Bringing Joy To Your Wellness Journey

Wellness is an act of meditation, joy, self-care, and fun.  

Are you overwhelmed by all the various and sometimes conflicting information in the wellness world? Do you feel like there is a new trend or hyped supplement advertised to you daily? Do you feel confused by all the super foods, supplements, herbs and intimidated by ingredients you don’t recognize at the supermarket? Are you tired of trying all the things and feeling like you are getting nowhere? Does the idea of preparing your own nutrient-rich food for you and your family sound intimidating or time consuming? Does daily movement feel like another thing you SHOULD do but never feel like you can fit it in? Are you tired of feeling sick and tired? Are you ready to embrace a life full of energy, free of pain, bloating and brain fog?

I’m here to help.

Hi! I’m Sarah, a Nutritional Therapist, Hatha Yoga Teacher, food lover, passionate home cook, and travel addict. I show people who are stressed and overwhelmed that reclaiming your health can be fun and delicious. 

We work together to find what food and practices work best in YOUR body so that you can clear the brain fog, increase your energy and reduce digestive symptoms like pain and bloating. 

What is Nutritional Therapy?

Nutritional Therapy is a holistic, bio-individual, root cause approach that uses a food-first strategy to restore balance to the body and mind.  No matter how much hype there is about X supplement, Y diet, or Z exercise, no 2 people are exactly the same. What works for one person, may not work best for you. By focusing on restoring the foundations of health, we make sure the body has the building blocks it needs to function optimally.

Schedule a Free 20 minute discovery call today!

Mexican Hot Chocolate Energy Bites

A super easy sweet treat that packs a nutritional punch with a bit of bite. These are great as a dessert alternative or even as an afternoon snack.

Prep Time:  20 Minutes
Total time: 20 Minutes
Servings: 14

Ingredients:

  •  1 cup walnuts (115 g)
  •  1 cup Medjool dates (200 g)
  •  2 tbsp raw cacao
  •  1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1.  Place the walnuts (ideally pre-soaked and dried) in a food processor or a powerful blender (food processors work better) and blend until they have a crumbly texture.
  2. Add the dates and the cacao and blend again
  3. Form balls with your hands and a table spoon
  4. Roll balls in a little extra cocoa or coconut flakes.
  5. Enjoy! Store in fridge for up to 5 days

Nutritional Foundations

A Guide for Busy Entrepreneurs

We all want to feel like we are functioning at our highest level, waking up full of energy, ready to take on the day, firing on all cylinders, creating our genius, working in a flow state, and contributing our gifts to the world. But sometimes that just isn’t the case.  Maybe you have some nagging symptoms that you can’t seem to understand, or maybe you are having difficulty sleeping. Maybe your digestion feels a bit off, or like you’re getting pulled in a million different directions at once. Maybe you feel a bit flat, or low on energy, always fueling yourself with coffee or sweets to meet your next deadline or maybe you just want to feel your absolute best. But what does that all even mean and where do you begin?

The search for optimal health can often become overwhelming, with different “gurus” fad- diets, and the next hot hack. With all of the different wellness information out there, how do we know where to begin? 

Well, the answer is the foundations. Every system in the body is dependent on what we consider the foundations. If the foundations are not in balance, we cannot achieve optimal health which is exactly why Nutritional Therapy Practitioners first work to bring the foundations into balance. 

But what are the foundations and what do they actually do?

  1. A nutrient-dense properly-prepared diet
  2. Digestions & Elimination
  3. Blood Sugar Regulation
  4. Fatty Acids
  5. Mineral Balance
  6. Hydration

PROPERLY PREPARED NUTRIENT DENSE DIET

Eating a whole-food, nutrient-dense, properly-prepared diet is fundamental to our optimal health, energy, and ability to heal.  Our bodies require nutrients including vitamins, minerals, water, plant fibers, proteins and healthy fats that the human body is not able to make, so in order to obtain those nutrients, we must ingest, digest and absorb them. The closer food is to it’s natural form (ie in it’s whole food form rather than packaged processed food) the better. 

Our bodies benefit from a diverse selection of plant fibers, colors, and protein sources, so challenge yourself to “eat the rainbow,” combine a variety of colors on each plate, and eat a variety of both raw and cooked foods to optimize digestibility and bioavailability of nutrients.

Farming practices like factory farming, mono-cropping, and pesticide use, have reduced the number of nutrients in our food and included dangerous practices and chemicals that can make us sick, so proper food sourcing is crucial. Try to eat as local, organic, grass-fed/finished, and pasture-raised as possible, fostering relationships with your local farmer to understand their practices.  

