• Healthy Halloween and Rawkin' Rolos


    Here is a guest post by Natalia Alvarez from Refresh! The Refresh roloblog can be found here!

    Today, the scariest part of Halloween is not the ghoul or goblin wandering the street but the mass consumption of refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, and artificial flavorings. A great way to avoid the processed and sugary trap that Halloween presents is to be prepared with your own treats. While this may not work so well for trick-or-treaters, as there are safety concerns associated with handing out homemade goodies, you  can impress your Halloween party guests with these Rawkin’ Rolos!


    And for the kids? Well, no one wants to be the dreaded house on the block that hands out raisins…so here’s a comprehensive list of some healthier alternatives that will keep trick-or-treaters smiling:

    –       Hershey’s Miniatures

    –       York Mints

    –       Hershey’s Kisses

    –       Welches Fruit Snacks

    –       Kit Kat Chocolate Bars

    –       Dark Chocolate M&Ms

    Below we have included some of the beneficial ingredients of raw and homemade goodies as well as a recipe for Rawkin’ Rolos.


    • High in magnesium and other essential minerals including calcium, sulfur, zinc, iron, copper, potassium, and manganese
    • Polyphenols called flavonoids
    • Vitamins: B1, B2, B3, B5, B9, E
    • Essential heart-healthy fat: oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat
    • Alkaloids, proteins, beta-carotene, leucine, linoleic, lipase, lysine, and theobromine, present in Cacao work together to improve physical and mental health
    • Theobromine helps to stimulate the central nervous system, relax smooth muscles, and dilate blood vessels, giving the body a boost of energy
    • “Bliss” chemicals found in cacao help to increase circulation and availability of serotonin and other neurotransmitters in the brain, improving mood and combating depression



    • Easily digestible with simple sugars like fructose and dextrose
    • Rich in dietary fiber, which prevents LDL cholesterol absorption in the gut
    • The fiber works as a bulk laxative: thus, helps to protect the colon mucous membrane by decreasing exposure time and binds to cancer-causing chemicals in the colon
    • Contain health benefiting flavonoid polyphenolic antioxidantsà tannins
    • Tannins are known to possess anti-infective, anti-inflammatory, and anti-hemorrhagic (prevent easy bleeding tendencies) properties
    • Moderate source of vitamin-A (contains 149 IU per 100 g), which is known to have antioxidant properties and essential for vision.
    • Vita min A is also required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin. Consumption of natural fruits rich in vitamin A is known to help to protect from lung and oral cavity cancers
    • Compose antioxidant flavonoids such as lutein, and zea-xanthin
    • These antioxidants have the ability to protect cells and other structures in the body from harmful effects of oxygen-free radicals. Therefore, eating dates found to offer some protection from colon, prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and pancreatic cancers
    • Zea-xanthin is an important dietary carotenoid that is selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea, where it is thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions
    • Excellent source of iron, contains 0.90 mg/100 g of fruits (about 11% of RDI).
    • Iron, which is a very common deficiency, is a component of hemoglobin inside the red blood cells, determines the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood
    • Very good source of potassium, 100 g contains 696 mg or 16% of daily-recommended levels of this electrolyte
    • Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that help control heart rate and blood pressure
    • Rich in minerals like calcium, manganese, copper, and magnesium
    • Calcium is an important mineral that is an essential constituent of bone and teeth, and required by the body for muscle contraction, blood clotting, and nerve impulse conduction
    • Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase
    • Copper is required for the production of red blood cells
    • Magnesium is essential for bone growth
    • Adequate levels of B-complex group of vitamins as well as vitamin Kà contains pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin
    • These vitamins are acting as cofactors help body metabolize carbohydrates, protein, and fats
    • Vitamin K is essential for many coagulant factors in the blood as well as in bone metabolism


    Chia Seeds

    • Great source of fiber, 28-gram or one-ounce serving of chia has 11 grams of dietary fibre — about a third of the recommended daily intake for adults
    • Full of anti-oxidants
    • Balances blood sugar, the gelatinous coating chia seeds develops when exposed to liquids-can also prevent blood sugar spikes
    • Rich in omega-3, nearly five grams in a one-ounce serving. These fats are important for brain health
    • Rich in protein, 28-gram serving of these super seeds has 4.4 grams of protein, nearly 10 per cent of the daily value
    • Gives sustainable energy because it has the ability to slow digestion and prevent spikes in blood sugar
    • Three times more iron than spinach
    • Five times more calcium than milk, a serving of chia seeds has 18 per cent of the recommended daily intake for calcium, which puts your well on your way to maintaining bone and oral health, and preventing osteoporosis
    • Seven times more vitamin C than oranges
    • Source of manganese, which is important for healthy bones and helps your body use other essential nutrients like biotin and thiamin. One serving of chia seeds, or 28 grams, has 30 per cent of your recommended intake of this mineral
    • Chia gel can replace butter and eggs in recipes
    • Contains phosphorus, 27 percent of your daily value for phosphorus, chia seeds also helps you maintain healthy bones and teeth. Phosphorus is also used by the body to synthesize protein for cell and tissue growth and repair
    • Contains twice the potassium content of banana


    Rawkin’ Rolo Recipe

    –       Medjool dates (200g)

    –       1 tbsp of nut butter (we prefer raw hazelnut or almond butter)

    –       Pinch of salt if nut butter is unsalted

    –       ½ cup Cacao powder

    –       ½ cup Maple syrup

    –       ½ cup Coconut oil or cacao butter

    –       Chia seed sprinkles

    Food process dates, nut butter, and salt until a smooth mixture is formed, it will likely turn into a gooey ball of date caramel! Place this mixture in the freezer while you melt your coconut oil for the chocolate, roughly ten minutes. If you want to ensure that the coconut oil is raw and not heated over 115 degrees, melting in a dehydrator is preferable; however, stovetop heating is also an option. Remove the date caramel from the freezer and begin forming 1 ½ inch balls, then return them to the freezer for an additional ten minutes. Meanwhile, combine the melted coconut oil with maple syrup and cacao powder. Whisk this mixture until smooth. When you are satisfied with the consistency of your chocolate, proceed to dip the date caramel balls into the chocolate using a spoon or toothpick. Coat the date balls in chocolate and sprinkle with chia seeds if you so desire. Return them to the freezer one more time. Once frozen (approximately ten minutes later) pop a rolo in your mouth and enjoy!

