Travel Tips to Prevent Foodborne Illness

By Natalee Goodman

 All content or opinions expressed in this article are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Alternative Food Network Inc. is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a reader based on the content of this site. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner if you’re in any way concerned about your health.

When you travel, you may be at a higher risk for contracting a foodborne illness. In many countries across the globe, food, water and sanitation standards vary, leaving your immune system susceptible to a multitude of bacteria to which you are unaccustomed. On AFN’s podcast entitled Food Poisoning, Parasites and Food Safety, Dr. Ashley Salomon M.D. shares valuable travel tips to help prevent foodborne illness from potentially ruining your trip.

  1. Wash your hands often. 

This is something that everyone should do and often. Surfaces can harbour a multitude of bad bacteria and by not washing your hands before eating or preparing food, bacteria has the ability to enter your system and wreak havoc.

  1. Be mindful of water while travelling

Water is one of the largest potentially contaminated sources of foodborne illness when travelling. This is because water filtration standards vary by country. Dr. Ashley Salomon recommends always opting for bottled water but she cautions people to be aware that in some countries, bottles are filled with tap water, re-sealed, and then sold to unassuming travellers. Therefore, she recommends travelling with a hand held water filtration system that works using reverse osmosis to keep bacteria at a minimum.

If you can’t get your hands on a water filter, iodine tablets can also help reduce bacteria. They are sold over the counter and you just add to your water. This is not always the best option though, according to Dr. Salomon, as it isn’t suitable for people with iodine allergies. Furthermore, if the water contains stronger bacteria like Giardia, iodine will not be effective.

The easiest way to purify your water while travelling so it will be suitable for consumption is by bringing your water to a boil and letting it continue to boil for at least 60 seconds.

Dr. Salomon also reminds travellers to avoid drinks with ice. Though the drink itself may be fine, ice is very easily contaminated.

  1. Stay vigilant when eating out while travelling

Opt for fully cooked food (no raw fish sushi!) including vegetables. Produce can be easily contaminated with bacteria and parasites (see our other blog post) during the many steps from farm to plate and the best way to avoid is to order cooked produce such as stir fry or a sauté. When ordering meat, always asked for well done and don’t be afraid to send it back if it looks undercooked.

If you are indulging in any type of breakfast buffet look for fruit with peels, such as bananas or oranges. When peeling, be sure that the outer part of the peel does not touch the inner edible part in order to avoid contamination. When it comes to dairy, Dr. Salomon reminds travellers that dairy can contain different flora in different places in the world and is very easily contaminated so you may want to consider avoiding dairy products when you can.

  1. Travel items to bring with you

Dr. Salomon recommends travelling with activated charcoal capsules. They help bind toxins together in the gut and allow a person to flush them faster. However, Dr. Salomon recommends talking to your doctor first since charcoal can cause constipation. If you are looking for something that is easier on the stomach and gut, look for some shelf stable probiotics that you can easily bring with you on your trip.

If you are an adult travelling by air, she recommends bringing a colloidal silver throat & nose spray that can protect you from inhaling harmful bacteria.

Dr. Salomon also mentions a few immune-supportive herbs that you should ask your doctor about before you travel. Garlic oil extract, oregano oil, ginger, thyme, olive leaf, and cloves are anti-viral/antibiotic herbs that can aid in gut protection.

Safe travels!

Antimicrobial Foods

By Natalee Goodman

 All content or opinions expressed in this article are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Alternative Food Network Inc. is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a reader based on the content of this site. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner if you’re in any way concerned about your health.

As heard on AFN’s podcast about food poisoning, parasite infections and food safety  there are anti-bacterial foods that you can eat to maintain a healthy and strong gut while also potentially protecting against unwanted foodborne bacteria. These foods can also be eaten while travelling to help protect yourself.  

  1. Papaya
  2. Pumpkin seeds
  3. Curry
  4. Cloves
  5. Thyme 
  6. Black walnut
  7. Oregano oil
  8. Garlic
  9. Manuka Honey

Before making any dietary changes, be sure to talk to your doctor. 

