Recipe of the Month: Gluten-free Sweet Potato Gnocchi

sweet potato gnocchi

Hard to pronounce but delicious and fun to make!  Only 2 ingredients but limitless possibilities to dress them up.


  • 1-2 sweet potatoes
  • Rice flour


Peel and dice potatoes and boil until tender.  Drain very well and mash.  Measure your mashed sweet potato and add an equal amount of rice flour, mix thoroughly.  You may need to add extra flour to get a thick dough.

On a floured surface roll a piece of dough into a long rope and cut into 1 inch segments.  In small batches drop gnocchi into a pot of boiling water and keep an eye on them.  When they float, remove with a slotted spoon.

Once they’ve all been boiled, combine with your favourite ingredients to make a great meal.  Consider tomato sauce or pesto.  Don’t forget to add protein (meat or beans) and vegetables!

In my batch this week I added chicken, bacon, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, garlic, pine-nuts, fresh basil and lots of olive oil.

A Dose of Preventative Medicine

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”   ― Benjamin Franklin

He who cures a disease may be the skillfullest, but he who prevents it is the safest physician.  — Thomas Fuller

There are many quotes out there about preventing illness.  And while it can sometimes seem less impressive than a miraculous cure, most people would agree that they would prefer to never suffer from an illness at all.

Last year the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine research department published an exciting study in the Journal of the Canadian Medical Association.  They studied the addition of Naturopathic Medicine to standard treatment in 246 Canadian postal workers.  This included diet and lifestyle modifications, weight loss and supplement recommendations.  

After one year, the participants receiving Naturopathic care had a 17% reduction in a heart disease risk factor while the participants receiving standard care had an increase in their risk. 

Heart disease, diabetes and cancer are some of the most common causes of death in our society.  There is a genetic factor in these illness and this is well-known by the public.  As a result, I often have patients in my office tell me that they are doomed to have a heart attack or end up on insulin like their family members.  I love that I get to tell them that this is not necessarily true! There is a vast quantity of research demonstrating dramatic reductions in the risk of these illnesses with simple diet and lifestyle modifications. 

While less exciting than a dramatic cure, preventative medicine has the opportunity to contribute to our health in very significant ways and help us to avoid the suffering and expense of chronic disease.  If you are working with a Naturopathic Doctor, congratulate yourself for investing in your future health and keep up your efforts to stay healthy. If you’ve never worked with a Naturopathic Doctor, consider taking the step to invest in preventative care.  

Check out the study mentioned:

7 Minutes for Your Health

7 Minute Workout

No time to exercise?

Do you have 7 minutes?

When people say they don't exercise, the most common reasons are that they don't have the time or energy or interest. Now there’s a workout that can help you overcome these challenges!

The health benefits of exercise are staggering.  Regular physical activity decreases your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s and of dying from ANY cause! It is a potent tool for decreasing depression and stress and one of the best ways to increase energy. 

New research is being conducted on the use of short duration, high intensity workouts.  This new approach to fitness has shown excellent health outcomes while being more time efficient than traditional approaches to fitness.  For example, research at McMaster University has shown that a few minutes of exercise close to your maximum capacity can create changes in the muscles similar to long bouts of running or bike riding. 

A sequence of exercises has been well researched to improve fitness in a short amount of time.  There are 10 exercises that are each done for 30 seconds with a 10 second rest in between. Jumping jacks

  1. Wall sit
  2. Push-up
  3. Step-up onto chair
  4. Squat
  5. Triceps dip on chair
  6. Plank
  7. High knees/running in place
  8. Lunge
  9. Side plank


All exercises should be done at a speed that is comfortable and modified to your current fitness level.  For example, push-ups and planks can be done from the knees instead of the feet.  If stepping onto a chair is too high, use a small step stool or the first step of a flight of stairs

Various online versions and a downloadable Apps walk you through the routine with a visual guide and keeps track of time. You don’t need any equipment or special clothing - just a wall, a chair and some running shoes.  That means you can do it in your office or your home or anywhere. Even the busiest day can spare 7 minutes in the name of health and fitness!

Shaved Vegetable Salad Recipe

Shaved vegetable salad photo

This salad was inspired by a Summerlicious creation that I had at Quince Bistro a while back.  It is so colourful that it makes an impressive addition to a dinner party but it’s so PACKED with nutritious vegetables that you could enjoy it any day!  I used heritage carrots in my salad today – you might be able to see the purple and yellow ribbons.  Also when candy or golden beets are available in stores or farmers’ markets they add great colour too.  Oh and if you’ve never heard of kohl rabbi you’re not alone – feel free to leave it out but I challenge you to pick up this great veggie at your neighbourhood grocery store and give it a try!


