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Wellness Blog

Top Health Benefits Of Spending Time Outdoors

The sun shines on your skin. You close your eyes and feel your skin cells come to life like a salsa dancer on an overpacked dance floor. You sink into your chair and every thought melts away like a dripping snow cone.

Being outside whether for your daily dog walk, to get your tan on, or playing your favourite outdoor sport, can have a hypnotic-like effect on our mind, body and soul.

These days we are inundated with mental health information and online influencers urging us to get outside and enjoy what mother nature gave us. But why? What’s actually behind the brouhaha of the benefits of getting outside?

When we look beyond the magical properties of nature’ we find there are a few key factors at play.

Increased movement

Yes we’re referring to movement and not physical exercise. Exercise can often be a scary word because we all have our preconceived notions about what it means and how we do it. So the key factor here is getting out to get moving. Whether you’re out for a leisurely stroll, tossing a frisbee at the park, or canoeing at Dow’s Lake, you’re not binge watching another television series on the couch, and that’s what counts. The allure of the outdoors, especially when it’s warm out, reduces the barrier to getting excited about going out and getting more movement.

Opportunity for connection

Even if physical distancing restrictions are in place, being outdoors gives us another way to connect with friends and family. Whether we take the time to stop and chat with a neighbour, research shows that even being around others without interacting can help to reduce feelings of isolation. Isolation is found to be one of the key contributors to poor mental health.

The power of Vitamin D

As Canadians we spend a lot of time indoors. This means that we get less exposure to sunlight. When we get less exposure to sunlight, our body doesn’t produce as much Vitamin D. Beyond absorbing Calcium, various research findings show that there is a link between levels of Vitamin D in the body and experience of low mood or Depression. 

So just by throwing on your runners and stepping outside you’re taking literal and metaphorical steps towards boosting your mood.

Focusing on the present is easier

When you’re outdoors there’s so many different ways to engage our senses; birds chirping, the bright colours of growing flowers, the aromas of a BBQ hard at work. With these natural attention grabbers, we can easily attune our focus to what we notice around us. Being present, or mindful, is not about meditation, it’s about keeping your attention in the here and now. This becomes easier to do when we get outside. Quick how to: Pick a spot to observe and try to notice what you see, hear smell, feel and can possibly taste.

Less tech temptation

Being in the present moment is easier when we are not surrounded by the pings of our electronic devices. Being outside and leaving the tech at home reduces distraction while trying to engage your senses in nature.Doing this connects us to our roots of humanity and the natural world around us. When we get outside, we reduce the temptation to scroll, snap or tweet (assuming you haven’t brought your laptop with you).

Research shows that all these factors have a significant impact on our mental, physical and spiritual health. The context of being outside (regardless of the weather) is what allows all these elements to naturally come together for a one stop shop of wellness.

Wellness Blog

Stay Cool With These Simple Popsicle Recipes

What better way to beat the heat than with a delicious popsicle? Nothing refreshes on a scorching day quite like an icy treat pulled straight from the freezer. Best of all, there is one for every palate—and diet.

Making your own popsicles at home is surprisingly simple. All you’ll need is a set of popsicle moulds and a bag of popsicle sticks, both of which can be easily found online or at your nearest home goods store.

Once you have your tools, you’re ready to get mixing! We’ve listed some of our favourite popsicle recipes below, but they are truly just the beginning. Don’t be afraid to experiment with juices, fruit, yogurt, and any ingredients that you and your family enjoy.

Raspberry Yogurt Pop

1 1/2 cups plain Greek yogurt

1 cup raspberries

3 tbsp honey

2 tbsp sugar

1 tsp vanilla

Blend yogurt, berries, honey, sugar, and vanilla until combined but still chunky. Pour into popsicle moulds and add sticks. Freeze until solid, about 6 to 8 hours.

Frozen Pina Colada 

1 can coconut milk

1 cup crushed pineapple

2 tbsp lime juice

1 tbsp sugar

Blend coconut milk, pineapple, and lime juice until just combined. Pour into popsicle moulds and add sticks. Freeze until solid, about 6 to 8 hours.

Strawberry Lemonade Pops

2 cups homemade or store-bought lemonade

1/2 cup thinly sliced strawberries

Carefully place sliced strawberries in each mould, arranging slices as desired. Pour lemonade into moulds over top. Freeze until solid, about 6 to 8 hours.

Strawberry Banana Swirls

1 1/2 cup plain yogurt

1 banana

1/2 cup strawberries

Blend yogurt, berries, and banana until combined but still chunky. Pour into popsicle moulds and add sticks. Freeze until solid, about 6 to 8 hours.

Tropical Treat

1 can coconut milk

1/2 cup fresh or frozen sliced mango

1/2 cup canned or fresh diced pineapple

3 tbsp pineapple juice

Blend coconut milk, pineapple, mango, and juice until just combined. Pour into popsicle moulds and add sticks. Freeze until solid, about 6 to 8 hours.

Strawberry Watermelon Pops

3/4 cup strawberries 

2 cups cubed seeded watermelon

1/4 cup lime juice

2 tbsp sugar

Blend strawberries, watermelon, and lime juice until just combined. Pour into popsicle moulds and add sticks. Freeze until solid, about 6 to 8 hours.

