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There is something to be said about a season that’s made up of peppermint and sugar cookies, gift giving and receiving, tinsel and mistletoe… okay maybe no one uses tinsel anymore, but you catch my drift—it’s the most wonderful time of the year, and it’s killing our planet.

The other 11 months of the year do their fair share in harming the environment, but December sees an immense increase in waste each year. Think about it:

  • Wrapping paper
  • Artificial trees
  • Excess food
  • Unwanted gifts
  • Broken Christmas lights

A million tons of holiday waste will be created this season, and landfills will be exploding, come January. Over the years some improvements have been made to reduce garbage like LED lights and cutting your own tree—I mean what’s more Instagram-worthy than that?

So how can you help make the holidays a bit more environment-friendly?

Get a Real Tree

This has made a come-back in a big way and although it might seem like old news, chopping down your own tree is actually quite trendy. Artificial trees might seem like the better option because they can be reused year after year, but no one keeps a tree longer than 6-10 years at which point they end up in a landfill, where they stay forever. Support a local tree farm and at the end of the season your tree will go back to the earth.

Wrap Smart

Beautiful gift-wrap doesn’t need to be from a roll. If it must be try and look for recycled paper, or at least one that can be recycled. Alternatively, wrap with pretty fabric, a nice tea towel, or a reusable canvas bag.

LED

If you invest in LEDs you’ll be saving a whole lot of garbage, and money in the long run. These can be found for both indoor and outdoor lighting.

Gift Giving

Do you ever look around your house and wonder how you got so knee deep in stuff? Do you ever get the urge to grab a garbage bag and ransack your children’s play spaces? This year try and keep gifts to a minimum. Remember that less is more, especially when it comes to your kids. Opt for experiences rather than material gifts.

Food Waste

The issue around food waste is a problem all year round, so just imagine during an entire month centered around parties. Buy local, organic food as much as possible. Support your local farmers and plan your meals so that you aren’t left with an excess amount of food to throw away.

 

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It’s Cyber Monday, and that means you’re probably getting a head start on your holiday gift shopping.

This time of year, which is centred around giving, can become incredibly stressful with overpacked malls, chaotic parking lots, and impatient shoppers. Finding the perfect gift for everyone on your list, however, is the ultimate challenge. The art of gift giving involves really thinking about each individual person’s interests, and doing a bit of research.

So what does the healthy, fitness junkie in your life really want this year? We have some great ideas, check them out!

S’well Water Bottle

This one is probably on everyone’s list because they just look so cool. Plastic water bottles are a thing of the past so make sure your fitness buddy is equipped with a really neat reusable water bottle.

Lolē bra

A good sports bra is always a welcome gift, just make sure you know their size as undergarments can be tricky to return. The Lolē brand is not only beautiful but incredibly versatile, and comfortable. Extra points; it’s Canadian!

Joyous Rejuvenate Tea

Who doesn’t love a warm cup of rejuvenating tea, especially after all the holiday craze. This blend of anti-inflammatory and detoxifying herbs will be the perfect gift for anyone on your list, but especially your health nuts.

Gaiam Hot and Cold Foot Roller

Well your loved one’s feet are in for a real treat. This foot roller is great for achey feet and to promote proper circulation.

Spiralizer

A veggie spiralizer is one of those things you don’t really miss if you don’t have it but definitely something you’ll use if you do. The small hand held ones make great stocking stuffers.

Massage

Splurge on someone you really love with a relaxing trip to the spa. Toronto has some great spa spots and it’s a good time to snag some great deals.

Image:

http://www.dustymars.net/loose-leaf-tea/

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Vitamin D is always important, but it’s during the cold winter months that it gets neglected, mainly because we don’t see the sun as much. When we are deficient in vitamin D, we become more susceptible to infection, which is a big reason why we get sick more often.

What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D is commonly referred to as the “sunshine vitamin” because it is produced in your skin from exposure to the sun.

Although it is best known for promoting healthy bones and teeth, it is more recently being acknowledged for it’s ability to fight infection, reduce heart disease risk, and prevent some types of cancer as well as diabetes.

Aside from basking in the sun, some other great ways to increase your vitamin D intake are, a good quality supplement (kid versions available as well), and foods such as salmon, eggs, and mushrooms.