Food Poisoning, Parasite Infections and Food Safety

By Natalee Goodman

All content or opinions expressed in this article are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Alternative Food Network Inc. is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made by a reader based on the content of this site. Always seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner if you’re in any way concerned about your health.

Everyone’s had it – food poisoning. But while you clutched your stomach, did the thought cross your mind, “How could I have avoided this?” According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 600 million people per year get sick from eating contaminated food. On a recent episode  about food poisoning, parasites and food safety on Alternative Food Network’s podcast series Doctors+, Dr. Ashley Salomon, M.D., discusses what foodborne illness is and how to avoid it both at home and while travelling.

Difference Between Foodborne Illness and Food Poisoning
Food poisoning and foodborne illness are used interchangeably, but technically foodborne illness is an infection that results from eating food contaminated with parasites, viruses or bacteria. Foodborne illness can also include an allergic reaction. Food poisoning is a type of foodborne illness wherein one consumes the toxins from bacteria.

Symptoms can last from 1-7 days but sometimes foodborne illness caused by parasites or bacteria can cause irritable bowel symptoms for a prolonged period of time.

Causes of Foodborne Illnesses
There are four categories of foodborne illness: bacterial, parasitic, viral and toxins.

Nearly all foods can become contaminated with harmful bacteria and parasites but the most common are:

  • Raw/Unpasteurized Milk and Dairy: Bacteria including campylobacter, staph infection, listeria, and salmonella
  • Raw or Uncooked Seafood: Parasitic infections such as tapeworms, roundworms, and vibrio
  • Raw Eggs: Salmonella via the egg shell itself
  • Raw or Undercooked Meat and Poultry: Campylobacter, E. coli, salmonella, listeria, parasites
  • Canned Goods: Clostridium botulinum or botulism which can be very dangerous because it can cause neurological issues
  • Fresh Produce: coli from contact with manure that could contain animal/human waste, salmonella, listeria
  • Drinking Water: Drinking water could contain cryptosporidium or giardia.
  • Rice: Commonly cooked and left to sit, contracting and harbouring bacteria.

The most common foodborne virus in the U.S. is Norovirus, followed by Rotavirus and Hepatitis A.

When to Consult a Doctor
Trying to stay hydrated with small sips of water or ginger tea is recommended. Electrolyte tablets can also help. Dehydration can exasperate symptoms, making someone who is ill feel even sicker and more lethargic. If illness persists and a person is getting dehydrated, it may be time to see a doctor. Dr. Salomon suggests that if someone has trouble taking fluids, has bloody stool, chills, shakes, chest pain, shallow breathing or severe abdominal pain, they should seek medical attention.

For patients with prolonged symptoms over weeks and months, Dr. Salomon mentions in the podcast that she sends stool tests to advanced labs as it is extremely difficult to catch certain types of parasites and bacteria in regular stool tests.

According to Dr. Salomon, foodborne illness is a great area of integrative medicine because “there’s a place for using pharmaceuticals and then there’s a phenomenal place for using supplements that help detoxification, and herbs that can help the immune system and are antimicrobial.”

High Risk Groups for Foodborne Illness
Anyone can get a foodborne illness but certain people who have lower immune systems can be more susceptible. Pregnant women, young children and seniors as well as people suffering from cancer, chronic illness and Lyme disease are all at higher risk due to their weaker immune systems. People who are susceptible to foodborne illnesses should also avoid soft cheese and raw dairy and make sure that all of their food is both washed and cooked thoroughly.

Prevention Tips
To aid in prevention of these illnesses and infections, Dr. Salomon reminds listeners to be aware of what you’re eating, making sure that everything is cooked thoroughly. When at home, have a temperature gauge so you can verify that your food is properly cooked. Use a separate cutting board for meat/seafood/poultry and diligently wash the cutting board and your hands to eliminate cross contamination. Wash countertops thoroughly and be sure to wash all produce – even organic produce could be contaminated! When defrosting or marinating food, leave it in the fridge and not on the counter. With canned food, make sure the can is not dented or warped and do not use any food that is foul smelling. Lastly, think twice before eating all that raw sushi!

