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5 Gentle Ways to Beat the Winter Blues February 05 2016

Up here in the Northern Hemisphere our winter months can seem unending. The cold snap usually settles in by mid-October, and we can see snow all the way up until the month of May! You can imagine the kind of toll that takes on those of us who prefer a warmer climate. Even die-hard winter lovers (like me) can find the endless gray canvas to be monotonous and dreary, especially without a blanket of snow and icicle-laden branches to add some beauty to the landscape. Here are some gentle ways to beat the winter blues and keep your spirits lifted as we continue to move through these colder months. Special thanks to our nutritionist friend, Jackie McCaffrey, for these great suggestions.

winter blues

1. Vitamin D

In the winter months, if we aren't huddled together keeping cozy indoors, most of our bodies are covered up when we do venture outside. With all of this coverage, we don't get the benefits of the vitamin D we are used to when the weather is warmer. Recent studies also indicate that the further north you are in the northern hemisphere, the more likely you are to be vitamin D deficient. Supplementing your diet with high-quality Vitamin D can be hugely beneficial in fighting off disease, strengthening your body's natural calcium absorption, and boosting overall mental health. Be sure to speak to your healthcare professional and do your own research, as not all vitamin brands are equal, and you may need to pair some vitamin combinations to maximize their effectiveness. For example, vitamin D3 is vastly preferred over D2 because it is more efficiently processed by the kidneys, and it is widely recommended to take vitamin K and magnesium in conjunction with vitamin D.

2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids (especially from fish oils)

There is so much good going on with those Omega 3's, it's a bandwagon you need to get on! Some benefits of Omega 3 acids include anti-inflammatory effects, brain function support, immune support, and cardiovascular support, but our modern day diets are deficient in these fatty acids, which our bodies don't naturally produce. It's the brain function part that makes this supplement so helpful in combatting depression, and there's a ton of information about dosage and benefits. You can start with some of the links below.

3. Treat Your Body Well

If you're willing to take the time to research and embrace healthy dietary supplements, now would be a great time to consider your diet. The latest nutrition research suggests that a diet rich in healthy fats, vegetables, healthy sources of protein and low in simple carbohydrates is ideal for overall health. Making big change can be daunting, especially if you're already feeling low, but start slow. The internet is full of delicious, nutritious food ideas, recipes, and resources to help you attain optimal health. Our bodies are intimately connected to our minds, and what we put in them affects how we feel both physically and emotionally. You deserve to feel great inside and out, at any time of the year.

4. Get Moving

Twenty to thirty minutes of cardiovascular activity is proven to help support mental health, but generally speaking, I feel a bit ill at the idea of cardio. If you're anything like me, the notion of choking down the freezing cold air to go for a jog or dodging slushy, muddy puddles as you hope to heck you're not going to land in one seems like a really bad idea. The good news is that cardio is defined as anything that gets your blood pumping, and if you're creative, there are some great ways to incorporate cardio into your routine. Consider the vast amount of awesome YouTube exercise channels, or stock up on exercise DVDs from your local library to sample in the comfort of your living room. Remember, dance is a form of cardio too! There are all kinds of fun dance-based exercise workouts to be found (for free!) on the internet. If you're truly brave and know that you need to sign up for a class outside of the home to keep active, this is an awesome idea. It will be refreshing to get out of the house, and you might make new friends. You know what else is a great way to enjoy cardio, the cozy indoors, and extra heat? I'll give you a hint: it starts with an 's' and ends with an 'x'.

