Taking Time For Yourself

The last few months as a clinic intern has really begun to change my perspective on life, especially when it comes to taking care of myself. I constantly hear people saying they "don't have time to exercise, eat properly, meditate, etc". One of the books I recently read had a great quote about improving yourself, whether that is nourishing your body, mind or spirit. The quote stated: "Saying you are too busy, is like saying you do not have time to stop for gas because you are too busy driving." Eventually that mentality will catch up with you and you will run out of gas. 

It is so important to exercise at least 4 times a week. Try to implement a routine that has a variety of cardio, weights and yoga (check out Nadia's post on yoga).  

Establish a spiritual practice, which can have nothing to do with religion. Becoming in touch with your own spirituality allows you to create an opportunity to examine your values and beliefs. When you acknowledge the strength of your body and soul you can begin treating yourself with respect and accepting the best for yourself. When you have respect and love for yourself you can give respect and love to others. 

Personally, I believe having a mantra you say everyday can have a profound impact on your life. Your mantra should change as you change and reflect the current state of your body, mind and/or spirit.

When something happens that upsets you, think of something in that situation that you are grateful for, the smallest thing. Even if it is the worst thing that could have ever happened to you there is always something in that you can be grateful for.  Know that the hardest of times offer the greatest opportunity for growth.

I would like to share one of my favorite quotes with you: "Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets. So love the people who treat you right, forget the ones who don't and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said that it'd be easy - they just promised it would be worth it."

Make today the first day you begin to take time for yourself each and every day. 

You are worth only the best. Accept nothing less.

Best in health,

Spice Up Your H2O

As we get deeper into the summer heat keeping hydrated has never been more important.  It seems like flavoured water products and drinks have become increasingly more popular. Last year I posted the recipe on how to make apple cinnamon water  as a fun way to spice up your H2O; you can save money, calories, and avoid artificial sweeteners by just making a big pitcher of delightfully flavoured water with your own natural ingredients.

My current favourite is a sprig of mint with a slice of lemon; keep refilling the same bottle throughout the day and the mint will just keep on giving!

Another great combo is cucumber and lemon, and grapefruit slices are a nice flavour punch as well!  Don’t be afraid to get creative and if you haven’t already take a look at Michelle’s Weighing in on Water for all the amazing benefits of staying hydrated!

Happy hydrating!

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.

Recipe: Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

Yep, it exists...gluten-free, dairy-free, and refined sugar free peanut butter balls that are not only delicious, but are super easy to make!  Peanut butter balls remind me of middle school because they used to serve them as dessert at my cafeteria.  I've been trying to find something like those PB balls for a long time and I have finally done it!  This twist is healthier (and in my opinion, tastier) as it uses all natural peanut butter and does not require any other sweetener other than the dried dates.  

Here are the ingredients and instructions:  Yields ~15 balls

  • 1 cup of dried dates (I used honey dates, but Medjool dates should work too)
  • 3/4 cup of all-natural, unsweetened peanut butter (I do half crunchy and half smooth but either one should be ok on its own)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded coconut
  • 3 tbsp cocoa/cacao powder
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Put everything into a food processor and mix until incorporated.
  2. Roll/smush into balls, about 1 inch in diameter
  3. Freeze until you want to eat
  4. Let sit for a few minutes before eating, or eat cold--both are good!
Note:  I know peanut butter isn't the ideal choice of nut butter for many people, but I have yet to try it with almond butter or another substitute. If you have, please comment below and let us know if it worked!


All the best,

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.

My Healthy Habits

Living a "healthy life" can be a tedious task. Often times I am so caught up in how I want to change my health for the better that I find myself forgetting about all the great things that I am already doing. Although change can be a good thing, I thought I'd take this time to reflect and share with you some of my better habits that I've picked up over the past few years. Here are some simple things that I do on a regular basis that I find greatly contribute to my health and well-being.

1. Toxin free hygiene products - I have recently switched all my hygiene products such as face wash, shampoo, deodorant and body wash to toxin free versions. These products contain no phthalates,  parabens, formaldehyde or siloxanes, which can all wreck havoc on your endocrine system. Diminishing the toxin load coming into your body lessens the burden on your natural detoxification systems allowing them to work more effectively. 

