Welcome back to your weekly dose of healthy kitchen tips! Each week we explore a new herb and its health benefits. Today we’ll discuss one of the most common grains that you’ll be sure to come across in almost any kitchen—oats. Let’s get started!
Sometimes referred to as Avena (from the Latin name, Avena Sativa), oats are one of the most popular breakfast foods. Walk into almost any breakfast restaurant and you’ll likely see some variation of oatmeal on the menu. To be clear though, the kind of oats that you eat are important, as the glycemic index can vary depending on how much they are processed and how they are prepared. In general, steel-cut oats have the lowest impact on blood sugar while instant or quick oats have the highest. Also, since grains are less nutrient-dense than other whole vegetables, it’s best to eat them in moderation.
Medicinally, the health benefits can vary depending on the part of the oat plant in use.
Oatmeal (made from the hulled kernel) is the breakfast food we’ve discussed so far. Oatmeal can also be used in an herbal bath for eczema or hives.
Oatstraw refers to the entire plant (both the tops and the stems). It also can be used as a food and may provide calming effects to the nervous system, with uses in both stress and insomnia.
Milky oats or milky green oats refer to the oat tops, and are picked fresh at the height of the season.
Where do oats come from? Where can I find them?
Despite their popularity today, oats were actually one of the last of the major grains to be domesticated—roughly 3000 years ago in Europe. This is likely due to the fact that they have a higher amount of natural fats and fat dissolving enzymes that make them go rancid quickly. It is these fats that give oats some of their health boosting effects.
Walk down the cereal aisle of any grocery store and you’ll likely find a container of oatmeal. When shopping for oats, choose steel-cut or rolled oats instead of the instant variety. A frequent question that comes up is whether oats are gluten-free. Oats themselves are completely gluten-free, however the machines that process oats are often used for processing wheat as well. Unless the container specifically says “gluten free” the oats may contain trace amounts of wheat.
How do oats help my health?
Oats are an excellent source of fiber. Because of this, they can help keep you regular while adding protection for the colon.1 They’ve also been shown to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and even regulate the immune system.2,3.4
What medical conditions/symptoms are oats good for?
Let’s try it out with two delicious and nutritious recipes!
½ cup oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
1tablespoon almond butter
1 cup almond milk
Fruit of your choice (berries and bananas are great additions)
Combine oats, cinnamon, honey, almond butter and almond milk in a bowl and stir. Cover and store in the refrigerator overnight. Add fresh fruit as desired.
Banana Oat Energy Bites
2 ripe bananas
2 cups rolled oats
¼ cup almond butter
¼ cup honey
2 tablespoons cocoa
½ teaspoon cinnamon
Mash bananas in a large bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients. Roll mixture into one-inch balls and place on a tray. Keep refrigerated.
Thank you to TipHero for the recipe!
Summer is coming to a close and school is right around the corner. If you are a parent, you are probably cherishing the peace and calm from having your kids at home all summer looking to be entertained. But one of the more challenging things as a parent is coming up with healthy and nutritious snacks on the go for your children – that they’ll eat. We teach children about making healthy choices, and that should also be reflected in lunch and after school snacks.
Here are some healthy and tasty foods for the kiddos this school year.
There are quite a few traditional snacks that you can try with your kids. “Ants on a log” has always been an old standby, so grab some celery and top it with almond or peanut butter and raisins. Also, chopped vegetables including carrots, celery, cucumber, jicama, or bell peppers (green or red) are good choices, especially if you add in a vegetable dip, such as hummus. You can also use hummus with pretzels, whole grain crackers or pita chips. Skip the microwave popcorn with lots of synthetic butter and instead use lightly salted air-popped popcorn. Lightly salted pistachios can be a hit and help with fine motor development. Finally, fresh fruits such as apple slices, grapes, and oranges are always a good standby.
Turkey and Cheese Swords
Roll up a small piece of nitrate free, organic turkey with an organic sliced cheese of your choice and skewer it with a pretzel stick. Easy, and the kids will get a kick out of their turkey and cheese ‘swords’.
Avocado Chocolate “Pudding”
Most kids love chocolate pudding, but those pudding cups are full of processed ingredients and sugar. Instead, take two large avocados, pit and peel them, and then chop them into small cubes. Put these in a blender with a quarter cup of maple syrup and a half a cup of unsweetened cocoa powder, along with 1/3 of a cup of coconut milk, two teaspoons of vanilla, and a pinch of cinnamon. Blend these until the whole mixture is smooth and then refrigerate it until it gets that “pudding” consistency and serve.
