Women's Health

Immune Boosting Broth (Vegan)

Immune Boosting Broth (Vegan)

An immune boosting broth is an excellent recipe to make and drink regularly to improve immunity and prevent sickness. It’s especially good to drink during the winter months, and it’s perfect for when you’re just craving a cup of soup! Make a large batch of […]

Green Protein Smoothie

Green Protein Smoothie

This vegan green protein smoothie packs protein from nut butter and hemp seeds as well as a serving of greens from fresh kale. You can you any nut butter you like! I personally prefer almond butter. Also, you can absolutely use another green such as […]

My Best Sleep Tips

My Best Sleep Tips

I’m really excited to share my best sleep tips because sleeping well is a topic I’m SO passionate about. For years I had terrible sleeping habits and for a while I didn’t realize how much of an affect it had on the entirety of my well-being. I have no idea why but for a while I knew my sleep habits were poor and unhealthy, yet it took me SO long change them! I really do see why my clients struggle greatly with sleep issues, and I relate to how difficult it can be to address it. In fact, most of my clients do have sleep issues, as this is incredibly common living in this day and age. Many factors are external, some are internal and have to do with diet, and others seem so out of your control that it can make you feel like you’ll never have hope. I’m going to thoroughly walk through my struggles and all of my best sleep tips that have helped me over the years to regain my energy and my life back!

 

My Sleep Story

My poor sleep habits began when I was in high school. I started getting really into reading novels and I would be so into the stories that I would stay up until around 2 or 3am every night. Over time this took a toll on my body, but I didn’t notice it affecting me at first. I didn’t have the best energy levels, but I didn’t mind staying up late and sleeping in late so it didn’t bother me. I definitely never considered myself a morning person at that stage in my life. When I was 17 I started my first full-time job. I had to start work every morning at 7:30am. Luckily my job was so close to my home I was probably waking up at 6:30am the earliest. At first I was fine, but not too long into working this schedule, I started becoming incredibly exhausted. The work itself was both physically and mentally exhausting. The combination of both stress and poor sleep habits resulted in adrenal fatigue (explained thoroughly down below). I got to such a low in my life to the point where there were days that my alarm would wake me up and I would be so unbearably tired that I literally cried because I just couldn’t keep sleeping. My body desperately craved rest and I wasn’t giving it what it needed. There was even a point where the sound of my alarm clock would terrify me because I dreaded waking up and I had anxiety about not having enough rest.

My health quickly became the worst that it had ever been. There were a few other factors in my life (I was detoxing from a few years of taking the birth control pill) that made my health deteriorate, but during this time due to my adrenal fatigue and hormonal imbalances, I gained 40lbs in around 2 years or less. My skin was terrible, my body was inflamed, I lacked vitality, I was depressed and overly stressed at the same time. I remember feeling so depressed when that summer of working my full-time job had come and gone because I felt that I let the whole summer pass by. I stayed inside most of the week working, I was too tired to do anything after work, and on the weekends I would catch up on my sleep. I ended up switching positions at my job because I was so miserable and I needed to focus on my health and happiness. For other reasons, it honestly took me a few more years to really get my sleep schedule regular and healthy, but it has been regular for a few years now and it has been one of the biggest catalysts to improve my health and well being. 

 best sleep tips

 

Circadian Rhythm 

The circadian rhythm is the body’s 24 hour internal clock that regulates sleep and wake cycles as well as alertness and energy levels. The below image represents a normal circadian rhythm. Our bodies naturally move through this cycle daily. It’s normal to go through periods of feeling more and less alert, and more and less tired. 

Image result for circadian rhythm

The circadian rhythm is a very important cycle that is most often overlooked. Do you ever feel a dip in energy around lunch time? This is completely normal and part of the cycle! Essentially, each hour the body goes through different processes as a part of the rhythm. It’s important to follow the circadian rhythm in order to maintain the body’s natural flow of energy. In a perfect world, this would be our optimal sleep and wake schedule. However there are a multitude of factors that can throw off the body’s natural circadian rhythm. 

 

Improper Sleep Schedule

First and foremost, if you aren’t sleeping at the right times during the night, the circadian rhythm can become severely imbalanced. I can’t stress enough that the time of the night in which you sleep is critical for overall well-being. You can sleep 8 hours every night, but if you aren’t sleeping during the right time, there could be serious health consequences. I always feel that if I go to sleep sometime past 1am, even if I sleep a full 9 hours, I never feel properly rested. I wake up feeling groggy and demotivated. If I go to sleep at 11pm and wake at 8am, I feel like a completely different person! It’s safe to say that most people feel a significant overall increase in mood when they can naturally wake up early. If I wake up past 9am I always seem to feel a little less motivated, and subconsciously I feel like I’ve already wasted some of my day. On some days this is totally fine, but overall I feel so much motivation and energy when I wake up anytime before 9am. 

This has a lot to do with the fact that, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, every 2 hours or so a different organ system is in action either repairing and healing or actively working. It’s incredibly important to be resting during specific hours in order for our organs to carry out their proper functions. Furthermore, at certain hours of the day and night, specific hormones such as cortisol are released, along with other neurotransmitters. This cycle of hormones also gets severely imbalanced with improper sleep, which affects the body’s overall well-being and can result in adrenal fatigue. Research shows that it’s important to sleep during the hours of 10pm and 2am in order for the body to properly rest and repair, as this is the most regenerative sleep phase.

