Thank you for visiting! Walking the Walk is meant to be a source to assist you in your quest for a healthy, balanced lifestyle. Through my own lifestyle, I hope to give you creative ideas that make adopting a healthier, more holistic lifestyle as enjoyable and easy for you as possible!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Type Bookstore On Queen West

There is a little row of shops on Queen West, right across from Trinity Bellwoods park in Toronto.  They are all so charming and homegrown that I would often think up excuses to go hang out there on lazy Sunday afternoons in the summer.

How delighted was I to discover this artistic video about Type, the bookstore?  Watch it and feel the charm of this place ooze over you.

Have a creative and inspiring day!

Product Review: Sunwarrior Raw Protein Powder (Warrior Blend)

I love that we are constantly learning new things and that research is continually being updated and modified.  I previously believed that I was getting enough protein (after all, who has ever heard of a protein deficiency?) but a current research article has suggested that we may be getting much less than we need.

The ideal amount of protein consumption seems to be at least 0.8 grams of protein per kg of body weight.  In my case, that means that I would need roughly 50 grams of protein a day to meet my daily requirement.  Luckily, if I happen to fall short of that, I can whip up a smoothie with some Warrior Blend from Sunwarrior, since one serving offers up 17 grams of raw protein from peas, chia seeds and cranberries!

I purchased the natural flavour (because I like to flavour my own smoothies) and I am pleased to report that there is no chalky or gritty taste.  The Warrior Blend delivers lovely protein without any horrible after taste (ahem, like Vega).  It's so silky, in fact, that I have incorporated it into the Avocado Chocolate Mousse recipe from Jae Steele that I simply adore:

1 can of coconut milk (sorry, not raw!)
1/4 or 1/2 cup raw cocao powder (taste to it see what amount you prefer!)
1/4 or 1/2 cup pure maple syrup (taste it to see what amount you prefer!)
2 large avocados
1 scoop of Warrior Blend protein powder

Blend first 4 ingredients together until smooth.  Add the protein powder and stir to incorporate (I heard that blending protein powder too vigorously isn't great for the taste), making sure there are no lumps.  Enjoy!

Summary: With no aftertaste or texture, this protein powder is easily masked in all your recipes while giving you 17 g of your daily protein!  One thing to note is that with any plant-based (read: incomplete) protein source, you should often alternate it with another source.  For example, I use hemp protein powder and the Sunwarrior blend and simply alternate the days I use them.

Have a powerful, protein-packed day!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sweet Treat: An Adventure in Cupcakes

The Art of Cupcakes

This past Wednesday, M and I had to get our passports renewed.  What could have been an incredibly mundane chore turned into an adventure that will live on forever in this blog. You see, as we were strolling down the street to get to the intimidating government building, we happened to pass Prairie Girl Bakery.

I had heard legends about this place: how the owner had been a lawyer in Saskatchewan who one day gave it all up to bake cupcakes.  And not just any cupcakes, the ones your grandma would be proud to serve.  That means absolutely zero artificial anything.  No wonder these little cakes are touted as being the best in Toronto!

Replenishing the stock

M and I stood there, with our mouthes gapped open in awe, outside the window for at least 3 minutes before we had the courage to step inside.  How could a place so cheerful and warm be located here, amongst endless government documents and cranky people?  Once inside the shop, we were met by rows and rows of beautifully iced cupcakes and the delicious smell of someone baking more in the back.
The menu

Because the cupcakes are so non-artificial (think eggs, butter and milk), this unfortunately meant I couldn't enjoy one but watching M indulge was enough-- I swear, M smiled for 3 hours after finishing that cupcake!

 The Black Forrest Cupcake
M is ridiculously happy

The staff was friendly, the place was lovely and we have now found the perfect place to get birthday cupcakes for our friends.

Praire Girl Bakery
Unit 106, 18 King Street East
Toronto, Ontario

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lets End the Tyranny of Television

The best decision I ever made in my life was to stop watching television, although I didn't know it at the time.

Many people, my previous self included, have the misconception that watching hours of television every week is relaxing to their system.  I know, I know; you get home after a long day at work or school and all you want to do is veg-out in front of the magical box in your living room.  But did you ever consider the following:

1. Television disturbs your slumber.  The physical act of watching an illuminating screen not only causes eye strain but can also stimulate excitatory neurons.  Since most people watch television before bed, this can affect sleep and cause more stress on the body since most of our healing happens when we're snoozing.

