a hot mug of immunity elixir and manuka honey

Sweet and Spicy Immunity Elixir

Recipe

It’s snowing outside right now. And after an oddly warm start to our winter, I still haven’t quite transitioned properly into winter wear. When possible, I can still be found rocking my leather jacket and Chuck Taylor’s. It’s no surprise that sitting at home on this cold afternoon, I have an equally nasty cold. All the usual suspects are there: congestion, a scratchy throat, low energy. I quickly set to work brewing an immune elixir. Don’t you just love the word ‘elixir’? It makes me feel like I’m drinking some kind of magical potion. And with this Sweet and Spicy Immunity Elixir, that might just be the case. If you’re feeling under the weather, the amazing anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-inflammatory properties of all this elixir’s ass kicking ingredients will have you back on your feet in no time. And it’ll do a number on any congestion you’ve got going on too. Bam! 

Now, a word of caution about the flavour: It is basically a tonic to ward off vampires. It’s pretty intense. It’s garlicky, and savoury, and the flavours change as the liquid moves along your tongue and down your throat. I like to keep a spoon in my cup so that I can stir the cayenne and oil back in as it separates. 

Sweet and Spicy Immunity Elixir
Print
Ingredients
  1. 1 garlic bulb, cloves peeled and thinly sliced
  2. 2 fingers of turmeric, thinly sliced
  3. 3" long piece of fresh ginger, sliced thinly
  4. 1 organic lemon, thinly sliced
  5. Manuka honey, raw honey, or maple syrup (sweeten to taste)
  6. cayenne (to taste)
  7. coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and add garlic, turmeric, and ginger. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  2. When the first hour is up, add in the sliced lemon. Cover and simmer for another 30 minutes.
  3. Pour however much you want to drink through a strainer into a cup. All of the strained bits can go back in the pot to continue brewing. You can keep pouring more water over the mixture and simmering away.
  4. Add sweetener (again, optional), a shake or 2 of cayenne pepper to your cup, and a 1/2 tsp of coconut oil per serving. Stir and enjoy!
Annemarie Dixon http://annemariedixon.com/

One Bright Winter Day

Holidays, Personal, Photo Diary

Happy New Year! I hope you’re all off to an amazing start to a brand new year. As I mentioned in my last post, I recently spent a week in Muskoka, doing some relaxing with Erik and his family, and generally having a grand old time. It might even be safe to say that I am now something of a winter person. It’s hard not to be when you get to experience the season in the form of picturesque views through giant windows, stunning sunsets, from atop snowshoes, while gorging yourself on gargantuan pots of soup, and curling up in front of a roaring wood fire with a book and some of your favourite people. Now that I’m home again, let’s hope I can keep this peppy new attitude towards winter going!

While I was away, I had a lot of fun playing with my camera and here are some of my favourite shots. There may even be a recipe on its way!

snow-dusted woodpile against a cottage in Muskoka

quintessential view of a winter wonderland forest

holiday ornaments hung on a Christmas tree

Anthropologie mug in front of the cottage fireplace

decorative Anthropologie measuring cups arranged in a line on a firelog

decadent and delicious mixed berry parfait covered in kefir, cinnamon, and almond butter, recipe to come

7 Tips For A Vibrantly Healthy New Year

Holidays

The year is almost over, and my personal version of it has been both wild and wonderful. 2013 has been a roller coaster ranging from super amazing fun times, to some of the most stressful experiences I’ve had yet. I’ve learned a lot about myself, and looking back, I’m so excited by how I’ve evolved over the last year. There have been a lot of big changes and decisions I’ve had to make over the last few months, and the struggle still isn’t over, but I’m still going, and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, right? I’m very blessed to be spending this week nestled into a cottage in Muskoka with Erik (my other – cuter? – half) and his family. It has been a very different kind of Christmas than any I’ve had before since, this year, we are all much more health focused than we have been over previous holidays. I am incredibly lucky to be surrounded by and to be a part of such a loving and supportive community.