Image result for chinese medicine circadian rhythms

Stress & Adrenal Fatigue

Adrenal fatigue is both a cause and effect of an imbalanced circadian rhythm. Adrenal fatigue as well as chronic fatigue syndrome occur when the body has undergone long periods of stress. Your adrenal glands are there for you to support the body in times of stress. For example, if you walk onto the street and suddenly a car is approaching you, your adrenals instantly send hormones and messages to the body and brain to jump out of the way of the car. This is a healthy and normal stress response. However, in today’s world, where there is stress around every corner, our adrenals can become severely burdened. Every time stress occurs, the adrenals release cortisol. These days, many of us are stressed the second we wake up.

Our harsh, blaring alarms wake us up, causing an instant surge in stress hormones.

Then it’s time to get ready for work. Perhaps the thought of the day ahead gives you anxiety. Whether it involves meetings, deadlines, angry bosses, etc…

Traffic to and from your daily destination causes a constant surge in cortisol, always keeping you on high alert.

Many of us even have stress when we get home. Whether it’s family, kids, or too many commitments.

We turn on the news and get a rush of negativity that’s going on in the world. More stress. 

It’s the end of the day and all of your worries start to collect in your brain. Bills to pay, messy home, drama in relationships… the list literally goes on and on. 

Simplifying life is a whole other topic. The point is that today’s society creates a very demanding lifestyle and it absolutely takes a massive toll on our daily lives. The natural stress response is meant for extreme cases, such as getting away from an approaching threat. The daily routines of our lifestyles create constant strain on the adrenals and the body. Our adrenals can only handle so much. 

With adrenal fatigue, the normal pattern of cortisol becomes severely imbalanced. At night, cortisol levels are supposed to be naturally low. This is a part of the normal circadian rhythm. After a stressful day of well… constant stress, cortisol becomes high in the evening, when it normally shouldn’t be. Is your mind ever racing at night, preventing you from sleeping? How easy is it for you to sleep when you are stressed? For most people, it’s pretty difficult to sleep during stress, and this is because cortisol is meant to keep you awake and alert. When we wake up in the morning, cortisol should be nice and elevated in order for us to feel energy and spring out of bed. High cortisol at night often results in low cortisol in the morning, which is why sometimes it can be so hard to peel yourself off of your bed in the morning. 

Our adrenals have our backs and work to keep us healthy. It can be difficult to minimize external stresses that are out of our control, but we owe it to our bodies to minimize stress whenever possible in order to live a healthy life. Sometimes this involves making significant lifestyle changes, but if you suffer from adrenal fatigue, you’ll benefit significantly from minimizing the stress in your life.  

If you feel the classic symptoms of adrenal fatigue such as stress, anxiety, feeling burnt out, not feeling rested no matter how much you sleep, muscle weakness, poor cognitive function, and feeling wired but tired, I encourage you to get some testing done and to address this issue with a holistic health practitioner. 

 

Serotonin & Melatonin

Serotonin and melatonin are two hormones that directly affect sleep. Serotonin is one of your happy hormones. While this might not sound too important for sleep, sufficient serotonin levels throughout the day are critical in order for the body to produce sufficient melatonin naturally at night. Melatonin is a hormone that is naturally released in the evening. It sends the signal to your body that it’s time to go to sleep. 

Sunlight and daylight are one of the biggest regulators of serotonin. Do you naturally feel happier when the sun comes out? I sure do. The human eye contains photosensitive cells in the retina. When they are exposed to UV light, it sends a signal to the brain to produce serotonin. Certain foods that contain tryptophan such as bananas, some nuts and seeds, and other foods, can convert to serotonin. Realistically, anything that makes you happy will create serotonin! 

That being said, exposure to sunlight is one of the most integral ways to regulate the body’s natural sleep and wake cycles. It’s easy to fall into the habit of staying inside all day. We wake up, go to work, then come home exhausted, not wanting to spend any time outside. In a more natural and less industrial world, humans would spend far more time outside in nature. 

At night, the body starts to produce melatonin naturally around 9pm. When the sun goes down and there is less stimulation, the body should be going into a relaxed state in order to be calm before bed and prepare for sleep. One of the biggest factors that hinder melatonin production is the exposure to light sources at night time, especially blue light from screens such as our cell phones, tvs, laptops, and tablets. Staring at these unnatural sources of light before bed send a signal to the brain that it isn’t time for sleep, and melatonin production is significantly impaired. 

I wanted to mention that whenever I go camping, I can feel my circadian rhythm balance right out! When I go camping I’m outside the entire day and exposed to a sufficient amount of daylight. Furthermore, I’m physically active which helps to make me tired at night. When the sun sets I immediately start to feel tired and I’m almost always in bed by around 10pm. Then the natural lighting coming through my tent in the morning has me awake around 6:30am! I typically never feel tired enough to sleep at 10pm (although this is my goal) when I’m sleeping at home. 

 

How Lack of Sleep Affects the Body

So why is any of this important? There are many different physical, mental, and emotional health issues that can result from chronic sleep deprivation. Some of these include:

  • depression
  • lack of energy, vitality, and overall wellness
  • lack of mental clarity and decreased cognitive function
  • adrenal fatigue
  • weight gain
  • mood changes and tendency for mood swings
  • decreased immunity
  • hormonal imbalances
  • increased cortisol levels and weakened ability for your body’s resistance to stress
  • imbalanced hormones
  • less productivity
  • possible weight gain
  • insulin resistance
  • and more

 

Determine Why You Can’t Sleep

There could be a number of reasons why you struggle with sleep. It’s important to get down to the bottom of it in order to know how to address the issue. It might helped to journal about your sleep and also journal about your day to see what factors might be causing you issues. Some common reasons for not sleeping well include:

  • stress and anxiety
  • adrenal fatigue
  • over stimulation in the evening
  • excessive use of technology before bed
  • melatonin deficiency
  • external factors such as excessive noise and light
  • medications that might be interfering with sleep

best sleep tips

 

My Best Sleep Tips

 

Calming Activities Before Bed & A Good Bedtime Routine

Taking 1 hour before bed to wind down from the day is very helpful to get into a relaxed state and prepare for a good sleep. I suggest a combination of the following calming activities that you enjoy from this list. There may be others as well so you find what works best for you and what you enjoy the most!