2. Television eats up your time. You may find that you are even more stressed from watching TV because you were unable to get all of the other things done in your life that needed to get done!  Most shows are an hour long and in that time, you could have whipped up a gourmet meal and given yourself a facial--think about it.

3. Television promotes a sedentary lifestyle. Unless you're only watching television at the gym, chances are you're sitting on your couch.  Since the average American watches 4 hours of TV per day, this can really add up in negative exercise.  If you really want to be amused, perhaps do as the French do and walk to a cafe.  You can watch the people stroll by as you relax and drink a warm beverage.

4. Television retards your social skills and kills your imagination. The most fascinating people I know do not own televisions.  These are the people that are telling me about the new art exhibit, the new restaurant, their recent travels, the new fitness craze etc.  Lets shift entertainment to be something to enjoy in the company of others as this will help you become more socially rounded.  If you really must be alone, may I suggest a book? It will help foster your imagination, expand your vocabulary and transport you from the everyday stresses.

Have a gloriously TV-free day!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Edible Skincare: Rosacea-Fighting Mask!

Me and my roommate M have lots of things in common.  We love to do yoga, go to the farmer's market and both love the smell of home baking.  Something not so pleasant we have discovered is the we both also suffer from Rosacea.

Rosacea is an inflammatory condition of the skin that leaves it red and painful and usually affects the cheeks, so that people with this condition look perpetually flushed.  It can be made worse from stress, red wine and chocolate.  

M and I are all about pampering ourselves, so when we discovered a recipe made from edible ingredients that was also touted to help us combate the redness, we both had to try it out.  Here is the recipe for the Rosacea-Fighting Mask:

1/2 an avocado
1/2 cup natural greek yogurt
one fourth of an english cucumber
juice from half a lemon
1/2 cup of rolled oats, ground in a blender

Combine all the ingredients in a blender.  This will make enough for 5 or more applications and the mixture will last for a week when stored in the fridge.  Apply liberally to a clean face and chill out for 20 minutes.  Wash it off with some lukewarm water and gently pat dry.

 See? 100% edible!

The verdict? M said it was delicious and it definitely made our skin feel cool and lovely! A perfect way to combine self-care, alternative medicine and roommate bonding into one, fun-filled activity! 

Fun is the most important ingredient

Have a terrifically fun-filled day!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Chung hay fat choy

Happy Chinese New Year! On January 23rd, 2012 be prepared for a sea of red and many dragon dances!

Although all Chinese New Years are special, this year is just a little bit more so.  Why? Because this year is the Year of the Dragon.  The dragon is a particularly auspicious symbol in Chinese culture.  It's also synonymous with wealth, luck and power which are all highly valued traits.

My mother is Chinese, so I grew up ringing in the Chinese New Year with most of the traditions.  Even if you aren't Chinese, feel free to try some of these traditions and see if they bring you some luck!

1. Clean your house before the 23rd, so as to have space for the abundance and luck from the new year.  You do not want to clean your house on the 23rd because you could potentially clean out all this abundance and luck!
2. On the 23rd, get together with family and friends and eat some chinese food; in particular duck as it relates to prosperity.  Most Chinese favor a dish called Peking Duck but if you are vegetarian, Buddah's Vegetarian (on Dundas West) makes a fantastic "imitation duck" from layers of tofu that doesn't taste at all like duck but is still amazing.
3. This one may seem a bit odd, but don't wash or cut your hair on the 23rd.  I think this also has to do with the washing away of prosperity.  This is a huge no-no is the Chinese community, so it must be serious.
4. Give somebody some "lucky money". These are little red envelopes that contain coins or dollar bills that are usually given to children but are gratefully accepted by all ages :)
5. Take time to celebrate and welcome the new year!  Head down to Spadina and watch the lion and dragon dances.  Wish someone a happy new year ("chung hay fat choy").  Wear red.  Putting some positive energy into the new year will make sure it's a happy one!

Happy New Year!!!

My Ridiculous Obsession with Pad Thai

If you are an avid reader of my blog, you will know that I often reminisce about my trip to Thailand.  If you have never been, I would strongly suggest a journey out there.  The people are friendly, the beaches are pristine and the food is outstanding.