5. Self-Nurturing

If you are feeling lethargic, negative, anxious, depressed, achy, and just altogether bad for any prolonged amount of time (say more than a couple of weeks) take good care of yourself and speak to a trusted healthcare provider. Pay attention to your physical and emotional symptoms, and recognize the messages you are receiving from yourself. Slow down your routine where you can, or find meaningful ways to keep more busy and active, if that's what makes you feel better in the world. You know yourself best; trust your instincts about your own health and give yourself permission to make YOU a priority. Spend time treating your body with love. Take long baths with a great book, indulge in a shower gel that fills you with joy, book massages, get a haircut at a trendy barber shop, cook beautiful, healthy meals, have some good quality chocolate, only wear attractive loungewear when you are at home. Take some time and make a list of the activities that make you feel comfortable, cozy, happy, and safe. Consider this your hibernation time, and try to incorporate something from this list each day until the spring arrives.

Some Links for Further Reading:

Seasonal Affective Disorder and Light Therapy

Vitamin D and Fish Oil Omega 3

Natural Energy Boosting

Need Hope? Take a Walk March 23 2015

We’ve had a brutal winter, and I really try not to complain about the weather but the record-breaking freezing temperatures were even starting to get to me. I suppose that’s why the thaw has made my step so…well, springy.

Yesterday was heavy sweater and hat weather, and after a long commute home (working on Sunday, yikes!) I bundled up the kidlets who were all too happy for another opportunity to abandon chores and enjoy their rip sticks. We parents took the opportunity to enjoy a leisurely stroll down our secluded road, breathing in the fresh country air and I was amazed at how this brief, simple departure from our typical Sunday routine filled me with wonder and hope.

Here’s a little list of some of the early spring wonder I witnessed through the eyes of my children, particularly our toddler who is two and a half and in love with everything:

Puddles for jumping and splashing in

Mud for squishing under rubber-booted feet

Slushy, crunchy snow

Bubbly streams

Red-winged black birds who have returned

Mouse houses! We discovered these perfect little spheres of dried grass revealed by the melted snow and deduced that they must be little houses woven together by the mice. They were little wonders of architecture

Lambs at the farm next door. We couldn’t see them because the dirt road is currently a small river, but we could hear them bleating away in the barn

The squishy wonder of our melted snow saturated lawn

The endless joy of throwing stones into puddles

Silly walking competitions

The moist, healing smell of fresh spring air

The healthy dinner time appetite and deep, blissful sleep after time outside

If you’ve had the winter blues, treat yourself to a walk outside, in whatever green space you can find. Try to take it all in through the eyes of a child, and keep open to any discoveries that await you. Even in the most sprawling urban centers, change is happening and we can look forward to the return of warmth. What are the signs of spring in your neck of the world?


Slow Cooked Paleo and Vegetarian Meals March 02 2015

I count myself among the lucky that I get to work from home and spend my "office hours" gazing out across our wild, snow blanketed field. Today I've promised myself a romp in the woods after lunch, despite the knee-deep drifts of white. It will be good to cleanse my lungs with the crisp air and I can get my heart pumping too. On these rare occasions when I feel less like hibernating, I want to take advantage of these bursts of energy and come home to a simple, hearty meal that's already been prepared. That's why I love slow cooking; just throw it in the pot and then forget it until you're ready to sit down and eat. Today I've patched together some of our favorite hearty paleo and vegetarian slow cooked meals. I hope that you and yours will enjoy some of these!

Paleo Sesame-Orange Chicken With Cauliflower "Rice"

This flavorful dish takes about four hours in the crock pot and is served over mealy coconut infused cauliflower instead of starchy rice. Originally from the cookbook Against All Grain (and all of these are a real treasure!) we found the recipe on the blog Paleo Yummers. Pair this with some sauteed bok choi or Chinese broccoli and you'll have a real hit on your hands.

Paleo Beef Stew

A cold weather classic in our house, this simple and hearty beef stew is perfect on a bed of shredded kale with a glass of red wine. You can find the recipe here at Mom's Recipes.

Paleo Crock Pot Chilli

I love the simplicity and versatility of chilli, and it's always a crowd pleaser with the kids. You can substitute ground beef for the meat of your choice, or make this vegetarian by swapping the meat for the bulk of added legumes. I'm personally very fond of the crumbled bacon and chuncked avacado garnish! Get the recipe here at Paleo Newbie.

