Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Healthy Holiday Swaps

Create healthy, festive meals this holiday season to keep you and your family from indulging in too many unhealthy treats. Read on to satisfy your cravings without the guilt.

  The holidays are a time to celebrate, get together with loved ones and of course indulge in our favourite festive foods. Sometimes it's easy to get a little too carried away in the indulgences and we end up eating more processed or sugar laden foods than we wanted. These recipes will below will help keep your meals wholesaled food centric and your desserts healthier. 

Coconut French Toast

  Start your Christmas morning on with a hearty breakfast to get you through the day. By eating a filling breakfast, you won't feel as hungry throughout the day, therefore you won't over indulge in snacking. This recipe also gives you a hint of sweetness with cinnamon, stevia and maple syrup, without spiking your blood sugar.


2 whole eggs, or use equivalent of egg substitute combined with nutritional yeast
2 slices of sprouted bread
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon + more for sprinkling on top
1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
A pinch of stevia


  • In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon and stevia 
  • One slice at a time, dip a piece of sprouted bread into mixture- ensure it's fully coated on each side- Note: If you like soggier french toast, place both pieces in at a time and let them sit for a few minutes before flipping.
  • Once done, place on a baking sheet and top both slices with shredded coconut, sprinkle with extra cinnamon
  • Bake in the oven for roughly 10 minutes, or until egg has fully baked and the toast is a light brown/golden colour. 
  • Serve hot & enjoy!
  • Top toast anyway you like it. We enjoy it with warm berries and a light drizzle of pure, organic maple syrup or manuka honey. 

Non Potato Maple Mash

  Add extra vegetables to your holiday meal by substituting mashed potatoes for mashed turnips! They have the same consistency and with a taste this good, no one will be missing the other. 


3 medium raw turnips, chopped
4 cups carrots, chopped
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp extra virgin coconut oil 


  • Chop carrots and turnips into smaller pieces, making it easier for them to soften faster. Place in a large pot filled with water, bring to a boil over medium heat.
  • After roughly 20 minutes, vegetables should be soft. Pierce them with a fork to test if uncertain. Remove from heat, drain the water. 
  • Place vegetables in a large bowl, add in maple syrup and coconut oil. Mash with a hand masher. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper
  • Serve hot!

Creamy Broccoli Vegan Risotto  

  Forgot the stuffing this year and make this whole food, gluten free alternative instead! Pairs well with any main dish and there's no pressure to make a full turkey if it's a small get together. 


1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup chopped red onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white cooking wine or water
2 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice 
1-1.5 cups risotto rice
3 cups gluten-free vegetable broth
2 cups non-dairy milk
3 cups chopped broccoli florets
Pinch of sea salt
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
3 green onions, chopped


  • Sauté onion and garlic in large pan over medium heat until onions are tender
  • In another saucepan, over medium heat, bring dairy-free milk and broth to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and let simmer
  • To onion mixture; add white wine or water and lemon juice. Keep on heat until all liquid has been cooked away
  • Add rice to onion mix. Gently cook over low-medium heat for a few minutes
  • Measure out 1 cup of broth and pour into rice. Bring to a gentle boil, stirring just enough so it doesn't burn
  • Once that broth is absorbed, repeat the process with measurements of 1/2 cup of broth at a time. 
  • Keep 1.5 cups of broth in saucepan and add broccoli. Keep repeating process until all broth is absorbed and broccoli is tender.
  • Serve hot and garnish with green onions
You can make this dish ahead of time and store in fridge for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. 

Sugar Free Cacao Truffles 

  This seasons most decadent dessert just got an upgrade! Put a healthier spin on your holiday dessert with these guilt free, sugar free truffles.


