Love, Shop, Eat

My 3 week trip to Europe and the UK was absolutely amazing and although I enjoyed the shopping and the sites, what I enjoyed most was the food. Germany had the freshest produce I’ve ever tasted. And I was intrigued by the fruit stands found in bus terminals and on major London streets such as Regent Street. I’m not a huge tomato fan for example, but I just couldn’t get enough of them while I was there. I found great restaurants in Paris and was taken to great restaurants in London, but it seemed that no matter where I went in Germany – Berlin, Frankfurt, Braunfels or Giessen the food was simply fresh and fantastic!

My taste buds were always partying. As time went on during my escapades, I realized that I was truly discovering each city by the food!

Ok so food, food, food. Why was I so intrigued? Well good food has always been a huge part of my life. I grew up with a Chef dad who emphasized nutrition then, studied Nutritional Sciences in University and then became a Naturopathic Doctor. In my profession I spend a great portion my consultation time educating my patients about good food preparation (in order to minimize nutrient leeching and maximize nutrient absorption), and good food sources (local farmer’s markets, organic butchers etc.)

I see many patients with food sensitivities, allergies, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel diseases, and over the last couple of years I’ve had some of these patients mention that when they travel to Europe and throw my nutritional recommendations out of the window and basically eat as the Europeans eat, they experience a huge reduction in and often times, a total elimination of their digestive problems.

What is the possible explanation for this?
Firstly, meal time is…Well, there actually is a meal time! Europeans tend to make time and take time for eating meals. There is less eating meals around the television and more eating around a table with family and friends; a practice that is almost extinct in North America. This practice, without even examining the food itself, is healthier for digestion. Digestion involves smelling the food as it’s cooking as well as chewing thoroughly. Smelling the food gets the gastric juices in the stomach flowing in preparation for the food to come.

Secondly in Europe and the UK, more food is produced by local farmers who use traditional methods (ie organic farming practices). There is minimal genetic modification of foods, and a strong refusal to accept genetically modified foods from North America (a strict labeling law is enforced).

While is Giessen Germany, I went to a beer brewery and I was surprised to find out that there are strict rules surrounding the processing of beer. I was told that the oldest food law in the world is the beer purity law which states that beer should only be produced from barley, hops and water. Yeast is now added to beer, but there are no other preservatives or additives.

What are your thoughts on food processing? Do you believe that an increase in genetically modified foods in the market place as well as the use of pesticides and herbicides are affecting our health and the health of our ecosystem?

Leave your thoughts and comments below!
Gute appetite!

Here is an interesting article that I came across.

Simple Kale Chicken Soup

I had half of a rotisserie chicken left over from a few days ago so I decided to make some chicken soup with whatever I could find in the fridge.  Here is my creation…

Note: There are no noodles to be found in this chicken soup!


4 cups organic chicken broth

¼ of large white onion chopped

1 cup of organic Kale chopped (Super-food – anti-cancer, high in anti-oxidants and loaded with nutrients!)

1 scallion stalk chopped

½ to 1 cup frozen green beans

½ pre-cooked rotisserie or roasted chicken, chopped into small pieces

1 tbsp organic unsulphured black strap molasses (high in iron, B6, magnesium, manganese and calcium)

Spices added to taste (for the most part just a pinch of sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the rest)– sea salt, fresh ground black pepper, chilli pepper, turmeric, curry, Italian seasoning


Add chicken stock, onion, scallion, green beans and spices to a large soup pot and bring to a boil.  Turn the stove down to low and add the chicken, kale, and stir in the molasses.  Simmer until the Kale is wilted but still bright green (about 5-10 minutes!) Remove from heat, let cool and serve!

Walking the Line

Alas, ‘tis spring!  Although it doesn’t feel like spring today, it’s time to get my walking shoes on, get out of my apartment, and get moving.  Walking is my cardio exercise of choice and in the city there are many beautiful trails where you can experience nature and get a good work out in, all at the same time!  I personally like walking in High Park and in the Beaches – which is where I work.  For my daily mental health break, I head down to Queen Street East for lunch and then go for a walk along the board walk.

I’ve been ‘moonlighting’ as a personal trainer for 7 years now and I’ve had the privilege of working with many people with varying health goals.  All of my past clients and patients know that I’m an avid walker (I also enjoy interval training, which I’ll save for another post). Walking is a great way to maintain a healthy weight and it’s also a better form of exercise than running for people with joint injuries and other physical limitations.  One myth that I hear time and time again, is that walking is a less effective form of exercise than running.  Not true! In fact, brisk walking can burn the same amount of calories as running with less strain on the joints!

6 Steps to Walking with Conviction!

(1)    Start with a time goal of 15 minutes daily for 1 week and then see if you can increase your time by 5 minutes each week.

(2)    Wear a pedometer and aim for 500 steps a day, then increase to another 500 steps, to 1000 steps and so on.  The long-term goal is 10,000 steps per day.

(3)    Walk with family, friends, co-workers or join a walking group.

(4)   Map out your route – Use google maps or check out the link below: Exploring Toronto’s Parks and Trails –

(5)    Break it up.  If time is an issue, try something like a 10 minute brisk walk in the morning, 10 minutes on your lunch and another 10 minutes after work…That’s an easy 30 minutes!

(6)    Take the Stairs.

Any form of exercise is better than sitting. Whether it is running or walking, do something because our bodies were meant to be mobile.  Regular exercise prevents depression and anxiety, reduces heart disease, osteoporosis, hypertension, diabetes, obesity and cancers.  These diseases combined are at the top of the list for increasing the risk of early death and morbidity in North America.