That being said, today I wanted to pass on some of that love and support to you lovely individuals! The year being almost over, I know that you’ve probably already started thinking about what sorts of New Year’s Resolutions you want to get cracking on in 2014. Here are some that will get you on the path to a vibrant, energized lifestyle! And you definitely don’t have to do them all at once. Start with one goal per week, and add on another resolution the next week. Baby steps, my friends!

Hydrate:
Aim for 1.5 – 2 L of filtered water every day. Our bodies are 75% water and as a result, water is essential for:

  • the function of every cell and system in our bodies
  • flushing toxins from our body
  • digestion
  • the absorption and distribution of nutrients throughout the body
  • lubricating our joints
  • reducing inflammation in the body

Try to avoid bottled water as much as possible. Not only is it harmful for your body (the plastic leeches some very unpleasant toxins into the water including carcinogens and nasty hormone disruptors that contribute to weight gain and estrogen dominance) but it is also harmful for the environment. Those piles of plastic water bottles will be left behind long after us humans are gone. Not to mention all the issues regarding growing worldwide water privatization. A simple solution is to invest in a glass or stainless steel water bottle and fill it up on the go. Do it! Your body and the environment will thank you.

Chew:
“Chew your water and drink your food.” Maybe you’ve heard this saying before? Try challenging yourself to chew your food at least twice as much as you do right now. We often eat our food so quickly, our brains are unable to receive a signal of fullness from our bodies until it is too late and we have stuffed ourselves. By spending more time chewing, you will be less likely to overeat. Chewing also sends a signal to the brain to release digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid which are necessary for breaking food down into absorbable molecules.

Eat your greens:
Leafy greens are a super concentrated source of nutrients and fibre which are both sadly lacking in most western diets and are essential for digestive health. Some examples of leafy green vegetables are spinach, kale, chard, collard greens, and cabbage. Try incorporating at least 3 of these delicious nutritional powerhouses over the next couple weeks. They are delicious steamed, sauteed, or raw, so be sure to enjoy them a few different ways!

Move:
The hardest part of becoming a more active person is the getting started part. If hitting the gym doesn’t seem particularly appealing to you, there are tons of other activities that might. Some fun examples are hot yoga, belly dancing, rock climbing, zumba, crossfit… I’m the kind of person who will quickly get bored with doing the same things over and over again, and perhaps you are too. Pick out 2 or 3 different activities that interest you, and make a commitment to trying them all! Most studios and gyms have an introductory rate for new members, so if you give something a good college try and still aren’t feeling it, move onto the next thing! My current routine has largely consisted of home workout videos and yoga at my favourite studio for the last year or so. Sometimes you’re just too lazy to leave the house, and having a back up plan for those days is great. Aim to get active for at least 30 minutes 3 – 4 days a week. It can also help to have a workout buddy or an action plan for the week to help hold you accountable.

De-stress:
Stress will kill you. Literally. It is a huge contributing factor to disease. There are always going to be times in our lives when we are feeling stressed out, but how we manage and cope with that stress is critical to how it affects us. Learn how to say “no” when you know you can’t handle more on your plate. Stay organized, make to-do lists, and know what needs to be done when. Then come up with some strategies for relaxing – whether it is lounging in a steamy bathtub with a book or curling up with a cup of tea and a book or popping into the bookstore and picking up a new book – in my world, whenever a good book is involved, I know it’s gonna be a good time. Regular exercise, yoga, and meditation are some surefire ways to get your mind off of stress. Know what you need to do to ensure a relaxing evening, and do it!

Sleep:
When you get out of your bath, or whatever it is you’ve done to get you good and relaxed, try to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. If you are the kind of person who struggles with falling asleep, it really helps to have a sort of ritual and schedule around bedtime. Try to go to bed at the same time every night and avoid eating within the 3 hours before that. An hour or two before bed, start to get into relaxation mode. Brew yourself a cup of tea, put away the electronics, and sit down with a book or whatever you know is going to help you settle down. Getting those glorious 8 hours of shut-eye will help you:

  • avoid weight gain (particularly in the belly area)
  • keep those cravings in check
  • regulate your mood
  • strengthen your immune system
  • improve your mental function thus boosting productivity – no more brain fog! (I’m not the only one who walks into a room and forgets why, am I?)
  • look and feel your very best!

