Guest Posts

I Think It's Time to Change the Discussion by Marty The Health Guy

Today's blog is from VegFest London speaker Marty The Health Guy. Marty will be kicking off the festival and speaking at 10:30 am. Learn more about Marty's presentation and our full festival schedule here.

I THINK IT’S TIME TO CHANGE THE DISCUSSION…

…from self-serving agenda’s to some basic facts…

As a health coach & advocate, the question of a healthy diet and what we put in our bodies comes up again and again and again. Should I eat less carbohydrates & more protein? Should I try a detox juice fast? Which supplements are the best to burn fat and build lean muscle?  I believe it’s these types of questions that continue to undermine the truth about what being healthy means and fosters our growing misconceptions about what our bodies actually need to be healthy and well.

So this begs the question, what does being healthy & well really mean? 

Is it having 6-pack-abs or fitting into a size 2 dress? The world of fitness magazines, infomercials & reality shows certainly suggests that’s the case. 

Or should lowering your risk of heart & cardiovascular diseases and maintain a healthy lean-muscle-to-body-fat ratio through diet and exercise be your #1 priority? I certainly believe this to be a greater and more realistic approach to our collective personal health. There’s nothing wrong with having a 6-pack or working to have a smaller waist, but too many of us head in that direction through calorie-restrictive diets and ignoring the full spectrum of nutrients our bodies need and throw a balanced lifestyle out the window simply to satisfy our personal vanities.

So for the sake of argument, let’s say that you agree that the second choice is the better one. This still begs the question, how exactly do we go about achieving optimal health? As I implied above, the different opinions and industry rhetoric out there points us all in a variety of different directions to achieve that same goal. So what’s the answer? 

Well, this is where I’d like to state for the record that even though I’ve personally chosen a 100% plant-based diet, I have little intention or vested interest in telling anyone that they need to follow in my exact footsteps to be healthy, or that my lifestyle is the perfect one for them. What I want to do instead is shift the discussion away from the many polarizing labels out there to a more fact-based approach of what the physiological truths tell us about what the human body needs to consume to be healthy and well. 

And all we have to do is look at the present state of North American’s state-of-health (or should I say ill-health) to see that we’re certainly not doing a very good job right now!

According to the Center for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) & The Obesity Network, almost 90 million North Americans are clinically obese, which leads to a whole host of cardiovascular diseases & cardiovascular disease is the #1 cause of death in North America! The CDC also states that only 20% of Americans get the recommended amounts of exercise each week, while Statistics Canada reports that only 15% of Canadians do (that’s right, we’re worse than Americans in the exercise dept. – let’s hang our collective heads in shame).

So, despite being inundated with many expert opinions on health and wellness, the state of North American wellbeing is clearly going in the wrong direction and we might be better served to look at some basic facts that transcend all the opinions, labels and agenda’s.

I’ll assume, for arguments sake, that we can all agree that dietary choices play a significant role in our overall health and wellbeing, so let’s start by looking at what we consume that might be causing those scary statistics.

The Real Agriculture Report tells us that the average American consumes 276 pounds of meat per year while the average Canadian consumes 137 pounds of meat per year AND according to a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute to determine if there is a relationship between the consumption of particular types of meats and an increased risk of death from illness found that: “The regular consumption of red and processed meats is directly associated with an increased risk of heart-disease and certain cancers, among other illnesses.”

In direct and healthy contrast, The American Institute for Cancer Research reports that basing our diets on plant foods (like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes), which contain fiber and other nutrients, will significantly reduce our risk of getting cancer and cardiovascular diseases. 

And though I’m not telling you to go out and give up meat entirely and start living a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle, I am telling you that if you’re not getting the majority of your diet from plant-based foods you’re not going to achieve optimal health no matter what your health magazine or fitness-based reality show tells you. 

