Exit Stage Left…

My mind is already racing as I sit down to write this letter to you…my patients, my surrogate family… my tribe. Naturopathic Medicine has never been just a job for me. I am passionately invested in the wellbeing of the people I work with. Sometimes I get it right, many times I get it wrong, but whatever the outcome, I always look to learn, to deepen my understanding of the body, to gain insight into how the body behaves both in health and not.

Alas, I need to step away from this calling that has ruled my life (LOL). The last few years have seen an intensity that I hope never to meet again. Major personal and professional upheavals have left me mentally depleted and diminished physically. I think it’s time to finally ‘cry uncle’ and surrender to the rest and healing I know I need to do. It’s terribly difficult, though. I’ve already broken down in front of a few clients (JR you know who you are! Immense gratitude for your kindness)!

I wish I could adequately express how grateful I am to each and every one of you. It has been my sincere JOY to participate and bear witness to your healing and growth. You know, when I first graduated from naturopathic medical school, I left with a small bag of tools, a healthy respect for the body’s capacity for healing, and some critical knowledge as to not put someone’s life in danger. Please let me convey that any meaningful knowledge that I’ve acquired in my practice has been a direct result of my interactions with you and the information we share.

As I sit here, overwhelmed with gratitude I want to thank you for your stories, I want to thank you for your trust. I didn’t realize that a career could shape a person in the way that Naturopathic Medicine has shaped me.

I’m not going far though. Once I feel ready to come back (which I can pretty much guarantee will happen as I am just TOO RESTLESS lol), my plan is to realize a years-long dream of offering naturopathic services to underserved communities. I may even dust off my intravenous hat. For now though, sleep….. rest…..eat….


Existing patients, WHO ALREADY HAVE APPOITMENTS BOOKED, your appointment will be with me. However, your follow ups will be with Dr. Brittany Wolfe, ND. Some of you may even remember her as she was our receptionist for years! Somehow, we managed to rope her into going to naturopathic school and now we have the wonderful privilege of working WITH her.

What you’ll find with Brittany is a similar passion and ethos that has guided me throughout my practice. On top of her studies, Brittany has trained with me for the last 6 years. Initially as a doula and later as a colleague. She has the knowledge, she has the insight, and let’s be honest, she has the energy!! One of the only reasons why I am comfortable stepping away from practice is because I KNOW you will be in excellent hands.  …….go well.

Radical Rupture: Move Like the Animal you are!

An Organic Approach to Restoring Functionality and Play to our bodies

She’s pretty hard to miss. You’ll often see this statuesque creature decked out in some form of Addidas track pants and Pumas with a gaggle of kids following her around like The Pied Piper. Together, they scale walls, vault over planters, climb staircases and generally giggle and frolic about, each environment presenting rich opportunities to explore how their bodies move in the context of their surroundings. Now, for grownups, it’s a little different and almost impossible to define. Darci Anderson is to the health and fitness arena what naturopaths are to the medical one. Drawing from a WIDE array of disciplines such as Olympic weightlifting, gymnastics, Parkour, Capoeira, and CrossFit (among others), she tailors each program for each individual, understanding that life writes on us in unique ways and thus informs how we play, how we reach for that thing behind the back seat of the car, how we live and love in this body.

‘Flux Movement’ is a wonderful alternative to the conventional ‘gym rat’ culture, where predictable and routine exercises only serve to perpetuate dysfunctional patterns in our bodies. In this model, the focus on aesthetics rarely translates to functional movement. Darci emphasizes things like ‘cross body rotational patterns’, rhythm and coordination, the inherent elasticity of connective tissue, and the need to constantly expose our bodies to new situations. This allows us to move more efficiently, with less effort, translating to a body that is spontaneous, adaptive, supple and resilient.

It wasn’t that long ago that my body went through a huge transformation. I was depleted, I was weak and oh, soooo skinny. At that time, I was on my way to resolving many of the variables that kept me inflamed, fatigued and depressed but knew at some point I would have to enlist some help to recover my strength lest I whither away to nothing. I first met Darci at ‘Flux School of Human Movement’ back in 2014. I knew her values were congruent with ours in the Naturopathic community, and would not only be able to guide my body back to strength but to integrate that practice into a wider vision of interconnectedness between myself, my community and my environment.

And guide my body she did.

I move better, have less pain, more joy, and Lordy! I can even do two strict chin ups! In a row!! The best part is that I never felt as though I needed to kill myself in order to get results. The pace itself felt quite civilized (lol). The coolest part is that with my continued involvement, Darci’s approach seems to have unlocked parts of my brain that now allow me to move in ways I never thought possible. I just about fell off my chair the other day when she said that I was athletic and nimble. To a kid that was ALWAYS picked last for teams, a gal that was all arms and legs with no capacity for coordination, to experience this level of function is tremendously liberating, like being emancipated from my own ‘stuckness’.

