Make Your Own First-Aid Kit: 17 All-Natural Powders, Oils and Salves for Your Next Adventure!


With a little innovation, you can learn to make your own All-Natural First-Aid Kit that won’t poison you! Truth is, a lot of the products on the market that are designed to keep bugs away or heal cuts are not the most health friendly. In fact, many of these products contain nasty chemicals. From the petroleum (i.e. Plastic) in your Neosporin (and yes, you do absorb the plastic straight into your skin) to the DEET designed to kill living creatures (yes, we are living creatures), these aren’t ideal if you wish to avoid the lurking chemicals within.

I have spent every summer in the mountains. Hiking up the mountains, over the mountains and literally crawling around inside the mountains. I’m an Underground Cave Guide at Rat’s Nest Cave in Canmore Alberta, Canada and it’s a very physical job.

Squirming through small holes, rappelling off cliffs into the black abyss, squeezing past thousand-year-old calcite cave formations, I’m bound to get a few bruises and scrapes. Yet, I’m always prepared with a few key salves and oils to make those bruises heal a little faster and provide some relief from the sting. If we take care of our health by eating healthy, we should also take care of the little (or large!) nicks and cuts we get along the road of life. These bumps and bruises can cause problems on the superficial skin level and if left to fester, may let nasty infections proliferate.

Over the years of adventure and escapade, I’ve fine-tuned my first-aid kit to include a variety of powders, oils and salves that promote healing and ward-off infection. Together with the essential fire-starter and knife, my kit includes the following wild wilderness saviors:

The Powders, Oils and Salves:

1. Turmeric:

If I can take only one thing with me in the woods, that would be turmeric. Turmeric has long been used as a powerful anti-inflammatory in both the Chinese and Indian medicinal practices. It is a warming spice – good for the cold weather blues added to anything – sweet or savory, it’s not just for curry.

Applied topically, it can prevent infection in cuts and scrapes, soothe toothaches and heal bruises. If eaten, say goodbye to flatulence and even painful menstruation. The active oil in turmeric is called ‘curcumin’ and produces no toxicity – so you can use/eat it every day. In many cases, a daily dose of turmeric has helped people reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome and even may prevent cancer due to curcumin’s antioxidant effects enabling it to protect the cells from free radicals that can damage cellular DNA.

2. Coconut Oil: 

What can I say – this is the oil of ultimate uses. Just check out the 42 ways Jennifer Lannon has found to use coconut oil! I use it in my kit as a sun protection, moisturizer on my face and all over my body. It is anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Use it as a base and mix it with essential oils to prevent the sting of a sunburn (with lavender) or ward off the bugs (with cedar, lemongrass and citronella) There is also growing evidence that daily consumption of coconut oil, at least a few tablespoons a day can help protect against Alzheimer’s and support the thyroid.

3. Oil of Oregano: 

A few drops under the tongue may sting, but it’s worth it. Due to the antiviral properties of oregano oil, it may help prevent colds and flu, GI track upsets and even ward off pesky parasite infections. Candida albicans, the bacteria that causes a body-wide fungal infection has a hard time hangin’ on with this powerful anti-fungal. Even skin conditions such as cold sores, nail fungus, joint pain, muscle aches, and dandruff don’t stand a chance faced with oregano oil, but never put it directly on broken skin as it may irritate. It is indeed very powerful.

4. Tea Tree Oil: 

Hailing originally from Australia, this one is always with me! Tea tree oil is anti-viral, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Use it on cuts and small wounds to keep the bad bacteria at bay. There are literally hundreds of uses for this miracle oil. From Acne to Asthma and Ingrown Hairs to Infections; even mosquito bites to cleaning your toothbrush – this oil is an absolute must! Mix it with coconut oil in order to spread it out. On its own, tea tree oil is so very potent – a little goes a long way!

5. Arnica Lotion:

This salve, made from fresh arnica flowers is used as a topical cream in order to reduce the healing time and limit bruising and sore muscles when applied right after injury or as soon as possible. These little flowers have anti-inflammatory and circulation-stimulating properties but should not be used on open wounds.

6. Medicinal Mushroom Blend:

Whether travelling or battling with stress of the everyday, the body is constantly fighting to stay in a state of homeostasis, a perfect balance. When this balance is upset, we get sick. From a little sniffle to the full-blown flu, medicinal mushrooms are your best friend.

The most common medicinal mushrooms are the Shiitake, maitake, chaga and reishi mushrooms. They’ve been gaining popularity in the western world over the last few years, yet have been used in oriental medicine traditions for decades. No health benefit is better documented for medicinal mushrooms than immune support. From a dietary perspective, medicinal mushrooms appear able to enhance immune function in both directions, giving it a boost when needed, and cutting back on its activity when needed. Because of this, you can’t eat too many. Added to your daily tea or smoothie in powdered form, your immune system will thank you!

7. Activated Charcoal (powder form from burnt coconut husks): 

For acute use in food poisoning, intestinal illness, vomiting, diarrhea, or the ingestion of toxins, mix activated charcoal with water and drink it. It will bind to unwanted toxins and expel them with bodily wastes.

8. Cayenne Powder (in capsule form):

A spicy addition to any dish, cayenne powder can actually stop a stroke in its tracks. Placed under the tough, it can increase blood flow and improve metabolism. Straight on the skin, it will stop bleeding rapidly yet sting like a son-of-a. In capsule form, ingested cayenne will also warm you from the inside out by elevating your core body temperature for a short time. In this case, it may stave off hypothermia.

9. Chamomile Tea Bags: 

By making a strong brew, you can use the liquid to calm yourself and help you sleep. You may also soak a paper towel and cover your eyes to fend off pinkeye. Chamomile has mild sedative, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. It supports relaxation, alleviates upset stomach and, when applied topically, relieves skin irritations.

10. Bug-Off all-natural Bug Spray:

I make my own insect repellant and it has worked wonders while bush-whacking through dense forest and even in my back yard at the height of pesky bug season.


