Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gluten - free Pies! Thank you, Living Without Magazine.

I might have to confess to being more of a chocolate cake person than a pie person, but this article may convert me.  Once again, Living Without has a host of amazing recipes for making delectable gluten-free pies.  The sugar in these recipes can be scaled back depending on how ripe your fruit is and how sweet you like your desserts.

Click on the title or links at the end for the whole article and recipes for apple, peach, plum and strawberry rhubarb versions. As always, I'm very grateful to Living Without for their information and creativity!

Gluten-Free Summer Pies - from Living Without and authored by Karen Robertson

Slice into the season’s sweet rewards

Summer Gluten-Free Pies
Photograph by Sarah Brooke 

I had the opportunity to work in a local pie shop where I learned some new tricks for creating a perfect pie. I wasn’t at the shop long before I saw that making a gluten-free pie is much easier than making its wheat-filled counterpart. You can work gluten-free dough and make mistakes and the crust will still turn out fine. The only issue is that gluten-free slices may crumble a bit when they’re cut and served. A minor inconvenience, I say, in light of such a delicious treat!
Now is the ideal time for enjoying pie. Fruit that’s in season in your area is always the best choice. It has a higher brix value (measure of sweetness), allowing you to reduce the total amount of sugar needed in your recipe. Taste the fruit you plan to use. If it’s very sweet and succulent, you can lower the amount of sugar in your recipe accordingly.
If you decide to make a fruit pie out of season, there’s good-quality frozen fruit available in your supermarket. Larger pieces, such as peach slices, should be thoroughly defrosted before going into a pie. Smaller fruit, like raspberries, require less thawing prior to baking.
After one hour in the oven, check your pie for doneness by sticking a knife into it. The fruit should be soft and tender but not mushy. If you need to bake the pie longer than an hour, cover it loosely with foil to keep the crust from over-browning.
When I worked at the shop, I became thoroughly immersed in all things pie. The same thing happened to everyone who was employed there. The focus on pies was so intense that the shop owners’ young son even asked for a slice in his sleep. “I want pie,” he said, dreaming. For those of us who must avoid gluten (dairy and eggs, too), these flavorful recipes are like a dream come true.

Full article and recipes are here.

Karen Robertson, author of Cooking Gluten-Free!, lives in Seattle.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The popsicle: a summer treat or tool for hiding supplements and healthy foods.

Its summer time and its toasty (at least on the days its not raining here in Victoria).  We are all craving something cool and refreshing? Before you reach for the ice cream tub try making delectable Popsicles and take the guilt out of it.  And if you have kids this is the best opportunity to hide some supplements or healthy foods (yes even some veggie juices!).

The easiest way to boost your treats is to add a green drink to your mix. Try Happy Planet's Green Extreme, or juice your own kale/spinach (steaming first can help).  Green can be a tough color for kids, so mix with lots of strawberry or blueberry puree to make a purple frozen treat.  A slightly easier option is to mix in cucumber or avocado puree.  Avocado makes a nice light green creamy puree and works brilliantly with yogurt, coconut milk and fruits like mango, lime or kiwi.  Beet juice or even a bit of puree is perfect with any red fruit (pomegranate or strawberry) juice.  The best sweeteners are agave, honey or a bit of stevia.  For a protein punch add in a bit of yogurt, kefir or protein powder.  You can add any supplement (liquid or powder) to your mix.  Just make sure that if you are taking a fat soluble supplement (Vit D, A, cod liver oil or a liposomal product that you have a bit of yogurt or coconut milk to help make it suspend properly.  If the supplement makes it too gritty add in lightly chopped fruit for extra texture.

Here are a couple of really lovely bases that you can start with and build up from there.  Both of these have a bit of good fat content and can handle any type of supplements.

Pomegranate Swirl (From Women's Health Magazine by By Rachel Meltzer Warren, R .D)
These pleasingly tart frozen treats manage to pack three whole grams of protein into a 50-calorie serving.

8 oz pomegranate juice
1/2 cup plain 2% Greek yogurt

Fill two-thirds of each ice-pop mold with pomegranate juice. Add enough yogurt to fill the molds to the top, about 2 tablespoons per mold. Slide a knife or chopstick into each mold and swirl until a pattern forms. Insert sticks and freeze for about 8 hours.

