Fun Finds at the Montreal 2014 Health Show

The ‘Expo Manger Sante’ is my favorite trade show as I can explore new interesting items that help me meet my goal of improving my health. Whether it is to taste new organic products, pickup coupons or the actual products on sale, learn new delicious recipes, learn about new services offered or how I can make certain things at home, I can easily spend several hours browsing through the stands.

The ‘Expo Manger Sante’ is a health food (much of it organic) and beauty/cleaning products tradeshow. This year, it was held last month at the Palais des Congres again in downtown Montreal.

Check it out here: www.expomangersante.com

I decided that each year I will post some of my favorite new finds at this show. What is great is that whatever stage I’m at in terms of improving my health, this show helps me along to the next stage, so the finds that I typically pick each year also reflect where I’m at in my journey. I am very thankful for this show because I’m also a very picky eater and sometimes by tasting a product at the show I am surprised by how delicious it is and the fact that I would’ve never bought this product at a store otherwise.

Another great thing is that my husband, who is at a completely different stage than me, will also pick up new things and this just promotes our collective family health.

You can check out my last year’s blog which lists the items that I found interesting last year, these were also present at this year’s show.

Here are my favorite picks this year:

-          New Vegan Restaurants: several new ones opened their doors recently in downtown Montreal, why don’t you check them out: Invitation V (vegan bistro – www.invitastionv.com), Resto Vego McGill (www.restovego.ca ), Aux Vivres (resto vegan and juice bar – auxvivres.com). And besides restaurants check out this authentic Japanese store that provides natural, organic and macrobiotic food: www.koyofoods.com.

-          Organic Matress!: Currently I’m shopping for a new mattress so I thought why not go organic, I did a lot of research on this topic already (will reserve that for another blog), and narrowed it down to 2 companies: My Essentia (the only organic mattress containing memory foam) and Literie Provinciale (using latex, no memory foam, but much cheaper). Both have showrooms in Montreal!

-          Service to Set up and Help Maintain Your Own Organic Garden: this one blew my mind a little bit: you can book a consultation with this company who will come to your house and give you an estimate on planning and building your garden, planting heirloom seedlings, and even periodically coming to weed and feed your garden and harvest your vegetables! I find this is amazing for those that have a yard and don’t have time to do their own gardening. The company is called Urban Seedling: www.urbanseedling.com.

-          Free Vegetarian Cooking Course: Go to aimschq.com and sign up for their free vegetarian cooking course that is coming up in May.

-          The Hippocrates Health Institute: this is a sort of the resort that offers a “life transformation program” by following the Hippocrates philosophers mantra “let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. They say they provide guidance to transition you to a healthier lifestyle. They do this by encouraging pure enzyme rich, organic vegan cuisine, a positive mental and emotional attitude and the appropriate physical activity essential to optimizing one’s health. Many cancer patients and people with other health problems have gone to this Institute. To check it out go to www.HippocratesInstitute.org.

-          Pasta: there are so many varieties of pasta nowadays made without wheat. Each year I pick up new kinds made with quinoa or another type of grain and flavored with herbs, vegetables, even nuts like turmeric, beats, spinach, hazelnut etc. They are so delicious that I cannot get enough of them. Some of my favorite brands are: Primeal Pasta and Go-go Quinoa.

-          Emulsified Vitamin D: emulsification is a process of creating smaller molecules so that the product is better absorbed. I believe that here in Montreal the majority of people are largely deficient in vitamin D, which is actually important in many chemical processes in your body and affects so much more than just your bones and teeth. For example I believe that vitamin D deficiency is linked to autoimmune diseases. During spring, winter and fall, I supplement daily. The brand I picked up to try is Omega Alpha, I got at 2 for one deal and it tastes good!

-          Omega 3 Supplements: I also believe that we have a huge imbalance between Omega 3 and Omega 6 in our bodies which results in promoting unwanted inflammation, I supplement daily. My favorite brand is Nordic Naturals which uses fish oil from only very small fish (= minimal amount of mercury).