Banana “Ice Cream”
For this healthy version of banana ice cream, you need to peel several overripe bananas. After peeling, cut them into one-inch pieces and then freeze them in a Ziploc bag until they are solid. Then, you can run them through a juicer or blender to create a “fake out” ice cream. (Be sure to serve this as soon as you take it out of the blender/juicer.) If you want to make this a special treat, try adding berries or carob powder to the blender. You can also try topping it off with fruits or nuts.
Fudge you say? This three ingredient treat is tasty and will keep their blood sugar more even than any traditional candy/fudge.
Combine 1/2 cup almond butter OR allergy-friendly alternative, 2 1/2 tbsp virgin coconut oil (25g), add optional 2 1/2 tbsp liquid sweetener of choice) and a few drops maple extract. Combine the almond butter and coconut oil or coconut butter, and gently warm until the nut butter is easily stir-able and the coconut oil is liquid. Stir in the sweetener if desired, then spoon into a plastic container or candy molds. Freeze a few hours until solid, and store leftovers in the freezer.
Thanks to chocolatecoveredkatie.com for this one.
Fruit and Cheese Kabobs
Wash organic grapes and strawberries, and alternate on small skewers with organic cubed cheese.
These are a naturopathic favorite. You can load them up with lots of nutrients, vitamins and protein, and the sky’s the limit on how tasty they can be. They also make a great ‘on the go’ breakfast or after school snack. The new school year will be bringing a lot of challenges when it comes to schedules and staying healthy. But with these inventive options, your kids can still get quick and easy snacks that are good for them. For starters, try out this delicious banana almond flaxseed smoothie.
You’ve heard us say it before, healthy living starts in the kitchen. Many people find that cooking can be somewhat bland when first starting out, however, that need not be the case! Through this series, discover how to make cooking fun and healthy. This week we discuss everything you want to know about flaxseed!
In the quest for more dietary fiber, flax has gained popularity. You have likely come across flaxseeds in some form another. Flaxseeds (also known as linseed) are small gold, tan, or brown colored seeds that come from the common flax plant. Compared to other herbs/grains we’ve talked about, flaxseed has gained a lot of notoriety as a health food. Its packaging label will likely highlight health claims such as “high omega-3” and “high fiber.” But do these claims hold their weight?
Where does flax come from? Where can I find it?
Flaxseed is one of the oldest known cultivated crops. It dates back as far as 5000 years and its Latin name, Linum usitatissimum, means “very useful.” Flaxseed was introduced to the US by early colonists, and was used to make paper, fabric, and clothing. Flaxseed was also used to feed livestock due to its health boosting properties.
Today, flaxseed is easily found in almost every major grocery chain. You’ll find it either as whole seed or pre-ground. It used to be thought that once the seeds were ground they needed to be consumed quickly so the oils inside would not go rancid. Research has shown that once ground, flaxseed is shelf-stable at room temperature for up to 10 months without loss of omega-3 or ALA content. Though it is still best to keep it cool and away from light.1
How does flax help my health?
Because of its high omega-3 content, flaxseed is great at tackling inflammation-based conditions.2 Due to its high lignan and fiber content it is great for constipation, can lower cholesterol, prevent heart disease, and possibly even has cancer protective properties.3
What medical conditions/symptoms is flax good for?
Let’s try it out with a delicious and nutritious recipe!
Banana Almond Flaxseed Smoothie
1 medium frozen banana
2/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoons almond butter
1 tablespoon flaxseed
1 teaspoon honey
1 drop almond extract
4 ice cubes (optional)
Combine ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.
Thank you to Cooking Classy for this great recipe!
Commemorating an important milestone
This year is a special one for the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine (CCNM) as we celebrate our 40th anniversary. That’s four decades of educating NDs, delivering high-quality clinical care, and advancing our profession in Canada and beyond.
At our convocation ceremony in May, we honoured our history and looked to our future by welcoming 136 graduates to an evolving and growing profession. Our alumni may end up in different parts of the world, but they’re always part of CCNM’s family.
Walking through our past
Our most recent report to the community features a timeline of significant events and stories from our alumni and faculty. Through our research, we unearthed many fun facts. For example: in the early 80s, the College was located in two former art galleries; we published its first book, an anthology of common illnesses and their naturopathic treatment, in 1998; and we considered 77 potential sites before we moved to our current location, at the intersection of Sheppard Avenue and Leslie Street in Toronto, in 1999.