  • meditation
  • yoga or stretching (focus on restorative and yin yoga for relaxation rather than something too stimulating)
  • reading (try and refrain from reading anything too exciting or stressful that might end up keeping you awake)
  • take a bath (with epsom salts and/or essential oils would be a bonus)
  • listen to calming music
  • reduce lights in the bedroom and set the mood for sleep
  • run an essential oil diffuser with oils that are good for calm or sleep (some great ones are lavender, cedarwood, holy basil, sweet marjoram, ylang ylang, chamomile, neroli, and sandalwood) 
  • journaling (writing in a journal can be very therapeutic for people who experience stress and overthinking, as it can be a great way to temporarily express your thoughts and get them out of your head)
  • practice gratitude (write down 5-10 things you’re grateful for at the end of every day, you’ll be amazed at how it puts you in a positive and relaxed state of mind)
  • practice deep breathing and breath work
  • avoid using your cell phone and other technology that can be overstimulating

 

Make Your Bedroom A Sleep Sanctuary

This touches on the last topic of creating a calm environment for sleep. Clear clutter from your bedroom! A messy room often equals a messy mind. A clean room with fresh sheets and minimal clutter is so important for promoting a good sleep.

Invest in a comfy mattress and pillows. I have a really sensitive back and a bad mattress prevents me from sleeping well and feeling rested since I’m tossing and turning at night to get comfy.

Another thing to note is to avoid hanging out on your bed during the day so that you associate your bed with being sleepy. If you do a lot of activities hanging out on your bed, you may find it harder to relax and think of your bed as a place to sleep.

 

best sleep tips

 

Sleep In Complete Darkness

Even the smallest amount of light can significantly reduce melatonin production. Some people enjoy night lights but they can actually be very disruptive for sleep. If you’re somebody who falls a sleep with the bedroom tv on, re-think this habit as it hinders melatonin production. I suggest sleeping in a room that is as dark as possible. Some ways to achieve this are to:

  • wear an eye mask
  • use blackout curtains
  • cover up little lights from electronic devices (you can even cover up your alarm clock, and I recommend doing this especially if watching your clock at night gives you anxiety)
  • close your bedroom door to reduce external light

From my personal experience, sleeping with an eye mask actually makes it difficult to wake up in the morning. I like when natural sunlight comes in my room and wakes me up. Sometimes sleeping with an eye mask keeps me in a deep sleep for too long and makes me feel groggy when I wake. This is just my experience so play around to see what works for you!

 

Avoid Blue Light Before Bed

The blue light emitted by cell phones, tablets, tv, and computer screens significantly impairs the body’s ability to produce melatonin. We’re all guilty of late night tv watching or cell phone scrolling. But this harmful habit is too stimulating and can make it very difficult for some people to sleep. Here are a few tips to avoid the negative effects from blue light:

  • avoid looking at screens for at least 1 hour before bed or longer
  • use apps on your devices to eliminate the blue light (I like the app called Night Shift for my phone, and some apps are programmed to automatically shift lighting at the same time each night or when the sun sets)
  • wear blue light blocking glasses in the evening
  • if you work from home and on your own time, avoiding working at night on the computer

 

Shut Off Your Phone!

If you’re somebody who leaves your cell phone on day and night, you might want to rethink how this habit might be affecting your ability to sleep. I suggest shutting off your phone completely before bed in order to have an uninterrupted sleep. Remember that unless it’s an emergency, most texts and social media notifications can wait until the morning! As a side note, a lot of people experience a more restful sleep when technology is off at night to do reduced electromagnetic frequencies. Here are some tips to avoid looking at your phone at night:

  • the first is obvious – completely shut off your phone and use a real alarm clock
  • put your phone in a droor to reduce temptation even more – out of sight, out of mind!
  • if you do need your phone on in order to use it for an alarm, turn off the sound for notifications in order to avoid being woken up and using your phone at night (however I do highly recommend using an actual alarm clock and shutting off your phone to reduce all temptation)
  • if you feel the need to keep your volume on in case of emergency then keep it on a low/medium volume

 

best sleep tips

Don’t Let Your Alarm Clock Stress You Out

I will never forget the ancient alarm clock that my dad had for around 20 years. The alarm was so loud and the tone sounded like it was intended as an alarm for emergency evacuation. I never understood how he used it everyday! Waking up to a blaring alarm clock puts the body in fight or flight mode, meaning before your eyes even open up for the day, your body is already on edge, pumping stress hormones. All of us love waking up naturally on the weekends (or whenever you don’t need an alarm). This is the most natural way to wake up and start your day after all! But with modern society’s demands, this isn’t possible for most people. To avoid the shock from waking to a blaring alarm and putting the body in stress mode:

  • use an alarm clock that has a softer sound, or wake up to the radio with low volume
  • if you have an alarm clock with the ability to doc your phone or an mp3 device, you can program the clock to wake you up to relaxing music of your choice
  • if you really want to you can try to set up your sleep schedule in order to naturally wake up early enough everyday and then set your alarm clock as a backup (ex if you need to be awake at 8, aim to be asleep by 10pm and you’ll get a solid 9 hours of sleep by 7am!)
  • I have no experience with this product, but there are alarm clocks that use a gradual increase of light to wake you up
  • if being aware of the time stresses you out at night, cover up your alarm not only to reduce light exposure but to reduce anxiety from staring at a ticking clock

 

Try To Keep Your Sleep Schedule The Same Everyday

You can try really hard to have a good sleep schedule during the week but you might be sabotaging yourself if you stay up very late every weekend. Of course you should still have a life and enjoy friends and events, but try to minimize staying up very late every single weekend as it can make it difficult to get your schedule back on track. It’s easiest if the body has a regular schedule that isn’t thrown off regularly. If you do stay out late occasionally, instead of waking up early, I suggest allowing your body to sleep sufficiently as I believe this to be more important than keeping your sleep schedule that regular (in my opinion and experience, this is better than sleep deprivation). 

