Andie Shapira knows the importance of eating well and taking care of your body. She's the in-house nutritionist at the helm of the Canadian healthy fast-food franchise, Freshii. Today, many Canadians are turning away from burger joints and are looking for healthy options that are equally convenient to make at home or grab on the go. When it comes to fresh, easy, whole food eating, Shapira is a pro. We got a lesson in some of the healthiest habits that she follows every day. Give your body a morning boost.
Shapira tries to limit her coffee intake, because the acidity of a morning cup of joe isn't great for digestion. Instead, she starts her day with a glass of warm water infused with lemon. "I find that is just as good as a cup of coffee in the morning," she says. "Plus it's really good for digestion and it kick-starts your metabolism." Shapira also swears by taking a probiotic supplement each morning to balance out gut bacteria for optimal digestion, and she takes a B-complex to give her a boost of energy. Make a take-anywhere breakfast.
For Shapira, work starts at 7:30 a.m., but she's never compelled to skip breakfast: She knows it's the most important meal of the day. Luckily, she loves a good smoothie, which is easy to take on-the-go. Her favourite smoothie ingredients include: Greek yogurt, avocado (for creaminess and healthy fats), almond butter (for protein), dates (for fibre and sweetness) almond milk (to help liquefy), raw cacao powder (for that chocolaty taste) and ground flaxseed (for fibre). Shapira says getting a good dose of protein in the morning is key to staying full, but since she's not a fan of chalky protein powders, she uses hemp hearts for that extra protein boost. Eat a balanced lunch.
One of the perks of Shapira's job is that Freshii is close by for weekday lunches. "I will usually order a salad and load it up with superfoods such as kale, spinach, quinoa, avocado, beans, nuts and tons of veggies," she says. Shapira ensures that each of her meals is balanced by including carbs (such as quinoa or another whole grain), healthy fats (such as avocado) and protein (such as nuts, which she says are even better than croutons for that bit of crunch). Some days she switches it up for a brown rice bowl or collard green wrap—after all, variety is key to getting all your nutrients—but she keeps carbs, proteins and fats in mind for every meal. Make working out a workplace activity.
"We're all crazy about fitness in our office," says Shapira. In fact, many of them hit the gym together after work. "I find strength in numbers. Going to the gym with my coworkers keeps me motivated and pushes me to work out harder than I would on my own." Shapira says they also turn exercise into fun team outings, doing spin classes as a group once a month instead of having drinks after hours. Know the ingredients in your snacks—or make your own.
Shapira keeps small healthy snacks on hand to keep her energy levels high and to help avoid overeating at meals. Veggies and hummus, apple slices with almond butter and granola bars or trail mixes are easy options but, she warns, be careful with store-bought snacks. "Always look at the ingredient list, as many bars on the market are essentially candy bars, loaded with empty calories and sugar. My number one rule when buying any packaged good is: If you can't pronounce it, don't eat it!" And if you're looking to satisfy a craving, try making your own healthy version. Shapira's delicious chip alternative involves thinly slicing sweet potato or zucchini with a mandoline, then baking the veggies with extra-virgin olive oil. "They make for a delicious, healthy snack that will satisfy any chip craving you have." Get set for sleep.
Shapira says she rarely has trouble sleeping, but there might be a good reason for that: She helps her body wind down every night. First, she subscribes to the rule of unplugging at least half an hour before bed (that means no TV, computer or smartphone); she uses that time to read a book. And secondly, she takes magnesium to soothe her into sleep. "Magnesium relaxes and soothes the nervous system and I find it really helps me sleep."
We polled family doctors from across the country, and they laid down the law on eight things they wish we'd do—or stop doing.
According to our panel of general practitioners, Canadians aren't always doing what they should to make the most of doctor visits—and skipping out on these crucial tactics could lead to a delay in diagnosing serious conditions. Here's what our experts say you should add to your patient checklist.