The dirty dozen and clean 15 from the Environmental Working Group list the top 12 types of produce that have the highest levels of pesticides, and the cleanest 15 types of produce that have the least amount of pesticides. They are fantastic resources to help you optimize your food sourcing and transition to an organic diet when it might seem overwhelming or out of budget to switch over all at once. I myself, keep the clean 15 and dirty dozen in mind when I go shopping and it is not necessarily possible to shop 100% organic. 

DIGESTION & ELIMINATION

Digestion is the process by which we take food- solids and liquids into the body, break them down, absorb nutrients and eliminate waste from the body.  Every cell, every organ, and as a result, every system of the body is dependent on digestion to provide the essential nutrients it needs for structure, function, and growth. When our digestion is not functioning optimally, we lack the nutrients we need that are crucial to our energy and our body’s healthy function.

Digestion is a “north to south” process beginning in our brain before food even reaches our mouth.  We can be eating the healthiest food, but if we eat in a rushed/ stressed state, or we are not able to mechanically or chemically break down the food, then we will not properly absorb the nutrients. Many people even say that we are not what we eat, but what we absorb. 

BLOOD SUGAR REGULATION

Blood sugar regulation is very important for our energy levels and production, tissue integrity, hormonal balance, brain health, mood, memory, and overall health (NTA 2021). Glucose is the most basic form of sugar in our blood, and our brain and the PALS (the pancreas, adrenals, liver, and skeletal muscle) work very hard to maintain an even, balanced, blood sugar level.  When our blood sugar drops, we may experience mood changes, become “hangry,” fatigued, and reach for sweet snacks and caffeine as a pick me ups. In addition, issues with our blood sugar regulation can also make it more difficult for us to fall asleep, handle stress, and wake us up in the middle of the night.

The best way to maintain even blood sugar levels, is to get adequate sleep, to move daily, limit refined sugar, and to eat meals and snacks that are balanced with fat, fiber, and protein to slow down the absorption of sugar. When we eat too much sugar, or simple carbohydrates, or experience stress, our blood sugar can spike, resulting in a roller coaster of high and low energy, damaging our cells and potentially making them resistant to hormones.

FATTY ACIDS

Healthy fatty acids from plants and animals, are the main chemical building blocks of fats and are a crucial part of our diet. They provide a source of energy, allow for the absorption of fat soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K, regulate our energy absorption and satiety, make our food taste good, and are an important component in the inflammation process, along with many other benefits. 

Fatty acids can be categorized into Omega 3, Omega, 6 and Omega 9 fatty acids and it is important to maintain a proper balance between the three. When we are deficient in fatty acids, or our balance between them is off, the body cannot properly inflame or anti-inflame. The body needs both processes in order to heal. When we have the correct balance of fatty acids in the diet, and can properly digest and absorb those fatty acids, we can manage inflammation and reduce healing time.

MINERAL BALANCE 

Minerals are the “spark plugs” of the body and are essential nutrients in many of the systems and functions. Enzyme reactions require minerals to function, they facilitate the transfer of nutrients across cells, maintain proper nerve function, help muscles contract and relax, regulate tissue growth, and provide structural and functional support. We need zinc for stomach acid production and digestion and we require electrolytes, which are electrically charged minerals to absorb water and maintain proper hydration. Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body and provides structure for our bones and teeth, among many other functions.

We cannot produce minerals in our bodies, and need to consume them as part of a nutrient dense, whole-food diet. Unfortunately, the practice of mono-cropping and use of pesticides has reduced the quantity of minerals in our food and many people are deficient in these important nutrients and the cofactors required for their use. 

HYDRATION

Water is the most important nutrient in the body and makes up 60% of the human body.  However, many people live in a constant state of dehydration. We need sufficient levels of water in the body to help flush toxins, remove cellular waste, support healthy digestion and transport of nutrients, librate our joints, and maintain energy levels among many other important functions. 

We cannot store water in the body, so we must consume it regularly to maintain our hydration levels. How much water we need is very bioindivideal and dependent on many factors including environment, stage of life, and activity level. About 64% of our hydration comes from consumed liquids, and 24% from fresh whole foods, but processed foods are often dehydrated as a means of preservation. 

However, it is not enough to just drink a lot of water. We also need electrolytes, which are minerals, in order to absorb that water. Otherwise, the water will just flush through our system, and we will not reap the benefits of the water. In addition, beverages like juice, tea, and coffee can have diuretic effects, so clean water from a reliable source is the best for hydration.

When we become dehydrated, we may feel fatigued, have head aches, experience anxiety, cravings, among many other symptoms. The best way to maintain hydration is to use a water bottle to track water intake, to sip on water throughout the day, rather than to chug it, and to drink water with a pinch of sea salt and lemon juice.  Try drinking a glass of water when you first wake up, and at any first sign of fatigue or head ache through out the day.  Pay attention to the color of your urine and aim to have a light straw color.  Too clear and you may be drinking too much water, or not absorbing the water, too dark and you may be dehydrated.