  • 1 cup of witch hazel
  • 2 tablespoons of neem oil – which contains natural insecticidal compounds
  • ½ teaspoon vodka as a natural preservative
  • 140 drops essential oils

Bug-Repelling Essential Oil Blend:

  • 30 drops citronella
  • 30 drops cedarwood
  • 30 drops of lemongrass
  • 20 drops lavender
  • 15 drops lemon
  • 15 drops of eucalyptus

Add all ingredients to a spray bottle that fits nicely in your first-aid kit, shake and spray!

11. Eucalyptus Oil:

For any respiratory type problems, a few drops of this oil in the palm of your hand will open up airways when inhaled. It can be diluted with coconut oil and be applied externally to the feet and chest as an impromptu vaporub. It will repel the bugs too!

12. Powdered Ginger:

Ginger is great for nausea, reflux, stomach trouble and morning sickness. I also keep some in the car for motion sickness. It helps sooth the stomach after a digestive illness or food poisoning. Mix it with Coconut Oil and Turmeric for a yummy tea!

13. Witch Hazel:

My husband is a big fan. As an aftershave tonic, he never gets ingrown hairs on his face. It has a mild scent and can be mixed with any essential oil to provide relief of so many symptoms. Used after a hot shower when the pores are open, witch hazel can soothe any skin irregularity, including spots on the face and dark circles under the eyes. A little splash on any part of the skin can relive dry skin, itchy skin and even diminish body odor.

14. Probiotics:

We all need healthy bacteria in our gut to balance the plethora of toxins and nasty microbes we come in contact with on a day-to-day basis. Gut health is 90% of the immune system. Those who have used extensive anti-biotic therapy should most definitely take probiotics everyday – you can get them naturally from raw, unpasteurized sauerkraut, kombucha and kefir but in a pinch, the capsules will help huge! Anyone who gets sick frequently doesn’t have enough healthy bacteria in the gut – get on the program.

15. Female Tincture: 

Painful period cramps… This is my one continual struggle in life. To provide relief in the backcountry, I recommend a blend of Jamaican Dogwood, Cramp Bark and Valerian Root and Black Cohosh.


  1. Fill a clean glass canning jar with dried herbs.
  2. Add vodka to the top.
  3. Screw lid on tightly and store in a cool, dark place.
  4. Shake 3-7 times a week.
  5. Let sit for 3-5 weeks and then strain the herbs out of the tincture and pour into a colored glass bottle, closing the lid tightly.

Alcohol tinctures will last 2-3 years and need to be kept in a cool, dark place.

16. Lavender Oil:

Mixed with witch hazel or coconut oil, a lavender spray or salve provides instant relief from minor burns – from the sun or the campfire!

17. Dehydrated Coconut Powder:

Fresh water may be hard to come across in the wilderness, especially in the desert where I spend a lot of time. Keeping a packet or two of dehydrated coconut powder on you will help combat and prevent dehydration. It is loaded with electrolytes and keeps your water retention in balance.

The Other Goodies

  • Several pairs of gloves (disposable examination gloves)
  • Pencil and waterproof paper
  • High pitched whistle
  • Multi-tool Knife (with scissors, tweezers and knife)
  • Duct Tape
  • Needle and Thread
  • Barrier device (to administer CPR)
  • Emergency Blanket
  • Headlamp with extra batteries
  • A small bag of walnuts and goji berries to stave off hunger if lost
  • Fire starter (flint striker and cotton balls)
  • Candle (use wax to maintain fire)
  • Assorted bandages and gauze (tensor, triangle)
  • Butterfly bandages
  • Small Water bottle (full – for emergency use only)
  • Life StrawTM

Non-allergenic band aids or Superglue; this sticky liquid can be the impromptu stitches you need. Use to seal minor to moderate skin cuts (not puncture wounds) with butterfly bandages. Especially good for face and other visible areas that scar easily as well as where other bandages can be difficult to apply or may not stick such as on fingertips, knuckles, in hair or on cracked soles of the feet.

A little much, maybe… but the best part is that you can pick and choose. What ails you most when you’re roughing it? You can survive and thrive for a long time out there with these goodies; provided you brought your sleeping bag, shelter, a little more food and a keen sense of adventure! You never know what sneaky tricks Mother Nature has in store for you… be prepared!

Read the original publication HERE

Make Your Salad a Show Stopper by Adding Edible Rose Petals!


The advent of the Internet has definitely brought the world of health closer to home (the world of everything else too, I suppose). Those of us who have always had or have only recently discovered a small inclination towards wanting the best health and whole foods for ourselves and our families and friends, now, more than ever do we have this information and these resources at our fingertips.

It’s quick and easy info. But sometimes when there is so much information, there is too much information and people in general tend to shy away when overwhelmed. As I try to write something about the swathes of yummy foods now available to us, I come across this quote by the Dalai Lama:

“We have bigger houses, but smaller families; more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, but more problems; more medicines, but less healthiness. We have been all the way to the moon and back but have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor. We built more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever, but have less communication. We have become long on quantity, but short on quality. These are times of fast foods, but slow digestion; tall man, but short character; steep profits but shallow relationships. It’s a time when there’s much in the window but nothing in the room.” H.H The XIVth Dalai Lama

This beautiful quote so accurately with sincerity says it like it is. I’m reminded to never take for granted the beauty that surrounds me; to always be grateful for my ability to access such healthy, fresh, organic foods. I am blessed to be able to eat the mighty mulberry and sprinkle spirulina on my salad. I am to slow down and use only what I need in life; to make my footprint on the planet as small as necessary and live in peace and simplicity.

In this simplicity, I find time for the important things such as nurturing my garden and chewing my food thoroughly. Indeed summer has begun, and with it more fresh fruit and veggies to know what to do with.