1. Stop feeling shy
Many of us hesitate to talk to our physicians about sensitive issues (think substance abuse or sexual health—or even gender identity). But honesty and openness are important, both for fostering a good doctor-patient relationship and for ensuring that you get the best care, says Dr. Laura Pripstein, medical director of the Sherbourne Health Centre in Toronto and a staff physician on the family health team. That's why it's OK to try out a doc before committing. Dr. Pripstein recommends booking an initial visit to see if your potential doctor is a good fit. "You want to see if this person seems like someone you can talk to, someone you feel comfortable with," she says. And if you don't think your doctor understands or respects your concerns, don't be afraid to find someone new. "If you feel you can't ask questions that might be embarrassing, you don't have the right provider," says Dr. Pripstein.
2. Don't come to your appointments unprepared
Get the most out of your time—and your doc's—by arriving at your appointment with a clear plan for what you want to discuss, says Dr. David Ross, an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. "It's good to have patients think about their problems from when the issue began, then look at it chronologically to the present," says Dr. Ross. Making a prioritized point-form list in advance helps ensure that you don't forget anything or mix up the order of events, he says. Then, work with your doctor to address the most serious issues first.
3. Choose your family doc over the walk-in clinic whenever you can
Yes, a clinic is convenient, but what we gain in easy access, we lose in familiarity. "I think it's really valuable if people can connect with a family physician who they'll be able to see long term, rather than just looking for the quickest way to access care," says Dr. Maurianne Reade, a physician with the Manitoulin Central Family Health Team in Mindemoya and M'Chigeeng First Nation, Ont. A family doctor will know your medical history and will keep it in mind when suggesting treatment—so, for example, if you've recently taken several courses of antibiotics for a UTI, your physician will likely look for a different course of action if you come in with another infection. According to the most recent statistics, about 4.5 million Canadians don't have a regular family doctor. If that's you, contact your provincial College of Physicians and Surgeons, or check to see if your region has an online registry (Ontario has Health Care Connect, while Quebec launched a web-based family doctor finder last year). "It's important to know that we doctors are privileged to share in your stories and to help you through difficult times," says Dr. Reade.
4. Share what's happening in your life
There's a reason your doctor wants to know where you're working, if you're dating and how the kids are—and it's not just because she likes you. (Though she does, we're sure.) Physicians need a picture of their patients' lives beyond their specific health symptoms and conditions, especially when they're first getting to know you, says Dr. Stephen Wetmore, the family medicine chair at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University in London, Ont. "Doctors need to know these things to understand how your lifestyle and habits may be influencing your health," he says. So when you're talking about your exercise habits, your health history and whether you smoke, drink or use drugs, mention your employment status, family obligations and intimate relationships, too, says Dr. Wetmore.
5. Be a better googler
Doctors know you do it (hello, late-night web searches), but they would prefer you to ask about good sources of information, rather than going rogue online. They also want you to be honest about your fears if you've read something particularly upsetting. Physicians can't address your concerns or point you in the right direction if they don't know what your fingertips have been up to. "The thing we want our patients to do is ask us for the most reliable Canadian websites to go to as resources," says Dr. Heather Waters, an assistant professor of family medicine at McMaster University in Hamilton.
6. Don't think your symptoms are "no big deal"
If you've noticed you are having more headaches than usual or are sleeping more or are eating less, you might not think to tell your doctor—but you should. There's no set of rules for determining which symptoms are worthy of investigation or discussion, says Dr. Wetmore, but make a note to mention anything that is new or has changed since your last appointment. "You should bring up things like sudden weight loss or fatigue that seems excessive," he says. "It could be a sign of a larger problem, or the cause of a developing problem." Evenif it doesn't end up being serious, seeing your doctor will help ease any anxiety you might be feeling, and that's worth the visit, too.
7. Talk about what you're taking
Tell your physician about any herbal medications and alternative treatments you take, says Dr. Mel Borins, a University of Toronto associate professor and author of A Doctor's Guide to Alternative Medicine: What Works, What Doesn't, and Why. It's important for patients to share what's working for them and for doctors to be open-minded about therapies outside their own practice or traditions, he says. This is also a concern when it comes to conventional meds, especially if you're pregnant; there are only 23 medications specifically approved for use during pregnancy— yes, out of every available drug—which can leave women feeling anxious about taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs when they're expecting, says Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie, an obstetrician-gynecologist in Bridgewater, N.S. But don't stop taking your meds as soon as your pregnancy test comes back positive. "It's really important to talk to your doctor instead of stopping cold turkey," says Dr. MacQuarrie. Physicians can help you determine the risks and benefits of using different drugs, and they can let you know when the effects of not taking a medication while pregnant may be worse than taking it— which is the case with some antidepressants.