One would be forgiven for thinking that as humans, we live divorced from nature. The pandemic has reinforced this as we moved the bulk of our ‘living’ on to a digital platform. But here’s the thing, we CANNOT escape the pesky reality that we live in a biological body that has fundamental biological needs. Our bodies are a microcosm of the planet in that we are constantly in a state of flux. All levels of our existence are interacting with all layers of our environment on a second-by-second basis. We are not the same from one moment to the next.

This is, at once, inspiring and daunting. On the one hand we have the freedom to move forward and leave infirmity and dysfunction behind. On the other, it can seem impossible to overcome attachments to old patterns that feel safe and comfortable, however unhelpful, especially when they seem to have served us. Now that I am on the other side of that awful period, I can see how I got in my own way. I can see how resistant I was to trying new things. It was only once I surrendered completely to the process that I discovered what my body was truly capable of. I want the same for you.

Check out Darci’s website here.

GRIT: The Title Says It All!

As I was sitting down to write this week’s blog, it occurred to me that not many of my articles are about naturopathic medicine (LOL). This week is not going to be much different. There is a theme that I think is emerging and likely reflective of where I am in my life at the moment.

I was listening to a replay of my FAVORITE PODCAST EVER!! Stephen Dubner’s “Freakonomics” segment on “How to Get More Grit in Your Life”. I reflected on some of the topics covered since the launch of our website last year: Laughter, cold exposure, money, Earthships, Winston Churchill (random, I know!) … and in each case, we witness examples of how to adapt to the elements, hardship, pain, crises of identity and a pandemic. I realized that in each case we persevere, we learn how to dance that fine line between self-control and surrender, we accept that hard things are hard. At a time when it seems impossible to remain buoyant, optimistic, patient, and kind, when every day is a grind, when you just can’t take it another minute, GRIT might be just what we need to get through this next chapter in our collective suffering.

So, what is grit and why do we care about it? Angela Duckworth, academic, psychologist and researcher, would tell you that grit is a “passion and perseverance for especially long-term goals”. What she will also tell you is that like any other skill, grit is not necessarily innate; we can learn to cultivate it in ourselves and in those that we care about. Her research focuses on two traits that predict achievement: the ability to sustain interest and effort toward long term goals (grit) and the voluntary regulation of impulses in the presence of temptations that keep us distracted from that goal (self-control). The two, she found, are not mutually exclusive. You can have grit and no self-control and you can be the most regulated person out there and have zero grit.

We often conflate success with genius. Certain folks with intellectual/physical gifts are perceived, or are assumed to, far excel the rest of us. As if by destiny, the sole reason for their achievement seems to be their natural ability alone. Angela Duckworth re-defines genius as greatness earned, greatness that is effortful and thus something that is accomplished as opposed to something that is given.

We all have a list of our favorite geniuses: Mozart, Einstein, Michael Jordan or The Beatles. These folks did not get to where they are by talent alone. The book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell describes the 10,000-hour threshold one needs to reach before achieving mastery over a specific task. This was a contentious issue and prompted researchers to ‘debunk’ the 10,000 hour ‘myth’. While 10,000 hours is not the ONLY factor that determines mastery, I am sure we can all agree that diligence, practice and, I dare say, GRIT are essential to overcoming obstacles/temptations that get in the way of our goals.

SO, where does this leave us? In the words of Ashley White in the film Spellbound, a documentary following 8 competitors in the 1999 Scipps National Spelling Bee, “I’ve had trials and I’ve had tribulations and I have overcome”. She was 13.

Take a tour of Angela Duckworth’s website and find out your ‘Grit Score’


Click this link to listen to Stephen Dubner’s interview with Angela Duckworth


Get Ready to Launch!!! Calling all Earth Aliens

Instead of writing another article on sunscreen alternatives, I’d like to share with you a long held personal obsession of mine. In fact, it was a critical pivot towards establishing roots right here in Regina after our move from B.C. Ready for it? EARTHSHIPS!! What does it have to with naturopathic medicine specifically? Nothing! What does it have to do with sustainable living and synching ourselves with the rhythms of the universe? Everything!! (haha, what’s an article worth reading if not for a little hyperbole? Lol)

Anyhoo, I first encountered Mike Reynolds (the architect behind the Earthship concept) while I was reading Calgary journalist, Chris Turner’s book “The Geography of Hope” around the time my daughter was born just under 12 years ago. His lament about the state of the planet to which his newborn daughter was born prompted him to raise a ton of money and embark on a mission to find sustainable technologies adequate enough to save the earth from ourselves. He wanted to challenge the notion that we need some radical new overhaul of civilization in order to halt and heal from Climate Change. What he discovered was that there are indeed multiple examples of exactly those technologies all over the world: from tree houses in Thailand to a net zero island off the coast of Holland to Mike Reynolds’ Earthships in New Mexico. The sum total of these, he feels, is enough to at least slow down Gaia’s decline and leaves the reader with the questions of “ok, well, if the technology is out there why isn’t it being used en masse to thwart what now seems inevitable?”. The question isn’t new but it’s certainly more urgent now than ever before. With an exploding population, a tipping point is getting harder to reach with respect to mounting a global effort to pivot towards environmental stewardship. Harder but NOT impossible.

