Health & Wellness

Day 7: The Final Rice Bowl

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The final day! I am so humbled by everyone coming to the blog to check out these delicious recipes – and thank you to my amazing friends & colleagues for contributing their time and delicious recipes to make this blog series come to life.

It’s no secret that each of us live extremely busy lives – we are all studying to be doctors while simultaneously maintaining personal lives and perusing other dreams. It’s a balancing act that after 3 years, you’d think we had down pat, but it continues to be a learning process. This series came to life for me when I realized that my arsenal of make-ahead meals was lacking inspiration. I NEED to make large batches of food to ensure I’m eating a nutritious lunch or else I either won’t eat or I’ll find myself eating something I know is causing me more harm than good. Grab’n’go is vital for any busy body.

I hope you all enjoyed the recipes as much as I did and now have a fridge full of meals for the week ahead.

This final recipe comes from a recent dinner I had with friends before an intuition seminar. We went to Fresh, a vegetarian restaurant in Toronto that was new to me. My dinner was delicious, however, my girlfriend’s was better and inspired me to come home and recreate her bowl as my new lunch staple.

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Here is my adaptation of the Fresh Beach Bowl:

Ingredients:

2 cups Brown Basmati Rice

2 Chicken breasts

1 Avocado

1 Red pepper

1 Large sweet potato

Copped coleslaw mix

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1 Lemon

3 tbsp Olive Oil

Oregano

Basil

Goat cheese

Directions: [Note: Preheat oven to 400]

Step 1: Cook 2 cups brown Basmati rice as per package instructions. Drizzle with 2 tbsp olive oil, and spice with salt and pepper.

Step 2: Scrub the sweet potato and microwave for 5 minutes. Bake (skin on) for 20 minutes at 400.

Step 3: Season 2 chicken breasts with salt, pepper, oregano, basil and the juice of 1/2 a lemon and bake for 20-25 minutes on 400.

[I like to cook my chicken breast in a dish with a bit of no salt added chicken broth to keep it moist]

Step 4: Slice red pepper and toss in a bowl with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and bake for 10-12 minutes until soft

Helpful Tip: I put my chicken and sweet potato in the oven at the same time and with 12 minutes left I tossed the red pepper onto the baking sheet with the sweet potato.

Step 5: While everything is baking, slice tomato and avocado.

Step 6: It’s time to build your bowls! Layer the bottom with rice and add red pepper, sweet potato chunks, chicken pieces, avocado, and tomato to the top. Sprinkle on sunflower seeds and goats cheese. Add a handful of chopped coleslaw for crunch. Squeeze the juice of a lemon wedge and enjoy!

The best part about this is recipe is it is so adaptable to what you have in the fridge or what you’re feeling like that day. It’s less of a stir-fry and more of a warm salad – and it’s delicious!

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I want to thank everyone again for joining us for the 7-day recipe giveaway – I hope you all took away a recipe that you can work into your weekly rotation. More importantly, I hope that having a freezer full of meals has alleviated some of the stress that is so common at this busy time of year.

The ladies each contributed a delicious and nutritious meal – if you’re looking for more inspiration for your health & wellness journey check out their blogs:

Emily Freistatter: https://emilyfreistatter.wordpress.com/

Emily Martin: https://celiacbynature.wordpress.com/

Samina Mitha: http://naturallycured.blogspot.ca/

Jodie Tatlock: https://freespiritedhealth.wordpress.com/

Kaitlyn Zorn: http://kaitlynzorn.wordpress.com/

Ashley Margeson: http://www.ashleymargeson.com/

Enjoy!

In love & health,

Kelsey.

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clean up your sleep

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As this first semester of third year comes to an end I can feel the fatigue starting to set in. I’m waking up early, mentally straining my brain all day, and then staying up too late at night. This is only going to get worse as the snow starts to fall and I need to begin waking up earlier to begin my winter commute. Not to mention our strenuous exam schedule looming in the coming weeks.

I carried these bad sleep habits over form last year, even though I promised myself I would make changes to my sleep habits. Good sleep hygiene is so important for both quantity and quality of sleep. Not sure if you’re considered a “good sleeper”? Google “Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index” and fill out the questionnaire to get a more accurate reading on your current sleep habits. It’s a useful tool to not only diagnose insomnia, but to see where you are on the scale in general. It’s estimated that 1 in 7 Canadians over the age of 15 have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep and are diagnosed with insomnia [1]. Regardless of being labelled with the diagnosis, I would assume sleep difficulties are more common than 1 in 7.

An easy solution to get yourself on the right track is improving your sleep hygiene – clean sleep is good sleep! Here are some tips on sleep hygiene that I’m going to try implementing into my nightly routine.

