What’s In Your Bread That’s Making You Sick

Wheat Contamination By Glyphosate in Canada, Eurupe and USA

Gluten free is all the buzz, and many people feel better when they cut out wheat. But what if it isn’t only gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye – that is causing the problem? Canada has been using the highly criticized herbicide glyphosate in the harvesting of wheat and scientists and medical professionals have proposed that maybe it’s the herbicides residue that our bodies are reacting to. Could it be that the demonizing of gluten has drawn attention away from the potential effects of this industrial agricultural practice?

What is Glyphosate and How Can It Affect Us?
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monstantos Ready Roundup. Since being off patent, glyphosate is being used in hundreds of herbicide products around the world. In 2015 the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cancer group classified glyphosate as a probable carcinogen. Research has documented health concerns that glyphosate could be an endocrine disruptor and that it could kill beneficial gut bacteria, damage the DNA in human embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells and be linked to birth defects and reproductive problems in laboratory animals.

Glyphosate is sprayed on agricultural pre-harvest

Agricultural Lands in North America

What is Glyphosate Doing In Our Wheat?
Ready Roundup is sprayed in high amounts on crops that are genetically engineered to be resistant to the herbicide, meaning you can spray large amounts on the crops to kill the weeds while the crop remains resistant. Wheat in Canada is not genetically engineered, so is not resistant to glyphosate. Since 2000 or so, the USDA and Agriculture Canada have been advising farmers to spray their wheat (as well as oats, barley, edible beans and cane sugar) with glyphosate to kill and dry their crops one to two weeks before harvest. The practice, also known as desiccation, helps farmers get their crops to dry evenly, and can lead to an earlier harvest.

How Much Glyphosate Is In Our Wheat?
In Canada it is estimated that 90 to 95 percent of non-organic wheat acres in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are sprayed pre-harvest with glyphosate. While the pre-harvest use of glyphosate may account for a small amount of overall use of the herbicide (~2%), it may account for up to half of our dietary exposure (~50%). Canada’s food regular has found traces of glyphosate in nearly 30% of a sample of 3,200 products tested, with 1.3% of samples being above the acceptable limit with the majority coming from grain products.

Canadian Food and Inspection Agency - Glyphosate Residue

Canadian Food and Inspection Agency

Is Glyphosate in Wheat to Blame For the Increase In Gluten Related Conditions?
With incidences of Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance on the rise it is sensible to consider all the potential instigators. Along with the increase in glyphosate residue in our wheat products is our increased consumption of wheat products through processed foods – cookies, breads, muffins, granola bars and crackers. If glyphosate does indeed affect our gut microbiome then there is a high possibility it can be at least partially related to our growing intolerance to gluten and other foods.

Glyphosate is sprayed on legumes pre-harvest.

Environmental Considerations of Glyphosate Use
Glyphosate is not only a concern for human health but also holds the primary role in the abrupt decline of monarch butterfly populations. The use of this herbicide has virtually eradicated milkweed, the sole food source for monarch larvae, in corn- and soy-growing regions of North America. In 2014 Monarch butterfly were found in only 1.7 acres during hibernation in Mexico, compared to a high of 45 acres in 1996.

What’s Next for Glyphosate Use In Canada
This April 2017, Heath Canada dismissed evidence in its re-evaluation of glyphosate with the decision to continue its registration in Canada. Europe soon followed. Last year WHO stepped back its statement, saying glyphosate was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet.” For many, this decision is unfortunate and glyphosate continues to contaminate our food, waterways and environment. Many activist groups, organic farmers and passionate scientists are working to bring awareness to this growing issue in Canada.

If you suspect this herbicide could be contributing to any health problems, or if you would prefer to decrease your exposure to it then try to purchase organic wheat, barley, oats and legumes products when able. If you would like to help the decreasing populations of monarch butterflies consider planting Milkweed. Seeds can be obtained for free or by donation at Save Our Monarchs website.

Website: Common Ground
Website: Civil Eats
Website: GE Free Comox Soil Association
Website: David Suzuki
Website: CBC

Moroccan Smokey Eggplant Dip

Smokey Eggplant Moroccan Dip
Two months ago my trip to Morocco came to an end. My bag was filled with foreign souvenirs in an attempt to bring some of the exotic land home with me. Alongside the carpets, pillowcases, ceramics, tapestries and clay body masks were the edible souvenirs of almond butter, honey, argan oil and spices, as well as the inspiration to bring Moroccan cuisine home with me. Over these last 2 months this unfortunately has not materialized into anything. Routine and familiarity overshadowed my memory of all the Moroccan favourites I had dined on the 3 weeks prior. Now I am ready to share some of my favourite dishes. This Moroccan Smokey Eggplant Dip packs a lot of flavour for such simple ingredients. I wanted this recipe to be the first from my trip to share.
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Simple Turmeric Ginger Latte

Simple Fresh Turmeric and Ginger Latte with Maple Syrup
Is turmeric the superfood of 2016? Will we see it come and go with the likes of Goji Berries and Agave Syrup? I sure hope not. Turmeric has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and has been renowned for its anti-inflammatory properties. Western medicine has caught on, though the majority of the research has been done on one of its isolated constituents – curcumin. If you’re like me and your Christmas was filled with extravagant dinners and endless treats, then it’s time to start filling your pantry full of foods that will nourish your body into 2017. This simple Turmeric Ginger Latte is such a great nighttime treat, and a great replacement for chocolate. Try it out, it’s easier and more delicious than you think!