2. Spending quality time with your pet - Living on your own can get fairly lonely at times. I contribute a lot of my sanity to my cat, as he's always there to greet me when I get home and is always in the mood for some quality snuggle time. There's something about being around animals that is very grounding and peaceful. Studies have shown that pet owners are less likely to suffer from depression so go out and get yourself a cat or dog!

3. Air filtering house plants - My personal favorite is the Peace Lily. I currently have three of them in my apartment and they are great because they weep slightly when they need water (I am horrible at remembering to water plants) as well as filter the air of various toxic chemicals such as trichloroethylene, benzene and formaldehyde. Other great detoxifying house plants include the Areca Palm, Boston Fern and Snake Plant. 

4. Pre-cooking meals for the week - Even though I do enjoy cooking, I usually don't have time to cook a healthy meal every night of the week. By pre-cooking and freezing individual meals I am able to eat an easy home cooked meal on the go. If I don't have frozen meals on hand I am more likely to resort to take out or fast food. I usually try to cook a batch of something on Sunday and freeze it for the week making sure each portion contains veggies and protein. For some great meal ideas check out our recipes!

5. Lifting free weights - I am by no means a gym rat or body builder but lifting free weights on a regular basis can do wonders for your overall health. Most people associate resistance training with wanting to improve the look of their body but other great benefits exist such as improved blood sugar regulation, increased metabolism, improved mobility and balance as well as increased bone density. I try to fit in a few sets of various exercises a few times a week making sure to switch up the muscle groups each time. 

6. Juicing - Juicing has been a recent development in my life which I have posted about in the past (check it out). It has really helped me boost my vegetable intake and has made me feel so much better about my day to day health. Highly recommended!

When trying to incorporate new habits into your life try not to get discouraged if you fall of the wagon! Often times when people fall behind they simply give up and resort back to their old ways. The most important thing you can do is to keep going even if you've let yourself down for a brief period. Your health is worth the effort and ultimately it is up to each and every one of us to take control of it and to keep on moving forward. If you have any healthy habits to share please post them in the comments, they deserve some love and celebration!


Superfoods That Make Super Meals!

As a mom you get very creative with making healthy meals for your child while always being conscious of taste.  We know what’s best for them but often times we find ourselves catering to their dietary demands because we are desperate to get them to eat.  Speaking to many moms about issues regarding nutrition I know they are not alone in this struggle and it is often distressing because they want to give their child the very best.  Well struggle no more because I have a very exciting solution for you!  There are superfoods that can be simply added to meals to enhance the nutritional value without compromising taste.  This way your child’s meal can appear the same yet you know you’ve giving it a little nutritional enhancement to satisfy your need to give them the very best. 

  1. Nutritional yeast: It is a deactivated yeast chopped full of B vitamins and is a complete protein source! Not only is it nutritionally beneficial it tastes like cheese so it can be easily added to pasta dishes, chili or even sprinkled on top of popcorn. 
  2. Protein powder: Whether it be whey, hemp, rice, pea, soy or a blend of these protein powders they are a great way to get protein into your child.  Toddlers and children need lots of protein for healthy growth and development so just enhance their meals with a little protein powder.  Great ways to do this are by making fruit smoothies or adding it into your baked goods or even pancakes.  
  3. Extra virgin coconut oil: This is a delicious and healthy saturated fat.  Fats  have had a bad reputation, but it is important to understand that fats are extremely important for health. Extra virgin coconut oil is a medium chain triglyceride which is easily digested by babies even as young as 6-9 months old.  They are rich in Lauric acid which has antimicrobial effects and therefore can boost their immune system.  You can add this to any meal, use it as body lotion or cook your vegetables in it. 
  4.  Flax or chia seeds: High in fiber and essential fatty acids these seeds are a simple way to boost the nutritional value of any meal.  Always buy the whole seed and grind them right before use.  This way you liberate the fatty acids so they can be digested.  Buying ground flax seeds means that the omega 3’s have had a long time exposed to oxygen and are likely rancid.  Which goes against why you would use them as a omega fatty acid source in the first place.  Sprinkle them onto your breakfast cereal or oats, yogurt, smoothie or into your baked treats. 
  5. Hemp seeds A complete protein, source of Omega 3, 6 and 9, full of minerals and a great source of fiber. Eating them in raw form they also contain enzymes to aid in the digestion.  They have been shown to support the immune system and decrease inflammation.  Hemp seeds are a great salad topping, sprinkle them on your oatmeal or just raw on top of your infants pureed veggies.
  6. Fish oil: A very high source of omega 3 fatty acids and extremely important for neurological development in children.  Fish oil’s are a healthy source of fat and are extremely anti-inflammatory. Its a very easy thing to introduce at a young age so that they grow up used to the taste. There are a wide variety of flavours available such as lemon, orange, mango, strawberry, pomegranate and key lime made to taste great for children and adults alike.  They are a pleasant addition to smoothies or a salad dressing. 