So here, let me give you the low down on Earthships. A passive solar earth shelter made mostly of recycled tires rammed with earth to form 3 sides of your foundation, it leaves the fourth side a solid glass wall angled to maximize sun exposure in the winter and minimize it in the summer. Inspiration for the design comes from meeting 6 human needs:

  1. Energy: Thermal and/or solar heating and cooling, solar and wind electricity
  2. Garbage management: Reuse and recycling built into construction and daily living
  3. Sewage treatment: Self-contained sewage treatment and water recycling
  4. Shelter: Building with natural and recycled materials
  5. Clean Water: Water harvesting and long-term storage
  6. Food: In-home organic food production capability

Pretty neat huh? Earthships are intended to be “off-the-grid-ready” homes. You can apply to be wired into municipal power/water and sewer systems but it is not necessary. Construction materials are either recycled or upcycled and built to create thermal mass and natural cross ventilation to regulate indoor temperature. You can grow your own food and recycle your water (from rain) 400%!! But here, don’t take my word for it, Mr. Mike is FAR better at explaining this amazing concept. Feast your eyes!!

Mitochondrial ReBoot: When it comes to health, it doesn’t get more basic than this!

My post today isn’t geared as much to informing you as it is to encourage some healthy pondering: What can we do to prevent disease before it even starts in the first place?

Consider this: the top three leading causes of death in 1900 were pneumonia, tuberculosis and gastroenteritis, all external causes. Now fast forward to the 21st century and you’ll see that while infectious disease is no longer an issue due to improvements in hygiene and basic nutrition, the top causes of death have been replaced by heart disease, diabetes and cancer, none of which are externally driven (for the most part). So, if we were able to obliterate the reasons we were dying a hundred years ago, shouldn’t we be healthier as a population now? What’s changed?

The individual mechanisms behind each of these conditions are complex to say the least. We can certainly busy ourselves with enough of these details and explore new treatments, new ways to test and we may even have some insights as to why our health has unfolded the way it has, but how do the cells themselves get damaged? What actually causes cells to wither and die?

Well, the answer to that is equally complex…. but here’s a thought that might help us simplify the concept: our cells require energy to function: energy to replicate and energy to repair. NOTHING in the body happens without the energy to fuel it. NOTHING. So where does energy come from? You’d be forgiven for saying “well, duh, it comes from food” and you wouldn’t be wrong, but the actual currency of energy, in the form of ATP (Adenosine TriPhosphate) is derived from little ‘organelles’ (aka mini organs) in your cells called ‘mitochondria’. These little guys RULE ALL and unfortunately, are exquisitely sensitive to damage by your body’s chemistry.

There are 2 different kinds of DNA in your body: nuclear DNA that comes from both your parents and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that comes from your mother only. mtDNA is highly susceptible to damage by free radicals (by products of energy production) which your mitochondria actually generate. “Wait, what?  I thought you just said that free radicals damage mitochondria?” In healthy cells there are usually enough antioxidants generated by healthy livers and enough coming in from the diet that the rate of free radical production is equivalent to the rate at which they’re being squelched, thus, the mitochondria are protected. The problem is, these days, we simply have way too much that diminishes our pool of antioxidants and we have lifestyle habits (most notably, diet and stress) that generate a whole bunch of free radicals that overwhelm our body’s ability to neutralize them. The result is a slow decline towards chronic disease and dysfunction that diminishes our vitality and hobbles our quality of life.

As an example, one feature that defines conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s Chorea, Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis is a slow but steady shrinking of brain tissue. Would it surprise you to know that the brain is one of the most mitochondrial dense tissues in the body? Unexplained infertility? Did you know that estrogen is actually made INSIDE these little power houses? Poor mitochondrial function in your ovaries impacts both hormonal status and egg quality. It’s not a secret that fertility rates have plummeted in recent years, especially male factor infertility (one danish study estimated that sperm counts dropped 50% between 1940 and 1990 alone!). Once everything else has been ruled out, could exploring mitochondrial health be something to consider? Conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia are often referred to in functional medicine circles as “mitochondrial collapse”. The features? Debilitating fatigue, muscle wasting and cognitive dysfunction. Muscles are quite metabolically expensive to maintain as are the brain and heart….. when we consider what mitochondria do: generate energy, repair tissues, and maintain organ function it’s not a surprise that we see mitochondrial dysfunction (or death) manifest in these ways.

True bonafide mitochondrial disease is devastating. There’s not usually a cure and folks afflicted with mitochondrial diseases often need high levels of support for daily routines. However, in the realm of mitochondrial dysfunction, the conditions associated with this are vast. We can literally develop mitochondrial dysfunction within ANY organ system at ANY age. Understanding the function and purpose of mitochondria allows us the opportunity to not only refine our treatment programs by allowing us to work at a more fundamental level, but it also gives us a road map to aging healthfully and avoiding the pitfalls that ultimately lead to our decline in the first place.