I am patiently waiting as my garden grows from seed to plant. The peas have shot up and little tufts of spicy greens grow bigger by the day. This afternoon I was able to snip the first of the leaves to create an amazing Summer Bounty salad with other fresh produce from the farmers market! But hen I spot the masses of rose bushes all around the mountains, they smell like heaven would smell if it indeed had a scent. As their petals blow in the breeze, I grab a few mid-air and gobble them up. Wow! What deliciousness! I bet they would taste amazing on a summer salad…

Edible Roses

Summer Bounty Salad:

  • A mix of spicy greens – mustard greens and arugula with red leaf lettuce and romaine
  • half an avocado
  • Two red radishes, sliced thin
  • 10 snap peas, shelled
  • a pinch of sesame seeds
  • a few rose petals

Bounty Bliss Dressing:

  • ¼ cup tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon miso
  • ½ tablespoon of wheat-free tamari
  • 1 small clove garlic
  • A small handful chopped fresh fennel greens
  • ⅓ cup water (more if a thinner sauce is desired)

Instructions: Blend the above in a high-speed blender then in a metal bowl using tongs, mix well with salad greens then transfer to serving bowl and place radishes, avocado, fresh peas, sesame seeds and rose petals on top!

With the advent of the Internet, I share this with you. Where I live, the beautiful wild roses are in bloom and their sweet scent penetrates the valleys and wafts by on winds of change. I love their scent but I love their taste even more! Be sure to say thanks and definitely take your time to stop smell the roses (and eat a few too).

Read the original publication HERE

2 Ways to Grow Your Own Food in a Small Space


No doubt a plant-based whole foods diet can improve all facets of your life in many ways. By eating food that is nurtured from seed to plate, we respect this plant in its role to fuel our bodies with the most healthful and nutrient dense properties available to us. One thing to always remember though is that this food we indulge in and discuss in depth cannot be taken for granted. Truth is, the grocery store may not always be there and if it is, with price increases due to the new “organic” movement, one may not always be able to choose the food we would like to eat as the pocket book dwindles – I for one am speaking from experience.

By planting your own garden, you take the first steps to becoming sustainable and self sufficient in regards to feeding yourself with the food you choose. You’ll also become much more aware of the growing process and the care that it takes to grow organic, nutrient dense food at home. If you live in a small space, have no fear. There are so many ways to incorporate tower gardens or wall gardens with little materials that take up a fraction of space verses the traditional outdoor garden.

The Tower Garden

Tall and strong, you can easily grow over 20 plants in a small 2.5 feet x 2.5 foot area. This vertical garden using an aeroponic or hydroponic, soilless system will grow food much faster than if it were growing in the ground with much less mess. There are many do-it-yourself youtube videos on how to make your own aeroponic/hydroponic tower garden or you can even buy a pre-made one here.


Window Sill Herb Garden

The Window Sill Herb Garden

Even the smallest space with a teeny tiny window can grow herbs that boost nutritional intake. Try cilantro and parsley for their ability to chelate heavy metals – heavy metal toxins can lead to several debilitating effects from infertility to severe depression. Basil provides DNA protection and has anti-bacterial properties. The flavonoids found in basil provide protection against oxidation and radiation at the cellular level.

When you grow your own food, you take charge of your own food source and avoid questioning where it came from, if it contains GMO or if it truly is organic plus you’ll save a lot of money in the process.

Read the original publication HERE

Why I Get All My Protein from Plants (And My Top 8 Sources)

Motivated to ascend as high as possible in a sea of saw-toothed sierras, my body will need calories and plenty of them. As a rock climber, caver, long distance hiker and raw vegan, I often get asked the protein question. That very question is what sparked my plunge into the world of nutrition over 8 years ago. I wanted to stay strong, gain lean muscle mass and stay fit for intense days on the rock, high above those little dots in the distance resembling cars. The athlete in me definitely needs energy to get me there.

Now where to get this energy from. We’ve been told our whole lives that we eat to gain protein for strong muscles and calcium for strong teeth. The fact is, we don’t eat to gain protein, carbohydrates or fats for that matter, we eat to gain energy. Unfortunately, many of us are disconnected from our food and from farm to plate, little do we know what goes on in between. Sometimes I think that if we saw the whole process, we would begin to question what we choose to fuel our bodies with. Have we forgotten why we eat? Who said it’s good for you? How about the bioavailability of these nutrients?

Dr. John McDougall, MD believes that T Colin Campbell, PhD, “has been the most influential nutritional scientist of the past century [and that] his work has already saved hundreds of thousands of lives.” In his new book, Whole; Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, Campbell shares how we no longer think food is important [and that] we are only concerned with the nutrients contained within so we extract them and concentrate them into supplements.  We think of nutrition in terms of the elements that we need – calcium from milk, vitamin A from carrots, etc.” Where these nutrients come from have been influenced by those with money and power. Why is it that the FDA is both funded by agribusiness and are also the ones who regulate “recommended daily allowances” and the entire structure of the food pyramid? I would call this a conflict of interest. Creative advertising helps out the big corporations that have big money to gain if you buy their product and they don’t want to tell you the whole story. The big agribusiness wants us to associate protein with beef and calcium with milk. Surely if that is what our body needs, then we must need to eat animals in order to get these nutrients. But, unfortunately, we have been duped.

The most common argument in favor of eating meat is that it is necessary to build and maintain strength, yet the strongest animals in the world (elephants, oxen, gorillas) eat only grasses and fruit.

It is Dr. Campbell who has done a 27-year, extensive, large-scale population study on the effects of animal protein in diet and cancer rates. His work is published in The China Study and shows through science how the growth of cancer can be turned on and off with the consumption of animal proteins. He also believes strongly that “what you eat everyday is a far more powerful determinant of your health than your DNA or most of the nasty chemicals lurking in your environment. The foods you consume can heal you faster and more profoundly than the most expensive prescription drugs, and more dramatically than the most extreme surgical interventions, with only positive side effects. [Your] food choices can prevent cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, stroke, macular degeneration, migranes and arthritis – that’s the short list. A whole-foods, plant-based diet can reverse those conditions.” The human body builds protein from the 8 essential amino acids and the original source of these amino acids is not animal flesh – it’s vegetation and that’s where the animals get theirs from. Skip the middle man and go straight to the source.