Chocolate Butter:
1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
2 tbsp grape seed oil
3 tbsp cacao powder
5 drops stevia concentrate
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup extra virgin coconut oil
100g cacao paste or unsweetened dark chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup cacao powder, divided
1 tsp alcohol free pure vanilla extract
25 drops stevia concentrate 


Chocolate Butter:
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix until fully combined. 
  • Tip: Sometimes sunflower butter can be a little oily, if this is the case, adjust the recipe by removing the grapeseed oil. Set aside. 
  • Over low heat, melt coconut oil and stir in cacao paste, coconut palm sugar and chocolate butter. Stir consistently to avoid burning or sticking
  • Once combines, slowly add half of cacao powder, making sure it's fully incorporated before removing the pan from heat
  • Stir in remaining ingredients and place in fridge for 2-3 hours- you want the mixture to be a little more firm and easier to handle
  • Place remaining cacao powder in a small dish. Set aside
  • Using hands, take the firm mixture and create bite sized truffle balls
  • Roll in the cacao powder and place on a serving dish or in an airtight container. Repeat until all mixture is gone. 
  • Serve right away or store in fridge/freezer until you're ready to serve! 

  Healthy doesn't have to mean sacrifice. These healthy swaps aren't only loaded with ingredients and superfoods that are good for you, they're also loaded with flavour. These healthy alternatives will satisfy your cravings and keep you healthier too. Happy Holidays from National Nutrition!

Friday, December 13, 2019

Essential Oils for the Holidays

Winter is getting colder, which means it's time to get cozier indoors. Turn your home into a serene, cozy, winter wonderland to help you wind down from the day and spend some quality time relaxing and rejuvenating for the next day. These holiday essential oil blends will keep you in the spirit, help combat insomnia, stress and keep you energized. 

  When trying to wind down from a hectic day of work, shopping, baking or parenting, essential oils are a great way to turn your atmosphere into a cozy place where you can escape and relax. These popular holiday oils smell great when diffused and help purify the air. So your home will not only smell like a scene from the Nutcracker, but will be clean and fresh during cold and flu season. 


Pine Oil

  Pine oil has many great antibacterial and purifying benefits. It's scent is fresh and smells woodsy, earthy, sharp and aromatic. Upon smelling it, you are instantly brought to a fresh, Canadian forest. Pine oil is a great oil to blend around the holidays because it smells fresh, purifying and if you have an artificial tree, it will give your home that Christmas tree aroma. Pine oil smells great on its own or mixes well with Eucalyptus, Frankincense, Grapefruit and Juniper oils. To have your house smelling like a traditional holiday and help you and your family breathe easier during this season, diffuse this Christmas Blend below. 

     Christmas Blend
  • 2 drops of Pine oil
  • 1 drop of Eucalyptus oil
  • 4 drops Frankincense oil
  • 2 drops Sweet Orange oil 

Frankincense Oil

  Frankincense oil has been tied to the Christmas season because it is believed that one of the wisemen brought Frankincense oil to baby Jesus, so of course it made our holiday essential oil list. Frankincense oil is known for its calming and meditative properties. Its scent is balsamic, sweet and citrusy. Frankincense oil is a great oil to blend around the holidays because it smells fresh, and it's calming and meditative which can help ground you in stressful situations. Frankincense oil smells great on its own or mixes well with Lavender, Orange, Clary Sage, Ylang Ylang and Basil oils. Blend our Drummer Boy diffuser mix to bring all the holiday scents into your home and create a calming, serene oasis during the season. 

      Drummer Boy
  • 5 drops of Frankincense oil
  • 2 drops of Cinnamon oil
  • 2 drops of Clove oil
  • 5 drops of Vanilla oil

Cinnamon Oil   

 Cinnamon oil is warm, robust and makes your home smell like fresh baking. Cinnamon is used in many drink and food recipes during the holidays, so diffusing this oil will bring festive feelings into your home or office space.  Cinnamon oil is known for its stimulating and cleansing properties. Its scent is sweet, spicy and aromatic. Cinnamon oil is a great oil to blend around the holidays because it can warm you up on a cold Winter's day. Cinnamon oil smells great on its own or mixes well with Bergamot, Clove and Frankincense oils. Blend this Dolce Latte diffuser mix in the morning to energize your day with scents of the holidays.