WHY ARE THE FOUNDATIONS SO IMPORTANT

All of the foundations are interconnected. One cannot function without the support of another- a nutrient dense diet fuels every cell and system in our body. Fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins must be eaten as part of a whole-food nutrient dense diet AND they must be digested and ABSORBED in order to fuel the body. Proper digestion requires the body to be in a parasympathetic (calm) state, hydrated, with correct hormone release (hello blood sugar!) and requires essential nutrients like zinc (minerals!), and water (hydration!). Every foundation requires essential minerals and nutrients to function. There is a delicate interplay between all of the foundations: when one foundation is off, it can throw all of the others out of proportion, but conversely, when we bring them back into balance by focusing on the basics, then we can begin optimizing our health and energy levels so that we can show up as the best versions of ourselves.

Zucchini Ribbon Salad

Fresh, simple and elegant

This is a summer favorite and a go- to recipe for entertaining. If you tolerate it, it is great to add some fresh goat cheese for some extra creaminess and protein!

Prep Time: 20 Minutes
Total time: 20 Minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients:

  •  4 Zucchini , (mixture of yellow and green)
  •  1-2 fresh red chillies (optional)
  •  1-2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  •  1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  •  ½ teaspoon dijon mustard
  •  a few sprigs of fresh basil and parsley
  •  1 shallot minced
  •  Cherry tomatoes, sliced french radishes and rocket to serve

Instructions:

  1. In a small bowl, add the shallot and apple cider vinegar. Let this sit for 10-15 minutes to allow the sharpness of the shallot to settle.
  2. Using a speed peeler, peel the zucchini longways into long thin ribbons and add to a bowl.
  3. Into the bowl of shallots and vinegar, stir in the dijon mustard and a pinch of sea salt and pepper to taste
  4. Whisk in extra virgin olive oil (around 1/4 -1/2 cup) mix well
  5. Pour dressing over courgette and let the zucchini rest for 15 minutes to soften
  6. Add the basil leaves, parsley, radishes and tomatoes, toss and serve over rocket.

Creating a Healthy Kitchen on a Budget

“When we develop relationships with the people who grow the food, or grow it ourselves, spend time preparing and cooking each ingredient, and mindfully eat a meal with all our senses, we can restore the kitchen to its rightful place of honor in our homes and reap the rewards of a deeper level of wellness that can’t be found elsewhere.” (NTA Culinary Wellness Guide 2020)

Connecting with our food is not only good for our physical body and nutrients, but also good for our soul. If you are just beginning to get into the kitchen, it can be a little overwhelming to know where to start. It all begins in the kitchen, with properly prepared and sourced whole foods.

HOW TO SOURCE OUR FOOD?
Whenever possible, you should aim to buy food that is locally produced, organic, and sustainable. This is particularly important when it comes to meat, dairy, eggs and what we call the “dirty dozen.” Conventionally raised animals are often treated in inhumane ways, fed unnatural diets to fatten them up and make them sick and often dependent on antibiotics to live (NTA Culinary Wellness Guide pg 4). Conventionally grown plants are often grown as mono crops which depletes the soil and the nutrient density of the plants, and are sprayed with harmful pesticides.

But let’s be honest, it is not always possible for us to do this 100%. We might have geographic or budget constraints that stand in our way. So before you start panicking about switching over to an entirely organic budget, understand that there are ways we can optimize our best bang for our buck.

Buy the best possible meats you can afford.
It is important to buy organic, pasture-raised, grass finished meats whenever possible. Not only are these organic meats free of harmful chemicals and antibiotics, but they are also higher in nutrients. Make use of organ meats which are the most nutrient dense and can be used to stretch out other meats to provide more nutrients and feed more mouths. Take advantage of cheaper cuts that can be delicious when slow cooked, and use the whole animal. Make sure to use the bones to make delicious gut-healthy bone broths!

Become aware of the “Dirty Dozen”
The “Dirty Dozen” are the Environmental Working Group’s list of produce that has the highest levels of pesticides of non organic produce. Since these have the highest rates of pesticides, it is most important to buy these organic. Begin by focus on buying these produce items organic and build on that as your budget allows. You can find the list of Dirty Dozen, here.

Get to know your local farmer!
If possible, one of the best things to do is to get to know your local farmers. When we buy local, we not only support and connect to our local community, but also increase the nutrient density in our food as plants don’t need to travel as far from farm to our mouths.

Farmers markets are often on weekends and can be a great place to wander around, chat directly with the producers and find new, fun and fresh ingredients to play with in the kitchen. When you build a relationship directly with the farmers you can get an idea of what practices they use on their farms. Often times, small local farms use organic methods to farm, but the actual organic certification maybe be in process, or may be too expensive for them to obtain.