8. Avoid diagnosing yourself
You know doctors don't like it when you come in prepared with a diagnosis you've made thanks to the aforementioned Dr. Google. But do you know why? It's not because they think you're encroaching on their territory! Rather, they worry that a serious medical problem might get missed or you'll cause yourself unnecessary anxiety over something not serious. That's because not everyone has the most common symptoms of a particular condition. Plus, men, women and different ethnicities can have varying symptoms for the same problem. For instance, Dr. Reade's community has a large proportion of people with diabetes, which can affect the warning signs of cardiac disease, a major killer in Canada. Instead of the usual pain or pressure on the left side of the chest or arm, men and women with diabetes may instead have spells of profuse sweating with weakness. And, of course, women who don't have diabetes can have differing symptoms, too; sometimes, a heart attack can feel like acid reflux or come with sudden nausea, vomiting and lightheadedness. So always tell your physician if your symptoms are surprising or strange—like a headache that feels different than usual, for example. And if you're worried about a specific diagnosis, be sure to bring that up, too.
While every Canadian faces his or her own unique set of health hurdles, there are a number of ailments that have become pervasive in Canada. Though medicine has advanced over the years, our modern lifestyles have introduced a new set of health challenges. Here are some of the top health problems that Canadians face today.
Is your sex life pretty vanilla? Have you been in a sexual slump? Here’s the good news: It’s never too late to get that playfulness back in the bedroom. We spoke to Jenna Wells, owner of toywithme.com, a site that reviews sex toys of every kind, to tell us about her personal favourite pleasurable playthings on the market. Here are her top picks.
Trojan has dubbed this one their "most powerful vibrator yet." Its four variable speed settings gives users more control. The compact design allows for individual or partner use, and it’s highly intuitive for direct clitoral contact. "What I like about this is that it’s sold at drug stores, so if you don’t feel comfortable going into a sex store or visiting a sex toy site, you can subtly pick this up while picking up your kids prescriptions!" says Wells. $24.99 available at mass and drug retailers or at www.trojanvibrations.ca.
Developed by two women, Eva is the most highly funded adult product in the history of online crowdfunding. "It has modern, sleek packaging, it comes in pretty colors, has a smooth silicone design, and is rechargeable via wall outlet or USB. Plus, it is effective," Wells says. "The surface is smooth silicone, the wings soft and flexible and the button is easy to find and push, even with lube-covered hands." It's hands-free and allows you added stimulation without having to worry about manoeuvring the tool. $105, available at dameproducts.com.
The palm-sized pod features two super-thin, super-flexible wings that surround a firm "pleasure dome." The design is meant to appeal to women and men, and be used on any body part you please. With four different vibration patterns and five speeds, a powerful motor, simple controls and a waterproof housing, it has a lot going for it. "It's surprisingly quiet. Really, really quiet. Bonus points for discretion here," says Wells. $196, available at jimmyjane.com.
The idea behind the We-Vibe 4 Plus is simple: You can control your vibe via an app on your smartphone. Or your partner can use his or her smartphone to control the vibe, says Wells. "You both need to be running the app, so your partner can't suddenly hijack your vibe without your knowledge." Her favourite feature? The fact that you can wear the vibe during sex. "Since most women can't orgasm from vaginal penetration alone, having a hands-free vibe is the perfect way to ensure you're satisfied." $180, available at goodforher.com.
IDA is a couple's massager, it's worn by a woman, and it's one of the first toys to be made with the new Sensemotion technology, meaning you don't have to push buttons to control it (you can move and shake the remote to create different patterns and power of vibrations). $259, available at lelo.com.
This attachment fits over the head of your electric toothbrush and transforms it into a discreet but powerful external vibrator. A bit invasive for our liking, but if subtlety is what you're going for (and you don't want your kids coming across something more aggressive when they open your night table drawer), this is for you. $76, available at amazon.ca.