Now go to the grocery store and fill your cart primarily in the produce department & stay tuned for my next blog:

I THINK IT’S TIME TO CHANGE THE DISCUSSION Part II

Do you have to eat meat to grow lean muscle & other silly myths…

Marty ‘The Health Guy’ Menard

4 Simple Steps to Making Your Own KaRAWte Mason Jar Salad

Looking to up your salad game? Check out this KaRAWte Mason Jar Salad, a special guest post from Jodi LeBrun. 

If you’re anything like me, and I know you are, you eat A LOT of salad. And while I look forward to my fresh fix, I also know that it is very easy to fall into a rut when trying to get your greens in on a daily basis.

I’ve got the perfect solution – they’re called KaRAWte Mason Jar Salads.

These trendy layered salads are pretty, practical and portable. They will dazzle your friends at the company picnic and they fit perfectly into a gym/cooler bag for your next post-workout snack or meal. They can easily be assembled for the week on a Sunday afternoon and they can be customized (jar size, allergies, sport) for each member of your active family. 

Just grab yours and go.

From bottom to top, here’s my salad:
Dressing (see below for my favorite DF dressing)
Mushrooms

Cucumbers

Shredded carrots

Sprouts

Arugula

Tomatoes

Hemp seeds

Pepitas (or pumpkin seeds)

Sunflower seeds

Shredded cabbage

More arugula

Topped with dried dandelion (it’s a great source of potassium & digestive aid)

As a mom to 4 growing kids and a Raw Food Nutritionist, I do my best to always buy organic, local produce and because I love to grow my own herbs, I always have a variety on hand in which to make the freshest dressings. One of our family favorites is from my mentor, Alissa Cohen. We love her ‘Creamy Italian Herb Dressing’ as it can be made with minimal effort, will store for days in the fridge and it’s soooo creamy!

You’ll need:

2 cups of extra virgin olive oil

1 cup fresh basil

¼ cup fresh parsley

¼ cup apple cider vinegar (I love Bragg’s!)

2 tsp. chopped onion

2 chopped scallions

½ lemon, juiced

2 cloves of chopped garlic

1 tbsp. honey or sweetener of your choice

2 tbsp. dried Italian seasoning or the equivalent in fresh thyme or oregano

a few sprinkles of sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Blend everything until creamy and smooth. Season to taste. Store in a glass jar in your fridge and use with your salads or as a veggie dip. Yum!

These salads really can’t be made wrong, and they definitely encourage you to be creative in your kitchen BUT there are a few things to remember if you want the tastiest and crunchiest salad ever:

Always put your dressing in first and then begin with veggies that won’t get soggy in it. Crunchy veggies like carrots, cucumbers, radishes, cauliflower and mushrooms are great lower level choices.

As you work your way up the jar, don’t be afraid to dig deep in your crisper! This type of salad is the perfect way to enjoy veggies that you might not regularly put in a salad. Avocado (sprinkled with lemon juice to minimize browning), zucchini, snap peas and sweet potatoes are wonderful additions.

Take the opportunity to sneak in a variety of nuts, seeds and dried fruit for added protein, vitamins and minerals. You’ll be amazed at the depth of flavor that hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, pepitas, pine nuts, walnuts or goji berries will add to your meal.

Don’t forget to leave a bit of space at the top so that you can flip it upside down to coat with the dressing.

Now that you’ve gotten a ‘taste’ of how versatile and nutrient-dense mason jar salads can be, I’d love to hear all about what your favorite combinations are and how you fit them into your family’s meals and recreational activities. Leave me a comment below!

Jodi Lebrun

London Wado-Kai Karate Club

Jodi is a green juice lovin' Raw Food Nutritionist, ‘Living on Live’ Raw Food Chef and SportYoga Instructor. She is the proud creator of KaRAWte (watch for upcoming nutritious workshops & classes!) and co-owns the London Wado-Kai Karate Club with her husband, Sensei Jim. 

To learn more about how to register for their karate classes or to take a KaRAWte workshop, visit http://www.londonwadokai.com and https://www.facebook.com/londonwadokaikarate.

Special thanks to Jodi for sharing this yummy recipe with us!