Travel Tips
In AFN’s podcast, Dr. Ashley provides tips for travellers to aid in the prevention of foodborne illness but she also reminds us that it is difficult to fully eliminate the possibility of contracting one of these illnesses when travelling.

The number one prevention tip is to always wash your hands after using the bathroom and before eating. Opt for fully cooked vegetables, bottled water and fruits with peels that protect the inner edible portion of the fruit such as oranges or bananas. Water quality varies from country to country and sometimes even bottled water is tap water with the cap resealed. Avoiding ice is also recommended.

In order to eliminate as many toxins as possible, Dr. Salomon recommends buying a handheld water filtration system that has reverse osmosis, or bringing water to a full boil and letting it boil for 60 seconds before drinking. Iodine tablets also work well in a pinch. From a more holistic standpoint, Dr. Salomon also recommends travelling with activated charcoal. It can mop up toxins and reduce nausea and abdominal pain. Lastly, probiotics are great for helping mend the gut lining after an episode, and while many probiotics require refrigeration, there are some that can be stored at room temperature.

For people who don’t have a contraindication, immune supportive herbs can also be used. In the podcast, Dr. Salomon lists garlic extract, garlic oil, oregano oil, ginger, thyme, olive leaf and cloves as examples of herbs that are anti-viral.

Eating foods that are high in spices such as curries and foods with garlic, onion, oregano and thyme are anti-viral and anti-bacterial. Examples of foods that are anti-parasitic are papaya, pumpkin seeds, clove, thyme, oregano and black walnut. Manuka honey is also a great anti-bacterial. Anti-parasitic herbs are great to take when travelling, but these are strong so it is advisable to consult with a licensed medical practitioner.

Other recommended resources:

Food safety: GI Society https://badgut.org/

Travel safety: CDC https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/

What Is Moringa?

Moringa is gaining in popularity as a new “superfood” with nutritional and medicinal advantages.

The Moringa oleifera plant, also called the “Miracle Tree”, grows in parts of India, Pakistan, the Caribbean, the Philippines and parts of Africa. It is considered to be one of nature’s healthiest and most nutritious foods.

It has been used for generations in Eastern countries to treat and prevent diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, anemia, arthritis, liver disease, and respiratory, skin, and digestive disorders. In Ayurveda, India’s holistic health system, it has been used as a curative for 300 diseases.

In addition to anecdotal evidence regarding Moringa’s efficacy, there are scientific studies from various parts of the world that provide preliminary evidence of its therapeutic benefits.

If you’re wondering how to use it, one option is to add Moringa powder to a smoothie or tea. “I like to make a glass of iced Moringa tea for myself in the spring and summer. It’s a lovely, healthy and refreshing way to drink it”, says Rose Verjee, Founder of Esme + Sita. The following is Rose’s recipe for Moringa Iced Tea.

MORINGA ICED TEA RECIPE

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of hot water
  • 2 teaspoons Organic Moringa Leaf Powder
  • Juice of one lemon or to taste
  • One finger of whole, peeled piece of ginger cut into a few pieces
  • Organic honey to sweeten
  • Mint leaves and lemon slices to garnish

 Instructions

  1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add ginger pieces and take pan off the heat.
  3. Let ginger steep.
  4. Let water cool to tepid temperature.
  5. Add the Moringa powder and lemon juice and steep for 5 minutes.
  6. Strain and stir in honey.
  7. Pour into tall glasses and garnish with mint leaves and lemon slices. Add a few cubes of ice. Store any extra in the fridge.

As always, you should consult your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner to confirm whether Moringa is safe for you.

The Plant-Based Diet: What Is It and How To Start

Whether you’re vegetarian, vegan or a meat eater interested in integrating more plant-based foods into your diet, there’s no question that plant-based has gone mainstream. But it’s more than just fruits and vegetables. A plant-based diet can include nuts, seeds, oils, whole grains, legumes and beans also. And it is not synonymous with being a vegan. Technically, a plant-based diet contains proportionately more foods from plant sources.

In AFN’s podcast about plant-based eating, the stories and health struggles of Fay Knights and Ashley Swanson are revealed. After consulting with healthcare professionals and doing their own research on plant-based eating, they each decided to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diet and achieved positive results.