Brendan Brazier, former professional Ironman triathlete, bestselling author and formulator of the award-winning plant-based Vega nutritional products has researched plant-based protein to the nth degree. In support of the environment, he has discovered that “producing animals for food uses more resources than producing plant foods. Very little food energy is returned from meat; on a calorie-for-calorie basis, plant-based proteins require less fossil fuel energy, water, or arable land to produce than any animal protein. Because both your health and environment matter, the nutrient-to-resource ratio considers the micronutrient gain from the food and the natural resource expenditure required to produce the food. By far, plant-based foods require the least amount of resources to produce and deliver the most nutrients.” If you look at this research from a purely scientific point of view, it can’t be refuted. In regards to both health and the environment, plant-based protein sources are the way to go. Brazier’s research in his book The Thrive Diet concludes that “choosing a plant-based diet is the single biggest possible environmental impact you can make as an individual. Aside from the significant health benefits, a plant-based diet can reduce your carbon footprint (CO2emissions) more than changing your daily commute.”

But, organic, free range meats that are sustainably raised are much better than factory farmed fodder, right? This is true in so many ways, but even organically raised and ‘happy’ animals are hard to digest and are higher in toxins than any plant food. Let’s compare ourselves with a well known carnivore, the Lion. Lions have sharp teeth, powerful stomach acid and short digestive tracts in order to chew, digest and assimilate all the animal protein that they need to survive. No way would our square molars be able to chew so much animal protein in a day as our jaws and teeth are more suited for grinding plant matter. Our stomach acid is not strong enough to fully break down animal proteins to their smallest particles in order for us to digest and assimilate this protein. When proteins do go undigested, there is a chance we may suffer an auto-immune response or allergic reaction as the body may see these undigested proteins as foreign objects to attack. This goes for plant proteins too, so chew your food. Sometimes these allergic reactions are delayed as well. Next time you are feeling ill, think about what you ate in the last 48 hours. Not only this, but truthfully, we could not live on protein alone.

Yes, we need protein, but we also need fats and carbs. In fact, a healthy diet consists of about 10% protein, 10% fats (nuts, seeds and fatty fruits such as avocado, yum!) and 80% carbohydrates (whole grains, legumes and fruit). Unfortunately we are so consumed with this idea of protein, most of us are getting too much protein. What’s wrong with that? Animal proteins are very acidifying for our bodies and too much acid causes our bodies to want to create a natural alkaline balance since our bodies are slightly alkaline to begin with. Our body, the miracle that it is, is left with no choice but to draw out the alkaline minerals (calcium and magnesium) in our bones in order to buffer the acid. There are studies that show counties who consume diets high in animal protein and dairy in fact have higher incidents of osteoporosis, a degeneration of the bones caused by calcium deficiency. Why then, if we are drinking so much milk do we have weaker bones?

The fact is, what we put in our mouths doesn’t entirely control our nutrition. Our nutrition is controlled by the efficiency of our digestive system and by what our bodies do with that food or how bioavaiblable this food is to us. Bioavailability is the rate at which your body can absorb nutrients and use it to benefit your health. Whole, plant-based foods are easy to digest and much more bioavailable than animal-based proteins. Without enzymes and a healthy digestive system, food cannot be turned into useable nutrients for the body. When a plant has a full spectrum of amino acids, it creates a complete protein. Sometimes, as Campbell believes, “plant proteins are somewhat compromised by their limitation of one or more amino acids. When we restore the relatively deficient amino acid in a plant protein, we get a response rate equivalent to animal proteins.” Even if you only ate one kind of grain, bean, potato, or vegetable as a protein source, and ate enough of that food, you could meet your protein and amino acid needs. Admittedly, it would be a very monotonous way to eat and you might miss out on other nutrients. By eating a variety of unrefined grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and vegetables throughout the day, the deficit that one food low in a particular essential amino acid will be made up by another food.

Chia Seeds
Chia Seeds

So, what exactly are the most amazing plant-based proteins?

1. Hemp Seeds
All seeds and nuts are high in protein, but with a perfect ration of omega-6 and omega-3 EFAs, hemp seeds are preferred over others. Containing all 20 amino acids, including the 9 essential, they are a complete protein. High in Vitamin E and trace minerals, hemp seeds do not contain phytic acid – which is abundant in soy and prevents us from absorbing nutrients. They are also high in phytonutrients that boost immunity.

How to eat?

Hemp seeds and hemp hearts (raw) are a simple and nutrient-dense addition to a multitude of dishes, from breakfast cereal to salads to smoothies to vegetables and sprouted grain dishes. You may also add toasted hemp seeds to salads for that special crunch, but when toasted, enzymes and vitamins are altered.

2. Pumpkin Seeds

According to, 138 grams of pumpkin seeds contains 34 grams of protein! That’s over two grams more than the same quantity of ground beef. High in iron and zinc, pumpkin seeds also boost immune function and help fight depression due to their high content of tryptophan which is converted into serotonin.

How to eat?

As a snack, pumpkin seeds are great for athletes after a workout. Throw them on salads, make vegan ‘cheeses’ and blitz in any smoothie.

3. Spirulina and Chlorella
A blue-green algae, both spirulina and chlorella are a complete source of protein containing all essential amino acids. At 70% – 80% bioavailable protein, it is the highest of any natural food. Grown in controlled, sustainable settings, it is also an environmentally friendly choice and can combat radiation and rid your body of unwanted toxins.

How to eat?

Sprinkle a teaspoon into in your morning smoothie everyday or add to salad dressings and even raw desserts. With a strong flavour and unique potency, a little goes a long way.

4. Quinoa
From South America, the Incas called quinoa “The Mother Grain” but it isn’t a grain at all. This mighty pseudo grain is an extremely high source of complete protein.  This heart-healthy grain also contains anti-inflammatory essential fatty acids, especially omega 3s.

How to eat?

Quinoa may be eaten sprouted or cooked. I personally like to sprout it and toss it in a salad with celery, avocado, fresh dill, followed by a drizzle of olive oil, apple cider vinegar and agave with a pinch of salt and black pepper. As a high protein alternative to rice or pasta, it provides a good base for a veggie burger and is a yummy breakfast cereal when served with fresh almond milk and seasonal berries.

