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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Resolve To Keep Working At It!

By this point in the year many have lost faith in, given up on or all-together forgotten about their New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s easy to get discouraged when we don’t measure up to the lofty objectives that we set when we have a fresh slate. The good news is that it’s not too late to make a positive change this year! There is still tons of time in 2014 to achieve goals around being a healthier you.

An important concept to keep in mind is that it’s what we do the majority of the time that really counts.  It’s easy for us to have one overly indulgent meal or skip out on one workout and to feel like the entire plan is ruined and give up.  I tell my patients that it’s what they do every day or the majority of days that counts and that the once-a-month treats (within reason, of course) matter much less.  The important thing is not letting those occasional indulgences take you off course.  Rather than beating yourself up or sliding back to old routines, it’s important to get right back to the healthy plan.

Another important part of resolutions is having support.  Have you told anyone about your goals? Have you teamed up with anyone to achieve your goals together? Maybe there’s a family member, friend or neighbour who also wants to commit to walking in the evenings.  Or a co-worker who would like to exchange healthy recipes with you. Have you told me about your health goal for 2014? Whether it’s improving your diet, losing weight, decreasing your need for medication or just feeling better, I’d love to help you achieve it!

New Year’s Resolutions have a certain excitement about them, but really any day works for setting goals.  Working towards goals doesn’t require us to be perfect, but simply to stick with it.  And the more support we have, the better. I hope you have a terrific 2014 and I can’t wait to work with you to make it the healthiest year yet!


Recipe of the Month: Kale Chips

If you haven’t tried them yet, you might think that “kale” and “chips” are two words that don’t belong together.  But if you’re someone who’s tried this trendy super-food, you know what a terrific snack it is! You can find kale chips in many grocery stores but making your own allows you to avoid an additives. And it’s easy! Kale is a powerhouse with the most nutritional value per calorie; it is alkaline and anti-inflammatory.


  • 1 Bunch of Kale
  • 3 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Optional seasonings: 1 Tbsp Lemon or Lime Juice, 1 Tbsp Tahini, ¼ Tsp Cayenne Powder, or any other seasonings that you enjoy – be creative!


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F
  2. Wash kale, dry thoroughly, remove the stems and break into bite-sized pieces.
  3. In a large bowl, toss kale, oil and salt.
  4. Transfer kale to cookie sheets and spread to a single layer.
  5. Roast in oven for about 15 minutes, until edges are dark but not blackened. Watch closely to make sure they don’t burn!
  6. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Be sure they are thoroughly cooled before putting into a container (if you can resist the temptation to eat the whole batch!)  

Recipe adapted from The Complete Leafy Greens Cookbook by Susan Sampson. (I got it as a gift over the holidays and love it!)

Photo Credit: MorgueFile

NEW Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Course

Are you looking to bring calmness to your mind and your life? Or maybe you are looking to better manage that work or family stress? Mindfulness training could be a helpful part of your plan!

I’m very excited to announce a new Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction course that will be available in the New Year at the Justine Blainey Wellness Centre.  I will be facilitating this 8-week course based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s successful program.  This course has been extensively studied and shown to reduce stress, decrease anxiety and depression and improve concentration, productivity and sleep.  It’s also been shown to benefit many physical illnesses including fibromyalgia, headaches and arthritis.

Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to one’s moment-to-moment experience.  It’s about getting out of our heads and living in the present moment rather than dwelling on things that happened in the past or worrying about things that could happen in the future. 

Mindfulness training teaches people to pay attention to their thoughts, feelings and physical sensations in an observant, non-judgemental way.  When we view our thoughts and feelings from the perspective of an observer we notice that even negative ones are only temporary and not always as true as we might think.  By becoming aware of them we can make a conscious choice about how to respond to them.

This course helps participants develop the skills for being mindful through the use of a variety of exercises including meditation and group discussions.  Participants will also be asked to complete daily homework exercises to maximize the benefist of the program.  While there are some education components, most of the classes consist of experiential learning and the development of practical strategies and skills for participants to use in their daily lives.

More Info: Click on the Mindfulness page to learn more.

