Detox Day 10: Reflection

reflection 1You have almost reached the end of your detox!  Take the time now to look back at the progress you have made, and to look forward to your plans for the future.   It’s important to recognize the progress you’ve made during this detox, to make note of the changes you’ve seen in yourself physically, mentally and emotionally, and above all remember to be proud of yourself!   We so often forget to take in our accomplishments and instead just move on to the next day or the next thing without reflecting on the good we’ve done.  Feel proud of yourself in the same way you would feel proud of a friend or family member, you deserve that same compassion and encouragement!

Once you’ve done some reflecting, take some time to think about the future.  What will you take from this detox?  Will it be incorporating some of the recipes into your meal plans, continuing on with some hydrotherapy (like hot/cold showers…I know you all loved these!), or simply drinking more water & minimizing sugar?  It could be a small change or a big one (if you’re ready for it), but the important part is to try to incorporate something into your daily living.  In this way, as you repeat the detox each spring you will gain 1 new good habit each year, which will add up to big changes in the long run!

Making it to the end of this detox, you’ll likely notice your mind is much clearer, thoughts are more focused and your mood is more positive.  If you’re feeling you want to capitalize on this and continue challenging yourself, here are some great books to keep you going:


Great job!

See you all next year?!

Dr. Alison

Detox Day (5 &) 6: Cleansing Your Mind

I have to admit, I had a blissful weekend planned at home with my husband and 2 boys; no work, no plans (besides watching NCAA Basketball Final Four of course;), just thought we could really enjoy each other’s company and take it easy…well, that sort of worked out!  Amongst the whining and brother battles we did have moments of peace.   IMG_5504

One of those moments was our hike through our family bush lot.  I just love being out in nature and watching my boys play with sticks, fall in the mud/snow (can’t believe we still have snow!) and eat snacks around a fire.  It really cleanses the mind & spirit.  A recent article in National Geographic Magazine “This is Your Brain on Nature” shows the research behind why spending time outdoors is so important for our mental health.
In the article, David Strayer, a cognitive psychologist specializing in attention, eludes us to the perfect antidote to our modern lives: nature.  He explains what he calls the “three day IMG_5494effect” as a cleaning of our mental windshields that occurs when we’ve been immersed in nature long enough.  He demonstrates this through a group of outward bound participants who score 50% better on creative problem-solving tasks after three days of wilderness backpacking.  That said, he continues on to explain that any time spent in nature is beneficial, whether it’s time in green spaces or a walk in the park – they have even shown benefits to our stress levels from looking at pictures of the natural world.  So, the take home here is to spend more time outside!

 “When we get closer to nature—be it untouched wilderness or a backyard tree—we do our overstressed brains a favor.”

A detox should be about body, mind & spirit.  Nutrition & supplementation help detoxify the body, but don’t forget about the health benefits of cleansing your mind & spirit as well.  Nature is one (important) way to cleanse the mind, but there are many other things that can help as well such as meditation, reading an uplifting book (one of my favourites is Buddhism Plain & Simple by Steve Hagen) and yoga/exercise.  Be sure to incorporate these into your detox, as well as into your everyday life.

Oh, and one more thing.  I apologize for missing my day 5 blog, but I thought I owed it to myself to really take in the nature of this blog and have a “mind cleansing” day (or maybe it was just the weekend and I put it off, but the first option sounds better so I’ll stick with that;)

Happy Cleansing!

Detox Day 4: Delicious Detox Salads

Day 4 is coming to a close and hopefully by now you’re starting to feel the benefits of your efforts.  I thought it was time for a recipe and for those of you that are taking part in the detox, you’ll already have the one for kale salad, but be sure to read on because you likely have some tahini dressing in your fridge that you need to use up and I’ve got just the recipe for you!  For those of you not taking part in the full detox, the kale salad is a must-try; I personally love this salad, and although it doesn’t necessarily sound delicious, I assure you it is.  But don’t take my word for it, give it a try!