Wishing you a very satisfying meal time, every time!

Dr. Michelle Peris, ND

Dr. Michelle Peris is a Naturopathic Doctor whose goal is to empower people to achieve optimal health and wellness. Dr. Michelle has a special interest in women’s and pediatric health care, including perinatal care. She has a strong background and natural ability in physical medicine and extensive experience in the treatment of hormonal imbalances, digestive health concerns such as celiac disease, and atopic conditions such as allergies, asthma and eczema. Treatment programs include nutrition and nutraceutical supplementation, botanical medicine, homeopathy, physical medicine, lifestyle counseling, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture.

Dr. Michelle is registered with the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy - Naturopathy
(BDDT-N) and an active member of the Ontario Association of Naturopathic Doctors
(OAND) and the Association of Perinatal Naturopathic Doctors (APND). She advanced
her education in TCM and acupuncture with an externship at The National Hospital for
Traditional Medicine in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Dr. Michelle is a mom of one and contributes articles to Oh Baby! Magazine, City Parent
and Balance My Life online magazine. She practices out of a clinic in Oakville, Ontario.

To be inspired to live your best life now through healthful choices, follow Dr. Michelle on
her blog – Dr. Mom, ND, Facebook and Twitter!

Recipe: Quinoa Patties

Being a pescatarian it is often hard to find complete sources of protein, therefore quinoa is a definite staple in my kitchen. (A complete source of protein must contain all 9 essential amino acids).  I absolutely love quinoa! It cooks as quickly as rice and can be made in a rice cooker. It is light, fluffy and has a slightly nutty flavor that can replace any grain in your meal, plus it's gluten free. Quinoa comes in various colors such as yellow, red, orange, purple and black. If quinoa is a staple or a new addition to your diet try this delicious quinoa patty recipe: 

Yields 8-10 patties
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (about 3/4 c. dry)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 Tbsp chopped green onion
  • 3 Tbsp chopped mint
  • 3 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 c. grated strong cheese
  • 1/2 c. gluten free bread crumbs
  • 1/4 tsp pink Himalayan salt
1. Rinse the quinoa in cold water and gently rub the seeds with your hands
2. To cook the quinoa, add one part quinoa to two parts water in a saucepan or rice cooker
3. After the mixture is brought to a boil, reduce the heat to simmer and cover
4. Mix everything but the quinoa in a large bowl 
5. Fold in the cooked quinoa until it is completely mixed in
6. Heat a large frying pan to medium-high and add a drizzle of coconut oil to coat
7. Using a spoon and your hands, form 2-inch patties with the quinoa mix and add them to the hot frying pan
8. Cook each side for about 3 minutes or until golden brown.  
9. Once cooked let them sit for 1-2 minutes to ensure they do not fall apart. 


best in health,

Recipe adapted from http://www.two-tarts.com/2012/03/spring-herb-quinoa-patties.html
All pictures from http://www.two-tarts.com/2012/03/spring-herb-quinoa-patties.html

Video Blog: How to use the Neti Pot

Suffering from allergies this season? Trying to find sinus relief from that pesky cold or flu? Check out how to use the neti pot! This is a gentle effective way to clear your sinuses by breaking up phlegm and mucus. Check out the demo by Kate and Christine!