 

Have A Good Morning Routine

A good morning routine is just as helpful for sleeping as a good night routine. We’ve all felt that amazing feeling of waking up early, having tons of energy, and feeling super motivated! I find when I sleep in late, I instantly wake up feeling less motivated. After a good night’s sleep, starting the day with a good morning routine will help to balance the circadian rhythm. Furthermore, if you experience chronic stress, these habits will help you to start your day off on a good foot to promote more balanced cortisol levels during the day. Some of my favourite habits to incorporate into my morning routine are to:

  • start off the day with positivity, gratitude, and good intentions in order to get motivated and start the day feeling good
  • have a good breakfast 
  • exercise
  • meditate
  • practice mindfulness and living in the moment

 

Exercise Regularly

If you find it hard to sleep at night, you may not have burned enough energy during the day. Exercise produces serotonin (as mentioned earlier this is later converted to melatonin in the evening). Furthermore it’s important to work physically during the day for at least some amount of time in order to feel physically and mentally tired in the evening. 

Of course exercise is important for overall health and well being anyways. Exercise at least a few times each week for around 45 minutes or more. Note that exercising in the evening can be too stimulating and can keep you awake. If you struggle with fitting exercise into your schedule, try to exercise before work/school. You can even take advantage of going for a walk or doing light exercise doing your lunch break if that’s appealing to you. Everybody is different though and a lot of people find they have no problems sleeping when exercising in the evening. 

Note that relaxing and restorative yoga is an exception and can be really beneficial to help promote sleep. 

 

Spend Time In Nature

Remember when you were a kid and you spent all afternoon outside, then you came home and felt absolutely exhausted? Or when you spent all day at the beach and felt tired from the sun? Spending time in nature is so important for your overall well being, but it’s also a factor in promoting good sleep as well. Being outside improves your overall mood and reduces stress and anxiety. If you’re physically active when you’re out in nature, this is a bonus because you can tire out the body. Furthermore, exposure to sunlight naturally regulates the circadian rhythm, producing serotonin which will later convert to melatonin. 

Winter can be a difficult time of the year for many. Do you feel an increase in stress and overall exhausting during the winter? If you suffer from the winter blues like I do, it can be a lot trickier to get UV exposure since we feel less motivated to go outside and also there is less sunlight overall. I encourage you to read my blog on seasonal affective disorder for tips on how to address this issue. 

best sleep tips

 

Light Therapy Lamp

In parts of the world that don’t get a lot of sun, or during the winter time when the sun tends to disappear for a while, the circadian rhythm can get a bit imbalanced due to lack of UV light exposure. Those who suffer from the winter blues feel this especially. Some people find that their sleep is improved when using a light therapy lamp. Light therapy lamps are meant for cloudy days and they are used with the intention to mimic the positive benefits from UV light exposure on sleep, mood, and more as mentioned above. I currently use this one. In my honest experience I haven’t tested it out enough to feel it’s full benefits, but I do notice it makes me feel more alert on dark, dreary days. However many people swear by them and I just need to use mine more to find out for myself! 

 

Avoid Caffeine

It’s way to easy to fall into the caffeine trap. Tired? Drink some coffee and it will make you feel alert! Unfortunately every time you drink coffee, the adrenal glands release cortisol and other stress hormones, which in the long run depletes you adrenal glans, which therefore interferes with your natural sleep schedule. It’s a viscous cycle and coffee only masks the symptoms of feeling tired. If you do need a boost after a non-restful sleep, I highly recommend drinking matcha tea. I adore matcha because it’s a serious superfood, it has a healthy balance of caffeine along with other ingredients to promote a slow and steady release of energy, rather than a spike and a crash, and it tastes fantastic! There are many other wonderful health benefits from matcha including antioxidants, mood enhancing effects, and much more. If you do drink coffee, do your very best to not drink it too late in the afternoon or evening. You may be surprised that your afternoon coffee is affecting your sleep!

 

Avoid Eating Too Close To Bed Time

Every time you eat any food, the body begins many processes. Digestion kicks in, hormones are released, the pancreas is ready to bring sugar from the blood to the cells, and more. Eating too close to bed makes the body work just a little bit harder than in needs to. In the evening time it’s better to be in a rest and repair state. It takes a surprising amount of energy to digest food, and many people find they sleep better when they stop eating a few hours before bed. 

As a side note, if you have a smaller bladder and find you get up to go the washroom at night frequently, avoid drinking anything too close to bedtime so you can try and have an uninterrupted sleep. 

 

A few more quick points…

  • If you have sleep apnea, losing weight is one of the best ways to address this condition.
  • If you have a schedule that varies greatly, plan ahead to literally schedule in a good night’s sleep.
  • If you work shift work and work nights, I recognize that it can be really really difficult to get a good night’s sleep and I highly suggest using melatonin daily to fall asleep.
  • If you suffer from hot flashes and menopausal symptoms and you also have sleep issues, balancing hormones will help your symptoms greatly. 
  • If your partner snores, try to address the issue.
  • If pets are interfering with your sleep, address the issue. 
  • Ask the people in your life to respect your needs (keep noise down, don’t pressure you to stay out too late, etc…).
  • Wear ear plugs if you must sleep through excessive noise. 
  • Take natural supplements to help promote a restful sleep. 

