First I suppose I should explain why I am writing about this topic. It just so happens that I was forced to learn more about natural remedies to use when dealing with a injured knee due to personal experience. I had recently been incorporating more walking and some running into my routine to recover my body from recent physical and mental stress. All the pieces of the puzzle were in place, great new shoes (which you will see in the pictures below) to accommodate my fallen arches and over-pronation and a routine that was just intense enough to get my physical body back into shape after some health challenges while giving me some much needed mental focus and relaxation. All that being said this was still a strain on my body and I could feel some tension in the medial (inside of the leg) ligaments in both my ankles and knees. This has been a recurring problem for me in the past due to my posture while exercising and compensating for the extreme pronation in my feet (tendency for the weight to roll to the inside of the foot). I thought that in time my body would adapt and strengthen as needed, then it happened…
I was merrily going about my evening relaxation routine, lounging in comfy clothes and getting ready to wind down with a good book when my kittys were anxiously waiting to come inside for dinner. At this point I was actually singing aloud some silly song I had made up about the cats coming in for dinner and I as I came up the two steps from our sunroom completely in another world of joyful delusion boom I hit the floor! Remember that part about the comfy clothes? well I was wearing a pair of sweat pants that albeit extremely cozy were about three sizes too big and too long consequently I tripped on them with all my weight landing on my left knee. At the time my merriment turned into a comical cry but I really thought nothing of it and picked myself up, along with the plant that suffered some damage on my way down, and continued on with my evening feeling some mild discomfort that faded by morning.
As I am often guilty of doing I went on with my exercise routine as planned and ignored the lingering pain in my knee until it got to the point where the swelling was unbearable and I could barely walk without a limp.
Finally I made my way to the doc’s office and she confirmed either a mild tear in my MCL (medial collateral ligament) or a severe strain and prescribed a combination of rest, anti-inflammatory pharmaceuticals. and supporting my knee with a brace until pain had subsided and the ligament was healed. Never one to give into medical convention I threw out the prescription for the anti-inflammatory drugs and my mind began racing of how I was going to heal this naturally with diet, supplements, home remedies and figure out a way to adapt my workout routine to accommodate an injury. So here’s what I did….
A friend and colleague mentioned that in Iran her family has used a traditional method of healing injuries to joints and bones with a paste made from egg yolk and tumeric. Being a nutritionist and lover of any natural home remedy I was very excited to try this and found amazing results. So simple and inexpensive this is a fantastic remedy to reduce swelling and inflammation, relieve pain, and speed the healing process.
All you need is one egg yolk, I used organic omega 3 eggs, and about 2 Tbsp. of tumeric powder, again I used organic tumeric to get the most healing benefits (in fact I use only organic spices to retain the potent healing properties often lost in traditionally processed irradiated spices, but that will be a topic for another post!)
Simply mix the egg yolk and tumeric into a paste and apply to the affected joint (do not apply to broken skin or open wounds).
I suggest doing this over a towel you don’t mind ruining and using some gloves. I learned this the hard way after cleaning up stubborn tumeric stains from our kitchen floor and having bright yellow stained hands for a good part of the day!!
Looks a bit gross I know!!
Then wrap the joint with a cotton cloth to cover, an old t-shirt cut into strips works best (organic white cotton is preferable to avoid dyes etc. penetrating the skin) and follow up by wrapping with a tensor bandage to give the joint some extra support.
You can leave this on for as long as possibly comfortable. When at home I left it on all day, worked out with it on, and even wore it under my pants when out and about seeing clients. When you are ready to remove the bandage I suggest doing this outside to avoid tumeric egg yolk crumbles all over your floor and bath tub, again a lesson learned the hard way. Your skin will be a glorious bright yellow hue, but don’t panic this will wash off in the shower and fade over time.
On the advice of my mother who always has home remedies for anything that ails you, I also took epsom salt baths daily with an added boost of a product called Alka Bath, which is a detoxifying mineral bath salt combination with semi-precious stones and by far one of my favorite products ever! After the baths I followed up with a castor oil massage on the affected knee, again on the advice of my wise mother. These treatments significantly helped with the pain, discomfort, and swelling phew!