Wanna see mitochondrial repair in action? Watch Terry Wahls TEDx talk about “Minding Your Mitochondria”. It’s an eye opener!

Our Brand New Nutrient Therapy Room

After MUCH ado, our collective at Prairie Sky Integrative Health is finally able to offer full intravenous services to our community!  After 3 months of extensive renovations, Drs Allison Ziegler and Marika Geis have a fully renovated room dedicated to IV therapy and are thrilled to offer a variety of options to enhance and optimize your health.

What’s IV therapy, you ask? In a nutshell, Intravenous therapy, often referred to as ‘nutrient therapy’, is an effective method of delivering healthy doses of vitamins and minerals directly into a patient’s circulation.  By injecting these core nutrients into the bloodstream, 100% absorption into tissues is achieved resulting in more effective and predictable symptom relief.   The nutrient cocktail that is put together is tailor made for you and your unique needs and will be composed of a variety of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and/ or plant extracts.

How would nutrient therapy benefit me? 
Though there are countless reasons why you might choose to pursue nutrient therapy or be recommended it by your health care provider, here are our top two:

1) Enhancing overall wellness.  For people experiencing fatigue, recovering from surgery, are malnourished as a result of poor digestion, or requiring support for athletic performance, the classic ‘Meyer’s Cocktail’ functions as a restorative formula. Essentially, a very effective multi that gets right into your system! If we add just a couple more items this can also be used to support your detoxification program outlined by your naturopathic doctor.

2) Dramatically improving immune function:  Have you heard yourself or someone you know utter the words:  “I just can’t seem to shake this cold!” ; “I get sick no matter which way the wind blows” ; “I have shingles” ; “I want to keep my immune system as strong as possible this season” ; “I suffer from allergies, and need relief!”
There isn’t much that comes close to what can be done with high dose Vitamin C therapy to help someone get over an infection of any sort while also regulating their own immune system.

If you are an existing patient at the clinic, make an appointment with your current naturopathic doctor (Allison, Brittany, Julie, Marika or Michelle) and they can refer you to Dr. Marika Geis or Dr. Allison Ziegler, our doctors certified in IV therapy, to administer the cocktail they feel would be most suitable for your needs.  Our goal is to work collaboratively here at the clinic, using our individual expertise to serve you best!

Healthy Holiday Feast

From our homes to yours, we wish you a healthy and happy holiday season!

Enjoy the following recipes!

COVID compliant Holiday Turkey: Turkey for 6 and under

From Jamie Oliver – Dr. Marika Geis’ Kitchen guru


  • 4 kg higher-welfare turkey
  • 250 g stuffing, (from meat stuffing recipe: see below)
  • 250 g unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 bunch lemon thyme, (30g)
  • 2 clementines
  • olive oil



  1.  Check the main turkey cavity for the bag of giblets; if they’re in there, remove and tip them into your roasting tray, discarding the bag. The added flavour they’ll give your gravy will be incredible – trust me.
  2. Peel the onions, wash the carrots and roughly chop with the celery or the leek tops, then add to the tray with the unpeeled garlic cloves.
  3. Place the stuffing in the neck cavity, then pull the skin back over it and tuck it under the bird. You’ll get a good contrast between the soft, juicy stuffing here inside the turkey, and the crispier stuff you can bake separately in a dish.
  4. Place the softened butter on a board and press down with your hands. Pick over 3 sprigs of thyme, finely zest ½ a clementine and season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, and scrunch all together to make your flavoured butter.
  5. Halve the clementines and place in the main turkey cavity with the remaining thyme – not filling it too full allows hot air to circulate, cooking the bird from the inside out and from the outside in.
  6. Get your turkey and use a spatula to work your way between the skin and the meat. Start at the side of the cavity just above the leg and work gently up towards the breastbone and towards the back so you create a large cavity. Pick up your butter and push it into the cavity you’ve created. Use your hands to push it through the skin right to the back so it coats the breast meat as evenly as possible. Do the same on the other side.
  7. Drizzle the turkey all over with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and generously sprinkle from all sides with salt and pepper.
  8. Cover the turkey snugly with tin foil and place it on top of the trivet in the tray.ON THE DAY
  9. Take your turkey out of the fridge 1 hour before it’s due to go in the oven.
  10. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4.
  11. You want to cook a higher-welfare bird for 25 to 30 minutes per kg and a standard bird is 35 to 40 minutes per kg. For a 4kg bird, pop it in the oven for 1 hour 40 minutes, basting several times with all the lovely juices in the tray and covering with foil when beautifully golden brown.
  12. The simplest way to check it’s cooked is to stick a knife into the thickest part of the thigh – if the juices run clear, it’s done.
  13. Use heavy-duty tongs to lift up your bird so all the juices run from the cavity into the tray, then transfer the turkey to a platter and leave to rest for up to 2 hours while you crack on. You can cover it with a double layer of tin foil and a clean tea towel to keep warm, if you like.
  14. Skim away the fat from the turkey tray, save it in a jar, and leave to cool. When cold, transfer to the fridge for cooking with at a later date.CARVING THE TURKEY
  15. Once the turkey has rested, it’s time to carve. There are two ways you can do this.

