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Homemade granola

Maintaining Good Digestive Health While Camping

Maintain Good Digestive Health While Camping

For many of us, summertime means camping. In my family, we’re fortunate enough to own a cabin that’s shared between extended family members. Each summer, everyone is doled out their respective weeks, and we just got back from our initial 10 day getaway. The cabin in located in Green Lake, in 72 Mile, British Columbia.

It’s beautiful.

As someone who needs (and wants) to eat a certain way to maintain good digestive health, I’m often thrown off at our cabin. Travel plus convenience foods plus a shared washroom (there were nine of us to one bathroom) plus readily available alcohol at all hours of the day means that my gut typically gets thrown into a tailspin pretty quickly.

For the past couple of years, I’ve developed ways of making digestive health while at our cabin more realistic and sustainable, and wanted to share some tips with all of you. Here are 5 ways to keep your gut health while camping:

Bring Healthy Food

Camping might immediately bring about images of hot dogs and hamburgers and s’mores, but it doesn’t mean you actually have to eat those things. If your gut is touchy (like mine), then trying to maintain your current, regular diet is important. If you’re used to consuming daily smoothies, beans, and whole grains, then it’s fairly crucial to keep eating those things even while you’re away from your own home.

Assuming you won’t have to access to a kitchen (I’m pretty spoiled with this cabin thing), here’s my go-to list of foods to bring camping:

  1. Raw fruits and veggies
  2. Hummus
  3. Veggie burgers (use lettuce in place of a bun!)
  4. Homemade energy bars (teeming with fibre!)
  5. Oats for oatmeal
  6. Homemade chili (heat on a portable BBQ)
  7. Avocados (eat half at a time with salt and pepper)
  8. Pre-made chia pudding
  9. TONS of water

Which brings me to…

Drink a Ton of Water

If you’re camping, you should probably try and drink more water than you usually do, because you’re probably outside in the sun and will become dehydrated more easily. Booze does NOT replace water; water is very much needed to keep your insides healthy, hydrated, and properly lubricated.

Increase the Fibre

For those who suffer with IBS (like me), or any other chronic digestive issue, it’s pretty common for your body to decide to stop working properly with travel. Before I became more educated on the topic of IBS, I used to fly places and not have a bowel movement for a week.

Seriously.

So to keep your body in check and your bowel working, it’s a good idea to increase your fibre, water, and activity. It’s also important to pay attention: we might be distracted in our new surroundings, but if you receive any sort of signal that tells you it might be bathroom time, GO.

Incorporate NutraCleanse into Your Foods

NutraCleanse is a locally produced (well, local for me), high-fibre supplement that you can mix into anything. It’s not like over-the-counter laxatives; it’s whole and raw and healthy. It contains only 5 ingredients: flax seed, burdock root, fenugreek seeds, dandelion root, and psyllium husk. You can stir it into smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal, etc.

It’s a lifesaver.

If you’re currently taking Metamucil or any other comparable daily laxative, stop, and start taking NutraCleanse instead. For more information on this product, visit www.nutracleanse.biz.

Stay Active

This means don’t sit on your butt and drink beer all day. Walk, run, paddle board, swim, play games, water ski, hike, and do whatever you have to do to move your body. If you sit for a long weekend, your gut will respond to that by shutting down.

What kinds of tips do you have for me?! I’m always looking for better ways to love my body while on vacation, so anything you can think of is helpful. Leave your comment below, or find me on social and share.

For more ways to improve your digestive health, check out Happy Healthy Gut, available on Amazon, or in Chapters/Indigo and Barnes & Noble.

Happy Monday! xo

*Photo credit to Wild Honey Art House; recipe for this granola in Vegetarian Comfort Foods.

5 Ways to Improve Gut Health TODAY

Key to healthy digestion

It’s no secret that if you want to strengthen your immune system (something we all want to do at this time of year), you have to start with your gut. Your intestines are the key to great health, and when you provide a good home to your good bacteria, you’re subsequently telling the bad bacteria to get lost, pronto.