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Whole Foods

We’ve all heard the term “Whole Foods” mentioned.  It’s a popular marketing catchphrase these days and heck, there’s even a store bearing the name! But what does it really mean to eat whole foods?  

I read about a really practical experiment done in a high school culinary arts class that illustrated the idea of whole foods very clearly.  In the experiment, one student juiced 6 oranges to produce 8oz of juice, drank it in a few seconds and said “I’m hungry, what’s for breakfast?”  Another student was also given 6 oranges but instructed to cut them up and eat them.  After 15 minutes and 5 oranges the student said, “I think I'm going to be sick, I can't eat another bite.” 

While some people consider the orange juice to be a whole food – there was no extra sugar or flavouring added after all – it still differs significantly from the food’s natural state. By juicing it, we’ve removed the fiber which gives our body a signal that it’s had enough and helps to slow the absorption of sugar, lessening the impact on our blood sugar levels.  Also, the liquid format allows us to drink it very quickly without giving the body the opportunity to register the amount of sugar that has been consumed.  Instead, why not eat the whole fruit or add the entire fruit to a smoothie?

Another example of this concept is milk.  While I’m not a proponent of people drinking cow’s milk, if you do choose to drink it, you’re better off choosing whole milk.  A recent study looking at childhood obesity compared weight outcomes with the type of milk children consumed.  Surprisingly, compared to children drinking high-fat milk, those drinking 1% had a 57% increased chance of being obese 2 years later. One possible explanation is that by removing the fat from the dairy product you create a product that is less satisfying which may encourage people to drink more of it. 

Another challenge exists when whole foods are combined with other ingredients.  A bread or pasta may bear the label claim “made with whole grains” because a small portion of the product is whole wheat or brown rice.  However, in many of these products, an equal or even a larger portion of the product is made of refined white flour or a variety of other highly processed ingredients and additives. 

Rather than choosing processed foods with this catchy phrase on their packaging, try to incorporate more foods in their whole, natural form into your meals.  Enjoy a piece of fresh chicken or fish rather than a frozen burger or fish stick. Have a whole apple (with the skin) instead of the apple sauce cup.  Boil some quinoa or brown rice instead of bread, pasta or white rice.  Top your salad with lemon juice and olive oil instead of a bottled dressing. Try making your own homemade granola or cookies using whole grains, nuts and seeds. And don’t forget about your 6-8 servings of vegetables, my favourite whole foods of all!

When making food choices, focusing on whole foods is a great way to ensure that you are getting all of the benefits naturally found in a food and it helps us to eat foods in the right amounts.  Why not try choosing more whole foods today?



Scharf RJ et al. Ach Dis Child. 2013;0:1.


Recipe of the Month: Vibrant Kale Salad

This is my favourite salad and a great crowd pleaser. Vegetables come in a variety of colours (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green and Purple) and each colours provide a variety of plant-based compounds (called phytochemicials) which have anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and even anti-cancer activity. This salad covers four of the five colours! Most of these ingredients are currently in season so it’s a great time to make a batch.


  • 1 large bunch of Kale
  • ½ Red Onion
  • 2 Carrots
  • 2 Raw Beets
  • ¼ cup Olive Oil
  • ¼ cup of Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Honey
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions: Shred kale into bite-sized pieces and wash. Peel and julianne the carrots and beets and thinly slice the red onion and add to the kale. Combine all dressing ingredients and whisk thoroughly. Add dressing to the vegetables and allow at least 1 hour before serving in order to soften the kale.

Note: Because the beets love to share their vibrant colour you may wish to wear gloves while peeling and slicing. If you use your bare hands, the colour will wash off fully within a day.


Does Fish Oil Cause Prostate Cancer?

You may have heard about a study that was published recently that made the claim that higher levels of omega-3 fats were linked to increased rates of prostate cancer.   This is a concerning statement because omega-3s are recommended for a huge range of health benefits such as heart disease prevention, anti-depressant effects and anti-inflammatory benefits– whether it’s in the form of fish oil supplements or increasing the consumption of fish in the diet. 