Sadly, I have not been able to get back to Thailand so instead I look for little pieces of it that are right here in Toronto.  I am fortunate enough to live in an incredibly diverse city that offers hundreds of Thai restaurants.  This is both a bonus and a problem because, as with any restaurant, there are some good ones and there are some great ones.  The task is to differentiate them.

I often go to blogTO for all of my restaurant suggestions, but after a disastrous visit to Golden Thai on Church Street where the food was barely edible, I read their reviews with a grain of salt.  It was quite traumatic, actually.  I couldn't even look at Thai food for at least 2 weeks!

Proof that there is karma in this world, this past Tuesday night I was rewarded with a mind-blowing Thai dining experience.  Unable to ignore my Pad Thai craving any longer, I dragged the Little Prince (who also appreciates fine Thai food) out to a little place on Adelaide West called Khan San Road.  

Although there is a perpetual line up (yes, even on a Tuesday night!) the wait was enjoyable as the staff were friendly and the food was gorgeously presented so the Little Prince and I amused ourselves with watching each fantastic dish pass by, trying to guess what it was.  When we were shown to our table, our waiter was friendly and very helpful with the menu selections.  I ended up ordering the Pad Thai (Sam Roas) instead of the Street Style Pad Thai (yes, they have 2 on the menu) and the Little Prince ordered the Green Curry.

The Pad Thai

Green Curry

After I took my first bite, I was transformed back to warm nights in Pattaya.  The smell of coconut and the ocean wafted over me and when the waiter asked how it was, I almost leapt up to hug him.  I never use this term loosely, but I will say that the food at this place is beyond. Period.  The Little Prince insisted I have some Green Curry and it was a perfect balance of coconut milk and spice.  This ideal balance is rare in my experience with most Thai restaurants in North America, by the way.

Summary: You must go to Khan San Road. With the exception of people who have visited Thailand, you have not enjoyed real Thai food until you go here.

Khan San Road
326 Adelaide West

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Importance of Mental Hygiene

In my lecture this morning (given by the ever-entertaining Dr. G, who is a plethora of knowledge), I was given some food for thought that you may also find interesting.

As future Naturopathic Doctors, we are constantly teaching our patients (and lovely family members) about  the benefits of hygiene as a measure to prevent disease.  We teach food hygiene to decrease the possibility of salmonella contamination.  We also practice strict personal hygiene both internally and externally in the form of proper skincare and quarterly detoxes.  Decisions like only ingesting organic produce and only using paraban-free cosmetics are examples of this.  A more extreme example is colonic hydrotherapy.  I think you get the picture.

But, what about our mental hygiene???

Dr. G pointed out the toxicity of simple thoughts that we could constantly be feeding ourselves and if you've ever read anything by Bruce Lipton or Louise Hay, you would see the very real evidence of this toxicity as it wreaks havoc on people's health.

Have you ever caught yourself saying "I look so terrible today" or "I'm not good enough to be here"? Chances are we all have and this type of negative thinking is only bringing about stress and unhappiness.  Practicing good mental hygiene by being easier on yourself will help you on your path to healing and well being.

Here's to letting the positivity flow....

Have a wonderful day!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Poor, little gluten-free girl: How to stave off food intolerances

I am not actually gluten-intolerant which means that if I happen to be strolling past an adorable french bakery and the intoxicating whiff of freshly baked baguettes happens to entice me I could, technically, stop in for a bite.  Unfortunately M cannot, so I dedicate my spare time to making equally delicious gluten-free foods instead so that we can both enjoy them.  After all, food does taste better shared.

But where the heck do these food intolerances come from? Unlike full blown anaphylactic allergies (where the person's airways can swell shut and they can stop breathing) food intolerances are reactions to food that are less obvious than the medical emergency; often the people suffering from them have no idea that they have them!  This means they can go years without being diagnosed and can be the reason why quite a few people have to be extra vigilant in avoiding the problem foods. Usually symptoms include poor digestion, feeling of malaise, brain-fogginess and skin conditions (like acne and eczema).