While there are many factors that determine just how healthy your gut is at any given time, an ideal ratio of good to bad bacteria is essential. That is, you need more good than bad—and that can be difficult to attain at this time of year. Wintertime is full of bugs, booze, and baking: things bad bacteria thrive on.

So let me help you out. Here are 5 ways to increase the good guys, decrease the bad ones, and give your gut a great start to the New Year:

  • Begin taking probiotics. This is SUCH an easy way to increase the good guys. A daily dose of good quality probiotics can make a huge difference in your gut health. Tip: buy probiotics that are displayed in a refrigerator, and make sure to keep them cold at home, too. These supplements are full of living bacteria, and have a very short shelf life once they reach room temperature.
  • Stop consuming added sugar. Excess sugar depletes the immune system. It’s completely unnecessary, and over consumed by just about everyone. Food that contains naturally-occurring sugars are fine; things like fruit and whole grains. But abstain from candy, baking, chocolate, alcohol, fruit juice, and anything else that is loaded with added sugar. Believe me, you’ll thank yourself for this move: you’ll feel better, have more energy, clearer skin, and a much healthier immune system. (Not to mention losing a few post-holiday pounds!)
  • Eat less. This has nothing to do with losing weight. When you eat more than you need to, it creates strain on your digestive tract and throws your organs into a panic. For good bacteria to do its job properly, it needs to work what’s in its limits—and overeating on a consistent basis does not help these guys. If you want the good bacteria to thrive, then feed it what it can handle. Tip: Don’t eat until you feel full; eat until you don’t feel hungry anymore. When you reach 80%, stop. (This is also a good tip for those with IBS.)
  • Add fermented foods to your diet. I DO NOT MEAN BOOZE, PEOPLE! Fermented foods come in the form of sauerkraut, good quality, plain Greek yogurt, kombucha, organic miso, organic tempeh, and kimchi. By adding these probiotic powerhouses to your meal plans, you will increase the number of enzymes you consume, which will aid the good bacteria.
  • Make sure you stay regular. Yep—I mean in the bathroom. When you become constipated and stool backs up, friendly bacteria becomes completely overrun with the bad guys. Bad bacteria LOVE poop. Don’t let them have it—make sure you are using the toilet at least once a day to keep the bad guys in check, and the good guys happy. Tip: Upon waking, drink one liter of room-temperature water before putting anything else in your body. This will kick-start the digestive process.

There you have it! 5 ways to improve the health of your gut, ASAP. xo

Nutritional Benefits of #Kale You May Not Know

kale recipes

Morning, folks! (Or good afternoon if you’re on the east coast…?) I’ve come across an excellent article on kale, and since it’s still a topic that seems to be going strong (kale’s had a good run), I’ve decided to post the related infographic, which is being shared with us by Health Ambition.
Kale is one of those incredible leafy greens that has so many health benefits (I use it weekly, in conjunction with other anti-IBS foods), that it’s beyond worth incorporating into your weekly diet. In the original article, written by Akil Wingate, it states that “One cup of kale is only 36 calories and 0 grams of fat. It also provides 20% of the RDA of dietary fiber which in all its digestive glory promotes regular digestion, prevents constipation and lowers blood sugar levels. The glucosinolates also prevent the bacteria H. pylori from forming on the stomach lining and leading to gastric cancer.​”
(See original article HERE.)
As someone who has openly struggled with digestive issues in the past, this info was extremely helpful to me, and I know that others would benefit from it, as well.
I hope you enjoy this as much as I did! xo

For more gut-friendly ideas, check out my book, Happy Healthy Gut. Available on Amazon HERE.

or

Pre-Order Vegetarian Comfort Foods, available on Amazon HERE.