The An Avocado A Day Team

What’s Hiding in the Water

We are learning more and more about our everyday exposure to heavy metals and that a major dietary source can be from the seafood we consume. For an active seafood friendly vegetarian like myself cutting down on fish means cutting down on a lot of protein and healthy fats--something I’m not too interested in doing. I thought I should get the hard facts on what's really hiding in the water--what the highest mercury containing seafood sources are and what some healthy alternatives may be. 

Firstly, what is so bad about mercury anyway?  
Well, high doses of methylmercury (the type of mercury that can bio-accumulate in organic tissues) have been known to cause a wide range of adverse health effects. The severity of the adverse effects is largely dependent on the magnitude of the dose and the duration of exposure. It has been shown that the predominant health affects in humans are associated with the impaired functions of the central and peripheral nervous systems. 

In children, elevated methylmercury exposure can potentially cause:
  • Decreased mental functioning
  • Delays in walking and talking
  • Lack of coordination
  • Blindness and seizures
In adults, excessive methylmercury exposure can potentially lead to:
  • Personality changes
  • Tremors
  • Changes in vision
  • Deafness
  • Loss of muscle coordination and sensation
  • Memory loss
  • Intellectual impairment
  • In very extreme cases death

Next, why are fish the primary sources of mercury? 
Fish tend to bio-accumulate methylmercury in their muscle tissues as a result of eating plants and other organisms that contain methylmercury. What happens next is the process of bio-amplification: as we move up the food chain each predator ends up eating higher and higher concentrations of methylmercury, which then bio-accumulates in their muscle tissue. Shark and swordfish are examples of piscivorous fish that are high in the food chain and contain high concentrations of methylmercury.  

So what’s a seafood lover or pescatarian to do?
Tuna is a high protein, low fat food in my diet containing 15g of protein and 3g of fat per serving, which would be hard for me to cut altogether. However, there is good news: according to Health Canada all canned tuna, including albacore, is typically below the Canadian standard of 0.5 ppm total mercury. Some people eat canned tuna every day. If frequent consumers of tuna regularly choose canned albacore (white) tuna, their exposure to mercury could reach unacceptably high levels.

The same concerns do not exist for canned "light” tuna or “light chunk” tuna because it contains less mercury than canned albacore tuna. Various species can be labelled as "light" tuna including skipjack, yellowfin and tongol. There are also various types of tuna used in sushi/sashimi which include:
Seared Ahi Tuna
  • Shiro maguro, Binnaga/Bincho (which is albacore), 
  • Akami: top loin of Bluefin tuna
  • Ōtoro: fattiest portion of Bluefin tuna belly
  • Toro: fatty Bluefin tuna belly
  • Chūtoro: medium-fat Bluefin tuna belly
  • Kihada (maguro): Yellowfin tuna
  • Ahi: Yellowfin tuna
  • Meji (maguro): young Pacific bluefin tuna
  • Negi-toro: Bluefin tuna belly and chopped green onion
As bluefin tuna is a larger fish, it is in the same category as albacore for higher mercury levels and should be avoided.  If you love tuna sashimi try to go for Kihada (maguro) or Ahi tuna instead.

Other fish that tend to contain very low levels of mercury include:
  • Shellfish (for example oysters, clams, scallops, mussels)
  • Salmon
  • Crab
  • Shrimp
  • Trout
  • Herring
  • Haddock
  • Pollock (Boston bluefish)
  • Sole
  • Flounder
  • Lobster
  • Atlantic mackerel 
  • Lake whitefish
Bottom Line:
Even though we know that most fish does contain mercury and that traces of mercury have been measured in other products such as dairy, meats, poultry, eggs, pasta, fruits and vegetables we can choose to limit our overall exposure. We can do this by making educated decisions when choosing which types of fish we eat and how often we eat tuna and other potentially concerning fish.  


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.

Pictures from: www.corbis.com 

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