Per serving: 50 cal, 1 g fat (0 g sat), 10 g carbs, 15 mg sodium, 0 g fiber, 3 g protein

Fudge Pops (From Living Without)

This revamped version of classic fudgsicles is easy to make and fun to eat. If you don’t have plastic popsicle molds, use small paper cups and wooden sticks (sold in craft stores and online).
3 cups unsweetened lite coconut milk
½ cup honey or agavĂ© nectar*, extra to taste
¼ cup + 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch/powder or cornstarch
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 ounces unsweetened baker’s chocolate, chopped into ½-inch pieces
2 tablespoons coconut butter or nut butter or 1 tablespoon coconut oil
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1. Combine coconut milk, honey or agave nectar, arrowroot, cocoa powder and salt in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking frequently. Continue to cook and whisk as mixture bubbles and thickens, about 6 minutes.
2. Remove from heat. Add chocolate, coconut butter or nut butter and vanilla and stir until completely melted and smooth. Taste and add additional honey or agave nectar, as desired.
3. Pour into 8 popsicle molds or small paper cups. Allow to cool slightly and insert popsicle lids. Or freeze briefly and insert wooden sticks. If using paper cups, cover with foil, poking the stick through the foil.
4. Freeze until solid. To unmold, hold the stick and warm the outside of the cup with warm water until pop loosens. Serve immediately.
Each serving contains 310 calories, 24g total fat, 20g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 0mg cholesterol, 51mg sodium, 29g carbohydrate, 2g fiber, 3g protein.
*TIP For lower sugar content, reduce honey to ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons and add 1 teaspoon clear stevia liquid.
For Mocha Fudge Pops, replace 1 cup milk with 1 cup strong brewed coffee.

Experiment and play and you'll have lots of wonderful treats for your family.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Autoimmune support and the Paleo Blog I love!

A very good friend of mine has a brilliant blog dedicated to the Paleo diet called ThePaleoMom.  She has amazing recipes (many of which are suitable for families following the Specific Carbohydrate Diet for Autism support) and tips for great whole foods and healthy cooking.  She asked if I'd do a guest post about how I treat Autoimmune conditions.  I thought I'd link to her Autoimmune diet info and the following is my autoimmune thoughts from my guest post.

So let’s start with the basics of how an autoimmune process does its thing.  Basically, the immune system is triggered (sometimes by a virus, sometimes by bacteria or foods in the gut) and that starts things going.  This pathway triggers inflammation and causes the immune system to be on high alert to the original trigger.  Unfortunately, in an autimmune process the immune system confuses (cross-reacts) our own body tissues with the original trigger.  So when these immune cells come in contact with those normal tissues it attacks and reinitiates the inflammation turning it into a bit of a runaway train.  Conventional treatment is to suppress the immune system trying to tamp down the reaction.  This is usually effective but just manages the symptoms.  The Naturopathic approach is to find and eliminate the original trigger and help the body to restore appropriate control of the immune system.  Sometimes both approaches are needed, especially initially if the system is pretty aggravated, but in the long run people tend to get much better success with addressing the underlying issue rather than just suppressing  symptoms.

In Sarah’s post about the Autoimmune protocol she talks about the importance of addressing the gut.  While it may sound so strange to address the belly when we’re talking about eczema or rheumatoid arthritis , the gut plays an enormous role in managing the immune system.   There are huge patches of immune cells lining the gut protecting us from bacteria or parasites in our foods.  The healthy bacteria (or probiotics) living within the gut act as schooling grounds, training our body to be less allergic by triggering for different chemicals to be released.  You can imagine that if there are any food sensitivities or unhealthy bacteria or fungi present, then all that immune tissue is going to react and cause inflammation and lots of potential for cross reactions.   If you don’t have enough good healthy bacteria (normal flora), then they won’t be able to help the immune system to regulate itself.  If the gut becomes damaged enough (because of ongoing food sensitivities or some medications) then it allows undigested proteins to get into the body whole, which increases the potential for food sensitivities and cross reactions to occur. 
As I mentioned above, the first step to modulating the immune system is to find and address the gut immune triggers, whether they are food sensitivities or abnormal flora.  Sarah’s asked me to do another post later to discuss food sensitivity testing so check back later for that.  Once they are identified, we can limit or avoid those foods to allow the immune system to settle down.  Occasionally, we need to look at testing to identify if there are any harmful bacteria or fungi present and we can address those with diet (Paleo and SCD are ideal) and often with herbal or prescription antibacterials/antifungals.  Probiotics serve double duty by preventing harmful bacteria and fungi from taking up residence in the gut  and also by stimulating normal immune regulation by releasing regulatory chemicals called cytokines.   It’s always wise to research probiotics or consult a Naturopath first as there are lots available over the counter but purity, potency and freshness are significant issues.

