Healthy Snack Swaps

Snacking between meals helps to sustain your energy and mood, kicking those late night cravings to the curb. Healthy snacks also maintain stable blood sugar levels throughout the day which is key for those who suffer from hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia (or diabetes) alike. Furthermore, if you are trying to maintain a healthy weight or to lose weight, eating regularly is an important part of any meal plan. Going for long periods without eating or skipping meals slows down your metabolism and at your next meal you may over eat. A good snack should be nutrient dense and ideally balanced in protein, carbohydrates, healthy fat and fiber. However, some snacks are better than others. If you are going to snack, you might as well eat the best. Here are some healthy, snack swaps to consider.

Avocado chocolate pudding is easy to make and loaded with selenium, potassium, fibre and healthy fat.

Avocado chocolate pudding is easy to make and loaded with selenium, potassium , fibre and healthy fat.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

Swap that chocolate bar with homemade chocolate pudding. This recipe is made with avocados but your kids will never know!

Ingredients: 1 avocado, 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk or other milk of your choice, 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, 1/4 cup of cocoa powder, 1 tsp of vanilla extract, 3 tbsp of maple syrup – you can add more if you’d like.

Directions: Combine all ingredients in your blender and blend until smooth. Serve chilled. Top with fruit or nuts for some crunch. Avocados are loaded with healthy fat, selenium and contain more potassium than bananas. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that are heart and brain healthy.

Chia pudding is a great substitute for yogurt or oatmeal. It's high in protein and fibre.

Chia pudding is a great substitute for yogurt or oatmeal. It’s high in protein and fibre.

Chia Pudding Parfait

If you’re tired of yogurt and oatmeal, give this recipe a try. The consistency is similar to tapioca pudding or a porridge and the nutritional yield of chia just amazes me. Chia seeds contain omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, tons of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants and protein. In fact, 4 tablespoons of chia seeds will provide approximately 30 grams of protein. This means chia seeds make a great snack that will also keep you satiated.

Ingredients: 4 tbsp chia seeds, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 1 cup of milk of your choice. I use unsweetened coconut milk.

Directions: In a mason jar combine the chia seeds with the dry ingredients. Stir in the coconut milk and the maple syrup. Mix really well, seal the jar and place in the fridge overnight or for at least 4 hours. In the morning, top with granola, shredded coconut, fruit or nuts. Voila!

I’ll be sharing a few more of my snack swap ideas on Toronto’s Global News at Noon on February 23, 2015. Tune in!

Put Life Back Into your Hair Strands


Hair is derived from your hair follicles. Therefore the health of your hair depends on the health of your scalp. To maintain your healthy tresses, it is important to nourish your hair from the outside in and the inside out. Hormone imbalances, some medications, extreme weather changes, hair products and your nutritional intake all play a role in the look, feel and the overall health of your hair. Let’s examine the key nutrients and some homemade topical solutions that will make your hair shine.

Human hair is comprised primarily of protein. The first thing I rule out when looking for the cause of hair thinning in my practice is a protein deficiency. Low protein intake can in turn lead to poor quality hair strands and a deficiency in the nutrients that I discuss below. Therefore be sure to eat protein with each meal and to eat regular, balanced meals, every 4 hours. If you are a vegetarian, ensure that your meals contain whole grains such as quinoa, legumes and plenty of green leafy vegetables to support healthy hair growth.

B Vitamins
Biotin B1, B5 and B12 are important vitamins for maintaining a healthy scalp and strong hair. B vitamins play an important role in your metabolism, hormone production and in the production of red blood cells. When your body is stressed, the need for B vitamins increases and for some individuals stress can result in thinning hair. Consume eggs, whole grains, nuts and seeds on a regular basis. You can also take a B complex supplement that contains a full complement of all the B vitamins for support.