Kale, Beet & Carrot salad:

  • 1 bunch kalekale and beet salad
  • 2 medium beets (Bonus: beets help support detoxification of your blood and liver; for more facts on why beets are very beneficial to our health, click here)
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 1-2 tsp olive oil
  • 1-2 tsp apple cider vinegar


In a large salad bowl, combine kale (torn or chopped into small pieces, stems removed; this is an important step otherwise the salad will be too fibrous) with olive oil & apple cider vinegar & toss. Then add the shredded beets and carrots to the mix & toss once more.  This salad is best if prepared the night before so that the kale can soften up overnight.  However, it can be eaten right away if time doesn’t allow otherwise.

*Before serving, top with a generous amount of the tahini dressing & enjoy!

Tahini Dressing:
tahini dressing

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp tahini (sesame seed butter)
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • water to desired consistency (~1 tbsp)


Combine the first 6 ingredients & mix, then add enough water to make it your desired consistency (note: when storing dressing overnight or longer it thickens, so just add a little water before serving to get it back to desired consistency).

Pour the dressing over the portion of the salad you will be eating right away and store the rest of the salad and dressing separately in the fridge for another time.

Spinach, Avocado & Chicken Salad:

This is a salad I threw together the other day for lunch when I was trying to figure out what I should do with my leftover tahini dressing.  Experimental recipes like this don’t always work out, but I have to say this one sure did!  I just made this by the plate so I don’t have exact amounts of what you’ll need, but here are the ingredients you’ll need:

  • Baby Spinachspinach salad
  • Red onion, sliced thinly
  • Avocado, diced
  • Chicken, cooked & cut into pieces (can serve warm or cold)
  • Strawberries (optional)
  • Note: for a vegan version, skip the chicken, add quinoa to the base of the salad & top with walnuts.


Cover a medium-sized plate with spinach, then top with desired amounts of red onion, avocado, chicken & strawberries.  Drizzle a generous portion of the tahini dressing over the top & enjoy!


Detox Day 3: Why it’s Time to Detoxify Your Spring Cleaning Regime

For those of you taking part in my 10-day detox you’ve made it to day 3!  You may have felt a little more tired today as your body is really starting to clean out those toxins now; muscle aches and moodiness can sometimes surface as well.  If these things happen just know it’s all temporary and is part of the process.

A detox should not just be about the food you take in, it should also be a time when you take a look at what’s in your surrounding environment.  So, today I want to touch on detoxifying the cleaners in your home.

It’s time for spring cleaning, and therefore time to check in on what exactly you are pulling out of your cupboards. Is it generic, store-bought cleaners like Mr. Clean or Lysol?  Is it homemade or reputable, eco-friendly cleaners?  If your answer is the generic option, here are 2 important reasons why you should re-think your cleaning regime.

  1. Most of those store-bought cleaners (even including some brands that claim they are
    “green”) contain harmful chemicals, chemicals that are known to cause cancer, disrupt hormones, negatively affect the nervous system, and cause allergic reactions & skin irritation. If you are currently pregnant, trying to conceive, or have small children at home these chemicals could be especially harmful.

    1. Watch for and avoid the following chemicals: 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (allergen that forms cancer-causing chemicals), BHA (causes skin depigmentation), DMDM Hydantoin (allergen that forms cancer-causing chemicals), triclosan (may disrupt growth hormones from the thyroid), boric acid & sodium borate (unsafe for infants), dibutyl phthalate & toluene (causes hormone disruption; also found in nail polish)
    2. The list to avoid is much longer than above, but a general rule of thumb is that if you can’t understand multiple ingredients in a product than it’s likely not safe for your family.
  2. It’s not necessary. Homemade and eco-friendly cleaners work well, are much safer for your entire family, and can be more cost-effective as well.

For more information on specific cleaning products, be sure to check out; this site rates most cleaners by giving them a score out of 10 (10 being most hazardous to your health).  For tips on how to go green, have a look through Ecoholic Home by Adria Vasil (she provides examples of homemade cleaners, as well as safe store-bought options).

