diet book is the Cookie Dough Balls. I’m a real snacker. I eat my main meals but often get hungry in between meals as well. I have a sweet tooth so it’s important for me to find healthy, filling, snacks that also address my sweet tooth. These Cookie Dough Balls are perfect small snacks and can add variety to the other snacks I normally bring with me which is a piece of fruit like apples, bananas, and pears.

Ingredients:

Makes 12 balls

1 cup of rolled oats (gluten free)
1 cup of cashews
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract or 1 vanilla bean
2 teaspoons of honey or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon of Himalayan salt
2 tablespoons of cacao nibs (will be the ‘chocolate chips’)

Action:
1. Blend the cashews and oats in a food processor so it makes a ‘flour meal’ consistency.
2. In a bowl add this blend, along with the vanilla, salt and honey and stir. Once all mixed add the cacao nibs and stir.
3. Taste and add water if needed, or more honey if you like it sweeter. It should be a cookie dough consistency.
4. Roll the mixture into balls. I like to use an ice cream scooper with the lever to ensure they are all the same size (see below)
6. Eat and enjoy. Store in the fridge.

See full recipe on the Earth Diet website or book.


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This basic recipe is so easy to modify. I’ve experimented with using butterscotch chips instead of using cacao nibs. Most recently I made a batch with maca powder, vegan protein powder, dates, and goji berries (see below). They turned out really delicious! If you have a nut allergy you can also substitute the cashews for medjool dates. You may have to eliminate the maple syrup/honey and add more oats since dates are already quite sticky and sweet.

Do you have a sweet tooth too?


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Book Review: The Earth Diet by Liana Werner-Gray


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About the Author:

Liana Werner-Gray was raised in outback Australia, Alice Springs. She is an advocate for natural healing using a healthy diet and lifestyle. After healing herself of many negative health conditions including a pre-cancerous tumor, digestive issues and disorderly eating through embracing a natural lifestyle, Werner-Gray began lecturing and teaching about The Earth Diet internationally. The Earth Diet was published by Hay House in October 28th 2014. As the founder and owner of The Earth Diet, Liana directs a team that helps people all over the world find recipes that work for them. Through her company, she has helped thousands of people improve, and in some cases even entirely heal, conditions such as cancer, diabetes, addictions, depression, acne, heart disease, obesity, and more. Listen to her radio show on Hay House Radio here.
Excerpted from The Earth Diet About page

Book Review:

The Earth Diet starts off with an introduction to Liana’s story. She had not been eating well after living on her own for the first time and as a result of unhealthy eating, a pre-cancerous tumor developed in her neck. Doctors gave her the options of waiting, getting surgery to remove the tumor or getting radiation. She was only 21 years old at that time and decided to do her own research to heal her body naturally. To satisfy her junk food cravings she created healthy alternative recipes for things like chocolate, hamburgers, pizza and chips. After three months of adopting a natural lifestyle, the tumour in her throat disappeared. In 2012 Liana’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. She was determined to help her mother heal herself and developed a program which included daily juicing, and meals made from The Earth Diet recipes. Her mother has now been cancer free for three years.

Part 1 of the book explains The Earth Diet principles. The first chapter continues with the basics. On page 6 and 7 you will find the Do’s and Don’ts. It really makes a lot of sense if you read these lists. Liana also explains why processed foods and GMOs are bad for us. Chapter 2 talks about self-healing: what it is, self-healing strategies, how to manage detox symptoms, and taking it one day at a time. Chapter 3 is about The Earth Diet lifestyle: choosing what is right for you, making your own meals, positive thinking, how to eat on a budget, and the issue of body care products. There are some DIY personal care recipes at the end of this chapter for things like: toothpaste, natural perfume, lotions, hair treatments, etc. Cleaning products and dangerous household and body care products are also addressed in this chapter. Chapter 4 deals with how to use the recipes, meal planning, and equipment. Chapter 5 lists all the things you might need in your pantry to make The Earth Diet recipes. Chapter 6 helps those who are ready to begin with The Earth Diet: cleaning out your cupboards, how to transition and what to do when you’re ready to go deeper. Part 2 of the book contains the recipes. There are recipes on juicing, making milks, smoothies, teas, raw vegan main dishes, cooked vegan dishes, Meat eater’s dishes, condiments and desserts. The Part 3 of the book contains The Earth Diet guides. So for example if you are looking to loose weight there is a guide for what to eat, drink, etc with that goal in mind. There is also a clear skin guide and a meat eater’s guide as well.

