Articles, Living with MS

A Holistic Approach to Living With MS

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Never let any medical diagnosis stop you from pursuing the best health possible!
~Chantale

Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2001.
Health conscious and relapse free since 2007!

ms_card

Living with MS, Recipes, Soups & Stews

This Soup Can Help Get Rid of Inflammation Fast

Last week I did another talk for the Multiple Sclerosis Society and I mentioned this delicious anti-inflammatory soup that I use to help reduce inflammation in my body whenever I start to feel an MS flare-up coming on. * Knock on wood* no major relapse in 9 years now! You can read that story here.

Even when I suffer a minor hiccup (that’s what I call little random symptoms I might experience when I stray a little too far away from my healthy diet or experience a lot of stress), I’ve been able to avoid a relapse all these years by eating, living and thinking in a certain way.

Of course, there are often several factors that contribute to imbalances and inflammation in the body such as food intolerances, an inflammatory diet, overconsumption of sugar and refined grains, lack of good gut bacteria, poor sleep quality and chronic stress. Even though it’s always best to address the root cause of inflammation, adding anti-inflammatory foods and spices to your diet can help dampen some of the flames of inflammation.

This recipe uses many anti-inflammatory spices, including turmeric, which helps reduce pain and inflammation throughout the entire body. The beta-carotene in the butternut squash is also extremely healing and loaded with anti-inflammatory properties. I’ve even used this soup to help get over colds faster, due to the antibacterial properties in the purple onions and garlic.

Anti-inflammatory Butternut Squash Soup

  • 3 cups of vegetable stock
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 1 large butternut squash
  • 1/2 purple onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. curry power
  • 1 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • Dash of ground cumin
  • 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup (optional)
  • 1 tsp. Himalayan pink salt
  • Dash of black pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. Wash the butternut squash thoroughly and poke several holes in it using a sharp knife, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  3. Roast squash for 45 to 60 minutes, until tender. Remove from oven and set a side until cool. When the squash is cool enough to handle, cut in half, scoop out the seeds and cut squash into cubes.
  4. While squash is cooling, dice the onions and garlic and sauté in half a cup of vegetable stock.
  5. Add the squash, remaining vegetable stock and spices to a pot with the onions and garlic.
  6. Gently simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat.
  7. Puree until smooth. Add the coconut milk, stirring well and gently simmer on low heat for another 10 minutes.

* Anti-inflammatory Cooking Tip: Vegetable stock can used as a substitution for cooking with oil. Refined oils not only adds empty calories to a meal but when heated, oxidizes and can contribute to inflammation.

Articles, Living with MS

Are You Getting Enough Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids?

Every living cell in the body requires essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are found in high concentrations in the brain, aid in the transmission of nerve impulses, control blood clotting and are essential for rebuilding and producing new cells.

Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fats found naturally in a wide variety of nuts, seeds, leafy green vegetables, seaweed and fish. Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids protect against heart disease, inflammation, certain types of cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and macular degeneration. Omega-3 fatty acids are also critical for proper brain development and neurological function.  They are classified as “essential” because they are not made in the body and must come from the diet.

There are several types of omega-3 fatty acids. Two crucial ones, EPA and DHA are primarily found in cold water fish. Plants sources like flax, chia, hemp, and green leafy vegetables are primarily alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and are not in their bioactive form. The body must convert these short-chain ALA omega-3 fatty acids into EPA and DHA. This conversion is dependent on numerous key nutrients in a long sequence of complex, enzymatic reactions. Therefore, it’s important to avoid deficiencies by having a well-balanced diet in order for the conversion to take an anti-inflammatory prostaglandin pathway. For more detailed information regarding Omega-3 convervion pathways into EPA and DHA, visit this post.

The Benefits and Functions of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

• Research shows strong evidence that EPA and DHA can help lower triglycerides and blood pressure and that they play an important role in reducing inflammation throughout the body.
• Studies have found omega-3 fatty acids significantly reduce joint pain and stiffness.
• DHA is important for visual and neurological development in infants.
• Some studies show that EPA and DHA can improve cognitive function and may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
• Essential fatty acids are required for the production of neurotransmitters.
• Essential fatty acids are the building blocks of hormones and are linked to menopause, PMS and other nervous and endocrine system imbalances.