Food intolerances are our bodies natural reaction to continued exposure to a particular substance.  This is the wonderful and horrible thing about our bodies.  You see, it's great if we are constantly ingesting harmful bacteria and our immune system targets them out and creates an allergic-like response to them, thus fighting them off. However, it is quite another thing when the thing we are ingesting is a simple food like tomatoes and your body has the same reaction!  Yes, your body can have allergies to normal, healthy foods!

So, you're lucky enough not to have a food intolerance but how do you keep it that way? The number one rule is this: you must eat a well varied diet and try to have different foods every single day.  Your body reacts to foods that it is exposed to often so why not stop this process?  So many people have a gluten-intolerance because wheat and gluten have found their way into EVERYTHING and so can be ubiquitous in our daily diet.  You could be ingesting wheat for every meal in the form of flour, oats, wheatgerm, etc. that could be found in anything from condiments to whole-wheat pasta.

How do we eat more variety?  I find the easiest way to do this is to take a trip down to Chinatown, where the markets offer a wide variety of different foods that are not common to the typical North American diet.  If you're lucky enough to live in Toronto, may I suggest the Lucky Moose on Dundas West?  It is here that you will discover the answers to the following questions:

What the heck is a dragon fruit?
How do you choose bok choy?
What is the difference between normal and Chinese broccoli?

Not sure how to prepare a certain vegetable? Try looking it up on youtube or google.  It may be a lot more simple than you think.  So, go ahead and grab a rutabaga. Bite into that delicious asian pear.  Once you begin discovering new and exciting tastes and flavours, you may never want to stop.

Happy discovering!

Monday, January 9, 2012

How to De-Stress with Nutraceuticals

Yes, you should have a de-stressing regime in play (such as exercise, meditation, journalling etc.) to keep the everyday stresses at bay, but what happens when you have a brief period of super stress?  For example, the Christmas season that just passed- you have exams, family get-togethers and not to mention stressful Christmas shopping!  In naturopathic medicine, we have discovered some handy herbal supplements called adaptogens that can help your body physiologically cope with the effects that stress has on our various organs.  In this post, I'm going to mention some adaptogens that me or my colleagues have found helpful in our own lives.  Please note that most adaptogens are only to be taken for a short amount of time (3 to 6 months), so be sure to check with your health professional if you would like to try one of these.

***Please remember that this blog is informative only and is not meant to diagnose medical conditions.  Please contact your holistic health care provider if you would like to try some of the suggested supplements so that they can guide you on their correct dosing and whether the product is right for you***  

1. Holy Basil
I was very impressed with a lot of aspects of this product, the number one being its efficacy.  I also noted the lovely dark glass bottle it came in (this will help preserve potency and give the product a longer shelf life) as well as the great taste of the softgels and how easy they were to swallow. A definite number one on my shelf. 

2. Relora
 Many companies make a Relora product, which is usually a proprietary blend of 2 herbs: Melissa officinalis snd Phellodendron amurense.  The above product also contains B vitamins, GABA and 5-HTP, which are all known to aid relaxation and combat the stress response in the body.  Highly recommended in the book, The Hormone Diet.

3. Anxiovita 
I got this homeopathic combination therapy as a sample during my first year, but I didn't use it until just this year during my midterms.  I found this product to be wonderful, easy to take and easy to carry around with me.  Something similar to this would be the Bach Flower Rescue Remedy.  Both are to be taken in acute situations of stress only and are not the best option to deal with long term stress.

4. Rhodiola rosea
A fantastic herbal supplement that is readily available in capsules or tablets. It not only helps you deal with stress, but it also helps deal with the lack of energy a stressful period can cause you.  A typical dose is 2 tablets a day, one taken in the morning and the other in the early afternoon.  This is because most people experience a surge of energy and this can affect sleep if taken too close to bedtime.

5. B- Complex Vitamin
A B-complex vitamin contains most (if not all) of the B vitamins, of which there are 11 in total.  B vitamins are incredibly helpful in regulating the stress response in the body and are also water-soluble, so there is little worry of taking too much as the excess is often expelled from the body in the urine.  That said, do not be alarmed if your urine is neon yellow.  This is the colour of the Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) in the formula.

Have a calm and stress-free day!

A Lover of Love

"Just because someone doesn't love you the way you want them to, doesn't mean they don't love you with everything they have"
Quote sound familiar? For most people, this quote is a fact that sums up their heartaches and leaves them feeling helpless and defeated.  A few years ago, I came across a book called The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.  Used correctly, it has the potential to change this quote from fact into fiction.