1. Power down – so many of us are glued to our laptops/smartphones – give yourself an “electronic-free” period 30-60 minutes before bed to allow your brain to wind down.

2. Good blinds – We have spoken endlessly this summer about needing to update our blinds because way too much light is getting in. Your brain needs the dark to begin stimulating the release of melatonin, the natural substance we produce to promote sleep. With a bright room you will not get the adequate melatonin release needed to induce sleepiness. Block out those street lamps with a good quality blind and turn your alarm clocks around (these count!).

3. Exercise –  A late night exercise session can keep you awake on an endorphin high, but exercise in general promotes a healthier sleep cycle. Moderate exercise of 20-30 minutes of brisk walking 4-5 times per week is adequate – try and get that heart rate up to a point where you’re moving but can still carry on a conversation without feeling out of breath.

4. Reserve the bedroom for sex and sleep – Your bed is for two things and two things only. I find it way too easy to curl in in my duvet to study on cold winter days but we have to resist this urge! Associating your bed with negative thoughts of work or studying is only going to bring those emotions into focus when you’re trying to fall asleep at night.

5. Keep your room neat & tidy  – just like our moms used to say! De-clutter your room and keep them clean to remove any visual distractions.

6. Avoid stimulants before bed – this isn’t just coffee and tea but alcohol as well. “But alcohol makes me drowsy?” you say… This is true. Alcohol consumption promotes stages 1 and 2 of sleep, which is considered “light” sleep but it actually inhibits us from entering the REM cycle. REM sleep is vital as this is where we reset, ideas are committed to memory and it contributes to our creativity! Without ever entering this cycle we wake feeling groggy, grumpy, and like we in fact didn’t sleep at all.

Sleep is so important to our well-being and unfortunately many of us are walking around deprived, including myself. Setting yourself up for success at night time is key to breaking those bad sleep habits and entering a cycle where you feel refreshed and energized.

In love & health,

Kelsey

Connect with me on Facebook @ http://www.facebook.com/kelseyduncannd

Connect with me on Twitter @KDthefutureND

 

 

[1] http://www.statcan.gc.ca/daily-quotidien/051116/dq051116a-eng.htm

words that have shaped my spiritual journey

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When I came to CCNM I had no concept of spirit. It didn’t take long for the energetics of this building to light a fire inside of me to discover not only myself but my purpose in the Universe. I embarked on a journey that was more valuable than a degree to practice medicine, and though at times my life seemed clouded, my intuition has began to blossom.

I began connecting with myself through meditation. A practice I try to integrate into my routine as much as possible. You can read about my experiences with meditation on past blogs here and here. Yoga is another way I like to spend time connecting with myself. Breathing freely and exploring the way my body feels both physically and emotionally.

I’ve also always been an avid reader, and as much as my life and time is consumed by medical books, I always seek out additions to my library that will enrich my life on a more meaningful and personal level. Here are some pieces of work I have read that have kept me walking forward on my spiritual journey.

Anatomy of the Spirit: The Seven Stages of Power and Healing by Caroline Myss

My first dive into an unknown pool as with Anatomy of the Spirit, recommended to me by my first intern at the RSNC. Caroline is a beautiful author who shares with you her experiences working as a medical intuitive. She uses energetic medicine to show the depth of the mind-body connection and how physical illness is a reflection of our internal spirits. She breaks down the 7 energy centers, or chakras, in basic terms that make this a great read for new comers to the chakras. I’ve read this book 3 times now and will continue to pick it up in times when I need inspiration or a refresher.

Eastern Body Western Mind: Psychology and the Chakra System As a Path to the Self by Anodea Judith

This work I pick up periodically and have never read cover-to-cover (not for lack of interest but limited time). It’s another reference book that I have used to gain a better awareness and understanding of the chakra system and how the energetic centers relate to our physical health. Connecting the Eastern and Western perspectives of health and medicine, this book is a must for any aspiring Naturopathic Doctor. We are the bridge between East and West in the medicine world.

OmTimes: http://omtimes.com/

An online magazine bringing awareness to conscious living. Introduced to me in first year by a good friend (who writes an amazing blog over at Free Spirited Living: here), I have continued to follow articles on OmTimes that enlighten me in all areas of spiritual health and practice. Covering anything from relationships and healthy living to astronomy and lunar moon cycles, OmTimes is a always a quick and insightful read.

Questions about my journey? Feel free to ask by commenting below or emailing me at kelseyanneduncan@gmail.com – I would love to connect with you.

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In love & health,

Kelsey

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You ate too much… now what?