– The first method is to remove the wings, slice the skin beside the legs, then pull out and chop the legs off. You can either slice or pull this brown meat – it’s so tasty. Keep it warm while you move on to the breast meat. Use the full length of the knife in a nice smooth action to slice through the breast meat, transferring it to a platter as you go.

– Alternatively, remove the leg as above, then feel where the backbone is and cut with the length of your knife all the way down beside it until you hit the carcass. You can then lift the whole breast off the bone. Remove to a board and slice. Enjoy!


“You must let your bird come up to room temperature after being in the fridge. It’ll give you more reliable cooking times, as well as juicier, more tender meat, as the bird isn’t shocked when it hits the heat of the oven.

Don’t be under the illusion that when you remove the turkey from the oven it stops cooking. The residual heat will continue to cook the bird, giving the juices time to travel back throughout the meat, meaning a juicier bird all round. Piping hot meat is not a clever thing – warm, juicy meat, hot gravy and hot plates is the holy grail.”

Best Rice Stuffing for the Holidays


  • 3 ½ cups water, divided
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice
  • ⅓ pound bacon
  • 3 cups diced onions
  • 3 cups diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 ¾ cups currants
  • ¾ cup dried cherries
  • ¾ cup dried cranberries
  • ½ ounce dried apricots
  • 1 cup diced, unpeeled apples
  • ½ cup chopped Italian flat leaf parsley
  • 6 tablespoons dried mixed herbs


  1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, bring 1 1/2 cups water and the chicken broth to a boil. Stir in wild rice. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 45 minutes.
  2. Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Reserving drippings, drain bacon, crumble, and set aside.
  3. In the skillet with the reserved bacon drippings, sauté onions and celery with 1 tablespoon water. Cook until very soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. Stir remaining water, white rice, currants, cherries, cranberries, apricots, and apples into the wild rice. Continue cooking 20 minutes, or until wild rice and white rice are tender.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the bacon and the onion mixture into the rice mixture. Season with the Italian parsley and dried mixed herbs. Proceed to fill your turkey to capacity. Enjoy!

Sweet Potato Casserole

Dr. Julie Zepp’s tried and true holiday side dish

Casserole Ingredients

  • 4-5 boiled and drained sweet potatoes (3 cups when cooked and mashed)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup organic butter
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk. (unsweetened almond, rice or oat)
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Topping Ingredients

  • 1 cup ground nuts (I like to use pecans)
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup rice flour


  1. Mix together the casserole ingredients and place in a casserole dish.
  2. Mix together the topping ingredients.
  3. Sprinkle the topping mixture on top of the casserole and bake for 30 minutes at 350C.

Winter Salad with Fennel and a Blood Orange Vinaigrette

From Nourishing Meals – A staple in Dr. Allison Ziegler’s home

Salad Ingredients

  • ½ head red cabbage, thinly sliced (about 8 cups)
  • 1 large fennel bulb, sliced
  • 2 large carrots, sliced diagonally then into strips
  • 2 large carrots, sliced diagonally then into strips
  • ½ small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 blood oranges, peeled and segmented (or chopped), can replace with navel oranges
  • ½ to 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ to 1 cup almonds, roasted and chopped

Dressing Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons freshly squeezed blood or navel orange juice
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar or champagne vinegar
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt


  1. Place the red cabbage, fennel, carrots, red onion, blood oranges, and parsley into a large bowl. If you are planning on serving the salad right away then add the almonds too. If you would like to extend the salad over a few days then sprinkle the almonds over what you plan on serving (otherwise they get soft and lose their crunch when sitting in the dressing).
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients. Pour over the salad and toss together. Serve. Leftovers can be stored in a glass container in your refrigerator for about 3 days.

Festive Herbal Shrub Recipe

Dr. Brittany Wolfe’s specialty

If you’re a fan of kombucha and tart tonics, then you will love an herbal shrub. A shrub is essentially a fermented herbal-infused vinegar that is often mixed with soda water or champagne if you’re feeling festive! Think fizzy, healing and refreshing! It makes a great base for a delicious and herby mocktail. You can follow the recipe below or get creative and use what you have on hand.