4. Sprouts (lentils, broccoli, clover, mung beans, alfalfa)
When sprouted, legumes and other seeds are crunchy and fresh, adding not only protein to your plate but a wide array of other vitamins and minerals.  Dried seeds (lentils, mung beans, broccoli seeds) are incomplete proteins but when sprouted have an increase in all nine amino acids. To sprout your lentils, soak the seeds in room-temp water overnight. Rinse the lentils and store in a jar, turned upside-down (with mesh to hold them all in) in a cool place for a few days, rinsing twice a day. They’ll be ready when their sprout tails are as long as the seed.

How to eat?

Top on everything that goes in your mouth – salads, cooked dishes, veggies, even in smoothies!

5. Golden Berries (aka Incan Berries)

Indigenous to South America, these little berries have been cultivated in England, South Africa, Hawaii and many other countries. As a source of Vitamins A, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1, B2, B6 & B12, bioflavonoids, carotene, iron, dietary fiber, they are also high in protein, uncommon for a berry. By promoting eye health, these little guys are high in anti-oxidants and tout anti-inflammatory properties as well.

How to eat?

Just like a ‘sour raisin’, pop them in your mouth one by one, as a snack or mix with walnuts, lemon zest, chia and dates in a food processor and roll yourself a sweet and sour energy ball!

6. Beans (Black, Pinto)
Although not raw and harder to digest than hemp or algae, all sorts of cooked beans provide an abundance of protein for those looking to transition to a raw food diet or those who thrive on whole, plant-based foods.

How to eat?

Always rinse and soak beans overnight before cooking. Adding a few strips of kombu (seaweed) while cooking enhances their digestibility, just remove and discard before eating the beans. Beans go with anything! With quinoa, salsa and guacamole, you’ve got yourself a Mexican feast.

8. Chia Seeds

Best soaked in water or almond milk for 10 mins before eating, chia’s mucilaginous yet fibrous outer seed becomes jelly-like and will keep you full longer.  The Aztecs and Mexican Tarahumara tribes used to use this superfood before battles and races.

How to eat?

Soak in water or fresh almond milk and eat with sprouted buckwheat, hemp hearts, cinnamon and sliced apples as a delicious breakfast cereal. You may also add Chia to sauces and spreads you wish to thicken. Sprinkle on salads too for a surprising crunch.

What about soy?

Tempeh is better than Tofu, being fermented and thus enhancing bioavailability and digestibility, but I personally choose to avoid all forms of soy considering the controversy around soy, the detrimental effects it has on the environment and possible links to infertility.

Make your own protein-packed salad booster!


  • 1 cup hemp hearts
  • ¼ cup chia seeds
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tbsp spirulina
  • 1-1½ tsp pink Himalayan salt (to taste)

Instructions: Mix together well and store in a mason jar. Sprinkle a tbsp on salads and all other savory dishes everyday.  It will keep indefinitely in the fridge.

Read the original publication HERE



Brazier, Brendan. The Thrive Diet, 2007

Campbell, Dr. Colin T. Whole: re-thinking the science of nutrition, 2013

Craig WJ, Mangels AR. Position of The American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets. J Am Diet Assoc 2009

Young VR, Pellett PL. Plant proteins in relation to human protein and amino acid nutrition. Am J Clin Nutr 1994


Photo credit: Alain Denis

3 Delicious Ways to Sneak Maca in Your Diet! (Recipes)

I’m sure you’ve heard about the amazingly robust and powerful superfood, Maca. As one of my top favorite superfoods, next to Cacao and Goji Berries, I enjoy Maca on a daily basis. Whether I whizz a tablespoon into my morning smoothie or add half a cup to the batter while making yummy raw onion bread, Maca’s versatility and untold health benefits make it one of the most powerful superfoods in the world.

Because Maca is an emulsifier, when added to smoothies, soups or dressings, it can prevent separation of ingredients and keep liquids and oils smooth and well mixed. If you want to learn more about Maca just click here.

Mexican Maca Shake


  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup cashews (soaked 4 hrs and rinsed)
  • 1⁄4 cup raw cacao powder
  • 2 tbsp maca powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 2 cups coconut water

Instructions: Blend all in a Vitamix or other high speed blender for at least two minutes until the shake becomes frothy and slightly warm!

Raw Chocolate

The Best Raw Chocolate Ever


  • 1 ¼ cup raw cacao butter
  • 1 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 tbsp maca powder
  • ¼ tsp vanilla powder
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • Pinch of sea salt

Instructions: Melt the cacao butter and the coconut oil on the lowest temperature in a frying pan on the stove top. Once melted completely, add along with the above ingredients to the food processor, process until a well-mixed paste forms. Scoop paste into an ice cube tray and refrigerate until hard. Pop them out and enjoy with a big smile at room temperature and try to share with others.

Maca Carrot Onion Crackers

Maca Carrot Onion Crackers


  • 4 large onions
  • 1 cup golden flax seeds, freshly ground
  • 2 cups of carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup hemp hearts
  • 1 cup almonds, soaked and sprouted
  • ¾ cup Nama Shoyu or Coconut Aminos
  • 2/3 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbsp maca powder
  • 1 tbsp dried Italian herbs

Instructions: Mix the ingredients in a food processor until blended evenly, spread on dehydrator teflex sheets and score into cracker sized pieces. Dehydrate for 12 hours, flip and peel off teflex sheets, dehydrate for another 6 hours. Store in an air-tight container for up to 2 months.

Read the original publication HERE

6 Reasons Why You Should Eat More Maca

I’m sure you’ve heard about the amazingly robust and powerful superfood, Maca. As one of my top favorite superfoods, next to Cacao and Goji Berries, I enjoy Maca on a daily basis. Whether I whizz a tablespoon into my morning smoothie or add half a cup to the batter while making yummy raw onion bread, Maca’s versatility and untold health benefits make it one of the most powerful superfoods in the world.

Hailing from the Peruvian Andes of South America, Maca is the highest altitude crop in the world, growing around 4300m. Since it grows in extreme conditions, it is good for people who push their bodies to the extreme. Whether you are an athlete, live in an extreme climate, or need to cope with the stress of modern life, Maca can benefit you in many ways.