-          Organic White Miso: miso is one product that I thought that I would never ever buy. I had bought the black miso paste one time, didn’t know what to do with it, tried to make something that ended up tasting horrible and decided that I will never buy it again that it’s not for me. Here I am at the show tasting some dip that was prepared to be eaten with raw vegetables and finding it absolutely delicious. Bought the container of white miso and scored the recipe for this delicious dip. What is also really great is that at this point I’m trying to eat more fermented products because I want to increase my intake of probiotics. Because probiotics are so finicky, I don’t really believe that supplementation through pills is good enough because I feel like a very tiny percentage of the probiotics will actually survive and do good in my stomach. Somewhere I read that the gut is like your second brain and maintaining good bacterial culture is crucial. I don’t supplement probiotics every day, only if I know that my stomach is vulnerable (i.e. if taking antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs).

-          Tempeh: tempeh is a soy-based fermented product. I don’t believe that regularly eating soy is healthy however occasionally, it’s fine for me. The fact that tempeh is a fermented product adds bonus points. Again another product that I would typically never buy but at the show there was a chef that had just opened his new organic restaurant and was making stir-fry tempeh. As you can guess it tasted delicious (I find it more palatable than tofu). I bought some and he even gave me vegetarian tzatziki for free, which incredibly enough, tasted just like the real thing.

-          Cleaning Products: I like the brand Biovert, which has expanded its line of products since last year and added a few items including a laundry stain remover. However since last year, my favorite brand for cleaning products has become: The Honest Company. Although this brand is not found at the show, I must mention it here as it is absolutely amazing. It was created by Jessica Alba, it has none of the bad ingredients and all of the good ones – it can be purchased online.

-          Organic Alcohol: this is becoming more and more common, we picked up an aperitif cider from Saragnert.com.

-          Spices and Tea: I found a cool place with really interesting products: Les Jardins de la Mer.  They have a variety of mixed spices and salts that contain algae. Algae are really healthy however I’m trying to stay away from any products purchased from the Pacific Ocean due to the Fukushima radiation poisoning. However this company harvests their algae from around New Brunswick. They also have some really interesting teas, which I’ve never seen before. The one I bought contained dried Labrador tea, nettle, yarrow and fir tree leaves, it tasted and smelled amazing!

-          Mosquito Repellent: I’m trying to find one that actually works and doesn’t stink to be honest with you. I’m trying out this new brand I found at the show called Bohemia.

Overall an amazing show, that’s for sure!!!

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Red Zinger Juice

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Juice sometimes get a bad rap for having the fiber removed. In fact, it is only the insoluble fiber that is removed. Juice is still filled with lots of soluble fiber which is good for the intestinal tract. (1) It will also help you reach the target of 25-30g of fiber we are supposed to have in a day.
I love the juice below because it has an element of sweetness with a perfectly contrasting spice flavor coming from the ginger. Be generous with the ginger if you like spicy foods.

- 4 small beets and beet greens
- small cucumber
- 6 medium carrots
- 1 apple
- 2 inch piece of ginger (or more)

Cut your veggies and put through your juicer. Bottoms up!

References

(1) Calbom, Cherie, and John Calbom. Juicing, Fasting, and Detoxing for Life. New York: Hachette Book Groups, 2008. Print.

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Arugula with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Balasmic vinaigrette is a dressing favorite as it is thick & sweet. It has few ingredients, easy to make, so it is not something you should buy! In fact you should never buy salad dressing, make one for the week and store it in a mason jar or salad dressing container. You can get one from Amazon or your local kitchen supply store.

Here are some balsamic vinegar facts and tips for your next purchase:

  • Balsamic vinegar is made with the Trebbiano grape, boiled and aged in a variety of wooden barrels. Imitations made be made from different vinegar and do not require aging.
  • Balsamic vinegar is made in Italy’s Modena and Reggio Emilia regions and governed by the DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata)
  • Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena is the highest quality balsamic vinegar and is aged a minimum of 12 years, but can be very expensive.
  • Commercial grade balsamic vinegar is more affordable, but coloring, sugar, caramel and other additives may be present. Choose a product with no additives in the ingredient list, especially no sugar. The ingredients should read something like grape wine, grape must.
  • Condimento grade balsamic is a mix of the traditional and the commercial grade. This will be a combination of the grape and red wine vinegar. This is probably a good compromise to use for salad dressing, as the expensive stuff is so good you may not want to mix it. You can always reduce the cheaper stuff to make a good sauce and get the consistency of the more expensive types.

