Tasty Tempeh!

Tempeh is a highly nutritious fermented food traditionally made from soybeans and its high protein content makes it a wonderful substitute for meat.  Did you know that tempeh is an amazing source of manganese, protein, copper, phosphorus, vitamin B2,  magnesium and monounsaturated fats? You would have thought that this wonder food would be more popular in North America but it is a traditional staple food in Indonesia!  What also makes tempeh so great is its ability to easily absorb the flavours of the other foods it’s being cooked with, making it adaptable to many types of dishes.  Since my dad is originally from Indonesia and is quite familiar with this tasty treat, he decided that we should try to make our own.  So read on if you'd like to try your hand at this fermented phenomenon! 

 Typically tempeh is made by cooking, hulling, and inoculating  soybeans with a culturing agent (i.e. Rhizopus oligosporus) that acts as the fermentation agent.  Then after incubating the innoculated product overnight the soybeans begin to form sort of a solid cake that can be sliced and cooked however you please!

Instructions:
  1. To get started you will need to find a 1 kg bag of dried uncooked raw soybeans 
  2. Soak the soybeans in a big pot of warm water overnight to soften
  3. Once your soy beans are nice and soft, drain the water.  You will then have to hull them or split the beans in half to remove the layer of skin so that the culture can penetrate the beans for fermentation.  (We used a big potato masher or meat mallet of some sort, but you can knead them or use whatever works)
  4. After all of the soybeans have been hulled and split into two, put them in a pot of water and bring to a boil for about 1 hour
  5. Take them off the heat and let cool for an additional hour 
  6. The next step is probably the most important step in this entire process...one that cost my dad 2-3 failed batches!  You will need to completely dry the soy beans before adding the culture.  Any additional moisture can ruin the batch!
  7. Mix in your culturing agent (we used Rhizopus): 1 kg of beans = 0.4 g of culture.  Mix as throughly as possible!
  8. Put the beans in a sealed Ziploc bag and puncture several small holes into one side (the top side up since you will be laying them flat over night)
  9. After sealing up the bag with minimal air, place them in a dry area (we kept them in our oven) where the culture can work it's magic… the temp should be between 25-32 C
  10. 24-36 hrs later you should start to feel your tempeh getting solid and forming a white outer coat… Once you see the white you know the fermentation was successful!
  11. Take the tempeh cake out and slice/cook/serve/enjoy!

As a vegetarian option to ground beef or to add some extra flavor, texture and nutrition to chili try adding some tempeh! I am also particularly fond of making tempeh patties rolled in seasoning and bread crumbs... YUM!  

There are lots of great recipes available from vegan and vegetarian cookbooks on how to prepare and enjoy tempeh, and as my dad and I keep trying new things out I’ll be sure to post them!  Although it may seem a bit tricky to make, it’s definitely worth it, especially if you are looking for some fresh ways to spice up your healthy diet.  So good luck, and let us know if your batch works out!

Cheers,
Nadia 



A long time athlete and health advocate,  Dr. Kumentas’ goal is to help her patients become excited about making positive lifestyle choices in order to enjoy healthier, happier lives.  Her driving force is a passion for healing the whole person on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level using carefully selected natural therapies, fitness, and integrated medicine.  She truly believes in the importance of practising what you preach and investing in your health.  
Dr. Nadia Kumentas practices at Zen Beginnings Wellness Centre in Toronto and has a special interest in dermatology, woman’s health, and pain management.

To learn more about Dr. Nadia Kumentas visit www.DrNadiaKumentas.com or contact her at nadia@zenbeginnings.com.


References:
http://www.whfoods.com/
http://www.vegancoach.com/

When the Headache Hits

Most people don't think twice about taking a Tylenol or Advil for that pesky headache. Getting that quick fix by taking a pill has become quite the norm in our society and is so convenient, but does it pose any dangers to your health? In the United States, the use of Tylenol is the most common cause of acute liver failure, encompassing 39% of all cases. It's important to use these medications as last resorts and to first try less harsh ways of managing your pain. If you often choose the quick fix, continue reading to find out some precautions for some common medications as well as some natural solutions for that annoying headache. 

Tylenol (Acetominophen)
Tylenol is metabolized and broken down by the liver. This is why Tylenol should not be used if you have any type of liver issue or disease as it will put extra strain on the function of the liver and may worsen the condition. This is also why Tylenol should not be taken while consuming alcohol because alcohol is also metabolized by the liver and the additive burden of both can lead to damage. Long term use of Tylenol can also cause liver damage and has been recently shown to significantly increase the risk for certain blood cancers.