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I can’t even count on all available digits how many times I complain about being full, bloated, or nauseous after meals. I probably can’t even count how many times I said it just last week! Something I’ve been battling with my whole life, and a current area of improvement I’m working on with my intern at the RSNC. Herbal medicine is my go-to after meals where I may have over-indulged slightly and in times of need, I turn to tea after dinner to soothe my aching tummy. Here are some of my favourite herbs for those after-dinner woe’s:

1. Peppermint – at restaurants they usually give mints after dinner, right? This isn’t just a kind gesture – peppermint is great to   soothe your gastrointestinal system and combat indigestion. It also promotes the flow of digestive juices and bile to help your body breakdown that big meal quicker.

2. Chamomile – another soothing herb for your gastrointestinal system to help battle indigestion. It also helps relieve that extra gas you might be experiencing, by soothing the intestinal walls and allowing elimination of that bloat.

3. Lemon balm – another carminative herb that offers relief from digestive upset and flatulence. As an added bonus – it tastes delicious too!

4. Fennel – similar to peppermint, fennel is great to soothe an upset stomach and help promote digestion.

All 4 herbs are delicious as a tea and can be found either loose leaf or bagged. If purchasing loose leaf tea, combine whichever combination of herbs you desire at equal parts and brew covered (important to lock in those essential oils!) for 10-15 minutes. If purchasing bagged tea, I like Traditional Medicines Eater’s Digest but feel free to try any tea’s you like!

It’s important to remember not to discount these symptoms as “common complaints” – they may be indicating something more serious is going on and it’s important to visit your doctor about recurring digestive upset.

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In love & health,

Kelsey

Snackers Unite!

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I find we can go to the grocery store and spends hundreds of dollars on dinners. That’s it. Just dinners. How does that happen? As a self-proclaimed queen of snacking I found it was a struggle throughout the day to keep myself full. A common complaint surrounding a whole-food natural diet is that there aren’t enough quick-and-easy snack foods besides raw veg and fruit. I’m here to debunk that theory. 10 minutes of prep and 30 minutes of cooking produces enough naturally-sweetened granola to feed a small army. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

Preheat oven to 350 oC

4 cups oats

4 cups mixed nuts and seeds [I used an unsalted mixture of crushed pecans, walnuts, slivered almonds, and sunflower seeds]

1/2 cup natural peanut butter

1/2 cup organic honey

1/2 cup coconut oil

1/2 cup water

3 tbsp cinnamon

Pinch of Himalayan salt

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until well coated. Spread onto a baking sheet (optional parchment paper, I didn’t have any problems with the mixture sticking).

Bake on 350 oC for 30 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet and store in an air-tight container!

 

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I’ve been munching on this treat morning, noon and night. It made so much I’ve even been giving it away to friends! A wonderful protein-filled snack that’s easy to have on hand whenever a boost is needed. Enjoy!

 

Happy baking!

K

 

yoga for migraines

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I’m not sure what had me open up PubMed this afternoon, considering I’m not even in school right now I probably should be out spending my Saturday doing non-school things. Truth is I opened it and keyed in “naturopathic oncology” (an interest of mine). The first article that came up immediately caught my eye, first because it actually had nothing to do with oncology and second because it was about yoga.

PubMed is not a rich source of alternative medicine research, but there’s not much research in alternative medicine in general. Funding is minimal but interest is growing and I think we will see an incline in available research opportunities in non-invasive therapies.

“Effect of Yoga on Migraine: a comprehensive study using clinical profile and cardiac autonomic functions” was published in July of this year in the International Journal of Yoga. The sample size was small, 60 people total, 30 receiving conventional migraine treatment and 30 receiving conventional treatment + 5 yoga sessions a week for 6 weeks. The patients kept a migraine diary throughout the 6 weeks, indicating the total number of headaches as well as the intensity and medication used. The variable measured was headache-specific quality of life, and patients were able to rate the benefit of treatment on a 5-point scale. The researchers also studied heart rate variability after the 6 week treatment in both groups.

Headache frequency and intensity were reduced in both groups, however a further reduction was seen in the yoga group. When asked to rate the benefit of the treatment, 8 people in the conventional treatment stated “neither harmful nor helpful” with the remaining 22 stating “more harmful than helpful”. All 30 yoga participants stated the treatment was “more helpful than harmful”. Heart rate was found to increase slightly in the conventional treatment group (not statistically significant), while in the yoga group the heart rate of participates was found to decrease. Lastly, in the headache-specific quality of life score, both groups showed an improvement, while only in the yoga group were scores of “little to no impact on life” found.

The researchers go on to state the role stress has on development and worsening of migraine headaches, and how a mindfulness-based aerobic exercise, such as yoga, works to decrease stress and anxiety, as well as alleviate depression and enhance mood. Yoga has also been shown to decrease stress hormones, such as cortisol, which at a chronic level can contribute to hypertension, obesity, cardiovascular disease, depression and a depressed immune system [2].