One criticism of a plant-based diet is that it is too expensive for the average income-earner. However, both Fay and Ashley agree that cooking plant-based at home is not expensive. Ashley can do it for less that $3 per meal!

If you’re thinking of adding more plant-based foods to your diet or are looking for more plant-based recipes, here are some breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes:

BREAKFAST

PEANUT BUTTER BANANA SMOOTHIE (Courtesy of Fay Knights)

Ingredients

  • 1 1/3 cup organic unsweetened coconut milk or preferred milk alternative
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk powder
  • 2 tbsp organic smooth peanut butter
  • 1 small banana
  • 1 tbsp hemp hearts
  • 1 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • ¼ tsp organic ground cinnamon

Optional

  • 1 tbsp unflavoured collagen powder
  • 1 scoop vanilla vegan protein powder unsweetened

Instructions:

  1. Add all ingredients to blender, blend on high until smooth and enjoy!

Notes:

  • This smoothie also works well with any other type of nut butter, i.e.: almond, cashew, Brazilian nut, and hazelnut.
  • You can also substitute the maple syrup for coconut nectar
  • If you don’t have coconut milk powder, add a spoon of organic coconut oil or coconut cream.

 

BLUEBERRY-GREEN SMOOTHIE (Courtesy of Fay Knights)

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ cup organic coconut milk or preferred milk alternative
  • 1 tbsp coconut milk powder
  • ½ teaspoon grated ginger
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach or kale or both
  • ½-¾ cup organic blueberries
  • ½ a banana, frozen or regular

Optional:

  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1 serving unflavoured collagen powder
  • ½ scoop vanilla vegan protein powder (look for no sugar added)

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to blender, blend on high until smooth and enjoy!

 

BAKED PUMPKIN STEEL CUT OATS (Courtesy of Ashley Swanson)

Ingredients

  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ½ tsp ground ginger
  • ½ tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ cup pure maple syrup or coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 (14 oz) can full fat coconut milk
  • 4 ½ cups water or plant milk
  • 2 cups steel cut oats

Toppings: pecans, pepitas, hemp seeds, sliced apples, maple syrup, plant milk

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients, except steel cut oats, in a large pot on the stove. Over med-high heat, bring to a soft boil.
  2. Stir in steel cut oats. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes (stirring every 5-10 minutes) or until oats are tender.
  3. Remove from heat and let sit covered for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Serve immediately or portion out into your meal prep containers for the week. Top with your favorite toppings, a drizzle of maple syrup, and a splash of plant milk.

Recipe Notes

You can try making this in the oven for a more hands-free approach. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C). Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, mix well. Pour mixture into oven safe dish. Bake for 45-55 minutes. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before serving or portioning out into meal prep containers.

LUNCH

CREAMY CARROT-GINGER SOUP (Courtesy of Fay Knights)

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion roughly chopped
  • 2 -3 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 3 cups organic low-sodium chicken broth or veggie broth works well too
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 lb bag of organic baby carrots this is usually the small bag, the big bags are 2lbs
  • 1 cup frozen butternut squash
  • ½ can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of fresh or dried thyme
  • Sea salt & ground pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. In a medium-large pot, heat olive oil on medium-high and add in chopped onion. Sautee for 2-3 minutes. Add a sprinkle of salt and pepper and then add in the ginger and sautée for 1 more minute.
  2. Add in carrots then pour in broth and water, ensuring all ingredients are covered with liquid. Bring to a boil and let boil for 10 minutes.
  3. Add in garlic powder, thyme, coconut milk, and squash. Boil for another 10 minutes.
  4. Poke carrots with fork, they should be tender and easy to fork – that’s when you know it’s ready.
  5. Remove from heat and then with a handheld blender, blend until creamy (about 3 minutes).

Optional:

  1. Top with toasted walnuts, sunflower or pumpkin seeds.

Notes

Serve hot or let cool and store in the fridge for up to three days. You can also store in an air-tight container in the freezer and thaw out 8-12 hours prior to using.