  • 5 cups of baby arugula
  • 1-2 carrots
  • ½ bulb of fennel, cut top to bottom
  • 1/8th head of a red cabbage
  • ½ red onion
  • 6-8 radishes
  • ½ kohl rabbi, outer skin removed
  • 1-2 raw beets, skin removed
  • 1 avocado


  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper


Trim, wash and thinly slice fennel, red cabbage, red onion, radishes and kohl rabbi using a mandolin.  Use a peeler to create long ribbons or carrot after peeling and trimming.  Dice avocado. Combine all vegetables.  Combine dressing ingredients and add the desired amount.  Toss well and enjoy.

Earth Hour

March 29th from 8:30-9:30pm local time is Earth Hour.  An hour when people around the world will switch off their lights to raise awareness for the planet.

As a Naturopathic Doctor, protecting and preserving the health of the planet is a significant concern.  Simply because it’s the only planet that we have and also because the health of the natural world has a tremendous impact on human health. 

The research about the effects of spending time in a natural environment shows profound positive impact on the physical and mental health and stress levels of humans.   Two minutes in nature relieves stress, as measured by muscle tension, blood pressure and brain activity.  One hour in nature improves memory and attention span by 20%. Two consecutive days in nature increases white blood cells –the infection and cancer fighting cells of our immune system – by 50%.  As such, preservation of natural habits where people can disconnect from their busy lives is of utmost importance. 

Also, the plants, animals and water that nourish us every day have a huge potential to impact our health –for good or bad – and the health of the planet.   Food produced through factory farming can contain pesticides, hormones, antibiotics – all of which are known to impact human health.  Pesticide exposure has been associated with numerous health conditions including cancer, neurological and psychological problems.   Approximately 80% of all antibiotics produced are used in farm animals to increase their rate of growth and to compensate for poor living conditions. The overuse of antibiotics may be one of the contributing factors leading to widespread antibiotic resistance, a major medical problem. 

Pollution and toxins that are produced at an ever increasing rate as a result of transportation, human consumption and industry can have significant effects on the body.  A recent study commissioned by the Environmental Working Group revealed that more than 200 chemicals are present in the umbilical cord blood of newborns.  Our bodies have elaborate mechanisms to eliminate toxic compounds but at a certain amount, those mechanisms can be overwhelmed and disease occurs.  The World Health Organization estimates that a quarter of the world’s disease burden is related to environmental hazards which are preventable.  This includes illnesses such as asthma, cancer, heart disease and birth defects. 

Why not pull out the candles and show your support for Earth Hour? If you’re reading this blog, health is important to you.  And to have human health, we need a healthy planet. 

Visit parks and natural areas near you, and speak up for their protection.  Vote with your grocery bill – choose farmers’ markets, organic vegetables, and ethically raised meat.  Take transit or ride your bike. Recycle and reuse. We need the planet for our health, and the planet’s health depends on us too!                 


Prüss-Üstün A and Corvalán. Preventing Disease Through Healthy Environments. World Health Organization. 2006

Alavanja, M., Hoppin, J., & Kamel, F. (2004). Health effects of chronic pesticide exposure: Cancer and neurotoxicity. Annu. Rev. Public Health, 25, 155–97.

United States Food and Drug Administration. (2009). Summary report on antimicrobials sold or distributed for use in food-producing animals. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved September 18, 2012

Breast Cancer Prevention

Pink Ribbon

Guest Post from Dr Andrea Gri

Although treatment and survival rates have improved over the past couple decades, breast cancer remains the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women, affecting 1/9 Canadian women. Your Naturopathic Doctor is an important source for personalized prevention strategies but here is a summary of 3 general tips:

1. Maintain a healthy body weight through proper nutrition and exercise. Fat is a metabolically active tissue, raising insulin levels and producing small amounts of estrogen. Higher exposure to both insulin and estrogen increases the chances of getting breast cancer.

2. Limit alcohol consumption. The link between alcohol use and breast cancer is well established. Compared to women who don’t drink, one glass of alcohol per day increases a woman’s risk by up to 13%, two drinks per day increases the risk up to 27%, and three drinks or more per day can increase the risk by 40-50%. The World Health Organization reports that alcohol consumption is a greater risk for breast cancer than being overweight, having a low intake of fruits and vegetables, or not being physically active.

3. Include these cancer-fighting foods in your daily diet as much as possible:

  • Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale). These vegetables contain sulforaphane to help the liver detoxify estrogen.
  • Ground flaxseeds – helps the body get rid of excess estrogen, promotes regular bowel movements.
  • Brazil nuts – wonderful source of selenium, which the liver converts to glutathione, one of the most powerful anti-oxidants the body can utilize.