Let go of guilt:
So you slipped up on a resolution or two. Feeling bad about it is not going to improve the situation, and it isn’t going to help you in any way. Let go, forgive yourself, get back on that horse! We’re only human, and we make mistakes. Punishing yourself for something that happened in the past does not serve you.

And with that, I’m off to enjoy some more downtime with my family. If you have any questions, please leave a comment, message me on Twitter @amdnutrition, or shoot me an email at info@annemariedixon.com. In the meantime, I’ll be sending lots of love your way and I will see you all in the new year! Happy Holidays!

November 2013: A Few of My Favourite Things

Monthly Favourites

Hi everyone! I’m hoping to start putting together a monthly list of my favourite products, books, documentaries, foods, and anything else that catches my fancy. I know, its practically halfway through December, but here are some things that I really enjoyed over the last month!

1) Dr. Bronner’s Lavender Liquid Soap: Dr. Bronner’s has been my go to body wash for a while now, because it has so many awesome qualities. Not only is it fair trade and against animal testing, its got a pretty stellar ingredient list (Water, Organic Coconut Oil, Potassium Hydroxide, Lavandin Extract, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Hemp Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Lavender Extract, Citric Acid, Tocopherol). It can also be used for just about any cleaning job you can think of including shampooing your hair, as a laundry detergent, or for scrubbing all that porcelain in you bathroom. I even used the almond scented kind to brush my teeth with once, in a desperate situation, though I recommend not doing this because, as amazing as its ingredients are, it still tasted like licking a bar of soap.

I’ve been loving my before-bedtime showers lately, because the lavender scent is so soothing. Lavender is known for its calming, sedative effect which may be beneficial for anxiety and depression, headaches, and insomnia. When applied topically, it is also antiseptic which makes it great for speeding up the healing time of scrapes and cuts, in decreasing the appearance of scars, and helping to treat skin problems (eg. dry and itchy skin, eczema, acne, burns, etc).

bottle of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap in lavender scent

2) Blackfish: My boyfriend and I sat down to watch this documentary sometime last week, and loved it. Its about the psychological damage done to whales held in captivity, the effects of that damage, and how frustrating, cruel, and horrifying their lives are. It was heartbreaking, but definitely a must-watch. You can find the trailer HERE

3) Algonquin Tea Company – Sacred Blend (Vision Community Clarity): The list of ingredients in this tea is short and sweet – white pine, sweet grass, and sage. In a world where most tea blends contain fillers, GMOs, pesticides, and other nasty ingredients, Algonquin Tea Company is an amazing find. All of their ingredients are “handpicked, organic, and ethically wildcrafted in the Canadian wilderness”. How flipping cool is that? This specific blend is meant to be used for meditation, but I’ve mostly been enjoying it before bedtime since its naturally caffeine-free and promotes nice, tranquil feelings.

box of Sacred Blend tea for vision, community, and clarity from The Algonquin Tea Company

4) Giddy Yoyo Raw Chocolate: Good quality cacao is a serious superfood, my friends. Some of its super powers include:

  • improving cardiovascular and digestive health
  • lowering blood pressure
  • protecting the body from free radical damage
  • improving mental and physical well-being

Giddy Yoyo cacao is impeccably sourced, and their chocolate is a heavenly thing to behold. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the creators of Giddy Yoyo on a couple of different occasions, and the love and care that goes into creating their product is pretty darn inspiring. If you ever have the chance to hear them speak, you should go for it. They always seem to have tons of free chocolate for their audience to sample. I managed to score one of their chocolate bars in orange flavour (though I think I’ve tried all of them by now) at one of their recent talks and it was SO good, I forgot to take a picture for you. But here is the link to their website in case you wanted to track down a local distributor. 