 

SAVOURY JACKFRUIT BOWLS (Courtesy of Ashley Swanson)

Serving: 3-4

Creamy Cashew Butter Sauce (Makes enough for one (14.5 oz) can jackfruit)

Ingredients

  • 2 heaping tbsp cashew butter (or any combination of nut/seed butters)
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 2-6 tbsp hot water (add 2 tbsp at a time to thin)

Instructions

  1. Add ingredients to a small bowl (except water) and whisk well to combine.
  2. Add water, 2 tbsp at a time, to thin.
  3. Taste test. If too savory, add a little maple syrup (1-3 tsp). If too thin, add more nut/seed butter. Add mixture to jackfruit (see below).

Jackfruit Mixture

Ingredients

  • ½ yellow onion
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can jackfruit
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Sautée ½ diced, yellow onion until translucent, about 5 min.
  2. Add 1 (14.5 oz) canned jackfruit, shredding it with your fingers as you do so, and cook for another 3-5 min.
  3. Pour sauce over jackfruit mixture and stir well to combine, cooking for another 3-5 min.
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with cooked quinoa, greens or broccolini, cooked butternut squash or sweet potatoes, and a lemon tahini dressing.

 

DINNER

CHICKPEA MASALA (Courtesy of Fay Knights)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 can organic cooked chickpeas
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen cubed carrots
  • 1 small diced onion
  • 1 small crushed garlic glove or ½ tsp organic garlic powder
  • 1 ½ cups organic tomato sauce
  • ½-1 cup water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ tsp each salt & ground pepper

Optional

  • handful of finely chopped parsley
  • pinch of cumin or coriander

Instructions

  1. Prepare basmati rice as per package instructions.
  2. Wash and strain chickpeas.
  3. While rice is cooking, in a media pot, sauté diced onions and garlic on medium-high until slightly golden (2-3 minutes).
  4. Add in all remaining ingredients to pot, pour water in last.
  5. The amount of water to add can vary slightly.  You want to make sure all ingredients are covered with liquid (not swimming in it but just enough to cover). If the tomato sauce you use is more runny, you will need less water. I typically need around ½-1 cup of water.
  6. Stir all ingredients well then put the lid on.
  7. Once the sauce starts to simmer, turn heat down to medium and let cook for 10 minutes.
  8. If after 10 minutes you find the masala too watery for your liking, remove lid and cook for an additional 5 minutes or add 1 tsp of cornstarch.
  9. Plate desired amount of rice and top with chickpea masala and enjoy!

 

INSTANT POT LASAGNA SOUP (Courtesy of Ashley Swanson)

Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 20 oz frozen veggies (I used 10 oz mirepoix & 10 oz carrots)
  • ½ cup split lentils
  • 5 oz diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted)
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • Italian herbs (1 tsp dried basil, 1 tsp dried oregano, 1 tsp dried sage, 1 tsp dried thyme plus 1/2 tsp garlic powder and ½ tsp onion powder)
  • 4 cups veggie broth (add more to thin, mine is more stew-like)
  • 6-10 no boil lasagna noodles
  • 1 cup chopped frozen greens

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients (except lasagna noodles and greens) to an Instant Pot and stir well to combine. Add lasagna noodles, making sure they’re submerged in liquid.
  2. Place lid on securely with quick release valve closed and manually set Instant Pot to 3 minutes.
  3. Once cooking is complete, use quick release valve to release pressure fully, then carefully remove lid.
  4. Mix in 1 cup chopped frozen greens.
  5. Dish out into meal prep containers and store in fridge for 5-6 days.
  6. Reheat portions daily and top with nutritional yeast and red pepper flakes.

 

All content or opinions expressed in this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner.

Better For You Desserts

Better For You Desserts

Desserts are ever so tempting, aren’t they? At AFN we believe that desserts shouldn’t be off the table just because you want to eat healthier or because you have food restrictions. There are workarounds. And there’s not one dessert for everyone. From vegan, to lower sugar, to vegetable additions to desserts (yes, it can be tasty), here are some desserts we have compiled with some help from our audience.