Vitamin D is vital for optimal health. It is important for:

  • Preventing disease and illness, including the common cold
  • Regulating mood
  • Reducing depression
  • Supporting immunity
  • Helps with weight loss
  • Preventing viral or bacterial upper respiratory infections
  • Eczema *especially in kids
  • Supporting healthy bones and teeth

How do you know if you are vitamin D deficient?

  • Fatigue
  • Frequently sick
  • Skin conditions
  • Depression
  • Hair and bone loss
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia

Be sure to visit your doctor if you are finding yourself suffering from some of these ailments, especially during the winter months.

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The liver is the second largest organ in your body and works really hard for you, day in and day out. It is responsible for cleaning up all the toxins that enter your body through food, and environment.

A healthy liver will protect you from awful health conditions, assists in digestion, and detoxify your blood from carcinogens, the toxic properties of alcohol, and other harmful things that make their way in.

This is an organ with a really big responsibility, but it can’t work if you don’t take care of it.

A healthy liver will:

  • Increase energy levels
  • Promote healthy skin
  • Boost your mood
  • Strengthen immunity
  • Improve digestion

Here’s how to love your liver!

Eat well

This one is obvious. Eating liver-friendly foods like beets, onions and leafy greens is the best way to keep your liver strong. Any foods that are high in anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants do a great job in nourishing your liver.

Easy on the fats…

…Even the healthy fats. Although good fats like avocado and coconut oil are essential to a well balanced diet, they need to be consumed in moderation just like everything else. Too

Consume minimal alcohol

Keep this one in mind as we enter holiday season. No need to ditch your occasional glass of wine, but regular consumption of alcohol can have a negative impact on your liver.

H2O

Many find it difficult to drink water all the time but this is one of the best ways to flush your liver of all the toxins that accumulate while it’s at work.

Image:

https://naturalon.com

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It’s the day after Halloween and the kids seem totally run down! They had a rough sleep, whined all the way to school, and will probably come home moody and sluggish.

Every so often we feel like a nice detox is in order. It might be after a big holiday meal, or just a fun-filled weekend of poor food and partying. Kids need it too, especially after binging on bite-sized snack bars all evening.

No, I am definitely not suggesting you have your child live off carrot juice and sunflower seeds for seven days. The kind of cleanse I am referring to is a few consecutive days of whole foods, and overall healthy living.

Here are the basics:

Clear the House of Junk

I know it’s the day after Halloween but try not to leave bowls of candy out as a free for all. Out of sight, out of mind so put it away for special treats. While you’re at it, rid the house of any other refined sugar there may be lying around. This includes things like white bread and other packaged, starchy goods you may have on hand.

Smoothies

This is the best way to get kids their necessary nutrients. Hide some kale (I find the taste hides better than spinach but try both), add some citrus, a great detox aid, and feel free to give them 2-3 glasses a day. Here’s a great source for kid-friendly smoothies: Super Healthy Kids

NO Sugar

I know I hinted at this already but it can’t be stressed enough. We are trying to rid those little bodies of all the sugar from Halloween so a few days of no refined sugar will do them a world of good. Here are a few common items with tons of sugar:

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Flavoured yogurt
  • Granola bars
  • Muffins
  • Cookies
  • Juice boxes

Sleep

Make sleep a priority. Their little bodies are going through a lot of work trying to get rid of all that sugar so give them the extra rest they need. Try and limit screen time and encourage calming activities like a walk outside, meditation, or some good reading.

Pre-packaged food

Preservatives along with too much sugar make for a really poor immune system and will leave your child feeling awfully rundown. Cook well-balanced meals, and avoid anything that is pre-made or comes out of a package.

 

Image: www.today.com

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Halloween is all about dressing up, having fun, and CANDY!!

If you’re the type of parent that let’s your kid binge on sugar after trick-or-treating, we aren’t judging but just keep in mind, that’s A LOT of sugar, and will take some work getting it out of their system.

If you’re the “mean parent” who takes it all away (to binge on yourself) that also has some negative effects since what’s the fun in going door to door knowing there will be no fruit to your labour?

As a nation we eat way too much sugar per year, and Halloween is a big part of that. For at least two weeks leading up to the holiday you’ll find those little irresistible, one-bite chocolate bars everywhere. After you’ll eat the candy your kids bring home, then probably venture out to pick up all the goodies that are inevitably on sale. Your pancreas is under some major stress at this time.