6 Ways to Make Homemade Oatmeal More Exciting

TGIF, friends! Is it seriously Friday already?! The weeks are going by WAY too fast right now. I can’t believe Christmas is just around the corner! With all the craziness and hoopla that surrounds the holidays, it’s easy to rely on pre-packaged crap to get you through the day. But we don’t need to put our poor bodies through that—we just need to get creative! Cold months are perfect for oatmeal, which is super simple to make, and very good for you. It’s high in plant-based protein, low in sugar, great for your digestive system (and those of us suffering with IBS), and it’s a whole food.

Oats. That’s it!

But just oats can get a little boring, so here are 6 ways to create incredible-tasting oatmeal, and make it look even prettier (because everyone knows that pretty food just tastes better):

Homemade oatmeal

  • Experiment with some fun ingredients. Aside from the common toppings of cinnamon or raisins, try other things. Banana slices, pomegranate seeds (especially this time of year), blueberries, shredded coconut, and flax seeds are all great additions to any bowl of oats. Literally, IT’S ALL GOOD.
  • Swap water for almond or coconut milk while cooking. It makes a thicker, heartier oatmeal that will stick around for the entire morning. If your tummy starts rumbling for a snack an hour before lunch, then this idea is for YOU. No more rumbles.

Homemade oatmeal

  • Try assembling it the night before. If time (or lack thereof) is your excuse for skipping breakfast or throwing back a crappy Nutri-Grain bar on your way to work, then prep, baby, prep! Here’s how: layer dry ingredients in a bowl or jar the night before, and sit it on the counter where you’ll see it in the morning. When you’re ready for it, add fresh fruit and some unsweetened almond milk, and viola! Good quality, homemade breakfast. You can’t beat that.

Homemade oatmeal

  • Make your oatmeal into little muffins! Simply combine oats with pumpkin puree, cinnamon, and some ground flax until the texture feels right. (Like vegan oatmeal meat balls!) Plop into muffin paper liners (in muffin tin), and bake for 12-14 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Let cool for 15 minutes before eating, or make the night before and just pop 2 into your purse on your way out the door. Easy, peasy!

Vegan Homemade Oatmeal

  • Dress it up. Not with toppings (do that, too), but arrange it in something fancy and pretty. It’ll be more visually appealing to you in the morning, and you might just make time to stop and take a foodie pic. I do it all the time. I’ll admit it, and I’m not ashamed. Think about it: if you’re creating food that you feel compelled to photograph, then you’ll want to eat it! Get passionate about breakfast! And create an Instagram account.
  • Do a quick search online about how good oatmeal is for you. It’ll help to know that oats are protein-laden, fiber-rich, blood sugar lowering, weight-loss inducing, intestine-cleaning powerhouses. How do you avoid it, now? YOU HAVE TO EAT IT!

And those are my ideas on how to make oatmeal more exciting. I hope you’re totally planning on running home after work, assembling some jars of oats and stuff, and are looking forward to your healthful, amazing, plant-based breakfast of oats for the week. If you have kids, it’s fun for them to create their own oatmeal concoctions, too! Let the creativity roll!

Like an oat. Like a rolled oat. Get it? Kk, I’m out. xo

Happy Healthy Vegan Recipes: IBS-Friendly

Vegan kitchen

With the kids finally back in school (British Columbia experienced a lengthy teacher’s strike throughout the late spring and entire summer this year), I’ve found myself scoring way more time to cook and bake and experiment in the kitchen. And with the vegetarian cookbook I have coming out next summer, I find myself wanting to perfect the recipes that will be featured.

Last weekend, I managed to make chocolate-pumpkin muffins, my version of grown-up oatmeal, and spicy applesauce. (I actually made more, but these are the ones I remembered to take pictures of.) I can’t divulge the exact recipes, but perhaps these will inspire you to mess around in the kitchen and create something similar!

Each recipe below is vegan, and kind to your digestive tract (IBS-friendly).

Vegan Chocolate-Pumpkin Muffins

Vegan Chocolate Pumpkin Muffins

These dense, completely vegan muffins are made with applesauce in place of oil, and pumpkin puree in place of egg. My kids LOVED them (always the ultimate test of taste), and they were very simple to make.