In addition to an already 80-90% raw, extremely clean diet I wanted to add some specific nutrients that support joint and ligament health, specifically vitamin C, zinc, amino acids, and foods with anti-inflammatory properties. I went through my fridge and pantry and found some great foods that contain high levels of these nutrients and focussed on adding even more of these into my daily routine. Here are some of the gems I already had in my kitchen to aid my healing…
Pumpkin seed oil, which is high in zinc (this raw pumpkin seed oil is made from Styrian pumpkin seeds which is the best I have ever tasted, the actual raw Styrian pumpkin seeds are super yummy too!!) goji berries, golden berries, and red peppers all extremely good sources of vitamin C, bee pollen which is an excellent source of amino acids as well as a whole host of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes necessary for healing (Honeycombe Botanicals has the best bee pollen I have ever tried!!) , coconut oil which has amazing anti-inflammatory properties, and raw cacao which also has significant anti-inflammatory properties and an abundance of antioxidants necessary for healing.
As well as incorporating these foods I also have either a green juice, super smoothie or both daily, which is always a part of my routine but even more important when in the healing process.
enjoying green juice and day dreaming of running through the park someday day soon!
A typical green juice for me might include…
organic leafy greens such as lettuce, kale, arugula or other baby greens
organic parsley or other herbs such as dill or cilantro
organic freshly squeezed lemon juice
a pinch of sea salt, himalayan salt or Herbamare
and here’s what’s in my super healing smoothie…
1/4 cup Vega One
1/4 cup Sun Warrior Raw protein
1-2 tsp. Amazing Grass Superfood Greens (one of my favorite greens powders)
1 tsp. MSM powder (this helps with inflammation and pain)
1 tsp. of Vitamin C powder to aid healing
1-2 tsp. of Wurzelkraft (another one of my favorite superfood products which contains all the vitamins and minerals present in the body)
1 cup distilled water
And for the supplements.. here are a few of the things I added…
New Chapter Zyflammend, New Roots Herbal Infla-Heal Plus, Bio-Sil silica drops, and Hyaluronic acid
You will notice that I mention supplementation last because I strongly believe that natural supplements are wonderful additions to any protocol but they should be secondary to a healthy diet and lifestyle modifications. The supplements I have chosen to add to my healing regime are mainly to reduce pain, inflammation, and stiffness in my knee and provide a combination of proteolytic enzymes and essential nutrients needed to heal and remineralize the tissues in the knee joint.
I am also a huge fan of using homeopathic remedies to stimulate the body’s natural self healing process….
Traumeel and rhus tox were the right remedies for me however, you should always choose homeopathic remedies based on individual symptoms and it is best to consult a homeopathic practitioner to find the best remedies for your constitution and manifestation of symptoms.
And lastly this is how I modified my workout routine…
At first I could barely put any weight on my left leg so I thought this would be the perfect time to work on upper body conditioning and core strength. Before my workout I made sure my knee was supported properly with a tensor bandage and flexible knee brace, which is very important to prevent further injury (although I do not have the extra brace on in the picture below as my knee was feeling pretty good that day).
These are the new shoes I was referring to earlier
Then I used a combination of pilates and yoga mat exercises combined with upper body circuits with high reps and low weight done in a seated position. My traditional workouts, prior to injury, generally consisted of more functional fitness type moves with compound exercises but in this case I had to draw on my old school knowledge and figure out a way to get in cardiovascular training and strength conditioning without the use of my whole body. Once I could put more weight on my knee I also incorporated upper body cardio moves, boxing style which really got me working up a sweat. In the end I had some pretty fierce workouts without the use of my lower body, my core and upper body are very grateful for the experience.
So what did I learn from all of this? I definitely have reinforced a sense of confidence in my body’s own ability to heal, which has never failed me. I have learned that sometimes you need to be pushed out of your comfort zone and routine to learn new things about yourself and what you can achieve. I have learned that I have a culinary medicine cabinet in my kitchen just waiting to be called upon if needed and I have all the tools necessary for making self healing home remedies, with the exception of eggs and a few extra supplements, right in my own pantry. One of the biggest realizations was understanding that the importance of appropriate time for rest and time for movement need to be acknowledged, I suppose the Universe will keep reminding me of this lesson until I get it right! And finally for the most important lesson, retire those baggy sweat pants…I haven’t worn them since, boxer shorts and a warm blanket have become my new comfy cozy.