     Dolce Latte
  • 2 drops of Cinnamon oil
  • 4 drops of Coffee oil
  • 2 drops of Clove oil 

Clove Oil

  Clove oil is warming and stimulating which will transform your space into a cozy winter cabin. Clove oil is known for its cleansing and purifying properties. Its scent is spicy, woodsy, herbaceous and sweet. Clove oil's spiciness will make you feel warm and cozy, just like when sipping on hot apple cider. Clove oil smells great on its own or mixes well with Basil, Bergamot, Cinnamon, Lavender, Orange, Peppermint and Rosemary  oils. Blend this holiday diffuser mix to help keep the air in your home or office clean and pure during Winter's cold and flu season. 

Holiday Blend
  • 4 drops of Clove oil
  • 3 drops of Cinnamon oil
  • 6 drops of Sweet Orange oil
  • 4 drops of Pine oil 

Sweet Orange Oil

  Sweet Orange oil is uplifting and invigorating, which will help keep you energized during the end of year rush. Orange oil is known for its cleansing, stimulating and energizing properties. Its scent is sweet, fresh, tangy and citrusy. Orange oil is reminiscent of holiday mandarins and orange flavoured beverages and chocolates. Sweet Orange oil smells amazing on its own, but also blends with Ylang Ylang, Frankincense, Cinnamon, Clove and other citrus oils. Blend this Home for the Holidaze diffuser mix to help keep your home or office space fresh and you energized.

     Home for the Holidaze
  • 8 drops of Sweet Orange oil
  • 5 drops of Black Pepper oil
  • 5 drops of Ginger oil
  • 4 drops of Clove oil
  • 4 drops of Cinnamon oil

Cedarwood Oil

Cedarwood oil has excellent purifying, decongesting and sedative properties to help you get a restful nights sleep. Its scent is woodsy, spicy, balsamic and fresh. Cedarwood oil has an amazing aroma, just like the Cedar tree itself. When making essential oil recipes, it blends well with Rosemary, Ylang Ylang, Clary Sage and Bergamot oils. This Worry Less Holiday blend will make your space feel calm and help you fall fast asleep to rest well. 

      Worry Less Holiday Blend
  • 3 drops of Cedarwood oil
  • 4 drops of Chamomile oil
  • 3 drops of Frankincense oil

Ginger Oil 

Ginger oil is known for its stimulating and decongesting properties. Ginger oil has a spicy, woodsy, earthy and sweet scent, which makes it a great oil to blend around the holidays. Ginger oil helps to stimulate the appetite, so this is an excellent oil blend to diffuse before a party or holiday meal; just make sure to cook lots of food! Ginger oil blends well with Allspice, Patchouli, Rose and Sandalwood oils as well as Lemon, Clove and Cinnamon. This stimulating and purifying Ginger Spice diffuser mix will help you breathe easier during cold and flu season and help keep the party going with its appetite stimulating properties. 

     Ginger Spice
  • 6 drops of Ginger oil
  • 4 drops of Lemon oil
  • 6 drops of Clove oil
  • 5 drops of Cinnamon oil 

Nutmeg Oil 

  Nutmeg oil is known for its cognitive, digestive and insomnia supporting properties. Nutmeg oil has a fresh, warm, spicy and sweet scent. Nutmeg oil helps with digestion, making it a great oil to diffuse after your big holiday meals. Nutmeg oil also helps combat feelings of insomnia and helps with cognitive health, blending this oil before bed will help you get a restful nights sleep so you can feel mentally and physically prepared for the next day. Nutmeg oil blends well with Lavender, Orange, Black Pepper, Eucalyptus and Ginger oils. Blend this Gingerbread House diffuser mix to keep your space smelling warm and relaxing.
     Gingerbread House Blend:
  • 3 drops of Nutmeg oil
  • 3 drops of Ginger oil
  • 2 drops of Cinnamon oil
  • 2 drops of Clove oil 
  • 2 drops of Vanilla oil 
  These essential oil blends will help support feelings of stress, low energy, brain fog and insomnia that may come at this busy time of year. These blends will keep your home or office smelling warm and fresh as well as put some pep in your step, make you feel invigorated and energized and keep you feeling festive. 

Friday, December 06, 2019

How To Beat Holiday Stress

The holiday's and end of year wrap up can lead to unwanted stress, fatigue and burn out; here are some ways to help you cope during this hectic time of year.