 

Supplements

Natural and organic supplements are always a fantastic way to address health issues, and there are various herbs and remedies that are wonderful for sleep. It’s important to find out the reason for your lack of sleep in order to determine which remedy suits you best.

  • Melatonin is usually the first supplement I suggest taking, especially if you’re unsure why you aren’t sleeping. Lack of sleep is most commonly a cause of melatonin deficiency. Melatonin is also very inexpensive. 
  • If you suffer from depression, L-Theanine or 5HTP are wonderful options to increase serotonin levels, and therefore increase melatonin. Herbal options include St. John’s Wort or Rhodiola.
  • Supplement with adequate levels of vitamin D every single day, especially if you suffer from seasonal affective disorder.
  • If you suffer from anxiety and this is a known cause of your lack of sleep, try Holy Basil (my absolute favourite stress remedy) to balance cortisol levels before bed, or anytime you feel anxious. Valerian is also wonderful to take before bed if you suffer from anxiety and stress. 
  • Many people have a magnesium deficiency. Taking magnesium in the evening is a great remedy to promote calm, relaxation, and sleep.
  • If you’re unsure what remedy is best, a product with multiple herbs could be very beneficial. 

 

Final Thoughts

If you think your lack of good quality sleep is affecting your health and your life and you want to make a change, sometimes it takes making changes to your lifestyle, which might mean making changes to your work schedule, habits and more. While I understand some of these factors are not feasible for everyone, if you really want to address your sleep issues then you need to prioritize your health over other things. If your lack of sleep is causing you that much misery (like it did for me) remember that you are not a slave to your job or this world, and there is a solution for any insomniac!!! 

Lot’s of love, and sleep well ❤🌙

Healthy Lentil Salad

Healthy Lentil Salad

A few years ago I had a delicious green lentil salad from a cute little Italian shop in a small town not far from mine. It was called a Mediterranean Lentil Salad and it was so delicious! I wanted to re-create this super healthy lentil […]

Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup (With Chickpeas)

Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup (With Chickpeas)

I’m obsessed with this recipe for Vegan Chicken Noodle Soup! Chickpeas make a surprisingly wonderful substitute for chicken in this soup. I’ve been meaning to share this recipe for a long time and I’m excited to finally post it. This is the perfect recipe to […]

Best Vegan Recipes of 2018!

Best Vegan Recipes of 2018!

I wanted to make a post to highlight my best vegan recipes of 2018! There’s a great mix of sweet and savory, healthy and comfort food. I want to say a personal thank you to everybody who enjoyed my recipes, articles, and services this year. From the bottom of my heart, thank you so much!

 

Herbed Cultured Vegan Cream Cheese

vegan cream cheese

I’m pretty sure this is my all-time favourite recipe from 2018. I LOVE cream cheese and I don’t often eat bagels, but a good bagel and cream cheese is the key to my heart… It’s definitely a very nostalgic recipe since I loved bagels and cream cheese as a kid. The balance of herbs in this recipe is absolutely perfect, and this cream cheese is so thick and luscious. If you don’t want to have bagels, no problem, because you can totally eat this cream cheese as a dip with veggies, or use it in other creative ways.

 

S’more Ice Cream

Ok now that I think of it the S’more Ice Cream is probably tied with the cream cheese, and it’s for sure my favourite sweet recipe. GUYS IT’S SO GOOD. Anybody can make home made vegan ice cream, with out without an ice cream maker with the right ingredients and techniques. This S’more Ice Cream was featured on the cover of Ontario Vegans Magazine Summer 2018 edition and it’s my favourite recipe from my ice cream recipe e-book, We All Scream For (Vegan) Ice Cream!

 

Cheesy Chickpea Omelets

Chickpea Omelets

My absolute favourite recipes are the ones that transform a typically non-vegan dish to a vegan one that uses simple, wholesome ingredients, like this chickpea omelet! Nothing artificial or simulated here to re-create this classic! One secret to make this dish extra yummy is the cheese sauce. This is my classic cheese sauce recipe that I’ve been making for years. You are absolutely welcome to completely omit the cheese sauce, because this recipe still tastes amazing without it! But the cheese sauce just adds that creaminess and delicious cheesy flavour you would miss with cheesy omelets. It just makes it extra special.

 

Oil-Free Mayonnaise 

Personally, I don’t like store bought vegan mayo because I haven’t found one that doesn’t have tons of refined oils and unhealthy ingredients. Also, the taste just never lived up to the real thing. I was on a mission to create a vegan, healthy, oil free, and clean mayo recipe. I don’t just go throwing around words like “life changing” every day. This is by far the best vegan mayo that I have ever tried! For those that like to eat oil free, this will also be life changing for you. This recipe is made of real ingredients, is totally healthy, and is ready in 5 minutes! This recipe is AMAZING on vegan BLT’s and can be used in any recipe that calls for mayo.

 

Coconut Rawnola

coconut rawnola

Rawnola is a raw version of granola that has very simple ingredients and can me made in a food processor in under 5 minutes. It is very versatile and can be added to smoothie bowls, eaten with milk and fruit, topped onto desserts, and more! My recipe includes buckwheat groats. This is not always a common staple food, so you can leave it out if you don’t have access to this ingredients. You will need to add additional oats to compensate. I love the buckwheat for extra crunch and nutrition!