5) Green Eggs and Yams: Including a good quality source of protein in your breakfast is essential for balancing blood sugar, curbing those cravings that tend to come up later in the day, and keeping you full and energized until lunch time. This recipe also makes a great winter breakfast because it helps you get your veggies in early in the day without having to resort to chillier options (Ahem, green smoothie, I am looking at you. Not to say that I don’t love a green smoothie, of course). You’ll find the recipe down below. 

green scrambled eggs on a plate with discs of roasted sweet potato

Green Eggs and Yams
Print
Ingredients
  1. 4 organic, free-run eggs
  2. 1 cup of your favourite greens (eg. spinach, kale, swiss chard)
  3. 1/2 an onion, roughly chopped
  4. 1/4 cup of organic goat cheese
  5. sea salt and pepper to taste
  6. 1 tbsp of coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Throw the first 5 ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  2. Preheat a pan over medium-low heat. Add coconut oil.
  3. Once coconut oil is melted, pour in the egg and vegetable mixture.
  4. As the eggs begin to solidify in the pan, stir until they've reached your favourite scrambled egg consistency.
  5. Serve with a side of roasted sweet potato, or any other favourite veggie!
Annemarie Dixon http://annemariedixon.com/

Dinner at Live

Restaurant Review

Life can get a little bit crazy sometimes. Maybe you’ve taken on some extra responsibilities at work, picked up a night class, or have some other big project on the go. But what about your personal life? It’s during these extra hectic times in our lives that we also need to make sure to chill out on occasion and spend some of that precious down time with the people we love.

Let me just say, my life has been a little bit crazy as of late. But last night, I had the pleasure of meeting up with my friend, Nicola, for dinner at Live Food Bar in Toronto. Nicola and I have been friends since high school, and in the last year, she’s been been frantically finishing school as a design student before jumping right into her first graphic design gig. It was great to see her after so long and get caught up over a healthy and delicious meal!

Driving around in Toronto in the pouring rain at dinnertime was stressful, to say the least. I managed to find parking on a nearby side street, and made the trek through the rain to Live. Stepping into the restaurant was like being wrapped in a cozy blanket. The atmosphere in Live was bright and warm. The staff were very welcoming and friendly, and didn’t seem to mind my lame jokes. For instance, when I was joined by Nicola some time after my arrival, she decided she wanted to order the Pulled Burdock Wrap for her main but having no idea what burdock was, she decided to ask our server. She explained that burdock was a root vegetable that aids the body in cleansing. “By cleansing,” I asked, “do you mean it makes you poop?” (Side note: Nutrition school trains you to be oddly comfortable talking about poop, whether or not you are talking to a complete stranger.)

Should you find yourself at Live Food Bar, definitely try:

The Butterscotch Ripple Smoothie. BUTTERSCOTCH RIPPLE. How can you go wrong with that? This was a heavenly combination of coconut cream, banana, coconut sugar, date, lucuma, maca, and vanilla. I practically inhaled this, it was that good.

creamy and frothy glass of Butterscotch Ripple smoothie in front of one of the brick walls at Live Food Bar

The Hush Puppies. We decided to get these balls of sweet potato, cornmeal and quinoa, covered in maple glaze as an appetizer. These were awesome; so awesome I forgot to take  a picture. They came with a wasabi mayo which gave them a subtle kick to cut the sweetness, and were delightfully crispy on the outside, kind of like falafel.

The Black Bean Burrito. This burrito was quite unlike any burrito I’ve ever had before. It had some traditional ingredients: black bean hummus, brown rice, guacamole, corn & tomato salsa, spinach, and chipotle mayo. You could put guacamole on pretty much anything and I would love it. But the really stand out thing about this dish was that they pressed the burrito so that it had some crispy crunchy goodness to it.

crispy black bean burrito garnished with sauerkraut, drizzled hot sauce, and cashew sour cream

Dessert. I went for the Chocolate Hazelnut Bar which was a bit pricy considering how it was the size of my thumbs put together. Totally worth it though, because it was packed with hazelnuts, and rich enough that I didn’t feel like I needed anymore. I also picked up two Chocolate Cherry Cookies to enjoy with the boyfriend when I got home. I’m definitely going to have to try to recreate these at some point. They were not too sweet and go really well with a nice cup of tea if you’re feeling naughty.

Basically what I’m saying is: Go to Live. You will like it there. And with that, have yourselves a wonderful and inspiring weekend! I hope it is filled with tasty delights, lots of love, and relaxation.