I’m not sure what I enjoy the most about Chai tea; its flavour or its smell. Perhaps it’s the combination of the two that has won my heart.
Chai tea is made from a combination of black tea, ginger and other spices like cardamom, cinnamon, fennel, black pepper and cloves. And it is these spices that give Chai its many health benefits including anti-inflammatory and anti-tumorigenic properties:
The chemopreventative benefit of a whole foods diet is often attributed to phytochemicals, such as terpenoids and polyphenols, found in fruits, vegetables, and grains. Spices, (which) tend to have high concentrations of these classes of potentially therapeutic agents…Many spices, including cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, clove and ginger, have shown promise as chemopreventative and therapeutic agents in cancer. In vitro and in vivo, each of these compounds has demonstrated potent anti-inflammatory and anti-tumorigenic properties. Thus, chai tea, which contains a combination of all the aforementioned spices, represents an enjoyable means of chemoprevention.
~The Anti-Inflammatory and Chemopreventative Effects of Chai Tea; Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO
The recipe below is a twist on the normal Chai tea latte that is milk-based. As well as tasting great, this latte offers you:
And you can enjoy it cooled, outside on a hot summer day. Or hot, snuggled up by the fire on a cool winter’s night. A true functional food that can really be enjoyed all year long!
Chai Tea Latte Recipe
1 bag of rooibos chai tea (rooibos is naturally caffeine-free)
2 cups of boiling water
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon almond butter (creamy is preferred)
Cover the teabag and dates with 2 cups of boiling water and steep for about 4-5 minutes.
Discard the tea bag and place tea, soaked dates, tahini and almond butter into a blender.
Blend mixture until creamy.
Sprinkle with cinnamon (if using) and serve right away.
If you want a cold beverage, simply chill it in your refrigerator for a bit and serve over ice.
References:How Chai Tea Can Improve Your Health: Healthline
The Anti-Inflammatory and Chemopreventative Effects of Chai Tea; Tina Kaczor, ND, FABNO
Honeybees do and make amazing things! We are all familiar with honey but in addition to this sweet nectar of the bees, they also produce other health promoting goodness that are great to include in your anti-cancer diet.
Let’s take a look!
Bee Propolis is made by honeybees through a fascinating process of mixing saliva and beeswax. These ingenious little buzzers use propolis to seal and protect their hives. Bee propolis is high in antioxidants containing various flavonoids, fatty acids, amino acids and a variety of vitamins.
Health benefits you ask?
Here are just a few.
🐝 Aids in digestion
🐝 Improves immunity
🐝 Is anti-viral
🐝 Is anti-bacterial
🐝 Can be effective in relieving mucositis brought on by chemotherapy
Bee propolis is sold as a tincture, spray, paste or capsules so you would buy it in the form appropriate for what you want to use it for.
Chrysin is a polyphenol found in bee propolis (and honey as well).
Like many other flavonoids, chrysin has free-radical scavenging, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer activities (Mani 2018). Although few human studies have been conducted with chrysin, animal studies and in vitro studies suggest that it may protect against DNA damage (George 2017) and modulate several cell-signaling pathways involved in cancer progression, including those affecting inflammation, cell survival, cell growth, new blood vessel growth, and metastasis (Kasala 2015).
Bee pollen comes from the pollen that collects on the bodies of bees as they go flower to flower.
It is a mixture of pollen, saliva, and nectar or honey.
🐝 Is a complete protein
🐝 Is full of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and lipids
🐝 Increases energy
🐝 May help to lower blood pressure
Bee pollen is available in most health food stores. They are tiny little gold nuggets and can easily be added to smoothies, mixed in with salads and sprinkled on top of yogurt.
Royal Jelly is a gelatinous substance produced by honeybees to feed the queen bees and larvae.
🐝 Is rich in nutrients and anti-oxidants
🐝 May help to regulate blood sugar
🐝 Is anti-bacterial and anti-viral
🐝 May help to support a healthy immune system
It is most commonly sold in its jelly form or in capsules.
Honey is the most well known of the bee creations. It has a wonderful flavour and is a much healthier sweetener than regular sugar.
🐝 Is a prebiotic food. It has oligosaccharides that can promote the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria
🐝 Possesses antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, apoptotic, and antioxidant properties
🐝 Is the oldest wound-healing agent known to mankind
Carbohydrates dominate the composition of honey taking up approximately 95–97% of its dry weight. Honey also includes proteins, vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and organic acids.
Evidence has shown the presence of nearly thirty types of polyphenols in honey. Polyphenol levels in honey vary depending upon the floral source, the climatic and geographical conditions.
In challenging times like these when stress and worry are peaking don’t forget to look at what is at the end of your fork for some help. You can get a lot of support from the meals that you put together.
Let’s take a look at ideal inclusion and needed exclusions.
What You Eat Contributes To Your Stress Level
Food that contains a lot of sugar can cause a roller coaster ride for your blood sugar and this can cause you to feel jittery and to have mood swings. Best to stay away from foods in this category.