Here’s what the study showed: those patients with higher omega-3 levels had a 43-71% increased incidence of developing prostate cancer compared to those with the lowest omega-3 levels. 

Here are some of the headlines that were posted about this study:

"Omega-3 supplements linked to prostate cancer" (Fox News)

"Men who take omega-3 supplements at 71 percent higher risk of prostate cancer" (NY Daily News)

"Omega-3 supplements may trigger prostate cancer" (Nursing Times)

"Hold the salmon: Omega-3 fatty acids linked to higher risk of cancer" (CNN)

Sounds pretty scary! But let’s look at whether or not these headlines were appropriate.  The truth is that the design of a study is enormously critical to the usefulness of the results and this one has some major issues.

From reading these headlines, you’d probably think that the researchers took a group of people, divided them in half, gave one group fish oil and monitored for prostate cancer.  If this were the case, I would be very interested in stopping this supplement in my patients.  Check out my blog post “Killer Calcium” for an example of research showing potential harm from supplementation.  However, this is not what happened in this particular study. 

Firstly, this was a retrospective trial.  Another study was completed to investigate something different and after it was finished researchers looked back at various factors among the participants to find associations.   And that is the main problem – associations do not tell us about cause. 

I could create a study where I could find an association between having yellow fingers and an increased risk of lung cancer.  Using my retrospective study we might say that the yellow fingers caused the cancer but using common sense we know that smoking causes your fingers to yellow and increases your risk of lung cancer. And the yellow fingers really aren’t to blame.  

In the case of this study, we have to consider other factors that may have been at play.  What if men with more risk factors for cancer or heart disease started taking omega-3 supplements but eventually developed cancer due to their genetic disposition?  (A first degree relative such as a father or brother with prostate cancer raises your risk by 120-180%)   The study did not take into account the health of the participants.  The study also did not account for diet, exercise, genetic risk or obesity.   What if more participants in the high risk group had a family history of prostate cancer or other known risk factors like obesity?

Other correlations that were found within this study were that non-smokers had more aggressive forms of prostate cancer, the risk of prostate cancer was higher in non-drinkers and that patients with prostate cancer were less likely to have a history of diabetes.  Based on these outcomes, and the same line of reasoning that was used with omega-3 levels, we might say that the best way to avoid prostate cancer would be to develop diabetes, drink in excess and smoke cigarettes.   These ideas clearly are opposite to what we know about cancer prevention.  And the same is true for omega-3 intake and prostate cancer risk.

A 2007 study from Harvard of 14 916 men revealed a decrease in prostate cancer risk among men with higher levels of omega-3s. A large 2010 study showed a 63% decrease in the risk of dying from prostate cancer among men with higher fish consumption.  A 2003 study of 47 866 men found a trend towards decreasing risk of prostate cancer with higher omega-3 levels.   A 2013 Harvard study of 293 464 men showed a lower rate of fatal prostate cancer among those with higher omega-3 intakes.  We can also look at historical data. For generations, Japanese men have eaten diets containing large amounts of fish.  Japanese men have had the highest blood levels of omega-3’s and yet some of the lowest rates of prostate cancer.  More recent studies have shown an increase in prostate cancer in this population and it’s possible that the global trend towards the Standard North American diet (low in omega-3’s) could be playing a role in the trend.  These are high quality studies using huge populations.  And there are LOTS more.  To say that one study involving 2200 participants is able to contradict this established PROTECTIVE effect of omega-3s is not appropriate or justified. 

Another concern is the type of testing used in the study.  The testing performed in this study looked at the omega-3 fatty acids in the liquid part of the blood (the plasma) which changes very rapidly.  The omega-3 levels within the red blood cells provide information about more long term omega-3 status.   The difference in plasma levels seen in this study could have simply been related to whether the men chose to have chicken or salmon the night before the blood test was done. 