 Symptoms of Essential Fatty Acid Deficiency

• Impaired learning or poor memory
• Rough, dry, flaky skin
• Dry, brittle hair
• Weak or dry looking nails
• Dandruff
• Dry eyes
• Irregular menstrual periods
• Mood swings
• Depression

Sources of Omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids

• Flax seeds • Hemp seeds • Chia seeds • Walnuts • Macadamia nuts • Sunflower seeds • Pecans • Avocados • Wheatgrass • Spinach • Kale • Broccoli • Seaweed • Algae • Nori • Spirulina • Wild caught, cold water fish •

Cooking and Storing

Heat destroys EFAs and results in the formation of dangerous free radicals, which can promote inflammation. Therefore, when consuming omega-3 rich nuts and seeds, it’s best to eat them raw and store in sealed containers in the refrigerator or other cool, dark places that are out of direct sunlight.

Flax, hemp, olive, pumpkin and other omega-3 rich oils should never be heated or used for cooking. Instead, use coconut oil which is more heat stable due to its chemical structure, making it less vulnerable to oxidation and free radical formation.

omega3

* Those taking blood thinners and anticoagulant medications are warned to supplement with omega-3’s using caution, as they may cause the blood to thin and lead to excess bleeding.
breakfast, Living with MS

B Vitamin Guide For Those With Multiple Sclerosis

Why is it that we only ever hear about B12?
All B vitamins are needed for the synthesis of neurotransmitters, formation of the myelin sheath, neuromuscular health and regulation of the nervous system!

B Vitamin Guide

Recipes, Soups & Stews

Dairy-Free Cream of Broccoli Soup

dairy free broccoli soup
I love being able to enjoy some of my favourite comfort foods that I grew up with, yet most of the time they don’t fit in with the anti-inflammatory, hypoallergenic diet that keeps me healthy. That’s why it thrills me to pieces to be able to adapt these kind of homemade family recipes, using ingredients on my safe list. The best part is that I can also share these meals with my loved ones, without fearing that I’ve sacrificed flavor. My dad used to make the BEST cream of broccoli soup. If only he was still around to try my version of this classic recipe! I think he’d like it.

I don’t usually keep vegetable stock in the pantry, but that’s no problem because my fridge is very well stocked with all the ingredients to make this quick and easy broth. There’s nothing better than completely fresh homemade soup, especially with the subzero temperatures that we’re having right now in Windsor, Ontario! brrr

You will need:

  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 4 medium sized potatoes, chopped
  • ½ fennel bulb, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots (1 chopped for the stock, 1 grated and added after stock is made)
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 1 tps black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 cups of water

Wash, peel and chop potatoes and boil for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes they won’t be completely cooked but that’s okay. We’re going to let them finish softening up in the soup. This way, they soak up some of the flavor without making the soup too starchy.

Start the stock!
Heat the coconut oil over medium heat and sauté the onions and garlic while you wash, chop and prepare the following ingredients for your stock.

Onions, garlic, celery, 1 carrot, fennel, broccoli stems, thyme, salt, pepper.
Add your stock ingredients with ¼ cup of water.  Place lid and sweat veggies for ten minutes.
Add about half of your broccoli florets and 1.5 cups of water and gently simmer for another 10 minutes, or until everything is soft enough to purée. Purée!
Slowly pour in the coconut milk, potatoes, shredded carrots, nutritional yeast and the remaining broccoli florets and gently simmer for another ten minutes or so. Since I love sesame seeds and actively try to add them to every dish I make, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy!

breakfast, Recipes

Banana Mango Star Fruit Smoothie

Star Fruit, also known as carambola, is a tropical fruit high in vitamin C, potassium, folate, beta-carotene, quercetin, and loaded with antioxidants! One medium sized star fruit has 35 calories and 4g of sugar making it low on the glycemic index, a good choice for those with diabetes.
It also contains 26 mg of the amino acid lysine—helpful for the prevention of cold sores.
When ripe, the edible waxy skin should be golden yellow in colour with a touch of green, and slightly brown edges.

Fun Star Fruit Facts!

* The juice can be used to remove rust stains from clothing and metal.
* Wood from the carambola tree is used to make furniture.
* In India, the roots are combined with sugar and considered an antidote for poisoning.
* Poultices made from the crushed rushed leaves and shoots were once used to treat chicken-pox and ringworm.

This banana, mango, star fruit smoothie gets a gold star!

  • 1 star fruit
  • 1 mango
  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of vanilla almond milk

Add all ingredients to a blender and process for 30 seconds, or until smooth and enjoy!