Student involvement in research
We created the Student Innovation Fund to foster a strong culture of research here at the College. Our students actively participate in research studies and we’re proud of the contribution they’re making to naturopathic medicine’s evidence base.
One such study, a collaboration between CCNM students and faculty, is a case report examining the effects of Arnica oil massage, therapeutic ultrasound, and acupuncture on chronic osteoarthritis pain. The results were published in Alternative and Complementary Therapies in April.In January, we hosted our second annual Research Day to showcase and celebrate the high-quality research work from students, faculty and the research department over the past year. In total, 17 research posters were on display in CCNM’s lobby and winners were announced in the top scientific and people’s choice categories by the judging committee.
Conference abstracts were published in the journal Undergraduate Research in Natural and Clinical Science and Technology.
The Integrated Cancer Centre (ICC) opens at CCNM
Led by Class of 2006 graduate Dr. Dan Lander, ND, the ICC provides integrative cancer treatment and support using a team-based approach. The centre is located within the Robert Schad Naturopathic Clinic (RSNC), our teaching clinic at the College. Students will have the opportunity to learn how to practise in an interdisciplinary setting with other health-care providers and deliver naturopathic cancer care to patients.
We also opened a new shift at the Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities, an external community health-care clinic (CHC) in the east end of Toronto. CCNM provides clinical care in CHCs located throughout Toronto, giving student interns exposure to health concerns that they don’t normally see at the RSNC. The shift is supervised by Dr. Ehab Mohammed, ND, a Class of 2015 graduate who was also trained as a medical doctor in his native Egypt.
Online prerequisite science courses (PSCs) available at CCNM
For applicants who want to become a naturopathic doctor but are missing some of the necessary prerequisites required for entry into our Doctor of Naturopathy degree program, we’ve developed a series of PSC courses that can be completed online.
The PSCs are offered throughout the year and include two chemistry courses, biology, physiology, and psychology. They combine online self-study modules with a weekly interactive tutorial session with the course instructor.
“I can sit across from a patient now and can see that they’re hiding the “real” reason they booked in, and give them a healing space to expose that, and start the healing process. “
Dr. Andrea Maxim enjoys being able to help her patients know they aren’t alone and “to be one of the first people to witness their wounds for what they really are.” It is this ability to truly touch the lives of patients, bringing them out of their shells and addressing their problems that helps to make her practice a success.
For Dr. Maxim, success doesn’t stop at the office door. With her knowledge and skills, she can share all of this “with people on Facebook, Instagram, Facebook Live, YouTube and touch a whole other demographic of people.” By sharing her skills through social media, she is helping to redefine naturopathic medicine.
Laying the groundwork to become an ND
As a way to prepare for her future as an ND, Dr. Maxim “went to every business class at CCNM in 3rd and 4th year.” It was this business grounding that helped add to her experience at CCNM and find success when she left naturopathic medical school. She went so far as to “learn as much as I could about managing the front desk and patient retention.”
In addition to her grounding in the business side of the field, Dr. Maxim also attended “as many courses and seminars/live trainings that I could in the first year.” By doing this, she was able to get information about what other practitioners were doing to be successful so that she could learn from their experiences.
CCNM as a springboard
Dr. Maxim chose CCNM for practical reasons—at the time “it was the only naturopathic college in Canada and the location was perfect for me.” Before she attended the school, she got to take part in the Discover CCNM Day and was sold on the college because of the energy she felt coming from the school and its people. While at CCNM, the faculty’s knowledge and expertise gave her the capability to “stand on my own as a new graduate.” She adds that even now, she reflects on what she learned from CCNM and it’s helpful with her treatment protocols. She especially credits the internship experience as having helped her to become a successful ND as well as the school’s ability to “make changes to improve our skills and efficiency.”
“Living the dream” after graduation
Since becoming an ND, Dr. Maxim has put in a great deal of work to build her practice. She also knew that she wanted more than anything to be her own boss, so she started her own practice. The best part about that is the flexibility “that it provides with changing my work schedule as needed.”
In addition, Dr. Maxim has been able to expand on her practice and innovate as needed because of the freedom of running her own practice. She utilizes her creativity to “create new promotions, new programs, offer flash sales and market myself in new ways.” This has helped her become a success in her field.
Finding fulfillment as an ND
As a starting ND, Dr. Maxim put in 16-hour days, six days a week. But all of that was to get her practice started and working properly. Now that she’s established, she gets to find personal and professional fulfillment from “learning, implementing, [and] growing outside of the office.” Her philosophy is that you cannot allow yourself to rest and get complacent if you want to remain successful in the business. But now that her business is settled, she works “four days in clinic and has more down time outside of the office.” She jokingly adds that there are some days she doesn’t even open her laptop to do any work.