Peach Yogurt Swirls

1 1/4 cups plain Greek yogurt

1/2 cup diced ripe peaches, nectarines and/or plums

1/4 cup honey

3 tablespoons water

In a small saucepan, combine peaches, honey, and water. Cook over medium heat until the fruit is tender, about 4 – 7 minutes. Let cool. Gently fold in Greek yogurt, but do not over mix in order to maintain a swirl pattern. Pour into popsicle moulds and add sticks. Freeze until solid, about 6 to 8 hours.

Blueberry Lemon Ices

1 cup blueberries 

Zest of 1 lemon

1 cup vanilla yogurt

In a blender or food processor, puree the blueberries until smooth. Mix in lemon zest. To create a fun pattern, alternate adding the blueberry puree and yogurt in popsicle moulds. Add sticks and freeze until solid, about 6 to 8 hours.

Wellness Blog

Pulses Are The Healthy Solution You Didn't Know You Needed

Even if you’re a seasoned home cook, there’s one food group you might still be sleeping on—pulses. Although many people aren’t familiar with the term, most have heard of the major members of the pulse family, which include lentils, chickpeas, dried beans, and dried peas. They’re foods that often aren’t given too much thought.

That could be about to change. More and more, pulses are being recognized as the superfood they are. They have tons of fantastic benefits for your body, your budget and are a savvy addition to your family’s grocery list. And with so many delicious ways to use pulses in your everyday meals, beans, chickpeas and lentils could quickly become staples in your pantry. 

Take some time to get acquainted with your new favourite food group.

Great for your health

Pulses are packed with all kinds of essential nutrients for your body. An excellent source of protein, beans and lentils are the perfect substitute for red meat on your next Meatless Monday. They’re also high in vital minerals such as iron and zinc, and they’re a great source of B-vitamins, which are key to maintaining your brain health, energy levels and metabolism. Plus, pulses are rich in fibre, which means they make you feel full longer and keep your blood sugar stable. Research shows that regularly eating pulses can reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels over time. 

Good for the planet

On top of the health benefits, pulses are an environmentally friendly option for your table. Thanks to their drought-resistant structure, beans, lentils, and chickpeas use much less water in their growth cycle than other protein sources. They also have a lower carbon footprint because they require so little fertilizer to grow—they actually pull their nitrogen straight from the air. Feel good eating pulses, knowing that you’ve made an environmentally sustainable choice. 

Tasty and versatile

There are so many delicious ways to enjoy pulses. Add them to your favourite soups and stews for a hearty shot of flavour. Toss chickpeas in a curry for a crowd-pleasing weekday dinner, pop white beans into your next salad for a flavourful twist, or use black beans as the base for a stellar veggie burger. You can even try subbing in lentils for ground beef in your family Bolognese recipe—you would be surprised by the richness they add to a sauce. 

Pulses even work as a snack food. The next time you have a mid afternoon craving, try roasting chickpeas and tossing them in your favourite seasonings for the perfect pick-me-up.

An affordable option

Pulses aren’t just tasty—they’re also great for the pocketbook. Especially as a substitute for meat, beans, chickpeas and lentils can help you keep your grocery haul under budget. In a time of so much uncertainty, an economical menu option is something we can all appreciate.

With so many benefits, there’s no better time to add pulses to your grocery list. You’ll be glad you made the shift.

Wellness Blog

Keto-Friendly Meals For The Whole Family

If you’ve committed to going keto this year, you are likely more than prepared to drastically change your way of eating.

But an unexpected challenge for many keto eaters is finding recipes that others in your household will enjoy. Luckily, it’s not as tough as you might expect. From breakfast to appetizers, here are some of our best meal ideas that are guaranteed to please everyone in your family.

 

Frittata

Eggs are a ketogenic diet’s best friend, and you can’t go wrong with a tasty frittata. They’re so simple to make, and the variations are endless. Try different combinations of your favourite keto veggies—mushrooms, broccoli, spinach, and bell pepper are all great options. Before you bake it, don’t forget to top your masterpiece with a generous handful of grated cheese.

Fried chicken

This crave-able dish is surprisingly simple to turn keto. Start by switching out regular flour in the breading for almond flour. Then, select your favourite ketogenic vegetable oil for frying (we like avocado oil because it has a high smoke point).

Pancakes

The same rule applies to pancakes: swap out the wheat flour for almond flour in your favourite recipe and you’re on your way. Then, top your creations with berries and nuts as a finishing touch.

Charcuterie board

One of the best perks of keto is that you can still enjoy a good charcuterie board—just nix the bread. Impress your family and friends with a luxurious board, complete with a variety of tasty cheeses, meats, and keto-friendly crackers. Don’t forget to add delicious touches such as stuffed olives, berries, and sauces to take it to the next level.

Deviled eggs

This beloved appetizer also happens to be naturally keto! For a tasty twist, top them with avocado, green onions, olives, feta, or even crumbled bacon.