Ingredients of the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup- 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (depending on how sweet/sour you want it)
  • salt and pepper to taste (1/2 tsp is about right)
  • shallots or garlic, finely minced (optional)

Mix all ingredients in a bowl, except the olive oil. Stream the oil in slowly while you whisk the dressing. It is important to see the vinegar and the oil coming together to form a thick brown mixture (emulsification of the oil). This would also work in a blender, if your arm is feeling a little lazy ;-).

I love to combine balsamic vinaigrette with a peppery green like arugula. It provides a really nice balance and contrast in flavors. Bon appetit!

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Homemade Bitchin’ Sauce

This is almost like a condiment to me: regularly available in my fridge and used to make my foods more flavorful. It is also an incredibly healthy sauce as it is vegan, sugar free and contains only healthy fats. You can use it for dips, in wraps/sandwiches, as a pasta base or my favorite, the gratitude bowl. Best part is that you can whip up a batch in 5 minutes :-)

My inspiration is a sauce I found at Whole Foods, but I felt compelled to make my own without oil as the first ingredient!

  • 1/3 cup raw almond butter (if you have a vitamix, you can also use raw almonds)
  • 1/3 cup filtered water
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • juice of a lemon
  • 1 small clove garlic (raw or roasted)
  • 1 tbsp tamari (use soy sauce as a substitute, but the wheat free version ‘tamari’ is healthier & tastier)
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • dash cayenne
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp olive oil (optional)

Now simply throw all the ingredients in a blender and run! Note you can make it thicker or thinner depending on the amount of water you add. Try playing around with the ingredients; add different spices or amounts, make a spicy version etc.You can find a Vine Video of me making this recipe here. Bon appetit!

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Gratitude Bowl

Gratitude Bowl

Inspired by many vegan & vegetarian restaurants here in SoCal, one of my new go-to dishes is the gratitude bowl. It is named as such because every time I make it, the ingredients are different; dependent on what I happen to have in my kitchen. I’m always grateful to have enough ingredients at my disposal to make up the layers of this yummy dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup mini brown lentils
  • 1/3 cup sliced red onions
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 5 leaves laciano kale, stems removed & chopped
  • Bitchin’ Sauce (see my recipe here, or you can also buy ready-made bitchin’ sauce)
  • 1 persian cucumber, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely chopped,
  • a handful of finely diced red or green onions
  • a handful of cranberries or goji berries
  • 1-2 tbsp fresh herbs (my favorite to use is mint)
  • sliced almonds (optional for garnish)

Cook your quinoa and lentils according to package directions. In the meantime, lightly saute the veggies (red onion, garlic and kale) and finely dice the bowl’s toppings. When all is ready, use a big bowl and start your layering. Add the quinoa first, then lentils, sauteed veggies, drizzle bitchin’ sauce (See pic below). Then finally the toppings including cucumber, pepper, onions, berries and herbs.

As mentioned, I’ve made this recipe countless types with various ingredients. You can find my Gratitude Bowl Vines (6 second videos) here:

Bon appetit!

 

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Citrus Sunshine

citrus rainbow juice
This juice recipe is one of my recent obsessions! It’s inspired by the Sunrise juice found at Living Juice here in Laguna Beach. It’s sweet, sour and spicy. I call it sunshine not just because of the way it looks, but due to its refreshing effect. How can you not be happy drinking one of these?

If that doesn’t convince you to try one of these, consider all the health benefits. It’s full of vitamin C, potassium, folate and phytochemicals. There’s considerable evidence this helps prevent or retard the progression of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, cancer, neural tube defect and anaemia (1).

Ingredients:
1 grapefruit, peeled
2 oranges, peeled
1 lemon, peeled
1-2 inches ginger root
dash of cayenne pepper (or 1-2 inches of a jalepeno)

Cut your fruit to a size that will fit through the mouth of your juicer. Juice all ingredients, adding the cayenne pepper at the end.

Bon Appetit!

(1) Economos, Christine, and William D. Clay. “Nutritional and Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits.” Food, Nutrition and Agriculture: n. pag. Web. 31 Jan. 2014.
.