You will need

  • 1-quart mason jar with lid and ring
  • Cheesecloth or thin, clean rag of breathable material (with fine holes)
  • Wooden spoon or muddler
  • Raw vinegar (apple cider vinegar – must be raw for fermentation)
  • 1 cup of blueberries
  • 1 tbsp fresh minced rosemary
  • Parchment or wax paper
  • ~1 tbsp of sugar or honey


  1. Place all foods and herbs into a mason jar and muddle with a wooden spoon to release juices, oils and fragrances (and medicine!).
  2. Cover with raw vinegar of choice but leave 1-inch airspace remaining under rim.
  3. Make sure all ingredients are submerged under vinegar or else you will develop mold.
  4. Drape cheesecloth or other breathable cloth over mouth of jar, then screw on the ring portion of the lid only to keep cheesecloth in place.
  5. Leave jar out at room temperature overnight (~12 hours).
  6. Remove the cheese cloth and replace it with wax paper. This time screw both the lid and the ring portion over the wax paper. The wax paper is there to protect the metal from the vinegar.
  7. Leave your mixture out on your counter for about 3-5 days and give it a good shake every day. – Double check to make sure the solid stays below the liquid.
  8. After 3-5 days, strain off the fruit and herbs and store in a mason jar in the fridge. You can always add a little more sweetener if you like.
  9. Use about 2 oz of shrub with sparkling water or champagne!

Grain-free, Nut-free Chocolate Chip Cookies for Santa

 From Oh She Glows – One of Dr. Michelle Sthamann’s favourites

Wet Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup (63 g) natural smooth sunflower seed butter*
  • 2 tablespoons (25 g) packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) pure maple syrup
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons (37.5 mL) coconut oil (room temp) or grapeseed oil**

Dry Ingredients

  • 6 tablespoons (54 g) raw sunflower seeds
  • 3 tablespoons (30 g) cassava flour***
  • 1 teaspoon (2 g) ground chia seed****
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/3 cup (50 g) dark chocolate squares


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. To a large bowl, add the wet ingredients (sunflower seed butter, brown sugar, maple syrup, and oil) and stir until completely smooth.
  3. Place the sunflower seeds into a food processor and process for about 40 to 60 seconds until a fine meal forms. You want to process the seeds to as fine a meal as possible without them turning into butter!
  4. Add the dry ingredients (ground sunflower seeds, cassava flour, ground chia seeds, baking soda, and salt) to the wet mixture bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. The dough will be very sticky, but this is normal. Chop the chocolate, reserving one heaping tablespoon for later. Stir the remaining chopped chocolate into the dough until combined.
  5. Using a 2-tablespoon (30-mL) cookie scoop (or simply a spoon), scoop small mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet a few inches apart. There’s no need to flatten the mounds as they’ll spread out during baking. Now, using the chocolate you set aside, press a few chunks into each mound (this just helps the cookies look a bit more chocolaty when baked!).
  6. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes (I bake for 10 minutes) for a soft and tender cookie.
  7. Remove cookies from the oven and cool directly on the baking sheet for 10 minutes. Using a spatula, gently transfer each cookie (they’ll be very fragile) to a cooling rack for another 10 to 15 minutes. The cookies will be crumbly until they are fully cooled, so it’s very important that you give them some time to firm on the rack (I know, it’s the hardest thing you’ll ever do!).
  8. Serve and enjoy! Cooled cookies will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for 1 to 2 days, or in the freezer for up to 4 weeks. I love the delightful “snappy” texture these cookies get as the chocolate firms up from chilling!


* The sunflower seed butter should be 100% sunflower seeds without any added sugars or oils. I use Organic SunButter. Be sure to stir the sunflower seed butter before measuring and avoid using the dry/hard butter at the bottom of the jar. If using thicker seed butter, the cookies won’t spread as much when baking.

** If your coconut oil is hard as rock, you can melt it over very low heat and then cool before using. Avoid using warm coconut oil as it’ll melt the chocolate chips.

*** Cassava flour can be a bit tricky to locate. Your best bet is to buy from an online retailer (such as this one on Amazon) or a natural food store.

**** To make ground chia seed, add seeds to a high-speed blender or coffee grinder and blend/grind on high until a flour forms. An equal amount of ground flaxseed also works in place of chia, but it will yield a thicker cookie. I prefer using ground chia. Leftover ground seeds can be stored in the freezer in an airtight freezer bag for future use.

Mind Body Wealth: Clarifying Values as a Path to Financial Wellness

Here’s a sobering reality: Women in Canada earn just 74 cents on the dollar compared to men. Women have longer life expectancies and are therefore more likely to live alone and cash poor in their old age. Despite a new reality where women rely less on their spouses for financial stability (women are earning more, increasingly educated, and demanding more control over their financial futures) women remain at a disadvantage for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the absence of a model that resonates with our values and not just our bottom line.