Iron deficiency anemia is a common condition in women of child-bearing age. Iron is an important component of your hemoglobin which brings oxygen and blood to all of your cells, including the hair follicles. When your iron levels fall below optimal, your body will automatically focus on nourishing your vital organs, restricting blood flow to your non-vital organs such as your scalp; this leaves you susceptible to lack lustre, thinning hair. If you suffer from fatigue, heavy menstrual cycles or if you are a vegetarian, it is important to get your iron and hemoglobin checked regularly as you may need to up your intake of iron-rich foods or to take a nutritional supplement. Lentils, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables and organic beef liver are great sources of iron.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Long chain omega-3 fatty acids are essential; which means that your body is not able to make these scalp nourishing, heart-healthy fats on its own. These fatty acids are embedded within your hair strands, hair follicles and within the membranes of all cells in your body, including your scalp, providing moisture and a natural lustre to your hair shaft. If your scalp tends to be dry, consider increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. Cold water fish such as salmon and mackerel are your best sources. You can also take a fish oil supplement to meet your daily needs.

Vitamin D
In the northern latitudes, vitamin D deficiency and sub-optimal levels of vitamin D is an epidemic as the levels of year-round sunlight is limited. Functionally a hormone, vitamin D maintains the cycles of hair growth and without it your hair will appear dull and slow-growing. Test your vitamin D with your health care provider and according to the Vitamin D Council you should aim to maintain your blood vitamin D levels at 120nmol/L year-round. This will likely require taking a supplement; however food sources include, salmon, cod liver oil, mushrooms and fortified dairy products.

This is one of my all-time favourites. Use flat beer as a rinse after you have washed and conditioned your hair and voila, plump hair strands, full of body and moisture. Don’t worry about the smell, after you rinse the beer out with cool water, the smell will disappear. Depending on the length of your hair mix ½ cup to 1 cup of flat beer with a ½ teaspoon of jojoba oil. The jojoba will amplify the shine, soothe your scalp and seal the moisture into your hair strands.

Herbs for superb hair
Some herbs such as Saw Palmetto and Stinging Nettle Extract can give your scalp the nourishment it needs to promote the growth of thick, lustrous, and healthy hair. Saw Palmetto has a long history of use for treating benign prostatic hypertrophy in men as well as male and female pattern baldness, aka androgenic alopecia. Although the scientific research is limited, a small research study demonstrated it may be helpful for the treatment of androgenic alopecia in men. It is thought that this herb works by blocking the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase which causes the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Dihydrotestosterone is thought to be the culprit in both male and female pattern baldness. In addition, Stinging Nettle is a perennial plant that grows widely across North America. Both the root and the leaves have been used for centuries in herbal medicine to treat health concerns such as hair loss, conditions of the urinary tract and seasonal allergies. It can be taken in capsule form or herbal tea form and applied topically as a hair rinse after you have washed your hair. Nettles is a rich source of many nutrients including iron, protein, silica and calcium which may explain its history of use for maintaining a healthy mane.


Originally written for and published on, September 24, 2014



Heart Disease Can Be Prevented

Heart Health

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in North America for both men and women and according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation, it is estimated that cardiovascular disease accounts for 29% of deaths in Canada.

Although you may have a family history of cardiovascular disease, know that the nutrition and lifestyle choices that you make today, will impact whether those genes will be expressed or not in the future. In other words, heart disease can be prevented.

On February 14th, 2014, I was invited by Global Toronto’s News at Noon, to discuss some of these preventative strategies with host Antony Robart. Here is a summary. As always, please see your naturopathic doctor for recommendations specific to your case.

Risk Factors

The risk factors for heart disease that are within your control include: stress, weight, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, inactivity, hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes. The risk factors for heart disease that are not within your control: having a positive family history; or congenital heart disease.

Prevention Strategies – Here are some of my tips!

Sugar: Avoid the excess sugar. This is the sugar that food manufacturers add to processed foods such as yogurt, sodas, pastries and juices. Minimizing your consumption of processed foods is a must for any health care regimen. According to a recent study, if sugar is 25% of your daily caloric intake, it can double your heart disease risk. To put this into perspective, a 16 ounce bottle of orange juice can contain up to 48 grams or more of sugar. That is the equivalent of 192 calories, in one beverage!