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Easy Curry Lentil Soup with Kale

A Simple Curry Lentil Soup with Kale

I’m writing this post from the tropics, from Sumatra Indonesia. While I’m sitting beach front eating papayas and mangoes for breakfast the autumn chill is in full force at home. This is my third trip to Indonesia, and I am understandably a big fan of Indonesian food. Sumatrans like their food spicy, and tempeh and tofu are always on the menu, alongside fresh seafood and dark leafy greens. Despite my love affair with South-East Asian cuisine, I do find myself craving for the hearty lentils based soups of home. This soup was a regular before I left home, and will be one of the first things I make once I return. Don’t get me wrong, I am going to savour every last bit of Indonesian food while I can, but sometimes a Curry Lentil Soup with Kale is what your body needs.

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Chanterelle Barley Risotto with Kale and Mung Beans

Recipe for Chanterelle Barley Risotto with Kale and Mung Beans

This week I am doing the Welfare Challenge to bring awareness to the inadequacy of welfare rates in BC. Here in our beautiful province a person on welfare receives only $610 per month. When this is broken down and basic accommodation, phone and personal hygiene are accounted for only $18 per week is left for food. World Food Day is just around the corner on October 16th, making this a good time for us to take on the challenge and experience how difficult living off a strict food budget can be. I’m only on Day 2 and can only imagine the stress and weight that someone trying to feed themselves or a family may feel. I am fortunate enough to have the background and education to be able to make healthy and smart food choices on a budget and already I feel better equipped to help those that may not be. With the help of some foraging, this Chanterelle Barley Risotto with Kale and Mung Beans can be prepared for just under $0.45 per serving.
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Asian Cabbage Salad with Tempeh and Ginger Sesame Dressing

Asian Salad with Tempeh and Probiotic Rich Dressing

Wow, where did summer go?! I’ve been holding on to the last of it with my smoothie bowls and salads, and here’s my last ditch effort at preserving summer. What makes this salad special is that Napa cabbage is the main star. It’s crunchy and delicious and oh-so-good shredded. It is also a good calcium source, but often gets over shadowed by kale and bok choy. This Asian Salad with Tempeh and Ginger Sesame Dressing is simple to prepare and uses fermented Apple Cider Vinegar as a base (also see Beet Apple and Kale Salad with Walnuts and Dill) which is something we could all eat a little bit more of. I hope you love this salad as much as I do. Here’s to finishing dinner while the suns still up. Read more »

Simple High Calcium Citrus and Fig Energy Balls

Simple Fig Energy Balls High In Calcium

As me and those around me are nearing the intimidating age of 30, a lot of things are spinning through our heads. Babies. Careers. Wrinkles. And as if that wasn’t enough, we women have to seriously think about our long term health goals. Do I want strong and healthy bones into my elderly years? Do I want to be independent with my daily activities right up until the last day. I think yes. Ensuring our calcium needs are being met is not an easy task. There is only so much kale, kefir, and choy sum we can fit into one day (for other non-dairy sources of calcium see see 10 Surprising Non-Dairy Sources of Calcium). With the knowledge that our bones are continuously being built until around age 30, in my last sprint to the dirty thirty I want to make sure I’m giving my bones the nutrients they need. These Simple High Calcium Citrus and Fig Energy Balls are a good way to pack in maximum calcium into a delicious morning or afternoon snack. Chia, tahini and figs are all good sources of this essential mineral, and luckily they all taste great together!
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Cooking with Olive Oil and Other Usage Tips

Italy - home of the Mediterranean Diet

Where the Olive Oil Grows – The Mediterranean Coastline, Cinque Terre Italy

When asked which is better – butter or margarine? The answer always is – olive oil. One thing that can be certain in nutrition science is that the Mediterranean diet has shown undeniable health benefits. This style of eating encourages an increased intake of nuts, fish, whole grains and vegetables, while eating less meat and processed foods. At the same time it promotes an increase in the good fats (monounsaturated as well as polyunsaturated) and lesser amounts of the bad fats (saturated fats and trans fat). Despite the reported health benefits of monounsaturated rich olive oil there remains much confusion on how to use it in cooking, how to choose the right type and how to store it properly. Switching from butter or margarine seems pretty straight forward – but as you will see, there is a lot more to know about olive oil than we thought! Read more »

Easy Vegan Almond Tempeh “Meatballs”

Vegetarian Tempeh "Meatballs" with Almonds

Not even a week has passed since my return from Indonesia and I can confidently tell you that the thing I miss most is not the warmth nor the beaches, its the food. The flavours and the variety place this cuisine at the top of my list. If you haven’t tried tempeh yet, and your a lover of healthy and tasty food, boy have I got a treat for you. Indonesians enjoy it fried and spicy, and often will add it to dishes such as Gado Gado (see my simplified recipe for Gado Gado Peanut Satay Sauce Recipe) or have it cooked in a spicy sambal served with rice. It is as versatile as tofu, but many prefer the firmer texture of tempeh over its soybean cousin. Here is my play on tempeh, and a good one to get you started on your tempeh journey – Simple Almond Tempeh “Meatballs”.
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Simple Beet Dip with Balsamic Vinegar and Cream Cheese

Simple Beet Dip with Cream Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar

If I have learned one thing from having a weekly vegetable box delivered to my door it is this – beets are always in season. Well they are on Vancouver Island anyway. From June, straight through to October, they haven’t missed a beet, and I have heard down the grapevine that the winter edition is set to include even more of this tasty vegetable. I have only just begun the experience the versatility of beets, from Beet Apple and Kale Salad with Walnuts and Dill to Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Green Beans and even Gluten Free Beet Chocolate Muffins with Chickpea Flour. And now another beet inspired dish to add to the repertoire – a super Simple Beet Dip with Balsamic Vinegar and Cream Cheese.
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