Personally, one of my biggest obstacles to financial freedom aside from the very legitimate debt that I racked up going to school, was the fact that I lacked a clear plan to tackle it. This was largely due to the shame I felt about my situation. I was mature, responsible and capable but the tape that was playing in my head was: “How can you be this far behind? You’re in your 40’s, you’re still paying off debt when you should be saving for retirement” and on and on it went. It didn’t help that when I went to banks to try and consolidate all my student debt, I was told repeatedly that I was high risk because I didn’t have enough in the way of assets (because I was in school) and “sorry, no, we can’t help you”. Ugh. How discouraging. I was almost ready to resign myself to a revolving door of income and debt with no control (“maybe this is how some folks just need to manage?”) Thankfully, my brain would not accept that and I went on the hunt for help.

Enter money whisperer, Zena Amundsen certified financial planner, Divorce Financial Analyst, and Cash Flow Specialist. Having endured her own financial challenges, she listened to my entire story and assured me that my situation was FAR from unusual and in fact typical. Can I tell you what a relief this was to hear? Her empathy and compassion allowed me to move past my shame and get to the task of addressing my student debt. I realized I wasn’t alone; I wasn’t irresponsible for having made the choices I did and I didn’t need to judge myself so harshly for the vulnerable position I found myself in. Accepting my reality without judgement left me with more bandwidth to structure my cash flow instead of worrying about it. 5 years later my student loans are now paid off. Yay me! BUT… life happens and I have found myself in a position where I need her unique advice again except that this time, the goal isn’t just tackling debt, it’s to make sure that I am financially ‘well’.

To gain more financial literacy, restore our financial identity, and to pass along healthy attitudes about money along to our children, we need to reframe some of our attitudes surrounding money – to that end Zena’s book “The Heart of Your Money: A Woman’s guide. How to Create Your Family Financial Values System and Take Control of your Money”, outlines a clear and practical method that helps us unpack some of our unspoken beliefs about money. Using her own experience, she creates a different language to help women understand how and why they spend their money the way they do and encourages them to evaluate whether or not these habits align with their values. Exercises such as considering your money memory and how it influences your spending habits, your money lessons and money shame allow us to mindfully observe our conditioning around money and become more comfortable with taking charge of our financial health, crisis or no crisis.

As someone who has gone through this process, I can tell you that it isn’t easy. It’s been humbling and at times uncomfortable (I mean, who really wants to curb their habits?) but I can tell you that at the end of the day, while my circumstances haven’t changed, my perspective sure has. There’s less angst about spending money so long as it’s in accordance with my values, I don’t judge my circumstances nearly as harshly; many people are in the same predicament as I, I have less worry about the future as Zena assures me there is still time to build my retirement fund, and most importantly, there’s still room to enjoy my life and pursue my passions. Less bandwidth on worry means more energy for living. My only wish is that I would’ve come across this book about 2 decades ago. No matter, my kids will fare better than I. I see this as being required reading for my household! I can already hear my kids groaning LOL.


Click on the link below to see Zena in action….


Say What, Now? Vinegar can help my diabetes?

After almost 15 years in practice, I think I can safely say that the two most powerful disruptors of health are chronic psychological stress and the poor diet choices that go along with it (not that these two variables need to go hand in hand, only that they often do). We’ve witnessed the erosion in our health for some time: shift work, fraying family units, smart phones (with the implicit expectation that we need to be ‘ON’ 24 hours a day 7 days a week), lack of social supports, and economic stressors in concert drive the need for easy, processed, hyperpalatable, and lamentably, nutritionally bankrupt foods. Is it really any surprise that our medical offices are congested with people desperate to alleviate their depression, anxiety, high blood pressure, migraines, insomnia, diabetes, and weight gain? Let’s be clear. These are diseases of civilization! Our bodies didn’t all of a sudden just decide to revolt against us to make us suffer in this way. Our lifestyles are overwhelming our body’s capacity to maintain balance during these unprecedented times and we are diminished as a result.

The good news is that if we can work in a few keys areas we can mitigate MUCH of the risk factors that leave us vulnerable to chronic disease.

By now, I think many people are starting to realize the pitfalls of eating without any regard for the consequences, especially as it relates to blood sugar. More and more my patients are coming in with an impressive understanding of:

  1. Glycemic index
  2. Glycemic load.
  3.  Adequate protein, carbohydrates, fiber, and fat.
  4. The relationship between blood glucose/insulin/exercise.
  5. How stress can overwhelm glycemic control.
  6. The vicious cycle of insulin dependency and worsening insulin resistance.

However, we can know so much that simple solutions having tremendous benefit are often overlooked. In the context of blood sugar or glycemic control, our unsung hero today is apple cider vinegar (ACV). Beyond its use as a skin tonic, a household cleaner, a condiment, an antiseptic, a preservative, (you can even use it to kill weeds?!!), it also happens to be a very handy way to reduce morning blood sugars simply by consuming 2 tablespoons (diluted) at bedtime. In effect, it lowers fasting morning sugars, what diabetics know as the ‘dawn effect’, a phenomenon whereby morning blood sugars are higher independent of any meal consumed.
How it works isn’t well understood. Some researchers suggest that vinegar exerts a protective effect on the insulin response itself, improves satiety, and perhaps may inhibit salivary amylase (the enzyme that digests carbohydrate). Regardless of how it works, the data is clear.