  Let's face it, the holidays can bring on a slew of mixed feelings. At the beginning of the season we are joyful, filled with hope and are cheery as we set up our tree, place the elf on a shelf and turn on our twinkling lights. We set our sights on a delicious Christmas meal where we feel like Martha Stewart and envision ourselves ticking off the holiday gift list like a boss. We see ourselves breezing through all the holiday parties and concerts and for a moment, it looks reminiscent of a Hallmark Christmas movie. Then reality sets in and you're child just told you they need a dress shirt for their Christmas concert that's in 8 hours, the dish you planned on preparing for the office party burned as you were trying to bake and cook at the same time, your in-laws decided to arrive early and next thing you know, you're standing in the shopping centre yelling at some poor sales clerk because the item you wanted was suppose to be on sale and someone just bought the last honey glazed ham. We've all been there, this time of year can feel overwhelming to say the least. However by staying healthy, leaving room for some me time and making a budget, this time of year can once again feel merry and bright. 

Staying Healthy During the Holidays:

  This time of year is filled with temptation and with lack of time, it's easy to fall into unhealthy ways. By using these tips to stay on top of your health, you will feel prepared mentally and physically to take on the holidays.

Feed Your Brain
  Stress starts with our mental well-being; when we don't fuel our brain with the right nutrients and vitamins, we can't stay focused, clear headed or at ease. These three amino acids are a powerhouse at supporting your cognitive health to give you an edge up on staying cool, calm and collected.

L-Theanine: Theanine is able to cross the blood brain barrier, giving it a strong affinity for the brain and central nervous system. Among its psychoactive properties, Theanine has been shown to reduce mental and physical stress, improve cognition and mood, as ell as support insomnia, specifically for those who can fall asleep initially, but have trouble staying asleep throughout the night. Click here to learn more. 

GABA: GABA is a non-essential amino acid because the body make GABA on its own, but during stressful time, GABA production can be lower and being a precursor for Serotonin, you may start to feel the effects of stress more. GABA is a brain chemical that regulates the electrical conduction of the brain. It stops brain cells from overfilling by binding to receptor sites and blocking the activity of stimulating neurochemicals. This leads to relaxation of the mind and body. Click here to learn more. 

5-HTP: 5-HTP is also a precursor to Serotonin and Melatonin. Serotonin is a hormone and neurotransmitter that's responsible for regulating appetite and creates feelings of well-being and happiness. Melatonin is a hormone that regulate our sleep/wake cycles. Optimal levels of melatonin allow our bodies to have restorative sleep to feel rested the next day. 

Fuel for Energy:
  Now that your mind is taken care of, it's important to ensure you're eating the right foods to provide enough energy to tackle your to do list. These tips will help keep you satiated and keep your hanger at bay. 
  • Eat light meals often. This keeps your metabolism active, the energy boost from food and nutrients often keeps you from feeling fatigued and your body won't spend a lot of energy on digesting a large meal. Ever notice after you eat heavy meals you get tired? That's because most of your body's energy is going into digestion rather than keeping you active.
  • Carry power bars with you when shopping. Carrying bars, nuts or energy bites with you will help tide you over until you can eat properly. They will also keep you from grabbing junk food on the go.
  • Eat foods rich in fibre, protein, healthy fats and nutrients. Have green vegetables, brown rice, oatmeal or quinoa, lean proteins and fish as much as possible during this time of year. These foods will help keep your energy up and keep your brain from getting fatigued. 
  • Stay hydrated. It's easy to forget to drink water and rely on caffeine to get you through the day when you're being pulled in a million directions. Ditch the dehydrating coffee for an energy boosting smoothie and keep water with you on the go, you will feel more energetic, get more done and feel happier overall for it. However, if you must really have the coffee, make a deal with yourself to drink 1 litre of water first. 
  • Make time for exercise. Exercising boosts your mental clarity, mood and energy levels. Whether it's hitting the gym, weight room, yoga studio or simply taking a brisk walk outside, elevating your heart rate daily will help your mind stay sane and your body stay strong. 
  By eating well and exercising during the days leading up to the holidays, you will help keep your body in optimal condition to battle any stressful situation that may come your way. 