Advil/Motrin (Ibuprofen)
Although Ibuprofen is also metabolized by the liver, it is not as hepatotoxic as Tylenol. What is most concerning about the use of Ibuprofen is it's effects on the stomach. If taken for long periods of time it can cause burning of the stomach lining leading to internal bleeding. Ibuprofen can also reduce the bodies ability to form blood clots and for this reason should be avoided in those with any type of wounds or significant bleeding.

Natural solutions for the common headache 
It's important to keep in mind that headaches are a symptom that can be caused by a very large number of conditions. For this reason, it can be very difficult for a health care provider to find the direct cause of the pain. Below are some tips that can be tried before resorting to the pill bottle:
  • Drink enough water! A lot of the time it's the water that people drink with the Tylenol that actually helps curb the pain (Check out Dr. Peris's post on water)
  • Get a massage, do yoga or meditate! These are all great ways to reduce stress and tension in muscles
  • Elimination diet: Sometimes headaches can be triggered by certain foods, check out my post on food allergies
  • Acupuncture/Acupressure: Research has shown that acupuncture has been effective in reducing the pain associated with headaches
  • Sleep Hygiene: Adequate sleep can reduce fatigue and decrease your chances of getting a headache (see Nadia's post on sleep hygiene)
  • Magnesium: Supplementing with magnesium has been shown to reduce the frequency and intensity of migraines in some preliminary studies
  • Hydrotherapy: Soaking your feet in a tub of alternating hot and cold water:  The hot water helps increase blood flow to the feet and in combination with the cold water this creates a sort of pumping action that can increase circulation and decrease your headache

So, next time you get a headache try to incorporate some of these tips before resorting to over the counter medications--your liver will thank you. If you have been experiencing chronic or intense headaches make sure you visit your ND or other health care professional for a thorough investigation into the root cause of the issue. 

Cheers,

Jamie
 


References:
Steven Reinberg, Chronic Tylenol Use May Be Linked to Blood Cancer, Study Suggests, MedicineNet.com


Video Blog: Mexican Green Salsa

As promised, here is the video blog that goes with the green salsa recipe!  The video was taken at Aaleyah's Nachos and Wings in Sayulita, Mexico where we witnessed firsthand the creation of this amazing salsa.  Continue reading for the video! Enjoy!



Click here for the step by step recipe

Recipe: Mexican Green Salsa

While in Sayulita, Mexico the an avocado a day team really sought out to find the best food in town.  We were fortunate enough to experience some of the freshest food possible at Aaleyah's Nachos & Wings.  We ate at a lot of different places, but I think my favorite meal was the mahi mahi and shrimp ceviche at Aaleyah's.  Part of the reason is because the meal started with chips and this green salsa.  Kate and I are huge fans of spicy foods, so when we discovered this green salsa, we knew we had to share it.  I've never tasted anything quite like this and if you are a spice fan, you'll love this! My only regret of the trip is that I didn't discover this restaurant sooner!

Ingredients:
  • 15 jalapenos, sliced (approx. 4 cups; remove seeds to make it less spicy!)
  • 1 serrano pepper, sliced (add or take out to suit your spice tolerance)
  • 1/2 large onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil*
  • 2 tbsp chicken stock powder*
  • A handful (or more) of cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • Salt to taste
*Can substitute vegetable oil with coconut oil, and chicken stock powder with vegetable stock powder

Directions:
  • Heat saucepan on medium and add oil
  • Place sliced jalapenos, serranos, onion, and garlic into the saucepan and cook for 5 minutes (add small amounts of water if needed)
  • Put chopped cilantro, cooked ingredients, and the stock powder into a blender
  • Add 1/2 cup of water into the blender
  • Blend for 30 seconds to 1 minute (until desired consistency)
  • Serve with tortilla chips, eggs, chicken, or pretty much anything else!
  • Enjoy!
A word of caution:  This salsa can be really spicy so warn your family and friends before they try it! You can adjust the spiciness by decreasing/increasing the amount of serrano peppers. 

A special thank you goes out to Josue, Aaleyah, and the rest of the crew at Aaleyah's Nachos and Wings!

To watch our visit at Aaleyah's, check out our upcoming video blog!