Even once the triggers have been identified and eliminated, many people need to heal their gut in order to prevent new food sensitivities from developing.  There are lots of protocols for doing this and the SCD or Specific Carbohydrate Diet was specifically designed to do this.  I often do a multistep process with probiotics, digestive enzymes, fiber, omega 3 fatty acids and a product for intestinal healing.  This can be accomplished with diet rather than supplementation by increasing bone broths, coconut oils, cabbage and fiber, lots of fish and nuts and seeds.  But I have occasionally found that the gut is too compromised at the outset to be able to properly digest these foods without supplemental support.

The last step is to directly affect the immune system.  A word of caution:  This is a too tricky to do without discussing with a qualified practitioner (I’d recommend a licensed Naturopathic physician) that is knowledgeable about herbal medicine and their interactions with medications.  There are many herbs that modulate the immune system, that is to say help boost it when its underfunctional and help to control it if its too active, but obviously there is lots to consider before starting any of these.   Some include: Echinacea species, Rehmannia, Albezia, Nettles and Quercitin.   Do not add any of these herbs (no not even Echinacea!) if you have an active autoimmune process without first discussing it with a licensed Naturopathic Physician.

I hope this has been a helpful primer on autoimmune support and keep an eye out here for more information on food sensitivity testing. If you have any questions or comments please feel free to email or post via my blog, where you can also find more tips about current news topics, allergies, Autism and other Naturopathic topics.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

What's the skinny on all this coffee news? A couple of perspectives.

Yet again a piece of new research is all over the news.  This time coffee and its supposed protective effects is getting all the press.   This is always a bit of a confusing situation since this news gets highlighted and emphasized but its hard to get through the hype to the actual meaning and implications of the study.  But here is a rare and complete piece of reporting by Kelly Crowe at CBC online news.  In her article "What's the fuss about coffee?"  she explains how information like this gets reported and why you have to look beyond the headlines to the actual information being published.  She dissects the study and very clearly points out why studies often only suggest possible relationships between A and long term effect B (here consuming 2+ cups of coffee daily may have possible positive effect on longevity).  And yet the news usually reports these relationships as definite connections.  All in all this is an excellent piece for those looking to have a more critical eye when reading breaking health news. (1,2)

And so what's my take on coffee? There are certainly other studies that suggest that coffee/tea consumption reduces the risk of certain cancers (ie. invasive prostate and breast) (3,4).  These studies do show statistically significant reductions, which means there is less of a possibility that the reduction was due to chance, but the reductions are low overall.  None of them have looked at why this relationship may occur and if there are any other factors involved, though some suggested the benefit was independent of caffeine content.  We do know that there are a lot of compounds in coffee and tea.  There are some like bioflavenoids and antioxidants that have been otherwise shown to have benefits for overall health and cancer risks.  Could that be why?  Of course!  Could it be something totally different?  Absolutely.  For example, is it possible that taking time in the morning to sit and drink your coffee or taking a coffee break in the day helps with stress reduction and that's the reason for the benefit?  Very possible, but right now, who knows?

So what do I say when someone asks me if I'm worried about their coffee intake? As always, I ask a tonne of questions like: how much do you drink, how much water are your drinking, why are you drinking it and how.  If people are sitting and enjoying their coffee ritual in the morning or drinking it while socializing with friends, my assessment is that its helping their quality of life and not to worry.  If its a compulsive or mindless experience (as in they just keep filling their cup with coffee and that's just what they drink) or if its needed for energy, maybe we need to address that need or make healthier substitutions.  But do I think coffee is an absolute poison?  No.  And do I think we all need to drink 2 cups to live longer? No, I don't think there is near enough information to make that recommendation. 

Today's prescription:  Sit and relax for a few.  Maybe enjoy a cup of coffee or tea or the flowers outside, but enjoy!