Alcohol: For decades, alcohol has been touted as the premiere strategy for heart disease prevention and although some alcohol consumption may offer some protection, there is only so far that this strategy will take you. For men, drink no more than 2 drinks daily and for women, no more than 1 drink daily. If you consume more than the recommended dose on a regular basis, your risk of death from cardiovascular disease will double. Furthermore, you will increase your risk for colorectal, breast and liver cancer.

Fish: Two weekly servings of fish reduces the risk of dying from a heart attack by 30%. Choose wild caught and sustainable fish whenever possible. Check out this fish guide by the David Suzuki Foundation.

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO): Include 1 to 2 tbsp each day with your meals. EVOO reduces bad (LDL) cholesterol and raises good (HDL) cholesterol.

Nuts: It doesn’t matter which type! Reduces risk of cardiovascular disease by 35%. Aim for a handful of raw, unsalted nuts each day.

Garlic: Decreases platelet and red blood cell stickiness and inflammation. Eat 1 clove of fresh garlic daily or add chopped garlic near the end of the cooking process in order to preserve the antioxidant and nutrient content.

Tea: 3 cups or more of green tea daily reduces your risk of stroke by 21%, according to one study. Green tea leaves are delicate. To protect the flavour and health benefits on this fine tea, steep in cooler water (70 to 80 degrees celsius) for 2 to 4 minutes.

Dark chocolate (70% cocoa): Now this is a superfood! Dark chocolate reduces blood pressure and improves blood flow to the heart and brain.  According to studies, about 3 ounces per day is all you need to keep your heart healthy and happy.

Resources consulted in this article:

Kicking the Coffee Habit

imagesMmmm…Coffee! 90% of North Americans drink this legal, psychoactive drug each day. It gives energy and brings alertness, it boosts mood and helps you to be “on”. There are even some compelling scientific studies demonstrating that regular coffee consumption prevents heart disease and type 2 diabetes. My issue with regular coffee drinking, is much like my issue with regular alcohol drinking. It’s not for everyone, there is a safe upper limit and there are many other lifestyle and nutritional factors that can be implemented in your health regimen for disease prevention. There are many downsides to the use of coffee and other caffeinated beverages on a regular basis.

For most people, 300 mg of caffeine daily is the safe limit which is equivalent to around 2 to 3 (250 ml) cups. Some of the negative effects associated with chronic caffeine consumption include: hypertension, elevated heart rate, anxiety, panic attacks, muscle twitching, osteoporosis, increased urination, increased elimination of minerals and electrolytes such as calcium, magnesium and potassium, heartburn and insomnia.

If you are thinking about weaning from coffee, do it slowly to avoid the withdrawal symptoms. Headaches, fatigue, lethargy and constipation are some of the symptoms to be weary of.

How to Wean

The weaning process can take place over 2 weeks to 4 weeks or more, depending on how much coffee is regularly consumed.

Step 1: Reduce the size of the cups/container used
Step 2: Drink 1/3 decaffeinated (ie. Kicking Horse – Swiss water method to avoid the chemicals involved in the conventional decaffeination process) and 2/3 caffeinated
Step 3: Drink 1/2 decaffeinated, ½ caffeinated
Step 4: Drink 2/3 decaffeinated and 1/3 caffeinated
Step 5: Replace with green tea (less caffeine, contains antioxidants, boosts metabolism)
Step 6: Switch over to a decaffeinated/herbal tea or stick with green tea (contains approximately 35 mg of caffeine per cup)

Other Tips

-Sleep (get to bed at a decent hour) and add in/boost the frequency of your exercise (improves mood and energy)
-Eat meals regularly (keeps blood sugar and insulin levels stable and prevents craving for sugary snacks)
-Eat fiber to prevent constipation (examples include: hemp seeds, chia seeds, ground flax seeds, fruits and vegetables, steel cut oatmeal and whole grains)
-Drink water and add some lemon (improves digestion, supports liver). There are chemicals in coffee that disrupt the liver’s normal detoxification process.

