Seasonal Allergies

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For some, spring is a season to endure…

Ode to Dandelions

O dandelions!
You are so happy and unconventional.
Your ragged leaves furl out like wings;
Up pokes your sunny face and sings
Of summer and warmth.
You trick me, wicked things!
For beneath your yellow crown,
Hidden, is that dusty pollen–
The color of ripe earwax–
Which makes me mercilessly sneeze;
Till colder turns the breeze,
When your head becomes flaxen,
Full of downy fluff,
And away it flies!
I watch through puffy eyes,
As you escape in glee.

By “annwyndesfey

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Sneezing, itching, headaches, leaking eyes and nose…

While there are many pharmaceutical options to simmer down those annoying symptoms, an important question to ask might be whether or not these options have ever made those symptoms disappear for good? Just like cutting off the top of the dandelion won’t get rid of the dandelion, covering up the symptoms won’t get rid of the problem. In naturopathic medicine we believe that it is important to dig down as deep as we can to the root of the issue in order to heal the whole person. Why? Because these little annoying symptoms can be signs that something more might be going on, and it is important to eliminate the chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation that could lead to larger health complications down the road.

Allergic rhinitis is known as a type 1 or immediate hypersensitivity allergic reaction. In this type of reaction, your body’s IgE antibodies that have formed against the allergen (eg. pollen) cause certain immune cells to release histamine into your body causing the various symptoms you may experience.

So how do we make this go away?

I’ll share a few ideas, but it is important to remember that every person is different and needs to be treated so. An often-used metaphor is the bucket analogy. We can think of our bodies as a bucket that can fill up with various junk from all sorts of places. While our bodies have some defences against this, if our buckets get too full it can overwhelm these defences and suddenly various health conditions start to show up. So, in a very oversimplified way, if we decrease our bucket load we can clear up some overflow issues. Here are a few ways we can help out our bodies:

  1. First, and perhaps most obviously, avoid what you are allergic to! And if you don’t know, get tested.
  2. Often, people who experience seasonal allergies also have food sensitivities. Following an elimination diet to discover hidden allergies will improve symptoms in most people
  3. Good quality probiotics have been shown to help by strengthening the immune system and increasing protection from invading allergens
  4. Specific helpful nutrients: omega 3, bioflavonoids, quercetin, bromelain, vitamin C, N-acetylcysteine, zinc…
  5. Nutrition: Juice foods that are rich in quercetin, bromelain, Vit C and bioflavonoids (citrus fruits, pineapple, apple, berries, mint, ginger, turmeric). Incorporate onions, garlic, ginger, dark leafy greens and yellow and orange veggies into your every day diet. Increase water. Avoid refined foods, dairy, sugar, wheat, red meat, alcohol, caffeine.
  6. Specific herbs: urtica dioca (nettle), petasites hybridus (butterbur -caution to use pyrrolizidine alkaloid free extract and don’t use if allergic to ragweed family), euphrasia officinalis (eyebright), silybum marianum (milk thistle), sambucus nigra (elderflower), achilliea millefolium (yarrow)…. These can be taken as teas or tinctures. Nettle tea is easy to find in stores – add some raw grated ginger, lemon and honey and you’re set!
  7. Hydrotherapy: cold cloth on the forehead, hot foot bath, nasal lavage, constitutional hydrotherapy
  8. Other things your ND may be able to offer you: acupuncture, sublingual immunotherapy, homeopathics, a spring detox

Every individual is different in their health history and lifestyle and for this reason it is so important to see your doctor so that they can implement a plan that will work specifically for you. Remember that certain health conditions and medication lists require special attention, so for your safety it is best not to treat yourself!

In the meantime, I hope these ideas will inspire you and give you hope to know that perhaps one day you will be singing a happier tune when the flowers start to bloom.