All the best,
Christine




Dr. Cho, ND is a naturopathic doctor based in Pickering, Ontario and Richmond Hill, Ontario.  She maintains a private practice focused in pain management and sports nutrition, in addition to a general family practice at Durham Natural Health Centre.  To learn more about Dr. Cho, book a complimentary 15 minute consult by clicking here.  Not in the Durham Region?  Contact her through AnAvocadoADay@gmail.com to learn about more options.

The Simple Life

The an avocado a day team was  in Sayulita, Mexico for the past week enjoying some rest and relaxation!  It is often very challenging for people to put down their cellphones, stop tweeting, and updating their Facebook status.  We decided while we were gone to take a break from social media and enjoy a more simple life.  Continue reading to find out what we have been up to...


Leonardo da Vinci said: “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication” … and we couldn’t agree more!  Living with simplicity helps you reconnect to being grateful for all of the amazing things you already have in your life and pause the constant desire to be 'sitting, waiting, and wishing’ on all the things you don’t have.  So although we didn't camp out in the Mexican wilderness, we did incorporate these simple things into our lives:
Outside of an art gallery in Sayulita
  • Cooking simple, homemade, wholefood meals. Our staples included pineapples, bananas, tomatoes, and avocados.
  • Drinking fresh, chilled coconut water (some of us enjoyed "cocos frios" more than others)
  • Eating lots of delicious fresh fruit like watermelon, pineapple, mango, and papaya 
  • Getting ample amounts of Vitamin D from the sunshine - using SPF of course! 
  • Practicing yoga outside
  • Reading for pleasure (not that we don't love our textbooks)
  • Running and taking walks on the beach
  • Swimming in the ocean
  • Walking everywhere 
  • Talking to locals
  • Learning delicious authentic Mexican recipes from locals (keep an eye out for these!)
  • Not setting an alarm clock
  • Enjoying live music (and not so live music)
  • Dancing
  • Laughing (a lot)
The simple life to us was being able to sleep well, eat well, be active, enjoy the company of good friends and not be hounded by the obligation to respond to emails, text messages or Facebook messages.  It might not seem like much, but we believe this is something that everyone should do once in a while.  It doesn't have to be in Mexico or even away from your home, it just requires your commitment to take a break to enjoy simple pleasures that may have been forgotten to you.  Trust us, you will be amazed at how refreshing it can be to your body, mind, and soul.

All the best,
The An Avocado A Day team

Recipe: Pad Thai


This past May I had the opportunity to travel throughout Thailand for 2 months, which was a life changing experience! Thailand is known as 'The Land of Smiles' - it has the most kindhearted people, astonishing culture and gorgeous beaches. While in Railay, Thailand, I took a cooking class and learned how to make a few staple Thai dishes. My absolute favorite is Pad Thai - it is quick to throw together and is of course made with whole foods. Pad thai when made from scratch tastes slightly sweet with a hint of lime and spice!

Pad Thai
Serves 2

Ingredients:
2 cups of bean sprouts 
2 stocks of spring onion
1 inch cube of tofu -cut into thin slices and then into 1/4
2 garlic cloves minced
2 eggs
2 cups rice noodles; if dry soak in cold water for 1 hour (look for brown rice noodles; vermicelli works fine but a thicker noodle is ideal)
8 prawns
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 tablespoon fish sauce
A few drops of soy sauce (I use Bragg's) 

Garnish: 
Peanuts, Lime, spring onion and bean sprouts

Preparation:
1. Heat oil on low heat in a wok
2. Mix sweet chili sauce, fish sauce and soy sauce into separate bowl
3. When hot add tofu and cook for 1 minute
4. Add the garlic and cook until brown - stir constantly
5. Add prawns and keep stirring
6. Once prawns are cooked add the eggs and stir until they are dry (cooked)
7. Add the rice noodles and keep stirring until the noodles are soft.
8. Once the noodles are soft add everything else and the sauce from step 2
9. Turn heat up to High and cook until everything is dry and soft; 
10. Add the garnish and Enjoy!


Every time I make this it reminds me of all the great friends and memories I made while in Thailand!

best in health,
kate kokoski

'Can't Live Withouts': Favorite Appliances


The an avocado a day team is off to Mexico in two days and we could not be more excited to take a break from school!
As part of our next 'Can't Live Withouts' series of posts we are tackling our favorite kitchen appliances, or in Nadia's case her favourite non-kitchen appliance. Do you have a kitchen tool or appliance you just can't seem to live without? Please share and let us know in the comments! Continue reading to find out each of our favorite appliance. 