 

Mango Salsa

Mango salsa is such a great fresh recipe that’s perfect for the summer time. The sweetness from the ripe mango contrasts perfectly with the spicy jalapeno and red onion and the tangy lime juice. Don’t be fooled by the jalapeno because it’s not actually too spicy.  If you like more spice though, you can add a few seeds from the jalapeno to your taste.

 

Berrie & Brie Strudel 

vegan strudel

This somewhat fancy vegan strudel is actually really really easy to make. I used a natural puff pastry that is vegan, from the brand Maison, which I found at my local whole foods. I went with this puff pastry because it has simple ingredients and is free of preservatives. The star of the dessert is the vegan brie cheese. You can use any vegan brie, or another neutral tasting vegan cheese. I used my favourite brand of cheese, Nuts For Cheese vegan brie, and it pairs beautifully with the berries and the flaky pastry.

 

Fall Trail Mix

I wanted to make a fall themed trail mix with delicious fall inspired ingredients like pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds. I candied the pecans with some maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and they are to die for. I love trail mix but I find it can get a bit boring always making the same kind. So switch up your snack routine, make this delicious trail mix, and go for a beautiful hike!

 

Avocado Basil Pesto

You can’t beat the flavour of fresh herbs on a summer day. This Avocado Basil Pesto is the perfect condiment to have in your fridge all summer long. Spread it on bread, eat it with crackers or veggies, pour onto pasta, drizzle on a baked potato… there are so many possibilities with this versatile Pesto that packs a punch of summer flavour. This recipe is creamy, fresh, earthy, lemony, and cheesy. There is seriously nothing like goodness of fresh herbs!

 

Pumpkin Bread

Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

Vegan Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

I turned my super popular flourless double chocolate cookies into vegan chocolate peppermint cookies! They’re so special because they are dipped in dark chocolate and sprinkled with candy cane pieces. It’s the perfect holiday cookie, and they’re completely flourless, so they are free of gluten! […]

Orange Date Cookies

Orange Date Cookies

I came up with these Orange Date Cookies because years ago at Christmas time, my Ciocia (basically my Grandma) made a delicious orange date cookie. It isn’t a recipe she makes all the time and I don’t remember her making it again, but I never […]

Vegan Ginger Cookies

Vegan Ginger Cookies

I adore these vegan ginger cookies! I’ve been making them since last Christmas, and now they’re new and improved and ready for your holiday baking needs! Well really you can make these cookies all year long, they are so good that you’ll want to!

vegan ginger cookies

Magical aquafaba makes these cookies super soft, chewy, and fluffy. They’re also made of almond butter instead of oil and coconut sugar instead of refined sugar. These are a take on my ever so popular Double Chocolate Chip Cookies which are also made with aquafaba.

vegan ginger cookies

Vegan Ginger Cookies

Aquafaba makes these ginger cookies soft, chewy, and irresistible! These cookies are great for the holidays or anytime of the year. 
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time13 mins
Total Time28 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 22 Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond butter unsalted
  • 1/2 cup aquafaba the liquid from a can of chickpeas
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup light spelt flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tsp ginger powder
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp all-spice
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch salt
  • 3-6 tbsp cane sugar for coating depending on how much sticks to the cookies

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F and line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the almond butter, coconut sugar, aquafaba, and vanilla. Mix on medium speed until it is well combined, for about 2 minutes.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients except for the cane sugar. Mix again on medium speed until it is mostly combined. It might appear a bit crumbly. At this point mix the dough with your hands until everything comes together.
  • Add the cane sugar into a small shallow dish.
  • With your hands, scoop small portions of the dough that are about 1 tbsp in size. Roll them into balls and dip them into the cane sugar to coat them completely. Line them on the tray and press them gently to slightly flatten them into disks. Ensure there is enough room between the cookies as they spread out quite nicely.
  • Bake for 13 minutes in the middle rack of your oven. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before serving. Enjoy!

Notes

Note that this recipes works better when the almond butter is nice and liquidy. If you're using very thick almond butter (like the almond butter that's typically at the bottom of the jar) they may not spread out as much.

vegan ginger cookies

For personal meal plans or nutrition advice from a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, you can contact me at kathyrhn@gmail.com

Baba Ganoush (Vegan & Oil-Free)

Baba Ganoush (Vegan & Oil-Free)

While they’re not the same thing, if you love hummus, you should definitely try Baba Ganoush if you haven’t before! Hummus is great but sometimes you just want to switch it up. Baba Ganoush is a dip made with roasted eggplant, garlic, lemon, and a […]

Winter Trail Mix

Winter Trail Mix

I made a delicious fall inspired trail mix this past fall, and I loved it so much I thought it would be an awesome idea to make a winter trail mix too. I really love trail mix and I find it’s always so easy to […]

Vegan Trail Mix Cookies

Vegan Trail Mix Cookies

I love cookies and I love trail mix, so naturally, these cookies are one of my favourite things ever. These vegan trail mix cookies are basically a chewy chocolate chip oatmeal raisin cookie with a few extra ingredients to make it reminiscent of trail mix. In this recipe you’ll find walnuts, pumpkin seeds, chocolate chips, and raisins, all great ingredients you’d find in a trail mix! Let’s get baking.

trail mix cookies

This is a very easy cookie recipe and you’ll love the added nutritional benefits of the nuts, seeds, and oats. I’ve adapted this recipe from one of the best cookies I’ve ever had, the Oh She Glows Turtle Cookies. Angela Liddon is one of my all-time favourite vegan cooks and I just love her and her recipes!