Ode to a Worm

Oh worm, why do you turn into the earth from me?
Tis spring oh worm!
Lift up your head, which ever end that be, and smile at the sun
Untwine your naked form and fling the dirt high in ecstasy!
Tis spring, tis spring, tis spring…

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References:

http://ndnr.com/autoimmuneallergy-medicine/allergic-rhinitis-a-review-naturopathic-treatments/

http://www.naturopathic.org/content.asp?contentid=117

http://www.altmedrev.com/publications/5/5/448.pdf

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/allergic-rhinitis

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Nutritious Toddler Snack Ideas

I call my toddler my little teenager. He seems to always have his head in the refrigerator and he loves to eat! I have been working hard to give him nothing but the highest standard of healthy that I know of and now I cannot help but to get a little smile on my face when he closes the fridge door holding a cucumber saying, “peese, peese?!” 

In his first two years (he will be 2 in a couple months), I have been training his little developing taste buds to enjoy healthy food choices. [You can find some info on solid food introduction here.] I have introduced him to a wide variety of colours, textures, and tastes and have kept him away from sugar, candy, fast food, processed foods, dairy and wheat. So far he will eat just about anything I give him, which I am so grateful for, and he is growing into a strong boy with no health concerns to speak of!


 

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” Hippocrates

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” Ann Wigmore

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” Thomas Edison


Here are a couple of great tips on how we can encourage our toddlers to eat well. And remember the “golden rule for happy meals”: you decide what food is served and when it’s served and your toddler decides whether they’ll eat and how much.

The following is a list of some of my son’s favourite snacks or lunches. I hope you will find it helpful when trying to appease your little one’s appetite!


 

  • Fresh fruit and veggies of all shapes, sizes, variety, and colour!
  • Fresh juice – a deliciously sneaky way to get those greens in!
    • Apple, pear, citrus, melon, carrot, ginger, beets, greens, mint…

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  • Smoothies
    • Frozen berries, mango/peach/pear/banana, spinach/bok choy/kale/swiss chard, water/coconut water/cashew milk/hemp milk
    • More add ins: avocado, coconut cream, raw cashews soaked overnight, nut butter, chia seeds, hemp hearts, coconut oil, powdered probiotics, gelatin…
  • Homemade Bread or Rice Crackers with spreadable goat cheese or nut butter or bean or hummus dip (see below)
  • Hummus or Bean Dip or Sweet Potato Mash:
    • Blend in food processor 2 cups black beans or garbanzo beans, 1 clove garlic, 2 TBSP olive oil, 1 TBSP each of fresh lemon juice, tahini, 1 nutritional yeast (optional), and water, pinch of salt
    • Or blend butternut squash with 1 cup garbanzo beans, 1 TBSP tahini, 1 tsp cinnamon, 2 TBSP maple syrup, 1/2 tsp salt
    • Boil sweet potato chunks with red lentils and apple chunks until soft. Serve as is or mash together with salt, tahini, cinnamon, and maple syrup
    • Note: you can add in cooked greens to these as well!
  • Healthy homemade zucchini/carrot/beet/nut bread (example)
  • Banana Crisps
    • Puree 2 small ripe bananas, 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, and half of a lemon squeezed
    • Bake for around 30 minutes, flipping partway through, at 300 degrees F or until hardened and browning
  • Dehydrated fruit or fruit leather
    • Slice bananas, apples, or strawberries thinly
    • Or make a fruit puree with a touch of lemon and honey to taste (no honey if your child is under 1 year old)
    • Place slices or spread puree about 1/8-1/4 inch thick onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper
    • Dehydrate in oven at 170 degrees F overnight with the oven open a crack or for about 8-10 hours. Slices may need to be flipped.
  • Frozen fruit drops
    • Drop pureed fruit by the teaspoon onto parchment paper and freeze
  • Frozen fruit juice/puree pops (I make mine in these silicone molds)
  • Frozen fruit ‘ice cream’
    • Blend frozen berries/banana/mango/peach until creamy
  • Gelatin gummies, fruit snacks, or pudding
  • Sardines (packed full of protein, B vitamins, selenium, omega 3, and calcium!) -remember, even if you don’t like them, it doesn’t mean that your toddler won’t!
  • Boiled egg – simple, easy to pack for a snack away from home (assuming no allergy)
    • or egg fried with goat cheese, spinach, leftover rice…
  • Root Veggie Wedges (potato, sweet potato, parsnip, turnip, rutabaga, beet, carrot)
    • Peel and slice veggies into wedges
    • Mix in large boil with olive oil and spices (ex. salt & pepper, garlic powder, rosemary, or cumin, coriander, ginger, paprika, turmeric, etc.)
    • Place spaced out on baking sheet covered in parchment paper
    • Cook at 375 for about 15-20mins, flip and cook another 10 minutes or so – until both sides are crisp (cooking time depends on size of slices & type of veg so watch carefully!)
  • Kale chips
    • Wash and dry torn leaves (no stems)
    • Mix in bowl with olive oil and garlic powder and salt
    • Cook on baking sheet covered with parchment paper at 375 F, flipping once, until crisp (time varies – watch carefully)
  • Toasted Chickpeas
    • Rinse and drain chickpeas, season with olive oil and Herbamare (or your favourite spices), cook at 450 degrees F on baking sheet covered in parchment paper for ~15-20mins (a sweet variation: oil, honey, and cinnamon) (no honey if your child is under 1 year old)
  • Power Balls