Christine can't live without her food processor:
I will admit that I have not been using my food processor for very long.  I actually did not realize that a food processor was different from a blender and decided to buy a cheap one ($30) just to test it out.  Since then, I have used it quite frequently for many different recipes, including the chocolate brownie and the chocolate avocado pudding.  I have definitely discovered that there are major differences between a blender and a food processor and have started to figure out when each is appropriate.  Right now, my mini food processor suits my needs, but I think I will be investing in a better one shortly down the road.  Here are some things that I could not have made without my food processor:

 Jamie can't live without his espresso maker:
Nothing is better than when that first sip of your morning espresso hits your lips, I look forward to it every day and truly don't think I could live without it. I use 100% organic freshly ground coffee beans and add only a splash of chocolate almond milk for a bit of extra flavor and creaminess. As far as my actual espresso maker goes, I use the Cafe Roma Espresso Machine by Breville. It is a high quality machine that is very reasonably priced. Although it requires a bit of extra work than making a regular cup of coffee, the strong taste and crema that comes along with a good cup of espresso is so worth it. Check out Nadia's post on coffee and caffeine to learn more about it's health benefits!

Kate can't live without her Vitamix: 
My Vitamix is really the only appliance, besides my espresso machine, that I use everyday. As most of you know I start every day with a smoothie and sometimes I end my day with one too. The Vitamix is an expensive blender but it works amazingly and puts all other blenders to shame. It will basically blend anything you put in it. It can be used to make both cold and hot meals. I use it to make:
  • Coconut ice cream (recipe coming in the near future!)
  • Nut and grain flours
  • Raw nut milks
  • Natural peanut/almond/cashew/jungle peanut butters
  • Hummus 

Nadia can’t live without her humidifier:  
Canadian winters are dry and cold; something my skin and nose are not too fond of!  As soon as the temperature starts dropping I make sure to get my trusty humidifier out.  Dry air combined with the heat that gets pumped into our homes during colder months can be extremely irritating to our moisture loving skin and mucous membranes.  Humidifiers can help soothe dryness, irritation or itchiness in the nose, nasal passages, sinuses, mouth, throat and eyes. They also help prevent nose bleeds in those prone to them when their nose gets dried out.  The Mayo Clinic also explains how humidifiers help prevent and treat colds and flus by limiting or eliminating viruses and bacteria that thrive in dry air. They also help to increase good mucous secretions. I like to add a little bit of eucalyptus oil when I feel a bit congested, it gives it that extra anti-microbial kick. Give it a try!



The an avocado a day team

Recipe: Creamy Coconut Curry Soup


Those that know me well know that I LOVE coconut in any shape or form.  Prior to this past summer, I never really ventured to cook meals with coconut milk in them--I just left it up to the Thai restaurants and opted for coconut flavored desserts.  I finally decided that it was time I tried a couple recipes using coconut milk.  Turns out that curry powders/pastes go great with coconut and are pretty difficult to mess up! I started with chicken coconut curry and liked it so much that I pretty much ate it for a solid 2 weeks straight.  Then I finally decided that it was time to move on to a soup and so I started to research some recipes.  Much like the chocolate avocado pudding, I compiled a few recipes and took the best ingredients to form my own.  Feel free to edit this recipe to suit your preferences!

*As long as you use coconut milk and broth that is gluten free, this soup can be dairy and/or gluten free!  Omit pepper flakes so that it is elimination diet friendly!

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil

  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1 tbsp ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (I used Korean red pepper powder because that's what I had at home)
  • 2 tsp curry powder
 ( I put in 3 tsps)
  • 2 cups chicken (or vegetable) broth
 
  • 1 14.5 ounce can of coconut milk
  • 1 lime, juiced

  • 6-8 oz of leftover chicken or fish (cut/rip into bite sized chunks)
    • If you do not have leftovers, feel free to cook the protein source while you are chopping things
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
 to taste
  • Optional: chopped green onion and/or lime wedges for garnish
Directions:
  • Heat oil in a large saucepan/pot over medium-high heat.
  • Add onions and ginger and sauté until tender (3-4 minutes).
  • Add red pepper flakes and curry powder and cook for another minute or 2.
  • Add the broth and coconut milk. 
  • Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes
  • Stir in leftover chicken/protein and continue simmering on low until protein is heated.
  • Squeeze in lime juice
  • Add salt and pepper to taste for seasoning.
  • Serve in soup bowl and garnish with green onion.
  • Note: If I am eating this as a meal, I like to serve it with some brown rice.
Enjoy!