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Spaghetti Squash with a Raw Marinara Sauce

spaghetti squash marinaraThis recipe is surprisingly delicious and couldn’t be easier to make. I sort of stumbled upon it, out of my laziness, one day. The best part is I didn’t dirty one pot or dish except my blender (but since it’s a vitamix – it cleans itself). The dish can be served warm – right when the squash comes out of the oven or cold out of the fridge. Either way it is refreshing and makes a great side dish as well. The marinara sauce is simple, so quality ingredients are key.

  • 1 Spaghetti Squash
  • 3 large ripe organic tomatoes
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1 spring onion
  •  handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh oregano or 10 basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and ribbed (optional)

Cut the spaghetti squash in half, scoop out the seeds and roast on 375 F for 1h 15min. You can put it on a rimmed baking sheet or even just some aluminum foil. For extra flavor, brush olive oil on the squash, some garlic and salt and pepper.

In a blender, add the rest of the ingredients and process until smooth.

When the squash is ready and cool enough to handle, using a fork to scrape out the inside. Mix with the prepared raw marinana sauce. Serve on a plate or inside the emptied squash shell. Bon appetit!

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2014 Montreal Organic Health Show: March 21-23

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The ‘Expo Manger Sante’ is a health food (much of it organic) and beauty products tradeshow. This year, it is held at the Palais des Congres again in downtown Montreal for the whole weekend.

Check it out here: www.expomangersante.com

I love this show because I can browse different product and new products, try out samples and get some coupons.  Also, the items are usually much cheaper than sold in the store.

Last year someone posted a comment that I should let people know ahead (how did I not think of that J) so here is that post.

Just to let you know what I found and liked at the show last year:

-          Toasted sesame seed oil: so tasty , I use it to make a vinaigrette recipe similar to what they serve at the Japanese Steakhouse!

-          Chia seeds: I use these or ground flax seeds every day in my juices, as well as sprinkled over my leafy salads. They are high in omega 3 EPA.

-          Hemp seed: I use them the same way as chia seeds, hemp is high in iron.

-          Quinoa and other pasta: I love this company so much I have to share the brand with you, it’s Primeal and they sell various quinoa and other grain mixes as well as pasta made out of quinoa. The pasta comes in all shapes and flavored with different savors like tomato, eggplant, spirulina, curry, turmeric and garlic and parsley. My husband and I make a mean Pasta Aioli with baked salmon (we use the curry spaghetti and make it with garlic, olive oil and rapini).

-          Coconut oil: so healthy, I use it whenever I need oil that I will heat up, and now I also lather it on myself in the winter!

-          Multivitamins: currently I buy the Mega Food brand and am still searching for the brand that will best suit me.

-          Duck terrine: the tasting was delicious so why not! They also make chicken pot pie which was equally delicious.

-          Cleaning products: Here again I have a favorite brand for some cleaning products, Bio-vert. I love their dishwashing hand soap and their all-purpose spray. They expanded their product line to include more items like toilet and floor cleaners.

-          Plant seedlings: I grow vegetables in my yard in the summer.

I will be at the show on Saturday, I hope you can join me!

Ilona

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Buying Beauty and Cleaning products

I’m sure you heard about the various bad chemicals used in beauty and cleaning products, these are not regulated enough and it can be pretty daunting going into a natural food store for instance and trying to choose a ‘good’ product out of the myriad out there.

First if you are like me and are switching from your beloved brands that you were used to for years, that did magic on your appearance, to organic or more natural brands, it can be difficult to find a brand that works for you just as well, and also that is not laden with bad chemicals. Some brands sold even in the natural food store can use bad chemicals.

For cleaning products, you’d want to find something that really works on the dirt and grime while not releasing fumes of toxins into your home.

I want to share with you how I went about it and a couple of cool resources.

First, the beauty item that you love the most, just keep it, but change the rest!

Next, you should check out my blog entitled: “Keep Your Hormones in Check!” http://yourfoodlife.com/blog/keep-your-hormones-in-check/. This is extremely important to be aware of and this is one major reason you should be changing your products.

In terms of cleaning products, first of all, I’m sensitive to chemical smells, whatever had a bad or a not so natural smell for me, I threw out.  Next I downloaded a list of the ‘bad’ chemicals from here: http://toxicbreakup.ca/ and printed it out and went shopping with that in hand! But you can also find lots of information online on creating your own cleaning products with very simple recipes using vinegar and baking soda.