Star Fruit Smoothie

Recipes

Brown Rice/Hemp Seed Breakfast Cereal

Brown Rice Pudding

This is a great dish to serve for breakfast on a cold winter day, or have as dessert or a snack! Rich in protein, fiber and essential fatty acids, what a great way to start your day by promoting stable blood sugar levels and providing long lasting energy throughout your morning.

Served with chopped walnuts, cinnamon and hemp seeds, this dish offers anti-inflammatory omega 3’s and cinnamon for blood sugar control. The added blackstrap molasses also provides a good dose of calcium, magnesium, iron and B-vitamins!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1 can of coconut milk of a BPA-free can
  • 2 tbsp coconut sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp of molasses
  • Dash of cardamom
  • Sprinkle of hemp seeds

Cook rice as per instructions. Brown rice typically takes 45 minutes to fully soften. After about 30 minutes, turn off the heat, add the coconut milk, molasses, coconut sugar and cardamom, and let the rice finish cooking with just the residual heat(lid on). A great way of not only preserving the nutrients from the molasses but you’re also saving a bit of energy.
When you’re ready to eat, throw in some chopped walnuts, sprinkle with hemp seeds and enjoy!

Other, Recipes

Kale: 5 ways/5 days Recipe #5

Curried Lentil Kale Soup

Curried Lentil Kale Soup

 Ingredients:
4 cups of kale, chopped
1 cup dried lentils
2 cups water
1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
¼  tsp cumin
Pinch of cloves
1 tsp turmeric
½  tsp curry power
½  tsp sea salt
½ tsp fresh black pepper

Rinse the lentils under cold running water.
Add lentils and water to a saucepan and bring to a boil.
Adjust to medium heat and add onions, garlic, celery and spices and simmer for 20 minutes before adding the carrots, tomato and kale.
Turn heat down to low, cover to let simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
Purée and enjoy!

Other, Recipes

Kale: 5 ways/5 days Recipe #4

Sweet Potato Pasta with Creamy Cashew Kale Sauce

Sweet Potato Pasta With Creamy Kale Sauce

I pulled out my handy dandy vegetable spiralizer for this one! Alternatively, if one does not have a spiralizer, this julienne peeler for $9.99 works just as well.
http://www.kitchenstuffplus.com/2029-Zyliss-Inspired-Julienne-2-Tone-Peeler.aspx

For this recipe you will need:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • I head of kale
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened almond milk
  • 3 tbsp chickpea flour
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast
  • ½ cup cashews, soaked
  • 4 basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp, sea salt

Wash, peel and spiral or julienne your sweet potatoes.
Wash and de-rib kale and add to food processor along with basil and just enough water to get them blended up. Set aside.
Blend cashews with 1 tbsp of water in food processor, until you have a thick cream.
In a medium sized pot, sauté onions and garlic on low/medium heat in 1 tbsp of coconut oil, until softened.
Stir in almond milk and slowly bring to a simmer while whisking in the nutritional yeast. Add kale, cashew cream and spices.
At this point you’ll have a good idea of the thickness of your sauce. Depending on your preference, slowly whisk in chickpea flour until desired consistency is reached. Gently simmer on low/medium heat while you prepare your sweet potato noodles.
Sweet potato noodles can be eaten either raw or cooked. Lightly steaming them makes them easier to digest and will allow the beta-carotene to become more bioavailable. I prefer mine slightly al dente so I only steamed them for approximately 5 minutes.

Other, Recipes

Kale: 5 ways/5 days Recipe #3

Gluten-free Garlicy Kale Pizza

kale_pizza

You will need:

  • 2 cups of crushed tomatoes. I use Eden Organic(BPA Free) unsalted, unpeeled crushed tomatoes
  • 1 head of kale; washed, de-ribbed and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 5 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp oregano, dried
  • 1 tbsp rubbed basil, dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon marjoram, dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup black olives, sliced
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  • Pizza crust of your choice. I did not make my own crust, shame on me. I’m not the best pizza dough maker but hey, at least I admit it. I’m a nutritionist after all, not a chef. I’m working on it though 🙂

And it all starts with the sauce!
1. In a large skillet, add the onion and half of the crushed garlic and sauté on medium heat for 3 minutes in 1 tbsp of coconut oil.
2. Add the crushed tomatoes and spices and slowly simmer for at least 25 minutes to let the flavours meld.
3. In a separate pot, boil kale for 8 minutes. Drain and transfer to a skillet and sauté with remaining garlic and coconut oil over low/medium heat for 3-5 minutes.
4. Spread sauce evenly on pizza crust and top with the kale, tomatoes and olives.
5. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until crust is of desired crispness!