(1) Crowe, Kelly.  "What's the fuss about coffee?"  CBC news. May 17'12.
(2) Freedman ND, Park Y, Abnet CC, Hollenbeck AR, Sinha R. Association of coffee drinking with total and cause-specific mortality. N Engl J Med. 2012 May 17;366(20):1891-904.
(3) Wilson KM, Kasperzyk JL, Rider JR, Kenfield S, van Dam RM, Stampfer MJ, Giovannucci E, Mucci LA.  Coffee consumption and prostate cancer risk and progression in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. J Natl Cancer Inst. 2011 Jun 8;103(11):876-84. Epub 2011 May 17.
(4) Ganmaa D, Willett WC, Li TY, Feskanich D, van Dam RM, Lopez-Garcia E, Hunter DJ, Holmes MD

Monday, May 28, 2012

Newsletter Archives

Did you know that we have an archive of all our monthly newsletters? Click on our website and you can see past newsletters.  We'll keep this page updated and we love feedback or ideas for things you'd like to hear about.
~ Dr Kellie

Monday, May 14, 2012

Local Spring Fruit and Veggie Home Delivery

If you are thinking about eating a bit better you may have decided to eat more fresh fruits and veggies or to eat more local foods.  We've talked previously about getting a farm box delivered to your home and there is a new company in Victoria that does just that.  Have a look at Nature's Farmacy food bin delivery. 

With these guys, you can customize your boxes with various amounts of fruits and/or veggies and you can add extra products such as organic nuts, chicken or turkey.  They even have locally made gluten free bread, pizza dough and toppings.  As with the best delivery companies, you have the ability to provide a list of favorite and disliked foods and you can skip/modify or cancel deliveries when needed.  As a bonus, they will deliver your box bright and early in the morning and will make a donation to feed and treat kids orphaned by HIV in Uganda.

My first box is set to deliver next week and I'm looking forward to trying some of the local spring greens!  As always, I love to hear comments and questions from you. ~ Kellie

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Naturopathic Medicine Week

Every year, during May, Naturopathic Physicians and our associations take a week to celebrate our profession and to promote our medicine.  This year, during the week of May 7-13, 2012, naturopathic doctors all over the country will be conducting free events in local stores, community venues and in their own clinics.

On Friday May 11th, our Clinic will be hosting an open house from 4-6pm.  You'll have an opportunity to meet our practitioners, tour the clinic and sample lots of local gluten and casein free products. Our Registered Acupuncturist, Mark Bodnar will be offering free tongue and pulse diagnoses and Colleen Bruce, RMT will be doing some demonstrations.  Feel free to stop by and say hi!

For other events throughout the province have a look at the Naturopathic medicine week website or their facebook page.

The BCNA is the professional association for naturopathic physicians in BC. They act on behalf of and for the profession to promote the services provided by and the integrity and honour of the naturopathic profession. They act to advance the scientific, educational, professional and economic welfare of all members of the profession in BC. They we act as agent, trustee or otherwise for naturopathic physicians in BC in connection with collective bargaining, remuneration for services, insurance and other legislative matters.
Visit the BCNA website for more information, including a list of naturopathic doctors in BC.

Monday, April 16, 2012

2nd Annual Greater Victoria Autism Resource Fair

Join us at this year's Greater Victoria Autism Resource Fair at the University of Victoria Student Union Building.  The fair takes place Saturday May 5th from 10-3:30 pm with free admission.  Come and see the featured speakers, enjoy a Kids Play Zone and the Parent's Pampering Corner.  There will be lots of door prizes, a silent auction and everyone will go home with a goodie bag full of extra treats and offers from all the exhibitors.

Come check out the varied and wonderful resources available in Victoria and be sure to pop by our table and say hi!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Environmental and Seasonal Allergies: Fact and Fiction

Victoria is well and truly into Allergy Season with lots of angry red eyes and snuffling noses. We've previously discussed the testing methods and sublingual allergy drops, but we haven't talked about what might be allergy triggers.  Many people have an idea of what types of things trigger their allergies but how accurate are our guesses? Most of us blame our allergy symptoms on the plants we can see.  And so the most commonly blamed suspects for spring allergies are the cherry and plum trees.  Victoria has beautiful cherry tree-lined streets and when they bloom its pretty magnificent, except for the allergy sufferers who know that this heralds the worst of their symptoms.  However, these beauties are just the fall guy for the less visible Alder tree, which is the culprit in more than 99% of tree allergies.  Pollens need to be small and light enough to stay airborne long enough to be inhaled. The pollen from plum and cherry blossoms is far too heavy and does not stay airborne long enough to cause a problem.

The same happens in the summer with Scotch broom. Broom is a bright yellow and has quite a strong fragrance (which people either find really irritating or fairly pleasant) and it is very visible and blooms just as the more allergenic grasses start to seed.  But while most people believe they are very allergic to Scotch broom, it can't trigger allergies as it doesn't produce a pollen but rather makes heavy little seed pods.