trail mix cookies

I’ve adapted the recipe by switching up the mix-ins and also adding aquafaba instead of oil, since I like to cook and bake oil-free when I can. Adding aqaufaba to cookies is a great way to substitute eggs and moisture and I just love how this magical ingredient can be used in so many ways! I enjoy trail mix with me when I’m out in nature or on the go, but I want to switch it up sometimes. I can’t wait to take these cookies with me on my next camping trip!

trail mix cookies

Vegan Trail Mix Cookies

These vegan trail mix cookies are amazing for breakfast, snacks, dessert, and on-the-go. It's a great change from trail mix when you're hiking or camping! 
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Servings: 18 Cookies

Ingredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats divided
  • 1 3/4 cups walnuts
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour or light spelt flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup aquafaba the liquid from a can of chickpeas
  • 1/4 cup non-dairy milk unsweetened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds

Instructions

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line 1 or 2 baking trays with parchment paper and set aside (I fit all the cookies on 1 large tray).
  • Using a food processor, blend the walnuts and only 1 cup of the oats until it is fine, but completely fine like a flour. Transfer the mixture to large a bowl.
  • Add the rest of the oats, the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt and mix to combine. Set aside.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the maple syrup, coconut sugar, aquafaba, milk, and vanilla extract until well combined.
  • Add the liquid to the dry ingredient and mix them together. Fold in the chocolate chips, raisins, and pumpkin seeds.
  • Form the dough into cookies and line them on the baking tray. Bake on the center rack of your oven for about 15 minutes until the bottoms are golden.
  • Remove them from the oven and cool before serving. 

Trail Mix Cookies

For personal meal plans or nutrition advice from a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, you can contact me at kathyrhn@gmail.com

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

I’m really excited to bring you this delicious vegan pumpkin bread because it’s one of my favourite desserts I’ve made in a while! It’s not quite a cake because it’s not overly sweet and it’s just a little bit more dense. Really it’s the perfect […]

Vegan Apple Cake

Vegan Apple Cake

This Vegan Apple Cake was inspired by my Vegan Plum Cake that I released this summer. Now that apples are in season, I wanted to re-create that recipe using the same base and use apples instead of plums. But of these recipes are European style […]

Matcha Tea Benefits: Why I Love Matcha Tea!

Matcha Tea Benefits: Why I Love Matcha Tea!

Superfoods are everywhere these days, and while some products might not be as great as they claim, Matcha tea is truly a magnificent superfood. Numerous studies have proven matcha to have astounding health benefits. I’m writing about matcha because I have personally experienced wonderful health benefits. The best part? Matcha tastes amazing and there’s nothing better than a healthy AND tasty superfood.

matcha tea benefits

What Is Matcha Tea?

While matcha has grown incredibly in popularity over the last several years, it has actually been consumed for centuries by the Japanese. The history of matcha can be traced back nearly 1000 years!! Matcha is grown primarily in Japan, and this is where most of the finest matcha is sourced from. The Japanese Tea Ceremony has been celebrated since the 1500’s, where matcha tea is consumed in a tea ceremony. This ceremony represents harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility. So lovely! I personally do feel tranquility when I consume my matcha tea, one of the many matcha tea benefits.

Matcha is made of finely ground, premium green tea leaves which are turned into a powder. The benefits of this green tea begin here. When consuming most teas, we steep the tea and drink the nutrients from the water. Consuming matcha tea means you consume the entire green tea leaf which provides enhanced benefits over drinking steeped tea itself.

 

Health Benefits

Packed With Antioxidants

Matcha tea is incredibly high in anti-oxidants. In fact it is one of the highest anti-oxidant containing foods in existence and ranks very high on the ORAC scale. Catechins, which are the anti-oxidants in matcha tea, have wonderful anti-aging properties. Drinking matcha tea regularly helps to increase the body’s ability to scavenge free radicals which can damage the body in many ways. We are constantly exposed to free radical damage from diet, stress, environmental pollutants, and more, and even our drinking water!

Antioxidants are also beneficial for heart health, and they can lower your risk of infections and build your immunity.

Great For Mood, Memory, & Sleep

Many of us reach for our morning cup of coffee to help wake us up and get the day started. Some of us feel that we couldn’t start our day without a coffee. While coffee gives you energy, it provides you with a spike in energy, and then eventually a crash. For some, coffee can lead them to feel gittery and anxious. Matcha too has high levels of caffeine (it contains around 10 times more than a regular cup of green tea), however, it also contains high levels of l-theanine, which provide a slower, and more steady release of the caffeine, making this one of the main matcha tea benefits This helps to make your body and mind feel more energy and alertness, without having a crash later in the day. You also don’t feel anxious or gittery like with coffee, because in fact, the l-theanine helps to promote a sense of calm and relaxation.

When combined with caffeine, l-theanine promotes mental clarity, and increases attention and focus. I personally have been drinking matcha tea very regularly this year and I have found a massive difference in the way I feel mentally. My mind feels so clear and calm, and I find I work more efficiently and even have better decision making because of this.

The l-theanine naturally increases serotonin levels. Serotonin is one of our “happy hormones”. Adequate levels of serotonin help to improve mood and reduce the risk of depression. Therefore matcha is a wonderful mood elevator, and I also personally experience this effect first hand. Furthermore, because matcha increases serotonin, it can be beneficial for promoting a better sleep. When serotonin levels are high during the day, melatonin levels naturally increase on their own during the evening. So drink your matcha in the morning and enjoy wonderful energy during the day and a beautiful sleep at night. Don’t drink your matcha in the evening, because you might not be able to fall asleep!