An interesting area that is gaining more research is the impact of environmental chemicals on breast cancer risk. The Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation has released a study linking higher rates of breast cancer with occupational exposure to pesticides, plastics, and heavy metals. While more research in this area is needed, there are a number of simple lifestyle modifications that can reduce your exposure to these chemicals:

1. Replace plastic Tupperware and plastic bottles with glass. If you do use plastic Tupperware, reserve for cold storage only and avoid exposing to heat (microwave, dishwasher, etc).

2. Consider switching to organic produce and meats. Visit the Environmental Working Group website ( for this year’s “dirty dozen, clean fifteen” list. Wanigan offers organic produce at a reasonable price and will deliver fresh produce to your door (

Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

Do you buy organic produce? Or have you thought about it? I encourage people to choose organic produce if they are able to but only if that doesn’t limit the amount of vegetables they consume – you all know I want people eating plenty of veggies!

A great option when choosing whether to opt for organic or conventionally grown is to consult the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists.  The Dirty Dozen are the produce items which are highest in pesticide residues and should be purchased organic if possible.  While it started off as 12 items, 2 have been added to the list more recently.  The Clean Fifteen are the lowest in pesticide residues and can be bought conventionally.

Dirty Dozen Plus

  1. Apples
  2. Celery
  3. Cherry Tomatoes
  4. Cucumbers
  5. Grapes
  6. Hot Peppers
  7. Nectarines
  8. Peaches
  9. Potatoes
  10. Spinach
  11. Strawberries
  12. Sweet Bell Peppers
  13. Kale and Collards
  14. Zucchini

Clean Fifteen

  1. Asparagus
  2. Avocado
  3. Cabbage
  4. Cantaloupe
  5. Sweet Corn
  6. Eggplant
  7. Grapefruit
  8. Kiwi
  9. Mango
  10. Mushroom
  11. Onions
  12. Papaya
  13. Pineapple
  14. Sweet Peas (Frozen)
  15. Sweet Potato

While corn makes the list for low pesticide residues, it’s important to keep in mind that much of the corn available is genetically modified.  As a result, it’s best to opt for organic corn products.  The same applies for soy. 

While choosing organic produce does cost more, you may be able to offset this difference by committing to making your food from scratch and planning out your meals before shopping to minimize waste.

Happy grocery shopping!

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Gluten-free Dairy-free Apricot Oatmeal Cake

This fabulous cake is gluten and dairy free and absolutely delicious! The oats add fiber and the apricots add vitamin A. Enjoy!!


  • 1 ¼ Cups Boiling Water
  • 1 Cup Gluten-free Oats
  • 1 ¼ Cups Gluten-free flour
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1Tsp Baking Soda
  • ½ Tsp Salt
  • ½ Tsp Nutmeg
  • ½ Cup Coconut Oil
  • 1 ¼ Cups Brown Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • ¾ Cup Finely Chopped Dried Apricots


  • 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil
  • ½ Cup Brown Sugar
  • 3 Tbsp Almond Milk
  • 1 Cup Flacked Coconut
  • ½ Cup Chopped Walnuts

Cake: Pour boiling water over oats. Stir and set aside.  Combine next 5 dry ingredients.  Cream coconut oil, brown sugar, eggs together until light.  Stir in oats, flour mixture and apricots.  Mix thoroughly.  Spread batter into a pan coated with ½ tsp coconut oil.  Bake at 350oF for 35 minutes. 

Topping: Prepare topping while cake is baking.  Combine all ingredients thoroughly.  Melt coconut oil in a small sauce pan if needed.  Spread evenly on warm cake.  Broil for 3-5 minutes or until golden.

Superfoods for Weight Loss

Guest Blog Post From Dr. Melissa Willms

These top weight loss superfoods that help to balance blood sugar and insulin, maintain satiety and fight off hunger pains, fuel energy, balance hormones and support your body’s ability to lose weight. Incorporate as many as you can on a daily basis for optimal results.

1) Herbal tea
Herbal tea after meals is a great way to encourage digestion, reduce bloating and fullness, and suppress the desire to reach for a sweet dessert. The best tasting and most beneficial include licorice, ginger, chamomile, peppermint, cinnamon, fennel, lemon balms and passionflower

2) Protein powders
Protein keeps blood sugar stable, keeps you feeling fuller for longer, makes you feel more energetic and is an essential part of any weight loss plan. The following companies make good quality and great tasting powders that can be consumed with water or blended in a smoothie: VEGA, Proteins+, Progressive, Precision.

3) Kale, swiss chard, bok choy, broccoli, Brussel sprouts
You can’t go wrong with green vegetables. Not only are they full of nutrients and vitamins but they contain insoluble fibre that keeps you feeling full at a fraction of the calories. Try sautéing with garlic and onions for a delicious meal.