Supplements  (consult with your ND for individualized dosing)

-Electrolytes (green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach, avocados, bananas, Ener-C (natural electrolyte replacement pack), coconut water (natural electrolyte replacement found in nature)
-Vitamin C – an antioxidant that supports the adrenal glands (stress hormone producing glands) and the liver.
-B Complex boosts energy and mood. During times of stress your body utilizes more B vitamins and vitamin C as these nutrients are required for producing stress hormones such as cortisol in the body.

Here is the link to my segment on Global’s News at Noon, where I help the host, Antony Robart, kick his coffee habit.

Simple Kale Chips Recipe

Kale Chips - A healthy snack for movie night. Kids love it too!

Kale Chips – A healthy snack for movie night. Kids love it too!

Kale….Seems like everyone is talking about it these days. This nutrient dense cruciferous veggie (broccoli and cabbage are also in this family), is bursting with vitamins and minerals. It’s high in vitamin A, K, and C. Calcium, iron and magnesium are present and not to mention, fiber. So it’s no wonder people are talking about it. Here’s my simple kale chips recipe that will hopefully make you eat it more. Less talk, more eat!


1 large bunch of organic kale
2 tsp of organic butter (can be omitted if you wish. but butter makes everything taste better and it helps with the absorption of your fat-soluble vitamins)
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
Sea salt and black pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear into bite-sized pieces.
Wash and thoroughly dry the kale with a salad spinner or a tea towel.
Melt butter on the stove-top in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
Arrange the kale pieces on the parchment paper.
Drizzle the kale with grape seed oil, melted butter and sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.
Bake until the edges brown but are not burnt, about 10 minutes.

Natural Fertility

baby-rattle-webI don’t typically share stories but I witness this so often and perhaps someone out there needs some encouragement today. Natural, holistic medicine is so amazing to me. I know that my ND colleagues can relate to this as we see this time and time again.

After months of fertility medications and intrauterine inseminations (IUIs), my patient was told by her fertility doctor that it was time to consider IVF (in vitro fertilization) as her ovarian reserve is too low to conceive naturally. Meanwhile, I soldiered on as any naturopathic doctor would and simply worked with her on nutrition and lifestyle changes including boosting up her iron stores and B12, providing herbal remedies, acupuncture as well as weekly encouragement. She emailed and said that she and her partner would be taking a break from the fertility clinic for the summer, but that she would continue with the natural treatments. A month later, I get an email that she is pregnant, naturally, no IVF nor IUI needed. Love it.

This story exemplifies what naturopathic medicine is all about. Naturopathic doctors help bring mind and body into balance. It’s not always as simple as bringing sperm and egg together. When health is optimized fertility can happen, it may just take some time. #simplesensiblehealth #naturopathy #ilovemyjob

Have a great long weekend!



Natural Insect Repellent Recipe

Alternatives to DEET containing insect repellents

Alternatives to DEET containing insect repellents

Bug Off! Although government health agencies claim that DEET-containing insect repellents are safe; there are many scientists and environmental watch dogs such as the Environmental Working Group that are concerned. DEET has been shown to cause skin irritation, eye irritation, memory loss and neurological conditions such as seizures. So what are the natural alternatives? Soybean oil-based repellents have been shown to be as effective as DEET without the side effects. Citronella-containing insect repellents are the most popular on the market, but effects can last between 30 minutes to an hour. Today on Toronto’s Global News at Noon Show, I discussed natural alternatives to chemical-based insect repellents. Here is a recipe that honestly takes 2 minutes to make and absorbs really well into the skin, without a greasy feel. I recommend applying natural insect repellents more frequently in order to stay mosquito bite-free!

Remember our skin, the largest organ, contains mini-mouths (aka pores) that very efficiently eats any and everything we put on it without filter. Contrast this to when we eat a meal; food and chemicals are processed by our organs (stomach, liver, small intestine etc.) before entering the blood stream.