My Favourite Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner:

  • This recipe is so simple to make, very cost efficient, and is a safe & effecall purpose cleanertive cleaner; in my books it’s a must have in every home
  • In a reusable spray bottle, combine 1 part water and 1 part white vinegar with 20-30 drops of thieves essential oil (this is a combination of essential oils that provides anti-bacterial & anti-viral properties)
  • Give it a gentle shake and use for cleaning everything from kitchen countertops to mirrors to bathroom surfaces and more

Happy spring cleaning!

Detox Day 2: What Does Detoxing Have to Do With Fertility?

The benefits of detoxification are plentiful, from reducing food sensitivities, to healing skin conditions, to normalizing digestive disorders (such as constipation, diarrhea & IBS) and improving mental/emotional wellbeing.  There are many more benefits to listPregnancy Photos, but the one I want to talk more about (and one that people don’t necessarily consider) is enhanced fertility.

There are chemicals found in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the personal care products we put on our bodies (including shampoos, soaps, creams, makeup, etc.) that can affect our reproductive health.  More specifically there are certain chemicals which are known to be endocrine disruptors (or in other words can affect our hormonal balance; both male & female) such as the “dirty dozen” which can be found on Environmental Working Group’s website.

Chronic exposure to these chemicals can cause menstrual cycle abnormalities in women, reduce sperm health in men and can also interfere with the development of a healthy fetus.

If you still need more convincing, here’s a landmark statement sent out last year by the International Federation of Gynecology & Obstetrics (FIGO) warning that exposure to toxic environmental chemicals can be a threat to healthy human reproduction.  Click here to read.

Scary stuff, I know!

So, How Do I Optimize My Fertility and Overall Wellbeing?

All of the chemicals our bodies are exposed to get filtered through our organs of elimination, including our liver, digestive tract, skin & kidneys.  Therefore, by reducing our chemical exposures wherever possible and keeping our organs of elimination healthy & highly functioning, we are maximizing our ability to naturally clear these substances from our bodies when exposed; in this way they are unable to stick around long enough to cause any damage.  Detoxing 1-2 times yearly is a great way to help ensure you are cleansing these organs and therefore setting yourself up for future reproductive (and overall) health.

Now, that said, be sure to contact a Naturopathic Doctor or other medical care provider before embarking on any nutritional detox plan.  On the other hand, cleaning out harmful chemical cleaners & personal care products can always be done on your own and I will have a blog on this to follow so stay tuned!

Detox Day 1 (of 10): Why Detoxify?

So today is day 1 of my detox and so far so good, I hope the same is true for the rest of you following along!  I’ve actually really been looking forward to this detox as it’s been almost 6 years since I’ve been able to do a full cleanse; that’s because between being pregnant and breastfeeding my two boys ( ages 5 & 2) I was unable to partake.  That brings me to the first thing I would like to touch on:

Contraindications to detox:

  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Liver disease
  • Severe mental illness
  • Advanced stage disease
  • Having an eating disorder
  • Children & the elderly
  • Prescription medications

Now this list is not absolute and there are some exceptions here, however if you fit in to any of these categories it’s imperative that you contact a Naturopathic Doctor before proceeding with any detox.  That said, making healthy diet and lifestyle changes can go a long way for everyone and that is never contraindicated (I did modified cleanses each year while pregnant & breastfeeding, focusing mainly on a healthy diet and lifestyle changes).   So, if you are unable to take part in my full 10-day detox (which includes vitamins & herbs for liver and digestive health, tips & tricks for detoxification, a full meal plan and a shopping list), be sure to follow my blog for some healthy meal ideas, ways to detoxify your home and most importantly ways to cleanse your mind.  I will be posting a blog related to detox for each of the 10 days of the cleanse J

Diet changes to aid the detoxification process:

While taking part in a detox, you essentially want to give your body a break from having to process all of the ‘junk’ that we expose it to on a daily basis (from processed food to environmental toxins to negative thought patterns).  By doing so, your body will require less focus on the daily toxins it has to process and will therefore have more energy to focus on cleaning out the old junk!  Here are a few dietary changes that will go a long way:

  1. Cut out all processed foods, coffee, red meat, refined sugar, wheat, yeast & dairy from your diet.
  2. Focus on consuming more of these liver & digestive-supporting foods: beets,smoothie kids carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, turmeric, leafy greens (ex. spinach, swiss chard, kale), garlic, green tea, omega 3 fats (ex. flax seeds, walnuts, pumpkin seeds), berries & cherries.  A great way to incorporate some of these foods on a daily basis is to add a morning smoothie into your routine; pack it with anti-oxidant rich berries, 1/2 banana, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk, 1-2 tbsp ground flax, spinach & water (to desired consistency) for a delicious and detox-friendly breakfast.
  3. Drink lots of water! Many of us do not drink enough water in a day, and water is essential for flushing out toxins.  Dehydration can lead to constipation, headaches, fatigue and a reduced ability to naturally cleanse toxins from our bodies.  An active 130 lb person should consume about 10 cups per day, whereas an active 200 lb person should consume closer to 16 cups.   How many of us actually consume that much water?  Not many!  (Note: caffeinated beverages like coffee do not count towards your total water intake because they are diuretics, whereas herbal teas do so make the switch during a cleanse)

I hope these tips can help get you started on the path to a healthier you!

Happy Detoxing,

Dr. Alison

High Protein, School-Friendly Granola Bars (nut-free, wheat-free, dairy-free)

As most parents with school-aged children have
figured out by now, it’s not easIMG_4437y to come up with healthy, high protein, and kid-approved options for your child’s lunch box.  With nuts out of the question, healthy protein options are harder to attain, especially when you factor in that your child is the one in charge of eating his/her lunch so anything less than tasty is sure to remain untouched by the end of their school day!

Why is protein so important you ask?

1. Protein helps to stabilize blood sugar levels.  Let’s say your child goes through their day only picking away at some crackers and fruit, this will set them up for a blood sugar spike (i.e. hyper, can’t sit still, can’t focus), followed by a crash (i.e. tired, emotional, moody) by mid to end of day.  If they get adequate protein throughout the day their blood sugar will instead remain more consistent, as will their mood and behaviour (i.e. protein is the best way to avoid that end of day meltdown!)IMG_4430

Protein is also important for a number of other reasons, including that it’s a part of everything in the body that has structure such as bones, hair, skin and nails (thus making it essential for a growing child).  It’s best to get protein from a variety of sources including meat, seeds, beans and legumes.  This is why these granola bars are great as they have protein from 4 different seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, chia and hemp) as well as 3 different beans (navy, lentil and garbanzo from the Power O’s).

I made my healthy, high-protein AND kid-approved granola bar recipe for the first time last night (after wracking my brain for weeks to come up with the recipe) and got immediate approval by my 4 taste-testers (2 children, and 2 dads).  I figure 4 for 4 is a sure sign of success so they are about to be the new lunch box staple at our house!  The best part about these granola bars is that they are super quick (~10 min.) and easy to make, no baking required!

Dr. Alison’s High Protein, School-Friendly Granola Bars:IMG_4427

1/2 cup honey (local, unpasteurized honey is best)
– 1/2 cup Sunbutter (found in the health food section at the grocery store)
– 3/4 cup pumpkin seeds
– 1/4 cup chia seeds
– 1/4 cup hemp seeds
– 3/4 cup dried cranberries
– 2 cups Original Power O’s (I use the original flavour because there’s no added sugar; also found in the health food section at the grocery store)
– 1 cup whole rolled oats

In a medium sized pot, combine the honey and Sunbutter over medium heat until they melt together.
Next stir in the seeds & dried fruit, then add the Power O’s and follow with the oats.
Once everything is stirred together, remove from heat and transfer mixture to an 8×10 (or thereabouts) pan and flatten with a spatula.
Cool in the fridge or freezer until set.
Cut into squares of desired size for children’s lunches (I like to store mine in the freezer and just pull them out in the morning for lunches, by the time they eat them at school they will be the perfect consistency).