Take Some Time for Yourself:

  During this time of year, we focus on everything and everyone but ourselves. While this is a season known for giving, if we don't take care of ourselves, we will feel exhausted, resentful, stressed and burnt out. Here are some ways you can take 10-30 minutes everyday to yourself so you can breeze through the holidays stress free.

  • Wake up 10 minutes earlier to enjoy your breakfast, tea or coffee in peace.
  • Practice meditating or deep breathing for 10 minutes each morning or list 3 things for which you are grateful.
  • Take 30 minutes to practice yoga, stretch or go on a brisk walk.
  • Take some time to do something you love; whether it's drawing, reading or watching your favourite holiday film. 
  • Run yourself a warm bath infused with Lavender, bubbles and relax with a face mask and your favourite holiday music.
  • Diffuse this stress busting essential oil blend: 10 drops Sweet Orange oil, 5 drops Cinnamon oil, 6 drops Nutmeg oil, 5 drops Pine oil and sit back and relax. *(if you have pets make sure essential oils are deemed safe to diffuse around them).*
  Taking time to indulge in the things you love or treating yourself to a relaxing 15 minutes will help make a huge difference in what you're able to give. 

Budgeting Time, Money and Energy  

  There are many triggers that cause stress during the holidays. For some it may be time, finances or feeling run down and overwhelmed and for others it may be a mix of any of the three. It's important to know which triggers bring on the most stress and manage them accordingly. Here are some ways to help ease the stress on the situations that make you feel like you're spiralling out of control. 

  • Make a list of all the things that you have to do or that are going on. Order them from most important to least important. Next to each item, write a number on a scale of 1-5 as to how stressed that task makes you feel or the emotion you feel when thinking about attending the event (1 being not excited- 5 being super excited). Cross out anything that brings less than a level 3 excitement and spread out the situations that cause the most stress. 
  • Learn to say NO. It's ok to say no to invites, parties or concerts. You have to remember to not stretch yourself too thin and take care of your well being too. You can say no or you can alternate which parties you attend each year to help split up the time commitments. 
  • Delegate what you can to friends or family and if you don't have time to bake 100 cookies for the bake sale, go to the local store and buy baked goods. Yes they won't be homemade, but at least you'll have your sanity. 
  • Make a list of all the gifts, party favours, cooking and baking supplies; basically everything that you can think of that will cost money. 
  • Make another list of your monthly income and expenses and when you have your disposable income, put aside 15-20% for yourself and savings and then you can see what you realistically have to spend on the holidays without going into debt. 
  • From your disposable income, budget out how much you can afford to spend on each gift and event that you actually want to go to and make adjustments when needed. Or suggest a secret Santa gift exchange for your distant or immediate family to help cut costs during the holidays. 
  • Make a shopping list and if something's on sale, get it for multiple people from different social circles. Remember to stick to your list when you hit the stores. 
  • If you must use credit cards, make sure to set lower limits on it for the holidays so you don't get carried away and end up creating unnecessary debt-stress for yourself in the new year. 
  • Using your list of commitments and to-do list, the tasks that feel more overwhelming or stressful, schedule one of those tasks a day and leave a day in between where you get less stressful things done. This will help you from feeling like you are losing control and diminish feelings of overwhelm. 
  • Schedule in breaks for yourself to sit and breathe, eat, stay hydrated and do something you enjoy. 
  • Ensure you're leaving enough time to get adequate sleep. 
  • Remember to leave the list at home when spending family time and stay in the moment. By making a schedule, you will know everything will be handled so you don't have to stress about things not being done. 
  With these tips and tricks, your holidays are bound to be a little less stressful so you can enjoy this time of year and get into the holiday spirit. Remember what this time of year is really about and spread kindness wherever you go. By taking some stress off yourself, you will feel more revitalized, energetic, healthy and happy. The holidays aren't meant to be perfect, they're meant to create memories with those you love and cherish. From our family to yours, we wish you a merry, stress free, holiday season!