Here’s my recipe:
1/4 cup organic soy bean oil
1/3 cup water
50 drops of 3 essential oils of your choice (ie. citronella, clove, eucalyptus)
Put in a dark spray bottle, shake well and apply as needed.

Happy long weekend!

Herb and Spice Black Bean Dip

Dr. O's Herb and Spice Black Bean Dip

Dr. O’s Herb and Spice Black Bean Dip

This antioxidant-rich, nutrient-dense recipe is sure to make your taste buds do the tango. Black beans are chock-full of minerals, protein and plant nutrients that support the health of your colon. The herbs and spices contained in this recipe, add flavor and vitamins without the extra calories. Yummo!!

This recipe was featured on Global Toronto’s The Morning Show and the News at Noon this past Monday. My goal was to showcase a recipe that incorporates the herbs and spices discussed during my health segment.



1 large can of organic black beans (try Eden’s Organic and any other unlined can of black beans)/or 2 cups of freshly cooked, pre-soaked black beans

1 whole red pepper, chopped

3 garlic cloves, crushed

¼ to ½ tsp of thyme, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger spice

3 basil leaves

3 sage leaves

Pinch of salt

1 whole chili pepper, chopped (use more or less depending on how much heat you desire)

1-1/2 tbsp of grape seed oil

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil



Sauté the garlic, peppers and spices in the grape seed oil until soft.

Add in the rinsed and strained black beans and cook on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Add in the sage and basil leaves with a pinch of salt if desired.

Remove from heat and let the mixture cool for a few minutes.

Add the bean mixture plus the extra virgin olive oil to the food processor and blend until smooth.

Serve with your favorite crackers or vegetables warm or cold.


Winter Skin Exfoliation Recipe

Sugar Mocha Spice Scrub

Is your skin feeling more reptilian than amphibian these days? Well listen up! The skin’s natural shedding process slows during the winter months as there is less moisture in the air. This leads to the accumulation of the dead cells which leaves that dry, ashen appearance on your skin. The typical solution is to load up on heavier creams to compensate, but without removing that dry skin layer, your efforts will be in vain. So, here is a simple homemade solution. This past December, on the Global News at Noon Show, I spoke briefly about a sugar scrub that you can make with simple ingredients found in your kitchen pantry. In fact, the only reason we have white sugar or coffee in our cupboard is to make this wonderful skin nourishing sugar scrub.

Using this scrub a few times a week should bring out a brighter, smoother skin texture. You may also notice less blemishes and a decrease in skin hyperpigmentation. I don’t recommend using this scrub on your face and be sure to patch test if you have sensitive skin.

I also must note that this information is not meant to replace the advice of your health care practitioner. If you have a skin concern, please seek the care of a qualified ND, MD or other health professional.

Thank you and enjoy!

Sugar Mocha Spice Body Scrub


1 cup of white sugar
¼ cup ground coffee (can be used or fresh)
¼ cup dark chocolate/cocoa powder
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp peppermint essential oil (you can also use essential oil of cinnamon, vanilla or another oil of your choice)
½ cup of grapeseed oil

In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Add the essential oil and whisk in the grapeseed oil until all the ingredients are well combined. Store in an airtight container – A glass jar is best. Should take 5 minutes – tops!


Once in the shower, apply a generous amount of the scrub to wet skin using a circular motion. Rinse well with warm water and if desired, use a wash cloth to take off any excess oils before getting out of the shower. You should not need to moisturize after using this scrub.

Please let the scrub do the work. Do not apply tons of pressure but rather, use gentle strokes and focus on the areas of your body that you’re more concerned with. For most people this includes elbows, underarms, knees and feet.

Another caution note is to be careful in the shower while exfoliating because your shower floor will become slippery.

#Movember! Keep Your Prostate Healthy

For the month of November, men across the country are growing mustaches to raise awareness and funds for men’s health issues such as prostate cancer. In my practice, men of all ages are coming in and seeking guidance about how they can prevent this disease. The good news is that there is a growing body of scientific evidence suggesting that prostate cancer can be prevented.