Maca comes from the cruciferous family (kale, broccoli, cabbage, turnip) but have more of a nutty or butterscotch flavor. You can find Red Maca, Black Maca and Yellow Maca in powdered form in many health food stores. All three varieties are extremely healthful but have particular areas in which they benefit more or less than the other. Have a look here for more info on the different varieties.

6 Health Benefits of Using Maca

1. Relieves Stress – The oxford dictionary defines an adaptogen as “a natural substance considered to help the body adapt to stress and to exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes.” Maca increases blood oxygen content, thus helping us adapt to physical and environmental stressors. This normalizing effect is called homeostasis, our body in perfect balance as it should be in nature. Another well-known adaptogen is ginseng.

2. Increases Energy and Stamina – The Incans knew of Maca’s ability to prolong energy and stamina. They even used it as an Incan currency in Pre- and Post-conquest times in Spain.

3. Increases Libido – High in minerals such as calcium, copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, sulfur, tin and zinc, Maca has aphrodisiac qualities and has been touted to increase libido for many centuries. Studies have found that Maca increases sperm production, boosts fertility and is also a natural anti-depressant. More of these studies can be found here.

4. Balances Hormones – Because Maca especially supports the endocrine system, it has positive effects on your adrenal hormones and can in fact repair exhausted adrenal glands.

5. Regulates Thyroid Function – Another positive health benefit of Maca is that it can help regulate healthy thyroid function, how fast or slow you burn this energy.

6. Increases Energy – By balancing hormones, providing plenty of protein and amino acids to build muscle, increasing stamina and oxygen in blood, Maca increases vitality and energy throughout the whole body.

For more info and recipes with maca, check out this article on!

Read the original publication HERE

Want to learn some recipes that will help you with incorporating maca into your diet? Click here!

My Perspective on Food Combining as a Raw Foodie

Admit it, most of us eat fast, a little too fast. In the minutes it takes us to politely devour the food presented to us, do we really take the time to enjoy the hours of preparation and multitude of people behind its process from farm to table? And in those few minutes, how much of what we eat do we really taste? Over the last few years, I’ve had to teach myself to chew once again. I had realized that my multitasking persona was cramming ‘eating’ into the ‘to do’ list. As Simone Samuels gives us tips to improve digestion, food combining takes it one step further.

As the holidays have past once again, the focus on food and family blends back into our day to day. Surely some of us are still feeling the effects of the holiday feast. But, the holidays are not the only time we overindulge. Many of us from time to time, whether at a staff function or a best friend’s birthday party, tend to eat a little too much. The quick fix; undo the top button on our pants and park ourselves on the couch, undoubtedly with a big smile and a mild case of indigestion. How do our bodies so magically take the muddle in our tummies and turn it into fuel that nourishes us? In the case of the special occasion smorg, not so well. With a little foresight, we can evade the yawning and bloated belly every time we eat.

The concept of food combining has intrigued me for some time. In our stomach, sits the gurgling hydrochloric acid chalk full of digestive enzymes ready to destroy the next morsel that falls in. But this powerful brew can only handle so much at a time. When we reach for the potatoes and miso gravy, our tummy will be ready. When we start adding everything but the kitchen sink on top, it becomes a little confused. Starches and proteins take different concentrations of hydrochloric acid, different unique enzymes and also different amounts of time to break down into the simple sugars that fuel our bodies and minds. If the starches get broken down first, the proteins pass through the stomach improperly digested and thus a slew of digestive issues may occur from contaminated blood to decreased nutrient assimilation. And while proteins convert into amino acids during digestion, the starches will have already started to ferment and you may feel nauseous and bloated. Improper food combining over a long period of time may even cause degenerative conditions.

For people with health challenges and digestive issues, eating as simply as possible will allow for better nutrient absorption and more energy to spend elsewhere. The good news is that basic food combining for better digestion is easy to implement into your day to day routine. You’ll still have to be mindful of that home cooked buffet at grandma’s house but if you follow these few tips, your tummy will thank you.

My 6 Food Combining Tips

1. Eat simple meals. Foods eaten alone or with one or two other food will be the easiest to digest. No confusion there.

2. Eat the highest proteins first. Since proteins need the most hydrochloric acid than most other foods, best give them a head start. If eaten last, there may be no acid or enzymes left to break the protein down.

3. Don’t combine starches and proteins – these require different strengths of acidity in your stomachs and when battling each other, none really gets properly digested. If you just can’t give up beans and rice, certain spices such as ginger can help digest this lot together.

4. Greens such as kale, spinach and arugula as well as non-starchy vegetables such as carrots, broccoli and cabbage combine well with everything except dessert – which should be eaten alone.

5. Don’t drink water with meals since it can dilute the digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid, interfering with the natural digestive process. Drink water at least 15 mins before a meal and 1 hour after.

6. Eat fruits alone, especially watermelon. Fruits and other desserts with high sugar content break down quickly. Let them do their thing before adding anything else. Otherwise risk fermentation in the gut that can cause toxic by-products such as lactic acid and even carbon dioxide. This is indigestion at its meanest. Who wouldn’t like to eat dessert first?

Anytime I sit down to eat with friends and family, I remember to be thankful. How fortunate am I to be able to choose to eat whenever I feel hungry. I will remind myself to honor the connection of the food at my table and its complex processes that ripple through my body upon that first bite and beyond. A few moments of silence and a nod if you will. And remember to chew.

Read the original publication HERE

Your Guide to Staying Healthy & Eating Fresh on Road Trips!

I’m fortunate to eat  fresh veggies straight out of the garden and from local markets now, but as our approaching 2 month-long, living-in-the-back-of-a-truck honeymoon begins, I ask myself, how can we eat raw on the road? And better yet, how to pack fresh foods for expeditions deep in the forest for days on end? We aren’t just touring. We’ll be rappelling over waterfalls, caving in the deepest cave in Canada (aka. ‘Heavy Breather’), climbing mountainous monoliths and hiking in the backcountry of some of the most remote areas of the United States, the interior of Utah. We’re going to need sustenance, and plenty of it.