I challenge you to get started today! Post your progress and comments below!

The Dirty Dozen

Grocery shopping is one of my favorite past-times.  It may seem a bit strange to some but true retail therapy for me is hitting up the aisles of Whole Foods Market for some of my favorite consumables.  I was grocery shopping with my mother today and as we carefully selected our fruits and veggies we discussed the “dirty dozen” and the “clean 15.”

What is the Dirty Dozen?

The dirty dozen is a group of 12 vegetables and fruits which have been identified as the most contaminated with pesticide residues.  It is suggested to consume these foods from an organic source.

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (Imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

The Clean 15 are the least contaminated with pesticide residues and do not have to be eaten from an organic source.

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn (Frozen)
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  • Kiwi Fruit
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya
  • Tomato
  • Sweet potato
  • Watermelon

Why do I believe this is important?

According to the Environmental Working Group, new research demonstrates that doses of pesticides which were once declared “safe” by government agencies are actually toxic to humans and the environment.  In animal studies, pesticides have been shown to have deleterious effects on the ecosystem and on the human body by disrupting hormones, damaging to the nervous system and having carcinogenic (cancer causing) and reproductive effects.  Pesticides are designed to kill living organisms such as insects, fungi and plants. There is no reason to think that as humans we aren’t being negatively affected by these toxins.

What can we do about it?

(1) Minimize your child’s exposure.  Research has shown that children are especially at risk.  Children do not detoxify these chemicals as effectively as adults do.  These chemicals can have an even greater impact on their developing organs, reproductive and nervous systems.

(2) Be a Locavore: Eating local is a sustainability movement where people chose to consume foods from the local economy (think farmers markets, back-yard or roof-top gardens). Eating local means that your fruits and vegetables are more likely to be vine-ripened.  This means produce that is higher in nutrient value and better tasting.  There are fewer pesticides used during production and harvesting and a reduction in greenhouse gases during transport.

(3) Purchase the foods on the clean 15 list: You can actually lower your pesticide exposure by 90% if you do this.

(4) Buy certified organic produce when possible.

(5) Get more information by checking out the Environmental Working Group’s website –  There’s even an IPhone app.

Happy shopping!  Leave comments or questions below.

Rice, rice, rice…Quinoa (Pronounced Keen-Wah)?

I grew up in a family where rice was a staple food. In fact, to be more specific, as I am from Jamaican heritage, “rice and peas” would be a more precise description. Don’t get me wrong, to this day I still love my “rice and peas”, but I have come to fully embrace quinoa as my new staple food in the recent years and I’ll most likely make it a staple food for my family. I’ve even tried my hands at making “quinoa and peas!”

Quinoa is a highly nutritional grain that has been growing in South America for over 5000 years, originating in the Andean region. It is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables such as spinach. It is gluten free, has a nutty flavor and is a complete protein which means it contains a full complement of amino acids (protein building blocks). As a whole grain it serves an ideal protein source for the vegetarian diet. It is also high in fibre, containing approximately 11 grams per cup. It contains healthy fats and is great source of calcium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin E and some B vitamins.

So, I was out and about in Toronto today browsing around Kensington Market. As I was looking around in the grain section of one particular store, I came across some very interesting quinoa products. I am a huge proponent of eating whole foods and I always emphasize this to my patients but if you were looking for different ways to begin incorporating quinoa into your diet, you may want to consider quinoa puffed cereals and quinoa pastas. I discovered one company today that imports organic, fair trade Quinoa from Bolivia. You’ll find many similar companies and products in health foods stores around the city. I have yet to try quinoa in a pasta form but when I do, I will post an update!

I like the way I feel after I’ve eaten quinoa. It digests quickly; it’s flavourful, versatile, and is really easy to cook (see below for one of my favorite recipes!)

Quinoa Cooking Instructions:

• 1 cup quinoa
• 1 1/2 cups cold water
• Optional: 1/2 tsp salt

Quinoa Cooking Directions:
1. Rinse quinoa is cold water. If you have time you can soak the quinoa for 15 minutes.
2. Drain quinoa well in the strainer, transfer to the cooking pot, add 1 ½ cups of water (you can use veggie stock or chicken stock to add a different flavor)
3. Bring to a boil, cover with a tight fitting lid, and turn the heat down to simmer
4. Cook for 15 minutes
5. Remove quinoa from heat and allow to sit five minutes with the lid on
6. Fluff quinoa gently with a fork and serve
7. Quinoa is delicious by itself or in the recipe below

Chicken Quinoa Salad

• 2 cups quinoa, cooked in chicken or vegetable stock
• 2 chicken breasts grilled or baked, cut into small cubes
• 1/2 cup pecans (pine nuts or pumpkin seeds may be used instead)
• 3 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
• 1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
• 3 scallions (green onions), chopped
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 2 tbsp lemon juice
• 1 tsp garlic salt
• salt and pepper, to taste

In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, chicken, nuts, parsley and mint.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and garlic salt, then pour over quinoa. Gently toss this dressing over the quinoa. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Chill for at least 15 minutes before serving to let the flavors blend. Toss again before serving, and taste to see if more salt and pepper is needed.
For the vegetarian version, simply remove the chicken.

So, go ahead, give it a try and let me know how it goes!

Welcome to Olivia Rose ND’s Blog

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    February  2020