Keeping in line with the thought of controlling blood sugar, complex carbohydrates, foods high in fiber, are an important inclusion in a diet focusing on stress busting. Fiber slows down the speed that sugar enters into your blood stream, so it helps you to avoid those sudden spikes and drops in your blood sugar levels, balancing your mood and easing your stress. Foods high in fiber include cauliflower, cabbage, broccoli, celery, berries, leafy greens, beans and whole grains.
Fiber is also key for your gut microbiome health and because your brain and gut are connected a healthy, happy gut microbiome leads to a happier you.
And if we are talking about creating a happy gut, we can’t forget fermented foods that are a good source of probiotics. So, we are talking about things like kefir, kombucha, apple cider vinegar and kimchi.
Some studies have suggested that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial for improving mood. One possible reason is that omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain cell structure and function. Another could be that they provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support.
Food sources of omega-3’s include wild caught salmon, sardines, flax seeds and chia seeds.
Magnesium is a go to supplement for improving sleep, quelling stress and calming nerves but why not get it from the food that you eat? Foods naturally rich in magnesium are leafy greens, such as spinach and Swiss chard and dark chocolate.
Finally, I want to mention that you can incorporate adaptogens to help you handle stress.
Adaptogens such as Ashwagandha and Holy Basil and some mushrooms including reishi and cordyceps are known to support the body’s ability to handle stress.
These can be easily included into your diet as teas or added into smoothies, salads and soups.
Here is one idea for you!
Stress Busting Hot Chocolate Recipe
Ingredients & Directions
Add to your blender and combine:
1 cup non-dairy milk (I love cashew for this one)
1 TBSP cacao powder
1 tsp maple syrup (or to taste)
1 tsp Ashwagandha powder
1 tsp Reishi mushroom powder
After you blend the ingredients add them to a pot and warm up.
Let’s address the elephant in the post here shall we. What are Coconut Aminos?
Coconut Aminos are a yummy sauce made from coconut sap. The sauce is dark, rich and salty. It is gluten free and is a great replacement for soy sauce.
Unbeknownst to many is the fact that, unless otherwise stated, soy sauce is made with wheat. The wheat is roasted and fermented with the soy to achieve the familiar soy sauce taste that we know and love.
Coconut Aminos don’t offer a powerhouse of nutritional content but if you are trying to maintain a gluten free diet they are the way to go when you need an alternative to soy sauce in your recipes.
The salmon recipe below is a family favourite of ours. It is not only simple, it is also a great way to introduce Coconut Aminos in to your diet if they are a new addition to your pantry.
Baked Salmon with Coconut Aminos Marinade
½ kg salmon fillets
1/3 cup real maple syrup
4 Tbsp Coconut Aminos
3 cloves minced garlic
¼ tsp.ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 200C
Mix the maple syrup, Coconut Aminos, garlic and pepper together in a small bowl
Place salmon fillets in to a dish, cover with the marinade and refrigerate 30 minutes – 1 hour
Transfer salmon fillets to a baking dish lined with parchment paper, saving the marinade, and bake the salmon until it is cooked through, approximately 15 minutes
Pour the saved marinade into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Reduce to 1/4 cup.
When the salmon is done place it on a serving tray and drizzle the glaze over top of it.
For simple sides that really complement the salmon try serving this dish with roasted asparagus and wild rice.
Sticking to the perimeter of the grocery store is the ideal way to shop. But when the ideal meets the real and we find ourselves nose to label with packaging we need to be armed and ready.
Let’s face it, reading labels can be confusing. But it is a necessary evil when you want to eat healthy.
With a few tips however you will be able extrapolate the important information that you need to make good decisions in the grocery aisles.
First off avoid the propaganda on the front of the product and go right to the good stuff on the back. Companies can free wheel with what they say on the front of the packaging but there are real guidelines for what’s on the back. For example a label may say that a food product is reduced in fat or reduced sodium. What this means is that the amount of fat or sodium has been reduced from the original product amount. It doesn’t mean, however, that the food is low in fat or sodium.
Here are My 3 Top Things to Look For on a Product Label
1. Check out the Ingredients
Check out the ingredient list. Product ingredients are listed by quantity, from highest to lowest amount
2. Understand the serving size
It is really important that you understand that all of the nutrition information shown is based on serving size.
And don’t be deceived by this. A single serving may not be what you think. For instance, a serving size may be half a cup where as you might logically think it would be whole cup.
3. Know the Different Names for Sugar
We know by now the dangers of over consuming added sugars. With this in mind, it is very important that you become aware of the fact that there are many, many different names for sugar on a food label. Some of them end in –ose such as Sucrose, Maltose and Dextrose. Others like Barley Malt, Turinado and Molasses do not.
On the right side of a food label, you’ll see a column that lists the percent daily values (%DV). Percent daily values tell you how much of a the particular nutrient one serving will give you compared to how much you need for the entire day. It helps you gauge the percentage of a nutrient requirement met by one serving of the product.