Chapman wrote the book on his theory that everyone expresses and recognizes love differently.  For example, you can think that love is someone tidying the house for you or grabbing you a cup of coffee (these are acts of service).  However, I could experience love as someone telling me how much they love me and want to spend the rest of their life with me (these are words of affirmation).  Often, how we feel love will be how we lavish love on someone else.  So, I will be telling you how much I want to be with you and you will be buying me coffee and taking out the trash but we will both feel unloved.  Why? Because we do not speak the same love language!

In order to ensure your partner feels love, you must discover their particular love language and then practice it.  When they feel loved, they will (in theory) also want to express love to you in your own love language, so you can feel love too! You can find out your love language from taking the quiz by clicking here.

If, however, you have been making the effort to show your partner love and they do not return it, you may have to step back and re-evaluate the relationship.  After all, if someone is not willing to make the effort to return your love, do they really want to be with you?

Have a love-filled day!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Sugar: The Bitter Truth

An new year, a new you. That seems to be the attitude that most people take on around this time of year. Usually they start by eliminating nasty habits.  I used to have a particularly nasty habit; I was a sugar addict!  I loved all things sweet and I would routinely indulge in lovely, sweet vegan goodies that were loaded with sugar (usually not the refined white kind, but still just as sweet).  I was completely addicted but I always assumed that because I was active and thin and the rest of my diet was very clean, I could carry on like this without experiencing any of the negative consequences.

In a book by Jack Challem called The Inflammation Syndrome, I read a very interesting take on refined sugars that had never occurred to me before. I quote:
"Refined sugars are the ultimate empty calories...[but are also] anti-nutrients because they deplete the levels of certain vitamins (particularly vitamin B1) that are needed to metabolize them."
So, sugar wasn't just adding more calories to my diet that my metabolism had to work off it was also robbing me of vitamins by simply being in my system!   I slowly began to change my ideas towards the amount of sugar I was constantly consuming but what made me finally change my sickly sweet ways?

This video by Dr. Lustig,  an MD that specializes in childhood obesity.

Now, my undergraduate degree was in biological sciences, so I have a better understanding of some of the biochemical pathways he touches on than most people. It's also an hour-long video so if, you do not share my background in science and are strapped for time, I also found this delightful video that summarizes his lecture in a very straight forward way.

If you have decided to give up the sugar rush, maybe these videos will inspire you to change your ways for good.  It may seem hard at first, but I promise it's all worth it!

Have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Book Review: The Field

I've had this book out on loan from the library for the past month, not because I am a slow reader or because this book is not enthralling; on the contrary, this book is so incredible that I am forced to put it down after every chapter and spend a day or two contemplating what I have just read.

If you have any interest at all in quantum physics or the magical happenings of the universe, I would highly suggest reading this book.  The book is made up of 3rd person anecdotes about experiments and experiences that relate to the connectedness of the universe and offers more plausible explanations about the unexplainable.  My brief synopsis doesn't do it nearly enough justice.  To all my colleagues who read this blog, go grab yourself a copy-it will help explain the basis of both homeopathic and traditional chinese medicine.

My favorite book so far, and that's including my Jack Kerouac novels (enough said).

Have a lovely day!

Product Review: Hurraw! (The BEST Lip Gloss EVER!!!)

The title of this post says it all.  I have discovered the most amazing lip gloss that also just happens to be raw, organic and 100% vegan!

I have been looking for Hurraw lip gloss for quite some time and recently found it in the Big Carrot, located in the Danforth.  Not only does this phenomenal lip gloss come in a ton of fun flavours (like root bear, vanilla float, black cherry etc.), but it also smells EXACTLY like the flavours, which is not too common in lip glosses these days.

I purchased the root beer flavour, a childhood favorite, and was pleased to report that the lovely smelling lipgloss was easy to apply (thanks to its unique oval shape, see below) and gave the most delightful, high powered, mirror-like sheen without being heavy or sticky.

The best part about this lipgloss? It is guaranteed not to melt in your back pocket.  I, of course, put it to the test and am very pleased to say that this is completely true.

Go buy yourself some Hurraw! to combat those chapped, winter lips-you'll also end up injecting some fun into your day.

Have a wonderful 2012!