4) Berries
When it comes to weight loss, you must be conscious of fruit intake due to the additional sugar and calories. Aside from apples, berries are my favourite fruit for weight loss. They are full of fibre, age fighting antioxidants and add a sweet taste to yogurt, cereals, smoothies and oatmeal.

5) Cinnamon
Cinnamon is naturally sweet and helps stabilizes blood sugar. Add to oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, coffee or fruit.

6) Stevia
This natural, ZERO calorie sweetener tastes great when added to coffee, tea, or used in baking. The liquid/drop form is my personal preference vs. the powder.

7) Non-fat Greek yogurt and cottage cheese
Just ½ a cup of Greek yogurt contains 12 g of protein, the equivalent to ½ a chicken breast. Purchase the plain flavour and sweeten with berries, stevia, cinnamon or a swirl of honey.

8) Eggs
My favourite breakfast is an omlette made with one whole egg + quarter cup of egg whites with 2 tbsp of cottage cheese and spinach. Sometimes I switch out the spinach for strawberries or half a banana and cinnamon and it tastes just like a crepe.

9) Apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp before meals mixed in juice stimulates the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, thus improving digestion and reducing bloating and fullness after meals.

10) Oats and quinoa
By far the best carbohydrates, these super starches are filling, help control blood sugar levels and contain a decent amount of protein.

11) Coconut oil
Although considered a saturated fat, the medium chain triglycerides found in coconut oil are more readily used as energy vs. stored around the love handles. It also tastes delicious and can be substituted for butter in baking.

12) Lemon water
Often when we feel hungry, our body misinterprets hunger pangs for thirst. Next time you feel hungry, reach for a large glass of water with lemon before into your drawer for a chocolate covered granola bar. Water is important for thousands of processes in the body. When properly hydrated you will have more energy, your skin will glow and you will think more clearly.

Melissa Willms is a naturopathic doctor with a passion for hormonal and women's health. She practices at Affinity Health Solutions in Ayr, Ontario and Sellars Chiropractic and Wellness in Waterloo, ON.

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The Fastest Way to Sink or Succeed

Guest Blog Post by Dr. Melissa McCreery

The fastest way to establish whether you’ll sink or succeed with a new project, with changing your weight, your life balance, your stress – even your career may surprise you. It’s probably something you take for granted, do automatically, or aren’t even aware of. I’m going to warn you that when I share it, it will sound very simple. Please, don’t take it for granted. This is the fundamental ingredient that sets and determines your course and your results.

The one, very powerful factor that will facilitate or undermine your progress with the goals you set, the projects you take on, and the dreams that you pursue for yourself is the story that you tell yourself about them.

What you believe about your ability to succeed almost always comes true.

It’s not always easy to capture the soundtrack that runs (sometimes continuously) in your head. But when you do (by listening, journaling, or simply asking yourself about it), it can be extremely enlightening.

We all carry around beliefs:

  • About what it takes to change
  • About our ability to succeed
  • About what kind of effort is required
  • About whether we deserve to be happy or thin or in love
  • About whether it can be easy or peaceful or fun

We take our beliefs and we weave stories that we mutter to ourselves all day long.

I’m fat and lazy. I’ll never make as much money as ______. I can’t stick with anything. I have no self control. If I want to make this happen, I’m going to have to work my butt off. I’m no good at _______. I’ll always struggle with ___________.

They are all stories.

They are just stories.

And they shape our attitude, our perspective, our approach, and our motivation continually. Every time we retell ourselves a version of what we have decided is true, we reinforce our beliefs.

There are stories that discourage us, “keep us in our place,” wear us down, and make success an uphill battle.

And there are stories that have the potential to change the game.

I can do this. I am the woman who succeeds. I keep making progress. I succeed by taking consistent steps and keeping it do-able. Success can feel easy. I am bigger than this struggle. I don’t have to be perfect to get where I want to go. I can learn as I go. Seeking help is a strength. I’m proud of ____________. I’m getting better every day.

We see what we are focusing on. We notice the details that confirm what we already believe. Want to fail? Tell yourself you can’t, you won’t, and it’s just too hard, miserable, or expensive.

Want to get what you want? Start feeding your beliefs, strengthening your confidence, and building a mental path that will create momentum toward your goals.

Copyright (C) 2014 Melissa McCreery, PhD. Psychologist, Author, and Coach Dr. Melissa McCreery focuses on the three O's that ambush successful, high-achieving women--overeating, overwhelm, and overload. Claim your free audio set: "5 Simple Steps to Move Beyond Overwhelm With Food and Life" at

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