Feel free to let us know if you add any more ingredients that make it even more delicious!

All the best, 
Christine

Photo from www.corbisimages.com





Dr. Cho, ND is a naturopathic doctor based in Pickering, Ontario and Richmond Hill, Ontario.  She maintains a private practice focused in pain management and sports nutrition, in addition to a general family practice at Durham Natural Health Centre.  To learn more about Dr. Cho, book a complimentary 15 minute consult by clicking here.  Not in the Durham Region?  Contact her through AnAvocadoADay@gmail.com to learn about more options.


Your Baby: Solid Food Introduction

Today we have an article written on solid food introduction by guest blogger, new mom, and naturopathic doctor--Michelle Peris. Michelle began her studies in health by obtaining a Bachelors of Arts in Kinesiology with a minor in contemporary dance.  She completed the four year medical program in naturopathic medicine at the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.  Michelle is currently a member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors and the Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors.  Continue reading to find out more about introducing solid foods to your baby!
 
When it came time to introduce foods to my son it made me very emotional.  I was surprised at my strong reaction as I didn’t think this milestone would affect me so profoundly, but the fact of the matter is that it did.  For me, it was the first of many experiences where my son was becoming more independent and I enjoyed our time breastfeeding together.  Although I knew that nursing him would continue, our relationship was changing.  Going back to work didn’t even affect me as much, I’m odd I know!

When? At 6 months your baby’s nutritional requirements change significantly which is the major reason for food introduction.  Foods can be introduced as early as 4-5 months, although it may be best to wait till at least 5 months to ensure that they can digest food properly.
Does your baby watch while you eat? Your baby may be ready.  The ability to sit in a highchair and pick up food with thumb and forefinger are also signs of readiness.  A good rule of thumb is that if they are reaching for it they are probably ready.
What to eat? You want to select foods that are the least allergenic and easily digestible.  Contrary to popular belief I do not think that iron fortified grains (rice cereal) are a great introduction food.  It is advisable to begin with certain fruits and vegetables.  The need for iron substantially increases at the six month mark and therefore selecting foods that provide adequate iron is of utmost importance.
A growing concern is food sensitivities and you can introduce foods in such a way to ensure that they can be identified and avoided to prevent further discomfort for your baby.  Continue to nurse or formula feed your baby during this process.  Breast milk contains immune support which helps them establish healthy gut flora.
Food basics:
  • 6-9 months- Root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and beets.  Fruits such as pear, apple, avocado and banana.
  • 9-12 months- oatmeal, quinoa, egg yolk, beans, pureed meats.
  • 12 months and beyond- wheat, nut butters, whole egg, goat’s milk before dairy milk (structurally more similar to breast milk)
  • DO NOT feed your baby honey, you must wait to over 12 months to introduce
General introduction instructions:
  • Select one food at a time every four days.  This way you can observe your baby to see if there is a sensitivity and you do not have to question which food it was that is causing problems.
  • Peel the skins as these are too fibrous and will be difficult for your baby to digest.
  • Lightly steam your vegetables to soften and save the water used to add to make your puree.
  • Make your purees very smooth for initial introduction, the consistency can become more thick and chunky as your child matures, preparing them for solid food.
  • Feed your baby small meals 2-3 teaspoons 1-2 times per day for the first 6- 9 months and increase in meal frequency and portion size as they grow.
  • Add herbs and spices to your purees such as dill, parsley, basil, cinnamon and cumin.  This develops a diverse palate, making them more open to different foods as they grow.
What symptoms to look for indicating food sensitivities:
  • Gas
  • Colic or crying
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Skin: look for hives, rash, redness, puffiness and bloating 
  • Behaviour changes
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Bowel movements- Constipation, diarrhea


Go into food introduction with an open mind.  They may love it, hate it or simply might not be ready.  Listen to their cues and respect what they are telling you, if they are not interested initially give it a week or so and try again.  They will let you know when they are ready!

Most of all take the time to introduce the foods properly and enjoy the process as you establish your child's healthy relationship with food!
In health & happiness,
Dr. Michelle Peris, BKin., ND 


If you would like to learn more, call Oakville Massage & Wellness Centre to book your 15 minute complimentary consult to find out how Dr. Peris and Naturopathic medicine can help you achieve optimal health and wellness!

Stay tuned for more by Dr. Peris!




Photos from www.corbisimages.com

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