  1. 2 teaspoons of ACV with a high carbohydrate meal reduces blood glucose and insulin by 34%.
  2.  Vinegar to sushi rice lowered glycemic index by 40%.
  3. When consumed with peanuts (I know, random!) glycemic response was reduced by 55%.

I’m often asked: how should I eat to balance all these variables; to live my life, balance my health, and avoid risk factors for chronic disease?

This plate leaves lots of flexibility for Paleo diets, AIP diets, Vegetarian and vegan diets and even a “regular diet”. It simply requires that we stick to whole foods. I will add one more layer to this when considering how to build your plate:

50% of your calories should come from healthy fats.

25% of your calories should come from lean protein.

25% of your calories should come from complex carbohydrates.

Annnnd….. 2 tablespoons of unpasteurized apple cider vinegar before bed. Welcome to your health!

For more on Glycemic Control and apple cider vinegar, check out Jason Fung’s Website for more info. https://www.idm.health

Covid's got nothing on the iceman

COVID’s got Nothing on the ‘IceMan’

By. Dr. Marika Geis, ND

As an enthusiast of the ‘ancestral health’ model, I’m always looking for cool ways to incorporate elements of our prehistoric life into this modern one. Things like avoiding grains and legumes (especially if you have IBS/IBD or SIBO), waking up with the sun and going to bed with the sun (season permitting), higher fat diets and fasting multiple times weekly (provided we have stable blood sugar). So, when I came across ‘IceMan’, Wim Hof, I discovered yet another way that we can engage our biological programming, born of millennia evolution, to create the conditions for health and healing. Our harried modern life taxes us in unnatural and inappropriate ways; we are wired for physical stresses, not chronic psychological ones.

Covid's got nothing on the iceman - wim hof

So, what’s the deal with the IceMan you ask? In short, he is able to accomplish what should otherwise be impossible. In the year 2000, Hof set the Guinness World Record for farthest swim under ice, a distance of 188.6 ft. In January of 2007, Hof set a world record for fastest half marathon barefoot on ice and snow, with a time of 2 hours, 16 minutes, and 34 seconds. He has set 16 world records for direct body contact with ice the longest of which was 1 hour 53 minutes and 2 seconds. Naturally, scientists were curious. Conventional medical wisdom would have us believe that once a body’s temperature falls below 90°F, it is unable to warm itself back up. You can imagine their confusion when, trying to set yet another world record for full body ice immersion (wearing only shorts), his core temperature having started at 98.6°F, dropped to 88°F after 75 minutes of cold immersion then rose during the next 20 minutes to 94°F. Say what?! That’s not supposed to happen!!

Clearly, Hof is unique, both in his motivation and determination, yet he is still a human? Using breathing techniques similar to ‘pranayama’ and the Tibetan ‘Tummo meditation’, the ‘Wim Hof Method’ (WHM) is able to coach a body, any body, into tolerating longer and more intense periods of cold exposure. There are many variations of the breathing method. The basic version consists of three phases as follows (each stage with specific instructions):

  • Controlled hyperventilation
  • Exhalation retention
  • Breath retention

These three phases may be repeated for three consecutive rounds.

The effect?

The buildup of brown fat and therefore increased basal metabolic rate Increased energy
Appropriate immune activity (think: autoimmune conditions) Mental clarity
Decreased inflammation  Boosted immunity
Balanced hormones Improved sleep 
Increased endorphins thus improved mood

Since research began into how Hof was able to accomplish these seemingly superhuman feats, scientists have been able to explore how this method: helps humans acclimate faster to higher altitudes, how we can voluntarily activate our autonomic nervous systems (supposedly beyond our control) and attenuate our innate immunity, how the combination of concentration, cold exposure and meditation can influence inflammation and how it can lead to shifts in metabolic activity, stress resilience and brain activity. Collectively, the effects of the WHM benefit respiratory conditions such as COPD and Asthma, Autoimmune conditions, Fibromyalgia, Arthritis, Migraines, recovering from Lyme disease, and high blood pressure. As of 2019, universities in Germany, Netherlands and the United States all have multiple studies exploring inflammation, mental health and metabolic issues thus expanding the body of evidence attempting to explain how and why this is even possible.

I’m not sure about you, but when I first came across the WHM, I thought “Cool, but do I really have to get into an ice bath for 95 minutes to get the benefits of cold exposure, ‘cuz it just ain’t gonna happen?”. The short answer? No, although it’s certainly something to aspire to. With the understanding that the human body was designed to handle environmental stresses, as this was the hostile and uncertain environment we, as animals, are born into, we can start off with gradual exposure to cold and, using the method outlined by Hof and his son, Enahm, slowly learn how to gain mastery over our environment and the stresses that go along with it. Since I’m the biggest chicken, I’m starting with a minute of cold after every shower…..but….at least I’m starting? (face palm).

covids got nothing on the iceman