Let’s talk about the omega-3 values themselves.  Based on previous research, blood levels in a person eating a moderate amount of fish at approximately 6% and in a person supplementing 3.6g of fish oil daily are about 11%.  In this study the group with higher prostate cancer risk had blood levels of 4.66% compared to the low risk group with 4.48%.   These low levels suggest that neither group was supplementing with fish oil or regularly eating large quantities of fish and this incredibly small difference in blood level (0.18%) may have, again, been simply related to those who ate fish the night before the blood test. 

For many reasons, the results of this article are not sufficient to cause concern about people eating fish or supplementing with fish oil.  The participants in this study had very low levels of omega-3s and the form tested is more reflective of short term exposure than the long term intake of omega-3s that would affect disease risk.   The main concern about the study, however, is that even if a correlation is seen, it does not tell us about the cause.  Numerous large, high quality studies suggest a protective effect of omega-3s for prostate health.  Taking this into consideration, we can safely say that the media response to this study was unjustified and inappropriate and that with all their other health benefits omega-3s should remain an important part of a healthy diet. 


Szymanski KM, Wheeler DC, Mucci LA. Fish consumption and prostate cancer risk: a review and meta-analysis. The American journal of clinical nutrition. Nov 2010;92(5):1223-1233.

Leitzmann MF, Stampfer MJ, Michaud DS, et al. Dietary intake of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids and the risk of prostate cancer. The American journal of clinical nutrition. Jul 2004;80(1):204-216.

Chavarro JE, Stampfer MJ, Li H, Campos H, Kurth T, Ma J. A prospective study of polyunsaturated fatty acid levels in blood and prostate cancer risk. Cancer epidemiology, biomarkers & prevention : a publication of the American Association for Cancer Research, cosponsored by the American Society of Preventive Oncology. Jul 2007;16(7):1364-1370.

Bosire C, Stampfer MJ, Subar AF, et al. Index-based dietary patterns and the risk of prostate cancer in the NIH-AARP diet and health study. American journal of epidemiology. Mar 15 2013;177(6):504-513.

Epstein MM, Kasperzyk JL, Mucci LA, et al. Dietary fatty acid intake and prostate cancer survival in Orebro County, Sweden. American journal of epidemiology. Aug 1 2012;176(3):240-252.

Mori M, Masumori N, Fukuta F, et al. Traditional Japanese diet and prostate cancer. Molecular nutrition & food research. Feb 2009;53(2):191-200.

Ferris-Tortajada J, Berbel-Tornero O, Garcia-Castell J, Ortega-Garcia JA, Lopez-Andreu JA. [Dietetic factors associated with prostate cancer: protective effects of Mediterranean diet]. Actas urologicas espanolas. Apr 2012;36(4):239-245.

The Study:

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Peanut Butter VS Almond Butter

Peanut butter is a staple of many peoples’ diets – as a sandwich for breakfast or lunch, in baked goods or on crackers or celery for snacks.  But almond butter is becoming increasingly popular and is recommended by many Naturopathic Doctors.  Let’s take a look at how these two stack up!

If we compare 2 tablespoons of peanut butter to almond butter we see many similarities.  Both are good sources of protein (7-8g), high in heart-healthy mono-unsaturated fats, a good source of potassium and similar in carbohydrate content. 

Although almond butter is slightly higher in calories, it is lower in unhealthy saturated fat (1g vs 3g), has twice as much magnesium, and 7 times as much calcium! It also has twice as much fiber, iron and vitamin E. 

Both nut butters have benefits but it does seem that almond butter comes out on top!

While these statistics were taken from the USDA References as representing the average almond and peanut butters, it’s also very important to keep in mind that not all are created equally! When it comes to almond butter, most contain only ground almonds.  On the other hand, unless you get “Natural” peanut butter, it’s likely to contain added sugar, salt and fat to make it creamier and sweeter.  The fat used is often hydrogenated which contains trans-fat that dramatically increase the risk of heart disease.   Read the labels on all products that you buy and keep in mind that fewer ingredients are almost always better!

And don’t be afraid to add variety to your diet by branching out to other members of the nut butter family - health food stores have huge selections! Why not try sunflower, cashew or hazelnut butter? You probably grew up eating peanut butter but it might be time to add nutritional value and variety to your diet by giving almond butter a try.