VEGAN DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CAKE BALLS

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup hemp protein powder
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1/4 cup dairy free chocolate chips

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix all the ingredients together except for the chocolate chips.
  3. On a pan start forming flat patties with the batter.
  4. Start forming balls with the batter and put the chocolate chips inside
  5. Make sure the balls are completely closed.
  6. Put in the oven for 20 minutes (check on it every once and a while to prevent possible burning).
  7. Take out and let cool.

 


 

CHOCOLATE ZUCCHINI MUFFINS (DAIRY-FREE) 

Ingredients

  • ½ cup unsweetened applesauce
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup oil (we used canola but you can substitute)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup grated zucchini, unpeeled (about 1 zucchini) and patted dry with paper towel
  • 1 ¼ cup flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12 cup muffin tin.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together applesauce, sugar, oil, eggs, oil and vanilla. Add grated zucchini and mix.
  3. In another larger bowl, whisk flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt until blended. Add chocolate chips and mix.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix.
  5. Spoon batter (Tip: we like to use an ice cream scooper for this part) into muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out fairly clean.

 


 

CARROT CAKE

Preheat oven to 350⁰F.  Grease and flour a cake tin (I use butter and use 2-3 small cake tins)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup flour (can use organic spelt)
  • ¾ cup sugar (can reduce according to your preference)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 5/8 cup oil (canola or your preference)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • ½ of a 14 oz can of crushed pineapple, well drained
  • ¼ cup (or more) of chopped walnuts (optional)

Instructions

  1. Mix all dry ingredients.  Add eggs and oil and mix well.  The mixture should have a thick consistency.  Turn into a bowl and stir in grated carrots, pineapple and nuts.  Pour batter into greased cake tin and bake on middle rack of oven.
  2. Bake in a greased and floured cake tin (or approximately 2-3 small cake tins) for approximately 1 hour or until toothpick comes out clean.  The baking time for the small tins will be shorter.
  3. This recipe can easily be doubled and the cakes can be frozen.

 


 

PEANUT BUTTER DATE BITES

Ingredients

  • 1 cup pitted fresh dates (if dry, allow to soak for 10 minutes prior)
  • 2/3 cup natural peanut butter (or any nut/seed butter)
  • 1/3 cup quick oats (use gluten-free oats if needed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp chia or flax seeds
  • ¼ cup mini dark chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Mix the dates in a food processor until dates are in small pieces.
  2. Add peanut butter, oats, vanilla and seeds. Mix in food processor. The mixture should be thick enough to form into balls without being too sticky. If it’s too sticky, add 1-2 more tbsp oats. If mixture is too dry, add 1-2 more tbsp peanut butter.
  3. Add the chocolate chips and mix gently by hand.
  4. Roll into small balls.
  5. Store in fridge.

 

How To Download and Listen to Podcasts

We love to podcast. It’s a great way to get information to our audience, inspire conversation and create a more intimate communication experience. For listeners it’s great because you can listen to podcasts whenever and wherever, while multi-tasking or just lounging around.

How to Download Podcasts
For those who are new to podcasts or who want more information about how to download podcasts, here’s an informative article.

How to Access AFN Podcasts
As podcast listening continues to grow, we wanted to make sure know how to access Alternative Food Network podcasts. Here are some options:

  1. Visit the podcast page on our website, press play and stream the podcast.
  2. Visit AFN’s podcast host, Spreaker and stream or download a podcast.
  3. Download a podcast app as further explained in the article referred to above.

No matter the listening method you choose, we hope you enjoy the experience.

New Food Guide

This week saw the publication by the Canadian government of the latest version of Canada’s food guide. The four food groups are gone. Instead, the guide promotes the regular intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein foods. For protein foods, it is suggested that plant-based foods be consumed more often but the guide still includes fish, eggs, dairy and lean meat in the list of such foods. As for beverages, water should be the beverage of choice according to the guide. And of course, put the brakes on eating foods high in sodium, sugar and saturated fat. The guide also places importance on food skills and literacy. It promotes more cooking at home, and reading food labels to help you make more informed food choices. Regarding that last point, I think it’s never too early to start reading food labels. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I saw my tween compare labels on our cereal boxes.