For sunscreens, you can check out my blog entitled: “Getting the Right Sunscreen?” http://yourfoodlife.com/blog/getting-the-right-sunscreen/.

For other beauty products, I started just trying them out, but I didn’t know at first what are the bad ingredients to stay away from.  Recently I came across two great resources:

  1. The Environmental Working Group: www.ewg.org

It is a fantastic resource website for buying various products including cleaning and beauty products. They have evaluated and rated thousands of products in each category. Not only do they rate the products, but they rate the ingredients as well, so if you’re not sure about a certain type of ingredient, you can put it in their search bar and they will provide a rating with information like if it’s a carcinogen, if it affects the reproductive system, or other effects.  You can also get the app for your mobile phone and type in the product name when you are in the store! Go to: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/.

  1. The Honest Company: founded by Jessica Alba! https://www.honest.com/

There are some good products out there, and there are some great products out there, I haven’t evaluated them all of course, but this one caught my eye. The Honest company makes beauty, cleaning and baby products that are safe and affordable.  On their website, you can peruse the products and they disclose all of the ingredients. They have a list of 30 bad chemicals that they guarantee none of their products contain. You can buy their products online, however you need to subscribe and purchase a packet of products at a regular frequency, which you can control to some degree. I have evaluated the price and ingredients against what I currently use for several of the products and the price even with shipping (and the extra shipping to Canada), comes out to about 10$ per product, which is about the same price I already pay anyway. The ingredients used in their products are way much safer than the ones I used to use I’m still evaluating them to see if they give good results, but so far so good!

Happy Shopping!

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GMOs – March Against Monstanto – October 12 in your City!

The March Against Monsanto is a world-wide march taking place in various cities in 50 countries to protest against the actions of Monsanto and demand labeling of GMOs (genetically modified organisms).

If you are passionate about the issue, please participate in the March Against Monsanto, there is probably one in your city! here are some useful links:

If you want to join the march and you are in Montreal visit this FB page:https://www.facebook.com/events/154951524712503/

If you want to join the march and you are somewhere other than Montreal, visit this page, find your city in the drop list then scroll to the right to click on the FB page which will give you the details for your city: http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/p/blog-page.html

WHY PROTEST?

I am re-posting here information from my previous blog:

Monsanto is one of the first manufacturers of pesticides (Round up) which have been found to be carcinogenic: http://www.sott.net/article/217501-Study-Shows-Monsanto-Roundup-Herbicide-Link-to-Birth-Defects.

This strong pesticide was not only killing bugs, but the actual produce, so Monsanto ingeniously increased its profits, by genetically modifying crops so that the crops would resist the pesticides, so only the bugs would die.  Does it sound like you want to eat this ‘super crop’?  We are not modified to resist the pesticide…are we? This is the truth, it is not because out of the goodness of their heart they wished to feed the world by increasing crop yield.  Many underdeveloped countries which they were to feed, actually banned the import of GMO crops (as well as many developed countries of course such as in Europe) and it has been shown that the yield was not really increased much anyway.

The government has not allowed proper testing of GMO products prior to acceptance into the industry, so we don’t know the effects.  This is why you will hear people say that we are treated as ‘lab rats’….the experiment is on us.  We do know that there have been a couple of outbreaks of allergies where genes from known allergens were used in other type of crops without people’s knowledge, so people allergic to this specific allergen (one case was with the Brazil nut), did not know they were consuming it and had a reaction (some of them a lethal one).  There is also belief that GMO products are linked to the huge increase in allergies in children, as well as other health issues such as cancer. Some animal studies are now out showing a strong link to cancer. But we need more studies still, prior to ingesting these products.

And if not that, then at least GMO labeling should be mandatory to give people the choice to consume GMO products. Why does the government keep rejecting this request? This is why we march.

Monsanto is also ensuring monopoly and spreading GMO throughout our food by imposing GMO seeds to farmers and basically bankrupting smaller farms that refuse to abide. There is a huge farmer suicide rate in India now because of this.  Also, the largest spread crops that are GMO are corn and soy; corn is used to make high-fructose corn syrup which is thought to be linked to health issues and corn and soy products are used in many many packaged products, it is now very hard to avoid them.

For other information linked to GMO and Monsanto please visit: http://www.march-against-monsanto.com/2013/10/global-twitterstorm-planned-for-tonight.html.

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