Michelle Waithe, BaSc., RHN, PTS Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel
As the lazy days of summer wind down and we get back into our hectic work and school schedules, maintaining a healthy diet can be a challenge. As a holistic nutritionist the number one request I get from clients is how to make healthy meals quick, easy, and above all delicious. Commercial advertising has taught us that in order to be convenient and tasty, food needs to be served from a drive-through window or ready in seconds in a microwavable package. As a result, many have come to view the art of meal preparation with fresh ingredients as effortful, expensive, and time consuming.
It is my passion to bring joy and love back into the kitchen, exploring fresh flavourful ingredients while creating optimal health. Here are my favourite strategies to make healthy eating an enticing adventure as well as a convenient part of your routine. Preparation is the key to daily success and commitment to your healthy eating goals! Even if you have already embraced a fresh, whole food diet you will find these simple ideas and recipes extremely helpful to streamline your routine.
Stock your pantry
Make sure to have healthy ingredients in your pantry at all times so that meal preparation is a smooth process:
– Organic BPA-free canned beans or legumes, organic vegetable stock either in powdered or Tetra Pak containers, whole grain crackers and pasta, and natural nut butters are great convenience items to have on hand.
– Dried herbs and spices, dried legumes, whole grains and whole grain flours, chia seeds, flax seeds, hemp hearts, goji berries and other dried fruit, raw nuts and seeds (keep these refrigerated if buying in larger quantities) are great sources of essential fatty acids, fibre, and vitamins/minerals.
– Fair trade cacao nibs and cacao powder, natural sweeteners such as coconut sugar, raw agave, maple syrup, or raw honey, coconut oil and other cold-pressed oils (refrigerate after opening), and natural Himalayan or sea salt are great for adding flavour and nutrition to any recipe.
Find your favourite cooking references
Keep one or two natural cookbooks in your kitchen to use as a reference for quick and easy meals. The New Enlightened Eating by Caroline Dupont, Get It Ripe and Ripe From Around Here by Jae Steele, and Meals That Heal Inflammation by Julie Daniluk are my go-to favourites.
• Bookmark websites for quick and healthy recipes. One of my favourites is http://www.beabetterbeing.comfeaturing the Mum’s Original line of superfood products.
Plan your meals for the week
• Once you have found a few recipes you really enjoy, plan out how to use them throughout the week and create a shopping list accordingly.
• Make larger batches of recipes like soups, stews, and dips that can be portioned and either refrigerated or frozen for quick meals and snacks.
Make a weekly shopping list
• Decide which day of the week will be your shopping day. Planning to shop during less busy times can make the experience much more pleasurable.
• Check your pantry before you shop and make a list of staple ingredients that are running low, as well as any new ingredients or fresh produce you will need for your recipes.
• You may need to shop twice weekly for produce to ensure optimal freshness; think of it as something to look forward to by exploring new ingredients you may have never tried before.
• Get familiar with your local health food store and farmers markets; many have regular sales and new specialty items to make your menus affordable and interesting. (See Vitality’s Guide to Organics)
Have a set meal preparation day each week
• This can either be on your shopping day or the day after.
• Take time to wash and chop fruit, vegetables, and greens and store in glass containers in the fridge. This will make it easy to choose healthy snack and meal options.
• Prepare larger batches of soups, stews, dips, and homemade energy bars for multiple meals and snacks during the week, or freeze for the weeks to come.
• Cook grains and legumes and store in sealed containers in the fridge. These can easily be turned into a wide variety of healthy meals in minutes with a few additional ingredients.
• Make sure to have a wide variety of containers available for storing ingredients and prepared foods.
• Glass Mason jars are great to store dry goods, such as legumes, grains, flours, and spices.
• Have freezer-safe containers on hand for storing larger batches of recipes.
• If using freezer bags or plastic containers use BPA-free varieties.
• Clearly label your batch storage recipes with the recipe title and the date made.
Healthy and Delicious Snacks
Snacking is another word that conjures up idealistic images appealing to our deepest food desires and cravings. Simply put, a snack is just a smaller portion of food. I challenge you to literally think ‘outside the box’ and come up with some creative snack ideas that will keep you energized throughout the day. Snacking is a great way to keep your blood sugar balanced and the metabolic fire burning.
Here are some of my favourite simple and nutritious snacks. Mother Nature’s package is the best there is!