One issue that I have read about repeatedly in articles concerning the new food guide is that of food insecurity and that healthier food tends to be more expensive. While there is truth to that when it comes to fresh fruits and healthier consumer packaged goods, cooking healthy at home doesn’t have to be expensive. You can’t beat $1 for a can of beans or chickpeas! To celebrate the new food guide, I have included an easy hummus recipe below and the link to AFN’s Roasted Chickpea video on our website.

Easy Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas (19 oz.)
  • ¼ cup liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini*
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin

*If you are allergic to sesame or don’t have tahini at home, add some more olive oil or water to get a creamier texture.

Instructions

Drain chickpeas setting aside ¼ cup liquid from the can. Combine remaining ingredients in a food processor. Add the liquid from chickpeas. Process for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Serve chilled.

New Food Guide

This week saw the the publication by the Canadian government of the latest version of Canada’s food guide [JP-link to the food guide that’s in the AFN Resources section]. The four food groups are gone. Instead, the guide promotes the regular intake of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and protein foods. For protein foods, it is suggested that plant-based foods be consumed more often but the guide still includes fish, eggs, dairy and lean meat in the list of such foods. As for beverages, water should be the beverage of choice according to the guide. And of course, put the brakes on eating foods high in sodium, sugar and saturated fat. The guide also places importance on food skills and literacy. It promotes more cooking at home, and reading food labels to help you make more informed food choices. Regarding that last point, I think it’s never too early to start reading food labels. I was pleasantly surprised the first time I saw my tween compare labels on our cereal boxes.

One issue that I have read about repeatedly this week in articles concerning the new food guide is that of food insecurity and that healthier food tends to be more expensive. While there is truth to that when it comes to fresh fruits and healthier consumer packaged goods, cooking healthy at home doesn’t have to be expensive. You can’t beat $1 for a can of beans or chickpeas! To celebrate the new food guide, I have included an easy hummus recipe below and the link to AFN’s Roasted Chickpea video on our website

Easy Hummus

Ingredients

  • 1 can chickpeas (19 oz.)
  • ¼ cup liquid from can of chickpeas
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini*
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin

*If you are allergic to sesame or don’t have tahini at home, add some more olive oil or water to get a creamier texture.

Instructions

Drain chickpeas setting aside ¼ cup liquid from the can. Combine remaining ingredients in a food processor. Add the liquid from chickpeas. Process for 3 minutes, until smooth and creamy, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Serve chilled.

The Inflammation-Food Connection

One of AFN’s most popular podcasts is The Inflammation-Food Connection.

What is Inflammation?

According to naturopath Dr. Audrey Sasson, inflammation is essentially the body’s response to any damage, internal or external. In a Q & A published by Harvard Health Publishing, Dr. Deepak Bhatt, M.D., M.PH. states that inflammation is the body’s natural response to protect itself against harm and there are two types: acute and chronic. According to Dr. Bhatt, acute inflammation occurs “when you bang your knee or cut your finger. Your immune system dispatches an army of white blood cells to surround and protect the area, creating visible redness and swelling.” Dr. Bhatt continues to explain that chronic inflammation can occur “in response to other unwanted substances in the body, such as toxins from cigarette smoke or an excess of fat cells”.

Anti-inflammatory Diet

In AFN’s podcast, Dr. Sasson asserts that one’s diet can truly help combat inflammation. Examples of inflammatory foods are dairy, alcohol, artificial sweeteners, processed meats, foods high in trans and saturated fats and refined sugar. Ultimately these are the foods we should try to avoid to decrease inflammation and the negative effects that come along with it. Instead, Dr. Sasson suggests to opt for antioxidants as they help counteract inflammation. Having more whole grains and “the good” fatty foods such as salmon and olive oils are also an excellent choice. In Canada and the United States, foods that contribute to inflammation are seen more on peoples’ tables. Western diets are higher in omega 6’s and low in the essential omega 3’s, and according to Dr. Audrey, this needs to be the opposite.

Whether you have irritable bowel disease, sore joints or skin problems, take a look at your diet. Perhaps some changes in the foods you eat will be beneficial. Love your body and watch what you put in it.

All content or opinions expressed in this blog are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please seek advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare practitioner.

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