    Please note: this is a raw recipe but can be adapted in many ways. If you do not have access to the ingredients for the raw chocolate, there is always the option to substitute ½ dark chocolate chips with 1 tsp of coconut oil. Also, if you find the coconut flavour from the coconut oil overpowering or would like a fuller consistency in the raw chocolate then cacao butter is an excellent replacement but is slightly more costly and can be difficult to find.


    If you’re interested in learning more about the health benefits of raw food and how to make your own sign up for Refresh Natural Health’s newsletter where they offer raw food classes and hold health seminars.  You can find their website here.


  • New Soma Contest!


    Hi Everyone!

    Do you want to win a 60 min massage at Soma? Yes, I think you do… here’s how!



    • Step 1: Like us on Facebook and you get your name added to the draw.  Click here!  If you already like us (yay you!) then you name has been entered already!
    • Step 2: Write us a review on Yelp and you get your name added to the draw AGAIN!! Click here to write a review!

    Good Luck and Happy Thanksgiving!


  • "It's In You To Give"


    One day my husband and I were out and about in this beautiful city and we passed the Oak Street Blood Services Clinic.  He said, “hey, we should go give blood sometime”.  Well, I can think of a whole lot of other activities to do on date night than give blood. But nonetheless, we went in.  I was reminded how very important blood products are in saving lives.

    The staff and nurses are very friendly, professional and skilled. They put me at ease immediately.  It was really easy and did not hurt as much as I thought!  As the blood was collecting, I couldn’t help but think that I have seen too many episodes of True Blood.   That is sad really, that I associate blood with a TV show.  Blood products are necessary in cancer treatments, trauma situations and surgeries.

    Who can donate?

    The nurses will do a full screening to see if you are healthy enough to give blood but here are a few basic requirements:

    • must be over 17 years old and weighing more than 110 pounds
    • in general good health
    • have a good meal the night before (yah! I get to eat pasta) and a good breakfast day of.
    • no exercise day of
    • adequate sleep

    I hope I have inspired you to at least consider donating!

    The blood bank is low and remember “It’s in you to give.”

    Find out more by checking out the Canadian Blood Services website www.blood.ca

  • The Alkaline Diet and Recipe for Quinoa-Lentil Salad


    Vegetables Stock PhotoLets be honest, much of our Western diet revolves around processed convince foods to support our “busy” lives.  But these foods can cause an acidic and anaerobic (lack of oxygen) environment in our bodies that can lead to disease and decreased immunity.  When the blood pH dips below 7.35 our body is forced to constantly use cellular energy to neutralize and detoxify the environment, instead of fighting of bugs, viruses, and fungi.





    Here are a few signs that your body is too acidic:

    • Headaches
    • Sleepiness
    • Nausea
    • Increased heart rate
    • Shortness of Breath
    • Joint pain

    The Alkalizing diet has been shown to have a positive effect on those suffering from arthritis.  Inflammation occurs in an overly acidic environment, which makes the symptoms of arthritis worse.  For more information on arthritis and Alkaline-forming diet click here.


    Luckily, eating by Alkaline-forming foods many of the symptoms can be reversed!  Fruits, vegetables, nuts/seeds, and a few choice grains (like quinoa and millet) are Alkaline-forming foods that help your body regain balance.  Apples, Beets, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Celery, Cucumber, and Kale are a few especially Alkalizing foods.  You can find a complete list of Alkaline-forming foods here!

    It can be tricky at first to work these Alkaline-forming foods into your diet.  Having foods prepped ahead of time can be helpful on busy days.  My favorite make ahead dish is Quinoa-Lentil Salad.  It keeps well in the fridge for at least 3 to 4 days, which is perfect for weekday lunches!

    Quinoa-Lentil Salad:

    1 cup uncooked Quinoa, rinsed

    1 cup uncooked french lentils, rinsed

    1/2 a Cucumber, diced

    2 medium Tomatoes, diced

    1/4 of a Red Onion, diced (optional)

    1 Red or Yellow Bell Pepper, seeded and diced

    2 Cloves of garlic, minced

    Salt and Pepper to taste

    2 Tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Juice from 1/2 a Lemon

    1. Cook Quinoa: Bring quinoa and 2 cups of water to a boil, then reduce temperature and simmer on low for about 12 mins, or until all the water is absorbed.  Place cooked Quinoa in the fridge until cool.
    2. Cook Lentils: Bring lentils and 2 cups of water to a boil, the  reduce temperature and simmer on low for about 25 mins, or until all the water is absorbed.  Place cooked lentils in the fridge with the quinoa until cool.
    3. Make Dressing: While the quinoa and lentils are cooling, whisk olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, and salt and pepper together in a small container and let stand at room temperature.  This helps mellow the raw garlic.
    4. Once the quinoa and lentils are cool add in the veggies and dressing and combine.  Then pack the salad into single serving containers (I like half sized mason jars) and enjoy for lunch all week!


    For more information about The Alkalizing diet, click here