Rice vermicelli is a type of rice noodle used in many Asian dishes. It is packaged dry, can be found in most regular grocery stores and can be eaten either hot or cold in soups, salads and stir fried with vegetables, meat and spices. Rice vermicelli is often referred to as rice stick vermicelli and comes in different sizes.
Here's what you need to do: 1)
Place your noodles in a large heatproof bowl.* 2)
Pour boiling water over top of noodles to cover completely. I like to use a kettle instead of my stove. 3)
Let noodles stand according to package directions. For noodles that are 3 mm wide (pictured below), it takes about 6 minutes. 4)
Drain and rinse with cold water, drain again. This stops the cooking process and prevents the noodles from sticking together. If you are preparing these noodles in advance and find that they are sticking together, just rinse under some additional cold water.
*I like to use a kettle, but if you prefer to use your stove top, here's what you need to do for steps 1 & 2: In large pot, bring water to boil. Remove from heat; add noodles and let sit according to package directions.
Here are some of our favourite recipes featuring rice vermicelli:
Vietnamese Vermicelli with Grilled BeefVegetarian Salad RollsHanoi-Style Vermicelli Noodles with FishRice Vermicelli Salad
Summer grilling doesn't just brings out the best get-togethers, but also the best in barbecued steaks. Don't throw your t-bones and sirloins into the grill just yet. Our easy-to-follow recipes for marinades for steak will give your meat a hearty flavour-boost that'll please all meat-lovers in your family.
The best way to add some flavour to your steaks is by whipping together some great marinades for steak and letting the meat soak up the amazing flavours. If you love exotic spices, try bathing your steak in a Five-Spice Marinade, which is flavour-packed with Chinese five-spice powder. Or, mix together cumin, paprika, garlic and lemon juice for a hot and zesty Moroccan Marinade.
Want something simple and classic? A quick Salt and Pepper Steak Rub is a perfect addition to any barbecue.
You can also try brushing your steaks on the grill with some Sweet Smoky Tomato Basting Sauce, a delicious mix of tomatoes, apple cider and chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
Now get out and get grilling with some of these delicious marinades for steak.
10 tasty marinades for steak:
1.Salt and Pepper Steak Rub The classic combination of black pepper and coriander seeds is delicious on thick, juicy steaks, such as T-bones, sirloins or strip loins.
2.Sweet Smoky Tomato Basting Sauce This sauce mellows out considerably when brushed over meat on the grill, but it also packs a punch of flavour when served as a side sauce at the table. For doubly delicious results, use it to baste while grilling and serve extra sauce at the table.
3.Moroccan Marinade Got a pantry of spices? Stir together a few tablespoons of cumin and paprika with cinnamon, garlic and lemon juice for a flavour-filled marinade, perfect for grilling meat and poultry.
4. Universal Spice Rub Keep this simple all-purpose rub on hand for a last-minute flavour boost. You can rub it onto steak, ribs, brisket, chicken, fish or seafood before putting them on the barbecue.
5. Chili Orange Marinadeâ€¨ Love the taste of orange? Try whipping together orange juice, orange rind, tomato paste and chili powder for a flavour-packed marinade, perfect for grilling steaks or chicken.
6. Lemon Pepper Marinadeâ€¨ This zesty mix of lemon rind, lemon juice, garlic and peppercorns makes a delicious marinade for grilling steak and chicken.
7. Five-Spice Marinade Want add a punch of flavour to your steak? Bathe your steaks with a marinade of Chinese five-spice powder, gingerroot, onion, cayenne pepper, soy sauce and orange juice.
8. Cajun Spice Mix Add some spice to your steaks. Mix together some brown sugar, paprika, cumin, dry mustard and hot pepper flakes and lather it onto your sirloins, kabobs and T-bones. 9. Mediterranean Spice Mix If you're interested in adding a milder flavour to your steak, whip together some rosemary, cumin, oregano and cinnamon for a sweet and delicate flavour.
10. Adobo Marinade Love jalapenos? Soak your steaks with this spicy marinade, made of garlic, lime juice, cumin, oregano and a hot jalapeno pepper.