Know your risk – Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among Canadian men and is the third leading cause of death among Canadian men. And those of African or Caribbean descent are 65% more likely to develop prostate cancer than Caucasian men in their lifetime.


Screening – The PSA or prostate specific antigen test and a DRE or digital rectal exam are the primary tools used to screen for prostate cancer and both of these tests can be done with your naturopathic doctor. Screening should begin in all men at 50 years of age – usually the standard is to have the prostate checked each year. However, if you fall into one of the higher risk groups such as having a close family relative with prostate cancer or breast cancer, your screening for this disease should begin at age 40. Men of Afro-Caribbean descent fall into this high risk group as well.


What can you do? Although susceptibility to this disease may be partly inherited, experts believe the disease is strongly linked to environmental factors such as your diet. It is thought that your lifestyle choices account for up to 80 percent of your risk.

Reduce your consumption of red meat - A recent study determined that the consumption of 2.5 servings of pan-fried red meat can increase your risk of prostate cancer by 40%. The frying of meat creates a chemical that is carcinogenic (ie. Cancer- causing).

Be moderate with alcohol – A 2009 study published in the journal Cancer, found that heavy drinking, especially when it is beer, increases the risk for highly aggressive prostate cancer. Most prostate cancer is slow growing so this is concerning.

Tomatoes and Lycopene - The risk for prostate cancer is lower in men who have higher levels of lycopene in their blood. Studies suggest that diets rich in tomatoes may account for this reduction in risk. Other food sources of lycopene include apricots, guava, watermelon, papaya, and pink grapefruit although tomatoes contain the highest levels. Keep in mind that your body absorbs lycopene from cooked tomatoes better than from raw.

Vegan diet – In one study published in the journal of urology, men with early stage prostate cancer who adopted a vegan diet consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes were able to reverse and in some cases stop the progression of their illness. A vegan diet is not suitable for everyone but eating more fruits and vegetables – at least 5 to 7 servings daily, certainly is. Make half your plate vegetables at every meal, to start.

Walnuts – Interestingly enough, the prostate is shaped like a walnut and walnuts should definitely be included in a prostate-friendly diet since some studies in mice have shown that eating a diet rich in walnuts can reduce the size and growth rate of prostate cancer cells.

Vitamin E – Is a major antioxidant and has been shown to protect and repair our body cells from damage. In a study in Finnish men that took place over 4 years, vitamin E cut the risk of prostate cancer by 33%. The typical supplement has 400IU of vitamin E per capsule, but it’s important to get your dose individualized by your Naturopathic Doctor. Foods that are high in vitamin E include – Sunflower seeds, almonds, and pine nuts.

Vitamin D - The sunshine vitamin that is actually a steroid hormone. Because prostate cancers tend to be slow-growing, exposure to sunlight in your early years to midlife may reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Get your levels checked to determine how much you should be taking. Some foods high in Vitamin D include eggs and fish.

Selenium – A trace micronutrient that is another important protector of cellular damage. We would normally get selenium when produce absorb it from the soil, but most of North American soil is low in selenium. Some studies show that humans, who live in areas where selenium is low in the soil, have higher rates of cancer. In one study, after 10 years, the risk of developing prostate cancer was 49% lower in the group prescribed selenium. The typical dose is 200mcg/day, but as usual get this dose individualized by your ND. Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, shellfish and liver are all good sources of selenium.


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    March  2015
    Events on March 4, 2015
    • 'Tea with the ND' - Healthy Snacking and Emotional Eating (featuring Hypnotherapist Josie Driver)
      Starts: 7:30 pm
      Ends: March 4, 2015 - 8:30 pm
      Location: 3520 Danforth Ave (at Warden) Toronto, ON (Party Room of Terrace on the Danforth - Condominium
      Description: Join Dr. Rose and Hypnotherapist Josie Driver as they discuss how to curb cravings and how to combat emtional eating patterns. This event is free with the donation of a non-perishable food item which will be donated to the Daily Bread Food Bank. See you there!
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