When coaching clients or for my own personal eating habits, I believe, it’s not about trying to become 100% raw. It’s a day-to-day choice coupled with a little foresight. Both my husband-to-be and I strive to eat as many unprocessed foods and as much organic, local produce as we can. At the moment of choice, there are those who can choose to eat raw or eat cooked, or really eat anything we want. That is our power of choice, and we are so fortunate to have such a choice. When on the road, our choices may be limited, especially where my fiancé and I end up – in the middle of nowhere. As my father would say, ‘beggars can’t be choosers’. And well, the only thing saving me from eating the lone apple, half wrinkled, sitting in a basket at the end of the convenience store countertop is foresight and preparation. (I would still probably eat the apple, crossing my fingers that it was organic!)Dehydrated Foods – How did the Native Americans preserve their food for long days on the prairie? They dried their summer bounty in the sun. Thanks to modern appliances, I have my own little drying sun, the Excalibur dehydrator.  For a week before our departure, I made 10 trays of crackers – Lemon Dill Black Walnut and Kale Garlic Hemp Crackers. Yummy! We now have a seemingly endless supply for two months and it really only took me a few hours to make the ‘dough’ and spread it and the patience of letting the dehydrator do its thing for 12-18 hours at 115 degrees.

 Dried Fruits and Veggies – Of course then there are the abundance of dried fruits we can stock up on – pineapple, bananas, mulberries, Incan berries, apple rings, apricots and goji berries.  un-dried tomatoes are also great for snacking on. Chop up a bunch of carrots, celery, onion and kale, toss with olive oil, a few pinches of salt and dried Italian spices, then dehydrate. A little later on when you are camping and it turns a bit chilly, just add warm water to this little veggie medley and Voila, you have your own soup!

 Greens and Superfood Powders – Instead of bringing individual jars of powdered greens and superfoods, we thought; why not just mix them all together! This is in our mash-up: Vitamineral green, broccoli sprout powder, spirulina, shilajit, chaga and reshi medicinal mushrooms. We also made a sweeter mix. It’s nice to take a break from green tasting everything! Our sweet mix: Cacao, Maca, Lucuma, Mesquite and ground Chia seeds.

 Nuts & Seeds – Don’t forget the nuts and seeds… walnuts, sunflower seeds, almonds, hemp hearts, sesame. You can sprout them and dehydrate them before hand or purchase pre-soaked and sprouted nuts and seeds. If you are keen on flavor, you can make your own mixed nuts with additional spices.

Here are two amazing recipes – and when you are going on a long vacation, you can even double or even triple the recipe:

Green Nuts:

  • 2 cups sprouted walnuts
  • 1 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds

Instructions: Mix the following together in a separate bowl:  ½ cup lemon juice, 2 tbsp of coconut aminos, 1 tbsp of coconut nectar, ½ tbsp of minced garlic, 2 tsp of minced ginger, 2 tsp of spirulina. Toss all together until the nuts are well coated and dehydrate for 10 hours, flipping after 3 hours.

Cinnamon Raisin Nuts:

  • 3 cups of sprouted almonds
  • 1 cup hemp hearts
  • 1 cup of raisins

Instructions: Pre-soak the raisins for 3 hours in filtered water. Rinse the drain before blending the following together in the Vitamix or blender:  3 apples, ½ cup shredded coconut, 1 tbsp of coconut nectar, 1/2 tbsp of cinnamon, 2 tsp of nutmeg, 1 tsp of vanilla powder or extract, a pinch of salt. Add to the almonds, hemp hearts and raisins, toss all together until well coated and dehydrate for 10 hours, flipping after 3 hours.

Drink Water – One thing to always keep in mind… be sure to drink lots of water when consuming dehydrated foods. They are, well, dehydrating. Before being able to properly assimilate the vitamins and minerals found within the fruit, your body must rehydrate them and if you are not drinking enough water, the fruit will take up the water you already have within. And when you are deep in the desert looking for gold, you might get a little thirsty. If you are a little more thirsty than normal, reach for Coconut Water. Whether canned or powdered, young coconut water is bursting with electrolytes and trace minerals. It also helps you stay hydrated.

Fresh Food
Fresh Food

Fresh Food –  Here is a little list of fresh fruits and veggies that can withstand a beating and don’t mind the warm temps.

Pineapple – With a hard rind, it’ll stay solid and get only sweeter with time. Pineapple also has Bromelain, a natural digestive enzyme which has anti-inflammatory effects.

Carrots – A big bag last longer than a week and they don’t need to be refrigerated.

Avocados – When they are immature, they are perfect to carry around… as they soften treat them well. Sprinkle with a little chili power and Himalayan salt and a drizzle of fresh lemon juice! Yum!

Cabbage – This stout ball of compact leaves can do with a little rough and tumble. When ready to eat, just peel away the outer layers. I like to toss cabbage with salt. The salt will draw out the cabbages bitter juices and soften it up a little. Add Ethiopian berebere spice for an interesting combo.

Apples – An apple a day… short on bruising, treated well, these iconic fruits will last a long while in the backpack.

Seaweed – Nori sheets and dulse flakes are amazing on the road. You can roll anything up with a raw nori sheet, such as mashed avocado and spinach with some sun-dried tomatoes and a pinch of salt. I think there may even be some dulse flakes already in our greens mash-up powder. Add a pinch of wakame flakes and a tablespoon of miso to hot water for a yummy brine before bed.

 Dried Herbs & Spices – After a while on the road, one can get accustomed to a limited palette. Bring a swath of dried herbs and spices and change your avocado into an Indian curry avocado, dill and tarragon avocado or a chocolate dream avocado with a little bit of cacao powder and coconut nectar.

Tea – Brew your own cold infusion of rooibos tea. Tulsi or Holy Basil tea is also an amazing road companion.

 Be Open to Local Fruits & Veggies – When you’re unable to choose organic, try to stay away from the ‘dirty dozen PLUS’. This list of produce is the highest ranking in harmful pesticide residue according to the Environmental Working Group. You can aim to reach for the ‘clean fifteen’, which EWG has publicized as fresh produce that ranks the lowest in pesticide residue.