• fresh or dried fruit
• raw vegetables with hummus or bean dip
• half an avocado drizzled with raw honey or homemade salsa
• celery with natural nut butter
• raw nuts and seeds, homemade trail mix
• homemade energy bars
• a smaller portion of any meal
If food preparation at home is completely new to you then start off with committing to a few days per week and source other ways to maintain healthy eating with a busy schedule. When you are pressed for time, heading out to a holistic market such as Nature’s Emporium in Newmarket or The Big Carrot in Toronto to pick up ready-made meals and snacks that adhere to the principles of whole foods eating is a convenient choice. If you find yourself unprepared or just craving something quick, healthy, and delicious there are many choices if you know where to look.
Meal Delivery Service
Another great option would be to source out healthy meal delivery services in your area. Most people think of this as an expense they simply cannot afford, but in reality it usually ends up being cheaper than buying the individual ingredients and is a great choice if health is your passion but cooking is not. As a consulting holistic nutritionist at Fuel Nutrition, a healthy meal delivery service in Toronto, I often recommend meal delivery to clients who are new to healthy eating, looking for convenience, or concerned that good food cannot be delicious. The use of fresh, natural ingredients free of artificial chemicals is paramount if you choose to add any pre-prepared meals to your routine so make sure to look for services that offer this as part of their philosophy.
No matter what your current lifestyle, there are many ways to incorporate healthy food even with the most hectic of schedules. Implementing these simple strategies will ensure that healthy eating is a part of your everyday lifestyle and a joyful addition to your routine. At the end of the day the better you nourish your body the more productive you will be, you will be equipped to keep up with the demands of daily life and create abundant health effortlessly.
Here are a few of my favourite recipes that can be made in larger batches and frozen for up to three months. Try one of these on your next food preparation day; doubling a recipe usually takes the same amount of time as making one batch and you will have enough for weeks of healthy meals and snacks.
(Makes 10 patties)
This recipe calls for a specific product created by the German biochemist, Dr. Peter Jentschura, called TischleinDeckDich (named after the famous European fairytale). This is just one of the doctor’s products created to alkalize and regenerate the body, promoting health, healing, and wellness.
- 3 Tbsp TischleinDeckDich (a convenient pantry item composed of quinoa, millet, and dehydrated vegetables available at health food stores)
- 1½ cups water
- 1 egg (as a vegan option use 1 Tbsp ground chia with 3 Tbsp water and let sit for 15 minutes)
- 2 Tbsp oat flakes
- Herbal or sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- Virgin coconut oil for pan-frying
This recipe was created by Caroline Dupont, author of The New Enlightened Eating. (Makes 6-8 servings)
- 2 Tbsp extra virgin cold-pressed olive oil
- Water or vegetable broth (enough to reach about 1 inch below the vegetables)
- 1½ cups sliced leeks or chopped onions
- 8 cups coarsely chopped green or yellow zucchini or a combination
- ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh parsley
- Sea salt and ground pepper to taste
Adapted from Meals That Heal Inflammation by Julie Daniluk, RHN. This cookbook is gluten-, refined sugar-, and dairy-free with 130 easy recipes that assist the body in the healing process. The berry muffins were created using almond flour and honey for those who are suffering from IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). (Makes 12 muffins)
- 2½ cups almond flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- ½ tsp grey sea salt or pink rock salt
- 1 Tbsp cinnamon
- ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3 large organic eggs (for a vegan version mix 3 Tbsp of whole chia seeds with 9 Tbsp water and let stand for 15 minutes in place of the eggs)
- ½ cup liquid raw honey or coconut nectar for a vegan version
- 1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup blueberries or raspberries, fresh or frozen
Adapted from http://www.beabetterbeing.com, a blog site developed by Ann Barnes to enlighten others about practical ways to make healthy food convenient and delicious. (Makes approximately 30 bars when cut into 4-inch squares)
- 2½ cups of almond meal or almond flour
- 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 cup hemp hearts
- 1/3 cup hemp protein powder
- 1/3 cup whole chia seed
- ½ cup goji berries or other dried fruit
- 2 Tbsp greens powder (optional)
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 3/4 cup melted coconut oil
- 1/3 cup raw coconut nectar or raw agave
- ½ tsp vanilla
Growing up my mum often had a few slices of green goodness on the side of her dinner plate which I curiously admired from afar. Although I was a child who loved all fruits and vegetables, thanks to the prodding of my older brother Bruce, I was a bit weary of the suspicious looking creamy green accompaniment to my mother’s meals. It was not until my adult years that I began my love affair with the avocado.