As a new yogi and yoga enthusiast, finding articles such as this one on a data base full of pharmacological-focused papers was encouraging. The yoga participants still received conventional therapy, however improvement beyond conventional therapy alone was achieved. It’s great to see interest in lifestyle approaches for the treatment of migraines, as it is such a common illness in our high-stress society.

Here is a link to the paper if you are interested – reading research articles is not the same as sitting down to a good book, however, I do encourage you to take a glance. This is a concise article with great information presented in understandable language.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4097897/

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In love & yoga,

K.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4097897/

[2] http://press.endocrine.org/doi/full/10.1210/jcem.83.6.4908

there’s two sides to the body image coin

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I began taking an interest in my health in my second year of university. I started working at Goodlife fitness, I began working out regularly, and my diet drastically changed. I was becoming more and more interested in nutrition – so much so that I switched my major during my last year at UoGuelph in order to absorb all the nutrition knowledge I could. I began noticing more muscular definition, but more importantly I began to feel stronger. I felt I could do things girls my size weren’t supposed to be able to do and I genuinely loved my body. When I started at CCNM my fitness routine went out the window. I had a difficult time finding a balance between school life and my personal well-being and working out quickly fell to the side. It took me until half way through my second year before I noticed how much weight I had lost (the backwards idea to what people usually experience when they stop working out). My muscle was gone, and I was back down to a size that I had never been happy at. Stress decreased my appetite and my lack of energy left me with little motivation to actually do anything about it. When I began commuting to school in September of last year I lost even more time out of my day leaving me feeling even more defeated about getting my lifestyle back on track.

That’s just a little background info in my life. This post has been fueled by an experience I had this past weekend in Toronto, and something I have always felt I wanted to write about eventually. Something that I think the general public doesn’t understand is that there are two sides to the coin known as body image. We are a society obsessed with body image. A negativity surrounds the aspect of being “overweight” and speaking to someone about their heavy bodies or calling them derogatory names geared towards their weight is taboo. Flip the coin – how do we as a society treat skinny people? Usually by putting them on a pedestal, obsessing over their thin build and constantly striving to be as thin as our frame will allow because that is what society has deemed acceptable in this generation.

I have always been a slender girl with a thin build, even when I was putting on muscle. I have spent the majority of my adult life being told how skinny I am, given nicknames pertaining to my thin body or being asked if I even eat. Over the years I have learned to smile or giggle when people bring up my weight, knowing that in their minds they are probably giving me a compliment. However, what people don’t understand is that no matter what size you are, comments about your body are still comments about your body. I have never taken pride in my size – it has been something I unknowingly have struggled with my entire life. I don’t mean to be this thin, I just am, and it is a daily struggle to accept that this is my body type. Just as being called “fat” to your face is hurtful, being called “skinny” is aswell. Just as having a larger body size makes shopping a difficult experience, so does having a thinner body size. Commenting on someones large portion is just as hurtful as commenting on someones small portion. Just because society says “thin is in” doesn’t make a slender person happy with their body type.

These are things that people forget – comments about an individuals body, no matter what size, can be hurtful. It’s important to remember that you are unaware of someones relationship with themselves. When a stranger in the mall grabbed me around the waist exclaiming that I was “soo skinny” I couldn’t help but get a little angry. Partially because strangers grabbing you is just wrong in general, but also because she made a point to go out of her way and comment on my body – something I’m sure she wouldn’t have done if I was a larger woman exiting from the dressing room. I smiled at her because I know that she meant no harm. To her she was just giving me a compliment. But what she didn’t know is that she put her comment on top of a pile that has been growing for 24 years and is starting to tip over. It’s no longer easy to just brush it off and each time it becomes harder to not take it personally. It wasn’t her fault, and I am no longer angry with her. In fact, I am grateful. Grateful that she brought to light this struggle and given me the motivation to say something about it.

No matter what size you are, it takes a lot of personal strength to accept and love your body. As I become more aware of my personal image issues I know I am growing towards a healthier relationship with myself. Its a little stab each time someone comments on my size, however, it’s time to not become attached to peoples comments as they do not define me as a person. I am healthy, and I am strong and I was given this body to carry me through this lifetime. It’s time to start changing society’s outlook on body imagine. Don’t “diet” to be thin, eat healthy to fuel your body to be its optimal self. Don’t work out to lose weight, work out to build strength. Don’t pass judgements on others, or on yourself – accept your health journey as well as respect others. Most importantly,  Love yourself – no matter what size you are.

 

In love & health,

K.