Grow your own food
A wonderful way to connect with your food is to grow your own. You don’t need to have a ton of space to grow your own food. A great place to start is growing a few herbs in a windowsill pot. Fresh herbs add wonderful brightness, flavor and nutrients to dishes. If you have more space, or are feeling more ambitious, you can start your own vegetable garden with whatever floats your boat! You can start with things that are more notoriously easy to grow like lettuces, tomatoes, and zucchinis, and begin adding in whatever you love that is seasonal in your area.

Keep your eyes open for deals at bulk stores like Costco
You can sometimes find great deals on frozen organic meats, vegetables, or fruits at bulk stores like Costco. It can be a great option to have these on hand in your freezer when fresh organic produce is not as easy to come by. Also organic frozen fruits and vegetables can often be much more affordable than their fresh counter parts and are great to use in soups and smoothies.

So now you know how to find your beautiful ingredients, but how do you build out your kitchen? Some common cooking tools and receptacles can leak toxins and heavy metals into our foods so choosing the right cooking tools is important to properly prepare your food. It can be fun to play with all sorts of kitchen toys, but to be honest, you really don’t need much to get started and can build upon this as a strong foundation:

Cast Iron Skillet
Cast Iron pans become naturally non-stick the more you use them. The more you use a cast iron pan, the more the fat “seasons” the pan, creating a naturally non-stick pan. Non-stick/ Teflon pans and stainless steal pans might seem convenient, but they can actually can leach metals and toxins into your food during normal cooking, especially if they are not the highest quality. Season your cast iron pan well and only clean with very hot water and a scrubbing brush- never use soap as this will ruin the non-stick seasoning.

Good Knives
Dull knives can be dangerous and can make chopping and food prep frustrating so make sure you keep them nice and sharp, and always hand wash, dry and store properly.
– Find a sharp chef’s knife with a blade that goes through the handle ideally 8 in
– A serrated knife for cutting bread and things with a skin like eggplant and tomato, and small pairing knife for smaller more detailed cuts.
– While you can peel vegetables, etc with a pairing knife, I find it much easier to have a vegetable peeler on hand.

Ceramic Dutch Oven
A ceramic coated dutch oven is a great, versatile and often beautiful kitchen tool to have on hand. It can double for soups and roasts and won’t leach harmful chemicals into your food. Pricing can vary greatly, but a great Dutch oven can last a lifetime. I also recommend having at least 1 smaller pot on hand.

2 wooden cutting boards
Wooden cutting boards will be gentle on your knives. Apply a thin coat of coconut oil to seal the board and maintain its quality. Always wash both sides of the wooden cutting board to prevent the wood from warping and splitting.

Blender
Blenders are great for making smoothies, soups and sauces which are some of my absolute favorites! You can also buy high quality blenders second hand to save money. A great bonus tool that I love is a food processor or even a mini food processor to make homemade dips, sauces, and make larger food prep easier.

Limit plastics and aluminum
Limit plastics and aluminum to reduce exposure to harmful chemicals like BPA and Heavy metals like Aluminum.
– Use mason jars, glass or stone containers for storage/meal prep.
– Opt for unbleached parchment paper when baking instead of aluminum foil
– Replace plastic wrap, or cling film with bees wax wraps (Check out my sister’s company, Beautiful Buzz Wraps!)

Now you have these delicious ingredients and fun cooking tools, but how do you best prepare them?

There are numerous ways to prepare food, but below are some of the most accessible to start with.
Baking and roasting
Cover your meats and vegetables in appropriate fat, scatter them on a cookie sheet or a roasting pan and roast at 350-450 degrees. This is a great technique for batch cooking or cooking for many people. Note that different vegetables have different cook times, and root vegetables like carrots, beets, potatoes, etc will take longer than vegetables like broccoli , etc.

Sautéing and stir-frying
This is one of the fastest and easiest ways to make a one pan meal. Throw some appropriate fat in your cast iron pan, sauté some aromatics like onions, garlic, or ginger and then add your meat and vegetables and cook at a fairly high heat.

Steaming
When done properly, this can optimize nutrition and flavor. Place food in a steaming basket over a few inches of water in a pan. Cover and steam for desired doneness. You can also boil vegetables, but the nutrients can often disperse into the water, so I prefer to reserve this technique for making soups.

Braising and stewing
This is a great technique to soften tough, inexpensive cuts of meat so they fall off the bone and is perfect for a chilly night. Sauté aromatic vegetables such as onions and garlic fat, brown meat on all sides to seal in juices, then add vegetables and enough liquid to cover one-third of the contents. Bring it to a boil and reduce heat to medium-low or low to cook it long and slow.

And there you have it! There are loads more cooking techniques, tools, and ways to optimize the preparation of your ingredients, but this is great start making a healthy kitchen