I’ve tried several of the recipes in this book and so far I have really loved them. I have a real sweet tooth and I’ve struggled for years with this as I grew up on junk food chocolate. See my post on The Benefits of Raw Chocolate for more details. So when I read in this book that I could still have a raw chocolate or something sweet every day I was really happy. I agree with Liana that when we deprive ourselves of things it just makes the problem worse. I love that The Earth Diet is so flexible. I had been a vegan at one point in my life and I got extremely sick. So I went back to eating meat though I upgraded to organic meat. I would like to become vegan again but I’m not sure if it’s possible for me. I’m going to see how my body feels as I decrease the amount of meat I eat. Intuitive eating is a really hot buzz word lately and that also makes a lot of sense to me. We often don’t credit our bodies with the intelligence it actually has. Your body often knows what it needs before you do, if you don’t get the signals mixed up. For example, Liana explained that we are able to eat so much junk food because there isn’t much nutrition in it. Then your body signals you to eat more to fill those nutritional gaps. But eating more junk food doesn’t help because junk food doesn’t nourish your body. I also didn’t realize that gluten is actually hard for anyone to digest! Check out Wellness Mama’s podcast on How to Know If You Have Gluten Sensitivity and her blog post on Why Gluten Isn’t a Food Group. I’ve cut out gluten for about two weeks now and am feeling really great. I also find that my body really likes the fresh green juices. I hope to get a juicer soon so I can make my own juices at home. Just a note: by juice I’m talking about homemade organic juice from fruits and vegetables, not the store bought kind which contains preservatives and lots of sugar. Anyway, I am really enjoying my Earth Diet journey and I will continue doing this. This is a lifestyle I know I can stick with.

Rating: 5/5


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Free Thought Fridays: The benefits of raw chocolate


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Benefits

Have you ever heard of raw chocolate? You may be wondering what it is. Well, raw chocolate comes from cacao beans that haven’t been roasted. Raw chocolate is full of anti-oxidants and minerals that your body needs like magnesium, chromium and iron. It’s also high in Vitamin C which might seem counter intuitive since we are taught to think that only citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C. Depending on where the cacao comes from it may have undertones of caramel, coffee, or even floral undertones. It sounds much like a fine wine, which makes sense if you think about it. On a side note, this idea is called terroir (from the french word terre “land”) and is loosely translated as “sense of place.”

Personal Experience

I used to be able to eat a whole bar of what I call junk food chocolate which is highly processed and full of preservatives and other chemicals. I would crave a taste of junk food chocolate every single day! Brands like Hershey, Nestle and Cadbury were what I ate growing up. Since I started eating raw chocolate I have fewer intense chocolate cravings. Now I just have a half inch square when I feel like it. What a big difference for me, going from a whole bar of junk food chocolate almost every day to a small square three times a week. I’m sure that as I continue on my clean eating adventure the cravings will decrease even more.

What kind to buy?

In my opinion, the best raw chocolate is non-GMO, organic and free trade. You might wonder why free trade is important to me. Watch this YouTube video below on Ivory Coast cacao farmers and you’ll understand. It saddens me that the average Ivory Coast cacao farmer can’t even afford to buy a chocolate bar! Fair trade chocolate ensures that farmers like these are paid fair wages so that they can support themselves and their families. I choose non-GMO, organic chocolate in order to reduce the toxic burden my body has to carry. I don’t want to be eating chocolate full of pesticides or is a GMO product. Read more about the effects of GMO’s on the body here.

Where to buy?

My favourite Canadian sources of raw chocolate are Chocosol Traders and Giddy Yo Yo. I’ve also heard good things about Raw Chocolate Man which is available in the USA, but I haven’t tried it yet.

Have you ever tried raw chocolate? If yes, what are your favourite brands?