Weight Loss & Detoxification Properties

Because of matcha’s high anti-oxidant and chlorophyll levels, it is wonderful for giving the body a gentle detox. Drinking matcha daily or a few times per week can give the body a regular detox that you don’t even have to think about! Just sit back and enjoy a calming, mood enhancing latte, and reap the benefits of a natural detox at the same time. With all of these factors in mind along with the overall high nutrient content in this wonderful tea, it can also help with boosting your metabolism, and in turn can result in weight loss.

What kind of matcha should I buy?

I definitely recommend to buy the most pure form of matcha to enjoy both the best flavour and the most health benefits. I suggest a certified organic and ceremonial grade. You want to drink this tea in it’s purest form, not drink pesticides! The ceremonial grade is what is used in Japanese tea ceremonies. Organic culinary matcha is another option for if you like to use matcha for baking, and to be honest I buy the culinary grade for my matcha teas all the time. It’s a more affordable option if you’re on a budget, and still gives you great benefits!.

 

In coffee shops these days you will find matcha lattes, however I recommend asking what type of matcha they use, and if it is sweetened or contains any fillers or artificial ingredients. Many coffee shops and cafes serve matcha that is not organic, low-grade, and has pre-mixed sugars and other ingredients. However, many cafes do serve pure matcha tea, so ask for the ingredients to be sure! The only ingredient in their matcha tea mix should be green tea! I love to enjoy the purest version to obtain all of the incredible matcha tea benefits, and no artificial ingredients. Enjoying a matcha at a cafe is lovely, but purchasing matcha tea and making it at home will ensure you get a great quality and more affordable product.

 

matcha tea benefits

My personal favourite way that I enjoy matcha tea is to make a matcha latte. I love iced matcha almost all year long, as well as hot matcha lattes. Check out my recipe for my iced matcha which I drink multiple times per week. You can make this exact same recipe but heat it up for a hot matcha latte. There are endless ways to use matcha in recipes. Aside from drinks, matcha works wonderfully in desserts, smoothies, and much more. I’m seriously obsessed with both the flavour and the matcha tea benefits, and I truly enjoy this superfood at least 3-5 times a week. You too can enjoy matcha tea benefits all throughout the week!

 

iced matcha tea

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2577676/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3982418/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6213777/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15640470

Roasted Golden Beets with Rosemary Tahini Dressing

Roasted Golden Beets with Rosemary Tahini Dressing

Roasted golden beets are a great change from red beets. They’re highly nutritious and deliciously sweet and savory. If you haven’t had them before, they’re almost like a mix between a carrot and a beet. This recipe servers 2, but you can easily multiply it […]

Healthy Vegan Cinnamon Donuts

Healthy Vegan Cinnamon Donuts

I’m so excited to bring you these healthy vegan cinnamon donuts. This recipe is an adaptation from the Oh She Glows recipe for Out The Door Chia Power Doughnuts from the Oh She Glows Cookbook (one of my faves!). It’s a very quick and easy […]

Fall Trail Mix with Candied Pecans (Vegan)

Fall Trail Mix with Candied Pecans (Vegan)

I seriously loooove this recipe and I’m so excited to share it with you. I wanted to make a fall themed trail mix with delicious fall inspired ingredients like pecans, walnuts, pine nuts, and pumpkin seeds. I candied the pecans with some maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and they are to die for. I love trail mix but I find it can get a bit boring always making the same kind. So switch up your snack routine, make this delicious trail mix, and go for a beautiful fall hike!

fall trail mix

Making candied pecans is really easy. They’re quick to toast in the oven and quick to cool. Then once you’re done, add all of the rest of the ingredients to a jar or airtight container and shake it to mix the ingredients. If you’re like me and you love a bit of sweetness in your trail mix, you’re going to fall head over heals for this recipe.

Not to mention the fact this this fall trail mix is absolutely bursting with vitamins and minerals including b vitamins, vitamin e, magnesium, calcium, selenium, iron, zinc, and so much more. Having a trail mix like this is an amazing way to up your nutrition game because eating a variety of nuts and seeds is essential for getting these nutrients, especially on a vegan diet.

 

Fall Trail Mix with Candied Pecans (Vegan)

I love trail mix and I love making fun trail mix recipes like this one! I absolutely adore the candied pecans and this recipe, and you will too. 
Prep Time5 mins
Total Time11 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: American
Servings: 3 Servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup pecans
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 3/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins or dried cranberries

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a small baking tray with parchment. Pour the pecans onto the pan along with the maple syrup, vanilla, and salt. Mix it together to coat evenly.
  • Bake the pecans for 6-8 minutes on the center rack of your oven. Stir frequently and watch closely so that the pecans don't burn! The maple will thicken significantly so keep stirring to coat the pecans evenly. As soon as they are fragrant, remove them from the oven.
  • Allow the pecans to cool enough so that the syrup is dry. This should only take about 5 minutes.
  • In the mean time, add the rest of the ingredients to a jar or airtight container. Add the pecans when they are cooled and mix everything together. Store in your pantry. Enjoy!

For personal meal plans or nutrition advice from a Registered Holistic Nutritionist, you can contact me at kathyrhn@gmail.com

Fall Buddha Bowl (Vegan + Gluten Free)

Fall Buddha Bowl (Vegan + Gluten Free)

I’ve been trying to accept that summer is over (hello summer has been over for a month 😅). I was blessed to have 30 degree weather and enjoy the beach for the last time this year just 2 weeks ago. Now the forecast is calling […]

Vegan Garlic Aioli (Oil-Free)

Vegan Garlic Aioli (Oil-Free)

Aioli is typically made of a base of oil. I wanted to make a whole foods version, so I made this cashew based Vegan Garlic Aioli! Aquafaba gives the aioli a creamy, luscious texture. It’s the perfect replacement for oil in this sauce, similar to […]