So while we may have a sense of the plants in bloom while our allergies are at their worst, its worth getting scratch Allergy testing to confirm the actual triggers for your symptoms.  This allows us to choose the right targets for desensitization.  Feel free to call or email if you have any questions or comments about seasonal allergies or any other topics discussed here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Introducing Mark Bodnar, Registered Acupuncturist and Athletic Therapist

Dr Kellie and Colleen would like to welcome Mark Bodnar, RAc, CAT(c) to the Koru Health Team.
Mark Bodnar is a Registered Acupuncturist and a Certified Athletic Therapist. Mark finished his undergraduate studies in Kinesiology at York University in 2005 concurrently with an Athletic Therapy Certification. He completed his Acupuncture diploma in Traditional Chinese Medicine in 2009 at the International College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Victoria.

Mark incorporates his western training with an eastern approach to health by using holistic treatment methods including; acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion, cupping, gua sha, nutritional guidance, exercise therapy, and manual therapy. Mark believes that everyone's state of health and wellness is affected by their emotions, diet, environment and behaviour. His treatment approach aims to address both symptoms as well as the cause of illness, and he creates treatment plans tailored to the individual to help them achieve balance and vitality in their lives.

Have a look at Mark's page or his answers to common questions found on our website. If you have any questions you can contact him at 250-598-3718.  Welcome Mark!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Seasonal Allergies: Immune modulation and desensitization.

Here in Victoria, one of the first signs of spring are the beautiful cherry blossoms lining many of our streets.  And then the close second is the multitudes of people wandering around with bloodshot, watery eyes, chronic sniffles and itchy red noses.

Seasonal allergies are a real struggle for many people.   Allergies start early in the Spring with tree and bloom pollens, closely followed by Summer grasses and then in the Fall with Molds and Dust.  A good portion of my patients take an antihistamine daily all year just to function comfortably.  Fortunately, there are many many options for support.  Allergies occur when the immune system gets diverted down a pathway that starts to see normal environmental proteins (pollens and dust or food proteins) as foreign invaders instead of inert substances.  The immune system goes down a very specific pathway called the TH2 pathway. In this pathway, exposure to the allergen causes activation of MAST cells, which release histamine and the activation of Eosinophils, which are the white blood cells associated with the allergic response.  It is believed that this pathway evolved for the purposes of protecting us against parasites but since we don't spend as much time living off the land as we previously did, it got diverted into attacking other large molecules - even benign ones like pollens and dust.

Fortunately, there are lots of options for supporting the system against allergies.  One way is to desensitize the body against the allergens.  This is called building tolerance.  Exposing the body to very tiny amounts of the allergens, especially through the digestive system, triggers the body to inactivate the immune cells that were primed to that allergen.  Over time, this effectively turns off the allergic pathway triggered by that allergen.  Allergist and Naturopathic Physicians (at least in BC) can take advantage of tolerance by doing allergy shots or sublingual allergy drops.  Other substances act along the pathway to shift away from the TH2 pathway (as some probiotics do) or to calm the MAST cells (like Quercitin).  There are quite a lot of good herbs that can be very helpful for allergy season and a Naturopathic Physician or qualified Herbalist can help you choose an appropriate formula.  Have a good spring.

As always, feel free to send me an email if you have any topics you'd like me to discuss.
Dr. Kellie

Monday, January 30, 2012

Research Roundup from Living Without Feb/Mar 2012

If you know me in practice, you know that I like to have science and biochemistry to lead my treatment plans or when introducing new therapies.  I also think its very important to help my clients understand their bodies and their biochemistry so that they can be a true participant in their overall health.

So, today I thought I'd pass on a information from a great new column from the Living Without magazine.  You've heard me rave about this magazine before and this column is yet another great feature.  This column provides a brief review of recent medical news regarding food sensitivities and allergies.  You can access the full link here:  Research Roundup by Christine Boyd Feb/Mar 2012: Good Bacteria at Birth, Celiac Pill and more.

This episodes discusses research that looks at the changes in an infants normal flora as a result of elective C-section and hospital vs home birth, hiding veggies in kids foods significantly increases their veggie intake without affecting their intake or liking of foods, food sensitivities as a trigger for irritable bowel,  the association between undiagnosed Celiac disease and ADHD, a new enzyme treatment for Celiac disease in clinical trials, and higher BPA levels in pregnancy appear to be associated with mood and behavior complaints in the resulting children.