Grilled skewers

Who doesn’t love a skewer hot off the grill? Create a delicious and satisfying feast for the whole family with marinated meats, lemony shrimp, and vegetables grilled to perfection. The trick? Since your veggies and proteins all require different cooking times, resist the urge to pile them all onto the same skewer. Instead, cook just one ingredient per skewer for the best results. 

Shakshuka

This traditional Mediterranean dish of poached eggs in tomato sauce is a flavourful and nutritious option that everyone will love. For a tasty little extra, try crumbling in some feta cheese while you poach the eggs.

Lettuce wraps

There are a thousand ways to prepare this fun and versatile dish, which can serve as a tasty appetizer or a delightfully satisfying main. Do a little research to find a low-carb sauce recipe you like or buy a keto-approved bottled sauce to save yourself some time.

Stuffed mushrooms

You would not believe how simple it is to make a gorgeous keto-friendly stuffed mushroom that everyone will adore. For bite-sized appetizers, use button or cremini mushrooms, stuffing them with cheese and a few choice herbs and spices. For a meal-sized dish, scoop out the gills from half a dozen good-sized portabellas and add a generous amount of sauteed veggies and shredded chicken. 

Wellness Blog

Keeping Up With Kardish: Meet Mike

Mike has been managing the Barrhaven Kardish location for three years, but he’s been with the Ottawa company for much longer than that. 

He got his start with Kardish 10 years ago, working at the Merivale store. He was inspired to start working there because of his background in sports. 

At the time Mike was playing hockey, hardball baseball, tennis, golf, and regularly rollerblading. Nutrition wasn’t something he was overly concerned about, but since joining Kardish it’s become a staple. 

While his favourite health topic to chat about with customers is physical activity and how it relates to diet and nutrition, he has a wealth of knowledge thanks to regular seminar style training sessions with Kardish. 

The father of two said his favourite healthy recipe is a fancied up salad—which his son—who’s 12—also loves (he still hasn’t quite convinced his ten-year-old daughter). 

The salad:  

Portobello mushrooms
Avocado
Beets
Red and green peppers 

Onion 

Pink himalayan salt 
 

 

Along with a tasty salad recipe, Mike has some daily habits that he uses to stay happy and healthy. 

His top rule is to get as much sleep as he can - aiming for seven to eight hours a night. He knows this isn’t always easy - but Mike believes this is one of the biggest factors in staying healthy for him. 

He also ensures he gets all his regular meals, starting with a good breakfast. In those meals, he’s careful to get enough fibre and protein. And of course, he has carefully picked the supplements he includes in his daily routine. These include probiotics and a good multivitamin. 

And then there’s exercise. He’s a busy guy, but he tries to squeeze in 20 minutes, even on the busy days, usually going for a skate on his rollerblades - especially now that the weather is nice. 

Last but not least, Mike says it’s important to make time for himself. For him, this comes in the form of music. He plays guitar and writes music, all kinds! From rock to classical, to sweeter acoustic melodies. 

It keeps him happy. As do his interactions at work. 

Mike says that what makes him feel the best at work is the customers - the regulars (most of whom come in weekly) - and ask directly for him. 

“They are really grateful for the help you’ve given them.”

Those warm interactions, along with the family atmosphere that Kardish harnesses among it’s staff, are the reason he’s stayed for so long. 

Mike’s most memorable interaction? One time a customer gave him a goji tree. He put it in the front of the store, and it actually bloomed, providing tiny edible red berries!

“It makes you feel great because you know you’ve helped someone, and you kind of develop a friendship with that person.”

Wellness Blog

Keeping Up With Kardish: Get To Know Victoria

24-year-old Victoria Laforty Cirne has been assistant manager at Kardish’s barrhaven location for just over three months. 

The Brockville native moved to Ottawa three years ago. She has family here, and began working at Kardish in February. Right before joining the Kardish team, Victoria decided to give vegetarianism a try. 

Initially, she made the switch for environmental reasons, but says that she has also seen a big improvement in both hers, and her partners health (he too went vegetarian). 

Victoria says working at Kardish has been equally lovely as it has been educational. She now understands a lot better what supplements to incorporate into her diet to compensate for cutting out meat. 

And, she says she feels deeply valued at work, always learning new things—even from her customers. 

And then there’s the products. Her favourite additions to her daily routine are the J?SÖN sulfate-free tea tree and aloe vera shampoo and conditioner. She says both her scalp and hair have greatly benefited from the switch to the all natural hair care line. 

Victoria says she stays healthy by going for walks, and  biking! As for her meals. She loves (and recommends) soup!

Her go-to basics for almost all her soups are:

  • Garlic, ginger, and onions (staples that empower the immune system)
  • Spices such as curry (to give it lots of flavor)
  • Tumeria (a natural anti-inflammatory)
  • Veggies of all kinds - the latest soup: peas, spinach and carrots

Victoria says that she’s got a busy social life, but since facing the pandemic, she did her part to stay home, instead opting to take up art again. Her latest projects are painting kitchen counter mason jars! 

A jar that Victoria decorated. She’s been taking up art since COVID-19 took hold of everyone’s activities.

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