Nutrition Facts Tables
Do you ever look at the Nutrition Facts tables? Do they help you decide which foods to buy or not? Do the numbers even make sense?
To be honest, I don’t think it’s that the most user-friendly or helpful tool. But it’s good to understand it since it’s here to stay.
Let me give you a super-quick crash course on reading the Nutrition Facts tables.
Then, try my delicious and super-easy snack recipe that’ll blow your pre-packaged granola bars out of the water.
How to Read the New Nutrition Facts Tables
The Nutrition Facts table is on the side of most packaged foods. It’s often found close to the ingredient listing.
The purpose of it is to help consumers make better nutrition decisions. When people can see the number of calories, carbs, sodium, etc. in food, they should be able to eat better, right?
Whether you like the Nutrition Facts table or not, let’s make sure you get the most out of it, since it’s here to stay!
Here’s my four-step crash course on reading the Nutrition Facts table.
Step 1: Serving Size
The absolute most important part of the Nutrition Facts table is to note the serving size. Manufacturers often strategically choose the serving size to make the rest of the table look good. Small serving = small calories/fat/carbs. So, it’s tricky.
All the information in the table rests on the amount chosen as the serving size. And, since every manufacturer chooses their own, it’s often difficult to compare two products.
In Canada, in the next few years (between 2017-2022), serving sizes will be more consistent between similar foods. This will make it easier to compare foods. The new labels will also have more realistic serving sizes to reflect the amount that people eat in one sitting, and not be artificially small.
Let’s use an example – plain, unsalted walnuts from Costco.
Right under the Nutrition Facts header is the serving size. That is a ¼ cup or 30 g. This means that all the numbers underneath it are based on this amount.
FUN EXPERIMENT: Try using a measuring cup to see exactly how much of a certain food equals one serving. You may be surprised at how small it is (imagine a ¼ cup of walnuts).
Step 2: % Daily Value
The % Daily Value (%DV) is based on the recommended daily amount of each nutrient the average adult needs. Ideally, you will get 100% DV for each nutrient every day. This is added up based on all of the foods and drinks you have throughout the day.
NOTE: Since children are smaller and have different nutritional needs if a type of food is intended solely for children under the age of 4, then those foods use a child’s average nutrition needs for the %DV.
The %DV is a guideline, not a rigid rule.
You don’t need to add all of your %DV up for everything you eat all day. Instead, think of anything 5% or less to be a little; and, anything 15% or more to be a lot.
NOTE: Not every nutrient has a %DV. You can see it’s missing for things like cholesterol, sugar, and protein. This is because there isn’t an agreed “official” %DV for that nutrient. The good news is that the new Nutrition Facts tables will include a %DV for sugar. Keep your eyes out for that.
Step 3: Middle of the table (e.g. Calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, potassium, carbohydrates, and protein)
Calories are pretty straight forward. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts has 200 calories.
Fat is bolded for a reason. That 19 g of fat (29% DV) is total fat. That includes the non-bolded items underneath it. Here, 19 g of total fat includes 1.5 g saturated fat, (19 g – 1.5 g = 17.5 g) unsaturated fat, and 0 g trans fat. (Yes, unsaturated fats including mono- and poly-unsaturated are not on the label, so you need to do a quick subtraction).
Cholesterol, sodium, and potassium are all measured in mg. Ideally, aim for around 100% of potassium and sodium each day. It’s easy to overdo sodium, especially if you grab pre-made, restaurant foods, or snacks. Keep an eye on this number if sodium can be a problem for you (e.g. if your doctor mentioned it, if you have high blood pressure or kidney problems, etc.).
Carbohydrate, like fat, is bolded because it is total carbohydrates. It includes the non-bolded items underneath it like fiber, sugar, and starch (not shown). Here, 30 g of walnuts contain 3 g of carbohydrates; that 3 g are all fiber. There is no sugar or starch. And as you can see, 3 g of fiber is 12% of your daily value for fiber.
Proteins, like calories, are pretty straight forward as well. Here, a ¼ cup (30 g) of walnuts contains 5 g of protein.
Step 4: Bottom of the table (e.g. vitamins & minerals)
The vitamins and minerals listed at the bottom of the table are also straightforward. The new labels will list potassium, calcium, and iron. Yes, potassium will drop from the middle of the table to the bottom, and both vitamins A & C will become optional.
Manufacturers can add other vitamins and minerals to the bottom of their Nutrition Facts table (this is optional). And you’ll notice that some foods contain a lot more vitamins and minerals than others do.
I hope this crash course in the Nutrition Facts table was helpful because it is important to be informed about what you are eating.
Proper nutrition is a key piece of cancer prevention so understanding what you choose to put in to your shopping cart is key.
Do you have questions about it? If so, leave me a comment below.
Delicious and Super-Easy Walnut Snack Recipe
8 walnut halves
4 dates, pitted
Make a “date sandwich” by squeezing each date between two walnut halves.