Still a bit skeptical about its benefits due to my ‘low fat‘ brain fog in the 90’s, I began to explore nutrition but hesitated to make avocados a regular part of my own diet due to the overwhelming panic that fat would make me fat. In this ‘fear the fat‘ phase of my life eating an avocado on the regular seemed like a crime against my self imposed dietary restrictions. Once the fog lifted, probably when I started eating good fats again and got my brain cells back, I was able to understand the full potential of nature’s healthy fats and how important they are in our diets. Fats in general have gotten a bad wrap and for good reason with all the highly processed junk out there but the mistake we have made is to bundle all fats into this category. Yes, we want to avoid refined and genetically modified oils and fats contained in processed products but our body needs healthy fats in order to function optimally. Fats are used in the body for cellular structure, producing hormones, insulation, and providing us with emergency reserves of energy. We now know that all fats are not created equal and healthy fats should come from mother nature’s garden, preferably in their unadulterated whole food form. Raw nuts and seeds, wild caught fish, coconut, and of course avocados are great choices and should be included in a well balanced diet in order to maintain optimal health. If you keep your portions reasonable and maintain a clean diet in all the other food group categories fats can actually help to balance your metabolism, fear fat no more just eat the good stuff!
So on to my love affair with the avocado. Many nutritional virtues have been bestowed upon this delicious green fruit. Besides being a great source of healthy fats, including a high concentration of the prized omega 3 fatty acids, avocados contain a number of anti-inflammatory compounds called phytosterols and polyhydroxylated fatty alcohols (PFA’s). These compounds work to regulate inflammation in the body which can have beneficial effects on everything from our cardiovascular system to inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Avocados also get a leading position on my superfood roster for their ability to regulate blood sugar due to a high fiber and low carbohydrate content, which gives them a starring role in my diabetes protocols. Containing high levels of antioxidants, especially carotenoids, is another reason to give the avocado praise. This mighty fruit will help protect you against free radical damage, which is responsible for the deterioration of cells, the aging process, and a contributing factor to many types of cancer. Avocados are also high in oleic acid which is needed for the optimal absorption of these carotenoids making them much more available to the body, funny how mother nature creates elaborate synergistic combinations in simple guise.
Besides the nutritional accolades avocados are just plain delicious and extremely versatile, you might be surprised by the hidden culinary attributes of your average avocado. We are all well versed in the traditional uses of avocados….
add to a salad yum!
make a guacamole, dee-lish!
slice and eat with a drizzle of raw honey…a little outside the box but seems approachable…
what about something a little more outside the box…
make chocolate avocado pudding…say what?
Raw Chocolate Avocado Pudding
2 ripe avocados
1/2 cup Mum’s Original Raw Cacao Powder
1/2 cup Ojio Raw Organic Agave Nectar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 cup water (less if you want a thicker consistency)
1/2 tsp. Mum’s Original Himalayan Rock Salt
- Add all ingredients to a food processor fitted with an ‘S’ blade or a Vitamix and blend until smooth.
- Refrigerate for 1 hour for a chilled version.
maybe a little avocado dairy free ice ‘creem’ on a hot summer night…are you serious?
Banana Basil Avocado Ice ‘Creem’
2 ripe avocados
2 medium sized frozen bananas (cut into chunks before freezer to make blending easier)
1 can Thai Kitchen Organic Coconut Milk
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/2 cup Ojio Raw Agave Nectar
1/4 tsp. Mum’s Original Himalayan Rock Salt
- Add all ingredients to a food processor fitted with an ‘S’ blade or Vitamix and process until smooth.
- Enjoy as a soft serve ice ‘creem’ or freeze for 1 hour for a firmer texture.
I have tried these two recipes with even the most discerning avocado skeptics and it fools them every time! Even kids who squirm at the thought of eating a squishy green avocado gobble these up none the wiser. These recipes are super simple and will inspire your own romance with the amazing avocado!
What is your favorite way to use avocados? I would love to share your recipes!
wishing a you a fresh, nutritious, and delicious day full of avocado goodness!
Holistic Nutritionist at Fuel