  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Nectarines
  • Cucumbers
  • Potatoes
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Hot peppers
  • Kale/collard greens
  • Summer squash


  • Onions
  • Sweet corn
  • Pineapples
  • Avocado
  • Cabbage
  • Sweet peas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangoes
  • Eggplant
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe (domestic)
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Grapefruit
  • Papayas
  • Mushrooms

Most of all take only photos and leave only footprints in the great wild yonder we call nature.

Read the original publication HERE

6 Healing Thai Spices to Include in Your Meals

The Thai people are no strangers to the abundance of delicious flavor of spices, which you’ll find infused into their every meal.  Carefully wielded herbs and spices traditionally grown since ancient times are what make Thai food so delicious and mouth-watering. I’m sure most of us have tasted Pad Thai at least once in our lives and perhaps we’ve tried our hand at this delicious All Raw Zucchini Noodle Pad Thai recipe. Now I’d like to help you explore a little further into the amazing world of healing Thai spices.

Prepare For Paradise

In a tropical paradise, where fruit grows omnipresent on trees as far as the eye can see, fresh is best. But if you are far from the tropics and long for that far away flavor, a pinch and dash of a few key spices can transport you to the land of smiles. I’ve listed a few of those key spices here.

Kaffir Lime Leaf – Also known as Makrut by the Thai people, this plant is known to cleanse the mind and the body according to popular culture. As an essential oil, it makes an amazing household cleaner, and can be used to get problematic stains out of clothes. The leaf is actually a double leaf, with one seemingly growing out the other. They are not so easy to digest as they are very fibrous, so either mash into a pulp with a mortar and pestle or add to a warm broth and remove before munching down.  This little leaf is what gives Thai cooking its distinctive flavor and no dish would be complete without it.

Lemongrass – Matching the potency of Kaffir Lime Leaf head to head, this lemony grass has a distinct flavor of its own and is common in many Thai dishes. It makes its appearance in the very popular Tom Yum Thai Soup and has long since been used by the Thai people for relief of fever, Backache and helps to cope with cough and cold. Next time you’re feeling under the weather, chop up some fresh lemongrass, brew a tea and read a lovely book curled up in bed.

Turmeric – Slightly peppery and bright yellow in colour, this tiny root is a fighter of all bad things. Not only famous in Thailand, it has been recognized in India and China and in Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years. The active compound in turmeric is Curcumin and it is anti-bacterial, anti-vital and anti-inflammatory. While living in a reforestation camp in Haiti, we would cover our wounds, cuts, bruises and burns with turmeric to ward off nasty infections and promote healing. Turmeric stimulates apoptosis, a process that triggers the self-destruction and elimination of damaged cells which in most cases are cancerous. With numerous health benefits, turmeric should well be on its way to being the spice you reach for at every meal.

Galangal or Siamese Ginger – Just as the mighty ginger root and turmeric too, it’s cousin galangal is part of the rhizome family and is full of anti-oxidants. More commonly found in an Asian market, this delicious tuber lends a helping hand towards improving digestion and relieves diarrhea by calming the stomach and intestines, just as ginger does. It’s anti-inflammatory and is known to calm symptoms of arthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. It even helps curb nausea due to motion sickness – sailors behold!

Thai basil – Basil is a rich and earthy herb that is known worldwide for its presence in pesto. According to World’s Healthiest Foods, “The tradition of reverence of basil has continued in other cultures. In India, basil was cherished as an icon of hospitality, while in Italy, it was a symbol of love.” In Thailand, fresh basil is added upon serving. If cooked, much of its intense flavor is destroyed. The delicate leaves are used in so many ways by many of the southeast Asian countries. I’ve heard people using Thai basil for ice cream flavourings, or even with chocolate truffles. Experimenting is fun. Why not try your hand at a newly inspired Thai Basil delicacy?

Shallot – Being in the Alliaceous family – sibling to the onion, garlic and leek – these potent root bulbs contain Allicin, an active component which inhibits blood clotting, which in turn decreases the overall potentiality of coronary diseases. High in vitamin C, potassium, iron and folic acid, shallots also contain Prostaglandin A-1, a potent anti-inflammatory enzyme that alleviates the biological consequences of stressful conditions responsible for cancer cells. They might make you cry, just as the tear jerking onion, but shallots are sweeter and milder in their punch yet still fight more than just the common cold. Be sure to store your shallots in a cool dark place away from moisture as their shelf life is less than the onion.

I created a recipe using all of the spices mentioned above, click here to try my new Kaffir Lime Carrot Soup.

Read the original publication HERE

Makrut Lime Carrot Soup Recipe

Thai spices sure inspire me in the kitchen. While creating my Global Cuisine Series, I invented this amazingly delicious soup that actually uses all of the inspirational Thai herbs and spices mentioned in my previous post: “6 Healing Thai Spices You Can Include in Your Cooking”. I shared some of my favorite healing spices from Thailand, their traditional uses and health benefits. Hope you enjoy it!

Kaffir Lime Carrot Soup


  • 1/2 cup of fresh lemongrass, chopped finely.
  • 1/4 cup kaffir lime leaves, chopped finely.
  • 3 cups of water (water to steep the above ingredients)
  • 1 cup of chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup of mango (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 cup young coconut meat
  • 2 tbsp. Coconut Nectar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. lemon juice
  • ½ inch sized piece of Siamese ginger or Galangal
  • ½tbs of minced shallot
  • 1 tbsp. coconut aminos
  • ½ tsp of turmeric
  • a pinch of salt to taste
  • fresh Thai basil to garnish


1. Prepare the lemongrass and Kaffir Lime leaf, place in two cups of boiling water and steep for at least 10 minutes. This flavourful water will be the base of the soup.  (Always be sure to use organic ingredients if available).

2. Remove lemongrass and lime leaves from the water and add this water along with the rest of the ingredients in the blender and blend until steamy and smooth, about 3 minutes.

3. Pour into bowls,  and garnish with a generous Thai basil chiffonade and serve immediately while warm.

Read the original publication HERE