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I’m sure that I will keep revising this list as I go, but for now there are some ideas! I would love to hear what some of yours are too – please share below!

 

Power Balls

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Ingredients:

  • 6 soaked medjool dates
  • 4 TBSP coconut oil
  • 2 TBSP raisins or goji berries
  • 3/4 cup seed mix (hemp, chia, sesame, sunflower, pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup quick oats
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/4 cup nut or seed butter
  • 1 TBSP cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp each cinnamon, cardamon, salt

Directions:

  • Blend all in food processor. Shape into small balls and refrigerate or press into small cake pan and slice into squares after refrigerated for a couple hours.

Brown Rice Crackers

Simple. Easy. Crunchy. Yummy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 TBSP flaxseeds (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup water

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a large baking sheet.
  • In bowl or food processor, mix flour, rice, flaxseeds, salt, and oil until combined.
  • Add water a little at a time until dough holds together.
  • Turn out onto floured surface and knead a few times to form a ball. Press or roll dough onto prepared baking sheet to 1/8-inch thickness.
  • With a sharp knife, score dough into 1 1/2 inch squares.
  • Bake 20-25 minutes, or until bottoms are golden brown.
  • Cool before removing from pan.

 

Recipe from “The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook” by Cathe Olson

Quinoa Cakes

Packed with nutrition, these are a great make ahead meal to have on hand! Just cook, freeze, and when in need, pop in the toaster oven for a quick and healthy snack!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 carrot or an equal portion of sweet potato
  • half of a zucchini
  • 1 cup dark leafy greens
  • 3 cups cooked millet or quinoa or brown rice (rinsed and cooked in vegetable stock)
  • 1 egg or 1 flax/chia egg (1 TBSP ground flax or chia + 3 TBSP water)
  • 1/4 cup soft goat cheese
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats ground in coffee grinder into flour
  • 3 TBSP tamari sauce
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP Italian seasoning mix
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  • Puree first 5 ingredients in food processor.
  • Combine with the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl.
  • Place 1/3 cup scoops – formed into balls and flattened – onto baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
  • Bake at 400 degrees F for about 15mins per side or until brown.

 

Quinoa Greek Salad

 

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 cups cooked quinoa, millet, or brown rice (rinsed and cooked in veggie broth)
  • 1 cup diced cucumber
  • 3/4 cup diced cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup cubed or crumbled goat or sheep feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced green olives
  • 1-2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Combine all in bowl and serve!