The best way to a healthier Halloween is to set an example and provide better options for kids in your neighbourhood. Most parents will appreciate your efforts so why not try out these alternatives to sugar-loaded treats.

Raisins

What kid doesn’t love raisins? These are always a hit so add the little boxes to your mix.

Chocolate Chips

Your local health food store is bound to sell these individually packaged chocolate chips at Halloween. These are a great dairy and nut free option!

Salty Snacks

Okay they aren’t healthy but, definitely better than candy and a lot of boxed stores will sell pretzels, and goldfish in small packaging, specifically to hand out at Halloween.

Non-edible treats

Play doh, stickers, erasers and other little toys can easily be found at the dollar store and are always a great favourite.

When the kids get home with all their loot try these quick tips to help them go easy on the sugar:

  • Sort through and have them pick their favourites (donate the rest)
  • Pick up a big jar and fill it for an occasional treat
  • If you’re really against halloween candy, a great option is Switch Witch*

Be sure to explain your reasoning with your children. It’s tough to have all that goodness taken away, but if they understand why it’s important to keep a balanced diet, you’ll be surprised at how accepting they can be (do not hold me to this)!

Tune in next week for some kid-friendly detox tips!

Happy Halloween!!!

*Switch Witch is a nice witch who comes to your house late at night while the children are sleeping, takes all their candy and swaps it for a toy.

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Fall is finally in the air. Can’t you just smell it when you walk outdoors, into the crisp, neutral world? It’s a beautiful time of year but can be a real drag on our skin, leaving us with some not so beautiful issues like itchy dryness, chapped lips, and tired eyes. Any time there is a change in the weather we are forced to change up our beauty regime a bit and it takes a bit of practice to really figure out what works.

A few things to note before plunging into new products and regimes are:

Skin type

It’s really important you don’t just buy a new product on a whim, even if it’s been recommended to you. Determining what skin type you are (oily, dry, etc.) will help you get the best product for you. It could even be that your skin type doesn’t require you change your products at all so speak with a consultant before you throw everything away.

Skin problems

It may be that you have never faced any face problems … lucky you!!! Most of us have suffered issues in the past whether it was acne or dry, cracked skin. Be sure to take note of these problems before changing anything.

Product Lines

Sticking to products that you are comfortable with already is a great way to keep your skin healthy. One beauty line will work for some but might not work for others. Take some time to speak with consultants at beauty counters; you may be surprised by their wealth of knowledge.

Once you have a clear understanding of what works for your skin you can make the necessary changes from summer to fall/winter with little risk of running into major issues.

Some simple beauty tips for fall:

Exfoliate with oil-based scrubs. You will really need the extra moisture once the cold hits. Exfoliating with a good quality exfoliant twice a week should do the trick in knocking off all that dead skin.

Protect your lips with a really nice lip butter. Look for natural ones containing ingredients such as jojoba oil, or shea butter. 

Moisturize your hands often with plant-based creams. These can be found at your local health food store with limited ingredients to keep the products really healthy. Remember, anything you put on your skin gets absorbed into your body through your pores.

SPF! Yes, even in the winter. The sun still shines down on your pores during the cooler months so don’t even think of ditching the sunscreen with the cold weather. Find a moisturizer that contains SPF.

Fast forward to 10 years from now… you’re welcome!

 

Images:

http://www.readersdigest.ca/

 

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Hello, sweater weather… also known as the beginning of the end of the summer health binge (it’ll be back with a vengeance on January 1st), when some of us take comfort in knowing that we can hide the stomach pouch under all that cozy clothing.

When you eat poorly, your workouts suffer. You feel sluggish and possibly even discouraged when you see the winter pounds pile on. Let’s face it. There isn’t much pressure to stay fit during the winter months, unless you’re planning a getaway down south, and even then, a few extra pounds seem to be acceptable. Mmm, pumpkin everything!!

I’m going to challenge you not to hop off the summer health food rhythm you have become used to. I know it’s harder to get really fresh produce, and picnic food can be so light and airy while holiday food is so amazingly rich, and dense.