Slow Cooked Vegetarian Lasagna

I haven't tried this with gluten free pasta yet, but if you do please let us know how it works out! Use your crock pot to whip together a lasagna and whittle away the time it takes to make this family favorite. The recipe we've used can be found here.

Kale and Red Pepper Frittata

This isn't an overnight recipe, it comes together pretty quickly, but it's a perfect idea for brunch. My tummy is grumbling just looking at these photos! Find the recipe here at Kalyn's Kitchen.

Carrot Cake and Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

Nope, not a joke. Can you imagine anything so delicious? This recipe is both vegan and gluten free, so enjoy it before you start a busy day! Recipe and photo from 86 Lemons.

How Bees Can Help Your Mojo February 11 2015

A close up image of honey dripping from a beautiful woman's lips

Today we have the pleasure of a guest post from our friends at Beekeper's Naturals, a company based here in Canada passionate about preserving bee populations and promoting health through their line of bee products, including their popular propolis throat spray

We want to help you be the queen (or king) bee surrounded by hot worker bees that want to meet your every need. Consider this, in each hive there is only one queen bee and she will mate with 12-15 drones. That’s a lot of action! The queen will lay anywhere from 1500-2000 eggs per day which seems to indicate that bees are the Barry White of the insect world and may have some mojo that can be passed on to us humans!

Check out these 3 bee products to help ramp up your dating life.


Ever lean in for the kiss and get the cheek? One way to better your odds of getting some lip service is to keep your breath at its best. Propolis, the antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antifungal product produced by the bees has powerful effects on your oral health. In fact, Propolis has also been shown to be effective as a secondary treatment for gingivitis and plaque. Stock up on the propolis and get ready for a night to remember.

Bee Pollen

Once you’ve met Mr. or Mrs. Right, you might take it to the next level and get your groove on in the bedroom. Unfortunately, things like hormone imbalance and bad circulation can sometimes ruin the mood. There are many men and women out there who struggle with lowered testosterone levels, which can affect women’s ability to reach orgasm and can lead to a lowered sex drive and erectile dysfunction for men. The good news is that bee pollen which is a mixture of bee saliva and plant nectar contains gonadotropic and estrogenic properties, which help to regulate hormone levels, and has been known to improve sexual stamina. Pollen has also been shown to benefit circulation, which contributes to the body’s ability to reach orgasm by bring more blood to those essential areas.

Royal Jelly

You’ve met ‘the one’ and now you want to expand your perfect little family. An important tool for in your bee arsenal may be royal jelly. Royal jelly is honeybee secretion that is used as nutrition for the larvae and queen in the hive. Royal jelly (and bee pollen in fact) has been shown to be effective in cases of infertility. The jelly contains a complex compound that stimulates glandular secretion and normalizes the reproductive system of both women and men while bee pollen increases estrogen levels in women, which stimulates ovarian function and the release of healthy eggs during ovulation.

Remember, bees are amazing creatures who give us so much. Try some of the goodness they have to offer and then give back by learning how you can help keep bee populations thriving. Organizations such as the Canadian Honey Council, which is the voice of the Canadian beekeeping industry, and the American Beekeeping Foundation can give you information and a way to donate.

Follow the team at Beekeeper’s Naturals and stay up to date on the latest buzz through their Bee-log!

About Our Guest Blogger:

Jackie McCaffrey is currently studying Holistic Nutrition at the Institute for Holistic Nutrition in Toronto, Canada. She is passionate about using food and natural health products for healing and for reaching and maintaining a balanced and happy life. She is particularly interested in teaching and educating others and is excited to do so through her writing and speaking engagements. You can follow Jackie on twitter (@jaxmccaff), facebook (Jackie McCaffrey-Holistic Nutritionist) and Instagram (@Jaxmccaff).