Grown-Up Oats with Coconut

Vegan Oatmeal

You can make this hearty breakfast in advance by layering ingredients, and then simply adding boiling water when you’re ready to eat. Line them up on the counter before bed, and then it’s a quick, easy, and healthy breakfast for the next morning.

Homemade Spicy Applesauce

Vegan applesauce

I love making applesauce, because it makes the house smell incredible, and is truly SO much better than the store-bought variety. The hint of spice comes from freshly grated ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and then a dash of chai spice.

So there you have it! A weekend of yummy smells, tastes, and healthy meal planning. Happy Meatless Monday, and have a fabulous week!

What to Eat if You Have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)

Happy Healthy Gut

Hello, all! People are always asking me what they can eat that won’t make them bloated, in pain, or generally bring on an irritable bowel flare-up. Sooo…I thought I’d post my answers, and then they will live on eternally, somewhere within my blog.

(Ha!)

Here you go…

EAT YOUR VEGGIES!

Nobody ever said to you, “don’t eat your vegetables!” Most of what we eat throughout the day, every day, should be vegetables. They are completely necessary for proper digestive function, and yet most of us don’t consume nearly the amount we should. Not only should we be focusing on increasing our overall intake, but we should also be experimenting with variety, and become aware of what is in season. Our bodies naturally process food that is whole and in season much better than foods that are processed and from thousands of miles away. (For example, living in the pacific northwest, my body wouldn’t process a pineapple in January the same way it would kale.)

Beet Juice

LIMIT ANIMAL PRODUCTS

Let’s get real: animal products are not that great for your body. Despite the fact that various meat and dairy industry representatives swear up and down that animal products are a necessity for your health, we all know that can’t be true. Animal meat is very high in saturated fat, which isn’t at all good for us; especially ground beef. Unless purchased from an organic, grass-fed only farm, almost all meat (99% of what is out there), comes from factory farms, and it’s not healthy. The thing is, factory farms are a cesspool of nutrient-deficent meat due to too many growth hormones in the feed, routine antibiotics, and largely diseased animals due to the inevitable overcrowding that occurs. It is also the number one contributor of crazy environmental pollutants.

Dairy is bad, too. Cow milk is meant for calves, not humans. We don’t feed cows human milk, right? Dairy causes allergies and intolerances, which can contribute to ear infections, sinus problems, constipation, and other digestive issues.

STOP EATING PROCESSED FOOD

We are living in a new age of food. Or “food.” The nation’s rates of chronic disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, digestive disease, etc, are skyrocketing at a pace never seen before. This is largely due to two things: increased consumption of animal meat, and increased production/consumption of highly processed food. In developing countries, where processed food is nil, these diseases are not present. It’s yucky, and needs to go. This type of food is “dead” because there is nothing nutritionally valuable left for it to offer. A good rule of thumb is to take a look at the list of ingredients, and rule out anything that contains un-pronouncables, and over 6-8 ingredients in total.

STEER CLEAR FROM GMOS!

Genetically modified food is lab-created, nutrient-void, and poses considerable risk to your health. It is currently under investigation to prove its role in increased cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, autism, and among other things, decreased immune system function. Download the iPhone app ShopNoGMO to learn which food companies are GMO-free, and which ones aren’t. You can also visit www.gmoshoppingguide.com.

Beans

EAT WHOLE FOODS!

Whole foods are exactly what they sound like. They’re still in their whole form, and haven’t been processed. These foods are nutritionally dense, and our bodies thrive on them. They’re super simple for our digestive systems to process, which lends more energy (that would have been diverted to heavy, unclean digestions attempts) to other parts of your body. Foods in this category are whole fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, (preferably sprouted!), dried fruit, etc, If your digestive system is giving you trouble, try eating this way: completely eliminate dead food, and switch to a diet rich in whole foods.