Advice for aspiring NDs
Dr. Maxim’s top piece of advice for NDs is to learn how to be an entrepreneur as well as a practitioner. She says to be practical and realize that you will not be flooded with patients, but instead you have to have the drive to grow your practice and bring in clients. She adds that we are “in our pioneer phases” as a profession and that you will be faced with many patients and potential patients who have no concept of what naturopathic medicine is and what it entails. She believes that what you learn in school will help you to be a competent ND, but if you want to be successful, you “have to be ready to hit the pavement from the start.”
Learn more about Dr. Andrea Maxim:
Welcome to your weekly dose of naturopathic medicine! Each week we discuss a different herb and learn about how these delicious and common culinary finds can be good for our health. This week is all about a plant you’re more likely to come across in your yard before you even make it to the grocery store: Dandelion!
When most people think of dandelion they think of the weed growing wildly in their yard that flowers into brilliant yellow flowers. But, interestingly, the whole plant has many health benefits that vary depending on which part of the plant is used. The word ‘dandelion’ comes from the French ‘dent de lion’ or, lion’s tooth because of the serrated shape of the leaves.
Where does dandelion come from? Where can I find it?
Since dandelions grow almost anywhere in the world, tending to pop up in disturbed areas like roadsides and concrete cracks, they are considered a weed. The leaves can even be harvested from the wild for use in things like salads and stir-fries, and the roots can be boiled to make an alternative to coffee. Just be sure the area hasn’t been sprayed with herbicide or insecticides before harvesting! Many health food stores now stock dandelion greens as they have become more popular. Also easy to find is dandelion tea which confers many of the same health benefits as eating the plant. The tea is particularly useful in aiding in digestion.
Did you know that the yellow flower of the dandelion is what directly turns into the fluffy white spheres that kids love to blow into the wind?
How does dandelion help my health?
As mentioned above, different parts of the dandelion plant afford different health benefits. The leaves are well known to be restorative and protective of the liver, but the medicinal properties of the root have powerful systemic effects as well. Research has shown that dandelion can help for issues such as: high cholesterol and triglycerides, obesity, various cancers, infections, oxidative stress, and indigestion. 1,2,3
What medical conditions/symptoms is Dandelion good for?
• Alcohol or drug-induced liver injury (root)
• Melanoma (root), colorectal (root), pancreatic (root), chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (root), breast and prostate cancers (whole plant)
• Indigestion (leaf)
• Minor infections (topical root extract)
• High Cholesterol
Let’s try it out with delicious and nutritious recipes!
4 pounds dandelion greens, tough (lower) parts of stems discarded and leaves cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for drizzling
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large onions, halved and thinly sliced
4 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 fresh hot Italian cherry pepper, seeded and minced, or 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Cook greens in 2 batches in an 8-quart pot of well-salted boiling water, uncovered, until ribs are tender, about 10 minutes per batch. Scoop out each batch of greens as cooked with a skimmer or slotted spoon into a colander, then rinse under cold water to stop cooking. Drain well, gently pressing out excess water, and transfer to a bowl.
Heat oil and butter in cleaned pot over medium heat until foam subsides, then cook onions with garlic, cherry pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, covered, stirring occasionally, until pale golden, about 8 minutes. Add greens and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until onions are tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer dandelion green mixture with a slotted spoon to a serving bowl and drizzle with additional oil.
Dandelion greens can be washed, dried, and cut 2 days ahead and chilled in sealable bags lined with damp paper towels. Dandelion greens (with onions) can be cooked 2 hours ahead and kept at room temperature. Reheat over low heat or in a microwave.
Thank you to Epicurious.com for this recipe and notes.
Makes about 1 cup
3/4 cup unsalted hulled (green) pumpkin seeds
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 bunch dandelion greens (about 2 cups, loosely packed)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Black pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Pour the pumpkin seeds onto a shallow-rimmed baking sheet and roast until just fragrant, about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Pulse the garlic and pumpkin seeds together in the bowl of a food processor until very finely chopped.
Add Parmesan cheese, dandelion greens, and lemon juice and process continuously until combined. Stop the processor every now and again to scrape down the sides of the bowl. The pesto will be very thick and difficult to process after awhile — that’s ok.
With the blade running, slowly pour in the olive oil and process until the pesto is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Thank you to theKitchn.com for this wonderful recipe!