Fueling your workouts with healthy food is just as important (if not more) as the actual workout. Fall is actually a great time of year to fill your plate with nutrient dense harvest food like squash of all kinds, sweet potatoes, apples, cranberries, beets, cabbage and so much more.

Here are some of my personal favourite fall recipes all from the wonderful food blog, Oh She Glows. It’s an amazing source for really nutritious vegan meals, especially if you get stumped on your meatless Mondays.

 

Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

Mouth Watering Crispy Brussels Sprouts

Sweet Potato Casserole

 

Image:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/

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Thanksgiving marks the opening of holiday season and with it comes feast after feast of delicious, not so waistline-friendly foods.

Well… that’s what New Year resolutions are for, right?

Believe it or not, there are ways to control how much you eat so you don’t leave the dinner table full of regret, pun intended.

Eat Before Dinner

Arriving at the turkey table starving is a sure way to overeat, and enter the stage of the dreaded food coma. Make sure to have a big, and nutritious breakfast the morning of, followed by some healthy snacks before going to lunch or dinner. If you get there too hungry, you are far more likely to eat mindlessly, with so regard for how full you are getting.

If you are the one cooking the meal, try not to snack too much as you go but do be sure to eat before getting started.

Drink A Lot of Water

Thirst is usually mistaken for hunger so drink more water than you normally would throughout the day leading up to your Thanksgiving meal. At dinner, avoid drinks that might make you bloated like pop, or juice. The added sugar will only make you feel more sluggish as the night progresses.

Fill Your Plate with Veggies

This tip is a great way to help you get full on the healthy stuff, but watch out for the starchy vegetables, and load up on greens instead. It’s very tempting to go for more carbs, and turkey, but if you fill your plate first with vegetables and then add everything else, you are less likely to overindulge on the heavy food. Make sure to get a raw salad in as well to help with digestion.

Leave the Table After Dinner

When you finish, as long as it is polite of course, leave the table. Lingering will only tempt you to continue eating, even after you have reached your limit. Suggest that everyone take part in a board game, or even better, go for a walk before dessert, which brings me to my next point…

Easy on Dessert

Thanksgiving isn’t just about the turkey. When those pumpkin spice treats start piling in, it’s almost impossible to stay in control, no matter how full you are. Allow yourself to indulge and don’t feel guilty about it. Try everything you want, but know your limits. Drink a tall glass of water in between slices of pie.

At the end of the it’s one day of overindulge on some pretty great food, so don’t beat yourself up about it if you go overboard, just make sure to get right back on track the next day.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

 

Image: www.williams-sonoma.com

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Hello Fall!

‘Tis the season for more than just pumpkin spice and squash soup! There are so many delicious and nutritious fruits and vegetables that come with this coveted season; it’s easy to whip up something new and healthy every night.

When I think apples, beets and blackberries, my brain immediately goes to buttery pies, crunchy salads, and warm crumble. Whether you are dairy free, sugar free, gluten free, nut free, there are cozy fall recipes for everyone.

Apples

  • Apples are incredibly versatile and filled with nutrients. Some health benefits include:
  • Rich in antioxidants
  • High in fiber
  • Reduce risk of diabetes, and heart disease
  • Beats diarrhea and constipation

Apples add a really nice crunch to your fall salad, so here’s a great recipe to inspire tonight’s dinner:

 

Jamie Oliver’s Pecan & Apple Salad

Note: In case of an allergy, skip the nuts.

 Or try them in a pie!

Mrs. Carter’s Skillet Apple Pie

Beets

Beets are great in root veggie roasts, salads, cold-pressed juice, or simply boiled with a dash of salt. Here are some benefits:

  • High in Vitamin C
  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • Rich in magnesium
  • High in Potassium

 

Colourful Beet Salad with Carrot, Quinoa & Spinach

Roasted beets are like vegetable candy. Try them with a balsamic glaze!

Roasted Beets with Balsamic Glaze

Pears

Pears are often overlooked as a bland, boring fruit but are actually a really versatile, and delicious alternative to your everyday apple. Not only that, they are packed with health benefits like:

  • Anti-Inflammatory Support
  • Waistline friendly (low in calories)
  • High in fiber
  • Rich in antioxidants

Try your hand at a super-fast crumble!

Pear Ginger Crumble Recipe

Or indulge in the sweet union of vanilla and pear in these delicious muffins:

Vanilla and Pear Muffins