NEW FOODS TO INTRODUCE:

Once you eliminate the yucky foods, you can introduce an awesome assortment of foods that heal. These include such wonder items as digestive enzymes, probiotics, whole grains, sprouted grains, sprouts, wheatgrass, fresh veggie juices, sea vegetables, fermented goodies, tofu, tempeh and seitan, organic lovelies, and more! Food is our best ally against digestive unease and good health: we need to use it properly!

The right food nourishes your body, mind, and soul.

Those who know me, know that I am VERY into healthy eating and consuming food that I believe lends to more usable energy. I don’t want to feel good- I want to feel AMAZING! Ask me how, or visit www.facebook.com/happyhealthylife.org. Think Food Forward!

 

This is Why Photographers are Expensive (or, Book Cover Photoshoot)

Book cover photshoot

An amazing photographer and I shot the cover image for my new cookbook yesterday. (Well, okay, she shot it, but I’m lumping myself in there since I made the food.) The fact that this bucket list item was being crossed off was extremely exciting for me, and despite only standing there staring at her while she photographed four of my recipes, I was exhausted.

Remind me never to do anything strenuous, because apparently, I tire easily.

The new book is (currently) called Vegetarian Comfort Foods: The Happy Healthy Gut Guide to Delicious Plant-Based Cooking. It’s somewhat of a supplement to Happy Healthy Gut: The Natural Diet Solution to Curing Your IBS and Other Digestive Disorders. Upwards of 100 whole, plant-based recipes designed to kick-start your body into kick-ass mode. (AKA: lose some weight, eradicate your digestive problems, strengthen your immune system, and increase your intake of phytonutrients that fight free radicals.)

It’s being published by Skyhorse Publishing, and is slated for release in spring 2015. I’m STOKED. While I don’t have any images that will be in the book to show you yet, I can show you some of the pics I took with my iPhone while the real photographer did all the work.

‘Cuz I’m helpful like that–and this is why I’m not an actual photographer. I promise the professional images will look a lot better. Like…a lot.

I wonder if professional photgraphers are also good at taking selfies…

Also, this isn’t my kitchen.

Tanya R Loewen

Tanya R Loewen

Tanya R Loewen

Thanks, Tanya! xo

Wish You Drank More Water? Try This.

Mint in glass jar on wooden background

Well, we’re smack in the middle of summer, and my kids have already officially overdosed on store-bought freezies and fudge-pops that seem to come out of nowhere. They’ve had an amazing time–trips to the family cabin, the beach, a Vancouver Whitecaps game, multiple lakes, berry picking, random road trips, backyard soccer games, a family reunion, birthday parties, and countless playdates with the neighbourhood children.

I feel fortunate that their summer experiences have been so fun, but I’m done with the crappy food that seems to accompany each and every outing. Seriously–when I see the day that concession stands sell fruit salad and veggie pops are made available at a certain ice-cream-loving Grandpa’s house (you know who you are!)–I’ll sing Hallelujah.

lemonade in jar with ice and mint

So as of this week, it’s been Project Clean Eating in the Browne home, and that means healthy foods and drinks. (If someone offers my kids another soda, I might lose it!)

Here’s what we’ve come up with as a healthy alternative to juice and “all natural” sodas (the words “natural” and “soda” in the same sentence just feels wrong):

FLAVOURED WATER!

A jar full of cold drink with lemon and raspberries over a woode

This is fun for everyone to help make, it uses up very ripe fruit, it’s colourful, it’s cheap, and it’s delicious! (And it’s working for my kids, thank goodness.)

You can throw anything in water.

Their current faves are mint, lemon, orange, berries, and watermelon. Mine are cucumber, lime, and basil, because it makes me feel like I’m living in a spa. Add some ice, and away you go. Try and aim for 6-8 of these suckers a day, and you’ll totally be hydrated and happy. (And don’t forget how great water is for improved digestive health—something we can ALL work on!)

Cucumber Water

If you need to fizz it up a bit, try half water and half club soda. (There’s no sugar in that.) Or, instead of regular water, you can try coconut water. It’ll give your drink a very tropical taste.

Also, the drinks are very cute in jars. For some flavoured water recipes, check out Jamie Oliver’s faves HERE.

Leave me a message and let me know what you think, or if you have any other healthy bevy ideas, please feel free to post!

As usual, I can use all the help I can get. And don’t forget to enter to win a free copy of the Clean Plates Cookbook HERE!

5 Signs of Good Health: what “healthy” truly looks like

Healthy woman

The definition of “healthy” is different for many of us. Some people believe health is what is attained once you’ve cut out carbs, and others feel that they’re healthy if they’re abstaining from processed sugar. But health is a broad term. Are you healthy if you aren’t currently diagnosed with a chronic disease? Does veganism equal health?

What exactly does is mean to be truly healthy?

Happy children sitting on green grass outdoors in summer park

The following points are what I’ve come up with, both during my own observations and experiences, as well as asking others this question. Here are what I consider to be five signs that you are really healthy:

  1. You consistently get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, and wake up feeling refreshed. Great, consistent sleep is a fabulous indicator of good health. It means your body is regulated, your cortisol levels and core body temperature are normal, and you have the ability to let your mind rest peacefully, which indicates low stress. If you can achieve amazing sleep, congratulations! If you fall into the category of those who can’t sleep, I can assure you, I’ve definitely been there. For me, there are 3 things that I’ve identified as being culprits here: alcohol consumption (if I have more than one glass of wine, sleep is up in the air), stress (overthinking things), and excitement (not calming down enough for your body to rest). Other things that can lead to bad sleep include eating right before bed (your body will buzz with the energy t takes to digest that snack), sleeping in a warm room, and too much light.
  2. You have energy throughout the entire day. No 3pm slump for you! How does one obtain this? Aside from having a decent sleep, it’s with food. Good food. Food that contains proper energy sources and the correct balance of nutrients to assist your body in lasting happily throughout the entire day. Real food—not a chocolate bar. A good tip: eat a light, healthy lunch (lettuce wraps or salad with wild salmon), and then grab a snack around 3 o’clock. A smoothie, homemade granola bar, or boiled egg with salsa and avocado are great examples.
  3. You’re moving your bowels in a healthy way at least once a day. Now, when I specify “healthy” here, I mean that your movements are effortless, quick, significant, and normal-looking. (Not loose.) If you’re feeling empty after visiting the washroom, that’s good. To achieve better bowel movements, try tracking how much insoluble fibre you ingest (you need this to sweep your colon clean), and make sure you’re drinking enough water. Foods that can make BMs subpar are dairy, too much heavy meat, heavy breads (especially if you’re sensitive to wheat or gluten), and too much sugar. For more information on how to obtain better digestive health, check out Happy Healthy Gut.
  4. Your skin is clear, and your hair and nails look good. Your skin is your largest organ, and what it looks like says a lot about your health. Same goes for your hair and nails. Dry, brittle nails and hair can signify dehydration, and peeling problems can represent vitamin deficiencies. For better skin, hair, and nails, try drinking more water and eating more vegetables. Cut down on processed sugar, and begin to look at your food as fuel for your body.
  5. You’re happy. Honestly, consistently, truly happy. Happiness is directly correlated with good health, and people who can honestly call themselves happy are typically healthy, too. The mind and body are completely connected, and a clear, calm mind will usually be accompanied by a healthy body. To achieve better happiness, try and make a list of everything that is in your life that makes you upset and stressed out. Either let it go (meaning get out of that unhappy relationship or find a better job), or make clear strides to improve the situation. Do it NOW—don’t wait.

Beautiful healthy Young Woman lying on the green grass

What I am trying to get at it this: you don’t have to weigh 120 pounds or love the Paleo diet or declare veganism as your new diet of choice to be healthy. Health is a complicated thing, but the points above will hopefully lead you in the right direction.